Emperors & Kings

When we talk of emperors and kings, the picture of a regal man dressed in resplendent attire reigning over some ancient land comes to our mind, for in today’s world what we know about emperors and kings comes primarily from folklores and history books. An emperor is the male sovereign ruler of an empire. There have been many vast empires worldwide which consisted of several states and countries. Kings were the rulers of their own kingdoms over which they exercised complete power. Being extremely powerful, the emperors and kings have played crucial roles in shaping the history of not just their own empires and kingdoms, but of the whole world. Titus, the ancient Roman Emperor might have had a short reign, but he secured his place in history as he completed the Colosseum and dealt with the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. Genghis Khan, the Great Khan of the Mongol Empire conquered vast territories, four times the lands of Alexander the Great. Other rulers still revered today are Atilla the Hun, Timur the Lame and Charlemagne. Over the centuries, absolute monarchies gave way to several other forms of government and now only a handful of monarchies, that too ceremonial, remain in the world. Browse on to learn more about the great emperors and kings who had once walked on this earth.

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 1 Alexander the Great

Alexander the Great
34
Famous As: Emperor of the ancient Greek kingdom of Macedon
Birthdate: July 20, 0356
Sun Sign: Cancer
Nationality: Macedonian
Died: June 10, 0324

Counted amongst the greatest military commanders of all times, Alexander the Great successfully created one of the largest empires—from Macedonia to Persia and India—of the ancient world. The son of King of Macedonia, Philip II, he ascended the throne at the age of 20 and achieved unprecedented success before he died at the age of 33.  

 2 Julius Caesar

Julius Caesar
11
Famous As: Former Roman dictator
Birthdate: July 13, 0100
Sun Sign: Cancer
Nationality: Ancient Roman
Died: March 15, 0044

Julius Caesar is considered one of the greatest military commanders in history and played an important role in the events that led to the downfall of the Roman Republic and the rise of the Roman Empire. He assumed control of the government after a civil war. He was assassinated by rebel senators on the Ides of March, 44 BC.

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 3 Genghis Khan

Genghis Khan
21
Famous As: Khagan of the Mongol Empire
Birthdate: 1162 AD
Nationality: Mongolian
Died: August 18, 1227

The founder and first Great Khan and Emperor of the Mongol Empire, Genghis Khan is often considered to be the greatest conqueror of all time. A brutal ruler, he enjoyed exceptional military successes and occupied a substantial portion of Central Asia and China. Besides his military accomplishments, he is also credited with revitalizing the Mongol Empire's writing system.

 4 Napoleon Bonaparte

Napoleon Bonaparte
21
Famous As: Emperor of the French
Birthdate: August 15, 1769
Sun Sign: Leo
Nationality: French
Died: May 5, 1821
French military leader Napoleon Bonaparte ruled as the French emperor from 1804 to 1814 and again in 1815. He strengthened France’s position in Europe through the Napoleonic Wars and extended his kingdom. However, he was eventually defeated by the Seventh Coalition at the Battle of Waterloo and sent to exile. 

 5 Shivaji

Shivaji
14
Famous As: King
Birthdate: February 19, 1630
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Nationality: Indian
Died: April 3, 1680

Shivaji was an Indian warrior-king. He is credited with founding the Maratha Empire, which became a force to reckon with during the 18th century. He is also credited with creating his own navy. Considered one of the most important Indian kings and a hero of the Hindus, Shivaji's life and work have inspired several works of art, including films.

 6 Ashoka

Ashoka
16
Famous As: Indian emperor of the Maurya Dynasty
Birthdate: 0304 BC
Nationality: Indian
Died: 0232 BC
Ashoka the Great of the Maurya Dynasty was the grandson of Chandragupta Maurya and ruled the Indian subcontinent from c. 268 to 232 BCE. Following the death and destruction caused by the Kalinga War, which was part of his expansion plan, he converted to Buddhism and propagated the faith.

 7 Augustus

Augustus
14
Famous As: Roman roman emperor
Birthdate: September 23, 0063
Sun Sign: Virgo
Nationality: Ancient Roman
Died: August 19, 0014

Augustus, the first Emperor of the Roman Empire, ruled from 27 BC to 14 AD. He transformed Rome from a republic to an empire after Julius Caesar’s assassination. He annexed new territories, brought about peace and prosperity and laid the foundation of an empire that lasted for nearly 1500 years. Historians regard him as an effective but controversial leader.

