Remember, remember... Guy Fawkes's autograph on the 5th of November

As the UK prepares to celebrate Guy Fawkes Night (November 5) with bonfires and fireworks across the country, there's no question that Guido Fawkes legacy is still burning bright 405 years after his attempt to blow up the Houses of Parliament.

In 1605, Fawkes (pictured top right) was discovered by King James I's spies in the cellars beneath the Palace of Westminster where parliament was due to meet, along with 36 barrels of gun power. His plan was to kill the Protestant King in the explosion, and place his daughter Elizabeth on the throne.

It was hoped that Elizabeth would marry a Catholic, thus ending years of intolerance towards Catholics living in England and marking a return to the 'old religion'. However, Fawkes's capture brought an end to these plans...

Fawkes afterwards signed two confessions, and both autographed manuscripts still exist to this day. Each is currently held in Britain's National Archives and would be worth many tens of thousands of pounds if they were ever to sell.

Guy Fawkes autograph gives unprecedented insight into the hardships
he endured after getting caught trying to blow up Parliament in 1605

Both documents also demonstrate the personal clues that can be found in autographs. For instance, between signing each confession, Fawkes was tortured for eight days. And comparing the autographs is fascinating, to say the least...

The document pictured above was signed by Fawkes while under torture and his signature, which faintly reads 'Guido', is weak and shaky. In comparison, the second document is penned in a much steadier hand: 'Guido Fawkes'.

While these documents are stored in the National Archives, other historic manuscripts by Catholic icons - or those who challenged the ruling church - have appeared for sale on the private collectors' markets.

These include France's favourite saint, Joan of Arc. A signed document commemorating her victory at Orleans in the Hundred Years' War in 1429 - resulting in the coronation of Charles VII - auctioned earlier this year.

Eight years after Joan was beatified by the Catholic Church in 1920 - and nearly 500 years after she was burned for heresy - the signed document brought £3,000 in Bonhams' sale.

King Henry VIII's personal divorce plea to The Pope is worthy of a museum - and currently for sale on the private collectors' markets


Meanwhile, a century before Guy Fawkes battled to restore the Catholic church, King Henry VIII had split it and declare himself Head of the Church in England - all for the sake of divorcing his wife, Catherine of Aragon.

To be fair on King Henry, splitting the Catholic Church wasn't his first restore. Prior to that, he personally issued a personal divorce plea to The Pope in 1537 (who, unfortunately, was a prisoner of The Holy Roman Emperor Charles V at the time so couldn't personally annul the marriage).

Amazingly, Henry VIII's personal plea isn't in the Papal archives or the National Archives, or in a Museum. Instead, Henry's letter is currently for sale to collectors - and its £275,000 value offers a clue as to how much Guy Fawkes's signature would today be worth on the private markets.

For as long as young bonfire goers remember the rhyme "Remember, remember the fifth of November," the values of these historic documents will continue to grow in value as alternative investments.


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