I’ve collected over 24 lists of “Most Important People”, “Most Important Historical Figures”, “Most Influential People” or “People Who Changed the World” and combined them into one meta-list. The results are below – every person on at least three of the original source lists, organized chronologically by date of birth. Each entry includes: (1) name; (2) birth and death dates; (3) country; and (4) a brief description of the person and their accomplishments.
NOTE: THE PAGE IS BEING REVISED – PLEASE EXCUSE THE MESS!
MENES (Narmer?) (c. 3200-3030 BCE) Ancient Egypt. Military, political and religious leader. Egyptian Pharaoh. Legendary founder of first dynasty of a united Egypt. United Upper and Lower Egypt. Some historians believe that the Menes is the same person as Narmer (c. 3100 BCE), an early pharaoh who is represented as unifier of Egypt on the Narmer Palette. (on 3 lists)
Left: The cartouche (royal name hieroglyph) of Menes on the Abydos King List on the wall of the temple of Pharaoh Seti I (c. 1290-1279 BCE). Right: one side of the Palette of Narmer.
IMHOTEP (c. 2650-2600 BCE) Ancient Egypt. Architect, engineer and physician. Served as chancellor and high priest under Pharoah Djoser. Designed the Step Pyramid of Djoser – the first known pyramid (c. 2667-2648 BCE). (on 4 lists)
Bronze statue of Imhotep in the Louvre (c. 330 BCE).
KHUFU (Khnum Khufu; Cheops) (2609-2584 BCE) Ancient Egypt. Military, political and religious leader. Second Pharaoh of the 4th Dynasty of the Old Kingdom (2589-2566 BCE). Commissioned the Great Pyramid at Giza as his tomb. (on 4 lists)
Ivory figurine of Khufu, possibly contemporary. Now in Cairo Museum.
ABRAHAM (c. 1812–1637 BCE) Middle East. Legendary religious figure revered in Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Legendary founding father of the Israelites, whose story is told in the Book of Genesis. (on 5 lists)
Caravaggio’s Sacrifice of Isaac (1603), depicting Abraham in story from Book of Genesis.
HAMMURABI (c. 1810-1750 BCE) Babylon (now Iraq). Military and political leader. King of Babylon (sixth king of the First Babylonian Dynasty) (1792-1750 BCE). Established the Code of Hammurabi (c. 1772 BCE), a legal code that prescribed specific punishments for crimes and established the presumption of innocence. (on 4 lists)
Bas relief of Hammurabi receiving the law code from the god Shamash (c. 1750 BCE).
MOSES (c. 1500-1400 BCE) Ancient Egypt/Moab (now Jordan). Legendary religious leader and prophet of the Israelites. According to the Book of Exodus, Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt and into the desert on the way to the Promised Land. (on 9 lists)
Rembrandt’s Moses with the Ten Commandments (1659).
AMENHOTEP III (14th Century BCE). Ancient Egypt. Military, political and religious leader. Ninth pharaoh of 18th Dynasty (c. 1386/1388/1391-1349/1350/1351 BCE) in the New Kingdom. Reigned during period of unprecedented prosperity, artistic splendor, and international power. (on 3 lists)
A statue of Amenhotep III, c. 1370, now located in the British Museum in London.
RAMESSES THE GREAT (Ramesses II; Ozymandias) (c. 1303-1213 BCE) Ancient Egypt. Military, political and religious leader. Third pharaoh of the 19th Dynasty in the New Kingdom (1279-1213 BCE). Led Egyptian armies to many victories and greatly expanded territory. Built many cities, temples and monuments. (on 6 lists)
One of the four external seated statues of Ramesses II at Abu Simbel (c. 1279-1213 BCE).
ZOROASTER (Zarathustra) (c. 11th-10th Century BCE) Airyanem Vaejah (now Iran and parts of Afghanistan and Pakistan). Philosopher, religious figure and writer. Founder of the religion of Zoroastrianism. Doctrines include: Manicaeism; Mithraism; Ahmadiyya; the struggle between aša and druj; Mazda-Yasna ethics. Wrote: The Gathas. The Avesta. (on 7 lists)
Zoroaster (with globe) in detail from Raphael’s The School of Athens (1509).
HOMER (c. 800-700 BCE?) Ancient Greece. Poet. Legendary author of the epic poems The Iliad (c. 750 BCE) and The Odyssey (c. 700 BCE). Although some scholars believe that a single person wrote both poems, others believe that the epics are the result of work by many authors over time who set down in writing poems that had been previously transmitted orally. (on 12 lists)
Statue of Homer outside Bavarian Museum in Munich.
SAPPHO (610-570 BCE) Ancient Greece (island of Lesbos). Prolific lyric poet. “The Tenth Muse.” Most of her work is lost. Surviving poems include: With His Venom. Fragment 42. Fragment 155. Exiled with her family to Sicily c. 600 BCE for political reasons. (on 5 lists)
Bust of Sappho in Musei Capitolini, Rome. Roman copy of a 5th Century Greek original.
CYRUS THE GREAT (600-530 BCE) Persia (now Iran). Military and political leader. Founder of Persian Achaemenid Empire. King of Persia (559-530 BCE), Media (549-530 BCE), Lydia (547-530 BCE), and Babylon (539-530 BCE). Credited with releasing the Israelites from the Babylonian Captivity. Probably killed in battle. (on 5 lists)
A bust of Cyrus the Great.
LAO TZU (Laozi) (flourished 6th Century BCE) China. Philosopher and writer. Traditional founder of Taoism. Tao Te Ching (c. 624-604 BCE) (attrib.). (on 7 lists)
Stone sculpture of Laozi at the foot of Mount Qingyuan from the Song Dynasty (960-1279).
PYTHAGORAS (c. 570-495 BCE) Ancient Greece (island of Samos). Mathematician and philosopher. Founder of Pythagoreanism (religious movement). Known for: the Pythagorean theorem (attrib.); Theory of Proportions (attrib.); Communalism; Metempsychosis; Musica universalis (music of the spheres); five regular solids. Proposed that the Earth was a sphere (attrib.). (on 5 lists)
Bust of Pythagoras from Musei Capitolini, Rome. Marble Roman copy of a 5th Century BCE Greek bronze original.
THE BUDDHA (Gautama Buddha; Siddhartha Gautama) (c. 563-483 BCE) Shakya Republic (now Nepal/India). Philosopher and religious leader. Founder of Buddhism. Doctrines include: the Middle Way; dhyana; impermanence; dependent origination; and liberating insight. Works: Sutta Pitkata (attrib.) (including Khuddaka Nikaya/ Dhammapada) (29 BCE). (on 14 lists)
A statue of the Buddha preaching the law, from Sarnath, India (4th Century CE).
