The Plot’s Ringleader Was Not Guy Fawkes
In fact, there were 13 conspirators behind the famous gunpowder plot. But, it was Robert Catesby who masterminded it – not Guy Fawkes.
Robert Catesby was a Catholic. He was also someone distinguished for his reputation on speaking out against the English crown.
Even so, the notoriety fell on Guy Fawkes once the plot had failed. His role was to sneak into the cellar beneath the House of Lords and to ignite the explosives on November 5th 1605.
Guy Fawkes got caught red-handed with the gunpowder – all 36 barrels of it! In fact, he was the only conspirator captured by the King’s men in the first few days.
Guy Fawkes was a Protestant by Birth
Fawkes became one of the greatest enemies of the Protestant establishment. But, he was actually born into the faith. His maternal grandparents were defiant Catholics, refusing with recusancy to attend Protestant services.
He was eight years old when his father died in 1578. But, Fawkes converted to Catholicism as a teenager, after his widowed mother married a Catholic.
‘Guy’ Adopted an Italian Nickname
He was a committed Catholic by the age of 21. After selling the estate left to him by his father, Fawkes went on to fight for Catholic Spain in Europe. He fought against the Protestant Dutch republic during the Eighty Years War.
During his time abroad, he became known as ‘Guido’ – after adopting the Italian variant. It most likely was a vain attempt to appear more continental and strengthen his views on the Catholic faith.
He gave his name as ‘John Johnson’ after his initial capture by the King’s men. The ensuing torture forced him to sign a confession of his role in the Gunpowder Plot. In fact, he signed his name as ‘Guido Fawkes’.
There is an Island Named after Guy Fawkes
There are few, if any, infamous villains in British history better remembered than Guy Fawkes. We have burned his effigy and celebrated his public demise for several centuries.
So, one of the lesser known and most interesting facts about Guy Fawkes is the island named after him. Yes, ‘Isla Guy Fawkes’ rests to the north-west of Santa Cruz Island in the Galapagos Islands.
Still Searching the Houses of Parliament
It could qualify as one of the strangest old English laws not repealed.
But, the Houses of Parliament are still searched once a year. The search aims to ensure no conspirators are in hiding with barrels of explosives.
Of course, they didn’t find any would-be conspirators hiding in the cellars (at the time of writing).
In actuality, the annual event takes place more as an English tradition – rather than a serious precaution for surviving a terrorist attack.
Guy Fawkes’s Cellar No Longer Exists
Fawkes tried to blow up a cellar, but it no longer exists. A severe fire that occurred in 1834 destroyed it. The same fire devastated the medieval Houses of Parliament.
The Gunpowder Plot may have Failed
Experts say the gunpowder used by Guy Fawkes would have done little damage to Parliament. The 36 barrels would have been enough to raze the building to the ground. Not to mention, the damage it would have caused to neighbouring buildings.
But, there are those that claim the gunpowder had ‘decayed’. It is unlikely that it would have exploded ‘properly’ even if someone had ignited it.
Guy Fawkes Leapt to his Death
The role of Guy fawkes in the Gunpowder Plot was to kill King James l along with as many members of parliament as possible.
Contrary to the misconception of many, Guy Fawkes did not die from a fate of being ‘hung, drawn and quartered’. Yes, it was the traditional death bestowed on traitors in 17th-century England. Fawkes was to be hanged from the gallows, drawn, and then quartered in public.
But, it was not to be his fate:
Fawkes awaited the grisly punishment for his crime. He was to have his testicles cut off, his stomach opened up, and his guts spilled out over the gallows.
Instead, the infamous villain Guy Fawkes jumped to his death and died from a broken neck. They quartered his body in the end. As a stern warning to others, they sent his remains to all ‘four corners of the kingdom’.
Remember, Remember Nursery Rhyme
Guy Fawkes and his co-conspirators were tried for plotting against the King and Government. We commemorate the event each year using the following traditional saying:
“Remember, remember the fifth of November, Gunpowder treason and plot. We see no reason. Why gunpowder treason. Should ever be forgot!
Guy Fawkes, guy, t’was his intent. To blow up king and parliament. Three score barrels were laid below. To prove old England’s overthrow. By God’s mercy he was catch’d
With a darkened lantern and burning match. So, holler boys, holler boys, Let the bells ring. Holler boys, holler boys, God save the king.
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