Lieutenant Colonel James Christopher is the main antagonist of the Bernard Cornwell novel Sharpe's Havoc, a turncoat British officer.

Biography

James Augustus Meredith Christopher (known as Jam to his contemporaries) was the son of a doctor but a distant cousin of an earl, who arranged him an appointment at the British Foreign Office. In early 1809, he was sent to Portugal to assess the worth of defending the country from France. Even though his only military experience was as a militia captain, he convinced General Cradock to give him a staff position and a brevet rank of lieutenant colonel. He quickly decided that the French were most likely to win the war and bring a new system to Europe, so resolved to be on the winning side and also to profit from it. He was fond of using the Shakespeare quote "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy" when questioned about his loyalties.

Stationed in Oporto, he began courting the family of a late merchant, Savage. After initially romancing Savage's widow, he switched his attention to her nineteen-year-old daughter Kate, twenty-one years his junior, on learning everything was in her name. He sent her to the family's holding in the village of Vila Real de Zedes as an excuse to remain behind when Oporto was captured by the French. Captain Hogan tried to assign Lieutenant Richard Sharpe to escort him, but Christopher sent Sharpe away. He met with Kate and, despite having a wife who he had married believing she was wealthy, convinced her they were married by having a priest perform a Latin blessing for them.

When Sharpe arrived on the scene, along with a group of Portuguese troops led by Lieutenant Vicente, Christopher took charge of them, having them guard Kate and her house, and freed a French prisoner, Lieutenant Olivier, that they had caught raping a girl. He also stole Sharpe's telescope, a gift from Sir Arthur Wellesley. Christopher met with Captain Argenton, one of a group of French officers planning a mutiny, and covered his presence (and gained funds) with Cradock by pretending he was assisting the mutiny. In fact, he betrayed the mutineers to Brigadier General Vuillard, offering him the benefit of his knowledge of the British spy network in exchange for a monopoly on the port trade when France conquered Portugal and also details of the British army.

Having retrieved Kate, and quickly becoming abusive toward her including raping her, Christopher led Vuillard and his men to Vila Real de Zedes, offering them Sharpe and Vicente as a sacrifice. Although the French sacked the village and massacred its inhabitants, Sharpe and Vicente successfully defended a hilltop from the French attack. Christopher beat and raped a local girl, Maria, taking her as his servant after his previous servant, Luis, joined Sharpe. He tried to convince Sharpe the war was over and he should leave the hill, but the French were forced to withdraw when the main British army advanced. Christopher gained John Williamson, one of Sharpe's men who deserted, as a bodyguard.

Christopher billeted with the French in Oporto, wearing their uniform and getting Kate to do the same to show off her figure. However, the expected French victory didn't come, and Christopher joined their army in fleeing Portugal. At the border, he was tracked down by Sharpe, allowing Kate to escape from him. Sharpe easily killed Williamson and revealed he had orders to kill Christopher for his treachery. Christopher drew his sword but was unable to fight, and nearly fell into the river. Sharpe pulled him back, but only to take the contents of his pockets after running him through with his sword.

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