DARIUS THE GREAT (Darius I) (558-486 BCE) Persia (now Iran). Military and political leader. Leader of Persian Achaemenid Empire (522-486 BCE). Expanded Persian Empire through military conquests. Pharaoh of Egypt (522-486 BCE). (on 3 lists)
Relief sculpture of Darius the Great (center) receiving tribute at Persepolis, c. 500 BCE.
CONFUCIUS (551-479 BCE) China. Philosopher. Founder of Confucianism, the dominant ethical and philosophical ideology of China for much of its history. Espoused the Golden Rule (“do not do unto others what you do not want done to yourself”). The Analects (attrib.) (c. 475-221 BCE). Lived during Spring and Autumn period (c. 771-476 BCE). (on 16 lists)
Tang Dynasty painting of Confucius by Wu Daozi (c. 618-907).
SUN TZU (Sunzi; Sun Wu (?)) (c. 544-496 BCE [traditional], c. 450-380 BCE (?)) China. Military general, strategist and philosopher. Traditional author of the military treatise The Art of War (c. 500-450 BCE). Doctrines include: know when to fight and not to fight; timing is essential; know yourself and your enemy; the best victories come through means other than warfare; success breeds success; and prolonged warfare does not benefit nations. Quotes: “All warfare is based on deception.” “In the midst of chaos, there is opportunity.” Lived during Eastern Zhou period (770-256 BCE). (on 3 lists)
Statue of Sun Tzu in Yurihama, Tottori, Japan.
PERICLES (c. 495-429 BCE) Ancient Greece (Athens). Military and political leader. Led Athenian city-state (c. 461-429 BCE). Promoted arts and literature. Developed the Delian League into the Athenian Empire. Fostered Athenian democracy. Succumbed to the Plague of Athens during the Peloponnesian War with Sparta. (on 4 lists)
Bust of Pericles in the Museo Pio Clementino, Vatican City. It is a Roman-made marble copy of a Greek original by Cresilas dating from around 430 BCE.
HERODOTUS (c. 484-c. 425 BCE) Asia Minor, Persian Empire (now Turkey)/Ancient Greece. Historian and scholar. “Father of History.” First writer to treat historical subjects using systematic investigation. Wrote about the origins of the Greco-Persian wars in The Histories (c. 440 BCE). (on 3 lists)
Portrait of Herodotus, marble, Roman copy of an early 4th Century BCE Greek original. Now in the National Museum of Rome.
EURIPIDES (c. 480–406 BCE) Ancient Greece (island of Salamis/Athens). Prolific Athenian author of tragic plays, including: Alcestis (438 BCE); Medea (c. 431 BCE); Hippolytus (c. 428 BCE); Hecuba (c. 424 BCE); Trojan Women (415 BCE); and The Bacchae (405 BCE). (on 4 lists)
Bust of Euripides in the Museo Pio Clementino. It is a Roman marble copy of a 4th Century BCE Greek original.
SOCRATES (c. 470-399 BCE) Ancient Greece (Athens). Skeptical philosopher known mostly through the writings of his student Plato. Doctrines include: rationalism; skepticism; persistent critical reflection. Promoted use of the Socratic method. “All I know is that I know nothing.” His trial and death sentence are described in Plato’s Apology (c. 399-390 BCE). (on 13 lists)
Bust of Socrates in the Louvre, Paris. Probably a 1st Century CE Roman marble copy of Greek bronze original by Lysippos.
HIPPOCRATES (Hippocrates of Kos) (c. 460-c. 370 BCE) Ancient Greece (island of Kos). Physician and philosopher of medicine. Clinical medicine (attrib.). Hippocratic Corpus, including The Hippocratic Oath (attrib.). (on 4 lists)
A Roman marble copy (c. 150 CE) of an older Greek bust of Hippocrates.
PLATO (428-347 BCE) Ancient Greece (Athens). Philosopher and writer. Founded the Academy in Athens (385 BCE), where he taught. Originated Platonism. Doctrines included: idealism; theory of forms; the allegory of the cave; the philosopher-king. Works include: Apology (c. 399-390 BCE). Crito (c. 399-390 BCE). Meno (c. 388-367 BCE). Phaedo (c. 388-367 BCE). Symposium (c. 388-367 BCE). The Republic (c. 388-367 BCE). (on 17 lists)
Bust of Plato in the Centrale Montemartini, Vatican City. Roman copy of a Greek original by Silanion from 428 BCE.
ARISTOTLE (384-322 BCE) Ancient Greece (Chalkidiki)/Macedonian Empire. Philosopher and scientist. Created comprehensive system of Western philosophy. Founded the Lyceum (335 BCE) in Athens, where he taught. Early theory and observation in all fields of science and medicine. Doctrines include: realism; the golden mean; the four causes; and scala naturae. Objected to democracy. Works (all dated 335-323 BCE) include: Nicomachean Ethics; Poetics; Metaphysics; Politics; Physics; Rhetoric; History of Animals; Generation of Animals; Movement of Animals; Parts of Animals; and On the Soul (De Anima). (on 19 lists)
Bust of Aristotle in National Museum of Rome. Roman marble copy of Greek bronze original by Lysippos from 330 BCE. The alabaster mantle is a more recent addition.
MENCIUS (Mengzi) (372–289 BC) China. Philosopher. One of the principal interpreters of Confucianism. “The second Sage.” Believed that humans are innately good and that society’s influence bad moral character. Defended the right of subjects to overthrow harsh rulers who ignore the needs of the people. Wrote Book of Mencius (c. 309-289 BCE). Lived during the Warring States period (403-221 BCE). (on 3 lists)
A posthumous portrait of Mencius.
ALEXANDER THE GREAT (Alexander III of Macedon) (356-323 BCE) Macedonia (now Greece). Military general and political leader. King of Macedonia (336-323 BCE). Built vast empire in Europe and Asia through military conquest and diplomacy. Conquered Egypt and became Pharaoh of Egypt (332-323 BCE). Conquered Persian empire after defeating Darius III at battles of Issus (333 BCE) and Guagamela (331 BCE) and became King of Persia (330-323 BCE). Invaded Indian subcontinent. (on 19 lists)
Portrait of Alexander the Great from floor mosaic found in Pompeii, Italy, dating from 100 BCE. Now in Naples National Archaeological Museum.
ASHOKA THE GREAT (Ashoka Maurya) (304-232 BCE) India. Military and political leader. Third Emperor of Mauryan empire (c. 268-c. 232 BCE). Expanded empire through military conquest and diplomacy to encompass most of the Indian subcontinent. Converted to Buddhism c. 263 BCE and encouraged spread of Buddhism in India. Set up pillars of the Dharma (now “pillars of Ashoka”), inscribed with edicts at Buddhist sites throughout the empire. (on 8 lists)
A relief sculpture of Ashoka the Great (left) found at Gulbarga stupa in southern India and dating from 100-200 CE.
EUCLID (Euclid of Alexandria) (flourished c. 300 BCE) Hellenistic Egypt/Ptolemaic Kingdom (now Egypt). Mathematician. Developed principles of what is now known as Euclidean geometry. First described the Euclidean algorithm. Wrote The Elements (c. 300 BCE). Little is known of his life. (on 6 lists)
Statue of Euclid at Oxford University Museum of Natural History, UK. Created by Joseph Durham between 1835 and 1877.
ARCHIMEDES (c. 287-212 BCE) Ancient Greece (Sicily) (now Italy). Philosopher, mathematician, scientist, engineer, astronomer, and inventor. Developed hydrostatics, statics and the lever principle. Said to have invented siege engines and screw pump (Archimedes screw). Other achievements attributed to him include: Archimedes’ principle; the mathematical precursors to calculus, including infinitesimals and the method of exhaustion; the planetarium; the war catapult and the Claw of Archimedes. Works include: On the Equilibrium of Planes; On the Measurement of a Circle; On Spirals; On the Sphere and the Cylinder; On Floating Bodies; The Quadrature of the Parabola; The Sand Reckoner; and The Method of Mechanical Theorems. (on 11 lists)
A painting of Archimedes by Domenico Fetti, from 1620.
QIN SHI HUANG (Zhao Zheng, “Zheng, the King of Qin”) (259-210 BCE) China. Military and political leader. Founder of Qin dynasty and first emperor of unified China. King of Qin (247-220 BCE), one of the Warring States. Conquered other warring states to become emperor of China (220-210 BCE). Undertook major economic and political reforms and building projects including the Great Wall. Buried with the Terracotta Army. (on 7 lists)
A portrait of Qin Shi Huang.
JULIUS CAESAR (Gaius Julius Caesar) (100-44 BCE) Ancient Rome (now Italy). Political and military leader. Established dynasty that ruled for the next century. Instrumental in Rome’s change from republic to empire. Formed First Triumvvirate with Crassus and Pompey (60 BCE). Conquered Gaul and brought it under Roman rule (51 BCE). Also conquered Britain and parts of Germany. Consul of the Roman Republic (59-58, 48-47, 46-45, 44 BCE). Defied the Senate and crossed the Rubicon with his army, beginning civil war (49 BCE). Dictator of the Roman Republic (49-44 BCE). Defeated Pompey to win civil war (48 BCE). Supported Cleopatra in Egyptian civil war (47 BCE). Adopted Julian Calendar (45 BCE). Named his grandnephew, Gaius Octavius (Octavian, later Augustus) as his heir (45 BCE). Named dictator for life (February, 44 BCE). His assassination on the Ides of March, 44 BCE led to a second civil war. (on 16 lists)
Bust of Julius Caesar in the National Archaeological Museum of Naples. It is a 110 CE copy of a 50 BCE original.
VIRGIL (Publius Vergilius Maro) (70-19 BCE) Ancient Rome (Cisalpine Gaul) (now Italy). Poet. Works: Eclogues (39-38 BCE); Georgics (37-29 BCE); and The Aeneid (29-19 BCE). The Aeneid, an epic poem that follows Trojan soldier Aeneas from the end of the Trojan War to his arrival in Italy, was considered the national epic of the Roman Empire. (on 4 lists).
A bust of a young Virgil from 45 BCE.
CLEOPATRA (Cleopatra VII Philopator) (c. 69-30 BCE) Hellenistic Egypt/Ptolemaic Kingdom. Political leader. Last monarch of the Ptolemaic Kingdom (51-30 BCE). Used relationships with Roman leaders Julius Caesar and Mark Antony to solidify her grip on the throne and strengthen Egyptian empire. Her alliance with Marc Antony against Octavian in the Roman civil war led to defeat at the Battle of Actium (31 BCE) and Roman subjugation of Egypt. Both she and Mark Antony committed suicide following their defeat. (on 10 lists)
A 1663 depiction of Cleopatra committing suicide with an asp, by Cesare Gennari.
AUGUSTUS (formerly Gaius Octavius Thurinus; Octavian) (63 BCE-14 CE) Ancient Rome (now Italy). Military and political leader. Following assassination of Julius Caesar, he formed the Second Triumvirate with Mark Antony and Marcus Lepidus to fight the assassins (led by Brutus and Cassius). Defeated army of Brutus and Cassius at the Battle of Philippi (42 BCE), after which the Triumvirate split apart into civil war. Civil war ended after Octavian defeated Mark Antony at the Battle of Actium (31 BCE). Roman Senate named him Princeps Civitatis (first citizen) and Augustus and granted him imperial powers (27 BCE). By this time, Augustus was effectively an emperor (reigns 27 BCE-14 CE) and the Roman Republic had become the Roman Empire. Augustus’ reign was the beginning of the Pax Romana, a long period of relative peace. (on 13 lists)
A statue of Augustus from the 1st Century CE, known as the Augustus of Prima Porta. It is now in the Chiaramonti Museum, Vatican City.
JESUS OF NAZARETH (c. 4 BCE-c. 30 CE) Roman Empire (Judea) now Israel/Palestine). Central figure of Christianity. His story is told in The New Testament (Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John). Crucified by the Roman Empire. (on 20 lists)
Mosaic of Jesus Christ from the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, from the late 13th Century.
PAUL THE APOSTLE (formerly Saul of Tarsus) (c. 5-67 CE) Cilicia, Asia Minor (now Turkey)/Roman Empire (now Italy). Early Christian leader and missionary. Wrote Pauline Epistles, including: First Thessalonians (c. 50 CE), Galatians (c. 53 CE), First Corinthians (c. 53–54 CE), Philippians (c. 55 CE), Philemon (c. 55 CE), Second Corinthians (c. 55–56 CE) and Romans (c. 57 CE). Roman Catholic saint. (on 11 lists)
A portrait of Paul the Apostle by Bartolomeo Montagna, from 1482. It is now in the Museo Poldi Pezzoli in Milan.
NERO (Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus) (37-68 CE) Roman Empire (now Italy). Political leader. Last Roman emperor of the Julio-Claudian dynasty (54-68 CE). His reign is usually associated with tyranny, corruption, and extravagance, although some modern historians take a more favorable view of him. Accused by some of starting Great Fire of Rome (64 CE). Committed suicide during Vindex-Galba revolt. (on 3 lists)
A marble bust of Nero, now in the Capitoline Museums in Rome.
CAI LUN (Ts’ai Lun; Jingzhong) (c. 50-121 CE) China. Politician and artisan. A eunuch who served in the court of Emperor He of Han, he is traditionally regarded as the inventor of paper. Although there is evidence that paper existed much earlier, he was responsible for the first significant improvement and standardization of the composition of paper and the papermaking process (105 CE). Lived during the Eastern Han dynasty (25-220 CE). Committed suicide after being implicated in a plot to kill one of the emperor’s imperial consorts. (on 5 lists)
Eighteenth Century print depicting Cai Lun.
BOUDICA (Boadicea) (died c. 60/61 CE) Roman Britain (Britannia) (now UK: England). Queen of Celtic tribe, the Iceni. Led rebellion against Roman occupation by her tribe and others. The rebels destroyed the Roman settlements of Camulodunum (Colchester), Londinium (London), and Verulamium, killing an estimated 70,000-80,000 people. The rebel force was eventually defeated by an army led by Roman Governor Gaius Suetonius Paulinus. Legend has it that Boudica committed suicide to avoid capture by the Romans. (on 3 lists)
Boadicea Haranguing the Britons, from 1793. Original engraving by John Opie; print by William Sharp.
MARCUS AURELIUS (Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus) (121–180 CE) Roman Empire (now Italy). Roman Emperor and philosopher. Emperor of Roman Empire (161-180 CE). Last emperor of the Pax Romana. Conquered the Parthian Empire and subdued a rebellion in the Kingdom of Armenia (161-166 CE). Defeated Germanic peoples in the Marcomannic Wars (166-180 CE). Proponent of Stoicism. Wrote Meditations (161-180 CE) (on 4 lists)
Bust of Marcus Aurelius from the Glyptothek in Munich, probably from the 2nd Century CE.
CONSTANTINE THE GREAT (Constantine I; Flavius Valerius Aurelius Constantinus Augustus) (272-337 CE) Moesia Superior (now Serbia)/Rome (now Italy)/Bithynia (now Turkey). Military and political leader. Roman Emperor (partial, 306-312 CE; full, 312-324 CE). Defeated rival Maxentius at the Battle of Milvian Bridge (312 CE); the Arch of Constantine was erected to commemorate his victory (315 CE). Co-issuer of the Edict of Milan (313 CE), which legalized Christianity. Called First Council of Nicaea (325 CE) to resolve disputes about Christian doctrine. Established new capital of the Eastern Roman Empire at Byzantium (now Istanbul) and renamed it Constantinople (330 CE). Converted to Christianity on his deathbed. (on 11 lists)
A bust of Constantine the Great from the 4th Century CE. It is now in the Museo Chiaramonti, Vatican City.
AUGUSTINE OF HIPPO (354-430 CE) Roman Empire (Numidia) (now Algeria). Christian theologian and author. Bishop of Hippo Regius (Numidia). Doctrines included: the role of divine grace; original sin; and just war theory. Works: Confessions (c. 397-400 CE); On Christian Doctrine (397-426 CE); and City of God (426 CE). Roman Catholic saint. (on 6 lists)
Portrait of St. Augustine by Peter Paul Rubens, from 1636-1638. It is now in the National Gallery of Prague.
ATTILA THE HUN (c. 410-453 CE) Hunnic Empire (centered in what is now Hungary). Political and military leader. King of Hunnic Empire (434-453 CE), which occupied much of Central Asia, the Caucasus and part of Eastern Europe. Led many raids against Western and Eastern Roman Empires. Invasion of Roman Gaul (now France) stopped by a combined Roman-Visigoth army at the Battle of the Catalaunian Plains (451 CE). Invaded Italy but failed to take Rome (452 CE). (on 8 lists)
The Feast of Attila, an 1870 painting by Mór Than. Now in the Hungarian National Gallery.
MUHAMMAD (570-632 CE) Arabia (now Saudi Arabia). Religious, political and military leader. Founder of Islam, a monotheistic religion. According to Islamic doctrine, he was a prophet of the true religion who was sent to follow other prophets, including Adam, Abraham, Moses and Jesus. Led hegira (hijra) from Mecca to Medina (622 CE). Authored Constitution of Medina (622 CE). With an army of 10,000 Muslim converts, he marched on Mecca and conquered it in the name of Islam (629 CE). By the time of his death, he had united Arabia into a single Muslim political entity. The Qur’an (c. 632 CE), the holiest book of Islam, is said to consist of revelations of God received by Muhammad. (on 16 lists)
The name of Muhammad written in Arabic calligraphy.
CHARLEMAGNE (Charles the Great) (c. 747-814 CE) Frankish Kingdom (now France and Germany). Military and political leader. Member of Carolingian dynasty and King of the Franks (768-814 CE). Through military conquest, he united much of western and central Europe under his rule. After conquering northern Italy, he became King of the Lombards (774-814 CE). Fought Muslim armies in Spain. His support of Christianity and the Pope led to his being crowned first Holy Roman Emperor by Pope Leo III (800 CE). (on 9 lists)
A depiction of Charlemagne and his illegitimate son, Pippin the Hunchback. This is a 10th Century copy of an early 9th Century original.
MURASAKI SHIKIBU (Lady Murasaki) (c. 973/978-1014/1031 CE) Japan. Novelist and poet. Pen name of author of The Tale of Genji (c. 1000-1012), considered by some to be the first novel. She was probably a lady-in-waiting to Empress Shōshi at the Japanese Imperial Court during the Heian period. Her true name may have been Fujiwara no Kaoruko. She also wrote The Diary of Lady Murasaki (c. 1008-1010). (on 3 lists)
A portrait of Murasaki Shikibu writing at her desk, by Suzuki Harunobu about 1767. This Edo period woodblock in the ukiyo-e style is now at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
WILLIAM THE CONQUEROR (William I) (c. 1028-1087) Normandy (now France)/England (now UK: England). Military and political leader. Duke of Normandy (1035-1087 CE). Led successful Norman invasion of Anglo-Saxon England in 1066 CE. Became first Norman king of England (1066-1087). Ordered compilation of the Domesday Book (1086), which surveyed English landholdings. Possibly killed in battle. (on 10 lists)
A depiction of William the Conqueror in battle, lifting his helmet to show he was still alive, part of the Bayeaux Tapestry, from the late 11th Century.
POPE URBAN II (born Odo of Châtillon or Otho de Lagery) (c. 1042-1099) France/Rome, Papal States (now Italy). Roman Catholic religious leader. Supreme Pontiff and Roman Catholic Bishop of Rome (1088-1099). After receiving a plea for help from the Byzantine Emperor Alexios I Komnenos, Pope Urban II initiated the First Crusade in 1095 by promising pardon of all past sins to anyone who went to the Holy Land (now Israel/Palestine) in order to wrest it from the control of the Seljuk Turks, who were Muslims. Set up Roman Curia to assist with running the Church. (on 4 lists)
Statue of Pope Urban II in Clermont-Ferrand, France by Henri Gourgouillon, in 1898.
SALADIN (An-Nasir Salah ad-Din Yusuf ibn Ayyub) (1138–1193) Mesopotamia, Abbasid Caliphate (now Iraq)/Syria, Ayyubid Sultanate. Political and military leader. A Sunni Muslim of Kurdish ethnicity, he was First Sultan of Egypt and Syria (1174-1193) and the founder of the Ayyubid dynasty. Led Arabs to victory over the Crusaders, particularly at the Battle of Hattin (1187). (on 7 lists)
Saladin the Victorious, a 19th Century engraving by Gustave Doré.
GENGHIS KHAN (born Temüjin) (c. 1162-1227) Mongolia. Political and military leader. Founder and Great Khan of Mongol Empire (1206-1227). Military conquests included much of China, the Khwarazmid Empire, Persia and Armenia. Probably died in battle. (on 14 lists)
Genghis Khan, as depicted in a 14th Century album of Yuan emperors, which is now in the National Palace Museum of Taipei.
THOMAS AQUINAS (Tommaso d’Aquino) (1225-1274) Kingdom of Sicily/Papal States (now Italy). Roman Catholic priest, theologian and philosopher. Noted proponent of scholasticism, a method of critical thought and program using that method to articulate and defend Christian dogma. Doctrines of his philosophy (known as Thomism) include: natural theology; metaphysical intellectualism; medieval realism; the omnipotence paradox; quinque viae; and analogia entis. Attempted to synthesize the philosophy of Aristotle with Christian doctrine. Works include: Disputed Questions on Truth (1256-1259); Summa contra Gentiles (c. 1259-1265); Summa Theologica (1265-1274); and On Being and Essence. Summa Theologica is considered to be the pinnacle of scholastic, medieval, and Christian philosophy. Canonized as Roman Catholic saint by Pope John XXII (1323). (on 6 lists)
Thomas Aquinas, as depicted by Gentile da Fabriano in a 1400 painting, now in the Pinacoteca di Brera, in Milan.
MARCO POLO (c. 1254-1324) Republic of Venice (now Italy). Merchant, explorer and writer. His father and brother were merchants who traveled widely in Europe and Asia, visited China and met Mongol/Chinese emperor Kublai Khan. Marco Polo later joined his relatives on further travels. Using these experiences, he described Asia (including China) to Europeans in his book The Travels of Marco Polo (Book of the Marvels of the World) (c. 1300), which he wrote with Rustichello da Pisa. Some scholars believe that Rustichello added fantastic and romantic elements to the stories of Marco Polo. (on 10 lists)
Portrait of Marco Polo, possibly from the 16th Century.
DANTE ALIGHIERI (Durante di Alighiero degli Alighieri) (c. 1265-1321) Republic of Florence (now Italy). Statesman, poet and scholar. Promoted the use of the vernacular in literature. Served as Florentine government bureaucrat and politician until shift in politics led to his exile in 1302. Works include: La Vita Nuova (The New Life) (1295); De vulgari eloquentia (On Eloquence in the Vernacular) (c. 1302-1305). De Monarchia (1312-1313); The Divine Comedy> (c. 1308-1321). (on 6 lists)
A portrait of Dante Aligheri by Andrea del Castagno in about 1450. It is a mural at the Uffizi Gallery, Florence.
GEOFFREY CHAUCER (c.1343-1400) England (now UK: England). Writer and poet. Also a civil servant, courtier, philosopher and astronomer. Proponent of the use of vernacular English in literature. Clerk of the Works, Palace of Westminster. Works include: Troilus and Criseyde (c. 1382-1388). The Legend of Good Women (c. 1386-1388). The Canterbury Tales (c. 1400). Buried in Poet’s Corner, Westminster Abbey. (on 5 lists)
A portrait of Geoffrey Chaucer by Thomas Hoccleve in his 1412 book, Regiment of Princes.
JOHANN GUTENBERG (c. 1395-1468) Electorate of Mainz, Holy Roman Empire (now Germany). Inventor, printer and publisher. First European to print using movable metal type (c. 1439). Invented a new printing press, new methods for making type, and new oil-based inks for printing. Mechanical movable type printing was a revolutionary improvement over the prior methods of book production: handwritten manuscripts and woodblock printing. The Gutenberg Bible (1455?) was the first printed version of the Bible and one of the first printed books in the West. Forty-nine complete or almost complete copies survive today. Note: Movable type printing was invented independently in about 1040 CE in China by Bi Sheng and was disseminated throughout East Asia, but the technology did not travel to Europe.(on 14 lists)
A portrait of Johannes Gutenberg made shortly after his death in 1468.
JOAN OF ARC (1412-1431) France. Military leader and religious figure. Led France to victories during Hundred Years War against England and Burgundy, beginning at the Siege of Orleans (1429). Captured, tried for heresy, and burned at the stake by pro-English French faction. Canonized as Roman Catholic saint in 1920. (on 13 lists)
A portrait of Joan of Arc taken from a 1505 illustrated manuscript.
ISABELLA I OF CASTILE (Queen Isabella I) (1451-1504) Ávila, Castile and León (now Spain). Queen of Castile and León (1474-1504). Married Ferdinand II of Aragon in 1469 and became Queen consort of Aragon in 1479. Conducted war with Portugal (1474-1479). Instituted the Spanish Inquisition (1478); persecuted Jews and Muslims. Presided over completion of the Christian Reconquista by capturing Granada from the Muslim Nasrid dynasty (1492). Sponsored exploratory voyages of Columbus to America (1492-1504), which began Spanish golden age of exploration and colonization. Treaty of Tordesillas (1494) divided the non-European world between Spain and Portugal. (on 7 lists)
A 1520 portrait of Isabella of Spain.
CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS (1451-1506) Republic of Genoa (now Italy). Explorer, navigator and conqueror. Led four Spanish-sponsored round-trip voyages between Spain and the Americas (1492-1504). First European to reach the West Indies, leading to lasting contact between Europe and the Americas. Began conquest of America on behalf of the Spanish Empire and established first Spanish colonies in the New World. Accused of rape, torture, killing and enslavement of indigenous people. Governor of the Indies (1492-1499). Removed from governorship in 1500 upon accusations of use of torture and mutilation. Writings: Book of Privileges (1502); Book of Prophecies (1505). To his death, he believed he had sailed to the Far East. (on 20 lists)
Posthumous portrait of Christopher Columbus by Sebastiano del Piombo in 1519, now at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
LEONARDO DA VINCI (Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci) (1452-519) Republic of Florence (now Italy). Artist, engineer, mathematician, anatomist, botanist, geologist and cartographer. Studied human anatomy and fossils. Designed a parachute; a helicopter; an armored vehicle; an adding machine; a double-hulled ship; automated bobbin winder; and a wire-strength testing machine. Writings: Notebooks. Artworks include: The Adoration of the Magi (1481-1482); Virgin of the Rocks (I) (1483-1486); Lady with an Ermine (c. 1490); The Last Supper (1495-1498); Mona Lisa (1503-1505); Virgin of the Rocks (II) (1495-1508); and The Virgin and Child with St. Anne (c. 1508-1510). Lived and worked in Italy and France. (on 20 lists)
A portrait of Leonardo da Vinci by Francesco Melzi, from after 1510. It is located in the Royal Library at Windsor, UK.
VASCO DA GAMA (1st Count of Vidigueira) (c. 1460-1524) Portugal. Explorer and navigator. Found direct sea route from Europe to India (1497-1499), creating opportunity for trade and beginning of Portuguese colonial empire. Viceroy of Portuguese India (1524). (on 10 lists)
A portrait of Vasco da Gama from a 1565 manuscript.
NICCOLÒ MACHIAVELLI (Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli) (1469-1527) Republic of Florence (now Italy). Historian, politician, diplomat, philosopher and author. Doctrines include: Renaissance humanism; political realism; and classical republicanism. Writings include: Mandragola (1518); The Art of War (1519-1520); Discourses on Livy (1531); and The Prince (1532). He argued in The Prince that the goals of princes (such as glory and survival) justify the use of immoral means to achieve those ends. (on 8 lists)
Posthumous portrait of Niccolò Machiavelli by Santi di Tito between 1550 and 1600. It can be found in the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, Italy.
FRANCISCO PIZARRO (1471–1541) Crown of Castile (now Spain)/New Castile (now Peru). Spanish explorer and conquistador. Led three expeditions from Panama to western South America (1524, 1526, 1531-1532). On third expedition, killed Incan emperor Atahualpa in the Battle of Cajamarca (1532) and conquered Incan empire, claiming the lands for Spain. Governor and Captain General of New Castile (1529-1541). (on 3 lists)
This 1835 portrait of Francisco Pizarro by Amable-Paul Coutan may be based on contemporary drawings. It is now located in the Palace of Versailles.
NICOLAUS COPERNICUS (1473-1543) Royal Prussia, Kingdom of Poland (now Poland). Astronomer, mathematician, economist, diplomat, physician, and scholar. Based on astronomical observations and mathematical calculations, he developed a heliocentric model of the solar system, which demonstrated that the Earth and other planets revolved around the Sun. Other discoveries included: Copernicus’ Law; the Copernican principle; the quantity theory of money (1517); and Gresham’s law (1519). After a preliminary sketch of his theory in c. 1514, he described the heliocentric model (and evidence to support it) in De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres) (1543), published shortly before his death. The book triggered the Copernican Revolution, which continued with the work of Galileo, Kepler and Newton. (on 13 lists)
A 1580 posthumous portrait of Nicolaus Copernicus. It is located in the Town Hall of Toruń, Poland.
MICHELANGELO (Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni) (1475-1564) Republic of Florence (now Italy). Renaissance sculptor, painter, architect and poet. Known as “Il divino” (“the divine one”). Sculptures include: Battle of the Centaurs (1491-1492); Madonna of the Stairs (1491-1492); Bacchus (1496-1497); Pieta (1498-1499); David (1501-1504); Moses (1513-1515); The Rebellious Slave (1513-1516) and Tombs of Lorenzo di Piero, Duke of Urbino and Giuliano di Lorenzo, Duke of Nemours (1519-1534). Paintings include: Frescoes, Sistine Chapel Ceiling (1508-1512) and The Last Judgment (1534-1541). Architectural works include: Medici Chapel (Sagrestia Nuova) (1519-1534); Laurentian Library (1525-1534); and Piazza del Campidoglio (1536-1546). Assigned as chief architect of St. Peter’s Basilica in 1546 and remained in the position until his death; the current dome is based in part on his design. (on 15 lists)
Portrait of Michelangelo by Jacopino del Conte from 1535. It is now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
FERDINAND MAGELLAN (Fernão de Magalhães) (1480-1521) Portugal. Explorer and navigator. Led first expedition to circumnavigate the globe (1519-1522). First European to cross the Pacific Ocean. Although the Spanish-sponsored expedition completed the journey, Magellan did not survive; he was killed in a battle with Philippine Islanders in 1521. (on 7 lists)
A portrait of Ferdinand Magellan from the 16th or 17th Century. It may be found in the Mariner’s Museum Collection, Newport News, Virginia.
BABUR (Zahir-ud-din Muhammad Babur) (1483–1530) Timurid Empire (now Uzbekistan)/Mughal Empire (now India). Military and political leader. First emperor of Mughal dynasty (1526-1530); founder of Mughal Empire. Ruler of Kabul (1504-1530). Defeated Ibraham Lodi of the Lodi Dynasty in the First Battle of Panipat (1526). Defeated the Rajput Confederacy in the battles of Khanwa and Chanderi (1527). (on 3 lists)
This c. 1630 illustration of Babur by an unknown artist is now in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.
MARTIN LUTHER (1483-1546) County of Mansfeld, Holy Roman Empire (now Germany). Priest, monk, theologian, scholar and composer. Leader of Protestant Reformation against the Roman Catholic Church. Founder of Lutheranism. Rejected the authority of the Pope, the practice of indulgences, and the doctrine of priestly celibacy. Taught that salvation was based on grace and faith and cannot be earned by good deeds. Taught that the Bible was the only source of divinely revealed knowledge. Excommunicated by Pope Leo X after appearing before the Diet of Worms (1521). Translated the Bible into German (1522 [New Testament]; 1534 [Old Testament]). Wrote: The Ninety-Five Theses (Disputation on the Power of Indulgence) (1517). Composed hymns, including: Eine feste Burg ist unser Gott (A Mighty Fortress Is Our God) and Christ lag in Todesbanden (Christ lay in death’s bondage). (on 16 lists)
A portrait of Martin Luther by Lucas Cranach the Elder from around 1530. It is located in the Uffizi Gallery, Florence.
HERNÁN CORTÉS (Hernando Cortés; Hernán Cortés de Monroy y Pizarro Altamirano, Marquis of the Valley of Oaxaca)(1485-1547) Crown of Castile (now Spain)/New Spain (now Mexico). Spanish conquistador. Conquered the Aztec Empire with the help of rival indigenous groups, culminating in the Siege of Tenochtitlán (1521). Established a Spanish colony (New Spain) in what is now Mexico and served as its first governor (1521-1524). (on 5 lists)
A portrait of Hernando (also known as Hernán) Cortés, possibly from the 16th Century.
HENRY VIII OF ENGLAND (1491-1547) England (now UK: England). English monarch. Second Tudor king of England (1509-1547). Asserted divine right of kings. Refusal of Pope to annul his marriage to Catherine of Aragon led to the separation of the Church of England from Roman Catholicism. Appointed himself Supreme Head of the Church of England (1531). Oversaw union of England and Wales (1535, 1542). Excommunicated by Pope Paul III (1538). First English monarch to rule as King of Ireland (1542). Invested heavily in the English navy. Married six times: Catherine of Aragon (1509-1533) (divorced/annulled); Anne Boleyn (1533-1536) (beheaded); Jane Seymour (1536-1537) (died); Anne of Cleves (1540-1540) (divorced/annulled); Catherine Howard (1540-1541) (beheaded); Catherine Parr (1543-1547). (on 5 lists)
A portrait of Henry VIII painted by the workshop of Hans Holbein the Younger between 1537 and 1547. It is located in the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, UK.
SULEIMAN THE MAGNIFICENT (Suleiman I; Kanunî Sultan Süleyman)(1494-1566) Trabzon, Ottoman Empire (now Turkey). Military and political leader, poet and goldsmith. 10th Ottoman Sultan (1520-1566). Greatly enlarged and strengthened Ottoman Empire. Conquered much of the Middle East, North Africa and Hungary, as well as Belgrade and Rhodes. Expansion of Ottoman Empire into Europe checked at the Siege of Vienna (1529). Under his rule, the Ottoman fleet controlled the Mediterranean Sea, the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf. Instituted major legislative reforms. Supported artistic, literary and architectural achievements. (on 3 lists)
A copy of a portrait of Suleiman the Magnificent from about 1530-1540 (original is attributed to Titian).
JOHN CALVIN (Jehan Cauvin) (1509-1564) France/Republic of Geneva (now Switzerland)/Free City of Strasbourg, Holy Roman Empire (now France). Theologian, pastor and religious reformer. Important figure in the Protestant Reformation, he broke from the Roman Catholic church in 1530. Founder of Calvinism, a religious doctrine that emphasized: justification by faith alone; knowledge of God through study of scripture; predestination of human souls; absolute sovereignty of God in salvation of the human soul; rejection of images of God; denial of the Pope’s authority; the trinitarian nature of God; and rejection of the doctrine of transubstantiation. Wrote Institutes of the Christian Religion (1st ed, 1536). With William Farel, reorganized church in Geneva. Expelled from Geneva in 1537; returned in 1541. Drafted Catéchisme de l’Eglise de Genève (Catechism of the Church of Geneva) (1542). Participated in burning at the stake of Michael Servetus for heresy (1553). (on 4 lists)
This anonymous portrait of John Calvin, from about 1550, is located in the Museum Catharijneconvent in Utrecht, Netherlands.
ANDREAS VESALIUS (born Adries van Wesel) (1514-1564) Hapsburg Netherlands (now Belgium)/Padua, Republic of Venice (now Italy). Anatomist, physician and author. “Father of modern human anatomy.” Chair of surgery and anatomy at the University of Padua (1537-c. 1543). Imperial physician to the Court of Holy Roman Emperor Charles V (c. 1543-1556). Emphasized the importance of dissection of human bodies for proper anatomical study. Made numerous discoveries about human anatomy. First person to describe mechanical ventilation. Corrected many of Galen’s errors about human anatomy. Writings include: Tabulae anatomicai sex (1538) (with illustrations by Vesalius) and De humani corporis fabrica (On the Fabric of the Human Body) (1st edition, 1543) (seven volumes). The latter book, known as the Fabrica of Vesalius, was highly influential and marked the establishment of anatomy as a modern descriptive science. (on 3 lists)
This portrait of Andreas Vesalius was included as an illustration in his 1543 book about the human body.
CATHERINE DE’ MEDICI (1519–1589) Republic of Florence (now Italy)/France. Noblewoman and French monarch. Daughter of Lorenzo de’ Medici, duke of Urbino, and his wife, Madeleine de la Tour d’Auvergne, the countess of Boulogne, Catherine married Henry, Duke of Orleans, in 1533. When Henry became King Henry II of France in 1547, Catherine became Queen consort of France until his death in 1559. She exerted considerable influence on domestic and foreign policy as Queen Mother during reigns of her sons Francis II (1559-1560) (accession at age 15), Charles IX (1560-1574) (accession at age 10) and (to a lesser extent) Henry III (1574-1589) (accession at age 22). Ruled France as regent for her son Charles IX (1560-1563). Reigned during the Wars of Religion (1562-1598), a period of almost constant civil and religious war between Catholics and Protestants in France. Signed the Edict of Amboise (1563), which temporarily restored peace and granted religious freedom to the Huguenots (French Protestants). Nevertheless, persecution of Huguenots continued, including the St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre (1572), which began shortly after the wedding celebration of Catherine’s daughter Marguerite de Valois to Henry, King of Navarre, a Protestant, and which Catherine and Charles IX may have ordered. (on 4 lists)
A portrait of Catherine de’ Medici from between 1547 and 1559. It is located in the Uffizi Gallery, Florence.
ELIZABETH I OF ENGLAND (1533-1603) England (now UK: England). Protestant Queen of England and Ireland (1558-1603). Final Tudor monarch. Daughter of Henry VIII and his second wife, Anne Boleyn. “The Virgin Queen.” Elizabethan Religious Settlement (1558-1559) re-established the independence of English church from Rome. Pope Pius V declared her an illegitimate heretic in 1570 and released her subjects from obedience to her, which encouraged numerous conspiracies against her. Had her cousin, Mary, Queen of Scots, beheaded after being found guilty of assassination plot (1586). Went to war with Spain, during which the English fleet defeated the Spanish Armada (1588). She was involved in suppressing the the Desmond rebellions (1579-1581) and Tyrone’s Rebellion (1594-1603) in Ireland. Reigned during period of flourishing English drama and sea exploration. (on 14 lists)
Portrait of Elizabeth I from 1575, known as The Darnley Portrait. It is located in the National Portrait Gallery, London.
