In the novel forum there is a thread on crushes on fictional people, but judging from some comments in there, it seems several of us have crushes on historical people as well. I figured it'd be a completely silly but rather fun thread if we admitted to our embarrassing fondness for certain dead people.

I'll go first: I have plenty of crushes, but my biggest one is probably on John Churchill, first Duke of Marlborough, a notoriously mercenary and sycophantic military genius who laid the foundations to his fortune by becoming the kept man of one of the mistresses of Charles II at 19 (according to the legend, Charles discovered the affair and told him "I forgive you, because I know you only do it to earn your bread"). He was good-looking, glib, self-serving (some would even say completely lacking in loyalty to his benefactors) and terrified of his forceful wife. He was also notoriously stingy. There is a story (possibly untrue) about how he was leaving a dinner-party, and the host kindly called a sedan-chair and gave him a few pennies for the fare. Betting on what he'd do, the other gentleman gathered at the window, only to find him - as some had expected - to have pocketed the pennies and walking home (he was by this time already one of the richest men in England). Be as it may regarding that particular story, his tight purse was a contemporary running gag, and his letters are full of really petty economic concerns. It's even said the reason he personally wore gaiters rather than boots (which was customary for the cavalry) was that they were cheaper and easier to mend.

Personally, I think the fact that he was so preoccupied with practicalities actually helped him as a commander - he was extremely good at planning and providing for his troops. He was also one of history's greatest tacticians and is by many considered the greatest English general ever. For both those things, he was extremely loved by his troops.

Me, I don't like him half as much for his virtues as for his flaws, though. And I probably wouldn't like him half as much if he hadn't been a hottie in his youth!

So what about you? What secret crushes do your closets hide?