The infamous Gunpowder Plot conspirator
Summary: Guy Fawkes, also known as Guido, was an Elizabethan nobleman, adventurer, and politician who became involved in the infamous Gunpowder Plot. The Plot was intended to overthrow the government and assassinate the monarch by blowing up the Houses of Parliament. It failed and, although he was a relatively minor player, it was Fawkes who was to have lit the fuse but was instead caught in the act. He therefore achieved notoriety and became, by association, the principal character of the Plot.
TIMELINE1570 Born 13th April, Stonegate, York.
1570 Baptised, 16th April at Saint Michael-le-Belfrey, York
Parents Edward and Edith Fawkes. His father was proctor of the ecclessiastical courts and advocate of the consistory court of the Archbishop of York
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1579 His father died and his mother Edith married again into a Catholic family
School St. Peters School in York (he was a contemporary of John Wright and Christopher Wright who later became co-conspirators).
Little is known about his early life. His mother re-married and the family moved to Scotton. There is evidence, though questioned by some chroniclers, that Fawkes married Anne Pullyn in 1592 and had a son, Thomas, the following year.
1591 14th October Fawkes leased to Christopher Lomley of Yorke, tailor, "three and a half acres in Clifton, with one other acre there, and a barn and garth attached to Gilligaite" for twenty one years. This indicates that, on reaching the age of majority, he converted at least some of his inheritance into an income.
1593 Early Career Went to the Netherlands where he enlisted in the Spanish army under Archduke Albert of Austria. Fawkes held a post of command when the Spaniards took Calais in 1596 under the orders of King Philip II of Spain. Later he travelled to Spain in an attempt to persuade the king to send Catholic troops to invade England.
The Gunpowder Plot
1603 When Elizabeth I died without children, Mary's son, was next in line to the throne. As James was a Protestant, Parliament was also in favour of him becoming king. The Roman Catholics in England were upset that there was going to be another Protestant monarch. They also became very angry when James passed a law that imposed heavy fines on people who did not attend Protestant church services.
1604 In May, Robert Catesby devised the Gunpowder Plot, a scheme to kill James and as many Members of Parliament as possible. At a meeting at the Duck and Drake Inn Catesby explained his plan to Guy Fawkes, Thomas Percy, John Wright and Thomas Wintour. All the men agreed under oath to join the conspiracy. Over the next few months Francis Tresham, Everard Digby, Robert Wintour, Thomas Bates and Christopher Wright also agreed to take part in the overthrow of the king.
After the death of James in the explosion, Robert Catesby planned to make the king's young daughter, Elizabeth, queen. In time, Catesby hoped to arrange Elizabeth's marriage to a Catholic nobleman. It was Everard Digby's task to kidnap Princess Elizabeth from Coombe Abbey.
Catesby's plan involved blowing up the Houses of Parliament on 5th November. This date was chosen because the king was due to open Parliament on that day. At first the group tried to tunnel under Parliament. This plan changed when Thomas Percy was able to hire a cellar under the House of Lords. The plotters then filled the cellar with barrels of gunpowder. Fawkes, because of his munitions experience in the Netherlands, was given the task of creating the explosion.
The Plot was discovered when the cellars were searched the night before the opening. Fawkes was caught red-handed and although his fellow conspirators fled, they were cornered and either died resisting arrest or were captured and executed.
1606 Died 31st January Executed in the Garden of St. Paul's Cathedral / Old Palace Yard, Westminster
Postscript: King James I adapted an existing custom of celebrating the accession of a monarch with nationwide bonfires by passing a law making the festivities an annual event on November 5th. Although the law was repealed in 1859 the tradition remains. The character of Guy Fawkes is inseparable from November 5th which is today known variously as Guy Fawkes Day, Bonfire Night or Fireworks Night.
Nov 5, 2011 8:05am
How Did Guy Fawkes Become a Symbol of Occupy Wall Street?
Today is Guy Fawkes Day. In Great Britain, Guy Fawkes Day — and its post-meridian counterpart, Bonfire Night — have been celebrated every Nov. 5 for centuries, since soon after Fawkes’ death in 1605.
In the lead-up to today, a Guy Fawkes mask spawned by the 2006 movie “V for Vendetta” has become the accessory of choice at Occupy Wall Street and similar protests around the world.
So who was Guy Fawkes, and how did he become a symbol of protesters more than 400 years after his death?
Guy Fawkes was a Catholic who, spurred by religious persecution, led a plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament and bring down England’s Protestant monarchy. He was caught, imprisoned in the Tower of London, and tortured for four days under personal orders from King James I.
He refused to name his co-conspirators, but they were caught anyway. The plotters were tried, found guilty and sentenced to death by being hanged, drawn and quartered.
Annual commemorations of the foiled plot began soon after, as reminders to defend England from other traitors, especially disloyal Catholics. Over time they became a day and night of fun and pranks, with bonfires, fireworks and the burning of children’s effigies of Fawkes. Today kids have swapped effigies for Halloween, leaving just Bonfire Night and its fireworks, according to The Guardian.
In Britain in the early 1980s, artist David Lloyd and writer Alan Moore created the graphic novel “V for Vendetta,” about a masked rebel named V who fights a fascist future British government. Lloyd suggested having the rebel wear a Guy Fawkes costume.
“We shouldn’t burn the chap every 5 November but celebrate his attempt to blow up Parliament!” Lloyd wrote in a 1983 essay titled “Behind the Painted Smile.”
This inverted Fawkes’ image — from traitor to hero fighting an unjust state. It also separated it from religion. The movie adaptation of “V for Vendetta” concocted a finale in which a whole movement of discontents wearing Guy Fawkes costumes watch the Houses of Parliament burn.
The Fawkes mask resembles the man only in having dark hair and a moustache. The mask adds the soul patch, rosy cheeks and charismatic-trickster look.
In 2008 the Fawkes mask was appropriated by the hacker group Anonymous as its public face for a protest against Scientology, according to the BBC. Forbes.com has reported that Anonymous has said it would execute a computer attack on the Mexican drug cartel Zetas today, a date picked for its echo of Guy Fawkes Day.
And a Facebook page with an image of V in Fawkes costume asked “all OCCUPY Protestors to come together on November 5th, 2011, to rally again for our efforts to end corruption and social injustice.”
A final ironic twist: The mask is licensed by Time Warner, which released “V for Vendetta,” so anti-big-corporation protesters buying official versions of the masks are helping enrich an example of the target of their demonstrations.
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