The following people are considered by Pantheon to be the top 10 most legendary Tunisian Politicians of all time. This list of famous Tunisian 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 Tunisian Politicians.
With an HPI of 90.14, Hannibal is the most famous Tunisian Politician. His biography has been translated into 106 different languages on wikipedia.
Hannibal Barca (; Punic: 𐤇𐤍𐤁𐤏𐤋𐤟𐤁𐤓𐤒, Ḥannibaʿl Baraq; 247 – between 183 and 181 BC) was a Carthaginian general and statesman who commanded Carthage's main forces against the Roman Republic during the Second Punic War. He is widely considered one of the greatest military commanders in world history. His father, Hamilcar Barca, was a leading Carthaginian commander during the First Punic War. His younger brothers were Mago and Hasdrubal, and he was brother-in-law to Hasdrubal the Fair, who also commanded Carthaginian armies. Hannibal lived during a period of great tension in the western Mediterranean Basin, triggered by the emergence of the Roman Republic as a great power after it had established its supremacy over Italy. Although Rome had won the First Punic War, revanchism prevailed in Carthage, symbolised by the alleged pledge that Hannibal made to his father never to be a friend of Rome. The Second Punic War broke out in 218 BC after Hannibal's attack on Saguntum, an ally of Rome in Hispania. He then made his famous military exploit of carrying war to Italy by crossing the Alps with his North African war elephants. In his first few years in Italy, he won a succession of dramatic victories at the Trebia, Lake Trasimene, and Cannae. He distinguished himself for his ability to determine his and his opponent's respective strengths and weaknesses, and to plan battles accordingly. Hannibal's well-planned strategies allowed him to conquer several Italian cities allied to Rome. Hannibal occupied most of southern Italy for 15 years, but could not win a decisive victory, as the Romans led by Fabius Maximus avoided confrontation with him, instead waging a war of attrition. A counter-invasion of North Africa led by Scipio Africanus forced him to return to Carthage. Scipio eventually defeated Hannibal at the Battle of Zama, having previously driven Hannibal's brother Hasdrubal out of the Iberian Peninsula. After the war, Hannibal successfully ran for the office of sufet. He enacted political and financial reforms to enable the payment of the war indemnity imposed by Rome; however, those reforms were unpopular with members of the Carthaginian aristocracy and in Rome, and he fled into voluntary exile. During this time, he lived at the Seleucid court, where he acted as military advisor to Antiochus III the Great in his war against Rome. Antiochus met defeat at the Battle of Magnesia and was forced to accept Rome's terms, and Hannibal fled again, making a stop in the Kingdom of Armenia. His flight ended in the court of Bithynia. He was betrayed to the Romans and committed suicide by poisoning himself. Hannibal is often regarded as one of the greatest military tacticians in history and one of the greatest generals of Mediterranean antiquity, together with Philip of Macedon, Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Scipio Africanus and Pyrrhus. Plutarch states that Scipio supposedly asked Hannibal "who the greatest general was", to which Hannibal replied "either Alexander or Pyrrhus, then himself". Military historian Theodore Ayrault Dodge called Hannibal the "father of strategy", because Roman armies adopted elements of his military tactics into their own strategic arsenal.
With an HPI of 77.69, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali is the 2nd most famous Tunisian Politician. His biography has been translated into 70 different languages.
Zine El Abidine Ben Ali (Arabic: زين العابدين بن علي, Zayn al-'Ābidīn bin 'Alī; 3 September 1936 – 19 September 2019), commonly known as Ben Ali (Arabic: بن علي) or Ezzine (Arabic: الزين), was a Tunisian politician who was the second President of Tunisia from 1987 until his fall in 2011. Ben Ali was appointed Prime Minister in October 1987. He assumed the Presidency on 7 November 1987 in a bloodless coup d'état that ousted President Habib Bourguiba by declaring him incompetent. Ben Ali was subsequently reelected with enormous majorities, each time exceeding 90% of the vote; his final re-election coming on 25 October 2009. Ben Ali was the penultimate surviving leader deposed in the Arab Spring who was survived by Egypt's Hosni Mubarak, the latter dying in February 2020. On 14 January 2011, following a month of protests against his rule, he was forced to flee to Saudi Arabia along with his wife Leïla Ben Ali and their three children. The interim Tunisian government asked Interpol to issue an international arrest warrant, charging him with money laundering and drug trafficking. A Tunisian court sentenced Ben Ali and his wife in absentia to 35 years in prison on 20 June 2011 on charges of theft and unlawful possession of cash and jewelry, which was put up for auction. In June 2012, a Tunisian court sentenced him in absentia to life imprisonment for inciting violence and murder and another life sentence by a military court on April 2013 for violent repression of protests in Sfax. He served none of those sentences, subsequently dying in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on 19 September 2019 at the age of 83 after nearly a decade in exile.
With an HPI of 76.54, Aemilianus is the 3rd most famous Tunisian Politician. His biography has been translated into 56 different languages.
