Guy Fawkes

Guy Fawkes

Overview
Guy Fawkes also known as Guido Fawkes, the name he adopted while fighting for the Spanish in the Low Countries
Low Countries
The Low Countries are the historical lands around the low-lying delta of the Rhine, Scheldt, and Meuse rivers, including the modern countries of Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and parts of northern France and western Germany....

, belonged to a group of provincial English Catholics who planned the failed Gunpowder Plot
Gunpowder Plot
The Gunpowder Plot of 1605, in earlier centuries often called the Gunpowder Treason Plot or the Jesuit Treason, was a failed assassination attempt against King James I of England and VI of Scotland by a group of provincial English Catholics led by Robert Catesby.The plan was to blow up the House of...

 of 1605.

Fawkes was born and educated in York
York
York is a walled city, situated at the confluence of the Rivers Ouse and Foss in North Yorkshire, England. The city has a rich heritage and has provided the backdrop to major political events throughout much of its two millennia of existence...

. His father died when Fawkes was eight years old, after which his mother married a recusant
Recusancy
In the history of England and Wales, the recusancy was the state of those who refused to attend Anglican services. The individuals were known as "recusants"...

 Catholic. Fawkes later converted to Catholicism and left for the continent, where he fought in the Eighty Years' War on the side of Catholic Spain against Protestant Dutch reformers
Protestant Reformation
The Protestant Reformation was a 16th-century split within Western Christianity initiated by Martin Luther, John Calvin and other early Protestants. The efforts of the self-described "reformers", who objected to the doctrines, rituals and ecclesiastical structure of the Roman Catholic Church, led...

.
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Quotations

A desperate disease requires a dangerous remedy.

Remark (6 November 1605) as quoted in The Dictionary of National Biography Vol. 6 (1917); He is here invoking a version of a famous statement of Hippocrates, also translated as "Extreme remedies are very appropriate for extreme diseases." File:GuysSparkler.JPG|144px|thumb|right|Remember, remember, the 5th of NovemberThe Gunpowder Treason and plot;I know of no reason why Gunpowder TreasonShould ever be forgot.
Encyclopedia
Guy Fawkes also known as Guido Fawkes, the name he adopted while fighting for the Spanish in the Low Countries
Low Countries
The Low Countries are the historical lands around the low-lying delta of the Rhine, Scheldt, and Meuse rivers, including the modern countries of Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and parts of northern France and western Germany....

, belonged to a group of provincial English Catholics who planned the failed Gunpowder Plot
Gunpowder Plot
The Gunpowder Plot of 1605, in earlier centuries often called the Gunpowder Treason Plot or the Jesuit Treason, was a failed assassination attempt against King James I of England and VI of Scotland by a group of provincial English Catholics led by Robert Catesby.The plan was to blow up the House of...

 of 1605.

Fawkes was born and educated in York
York
York is a walled city, situated at the confluence of the Rivers Ouse and Foss in North Yorkshire, England. The city has a rich heritage and has provided the backdrop to major political events throughout much of its two millennia of existence...

. His father died when Fawkes was eight years old, after which his mother married a recusant
Recusancy
In the history of England and Wales, the recusancy was the state of those who refused to attend Anglican services. The individuals were known as "recusants"...

 Catholic. Fawkes later converted to Catholicism and left for the continent, where he fought in the Eighty Years' War on the side of Catholic Spain against Protestant Dutch reformers
Protestant Reformation
The Protestant Reformation was a 16th-century split within Western Christianity initiated by Martin Luther, John Calvin and other early Protestants. The efforts of the self-described "reformers", who objected to the doctrines, rituals and ecclesiastical structure of the Roman Catholic Church, led...

. He travelled to Spain to seek support for a Catholic rebellion in England but was unsuccessful. He later met Thomas Wintour
Robert and Thomas Wintour
Robert Wintour and Thomas Wintour , also spelt Winter, were members of the Gunpowder Plot, a failed conspiracy to assassinate King James I. Both were related to other conspirators, such as their cousin, Robert Catesby, and a half-brother, John Wintour, also joined them following the plot's failure...

, with whom he returned to England.

Wintour introduced Fawkes to Robert Catesby
Robert Catesby
Robert Catesby , was the leader of a group of provincial English Catholics who planned the failed Gunpowder Plot of 1605....

