This Crash Course is the Last Christmas of Alexander the Great YouTube Videos…

… it’s not actually about Alexander the Great, but some nonsense tertially related to Alexander the Great.

Normally I like Crash Course, because it doesn’t take itself too seriously and usually provides some kind of interesting take on historical events. But this one is trying so hard to be Woke that it ends up saying absolutely nothing at all about its ostensible subject, and the things it does say are, well, wrong.

  1. The only reason Alexander didn’t build institutions is because he died before he could build them. At the time of his death he was back in Babylon and preparing himself to build the Hellenistic Empire that would have fit the Hellenistic Culture that arose in his wake. His death without an adult male heir is also the reason that Empire collapsed, despite the efforts of at least some of the Diodachoi to hold it together. For further reading, check out Ghost On the Throne
  2. Alexander wasn’t a very destructive conqueror. Most of the deaths of his wars were military ones, i.e., his soldiers and the ones he was fighting. He wasn’t a sacker of cities, and indeed was careful to respect the lives and property of the people he subjugated. He was so as a matter of policy, pertaining to point 1: He wanted the Greek and the Persian, the Greek and the Egyptian, the Greek and the Syrian, etc., to come together in a single realm. He acted accordingly.
  3. Alexander pursued Darius because Darius was the crowned King of Persia, and Alexander’s reign would never be secure until he was dead. And after Darius died, Bessus claimed the throne. Comparing this to Ahab’s monomaniacal obsession is deeply silly. Do you not understand how monarchies work?
  4. Other conquerors didn’t just decide to emulate Alexander randomly. Why, for example, did Julius make Alexander his hero, and not, say Hannibal? Or Scipio Africanus? Or Phyrrus of Epirus? They were all great generals, too. Why  Alexander particularly?

    The answer lies in what Alexander was fighting for. His aura was never merely about war and conquest, but war and conquest in the name of a unified world. War to end wars, if you will. That appealed to Caesar, and Napoleon, and others, precisely because it was what they wanted to accomplish, too. Both Caesar and Napoleon grew up in times of political disorder and wanted to bequeath an ordered world to posterity. So did Alexander. Their admiration is neither accident nor dumb-jock hero-worship, as your endless references to dimwit reality stars seems to imply.

  5. And as regards that, we get it, you’re Too Smart for The Jersey Shore. But you’re not smart enough to ignore it, so it infects this video about a legendary historical figure for some reason, and in an ironic twist, to your beginning moaning, ensures that people will know about Jersey Shore as long as this video exists on YouTube. Nice job.

A final point, germain to my title: If you want to teach us about Alexander the Great, teach us about Alexander the Great. If you want to teach us about people who haven’t been talked about nearly as much as Alexander, but who deserve to be, then teach us about that. But don’t talk about one in a video about the other, because you end up teaching about neither.

And yes, I know that blogging about a video published in 2012 might as well be commenting about 50’s Fashion Tips, but there’s plenty of internet people doing exactly that, so welcome to the Post-Modern Age. Everything is Too Old to talk about, and nothing is.

We Don’t Actually Want Another Civil War

A rare political post that I’m throwing up because it touches upon an area I just finished writing about.

Larry Correia takes the world’s dumbest tweet by a Congressman, and drops a hydrogen bomb of truth on it, and makes the rubble bounce.

Last week a congressman embarrassed himself on Twitter. He got into a debate about gun control, suggested a mandatory buyback—which is basically confiscation with a happy face sticker on it—and when someone told him that they would resist, he said resistance was futile because the government has nukes.

And everybody was like, wait, what?

Not a new statement. Whenever this comes up, proggies love to retort that the armed populace of the US could not possibly resist the U.S. Military. This is, sadly, a meme among them.

It’s dumb for a number of reasons, most obviously the fact that a high school senior today has never known a time when the U.S. Military has not been actively engaged against insurgents in Afghanistan, and by all accounts, we are not getting anywhere. Afghanistan is Vietnam with a lower body count (and according to some authors, we actually made some progress in Vietnam after Westmoreland left in ’68. But whatever):

Nobel Peace Prize Winner Barack Obama launched over five hundred drone strikes during his eight years in office. We’ve used Apaches (that’s the scary looking helicopter in the picture for my peacenik liberal friends), smart bombs, tanks, I don’t know how many thousand s of raids on houses and compounds, all the stuff that the lefty memes say they’re willing to do to crush the gun nut right, and we’ve spent something like 6 trillion dollars on the global war on terror so far.

