The following people are considered by Pantheon to be the top 10 most legendary Iranian Politicians of all time. This list of famous Iranian Politicians is sorted by HPI (Historical Popularity Index), a metric that aggregates information on a biography’s online popularity. Visit the rankings page to view the entire list of Iranian Politicians.
With an HPI of 80.61, Cyrus the Great is the most famous Iranian Politician. His biography has been translated into 114 different languages on wikipedia.
Cyrus II of Persia (Old Persian: 𐎤𐎢𐎽𐎢𐏁 Kūruš; c. 600–530 BC), commonly known as Cyrus the Great, was the founder of the Achaemenid Persian Empire. Hailing from Persis, he brought the Achaemenid dynasty to power by defeating the Median Empire and embracing all of the previous civilized states of the ancient Near East, expanding vastly and eventually conquering most of West Asia and much of Central Asia to create the world's then-largest polity. The Achaemenid Empire's largest territorial extent was achieved under the rule of Cyrus' successor Darius the Great, whose rule stretched from the Balkans (Eastern Bulgaria–Paeonia and Thrace–Macedonia) and the rest of Southeast Europe in the west to the Indus Valley in the east. After conquering the Median Empire, Cyrus led the Achaemenids to conquer the Lydian Empire and eventually the Neo-Babylonian Empire. He also led an expedition into Central Asia, which resulted in major military campaigns that were described as having brought "into subjection every nation without exception"; Cyrus allegedly died in battle with the Massagetae, a nomadic tribal confederation of ancient Eastern Iranians, along the Syr Darya in December 530 BC. However, Xenophon claimed that Cyrus did not die fighting and had instead returned to the Achaemenid ceremonial capital of Persepolis. He was succeeded by his son Cambyses II, whose campaigns into North Africa led to the conquests of Egypt, Nubia, and Cyrenaica during his short rule. To the Greeks, he was known as Cyrus the Elder (Greek: Κῦρος ὁ Πρεσβύτερος Kŷros ho Presbýteros). Cyrus became well-known among scholars at the time for having respected the customs and religious traditions of the lands that he conquered. He was influential in developing the system of a central administration at Pasargadae to govern the Achaemenid Empire's border satraps, which worked for the profit of both rulers and subjects. Following the Achaemenid conquest of Babylon, Cyrus issued the Edict of Restoration, in which he authorized and encouraged the return of the Jewish people to the former Kingdom of Judah, officially ending the Babylonian captivity. He is described in the Hebrew Bible and left a lasting legacy on Judaism due to his role in facilitating the "return to Zion" of the Jews. According to Chapter 45:1 of the Book of Isaiah, Cyrus was anointed by the God of Israel for this task as a biblical messiah; Cyrus is the only non-Jewish figure to be revered in this capacity.Cyrus is also recognized for his achievements in human rights, politics, and military strategy, as well as his influence on the traditions of both the Eastern world and the Western world. Achaemenid influence in the ancient world would eventually extend as far west as Athens, where upper-class Athenians adopted aspects of the culture of the ruling class of Achaemenid Persia as their own. As the founder of the first Persian empire, Cyrus has played a crucial role in defining the national identity of the Iranian nation; the Achaemenid Empire was instrumental in spreading the ideals of Zoroastrianism as far east as China. He remains a cult figure in modern-day Iran, with the Tomb of Cyrus serving as a spot of reverence for millions of the country's citizens.
With an HPI of 80.06, Xerxes I is the 2nd most famous Iranian Politician. His biography has been translated into 77 different languages.