, who planned to assassinate and restore a Catholic monarch to the throne. The plotters secured the lease to an undercroft
Undercroft
An undercroft is traditionally a cellar or storage room, often brick-lined and vaulted, and used for storage in buildings since medieval times. In modern usage, an undercroft is generally a ground area which is relatively open to the sides, but covered by the building above.- History :While some...

 beneath the House of Lords
House of Lords
The House of Lords is the upper house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Like the House of Commons, it meets in the Palace of Westminster....

, and Fawkes was placed in charge of the gunpowder
Gunpowder
Gunpowder, also known since in the late 19th century as black powder, was the first chemical explosive and the only one known until the mid 1800s. It is a mixture of sulfur, charcoal, and potassium nitrate - with the sulfur and charcoal acting as fuels, while the saltpeter works as an oxidizer...

 they stockpiled there. Prompted by the receipt of an anonymous letter, the authorities searched Westminster Palace during the early hours of 5 November, and found Fawkes guarding the explosives. Over the next few days, he was questioned and tortured, and eventually he broke. Immediately before his execution on 31 January, Fawkes jumped from the scaffold where he was to be hanged and broke his neck, thus avoiding the agony of the mutilation
Hanged, drawn and quartered
To be hanged, drawn and quartered was from 1351 a penalty in England for men convicted of high treason, although the ritual was first recorded during the reigns of King Henry III and his successor, Edward I...

 that followed.

Fawkes became synonymous with the Gunpowder Plot, the failure of which has been commemorated in England since 5 November 1605. His effigy is often burned on a bonfire, commonly accompanied by a firework display.

Childhood



Guy Fawkes was born in 1570 in Stonegate, York
York
York is a walled city, situated at the confluence of the Rivers Ouse and Foss in North Yorkshire, England. The city has a rich heritage and has provided the backdrop to major political events throughout much of its two millennia of existence...

. He was the second of four children born to Edward Fawkes, a proctor
Proctor
Proctor, a variant of the word procurator, is a person who takes charge of, or acts for, another. The word proctor is frequently used to describe someone who oversees an exam or dormitory.The title is used in England in three principal senses:...

 and an advocate of the consistory court
Consistory court
The consistory court is a type of ecclesiastical court, especially within the Church of England. They were established by a charter of King William I of England, and still exist today, although since about the middle of the 19th century consistory courts have lost much of their subject-matter...

 at York, and his wife, Edith. Guy's parents were regular communicants of the Church of England
Church of England
The Church of England is the officially established Christian church in England and the Mother Church of the worldwide Anglican Communion. The church considers itself within the tradition of Western Christianity and dates its formal establishment principally to the mission to England by St...

, as were his paternal grandparents; his grandmother, born Ellen Harrington, was the daughter of a prominent merchant, who served as Lord Mayor of York in 1536. However, Guy's mother's family were recusant Catholics
Recusancy
In the history of England and Wales, the recusancy was the state of those who refused to attend Anglican services. The individuals were known as "recusants"...

, and his cousin, Richard Cowling, became a Jesuit priest. Guy was an uncommon name in England, but may have been popular in York on account of a local notable, Sir Guy Fairfax
Guy Fairfax
Sir Guy Fairfax , was an English judge.Fairfax was of a Yorkshire family, and third son of Richard Fairfax of Walton, by his wife, Anastasia, daughter of John Carthorpe. He is mentioned in 1421 as seised of the manor of Hameldene, being then very young. From his father he inherited the manor of...

 of Steeton.

The date of Fawkes' birth is unknown, but he was baptised
Baptism
In Christianity, baptism is for the majority the rite of admission , almost invariably with the use of water, into the Christian Church generally and also membership of a particular church tradition...

 in the church of St. Michael le Belfrey
St. Michael le Belfrey
St. Michael le Belfrey is an Anglican church in York, England. It is situated directly next to York Minster in the heart of the city.-History:...

 on 16 April. As the customary gap between birth and baptism was three days, he was probably born about 13 April. In 1568, Edith had given birth to a daughter named Anne, but the child died aged about seven weeks, in November that year. She bore two more children after Guy: Anne (b. 1572), and Elizabeth (b. 1575). Both were married, in 1599 and 1594 respectively.

In 1579, when Guy was eight years old, his father died. His mother remarried several years later, to the Catholic Dionis Baynbrigge (or Denis Bainbridge) of Scotton, Harrogate
Scotton, Harrogate
Scotton is a small village and civil parish in the Harrogate district of North Yorkshire, England with a population 283 in the 2001 census. It is located four miles north of Harrogate, and less than two miles from Knaresborough....

