Guy Fawkes is a recognizable figure, but if you haven't heard of him, you've almost certainly seen his face. His face, through Guy Fawkes masks, has become a symbol of activists, hackers, and people who feel opressed by the world. His face has adorned members of Occupy Wall Street, Anonymous and more. But who was Guy Fawkes?
In a nutshell, he was a prominent member of a group of plotters that organized the Gun Powder Plot, a failed assassination attempt against King James I of England and VI of Scotland. The group planned to blow up the House of Lords on November 5, 1605.
His is literally the face of a revolution, but many people don't know much about him. Many might have heard of the Gun Powder Plot or know to "Remember, remember, the fifth of November," but who was the real Guy Fawkes? The original Guy Fawkes before the masks and mayhem? Who was the man before the plot? Why was he involved?
Gathered below is bits of trivia and other historical facts dating back to the 1600s to learn more about this mysterious figure from history, who tried (and failed) to blow up the British Parliament.
Most people have heard the name Guy Fawkes, whether or not they know who he was. But from roughly 1603 on, during and after a trip to Spain to fight for the Spanish (and all through the Gun Powder Plot), he actually went by the name Guido Fawkes, the Italian version of his name. He allegedly preferred the way it sounded and the cultural impact it carried.
Every year thousands burn replicas of Guy Fawkes on Guys Fawkes Day, but he was actually never burned or tossed in any sort of fire. He was sentenced to be hanged, drawn, and quartered, as was consistent with the times.
But Guy Fawkes didn't plan on dying on someone else's terms. He escaped the capital punishment right before being lynched and leapt from the gallows, breaking his neck. He died instantly, but not by being hanged.
Sometimes people don't receive credit or acclaim until they've passed away, but Fawkes actually had "considerable fame among the soldiers" during his time with the Spanish army in the late 1590s and early 1600s.
He was described during this time as a man "of excellent good natural parts, very resolute and universally learned." He was "sought by all the most distinguished in the Archduke's camp for nobility and virtue."