VOTE The Most Important Leaders in World History  

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For good or for bad, our leaders can be powerful forces for change in the world. But who are the most impaction people to ever hold prominent positions of power? This is a list of the most important and influential leaders in the history of the world. Who are the most important world leaders? Anyone can vote on this definitive list of the men and women who shaped our civilization – for better or worse – making it a collaborative list of the greatest leaders of all time.

Visionaries, pragmatists, conquerors, and humanitarians all share this list. Rank these famous world leaders in terms of importance and add anyone you see missing. But remember: the most influential leaders (those who changed the face of world politics and forever altered their own countries) weren't necessarily good leaders. Some famous conquerors changed the world but let destruction in their wake. Others actually worked for the good of their people and became the great leaders in history.

So, who are the historical leaders that left their permanent mark (for good or bad)? Find out below!

list ordered by

1
8,629 6,655
George Washington is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Most Important Leaders in World History
George Washington George Washington was the first President of the United States, the Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War, and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. He presided over the convention that ...more

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2
8,923 6,272
Abraham Lincoln is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Most Important Leaders in World History
Abraham Lincoln Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States, serving from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865. Lincoln led the United States through its Civil War—its bloodiest war and its greatest moral, constitutional and ...more

3
4,217 3,330
Thomas Jefferson is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Most Important Leaders in World History
Thomas Jefferson Thomas Jefferson was an American Founding Father, the principal author of the Declaration of Independence, and the third President of the United States. He was a spokesman for democracy, and embraced the principles of republicanism and the ...more

4
10,013 6,369
Alexander the Great is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Most Important Leaders in World History
Alexander The Great Alexander III of Macedon, commonly known as Alexander the Great, was a King of the Ancient Greek kingdom of Macedon and a member of the Argead dynasty. Born in Pella in 356 BC, Alexander succeeded his father, Philip II, to the throne at the age ...more

5
7,401 5,184
Martin Luther King, Jr. is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Most Important Leaders in World History
Martin Luther King Jr. Martin Luther King Jr. (born Michael King Jr., January 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968) was an American Baptist minister and activist who was a leader in the Civil Rights Movement. He is best known for his role in the advancement of civil rights using ...more

6
1,346 1,740
James Madison is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Most Important Leaders in World History
TammyWakefieldLaughlin added James Madison James Madison, Jr. was an American statesman, political theorist, and the fourth President of the United States. He is hailed as the "Father of the Constitution" for being instrumental in the drafting of the U.S. Constitution and as ...more

7
7,529 6,094
Napoleon Bonaparte is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Most Important Leaders in World History
Napoleon Bonaparte Napoléon Bonaparte was a French military and political leader who rose to prominence during the French Revolution and its associated wars. As Napoleon I, he was Emperor of the French from 1804 until 1814, and again in 1815. Napoleon ...more

8
6,582 4,932
Augustus Caesar is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Most Important Leaders in World History

9
5,397 4,667
Charlemagne is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Most Important Leaders in World History
Charlemagne Charlemagne, also known as Charles the Great or Charles I, was King of the Franks who united most of Western Europe during the Middle Ages and laid the foundations for modern France and Germany. He took the Frankish throne from 768 and became ...more

10
1,851 5,310
Donald Trump is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Most Important Leaders in World History
thedonnyt added Donald Trump Donald John Trump Sr. is an American business magnate, investor, television personality and author. He is the chairman and president of The Trump Organization and the founder of Trump Entertainment Resorts. Trump's extravagant lifestyle, ...more

11
7,183 5,021
Julius Caesar is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Most Important Leaders in World History
Julius Caesar Gaius Julius Caesar was a Roman general, statesman, Consul, and notable author of Latin prose. He played a critical role in the events that led to the demise of the Roman Republic and the rise of the Roman Empire. In 60 BC, Caesar, Crassus, and ...more

12
896 1,202
Thomas Paine is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Most Important Leaders in World History
j.aureliazenobia added Thomas Paine Thomas Paine was an English-American political activist, philosopher, political theorist and revolutionary. One of the Founding Fathers of the United States, he authored the two most influential pamphlets at the start of the American ...more

