The Most Famous

POLITICIANS from Iran

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This page contains a list of the greatest Iranian Politicians. The pantheon dataset contains 15,710 Politicians, 167 of which were born in Iran. This makes Iran the birth place of the 17th most number of Politicians behind Austria and Iraq.

Top 10

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.

Photo of Xerxes I

1. Xerxes I (-519 - -475)

With an HPI of 85.31, Xerxes I is the most famous Iranian Politician.  His biography has been translated into 73 different languages on wikipedia.

Xerxes I (Old Persian: 𐎧𐏁𐎹𐎠𐎼𐏁𐎠, romanized: Xšaya-ṛšā; c. 518 – August 465 BC), commonly known as Xerxes the Great, was the fourth King of Kings of the Achaemenid Empire, ruling from 486 to 465 BC. He was the son and successor of Darius the Great (r. 522 – 486 BC) and his mother was Atossa, a daughter of Cyrus the Great (r. 550 – 530 BC), the first Achaemenid king. Like his father, he ruled the empire at its territorial apex. He ruled from 486 BC until his assassination in 465 BC at the hands of Artabanus, the commander of the royal bodyguard. Xerxes I is notable in Western history for his failed invasion of Greece in 480 BC. His forces temporarily overran mainland Greece north of the Isthmus of Corinth until losses at Salamis and Plataea a year later reversed these gains and ended the second invasion decisively. However, Xerxes successfully crushed revolts in Egypt and Babylon. Roman Ghirshman says that, "After this he ceased to use the title of 'king of Babylon', calling himself simply 'king of the Persians and the Medes'." Xerxes also oversaw the completion of various construction projects at Susa and Persepolis. Xerxes is identified with the king Ahasuerus in the biblical Book of Esther, which scholars generally consider to be fictional.

Photo of Darius III

2. Darius III (-380 - -330)

With an HPI of 84.03, Darius III is the 2nd most famous Iranian Politician.  His biography has been translated into 70 different languages.

Darius III (Old Persian: 𐎭𐎠𐎼𐎹𐎺𐎢𐏁, romanized: Dārayava(h)uš; New Persian: داریوش‎; 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 made 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 his 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.

Photo of Cyrus the Great

3. Cyrus the Great (-600 - -530)

With an HPI of 83.62, Cyrus the Great is the 3rd most famous Iranian Politician.  His biography has been translated into 114 different languages.

Cyrus II of Persia (Old Persian: 𐎤𐎢𐎽𐎢𐏁, romanized: Kūruš; New Persian: کوروش‎, romanized: Kūroš; c. 600 – 530 BCE) commonly known as Cyrus the Great, and also called Cyrus the Elder by the Greeks, was the founder of the Achaemenid Empire, the first Persian empire.Under his rule, the empire embraced all the previous civilized states of the ancient Near East, expanded vastly and eventually conquered most of Western Asia and much of Central Asia. From the Mediterranean Sea and Hellespont in the west to the Indus River in the east, Cyrus the Great created the largest empire the world had yet seen. Under his successors, the empire eventually stretched at its maximum extent from parts of the Balkans (Bulgaria–Paeonia and Thrace–Macedonia) and Southeast Europe proper in the west, to the Indus Valley in the east. The reign of Cyrus the Great lasted about thirty years. Cyrus built his empire by first conquering the Median Empire, then the Lydian Empire, and eventually the Neo-Babylonian Empire. He led an expedition into Central Asia, which resulted in major campaigns that were described as having brought "into subjection every nation without exception." Cyrus did not venture into Egypt, and was alleged to have died in battle fighting the Massagetae along the Syr Darya in December 530 BCE. However, Xenophon stated that Cyrus did not die in battle and returned to the capital again.He was succeeded by his son, Cambyses II, who managed to conquer Egypt, Nubia, and Cyrenaica during his short rule. Cyrus the Great respected the customs and religions of the lands he conquered. This became a very successful model for centralized administration and establishing a government working to the advantage and profit of its subjects. The administration of the empire through satraps and the vital principle of forming a government at Pasargadae were the works of Cyrus. What is sometimes referred to as the Edict of Restoration (actually two edicts) described in the Bible as being made by Cyrus the Great left a lasting legacy on the Jewish religion. According to Isaiah 45:1 of the Hebrew Bible, God anointed Cyrus for this task, even referring to him as a messiah (lit. 'anointed one') and he is the only non-Jewish figure in the Bible to be called so.Cyrus the Great is also well recognized for his achievements in human rights, politics, and military strategy, as well as his influence on both Eastern and Western civilizations. Having originated from Persis, roughly corresponding to the modern-day Fars Province of Iran, Cyrus has played a crucial role in defining the national identity of modern Iran. The Achaemenid influence in the ancient world eventually would extend as far as Athens, where upper-class Athenians adopted aspects of the culture of the ruling class of Achaemenid Persia as their own.Cyrus is a cult figure amongst modern Iranians, with his tomb serving as a spot of reverence for millions of people. In the 1970s, the last Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, identified his famous proclamation inscribed onto the Cyrus Cylinder as the oldest known declaration of human rights, and the Cylinder has since been popularized as such. This view has been criticized by some Western historians as a misunderstanding of the Cylinder's generic nature as a traditional statement that new monarchs make at the beginning of their reign.

