Notorious Traitors That Will Live in Infamy

Notorious Traitors That Will Live in Infamy

Treachery is by far one of the lowest crimes, and few figures elicit more contempt than traitors. Some betray their loved ones, and their actions have little to no large-scale impacts. Others betray rulers or entire nations. For instance, the most infamous traitors in history have literally changed history’s course. Let’s see who they are and what they did to earn a place on this list.  

Marcus Junius Brutus

Marble sculpture of Marcus Junius Brutus
Brutus betrayed his friend Julius Caesar and participated in his assassination for a place in the Roman senate.

Born in 85 B.C., Marcus Junius Brutus was a Roman senator and a close friend of Julius Caesar. With his actions, he demonstrated that friendship doesn’t stand a chance against personal gains. Together with other members of the Roman senate, Brutus plotted Caesar’s demise.

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He ultimately participated in Caesar’s assassination; together with the other plotters, they stabbed the Roman general 23 times. This moment in history was brilliantly immortalized by Shakespeare in the famous line “Et tu, Brutus?”

Judas Iscariot

Judas Iscariot. Engraving by Shyubler from picture by Pr�¶ll. Published in magazine "Niva", publishing house A.F. Marx, St. Petersburg, Russia, 1888
Judas betrayed Jesus for 30 silver coins.

Alongside Brutus, the second-most infamous traitor in history was Judas Iscariot. You don’t have to be a Christian or to have read the Bible to know who he is.

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Judas betrayed Jesus 30 silver coins.

One of Jesus’ 12 Apostles, Judas was another man who put personal gains before the greater good. He didn’t even claim some fancy spot in a senate. Instead, he betrayed Jesus for a mere 30 silver coins.

Mata Hari

Mata Hari, exotic dancer, was executed in 1917 as a WW1 German Spy. Profile portrait said to depict the dancer in 1910.
Mata Hari is one of the most famous spies of all time.

Perhaps the most famous spy of all time, Mata Hair was a Frisian exotic dancer who used her charming looks to seduce men in European governments. Because of this, she had some freedom of movement during World War I. Her liaisons with the German officers didn’t go unnoticed, and France eventually hired her as a spy. However, it is believed she was actually a German double agent, trading British and French secrets to the Germans. Even if some historians now believe Hari was nothing but a scapegoat, she was arrested for espionage and executed in Paris in 1917.

Mir Jafar

Mir Jafar helped the British gain control over India for the Bengal throne.

Today, most people know that the British ruled India for quite some time. What you may not know is that an Indian guy named Mir Jafar helped the Crown take control of the Indian territory. Back in the 18th century, Jafar was Bengal’s military commander-in-chief. However, he had higher aims, and when the British promised him the Bengal throne, he didn’t think twice before betraying his country. Jafar helped the British win the Battle of Plassey in 1757 and eventually became a puppet ruler of Bengal under the British.

Robert Ford

Ford betrayed fellow outlaw Jesse James, killing him for a $10,000 reward.

In 1880, Robert Ford was a member of the legendary Jesse James gang. Together with other outlaws, he used to rob banks and commit other crimes. Like most traitors, Ford didn’t have any sense of loyalty towards anyone. So, when the Missouri government offered a $10,000 reward for capturing Jesse James, Ford didn’t think twice before killing him. Instead of a reward, Ford got arrested for murder. He was then pardoned by the Governor only to be killed by another outlaw. His actions might not have had a large-scale impact on history, but they earned him the reputation of an infamous traitor.

Philippe Pétain

WWI French national hero Pétain turned infamous traitor during World War II.

Philippe Pétain is proof that even the greatest heroes can become infamous traitors if the right opportunity arises. During World War I, Pétain managed to win one of the bloodiest battles and earned the nickname “The Lion of Verdun.” His glory ended during World War II when the French asked him to form a government capable of fighting the Nazis.

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Pétain did form a government, but a fascist one mostly aligned with Germany’s Nazi views. After the war, Pétain was charged with treason and ended up spending the rest of his life behind bars in a French prison off the Atlantic coast.

Robert Hanssen

While the post-WWII era offered relative tranquility, animosity always existed between states. Two of the greatest rivals are the United States of America and Russia. There have been many cases of espionage on both sides, but hardly any as notorious as that of Robert Hanssen. The FBI agent worked as a spy for the Soviet and then Russian intelligence between 1979 and 2001. During this time, he outed Soviet general and secret U.S. informer Dimitri Polyakov and traded many other secrets.

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Upon being captured, the American government found out that Hanssen became an informer for the enemy for profit alone. He gained more than $1.4 million in cash and diamonds. He wasn’t able to enjoy any of those, as he served life in prison without the possibility of parole in Colorado. Hanssen died in prison on June 5, 2023. The photo above is a picture of his Virginia home for sale.

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