Aemilianus (Marcus Aemilius Aemilianus; c. 207/213 – September 253), also known as Aemilian, was Roman emperor for three months in 253. Commander of the Moesian troops, he obtained an important victory against the invading Goths and was, for this reason, acclaimed emperor by his army. He then moved quickly to Roman Italy, where he defeated Emperor Trebonianus Gallus at the Battle of Interamna Nahars in August 253, only to be killed by his own men a month later when another general, Valerian, proclaimed himself emperor and moved against Aemilian with a larger army.
With an HPI of 75.94, Habib Bourguiba is the 4th most famous Tunisian Politician. His biography has been translated into 61 different languages.
Habib Ben Ali Bourguiba (; Arabic: الحبيب بورقيبة, romanized: al-Ḥabīb Būrqībah; 3 August 1903 – 6 April 2000) was a Tunisian lawyer, nationalist leader and statesman who led the country from 1956 to 1987 as Prime minister of the Kingdom of Tunisia (1956–57) then as the first President of Tunisia (1957–87). Prior to his presidency, he led the nation to independence from France, ending the 75-year-old protectorate and earning the title of "Supreme Combatant". Born in Monastir to a poor family, he attended Sadiki College then Lycée Carnot in Tunis, before obtaining his baccalaureate in 1924. He graduated from the University of Paris in 1927 and returned to Tunis to practice law. In the early 1930s, he became involved in anti-colonial and Tunisian national politics, joining the Destour party and co-founding the Neo Destour in 1934. He rose as a key figure of the independence movement and was repeatedly arrested by the colonial administration. His involvement in the riots of 9 April 1938 resulted in his exile to Marseille during World War II. In 1945, Bourguiba was released and moved to Cairo, Egypt, to seek the support of the Arab League. He returned to the country in 1949 and rose to prominence as the leader of the national movement. Although initially committed to peaceful negotiations with the French government, he had an effective role in the armed unrest that started in 1952 when they proved to be unsuccessful. He was arrested and imprisoned on La Galite Island for two years, before being exiled in France. There, he led negotiations with Prime minister Pierre Mendès France and obtained internal autonomy agreements in exchange for the end of the unrest. Bourguiba returned victorious to Tunis on 1 June 1955, but was challenged by Salah Ben Youssef in the party leadership. Ben Youssef and his supporters disagreed with Bourguiba's "soft" policies and demanded full independence of the Maghreb. This resulted in a civil war that opposed Bourguibists, who favored a stepwise policy and modernism, and Youssefists, the conservative Arab nationalist supporters of Ben Youssef. The conflict ended with the Sfax Congress of 1955 in favor of Bourguiba. Following the country's independence in 1956, Bourguiba was appointed prime minister by king Muhammad VIII al-Amin and acted as de facto ruler before proclaiming the Republic, on 25 July 1957. He was elected interim President of Tunisia by parliament until the ratification of the Constitution. During his rule, he implemented a strong education system, worked on developing the economy, supported gender equality and proclaimed a neutral foreign policy, making him an exception among Arab leaders. The main reform that was passed was the Code of Personal Status which settled a modern society. He set a strong presidential system which turned to be a twenty-year one-party state dominated by his own, the Socialist Destourian Party. A cult of personality also developed around him, before he proclaimed himself president for life in 1975, during his fourth 5-year term. The end of his 30-year rule was marked by his declining health, a war of succession, and the rise of clientelism and Islamism. On 7 November 1987 he was removed from power by his prime minister, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, and kept under house arrest in a residence in Monastir. He remained there to his death and was buried in a mausoleum he had previously built.
With an HPI of 75.88, Gordian II is the 5th most famous Tunisian Politician. His biography has been translated into 59 different languages.
Gordian II (Latin: Marcus Antonius Gordianus Sempronianus Romanus Africanus; c. 192 – 12 April 238) was Roman Emperor for 21 days with his father Gordian I in 238, the Year of the Six Emperors. Seeking to overthrow Emperor Maximinus Thrax, he died in battle outside Carthage. Since he died before his father, Gordian II had the shortest reign of any Roman Emperor in the whole of the Empire's history, at 21 days.
With an HPI of 75.45, Masinissa is the 6th most famous Tunisian Politician. His biography has been translated into 33 different languages.
