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 75.57, Elagabalus is the most famous Politician. His biography has been translated into 75 different languages on wikipedia.
Marcus Aurelius Antoninus "Elagabalus" ( EL-ə-GAB-ə-ləs; born Sextus Varius Avitus Bassianus, c. 204 – 11/12 March 222), was Roman emperor from 218 to 222, while he was still a teenager. His short reign was conspicuous for sex scandals and religious controversy. A close relative to the Severan dynasty, he came from a prominent Arab family in Emesa (Homs), Syria, where since his early youth he served as head priest of the sun god Elagabal. After the death of his cousin, the emperor Caracalla, Elagabalus was raised to the principate at 14 years of age in an army revolt instigated by his grandmother Julia Maesa against Caracalla's short-lived successor, Macrinus. He only posthumously became known by the Latinised name of his god.Later historians suggest Elagabalus showed a disregard for Roman religious traditions and sexual taboos. He replaced the traditional head of the Roman pantheon, Jupiter, with the deity Elagabal, of whom he had been high priest. He forced leading members of Rome's government to participate in religious rites celebrating this deity, presiding over them in person. He married four women, including a Vestal Virgin, and lavished favours on male courtiers thought to have been his lovers. He was also reported to have prostituted himself. His behavior estranged the Praetorian Guard, the Senate, and the common people alike. Amidst growing opposition, at just 18 years of age he was assassinated and replaced by his cousin Severus Alexander in March 222. The assassination plot against Elagabalus was devised by Julia Maesa, his grandmother, and carried out by disaffected members of the Praetorian Guard. Elagabalus developed a reputation among his contemporaries for extreme eccentricity, decadence, zealotry, and sexual promiscuity. This tradition has persisted, and among writers of the early modern age he suffered one of the worst reputations among Roman emperors. Edward Gibbon, for example, wrote that Elagabalus "abandoned himself to the grossest pleasures with ungoverned fury". According to Barthold Georg Niebuhr, "the name Elagabalus is branded in history above all others" because of his "unspeakably disgusting life". An example of a modern historian's assessment is Adrian Goldsworthy's: "Elagabalus was not a tyrant, but he was an incompetent, probably the least able emperor Rome had ever had." Despite near-universal condemnation of his reign, some scholars write warmly about him, including the 6th-century Byzantine chronicler John Malalas, and Warwick Ball, a modern historian who described him as innovative and "a tragic enigma lost behind centuries of prejudice".
With an HPI of 74.93, Zenobia is the 2nd most famous Politician. Her biography has been translated into 53 different languages.
Septimia Zenobia (Palmyrene: 𐡡𐡶𐡦𐡡𐡩 : BTZBY, vocalized as Bat-Zabbai; c. AD 240 – c. 274) was a third-century queen of the Palmyrene Empire in Syria. Many legends surround her ancestry; she was probably not a commoner and she married the ruler of the city, Odaenathus. Her husband became king in 260, elevating Palmyra to supreme power in the Near East by defeating the Sassanians and stabilizing the Roman East. After Odaenathus' assassination, Zenobia became the regent of her son Vaballathus and held de facto power throughout his reign. In 270, Zenobia launched an invasion that brought most of the Roman East under her sway and culminated with the annexation of Egypt. By mid-271 her realm extended from Ancyra, central Anatolia, to southern Egypt, although she remained nominally subordinate to Rome. However, in reaction to the campaign of the Roman emperor Aurelian in 272, Zenobia declared her son emperor and assumed the title of empress (declaring Palmyra's secession from Rome). The Romans were victorious after heavy fighting; the queen was besieged in her capital and captured by Aurelian, who exiled her to Rome, where she spent the remainder of her life. Zenobia was a cultured monarch and fostered an intellectual environment in her court, which was open to scholars and philosophers. She was tolerant toward her subjects and protected religious minorities. The queen maintained a stable administration which governed a multicultural multiethnic empire. Zenobia died after 274, and many tales have been recorded about her fate. Her rise and fall have inspired historians, artists and novelists, and she is a patriotic symbol in Syria.
With an HPI of 73.29, Yazid I is the 3rd most famous Politician. His biography has been translated into 52 different languages.
