Famous Turkish Leaders

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Find out more about the greatest Turkish Leaders, including Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Abdullah Öcalan, Muhtar Kent, Kenan Evren and Enver Pasha.
Vote for Your Favourite Turkish Leaders
 1 
Mustafa Kemal Ataturk
(Founder of the Republic of Turkey,)
Mustafa Kemal Ataturk
63
Birthdate: May 19, 1881
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Thessaloniki
Died: November 10, 1938
Kemal Atatürk, known as the founding father of the Republic of Turkey, was its first president. He unified Turkey into a secular country and invested in education and women’s rights. He also popularized the Latin-based Turkish alphabet and made minorities speak Turkish in public. His policies are known as “Kemalism.” 
 2 
Osman I
(Political Leader)
Osman I
18
Birthdate: 1258 AD
Birthplace: Söğüt, Turkey
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.

 3 
Mehmed II
(Sultan of the Ottoman Empire)
Mehmed II
10
Birthdate: March 30, 1432
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Edirne, Rumelia Eyalet, Ottoman Sultanate
Died: May 3, 1481

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. 

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 4 
Hayreddin Barbarossa
(Ottoman Navy Admiral )
Hayreddin Barbarossa
8
Birthdate: 1478 AD
Birthplace: Paleokipos, Greece
Died: July 4, 1546
Remembered as the Pirate of Algiers and Redbeard, legendary Hayreddin Barbarossa from Lesbos, along with his brother Oruç, plundered ships and ports, terrorizing the Mediterranean coast. His exploits led him to become the admiral of the Ottoman Navy. His victory at Preveza remains his most celebrated one.
 5 
Mehmed III
(Sultan of the Ottoman Empire)
Mehmed III
9
Birthdate: May 26, 1566
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Manisa
Died: December 22, 1603

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. 

 6 
Mehmed IV
(Sultan of the Ottoman Empire)
Mehmed IV
10
Birthdate: January 2, 1642
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Istanbul
Died: January 6, 1693

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.

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 7 
Ali Kemal
(Minister of the Interior of the Ottoman Empire in 1919)
Ali Kemal
13
Birthdate: September 7, 1867
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Fatih, Turkey
Died: November 6, 1922

Ali Kemal was a Turkish journalist, poet, newspaper editor, government official, and liberal-leaning politician. He is best remembered for his brief service as the Minister of the Interior of the Ottoman Empire in 1919. During the Turkish War of Independence, Ali Kemal was assassinated by paramilitary officers.

 8 
Abdülmecid I
(Sultan of the Ottoman Empire)
Abdülmecid I
8
Birthdate: April 23, 1823
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: İstanbul Eyaleti
Died: June 25, 1861

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.

 9 
Mehmed I
(Sultan of the Ottoman Empire)
Mehmed I
5
Birthdate: 1389 AD
Birthplace: Bursa, Turkey
Died: May 26, 1421

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.

 10 
Enver Pasha
(Ottoman Military Officer, Revolutionary and Convicted War Criminal Who Formed One-Third of the 'Three Pashas' Triumvirate)
Enver Pasha
14
Birthdate: November 22, 1881
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: İstanbul, Turkey
Died: August 4, 1922
Ottoman military officer Enver Pasha is remembered as one of the main figures of the Armenian Genocide. The Young Turk leader was one of the Three Pashas who ruled over the Ottoman Empire during World War I. He was killed by the Soviets during the Basmachi Revolt.
 11 
Zeno
(Roman Emperor of the East)
Zeno
7
Birthdate: 0425 AD
Birthplace: Zenonopolis
Died: April 9, 0491

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.

 12 
İsmet İnönü
(Turkey's 2nd President and 1st Prime Minister)
İsmet İnönü
4
Birthdate: September 24, 1884
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: İzmir
Died: December 25, 1973

The 2nd president of Turkey, İsmet İnönü had also been a 3-time prime minister of the country. Previously an efficient military commander, who had fought in World War I and the Greco-Turkish War, he later led the Republican People's Party in Turkey’s one-party state. He had also been Turkey's foreign affairs minister.

 13 
Selim III
(The Ottoman Empire's 28th Sultan)
Selim III
6
Birthdate: December 24, 1761
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Constantinople
Died: July 28, 1808

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.

 14 
Tariq Aziz
(Former Deputy Prime Minister of Iraq)
Tariq Aziz
6
Birthdate: April 28, 1936
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Tel Keppe
Died: June 5, 2015

Tariq Aziz was an Iraqi politician best remembered for his service as the Minister of Foreign Affairs from 11 November 1983 to 19 December 1991. An influential political leader, Tariq Aziz also served as the Deputy Prime Minister of Iraq from 16 July 1979 to 9 April 2003.

