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Historical Leaders Called 'The Great,' Ranked By Greatness  

Renata Carmen
715 votes 133 voters 1.8k views 16 items

List Rules暖暖直播APP视频教程 Vote up the greatest 'The Greats' from history.

They don't hand out nicknames like "the Great" to just anyone. History has seen its share of the Greats, with the works and deeds of such titleholders varying as much as their origins, eras, and cultures. How does one achieve "the Great" status, or quantify such a distinction? Plenty of ways. The number of buildings or statues constructed, for example. Or the amount of art produced. How about progress in science, technology, or medicine? Improvements to political structures?

Then again, this lofty title is often bestowed upon those who earned it the hard way - the bloody way. You can't expand borders, conquer armies, and exponentially enhance wealth without breaking a few eggs. Some so-called Greats have broken the boundaries, taboos, or social structures of their time. Some have been tyrants, others beneficent caretakers, and others still have been various shades in between. From Alexander to Peter to Catherine, here are the historical figures who have been bestowed with that rare and simple title: the Great. Vote up the Greats most worthy of the name.

Alexander the Great is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list Historical Leaders Called 'The Great,' Ranked By Greatness
Photo: Unknown//

There is nothing impossible to him who will try.

Although his lifespan was but a brief 32 years, Alexander the Great became one of the most notable rulers and military strategists in history. His greatness started in childhood, when he tamed his horse, , who was thought to be untamable before Alexander safely mounted him. The two of them became inseparable until the horse's passing in 326 BC, whereupon Alexander named the city Bucephala in honor of his beloved companion’s passing. (Interestingly, he also named a city after his favorite dog, Peritas, who also changed history by .)

Alexander was a martial and diplomatic genius , even when facing the mighty Persian army. He expanded Greece through what is modern-day Turkey, on into Syria and Egypt, Babylonia, and eventually Persia. Thanks to his tutelage under philosophers , Alexander had a gentle touch despite his conquests. His education influenced him to teach, rather than force, the culture of Greece onto the many peoples he vanquished. His ambition seemed to know no bounds, and he may have succeeded with his plans to expand further into India had not he met .

Age:暖暖直播APP视频教程 Dec. at 33 (355 BC-322 BC)

Birthplace:暖暖直播APP视频教程 Pella, Greece

A true Great?
Cyrus the Great is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list Historical Leaders Called 'The Great,' Ranked By Greatness
Photo: Siamax//

Whenever you can, act as a liberator.

Cyrus is best known for founding the Persian Empire, which became . Also known as the Achaemenid Empire, it would eventually span more than 3,000 miles - an area larger than the continental United States - encompassing Mesopotamia, Egypt, Israel, and Turkey. Despite his desire to expand his empire, he was known as a tolerant and beneficent king who preferred to view himself as a liberator rather than a conqueror. Cyrus allowed the people he incorporated into his kingdom to continue their religious practices, so long as they remained loyal and paid their taxes.

He even after being held in captivity and persecuted in Babylon. The Cyrus Cylinder, which documents the conquest of Babylon, displays his quest for human rights as they were known at that time. It is one of the oldest texts concerning such topics, and is considered .

He also founded , a gorgeous palace complex comprised of brilliant, megalithic architecture, set in an idyllic valley that is today considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Age: 580-529 BC

Birthplace: Anshan, Iran

A true Great?
Charlemagne is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list Historical Leaders Called 'The Great,' Ranked By Greatness
Photo: Friedrich Kaulbach//

Right action is better than knowledge; but in order to do what is right, we must know what is right.

暖暖直播APP视频教程Charlemagne, which means "Charles the Great" in Old French, is considered , and one of the greatest leaders of the Middle Ages. He was a skilled military strategist who expanded the Frankish Empire all the way into Rome, Bavaria, and Spain, and a religious warrior who fought to unite his people into one Christian kingdom. In 800 AD, Pope Leo III gave him a promotion from king of the Franks to emperor of the Romans, as much as everyone else.

暖暖直播APP视频教程He proved to be a strong and capable leader, whose many notable reforms in the government, law, arts, administration, bureaucracy, currency, accounting, cultivation, and the church .

暖暖直播APP视频教程Despite his many great works and desire to be a model Christian, his reign was not bloodless. Charlemagne oversaw the Massacre of Verden in 782, when he reportedly in an attempt to force them to convert to Christianity. He was also a man of large appetites, with . He was entombed and upon his passing in 814, and in 1165 he was canonized for his many great works.

Birthplace: Francia

A true Great?
Alfred the Great is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list Historical Leaders Called 'The Great,' Ranked By Greatness
Photo: Founder of Oriel College//

The saddest thing about any man is that he be ignorant, and the most exciting thing is that he knows.

暖暖直播APP视频教程Alfred was the and with good reason. He was the first Anglo-Saxon ruler to establish peace with the , who had been ruthlessly raiding their lands for almost 100 years. He also converted these people, considered at the time to be pagans, to Christianity, and establishing that the Vikings would stay on the eastern side of Britain. Alfred then went on to expand Anglo-Saxon rule into what would become the Kingdom of England, .

Once peace was established with the Vikings, Alfred focused on the reconstruction of his lands. He reformed the Anglo-Saxon currency, on which coinage from the time reads . He reformed the education system, translated classic works from Latin to English, built forts, established England's famously strong navy, incorporated the brightest and best minds of Europe into his country , and established a formal code of law. He accomplished all of this even though he was a sickly and frail man who struggled with what . Legend has it he snuck into a Viking camp dressed , during which time he may or may not have been .

Age: Dec. at 50 (849-899)

Birthplace: Wantage, United Kingdom

A true Great?