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 86.56, Hannibal is the most famous Politician. His biography has been translated into 110 different languages on wikipedia.
Hannibal (; Punic: 𐤇𐤍𐤁𐤏𐤋, Ḥannibaʿl; 247 – between 183 and 181 BC) was a Carthaginian general and statesman who commanded the forces of Carthage in their battle against the Roman Republic during the Second Punic War. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest military commanders in history. Hannibal's father, Hamilcar Barca, was a leading Carthaginian general during the First Punic War. His younger brothers were Mago and Hasdrubal; his brother-in-law was Hasdrubal the Fair, who commanded other Carthaginian armies. Hannibal lived during a period of great tension in the Mediterranean Basin, triggered by the emergence of the Roman Republic as a great power with its defeat of Carthage in the First Punic War. Revanchism prevailed in Carthage, symbolized by the pledge that Hannibal made to his father to "never be a friend of Rome". In 218 BC, Hannibal attacked Saguntum (modern Sagunto, Spain), an ally of Rome, in Hispania, sparking the Second Punic War. Hannibal invaded Italy by crossing the Alps with North African war elephants. In his first few years in Italy, he won a succession of victories at the Battle of the Trebia, Lake Trasimene, and Cannae, inflicting heavy losses on the Romans. Hannibal was distinguished for his ability to determine both his and his opponent's respective strengths and weaknesses, and to plan battles accordingly. His well-planned strategies allowed him to conquer and ally with several Italian cities that were previously allied to Rome. Hannibal occupied most of southern Italy for 15 years. The Romans, led by Fabius Maximus, avoided heavy confrontation with him, instead waging a war of attrition. Carthaginian defeats in Hispania prevented Hannibal from being reinforced, and he was unable to win a decisive victory. A counter-invasion of North Africa, led by Roman General Scipio Africanus, forced him to return to Carthage. Hannibal was eventually defeated at the Battle of Zama, ending the war in Roman victory. 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 died by suicide with poison. Hannibal is considered one of the greatest military tacticians and generals of antiquity, alongside Philip of Macedon, Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Scipio Africanus and Pyrrhus. According to Plutarch, Scipio asked Hannibal "who the greatest general was", to which Hannibal replied "either Alexander or Pyrrhus, then himself".
With an HPI of 69.02, Habib Bourguiba is the 2nd most famous Politician. His biography has been translated into 62 different languages.
Habib 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 1957 as the 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 68.79, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali is the 3rd most famous Politician. His biography has been translated into 72 different languages.
Zine El Abidine Ben Ali (Arabic: زين العابدين بن علي, romanized: 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 served as the 2nd president of Tunisia from 1987 to 2011. In that year, during the Tunisian revolution, he fled to Saudi Arabia. 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 fled 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 in 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 67.22, Masinissa is the 4th most famous Politician. His biography has been translated into 38 different languages.
Masinissa (Numidian: , MSNSN; c. 238 BC – 148 BC: 180, 183 ), also spelled Massinissa, Massena and Massan, was an ancient Numidian king best known for leading a federation of Massylii Berber tribes during the Second Punic War (218–201 BC), ultimately uniting them into a kingdom that became a major regional power in North Africa. Much of what is known about Masinissa comes from the Livy's History of Rome, and to a lesser extent Cicero's Scipio's Dream. As the son of a Numidian chieftain allied to Carthage, he fought against the Romans in the Second Punic War, but later switched sides upon concluding that Rome would prevail. With the support of his erstwhile enemy, he united the eastern and western Numidian tribes and founded the Kingdom of Numidia. As a Roman ally, Masinissa took part in the decisive Battle of Zama in 202 BC that effectively ended the war in Carthage's defeat; he also allowed his wife Sophonisba, a famed Carthaginian noblewoman who had influenced Numidian affairs to Carthage's benefit, to poison herself in lieu of being paraded in a triumph in Rome.: 180–181 After inheriting a larger, more powerful kingdom now backed by Rome, Masinissa played a decisive role in provoking Carthage into triggering the Third Punic War, which ended in the city's complete destruction, and left Numidia the sole power in northwest Africa. He ruled for 54 years until his death at age 90. He was regarded as a staunch ally of Rome, and an unusually vigorous ruler, leading troops until his death and fathering some 44 sons.: 181 His tomb in Cirta (modern-day Constantine in Algeria) bears the inscription MSNSN, read Mas'n'sen, or "Their Lord". The Greek historian Polybius, who wrote extensively about the Punic Wars and is reputed to have met Masinissa, described him as "the best man of all the kings of our time", writing 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, Numidia would become known as the breadbasket of Rome. In addition to his legacy as a major figure in the Punic Wars, Masinissa is largely viewed as an icon by the Berbers, many of whom consider him their forefather.
With an HPI of 66.53, Mago Barca is the 5th most famous Politician. His biography has been translated into 29 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 65.57, Clodius Albinus is the 6th most famous Politician. His biography has been translated into 43 different languages.
Decimus Clodius Albinus (c. 150 – 19 February 197) was a Roman imperial pretender 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 proclaimed himself emperor again in 196, before his final defeat and death the following year.
With an HPI of 64.31, Aemilianus is the 7th most famous Politician. His biography has been translated into 59 different languages.
Marcus Aemilius Aemilianus (c. 210 – 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 63.78, Beji Caid Essebsi is the 8th most famous Politician. His biography has been translated into 59 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 statesman who served as the 4th president of Tunisia from 31 December 2014 until his death on 25 July 2019. Previously, he served as the minister of Foreign Affairs from 1981 to 1986 and as the 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 62.94, Gunthamund is the 9th most famous Politician. His biography has been translated into 32 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, When Huneric died on 23 December 484, Gunthamund was the eldest male member of the family. In accordance with Genseric'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. While he was also an Arian, Gunthamund eased up on Huneric's persecutions of Catholic Christians, which reduced unrest in the 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.
With an HPI of 62.73, Hasdrubal the Fair is the 10th most famous Politician. His biography has been translated into 29 different languages.
Hasdrubal the Fair (Punic: 𐤏𐤆𐤓𐤁𐤏𐤋, ʿAzrobaʿl; c. 270–221 BC) was a Carthaginian military leader and politician, governor in Iberia after Hamilcar Barca's death, and founder of Cartagena.
Pantheon has 53 people classified as politicians born between 471 BC and 1996. Of these 53, 18 (33.96%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living politicians include Mohamed Ghannouchi, Moncef Marzouki, and Fouad Mebazaa. The most famous deceased politicians include Hannibal, Habib Bourguiba, and Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. As of April 2022, 5 new politicians have been added to Pantheon including Hannibal Mago, Bahi Ladgham, and Hichem Mechichi.
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Which Politicians were alive at the same time? This visualization shows the lifespans of the 14 most globally memorable Politicians since 1700.