. Fawkes may have become a Catholic through the Baynbrigge family's recusant tendencies, and also the Catholic branches of the Pulleyn and Percy families of Scotton, but also from his time at St. Peter's School
St Peter's School, York
St Peter's School is a co-educational independent boarding and day school located in the English City of York, with extensive grounds on the banks of the River Ouse...

 in York. A governor of the school had spent about 20 years in prison for recusancy, and its headmaster, John Pulleyn, came from a family of noted Yorkshire recusants, the Pulleyns of Blubberhouses
Blubberhouses
Blubberhouses is a small village and civil parish located in the Washburn Valley in the borough of Harrogate in North Yorkshire, a county in the north of England. It is situated to the south of the Yorkshire Dales national park, and to the north of a Roman road and Fewston Reservoir.The village is...

. In her 1915 work The Pulleynes of Yorkshire, author Catharine Pullein suggested that Fawkes's Catholic education came from his Harrington relatives, who were known for harbouring priests, one of whom later accompanied Fawkes to Flanders in 1592–1593. Fawkes's fellow students included John Wright
John and Christopher Wright
John Wright , and Christopher Wright , were members of the group of provincial English Catholics who planned the failed Gunpowder Plot of 1605, a conspiracy to assassinate King James I by blowing up the House of Lords. Their sister married another plotter, Thomas Percy...

 and his brother Christopher (both later involved with Fawkes in the Gunpowder plot
Gunpowder Plot
The Gunpowder Plot of 1605, in earlier centuries often called the Gunpowder Treason Plot or the Jesuit Treason, was a failed assassination attempt against King James I of England and VI of Scotland by a group of provincial English Catholics led by Robert Catesby.The plan was to blow up the House of...

) and Oswald Tesimond
Oswald Tesimond
Oswald Tesimond was a Jesuit born in either Northumberland or York who, while not a direct conspirator, had some involvement in the Gunpowder Plot....

, Edward Oldcorne
Edward Oldcorne
Blessed Edward Oldcorne or Oldcorn alias Hall was an English Jesuit priest. He was known to people who knew of the Gunpowder Plot to destroy the Parliament of England and kill King James I, and, although his involvement is unclear, he was caught up in the subsequent investigation...

 and Robert Middleton, who became priests (the latter executed in 1601).

After leaving school Fawkes entered the service of Anthony Browne, 1st Viscount Montagu
Anthony Browne, 1st Viscount Montagu
Anthony Browne, 1st Viscount Montagu KG PC was an English peer during the Tudor period.He was the eldest son of Sir Anthony Browne...

. The Viscount took a dislike to Fawkes and after a short time dismissed him; he was subsequently employed by Anthony-Maria Browne, 2nd Viscount Montagu
Anthony-Maria Browne, 2nd Viscount Montagu
Anthony-Maria Browne was an English peer during the Tudor and Stuart period.He was born in 1574, and become the Second Viscount Montagu on the death of his grandfather in 1592. He married Jane Sackville, the daughter of Thomas Sackville, 1st Earl of Dorset, in 1591...

, who succeeded his grandfather at the age of 18. At least one source claims that Fawkes married and had a son, but no known contemporary accounts confirm this.

Military career


In October 1591 Fawkes sold the estate in Clifton that he had inherited from his father. He travelled to the continent to fight in the Eighty Years War for Catholic Spain against the new Dutch Republic
Dutch Republic
The Dutch Republic — officially known as the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands , the Republic of the United Netherlands, or the Republic of the Seven United Provinces — was a republic in Europe existing from 1581 to 1795, preceding the Batavian Republic and ultimately...

 and, from 1595 until the Peace of Vervins
Peace of Vervins
The Peace of Vervins was signed between the representatives of Henry IV of France and Philip II of Spain, on 2 May 1598, at the small town of Vervins in Picardy, northern France, close to the territory of the Habsburg Netherlands...

 in 1598, France. Although England was not by then engaged in land operations against Spain, the two countries were still at war
Anglo-Spanish War (1585)
The Anglo–Spanish War was an intermittent conflict between the kingdoms of Spain and England that was never formally declared. The war was punctuated by widely separated battles, and began with England's military expedition in 1585 to the Netherlands under the command of the Earl of Leicester in...

