Guido Fawkes: Enemy of the state

Guy Fawkes was born on 13th April 1570, at Stonegate, Yorkshire.  His father Edward Fawkes was a notary proctor of the ecclesiastical courts and an advocate of the consistory court of the Archbishop of York.  His mother Edith Blake was a descendant of the Harrington family of prominent merchants from York.

His father Edward Fawkes died and was buried at St.Michael-le-Belfry on 17th January 1578, and left him a sizeable inheritance when he attained the age of twenty one.

His mother Edith Blake re-married Dionysius Bainbridge, and between them they made use of Guy’s inheritance, before he came of age.

Guy came of age in 1591, and proceeded to dispose of part of his inheritance; the Clifton estate that he had inherited from his father.

Guy Fawkes left his homeland in the early 1590’s, with one of the Harrington cousins, who later became a priest.  He enlisted in the Spanish Army under the command of Archduke Albert of Austria, who went on to be Governor of the Netherlands.  Fawkes rose to the position of a Commander when the Spaniards took Calais under the orders of King Philip II of Spain in 1596.

Guy’s appearance was one of presence.  A tall powerfully built man, with reddish brown hair, flowing moustache and a bushy beard.  During the battle of Nieuport in 1600, he came to the attention of Sir William Stanley, Hugh Owen and Father William Baldwin, when he was wounded during the battle.

Guy went to Spain on behalf of Sir William Stanley in February 1603, and with the assistance of Christopher Wright seeked out Spanish support for an invasion of England upon the death of Queen Elizabeth.  Upon his return Sir William Stanley presented him to Thomas Wintour.

In late spring, Guy was invited by Robert Catesby to accompany Thomas Wintour to Bergen in order to meet with the Constable of Castille; Juan De Velasco, who was due at the court of King James I to discuss the treaty between Spain and England.

In May 1604, Guy Fawkes met with Robert Catesby, Thomas Percy, John Wright and Thomas Wintour at the Duck and Drake Inn, in what then was considered a fashionable part of London.  It was here under oath, the gunpowder conspiracy was formed.

March 1605, saw the members of the conspiracy fill the cellar beneath the Houses of Parliament, with barrels of gunpowder, iron bars and faggots.

The scheduled opening of Parliament on 28th July 1605 was delayed to 5th November due to the ever present threat of the plague.

May 1605, Guy travelled overseas, and informed Hugh Owen of the plotters plan.  Somehow his name reached the ears of Robert Cecil; First Earl of Salisbury, for he was a well known Flemish Mercenary, but the information did not reach him until late November, well after the plot had been discovered.

Guy returned to England, and he and Wintour discovered in August 1605, that the gunpowder had decayed, and ordered more gunpowder was brought in.

Guy Fawkes final role in the plot was to light the fuse, and escape across the Thames.

A few conspiritators were concerned for the safety of fellow Catholic’s who would be present at the opening of Parliament.  Lord Monteagle received a letter, warning him to stay away, and showed the letter to King James.  The King ordered a search of the cellars under Parliament in the early hours of 5th November.  Sir Thomas Knyvet, caught Guy Fawkes leaving the cellar shortly after midnight… they discovered the hoard of gunpowder, and averted the blowing up of Parliament.

Under interrogation, Fawkes said it was his intention “to blow you Scotch beggars back to your native mountains, and place Princess Elizabeth on the Throne.”

The eight plotters; (Guido Fawkes – Thomas Wintour – Robert Wintour – Ambrose Rookwood – Robert Keyes – Thomas Bates John Grant – Robert Catesby) were found guilty of treason, and condemned to be drawn backwards to their deaths, by a horse.  They were to be put to death halfway between heaven and earth.  Their genitals would be cut off and burnt before their eyes and their bowels and hearts removed.  They would then be decapitated so they might become prey for the fowls of the air, by order of The Attorney General; Sir Edward Coke.

Guy Fawkes body parts were distributed to the four corners of the Kingdom, as a warning to other would be traitors.

The Great Fire of London (1666)

In the latter years of the 17th century, London had grown in size to become the largest city in London, with an estimated 80,000 inhabitants.