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 8 Henry VII of England

Henry VII
10
Famous As: King of England
Birthdate: January 28, 1457
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Nationality: British
Died: April 21, 1509

Henry VII of England played an important role in popularizing the House of Tudor by becoming the first monarch of the house; he ruled as the king of England from 1485 until his death in 1509. He is credited with several economic, diplomatic, and administrative initiatives.

 9 Charlemagne

Charlemagne
8
Famous As: King of the Frank
Birthdate: April 2, 0742
Sun Sign: Aries
Nationality: German
Died: January 28, 0814

Also known as Charles the Great, Charlemagne ruled as the king of the Franks, king of the Lombards, and emperor of the Romans at different time periods. Not surprisingly, he had a major impact during the Early Middle Ages as he went about uniting the majority of central and western Europe, for which he is called the Father of Europe.

 10 Marcus Aurelius

Marcus Aurelius
4
Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: April 26, 0121
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: Italian
Died: March 17, 0180

Marcus Aurelius played an important role in the Roman Empire. A Stoic philosopher, Marcus was part of the Five Good Emperors and the last emperor of the Pax Romana—a 200-year-long period of relative peace in the Roman Empire. Also a writer, his work Meditations is regarded by many as one of the greatest works of philosophy.

 11 Kublai Khan

Kublai Khan
2
Famous As: Founder of the Yuan dynasty in Mongolia and China,
Birthdate: September 23, 1215
Sun Sign: Virgo
Nationality: Mongolian
Died: February 18, 1294

Also known as the Emperor Shizu of Yuan, Kublai Khan served as the fifth khagan of the famous Mongol Empire. After the division of the empire, Kublai Khan founded the Yuan dynasty in China and ruled as the first Yuan emperor from 1271 until his death in 1294. Hence, he played an important role in re-creating a militarily powerful China.

 12 Akbar

Akbar
15
Famous As: Mughal Emperor
Birthdate: October 14, 1542
Sun Sign: Libra
Nationality: Indian
Died: October 27, 1605

Akbar, the third Mughal emperor, played an important role in inculcating Persian culture into the Indian subcontinent. Akbar is considered one of the most important rulers of the Mughal Empire, an empire that seeped foreign ideas and culture into medieval India, the effects of which are still visible in modern-day India, especially in the northern parts of the country.

 13 Wilhelm II

Wilhelm II
6
Famous As: Emperor of Germany
Birthdate: January 27, 1859
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Nationality: German
Died: June 4, 1941

Wilhelm II reigned as the King of Prussia and German emperor from 1888 to 1918. He is credited with promoting scientific innovation and building a blue-water navy, which strengthened Germany’s position as a great power. However, he was also responsible for getting his country involved in World War I, which eventually brought an end to the Hohenzollern dynasty’s rule.

 14 Edward VI of England

Edward VI of England
4
Famous As: King of England
Birthdate: October 12, 1537
Sun Sign: Libra
Nationality: British
Died: July 6, 1553

Edward VI of England served as the King of England and Ireland from 1547 until his death at the age of 15 in 1553. Edward VI, who took interest in religious matters, allowed Protestantism to be established in England during his reign. His reign also witnessed the introduction of written works that formed the basis for practices of the English Church.

 15 Richard III of England

Richard III of England
4
Famous As: King of England
Birthdate: October 2, 1452
Sun Sign: Libra
Nationality: British
Died: August 22, 1485

Richard III was King of England from 1483 to 1485. His defeat and subsequent death marked the demise of the Middle Ages in England. He is the subject of William Shakespeare's famous play Richard III. He has also been an inspiration for several other works of literature and films.

 16 Timur

Timur
4
Famous As: Monarch of the Timurid Empire
Birthdate: April 9, 1336
Sun Sign: Aries
Nationality: Uzbekistan
Died: February 19, 1405

Widely considered one of the greatest tacticians and military leaders in history, Timur is credited with founding the Timurid Empire, which attained its greatest extent under the leadership of Timur. His empire laid the foundation for the rise of the more prominent Islamic gunpowder empires, such as the Mughal Empire, which then ruled the Indian subcontinent for almost 330 years.

 17 Attila

Attila
4
Famous As: Ruler
Birthdate: 0406 AD
Nationality: Ancient Roman
Died: February 29, 0453

 18 Suleiman The Magnificent

Suleiman the Magnificent
6
Famous As: 10th Sultan of the Ottoman Empire
Birthdate: November 6, 1494
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Nationality: Turkish
Died: September 6, 1566
Suleiman The Magnificent ruled the Ottoman Empire from 1520 to 1566 and was instrumental in the empire’s expansion, leading the conquests of Belgrade, Rhodes, and Hungary. He was a patron of art and culture, and a talented poet and goldsmith himself. He married Roxelana, a Christian-turned-Muslim from his harem.

