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Great War Leaders Who Never Held A Crown

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Ludmilla
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Great War Leaders Who Never Held A Crown

Post by Ludmilla » Mon October 25th, 2010, 2:38 pm

Early this year I read Lord Mahon's biography of Belisarius. The book's introduction supplied a list of great war leaders (as compiled by historians in 1705) who deserved a crown but never took one. I thought the list was interesting and worth posting for commentary. Has anyone read any good books (fiction or NF) that feature these men in some way?

On the list were (and I defer to the text's spelling for the names):
1-Flavius Aetius who defeated Attila (c. 396-454)
2-Belisarius, 6thC
3-George Castriota 'Skanderbeg', the Albanian (1404-68)
4-Janos Hunyadi, the Hungarian (1385-1456)
5-Gonsalvo de Cordoba 'el Gran Capitan' who defeated the French in the Italian Wars (1453-1515)
6-Alessandro Farnese, Duke of Parma, the great general of Philip II of Spain in the Netherlands (1545-92)
7-William 'The Silent' Prince of Orange-Nassau (1533-84) who defeated the Spanish in the Dutch revolt
Last edited by Ludmilla on Mon October 25th, 2010, 2:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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fljustice
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Post by fljustice » Mon October 25th, 2010, 3:03 pm

Robert Graves wrote a straight HF called Count Belisarius and Eric Fint and David Drake wrote a SF/fantasy series about the general. Flavius Aetius is a major character in my book Twilight Empress (working title) about the reign of Galla Placidia Augusta, but it won't be out for several months. ;)
Last edited by fljustice on Thu October 28th, 2010, 3:32 am, edited 1 time in total.
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MLE (Emily Cotton)
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Post by MLE (Emily Cotton) » Mon October 25th, 2010, 6:52 pm

Gonsalvo de Cordoba never had any chance at a crown that I know of. He invented the very effective three-man fighting tactic that made the Spanish Tercios the most feared infantry in Europe, but he was always well under the thumb of King Ferdinand of Aragon -- not a man to be messed with, if it was he on whom Machiavelli based the Prince. Ferdinand felt rather pressed by Gonsalvo's popularity in Italy, so once Naples was safely captured in the Aragonese net, Gonsalvo was lured back to Spain with the promise of an extended attack on North Africa. (Cardinal Cisneros, with no help from Ferdinand, had just conquered the major North African port of Oran and was agitating to keep on going.) Anyway, once De Cordoba was out of Italy, Ferdinand settled him in the Granada fortress of Loja, where he spent the rest of his days fretting and creating petty disputes with Granada's governors, Count Tendilla and later his son the Marques of Mondejar.

More than you wanted to know, probably, but I can't figure why they put him on a list of possible kings.
Last edited by MLE (Emily Cotton) on Mon October 25th, 2010, 8:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by SGM » Mon October 25th, 2010, 7:20 pm

Hmmm - on a slightly different note -- Oliver Cromwell never took the crown.
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Michy
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Post by Michy » Mon October 25th, 2010, 7:34 pm

Going along those same lines, although many of our American presidents were first celebrated generals, there have been many great generals who never became president. Robert E. Lee (for obvious reasons!!), Douglas MacArthur, and Patton just to name a few.

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Ludmilla
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Post by Ludmilla » Mon October 25th, 2010, 7:50 pm

MLE, I probably botched the wording. I don't think the list was meant to imply these men had ambitions to be a king (although there may have been some in history who did), but was more intended to point out successful military leaders who were never rulers. Your thoughts do raise some interesting questions. Have there been great military leaders who would have made great rulers, or do we generally regard those two positions as requiring very different and distinct skills? Do great military leaders stink at the kind of politics successful rulers have to use? Do they ultimately threaten the power of the king or queen they serve? I guess this could also segue into a discussion on who the great kingmakers were in history (the powers behind the thrown who ensured the longevity and successes of kings and queens).