The city was surrounded by a ring of suburbs where many people were known to live.  The City of London had become the commercial heart of the capital, and was by far the largest market and busiest port in England.

The layout of the city was one of narrow, winding and cobbled alleys, and many buildings were constructed from wood with thatched roofs.  So fires were common in the city, which were known to house the poor, with their open fireplaces, candles and ovens.

In those day’s there was no fire brigade to call in for help, yet the River Thames would have been a great help, for those who lived on the river’s edge.  Yet they ran a service known as “Trained Bands” who watched out for fires, and the public banded together to fight fires.

1666, had been a long and dry summer, and buildings were tinder dry.  In the early hours of Monday 3rd September, at Thomas Farriner’s Bakery in Pudding Lane a fire broke out.

It took an hour before the parish constable arrived, to find neighbours dousing the fire with water, but observed it was having little effect on the flames as it licked at the adjoining houses.  He wanted to demolish the adjoining houses, but the householders protested.

The Lord Mayor, Sir Thomas Blood, was summoned, for he had the authority to order the destruction, as a matter of law.

By now more experienced firefighters were battling with the fire, but wanted him to order the destruction of adjoining properties.  Yet he refused to give the order, as many of the properties in question were rented, and finding the owners could be difficult at such short notice.  He made a comment “Pish! A woman could piss it out” and left… I bet he regretted his decision that day.

On the Sunday after the outbreak, Samuel Pepys a senior Naval Officer at that time, observed from the Tower of London: Some churches, about three hundred houses had been destroyed, and some houses on London Bridge had been completely destroyed whilst others still burned.

So it was, Samuel Pepys made a report to the King and the Duke of York, of what he observed.  The order was given to pull down the burning houses, and any adjoining houses to stop the spread of the fire.  By mid-morning, attempts to put out the fire had been suspended as people gathered together their belongings, and headed away from the fire.

King Charles II sailed down from Whitehall to inspect the scene for himself.  The Lord Mayor had been ordered to pull down the houses, but many were still left standing, forcing the King to order mass destruction of property to the west of the fire… yet, it was too little too late, it was obvious the fire was now out of control.

Some eighteen hours after the alarm had been raised; the fire had become a raging firestorm, burning anything that stood in its way.

By dawn on Monday 3rd September, the fire was expanding towards the north and west, and south of the banks of the River Thames.  Then later turned north, heading for the financial part of the city; home to the banking institutions.  This led to a rush upon the banks, and the removal of the gold; the wealth of the city and the country lay in its strong rooms.

The Royal Exchange caught fire by mid-afternoon, and within hours is was nothing more than a smoking shell.

Boats and carts laden down with peoples goods, headed out of the reach of the fire, to the open fields and beyond, where tents and shelters were being erected … what a spectacle what a backdrop … as London burnt.

King Charles put his brother, James the Duke of York in charge of operations to stop this fire and save as much of London.  He pressed ganged lower class people into the job, paying them well and feeding them, thus creating teams of fire fighters, battling against this raging fire destroying the heart of the city.  His actions won him the hearts of the people, in his defence of the city.

On Tuesday 4th September, James believed he had created a natural firebreak, as his fire fighters made their stand at Fleet Bridge down to the River Thames, and his River Fleet would form a firebreak.   As the fire approached, a gust of wind helped the fire on, and it jumped over his men, and they were forced to run for their lives.

No one believed St.Pauls Cathedral would fall foul to this fire.  Yet early evening it licked at its walls, then melted its roof tiles, within hours it was nothing more than a ruin.

The fire was on a direct course for the Tower of London, with its large stores of gunpowder.  The garrison knew what would happen if the fire reached the gunpowder.  So they created their own firebreak against the oncoming fire by blowing up houses on a large scale in the vicinity to halt the advance of the fire.  By Wednesday 5th September the firebreak began to take effect as the wind died down.

The Great Fire of London saw the destruction of 13,500 houses, 87 churches, The Royal Exchange, St.Pauls Cathedral, Bridewell Palace, City Prisons and the list goes on.  London was destroyed by natural causes, but loss of life was few, according to the records only sixteen died.