, and the Spanish Armada
Spanish Armada
This article refers to the Battle of Gravelines, for the modern navy of Spain, see Spanish NavyThe Spanish Armada was the Spanish fleet that sailed against England under the command of the Duke of Medina Sidonia in 1588, with the intention of overthrowing Elizabeth I of England to stop English...

 of 1588 was only five years in the past. He joined Sir William Stanley
William Stanley (Elizabethan)
Sir William Stanley , son of Sir Rowland Stanley of Hooton , was a member of the Stanley family. He was an officer and a recusant, who served under Elizabeth I of England and is most noted for his surrender of Deventer to the Spanish in 1587.-Early career:Stanley was educated with Dr. Standish at...

, an English Catholic and veteran commander in his mid-fifties who had raised an army in Ireland to fight in Leicester's expedition to the Netherlands
Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester
Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester, KG was an English nobleman and the favourite and close friend of Elizabeth I from her first year on the throne until his death...

. Stanley had been held in high regard by Elizabeth I
Elizabeth I of England
Elizabeth I was queen regnant of England and Ireland from 17 November 1558 until her death. Sometimes called The Virgin Queen, Gloriana, or Good Queen Bess, Elizabeth was the fifth and last monarch of the Tudor dynasty...

, but following his surrender of Deventer
Deventer
Deventer is a municipality and city in the Salland region of the Dutch province of Overijssel. Deventer is largely situated on the east bank of the river IJssel, but also has a small part of its territory on the west bank. In 2005 the municipality of Bathmen Deventer is a municipality and city in...

 to the Spanish in 1587 he, and most of his troops, had switched sides to serve Spain. Fawkes became an alférez or junior officer, fought well at the siege of Calais in 1596, and by 1603 had been recommended for a captaincy
Captaincy
A captaincy is a historical administrative division of the former Spanish and Portuguese colonial empires. Each was governed by a captain general.-In the Portuguese Empire:...

. That year, he travelled to Spain to seek support for a Catholic rebellion in England. He used the occasion to adopt the Italian version of his name, Guido, and in his memorandum described James I
James I of England
James VI and I was King of Scots as James VI from 24 July 1567 and King of England and Ireland as James I from the union of the English and Scottish crowns on 24 March 1603...

 as "a heretic", who intended "to have all of the Papist sect driven out of England." He denounced Scotland, and the King's favourite
Favourite
A favourite , or favorite , was the intimate companion of a ruler or other important person. In medieval and Early Modern Europe, among other times and places, the term is used of individuals delegated significant political power by a ruler...

s among the Scottish nobles, writing "it will not be possible to reconcile these two nations, as they are, for very long". Although he was received politely, the court of Philip III
Philip III of Spain
Philip III , also known as Philip the Pious, was the King of Spain and King of Portugal and the Algarves, where he ruled as Philip II , from 1598 until his death...

 was unwilling to offer him any support.

Gunpowder Plot


In 1604 Fawkes became involved with a small group of English Catholics, led by Robert Catesby
Robert Catesby
Robert Catesby , was the leader of a group of provincial English Catholics who planned the failed Gunpowder Plot of 1605....

, who planned to assassinate the Protestant King James and replace him with his daughter, third in the line of succession, Princess Elizabeth
Elizabeth of Bohemia
Elizabeth of Bohemia was the eldest daughter of King James VI and I, King of Scotland, England, Ireland, and Anne of Denmark. As the wife of Frederick V, Elector Palatine, she was Electress Palatine and briefly Queen of Bohemia...

. Fawkes was described by the Jesuit priest and former school friend Oswald Tesimond as "pleasant of approach and cheerful of manner, opposed to quarrels and strife ... loyal to his friends". Tesimond also claimed Fawkes was "a man highly skilled in matters of war", and that it was this mixture of piety and professionalism which endeared him to his fellow conspirators. The author Antonia Fraser
Antonia Fraser
Lady Antonia Margaret Caroline Fraser, DBE , née Pakenham, is an Anglo-Irish author of history, novels, biographies and detective fiction, best known as Antonia Fraser...

 describes Fawkes as "a tall, powerfully built man, with thick reddish-brown hair, a flowing moustache in the tradition of the time, and a bushy reddish-brown beard", and that he was "a man of action ... capable of intelligent argument as well as physical endurance, somewhat to the surprise of his enemies."

