Most Influential Military Leaders of All Time

Since history of mankind is the history of perpetual wars, the military leaders have always wielded enormous influence throughout the history. It is a fact of history that the nations which had strong military leaders and innovators of warfare prospered in almost all realms of life. Civilizations have greatly progressed due to the military leaders who exerted a profound influence in shaping and reshaping the course of history. Here is the list of those military leaders who dominated not only their time but also rendered a great influence on the future. This list ranks the military leaders judging their immediate and lasting impact on human history and gives you names of top 10 most influential military leaders of the history.

10. Cyrus the Great

Born in 585 BC, Cyrus is one of the earliest military commanders of whom at least some reliable historical records survive. He was the founder of Persian Empire. He defeated the Medes, Lydians and Babylonians and united them into a single empire that reached from India to the Mediterranean Sea. He died in a battle against Persians in 529 BC but his empire remained a leading world power of the world for two centuries after him.

9. Francisco Pizarro

Spanish explorer and conqueror Francisco Pizarro defeated the Inca Empire and claimed most of South America for Spain. Born in 1475, Pizarro was destined to establish the city of Lima in Peru and opened the way for Spanish culture and religion to dominate South America. It is interesting to note that he achieved his military goals with the smallest expenditure of men and resources. Spanish customs, language, and religion prevail to this day throughout the continent of South America.

8. Gustavus Adolphus

Known as the Father of Modern Warfare, Gustavus single-handedly made Sweden the dominant Baltic power for the next one hundred years. He was born in 1594 and died in 1632 at the age of 38. Gustavus not only influenced the military practices of the future, he also provided a legacy of strength and continuity. He was admired even by Napoleon due to his innovative tactics of warfare.

7. Saladin

Born in 1138, the Muslim leader Saladin founded the Ayyubid dynasty in Egypt, united the Muslim world, defeated the occupation army of the Second Crusade and fought the Third Crusade to a stalemate. He was admired even by his enemies due to his chivalry and sense of integrity. Through uniting the Muslim world he provided the only chance to combat the advancing Crusades successfully. Walter Scott wrote “The Talisman” in the honor of this great military leader.

6. Tamerlane

Tamerlane, the most influential Central Asian military leader of the Middle Ages, restored the former empire of Genghis Khan. Born in 1336, Tamerlane conquered Iran, Mesopotamia, Armenia and Georgia. In 1390, he attacked Russia and in 1398 he sacked Delhi. He also conquered Syria and defeated the Ottoman Sultan Bayazid I in 1404. He died in 1405. He is arguably the most feared and the most ferocious military leader the world has ever seen.

5. Julius Caesar

The conquests of Julius Caesar provided security for the Roman Empire for more than five hundred years. This great military leader was born in 100 BC. He conquered France, Germany, Holland and Switzerland. In 56 BC, Caesar crossed the English Channel and invaded Britain with the fleet of hundred ships. Though he fell to the assassins in 44 BC yet his empire endured for more than five hundred years. He bequeathed the greatest empire of the age and the most organized army of the world has ever seen till that day.

4. Genghis Khan

Born in Central Mongolia in 1167, Genghis Khan established the Mongol nation, conquered most of the known world, and rightfully earned the reputation of one of the greatest military leaders of all time. After subduing the most part of Asia Khan invaded China and breached the “Great Wall”. Along with China, he also added the Korean peninsula to his empire. He conquered Iran, Iraq and Turkistan in 1219 and invaded Russia in 1222. He died in 1227. He remains a national hero within Mongolia today.

3. Alexander the Great

First ever military commander to attempt to conquer the known world, Alexander never lost a battle during eleven years of his military career. He was born in 356 BC in Macedonia. He invaded Asia Minor and conquered Persia. He defeated the Persian King Darius and Indian King Porus and established the largest empire of the world within five years. Very few people know that Alexander was the first ever military strategist. Before him, overall warfare planning and military strategy was mostly unknown.  He remains the source of inspiration for every military leader in the world till day.

2. Napoleon Bonaparte

Napoleon dominated European political and military life for more than two decades after French Revolution. He conquered most of the European Continent and extended French into Asia and Africa. His military and political ideas influenced the armies and governments throughout the world. Born in 1769, Napoleon controlled the whole of France in 1796 and then started a long journey of conquests. He conquered Italy and Austria in 1797. He seized Portugal in 1807. He also invaded Britain and Russia. He died in 1821. The very name Napoleon remains today synonymous with military influence and leadership.

1. George Washington

If identified or ranked on the basis of great battle victories and military strategies, Washington might have been far down the list, if included at all. But this is the list of most influential military leaders, and within that parameter Washington ranks at the very top of this list. Washington, with the help of citizen soldiers who lacked any kind of military training, defeated one of the world’s foremost armies and brought independence to USA. Born in 1732, Washington, as a commander of American Continental army, fought many battles against Britain to win freedom for his country. He died in 1799. Although other military leaders such as Napoleon, Alexander the Great and Genghis Khan directly accomplished more on the battlefield, none left the legacy of influence equaling that of Washington. Without Washington there would have been no Continental army; without the Continental army there would have been no United States. Washington set a standard for America that is till day the single most powerful nation of the world.

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