 15 
Talaat Pasha
(The Grand Vizier of Turkey during World War I)
Talaat Pasha
5
Birthdate: September 1, 1874
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Kardzali, Bulgaria
Died: March 15, 1921

Turkish politician Talaat Pasha, who chaired the Union and Progress Party during its one-party dictatorship, later became the Grand Vizier, or prime minister, of Turkey. He had also been Turkey’s minister of the interior and finance. A convicted war criminal, he was assassinated by an Armenian in Germany, where he had escaped.

 16 
Hakan Şükür
(Footballer striker)
Hakan Şükür
14
Birthdate: September 1, 1971
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Sapanca, Turkey
 17 
Ahmed II
(The 21st Sultan of the Ottoman Empire)
Ahmed II
4
Birthdate: February 25, 1643
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Topkapı Palace, Istanbul
Died: February 6, 1695

The 21st sultan of the Ottoman Empire, Ahmed II reigned in the 17th century. He spent most of his reign in campaigns against the Holy League of Austria, Venice, and Poland. He faced significant Arab unrest and encouraged settlements of nomadic Turkmen tribes. He was also mostly dominated by his courtiers.

 18 
Piri Reis
(Ottoman Admiral, Geographer, Cartographer.)
Piri Reis
4
Birthdate: 1465 AD
Birthplace: Gelibolu, Turkey
Died: 1553 AD

Piri Reis was an Ottoman navigator, admiral, cartographer, and geographer. He is best remembered for his Book of Navigation, which contains maps and charts and information on navigational techniques. He gained international recognition in 1929 when a portion of his first world map was discovered at the Topkapı Palace in Turkey. Piri Reis finds mention in several popular video games.  

 19 
Mahmud I
(The 24th Sultan of the Ottoman Empire)
Mahmud I
4
Birthdate: August 2, 1696
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Edirne
Died: December 13, 1754

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.

 20 
Heraclius
(Emperor of Byzantine Empire)
Heraclius
10
Birthdate: 0575 AD
Birthplace: Cappadocia, present-day Turkey
Died: February 11, 0641

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.

 21 
Justinian II
(The Heraclian Dynasty's Last Eastern Roman Emperor)
Justinian II
6
Birthdate: 0669 AD
Birthplace: Constantinople
Died: December 11, 0711

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.

 22 
Süleyman Demirel
(The 9th President and 12th Prime Minister of Turkey)
Süleyman Demirel
6
Birthdate: November 1, 1924
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Isparta Province
Died: June 17, 2015

The 9th president of Turkey, Süleyman Demirel, was also the country’s 12th and youngest prime minister. He had led both the Justice Party and the True Path Party. The civil engineer and politician hailed from a peasant family. Amid extremist violence, he was once barred from participating in politics.

 23 
Maxentius
(Roman Emperor Who Reigned in the 4th Century)
Maxentius
6
Birthdate: 0283 AD
Birthplace: not known
Died: October 28, 0312

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.

 24 
Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
(12th President of Turkey)
Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
58
Birthdate: February 26, 1954
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Kasımpaşa

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is a Turkish politician and the current president of Turkey. After founding the Justice and Development Party (AKP), he played a major role in leading the party to election victories and thereby helping AKP become a force to reckon with in Turkey. Described as an authoritarian, his government has restricted access to sites like Wikipedia and YouTube.

 25 
Turgut Özal
(The 8th President and 19th Prime Minister of Turkey)
Turgut Özal
8
Birthdate: October 13, 1927
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Malatya
Died: April 17, 1993

The 8th president of Turkey, Turgut Özal was also the country’s 19th prime minister. He led the Motherland Party, also known as ANAP, and had also worked with the World Bank as an economist. He died of a heart attack while in office, though many believe he may have been poisoned.

 26 
Theodosius II
(Roman Emperor of the 5th Century)
Theodosius II
4
Birthdate: April 10, 0401
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Istanbul
Died: July 28, 0450

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.

 27 
Abdullah Gül
(The 11th President and 24th Prime Minister of Turkey)
Abdullah Gül
13
Birthdate: October 29, 1950
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Kayseri

The 11th president of Turkey, Abdullah Gül has also been the country’s 24th prime minister. He has led Turkey as its minister of foreign affairs and of state too. Associated with political parties such as the Welfare Party and the Justice and Development Party in the past, he later turned into an independent candidate.

 28 
Bülent Ecevit
(Turkey's 16th Prime Minister)
Bülent Ecevit
3
Birthdate: May 28, 1925
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Istanbul
Died: November 5, 2006

The 16th prime minister of Turkey, Bülent Ecevit had held the post for 4 terms. He had led both the Democratic Left Party and the Republican People's Party and is remembered as the only left-wing prime minister that Turkey ever had. He was also a journalist and a talented poet and author.

 29 
Kenan Evren
(The 7th President of Turkey)
Kenan Evren
8
Birthdate: July 17, 1917
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Alaşehir
Died: May 9, 2015

After leading the coup of 1980, Turkish military commander Kenan Evren took over as the 7th president of Turkey. Following his retirement, he settled in Marmaris and mastered oil painting. Evren died before his final conviction and sentencing in the trial for the 1980 coup.

 30 
Ahmet Necdet Sezer
(The 10th President of Turkey)
Ahmet Necdet Sezer
4
Birthdate: September 13, 1941
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Afyonkarahisar

The 10th president of Turkey, Ahmet Necdet Sezer was also a prominent judge. Initially a supervisory judge at the High Court of Appeals, he later served as the 14th president of the Constitutional Court of Turkey. The independent politician became Turkey’s first president from a legal background and strongly believed in secularism.

 31 
Abdülâziz
(The 32nd Sultan of the Ottoman Empire)
Abdülâziz
5
Birthdate: February 8, 1830
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Istanbul
Died: June 4, 1876

The 32nd sultan of the Ottoman Empire, Abdülâziz was the son of Mahmud II. An admirer of Western ways, he became the first sultan to travel to Western Europe. He was also a talented composer. He was deposed and died of suicide a few days later, though many believe he was assassinated.

 32 
Adnan Menderes
(The 9th Prime Minister of Turkey)
Adnan Menderes
12
Birthdate: 1899 AD
Birthplace: Koçarlı, Turkey
Died: September 17, 1961

Turkey’s 9th prime minister, Adnan Mendere had also formed the Democrat Party after being expelled from the RPP. In Turkey’s first free election in over 25 years, in 1950, he had a sweeping win. He and 2 of his cabinet members were tried and hanged after the 1960 coup d'état.

 33 
Antigonus I Monophthalmus
(The Founder of the Macedonian Antigonid Dynasty)
Antigonus I Monophthalmus
3
Birthdate: 0382 BC
Birthplace: Elimiotis, Greece
Died: 0301 BC

Macedonian king of the 4th century, Antigonus I Monophthalmus was initially a military general under Alexander the Great. He founded the Macedonian Antigonid dynasty and was known for his efficient military strategies. He is remembered for his role in the Wars of the Diadochi and has appeared in prominent historical fiction.

 34 
Burhan Asaf Belge
(Turkish Politician Who Was the First Husband of Zsa Zsa Gabor)
Burhan Asaf Belge
4
Birthdate: February 1, 1899
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: İstanbul, Turkey
Died: January 12, 1967

Turkish left-wing politician and diplomat Burhan Asaf Belge was also the first husband of Hungarian-American actor Zsa Zsa Gabor. He represented the Muğla province at the Turkish National Assembly. He had also served as the ambassador of Turkey to Hungary, where he met Gabor.

 35 
Sokollu Mehmed Pasha
(Ottoman Grand Vizier and Military Leader)
Sokollu Mehmed Pasha
5
Birthdate: 1505 AD
Birthplace: Rudo, Sanjak of Herzegovina, Ottoman Empire
Died: October 11, 1579

Ottoman grand vizier Sokollu Mehmed Pasha led the Ottoman army to a loss in the Battle of Lepanto but eventually acquired Cyprus from the Venetian forces. A tough military leader, he held the post of governor-general. Following the death of sultan Selim II, he faced hostility and was eventually assassinated.

 36 
Justin II
(Byzantine Emperor and the Nephew of Emperor Justinian I)
Justin II
4
Birthdate: 0520 AD
Birthplace: Constantinople
Died: October 5, 0578

Byzantine emperor of the 6th century, Justin II was the son of Vigilantia, who was the sister of emperor Justinian I. Declared an heir by a childless Justinian, he strengthened the economic situation of his kingdom during his reign. His rule was plagued by clashes with the Avars, Lombards, and Persians.

 37 
Abdullah Öcalan
(Turkish Political Prisoner and a Founding Member of the Militant 'Kurdistan Workers' Party')
Abdullah Öcalan
25
Birthdate: April 4, 1949
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Ömerli, Turkey

Abdullah Öcalan is a Turkish political prisoner best known for founding the Kurdistan Workers' Party in the midst of the 1980 Turkish coup d'état. He fled to Syria in 1979 and was active there until 1998. Abdullah Öcalan left Syria in 1998 and was taken captive in 1999 as part of an operation led by the Turkish National Intelligence Organization.

 38 
Necmettin Erbakan
(Turkish Islamist Politician Who Was Turkey's 23rd Prime Minister)
Necmettin Erbakan
6
Birthdate: October 29, 1926
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Sinop
Died: February 27, 2011

The 23rd and first Islamist prime minister of Turkey, Necmettin Erbakan had been a mechanical engineer and a professor before stepping into politics. The Welfare Party politician had also led other Islamist parties, such as the Felicity Party and the National Salvation Party, but was accused of going against Turkey’s secular constitution

 39 
Nikephoros II Phokas
4
Birthdate: 0912 AD
Birthplace: Cappadocia, Turkey
Died: December 11, 0969
 40 
Cemal Gürsel
(Politician, Officer)
Cemal Gürsel
4
Birthdate: October 13, 1895
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Erzurum
Died: September 14, 1966
 41 
Tansu Çiller
(22nd Prime Minister of Turkey)
Tansu Çiller
10
Birthdate: May 24, 1946
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Istanbul, Turkey

Turkish economist Tansu Çiller has been Turkey’s 22nd prime minister and the only woman to hold the post. The True Path Party politician has also been Turkey’s minister of state and of foreign affairs, and the deputy minister of the country. She also became Turkey’s youngest full professor.

 42 
Osman III
(The 25th Sultan of the Ottoman Empire)
Osman III
3
Birthdate: January 2, 1699
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Edirne
Died: October 30, 1757

The 25th Ottoman sultan, Osman III, was also the 90th Islamic caliph. The son of Sultan Mustafa II, he spent a long time imprisoned, following his father’s deposition. Known for his ill-tempered nature, he banished all musicians from the palace. However, he also constructed the aesthetic Nuruosmaniye Mosque.

 43 
Ammianus Marcellinus
(Roman Historian and Soldier Who Is Known for His Work 'Res Gestae')
Ammianus Marcellinus
4
Birthdate: 0330 AD
Birthplace: Antioch
Died: 0400 AD

Roman historian and soldier from the 4th century, Ammianus Marcellinus penned one of the last major historical accounts of the later Roman empire, Res Gestae, also known as Rerum gestarum libri. His writings charted the Roman times from the accession of Emperor Nerva to the death of Emperor Valens.

 44 
Basiliscus
(Eastern Roman Emperor of the 5th Century)
Basiliscus
3
Died: 0476 AD

Born in modern-day Cappadocia, Turkey, Basiliscus grew up to be an Eastern Roman emperor in the 5th century. He was the brother of Verina, who was the wife of Emperor Leo I. His belief in the Monophysite heresy caused conflicts. He was eventually exiled to Cappadocia and beheaded after Emperor Zeno’s return.

 45 
Meral Akşener
(Politician)
Meral Akşener
9
Birthdate: July 18, 1956
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: İzmit, Turkey
 46 
Emine Erdoğan
(Social Activist and the Wife of Turkey’s 12th President, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan)
Emine Erdoğan
15
Birthdate: February 16, 1955
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Üsküdar, Istanbul, Turkey

Emine Erdoğan became the First Lady of Turkey as the wife of Turkey’s 12th president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. She has been associated with social initiatives, especially those related to women’s issues, mothers, girls, and environmental concerns. She has also been awarded for her work for flood relief in Pakistan.

 47 
Celâl Bayar
(The 3rd President and 3rd Prime Minister of Turkey)
Celâl Bayar
3
Birthdate: May 16, 1883
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Gemlik, Turkey
Died: August 22, 1986

The 3rd president of Turkey, Celâl Bayar was also the country’s 3rd prime minister and a seasoned economist. The Democrat Party leader had also previously been a member of the Committee of Union and Progress and the Republican People's Party. He is also remembered for introducing etatism, or a state-directed economy, in Turkey.

 48 
Osman Nuri Pasha
(Military Commander)
Osman Nuri Pasha
2
Birthdate: 1832 AD
Birthplace: Tokat, Turkey
Died: April 5, 1900
 49 
Ahmet Tevfik Pasha
(Former Grand Vizier of the Ottoman Empire)
Ahmet Tevfik Pasha
3
Birthdate: February 11, 1845
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Istanbul, Turkey
Died: October 8, 1936

Ahmet Tevfik Pasha had been the Grand Vizier of the Ottoman Empire for 3 terms and was the last Ottoman to hold the post. He had also been the Ottoman Empire’s foreign minister. He supported revolutionary Mustafa Kemal’s nationalist movement which opposed the Allied occupation of Anatolia following World War I.

 50 
Fahri Koruturk
(The 6th President of Turkey)
Fahri Koruturk
2
Birthdate: August 3, 1903
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Istanbul
Died: October 12, 1987

The 6th president of Turkey, Fahri Koruturk had also been the 3rd Commander of the Turkish Navy. He had an illustrious naval career, having served as a naval military attaché in Berlin, Rome, and Stockholm. He had also served as the Turkish ambassador to the Soviet Union and to Spain.