And yet they’re still fighting.

Extrapolate that to the resources necessary for the U.S. Military to conquer North America, and some 20-30 million (if we go with the low estimates) of gun owners. Keep in mind that it took the better part of a century – from Fallen Timbers to Wounded Knee, for the U.S. Military to take North America from a variety of Indian nations, all of whom stepped out of the Stone Age no sooner than their first encounter with Europeans. I recently went horseback riding with some Blackfeet in Montana, and they told me that until the early 18th century, no Blackfeet had ever seen a horse. The Indians fought back with every weapon they had at their disposal, at a massive disadvantage in population and firepower, and it still took decades to defeat them. And they weren’t even unified. The Apache, Comanche, Iriquois, Dakota, etc., each fought their own individual war against the invader. And they each went down hard.

Oh, but that was when we had an emaciated army, underfunded and undermanned? Sure. But Correia reminds us not to be to sure of that high-tech, all volunteer military, to say nothing of the cops:

The problem with all those advanced weapons systems you don’t understand, but keep sticking onto memes, is guess who builds them, maintains them, and drives them?… Those drones you guys like to go on about, and barely understand? One of the contracts I worked on was maintaining the servers for them. Guess which way most military contractors vote? Duh. Though honestly, if I was still in my Evil Military Industrial Complex job when this went down, I’d just quietly embezzle and funnel millions of DOD dollars to the rebels.

This is what prompted me to come into this, as someone who just finished writing a novel that takes place in the Civil War, especially Sherman’s March: in 1861, the U.S. Military had about 16,000 men and 1,100 commissioned officers. Of those, about 20% defected and joined the Confederacy. Of the 200 West Point graduates who came out of retirement, nearly half joined the Confederacy.

How long did it take to defeat the South again? 4 years. Despite the fact that the North had over double the population, five times the railroads, and virtually all the industrial capacity. Despite the fact that of the southern population, one-third were slaves who were by definition (until the very end) banned from military service. Despite all of that, it took the advanced, industrialized, highly populated section of the country 4 years of bloody conflict to crush the agrarian, thinly populated half. And that was only because at the end those West-Point-trained Southerners honored their commitments to peace. That’s right, that was after four years of conventional warfare. The Confederates didn’t even try a guerrilla insurgency.

So how many current members of the U.S. Military are right-wing enough to have a real problem with firing on civilians in support of the abrogation of the 2nd Amendment? Wanna bet it’s higher than 20%? How many Robert E. Lees join the rebellion this time? How many Apache attack helicopters do they take with them? How many Abrams tanks?

Hell, how many nukes? Do you know where we keep all of our land-based missiles? That’s right: out in flyover country. When I was a kid, the running gag held that if Montana and the Dakotas seceded from the Union, they would instantly be the third-largest nuclear power on earth. I don’t think they have as many missiles now as they did in the 80’s. But they still have some.

How hard would it be for the governors of those states to order their respective National Guards to take over the missile silos? How many guys inside the missile silos would help them do it? And how many cities would they need to wipe out to win the war?

Two. New York and Washington. Game over.

Now, of course, it might not break down like that. War is never as clear in reality as it seems at the outset. But that’s my point. The scenario in which the 1.3 million members of the U.S. Military are going to be able to contain a guerrilla revolt by a group an order of magnitude larger than them, and within the country they draw their logistical support from?

That’s not gonna be over by Christmas.

Woodie Guthrie was a Showboating Commie Stooge, and He Never Killed a Single Fascist

220px-woody_guthrie_nywtsI don’t blog about politics anymore. Politics is a numb suckhole of fools and swine stabbing at each other with bent knives. This is not about that.

This is about taking down a liar.

I could give a tinker’s damn about the policies of the Old Left, because the Old Left hasn’t been relevant for two generations. But I tire of the shallow iconography of ersatz revolutionaries.

Really what set me off was reading a Neil Hilborn poem about Ol’ Woodie, rhapsodizing that today he’d be a crust punk spraying his famous catchphrase on walls like Bastiat or some nonsense. I rather think that if Guthrie were alive today, he’d be shaming people for appropriating blues music and telling people on Twitter which of their opinions are Hate Speech. Party Men are like that.

