Fawkes Guy, was one of the greatest conspirator
in the Gunpowder Plot. Fawkes, pronounced fawks Guy, English conspirator,
born in York. A protestant by birth, he became a Roman Catholic after the
marriage of his widowed mother to a man of Catholic background and sympathies(Miller
578). In 1593 he enlisted in the Spanish Army in Flanders and in 1596 participated
in the capture of the city of Calais by the Spanish in their war with Henry
IV of France. He became implicated with Thomas Winter and others in the
Gunpowder Plot to blow up Parliament as protest against the anti-Roman
This paper will demonstrate the life of
Guy Fawkes. Guy Fawkes was born on 13th April, 1570. Guy Fawkes was the
only 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 Fawkes
on 3rd October 1568, but the infant lived a mere seven weeks, being buried
on 14th November of the same year. Two other sisters were born followed
by Anne, another Anne, who later married Henry Kilburns in Scotton on 12th
October1572, and Elizabeth, who later married William Dickenson also in
Scotton on 27th May 1594. Edward Fawkes who was advocate of the consistory
court of the Archbishop of York. On his mother’s side, he was descended
from 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 Parliament
to kill the King, James I and the entire Parliament. The conspirators were
angered because King James had been exiling Jesuits from England. The plotters
wanted to wrest power away from the king and return the country to the
Catholic faith. Today, they would be known as extremists. However, in an
attempt to protect a friend in the House of Lords, one of the group members
sent an anonymous letter warning his friend to stay away from the parliament.
The warning letter reached the king, and
the conspirators were caught, tortured and executed. Guy Fawkes and his
friends had rolled 36 barrels of gunpowder into the cellar and covered
them with faggots under the House of parliament(Encyclopedia Americana
91). These days Guy Fawkes Day is also known as Bonfire Night. The event
is commemorated every year with fireworks and burning an effigy of Guy
Fawkes on a bonfire. The effigies are simply known as “Guys.” Some of the
English have been known to wonder whether they are celebrating Fawkes’
execution or honoring his attempt to do away with the government. There
was no doubt an attempt to blow up parliament. But Guy Fawkes and his associates
may 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 barrels
of gunpowder without the government finding out. As for the secret warning
letter, 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 plot
and stopped it just in time. But the letter was in fact very vague. It
said noting about the details of the attack. There are many mysteries about
the gunpowder plot that have never been satisfactorily explained(Ashley
621). Still, the king and his men knew exactly where and when to catch
the conspirators and stop the plot.
Gunpowder plot, conspiracy to kill James
I, king of England, as well as the Lords and the Commons at the opening
of parliament on November 5, 1605(Ashley 620). The plot was formed by a
group of prominent Roman Catholics in retaliation against the oppressive
anti-Catholic laws being applied by James I. The originator of the scheme
was Robert Catesby, a country gentleman of Warwickshire. First he took
his cousin Thomas Winter and his friends Thomas Percy and John Wright into
his confidence, along with Guy Fawkes, a soldier of fortune. They in turn
drew other Roman Catholic gentlemen into the plot, among them Sir Everard
Digby, John Grant, Ambrose Rokewood, Francis Tresham, Thomas Winter’s brother
Robert, and John Wright’s brother Christopher(Infoplease.com 1). The conspirators
discovered a vault directly beneath the House of Lords. They rented this
cellar and stored in it 36 barrels of gunpowder.
In the final arrangement, Fawkes was to
set fire to the gunpowder in the cellar on November 5 and then flee to
Flanders(Encarta 2000). Through a letter of warning written by Tresham
to a peer, the plot was exposed. Fawkes was arrested early on November
5 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 and
after ling obstinacy revealed the names of his associates, nearly all of
whom were killed on being taken or were hanged along with Fawkes on January
31, 1606. The Gunpowder Plot is commemorated annually in the United Kingdom
on November 5; on this day it is the custom to burn Guy Fawkes in a ragged
effigy. The slang work guy is derived from these effigies.
In 1593 Guy Fawkes enlisted in the Spanish
army of the Netherlands and became noted for his exceptional courage(Encarta
2000). In 1604 he was chosen by Robert Catesby and the other Catholic conspirators
in the Gunpowder Plot to execute their plan to blow up Parliament when
it assembled to hear James I on Nov. 5, 1605. The day before the gunpowder
was to be detonated, the plot was discovered. Fawkes was taken into custody
and 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 since
1605, every town and village in Great Britain lights bonfires, lets off
fireworks, burns and effigy of him and celebrates the fact the Parliament
and James I were not blown sky high by Guy Fawkes(Miller 579).