Guy Fawkes

War of Religion

Frustrated from his lack of potential as a Catholic living in England, Guy left England in 1593 and travelled to Flanders with his cousin, Richard Collinge, a Jesuit priest. Likely, he spent at least a year travelling in Europe, familiarizing himself with the languages and customs of the time and also using what was left of his inheritance. By 1595 he had signed up as a soldier in the ‘English Regiment’ of the Spanish Army fighting in the War of Religion that plagued Europe at the time. Taking up this role was common for exiled Catholics at the time, and was in many ways reminiscent of the French Foreign Legion of its day. His commander was Sir William Stanley, an English Catholic, who had previously fought for Elizabeth before defecting to the Spanish due to his lack of reward from the queen and his sympathy for the Jesuits.

Guy’s career in the military would be of considerable significance to his later destiny. In 1596, he was present at the siege of Calais, an 8-day onslaught resulting in the destruction of much of the city and the surrender of the port to the Spanish. According to reports Fawkes was noted for his gallantry and was rewarded by Stanley by being made a lieutenant. Guy’s military career was mostly successful: references describe him as being ‘sought by all the most distinguished in the Archduke’s camp for nobility and virtue.’ It was during this time he became an expert in the art of destroying fortifications using gunpowder.

Records of Guy’s career are sparse. He likely served with Stanley at Amiens and Geldern in 1597, followed by time spent in the Spanish Netherlands. In 1599, a letter written by Collinge referred to Guy being in Venice, searching out his cousin Martin Harrington. In 1600 Guy was back in the Low Countries, and was present at the Battle of Nieuwpoort where he appears to have been wounded. Between 1601-03, Guy was present at the siege of Ostend.