Xerxes I (Old Persian: 𐎧𐏁𐎹𐎠𐎼𐏁𐎠 Xšayār̥šā also Khshayārsha; Greek: Ξέρξης Xérxēs; c. 518 – August 465 BC; Sanskrit: क्षयार्ष, romanized: Kṣayārṣa), commonly known as Xerxes the Great, was a Persian ruler who served as the fourth King of Kings of the Achaemenid Empire, reigning from 486 BC until his assassination in 465 BC. He was the son of Darius the Great and Atossa, a daughter of Cyrus the Great. In Western history, Xerxes is best known for his invasion of Greece in 480 BC, which ended in Persian defeat. Xerxes was designated successor by Darius over his elder brother Artobazan and inherited a large, multi-ethnic empire upon his father's death. He consolidated his power by crushing revolts in Egypt and Babylon, and renewed his father's campaign to subjugate Greece and punish Athens and its allies for their interference in the Ionian Revolt. In 480 BC, Xerxes personally led a large army and crossed the Hellespont into Europe. He achieved victories at Thermopylae and Artemisium before capturing and razing Athens. His forces gained control of mainland Greece north of the Isthmus of Corinth until their defeat at the Battle of Salamis. Fearing that the Greeks might trap him in Europe, Xerxes retreated with the greater part of his army back to Asia, leaving behind Mardonius to continue his campaign. Mardonius was defeated at Plataea the following year, effectively ending the Persian invasion. After returning to Persia, Xerxes dedicated himself to large-scale construction projects, many of which had been left unfinished by his father. He oversaw the completion of the Gate of All Nations, the Apadana and the Tachara at Persepolis, and continued the construction of the Palace of Darius at Susa. He also maintained the Royal Road built by his father. In 465 BC, Xerxes was assassinated along with his heir Darius by Artabanus, the commander of the royal bodyguard. He was succeeded by his third son, who took throne as Artaxerxes I.
With an HPI of 78.66, Darius III is the 3rd most famous Iranian Politician. His biography has been translated into 72 different languages.
Darius III (Old Persian: 𐎭𐎠𐎼𐎹𐎺𐎢𐏁 Dārayavaʰuš; Greek: Δαρεῖος Dareios; c. 380 – 330 BC) was the last Achaemenid King of Kings of Persia, reigning from 336 BC to his death in 330 BC. Contrary to his predecessor Artaxerxes IV Arses, Darius was a distant member of the Achaemenid dynasty. During his early career, he was reportedly an obscure figure among his peers and first rose to prominence during the Cadusian expedition of Artaxerxes III in the 350s BC. As a reward for his bravery, he was given the Satrapy of Armenia. Around 340 BC, he was placed in charge of the royal "postal service," a high-ranking position. In 338 BC, Artaxerxes III met an abrupt end after being poisoned by the court eunuch and chiliarch (hazahrapatish) Bagoas, who installed Artaxerxes' youngest son Arses on the throne. He only reigned for a few years, until Bagoas had him poisoned as well. Darius was subsequently installed on the throne and soon forced Bagoas to drink his poison after discovering that the eunuch had planned to poison him as well. In 334 BC, Alexander the Great began his invasion of the Persian Empire and subsequently defeated the Persians in several battles before looting and destroying their capital, Persepolis, by fire in 330 BC. With the Persian Empire now effectively under Alexander's control, Alexander then decided to pursue Darius. Before Alexander reached him, however, Darius was killed by his relative Bessus, who was also the satrap of Bactria. Darius is partially remembered in Iranian traditions as Dara II, the last king of the mythological Kayanian dynasty, which reflected memories of the Achaemenids.
With an HPI of 77.95, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi is the 4th most famous Iranian Politician. His biography has been translated into 92 different languages.
Mohammad Reza Pahlavi (Persian: محمدرضا پهلوی [mohæmˈmæd reˈzɒː pæhlæˈviː]; 26 October 1919 – 27 July 1980), also known as Reza II and commonly referred to in the Western world as Mohammad Reza Shah (محمدرضا شاه), was the last Iranian monarch. He began ruling the Imperial State of Iran after succeeding his father Reza Shah in 1941 and remained in power until he was overthrown by the Islamic Revolution, which abolished the country's monarchy and established the present-day Islamic Republic of Iran in 1979. Owing to his recognition and status as Iran's final monarch, he is usually called the Shah. In 1967, he took up the title Shahanshah (lit. 'King of Kings') and held several others, including Aryamehr (lit. 'Light of the Aryans') and Bozorg Arteshtaran (lit. 'Commander-in-Chief'). He was the second and last monarch of the Pahlavi dynasty to rule within Iran. His dream of what he referred to as a "Great Civilization" (تمدن بزرگ) in Iran led to his assumption of leadership over rapid levels of industrial and military modernization as well as economic and social reforms.During World War II, the Anglo-Soviet invasion of Iran forced the abdication of Reza Shah, who was quickly succeeded by Pahlavi. During Pahlavi's reign, the British-owned oil industry was briefly nationalized by the democratically elected Iranian prime minister Mohammad Mosaddegh, who had support from Iran's national parliament to do so. However, Mosaddegh was overthrown in the 1953 Iranian coup d'état, which was carried out by the Iranian military under the aegis of the United Kingdom and the United States. Subsequently, the Iranian government centralized power under Pahlavi and brought foreign oil companies back into the country's industry through the Consortium Agreement of 1954.By the 1970s, Pahlavi was seen as a master statesman and used his growing power to pass the 1973 Sale and Purchase Agreement. These reforms culminated in decades of sustained economic growth that would make Iran one of the fastest-growing economies among both the developed world and the developing world. During his 37-year-long rule, Iran spent billions of dollars' worth on industry, education, health, and military spending, and enjoyed economic growth rates exceeding the United States, the United Kingdom, and France. Likewise, the Iranian national income rose 423 times over, and the country saw an unprecedented rise in per capita income—which reached the highest level at any point in Iran's history—and high levels of urbanization. By 1977, Pahlavi's focus on defense spending, which he saw as a means to end foreign powers' intervention in the country, had culminated in the Iranian military standing as the world's fifth-strongest armed force.As political unrest grew throughout Iran in the late 1970s, Pahlavi's position in the country was made untenable by the Jaleh Square massacre, in which the Iranian military killed and wounded dozens of protesters in Tehran, and the Cinema Rex fire, an arson attack in Abadan that was erroneously blamed on the Iranian intelligence agency SAVAK. The Guadeloupe Conference saw Pahlavi's Western allies state that there was no feasible way to save the Iranian monarchy from being overthrown. Pahlavi ultimately left Iran for exile on 17 January 1979. Although he had told some Western contemporaries that he would rather leave the country than fire on his own people, estimates for the total number of casualties during the Islamic Revolution range from 540 to 2,000 (figures of independent studies) to 60,000 (figures of the Islamic government). After formally abolishing the Iranian monarchy, Muslim cleric Ruhollah Khomeini assumed leadership as the Supreme Leader of Iran. Pahlavi died in exile in Egypt, where he had been granted political asylum by Egyptian president Anwar Sadat. Following his death, his son Reza Pahlavi declared himself as the new Shah of Iran in exile.
With an HPI of 77.58, Harun al-Rashid is the 5th most famous Iranian Politician. His biography has been translated into 77 different languages.
Abu Ja'far Harun ibn Muhammad al-Mahdi (Arabic: أَبُو جَعْفَر هَارُون ٱبْنِ مُحَمَّد ٱلْمَهْدِيّ, romanized: Abū Ja‘far Hārūn ibn Muḥammad al-Mahdī) or simply Harun ibn al-Mahdi (Arabic: هَارُون ٱبْنِ ٱلْمَهْدِيّ; c. 763 or 766 – 24 March 809), famously known as Harun al-Rashid (Arabic: هَارُون ٱلرَشِيد, romanized: Hārūn al-Rashīd), was the fifth Abbasid caliph of the Abbasid Caliphate, reigning from September 786 until his death in March 809. His reign is traditionally regarded to be the beginning of the Islamic Golden Age. His epithet al-Rashid translates to "the Orthodox", "the Just", "the Upright", or "the Rightly-Guided". Harun established the legendary library Bayt al-Hikma ("House of Wisdom") in Baghdad in present-day Iraq, and during his rule Baghdad began to flourish as a world center of knowledge, culture and trade. During his rule, the family of Barmakids, which played a deciding role in establishing the Abbasid Caliphate, declined gradually. In 796, he moved his court and government to Raqqa in present-day Syria. Domestically, Harun pursued policies similar to those of his father Al-Mahdi. He released many of the Umayyads and 'Alids his brother Al-Hadi had imprisoned and declared amnesty for all political groups of the Quraysh. Large scale hostilities broke out with Byzantium, and under his rule, the Abbasid Empire reached its peak.A Frankish mission came to offer Harun friendship in 799. Harun sent various presents with the emissaries on their return to Charlemagne's court, including a clock that Charlemagne and his retinue deemed to be a conjuration because of the sounds it emanated and the tricks it displayed every time an hour ticked. Portions of the fictional One Thousand and One Nights are set in Harun's court and some of its stories involve Harun himself. Harun's life and court have been the subject of many other tales, both factual and fictitious.
