Guy Fawkes is caught by Westminster authorities
Guy Fawkes has been remembered for all the wrong reasons.
The devout Catholic was caught red-handed in the basement of one of Parliament’s buildings on November 5, 1605, with a considerable amount of gunpowder.
He and a group of others were planning to blow up the building and in the process kill King James I.
After a tip-off from one of his group, however, the authorities were led to his whereabouts, and Fawkes was soon stopped in his tracks.
After initially pleading his innocence he was deemed guilty and sentenced to death — though his demise went all but planned.
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Fawkes, a former soldier who helped fight for Catholic Spain in the Eight Years’ War, acted in retaliation for James’s increased persecution of Roman Catholics.
As it turned out, if Fawkes and his allies had waited, James’s son, Charles I, later flirted with the idea of Catholicism and so he may have influenced the young king — but it was never to be.
After his arrest, Fawkes and his seven co-conspirators were held in prison, and their trial began on January 28, 1606.
Taken to Westminster Hall on the River Thames, King James and his family watched from a secret viewing booth as Fawkes pleaded not guilty, despite having admitted his guilt in the immediate aftermath of being caught.
Found guilty of high treason, every member of the group was sentenced to death, bar the four who had died in a shoot-out.
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Sir Edward Coke, the Attorney General, detailed how each man would meet his end, demanding that they be “drawn backwards to his death by a horse, his head near the ground”.
They were, he said, to be “put to death halfway between heaven and earth as unworthy of both”.
Antonia Fraser, an author, writing in her 1996 book The Gunpowder Plot, noted: “Their genitals would be cut off and burnt before their eyes, and their bowels and hearts removed.
“They would then be decapitated, and the dismembered parts of their bodies displayed so that they might become ‘prey for the fowls of the air.'”
On January 31, 1606, Fawkes and Thomas Wintour, Ambrose Rookwood, and Robert Keyes were dragged onto wattle hurdles to the Old Palace Yard at Westminister.
Wintour, Rookwood, and Keyes were the first to be hanged and quartered, and as Fawkes waited for his turn, he begged King James for his forgiveness before climbing towards the noose.
But, quite unexpectedly, as Fawkes moved closer to the noose he either fell or jumped to the ground and broke his neck and died.
While he had managed to take his life into his own hands, he was still quartered and his body parts were put on display in London to dissuade anyone who might have the same idea.
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