 19 Maharana Pratap

Maharana Pratap
2
Famous As: Ruler of Mewar
Birthdate: May 9, 1540
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: Indian
Died: January 19, 1597
Maharana Pratap, son of Maharana Udai Singh, ruled the Indian region of Mewar, in modern-day Rajasthan, from 1572 to 1597. Also known as “Mewari Rana,” he is best remembered for his exploits at the Battle of Haldighati, against the Mughal army of Akbar, led by Man Singh I of Amer.

 20 Cyrus the Great

Cyrus the Great
7
Famous As: Founder of First Persian Empire
Birthdate: 0590 BC
Nationality: Iranian
Died: 0530 BC

Cyrus II, or Cyrus the Great, founded the first Persian empire, the Achaemenid Empire. His kingdom extended from Western Asia to Central Asia. He advocated centralized administration, with the help of local governors. The biblical Edict of Cyrus, named after him, talks about the return of the Jews to Israel.

 21 William III of England

William III of England
2
Famous As: King of England
Birthdate: November 4, 1650
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Nationality: Dutch
Died: March 8, 1702
King William III of England, son of William II, Prince of Orange, was also known as William of Orange. A staunch Protestant, he is remembered for his joint rule with his wife, Queen Mary II, and for his exploits such as the Glorious Revolution and the Nine Years' War.

 22 Chandragupta Maurya

Chandragupta Maurya
6
Famous As: Founder of the Maurya Empire
Birthdate: 0340 BC
Nationality: Indian
Died: 0298 BC

Chandragupta Maurya established the Maurya Empire in India. He was mostly advised by philosopher Chanakya. He conquered the Nanda Empire and fought the Seleucid-Mauryan War, too. His reign was marked by religious tolerance, and cultural and economic prosperity. He later relinquished his throne and became a Jain monk.

 23 Babur

Babur
6
Famous As: Founder of Mughal Dyanasty
Birthdate: February 14, 1483
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Nationality: Uzbekistan
Died: December 26, 1530
Babur, the first emperor of the Mughal Dynasty of India, was a descendant of Genghis Khan and Timur. He defeated Ibrahim Lodi in the First Battle of Panipat in 1526 CE and then defeated Rajput ruler Rana Sanga in the Battle of Khanwa in 1527. His memoir is titled Baburnama.

 24 Saladin

Saladin
6
Famous As: Sultan of Egypt
Birthdate: 1137 AD
Nationality: Egyptian
Died: March 4, 1193
Named the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, Saladin founded the Ayyubid Dynasty. He abolished the Fatimid Caliphate and later defeated the Crusaders at the Battle of Hattin, thus taking control of Palestine. As the de facto Caliph of Islam, he controlled a vast area, including Egypt, Syria, and Yemen.

 25 Tutankhamun

Tutankhamun
4
Famous As: Pharaoh
Birthdate: 1342 BC
Nationality: Egyptian
Died: 1325 BC

Tutankhamun was an Egyptian pharaoh who ruled between 1334 and 1325 BC. He is one of the most studied ancient Egyptian pharaohs, thanks to his well-preserved tomb. Although he was not a popular ruler, the global exhibitions of artifacts associated with him have made Tutankhamun the most renowned pharaoh in the modern world.

 26 Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor

Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor
2
Famous As: Former Holy Roman Emperor
Birthdate: February 24, 1500
Sun Sign: Pisces
Nationality: Italian
Died: September 21, 1558

Charles V served as the Holy Roman Emperor, King of Italy, and King of Germany from 1519 to 1556. From 1516 to 1556, he ruled as the King of Spain. His personal union of the American and European territories was the first collection of kingdoms that were described the empire on which the Sun never sets.

 27 Alfred the Great

Alfred the Great
6
Famous As: King of Wessex
Birthdate: 0849 AD
Nationality: British
Died: October 26, 0899

Alfred the Great, king of Wessex, cemented his place in history as a legendary ruler who led his kingdom to victory in wars that seemed hopeless. He is known for his brilliant strategies and defensive measures. He prevented England from falling to the Danes during his rule from circa 871 to 886. He’s also credited with promoting learning and literacy and curbing corruption.

 28 Aurangzeb

Aurangzeb
6
Famous As: Mughal Emperor
Birthdate: November 4, 1618
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Nationality: Indian
Died: March 3, 1707

Aurangzeb reigned over most part of the Indian subcontinent for 49 years as the sixth Mughal emperor. He helped the Mughal Empire reach its greatest extent and helped India become the biggest manufacturing power and the world's largest economy. He was known for his religious piety and led a very simple life..

 29 Charles II

Charles II
4
Famous As: King of England, Scotland & Ireland
Birthdate: May 29, 1630
Sun Sign: Gemini
Nationality: British
Died: February 6, 1685
Charles II, son of King Charles I of England, ruled England, Scotland, and Ireland from 1660 to 1685. He was initially defeated by Oliver Cromwell and forced to go into exile, but returned to England after Cromwell’s death. He introduced the Clarendon Code and later sided with the Tories.

 30 Nero

Nero
6
Famous As: Roman Emperor
Birthdate: December 15, 0037
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Nationality: Italian
Died: June 9, 0068

Nero was the fifth Roman emperor whose rule was associated with tyranny. Five years into his reign, he had his mother Agrippina killed. The Great Fire of Rome, which occurred during his reign, is believed to have been instigated by him for political reasons. He was also responsible for eliminating many Christians from the empire.

 31 William the Conqueror

William the Conqueror
8
Famous As: King of England
Birthdate: 1028 AD
Nationality: French
Died: September 9, 1087

William the Conqueror was the first Norman King of England who ruled from 1066 to 1087. William's conquest had a profound impact on England; his government merged elements of the Norman and English systems that laid the foundations of the medieval English kingdom. He is credited with building castles, mottes, and keeps, including the White Tower and Tower of London.

 32 Sambhaji

Sambhaji
2
Famous As: Ruler
Birthdate: May 14, 1657
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: Indian
Died: March 11, 1689

 33 Peter the Great

Peter the Great
2
Famous As: First Emperor of Russia
Birthdate: June 9, 1672
Sun Sign: Gemini
Nationality: Russian
Died: February 8, 1725
Peter the Great ruled the Tsardom of Russia, and then the Russian Empire, from 1682 to 1725. He ushered in the Enlightenment and cultural revolution in Russia. He also strengthened the Russian navy and launched the Russo-Persian War. Saint Petersburg, the capital of Russia till 1917, was established by him.

 34 Hirohito

Hirohito
4
Famous As: Former Emperor of Japan
Birthdate: April 29, 1901
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: Japanese
Died: January 7, 1989
Hirohito, or Emperor Showa, the longest-reigning Japanese emperor, reigned from 1926 to 1989 and supported the Axis Powers during World War II. He also served in the Japanese military. He was not prosecuted for war crimes by the U.S. and played a major role in the post-war reconstruction of Japan.

 35 Prithviraj Chauhan

Prithviraj Chauhan
2
Famous As: Rajput king of the Chauhan dynasty
Birthdate: 1149 AD
Nationality: Indian
Died: 1192 AD

A king from the Chahamana dynasty, Prithviraj Chauhan ruled Sapadalaksha in present-day north-western India. The son of king Someshvara and queen Karpuradevi, he ascended to the throne when he was just a child. As a young man, he became known as a brave warrior and an excellent military commander. Various sources differ on the exact circumstances of his death.

 36 Gilgamesh

Gilgamesh
2
Famous As: 5th king of the Sumerian city-state of Uruk
Birthdate: 0000 BC
Nationality: Iraqi
Mesopotamian hero Gilgamesh is the leading character in the 2nd millennium B.C. Akkadian Epic of Gilgamesh. Experts believe he was a Sumerian ruler from 2900-2500 B.C., who became a legendary figure in the Third Dynasty of Ur. Gilgamesh’s tale is said to have inspired the Iliad and the Odyssey.

 37 Porus

Porus
2
Famous As: King
Birthdate: 0000 AD
Nationality: Indian
Died: 0321 AD

 38 Haile Selassie

Haile Selassie
2
Famous As: Former Emperor of Ethiopia
Birthdate: July 23, 1892
Sun Sign: Cancer
Nationality: Ethiopian
Died: August 27, 1975

Haile Selassie, served his country, Ethiopia, as its regent from 1916 to 1930 and as its emperor from 1930 to 1974. He introduced the first Ethiopian constitution, abolished slavery, chaired the Organisation of African Unity, and helped Ethiopia enter the UN. He inspired the Rastafari movement, too.

 39 Maharaja Ranjit Singh

Maharaja Ranjit Singh
2
Famous As: Founder of the Sikh Empire
Birthdate: November 13, 1780
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Nationality: Indian
Died: June 27, 1839
Maharaja Ranjit Singh, also known as the "Lion of Punjab" and the “Napoleon of the East,” was a Sikh leader who reigned over the northwest Indian subcontinent in the 19th century. He fought valiantly against the Afghans and introduced many modern reforms. His Khalsa Army included people of all religions.

