The Gunpowder Plot was a conspiracy to blow up Parliament and King James I along with his family. It was cooked up by five English Roman Catholics – Robert Catesby, Thomas Winter, Thomas Percy, John Wright, and Guy Fawkes, – who were angered by James’s (a protestant) policies against Catholics. Many others soon joined in on the plan.
The assassination was to take place on November 5, 1605. However, one of the conspirators alerted his brother in law at Parliament, who in turn alerted the government. Guy Fawkes was the first to be arrested in a cellar under the palace at Westminster, where he had concealed 20 barrels of gunpowder.
After torturing him, Fawkes revealed the names of his accomplices and they were all either killed upon resisting arrest or executed the following year.
Other notable events on January 31st:
In 2000, Alaska Airlines flight 261 crashes into the sea killing all 88 on board.
In 1996, the Imia Crisis between Greece and Turkey escalates, after a Greek Navy helicopter returning from the disputed islets crashes under mysterious circumstances.
In 1865, the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is passed, officially abolishing slavery.