Blackening the good name of Guy Fawkes appears to be in vogue among the media commentariat this week. You can’t move for hatchet jobs portraying him as a religious terrorist and all round wrong ‘un. Such slander must not go unchallenged.
In March 1604, huge fines were imposed on Catholics in England. On April 24, a law was passed to class all Catholics as outlaws. Throughout the summer Catholic priests were put to death. Their patience snapped, and in May they began plotting to overthrow the Scottish tyrant King, James Stuart, renting a property next to parliament.
On October 26, a letter was sent to the Catholic Lord Monteagle warning him to stay away from Parliament on November 5. The plotters, despite having been betrayed, bravely decided to go ahead anyway. The plot was uncovered on November 4, when Guido Fawkes was arrested and tortured for two days before he revealed the names of his co-conspirators. 200 soldiers with muskets overpowered 36 Catholic freedom fighters at Holbeche House. Few survived.
On January 31, 1606, surviving plotters were taken to St Paul’s and hanged, then taken down whilst still alive to have their hearts cut out. Fawkes jumped from the scaffold, breaking his neck, saving the pain of being disembowelled, having suffered enough on the rack. In 1606 parliament passed the Popish Recusants Act legislating Catholic oppression which was not lifted until Catholic Relief Act of 1829.
Guy Fawkes fought for religious liberty against a protestant tyranny that denied human, civil and political rights to Catholics. Remember, remember the Fifth of November, it is 410 years since Guido last tried to overturn a corrupt, liberty taking political class…