Every British schoolchild knows that the bonfire night celebrations of November fifth commemorate the events of November 1605, when Guy Fawkes was arrested for his part in the Gunpowder Plot.
It’s a great excuse to set off spectacular fireworks, but how much do we know about Guy Fawkes, the man whose effigy is still burned atop bonfires across the country each year?
Here are eight facts about Guy Fawkes:
1. Fawkes was born a Protestant, but raised a Catholic from the age of eight following his father’s death
2. At the age of 21 he sold his estate and travelled to Europe to fight for Catholic Spain against the Protestant Dutch
3. While in Europe, he changed his name to ‘Guido’ - the Italian variant of Guy
4. Fawkes was drawn into the Gunpowder plot, which would prove his undoing, thanks to his expertise with gunpowder - gained during his adventures fighting abroad
5. ‘The Gunpowder plot’ was a conspiracy by English Catholics to assassinate the Protestant king, and replace him with a Catholic head of state
6. He was caught red-handed with thirty-six barrels of gunpowder, stacked directly below the chair King James I would have been sitting in at the opening of parliament
7. Fawkes withstood two days of torture - including the notorious ‘rack’ - before confessing to his crimes
8. Fawkes was sentenced to the traditional ‘traitors’ death’ and was hanged, drawn and quartered - although he jumped from the gallows and broke his own neck