Guy Fawkes – 1

Guy Fawkes’ Day in Britain and in many parts of the British Commonwealth is a very exciting celebration. It’s commemorates a daring act against Parliament and the King centuries ago.

The conspirators’ aim was to displace Protestant rule in England by blowing up the Houses of Parliament while Protestant King James I and the entire Protestant (and even most of the Catholic), aristocracy were inside meeting in the House of Lords. The conspirators saw this as their only solution and as a necessary response to the systematic discrimination against English Catholics.

So, who was their champion, Guy Fawkes?

Guy Fawkes was the only son of Edward Fawkes of York and his wife Edith Blake. He was born April 13, 1570 in Stonegate, Yorkshire and was the oldest of three surviving children. Fawkes died January 31, 1606, Old Palace Yard, Westminster on the land he audaciously conspired to blow-up in order to change British government and its lack of religious tolerance, forever.

Guy was born to a reasonably privileged life. Edward Fawkes, his father, was a notary (or proctor) of the ecclesiastical courts and bishopric of York. By his mother, he was descended from the Harrington family who were eminent merchants and Aldermen of York.

Fawkes became a pupil of the Free School of St. Peters. Among his schoolfellows were John and Christopher Wright, Thomas Morton (later, Bishop of Durham), Sir Thomas Cheke and Oswald Tesimond. There, he was under the tutelage of a John Pulleyn, who was a suspected Catholic, and this teacher, some believe, may have had an early effect on the impressionable young Fawkes.

Edward Fawkes was buried at St. Michael-le-Belfry on January 17, 1578, when Guy was not quite 8 years old. Edith spent nine years as a respectable widow before moving to Scotton where she married Dionysius (or Dennis) Bainbridge, whose mother had previously become a Fawkes widow in 1551.

Dionysius and Edith appear to have made use of Guy’s meager inheritance as much as they could, while it was still in their hands as trustees.

It is possible that Fawkes married. Guy Fawkes and Maria Pulleyn are recorded in recently found records from 1590 in Scotton, which also record the birth of a son, Thomas, to Guy Fawkes and Maria on February 6, 1591. But, these historical entries are not from the actual parish register.

Fawkes came of age in 1591 and started to dispose of pieces of his inheritance. Robert Davies who found these documents in 1830, says that “On the seal appended to one of them, though the impression is nearly effaced, the figure of a bird is just discernible, apparently a falcon”. This apparently confirms Fawkes’ descent, for the falcon is the crest of the family of the Fawkes of Farnley.

Another document,dated a year later, indicates that Fawkes was no longer in Scotton. After this, he was employed as a footman by Anthony Browne, 2nd Lord Montague.

Into the tangled period of European history, Fawkes is believed to have left England in 1593 or 1594 for Flanders, where he enlisted in the Spanish army, under the Archduke Albert of Austria!

Fawkes held a post of command when the Spanish took Calais, France in 1596, under orders of King Philip II of Spain. At that time, Guy was described as a man “of excellent good natural parts, very resolute and universally learned”, and was stated that he was “sought by all the most distinguished in the Archduke’s camp for nobility and virtue”.

His boyhood friend, Tesimond, also describes Guy as “a man of great piety, of exemplary temperance, of mild and chearful demeanour, an enemy of broils and disputes, a faithful friend, and remarkable for his punctual attendance upon religious observance”.

Building considerable fame among soldiers, Fawkes’ appearance by now was impressive. He was tall, powerfully built, with thick reddish-brown hair, a flowing mustache and a bushy reddish-brown beard. He had begun to be called Guido, in place of Guy.

Fawkes then fought under Colonel Bostock at the Battle of Nieuport in 1600, when he was wounded. That brought him to the attention of Sir William Stanley (in charge of the English regiment in Flanders), Hugh Owen and Father William Baldwin.

In February 1603, he was granted leave to go to Spain on behalf of Stanley, Owen and Baldwin to “enlighten King Philip II concerning the true position of the Romanists in England” i.e. the status and concerns of Catholics in Britain for succor from the Catholic King of Spain or from the Pope.

During this visit he renewed his acquaintance with schoolmate Christopher Wright. The two men set about obtaining Spanish support for an invasion of England upon the death of Elizabeth, I Regina — this did not happen, so on to Plan B.

Upon return from this mission, Fawkes was informed in Brussels that Thomas Wintour was asking for him, and Stanley presented Fawkes to him.

In Fawkes’ confession, after he was arrested for trying to blow-up Parliament, he states that “I confesse that a practise in general was first broken unto me against his Majesty for reliefe of the Catholique cause, and not invented or propounded by myself. And this was first propounded unto me about Easter last was twelve month, beyond the Seas, in the Low Countries of the Archduke’s obeyance, by Thomas Wintour, who came thereupon with me into England”.

The larger European connection continues, as between Easter and May, Fawkes was invited by Robert Catesby to accompany Thomas Wintour to Bergen in order to meet with the Constable of Castile, Juan De Velasco, who was traveling to the court of King James I, to discuss a treaty between Spain and England.

In May,1604, Guy Fawkes met with the other Gunpowder Conspiracy members: Robert Catesby, Thomas Percy, John Wright and Thomas Wintour, at an inn called the Duck and Drake in the fashionable Strand district of London. There, they agreed under oath to act on the gunpowder conspiracy.

This oath was sanctified by performing Mass and the administering of the sacraments by the Jesuit priest John Gerard in an adjoining room.

Fawkes assumed the identity of John Johnson, a servant of Percy. Later, Fawkes was asked to begin preparations for work on the mine tunnel to Parliament, but these plans were delayed until early December as the Commissioners of the Union between England and Scotland were meeting in the same house!

Eventually the mining tunnel work proved too slow and difficult for men not used to such physical labor, and further accomplices were sworn into the plot.

Guy Fawkes, Part 2 from TravelVacationReview!

©2009 mystic at Travel Vacation Review