Historical Personalities

Historical Figures are the famous people in history who have played a significant role in shaping human progress. Philosophers over the past several centuries have debated upon the roles played by historical figures in influencing the history of human civilization and progress. While Scottish philosopher Thomas Carlyle felt that the study of legendary figures is a key to understanding history, English philosopher Herbert Spencer was of the belief that historical individuals were of little importance. Irrespective of the philosophical debates on the subject, it cannot be denied that studying about the famous men and women in world history is truly an enriching experience. Jesus of Nazareth, the founder of Christianity, is often regarded as the most important historical figure. While most modern scholars of antiquity agree that Jesus existed historically, several facts about his life are shrouded in mystery. Another important religious historical figure is Muhammad who unified Arabia into a single religious polity under Islam. Many historical figures are believed to have greatly influenced world politics and the major ones among these are Napoleon, Alexander the Great, Abraham Lincoln and Adolf Hitler. Read on to discover about the life and works of various famous historical figures from all over the world.

 1 Cleopatra

Cleopatra
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Famous As: Queen of the Ptolemaic Kingdom
Birthdate: 0069 BC
Nationality: Egyptian, Greek
Died: August 12, 0030

The last active ruler of the Ptolemaic Kingdom and the last true pharaoh of Egypt, Cleopatra is described as an extremely beautiful woman who was also intelligent and educated with command over numerous languages. Her romance and military alliances with Julius Caesar and Mark Antony have inspired numerous art works.

 2 Mahatma Gandhi

Mahatma Gandhi
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Famous As: Leader of Indian Independence Movement
Birthdate: October 2, 1869
Sun Sign: Libra
Nationality: Indian
Died: January 30, 1948

An Indian lawyer and anti-colonial nationalist, Mahatma Gandhi was a major figure in India’s fight for independence from British rule. He is renowned for his employment of non-violent resistance and civil disobedience methods. Despite his popularity, he had numerous detractors as well and was assassinated in 1948. He is widely considered the Father of the Nation in India.

 3 Queen Victoria

Queen Victoria
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Famous As: Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
Birthdate: May 24, 1819
Sun Sign: Gemini
Nationality: British
Died: January 22, 1901

The Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland for over six decades, Queen Victoria reigned for longer than any of her predecessors. Her rule witnessed the vast expansion of the British Empire and ushered in a period of industrial, cultural, political, scientific, and military changes. Her Golden and Diamond Jubilees were celebrated with great pomp and show.

 4 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.
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 5 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.

 6 Mary, Queen of Scots

Mary, Queen of Scots
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Famous As: Queen of Scotland
Birthdate: December 8, 1542
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Nationality: Scottish
Died: February 8, 1587

Mary, Queen of Scots was the ruler of Scotland till 24 July 1567. After an uprising against her, Mary sought protection from her first cousin, Queen Elizabeth I of England. However, the Queen perceived her as a threat and kept Mary in confinement for eighteen and a half years. Ultimately Mary was beheaded for plotting to assassinate the Queen.

 7 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.

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 8 Joseph Stalin

Joseph Stalin
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Famous As: Communist Revolutionary & Ruler of former USSR
Birthdate: December 18, 1878
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Nationality: Georgian, Russian
Died: March 5, 1953

Controversial Russian dictator, Joseph Stalin, ruled the Soviet Union for around 25 years from 1929 to 1953 and is credited for making it a prominent industrial and military power of the world. During the Second World War, his army defeated the Nazis too. However, his regime was also one of terror and brutality where numerous Soviet citizens lost their lives.

 9 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.

 10 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.  

 11 Catherine of Aragon

Catherine of Aragon
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Famous As: Ambassador
Birthdate: December 16, 1485
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Nationality: British
Died: January 7, 1536

Catherine of Aragon was one of the most popular English royal consorts of all time. A patron of Renaissance humanism, she gained widespread admiration for starting a program for the relief of the poor. A woman who was ahead of her time, Catherine commissioned The Education of a Christian Woman, a controversial book promoting women's right to education.

 12 Catherine the Great

Catherine the Great
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Famous As: Empress of Russia
Birthdate: May 2, 1729
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: Russian
Died: November 17, 1796

The Empress of Russia for almost 35 years, Catherine the Great was the country's longest-ruling female leader. An ambitious ruler, she rapidly expanded the Russian Empire and is credited with modernizing the country along Western European lines. She supported the ideals of the Enlightenment and the period of her rule—the Catherinian Era—is considered the Golden Age of Russia.

 13 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.

 14 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.

 15 Marie Antoinette

Marie Antoinette
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Famous As: Queen of France
Birthdate: November 2, 1755
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Nationality: Austrian, French
Died: October 16, 1793
The last queen of France before the French Revolution started, Marie Antoinette was married to Louis XVI of France and came to be linked with everything that was wrong with the French monarchy including ignorance and extravagance. Her policies aggravated unrest that eventually led to the abolishment of the monarchy and finally the execution of both king and queen.

