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The Most Important Leaders In World History

Updated November 13, 2020 848.7k votes 99.6k voters 2.2m views347 items

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 (of all physical sizes) 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!

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  • Alexander The Great1
    Alexander III of Macedon (Greek: Αλέξανδρος Γʹ ὁ Μακεδών; 20/21 July 356 BC – 10/11 June 323...  more
  • Jesus Christ2
    10,622
    3,952
    Jesus (c. 4 BC – c. AD 30 / 33), also referred to as Jesus of Nazareth and Jesus Christ, was a...  more
  • Genghis Khan3
    4,440
    2,269
    Genghis Khan (born Temüjin, c. 1162 – August 18, 1227) was the founder and first Great Khan...  more
  • Augustus Caesar4
    11,241
    7,618
    Augustus (Latin: Imperator Caesar Divi filius Augustus; 23 September 63 BC – 19 August AD 14)...  more
  • Mustafa Kemal Atatürk5
    Kemal Atatürk (until 1934: Mustafa Kemal Pasha, Ottoman Turkish: مصطفى كمال پاشا‎; after 1935:...  more
  • Plato6
    2,346
    1,310
    Plato (; PLAY-toe Greek: Πλάτων Plátōn, pronounced [plá.tɔːn] in Classical Attic; 428/427 or...  more
  • Aristotle7
    2,782
    1,008
    Aristotle (; Greek: Ἀριστοτέλης Aristotélēs, pronounced [aristotélɛːs]; 384–322 BC) was a...  more
  • Mahatma Gandhi8
    13,285
    8,444
    Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (; 2 October 1869 – 30 January 1948) was an Indian lawyer,...  more
  • Sultan Mehmed II9
    Mehmed II, also known as Muhammed bin Murad, Mehmed the Conqueror, Grand Turk, Kayser-i Rûm...  more
  • Frederick the Great10
    Frederick II (German: Friedrich II.; 24 January 1712 – 17 August 1786) ruled the Kingdom of...  more
  • Catherine the Great11
    Catherine II (Russian: Екатери́на Алексе́евна, romanized: Yekaterina Alekseyevna; 2 May [O.S....  more
  • Winston Churchill12
    Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill (30 November 1874 – 24 January 1965) was a British...  more
  • Martin Luther13
    3,457
    2,367
    Martin Luther, , (; German: [ˈmaɐ̯tiːn ˈlʊtɐ]; 10 November 1483 – 18 February 1546) was a...  more
  • Nelson Mandela14
    10,048
    6,663
    Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela (; Xhosa: [xolíɬaɬa mandɛ̂ːla]; 18 July 1918 – 5 December 2013) was...  more
  • Suleyman The Magnificent15
    Suleiman I (Ottoman Turkish: سلطان سليمان اول‎ Sultan Süleyman-ı Evvel; Turkish: Birinci...  more
  • Constantine the Great16
    Constantine the Great (Latin: Flavius Valerius Aurelius Constantinus Augustus; Greek:...  more
  • Albert Einstein17
    3,681
    1,682
    Albert Einstein ( EYEN-styne; German: [ˈalbɛɐ̯t ˈʔaɪnʃtaɪn] (listen); 14 March 1879 – 18 April...  more
  • Titus18
    2,246
    1,544
    Titus was Roman Emperor from 79 to 81. A member of the Flavian dynasty, Titus succeeded his...  more
  • Julius Caesar19
    10,044
    7,268
    Gaius Julius Caesar (12 July 100 BC – 15 March 44 BC) was a Roman general and statesman who...  more
  • Cnut the Great20
    2,022
    1,144
    Cnut the Great (; Old English: Cnut se Micela; Old Norse: Knútr inn ríki; c. 995 – 12 November...  more
  • Peter the Great21
    5,141
    3,801
    Peter the Great (Russian: Пётр Вели́кий, tr. Pyotr Velikiy, IPA: [ˈpʲɵtr vʲɪˈlʲikʲɪj]), Peter...  more
  • Dmitry Donskoy22
    2,396
    1,697
    Defeated the Tatars at the Battle of Kulikovo in 1380. First step of the liberation of the Russian people from the Mongolic suppressors.
  • Marcus Aurelius23
    2,163
    1,363
    Marcus Aurelius (26 April 121 – 17 March 180) was Roman emperor from 161 to 180 and a Stoic...  more
  • Frederick William, the Great Elector24
    Together with Swedish forces, he defeated the Polish-Lithuanian Commenwealth at the Battle of Warsaw (1656). In 1675 he defeated the Swedes at the Battle of Fehrbellin. His military reforms were the first step of the epic rise of Brandenburg-Prussia.
  • Theoderic the Great25
    Theodoric the Great (454 – 30 August 526), also spelled Theoderic or called Theodoric the Amal...  more