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!
- 15,2429,189Alexander III of Macedon (Greek: Αλέξανδρος Γʹ ὁ Μακεδών; 20/21 July 356 BC – 10/11 June 323 BC), commonly known as Alexander the Great (Ancient Greek: Ἀλέξανδρος ὁ Μέγας, romanized: Aléxandros ho... more
- 10,7804,145Jesus (c. 4 BC – c. AD 30 / 33), also referred to as Jesus of Nazareth and Jesus Christ, was a first-century Jewish preacher and religious leader. He is the central figure of Christianity. Most... more
- 10,9527,278Augustus (Latin: Imperator Caesar Divi filius Augustus; 23 September 63 BC – 19 August AD 14) was a Roman statesman and military leader who was the first emperor of the Roman Empire, reigning from 27... more
- 4,5662,364Genghis Khan (born Temüjin, c. 1162 – August 18, 1227) was the founder and first Great Khan of the Mongol Empire, which became the largest contiguous empire in history after his death. He came to... more
- 19,8247,901Kemal Atatürk (until 1934: Mustafa Kemal Pasha, Ottoman Turkish: مصطفى كمال پاشا; after 1935: Kamâl Atatürk; 19 May 1881 (conventional) – 10 November 1938), commonly referred to as Mustafa Kemal... more
- 12,8598,099Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (; 2 October 1869 – 30 January 1948) was an Indian lawyer, anti-colonial nationalist, and political ethicist, who employed nonviolent resistance to lead the successful... more
- 5,7943,357Mehmed 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... more
- 2,7291,111Aristotle (; Greek: Ἀριστοτέλης Aristotélēs, pronounced [aristotélɛːs]; 384–322 BC) was a Greek philosopher during the Classical period in Ancient Greece, the founder of the Lyceum and the... more
- 9,7906,847Gaius Julius Caesar (12 July 100 BC – 15 March 44 BC) was a Roman general and statesman who played a critical role in the events that led to the demise of the Roman Republic and the rise of the Roman... more
- 2,3821,426Plato (; PLAY-toe Greek: Πλάτων Plátōn, pronounced [plá.tɔːn] in Classical Attic; 428/427 or 424/423 – 348/347 BC) was an Athenian philosopher during the Classical period in Ancient Greece, founder... more
- 10,1336,876Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill (30 November 1874 – 24 January 1965) was a British politician, army officer, and writer. He was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1940 to 1945, when he... more
- 9,7826,405Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela (; Xhosa: [xolíɬaɬa mandɛ̂ːla]; 18 July 1918 – 5 December 2013) was a South African anti-apartheid revolutionary, political leader, and philanthropist who served as... more
- 4,8592,818Suleiman I (Ottoman Turkish: سلطان سليمان اول Sultan Süleyman-ı Evvel; Turkish: Birinci Süleyman, Kanunî Sultan Süleyman or Muhteşem Süleyman; 6 November 1494 – 6 September 1566), commonly known as... more
- 2,3541,064Frederick II (German: Friedrich II.; 24 January 1712 – 17 August 1786) ruled the Kingdom of Prussia from 1740 until 1786, the longest reign of any Hohenzollern king, at 46 years. His most significant... more
- 4,9963,484Constantine the Great (Latin: Flavius Valerius Aurelius Constantinus Augustus; Greek: Κωνσταντῖνος ὁ Μέγας Kōnstantînos ho Mégas; 27 February c. 272 AD – 22 May 337 AD), also known as Constantine I,... more
- 3,4002,375Martin Luther, , (; German: [ˈmaɐ̯tiːn ˈlʊtɐ]; 10 November 1483 – 18 February 1546) was a German professor of theology, composer, priest, monk, and a seminal figure in the Protestant... more
- 3,7071,737Albert Einstein ( EYEN-styne; German: [ˈalbɛɐ̯t ˈʔaɪnʃtaɪn] (listen); 14 March 1879 – 18 April 1955) was a German-born theoretical physicist who developed the theory of relativity, one of the two... more
- 4,0342,848Catherine II (Russian: Екатери́на Алексе́евна, romanized: Yekaterina Alekseyevna; 2 May [O.S. 21 April] 1729 – 17 November [O.S. 6 November] 1796), also known as Catherine the Great (Екатери́на... more
- 4,8763,595Peter the Great (Russian: Пётр Вели́кий, tr. Pyotr Velikiy, IPA: [ˈpʲɵtr vʲɪˈlʲikʲɪj]), Peter I (Russian: Пётр I, tr. Pyotr I, IPA: [ˈpʲɵtr ˈpʲɛrvɨj]) or Peter Alexeyevich (Russian: Пётр Алексе́евич,... more
- 9,8547,481Napoleon Bonaparte (, French: [napɔleɔ̃ bɔnɑpaʁt]; Italian: Napoleone di Buonaparte, pronounced [napoleˈone di bwɔnaˈparte]; 15 August 1769 – 5 May 1821) was a French statesman and military leader of... more
- 11,4488,531Martin Luther King Jr. (January 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968) was an American Baptist minister and activist who became the most visible spokesperson and leader in the civil rights movement from 1955... more
- 2,1271,345Marcus Aurelius (26 April 121 – 17 March 180) was Roman emperor from 161 to 180 and a Stoic philosopher. He was the last of the rulers traditionally known as the Five Good Emperors, and the last... more
- 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.
- 1,353837Frederick William I (German: Friedrich Wilhelm I.; 14 August 1688 – 31 May 1740), known as the "Soldier King" (German: Soldatenkönig), was the King in Prussia and Elector of Brandenburg from 1713... more
- 1,8951,156Cnut the Great (; Old English: Cnut se Micela; Old Norse: Knútr inn ríki; c. 995 – 12 November 1035), also known as Canute, whose father was Sweyn Forkbeard (which gave him the patronym Sweynsson,... more