England · Political

Guy Fawkes found trying to destroy Parliament

November 5, 1605
London, England
Guy Fawkes of the “gunpowder plot” is discovered before he can explode multiple barrels of gunpowder in the House of Lords, a plot created with the hopes of bringing greater religious tolerance for Catholics in England

The reigning monarch at the time was King James I, who orchestrated an English translation of the Christian Bible which has since been referred to as the King James Version. James was a Protestant, and the conspirators hoped the elimination of James would ensure a Catholic replacement.

Robert Catesby and co-conspirators Thomas Bates, Sir Everard Digby, Guy Fawkes, John Grant, Robert Keyes, Thomas Percy, Ambrose Rookwood, Francis Tresham, Robert and Thomas Wintour (alt. spelling: Winter), and John and Christopher Wright formed together to bring down Parliament. Guy Fawkes, who has a decade of experience in the military, was in charge of the 36 barrels of explosives. Around midnight between November 4 and 5, he was found in the Parliament’s cellar by a justice of the peace and taken into custody. Under torture, Fawkes revealed the plot and his accomplices. After learning the identities of the other plotters, the English government tracked down the other men, either capturing or killing them.


Left to right: Bates, Robert Winter, Christopher Wright, John Wright, Percy, Fawkes, Catesby, Thomas Winter

Catesby was shot on November 8, though he managed to crawl to a picture of the Virgin Mary; when his body was found, he was still clutching the image. Brothers John and Christopher Wright, as well as their brother-in-law Thomas Percy, were also killed November 8.

Francis Tresham died after a urinary tract infection on December 23, 1695. Robert and Thomas Wintour were executed January 30, 1606 and January 31, 1606, respectively. Sir Everard Digby, John Grant, and Thomas Bates were all executed January 30 while Ambrose Rookwood and Robert Keyes on January 31. Those executed were hanged, drawn, and quartered, a practice generally reserved for men convicted of high treason (women convicted of the same crime were instead burned at the stake for “public decency” reasons). The condemned would be hanged but released before death, then emasculated, disemboweled, decapitated, and their bodies cut into four pieces. Their remains were then displayed in high-traffic areas in the “four corners of the kingdom” as a deterrent to other would-be traitors.

Fawkes was to be executed January 31, but as he ascended the ladder to the scaffold he either jumped or fell before he could be hanged to near-death and broke his neck, dying instantly and thereby avoiding the additional torment of being eviscerated. His body was quartered regardless and distributed across the country with those of his compatriots.

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