13
3,766 2,730
John F. Kennedy is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Most Important Leaders in World History
John F. Kennedy John Fitzgerald Kennedy (May 29, 1917 – November 22, 1963), also referred to as John F. Kennedy, JFK, John Kennedy or Jack Kennedy, was the 35th President of the United States. He served from 1961 until his assassination in 1963. Major events ...more

14
4,941 4,130
Otto von Bismarck is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Most Important Leaders in World History
DaleGribble added Otto von Bismarck Lead to the unification of Germany in 1871, and first chancellor of the German Empire.Otto Eduard Leopold, Prince of Bismarck, Duke of Lauenburg, known as Otto von Bismarck, was a conservative Prussian statesman who dominated German and European affairs from the 1860s until 1890. In the 1860s he engineered a series of wars that ...more

15
9,221 6,171
Mahatma Gandhi is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Most Important Leaders in World History
Mahatma Gandhi Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was the preeminent leader of Indian independence movement in British-ruled India. Employing nonviolent civil disobedience, Gandhi led India to independence and inspired movements for civil rights and freedom across ...more

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16
5,322 4,580
Elizabeth I of England is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Most Important Leaders in World History
Elizabeth I of England Elizabeth I was Queen of England and Ireland from 17 November 1558 until her death. Sometimes called The Virgin Queen, Gloriana or Good Queen Bess, the childless Elizabeth was the fifth and last monarch of the Tudor dynasty. Elizabeth was the ...more

17
3,655 2,280
Benjamin Franklin is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Most Important Leaders in World History
Benjamin Franklin Benjamin Franklin FRS was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. A renowned polymath, Franklin was a leading author, printer, political theorist, politician, postmaster, scientist, inventor, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat. ...more

18
693 889
John Locke is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Most Important Leaders in World History
hug05612736 added John Locke John Locke, was a U.S. Representative from Massachusetts. He was born in Hopkinton, Middlesex County, and attended Andover Academy and Dartmouth College, eventually graduating from Harvard University in 1792. He was admitted to the ...more

19
4,554 4,315
Joan of Arc is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Most Important Leaders in World History
Polar Bear added Joan of Arc
Joan of Arc, nicknamed "The Maid of Orléans", is considered a heroine of France and a Roman Catholic saint. She was born to Jacques d'Arc and Isabelle, a peasant family, at Domrémy in north-east France. Joan said she ...more

20
6,763 4,845
Nelson Mandela is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Most Important Leaders in World History
Nelson Mandela Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was a South African anti-apartheid revolutionary, politician and philanthropist who served as President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999. He was South Africa's first black chief executive, and the first elected in a ...more

21
4,125 3,971
William the Conqueror is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Most Important Leaders in World History
William the Conqueror William I, usually known as William the Conqueror and sometimes William the Bastard, was the first Norman King of England, reigning from 1066 until his death in 1087. The descendant of Viking raiders, he had been Duke of Normandy since 1035 ...more

22
2,822 2,189
Constantine the Great is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Most Important Leaders in World History
Constantine the Great Constantine the Great, also known as Constantine I or Saint Constantine, was a Roman Emperor from 306 to 337 AD of Thracian-Illyrian ancestry. Constantine was the son of Flavius Valerius Constantius, a Roman army officer, and his consort ...more

23
3,074 2,308
Peter the Great is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Most Important Leaders in World History
Polar Bear added Peter the Great Important Russian Tsar from 1682 - 1721, enforced the Europeanisation of Russia. Maybe the greatest Tsar ever.Peter the Great, Peter I or Pyotr Alexeyevich ruled the Tsardom of Russia and later the Russian Empire from 7 May until his death, jointly ruling before 1696 with his half-brother. Through a number of successful wars he expanded the Tsardom ...more

24
10,982 5,759
Mustafa Kemal Atatürk is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Most Important Leaders in World History
Mustafa Kemal Atatürk Mustafa Kemal Atatürk was a Turkish army officer, reformist statesman, and the first President of Turkey. He is credited with being the founder of the Republic of Turkey. His surname, Atatürk, was granted to him in 1934 and forbidden ...more

