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 Edward VIII

Edward VIII.
12
Famous As: King of United Kingdom
Birthdate: June 23, 1894
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Richmond Park, Surrey, England
Died: May 28, 1972

Edward VIII was King of the United Kingdom and the Dominions of the British Empire for several months in 1936. He was also Emperor of India during this period. He served in the British Army during the First World War and became the king following his father’s death. However, he abdicated the throne only months into his reign.

 2 George V

George V.
21
Famous As: Former King of the United Kingdom
Birthdate: June 3, 1865
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Marlborough House, London, England
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.

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 3 Alexander the Great

Alexander the Great.
51
Famous As: Emperor of the ancient Greek kingdom of Macedon
Birthdate: July 20, 0356
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Pella, Greece
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.  

 4 Napoleon Bonaparte

Napoleon Bonaparte.
34
Famous As: Emperor of the French
Birthdate: August 15, 1769
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Ajaccio
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 Genghis Khan

Genghis Khan.
34
Famous As: Khagan of the Mongol Empire
Birthdate: 1162 AD
Birthplace: Delüün Boldog
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.

 6 Julius Caesar

Julius Caesar.
26
Famous As: Former Roman dictator
Birthdate: July 13, 0100
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Rome, Italy
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 Alfred the Great

Alfred the Great.
12
Famous As: King of Wessex
Birthdate: 0849 AD
Birthplace: Wantage, United Kingdom
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.

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 8 Charlemagne

Charlemagne.
12
Famous As: King of the Frank
Birthdate: April 2, 0742
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Herstal
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.

 9 Augustus

Augustus.
18
Famous As: Roman roman emperor
Birthdate: September 23, 0063
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Ancient Rome
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.

 10 Ashoka

Ashoka.
30
Famous As: Indian emperor of the Maurya Dynasty
Birthdate: 0304 BC
Birthplace: Pataliputra
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.

 11 Wilhelm II

Wilhelm II.
15
Famous As: Emperor of Germany
Birthdate: January 27, 1859
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Kronprinzenpalais
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.

 12 William the Conqueror

William the Conqueror.
12
Famous As: King of England
Birthdate: 1028 AD
Birthplace: Falaise, France
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.

 13 Marcus Aurelius

Marcus Aurelius.
10
Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: April 26, 0121
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Rome, Italy
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.

 14 Edward I of England

Edward I of England.
4
Famous As: King of England
Birthdate: June 17, 1239
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Palace of Westminster, London, United Kingdom
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.

 15 Richard I of England

Richard I of England.
6
Famous As: King of England
Birthdate: September 8, 1157
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Beaumont Palace, Oxford, England
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.

 16 Constantine the Great

Constantine the Great.
8
Famous As: Roman Emperor
Birthdate: February 27, 0272
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Niš
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.

 17 Chandragupta Maurya

Chandragupta Maurya.
8
Famous As: Founder of the Maurya Empire
Birthdate: 0340 BC
Birthplace: Pataliputra
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.

 18 Hannibal

Hannibal
0
Famous As: Military General
Birthdate: 0247 BC
Birthplace: Carthage, Tunisia
Died: 0184 BC

 19 Suleiman The Magnificent

Suleiman the Magnificent.
8
Famous As: 10th Sultan of the Ottoman Empire
Birthdate: November 6, 1494
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Trabzon, Ottoman Empire
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.

 20 Attila

Attila
8
Famous As: Ruler
Birthdate: 0406 AD
Birthplace: Unknown
Died: February 29, 0453

 21 Cyrus the Great

Cyrus the Great.
17
Famous As: Founder of First Persian Empire
Birthdate: 0590 BC
Birthplace: Anshan
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.

 22 Timur

Timur.
12
Famous As: Monarch of the Timurid Empire
Birthdate: April 9, 1336
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Kesh, Chagatai Khanate, Shahrisabz, 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.

 23 Henry VIII of England

Henry VIII of England.
8
Famous As: King of England
Birthdate: June 28, 1491
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Palace of Placentia
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.

 24 Peter the Great

Peter the Great.
4
Famous As: First Emperor of Russia
Birthdate: June 9, 1672
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Moscow
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.

 25 Ivan the Terrible

Ivan the Terrible.
10
Famous As: First Russian Tsar
Birthdate: August 25, 1530
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Kolomenskoye, Moscow, Russia
Died: March 28, 1584
Ivan the Terrible, son of Vasili III, served as the Grand Prince of Moscow from 1533 to 1547. The “Chosen Council” declared him the tsar at 16 and established the Tsardom of Russia. Ivan’s reign was known for wars such as the Livonian War, which damaged Russia’s economy. 

 26 Qin Shi Huang

Qin Shi Huang.
6
Famous As: King
Birthdate: 0259 BC
Birthplace: Handan
Died: 0210 BC

Qin Shi Huang is credited with founding the Qin dynasty, the first dynasty of Imperial China. He reigned as the first emperor of a unified China from 221 BC to 210 BC. Under his rule, the Chinese state expanded greatly and he also enacted major political and economic reforms. His life and work inspired several films like The Emperor's Shadow.

 27 George VI

George VI.
25
Famous As: Former King of the United Kingdom
Birthdate: December 14, 1895
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: York Cottage, Sandringham, Norfolk, England
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.

 28 Edward VII

Edward VII.
17
Famous As: Former King of the United Kingdom
Birthdate: November 9, 1841
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Buckingham Palace, London, United Kingdom
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.

 29 Alexander II of Russia

Alexander II of Russia.
4
Famous As: Emperor of Russia
Birthdate: April 29, 1818
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Moscow Kremlin, Moscow, Russia
Died: March 13, 1881

Alexander II of Russia was the Emperor of Russia, Grand Duke of Finland, and King of Poland from 1855 to 1881. He became known as Alexander the Liberator for his most significant reform, which was the Emancipation Reform of 1861. He is also credited with reorganizing the judicial system, abolishing corporal punishment, and imposing universal military service in Russia.

 30 Henry VII of England

Henry VII.
14
Famous As: King of England
Birthdate: January 28, 1457
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Pembroke Castle, Pembrokeshire, Wales, United Kingdom
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.

 31 Charles I of England

Charles I of England.
8
Famous As: King of England
Birthdate: November 19, 1600
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Dunfermline Palace, Dunfermline, Scotland
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.

 32 Tutankhamun

Tutankhamun.
8
Famous As: Pharaoh
Birthdate: 1342 BC
Birthplace: Ancient Egypt
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.

 33 Claudius

Claudius.
2
Famous As: Roman emperor
Birthdate: August 1, 0010
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Lyon
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.

 34 Nicholas II

Nicholas II.
10
Birthdate: May 18, 1868
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Tsarskoye Selo, Saint Petersburg, Russian Empire, Alexander Palace
Died: July 17, 1918

Nicholas II reigned as the last Emperor of All Russia from 1894 until his abdication in 1917. His reign oversaw a series of reforms in Russia. These reforms included the introduction of literacy programs, civil liberties, and methods to modernize the empire's infrastructure. However, these reforms were eventually undermined by Nicholas' love for autocratic rule.

 35 Henry IV of France

Henry IV of France.
4
Famous As: King of France, King of Navarre
Birthdate: December 13, 1553
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Pau, Pyrénées-Atlantiques
Died: May 14, 1610

Henry IV of France reigned as the King of France from 2 August 1589 until his death on 14 May 1610. Remembered for his concern about the welfare of the people of France, Henry worked to eliminate corruption, promote agriculture, encourage education, and regularize state finance. The character of Ferdinand in Shakespeare's Love's Labour's Lost was loosely based on Henry.

 36 Henry V of England

Henry V Of England.
4
Famous As: King of England (1413-1422)
Birthdate: August 9, 1386
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Monmouth Castle, Monmouth, Principality of Wales
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.

 37 Mehmed II

Mehmed II
4
Birthdate: March 30, 1432
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Edirne, Rumelia Eyalet, Ottoman Sultanate
Died: May 3, 1481

 38 Charles II

Charles II.
10
Famous As: King of England, Scotland & Ireland
Birthdate: May 29, 1630
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: St James's Palace
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.

 39 Vlad the Impaler

Vlad the Impaler.
10
Famous As: Ruler of Wallachia
Birthdate: 1431 AD
Birthplace: Sighişoara
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.

 40 Shivaji

Shivaji.
36
Famous As: King
Birthdate: February 19, 1630
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Shivneri
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.

 41 Robert the Bruce

Robert the Bruce.
4
Famous As: King of Scotland
Birthdate: July 11, 1274
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Turnberry Castle, Scotland
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.

 42 Caligula

Caligula.
12
Famous As: Roman Emperor
Birthdate: August 31, 0012
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Anzio, Italy
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.

 43 Akbar

Akbar.
28
Famous As: Mughal Emperor
Birthdate: October 14, 1542
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Umarkot, Pakistan
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.

 44 Nero

Nero.
10
Famous As: Roman Emperor
Birthdate: December 15, 0037
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Anzio, Italy
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.

 45 Richard III of England

Richard III of England.
10
Famous As: King of England
Birthdate: October 2, 1452
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Fotheringhay Castle, Northamptonshire, England
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.

 46 Edward VI of England

Edward VI of England.
12
Famous As: King of England
Birthdate: October 12, 1537
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Hampton Court Palace, Molesey, United Kingdom
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.

 47 George I of Great Britain

George I of Great Britain.
6
Famous As: King of Britain
Birthdate: May 28, 1660
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Hanover
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. 

 48 Louis XIV of France

Louis XIV of France.
4
Famous As: King of France
Birthdate: September 5, 1638
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Saint-Germain-en-Laye, France
Died: September 1, 1715

Louis XIV of France reigned as the King of France from 1643 to 1715. Louis XIV is the longest-reigning monarch of a sovereign country in the history of Europe. Under his rule, France often asserted its military prowess and emerged as the most dominant European monarchy. His life inspired several films, such as The Taking of Power by Louis XIV.

 49 Henry VI of England

Henry VI of England.
8
Famous As: King of England
Birthdate: December 6, 1421
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Windsor Castle, Berkshire, England, United Kingdom
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.

 50 Hirohito

Hirohito.
8
Famous As: Former Emperor of Japan
Birthdate: April 29, 1901
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Aoyama, Minato, Tokyo, Japan
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.
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