Woody personified what Orwell wrote about the Socialists of England.

Many intellectuals of the Left were flabbily pacifist up to 1935, shrieked for war against Germany in the years 1935-9, and then promptly cooled off when the war started.

When the Nazi-Soviet pact was a thing, Woody Guthrie followed Pete Seeger’s lead with the rest of the Almanac Singers, and wrote songs about how war was bad and a phony capitalist lie:

Franklin D, listen to me,
You ain’t a-gonna send me ‘cross the sea.
You may say it’s for defense
That kinda talk ain’t got no sense.

Only after Operation Barbarossa was it time to kill Fascists. Which he did not do. He instead did everything he could to avoid Army service, eventually enlisting the U.S. Merchant Marine. Now, the Merchant Marine was hardly a safe service in WW2, and he was on a ship that took a few torpedoes off of Utah Beach in 1944. But the Sea Porpoise didn’t sink, and he was fine. A lot of guys on Utah Beach were not so lucky.

And yes, I get the idea that by rallying the people at home, by raising the spirits, he was doing his bit. It’s not wrong exactly, but there’s something slimy about that particular martial self-congratulation regarding it. Bob Hope did at least as much to keep the troops happy, but he never claimed to be winning the war himself.

So to that aesthetic bit of self-importance, no, that “machine” does not kill fascists. M-1 Garlands and Browning Automatic Rifles kill fascists. Sherman tanks kill fascists. And yes, Russian burp guns and T-34s kill fascists (when they aren’t helping them invade Poland). Your guitar just sings your self-conception disguised as communal spirit, helping to birth the culture of overgrown children who had the temerity to be angry when Bob Dylan picked up a Stratocaster. The guitar does nothing without the hand that plays it. And I know whose hand was playing yours.

When Blog Posts Expand

I’ve had this draft about the organizational differences between the Army of the Potomac and Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia, and I was working on it yesterday. The detail involved in it is turning into a minor essay, which is making me wonder if I should take it off WordPress and publish it to Kindle on its own. I may or may not.

These things have a way of getting away from you sometimes.

Yes, The Civil War Was About Slavery

[This is a repost of an article originally posted to that I downloaded and deleted from that website when I made my departure from it. I repost it after having read John C. Wright’s “A Question for Neoconfederates“, which is an intriguing philosophical fork, but rather gives the Rebellious States too much credit for their motives. ]

Henry: …Methinks I could not die anywhere so contentented as in the king’s company — His cause being just and his quarrel honorable.

Will: That’s more than we know.

Bates: Ay, or more than we should seek after; for we know enough if we are the king’s subjects: if his cause be wrong, our obedience to the king wipes the crime of it out of us.

– Shakespeare, Henry V

There is a strange idea lurking about, unexamined, that a soldier is responsible for the cause he fights for. He isn’t. This might seem counterintuitive, but it isn’t wrong. Governments declare wars, and then call upon soldiers to fight them. Governments alone are responsible for the cause being just or not. Whatever anyone thinks of recent American wars in the Middle East, no one blames the soldiers, Marines, airmen, etc., who served in them.

Thus, when I prove the assertion of my headline, I intend no accusation of any soldier or officer of the Confederate States Army. The list of men who disliked the practice of chattel slavery, or even opposed secession, but who felt obligated to follow their state when it seceded from the Union is long, beginning with Robert E. Lee himself. The vast majority of southerners owned no slaves and the majority of Confederate soldiers were fighting for no other reason than war had come and the state they lived in was on one side of it. That is how war works.

Witness Jefferson Davis’ statement of resignation from the U.S. Senate when his home state of Mississippi announced its secession:

If I had thought that Mississippi was acting without sufficient provocation…I should still, under my theory of government, because of my allegiance to the State of which I am a citizen, have been bound by her actions.*

But because of that strange notion, there has been a desire to spare dishonor to those long-dead soldiers by pretending that the cause for which they fought was other than it was. The attempts to argue that the Civil War was prompted by Constitutionalism, by resistance to federal tyranny, are as old as the war itself. Jefferson Davis again in the same speech:

We but tread in the paths of our fathers when we proclaim our independence and take the hazard…not in hostility to others, not to injure any section of the country, not even fo our own pecuniary benefit, but from the high and solemn motive of defending and protecting the rights we inherited, and which it is our duty to transmit unshorn to our children.*

So the claim has gone among neo-Confederates and others who would prefer that the whole ugly business about slavery not be mentioned. They were fighting, like the Founders before them, for their rights. What rights? Their high and solemn rights. Yes, but which ones in particular? Precisely which right was the Federal Government of the United States, in 1861, threatening?