Photo of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi

4. Mohammad Reza Pahlavi (1919 - 1980)

With an HPI of 83.60, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi is the 4th most famous Iranian Politician.  His biography has been translated into 86 different languages.

Mohammad Reza Pahlavi (Persian: محمدرضا پهلوی‎, pronounced [mohæmˈmæd reˈzɒː pæhlæˈviː]; 26 October 1919 – 27 July 1980), also known as Mohammad Reza Shah (محمدرضا شاه), was the last Shah (King) of Iran from 16 September 1941 until his overthrow in the Iranian Revolution on 11 February 1979. Due to his status as the last Shah of Iran, he is often known as simply the Shah. Mohammad Reza Shah took the title Shahanshah ("King of Kings") on 26 October 1967. He was the second and last monarch of the House of Pahlavi. Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi held several other titles, including that of Aryamehr ("Light of the Aryans") and Bozorg Arteshtaran ("Commander-in-Chief"). His dream of what he referred to as a "Great Civilization" (Persian: تمدن بزرگ‎, romanized: tamadon-e bozorg) in Iran led to a rapid industrial and military modernization, as well as economic and social reforms.Mohammad Reza came to power during World War II after an Anglo-Soviet invasion forced the abdication of his father, Reza Shah Pahlavi. During Mohammad Reza's reign, the British owned oil industry was briefly nationalized by Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh until a UK- and U.S.-backed coup d'état deposed Mosaddegh and brought back foreign oil firms under the Consortium Agreement of 1954.In October 1971, Iran marked the anniversary of 2,500 years of continuous Persian monarchy since the founding of the Achaemenid Empire by Cyrus the Great. Concurrent with this celebration, Mohammad Reza changed the benchmark of the Iranian calendar from the hegira to the beginning of the First Persian Empire, measured from Cyrus the Great's coronation. Mohammad Reza also introduced the White Revolution, a series of economic, social and political reforms with the proclaimed intention of transforming Iran into a global power and modernizing the nation by nationalizing certain industries and granting women suffrage. During his 38-year rule, Iran spent billions on industry, education, health, and armed forces and enjoyed economic growth rates exceeding the United States, England, and France. The national income also rose 423 times over. By 1977, Iran's armed services spending had made it the world's fifth strongest military.Mohammad Reza lost support from the Shi'a clergy of Iran and the working class due to alleged corruption related to himself and the royal family, suppression of political dissent via Iran's intelligence agency, SAVAK (including the arrest of up to 3,200 political prisoners), widespread torture and imprisonment of political dissidents, banishment of the Tudeh Party, U.S. and UK support for his regime, his modernization policies, laïcité or secularism, conflict with wealthy merchants known as bazaaris, relations with Israel, and clashes with leftists and Islamists. By 1978, this political unrest became a popular revolution leading to the monarchy's overthrow. The Jaleh Square massacre, where his military shot hundreds to thousands of protestors; the Cinema Rex fire, an arson attack largely but erroneously blamed on SAVAK in Abadan; defections and mutinies in the armed forces; the Muharram protests of over 5 million Iranians; and a meeting of western leaders that the Shah felt was a withdrawal of their support, made his position in Iran untenable. He left Iran for exile on 17 January 1979. While the Shah told his contemporaries in the West that he would rather leave than fire on his people, the number of people killed by the Shah and his military during the revolution range from 2000 (Western figures) to 60000 (figures of the Islamic Republic of Iran). Soon thereafter, the Iranian monarchy was formally abolished, and Iran was declared an Islamic republic led by Ruhollah Khomeini (known in the West as Ayatollah Khomeini). The Shah died in exile in Egypt, whose president, Anwar Sadat, had granted him asylum.

Photo of Harun al-Rashid

5. Harun al-Rashid (766 - 809)

With an HPI of 83.05, Harun al-Rashid is the 5th most famous Iranian Politician.  His biography has been translated into 75 different languages.

Harun al-Rashid (; Arabic: هَارُون الرَشِيد‎ Hārūn Ar-Rašīd; "Aaron the Orthodox" or "Aaron the Rightly-Guided", 17 March 763 or February 766 – 24 March 809 (148–193 Hijri) was the fifth Abbasid Caliph. His birth date is debated, with various sources giving dates from 763 to 766. His epithet "al-Rashid" translates to "the Orthodox", "the Just", "the Upright", or "the Rightly-Guided". Harun ruled from 786 to 809, traditionally regarded to be the beginning of the Islamic Golden Age. He 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. 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.

