Guy Fawkes

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 Catholic laws.

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 mothers 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 kings 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 Winters brother Robert, and John Wrights brother Christopher( 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).