One of the uses of the Declaration of Independence is that Thomas Jefferson et al. defined clearly what the Revolutionary War was about. Most Americans know the part about Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness, but the bulk of the Declaration is a series of accusations made against the British government. 27 of them in fact. They mostly have to do with the interference with existing colonial governments and institutions, which were democratically controlled, by imperial bureaucracies and militaries, which were not. The accusation of tyranny by the British government becomes thus persuasive.

If only we had such a document to declare the motives of the Southern leaders.

As it turns out, we do. Several of them, in fact.

The link goes to a complete copy of the Declaration of the Immediate Causes Which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union, at the Avalon Project. This statement was issued December 24th, 1860. South Carolina was the first state to secede: ten others would follow, and they formed the Confederate States of America. You may read it in full and decide for yourself if my characterization is accurate.

The document begins with a brief history of American political compacts and argues — reasonably — for the sovereignty of the states who created the Constitution and alone imbued it with power. It points out that only nine states of the thirteen were required to ratify the Constitution, but that any state that did not due so was not bound by it, and that two former colonies that did not ratify it immediately and functioned as independent nations until they did.

The rhetorical goal is to establish the right of secession, both in principle, as the Founders did, and under existing American law and tradition. It’s a deft argument.

But back to the cause of this specific secession: what were the gentlemen of South Carolina driven to this precipice by? What high and solemn rights were being violated by the federal government?

The right to keep slaves:

We assert that fourteen of the States have deliberately refused, for years past, to fulfill their constitutional obligations, and we refer to their own Statutes for the proof.

The Constitution of the United States, in its fourth Article, provides as follows: “No person held to service or labor in one State, under the laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in consequence of any law or regulation therein, be discharged from such service or labor, but shall be delivered up, on claim of the party to whom such service or labor may be due.”

This stipulation was so material to the compact, that without it that compact would not have been made. The greater number of the contracting parties held slaves, and they had previously evinced their estimate of the value of such a stipulation by making it a condition in the Ordinance for the government of the territory ceded by Virginia, which now composes the States north of the Ohio River.

The same article of the Constitution stipulates also for rendition by the several States of fugitives from justice from the other States.

The General Government, as the common agent, passed laws to carry into effect these stipulations of the States. For many years these laws were executed. But an increasing hostility on the part of the non-slaveholding States to the institution of slavery, has led to a disregard of their obligations, and the laws of the General Government have ceased to effect the objects of the Constitution. The States of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin and Iowa, have enacted laws which either nullify the Acts of Congress or render useless any attempt to execute them. In many of these States the fugitive is discharged from service or labor claimed, and in none of them has the State Government complied with the stipulation made in the Constitution. The State of New Jersey, at an early day, passed a law in conformity with her constitutional obligation; but the current of anti-slavery feeling has led her more recently to enact laws which render inoperative the remedies provided by her own law and by the laws of Congress. In the State of New York even the right of transit for a slave has been denied by her tribunals; and the States of Ohio and Iowa have refused to surrender to justice fugitives charged with murder, and with inciting servile insurrection in the State of Virginia. Thus the constituted compact has been deliberately broken and disregarded by the non-slaveholding States, and the consequence follows that South Carolina is released from her obligation.

This is the whole of the complaint against the U.S. Government by the South Carolina Convention. Not taxation without representation, not interference with freedom of speech, or of the press, or of religion. Not the quartering of soldiers in homes during peacetime. Not any of the 27 complaints that the Founders made against George III. Only this: that the government failed to enforce the rights of slaveowners to their slaves. Not that they interfered with the institution, mind: that they did not enforce it well enough.

No other complaint is listed. Read the document, if you doubt me. Given the nature of this document, it follows that they had no other complaint.

