Guy Fawkes is synonymous with the 5th of November, but there’s much more to the story. While most people know Fawkes was a Catholic who conspired to blow up the Protestant-run House of Parliament in 1605 --and England’s King James I-- there is much more to the Gunpowder Plot. To find out some lesser known facts about Fawkes, continue reading below, courtesy of History.com, the Telegraph and the Independent.
1. Fawkes liked to be called Guido. At age 21, he went to fight with Catholic Spain against the Protestant Dutch Republic in the Eighty Years War. There, he used to Italian version of his name, “Guido” because he thought it sounded more Catholic. When he was caught in the gunpowder plot, he signed his name “Guido Fawkes.”
2. He wasn’t the leader of the Gunpowder Plot. There were 13 conspirators together, with Robert Catesby being the true ringleader. Fawkes, however, became [in]famous for the plot since he was the one who was found with 36 barrels of gunpowder in the cellar underneath of House of Lords. It was supposed to be his job to ignite the explosives.
3. The plot wouldn’t have worked even if Fawkes wasn’t caught. Thirty-six barrels of gunpowder wouldn’t have been enough to kill King James I.
4. King James I admired him for enduring two days of torture. Fawkes said his only regret was that the plot was foiled. When he was asked why he was found with so much gunpowder he said “to blow you Scotch beggars back to your native mountains.”
5. Fawkes didn’t die as planned. He was supposed to be hung, drawn and quartered, but that didn’t happen. He leapt to his death and died from a broken neck. If he hadn’t done so, his testicles would have been cut off and he wouldn’t been gutted in public.
— Ramses Perryman (@RamsesTheGREAT_) November 1, 2015
6. He was born Protestant. He converted to Catholicism after his widowed mother married a Catholic, Dionis Baynbrigge.
7. Guy Fawkes Day, or Bonfire Day, is now less about religion and more about partying in London. Fireworks are set off in memory of the failed Gunpowder Plot, and people indulge in food in alcohol.
8. The headmaster of his old school wants him forgiven. Leo Winkley, headmaster of St. Peter’s School in York, thinks Fawkes should be pardoned. “It’s debatable whether he was a freedom fighter or a terrorist. Those who argue he was a freedom fighter would say he grew up in a time when about 1 percent of the population was openly Catholic, and he was therefore part of a persecuted minority,” the headmaster told the Telegraph Saturday.
9. The Guy Fawkes mask is the face of Anonymous, the Internet hacktivist group. With Anonymous, Fawkes is celebrated as a hero as opposed to a traitor. They famous wear the masks during the Million Mask March, which of course takes place on Nov. 5. Anonymous targets organizations like the NSA, CIA, Ku Klux Klan, and Visa under the cause of anti-capitalism and liberalism. This year they will protest against mass surveillance.
10. The 2005 film “V for Vendetta” arguably made Fawkes famous in the United States. The main character, V, recites the first few lines from the memorable poem about the foiled plot: “Remember, remember! The 5th of November, the Gunpowder Treason and Plot. I know of no reason why the Gunpowder Treason should ever be forgot. Guy Fawkes and his companions did the scheme contrive to blow the King and Parliament all up alive.”
11. The film also helped turn him from traitor to hero. “Every generation reinvents Guy Fawkes to suit their needs,” historian William B. Robison of Southeastern Louisiana University told History.com. “But Fawkes was just one of the flunkies. It really should be Robert Catesby Day.”
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