Michael Collins was voted as Britain’s second greatest foe, only losing to the first American president, George Washington.

Irish revolutionary Michael Collins was among the shortlisted whittled down from 20 British enemies in a ranking that was conducted by The National Army Museum in London in 2012.

The Telegraph reported on the outcome of both the public and private votes

“The contest was designed to not only identify Britain's most outstanding opponent but also to draw attention to some lesser-known adversaries,” wrote Jasper Copping.

Barring domestic political enemies from the competition, those who were included in the vote must have led an army against the British Empire. Each contender had to have been active from the 17th century onward, which is the same time period the National Army Museum focuses.

The initial twenty enemies were put up for a public online vote in order to determine the top five foes. Then, once the top was selected, each foe’s case would be defended via a speech that occurred Saturday in the Chelsea area of West London.

Read more: Ten greatest quotes of Irish hero Michael Collins recalled

Following Washington and Collins in the final vote were Napoleon Bonaparte, Erwin Rommel, and Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.

After being chosen from the twenty-person pool, the final five were each defended and championed via a 40-minute speech from an expert on each of the foes.

Speaking for Michael Collins was UCC lecturer Gabriel Doherty. Doherty was born in Birmingham to Irish parents and has taught history at UCC for twenty years.

Dr. Stephen Brumwell made the case for George Washington and said: "As British officers conceded, he was a worthy opponent."

Ultimately, Brumwell led Washington to the first-place foe after clinching 45 percent of the vote; Collins followed with 21 percent.

Read more: How Michael Collins helped save Winston Churchill’s career.

*Originally published in 2012, updated in August 2020.

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