The following people are considered by Pantheon to be the top 10 most legendary Politicians of all time. This list of famous 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 Politicians.
With an HPI of 78.33, Akbar is the most famous Politician. His biography has been translated into 139 different languages on wikipedia.
Abu'l-Fath Jalal-ud-din Muhammad Akbar (25 October 1542 – 27 October 1605), popularly known as Akbar the Great (Persian: اکبر اعظم Persian pronunciation: [akbarɪ azam]), and also as Akbar I (Persian pronunciation: [akbar]), was the third Mughal emperor, who reigned from 1556 to 1605. Akbar succeeded his father, Humayun, under a regent, Bairam Khan, who helped the young emperor expand and consolidate Mughal domains in India. A strong personality and a successful general, Akbar gradually enlarged the Mughal Empire to include much of the Indian subcontinent. His power and influence, however, extended over the entire subcontinent because of Mughal military, political, cultural, and economic dominance. To unify the vast Mughal state, Akbar established a centralised system of administration throughout his empire and adopted a policy of conciliating conquered rulers through marriage and diplomacy. To preserve peace and order in a religiously and culturally diverse empire, he adopted policies that won him the support of his non-Muslim subjects. Eschewing tribal bonds and Islamic state identity, Akbar strove to unite far-flung lands of his realm through loyalty, expressed through an Indo-Persian culture, to himself as an emperor. Mughal India developed a strong and stable economy, leading to commercial expansion and greater patronage of culture. Akbar himself was a patron of art and culture. He was fond of literature, and created a library of over 24,000 volumes written in Sanskrit, Urdu, Persian, Greek, Latin, Arabic and Kashmiri, staffed by many scholars, translators, artists, calligraphers, scribes, bookbinders and readers. He did much of the cataloging himself through three main groupings. Akbar also established the library of Fatehpur Sikri exclusively for women, and he decreed that schools for the education of both Muslims and Hindus should be established throughout the realm. He also encouraged bookbinding to become a high art. Holy men of many faiths, poets, architects, and artisans adorned his court from all over the world for study and discussion. Akbar's courts at Delhi, Agra, and Fatehpur Sikri became centres of the arts, letters, and learning. Timurid and Perso-Islamic culture began to merge and blend with indigenous Indian elements, and a distinct Indo-Persian culture emerged characterized by Mughal style arts, painting, and architecture. Disillusioned with orthodox Islam and perhaps hoping to bring about religious unity within his empire, Akbar promulgated Din-i-Ilahi, a syncretic creed derived mainly from Islam and Hinduism as well as some parts of Zoroastrianism and Christianity. Akbar's reign significantly influenced the course of Indian history. During his rule, the Mughal Empire tripled in size and wealth. He created a powerful military system and instituted effective political and social reforms. By abolishing the sectarian tax on non-Muslims and appointing them to high civil and military posts, he was the first Mughal ruler to win the trust and loyalty of the native subjects. He had Sanskrit literature translated, participated in native festivals, realising that a stable empire depended on the co-operation and good-will of his subjects. Thus, the foundations for a multicultural empire under Mughal rule were laid during his reign. Akbar was succeeded as emperor by his son, Prince Salim, later known as Jahangir.
With an HPI of 72.34, Shah Jahan is the 2nd most famous Politician. His biography has been translated into 85 different languages.
Shihab al-Din Muhammad Khurram (5 January 1592 – 22 January 1666), better known by his regnal name Shah Jahan I (Persian pronunciation: [ʃɑːh d͡ʒahɑːn]; lit. 'King of the World'), was the fifth emperor of the Mughal Empire, reigning from January 1628 until July 1658. Under his emperorship, the Mughals reached the peak of their architectural achievements and cultural glory. The third son of Jahangir (r. 1605–1627), Shah Jahan participated in the military campaigns against the Rajputs of Mewar and the Lodis of Deccan. After Jahangir's death in October 1627, Shah Jahan defeated his youngest brother Shahryar Mirza and crowned himself emperor in the Agra Fort. In addition to Shahryar, Shah Jahan executed most of his rival claimants to the throne. He commissioned many monuments, including the Red Fort, Shah Jahan Mosque and the Taj Mahal, where his favorite wife Mumtaz Mahal is entombed. In foreign affairs, Shah Jahan presided over the aggressive campaigns against the Deccan Sultanates, the conflicts with the Portuguese, and the wars with Safavids, while maintaining positive relations with the Ottoman Empire. He also suppressed several local rebellions, and dealt with the devastating Deccan famine of 1630–32. In September 1657, Shah Jahan was ailing from an illness and he appointed his eldest son Dara Shikoh as his successor. This nomination led to a succession crisis among his three sons, after which Shah Jahan's third son Aurangzeb (r. 1658–1707) emerged victorious and became the sixth emperor. After Shah Jahan returned from illness in July 1658, Aurangzeb imprisoned his father in the Agra Fort from July 1658 until his death in January 1666. He was laid to rest next to his wife in the Taj Mahal. His reign is known for doing away with the liberal policies initiated by Akbar. During Shah Jahan's time, Islamic revivalist movements like the Naqsbandi began to shape Mughal policies.