Yazid ibn Mu'awiya ibn Abi Sufyan (Arabic: يزيد بن معاوية بن أبي سفيان, romanized: Yazīd ibn Muʿāwiya ibn ʾAbī Sufyān; c. 646 – 11 November 683), commonly known as Yazid I, was the second caliph of the Umayyad Caliphate. He ruled from April 680 until his death in November 683. His appointment was the first hereditary succession to the caliphate in Islamic history. His caliphate was marked by the death of Muhammad's grandson Husayn ibn Ali and the start of the crisis known as the Second Fitna. Yazid's nomination as heir apparent in 676 CE (56 AH) by his father Mu'awiya I was opposed by several Muslim grandees from the Hejaz region, including Husayn and Abd Allah ibn al-Zubayr. The two men refused to recognize Yazid following his accession and took sanctuary in Mecca. When Husayn left for Kufa in Iraq to lead a revolt against Yazid, he was killed with his small band of supporters by Yazid's forces in the Battle of Karbala. Husayn's death caused resentment in the Hejaz, where Ibn al-Zubayr called for a consultative assembly to elect a new caliph. The people of Medina, who supported Ibn al-Zubayr, held other grievances toward the Umayyads. After failing to gain the allegiance of Ibn al-Zubayr and the people of the Hejaz through diplomacy, Yazid sent an army to suppress their rebellion. The army defeated the Medinese in the Battle of al-Harra in August 683 and the city was sacked. Afterward, Mecca was besieged for several weeks until the army withdrew as a result of Yazid's death in November 683. The Caliphate fell into a nearly decade-long civil war, ending with the establishment of the Marwanid dynasty (the Umayyad caliph Marwan I and his descendants). Yazid continued Mu'awiya's decentralized model of governance, relying on his provincial governors and the tribal nobility. He abandoned Mu'awiya's ambitious raids against the Byzantine Empire and strengthened Syria's military defences. No new territories were conquered during his reign. Yazid is considered an illegitimate ruler and a tyrant by many Muslims due to his hereditary succession, the death of Husayn, and his attack on Medina. Modern historians take a milder view, and consider him a capable ruler, albeit less successful than his father.
With an HPI of 73.26, Hafez al-Assad is the 4th most famous Politician. His biography has been translated into 74 different languages.
Hafez al-Assad (Arabic: حافظ الأسد, 6 October 1930 – 10 June 2000) was a Syrian politician and military officer who served as President of Syria from 1971 to 2000. He was also Prime Minister of Syria from 1970 to 1971, as well as regional secretary of the regional command of the Syrian regional branch of the Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party and secretary general of the National Command of the Ba'ath Party from 1970 to 2000. Assad participated in the 1963 Syrian coup d'état which brought the Syrian regional branch of the Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party to power, and the new leadership appointed him commander of the Syrian Air Force. In February 1966, Assad participated in a second coup, which toppled the traditional leaders of the Ba'ath Party. Assad was appointed defence minister by the new government. Four years later, Assad initiated a third coup which ousted the de facto leader Salah Jadid and appointed himself as leader of Syria. Assad imposed change on the Ba'ath government when he took power, by imposing capitalism and further pushing the agenda of private property and by strengthening the country's foreign relations with countries which his predecessor had deemed reactionary. He sided with communism and the Soviet Union during the Cold War in return for support against Israel, and, while he had forsaken the pan-Arab concept of unifying the Arab world into one Arab nation, he sought to make Syria the defender of Palestine and Arab interests against Israel. When he came to power, Assad organised state services along sectarian lines (the Sunnis became the heads of political institutions, while the Alawites took control of the military, intelligence, and security apparatuses). The formerly collegial powers of Ba'athist decision-making were curtailed, and were transferred to the Syrian presidency. The Syrian government ceased to be a one-party system in the normal sense of the word, and was turned into a one-party dictatorship with a strong presidency. To maintain this system, a cult of personality centred on Assad and his family was created by the president and the Ba'ath party.Having become the main source of initiative inside the Syrian government, Assad began looking for a successor. His first choice was his brother Rifaat, but Rifaat attempted to seize power in 1983–84 when Hafez's health was in doubt. Rifaat was subsequently exiled when Hafez's health recovered. Hafez's next choice of successor was his eldest son, Bassel. However, Bassel died in a car accident in 1994, and Hafez turned to his third choice—his younger son Bashar, who at that time had no political experience. The move to appoint a member of his own family as his successor was met with criticism within some quarters of the Syrian ruling class, but Assad persisted with his plan and demoted officials who opposed this succession. Hafez died in 2000 and Bashar succeeded him as president.
With an HPI of 71.71, Abd al-Rahman I is the 5th most famous Politician. His biography has been translated into 53 different languages.
Abd al-Rahman I ibn Mu’awiya (in full: Abd al-Rahman ibn Mu'awiya ibn Hisham ibn Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan; 731–788; Arabic: عبد الرحمن الأول) was the founder of the Umayyad Arab dynasty that ruled the greater part of Iberia for nearly three centuries (including the succeeding Caliphate of Córdoba). Abd al-Rahman was a member of the Umayyad dynasty in Damascus, and his establishment of a government in Iberia represented a break with the Abbasids, who had overthrown the Umayyads in Damascus in 750. He was also known by the surnames al-Dakhil ("the Entrant"), Saqr Quraish ("the Falcon of Quraysh") and as "the Falcon of Andalusia". Variations of the spelling of his name include Abd ar-Rahman, Abdul Rahman I, Abdar Rahman, and Abderraman.
With an HPI of 71.09, Philip the Arab is the 6th most famous Politician. His biography has been translated into 67 different languages.
