Courtesy of a friend, I managed to snag an awesome idea for this week’s article: a history-fueled discussion of the greatest conquerors throughout history. I decided to compile my own top-ten list of the greatest conquerors the world has ever seen. Being a conqueror isn’t just about being a badass but also the ability to impose your will, your army and forcefully change the course of history. Take into consideration how you pick an empire in games like Age of Empires or Civilization. You don’t pick weak empires/leaders. No, you build your game, legacy and empire with a strong militant leader – a conqueror. Without further ado, here’s my list of the top ten most lethal leaders in the history of the world.
10) William the Conqueror – A.D. 1028-1087 – England
I have to throw William the Bastard on this list mainly because having the nickname ‘conqueror’ is a rather wicked feat in its own right. Add in the fact that he’s largely responsible for building the legendary British Empire by advancing England’s borders into the northern half of the island, taking over territories in Scotland and Wales and you have yourself one of history’s best.
9) Cyrus the Great – 580-523 BC – Persia
Very tempting to move Cyrus the Elder up higher on the list but for now he settles in at the nine spot. Cyrus was a fantastic conqueror, forming one of the largest empires in the world and was able to manage his empires with unrivaled governance. He allowed his conquered lands and people to live under the blanket of Persian rule – a very noble leader. I’ll admit I would likely put him higher, if I ever made a top ten greatest leaders in history list. But this list is going to favor more of the ‘aggressive expansion’ types.
8) Napoleon – 1769 – 1821 – France
Mr. Bonaparte cements himself on this list primarily because of square miles conquered. Under his leadership, France’s empire expanded by 720,000 sq. miles (seventh most in history). I also have to admire the guy for his sheer will to take over the French government after the French Revolution. Frances lacked direction and leadership and Napoleon jumped right in and pointed them towards the direction of global domination. Unfortunately, his 720,000 mile trip stopped in Russia.
7) Caesar Augustus – 63 BC – 14 AD – Roman Empire
Octavian not only built a better Rome than his adopted father, Julius Caesar, but he also nearly doubled his empire. Augustus led the Roman Empire into its most prosperous period in history and after defeating Cleopatra and Marc Anthony, held control of Egypt. Augustus was no slouch when it came to controlling and ruling over territories. He was a magnificent ruler and beloved by his people – something most rulers could not have done considering how dominant his Roman military was.
6) Hannibal of Cathrage – 247-183 BC – Cathrage
I understand Hannibal wasn’t necessarily a conquer but one of the fathers of strategy has to go on this list. He did expand his native homeland a significant amount but anyone who is able to take war elephants through the Alps and become the first foreign presence in the Roman Empire has to be represented on this list. Hannibal’s tactics were so effective, the Romans actually mimicked them after they finally pushed him out of Italy in 208 BC.
5) Charlemagne – 724-814 BC – Frank (Germany)
Charles the Great is considered the King of Europe. He was able to expand his territories in Germany, rule over the Roman Empire (courtesy of Pope Leo) and spread Christianity throughout Europe. His faith and idealism made him a great ruler but his ability to retain and control most of Europe place him in the top five.
4) Attila the Hun – 406-453 BC – Hunnic
Much like Napoleon, I have to credit Attila for square miles taken over. The Hun Empire was 1, 450, 000 sq. miles broad, expanding from Rhine River (Germany) across the Baltic Sea into what is now essentially the Middle East. Attila was ferocious. He wasn’t so much a leader as he was an addict for destruction.
3) Timur – 1336-1405 – Uzbekistan (Timurid Dynasty)
Tamerlane was a Turkish-Mongol and much like the great Khan tribe from Mongolia, Timur was able to rapidly take over most of central Asia and territories in the Middle East. He started the Timurid dynasty, which went on until 1507. It is safe to say his presence in central Asia and control of lands there greatly influenced the evolution and culture of central Asia.
2) Alexander the Great – 356 – 323 BC – Macedonia
Alexander the Great is arguably one of the best conquerors and generals in history. His empire stretched from Europe to Africa and all the way into central Asia. More impressive is the fact that Alexander the Great took over these lands before he was even 25 and ruled over them with uncanny power and grace.
1) Genghis Khan – ? – 1227 AD – Mongolia
Genghis Khan is responsible for the largest empire in history – 4, 860, 000 sq. miles. His territory doubled than of Alexander the Great’s and Genghis Khan ruled over nearly all of Asia and Central Europe with absolute power. The man was a brutal general and his Mongol archers were unmatched in warfare, allowing him to go from a tiny hut in Mongolia to sitting on the royal throne in China.
There you have it folks, my list of the history’s most effective conquerors – hope y’all enjoyed the history lesson and as always feel free to follow on Facebook and Twitter @theDrunkenNerd.