The name Guy Fawkes may not ring a bell, but chances are you know the man's visage if you've seen the film "V for Vendetta" and/or the masks associated with Anonymous. Nov. 5 is Bonfire Night in the U.K., and the country will celebrate with fireworks and the burning of Fawkes' effigy while Anonymous has set up the Million Mask March to commemorate the 409-year-old plot to blow up the House of Lords.
Fawkes was part of a larger Catholic conspiracy to blow up the House of Lords during the State Opening of Parliament (usually held in November but now held in either May or June) in 1605 and kill the Protestant King James I, notes BBC. The plan, also known as the Gunpowder Plot, was foiled after Lord Monteagle received a letter alerting him to avoid the State Opening, and Fawkes was later found in the cellar of the Palace of Westminster. Fawkes was hanged in January 1606.
While the conspiracy seems simple enough -- Fawkes and his conspirators wanting to restore Catholic rule in the U.K. -- there are other theories surrounding the Gunpowder Plot, including the possibility that Fawkes was just a patsy, a fall guy to quell Catholic unrest, BBC reported. In this scenario, King James I's adviser, Robert Cecil, organizes a group of Catholics who will recruit and set up another group to take the fall for the act. Naturally, there are plenty of holes to the Cecil conspiracy angle, but that has not stopped the theories from being shared throughout history.
Fawkes' story gained global attention with the theatrical release of "V for Vendetta," the Wachowskis' 2005 film adaptation of Alan Moore's graphic novel that was directed by James McTeigue. "Set against the futuristic landscape of totalitarian Britain, 'V for Vendetta' tells the story of a mild-mannered young woman named Evey (Natalie Portman) who is rescued from a life-and-death situation by a masked man (Hugo Weaving) known only as "V." Incomparably charismatic and ferociously skilled in the art of combat and deception, V ignites a revolution when he urges his fellow citizens to rise up against tyranny and oppression," reads the movie's plot summary.
Anonymous, the loosely organized hacktivist group, has since adopted the mask worn by V in the film, and on Wednesday members from around the world will take part in the Million Mask March. "Now being hailed 'The Most Influential Group in the World,' Anonymous has caught the passionate attention of millions. With our annual Nov. 5th global event known as Million Mask March (in commemoration of Guy Fawkes Day), we have for the last two consecutive years organized 'The Largest World Protest,'" explains the group. Anonymous is also using the day to further efforts to free Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks.
Million Mask Marches are being held in St. Louis, Washington, D.C., Berlin and London. You can view live streams of the Million Mask Marches in St. Louis (beginning at 8 p.m. EST) and Washington, D.C., below.
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