You are on page 1of 15

GUY FAWKES AND THE GUNPOWDER PLOT

This is the story of a group of men who plotted to kill a King and his advisers by blowing up the Houses of Parliament on 5th November 1605.

The story begins when Henry VIII was King. Henry wanted to divorce Catherine of Aragon so he could marry someone else, but there was a problem. The Pope wouldnt let him divorce his wife because it was against the rules of the Roman Catholic Church. Therefore, he stopped being a Catholic and became a Protestant. A couple of monarchs later, in 1558, his Protestant daughter became Queen Elizabeth I. There were a lot of Catholics in Europe, and the Queen was afraid they might invade and gang up on the Protestants. To keep them in their place, she persecuted the Catholics in England, which means she treated them very badly. When Elizabeth died in 1605, King James VI of Scotland because King James I of England. At first, the Catholics were quite pleased about this, because James was the son of Mary Queen of Scots, who was a Catholic. Also, James was married to Queen Anne of Denmark, who was a Catholic. So the Catholics thought the new King would be much kinder to them but he wasnt!

A few of them were so fed up with what was going on that they made some drastic plans Five men plotted to kill James I and his advisers by blowing up the Houses of Parliament at the official opening of Parliament. They were led by Robert Catesby. The other

plotters were Thomas Percy, Thomas Wintour, John Wright and Guy Fawkes.

So who was Guy Fawkes and how did he get involved?


Guy Fawkes was born in York in 1570. His
family were Protestants, but he later became a Catholic. He joined the Spanish army as a soldier of fortune and started to call himself Guido Fawkes. Hed been fighting for Spain in Flanders for more than 10 years, when he met Thomas Wintour, who asked him to join the group of plotters. Guy Fawkes could be useful to the group because he knew about gunpowder. He came back to England in 1604.

The Big Plan!


The plotters rented a house next door to the Houses of Parliament. They planned to dig a tunnel so they could get the gunpowder from the cellar of the house to the House of Lords - but this didnt work out because it took too long. So they came up with another plan. Thomas Percy managed to get hold of a cellar that was directly underneath the House of Lords. Guy Fawkes became caretaker of the cellar and pretended he was Thomas Percys servant. He called himself John Johnson. The plotters managed to hide 36 barrels of gunpowder under firewood in the cellar after taking them one by one across the River Thames during the night. Everything was ready for the opening of Parliament on 5th November 1605!

So what went wrong?


They had to figure out what they wanted to happen after the King had been killed. The whole plot came about because Catholics were being persecuted, so it was very important that the next ruler would be good to Catholics. They decided that Princess Elizabeth, one of King James daughters, should become Queen after the explosion. They arranged for arms and ammunition to be stored around the country for the Catholic people to use in case they had to fight to get Princess Elizabeth on the throne. Unfortunately, these big plans meant that they needed money to buy the weapons and then they had to find good hiding places. So more people became involved in the plot.

The plotters were very careful about who they told and made sure they only shared their secret with their relatives or people they knew very well. One of these people was

Francis Tresham.
Now, Treshams brother-in-law was Lord Monteagle. As the House of Lords was likely to be a pretty dangerous place on 5th November, it is believed that Tresham wrote to

Lord Monteagle, warning him to stay away from the opening of Parliament and thats
when people started to get a bit suspicious!

This is getting exciting! What happened next?


Lord Monteagle took the letter to Robert Cecil, who was Secretary of State for the King, and a search of the cellar was arranged.

On 4th November 1605, Guy Fawkes was in the cellar, preparing a special, slow-burning
fuse for the big day. It was his job to light the fuse before making his escape to the continent. Suddenly, there was a knock at the door! Some men had been sent to search the cellar. Luckily for Guy Fawkes, the gunpowder was very well hidden and all that could be seen was firewood. When the searchers left, he breathed a big sigh of relief and continued with his preparations, but

... they hadn't been fooled at all!

The searchers had noticed that there was an awful lot of firewood in that cellar and a further search was arranged. Guy Fawkes found himself face to face with a magistrate, who was accompanied by soldiers! He was quickly overpowered. The soldiers made a more thorough search and quickly

found the barrels of gunpowder. Guy Fawkes was arrested and taken away to be questioned
by King James himself.

Why do we have bonfires and stuff today?


One year later, on 5th November 1606, bonfires were lit in London to celebrate that

the plot had been foiled and the King had been saved and in the UK we still light bonfires
every year. Sometimes, kids make a figure out of old rubbish or papier mache and dress it up in old clothes. This is called a Guy, after Guy Fawkes. This Guy gets thrown onto the bonfire.

Another tradition is for the kids to take their Guy out on the street and ask passers by
if theyll give them a penny for the Guy. The money raised is supposed to go towards fireworks. Heres yet another interesting tradition: Every year, as part of the State Opening of

Parliament, the buildings are searched by the Yeoman of the Guards. They wear their Tudor
uniforms and are armed with pikes.

And heres a famous traditional poem

Remember, Remember
The Fifth of November The Gunpowder, Treason and Plot

I know of no reason
Why the Gunpowder Treason Should ever be forgot.

Teresa Rosa No.23/11A