Photo of Ali Khamenei

6. Ali Khamenei (1939 - )

With an HPI of 80.85, Ali Khamenei is the 6th most famous Iranian Politician.  His biography has been translated into 88 different languages.

Sayyid Ali Hosseini Khamenei (Persian: سید علی حسینی خامنه‌ای‎, pronounced [ʔæˈliː hosejˈniː xɒːmeneˈʔiː] (listen); born 19 April 1939) is a Twelver Shia Marja' and the second and current supreme leader of Iran, in office since 1989. He was previously 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 paralysed 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 the age of 49. 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. 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 been also 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 Iranian student protests, the 2009 Iranian presidential election protests, the 2011–2012 Iranian protests, the 2017–2018 Iranian protests, the 2018–2019 Iranian general strikes and protests, and the 2019–2020 Iranian protests. Journalists, bloggers, and other individuals have been put on trial in Iran for the charge of insulting Supreme Leader Khamenei, often in conjunction with blasphemy charges. Their sentences have included lashing and jail time, and some of them 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.

Photo of Cambyses II

7. Cambyses II (-550 - -522)

With an HPI of 80.74, Cambyses II is the 7th most famous Iranian Politician.  His biography has been translated into 58 different languages.

Cambyses II (Old Persian: 𐎣𐎲𐎢𐎪𐎡𐎹 Kabūjiya) 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 539 BC to December 538 BC. Afterwards, he continued to roam in the Babylonian cities of Babylon and Sippar, before being appointed by his father as co-ruler in 530 BC, who set off to mount 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 noticeable opposition. His relatively brief reign was marked by his conquests in 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 his holdings in Africa even further, such as his 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.

Photo of Khosrow I

8. Khosrow I (501 - 579)

With an HPI of 78.71, Khosrow I is the 8th most famous Iranian Politician.  His biography has been translated into 53 different languages.

Khosrow I (also spelled Khosrau, Khusro or Chosroes; Middle Persian: 𐭧𐭥𐭮𐭫𐭥𐭣𐭩‎; New Persian: خسرو [xosˈroʊ̯]), traditionally known by his epithet of Anushirvan (انوشيروان [ænuːʃi:rˈvɔːn] "the Immortal Soul"), was the Sasanian King of Kings of Iran from 531 to 579. He was the son and successor of Kavad I (r. 488–496, 498/9–531). Inheriting a reinvigorated empire at war with the Byzantines, Khosrow I made a peace treaty with them in 532, known as the Perpetual Peace, in which the Byzantine emperor Justinian I paid 11,000 pounds of gold to the Sasanians. Khosrow then focused on consolidating his power, executing conspirators, including his uncle Bawi. Dissatisfied with the actions of the Byzantine clients and vassals, the Ghassanids, and encouraged by the Ostrogoth envoys from Italy, Khosrow violated the peace treaty and declared war against the Byzantines in 540. He sacked the city of Antioch, bathed in the Mediterranean Sea at Seleucia Pieria, and held chariot races at Apamea where he made the Blue Faction—which was supported by Justinian—lose against the rival Greens. In 541, he invaded Lazica and made it an Iranian protectorate, thus initiating the Lazic War. In 545, the two empires agreed to halt the wars in Mesopotamia and Syria, while it waged on in Lazica. A truce was made in 557, and by 562 a Fifty-Year Peace Treaty was made. In 572, Justin II, the successor of Justinian, broke the peace treaty and sent a Byzantine force into the Sasanian region of Arzanene. The following year, Khosrow besieged and captured the important Byzantine fortress-city of Dara, which drove Justin II insane. The war would last till 591, outliving Khosrow. Khosrow's wars were not only based in the west. To the east, Khosrow, in an alliance with the Göktürks finally put an end to the Hephthalite Empire, which had inflicted a handful of defeats on the Sasanians in the 5th-century, killing Khosrow's grandfather Peroz I. To the south, Iranian forces led by Wahrez defeated the Aksumites and conquered Yemen. Khosrow I was known for his character, virtues and knowledge. During his ambitious reign, he continued his father's project of making major reforms in the social, military, and economic aspects of the empire, increasing the welfare and the revenues, establishing a professional army, and founding or rebuilding many cities, palaces, and infrastructures. He was interested in literature and philosophy, and under his reign, art and science flourished in Iran. Khosrow was the most distinguished of the Sasanian kings, and his name became, like that of Caesar in the history of Rome, a designation of the Sasanian kings. Due to his accomplishments, he has been hailed as the new Cyrus. At the time of his death, the Sasanian Empire had reached its greatest extent since Shapur II, stretching from Yemen in the west to Gandhara in the east. He was succeeded by his son Hormizd IV.

