Military Leaders

Military Leaders are the leaders of the military forces—armed forces, armed services, military, military machine, war machine—of a nation. Military leaders influence others by providing purpose, direction, and motivation to accomplish the mission, and have the legal authority to lawfully exercise control over subordinates by virtue of their rank or position. Warlords who exercise absolute civil power and individual autonomy in regions where the government is weak are also considered to be military leaders. History is replete with the legends of military leaders and revolutionaries who left their indelible marks on human civilization. Alexander the Great, who established one of the largest empires of the ancient world, is undoubtedly one of the best known military leaders. Ancient China’s Sun Tzu was not just a brilliant military leader, but also the author of ‘The Art of War’, an ancient Chinese text on military strategy. While Saladin, William the Conqueror and Henry V were the famous military leaders who lived during the Middle Ages, Oliver Cromwell, Shivaji and Peter the Great were courageous warriors of the Early Modern Period. Even though a majority of military leaders throughout history have been men, brave ladies like Joan of Arc, Boudicca, Laskarina Bouboulina, and Lakshmibai have proven that women too can be powerful military leaders. Read on to discover about the life and works of various famous military leaders from all over the world.
More From Military Leaders

 1 Adolf Hitler

Adolf Hitler
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Famous As: Nazi Leader, German Dictator and Chancellor of Germany
Birthdate: April 20, 1889
Sun Sign: Aries
Nationality: Austrian, German
Died: April 30, 1945

One of the most powerful leaders of the 20th century, Adolf Hitler was a German dicator whose policies started the WWII that resulted in the death of millions of people. He had a visceral hatred for Jews and during his regime nearly six million Jews were killed in Holocaust.

 2 George Washington

George Washington
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Famous As: First U.S. President
Birthdate: February 22, 1732
Sun Sign: Pisces
Nationality: American
Died: December 14, 1799

America’s first president, George Washington led the country with integrity, firmness and prudence that made him one of the greatest presidents in American history. He became a national hero before assuming presidency, when he led the Continental Army to victory against the British during the American Revolution.

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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 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.  

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 5 Dwight D. Eisenhower

Dwight D. Eisenhower
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Famous As: 34th U.S. President
Birthdate: October 14, 1890
Sun Sign: Libra
Nationality: American
Died: March 28, 1969

The 34th president of the United States, Dwight D. Eisenhower held office from 1953 to 1961. An army officer During World War II, he was part of many successful operations. He signed the Civil Rights Act of 1957, and his two terms as president saw widespread economic prosperity in USA. He is ranked high among American presidents.

 6 Tulsi Gabbard

Tulsi Gabbard
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Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: April 12, 1981
Sun Sign: Aries
Nationality: American

 7 Che Guevara

Che Guevara
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Famous As: Revolutionary
Birthdate: June 14, 1928
Sun Sign: Gemini
Nationality: Argentinian
Died: October 9, 1967

Argentine Marxist revolutionary, Che Guevara, was a major figure of the Cuban Revolution. A physician by profession, he developed radical views upon witnessing the injustices in the world and joined Fidel Castro’s revolutionary 26th of July Movement. Assassinated in 1967, he remains both a revered and reviled historical figure.

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 8 Lindsey Graham

Lindsey Graham
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Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: July 9, 1955
Sun Sign: Cancer
Nationality: American
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 9 Pete Buttigieg

Pete Buttigieg
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Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: January 19, 1982
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Nationality: American
Pete Buttigieg, former mayor of Bend, earned the 2013 GovFresh Mayor of the Year award. A Harvard alumnus, he has worked as a McKinsey consultant and served the Navy. He is the first openly gay candidate to win a U.S. presidential primary. He met his husband through a dating app.

 10 Jocko Willink

Jocko Willink
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Famous As: Podcaster
Birthdate: September 8, 1971
Sun Sign: Virgo
Nationality: American

 11 Heinrich Himmler

Heinrich Himmler
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Famous As: Nazi Commander
Birthdate: October 7, 1900
Sun Sign: Libra
Nationality: German
Died: May 23, 1945

From being one of Hitler's most trusted confidante to getting termed as a back-stabber by Hitler himself, Heinrich Himmler had an interesting role in history. A powerful man in Nazi Germany, he is considered the main architect of the Holocaust, which killed six million Jews. During World War II, he betrayed Hitler and committed suicide after Hitler ordered his arrest.

 12 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.

 13 Colin Powell

Colin Powell
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Famous As: 65th United States Secretary of State
Birthdate: April 5, 1937
Sun Sign: Aries
Nationality: American

A veteran politician who served as the 65th United States Secretary of State, Colin Powell was the first African-American Secretary of State. A member of the Republican Party, he was an army man prior to entering politics. He was a  four-star general at the time of his retirement. After leaving politics, he pursued a career as a public speaker.

 14 Oliver Cromwell

Oliver Cromwell
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Famous As: English Statesman
Birthdate: April 25, 1599
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: British
Died: September 3, 1658
The Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland, and Ireland, Oliver Cromwell was a military leader and a devoted Puritan who belonged to an affluent landowning family. During the English Civil War, Cromwell fought against King Charles I and caused the deaths of at least 3,000 soldiers and civilians.

 15 Robert E. Lee

Robert E. Lee
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Famous As: Confederate General in the American Civil War
Birthdate: January 19, 1807
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Nationality: American
Died: October 12, 1870

A commander of the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War, Robert E. Lee commanded the Army of Northern Virginia. He was a skilled tactician who served in the US Army for 32 years. Brilliant from a young age, he was a top graduate of the US Military Academy. In his later years, he became president of Washington College.

 16 Chesley Sullenberger

Chesley Sullenberger
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Famous As: Aviator
Birthdate: January 23, 1951
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Nationality: American

 17 Francisco Franco

Francisco Franco
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Famous As: Former Caudillo of Spain
Birthdate: December 4, 1892
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Nationality: Spanish
Died: November 20, 1975

Francisco Franco overthrew the Second Spanish Republic by leading the Nationalist forces as their general during the Spanish Civil War. Subsequently, Franco ruled over Spain as a dictator from 1939 to 1975. He had such an impact as a dictator that the period between the Nationalist victory and Franco's death is known as Francoist Spain in the history of Spain.

 18 William Wallace

William Wallace
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Famous As: Military Leader
Birthdate: 1270 AD
Nationality: Scottish
Died: August 23, 1305

William Wallace was a Scottish knight who played an important role in the First War of Scottish Independence. Since his death, Wallace has been viewed as an iconic figure whose story of bravery and valor has inspired several works of art, including the Academy Award-winning film Braveheart. Wallace has also inspired video games and brewery companies, such is his popularity.

 19 George S. Patton

George Smith Patton, Jr.
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Famous As: General
Birthdate: November 11, 1885
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Nationality: American
Died: December 21, 1945

 20 Arminius

Arminius
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Famous As: Roman general
Birthdate: 0017 AD
Nationality: Ancient Roman
Died: 0021 AD

 21 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.

 22 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.

 23 Douglas MacArthur

Douglas MacArthur
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Birthdate: January 26, 1880
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Nationality: American
Died: April 5, 1964
American five-star general Douglas MacArthur was the field marshal of the Philippine Army. He and his father were the first father-son duo to win the Medal of Honor. after World War II, he became the Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Japan and contributed to Japan’s reconstruction.

 24 Ivar the Boneless

Ivar the Boneless
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Famous As: Viking Warrior
Birthdate: 0794 AD
Nationality:
Died: 0873 AD
Viking leader Ivar the Boneless is known for his invasion of Anglo-Saxon England. Icelandic legends state that he was born with weak bones, as his father had broken a vow. He is also identified as Ímar, who founded the Uí Ímair Dynasty and ruled Northumbria and the Kingdom of Dublin.

 25 Tom Cotton

Tom Cotton
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Famous As: Lawyer
Birthdate: May 13, 1977
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: American

 26 Reinhard Heydrich

Reinhard Heydrich
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Famous As: Nazi Official
Birthdate: March 7, 1904
Sun Sign: Pisces
Nationality: German
Died: June 4, 1942

Reinhard Heydrich was a Nazi police officer and a high-ranking SS. Heydrich is widely regarded as one of the main architects of the Holocaust, a World War II genocide that killed some six million Jews. Described by Adolf Hitler as the man with the iron heart, Heydrich is regarded as the darkest figure of the Nazi era by many historians.

 27 Benedict Arnold

Benedict Arnold
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Famous As: American Revolutionary War General
Birthdate: January 14, 1741
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Nationality: British
Died: June 14, 1801

Benedict Arnold was an American military officer who betrayed his country when he joined the British forces in 1780. Because of his betrayal, his name became synonymous with traitory in the United States. His story of betrayal has been depicted in popular culture and he has been portrayed by actors like Owain Yeoman and Ciarán Owens.

 28 Erwin Rommel

Erwin Rommel
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Famous As: General
Birthdate: November 15, 1891
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Nationality: German
Died: October 14, 1944

Known as The Desert Fox, Nazi field marshal Erwin Rommel led the Axis forces during World War II. For his plot to assassinate Hitler in 1944, he was given a choice to either commit suicide by consuming a cyanide pill or face a trial and execution. He chose the former.

 29 Rob Riggle

Rob Riggle
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Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: April 21, 1970
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: American

 30 Hannibal

Hannibal
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Famous As: Military General
Birthdate: 0247 BC
Nationality: Tunisian
Died: 0184 BC

 31 Hannibal

Hannibal
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Famous As: General
Birthdate: 0247 AD
Nationality: Ancient Roman
Died: 0184 AD

 32 Otto von Bismarck

Otto von Bismarck
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Famous As: German Statesman
Birthdate: April 1, 1815
Sun Sign: Aries
Nationality: German
Died: July 30, 1898
Otto von Bismarck was a German statesman. Bismarck is credited with masterminding the unification of Germany and served as its first chancellor. He is also credited with creating the first modern welfare state in the world. Regarded as a hero by German nationalists, Otto von Bismarck's life has inspired a couple of TV series.

 33 Joni Ernst

Joni Ernst
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Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: July 1, 1970
Sun Sign: Cancer
Nationality: American

 34 Spartacus

Spartacus
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Famous As: Thracian Gladiator
Birthdate: 0109 BC
Nationality: Greek
Died: 0071 BC

 35 Charles de Gaulle

Charles de Gaulle
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Famous As: Former President of France
Birthdate: November 22, 1890
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Nationality: French
Died: November 9, 1970

 36 Michael Flynn

Michael Flynn
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Famous As: Former United States National Security Advisor
Birthdate: November 30, 1958
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Nationality: American

 37 Rudolf Hess

Rudolf Hess
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Famous As: Deputy Führer
Birthdate: April 26, 1894
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: German
Died: August 17, 1987

 38 Muhammadu Buhari

Muhammadu Buhari
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Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: December 17, 1942
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Nationality: Nigerian

 39 Mark Antony

Mark Antony
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Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: January 14, 0083
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Nationality: Ancient Roman
Died: August 1, 0030

 40 Felipe VI of Spain

Felipe VI of Spain
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Famous As: King of Spain
Birthdate: January 30, 1968
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Nationality: Spanish

 41 Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria

Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria
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Famous As: Heir presumptive
Birthdate: December 18, 1863
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Nationality: Austrian
Died: June 28, 1914

 42 George Armstrong Custer

George Armstrong Custer
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Famous As: Military Officer
Birthdate: December 5, 1839
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Nationality: American
Died: June 25, 1876

 43 Jim Mattis

Jim Mattis
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Famous As: Former United States Secretary of Defense
Birthdate: September 8, 1950
Sun Sign: Virgo
Nationality: American

Jim Mattis is a retired American Marine Corps general and served as the Defense Secretary from January 2017 to January 2019. He avowed the commitment of US to defending South Korea and was a known opponent of China and Russia. He was also known to disagree with certain policies of the Trump administration which finally led to his departure.

 44 Charles Edward Stuart

Charles Edward Stuart
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Famous As: Military Leader
Birthdate: December 31, 1720
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Nationality: British
Died: January 31, 1788

 45 Paul von Hindenburg

Paul von Hindenburg
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Famous As: General, Second President of Weimar Republic
Birthdate: October 2, 1847
Sun Sign: Libra
Nationality: German
Died: August 2, 1934

 46 Rollo

Rollo
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Famous As: King
Birthdate: 0846 AD
Nationality: French, Norwegian
Died: 0930 AD

 47 William Tecumseh Sherman

William Tecumseh Sherman
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Famous As: General in the Union Army During the American Civil War
Birthdate: February 8, 1820
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Nationality: American
Died: February 14, 1891

 48 John F. Kelly

John F. Kelly
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Famous As: Former White House Chief of Staff
Birthdate: May 11, 1950
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: American

 49 Georgy Zhukov

Georgy Zhukov
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Famous As: Military Commander
Birthdate: December 1, 1896
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Nationality: Russian
Died: June 18, 1974

 50 Sitting Bull

Sitting Bull
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Famous As: Warrior
Birthdate: 1831 AD
Nationality: American
Died: December 15, 1890
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