Guy FawkesFawkes Guy, was one of the greatest conspiratorin the Gunpowder Plot. Fawkes, pronounced fawks Guy, English conspirator,born in York. A protestant by birth, he became a Roman Catholic after themarriage of his widowed mother to a man of Catholic background and sympathies(Miller578). In 1593 he enlisted in the Spanish Army in Flanders and in 1596 participatedin the capture of the city of Calais by the Spanish in their war with HenryIV of France. He became implicated with Thomas Winter and others in theGunpowder Plot to blow up Parliament as protest against the anti-RomanCatholic laws. This paper will demonstrate the life ofGuy Fawkes.
Guy Fawkes was born on 13th April, 1570. Guy Fawkes was theonly son of Edward Fawkes of York and his wife Edith Blake of Cambridge. Followed by Guy Fawkes’ birth, Edith had given birth to daughter Anne Fawkeson 3rd October 1568, but the infant lived a mere seven weeks, being buriedon 14th November of the same year. Two other sisters were born followedby Anne, another Anne, who later married Henry Kilburns in Scotton on 12thOctober1572, and Elizabeth, who later married William Dickenson also inScotton on 27th May 1594. Edward Fawkes who was advocate of the consistorycourt of the Archbishop of York. On his mother’s side, he was descendedfrom the Harrington family who were eminent merchants and Alderman of York.
In 1605, Guy Fawkes(also known as Guido),and a group of conspirators attempted to blow up the Houses of Parliamentto kill the King, James I and the entire Parliament. The conspirators wereangered because King James had been exiling Jesuits from England. The plotterswanted to wrest power away from the king and return the country to theCatholic faith. Today, they would be known as extremists.
However, in anattempt to protect a friend in the House of Lords, one of the group memberssent an anonymous letter warning his friend to stay away from the parliament. The warning letter reached the king, andthe conspirators were caught, tortured and executed. Guy Fawkes and hisfriends had rolled 36 barrels of gunpowder into the cellar and coveredthem with faggots under the House of parliament(Encyclopedia Americana91). These days Guy Fawkes Day is also known as Bonfire Night. The eventis commemorated every year with fireworks and burning an effigy of GuyFawkes on a bonfire. The effigies are simply known as “Guys.
” Some of theEnglish have been known to wonder whether they are celebrating Fawkes’execution or honoring his attempt to do away with the government. Therewas no doubt an attempt to blow up parliament. But Guy Fawkes and his associatesmay have been caught in a Jacobean sting operation. Many of the plotters were known traitors. It would have been almost impossible for them to get hold of 36 barrelsof gunpowder without the government finding out. As for the secret warningletter, many historians believe it was fabricated by the king’s officials.
The letter made it easy to explain how the king found out about the plotand stopped it just in time. But the letter was in fact very vague. Itsaid noting about the details of the attack. There are many mysteries aboutthe gunpowder plot that have never been satisfactorily explained(Ashley621).
Still, the king and his men knew exactly where and when to catchthe conspirators and stop the plot. Gunpowder plot, conspiracy to kill JamesI, king of England, as well as the Lords and the Commons at the openingof parliament on November 5, 1605(Ashley 620). The plot was formed by agroup of prominent Roman Catholics in retaliation against the oppressiveanti-Catholic laws being applied by James I. The originator of the schemewas Robert Catesby, a country gentleman of Warwickshire. First he tookhis cousin Thomas Winter and his friends Thomas Percy and John Wright intohis confidence, along with Guy Fawkes, a soldier of fortune. They in turndrew other Roman Catholic gentlemen into the plot, among them Sir EverardDigby, John Grant, Ambrose Rokewood, Francis Tresham, Thomas Winter’s brotherRobert, and John Wright’s brother Christopher(Infoplease.
com 1). The conspiratorsdiscovered a vault directly beneath the House of Lords. They rented thiscellar and stored in it 36 barrels of gunpowder. In the final arrangement, Fawkes was toset fire to the gunpowder in the cellar on November 5 and then flee toFlanders(Encarta 2000). Through a letter of warning written by Treshamto a peer, the plot was exposed.
Fawkes was arrested early on November5 as she emerged from the cellar. Fuses were found concealed on his person,and in the cellar a lighted lantern and the barrels of gunpowder were discovered. Examined under torture on the rack, Fawkes confessed his own guilt andafter ling obstinacy revealed the names of his associates, nearly all ofwhom were killed on being taken or were hanged along with Fawkes on January31, 1606. The Gunpowder Plot is commemorated annually in the United Kingdomon November 5; on this day it is the custom to burn Guy Fawkes in a raggedeffigy.
The slang work guy is derived from these effigies. In 1593 Guy Fawkes enlisted in the Spanisharmy of the Netherlands and became noted for his exceptional courage(Encarta2000). In 1604 he was chosen by Robert Catesby and the other Catholic conspiratorsin the Gunpowder Plot to execute their plan to blow up Parliament whenit assembled to hear James I on Nov. 5, 1605. The day before the gunpowderwas to be detonated, the plot was discovered. Fawkes was taken into custodyand later executed in 1606(World Book 99).
November 5 was made a day of thanksgiving,and it is still celebrated in England as Guy Fawkes Day. Every year since1605, every town and village in Great Britain lights bonfires, lets offfireworks, burns and effigy of him and celebrates the fact the Parliamentand James I were not blown sky high by Guy Fawkes(Miller 579).