Tokugawa Ieyasu was the founder and first shōgun of the Tokugawa shogunate of Japan. He is considered one of the three "Great Unifiers" of Japan. He was the son of Matsudaira Hirotada, a minor local warlord. He grew up to be an ambitious young man with exemplary leadership qualities and eventually founded the Tokugawa shogunate of Japan.
Yi Sun-sin was a Korean military general and admiral best remembered for his famous victories during the Imjin war, where his troops were victorious against the Japanese navy. Since the Imjin war, Yi Sun-sin has been revered in Korea as a national hero. Most of his victories were achieved despite being outnumbered by the enemies.
King James I of England and Ireland was also the king of Scotland as James VI. Son of Mary, Queen of Scots, he believed in royal absolutism. He had major conflicts with the Parliament and its ever-growing powers, which eventually led to revolts against his successor, Charles I.
Francis Drake was an English explorer and naval officer. He is remembered for his Raiding Expedition, a prominent historical maritime event which unfolded between 1577 and 1580. Although Drake is considered a hero in the United Kingdom, his privateering led the Spanish to refer to him as a pirate. His expedition has also had a major cultural impact in Britain.
Japanese samurai and daimyō Toyotomi Hideyoshi of the Sengoku period, also known as the second Great Unifier of Japan, became the Chancellor of the Realm (Daijō-daijin) and Imperial Regent (kampaku). He constructed the Osaka Castle, banned slavery, and established the Tokugawa class system and the Council of Five Elders.
William the Silent played an important role in the Dutch Revolt where he led a group of fighters against the Spanish Habsburgs. The revolt resulted in the Eighty Years' War, which in turn paved the way for the independence of the United Provinces. Thanks to his efforts during the Dutch Revolt, William is referred to as Father of the Fatherland.
Cardinal Richelieu was a French clergyman and statesman who was active in the early 17th century. He held powerful positions in both the Catholic Church and French government and served as the chief minister to Louis XIII of France in 1624. He helped the French maintain their dominance in the Thirty Years' War that engulfed Europe.
John Winthrop was a British Puritan lawyer who played a major role in the establishment of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. The colony was the second major settlement after Plymouth Colony in New England. A respected political figure, Winthrop has been cited by many modern-day politicians like Ronald Reagan, John F. Kennedy, and Sarah Palin.
Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury was a British statesman best remembered for his contribution during the Union of the Crowns. One of the main discoverers of the infamous Gunpowder Plot, Robert Cecil served as the Lord High Treasurer from 1608 to 1612. From 1596 to 1612, he served as the Secretary of State of England.
Part of Irish folklore, Grace O'Malley was known as The Pirate Queen. Born into a seafaring family and was known for her unrelenting attitude toward the English. Known for her exploits in the Nine Years' War, she refused to bow down to Queen Elizabeth, as she herself was a queen.
Rudolf II, Holy Roman Emperor reigned as the King of the Romans and as the King in Germany between 1576 and 1612. Best remembered as an intellectual aficionado of occult arts, Rudolf is often seen as the founding father of the Scientific Revolution. He devoted his time to astrology and alchemy in an attempt to find the Philosopher's Stone.
James IV of Scotland reigned as the king of Scotland from 1488 until his death in 1513. Although his reign ended at the Battle of Flodden, where he was defeated, James is widely considered the most successful monarch of Scotland from the House of Stewart.
Apart from being a lyric poet who is credited with having written the first English sonnets, Thomas Wyatt was also a seasoned politician and an ambassador who was patronized by Thomas Cromwell. He was also said to have had an affair with Anne Boleyn and was later arrested for it.
Hasekura Tsunenaga was a Japanese samurai who served under Date Masamune, the daimyō of Sendai. He is best remembered for heading a diplomatic mission called the Keichō Embassy and is regarded as the first Japanese ambassador in Spain and in the Americas. Hasekura Tsunenaga's life and career have inspired several works of art including a 1980 novel titled The Samurai.
Nurhaci was a Jurchen chieftain who reigned as the Khan of Later Jin for 10 years. He is credited with uniting and reorganizing several Jurchen tribes. His attack and conquest of Ming dynasty laid the foundation for the formation of the Qing dynasty, which was founded by his descendants in 1636. His life inspired the 2005 TV series, Taizu Mishi.
Pier Gerlofs Donia was a Frisian rebel leader and pirate, whose life is shrouded in mystery. He was said to be a big, strong man with a dark complexion. He led an armed band, known as the Arumer Zwarte Hoop, against the Hollanders and Burgundians at sea and targeted ships that traveled the Zuiderzee. He died in 1520.
Apart from serving as the Holy Roman Emperor, Matthias, Holy Roman Emperor also served as the Archduke of Austria, King of Croatia and Hungary, and King of Bohemia between 1612 and 1619. His reign resulted in the Bohemian Revolt, which was the initial theatre of the famous Thirty Years War.
Piri Reis was an Ottoman navigator, admiral, cartographer, and geographer. He is best remembered for his Book of Navigation, which contains maps and charts and information on navigational techniques. He gained international recognition in 1929 when a portion of his first world map was discovered at the Topkapı Palace in Turkey. Piri Reis finds mention in several popular video games.
Diego Columbus was an explorer and navigator who served under the Kings of Aragón and Castile. The oldest son of Christopher Columbus, Diego spent most of his time trying to regain the privileges and titles granted to his father and then denied in 1500.
Birbal was an advisor and chief commander of army in Mughal Emperor Akbar's court. He is best remembered for the folk tales that glorify his wit and intelligence. One of Akbar's most important courtiers, Birbal was part of The Navaratnas, a group of nine extraordinary people in the emperor's court. He has been portrayed in many folk tales and films.