Masinissa, or Masensen, (c.238 BC – 148 BC)—also spelled Massinissa and Massena—was the first King of Numidia. During his younger years, before he was king, he fought in the Second Punic War (218–201 BC), first against the Romans as an ally of Carthage and later switching sides (206 BC). With Roman support, he united the eastern and western Numidian tribes and founded the Kingdom of Numidia. He is well-known for his role as a Roman ally in the Battle of Zama (202 BC) and as husband of Sophonisba, a Carthaginian noblewoman whom he allowed to poison herself to avoid being paraded in a triumph in Rome.He ruled Numidia for some 54 years until dying at about the age of 90. He was vigorous, leading troops until his death and fathering some 44 sons, and a staunch ally of Rome.Masinissa's story is told in Livy's Ab Urbe Condita (written c. 27–25 BC). He is also featured in Cicero's Scipio's Dream. His name was found in his tomb of Cirta, modern-day Constantine in Algeria under the form of MSNSN (which has to be read as Mas'n'sen, which means "Their Lord"). The Greek historian Polybius, who met him, called him "the best man of all the kings of our time". and wrote that "his greatest and most divine achievement was this: Numidia had been before his time universally unproductive, and was looked upon as incapable of producing any cultivated fruits. He was the first and only man who showed that it could produce cultivated fruits just as well as any other country". In the following centuries, his territory would become known as the breadbasket of Rome. Masinissa is largely viewed as an icon and an important forefather among modern Berbers.
With an HPI of 73.98, Mago Barca is the 7th most famous Tunisian Politician. His biography has been translated into 27 different languages.
Mago Barca (Punic: 𐤌𐤂𐤍 𐤁𐤓𐤒, MGN BRQ; 243–203 BC), was a Barcid Carthaginian who played an important role in the Second Punic War, leading forces of Carthage against the Roman Republic in Iberia and northern and central Italy. Mago was the third son of Hamilcar Barca, was the brother of Hannibal and Hasdrubal, and was the brother-in-law of Hasdrubal the Fair. Little is known about his early years, except that, unlike his brothers, he is not mentioned during the ambush in which his father was killed in 228 BC.
With an HPI of 73.39, Clodius Albinus is the 8th most famous Tunisian Politician. His biography has been translated into 42 different languages.
Decimus Clodius Albinus (c. 150 – 19 February 197) was a Roman general, senator and usurper who claimed the imperial title several times between 193 and 197. He was proclaimed emperor by the legions in Britain and Hispania (the Iberian Peninsula, comprising modern Spain and Portugal) after the murder of Pertinax in 193 (known as the "Year of the Five Emperors"), and who proclaimed himself emperor again in 196, before his final defeat the following year.
With an HPI of 73.09, Beji Caid Essebsi is the 9th most famous Tunisian Politician. His biography has been translated into 56 different languages.
Mohamed Beji Caid Essebsi (or es-Sebsi; Arabic: محمد الباجي قائد السبسي, romanized: Muhammad al-Bājī Qā’id as-Sibsī, pronunciation ; 29 November 1926 – 25 July 2019) was a Tunisian politician who was the President of Tunisia from 31 December 2014 until his death on 25 July 2019. Previously, he served as Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1981 to 1986 and as Prime Minister from February 2011 to December 2011.Essebsi's political career spanned six decades, culminating in his leadership of Tunisia in its transition to democracy. Essebsi was the founder of the Nidaa Tounes political party, which won a plurality in the 2014 parliamentary election. In December 2014, he won the first regular presidential election following the Tunisian Revolution, becoming Tunisia's first democratically elected president.
With an HPI of 71.07, Gunthamund is the 10th most famous Tunisian Politician. His biography has been translated into 30 different languages.
Gunthamund (c. 450–496), King of the Vandals and Alans (484-496) was the third king of the north African Vandal Kingdom. He succeeded his unpopular uncle Huneric, and for that reason alone, enjoyed a rather successful reign. Gunthamund was the second son born to Gento, the fourth and youngest son of Genseric, the founder of the Vandal kingdom in Africa. Because most of Genseric's immediate family was dead, his elder brothers having been murdered by Huneric, Gunthamund found himself as the eldest male member of the family when Huneric died on 23 December 484. In accordance with his grandfather's laws on succession, which decreed that the oldest member of the family would be the successor, he was proclaimed king. Gunthamund benefited throughout his reign from the fact that the Vandals' most powerful rivals, the Visigoths, Ostrogoths, and the Byzantine Empire, were all heavily involved in wars. Although the Vandals' power had fallen off greatly since its zenith under Genseric, they enjoyed peace under Gunthamund. Gunthamund also eased up on the persecutions of Catholic Christians that had begun under Huneric, a move which eased some of the unrest in his kingdom, and stabilized the kingdom's economy, which had been on the verge of collapse. Unfortunately for the Vandals, Gunthamund died in his mid-forties and thus did not reign for a long time. He was succeeded by his brother Thrasamund, who was not as effective in ruling the kingdom.
Pantheon has 48 people classified as politicians born between 300 BC and 1975. Of these 48, 15 (31.25%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living politicians include Mohamed Ghannouchi, Fouad Mebazaa, and Mohamed Ennaceur. The most famous deceased politicians include Hannibal, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, and Aemilianus. As of October 2020, 8 new politicians have been added to Pantheon including Mohamed Ennaceur, Hamed Karoui, and Hédi Baccouche.
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Which Politicians were alive at the same time? This visualization shows the lifespans of the 13 most globally memorable Politicians since 1700.