Guy Fawkes (13 April 1570 – 31 January 1606) sometimes known as Guido Fawkes, was a member of a group of Roman Catholic revolutionaries from England who planned to carry out the Gunpowder Plot. The plot, masterminded by Robert Catesby, was an attempt by a group of religious conspirators to kill King James I of England, his family, and most of the aristocracy by blowing up the House of Lords in the Palace of Westminster during the State Opening of Parliament.
By March 1605, they had hidden 1800 pounds (36 barrels, or 800 kg) of gunpowder in the cellar. The plotters also intended to abduct Princess Elizabeth (later Elizabeth of Bohemia, the "Winter Queen"). A few of the conspirators were concerned, however, about fellow Catholics who would have been present at Parliament during the opening. One of the conspirators wrote a warning letter to Lord Monteagle, who received it on 26 October.
Lord Monteagle had been made suspicious, however; the letter was sent to the Secretary of State, who initiated a search of the vaults beneath the House of Lords in the early morning of 5 November. Peter Heywood, a resident of Heywood, Lancashire, was reputedly the man who snatched the torch from Guy Fawkes’s hand as he was about to light the fuse to detonate the gunpowder. Fawkes, who had resigned himself to blowing himself up along with Parliament, was taken before the privy council where he remained defiant. When asked by one of the Scottish lords what he had intended to do with so much gunpowder, Fawkes answered him, "To blow you Scotch beggars back to your own native mountains."
When they asked for his name Guy answered John Johnson. He was tortured over the next few days, after the King granted special permission to do so. James directed that the torture should be light at first, and then more severe. Sir William Wade, Lieutenant of the Tower of London at this time, supervised the torture and obtained Fawkes's confession. For three or four days Fawkes said nothing, let alone divulged the names of his co-conspirators. Only when he found out that they had proclaimed themselves by appearing in arms did he succumb. The torture only revealed the names of those conspirators who were already dead or whose names were known to the authorities. Some had fled to Dunchurch, Warwickshire, where they were killed or captured. On 31 January, Fawkes and a number of others implicated in the conspiracy were tried in Westminster Hall. After being found guilty, they were taken to Old Palace Yard in Westminster and St Paul's Yard, where they were hanged, drawn and quartered. Fawkes, however, cheated the hangman by jumping from the scaffold, breaking his neck before he could be drawn and quartered ("The King's Book.",1606.)
Many popular contemporary verses were written in condemnation of Fawkes. The most well-known verse begins:
Remember, remember the fifth of November,
The gunpowder, treason and plot,
I know of no reason
Why gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot
Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes, ’twas his intent
To blow up the King and Parliament.
Three score barrels of powder below,
Poor old England to overthrow;
By God’s providence he was catch’d
With a dark lantern and burning match.
Holloa boys, holloa boys, make the bells ring.
Holloa boys, holloa boys, God save the King!
Hip hip hoorah!