Philip the Arab (Latin: Marcus Julius Philippus Arabs; c. 204 – September 249) was Roman emperor from 244 to 249. He was born in Aurantis, Arabia, in a city situated in modern-day Syria. After the death of Gordian III in February 244, Philip, who had been Praetorian prefect, achieved power. He quickly negotiated peace with the Persian Sassanid Empire and returned to Rome to be confirmed by the senate. During his reign, the city of Rome celebrated its millennium. Philip was betrayed and killed at the Battle of Verona in September 249 following a rebellion led by his successor, Gaius Messius Quintus Decius. Philip's reign of five years was uncommonly stable in a turbulent third century.During the late 3rd century and into the 4th, it was held by some churchmen that Philip had been the first Christian emperor; he was described as such in Jerome's Chronicon (Chronicle), which was well known during the Middle Ages, in Orosius' highly popular Historia Adversus Paganos (History Against the Pagans), and was presented as a Christian in Eusebius of Caesarea's Historia Ecclesiastica (Ecclesiastical History). Modern scholars are divided on the issue.
With an HPI of 68.59, Bashar al-Assad is the 7th most famous Politician. His biography has been translated into 105 different languages.
Bashar Hafez al-Assad (Arabic: بَشَّارُ ٱلْأَسَدِ, born 11 September 1965) is a Syrian politician who is the 19th president of Syria, since 17 July 2000. In addition, he is the commander-in-chief of the Syrian Armed Forces and the Secretary-General of the Central Command of the Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party. His father, Hafez al-Assad, was the president of Syria before him, serving from 1971 to 2000. Born and raised in Damascus, Bashar al-Assad graduated from the medical school of Damascus University in 1988 and began to work as a doctor in the Syrian Army. Four years later, he attended postgraduate studies at the Western Eye Hospital in London, specialising in ophthalmology. In 1994, after his elder brother Bassel died in a car accident, Bashar was recalled to Syria to take over Bassel's role as heir apparent. He entered the military academy, taking charge of the Syrian military presence in Lebanon in 1998. Political scientists have characterised the Assad family's rule of Syria as a personalist dictatorship. On 17 July 2000, Assad became president, succeeding his father, who died in office on 10 June 2000. In the 2000 and 2007 elections, he received 97.29% and 97.6% support, respectively. On 16 July 2014, Assad was sworn in for another seven-year term after another election gave him 88.7% of the vote. The election was held only in areas controlled by the Syrian government during the country's ongoing civil war and was criticised by the United Nations (UN). Assad was re-elected in 2021 with over 95% of the vote in national election. Throughout his leadership, human rights groups have characterized Syria's human rights situation as poor. The Assad government describes itself as secular, while some political scientists write that his regime exploits sectarian tensions in the country.Once seen by many states as a potential reformer, the United States (U.S.), the European Union (EU), and the majority of the Arab League called for Assad's resignation from the presidency in 2011 after he ordered a violent crackdown on Arab Spring protesters, which led to the Syrian civil war. In December 2013, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay stated that findings from an inquiry by the UN implicated Assad in war crimes. The OPCW-UN Joint Investigative Mechanism concluded in October 2017 that Assad's government was responsible for the Khan Shaykhun chemical attack. In June 2014, the American Syrian Accountability Project included Assad on a list of war crimes indictments of government officials and rebels it sent to the International Criminal Court. Assad has rejected allegations of war crimes and criticised the American-led intervention in Syria for attempting regime change.
With an HPI of 68.13, Muawiya II is the 8th most famous Politician. His biography has been translated into 46 different languages.
Mu'awiya ibn Yazid (Arabic: معاوية بن يزيد, romanized: Muʿāwiya ibn Yazīd; c. 664 – 684 CE), usually known simply as Mu'awiya II was the third Umayyad caliph. He succeeded his father Yazid I as the third caliph and last caliph of the Sufyanid line in the Umayyad dynasty. He ruled briefly in 683-684 (64 AH) before he died.
With an HPI of 67.95, Marwan II is the 9th most famous Politician. His biography has been translated into 39 different languages.
Marwan ibn Muhammad ibn Marwan ibn al-Hakam (Arabic: مروان بن محمد بن مروان بن الحكم, romanized: Marwān ibn Muḥammad ibn Marwān ibn al-Ḥakam; c. 691– 6 August 750), commonly known as Marwan II, was the fourteenth and last caliph of the Umayyad Caliphate, ruling from 744 until his death. His reign was dominated by a civil war, and he was the last Umayyad ruler to rule the united Caliphate before the Abbasid Revolution toppled the Umayyad dynasty.
With an HPI of 67.89, Imad ad-Din Zengi is the 10th most famous Politician. His biography has been translated into 43 different languages.
Imad al-Din Zengi (Arabic: عماد الدین زنكي; c. 1085 – 14 September 1146), also romanized as Zangi, Zengui, Zenki, and Zanki, was a Turkmen atabeg, who ruled Mosul, Aleppo, Hama, and, later, Edessa. He was the namesake of the Zengid dynasty.
Pantheon has 82 people classified as politicians born between 1850 BC and 2009. Of these 82, 19 (23.17%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living politicians include Bashar al-Assad, Levon Ter-Petrosyan, and Salih Muslim. The most famous deceased politicians include Elagabalus, Zenobia, and Yazid I. As of April 2022, 10 new politicians have been added to Pantheon including Hussein Arnous, Nazim al-Qudsi, and Lu'ay al-Atassi.
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Which Politicians were alive at the same time? This visualization shows the lifespans of the 22 most globally memorable Politicians since 1700.