Traditionally, November 5th is designated Guy Fawkes day in honor of the man spearheading a plot to use copious amounts of gunpowder to blow up England's parliament building. He is usually viewed as a social anarchist intent on giving control of England back to the English people rather than the corrupt and greedy parliament. Such was the inspiration behind the 2006 movie "V for Vendetta" in which a masked superhero singlehandedly launches an uprising of people against an authoritarian regime that is in place in futuristic England dystopia.
But who was the man behind the hype? Well as a child he was raised in York by a single catholic Spaniard mother. He grew to embrace these qualities as an adult, even going so far as to fight for catholic Spain against the Dutch in the Eighty Years War. Later, Fawkes became involved with a group of English catholics who were displeased with how protestant their homeland was.
This gathering of like minded individuals went on to be the thirteen conspirators in the historic Gunpowder Plot.
These thirteen men met several times and they all agreed to participate in one way or another in the destruction of Parliament. Their one mistake came when one of them attempted to contact friends overseas for assistance. This backfired, and instead of providing assistance the contact ended up notifying the authorities of the impending attack. Fawkes was the unfortunate one designated to light off the gunpowder placed under Parliament, so he was naturally the first one caught and the scapegoat for the outrage of the people. Mr. Fawkes was hanged and then Drawn and Quartered after a lengthy torture as compensation for his crimes against England.
He is remembered today as a hero, but many ironies surround the historical interpretation of his most famous attempt. Perhaps the "V for Vendetta" was farthest off because Mr. Fawkes was by no means an anarchist. Quite the opposite in fact. The entire purpose of the Gunpowder Plot was to destroy the Protestant Parliament in order to install a Catholic theocracy in its place. It is for this reason that people today in England celebrate November fifth by burning Fawkes in effigy while lighting off firecrackers and fireworks.
No matter his motivation, Guido "Guy" Fawkes will remain immortal through the following rhyme: