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 George VI

George VI
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Famous As: Former King of the United Kingdom
Birthdate: December 14, 1895
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Nationality: British
Died: February 6, 1952
The last Emperor of India and the first Head of the Commonwealth, King George VI was the King of the United Kingdom for fifteen years. He served in the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force before reluctantly inheriting the throne and becoming a symbol of courage during WWII. His determination also helped him in his struggle with stammering.

 2 Charles, Prince of Wales

Charles, Prince of Wales
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Famous As: Prince of Wales
Birthdate: November 14, 1948
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Nationality: British

The heir apparent to the British throne, Charles, Prince of Wales, is the eldest child of Queen Elizabeth II. He is a patron, president, and a member of over 400 charities and organizations. He is an environmentalist and is known for his support for alternative medicine. He has a deep interest in architecture and the conservation of historic buildings.

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 3 Genghis Khan

Genghis Khan
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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 George V

George V
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Famous As: Former King of the United Kingdom
Birthdate: June 3, 1865
Sun Sign: Gemini
Nationality: British
Died: January 20, 1936

George V became the King of Great Britain and the British Dominions in 1910. During the World War I, he played an active role in supporting the troops. The rise of socialism, communism, fascism and the Indian independence movement was witnessed during his rule. His reign also saw the supremacy of the elected British House of Commons established by the Parliament.

 5 Alexander the Great

Alexander the Great
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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.  

 6 Julius Caesar

Julius Caesar
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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.

 7 Edward VII

Edward VII
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Famous As: Former King of the United Kingdom
Birthdate: November 9, 1841
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Nationality: British
Died: May 6, 1910

Edward VII, the King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and Emperor of India from 22 January 1901 until his death, is said to have played a role in the reorganisation of the British Army after the Second Boer War. His main interests lay in the fields of foreign affairs and naval and military matters.

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 8 Henry VII of England

Henry VII
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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 Alfred the Great

Alfred the Great
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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.

 10 Charles I of England

Charles I of England
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Famous As: King of England
Birthdate: November 19, 1600
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Nationality: British
Died: January 30, 1649

Charles I, the King of England, Scotland and Ireland from 1625 to 1649, was said to be authoritarian and was in constant battle with the Parliament over the issue of royal prerogative. The friction led to a civil war from 1642 to 1645 between him and the English and Scottish Parliaments. He was defeated and executed in 1649 for treason.

 11 Augustus

Augustus
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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.

 12 Henry V of England

Henry V Of England
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Famous As: King of England (1413-1422)
Birthdate: August 9, 1386
Sun Sign: Leo
Nationality: British
Died: August 31, 1422

One of the most renowned kings in English history, Henry V ascended the throne at the age of 26 in 1413 and ruled England till his death in 1422. Though his reign was short, it was marked by great successes in the Hundred Years' War against France which established England as one of the strongest kingdoms in entire Europe.

 13 Charlemagne

Charlemagne
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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.

 14 George III of the United Kingdom

George III of the United Kingdom
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Famous As: King
Birthdate: June 4, 1738
Sun Sign: Gemini
Nationality: British
Died: January 29, 1820

The King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland for almost six decades, George III had a reign that was longer than those of any of his predecessors. His reign was marked by a series of military conflicts. He suffered from mental illness in his later years.

 15 Vajiralongkorn

Vajiralongkorn
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Famous As: King
Birthdate: July 28, 1952
Sun Sign: Leo
Nationality: Thai

 16 Naruhito

Naruhito
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Famous As: Emperor of Japan
Birthdate: February 23, 1960
Sun Sign: Pisces
Nationality: Japanese

Naruhito, the 126th emperor of Japan and the only living monarch to use the title “Emperor,” ascended the throne after his father Akihito’s abdication in 2019. Devoted to efforts of water conservation, Naruhito has also been part of the International Olympic Committee. He plays both the violin and the viola.

 17 Akbar

Akbar
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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.

 18 Vlad the Impaler

Vlad the Impaler
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Famous As: Ruler of Wallachia
Birthdate: 1431 AD
Nationality: Romanian
Died: December 31, 1477

Often considered a national hero of Romania, Vlad the Impaler was an important ruler in Wallachian history. Also known as Vlad Dracula, his reputation for cruelty inspired the name of the famous fictitious vampire Count Dracula. Books describing his cruelty were among the first-known bestsellers in the German-speaking territories.

 19 James VI and I

James VI and I
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Famous As: King of Scotland
Birthdate: June 19, 1566
Sun Sign: Gemini
Nationality: Scottish
Died: March 27, 1625

 20 Tutankhamun

Tutankhamun
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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.

 21 Caligula

Caligula
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Famous As: Roman Emperor
Birthdate: August 31, 0012
Sun Sign: Virgo
Nationality: Ancient Roman
Died: January 24, 0041

Caligula, the third Roman emperor, is often described as a cruel man who forced his subjects to worship him as their god. Considered an insane tyrant, Caligula is accused of incest and forcing the audience to enter a sporting arena to be eaten alive by wild beasts during the intermission. His stories are famous in popular culture.

 22 Marcus Aurelius

Marcus Aurelius
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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.

 23 William the Conqueror

William the Conqueror
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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.

 24 Nero

Nero
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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.

 25 Hirohito

Hirohito
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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.

 26 Henry VI of England

Henry VI of England
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Famous As: King of England
Birthdate: December 6, 1421
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Nationality: British
Died: May 21, 1471

The only child of Henry V, Henry VI of England served as the king of England for almost 40 years. He also served as the disputed king of France between 1422 and 1453, becoming the only English monarch to serve as the king of France. He founded educational institutions like Eton College, All Souls College, Oxford, and King's College, Cambridge.

 27 Robert the Bruce

Robert the Bruce
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Famous As: King of Scotland
Birthdate: July 11, 1274
Sun Sign: Cancer
Nationality: Scottish
Died: June 7, 1329
King of Scots Robert I, better known as Robert the Bruce, is revered as a Scottish national hero. He successfully led his country against England in the First War of Scottish Independence. Legends state he was inspired by a spider’s relentless effort to spin a web, to ultimately defeat England.

 28 Shivaji

Shivaji
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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.

 29 George I of Great Britain

George I of Great Britain
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Famous As: King of Britain
Birthdate: May 28, 1660
Sun Sign: Gemini
Nationality: German
Died: June 11, 1727
George I ruled as the king of Great Britain and Ireland from 1714 to 1727. He also ruled the Duchy and Electorate of Brunswick-Lüneburg from 1698 to 1727. He was the House of Hanover’s first British monarch. George's reign witnessed the rise of Robert Walpole and the cabinet government. 

 30 Kublai Khan

Kublai Khan
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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.

 31 Osman I

Osman I
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Famous As: Political Leader
Birthdate: 1258 AD
Nationality: Turkish
Died: August 1, 1326

Osman I was the founder of the Ottoman dynasty, which ruled the Ottoman Empire between 1299 and 1922. One of the most important historical figures in Turkey, Osman I is often depicted in popular culture. Interestingly, he is also one of the least documented leaders of the Ottoman Turks, making the factual information of his biographies questionable.

 32 Richard III of England

Richard III of England
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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.

 33 Solomon

Solomon
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Famous As: King of Israel
Birthdate: 0990 BC
Nationality: Israeli
Died: 0931 BC
Also known as Jedidiah, Israeli king Solomon, known for his wisdom, is a figure that appears in the Hebrew Bible, the Old Testament, the Quran, and Hadiths. He ruled over the United Monarchy. His sins such as idolatry and marrying foreign women led to the disintegration of his kingdom.

 34 Richard I of England

Richard I of England
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Famous As: King of England
Birthdate: September 8, 1157
Sun Sign: Virgo
Nationality: British
Died: April 6, 1199
Richard I of England, the king of England from 1189 to 1199, was known as Richard the Lionheart, for his military prowess. He also reigned over Normandy, Aquitaine, Gascony, Cyprus, Poitiers, Anjou, Maine, and Nantes. The third son of King Henry II, he fought actively in the Third Crusade.

 35 Henry VIII of England

Henry VIII of England
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Famous As: King of England
Birthdate: June 28, 1491
Sun Sign: Cancer
Nationality: British
Died: January 28, 1547

Henry VIII, the second monarch of the Tudor dynasty, ruled England from 1509 to 1547. He married six times, leading to differences with the Roman Catholic Church, which prohibited divorce, thus forming the Anglican Church. The "father of the Royal Navy," he was known for his tyranny and extravagance.

 36 Attila

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

 37 Ashoka

Ashoka
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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.

 38 Edward IV of England

Edward IV of England
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Famous As: King of England
Birthdate: April 28, 1442
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: British
Died: April 9, 1483

The King of England for several years from 1461 until his death in 1483, Edward IV of England was a central figure in the Wars of the Roses. He was a brave warrior and his contemporaries described him as handsome, affable, and energetic. He died at the relatively young age of 40. The cause of his death remains unknown. 

 39 Mansa Musa

Mansa Musa
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Famous As: Emperor
Birthdate: 1280 AD
Nationality: French
Died: 1337 AD

Mansa Musa was the tenth Mansa, or emperor, of the Mali Empire in West Africa and ruled from c.1312 to c.1337. Nicknamed the Emir of Melle, he was one of the richest people of his time, due to Mali’s gold reserves. He also patronized science, arts, and literature.

 40 Haile Selassie

Haile Selassie
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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.

 41 Commodus

Commodus
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Famous As: Roman Emperor
Birthdate: August 31, 0161
Sun Sign: Virgo
Nationality: Ancient Roman
Died: December 31, 0192
Commodus ruled Rome as an emperor, with his father Marcus Aurelius, from 176 till 180, and then as a sole ruler till 192. His rule ended the 200-year peaceful era of Pax Romana. His dictatorial rule was portrayed in films such as Gladiator. He was assassinated by his wrestling partner.

 42 George II of Great Britain

George II of Great Britain
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Famous As: Former King of Great Britain & Ireland
Birthdate: October 30, 1683
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Nationality: German, British
Died: October 25, 1760
George II was the king of Great Britain from 1727 to 1760. He had negligible control over his country’s policies, as the Parliament took most of the significant decisions back then. His participation in the 1743 Battle of Dettingen made him the last British monarch to fight in a battle.

 43 Cyrus the Great

Cyrus the Great
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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.

 44 Constantine the Great

Constantine the Great
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Famous As: Roman Emperor
Birthdate: February 27, 0272
Sun Sign: Pisces
Nationality: Ancient Roman
Died: May 22, 0337

Constantine the Great served as the Roman emperor between 306 and 337. During his reign, he enacted financial, administrative, military, and social reforms to strengthen the empire. Constantine the Great is also credited with introducing the solidus, a gold coin which became the standard for European and Byzantine currencies for over a thousand years.

 45 Babur

Babur
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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.

 46 Timur

Timur
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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.

 47 Ramesses II

Ramesses II
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Famous As: Greatest Pharaoh of the Egyptian Empire
Birthdate: 1303 BC
Nationality: Egyptian
Died: 1213 BC

Ramesses II, son of Seti I, was the third Egyptian pharaoh of the Nineteenth Dynasty. Also known as the “Great Ancestor,” he is remembered for his aggressive military expeditions to Nubia and Canaan. The second longest-reigning ruler of Egypt, he is credited for building monuments and cities such as the Pi-Ramesses.

 48 Albert, Prince Consort

Albert, Prince Consort
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Famous As: Prince of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, Husband of Queen Victoria
Birthdate: August 26, 1819
Sun Sign: Virgo
Nationality: German, British
Died: December 14, 1861

Albert, Prince Consort was the husband of Queen Victoria who earned a reputation for promoting public causes like the abolition of slavery worldwide and educational reform. He also helped develop Britain's constitutional monarchy by guiding his wife during her dealings with Parliament. After his untimely death at age 42, Queen Victoria started wearing black for the remainder of her life. 

 49 Edward I of England

Edward I of England
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Famous As: King of England
Birthdate: June 17, 1239
Sun Sign: Gemini
Nationality: British
Died: July 7, 1307

Edward I of England ruled England as its king from 1272 to 1307. During his reign, Edward I reformed common law and royal administration. He is also credited with setting up Parliament as a permanent institution. He is also criticized for issuing the Edict of Expulsion, which expelled Jews from England. The Edict was not overturned for almost 350 years.

 50 Agha Mohammad Khan Qajar

Agha Mohammad Khan Qajar
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Famous As: Shah of Iran
Birthdate: March 14, 1742
Sun Sign: Pisces
Nationality: Iranian
Died: June 17, 1797
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