With an HPI of 75.22, Cambyses II is the 6th most famous Iranian Politician. His biography has been translated into 60 different languages.
Cambyses II (Old Persian: 𐎣𐎲𐎢𐎪𐎡𐎹, romanized: Kaᵐbūjiya) was the second King of Kings of the Achaemenid Empire from 530 to 522 BC. He was the son and successor of Cyrus the Great (r. 550 – 530 BC) and his mother was Cassandane. Before his accession, Cambyses had briefly served as the governor of northern Babylonia under his father from April to December 538 BC. Afterwards, he resided in the Babylonian cities of Babylon and Sippar, before being appointed by his father as co-ruler in 530 BC. His father then set off on an expedition against the Massagetae of Central Asia, where he met his end. Cambyses thus became the sole ruler of the vast Achaemenid Empire, facing no reported opposition. His relatively brief reign was marked by his conquests in North Africa, notably Egypt, which he conquered after his victory over the Egyptian pharaoh Psamtik III (r. 526–525 BC) at the battle of Pelusium in 525 BC. After having established himself in Egypt, he expanded the empire's holdings in Africa, including the conquest of Cyrenaica. In the spring of 522 BC, Cambyses hurriedly left Egypt to deal with a rebellion in Persia. While en route in Syria (Eber-Nari), he received a wound to the thigh, which was soon affected by gangrene. Cambyses died three weeks later at a location called Agbatana, which is most likely the modern city of Hama. He died childless, and was thus succeeded by his younger brother Bardiya, who ruled for a short period before being overthrown by Darius the Great (r. 522–486 BC), who went on to increase the power of the Achaemenids even further.
With an HPI of 74.70, Malik-Shah I is the 7th most famous Iranian Politician. His biography has been translated into 46 different languages.
Malik-Shah I (Persian: ملک شاه), was the third sultan of the Seljuk Empire from 1072 to 1092, under whom the sultanate reached its zenith of power and influence. During his youth, he spent his time participating in the campaigns of his father Alp Arslan, along with the latter's vizier Nizam al-Mulk. During one of such campaigns in 1072, Alp Arslan was fatally wounded and died only a few days later. After that, Malik-Shah was crowned as the new sultan of the empire, but the succession was contested by his uncle Qavurt. Although Malik-Shah was the nominal head of the Seljuk state, Nizam al-Mulk held near absolute power during his reign. Malik-Shah spent the rest of his reign waging war against the Karakhanids on the eastern side, and establishing order in the Caucasus. Malik-Shah's death to this day remains under dispute; according to some scholars, he was poisoned by Abbasid caliph al-Muqtadi, while others say that he was poisoned by the supporters of Nizam al-Mulk.
With an HPI of 74.01, Ali Khamenei is the 8th most famous Iranian Politician. His biography has been translated into 93 different languages.
