Politics

The Most Important Military Leaders in World History  

Mike Rothschild
Originally by
109.9k votes 7.2k voters 67.8k views 367 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
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
Napoleon Bonaparte is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders in World History
Dec. at 52 (1769-1821)
Conquered continental Europe and revolutionized military tactics.
3
Genghis Khan is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders in World History
Brutal conqueror who sacked much of the known world.
4
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
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
Erwin Rommel is listed (or ranked) 6 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.
7
Frederick II of Prussia is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders in World History
Arnold Ricker added Dec. at 74 (1712-1786)
8
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
Saladin is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders in World History
Saladin
Destroyed the First Crusade and conquered Jerusalem.
10
Georgy Zhukov is listed (or ranked) 10 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.
11
Scipio Africanus is listed (or ranked) 11 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.
12
Erich von Manstein is listed (or ranked) 12 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.
13
William the Conqueror is listed (or ranked) 13 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.
14
Heinz Guderian is listed (or ranked) 14 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
15
Mustafa Kemal Atatürk is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders in World History
Dec. at 57 (1881-1938)
16
Peter the Great is listed (or ranked) 16 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.
17
Charlemagne is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders in World History
Алпан Балкыш added
18
Horatio Nelson, 1st Viscount N... is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders in World History
Horatio Nelson, 1st Viscount Nelson Dec. at 47 (1758-1805)
Legendary leader of British naval forces at the Battle of Trafalgar.
19
Vo Nguyen Giap is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders in World History
MaxoMarcMsl added Dec. at 102 (1911-2013)
20
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
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
Helmuth von Moltke the Elder is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders in World History
Arnold Ricker added Dec. at 91 (1800-1891)
23
Charles Martel is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders in World History
RobLein added Dec. at 55 (686-741)
24
Paul von Hindenburg is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders in World History
Arnold Ricker added Dec. at 87 (1847-1934)
25
Timur is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders in World History
Алпан Балкыш added Dec. at 69 (1336-1405)