 40 Harold Godwinson

Harold Godwinson
2
Famous As: King of England
Birthdate: 1022 AD
Nationality: British
Died: October 14, 1066
Harold Godwinson, also known as Harold II, was the last Anglo-Saxon ruler of England, and succeeded Edward the Confessor. He died at the Battle of Hastings, fighting William the Conqueror and his army during the Norman Conquest. Harold was the first English king who was crowned in Westminster Abbey.

 41 Edward III of England

Edward III of England
2
Famous As: King of England
Birthdate: November 13, 1312
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Nationality: British
Died: June 21, 1377
Edward III, or Edward of Windsor, was the King of England and the Lord of Ireland from 1327 to 1377. He took to the throne after his father, Edward II, was deposed by his mother, Isabella, and Roger Mortimer. He strengthened the military and participated in the Hundred Years' War.

 42 Krishnadevaraya

Krishnadevaraya
2
Famous As: Emperor of the Vijayanagara Empire
Birthdate: February 16, 1471
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Nationality: Indian
Died: 1529 AD
Krishnadevaraya, from the Tuluva Dynasty, was the emperor of the Vijayanagara Empire from 1509 to 1529. Named the Lord of the Kannada empire, he was one of the most influential Hindu kings of the Indian peninsula. An able military general and ruler, he also patronized art and literature.

 43 Charles II of Spain

Charles II of Spain
2
Famous As: Ruler
Birthdate: November 6, 1661
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Nationality: Spanish
Died: November 1, 1700

Charles II of Spain reigned as the king of Spain from 1665 to 1700. He was the last king from the House of Habsburg to rule the Spanish Empire. Despite suffering from many illnesses throughout his life, Charles proved to be a reasonably influential king. The town of Charleroi and the Caroline Islands in modern Belgium were named after Charles.

 44 Tiberius

Tiberius
2
Famous As: Roman Emperor
Birthdate: November 16, 0042
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Nationality: Ancient Roman
Died: March 16, 0037
Tiberius, the second Roman emperor, ruled from AD 14 to 37. Though his conquests strengthened the Roman empire, he lacked the will to rule. Following his son Drusus Julius Caesar’s death, Tiberius became aloof. He later gave away his administrative powers to his prefects Sejanus and Naevius Sutorius Macro.

 45 Harald V of Norway

Harald V of Norway
4
Famous As: King of Norway
Birthdate: February 21, 1937
Sun Sign: Pisces
Nationality: Norwegian

Harald V of Norway ascended the throne after the demise of his father, King Olav V. A sports enthusiast, he represented Norway in sailing at three Olympic Games. He also became a patron of World Sailing. The King is an admiral, the Supreme Commander of the Norwegian Armed Forces and a four-star general.

 46 Bindusara

Bindusara
2
Famous As: Second Maurya Emperor
Birthdate: 0320 BC
Nationality: Indian
Died: 0273 BC

Bindusara, son of Chandragupta Maurya, reigned as the second Mauryan emperor of India. He was the father of Ashoka the Great. Not much is known about his life. It is believed that much of the Deccan had been conquered by him, though there is no concrete proof of the same.

 47 Caesarion

Caesarion
2
Famous As: Pharaoh
Birthdate: June 23, 0047
Sun Sign: Cancer
Nationality: Egyptian
Died: August 23, 0030

 48 Claudius

Claudius
2
Famous As: Roman emperor
Birthdate: August 1, 0010
Sun Sign: Leo
Nationality: Ancient Roman
Died: October 13, 0054

Claudius was made the Roman emperor by the Praetorian Guard after the assassination of Caligula, his nephew and predecessor, and ruled from 41 to 54 A.D. He was slightly limp and deaf since childhood, but his reign was marked by financial stability. He was succeeded by his grand-nephew, tyrant Nero.

 49 Alexander III of Russia

Alexander III of Russia
8
Famous As: Former Emperor of All Russia
Birthdate: March 10, 1845
Sun Sign: Pisces
Nationality: Russian
Died: November 1, 1894
Alexander III ruled as the emperor of Russia, the king Poland, and the grand duke of Finland, from 1881 to 1894. He reversed many liberal policies that had been implemented by his father, Alexander II, earlier. He passed the “May Laws” and did not participate in any major war.

 50 Duke of Windsor

Duke of Windsor
0
Famous As: Former King of the United Kingdom
Birthdate: June 23, 1894
Sun Sign: Cancer
Nationality: British
Died: May 28, 1972
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