Mehmed II reigned as the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire on two separate occasions; from 1444 to 1446 and again from 1451 to 1481. During his first reign, Mehmed II defeated the military expedition led by John Hunyadi. During his second reign, Mehmed II strengthened the Ottoman navy and conquered Constantinople at age 21, which ended the Byzantine Empire.
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.
Mahmud of Ghazni was the sultan of the Ghaznavid Empire on two separate occasions. He first ascended the throne upon the death of his father, Mahmud, in 1030. However, he was soon overthrown by his twin brother Ma'sud I. Years later, he was reinstated as sultan but was soon executed by his nephew Maw'dud. His entire family was also killed.
Selim I reigned as the ninth Sultan of the Ottoman Empire. Although his reign lasted only eight years, Selim I is credited for the vast expansion of the Ottoman Empire; his conquest of the entire Mamluk Sultanate of Egypt is widely regarded as his best achievement. A hardworking ruler, Selim was one of the most respected emperors of the Empire.
Known as a generous Ottoman monarch, Selim II was the successor of the empire’s longest-reigning sultan, Suleiman I. His reign saw his navy decisively defeated by the Holy League in the Battle of Lepanto before the Ottomans regained control of Tunis from Spain. Selim, who was married to Nurbanu Sultan, was noted for helping his subjects during a severe famine.
The fourth son of Emperor Manuel II, Constantine XI Palaiologos was the last Byzantine emperor. He died in combat, while defending the city of Constantinople against the Ottoman Turks. In Greek folklore, he is known as the Marble Emperor, referring to a legend that he had turned into marble after his death.
Mehmed III reigned as the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire from 16 January 1595 until his death on 22 December 1603. He is best remembered for his role in the Long Turkish War, where he successfully led his army at the all-important Battle of Keresztes. Also remembered for his diplomacy, Mehmed III established communications with the court of Elizabeth I.
Mehmed IV reigned as the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire from 8 August 1648 to 8 November 1687. After ascending the throne at age six following the dethronement of his father in a coup, Mehmed IV went on to become the second-longest reigning emperor in the history of the Ottoman Empire after Suleiman the Magnificent.
Mehmed V was the 35th and penultimate Ottoman Sultan who reigned from 1909 to 1918. One of the sons of Sultan Abdulmejid I, he succeeded his brother Abdul Hamid II after the Young Turk revolution. His reign was marked by the loss of the empire’s many territories and witnessed the Ottoman Empire’s entry into World War I.
Bayezid I reigned as the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire from 1389 to 1402. He is credited with building one of the largest armies of the world, with which he defeated the Crusaders at Nicopolis in 1396. His only defeat at the Battle of Ankara, which turned out to be fatal, became a subject for writers, painters, and composers.
Mahmud II reigned as the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire from 1808 to 1839. His reign was marked by the extensive military, administrative, and fiscal reforms which he initiated. The reforms that he initiated eventually led to the formation of the modern Turkish Republic. He is also credited with rebuilding a strong naval force for the empire.
Mehmed VI was the last Sultan of the famous Ottoman Empire. He reigned from 1918 to 1922 before the empire was dissolved, making way for the creation of the Republic of Turkey. Apart from ruling the Ottoman Empire, Mehmed VI also enjoyed music, calligraphy, and writing poems. In 1922, he stepped down, enabling the abolition of the Ottoman Sultanate.
Abdülmecid I reigned as the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire from 2 July 1839 until his death on 25 June 1861. During his reign, Abdülmecid I tried to set up alliances with France and the United Kingdom. He also played an important role in the Crimean War against the Russians.
Mehmed I reigned as the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire from 5 July 1413 until his death on 26 May 1421. Prior to his reign as the emperor of the Ottoman Empire, Mehmed I ruled as the Sultan of Anatolia from 1403 to 1413. Nicknamed The Restorer, Mehmed I is credited with re-establishing central authority in Anatolia.
A skilled military leader, Heraclius was also deeply religious, having once read out passages from the Bible when his men wanted to invade Persia. He also treated his prisoners with respect. He is best remembered for his exploits in the Byzantine–Sasanian War and his clashes with the Arabs.
Zeno reigned as the Roman emperor of the East on two separate occasions; from 474 to 475 and again from 476 to 491. His reign marked the end of the Western Roman Empire after the deposition of Romulus Augustus. However, Zeno is credited with stabilizing the Eastern Empire.
The 28th sultan of the Ottoman Empire, Selim III was a ruler who believed in modern reforms. A talented poet and composer of Ottoman music, he introduced the nizam-ı cedid, a set of new reforms. He redefined his kingdom’s military strategies and taxation system and launched embassies in Europe.
Basil II reigned as the emperor of the Byzantine Empire from 976 until his death in 1025. He supervised the expansion of the empire's eastern frontier. He was also instrumental in annexing part of Crimea and conducted several victorious campaigns against the Kingdom of Georgia. His work as emperor ensured that the Empire flourished several years after his death.
Ancient Byzantine emperor Justinian II was the son of Constantine IV and an efficient ruler, though he was also known for his cruel ways and means. He was also known as Rhinotmetos, or the slit-nosed, after his nose was cut off during a revolt in 695, following which he was banished from the kingdom.
Roman emperor of the 4th century, Marcus Aurelius Valerius Maxentius was the son of Maximian. He spent most of his later rule dealing with civil wars. He also invested in building religious structures. He was eventually beaten and killed at Battle of the Milvian Bridge.
The 24th sultan of the Ottoman Empire, Mahmud I was the son of Mustafa II. Known for his friendly relationships with the Mughal and Safavid empires, he also fought against Austria and Russia in a war that ended in the Treaty of Belgrade. He is remembered for restoring peace after the Patrona Halil uprising.
Roman emperor of the East in the 5th century, Theodosius II was declared co-augustus at the age of 9 months by his father, Arcadius. He became an emperor at age 7. Known as gentle, he was mostly dominated by his ministers but also led campaigns against the Persians, the Huns, and the Vandals.
Mithridates VI of Pontus, also known as Mithridates the Great, came to power as a young boy after his father, Mithridates V, was assassinated by poisoning. However, since Mithridates VI’s mother acted as a regent and favored his brother, Mithridates got them both imprisoned and took over the throne.
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.