With an HPI of 65.78, Benazir Bhutto is the 3rd most famous Politician. Her biography has been translated into 114 different languages.
Benazir Bhutto (Sindhi: بينظير ڀُٽو; Urdu: بینظیر بُھٹو; IPA: [beːnəˈziːr ˈbʱʊʈ.ʈoː]; 21 June 1953 – 27 December 2007) was a left-wing Pakistani politician who served as the 11th and 13th prime minister of Pakistan from 1988 to 1990 and again from 1993 to 1996. She was the first muslim woman to head a democratic government. She was the daughter of former Prime Minister of Pakistan Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. Ideologically a liberal and a secularist, she chaired or co-chaired the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) from the early 1980s until her assassination in 2007. Of mixed Sindhi and Kurdish parentage, Bhutto was born in Karachi to a politically important, wealthy aristocratic family. She studied at Harvard University and the University of Oxford, where she was President of the Oxford Union. Her father, the PPP leader Zulfikar Bhutto, was elected Prime Minister on a socialist platform in 1973. She returned to Pakistan in 1977, shortly before her father was ousted in a military coup and executed. Bhutto and her mother Nusrat took control of the PPP and led the country's Movement for the Restoration of Democracy; Bhutto was repeatedly imprisoned by Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq's military government and then self-exiled to Britain in 1984. She returned in 1986 and—influenced by Thatcherite economics—transformed the PPP's platform from a socialist to a liberal one, before leading it to victory in the 1988 election. As Prime Minister, her attempts at reform were stifled by conservative and Islamist forces, including President Ghulam Ishaq Khan and the powerful military. Her administration was accused of corruption and nepotism and dismissed by Khan in 1990. Intelligence services rigged that year's election to ensure a victory for the conservative Islamic Democratic Alliance (IJI), at which point Bhutto became Leader of the Opposition. After the IJI government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was also dismissed on corruption charges, Bhutto led the PPP to victory in the 1993 elections. In her second term, she oversaw economic privatisation and attempts to advance women's rights. Her government was damaged by several controversies, including the assassination of her brother Murtaza, a failed 1995 coup d'état, and a further bribery scandal involving her and her husband Asif Ali Zardari; in response, President Farooq Leghari dismissed her government. The PPP lost the 1997 election and in 1998 she went into self-exile, living between Dubai and London for the next decade. A widening corruption inquiry culminated in a 2003 conviction in a Swiss court. Following the United States–brokered negotiations with President Pervez Musharraf, she returned to Pakistan in 2007 to compete in the 2008 elections; her platform emphasised civilian oversight of the military and opposition to growing Islamist violence. After a political rally in Rawalpindi, she was assassinated. The Salafi jihadi group al-Qaeda claimed responsibility, although the involvement of the Pakistani Taliban and rogue elements of the intelligence services was widely suspected. She was buried at her family mausoleum in Garhi Khuda Baksh. Bhutto was a controversial figure who remains divisive to this day. She was often criticised as being politically inexperienced, was accused of being corrupt, and faced much opposition from Pakistan's Islamist lobby for her secularist and modernising agenda. In the early years of her career, she was nevertheless domestically popular and also attracted support from Western nations, for whom she was a champion of democracy. Posthumously, she came to be regarded as an icon for women's rights due to her political success in a male-dominated society.
With an HPI of 64.83, Kanishka is the 4th most famous Politician. His biography has been translated into 42 different languages.