 16 Benito Mussolini

Benito Mussolini
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Famous As: Former Duce
Birthdate: July 29, 1883
Sun Sign: Leo
Nationality: Italian
Died: April 28, 1945

The dictator of Italy from 1925 to 1945, Benito Mussolini founded the Fascist Party in 1919. It opposed class discrimination and supported nationalism. But when in power, Mussolini crushed rival political parties, trade unions, free press and free speech. He was overthrown by his former colleagues in the Fascist government in July 1943 and ultimately shot dead in April 1945.

 17 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.

 18 Anne Boleyn

Anne Boleyn
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Famous As: Marquess of Pembroke
Birthdate: 1501 AD
Nationality: British
Died: May 19, 1536

The queen of England from 1533 to 1536, Anne Boleyn played an important role in the political and religious upheaval that led to the beginning of the English Reformation. She is widely regarded as the most important and influential queen consort of England. She was charged with adultery, incest, and treason and was executed by beheading in 1536.

 19 Vladimir Lenin

Vladimir Lenin
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Famous As: Former Premier of the Soviet Union
Birthdate: April 22, 1870
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: Russian
Died: January 21, 1924

Vladimir Lenin played a key role in the history of Russian politics by developing a political ideology called Leninism. During and after his lifetime, Lenin had a massive influence over international communist movement. He is widely regarded as one of the most influential and significant personalities of the 20th century.

 20 Mary I of England

Mary I of England
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Famous As: Queen of England and Ireland
Birthdate: February 18, 1516
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Nationality: British
Died: November 17, 1558

Mary I, the queen of England from 1553-1558, is remembered as the ruler who sought to return England to the Catholic Church. She persecuted many Protestants and got nearly 300 of them burned at the stake. Most of them were common citizens. Many also died in prison and hundreds fled the country. This earned her the ignominious nickname ‘Bloody Mary’.

 21 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.

 22 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.

 23 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.

 24 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.

 25 Anne, Queen of Great Britain

Anne, Queen of Great Britain
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Famous As: Queen of Britan
Birthdate: February 6, 1665
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Nationality: British
Died: August 1, 1714

Many biographers consider Anne, the Queen of Great Britain, a weak and irresolute woman. It is said that she lacked political astuteness and was easily influenced by others. Though she was troubled by poor health throughout her life, she became increasingly obese and ill during her 30s and eventually died at the age of 49.

 26 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.

 27 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.

 28 Vajiralongkorn

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

 29 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.

 30 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.

 31 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.

 32 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

 33 Princess Alice of Battenberg

Princess Alice of Battenberg
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Famous As: Princess Andrew of Greece and Denmark
Birthdate: February 25, 1885
Sun Sign: Pisces
Nationality: British
Died: December 5, 1969

Princess Alice of Battenberg, the great-granddaughter of Britain’s Queen Victoria, became Princess Andrew of Greece and Denmark in 1903 after her marriage. During the Second World War, she sheltered Jewish refugees and worked for the Red Cross. She was posthumously named a ‘Hero of the Holocaust’ by the British government in 2010. She was the mother-in-law of Queen Elizabeth II.

 34 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.

 35 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.

 36 Moses

Moses
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Famous As: Hebrew Religious Leader, Lawgiver, Prophet
Birthdate: 1391 BC
Nationality: Egyptian, Jordanian
Died: 1272 BC

A prominent prophet in Islam, Christianity, and the BaháΚΌí Faith among other Abrahamic religions, Moses is also the most important prophet in Judaism. One of the most important biblical characters, Moses received the Ten Commandments from God on Mount Sinai. The Ten Commandments are fundamental to both Christianity and Judaism. The authorship of the Torah is also attributed to Moses.

 37 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.

 38 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.

 39 Mary of Teck

Mary of Teck
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Famous As: Queen consort of the United Kingdom
Birthdate: May 26, 1867
Sun Sign: Gemini
Nationality: British
Died: March 24, 1953

The queen consort of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions from 1910 to 1936, Mary of Teck was the wife of King George V. She supported her husband through the First World War and in the aftermath of the war. She became the queen mother after her son ascended to the throne. She died in 1953.

 

 40 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.

 41 Queen Elizabeth II

Queen Elizabeth II
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Famous As: Queen of the United Kingdom
Birthdate: April 21, 1926
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: British

The Queen of the United Kingdom and 15 other Commonwealth realms, Queen Elizabeth II is the world's oldest living monarch and longest-reigning current monarch. The first child of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother , she ascended to the throne in 1952. Despite the press criticism of the royal family, she continues to be a popular figure in UK.

 42 Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge
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Famous As: The Duchess of Cambridge
Birthdate: January 9, 1982
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Nationality: British

Catherine “Kate” Middleton became the Duchess of Cambridge after her marriage to Prince William in 2011. Associated with countless charities, Kate and William started a mental-health campaign named Heads Together. Kate also gave rise to the “Kate Middleton effect" in the fashion world and was named to Time 100.

 43 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.

 44 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.

 45 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.

 46 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.

 47 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. 

 48 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.

 49 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.

 50 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.

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