Seyyed Ali Hosseini Khamenei (Persian: سید علی حسینی خامنهای, romanized: Ali Hoseyni Xāmene’i, pronounced [ʔæˈliː hosejˈniː xɒːmeneˈʔiː] ; born 19 April 1939), mostly known as Ali Khamenei (علی خامنهای), is a Twelver Shia marja' and the second and current supreme leader of Iran, in office since 1989. Previously, he was the third president of Iran from 1981 to 1989. Khamenei is the longest-serving head of state in the Middle East, as well as the second-longest-serving Iranian leader of the last century, after Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.According to his official website, Khamenei was arrested six times before being sent into exile for three years during Mohammad Reza Pahlavi's reign. After the Iranian revolution overthrowing the shah, he was the target of an attempted assassination in June 1981 that paralyzed his right arm. Khamenei was one of Iran's leaders during the Iran–Iraq War in the 1980s, and developed close ties with the now powerful Revolutionary Guards which he controls, and whose commanders are elected and dismissed by him. The Revolutionary Guards have been deployed to suppress opposition to him. Khamenei served as the third president of Iran from 1981 to 1989, while becoming a close ally of the first supreme leader, Ruhollah Khomeini. Shortly before his death, Khomeini had a disagreement with the heir he had chosen – Hussein Ali Montazeri – so there was no agreed-on successor when Khomeini died. The Assembly of Experts elected Khamenei as the next supreme leader on 4 June 1989, at age 50. According to Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, Khamenei was the man Khomeini had chosen as his successor before dying. Khamenei has been head of the servants of Astan Quds Razavi since 14 April 1979.As supreme leader, Khamenei is the most powerful political authority in the Islamic Republic. He is the head of state of Iran, the commander-in-chief of its armed forces, and can issue decrees and make the final decisions on the main policies of the government in many fields such as economy, the environment, foreign policy, and national planning in Iran. As supreme leader, Khamenei has either direct or indirect control over the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government, as well as the military and media, according to Karim Sadjadpour. All candidates for the Assembly of Experts, the presidency and the Majlis (Parliament) are vetted by the Guardian Council, whose members are selected directly or indirectly by the Supreme Leader of Iran. There have also been instances when the Guardian Council reversed its ban on particular people after being ordered to do so by Khamenei.There have been major protests during Khamenei's reign, including the 1994 Qazvin protests, the 1999 student protests, the 2009 presidential election protests, the 2011–12 protests, the 2017–18 protests, the 2018–19 general strikes and protests, the 2019–20 protests, the 2021–22 protests, and the ongoing Mahsa Amini protests. Journalists, bloggers and others have been imprisoned in Iran for insulting Supreme Leader Khamenei, often in conjunction with blasphemy charges. Their sentences have included lashing and jail time; some have died in custody. Regarding the nuclear program of Iran, Khamenei issued a fatwa in 2003 forbidding the production, stockpiling and use of all kinds of weapons of mass destruction.
With an HPI of 73.32, Nader Shah is the 9th most famous Iranian Politician. His biography has been translated into 63 different languages.
Nader Shah Afshar (Persian: نادر شاه افشار, also known as Nāder Qoli Beyg نادرقلیبیگ or Tahmāsb Qoli Khan تهماسبقلی خان; August 1688 – 19 June 1747) was the founder of the Afsharid dynasty of Iran and one of the most powerful rulers in Iranian history, ruling as shah of Iran (Persia) from 1736 to 1747, when he was assassinated during a rebellion. He fought numerous campaigns throughout the Middle East, the Caucasus, Central Asia, and South Asia, such as the battles of Herat, Mihmandust, Murche-Khort, Kirkuk, Yeghevārd, Khyber Pass, Karnal, and Kars. Because of his military genius, some historians have described him as the Napoleon of Persia, the Sword of Persia, or the Second Alexander. Nader belonged to the Turkoman Afshars, one of the seven Qizilbash tribes that helped the Safavid dynasty establish their power in Iran. Nader rose to power during a period of chaos in Iran after a rebellion by the Hotaki Afghans had overthrown the weak Shah Soltan Hoseyn (r. 1694–1722), while the arch-enemy of the Safavids, the Ottomans, as well as the Russians had seized Iranian territory for themselves. Nader reunited the Iranian realm and removed the invaders. He became so powerful that he decided to depose the last members of the Safavid dynasty, which had ruled Iran for over 200 years, and become Shah himself in 1736. His numerous campaigns created a great empire that, at its maximum extent, briefly encompassed what is now part of or includes Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Georgia, India, Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Oman, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, the North Caucasus, and the Persian Gulf, but his military spending had a ruinous effect on the Iranian economy.Nader idolized Genghis Khan and Timur, the previous conquerors from Central Asia. He imitated their military prowess and—especially later in his reign—their cruelty. His victories during his campaigns briefly made him West Asia's most powerful sovereign, ruling over what was arguably the most powerful empire in the world.: 84 Following his assassination in 1747, his empire quickly disintegrated and Iran fell into a civil war. His grandson Shahrokh Shah was the last of his dynasty to rule, ultimately being deposed in 1796 by Agha Mohammad Khan Qajar, who crowned himself shah the same year.Nader Shah has been described as "the last great Asiatic military conqueror".
