Military Biographies

A list of great military leaders throughout history.

CyrusTheGreat Cyrus the Great (600 – 530 BC) was the founder of the Persian (Achaemenid) Empire. Cyrus conquered the empires of Media, Lydia and Babylonia, creating the first multi-ethnic state which at its peak accounted for around 40% of the global population.

Alexander the Great (356 – 323 BC) As King of Macedonia, Alexander the Great established an Empire from the Ionian Sea to the Himalayas in India.

Julius Caesar (100 BC – 44 BC) Under Caesar, the Roman Empire stretched to its furthers points – crossing the Rhine and into Britain for the first time.

Boudicca (1st Century) Led British citizens in revolt against Roman occupation. Initially successful in raids on the Romans, she was defeated in 60BC in a pitched battle against the Romans.

hannibal-barca Hanibal Barca (247 BC – 181 BC) General and military strategist from Ancient Carthage. He led Carthage in a series of stunning military victories over the Roman Empire, crossing the Alps and frequently outflanking his enemies. Regarded as one of the greatest military commanders in history

Constantine the Great (272 – 337) Constantine served as Roman Emperor from 306 to 337. He successfully defeated both internal rebellions and consolidated the Roman Empire defeating the Franks, Alamanni, Visigoths, and Sarmatians.

Attila the Hun (5th Century) Ruler of the Huns who swept across Europe.

King Arthur 6th Century. Legendary King of the Britons who defended England against Saxon invaders, uniting the country.

K ing Alfred (849 – 899)  Alfred was King of Wessex. An educated and enlightened King, Alfred defended Britain against the Vikings and was the first king to declare himself King of Anglo-Saxons.

Saladin (1138 – 1193) Saladin led the Islamic opposition to Christian crusades. At the Battle of Hattin in 1187, he recaptured the city of Jerusalem and took control of Palestine. He helped to unify Muslim armies.

Genghis Khan – ( 1162 – 1227) From humble beginnings, Genghis Khan conquered Mongolia and China and then created an Empire stretching into Central Europe. His Mongol hordes were unstoppable.

William Wallace (13th Century) Scottish independence leader during the war of Scottish independence.

Babur Babur – Moghul Empire (1483 – 1530) Muslim prince from Turkestan who defeated numerous internal rebellions before conquering regions of Afghanistan, Pakistan and north-west India. He set the foundations of the Moghul Empire, which dominated India for the next three centuries.

Akbar (1542 – 1605) The third Moghul Emperor, Akbar consolidated his Empire across India, through a series of striking military victories.

Peter-the-great Peter the Great (1672 – 1725) Tsar of all Russia (1682 – 1721) and Emperor of All Russia (1721-1735). Through successful wars, Peter the Great, expanded the Russian Empire claiming land from Sweden, the Baltic states and in the south.

George Washington (1732 – 1799) Leader of American forces during the War of Independence. A skilled military leader who won the war despite losing individual battles.

Lord Nelson (1758 – 1805) British naval officer during the Napoleonic wars. Nelson was a courageous officer who gained fame after dying during the  Battle of Trafalgar (1805) – one of Britain’s greatest naval victories.

Duke of Wellington (1769 – 1852) Anglo-Irish statesmen. As a military officer, Wellington defeated Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo. He twice served as Prime Minister.

Napoleon Bonaparte (1769 – 1821) As Emperor of France 1804-1815, Napoleon’s forces swept across Europe, gaining hegemony over most of Europe. In many battles, Napoleon overcame numerical inferiority through the use of imaginative battlefield tactics.

Abraham Lincoln (1809 – 1865) President of US during the civil war. He led Union forces to victory in the civil war.

Douglas Haig (1861 – 1928 ) British First World War General who was in charge of British forces during the battle of the Somme. Towards the end of the First World War, he was relatively more successful.

Winston Churchill (1874 – 1965) Winston Churchill became Prime Minister in May 1940, when Great Britain alone stood against Hitler. With stirring speeches, Churchill rallied the population and quashed those who wanted to make a deal with Hitler.

Joseph Stalin (1879 – 1953) Leader and dictator of Soviet Union armed forces during Second World War. His 1930s purges weakened the Russian army. But, in 1942 he led the defence of Russia from Moscow.

Ataturk (1881-1938) Military officer in the Turkish army. Ataturk led the Turkish independence struggle and founded the Turkish Republic.

General Patton (1885 – 1945) US Commander during Second World War, Patton distinguished himself in Africa, Sicily and the liberation of France – especially during the Battle of the Bulge.

Bernar d Montgomery (1887 – 1976) British General during World War Two. Montgomery led the successful British action at El-Alamein. He also led British divisions during the liberation of occupied Europe.

T.E. Lawrence (1888 – 1935) British officer who, during the First World War,  led the Arab revolt against the Ottoman Empire in Arabia.

Adolf Hitler (1889 – 1945) Dictator of Nazi Germany. Ordered the invasion of Poland, Western Europe, North Africa and the Soviet Union. His advances across Europe were eventually stopped, and Nazi Germany was ultimately defeated.

Dwight Eisenhower (1890 – 1969) A five star General in US Army, Eisenhower was Supreme Allied Commander for the D-Day invasion of occupied Europe (1944-45).

Erwin Rommel (1891 – 1944) ‘The Desert Fox’ was admired by both his troops and enemies developing a reputation for invincibility. He was a commander during the invasion of France (1940) and achieved striking victories in North Africa war.

Chairman Mao (1893 – 1976) Led the Chinese Communist party to victory during the long march and fight against the nationalists.


Barnes Wallis (1887 – 1979) Best known for developing the bouncing bomb used in the Dambusters raid.

Douglas Bader (1910 –1982 ) Bader lost both legs in a flying accident in the 1930s. But, on the outbreak of the Second World War became a noted flying ace for the RAF.

Citation: Pettinger, Tejvan. “Military Biographies”, Oxford, UK Published 23 January 2010. Last updated, 7 July 2020.

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World War II

World War One