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