With an HPI of 73.28, Tahmasp I is the 10th most famous Iranian Politician. His biography has been translated into 43 different languages.
Tahmasp I (Persian: طهماسب, romanized: Ṭahmāsb or تهماسب Tahmâsb; 22 February 1514 – 14 May 1576) was the second shah of Safavid Iran from 1524 until his death in 1576. He was the eldest son of Ismail I and his principal consort, Tajlu Khanum. Ascending the throne after the death of his father on 23 May 1524, the first years of Tahmasp's reign were marked by civil wars between the Qizilbash leaders until 1532, when he asserted his authority and began an absolute monarchy. He soon faced a long-lasting war with the Ottoman Empire, which was divided into three phases. The Ottoman sultan, Suleiman the Magnificent, tried to install his own candidates on the Safavid throne. The war ended with the Peace of Amasya in 1555, with the Ottomans gaining sovereignty over Iraq, much of Kurdistan, and western Georgia. Tahmasp also had conflicts with the Uzbeks of Bukhara over Khorasan, with them repeatedly raiding Herat. In 1528, at the age of fourteen, he defeated the Uzbeks in the Battle of Jam by using artillery. Tahmasp was a patron of the arts and was an accomplished painter himself. He built a royal house of arts for painters, calligraphers and poets. Later in his reign, he came to despise poets, shunning many and exiling them to the Mughal court of India. Tahmasp is known for his religious piety and fervent zealotry for the Shia branch of Islam. He bestowed many privileges on the clergy and allowed them to participate in legal and administrative matters. In 1544 he demanded that the fugitive Mughal emperor Humayun convert to Shi'ism in return for military assistance to reclaim his throne in India. Nevertheless, Tahmasp still negotiated alliances with the Christian powers of the Republic of Venice and the Habsburg monarchy who were also rivals of the Ottoman Empire. His succession was disputed before his death. When Tahmasp died, a civil war followed, leading to the death of most of the royal family. Tahmasp's reign of nearly fifty-two years was the longest of any member of the Safavid dynasty. Although contemporary Western accounts were critical, modern historians describe him as a courageous and able commander who maintained and expanded his father's empire. His reign saw a shift in the Safavid ideological policy; he ended the worshipping of his father as the Messiah by the Turkoman Qizilbash tribes and instead established a public image of a pious and orthodox Shia king. He started a long process followed by his successors to end the Qizilbash influence on Safavid politics, replacing them with the newly introduced 'third force' containing Islamized Georgians and Armenians.
Pantheon has 185 people classified as politicians born between 1300 BC and 1989. Of these 185, 31 (16.76%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living politicians include Ali Khamenei, Farah Pahlavi, and Hassan Rouhani. The most famous deceased politicians include Cyrus the Great, Xerxes I, and Darius III. As of April 2022, 20 new politicians have been added to Pantheon including Ebrahim Raisi, Sufyan al-Thawri, and Amytis of Media.
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Which Politicians were alive at the same time? This visualization shows the lifespans of the 25 most globally memorable Politicians since 1700.