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.
Mohammad Reza Pahlavi served as the last king of Iran from 1941 to 1979. During his reign, Iran witnessed rapid military and industrial modernization and several social and economic reforms. During his rule, Iran also enjoyed a spike in economic growth, surpassing France, England, and the US. However, the Iranian Revolution, which was unusual in many ways, overthrew the king.
Xerxes I ruled the Achaemenid Empire from 486 to 465 BC as the fourth King of Kings. During his reign, Xerxes I supervised the completion of several construction projects at Persepolis and Susa. A popular ruler, his life has been adapted into several plays and films; in the 1960 movie Esther and the King, Xerxes is played by Richard Egan.
Darius the Great was a Persian ruler. He served as the third King of Kings of the Achaemenid Empire from 522 BCE until he died in 486 BCE. The empire was at the peak of its glory under his reign and included much of Western Asia and parts of the Balkans. He invested a lot in construction projects.
Farah Pahlavi was the Shahbanu of Iran from 1961 to 1979, as the wife of Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. Though she was not allowed to hold a political role, she worked for many charities and helped found Iran's first American-style university. She has continued her involvement in charity work even after her husband’s death in 1980.
Rezā Shāh was a military colonel who founded the Pahlavi dynasty and reigned as the Shah of Iran from December 1925 to September 1941. He was also the prime minister of Iran from October 1923 to November 1925. His tenure saw the introduction of many social, economic, and political reforms, and he is regarded as the founder of modern Iran.
Nader Shah reigned over Iran as the Shah of Iran from 1736 until his death in 1747. He is widely regarded as one of the most powerful rulers in the history of Iran. He has also been described as the Napoleon of Persia, thanks to his military genius, which was evident in his several campaigns.
Ismail I was the originator of the Safavid dynasty and ruled as the Shahanshah of Iran from 1501 to 1524. His reign is considered one of the most vital in Iranian history and his empire is regarded as one of the greatest in the history of Iran and one of the most powerful empires of the world during its peak.
A legendary figure, Tomyris was the fabled queen of the Massagetai, an Iranian tribal population. She is perhaps best remembered for her campaign against Cyrus II the Great of Persia, whom she attacked and killed, thus defending her forces. She has been the subject of many literary and artistic creations.
Malik-Shah I was sultan of the Seljuk Empire from 1072 to 1092. He was the son of Alp Arslan and spent much of his youth in campaigns under his father. He was crowned after the death of his father but had to fight off other contenders before he could claim the throne. He waged a major war against the Karakhanids.
Muhammad of Ghor of the Ghurid Empire went down in history as the man who established Muslim rule in the Indian subcontinent and set the tone for the upcoming Mughal dynasty. He ruled over a vast area, which included India, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iran, among others, along with his brother, Ghiyath ad-Din Muhammad.
Darius II Ochus was King of Kings of the Achaemenid Empire from 423 BC to 405 or 404 BC. He was not a prince with a rightful claim to the throne; he became the king after a fight with Sogdianus, who claimed the throne after the death of Persian King Xerxes II. Not much is known about Darius II's reign.
Nabonidus was the last ruler of Neo-Babylonian Empire. A strong believer of the moon god Sin, Nabonidus was faced with a revolt by the worshippers of Babylon’s national god, Marduk, and thus left his kingdom in the hands of his son, co-regent Belshazzar. He was later exiled.
Artaxerxes III, also known as Ochus, was King of Kings of the Achaemenid Empire from 359/8 to 338 BC. He was the son of Artaxerxes II and his wife Stateira. As a young man, he commanded his father’s army and claimed the throne after his father and brothers died. He conquered Egypt in 340 or 339 BC.
Ulugh Beg was the ruler of the Timurid Empire from 1447 to 1449. He is also remembered for his achievements as a mathematician and astronomer and is credited with building the legendary Ulugh Beg Observatory in Samarkand which was the largest in Central Asia. It was also regarded by scholars as one of the best observatories in the Islamic world.
Ardashir I was the founder of the Sasanian Empire. According to some sources, he was a son of Papak, son of Sasan. He began his career as the commander of Fort Darabgard and steadily rose in power, eventually defeating the last Parthian shahanshah Artabanus IV on the Hormozdgan plain. After this, he crowned himself "shahanshah” and continued his conquests.
Tahmasp I ruled as the Shah of Safavid Iran from 23 May 1524 to 25 May 1576. At the age of 14, Tahmasp faced the Uzbeks in the Battle of Jam where he defeated the Uzbeks after surprising them with artillery. Tahmasp I also had a longstanding conflict with the Ottoman Empire over Baghdad, Kurdistan, and Georgia.
Bessus was initially an Achaemenid dynasty satrap of Bactria. He came to power as the king after murdering King Darius III and took the name Artaxerxes V. He later tried to counter the forces of Macedonian ruler Alexander the Great but was eventually captured and killed.
Agha Mohammad Khan Qajar was 6 when Adil Shah got him castrated to prevent him from challenging him as a political rival in the future. However, Agha Moḥammad grew up to lead the Qavanlu clan of the Qajars and later founded the Qajar dynasty of Iran.
Mahmud Ghazan, also known as Ghazan Khan, was an influential ruler of Iran’s Mongol dynasty. Raised in a tolerant environment, where he learned the tenets of both Buddhism and Christianity, he interestingly converted to Islam after taking to the throne. He also waged a war against the Egyptian army in Syria.
Cambyses I was the king of Anshan from c. 580 to 559 BC. He was an early member of the Achaemenid dynasty and was a great-grandson of its founder Achaemenes. Not much is known about his life other than the fact that he reigned under the overlordship of Astyages.
Cyaxares ruled as the king of the Medes from 625 to 585 BC. He is credited with founding the Median Empire and helped transform the empire into a regional power by uniting most of the ancient Iranian tribes after collaborating with the Babylonians to wipe out the Assyrian Empire.
Tughril not just established the Seljuq dynasty but also established the Seljuq dominance over the Abbāsid caliphate in Baghdad. He also helped unite the various provinces of Iran that were ruled by different groups, such as the Saffarids and the Buyids, and were constantly in conflict among themselves.
Sogdianus of Persia ruled over the Achaemenid Empire from 424 to 423 BC. His rule was cut short by his untimely death as he was captured and killed by his half-brother Ochus who succeeded Sogdianus and ruled over the Persian Empire until 404 BC. Interestingly, Sogdianus of Persia had ascended the throne after having his elder half-brother Xerxes II killed.
The youngest son of Achaemenid king Artaxerxes III, Arses of Persia was placed on the throne by Bagoas, a eunuch who had poisoned Artaxerxes III and all of Arses’s brothers. Though Arses later revolted against Bagoas’s control, he was killed, along with his children, and the throne was given to Darius III.
Persian king Artaxerxes II was the son of King Darius II. After he lost Egypt, he faced a strong revolt led by his brother, Cyrus the Younger, and though Cyrus was later killed, his rebellion kickstarted multiple successive revolts. Artaxerxes’s reign also saw major deviations in religion, with the worship of Anāhitā.
Parthian ruler Mithridates I belonged to the Arsacid dynasty and was the first ruler of Parthia to assume the title King of Kings. He is remembered for his aggressive expansion of his kingdom and his war against the Seleucid Empire. His affinity for Greeks was evident by his title Philhellene.
The son of Abbas Mirza, Mohammad Shah Qajar was chosen as the heir by his grandfather, Fat′h Ali Shah Qajar, the second Shah of Iran. After Fat’h Ali’s death, one of his sons, Ali Mirza, laid claim to the throne but was deposed, while Mohammad ruled as the Shah of Persia.
Bahram V was the Sasanian King of Kings from 420 to 438. He was the son of Sasanian Shah Yazdegerd I and was groomed for succeeding his father from an early age. He was trained under the Lakhmid kings and took over the kingdom upon his father’s death, becoming one of the most famous kings in Iranian history.
Abbas Mirza was the son of Fath Ali Shah, the second Shah of Qajar Iran, and his wife Asiyeh Khanum. As the crown prince, he developed a reputation as a military commander during the Russo-Persian War. He made many attempts to modernize the Persian army but without any success. He predeceased his father and died in 1833.