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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
George Washington is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Most Important Leaders in World History
George Washington was the first President of the United States, the Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army, and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. He presided over the ...more
2
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 life was taken in April 1865. Lincoln led the United States and its greatest moral, constitutional ...more
3
Alexander the Great is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Most Important Leaders in World History
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 ...more
4
Thomas Jefferson is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Most Important Leaders in World History
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 ...more
5
Martin Luther King, Jr. is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Most Important Leaders in World History
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 ...more
6
Donald Trump is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Most Important Leaders in World History
thedonnyt added
Donald John Trump (born June 14, 1946) is the 45th and current President of the United States, in office since January 20, 2017. Before entering politics, he was a businessman and television ...more
7
James Madison is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Most Important Leaders in World History
TammyWakefieldLaughlin added
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 ...more
8
Thomas Paine is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Most Important Leaders in World History
j.aureliazenobia added
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 ...more
9
Martin Luther is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Most Important Leaders in World History
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 ...more
10
Augustus Caesar is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Most Important Leaders in World History
11
Jesus Christ is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Most Important Leaders in World History
Andriy Synyshyn added
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 ...more
12
John F. Kennedy is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Most Important Leaders in World History
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 ...more
13
Napoleon Bonaparte is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Most Important Leaders in World History
Napoléon Bonaparte was a French military and political leader who rose to prominence during the French Revolution. As Napoleon I, he was Emperor of the French from 1804 until 1814, and ...more
14
John Locke is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Most Important Leaders in World History
hug05612736 added
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 ...more
15
Charlemagne is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Most Important Leaders in World History
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. ...more
16
Catherine II of Russia is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Most Important Leaders in World History
sebbzor added
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
17
Julius Caesar is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Most Important Leaders in World History
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 ...more
18
Constantine the Great is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Most Important Leaders in World History
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 ...more
19
Otto von Bismarck is listed (or ranked) 19 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, known as Otto von Bismarck, was a conservative Prussian statesman who dominated German and European affairs from the 1860s until 1890. ...more
20
Mustafa Kemal Atatürk is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Most Important Leaders in World History
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, ...more
21
Mahatma Gandhi is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Most Important Leaders in World History
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 ...more
22
James Monroe is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Most Important Leaders in World History
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 ...more
23
Peter the Great is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Most Important Leaders in World History
Polar Bear added
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 ...more
24
Nelson Mandela is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Most Important Leaders in World History
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 ...more
25
Mother Teresa is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Most Important Leaders in World History
Florenc added
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 ...more