Secession happened because of slavery; it did not happen for any other reason. You might think that perhaps, other states that seceded had other reasons. You may examine their ordinances of secession as you will, but you will find the following:

  • Mississippi’s declaration focuses entirely on slavery and Northern hostility to slavery.
  • Florida simply secedes without mention of cause.
  • Alabama declares the election of Abraham Lincoln and Hannibal Hamlin to be “avowedly hostile to the domestic institutions and to the peace and security of the people of the State of Alabama, preceded by many and dangerous infractions of the constitution of the United States by many of the States and people of the Northern section”, which seems largely an echo of South Carolina and Mississippi.
  • Georgia goes into more detail than Alabama denounces the Republican Party as a purely anti-slavery party, and giving a brief history of it. It then echoes South Carolina’s complaint about failure to enforce slavery.
  • Louisiana simply secedes without mention of cause.
  • Texas echoes the complaints of South Carolina, Alabama, and Georgia, stating that Texas was admitted to the union as a slave-holding state. It also accuses northerners of direct interference with the practice of slavery, by theft of slaves and violence against Southerners in the course of same.

After this, no further states succeed until Ft. Sumter is fired upon, so the Civil War has already broken out:

  • Virginia mentions briefly “the oppression of the Southern slave-holding states” but goes into no further detail.
  • Arkansas objects to the conduct of the War by the Federal government. It does not mention slavery.
  • North Carolina simply secedes without mention of cause.
  • Tennessee simply secedes without mention of cause.

With the exception of Arkansas, who condemned the war that secession has caused, there is no cause mentioned by any of the Confederate States of America, impelling them to secession, other than slavery. It follows, then, that secession was caused by slavery.

And the war was caused by secession. A grand fount of sophistry attempts to argue here that the secession of the various states was owed recognition by the U.S. Government from the moment of their enactment. These often reside in some manner of an appeal to Constitutional liberty, despite no provision in the Constitution requiring any such thing of the Congress, President, or Supreme Court. Secession literally doesn’t exist in the Constitution of the United States. It has nothing to say on the subject.

Which might mean that states are free, under Jeffersonian principle, to secede anyway, and take their chances, as the Founders did. But that means that the federal government is likewise free to not recognize any such secession, and to treat as traitors and insurrectionists those who do violence to the government under claim of such secession. Which is precisely what happened. The Founders knew that secession from Great Britain meant continued war and possible traitors’ deaths. Jefferson Davis knew it, too:

I glory in Mississippi’s star! But before I would see it dishonored I would tear it from its place, to be set on the perilous ridge of battle as a sign around which her bravest and best shall meet at the harvest home of death.*

The only alternative to connecting war with secession is to argue that the Northern States and the Republican Party were planning on abolishing slavery and using military force to enforce this even if the southern states had not seceded. Such a statement is bluntly, absurd. There is nothing in the 1860 Republican party platform, for example, to suggest that they intended any such thing. It speaks only that slavery should not exist where its state laws do not permit it, that it should not be extended to any new territories, and that the slave trade should not be reopened.

No slavery, no secession. No secession, no war. It’s precisely that simple.

Hence, the war was about slavery. Arguments about federal tyranny and states’ rights are entirely overblown, and in any case revolve entirely around the issue of slavery. There was no other issue that the Southerners mentioned. None.

This will discomfit those who would prefer to believe that their ancestors and ancestral heros were not fighting for a bad cause. But we need not smear men who believed themselves fighting for their homes and families. We need not judge them at all. They risked their all, and many did not return from that harvest home of death. And in any case, they have all gone on to whatever reward awaits them.

But we need not refrain from naming a bad cause a bad cause, or condemning those who led their people to butchery because of it. The fire-eaters who signed their declarations have a great deal to answer for.

Will: But if the cause be not good, the king himself have a heavy reckoning to make when all those legs and arms and heads, chopped off in a battle, shall joine together at the latter day and cry all, “We died at such a place;” some swearing; some crying for a surgeon; some upon their wives left poor behind them; some upon the debts they owe; some upon their children rawly left. I am afeared that there are few die well that die in a battle; for how can they charitably dispose of anything when blood is their argument? Now if these men do not die well, it will be a black matter for the king that led them to it; who to disobey were against all proportion of subjection.