The first meeting of the five central conspirators took place on Sunday 20 May 1604, at an inn called the Duck and Drake, in the fashionable Strand
Strand, London
Strand is a street in the City of Westminster, London, England. The street is just over three-quarters of a mile long. It currently starts at Trafalgar Square and runs east to join Fleet Street at Temple Bar, which marks the boundary of the City of London at this point, though its historical length...

 district of London. Catesby had already proposed at an earlier meeting with Thomas Wintour
Robert and Thomas Wintour
Robert Wintour and Thomas Wintour , also spelt Winter, were members of the Gunpowder Plot, a failed conspiracy to assassinate King James I. Both were related to other conspirators, such as their cousin, Robert Catesby, and a half-brother, John Wintour, also joined them following the plot's failure...

 and John Wright to kill the King and his government by blowing up "the Parliament House with gunpowder". Wintour, who at first objected to the plan, was convinced by Catesby to travel to the continent to seek help. Wintour met with the Constable of Castile, the exiled Welsh spy Hugh Owen, and Sir William Stanley, who said that Catesby would receive no support from Spain. Owen did, however, introduce Wintour to Fawkes, who had by then been away from England for many years, and thus was largely unknown in the country. Wintour and Fawkes were contemporaries; each was militant, and had first-hand experience of the unwillingness of the Spaniards to help. Wintour told Fawkes of their plan to "doe some whatt in Ingland if the pece with Spaine healped us nott", and thus in April 1604 the two men returned to England. Wintour's news did not surprise Catesby; despite positive noises from the Spanish authorities, he feared that "the deeds would nott answere".

One of the conspirators, Thomas Percy
Thomas Percy (plotter)
Thomas Percy was a member of the group of provincial English Catholics who planned the failed Gunpowder Plot of 1605. A tall, physically impressive man, little is known of his early life beyond his matriculation in 1579 to Peterhouse College in Cambridge, and his marriage in 1591 to Martha Wright...

 was promoted in June 1604, gaining access to a house in London which belonged to John Whynniard, Keeper of the King's Wardrobe. Fawkes was installed as a caretaker and began using the pseudonym John Johnson, servant to Percy. The contemporaneous account of the prosecution (taken from Thomas Wintour's confession) claimed that the conspirators attempted to dig a tunnel from beneath Whynniard's house to Parliament, although this story may have been a government fabrication; no evidence for the existence of a tunnel was presented by the prosecution, and no trace of one has ever been found; Fawkes himself did not admit the existence of such a scheme until his fifth interrogation, but even then he could not locate the tunnel. If the story is true, however, by December 1604 the conspirators were busy tunnelling from their rented house to the House of Lords. They ceased their efforts when, during tunnelling, they heard a noise from above. Fawkes was sent out to investigate, and returned with the news that the tenant's widow was clearing out a nearby undercroft
Undercroft
An undercroft is traditionally a cellar or storage room, often brick-lined and vaulted, and used for storage in buildings since medieval times. In modern usage, an undercroft is generally a ground area which is relatively open to the sides, but covered by the building above.- History :While some...

, directly beneath the House of Lords.

The plotters purchased the lease to the room, which also belonged to John Whynniard. Unused and filthy, it was considered an ideal hiding place for the gunpowder the plotters planned to store. According to Fawkes, 20 barrels of gunpowder were brought in at first, followed by 16 more on 20 July. On 28 July however, the ever-present threat of the plague delayed the opening of Parliament until Tuesday, 5 November.

Overseas


In an attempt to gain foreign support, in May 1605 Fawkes travelled overseas and informed Hugh Owen of the plotters' plan. At some point during this trip his name made its way into the files of Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury
Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury
Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury, KG, PC was an English administrator and politician.-Life:He was the son of William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley and Mildred Cooke...

, who employed a network of spies across Europe. One of these spies, Captain William Turner, may have been responsible. Although the information he provided to Salisbury usually amounted to no more than a vague pattern of invasion reports, and included nothing which regarded the Gunpowder Plot, on 21 April he told how Fawkes was to be brought by Tesimond to England. Fawkes was a well known Flemish mercenary, and would be introduced to "Mr Catesby" and "honourable friends of the nobility and others who would have arms and horses in readiness". Turner's report did not, however, mention Fawkes's pseudonym in England, John Johnson, and did not reach Cecil until late in November, well after the plot had been discovered.