25
7,189 5,743
Winston Churchill is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Most Important Leaders in World History
Winston Churchill Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, KG, OM, CH, TD, DL, FRS, RA was a British politician who was the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1940 to 1945 and again from 1951 to 1955. Widely regarded as one of the greatest wartime leaders ...more

26
1,089 648
Moses is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Most Important Leaders in World History
Moses

27
2,088 1,456
Mother Teresa is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Most Important Leaders in World History
Florenc added Mother Teresa Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, MC, commonly known as Mother Teresa, was a Roman Catholic religious sister and missionary who lived most of her life in India. She was born in today's Macedonia, with her family being of Albanian descent originating ...more

28
1,481 1,204
Catherine II of Russia is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Most Important Leaders in World History
sebbzor added Catherine the Great Yekaterina Alexeevna or Catherine II, also known as Catherine the Great, was the most renowned and the longest-ruling female leader of Russia, reigning from 9 July [O.S. 28 June] 1762 until her death in 1796 at the age of 67. Her reign was ...more

29
1,266 321
Jesus Christ is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Most Important Leaders in World History
Andriy Synyshyn added Jesus Christ Jesus, also referred to as Jesus of Nazareth, is the central figure of Christianity, whom the teachings of most Christian denominations hold to be the Son of God. Christianity regards Jesus as the awaited Messiah of the Old Testament and refers ...more

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30
2,042 1,871
Otto I, Holy Roman Emperor is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Most Important Leaders in World History
Polar Bear added Otto I the Great, Holy Roman Emperor Great German King, stopped the Magyar invasion of Europe in 955. Founder of the Holy Roman Empire in 962.Otto I, also known as Otto the Great, was German king from 936 and emperor of the Holy Roman Empire from 962 until his death in 973. The oldest son of Henry I the Fowler and Matilda, Otto was "the first of the Germans to be called the ...more

31
2,562 2,616
Arminius is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Most Important Leaders in World History
Polar Bear added Arminius Turned the tide in the endless wars for Germanic independence against the Roman suppressors with his great victory in the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest in the year 9.Arminius, also known as Armin or Irmin, was a chieftain of the Germanic Cherusci who defeated a Roman army in the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest. Arminius's influence held an allied coalition of Germanic tribes together in opposition to the ...more

32
859 977
James Monroe is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Most Important Leaders in World History
James Monroe James Monroe was the fifth President of the United States. Monroe was the last president who was a Founding Father of the United States and the last president from the Virginia dynasty and the Republican Generation. He was of French and ...more

33
2,216 1,641
Leif Erikson is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Most Important Leaders in World History
Polar Bear added Leif Ericson Brave Viking explorer, discovered Vinland (America) in circa 1000 AD.Leif Erikson or Leif Ericson was an Icelandic explorer regarded as the first European to land in North America, nearly 500 years before Christopher Columbus. According to the Sagas of Icelanders, he established a Norse settlement at Vinland, ...more

34
2,127 1,911
Alfred the Great is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Most Important Leaders in World History
Alfred the Great Alfred the Great was King of Wessex from 871 to 899. Alfred successfully defended his kingdom against the Viking attempt at conquest, and by the time of his death had become the dominant ruler in England. He is the only English monarch to be ...more

35
2,076 1,908
Richard I of England is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Most Important Leaders in World History
Polar Bear added Richard I. of England Great English king and Duke of Normandy in the 12th century, glorious crusader, scored much great victories against Muslim armies.Richard I was King of England from 6 July 1189 until his death. He also ruled as Duke of Normandy, Duke of Aquitaine, Duke of Gascony, Lord of Cyprus, Count of Poitiers, Count of Anjou, Count of Maine, Count of Nantes, and Overlord of Brittany ...more

36
1,124 731
Leonidas I is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Most Important Leaders in World History
Leonidas I Leonidas I, was a Greek warrior king of the Greek city-state of Sparta. He led the Spartan forces during the Second Persian War and is remembered for his death at the Battle of Thermopylae. Leonidas was the third son of Anaxandridas II of ...more

37
479 497
Patrick Henry is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Most Important Leaders in World History
hug05612736 added Patrick Henry Patrick Henry was an American attorney, planter and politician who became known as an orator during the movement for independence in Virginia in the 1770s. A Founding Father, he served as the first and sixth post-colonial Governor of Virginia, ...more