King Charles II appointed six commissioners to redesign the city, built out of brick with larger roadways.  Sir Christopher Wren was appointed to design and oversee the construction of 50 churches and St.Paul’s Cathedral, which must be considered one of his highest achievements.

The Great Plague of 1665, ran rampant across the City of London, and is responsible for the deaths of some 200,000 souls.  In 1666 fire ravaged London, destroying much of its unsanitary houses, rats, fleas and diseases.

London was rebuilt, and so a new era began in its life.

Britain: The Great Storm of 1703

Daniel Defoe put pen to paper, telling of the Great Storm of 1703, considered the worst to strike British shores.  “No pen could describe it, nor tongue express it, nor thought conceive it.

On Friday the 26th November, as the wind battered Cornwall’s Lizard Peninsula, the people believed the great “Day of Judgement” was coming.

Henry Winstanley built a 120-foot lighthouse at Eddystone, believing it to be indestructible, how wrong he was, as he was killed as a sixty-foot wave pounded the lighthouse.

London would suffer much damage, lead on the roof of Westminster Abbey was rolled up like parchment and blown clear of the building.

Queen Anne told her subjects, that the storm was their fault, for being sinful.  On the 19th January 1704, thousands crammed into the churches to thank God for their deliverance, and thanking him for his infinite mercy.

Husband of Queen Anne: George of Denmark…

George was born on the 2nd April 1653, in Copenhagen, to parents King Frederick III of Denmark and Sophie Amelie of Brunswick-Lueneburg.  He was well educated and received military training, before undertaking a tour of Europe, spending time in France and England in 1668-69.

In 1670, his father died, and the Danish throne went to his oldest brother; Christian.

In 1674, King Louis XIV of France, proposed him as an ideal candidate for the position, King of Poland.  George refused on the grounds, he was not prepared to surrender his Lutheran faith, and fortunately Catholic Poland would not accept a Protestant Monarch.

King Charles II of England was on the lookout for a husband, for Princess Anne, the daughter of James, the Duke of York, who would become King James II.

Prince George, a known Protestant, would be an acceptable candidate for the post.

Prince George and Princess Anne were married on the 28th July 1683 in the Chapel Royal at St.James Palace, London.

Anne bore George seventeen children, sadly only one survived infancy, but died before reaching twelve.

King Charles II died on the 6th February 1685, and James the Duke of York became King James II of England.  Prince George, husband to the King’s daughter, received a position in the Privy Council, and was allowed to attend Cabinet meetings, but he had no power.

On the 5th November 1688, William of Orange invaded Britain, which ultimately deposed King James II, and he was forced into exile, in France.

In 1689, Prince and Princess of Orange became King William III and Queen Mary II, were declared joint monarchs of England, with Princess Anne, as heiress presumptive.

In April of 1689, Prince George became the Duke of Cumberland, Earl of Kendal and Baron of Okingham, titles created by England’s new monarchs, and on the 20th April, took his seat in the House of Lords.

George was refused admission to the army and navy by William III.

Queen Mary died of smallpox in 1694, making Anne, heiress apparent.

An “Act of Settlement” was passed by Parliament in 1701, which meant, following William and Mary’s death, the English throne would pass to Princess Anne, and afterwards to protestant cousins; House of Hanover.

In 1702, William III died, and Princess Anne, became Queen Anne of England, the last of the Stuarts.

On the 17th April 1702, Queen Anne appointed Prince George Generalissimo of all military forces and Lord High admiral.

George was content taking second place to his wife and Queen, offering advice, if and when needed.

During Anne’s reign as Queen, her and George spent the winters at Kensington and St.James Palaces, and the summers at Windsor Castle and Hampton Court Palace.

Prince George never became a member of the Church of England, in all the years they were married, he remained till death a Lutheran, and he had his own personal chapel.

In the early part of 1706, George was taken ill; blood in his sputum.  His health deteriorated, as he suffered from bad bouts of asthma.  On the 28th October 1708, Prince George died at Kensington Palace, and was buried at Westminster Abbey.