Photo of Tahmasp I

9. Tahmasp I (1514 - 1576)

With an HPI of 78.67, Tahmasp I is the 9th most famous Iranian Politician.  His biography has been translated into 40 different languages.

Tahmasp I (; Persian pronunciation: [tæhˈmɒːseb], Persian: شاه تهماسپ یکم‎) (22 February 1514 – 14 May 1576) was an influential Shah of Iran, who enjoyed the longest reign of any member of the Safavid dynasty. He was the son and successor of Ismail I. He came to the throne aged ten in 1524 and came under the control of the Qizilbash who formed the backbone of the Safavid Empire. The Qizilbash leaders fought among themselves for the right to be regents over Tahmasp, and by doing so held most of the effective power in the empire. Upon adulthood, however, Tahmasp was able to reassert the power of the Shah and control the tribesmen with the start of the introduction of large amounts of Caucasian elements, effectively and purposefully creating a new layer in Iranian society, solely composed of ethnic Caucasians. This new layer, also called the third force in some of the modern day sources, would be solely composed of hundreds of thousands of ethnic Circassians, Georgians and Armenians, and they would continue to play a crucial role in Persia's royal household, harems, civil and military administration, as well as in all other thinkable and available positions for centuries after Tahmasp, and they would eventually fully eliminate the effective power of the Qizilbash in most of the functioning posts of the empire, by which they would also become the most dominant class in the meritocratic Safavid kingdom as well. One of his most notable successors, the greatest Safavid emperor, Abbas I (also known as Abbas the Great) would fully implement and finalize this policy and the creation of this new layer in Iranian society. Tahmasp's reign was marked by foreign threats, primarily from the Safavid's arch rival, the Ottomans, and the Uzbeks in the far east. In 1555, however, he regularized relations with the Ottoman Empire through the Peace of Amasya. By this treaty historical Armenia and Georgia were divided equally between the two, the Ottoman Empire obtained most of Iraq, including Baghdad, which gave them access to the Persian Gulf, while the Persians retained their former capital Tabriz and all their other north-western territories in the Caucasus (Dagestan, Azerbaijan) and as they were prior to the wars. The frontier thus established ran across the mountains dividing eastern and western Georgia (under native vassal princes), through Armenia, and via the western slopes of the Zagros down to the Persian Gulf. The Ottomans, further, gave permission for Persian pilgrims to go to the holy places of Mecca and Medina as well as to the Shia sites of pilgrimages in Iraq. This peace lasted for 30 years, until it was broken in the time of Shah Mohammad Khodabanda. Tahmasp is also known for the reception he gave to the fugitive Mughal Emperor Humayun as well as Suleiman the Magnificent's son Bayezid, which is depicted in a painting on the walls of the Safavid palace of Chehel Sotoon. One of Shah Tahmasp's more lasting achievements was his encouragement of the Persian rug industry on a national scale, possibly a response to the economic effects of the interruption of the Silk Road carrying trade during the Ottoman wars.

Photo of Darius II

10. Darius II (-475 - -404)

With an HPI of 78.66, Darius II is the 10th most famous Iranian Politician.  His biography has been translated into 49 different languages.

Darius II (Old Persian: 𐎭𐎠𐎼𐎹𐎺𐎢𐏁, romanized: Dārayavahuš), also called Darius II Nothus or Darius II Ochus, was King of Kings of the Achaemenid Empire from 423 BC to 405 or 404 BC.Artaxerxes I, who died in 424 BC, was followed by his son Xerxes II. After a month and half Xerxes II was murdered by his brother Sogdianus. His illegitimate brother, Ochus, satrap of Hyrcania, rebelled against Sogdianus, and after a short fight killed him, and suppressed by treachery the attempt of his own brother Arsites to imitate his example. Ochus adopted the name Darius (Greek sources often call him Darius Nothos, "Bastard"). Neither the names Xerxes II nor Sogdianus occur in the dates of the numerous Babylonian tablets from Nippur; here effectively the reign of Darius II follows immediately after that of Artaxerxes I. Historians know little about Darius II's reign. A rebellion by the Medes in 409 BC is mentioned by Xenophon. It does seem that Darius II was quite dependent on his wife Parysatis. In excerpts from Ctesias some harem intrigues are recorded, in which he played a disreputable part. The Elephantine papyri mention Darius II as a contemporary of the high priest Johanan of Ezra 10:6.

Pantheon has 167 people classified as politicians born between 1300 BC and 1979. Of these 167, 27 (16.17%) 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 Xerxes I, Darius III, and Cyrus the Great. As of October 2020, 17 new politicians have been added to Pantheon including Farrokhroo Parsa, Ahmad Jannati, and Fatemeh Rahbar.

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