It is uncertain when Fawkes returned to England, but he was back in London by late August 1605, when he and Wintour discovered that the gunpowder stored in the undercroft had decayed. More gunpowder was brought into the room, along with firewood to conceal it. Fawkes's final role in the plot was settled during a series of meetings in October. He was to light the fuse and then escape across the Thames. Simultaneously, a revolt in the Midlands would help to ensure the capture of Princess Elizabeth. Acts of regicide
Regicide
The broad definition of regicide is the deliberate killing of a monarch, or the person responsible for the killing of a monarch. In a narrower sense, in the British tradition, it refers to the judicial execution of a king after a trial...

 were frowned upon, and Fawkes would therefore head to the continent, where he would explain to the Catholic powers his holy duty to kill the King and his retinue.

Discovery



A few of the conspirators were concerned about fellow Catholics who would be present at Parliament during the opening. On the evening of 26 October, Lord Monteagle
William Parker, 4th Baron Monteagle
William Parker, 13th Baron Morley, 4th Baron Monteagle was an English peer, Lord of Morley, Hingham, Hockering, &c., in Norfolk, the eldest son of Edward Parker, 12th Baron Morley , and of Elizabeth Stanley, daughter and heiress of William Stanley, 3rd Baron Monteagle .When quite a youth he...

 received an anonymous letter warning him to stay away, and to "retyre youre self into yowre contee whence yow maye expect the event in safti for ... they shall receyve a terrible blowe this parleament". Despite quickly becoming aware of the letter informed by one of Monteagle's servants the conspirators resolved to continue with their plans, as it appeared that it "was clearly thought to be a hoax". Fawkes checked the undercroft on 30 October, and reported that nothing had been disturbed. Monteagle's suspicions had been aroused however, and the letter was shown to King James. The King ordered Sir Thomas Knyvet
Thomas Knyvet, 1st Baron Knyvet
Thomas James Knyvet, 1st Baron Knyvet was the second son of Sir Henry Knyvet of Charlton, Wiltshire and Anne Pickering, daughter of Sir Christopher Pickering of Killington, Westmoreland. His half-sister Catherine Knyvet was married to Thomas Howard, 1st Earl of Suffolk...

 to conduct a search of the cellars underneath Parliament, which he did in the early hours of 5 November. Fawkes had taken up his station late on the previous night, armed with a slow match and a watch given to him by Percy "becaus he should knowe howe the time went away". He was found leaving the cellar, shortly after midnight, and arrested. Inside, the barrels of gunpowder were discovered hidden under piles of firewood and coal.

Torture


Fawkes gave his name as John Johnson and was first interrogated by members of the King's Privy Chamber, where he remained defiant. When asked by one of the lords what he was doing in possession of so much gunpowder, Fawkes answered that his intention was "to blow you Scotch beggars back to your native mountains." He identified himself as a 36-year-old Catholic from Netherdale in Yorkshire, and gave his father's name as Thomas and his mother's as Edith Jackson. Wounds on his body noted by his questioners he explained as the effects of pleurisy
Pleurisy
Pleurisy is an inflammation of the pleura, the lining of the pleural cavity surrounding the lungs. Among other things, infections are the most common cause of pleurisy....

. Fawkes admitted his intention to blow up the House of Lords, and expressed regret at his failure to do so. His steadfast manner earned him the admiration of King James, who described Fawkes as possessing "a Roman resolution".

James's admiration did not, however, prevent him from ordering on 6 November that "John Johnson" be tortured, to reveal the names of his co-conspirators. He directed that the torture be light at first, referring to the use of manacles, but more severe if necessary, authorising the use of the rack
Rack (torture)
The rack is a torture device consisting of a rectangular, usually wooden frame, slightly raised from the ground, with a roller at one, or both, ends, having at one end a fixed bar to which the legs were fastened, and at the other a movable bar to which the hands were tied...

: "the gentler Tortures are to be first used unto him et sic per gradus ad ima tenditur [and so by degrees proceeding to the worst]". Fawkes was transferred to the Tower of London
Tower of London
Her Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress, more commonly known as the Tower of London, is a historic castle on the north bank of the River Thames in central London, England. It lies within the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, separated from the eastern edge of the City of London by the open space...

. The King composed a list of questions to be put to "Johnson", such as "as to what he is, For I can never yet hear of any man that knows him", "When and where he learned to speak French?", and "If he was a Papist, who brought him up in it?" The room in which Fawkes was interrogated subsequently became known as the Guy Fawkes Room.


