Guy Fawkes wasn’t the ringleader of the Gunpowder Plot
In fact, there were 13 conspirators in total and the plot was masterminded by Robert Catesby, a Catholic with a history of speaking out against the English crown. After the plot was foiled, Fawkes was the one who became notorious as it was his task to sneak into the cellars underneath the House of Lords and light the explosives. He was caught with 36 barrels of gunpowder and for two days he remained the sole conspirator that the King’s men managed to capture.
He didn’t die by being hung, drawn and quartered
In the 17th-century, it was traditional for traitors to be hung, drawn and quartered in public. However, this was not Guy Fawkes’s fate for he leapt to his death while climbing to the hanging platform and broke his neck, dying instantly. His body was quartered and sent off to the ‘four corners of the kingdom’ as a warning to others.
He was Protestant by birth
Despite being the greatest enemy of the Protestants, Guy Fawkes was himself actually born Protestant. Fawkes converted to Catholicism around the age of 16.
There’s an island named after Guy Fawkes
In the Galapagos Islands, just North of Santa Cruz Island, the is an uninhabited island called ‘Isla Guy Fawkes’ – Guy Fawkes Island. Who knows why?
He had a nickname
Fawkes liked to be addressed as ‘Guido’. This was probably due to the time he spent fighting for the Spanish against the Dutch in the Netherlands. This is also where he gained experience working with explosives.
Today the Houses of Parliament’s cellars are still checked once a year
Traditionally, every year before the state opening of parliament, the Yeomen of the guard searches the cellars underneath the Houses of Parliament, just to check there are no conspirators hiding with explosives.
30th Greatest Briton
In 2002, despite being involved in a plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament, Guy Fawkes was named the 30th Greatest Briton in a poll conducted by the BBC.
Guy has another meaning
It is said that the word ‘guy’ comes from the name Guy Fawkes. It originally meant “an ugly, repulsive person” but, throughout the years, simply became a synonym for “man”.
It’s unlikely the gunpowder would have damaged Parliament
Fawkes planted 2,500kg of gunpowder which could have caused chaos and devastation over a 490-metre radius. However, experts now claim that the gunpowder had ‘decayed’ and that it would not have exploded properly even if it had been ignited.
There’s only one place in the UK that doesn’t celebrate Bonfire Night
St Peter’s School in York, the school Guy Fawkes attended as a young boy, doesn’t burn a guy on November 5th out of respect to their former pupil.