Guy Fawkes, also known as Guido Fawkes, the name he adopted while fighting for the Spanish, was a member of a group of provincial English Catholics who planned the failed Gunpowder Plot of 1605.
Fawkes was born and educated in York. His father died when Fawkes was eight years old, after which his mother married a recusant Catholic. Fawkes later converted to Catholicism and left for the continent, where he fought in the Eighty Years' War on the side of Catholic Spain against Protestant Dutch reformers in the Low Countries. He travelled to Spain to seek support for a Catholic rebellion in England but was unsuccessful. He later met Thomas Wintour, with whom he returned to England.
Wintour introduced Fawkes to Robert Catesby, who planned to assassinate King James I and restore a Catholic monarch to the throne. The plotters secured the lease to an undercroft beneath the House of Lords, and Fawkes was placed in charge of the gunpowder they stockpiled there. Prompted by the receipt of an anonymous letter, the authorities searched Westminster Palace during the early hours of 5 November, and found Fawkes guarding the explosives. Over the next few days, he was questioned and tortured, and eventually he broke. Immediately before his execution on 31 January, Fawkes jumped from the scaffold where he was to be hanged and broke his neck, thus avoiding the agony of the mutilation that followed.
Fawkes became synonymous with the Gunpowder Plot, the failure of which has been commemorated in Britain since 5 November 1605. His effigy is traditionally burned on a bonfire, commonly accompanied by a firework display.
Four hundred years ago, in 1605, a man called Guy Fawkes and a group of plotters attempted to blow up the Houses of Parliament in London with barrels of gunpowder placed in the basement. They wanted to kill King James and the king’s leaders.
Why did Guy Fawkes want to kill King James 1st and the king’s leaders?
When Queen Elizabeth 1st took the throne of England she made some laws against the Roman Catholics. Guy Fawkes was one of a small group of Catholics who felt that the government was treating Roman Catholics unfairly. They hoped that King James 1st would change the laws, but he didn't.
Catholics had to practise their religion in secret. There were even fines for people who didn't attend the Protestant church on Sunday or on holy days. James lst passed more laws against the Catholics when he became king.
What happened - the Gunpowder Plot
A group of men led by Robert Catesby, plotted to kill King James and blow up the Houses of Parliament, the place where the laws that governed England were made.
The plot was simple - the next time Parliament was opened by King James l, they would blow up everyone there with gunpowder. The men bought a house next door to the parliament building. The house had a cellar which went under the parliament building. They planned to put gunpowder under the house and blow up parliament and the king.
Guy Fawkes Discovered
Guy Fawkes was given the job to keep watch over the barrels of gunpowder and to light the fuse. On the morning of 5th November, soldiers discovered Guy hidden in the cellar and arrested him. The trail of gunpowder at his feet would never be lit.
Guy Fawkes was taken to the Tower of London
He was tortured and questioned about the other plotters. To start with he didn't tell the soldiers anything about the plot. But, eventually he started to tell the truth.
In celebration of his survival, King James ordered that the people of England should have a great bonfire on the night on 5th November.
The event is still commemorated annually in England on 5th November by fireworks and burning ‘guys’ (effigies) on bonfires.
WHEN & WHERE:
Guy Fawkes was born in April 1570 in York, United Kingdom. He died on January 31, 1606, in Westminster, United Kingdom.
- The Guy Fawkes mask is a stylised depiction of Guy Fawkes, the best-known member of the Gunpowder Plot, an attempt to blow up the House of Lords in London in 1605. The use of a mask on an effigy has long roots as part of Guy Fawkes Night celebrations. A stylised portrayal of a face with an over-sized smile and red cheeks, a wide moustache upturned at both ends, and a thin vertical pointed beard, designed by illustrator David Lloyd, came to represent broader protest after it was used as a major plot element in V for Vendetta, published in 1982, and its 2006 film adaptation. After appearing in Internet forums, the mask became a well-known symbol for the online hacktivist group Anonymous, used in Project Chanology, the Occupy movement, and other anti-government and anti-establishment protests around the world.