From greedy outlaws to conniving double agents, we count fifteen incredible betrayals – many of which cost lives and changed the course of history!
15 – Mir Jafar,
- Mir Jafar was a leader under the Nawab of Bengal. He was considered the last independent ruler of Bengal and rose to power after betraying Nawab Siraj-Ud-Daulah.
- Mir Jafar made a deal with the British East India Company: Jafar and his cohorts agreed to hand over the Bengali army at the Battle of Plassey in exchange for control of the new puppet state. This new puppet state, with Mir Jafar as its Nawab, paid large bribes to the Company’s officials.
- Two years later, Mir Jafar realised the British were after total control of the Indian subcontinent. He made a futile attempt to stop the British, and was, for a time, replaced.
- Mir Jafar’s insurrection is considered the reason the British were able to take rule of India. Mir Jafar is known as Gaddar-e-Abrar – Betrayer of the True Faith – and his name remains synonymous with treason in both Bengali and Urdu.
14 – The Rosenbergs,
- Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were a married, American couple convicted of committing espionage during the height of the Cold War. They sold information regarding the atomic bomb to the Soviet Union and recruited spies for the Russians.
- Upon capture by the FBI, the couple’s co-conspirators confessed about the espionage and were granted exception from execution. The Rosenbergs, however, were sentenced with Capital Punishment in 1953.
- While Julius’s guilt is concrete, Ethel’s true involvement in the plot remains a point of contention.
13 – Doña Marina,
- Doña Marina is famous for betraying her people to the Spanish conquistadors. She is arguably the most detested woman in the Hispanic world.
- Marina was a former slave and the translator-mistress of Hernando Cortes, who famously conquered what is today called Mexico. Doña’s ability to translate the Aztec Nahuatl language into Mayan was instrument in changing the course of the nation’s history.
- The linguistic link between Dona Marina and Cortes’ Spanish translator proved crucial for Cortes to conquer the New World.
12 – Guy Fawkes,
- Guy Fawkes was a devout Catholic who took up – and became the figurehead for –the infamous group of English Catholics who started the largest act of treason in English history: the 1605 Gunpowder Plot.
- After leaving England, Fawkes fought for the Spanish in the Low Countries during the Eighty Years’ War. When he returned, he met Robert Catesby and Thomas Wintour, who had conceived plans to blow up the Parliament building and assassinate the Protestant King James I and his government.
- The plot – which later became known as the Gunpowder Plot – involved guarding thirty-six barrels of gunpowder, but, thanks to an anonymous tip-off, Fawkes was caught and the attempt was foiled.
- He was sentenced to death by hanging, drawing and quartering, but went out on his own terms, leaping from the scaffolding and committing suicide.
- The plot is remembered with an event called Guy Fawkes Night, which occurs each year on the 5th of November and involves bonfires and fireworks.
11 – Aldrich Ames,
- Aldrich Ames was a former CIA counter-intelligence officer and analyst before being convicted of espionage in 1994.
- Ames had worked for 31 years as a Central Intelligence Agency counter-intelligence officer and had untold access to military data, CIA assets and the names of US agents.
- Ames exploited his position and sold this information to the Russian government, jeopardising national security to support his and his wife’s luxurious lifestyle.
- He is now serving a life sentence without the chance of parole in the high-security Allenwood U.S. Penitentiary. His escapades were the subject of a 1998 made-for-TV movie.