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Flavious Josephus:  (ca. 37 – 100)

The Jewish rebels fighting against Rome appointed Joseph ben Matthias to be military governor of Galilee.  An inveterate coward, however, Joseph surrendered at the first opportunity and became the Roman general Flavius Vespasianus’s adviser on Jewish affairs.  When Flavius became emperor in the year 69, Joseph (or Josephus, as the Romans called him) found himself vaulted to the top of Roman high society.  After trying to encourage the surrender of Jerusalem by shouting propaganda at the walls, he retired to Rome and became a famous author.  the guilt of his treason may have caught up with old Josephus in his old age; he penned numerous writings lauding Jewish civilization, possibly to try to clear his conscience.

Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar (El Cid Campeador):  (1043 – 1099)

El Cid comes from the Arabic al-Sayyid, or “the lord,” while, Campeador is Spanish for “champion.”  Back when it all started, El Cid was a commander in the army of Castile.  Of course, the cocky commander wasn’t all roses to work with, and the Cid was forced to flee in 1080 after angering King Alfonso.  El Cid quickly decided to shack up with the enemy, joining forces with the Muslim emir (king) of Zaragosa.  Despite the emir’s cantankerous relationship with Castile, El Cid fought valiantly with the former foes for several years.  That is, until Spain was invaded by Berber fanatics from North Africa.  Bathing in schadenfreude, El Cid was summoned back by Alfonso, profusely apologized to, and begged to defeat the seemingly invincible invaders.  El Cid accepted, and in the course of the fighting, “the Champion” maneuvered himself into the top spot in Valencia, the gem of Spain’s Mediterranean coast.  He died in 1099 fighting off a new wave of North Africa attackers, but even after his death proved useful.  The city defenders strapped the Cid’s rapidly-assuming-room-temperature form to the back of his horse and managed to trick the enemies into thinking El Cid Campeador, was still in charge.

Shi Lang:  (1621 – 1696)

An admiral in the navy of China’s Ming dynasty, Shi Lang came into conflict with Zheng Chenggong, a rival general.  Deciding that the grass looked greener up north, he defected in 1646 to the Manchus, and left his family behind to be slaughtered as traitors.  Was it worth the sacrifice?  Lacking experienced naval officers, the Manchu ruler Shunzhi welcomed Shi Lang with open arms, and the officer happily participated in the Manchu conquest of China.  In fact, he became an official of the new Qing dynasty, made up of Shunzhi’s descendents.  Then, in 1681, he even got to lead the conquest of Taiwan, which culminated in the surrender of his old enemies, the Zheng family.  In the end, Shi Lang made out pretty well, and was given the title “General Who maintains Peace on the Seas” by a very grateful imperial government.

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