Guy Fawkes was born in April 1570 in York. Although his immediate family were all Protestants, in keeping with the accepted religious practice in England at the time, his maternalgrandparents were 'recusant' Catholics, who refused to attend Protestant services. When Guy was eight, his father died and his widowed mother married a Catholic, Dionis Baynbrigge. It was these earlyinfluences that were to forge Fawkes' convictions as an adult.
Fawkes and Spain
By the time he was 21 he had sold the estate his father had left him and gone to Europe to fight for Catholic Spain againstthe Protestant Dutch republic in the Eighty Years War. His military career went well and by 1603 he had been recommended for a captaincy. He had also adopted the Italian variant of his name, becomingknown as 'Guido'.
In the same year, he travelled to Spain to petition the king, Philip III, for support in fomenting a rebellion in England against the "heretic" James I. Despite the fact that Spainand Britain were still, technically, at war, Philip refused.
"A man highly skilled in matters of war"
Personally, Fawkes was an imposing man. His former school friend Oswald Tesimond, who hadbecome a Jesuit Catholic priest, described him as "pleasant of approach and cheerful of manner, opposed to quarrels and strife ... loyal to his friends".
Tesimond also claimed Fawkes was "a man highlyskilled in matters of war", while the historian Antonia Fraser described him as "a tall, powerfully built man, with thick reddish-brown hair, a flowing moustache in the tradition of the time, and a bushyreddish-brown beard... a man of action ... capable of intelligent argument as well as physical endurance, somewhat to the surprise of his enemies."
Fawkes is drawn into the plot
It was while oncampaign fighting for Spain in Flanders that Fawkes was approached by Thomas Wintour, one of the plotters, and asked to join what would become known as the Gunpowder Plot, under the leadership of...
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