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Guy Fawkes and His Infamous Plot
Paul W. McDonough, MD, stands out as the only fellowship-trained spine surgeon in Abilene, Texas. An avid reader in his free time, Dr. Paul W. McDonough enjoys reading biographies and books about British history.

Guy Fawkes, one of the most infamous personages in British history, was born in 1570 to a Protestant family. His father died when he was eight years old, and his mother subsequently married a Catholic, returning the family to the Catholic roots that Fawkes' maternal grandparents staunchly practiced.

England at the time had a troubled relationship with the Catholic faith. The Pope had excommunicated Queen Elizabeth I in the same year that Guy Fawkes was born, and she went on to forbid the practice of Catholicism in her country. Many Catholics hoped for a repeal of these decrees when King James I ascended the throne following her death, as his mother had been Mary, Queen of Scots, a Catholic.

James I, however, upheld his predecessor’s ban on the practice of Catholicism and publicly called the religion a “superstition” in 1604. That year, Guy Fawkes and fellow Catholic opponents to the throne met and developed a plan to blow up King James and the Houses of Parliament.

Fawkes planned to ignite a stockpile of gunpowder under Parliament on the day of its opening session in 1605. Fawkes would then escape across the Thames and his co-conspirators would head to the Midlands to kidnap King James I's daughter, who they would place on the throne and ultimately marry to a Catholic. 

The plan, however, was foiled, due to an anonymous letter written to warn Parliament. A search party sent by Robert Cecil, James I's spymaster, found Fawkes hiding beneath Parliament with his gunpowder. Fawkes endured two days of torture before he confessed the plot.

Sentenced to death, Fawkes jumped down from the gallows and broke his neck, in order to avoid drawing and quartering. He rapidly became a symbol of the pro-Catholic movement and, by the following century, was burned in effigy on the anniversary of his failed plot.
Guy Fawkes and His Infamous Plot
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Guy Fawkes and His Infamous Plot

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Published: