How do you define the most powerful king in the world?
The desire for power and supremacy exists in every human mind.
But their definitions vary based on perspectives. To some people, power is more of an internal phenomenon, and to others, it is more of domination and superiority. The rulers in history are no exception to these trends. While some of them used their powers to protect and defend the weak, others utilized those to show supremacy over their subjects. The former kind stopped wars, and the latter started them.
Let us now give you an idea about some of the most powerful kings in history, their achievements or notoriousness.
- Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821)
The famous French emperor was born some 200 years ago, but our history books are still filled with his glories and achievements. He was not an emperor by birthright and was born in lower nobility than other rulers of the century. He had his formal education in France, where he was said to be bullied for his Corsican accent. After his father’s demise, he was forced to graduate early to look after his family. He is the first Corsican to have graduated from the Ecole Militaire before becoming an official in the French Army at 16 years. During the French Revolution, Bonaparte rose both in status, popularity and ranking in the military, which led to his political recognition later.
An ambitious, shrewd, and powerful military officer initially, Bonaparte crowned himself the King of France in 1804 after seizing power in the country. He never stopped waging wars against various European nations, who succumbed to him, to extend his empire. After the notorious invasion of Russia in 1812, he abdicated the throne and left for the island of Elba.
- Ashoka The Great (304-232 BC)
He is undoubtedly the most powerful king in India. Not only every Indian but also people from foreign countries are aware of the glory of Emperor Ashoka, a Mauryan ruler in ancient India. During his reign, he demonstrated both power, and kindness, expanding his empire throughout the subcontinent and beyond. However, he left a lasting impression with his compassion and inclination towards Buddhism than his notorious war ventures.
After conducting a bloodied battle against Kalinga (now Odisha), the shrewd and war-mongering Ashoka went through a complete transformation and took to the teaching of Lord Buddha to repent for his mistakes. It is believed that he was moved beyond shock at the results of the Kalinga battle and its bloodied outcome. In his lifetime, he built hundreds of Buddhist Stupas and architectural marvels across the country to spread the word of peace. The two distinctively contradictory phases in his life are referred to as ‘Chandashok (the cruel ruler)’, and ‘Dharmashok (the religious and kind ruler)’.
- Genghis Khan (1162-1227 AD)
Originally, his name was Temujin, but he is known by all other names throughout the world, lie Chingis, Chinggis, Jinghis, etc. A Mongolian warrior and ruler, Genghis Khan was known for his extraordinary war strategies. Born in a royal clan, he faced challenges and risks like few other kings. Genghis’ father was killed, and he was taken captive when he was only nine. Later, he escaped from captivity and killed his half-brother, after which he started gathering followers. Soon he became the head of the clan and allied with other kings to get rid of the clan nobility of that time. A group of such leaders named him the universal emperor of the Mongolian Steppe in 1206.
One of the biggest achievements of Genghis Khan is his unification of the Mongolian Steppe under a single empire that stood up against the Jin Dynasty in China. With the help of his supporters, Genghis managed to capture land as far as the Caspian Sea. The great conqueror died in 1227 AD while waging war against the kingdom of Tangut in Xixia.
- Akbar – The Great (1542-1605)
While talking about the most powerful rulers in history, the mention of Jalal-al-Din Muhammad Akbar is inevitable. He is considered as the greatest of all Mughal rulers, be it for his administrative power or kindness. During his reign, the Indian subcontinent flourished like anything, and the Mughal Empire extended to all nooks and corners of the country. Akbar was not only popular among the followers of Islam but also his non-Muslim subjects. The Parsis, Hindus, Christians, and other communities sang praises of his valor across the country.
Akbar was a man of principles and was interested in the cultural aspects of society. Although he was illiterate, he encouraged art and culture in his kingdom, and his court opened doors to all kinds of painters, poets, comedians, and musicians. Unlike other Mughal rulers, Akbar was not strictly religious and married a Hindu Rajput princess to execute his political strategies. He even shunned the idea of religious conversions and respected all beliefs.
- Constantine (272-337 AD)
It is in this powerful emperor’s hands that Christianity reached the farthest lands of the world. He was the first Christian Roman ruler who united his kingdom and stood up against some notorious enemies, like the Goths, the Sarmatians, the Franks, etc. He also occupied some lost provinces and named the capital, Constantinople, in his name. No wonder he gained the faith of his followers so fast! Also known as Constantine –The Great, he is one of the most powerful kings in the world’s history, as the Church was revolutionized during his reign.
Before Constantine took to the throne, the Christians were brutally harassed and even killed by followers of other beliefs. he also went the extra mile to stop such atrocities and promoted the religion by adopting it himself. He also gave freedom to all Christians to believe what their hearts desired. However, he was also kind towards non-Christians and held that all communities should join hands to enhance development.
Some other kings and emperors of the world, who demonstrated their power through love, war, and careful administration, are Attila – The Hun, Fu Sheng (China), Herod, the insane, megalomaniac, who wanted to murder Jesus, Chandragupta Maurya, Caligula, etc. All these rulers made their mark in history either positively or with their extreme notoriety. Can you think of any other notable ruler in the history of the world?