Since being sentenced to death following a failed plot to blow up parliament and King James I in the 17th Century, Guy Fawkes has become an icon for anarchists around the world. But who exactly was Guy Fawkes and where did he come from? Here’s a quick look at Guy Fawkes signature and other interesting facts surrounding the 5th November Gunpowder Plot.
But what about the man behind the mask? Who was Guy (Guido) Fawkes?
Guy Fawkes was born circa the 13th April 1570 (a Tuesday) in York to a protestant family. I say ‘around‘ the 13th because no one is quite sure! That Fawkes was born into a Catholic family is interesting in itself as it was Fawkes Catholic beliefs in later life that led him to become involved in the Gunpowder plot against the protestant King. In fact, Fawkes only converted to catholicism upon the remarriage of his mother when he was eight years old.
Following a childhood in the North of England, Fawkes grew to inherit his late father’s estate. However, by the age of 21 he had sold it, instead favouring to pursue a military career. Fawkes emigrated to Spain where he aided the Catholic Spanish army in fighting the Dutch Protestant one. During his time abroad, he adopted the name ‘Guido’.
Fighting for a nation that had not long ago been at was with England (after all, the Spanish armada had only been in 1588), left Fawkes out of favour with the British nation. Sometime in the early 1600s, Fawkes ended his military career and returned to England. He felt that the British Nation should become catholic once more, hence his joining of the Gunpowder plot.
Although Guy Fawkes may have become the most famous man associated with the gunpowder plot, he wasn’t actually the ringleader. Furthermore, Guy Fawkes wasn’t actually ‘hung, drawn and quartered’, but committed suicide to avoid the pain of such a grisly execution.
Guy Fawkes’ Written Confession.
Despite being caught red-handed- quite literally with his hand in the gunpowder so to speak- Fawkes was still put through the rigmarole of writing and signing a confession to prove that he had, indeed, been plotting against the King.
Guy Fawkes Signature.
Fawkes endured two days of torture before finally confessing to the crime of treason against the King. His beliefs and resistance to torture earned him the respect of the most unlikely of people; including King James Ist himself. In fact, it was not until the 7th November, a full three days after he had been arrested, that he revealed his true name to be ‘Guy Fawkes’.
Perhaps one of the greatest points of interest is the fact that Guy Fawkes was also known as Guido Fawkes (as seen on his torture Guy Fawkes signature). He adopted the name Guido as he wanted to feel more European, perhaps as a nod to his staunch catholic faith. He took on the name while fighting for the Spanish Catholics against the Protestant Dutch in the late 16th Century.
The Houses of Parliament that Guy Fawkes tried to blow up burned down.
The Iconic houses of Parliament (complete with the Big Ben clock tower!) that we see today were only constructed following the burning down of the medieval houses of parliament in 1834 (a story for another day)…
Guy Fawkes in modern day culture!
Notable uses of Fawkes’ legacy as inspiration includes The Hacktivist group anonymous using a mask based on his face. This very same style of mask was made iconic by the film V for Vendetta (definitely watch this if you haven’t before!).
The mask representing Fawkes has become a symbol of freedom of speech, protest and anonymity. The mask has been used in protests in the USA, Poland and many more countries across the globe.
There’s an island named GUY FAWKES!
Perhaps the mark of your name immortalized is having a place named after you. Well, Fawkes has an entire island! Two little islets come together to form the Isla Guy Fawkes and belong to Ecuador. However, before you get any ideas about packing up your bags and moving to this anarchist inspired isle, it’s worth noting that they’re uninhabited!