Historical Rogues We Have Grown to Love
5 Historical Rogues We Have Grown to Love
It is famously said that ‘history is written by the victors’ and the person responsible for the quote, wartime leader Winston Churchill, knew a lot about winning. On the other hand, some people who were notorious rogues during their lifetime, and who often met a grisly end, are now heroic figures in films and TV series. We all love a historical rogue, but these five sometimes took things to extreme lengths.
1. Guy Fawkes
Whilst here in America we celebrate with fireworks on the fourth of July, British people light theirs on the fifth of November. Known as Guy Fawkes Night, it celebrates the 1605 capture of a man who would have become one of the world’s most notorious terrorists. Fawkes was one of a group of disaffected English Catholics who plotted to kill King James I and all his courtiers and ministers by blowing up Parliament. Fawkes was captured as he waited to light the fuse and was later hung, drawn and quartered. Today however many see him as a hero, and his mask has been adopted by anonymous protestors worldwide.
2. Robin Hood
Robin Hood is another historical rogue originating in England, but he is now famous across the world thanks to big screen portrayals by everyone from Robin Hood to Kevin Costner. Now seen universally as a benign figure, the rich victims that he and his merry men robbed may have seen it in a rather different light. It’s believed this legendary figure was based upon the real-life Robin of Loxley, near Sheffield in the north of England, who allegedly robbed the rich to give the poor in the late twelfth century.
3. Jesse James
Jesse James has become a true American hero, with a number of folk songs to his name and films made about him, but in reality he was one of America’s most famous thieves. Originally a guerrilla fighter during the American Civil War he continued to put his guns to use after the conflict ended. He was shot by Robert Ford in 1882 aged just 34, but we remember him now as a charming rogue rather than the brutal killer and bank robber that he really was.
The ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ movies are great fun, but you couldn’t really have a pirate as outrageous as Captain Sparrow, could you? In many ways Blackbeard was even more outlandish, and his name lives on today as the most famous pirate of all time. His real name was Edward Teach but his wild beard gave him an obvious nickname, especially as he often had lighted candles in his beard and hair when he entered into battle. After his death in 1718 it was said that his body somehow swam three times around his ship, which has to be a feat that few others have achieved.
5. Al Capone
The name Alphonse Capone can still thrill us today, but it was less thrilling if you found yourself visited by him or his mobsters in the 1920s. The original ‘Scarface’ ran scams and protection rackets across New York and beyond. His reign of terror ended when Al was convicted of tax evasion in 1931, and he died in jail 17 years later.
From Guy Fawkes, Robin Hood and Blackbeard to more contemporary figures like Jesse James and Al Capone, these were once the most wanted men of them all. Now they’re viewed with much more magnanimity and are most wanted for the latest movie or television drama.