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By ATWadmin On December 27th, 2006

I see there’s a bit of a debate going on as to who should be included in a list of "the greatest Britons", with the Conservative Party drawing up a list that includes the likes of Alfred the Great, Simon de Montfort, Millicent Fawcett, Aneurin Bevan. (Hopeless  choices) From my perspective truly great Britons would include Oliver Cromwell, Winston Churchill, Margaret Thatcher, Thomas Cranmer, Edward de Vere, Elizabeth 1st. 

Your call?

33 Responses to “THE GREATEST BRITON….”

  1. Margaret Thatcher?!?!

  2. Samuel,

    She crushed the Unions, she won back the Falklands, she opened up house ownership for all, she attacked the BBC, she was a very brave politician. Yes, I know her judgement over the Anglo-Irish Agreement was way off – I blame the reptiles in Whitehall for misleading her.

  3. A fine selection of names there David.
    Oliver Cromwell – the greatest.
    I’ll also give an honourable mention to Thomas Cromwell and John Knox.
    Can we make Calvin an Honorary Briton ?

  4. Don’t want to fall out David but I could not disagree more.
    When Mrs Thatcher sent the troop to the Falklands it helped her win an election. There were no votes in defending the British population on the island closest to the British mainland.

  5. Mad,

    Yea – those are good calls.


    We’ll differ on Mrs T! I have huge admiration for her.

  6. Oliver Cromwell who had the good grace to offer the rebels the opportunity to surrender and the good sense to slaughter them when they didn’t.
    Closely followed by Cranmer who famously refused the Pope as Christ’s enemy and Anti-Christ.

  7. Have to agree with Samuel there. Thatcher did some great things but as he rightly points out failed utterly to defend our own population from violence and terrorism and became the kind of surrender monkey you rightly despise in 2006.

    My calls:

    Churchill, Elizabeth the First, Henry VIII, Newton, hmmm thats all the names that really spring to mind.

  8. DSD,

    Yes, Henry V111 is another good one.

  9. I agree with Newton, but Darwin should also be in the list if scientists are to be included.

    My top six in chronological order:
    Elizabeth I
    Lloyd George

  10. Does "Greatest" have any definite meaning or does it merely refer to the six most relevant Britons of all time?

    I think the six greatest Britons should turn out to be relatively unknown figures. When I know in what the substance of greatness consists I’ll be able to decide.

  11. Interesting that the BBC is just showing something about Genghis Khan being the national hero of the Mongolians.

  12. As an American, I vote for Tom Paine, but I’m more interested in the fact that all of David’s choices are exclusively English. I thought Great Britain was Great because it include Scotland, Wales and (part of) Ireland. So where’s the list of all the great non-English Britons?

  13. Oliver Cromwell who had the good grace to offer the rebels the opportunity to surrender and the good sense to slaughter them when they didn’t.
    Closely followed by Cranmer who famously refused the Pope as Christ’s enemy and Anti-Christ.

    Are you the Shankills answer to Abu Hamza?

  14. Alan:

    From Scotland:
    William Wallace, Robert the Bruce, Adam Smith, James Watt, Sir Walter Scott.

    From Wales:
    Merlin :), Owen Glendower, Lloyd George, Charlotte Church :).
    Much as I like Wales, their list is a bit of a problem, boyo!

  15. From ruling a quarter of the globe to qualifying as a greatest Briton merely for "winning back" a couple of islands off Argentina. My how times have changed.

    Thatcher take a bow.

  16. Peter,

    Thanks for 2 out of 3. Here’s my list (you’ll detect the bias) of the greatest Irish Britons:

    Jonathan Swift
    James Joyce
    George Bernard Shaw
    Oscar Wilde
    Kenneth Branagh

  17. The problem with "Greatest ever…" lists is that comparing people who excelled in completely different fields is impossible. Is Newton’s invention of calculus a greater achievement than Shakespeare’s writing of Hamlet? There is no real basis for comparison.

    The Conservative Party’s list is a bit better as it does at least define the basis upon which the people are being judged, the extent to which they shaped the nation.

  18. Alan

    I wouldn’t argue with your selections, but Branagh is surely a bit young. A couple of possible additions:

    Edmund Burke
    The Duke of Wellington

  19. The greatest Briton is Sir Winston Churchill.
    He saw the nature of nazism and said so even as the BBC tried to gag him: he saw the nature of communism and said so in Fulton, Missouri in 1946 while communist agents were swarming through the US Administration. But most important of all, he saw the nature of the current threat as far back as 1899 when he was preparing his book on his experiences in Sudan. He describes the menace of islam most succinctly.
    Churchill could spot totalitarianism under any guise so he is the greatest Briton.

  20. Very Happy with Churchill and Cramner. Ther latter has grwon on me considerably lately although I think he was a bot of a swine in hos treatment of Catherine Howard..

    Suprised that Shakespear hasn’t has a mention.

    I would add Turing and Paddy Mayne to the list.

    I would subtract Maggie Thatcher and I would put Henry III and Thomas More on the Worst Britons list. Henry was a monster and the only redeeming feature he seems to have had was that he loved his mum, but then so did other monsters. Apart from what he did to his wives he screwed up his kids and I have no doubt that he made Mary into the monster that she became.

    Thomas Cromwell was his facilitator.

  21. Aileen
    I presume you mean Henry VIII and Thomas Cromwell and not Henry III and Thomas Moore?

    I’d agree on Thomas Cromwell, an amoral time-server. As to Henry screwing up his kids, I think most monarchs have done that to some degree.

  22. Aileen,

    Shakespeare did get mentioned in my list! By his real name, of course… 😉

  23. Question: How many wibes had Henry V111?

  24. WIVES.. I mean!!!

  25. it depends on you view legally he only had two.

  26. "Question: How many wibes had Henry V111?"

    You’re verging on pre Old English there DV with wibes. Did you know Henry personally?

  27. <em>Question: How many wibes had Henry V111?</em>

    2 or 4 if you are Catholic.

    Did you by any chance come up with that question after reading "The Book of General Ignorance" by John Lloyd and John Mitchinson?

  28. Chris,

    Indeed I did. It’s a great read!!!

  29. David is that what you meant? An ND like me tends to be preciser (new word!) than the average bear 😉

  30. Aileen,

    It is indeed!

  31. Alfred the Great
    Henry II
    William Shakespeare
    Oliver Cromwell
    Adam Smith
    Thomas Cochrane
    Horatio Nelson
    I.K. Brunel
    Winston Churchill
    Margaret Thatcher

    OK not all strictly historically "Britsh", but you get the general idea.

  32. Peter missed you post and you are of course right. the V makes all the difference 😉 and yes I meant Thomas Cromwell although I’d also stick More in as well. I did swallow all the Man for all seasons stuff fed to us at school but I have changed by mind about him since

  33. I wonder if the omission of Disraeli from the list is some sort of subconcious knee-jerk Tory reaction to their Founder, and coincidentally, the only Jewish P.M. of the UK… You can never be sure with the NuTories, can you?