Faith, Count Belisarius has long been on my wish list, but I haven't been willing to fork out the money that used/OOP copies are selling for. I should really look for it at a library, but the only library I could get it from has the security gates from hell, and I hate going there. I'm also too lazy to do ILL. In the meantime, I patiently wait for it to be reissued or enter the public domain. :)
Last edited by Ludmilla on Mon October 25th, 2010, 7:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by SGM » Mon October 25th, 2010, 8:08 pm

[quote=""Ludmilla""]

Faith, Count Belisarius has long been on my wish list, but I haven't been willing to fork out the money that used/OOP copies are selling for. I should really look for it at a library, but the only library I could get it from has the security gates from hell, and I hate going there. I'm also too lazy to do ILL. In the meantime, I patiently wait for it to be reissued or enter the public domain. :) [/quote]

I lent mine to a friend and didn't get it back. It still appears to be in print in the UK and is cheap 2nd-hand, ie £1.25 from Amazon.co.uk. Does that help?

I'm actually not sure that Cromwell counts as a great military leader but he was offered the crown and decided not to take it despite leaving his son to succeed him.
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MLE (Emily Cotton)
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Post by MLE (Emily Cotton) » Mon October 25th, 2010, 8:22 pm

Ludmilla, I do think that ruling and fighting require different skills. But they are related-- a general has to get his men to work together and follow his orders, as does a king.

I would also argue that there are different military skills required for conquest than for defense. A whole different attitude there-- although one problably morphs into the other in a generation. It was the seven centuries of back-and-forth fighting for the Iberian peninsula that provided the societal basis for conquest colonialism in both the Spanish and Portuguese. But hey, they got it from the Moors, who were conquerors in their turn.

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Post by annis » Mon October 25th, 2010, 8:44 pm

Flavius Aetius features in a few novels- Jose Gomez-Rivera's Flavius Aetius: the Last Conqueror, and in both Michael Curtis Ford's Sword of Attila and William Napier's Attila series.

Both Aetius and a predecessor, Stilicho (now there's a general who deserves a novel of his own) were seen as threats by the Emperors they served and were killed. Honorius' decision to have his most able commander, Stilicho, killed just as Rome faced a Visigoth army beggars belief.
Last edited by annis on Mon October 25th, 2010, 8:48 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Kveto from Prague
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Post by Kveto from Prague » Fri November 19th, 2010, 10:06 pm

[quote=""Ludmilla""]Early this year I read Lord Mahon's biography of Belisarius. The book's introduction supplied a list of great war leaders (as compiled by historians in 1705) who deserved a crown but never took one. I thought the list was interesting and worth posting for commentary. Has anyone read any good books (fiction or NF) that feature these men in some way?

On the list were (and I defer to the text's spelling for the names):
1-Flavius Aetius who defeated Attila (c. 396-454)
2-Belisarius, 6thC
3-George Castriota 'Skanderbeg', the Albanian (1404-68)
4-Janos Hunyadi, the Hungarian (1385-1456)
5-Gonsalvo de Cordoba 'el Gran Capitan' who defeated the French in the Italian Wars (1453-1515)
6-Alessandro Farnese, Duke of Parma, the great general of Philip II of Spain in the Netherlands (1545-92)
7-William 'The Silent' Prince of Orange-Nassau (1533-84) who defeated the Spanish in the Dutch revolt[/quote]

interesting list. id never noticed that Hunyadi nor Scanderbeg werent crowned kings of their respective countries.

I know Scanderbeg is still the national hero for Albania, interesting considering he was not muslim and fought the turks, yet is still admired by an ostensibly muslim country. He rarely, if ever lost a battle and Albania only was conqueroed after his death.

I wonder who could be added to the list? Im a bit surprised that Scipio Africanus "the Delayer" is not on the list. He might not have been as tacticaly impressive as Hannibal, but he definately used his resources to the best of his ability to defeat hannibal (or at least his brother hamicular) completely.

Jan Zizka the Hussite fought off 5 crusades to Bohemia (lead by the English, the Germans, the Hungarians, the French, and others) with nothing more than farmers. Also Zizka was blind.

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