Guy Fawkes

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Guy Fawkes (1570-1606)

Born 13th April 1570 at Stonegate in Yorkshire.

Guy Fawkes, it has often been said, was possibly the only man to enter the English Parliament with honest intentions, as a member of a group of catholic conspirators who endeavoured to blow up Parliament in 1605. The plot was uncovered and the barrels of gunpowder defused before any damage was done.

The Gunpowder Plot was concocted in May of 1604 with Robert Catesby, Thomas Percy, John Wright and Robert Wintour.

In March 1605, the conspirators rented a cellar beneath Parliament through Thomas Percy; Fawkes assisted in filling the room with gunpowder which was concealed beneath bric-a-brac. On November 5th, Fawkes was arrested in the cellar; on his person were a watch, slow matches and touchpaper.

Fawkes was interrogated under torture. Since torture was forbidden except by the express instruction of the monarch or the Privy Council, King James I in a letter of 6 November stated: "The gentler tortours are to be first used unto him, et sic per gradus ad mia tenditur [and thus by increase to the worst], and so God speed your goode worke". On 7th November, Fawkes confessed all and revealed the names of his co-conspirators.

A nominal trial then ensued, at which the sentences had already been predetermined.

On 31st January 1606, Fawkes, Wintour, and a number of others implicated in the conspiracy were taken to Old Palace Yard in Westminster. There they were hung, drawn and quartered.

Guy Fawkes Day (often referred to as bonfire night) is (usually) celebrated on November 5th with bonfires and fireworks, or the closest Friday or Saturday night. Sometimes, an effigy of Guy Fawkes (known as the Guy) is burnt on the fire. In previous centuries, an effigy of the Pope might also be burnt.

Remember, remember, the fifth of November,
Gunpowder, treason and plot.
I see no reason why Gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot.

-- traditional verse

It invariably rains on Guy Fawkes Day...