Kanishka I (Sanskrit: कनिष्क, Kaniṣka; Greco-Bactrian: Κανηϸκε Kanēške; Kharosthi: 𐨐𐨞𐨁𐨮𐨿𐨐 Ka-ṇi-ṣka; Brahmi: Kā-ṇi-ṣka), or Kanishka, was an emperor of the Kushan dynasty, under whose reign (c. 127–150 CE) the empire reached its zenith. He is famous for his military, political, and spiritual achievements. A descendant of Kujula Kadphises, founder of the Kushan empire, Kanishka came to rule an empire, extending from Central Asia and Gandhara to Pataliputra on the Gangetic plain. The main capital of his empire was located at Puruṣapura (Peshawar) in Gandhara, with another major capital at Mathura. Coins of Kanishka were found in Tripuri (present-day Jabalpur).His conquests and patronage of Buddhism played an important role in the development of the Silk Road, and in the transmission of Mahayana Buddhism from Gandhara across the Karakoram range to China. Around 127 CE, he replaced Greek with Bactrian as the official language of administration in the empire.Earlier scholars believed that Kanishka ascended the Kushan throne in 78 CE, and that this date was used as the beginning of the Saka calendar era. However, historians no longer regard this date as that of Kanishka's accession. Falk estimates that Kanishka came to the throne in 127 CE.
With an HPI of 64.22, Porus is the 5th most famous Politician. His biography has been translated into 45 different languages.
Porus or Poros (Ancient Greek: Πῶρος Pôros; fl. 326–321 BC) was an ancient Indian king whose territory spanned the region between the Jhelum River (Hydaspes) and Chenab River (Acesines), in the Punjab region of the Indian subcontinent. He is only mentioned in Greek sources. Credited to have been a legendary warrior with exceptional skills, Porus unsuccessfully fought against Alexander the Great in the Battle of the Hydaspes (326 BC). In the aftermath, an impressed Alexander not only reinstated him as his satrap but also granted him dominion over lands to the south-east extending until the Hyphasis (Beas). Porus reportedly died sometime between 321 and 315 BC.
With an HPI of 63.47, Muhammad Ali Jinnah is the 6th most famous Politician. His biography has been translated into 93 different languages.
Muhammad Ali Jinnah (Urdu pronunciation: [moɦəmːəd̪ əliː d͡ʒɪnːɑːɦ], Gujarati pronunciation: [məɦ(ə)məd̪ əli d͡ʒʱiɽ̃ɑ]; born Mahomedali Jinnahbhai; 25 December 1876 – 11 September 1948) was a barrister, politician and the founder of Pakistan. Jinnah served as the leader of the All-India Muslim League from 1913 until the inception of Pakistan on 14 August 1947, and then as the Dominion of Pakistan's first governor-general until his death. He is revered in Pakistan as the Quaid-e-Azam ("Great Leader") and Baba-e-Qaum ("Father of the Nation"). His birthday is observed as a national holiday in Pakistan. Born at Wazir Mansion in Karachi, Jinnah was trained as a barrister at Lincoln's Inn in London, England. Upon his return to India, he enrolled at the Bombay High Court, and took an interest in national politics, which eventually replaced his legal practice. Jinnah rose to prominence in the Indian National Congress in the first two decades of the 20th century. In these early years of his political career, Jinnah advocated Hindu–Muslim unity, helping to shape the 1916 Lucknow Pact between the Congress and the All-India Muslim League, in which Jinnah had also become prominent. Jinnah became a key leader in the All-India Home Rule League, and proposed a fourteen-point constitutional reform plan to safeguard the political rights of Muslims in the Indian subcontinent. In 1920, however, Jinnah resigned from the Congress when it agreed to follow a campaign of satyagraha, which he regarded as political anarchy. By 1940, Jinnah had come to believe that the Muslims of the subcontinent should have their own state to avoid the possible marginalised status they may gain in an independent Hindu–Muslim state. In that year, the Muslim League, led by Jinnah, passed the Lahore Resolution, demanding a separate nation for Indian Muslims. During the Second World War, the League gained strength while leaders of the Congress were imprisoned, and in the provincial elections held shortly after the war, it won most of the seats reserved for Muslims. Ultimately, the Congress and the Muslim League could not reach a power-sharing formula that would allow the entirety of British India to be united as a single state following independence, leading all parties to agree instead to the independence of a predominantly Hindu India, and for a Muslim-majority state of Pakistan. As the first Governor-General of Pakistan, Jinnah worked to establish the new nation's government and policies, and to aid the millions of Muslim migrants who had emigrated from neighbouring India to Pakistan after the two states' independence, personally supervising the establishment of refugee camps. Jinnah died at age 71 in September 1948, just over a year after Pakistan gained independence from the United Kingdom. He left a deep and respected legacy in Pakistan. Innumerable streets, roads and localities in the world are named after Jinnah. Several universities and public buildings in Pakistan bear Jinnah's name. According to his biographer, Stanley Wolpert, Jinnah remains Pakistan's greatest leader.
