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The Most Important Leaders In World History

Updated November 13, 2020 816.9k votes 100.7k 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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  • 1
    Alexander III of Macedon (Greek: Αλέξανδρος Γʹ ὁ Μακεδών; 20/21 July 356 BC – 10/11 June 323...  more
  • 2
    10,675
    4,044
    Jesus (c. 4 BC – c. AD 30 / 33), also referred to as Jesus of Nazareth and Jesus Christ, was a...  more
  • 3
    11,041
    7,315
    Augustus (Latin: Imperator Caesar Divi filius Augustus; 23 September 63 BC – 19 August AD 14)...  more
  • 4
    4,473
    2,321
    Genghis Khan (born Temüjin, c. 1162 – August 18, 1227) was the founder and first Great Khan...  more
  • 5
    Kemal Atatürk (until 1934: Mustafa Kemal Pasha, Ottoman Turkish: مصطفى كمال پاشا‎; after 1935:...  more
  • 6
    12,905
    8,130
    Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (; 2 October 1869 – 30 January 1948) was an Indian lawyer,...  more
  • 7
    Mehmed II, also known as Muhammed bin Murad, Mehmed the Conqueror, Grand Turk, Kayser-i Rûm...  more
  • 8
    2,730
    1,056
    Aristotle (; Greek: Ἀριστοτέλης Aristotélēs, pronounced [aristotélɛːs]; 384–322 BC) was a...  more
  • 9
    2,352
    1,376
    Plato (; PLAY-toe Greek: Πλάτων Plátōn, pronounced [plá.tɔːn] in Classical Attic; 428/427 or...  more
  • 10
    Frederick II (German: Friedrich II.; 24 January 1712 – 17 August 1786) ruled the Kingdom of...  more
  • 11
    9,796
    6,435
    Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela (; Xhosa: [xolíɬaɬa mandɛ̂ːla]; 18 July 1918 – 5 December 2013) was...  more
  • 12
    Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill (30 November 1874 – 24 January 1965) was a British...  more
  • 13
    Suleiman I (Ottoman Turkish: سلطان سليمان اول‎ Sultan Süleyman-ı Evvel; Turkish: Birinci...  more
  • 14
    9,752
    6,899
    Gaius Julius Caesar (12 July 100 BC – 15 March 44 BC) was a Roman general and statesman who...  more
  • 15
    3,431
    2,359
    Martin Luther, , (; German: [ˈmaɐ̯tiːn ˈlʊtɐ]; 10 November 1483 – 18 February 1546) was a...  more
  • 16
    Constantine the Great (Latin: Flavius Valerius Aurelius Constantinus Augustus; Greek:...  more
  • 17
    Catherine II (Russian: Екатери́на Алексе́евна, romanized: Yekaterina Alekseyevna; 2 May [O.S....  more
  • 18
    3,666
    1,700
    Albert Einstein ( EYEN-styne; German: [ˈalbɛɐ̯t ˈʔaɪnʃtaɪn] (listen); 14 March 1879 – 18 April...  more
  • 19
    4,899
    3,609
    Peter the Great (Russian: Пётр Вели́кий, tr. Pyotr Velikiy, IPA: [ˈpʲɵtr vʲɪˈlʲikʲɪj]), Peter...  more
  • 20
    2,157
    1,538
    Titus was Roman Emperor from 79 to 81. A member of the Flavian dynasty, Titus succeeded his...  more
  • 21
    2,143
    1,333
    Marcus Aurelius (26 April 121 – 17 March 180) was Roman emperor from 161 to 180 and a Stoic...  more
  • 22
    Martin Luther King Jr. (January 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968) was an American Baptist minister and...  more
  • 23
    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.
  • 24
    Theodoric the Great (454 – 30 August 526), also spelled Theoderic or called Theodoric the Amal...  more
  • 25
    1,908
    1,144
    Cnut the Great (; Old English: Cnut se Micela; Old Norse: Knútr inn ríki; c. 995 – 12 November...  more