38
479 439
John Hancock is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Most Important Leaders in World History
hug05612736 added John Hancock John Hancock was a merchant, smuggler, statesman, and prominent Patriot of the American Revolution. He served as president of the Second Continental Congress and was the first and third Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. He is ...more

39
513 635
Robert F. Kennedy is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Most Important Leaders in World History
StacyWolfe added Robert F. Kennedy Robert Francis "Bobby" Kennedy, commonly known by his initials RFK, was an American politician from Massachusetts. He served as a Senator for New York from 1965 until his assassination in 1968. He was previously the 64th U.S. Attorney ...more

40
2,704 1,839
Attila the Hun is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Most Important Leaders in World History
kismarton0707 added Attila the Hun Attila, frequently referred to as Attila the Hun, was the ruler of the Huns from 434 until his death in March 453. Attila was a leader of the Hunnic Empire, which stretched from the Ural River to the Rhine River and from the Danube River to the ...more

41
1,263 1,168
Nebuchadnezzar II is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Most Important Leaders in World History
mikado added Nebuchadnezzar II Nebuchadnezzar II was a Chaldean king of the Neo-Babylonian Empire, who reigned c. 605 BC – 562 BC. Both the construction of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon and the destruction of Jerusalem's temple are ascribed to him. He is featured in the ...more

42
3,643 2,521
Mehmed the Conqueror is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Most Important Leaders in World History
Sultan Mehmed II Mehmed II, also known as Muhammed bin Murad, Mehmed the Conqueror, Grand Turk, Kayser-i Rûm and Turcarum Imperator, and Fatih Sultan Mehmed, was an Ottoman sultan who ruled first for a short time from August 1444 to September 1446, and ...more

43
313 266
Martin Luther is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Most Important Leaders in World History
Martin Luther Martin Luther was a German friar, priest and professor of theology who was a seminal figure in the Protestant Reformation. Initially an Augustinian friar, Luther came to reject several teachings and practices of the Roman Catholic Church. He ...more

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44
2,602 3,644
Joseph Stalin is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Most Important Leaders in World History
Joseph Stalin Joseph Stalin or Iosif Vissarionovich Stalin was the leader of the Soviet Union from the mid-1920s until his death in 1953. Among the Bolshevik revolutionaries who took part in the Russian Revolution of 1917, Stalin was appointed general ...more

45
3,072 2,532
Salah al-Din is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Most Important Leaders in World History

46
2,839 2,039
Suleiman the Magnificent is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Most Important Leaders in World History
ozgursuer added Suleyman The Magnificent The Shadow of God and The Great KhanSuleiman I, known as “the Magnificent” in the West and “Kanuni” in the East, was the Caliph of Islam and the tenth and longest-reigning Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, from 1520 to his death in 1566. Suleiman became a prominent monarch of ...more

47
896 567
Hannibal is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Most Important Leaders in World History
mainpleine added Hannibal Barca Hannibal Barca, son of Hamilcar Barca, was a Punic Carthaginian military commander, generally considered one of the greatest military commanders in history. His father, Hamilcar Barca, was the leading Carthaginian commander during the First ...more

48
1,430 1,355
William I is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Most Important Leaders in World History
Polar Bear added William I., German Emperor Founder of the Second German Empire. Together with his Minister President Bismarck he united Prussia and the North-Western principalities to the North German Confederation in 1866. Five years later, the North German Confederation defeated France in the Franco-Prussian War and William was crowned as German Emperor in the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles.William I, also known as Wilhelm I, of the House of Hohenzollern was the King of Prussia and the first German Emperor, as well as the first Head of State of a united Germany. Under the leadership of William and his Minister President Otto von ...more

49
1,299 1,386
Cleopatra is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Most Important Leaders in World History
Cleopatra

50
1,750 1,558
Pericles is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Most Important Leaders in World History
Pericles Pericles was arguably the most prominent and influential Greek statesman, orator and general of Athens during the Golden Age— specifically the time between the Persian and Peloponnesian wars. He was descended, through his mother, from the ...more