With an HPI of 63.32, Muhammad bin Tughluq is the 7th most famous Politician. His biography has been translated into 35 different languages.
Muhammad bin Tughlaq (1290 – 20 March 1351) was the eighteenth sultan of the Delhi Sultanate, reigning from February 1325 until his death. He was the eldest son of Ghiyath al-Din Tughluq, the founder of the Tughlaq dynasty. Ghiyasuddin sent the young Muhammad to the Deccan to campaign against king Prataparudra of the Kakatiya dynasty whose capital was at Warangal in 1321 and 1323. Muhammad has been described as an "inhuman eccentric" with bizarre character by the accounts of visitors during his rule, he is said to have ordered the massacre of all the inhabitants of the Hindu city of Kannauj. He is also known for wild policy swings. Muhammad ascended to the Delhi throne upon his father's death in 1325. He was interested in medicine and was skilled in several languages — Persian, Hindavi Arabic, Sanskrit and Turkish. Ibn Battuta, the famous traveler and jurist from Morocco, was a guest at his court and wrote about his suzerainty in his book.
With an HPI of 62.72, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto is the 8th most famous Politician. His biography has been translated into 75 different languages.
Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto (Sindhi: ذوالفقار علي ڀٽو; Urdu: ذُوالفِقار علی بُھٹّو; 5 January 1928 – 4 April 1979), also widely known as Quaid-e-Awam which means People's Leader, was a Pakistani barrister, statesman and politician who served as the ninth prime minister of Pakistan from 1973 to 1977, and prior to that was the fourth president of Pakistan from 1971 to 1973. Bhutto is an icon of leadership for his efforts to preserve and lead the nation after the Bangladesh Liberation War. His government drafted the Constitution of Pakistan in 1973, which is the current constitution of the country. He was also the founder of the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) and served as its chairman until his execution in 1979. Bhutto's execution till this day is widely recognised as a judicial murder ordered by then dictator General Zia-ul-Haq. Born in Sindh and educated at the University of California, Berkeley and the University of Oxford, Bhutto trained as a barrister at Lincoln's Inn, before entering politics as one of President Iskander Mirza's cabinet members, and was assigned several ministries during President Ayub Khan's military rule from 1958. Appointed Foreign Minister in 1963, Bhutto was a proponent of Operation Gibraltar in Kashmir, leading to war with India in 1965. After the Tashkent Agreement ended hostilities, Bhutto fell out with Ayub Khan and was sacked from government. Bhutto founded the PPP in 1967 on a socialist platform, and contested general elections held by President Yahya Khan in 1970. While the Awami League won a majority of seats overall (nationwide), the PPP won a majority of seats in West Pakistan only (where Awami League did not win any seat); the two parties were unable to agree on the power transfer and a new constitution. In particular, Awami League's Six Point Movement was seen by many in West Pakistan including President Yahya Khan and Z. A. Bhutto as a way to break up the country. Stubbornness of Bhutto and Yahya to accept a Bengali as the Prime Minister of Pakistan led to the uprisings and movements in East Pakistan, and counter steps taken by the Army ordered by Yahya Khan and supported by Bhutto ultimately led to the Creation of Bangladesh. In the wake of Pakistan losing the war against Bangladesh-allied India in December, 1971, Bhutto took the presidency in December 1971 and emergency rule was imposed. When Bhutto set about rebuilding Pakistan, he stated his intention was to "rebuild confidence and rebuild hope for the future".By July 1972, Bhutto recovered 93,000 prisoners of war and 5,000 sq mi of Indian-held territory after signing the Simla Agreement. He strengthened ties with China and Saudi Arabia, recognised Bangladesh, and hosted the second Organisation of the Islamic Conference in Lahore in 1974. Domestically, Bhutto's reign saw parliament unanimously approve a new constitution in 1973, upon which he appointed Fazal Ilahi Chaudhry President and switched to the newly empowered office of Prime Minister. He also played an integral role in initiating the country's nuclear programme. However, Bhutto's nationalisation of much of Pakistan's fledgling industries, healthcare, and educational institutions was met with economic stagnation. After dissolving provincial feudal governments in Balochistan was met with unrest, Bhutto also ordered an army operation in the province in 1973, causing thousands of civilian casualties. Despite civil disorder, the PPP won parliamentary elections in 1977 by a wide margin. However, the opposition alleged widespread vote rigging, and violence escalated across the country. On 5 July that same year, Bhutto was deposed in a military coup by his appointed army chief Zia-ul-Haq, before being controversially tried and executed by the Supreme Court of Pakistan in 1979 for authorising the murder of a political opponent.Bhutto remains a contentious figure, being hailed for his nationalism and secular internationalist agenda, yet criticized for intimidating his political opponents and for human rights violations. He is often considered one of Pakistan's greatest leaders, and his party, the PPP, remains among Pakistan's largest, with his daughter Benazir Bhutto being twice elected Prime Minister, while his son-in-law and Benazir's husband, Asif Ali Zardari, served as president.
