Guy Fawkes

Role in the Spanish Treason

In 1603 Guy was placed on indefinite leave from his regiment and sent on an errand to Spain on behalf of three prominent unnamed figures, probably Stanley, Catholic spy Hugh Owen and Father William Baldwin, principal Jesuit of Flanders. The purpose of his mission: to ‘enlighten King Philip III concerning the true position of Romanists in England’.

Before Guy arrived in Spain, the court of Philip III had been a hub of activity. Following the death of his father Philip II, Catholics from England had been vigorously attempting to convince Philip III to launch another Armada on England to ensure the crown for the Infante Isabella on the event of Elizabeth’s death. The only credible alternative to Isabella, descendent of John of Gaunt, was the Protestant King of Scotland, James VI.

Support for James was limited, particularly among the Catholic faction. In 1601 two Englishmen, Thomas James and Thomas Wintour spent time in Spain petitioning the king for an immediate invasion of England, ensuring the crown for Isabella on Elizabeth’s eventual death. For a time the king agreed to help, but by the time of the queen’s death in 1603, his promises were still to realised.

James VI came to the throne of England in March 1603 following which the English Catholics adopted their plans for another armada. In May 1603 Anthony Dutton, probably an alias for Christopher Wright, came to Spain to mount a fresh plea. By June, Dutton was joined by Guy Fawkes. Despite drawing up new proclamations for the removal of the new king and a constitution for religious freedom, their attempts came up short, and they returned to Brussels.