Top 10 Conquerors

Script written by Craig Butler. Everybody wants to rule the world. These guys pretty much did with a combination of brutality, cunning and ruthlessness. In this video, WatchMojo.com counts down our picks for the top 10 conquerors. For this list, we’ve chosen those world conquerors who historically excelled in military planning and strategy, leadership and mobilization of troops, and whose empires at their peak and speed of expansion eclipsed those of their contemporaries. Special thanks to our users Joshua Castro-Donathen, Cal Smith, Jonathan Orr and Стефан Апостоловски for submitting the idea on our Suggestions Page at WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Script written by Craig Butler.

Top 10 Conquerors


Everybody wants to rule the world. These guys pretty much did. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 conquerors.

For this list, we’ve chosen those world conquerors who historically excelled in military planning and strategy, leadership and mobilization of troops, and whose empires at their peak and speed of expansion eclipsed those of their contemporaries.

#10: Hernán Cortés
(1485 - 1547)

Hernán Cortés is the man who defeated the mighty Aztec Empire and laid the groundwork for Spanish control of most of Latin America. Many revile him for this, and for helping to introduce diseases that decimated the indigenous population of America; however, it must be admitted that Cortés was a brilliant strategist. His men were vastly outnumbered, but he took advantage of internal conflicts among the Aztecs to turn one side against the other, assuring his own success.

#9: Charlemagne
(c. 742 - 814)

Known as “The Father of Europe,” Charlemagne united most of Western Europe for the first time in some 300 years, expanding his power base to include parts of western Germany, Spain, France and more. He also forcefully promoted Christianity, slaughtering many who refused to convert – including 4,500 Saxons at one time in what became known as the Massacre of Verden. In his Carolingian Empire, Charlemagne ruled over a population estimated as high as 20,000,000 people – a phenomenal number at the time.

#8: Julius Caesar
(100 - 44 BC)

“[He] came. [He] saw. [He] conquered.” That pretty much sums up Julius Caesar: a man with immense confidence, intense desire and a steely determination to get what he wanted. By conquering Gaul, Caesar extended the Roman Empire to the English Channel and paved the way for the invasion of Britain. By conquering Egypt, he also conquered its queen, Cleopatra. But strong men make strong enemies, and Julius Caesar was famously assassinated on March 15, the infamous “Ides of March.”

#7: Adolf Hitler
(1889 - 1945)

Possibly the most hated man in modern history, Adolf Hitler was single-minded in his determination to extend his Third Reich; before his defeat, the Nazis controlled almost 2.5 million square-miles, including most of Europe and northern Africa. For a while, Hitler appeared unstoppable; fortunately, the combined might of the Allied forces, along with some surprising strategic errors by Hitler, eventually sealed his fate – but not before he saw to the mass murders of millions of Jews and other groups.

#6: Tamerlane
(1336 - 1405)

Tamerlane, a Turko-Mongol ruler, went from robbing travelers as a child to conquering much of West, South and Central Asia as the self-appointed heir of Genghis Khan. Tamerlane was an unparalleled tactician, often planning his campaigns years in advance and using information warfare to spread tales of his armies’ size and brutality. His conquests resulted in the deaths of possibly 17,000,000 people – 5% of the population of the entire world at the time. Not a guy to mess around with.

#5: Napoleon Bonaparte
(1769 - 1821)

Napoleon Bonaparte is more famous nowadays for being short and for posing with his hand inside his shirt than for his military conquests. But his Napoleonic Wars put France in charge of central Europe; he also instituted many important reforms, including increased religious tolerance. And his Napoleonic Code had significant influence on civil legislation down through the ages. By the way, Napoleon wasn’t really short; he was 5’6”, which was about average for the time.

#4: Attila the Hun
(? - 453)

Attila the Hun came by his other nickname, “The Scourge of God,” legitimately. The man seemed to love nothing better than slaughtering anyone who got in his way. After conquering Germany and Austria, he took over the eastern Roman Empire. Reviled as a barbarian, many scholars believe he was an intuitive strategist, who destroyed entire towns and tortured and mercilessly killed his victims. But, according to legend, Attila died on his wedding night – choking to death on his own blood. Karma’s a bitch.

#3: Cyrus the Great
(c. 600 - 530 BC)

The earliest leader on our list, Cyrus the Great created an empire that at its height was the largest in the world up to that time. Known as the Achaemenid Empire, it covered more than 3,000,000 square miles and stretched from the Mediterranean Sea to the Indus River. Cyrus also created what has come to be known as the Cyrus Cylinder, generally considered to be the earliest declaration of human rights yet discovered.

#2: Genghis Khan
(1162 - 1227)

In terms of size of empire, nobody beats Genghis Khan: his Mongol Empire eventually encompassed almost 13 million square miles. Genghis started by uniting the Mongol tribes – no small feat – and then started a tidal wave of invasions that took over almost all of Eurasia. Almost 1,750,000 citizens of the city of Nishapur are said to have been killed at his command, but the Great Khan’s control of the Silk Road also opened up relationships between the East and the West.

Before we crown our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
- Pharaoh Thutmose III (1481 - 1425 BC)
- Ramesses II (c. 1303 - 1213 BC)
- Hannibal Barca (247 - c. 181 BC)
- Francisco Pizarro (c. 1471 - 1541)
- William the Conqueror (c. 1028 - 1087)

#1: Alexander the Great
(356 - 323 BC)

The Macedonian prince now known as Alexander the Great got his feet wet by conquering Greece and then went on to take over Asia Minor. Eventually, he conquered all the lands from Greece through India – more than 2,000,000 square miles. Alexander is credited with solving the ancient riddle of how to undo the Gordian knot – he simply cut it with his sword. A myth said whoever solved the riddle would rule the world. Some myths turn out to be true.

Do you agree with our choices? What other mighty leaders of the past should we have added to this list? For more informative top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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