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Guy Fawkes

1570-1606. Prominent participant in the 1605 Gunpowder Plot.* Born into an Anglican family, he was converted to Roman Catholicism after his father's death (1579) and his mother's remarriage to a Roman Catholic. He served in the Spanish army for some years, and on his return to England in 1604 was persuaded to join Robert Catesby* and others who were conspiring to blow up the Parliament building while James I and many governmental leaders were inside. Fawkes duly planted an impressive amount of explosives, but the authorities learned of the plot, arrested Fawkes on the night before the gunpowder was due to go off, and forced him under torture to identify his accomplices. The abortive plot is still celebrated by fireworks in England on 5 November (Guy Fawkes Day).