-Henry V

*Quotations of Jefferson Davis’ speech of resignation from the Senate are found in Shelby Foote’s The Civil War: A Narrative, Vol 1: Fort Sumter to Perryville, Random House, 1986, pg. 5

Mark Steyn on Winston Churchill

I have been sick and busy and sick these last few days, and am currently unable to even describe my current state as “like hot garbage” – barely warmed-over recyclables is more like it. So I’m going to link this one in.

I admit that I have yet to actually watch Darkest Hour, despite having had a SAG screener of it in my house for some time. Of late watching serious movies feels more like a chore than entertaintment, and at any rate I know that story well enough. Spoilers – we win the war. I’ve been working through The Crown with more interest – Queen Elizabeth comes through like a woman who’s absolute sense of dignity and decency seems increasingly at odds with the world around her. The episode that unveiled the nigh-treasonous behavior of Edward VIII post-abdication makes one thank heaven that the world shifted to put plain unpretentious George VI and his plain unpretentious daughter on the throne.

But I also admit that watching the trailers for Darkest Hour put a lump in my throat as almost nothing else can. When Steyn writes that Churchill was a real-life superhero, who stood down a monster and saved the world, it comes pretty close to being the truth:

In May 1940 Chamberlain remained the most popular politician in the country, and the citizenry, having watched the Nazi hordes consume a continent, was by no means eager to serve as the last line of resistance to what seemed an inevitable fate. The vox populi did not stiffen Churchill’s resolve; he stiffened theirs.

For a few lonely months the world desperately needed one man to tell Adolf Hitler that the free nations had not yet begun to fight, and in saying it, make it true. Churchill was that man, and the debt the world owes him can never quite be paid.

 But, at its heart, the story of one long-serving politician in the spring of 1940 is the definitive example of the Great Man theory of history. It was his very particular qualities – ones that did not necessarily serve him well in peacetime or in other wars – that changed the course of human events.

In any case, Read the Whole Thing.

Baby Prince Louis Dredges Up Old Memories of 1215

This post at Catholic Herald uses the announcement of Prince William’s new son’s name to remind us that the Hundred Years War was but one phase of a series of struggles between the French and English Crown that went on from the days of William the Conqueror until the English were run out of Calais 500 years later.

However, it’s little known that England was once ruled by a King Louis. After King John had gone back on all his promises made to the barons in 1215 (an agreement later known as Magna Carta) a number of them had invited the king of France’s son Louis to become king, who claimed the throne through his wife, a granddaughter of Henry II. While John was in the north Louis arrived in Kent unopposed and at St Paul’s was proclaimed king, had the backing of most of the barons and controlled two-thirds of the country.

485px-Louis8lelionThat Louis – known as Louis the Lion – wasn’t just the son of the King of France, he was the heir to the French Throne. Which means if he’d pulled off his attempt to gain England, he would have been king of both realms, two centuries before Henry V of England tried it after his triumph at Agincourt. It’s one of history’s great “what-if’s”. Such would have altered almost the entire history of both countries.

And yet, I must point out that the key word is “if”. As in, that’s not what happened. John was still alive, and just because he’d been run out of London didn’t mean he’d been actually removed from power.

However, King John then died of dysentery and entrusted the great knight William Marshal to defend his nine-year-old son Henry and the now septuagenarian regent promised to carry the boy on his shoulders. People thought it unfair to blame the young boy for his father’s sins and besides which the French in London had made themselves unpopular, and as John Gillingham put it, “done nothing except drink all the wine in the city and then complain about the ale” when that ran out. Marshal defeated the French and their English supporters, and ‘King Louis’ was wiped from the historical record. (You can read all about this in 1215 and All That.)

So Louis the Lion never controlled the whole of the country, made no important acts, and left within a few years. He never claimed the English throne again, nor did his heirs claim it. To be fair, he didn’t have much time, reigning as Louis VIII of France for only three years, mostly spending it Crusading against the Cathars in Languedoc, before dying of dysentery and leaving the throne of France to his underage son, who became St. Louis. Still, that’s not what I would call “ruling as King of England”.

There were several “almost kings” of England. Some are fairly well-known, like Harald Hardraada (the also-ran of 1066) and Bonnie Prince Charlie, others, like Lady Jane Grey and James Scott, 1st Duke of Monmouth, are relatively obscure. Louis the Lion is both one of the most obscure, and most successful “almosts”. History often dances on the edge of a knife like that…