Here is a composite list of some of the great leaders of the past / generals of all time. Although they are numbered (this is a top 10 site Afterall), there is really no objective way to rank these folks. Without further ado:

  1. Alexander the Great – Born in Pella, Macedonia, this brilliant strategist conquered much of the known world before his death at just 32. He never lost a battle and created a massive empire stretching from Greece to India. Fun fact: Alexander was tutored by Aristotle and was known to be a lover of books, carrying a personal library with him on his campaigns.
  2. Julius Caesar – This Roman general hails from a patrician family in Italy and rose to power through his successful military campaigns and political maneuvering. He famously crossed the Rubicon with his army, sparking a civil war, and later declared himself dictator for life. Fun fact: Caesar was assassinated by senators who feared he aimed to overthrow the Roman Republic and establish himself as a king.
  3. Napoleon Bonaparte – Born in Corsica, this military mastermind became the Emperor of France and conquered much of Europe before his downfall. He introduced sweeping reforms across France, including the Napoleonic Code, which still influences laws worldwide today. Fun fact: Napoleon was once imprisoned on the island of Elba, but escaped and returned to France for the Hundred Days before his final defeat at the Battle of Waterloo.
  4. Genghis Khan – Born to a noble family in the steppes of Mongolia, this conqueror united the nomadic tribes and founded the Mongol Empire. He led devastating raids across Asia and Eastern Europe, becoming one of the most feared military leaders in history. Fun fact: Genghis Khan was a successful statesman as well as a military leader, establishing a legal code and fostering religious tolerance in his empire.
  5. Sun Tzu – This ancient Chinese strategist was born in the Eastern Zhou dynasty and is the author of “The Art of War,” still widely read and studied today. His tactics and philosophies have influenced military leaders across the world for over 2,000 years. Fun fact: Sun Tzu’s real identity and life story are largely shrouded in mystery, and many myths and legends surround the great general.
  6. Khalid ibn al-Walid – This Arab general was a companion of the Prophet Muhammad and fought in many battles during the early Islamic conquests. He earned the nickname “Sword of God” for his military prowess and leadership on the battlefield. Fun fact: Khalid ibn al-Walid converted to Islam just before the Hijra and was initially resistant to the Prophet’s message, but became one of Islam’s greatest heroes.
  7. Saladin – Born in Tikrit, Iraq, this Kurdish military leader was a powerful sultan and the first Ayyubid dynasty ruler. He recaptured Jerusalem from the Crusaders during the Third Crusade and established a reputation for chivalry and generosity. Fun fact: Saladin was known for his kindness, even to his enemies, and is revered as a hero by both Muslims and Christians.
  8. William the Conqueror – Born in Normandy, France, this Norman duke conquered England in 1066, famously defeating King Harold at the Battle of Hastings. He introduced Norman rule to England, building castles and influencing the language, culture, and architecture. Fun fact: William was a large man, weighing over 300 pounds later in life, and was known as William the Bastard due to his illegitimate birth.
  9. George Washington – Born in Virginia, this American military leader served as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army during the American Revolution. He played a key role in securing independence from Britain and later became the first President of the United States. Fun fact: Washington was a successful planter and businessman, and his Mount Vernon estate was one of the largest in America at the time.
  1. Hernán Cortés – Born in Medellin, Spain, this conquistador led the expedition that caused the fall of the Aztec Empire in Mexico. He claimed Mexico for Spain and helped lay the foundations for the Spanish colonies in the Americas. Fun fact: Cortés was a controversial figure, known for his cunning tactics and brutal treatment of indigenous peoples, but also for his role in bringing Christianity to the New World.

You can read more details about each of these leaders of the past on the Top 10 list of most Famous Generals of all time.