On 5 November 1605, a group of ten activists attempted one of the biggest acts of extremism in British history. One of these men was the now infamous Guy Fawkes, who was tasked with guarding the 36 barrels of gunpowder which were being stockpiled underneath the House of Lords. The plan was to blow up the parliament and eliminate reigning monarch King James I and all of his political advisers in the process.
Of course, this isn't how it panned out and Guy Fawkes was caught red-handed surrounded by the gunpowder. Weeks later he and his counterparts were hanged for high treason and the eternal story of Bonfire Night was born. However, this level of understanding surrounding this scheme is actually incredibly vague, with a lot of the crucial and essential facts surrounding the plot slowly being swept under the rug over the generations.
Some of these facts shed an entirely new perspective on the events that transpired and completely alter our understanding of the attempted large scale assassination. In this article, we have summarised five of the biggest misconceptions and overlooked facts of the Gunpowder Plot, with the hope of showing you exactly what happened on and around 5 November 1605.
5. Guy Fawkes Was Not The Leader Of The Gunpowder Plot
Guy Fawkes is the most commonly associated name with the Gunpowder Plot, mostly because he was the one caught red-handed with the gunpowder underneath the House of Lords. He also managed to endure unimaginable torture for days on end and still refused to give up his counterparts who were also involved in the plot.
However, he was not in charge of the plot nor was it his idea. The actual leader of the group was a man named Robert Catesby, a high standing figure who had dabbled in politics and revolt several times before, both directly and indirectly. Catesby orchestrated the plot because he was frustrated with the mistreatment of Catholics in England after the Protestant Reforms of the 1530s.
Protestant King James I was of course the primary target, which meant Catesby had to be very selective with his recruits. Catesby chose Guy Fawkes to join his group because of his military experience and contacts, which meant he was familiar with the use of explosives, particularly gunpowder. Guy Fawkes got this crucial knowledge after serving in the Spanish Army against the Dutch during the 80 Years War (1568-1648).