Sir William Waad, Lieutenant of the Tower, supervised the torture and obtained Fawkes's confession. He searched his prisoner, and found a letter, addressed to Guy Fawkes. To Waad's surprise, "Johnson" remained silent, revealing nothing about the plot or its authors. On the night of 6 November he spoke with Waad, who reported to Salisbury "He [Johnson] told us that since he undertook this action he did every day pray to God he might perform that which might be for the advancement of the Catholic Faith and saving his own soul". According to Waad, Fawkes managed to rest through the night, despite his being warned that he would be interrogated until "I had gotton the inwards secret of his thoughts and all his complices". His composure was broken at some point during the following day.

The observer Sir Edward Hoby remarked "Since Johnson's being in the Tower, he beginneth to speak English". Fawkes revealed his true identity on 7 November, and told his interrogators that there were five people involved in the plot to kill the King. He began to reveal their names on 8 November, and told how they intended to place Princess Elizabeth on the throne. His third confession, on 9 November, implicated Francis Tresham
Francis Tresham
Francis Tresham , eldest son of Sir Thomas Tresham and Merial Throckmorton, was a member of the group of English provincial catholics who planned the failed Gunpowder Plot of 1605, a conspiracy to assassinate King James I of England...

. Following the Ridolfi plot
Ridolfi plot
The Ridolfi plot was a plot in 1570 to assassinate Queen Elizabeth I of England and replace her with Mary, Queen of Scots. The plot was hatched and planned by Roberto di Ridolfi, an international banker who was able to travel between Brussels, Rome and Madrid to gather support without attracting...

 of 1571 prisoners were made to dictate their confessions, before copying and signing them, if they still could. Although it is uncertain if he was subjected to the horrors of the rack, Fawkes's signature, little more than a scrawl, bears testament to the suffering he endured at the hands of his interrogators.

Trial and execution


The trial of eight of the plotters began on Monday 27 January 1606. Fawkes shared the barge from the Tower to Westminster Hall with seven of his co-conspirators. They were kept in the Star Chamber
Star Chamber
The Star Chamber was an English court of law that sat at the royal Palace of Westminster until 1641. It was made up of Privy Counsellors, as well as common-law judges and supplemented the activities of the common-law and equity courts in both civil and criminal matters...

 before being taken to Westminster Hall, where they were displayed on a purpose-built scaffold. The King and his close family, watching in secret, were among the spectators as the Lords Commissioners read out the list of charges. Fawkes was identified as Guido Fawkes, "otherwise called Guido Johnson". He pleaded not guilty, despite his apparent acceptance of guilt from the moment he was captured.


The outcome was never in doubt. The jury found all of the defendants guilty, and the Lord Chief Justice
Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales
The Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales is the head of the judiciary and President of the Courts of England and Wales. Historically, he was the second-highest judge of the Courts of England and Wales, after the Lord Chancellor, but that changed as a result of the Constitutional Reform Act 2005,...

 Sir John Popham proclaimed them guilty of high treason
High treason
High treason is criminal disloyalty to one's government. Participating in a war against one's native country, attempting to overthrow its government, spying on its military, its diplomats, or its secret services for a hostile and foreign power, or attempting to kill its head of state are perhaps...

. The Attorney General
Attorney General for England and Wales
Her Majesty's Attorney General for England and Wales, usually known simply as the Attorney General, is one of the Law Officers of the Crown. Along with the subordinate Solicitor General for England and Wales, the Attorney General serves as the chief legal adviser of the Crown and its government in...

 Sir Edward Coke
Edward Coke
Sir Edward Coke SL PC was an English barrister, judge and politician considered to be the greatest jurist of the Elizabethan and Jacobean eras. Born into a middle class family, Coke was educated at Trinity College, Cambridge before leaving to study at the Inner Temple, where he was called to the...

 told the court that each of the condemned would be drawn backwards to his death, by a horse, his head near the ground. They were to be "put to death halfway between heaven and earth as unworthy of both". Their genitals would be cut off and burnt before their eyes, and their bowels and hearts removed. They would then be decapitated, and the dismembered parts of their bodies displayed so that they might become "prey for the fowls of the air". Fawkes's and Tresham's testimony regarding the Spanish treason was read aloud, as well as confessions related specifically to the Gunpowder Plot. The last piece of evidence offered was a conversation between Fawkes and Wintour, who had been kept in adjacent cells. The two men apparently thought they had been speaking in private, but their conversation was intercepted by a government spy. When the prisoners were allowed to speak, Fawkes explained his not guilty plea as ignorance of certain aspects of the indictment.