With an HPI of 60.55, Aga Khan III is the 9th most famous Politician. His biography has been translated into 33 different languages.
Sir Sultan Mahomed Shah, Aga Khan III (2 November 1877 – 11 July 1957) was the 48th Imam of the Nizari Ismaili sect of Islam. He played a very important role in giving the Muslims a political stance to express their opinions to the British. He led a deputation of 35 Muslim politicians to discuss the demands of the Muslims in the Subcontinent with the British viceroy, Lord Minto, in October 1906. He was one of the founders and the first permanent president of the All-India Muslim League (AIML). His goal was the advancement of Muslim agendas and protection of Muslim rights in British India. The League, until the late 1930s, was not a large organisation but represented the landed and commercial Muslim interests as well as advocating for British education during the British Raj. There were similarities in the Aga Khan's views on education with those of other Muslim social reformers, but the scholar Shenila Khoja-Moolji argues that he also expressed distinct interest in advancing women's education for women themselves. Aga Khan called on the British Raj to consider Muslims to be a separate nation within India, the famous 'Two Nation Theory'. Even after he resigned as president of the AIML in 1912, he still exerted a major influence on its policies and agendas. He was nominated to represent India to the League of Nations in 1932 and served as President of the League of Nations from 1937 to 1938.
With an HPI of 59.69, Ranjit Singh is the 10th most famous Politician. His biography has been translated into 45 different languages.
Ranjit Singh (2 November 1780 – 27 June 1839), popularly known as Sher-e-Punjab or "Lion of Punjab", was the first Maharaja of the Sikh Empire, which ruled the northwest Indian subcontinent in the early half of the 19th century. He survived smallpox in infancy but lost sight in his left eye. He fought his first battle alongside his father at age 10. After his father died, he fought several wars to expel the Afghans in his teenage years and was proclaimed as the "Maharaja of Punjab" at age 21. His empire grew in the Punjab region under his leadership through 1839.Prior to his rise, the Punjab region had numerous warring misls (confederacies), twelve of which were under Sikh rulers and one Muslim. Ranjit Singh successfully absorbed and united the Sikh misls and took over other local kingdoms to create the Sikh Empire. He repeatedly defeated invasions by outside armies, particularly those arriving from Afghanistan, and established friendly relations with the British.Ranjit Singh's reign introduced reforms, modernisation, investment into infrastructure and general prosperity. His Khalsa army and government included Sikhs, Hindus, Muslims and Europeans. His legacy includes a period of Sikh cultural and artistic renaissance, including the rebuilding of the Harmandir Sahib in Amritsar as well as other major gurudwaras, including Takht Sri Patna Sahib, Bihar and Hazur Sahib Nanded, Maharashtra under his sponsorship. Ranjit Singh was succeeded by his son Kharak Singh.
Pantheon has 62 people classified as politicians born between 550 BC and 1988. Of these 62, 23 (37.10%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living politicians include Imran Khan, Manmohan Singh, and Arif Alvi. The most famous deceased politicians include Akbar, Shah Jahan, and Benazir Bhutto. As of April 2022, 10 new politicians have been added to Pantheon including Imran Khan, Khema, and J. B. Kripalani.
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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.