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The death of Lady Jane Grey, who served as de facto Queen of England for nine days in 1553 before relinquishing the throne to Mary Tudor; Queen Mary later charged Lady Jane Grey (among others) with high treason.

In law, treason is the crime of disloyalty to one's nation or state. A person who betrays the nation of their citizenship and/or reneges on an oath of loyalty and in some way willfully cooperates with an enemy, is considered to be a traitor. In the United States of America, treason is defined at Article 3 of the U.S. Constitution.


  • Is there not some chosen curse,
    Some hidden thunder in the stores of heaven,
    Red with uncommon wrath, to blast the man
    Who owes his greatness to his country's ruin?
  • This principle is old, but true as fate,
    Kings may love treason, but the traitor hate.
    • Thomas Dekker, The Honest Whore (1604), Part I, Act IV, scene 4.
  • If I had to choose between betraying my country and betraying my friend, I hope I should have the guts to betray my country.
  • Treason doth never prosper: what's the reason?
    Why, if it prosper, none dare call it treason.
    • Sir John Harington, Epigrams, Book iv, Epistle 5. Compare: "Prosperum ac felix scelus/ Virtus vocatur" ("Successful and fortunate crime/ is called virtue"), Seneca, Herc. Furens, ii. 250.
  • Thus are assaults on patriotism failures of character. They are made by privileged people who enjoy the full benefits offered by the country they deride and detest, but they lack the basic decency to pay it the allegiance and respect that honor demands. But honor, of course, is also an object of their derision.
  • I consider your crime worse than murder... I believe your conduct in putting into the hands of the Russians the A-Bomb years before our best scientists predicted Russia would perfect the bomb has already caused, in my opinion, the Communist aggression in Korea, with the resultant casualties exceeding 50,000 and who knows but that millions more of innocent people may pay the price of your treason. Indeed, by your betrayal you undoubtedly have altered the course of history to the disadvantage of our country. No one can say that we do not live in a constant state of tension. We have evidence of your treachery all around us every day for the civilian defense activities throughout the nation are aimed at preparing us for an atom bomb attack.
    • Judge Kaufman's Statement Upon Sentencing the Rosenbergs. University of Missouri–Kansas City. Retrieved June 24, 2008.
  • But hereof be assured, that all is not lawful nor just that is statute by civil laws; neither yet is everything sin before God, which ungodly persons allege to be treason.
    • John Knox pastoral, as quoted in The Breakers of the Yoke: Sketches and Studies of the Men ... by J. S. MacIntosh pg. 303
  • Hast thou betrayed my credulous innocence
    With vizor'd falsehood and base forgery?
  • Oh, colder than the wind that freezes
    Founts, that but now in sunshine play'd,
    Is that congealing pang which seizes
    The trusting bosom, when betray'd.
  • Oh, for a tongue to curse the slave
    Whose treason, like a deadly blight,
    Comes o'er the councils of the brave,
    And blasts them in their hour of might!
  • Treason was one the first crimes set out in medieval common law. It is a charge so freighted and subject to abuse, it is the one crime defined in the U.S. Constitution, precisely to guard against its abuse.
  • If you maintain a consistent political position long enough, you will eventually be accused of treason.
    • Mort Sahl, "Live at the hungry i" (1960 comedy album).
  • The man was noble,
    But with his last attempt he wiped it out:
    Destroy'd his country, and his name remains
    To the ensuing age abhorr'd.
  • Though those that are betray'd
    Do feel the treason sharply, yet the traitor
    Stands in worse case of woe.
  • I did pluck allegiance from men's hearts,
    Loud shouts and salutations from their mouths,
    Even in the presence of the crowned king.
  • Treason is but trusted like the fox
    Who, ne'er so tame, so cherish'd and locked up,
    Will have a wild trick of his ancestors.
  • Treason and murder ever kept together,
    As two yoke-devils sworn to either's purpose,
    Working so grossly in a natural cause,
    That admiration did not hoop at them.
  • Treason is a charge invented by winners as an excuse for hanging the losers.
  • The act of treachery is an art, but the traitor himself is a piece of shit.
  • All men should have a drop of treason in their veins, if the nations are not to go soft like so many sleepy pears.
    • Dame Rebecca West, "The Meaning of Treason" (Revised edition, Penguin Books, 1965), Conclusion, p. 413.

Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations[edit]

Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 811-12.
  • Nemo unquam sapiens proditori credendum putavit.
    • No wise man ever thought that a traitor should be trusted.
    • Cicero, Orationes In Verrem, II. 1. 15.
  • Treason is not own'd when 'tis descried;
    Successful crimes alone are justified.
  • O that a soldier so glorious, ever victorious in fight,
    Passed from a daylight of honor into the terrible night;
    Fell as the mighty archangel, ere the earth glowed in space, fell—
    Fell from the patriot's heaven down to the loyalist's hell!
  • With evil omens from the harbour sails
    The ill-fated ship that worthless Arnold bears;
    God of the southern winds, call up thy gales,
    And whistle in rude fury round his ears.
  • Treason doth never prosper: what's the reason?
    Why if it prosper, none dare call it treason.
  • Judas had given them the slip.
  • Tarquin and Cæsar had each his Brutus—Charles the First, his Cromwell—and George the Third—("Treason!" shouted the Speaker) may profit by their example. If this be treason, make the most of it.
  • The man who pauses on the paths of treason,
    Halts on a quicksand, the first step engulfs him.
  • For while the treason I detest,
    The traitor still I love.
    • John Hoole, Metastatio, Romulus and Hersilia, Act I, scene 5.
  • Ipsa se fraus, etiamsi initio cautior fuerit, detegit.
    • Treachery, though at first very cautious, in the end betrays itself.
    • Livy, Annales. XLIV. 15.
  • The traitor to Humanity is the traitor most accursed;
    Man is more than Constitutions; better rot beneath the sod,
    Than be true to Church and State while we are doubly false to God.
  • He [Cæsar] loved the treason, but hated the traitor.

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