Raised protestant as a child, Guy Fawkes converted to Catholicism when King James I caused the suffering and discrimination of Catholics. Under his reign, many conspired to attack or dethrone James, including the conspiracy led by Robert Catesby, who recruited Fawkes to join his plan.
Known as one of the conspirators of the failed Gunfire Plot who aimed to make the Parliament explode and became the cause of his fellow plotters’ capture, Guy Fawkes remains relevant today as an anti-establishment symbol.
Guy Fawkes and His Life Before the Infamous Plot
Known as one of the people behind the consecutively celebrated Bonfire Night commemoration, Guy Fawkes’ relevance shows itself through the usage of Guy Fawkes masks in political events. With the Guy Fawkes mask familiarized by the 2006 Warner Bros film V for Vendetta, the Guy Fawkes mask became an anti-state symbol used by many political groups. With that said, a question comes to mind: Who is Guy Fawkes, and what did he do? (Source: The Financial Express)
Born on April 14, 1570, Guy Fawkes was initially a Protestant in his childhood years. After his father’s passing, his mother remarried a Catholic man. Since then, Fawkes converted himself into a Catholic. In his early adulthood, Fawkes departed from England to enlist in the Spanish army; with the garnered skills from his experiences in the War of Religion, Fawkes became a known expert in explosives.
During this time, King James I blatantly showed his opposition to Catholicism. In 1604, James expressed his complete disapproval of Catholicism and commanded English priests to withdraw from the country. In addition to that, James perpetuated his antecedent’s anti-Catholic policies, like fining individuals who didn’t attend Protestant services.
Many conspiracies intending to attack and dethrone James emerged as he remained repressive towards Catholics, including the plan made by Robert Catesby, Guy Fawkes, and a small group of Catholics that opposed James. (Source: History)
The Conspiracy Behind the Bonfire Night
In May 1604, in the Duck and Drake Inn, located in London, Robert Catesby, Guy Fawkes, Tom Wintour, Jack Wright, and Thomas Percy planned a conspiracy to detonate the Houses of Parliament using gunpowder. Proposed by Robert Catesby, all the men agreed to his plan, swearing an oath of secrecy on a religious book. Eight additional conspirers became involved in the conspiracy.
Now known as the Gunfire Plot, Fawkes’ role in the plan involved looking after the 36 barrels of gunpowder before lighting it up. And on November 4 of 1605, a search party discovered Fawkes in the cellar of the Parliament. With the conspiracy cut short, Fawkes ended up in the Tower of London for torturing, as requested by King James I.
After days of torment, Fawkes confessed to the entire plan, including the involved conspirators. From then, the authorities apprehended the remaining conspirers, except for four, and they became sentenced to death for high treason. (Source: History)
After the reveal of the Gunfire Plot, many celebrated its failure. For more than four hundred years, the Bonfire Night is held every November 5 to commemorate the failed conspiracy of Guy Fawkes and the rest of his conspirators. Fireworks, bonfires, and sparklers light up the United Kingdom, and sometimes, people burn a dummy who represents Guy Fawkes. (Source: BBC)