Was Guy Fawkes a Revolutionary or a Conspirator?


Guy Fawkes is a name that has been integrally associated with the Gunpowder Plot of 1605. Guy Fawkes was caught on the spot along with his aids while trying to blow the Parliament with King James I and his fellow members of Parliament. There are effigies of Fawkes still burned on November 5 every year. But what was the true reason for his radical activity?

Guy Fawkes a Conspirator against the Crown

Guy Fawkes was born on April 13, 1570 in Yorkshire. He was a commoner and not much is known about his early days. He married Maria Pulleyn in 1590 and was employed as a footman by Anthony Browne, 2nd Lord Monteagle. He left England for Flanders 1593 or 94. He soon joined the Spanish army and held a position of command in some Spanish Army campaigns. Though he was noted to be noble and virtuous but he was religious. In 1600 he took up the name Guido instead of his Christian name Guy. During one of his visits he met Christopher Wright and started planning the invasion of England. But the Spanish were not interested in such an invasion; they had been dented by recent losses.

Guy Fawkes and his fellow Conspirators decided to blow the Parliament

So Fawkes moved over to Brussels. Here he met the other conspirators and chalked out a plan to kill King James I and his fellow noblemen. Fawkes came to England with the name “John Johnson” and soon rented a cellar beneath the Parliament. He stored barrels full of Gunpowder which were hidden beneath iron bars and faggots. All the conspirators took an oath in front of a Jesuit priest, John Gerard in an inn. In the last stage of the plan they decided to save the lives of Catholic peers. Fawkes wrote an anonymous letter to William Parker (which is famous as the Monteagle Letter). The contents of the letter spread from one person to the other and soon to the ears of the Monarch. Cellars were searched and a hefty amount of Gunpowder was discovered. Guy Fawkes was arrested. He was interrogated personally by James I and then subjected to torture where he admitted his crime and revealed the plan. He was given a death sentence to be hung, drawn and quartered. But he was saved from this butchery as Fawkes broke his neck while hanging.

Guy Fawkes was arrested while searching the cellars beneath Parliament

Though long dead there is still a debate whether Guy Fawkes was a hero or villain. His adversary was King James I. King James I is always mentioned as great king. He became the King of Scotland at the tender age of 13 years. After the death of Virgin Mary he was placed on the throne. The boy king was under constant threat. People around him were always looking to seize power. But King James I was a man with integrity and new ideas. One of his greatest achievements was the translation of the scriptures.

The secret plan was dismantled due to Monteagle Letter

He rules during a time when the Church and State were same. He brought about various changes in the rules. There were two factions within the church. The Bishops who had supreme power used the Bishop’s Bible that was the sole religious text for British while the Puritans had faith in the Scriptures and used the Geneva Bible. King James I took a look at both these Bibles. He felt that the Bishop’s Bible was a lazy work while the Geneva Bible had footnotes with political inclinations. So, he decided to give the English a new Bible. He formed a committee that worked for seven years to come up with King James Bible. England thrived under King James I’s leadership. But the old Roman Catholic followers were not happy with the radical thoughts of their king. They wanted to get rid of King James I.

Guy Fawkes was interrogated by King James I upon his arrest

So, they got in touch with Guy Fawkes who was more of a hired mercenary. They offered him scope for salvation and some other benefits in the new regime. This proposition was too good to resist for Guy Fawkes and hence started his plotting to murder the king of England.

Guy Fawkes should not be labelled as a rebel in any sense, he was a conspirator.

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