On 31 January 1606, Fawkes and three others Thomas Wintour, Ambrose Rookwood, and Robert Keyes were dragged from the Tower on wattled hurdle
Hurdle
A hurdle is a moveable section of light fence. Traditionally they were made from wattle , but modern hurdles are often made of metal. Hurdles are used for handling livestock, as decorative fencing, for horse racing and in the track and field event of hurdling.-Types:*Traditional hurdles are made...

s to the Old Palace Yard at Westminster, opposite the building they had attempted to destroy. His fellow plotters were hanged, drawn and quartered
Hanged, drawn and quartered
To be hanged, drawn and quartered was from 1351 a penalty in England for men convicted of high treason, although the ritual was first recorded during the reigns of King Henry III and his successor, Edward I...

. Fawkes was the last to stand on the scaffold. He asked for forgiveness of the King and state, while keeping up his "crosses and idle ceremonies", and aided by the hangman began to climb the ladder to the noose. Although weakened by torture, Fawkes managed to jump from the gallows, breaking his neck in the fall and thus avoiding the agony of the latter part of his execution. His lifeless body was nevertheless quartered, and as was the custom, his body parts were then distributed to "the four corners of the kingdom", to be displayed as a warning to other would-be traitors.

Legacy


On 5 November 1605 Londoners were encouraged to celebrate the King's escape from assassination by lighting bonfires, "always provided that 'this testemonye of joy be carefull done without any danger or disorder. An Act of Parliament designated each 5 November as a day of thanksgiving for "the joyful day of deliverance", and remained in force until 1859. Although he was only one of 13 conspirators, Fawkes is today the individual most associated with the failed Plot.

In Britain, 5 November has variously been called Guy Fawkes Night
Guy Fawkes Night
Guy Fawkes Night, also known as Guy Fawkes Day, Bonfire Night and Firework Night, is an annual commemoration observed on 5 November, primarily in England. Its history begins with the events of 5 November 1605, when Guy Fawkes, a member of the Gunpowder Plot, was arrested while guarding...

, Guy Fawkes Day, Plot Night and Bonfire Night; the latter can be traced directly back to the original celebration of 5 November 1605. Bonfires were accompanied by fireworks from the 1650s onwards, and it became the custom to burn an effigy (usually the Pope) after 1673, when the heir presumptive, James, Duke of York
James II of England
James II & VII was King of England and King of Ireland as James II and King of Scotland as James VII, from 6 February 1685. He was the last Catholic monarch to reign over the Kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland...

 made his conversion to Catholicism public. Effigies of other notable figures who have become targets for the public's ire, such as Paul Kruger
Paul Kruger
Stephanus Johannes Paulus Kruger , better known as Paul Kruger and affectionately known as Uncle Paul was State President of the South African Republic...

 and Margaret Thatcher
Margaret Thatcher
Margaret Hilda Thatcher, Baroness Thatcher, was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1979 to 1990...

, have also found their way onto the bonfires, although most modern effigies are of Fawkes. The "guy" is normally created by children, from old clothes, newspapers, and a mask. During the 19th century, "guy" came to mean an oddly dressed person, but in American English
American English
American English is a set of dialects of the English language used mostly in the United States. Approximately two-thirds of the world's native speakers of English live in the United States....

 it lost any pejorative connotation, and was used to refer to any male person.

William Harrison Ainsworth
William Harrison Ainsworth
William Harrison Ainsworth was an English historical novelist born in Manchester. He trained as a lawyer, but the legal profession held no attraction for him. While completing his legal studies in London he met the publisher John Ebers, at that time manager of the King's Theatre, Haymarket...

's 1841 historical romance Guy Fawkes; or, The Gunpowder Treason
Guy Fawkes (novel)
Guy Fawkes first appeared as a serial in Bentley's Miscellany, between January and November 1840. It was subsequently published as a three-volume set in July 1841, with illustrations by George Cruikshank...

, portrays Fawkes in a generally sympathetic light, and transformed him in the public perception into an "acceptable fictional character". Fawkes subsequently appeared as "essentially an action hero" in children's books and penny dreadful
Penny Dreadful
A penny dreadful was a type of British fiction publication in the 19th century that usually featured lurid serial stories appearing in parts over a number of weeks, each part costing an penny...

s such as The Boyhood Days of Guy Fawkes; or, The Conspirators of Old London, published in about 1905. Fawkes is sometimes referred to as "the only man ever to enter Parliament with honest intentions".

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