Politics The Most Important Military Leaders in World History  

Mike Rothschild
Originally by
94.4k votes 5.6k voters 50.7k views 206 items

List Rules List includes military leaders from all countries and all eras.

Military history has a few figures who didn't just win battles or campaigns, but changed the world and the destiny of their nations. From the earliest world conquerors, men who laid waste to the entire known world; to modern tactical geniuses using weapons that previous generations only dreamed of, these are the best military leaders, those who were known, feared and respected by both their people and their opponents.

Some of the best army generals in the world and best international army leaders are known even by people who know little else about military history. Others are less well-known but no less important. And every country in history has their own heroes, leaders who commanded forces in the battles that shaped their destiny. This list is far from comprehensive, and can never be, but attempts to find a cross-section of legendary warrior-kings, great strategists, modern innovators, and legendary blood and guts men and women who personally fought in combat.

Vote up the greatest military leaders below, and vote down the ones who might be overrated. Be sure to add other famous military leaders who aren't already listed to make the debate even more complete.
list ordered by

1
1,786 510
Alexander the Great is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders in World History
Dec. at 33 (355 BC-322 BC) - Never lost a battle and spread Hellenistic civilization across the known world.

2
1,337 485
Genghis Khan is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders in World History
Brutal conqueror who sacked much of the known world.

3
1,310 597
Napoleon Bonaparte is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders in World History
Dec. at 52 (1769-1821) - Conquered continental Europe and revolutionized military tactics.

4
1,156 442
Julius Caesar is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders in World History
Dec. at 56 (99 BC-43 BC) - Personally led the Roman armies at the height of their power.

5
978 472
Hannibal is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders in World History
Dec. at 64 (246 BC-182 BC) - Legendary Carthaginian general who nearly sacked Rome and spread fear through the Empire.

6
745 368
Frederick II of Prussia is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders in World History
Arnold Ricker added Dec. at 74 (1712-1786)

7
1,085 558
Erwin Rommel is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders in World History
Dec. at 53 (1891-1944) - Legendary field commander who virtually created modern tank warfare.

8
683 315
Attila the Hun is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders in World History
Dec. at 47 (406-453) - Laid waste to much of Central and Eastern Europe.

9
722 365
Saladin is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders in World History
Destroyed the First Crusade and conquered Jerusalem.

10
665 426
Erich von Manstein is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders in World History
Dec. at 86 (1887-1973) - Planned the invasion of France in 1940 and the defense of Kharkov in 1943. Fired for disagreeing with Hitler.

11
692 528
Georgy Zhukov is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders in World History
Dec. at 78 (1896-1974) - Led the Red Army from the brink of defeat in Moscow, to crushing Nazi Germany.

12
714 349
Peter the Great is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders in World History
Dec. at 53 (1672-1725) - Military leader who transformed Russia into a world power.

13
625 187
Mustafa Kemal Atatürk is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders in World History
Dec. at 57 (1881-1938)

14
612 383
Scipio Africanus is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders in World History
Dec. at 53 (235 BC-182 BC) - Roman tactical genius who beat Hannibal in the Second Punic War.

15
604 396
Heinz Guderian is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders in World History
PzGeneral added Dec. at 66 (1888-1954) -

Heinz Wilhelm Guderian (German: [ɡuˈdeʀi̯an]; 17 June 1888 – 14 May 1954) was a German general during World War II, noted for his success as a leader of Panzer units in Poland and France and for partial success in Russia.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heinz_Guderian

16
639 416
William the Conqueror is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders in World History
Dec. at 59 (1028-1087) - Led the Norman Conquest of England and planted the seeds for modern Anglo culture.

17
542 409
Charles Martel is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders in World History
RobLein added Dec. at 55 (686-741)

18
473 311
Helmuth von Moltke the Elder is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders in World History
Arnold Ricker added Dec. at 91 (1800-1891)

19
587 364
Horatio Nelson, 1st Viscount N... is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders in World History
Dec. at 47 (1758-1805) - Legendary leader of British naval forces at the Battle of Trafalgar.

20
825 304
Sun Tzu is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders in World History
Dec. at 48 (543 BC-495 BC) - Wrote The Art of War, which is still a seminal military text 2,500 years later.

21
365 125
Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders in World History
Алпан Балкыш added Dec. at 38 (1594-1632)

22
494 300
Paul von Hindenburg is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders in World History
Arnold Ricker added Dec. at 87 (1847-1934)

23
471 337
Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders in World History
Arnold Ricker added Dec. at 77 (1742-1819)

24
360 167
Charlemagne is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders in World History
Алпан Балкыш added

25
477 192
Arminius is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders in World History
Алпан Балкыш added