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The Most Important Leaders In World History 

Ranker Community
Originally by Ranker Community
Updated January 21, 2020 991.7k votes 95.7k voters 2M views 350 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!

list ordered by
1
Alexander the Great is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Most Important Leaders In World History
Alexander 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: ...more
2
Augustus is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Most Important Leaders In World History
Augustus (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 ...more
3
Julius Caesar is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Most Important Leaders In World History
Gaius 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 ...more
4
Mahatma Gandhi is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Most Important Leaders In World History
Mohandas 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
Winston Churchill is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Most Important Leaders In World History
Sir 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 ...more
6
Jesus Christ is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Most Important Leaders In World History
Andriy Synyshyn added
Jesus (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
7
Genghis Khan is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Most Important Leaders In World History
Genghis 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 ...more
8
Nelson Mandela is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Most Important Leaders In World History
Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela (; Xhosa: [xolíɬaɬa mandɛ̂ːla]; 18 July 1918 – 5 December 2013) was a South African anti-apartheid revolutionary, political leader, and philanthropist who served ...more
9
Mehmed the Conqueror is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Most Important Leaders In World History
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 ...more
10
Martin Luther King, Jr. ... is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Most Important Leaders In World History
Martin 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
11
Mustafa Kemal Atatü... is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Most Important Leaders In World History
Kemal 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 ...more
12
Peter the Great is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Most Important Leaders In World History
Polar Bear added
Peter 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 ...more
13
Constantine the Great is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Most Important Leaders In World History
Constantine 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 ...more
14
Martin Luther is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Most Important Leaders In World History
Martin 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
15
Attila the Hun is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Most Important Leaders In World History
kismarton0707 added
Attila (; fl. c. 406–453), frequently called Attila the Hun, was the ruler of the Huns from 434 until his death in March 453. He was also the leader of a tribal empire consisting of Huns, ...more
16
Catherine II of Russia ... is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Most Important Leaders In World History
sebbzor added
Catherine 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
17
Napoleon Bonaparte is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Most Important Leaders In World History
Napoleon Bonaparte (, French: [napɔleɔ̃ bɔnɑpaʁt]; Italian: Napoleone di Buonaparte, pronounced [napoleˈone di bwɔnaˈparte]; 15 August 1769 – 5 May 1821) was a French statesman and military ...more
18
Abraham Lincoln is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Most Important Leaders In World History
Abraham Lincoln (February 12, 1809 – April 15, 1865) was an American statesman and lawyer who served as the 16th president of the United States from 1861 until his assassination in April 1865. ...more
19
Plato is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Most Important Leaders In World History
David Tolner added
Plato (; 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 ...more
20
Suleiman the Magnificent... is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Most Important Leaders In World History
ozgursuer added
Suleiman I (Ottoman Turkish: سلطان سليمان اول‎ Sultan Süleyman-ı Evvel; Turkish: Birinci Süleyman, Kanunî Sultan Süleyman or Muhteşem Süleyman; 6 November 1494 – 6 ...more
21
Benjamin Franklin is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Most Important Leaders In World History
Benjamin Franklin (January 17, 1706 [O.S. January 6, 1705] – April 17, 1790) was an American polymath and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. Franklin was a leading author, ...more
22
Aristotle is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Most Important Leaders In World History
David Tolner added
Aristotle (; Greek: Ἀριστοτέλης Aristotélēs, pronounced [aristotélɛːs]; 384–322 BC) was a Greek philosopher during the Classical period in Ancient Greece, the founder of the Lyceum ...more
23
Frederick II of Prussia ... is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Most Important Leaders In World History
Rache Golden added
Frederick 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 ...more
24
Otto von Bismarck is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Most Important Leaders In World History
DaleGribble added
Lead to the unification of Germany in 1871, and first chancellor of the German Empire. Otto Eduard Leopold, Prince of Bismarck, Duke of Lauenburg (Born von Bismarck-Schönhausen; German: Otto Eduard Leopold Fürst von Bismarck, Herzog zu Lauenburg; 1 April 1815 – 30 July ...more
25
Albert Einstein is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Most Important Leaders In World History
David Tolner added
Albert 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 ...more