The Who's Who Guide to Ten Most Evil Britons

Article excerpt

Historians have drawn up a list of the ten worst Britons of the last 1,000 years.

The academics nominated villains like Oswald Mosley, founder of the British Union of Fascists, Jack the Ripper and King John.

They chose one historical rogue from each century of the last millennium in the list compiled for BBC History Magazine.

Oswald Mosley, who represents the evils of the 20th century, "continues to have a pernicious impact on our society" as an inspiration for far-right groups in Britain, according to Professor Joanna Bourke of Birkbeck College, London.

Marc Morris, writer and presenter of Castle on Channel 4, said King John, who died in 1216, was "clearly one of the worst kings in English history".

Thomas i Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, was nominated by Professor John Hudson, of St Andrews University, as the worst villain of the 12th Century.

He said: "He divided England in a way that even many churchmen who shared some of his views thought unnecessary and self-indulgent.

"He was a founder of gesture politics. He was also greedy.

"Those who share my prejudice against Becket may consider his assassination in Canterbury Cathedral on December 29, 1170, a fittingly grisly end."

The full list, featured in the January issue of BBC History Magazine, is

1900-2000: Oswald Mos

ley (1896-1980) was elected as an MP for first the Conservatives and then Labour before founding the British Union of Fascists (BUF) in 1932

1800-1900: Jack the Rip

per was the name given to a serial killer believed to be responsible for the murders of at least four prostitutes in Whitechapel, East London, in 1888

1700-1800: Prince Wil

liam Augustus, Duke of Cumberland (1721-65), a younger son of King George II, was given the nickname "Butcher" for the merciless manner in which he defeated the Young Pretender, Prince Charles Edward Stuart, at the Battle of Culloden in April 1746

1600-1700: Titus Oates

(1649-1705) in 1678 made up a story about a Catholic plot to murder King Charles II which led to scores of people being rounded up and several innocent men being executed

1500-1600: Sir Richard

Rich, Lord Rich of Leighs (1496/7-1567), shifted his political and religious allegiances to further his career. …