Who was Guy Fawkes, and what did he do?

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M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Guy Fawkes from history was born in the 1500's in York, England, and was a former soldier who served England during the Eight Years War against Spain. He was also a spy against the Protestant reformation movement that was so controversial in the 16th and 17th centuries. Fawkes is most famous for the "Gunpowder Plot" that intended to eliminate the Protestant King James I, in favor of a Catholic monarch. This monarch would hae been the King's daughter, Elizabeth, who was a Catholic.

There were five original plotters and their original plan was to contain barrels of gunpowder on the basement of the House of Parliament, and cause an explosion. Fawkes was the person in charge of guarding the gunpowder barrels. The way that he got caught was because the guards got an anonymous tip. For this, he and the other plotters got arrested for high treason. The punishment was harsh for treason and was the worst a criminal could get: You would be hung, drowned, and quartered. Fawkes kind of got it easy because he tried to escape the scaffold and broke his neck as a result of jumping off it.

Today England celebrates Guy Fawkes day by torching a stuffed doll in the shape of a man who is intended to represent Fawkes. To some, he was a hero. To others, he was a traitor. The important thing is that England (most of its citizens anyway) hold a deep respect for its monarchic history whether it was a good or a bad reign. It is out of respect for the institution that this day is remembered and still celebrated every year on November 5th.

kschweiz eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Guy Fawkes is a historical figure. He attempted to burn down British Parliament on November 4, 1605. The objective was to kill the king and the majority of the Protestant aristocracy. A member of a group of Roman Catholic revolutionaries, Fawkes essentially became a scapegoat in the plot. The original conspirator was Ronald Catesby. Fawkes, among other members of the plot, was discovered and sentenced; he was tortured and executed, although rather than "hanging until dead" as his sentence stated, Fawkes leapt from the gallows and broke his neck, quickening his death.