"Remember, remember the fifth of November"
Queen Elizabeth, who died in 1603, was very mean to Catholics who lived in England. The Catholics hoped that the next King, James I, would be nicer to them. Unfortunately he wasn’t, so 13 young men decided that they needed to kill him.
The leader of the group, Robert Catesby, wanted to blow up the Houses of Parliament and kill the King. Today these people would be called terrorists.
To blow up the Houses of Parliament they got 36 barrels of gunpowder and stored them in a cellar under the House of Lords.
Some members of the group were worried that good people including their friends would also be killed in the explosion. One of the group members sent a letter warning his friend, Lord Monteagle, not to go to Parliament on November 5th. The warning letter reached the King and the plan was discovered.
The guards found Guy Fawkes in the cellar of the parliament with the 36 barrels of gunpowder in the early morning of November 5th. We don’t know if the plan would have been successful even if they had not been discovered. Some people think that the gunpowder was useless because it was too old, but we'll never know for certain.
In this unstable period, the Gunpowder Plot deeply affected the people of England. Even today, the King or Queen only enters Parliament once a year. Before the Opening of Parliament, the guards search the cellars of the Palace of Westminster.
On the night that the Gunpowder Plot was stopped, on November 5th, 1605, people had bonfires to celebrate the safety of the King. Since then, November 5th has become known as Bonfire Night. Every year people have fireworks and burn home-made models of Guy Fawkes on a bonfire. Some English people wonder, maybe as a joke, whether they are celebrating Fawkes' capture or celebrating his attempt to kill the King and government.
In the 1980s, two graphic artists created a comic called 'V For Vendetta'. A movie based on the comic was also made in 2006. In the comic and movie, the main character was an anti-hero who fought against the state where he lived and wore a mask that looked like the face of Guy Fawkes. Many fans of the movie bought the masks, and in 2008 when Anonymous, the internet hacking group, had their first 'real life public demonstration' they asked everyone who attended to wear these masks so nobody could recognise their faces.
Since then, the mask has also been used by the Occupy movement, and Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, has also worn a Guy Fawkes mask. Although official masks from the film can still be bought online, most people make or print their own.
Guy Fawkes lived and died more than 400 years ago, but because of comics, movies and internet hacking and protest groups, his face is globally more well-known now than it has ever been.