Weird History
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30 Of History's Biggest Badasses

Updated November 13, 2020 60.9k votes 8.5k voters 287.4k views30 items

List RulesVote up the badasses - historical figures from before 1960 - who made history worth learning about.

When you think of the biggest badasses in history, who comes to mind? Rambo, Stone-cold Steve Austin, maybe even the self-proclaimed "American Badass," Kid Rock? Well, if any of those characters fit your criteria for badassery, you went a little wide of the mark. Throughout history, many men and women exemplified what it truly means to be badass without the assistance of big-budget filming and expensive PR campaigns. When was the last time you saw James Bond or Lara Croft emerge from the countryside, aged 19, to prevent France from becoming England? You didn't, because that was Joan of Arc, the first figure taught in Historical Badasses 101.

A badass is defined as a "tough, uncompromising or intimidating person" and many historical figures - including world leaders, medieval warriors, and military men - fit that bill. In fact, being a badass is how many of them made history. Many of these tough guys have been called the toughest man (or woman!) in the world, and the most feared names in history. Many of these strong leaders even have the most badass names - or their names became cool after their impressive deeds. Who do you think will wind up the top ten badasses?

Compiled here is a list of historical figures who took toughness and intimidation to the next level. During times when everything was much more dangerous (including people), the most badass people in history rose above it all by simply being even more dangerous. Vlad the Impaler didn't inspire Dracula with his mercy, that's for sure. Now, who do you think is the most badass guy ever? Vote up the toughest humans ever below. 

  • Photo: BSIP / Contributor / Universal Images Group
    Spartacus (Greek: Σπάρτακος Spártakos; Latin: Spartacus; c. 111–71 BC) was a Thracian gladiator who, along with Crixus, Gannicus, Castus, and Oenomaus, was one of the escaped slave leaders in the Third Servile War, a major slave uprising against the Roman Republic. Little is known about Spartacus beyond the events of the war, and surviving historical accounts are sometimes contradictory and may not always be reliable. However, all sources agree that he was a former gladiator and an accomplished military leader. This rebellion, interpreted by some as an example of oppressed people fighting for their freedom against a slave-owning oligarchy, has provided inspiration for many political...  more
    • Age: Dec. at 38 (108 BC-70 BC)
    • Birthplace: Thrace
    • Gender: Male
  • Miyamoto Musashi (宮本 武蔵, c. 1584 – June 13, 1645), also known as Shinmen Takezō, Miyamoto Bennosuke or, by his Buddhist name, Niten Dōraku, was a Japanese swordsman, philosopher, strategist, writer and rōnin. Musashi, as he was often simply known, became renowned through stories of his unique double-bladed swordsmanship and undefeated record in his 61 duels (next is 33 by Itō Ittōsai). He is considered the Kensei, sword-saint of Japan. He was the founder of the Niten-Ichi-Ryū-School or Nito-Ichi-ryū style of swordsmanship, and in his final years authored The Book of Five Rings (五輪の書, Go Rin No Sho), and Dokkōdō (The Path of Aloneness). Both documents were given to Terao Magonojō, the most...  more
    • Age: Dec. at 61 (1584-1645)
    • Birthplace: Japan
    • Gender: Male

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    Léo Major

    Léo Major & Bar (January 23, 1921 – October 12, 2008) was a French Canadian soldier who was the only Canadian and one of only three soldiers in the British Commonwealth to ever receive the Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM) twice in separate wars. Major earned his first DCM in World War II in 1945 when he single-handedly liberated the city of Zwolle from German army occupation. He received his second DCM during the Korean War for leading the capture of a key hill in 1951....  more
    • Age: Dec. at 87 (1921-2008)
    • Gender: Male
  • 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, Ostrogoths, and Alans among others, in Central and Eastern Europe. During his reign, he was one of the most feared enemies of the Western and Eastern Roman Empires. He crossed the Danube twice and plundered the Balkans, but was unable to take Constantinople. His unsuccessful campaign in Persia was followed in 441 by an invasion of the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire, the success of which emboldened Attila to invade the West. He also attempted to conquer Roman Gaul (modern France), crossing the Rhine in...  more
    • Age: Dec. at 47 (406-453)
    • Birthplace: Hajdúböszörmény, Hungary
    • Gender: Male

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