Who was Guy Fawkes?

Guy Fawkes was born in April 1570 in York, England. His parents were Protestants but during his childhood Guy converted to Catholicism. When he was 21 he left England to join the Catholic Spanish army, where he fought in the Eighty Years War. During his time in the Army he adopted the Italian version of his name and became known as 'Guido'.

In 1594 he joined a group of fellow English Catholics, led by Robert Catesby, in a plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament in order to kill King James I and his Government. Fawkes was responsible for lighting the fuse to the barrels of gunpowder, which they hid under the Houses of Parliament.

Spoiler alert - The plot was unsuccessful and Guy was caught and punished, along with the other conspirators. Guy Fawkes is remembered today because of the failed plot.

Guy Fawkes secretly lighting a barrel of gunpowder in a tunnel.

Life through images

Guy Fawkes character outside Parliament

Click through the images to explore the life of Guy Fawkes.

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Remember, remember, the fifth of November!

Over four hundred years after the Gunpowder plot, we still remember how Guy Fawkes and his fellow plotters failed to blow up Parliament and kill King James I.

Bonfire night is celebrated every year on 5 November. Bonfires, fireworks and sparklers are lit in parks and gardens all over the country.

Sometimes we even burn a dummy called a ‘Guy’ on the bonfire. This is supposed to represent Guy Fawkes.

Since the Gunpowder Plot, whenever the King or Queen visits Parliament, there is a tradition that the royal bodyguards, called the Yeoman of the Guard, search beneath the Houses of Parliament for any potential plotters hiding explosives.

A Firework display over Parliament.
Next time you're watching fireworks on Bonfire Night remember what November 5 is really about.
Guy Fawkes in his cell