|Six of biggest threats to Britain over the years|
Britain has had many enemies over the years, here are a few of the ones that posed the biggest threat to the British way of life. Here are half a dozen of my favourites.
No need for much of an introduction to the most famous man in the history of the world. He obviously got around a bit and picked fights with quite a lot of people, but Britain really was his nemesis. It wasn’t that he necessarily disliked Britain. He was quite impressed when he visited Liverpool as a young man. It was just that Britain blocked all his plans. After all, if you want to rule the greatest empire that the world has known it is a bit inconvenient having to cope with a country that already has the biggest one going.
Another man that needs no introduction. He assembled a huge fleet of flat bottomed boats in an attempt to land an army on the island of Britain. There is a pretty good chance he would have succeeded if he could have kept his focus on the job and commissioned a few more warships. In the event, he was tempted away by other projects. It is hard to imagine that the invasion of Britain ever actually got crossed off his to do list though. Had he returned from Russia with his army intact the story could have been very different.
Phillip II of Spain
Phillip could just as easily be described as Phillip the First of England, given that he was married to Mary the First. His head appeared on coins and his name was quoted on acts of parliament. But this episode has been pretty firmly expunged from English history by the English. There were too main objections to Phillip. He was a conscientious Catholic – which was distasteful to the largely Protestant English. This wasn’t helped by his wife burning some Protestant martyrs. There was also his very possessive attitude to Spanish treasure.
There are few people whose main claim to fame is being shot. It is an ironic twist that he himself was quite keen on shooting. Some estimates put the numbers of animals he shot as high as half a million, including being the only man in recorded history who bagged a duck billed platypus. Murdering monotremes is no longer socially acceptable and I imagine a lot of people nowadays would regard his untimely death as a just retribution on behalf of the animal kingdom.
Although his death at the hands of a Serbian nationalist which led to the First World War is what he will always be remembered for, Archduke Ferdinand was actually a fairly significant figure while he was still on two legs.
As the heir to the Austrian throne what he thought was significant. He was distinctly anti-British but very pro-Russian. He was also very pro-Catholic and wanted to re-establish the pope’s rule over the papal states, something which would have split the relatively new country of Italy in half. He was very much in favour of the imperial system and against democracy. He was also the leading spirit behind the Austrian construction of a fleet of dreadnoughts to overcome British naval supremacy.
Despite this distinctly reactionary position he was also very much the champion of the peace party in Austria. I imagine this was not so much because of any humanitarian impulse but more that he couldn’t figure out exactly who he actually wanted to fight.
It was very rare for Africans to beat Europeans in a pitched battle in the Nineteenth Century. Cetshwayo was the Zulu chief who pulled off this difficult feat at the battle of Isandlwana. The professional British soldiers were armed with the latest rifle technology, a few artillery pieces and even a battery of rockets. The Zulus had spears and beautiful plumage. Despite their obvious advantages the British were outmanoeuvered and suffered huge losses.
The Zulus have kept their reputation for warrior prowess ever since. They were inevitably defeated when the British sent even more troops to occupy their country. Cetshwayo himself was cheered by crowds on his visit to London to negotiate the peace terms. He had showed spirit.
While other enemies have attempted to bring Britain down to size with ships, rockets, bombs and even spears, Murdoch’s approach has been more underhand and far more successful. He has bought newspapers and ruined them. His money and influence have perverted not just justice but the democratic process itself. Out of the six, he is the one that has done the most lasting damage.