The Prince and the Pauper – Chapter Thirty-One – Fun Fact

In Ch. 31 of The Prince and the Pauper, everyone is out celebrating the upcoming coronation for Edward VI. As a part of that celebration, the narrator describes explosions and smoke filling the sky. The Prince and the Pauper Chapter 31 Fun Fact focuses on…


Keep reading or watch the video below for more information.

Reference in The Prince and the Pauper

“When he arrived there, the sides of the venerable fortress seemed suddenly rent in a thousand places, and from every rent leaped a red tongue of flame and a white gush of smoke; a deafening explosion followed, which drowned the shoutings of the multitude, and made the ground tremble; the flame-jets, the smoke, and the explosions, were repeated over and over again with marvellous celerity, so that in a few moments the old Tower disappeared in the vast fog of its own smoke…” (p. 180)

How Do Fireworks Work?

  1. A fuse sets off a charge, igniting gunpowder
  2. The firework flies into the sky
  3. Gunpowder within the firework ignites
  4. “Stars” containing metal salts and iron filings explode in different colors
  5. Stars can be placed in different compartments and configurations to create different patterns

Earliest Fireworks

  • Many believe they originated in China
  • Earliest “form” was bamboo stalks thrown into a fire, which would explode due to overheating of hollow air pockets in the bamboo
  • Supposedly in 600-900 AD, a Chinese alchemist mixed potassium nitrate, sulfur, and charcoal, which was then poured into hollow bamboo sticks

Fireworks in Tudor Times

  • First firework display was at the wedding of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York
  • Reached peak popularity during the reign of Elizabeth I
  • She appointed an official “Fire Master of England”
  • Experimentation with pyrotechnics caused the Globe theatre to burn down the first time
  • Elizabeth visited Robert Dudley in 1572 and he presented a mock battle including fireworks, which accidentally  burned several houses to the ground nearby

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