AKBAR THE GREAT (Akbar I; Abu’l-Fath Jalal-ud-din Muhammad Akbar) (1542–1605) Rajputana (now Pakistan)/Mughal Empire (now India). Political and military leader. 3rd Mughal Emperor (1556-1605). Greatly enlarged and strengthened Mughal Empire through military conquests, diplomacy and arranged marriages. During his reign, the empire tripled in size and wealth and included most of what is today Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and northern and central India. Introduced centralized governmental administration. Espoused religious tolerance and multiculturalism. Promoted expansion of commerce and the arts. Created a library of over 24,000 volumes. Founded the city of Fatehpur Sikri. (on 5 lists)
Sixteenth Century portrait of Akbar the Great.
MIGUEL DE CERVANTES (Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra) (1547-1616) Spain. Novelist, poet and playwright. Also worked as solider, purchasing agent and tax collector. While serving in the Navy, he was captured by Barbary Pirates and imprisoned in Algiers from 1575-1580. Writings include: La Galatea (1585); Don Quixote (1605, 1615); Exemplary Novels (1613); and The Travails of Persiles and Sigismunda (1617). (on 4 lists)
A 1600 portrait purported to be Miguel de Cervantes, possibly by Juan de Jauregui. It is located at the Real Academia de la Historia in Madrid.
FRANCIS BACON (1st Viscount St. Alban) (1561-1626) England (now UK: England). Philosopher, statesman, scientist and writer. Promoted the scientific method, empiricism, and inductive reasoning. Member of Parliament (1581-1614). Designated by Queen Elizabeth I as Queen’s Counsel (1597). Appointed Attorney General (1613) and Lord High Chancellor (1618) by King James I. Removed from office and disgraced after convicted of corruption in 1621. Writings include: Essays (1st ed., 1597; 2nd ed., 1612); The Advancement and Proficience of Learning Divine and Human (1605); Novum Organum Scientarium (1620); and New Atlantis (1627). (on 7 lists)
A 1617 portrait of Francis Bacon by Frans Pourbus the Younger. It is located in the Palace on the Water, Warsaw.
WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE (1564-1616) England (now UK: England). Playwright, poet and actor. Plays include: Two Gentlemen of Verona (1589-1591); The Taming of the Shrew (1590-1591); Richard III (1592-1593); A Comedy of Errors (1594); Love’s Labour’s Lost (1594-1595); Romeo and Juliet (1595); A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1595); Richard II (1595); The Merchant of Venice (1596-1597); Henry IV, Part I (1596-1597); The Merry Wives of Windsor (1597); Henry IV, Part II (1597-1598); Much Ado about Nothing (1598-1599); Henry V (1599); Julius Caesar (1599); As You Like It (1599-1600); Hamlet (1599-1601); Twelfth Night (1601); Othello (1603-1604); Measure for Measure (1603-1604); All’s Well That Ends Well (1604-1605); King Lear (1605-1606); Macbeth (1606); Antony and Cleopatra (1606); Coriolanus (1608); The Winter’s Tale (1609-1611); and The Tempest (1610-1611). Poetry: Sonnets (1609). (on 20 lists)
A 1610 portrait of a man many believe to be William Shakespeare, probably painted by John Taylor. It is located in the National Portrait Gallery, London.
GALILEO GALILEI (1564-1642) Duchy of Florence (now Italy). Physicist, mathematician, astronomer, philosopher and engineer. Promoted scientific experimentation and the scientific method. Championed Copernicus’s heliocentric model and confirmed it through astronomical observations. Derived the laws of falling bodies. Improved the telescope. Invented the thermoscope and military compasses. First observed and described the moons of Jupiter, sunspots, and the phases of Venus. Writings include: Sidereus Nuncius (Starry Messenger) (1610); Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems (1632); and Two New Sciences (1638). After publishing the Dialogue, which appeared to support the heliocentric model, he was tried by the Roman Catholic Inquisition, found to be “suspect of heresy” and forced to recant. He remained under house arrest for the rest of his life. (on 19 lists)
Portrait of Galileo Galilei by Justus Sustermans, from 1636. It is located in the National Maritime Museum, London.
JOHANNES KEPLER (1571–1630) Free Imperial City of Weil der Stadt, Holy Roman Empire (now Germany)/Graz, Inner Austria, Hapsburg Empire (now Austria)/Prague, Hapsburg Empire (now Czech Republic); Linz, Upper Austria, Hapsburg Empire (now Austria). Astronomer, mathematician, educator, and astrologer. Derived the three laws of planetary motion. Compiled the Rudolphine Tables, which include a star catalogue and planetary tables (1627). Improved the refracting telescope. Writings include: Mysterium Cosmographicum (1596); New Astronomy (1609); The Harmony of the World (1619); and Epitome Astronomiae Copernicanae (1617-1621). (on 3 lists)
A 1610 portrait of Johannes Kepler by an unknown artist.
WILLIAM HARVEY (1578-1657) England (now UK: England). Physician. Made important contributions to anatomy and physiology. First to completely describe human circulatory system and properties of blood. Elected a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians (1607). Appointed physician in charge at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital (1609). Served as Lumleian lecturer on anatomy (1616-1623). Appointed as physician to King James I (1618) and King Charles I (1632). Writings include: De Motu Cordis (1628) and On Animal Generation (1651). (on 5 lists)
Portrait of William Harvey from 1627, attributed to Daniel Mytens. It is located in the National Portrait Gallery.
THOMAS HOBBES (1588-1679) England (now UK: England). Political philosopher, scientist, mathematician, and scholar. Known for: materialism; empiricism; social contract theory; classical realism; determinism; ethical egoism. Declared that life in state of nature was “nasty, brutish, and short.” Writings include: De Cive (1642); Leviathan (1651); De Corpore (1655); and Behemoth (1668, pub. 1681). (on 4 lists)
A 17th Century portrait of Thomas Hobbes by John Michael Wright. It is located in the National Portrait Gallery, London.
RENÉ DESCARTES (1596-1650) France/Dutch Republic (now the Netherlands)/Sweden. Philosopher, mathematician, scientist, and writer. Known for: “Cogito, ergo sum” (“I think, therefore I am”); the scientific method; analytic geometry; calculus; the law of refraction; rationalism; Cartesian dualism; mathematical method; method of normals; Cartesian coordinate system; foundationalism; dream argument; conservation of momentum; and wax argument. Tutor to Queen Christina of Sweden (1649-1650). Writings include: The World (1629-1633, pub. 1662, 1664); Discourse on Method (1637); La Géométrie (1637); Meditations on First Philosophy (1641); Principles of Philosophy (1644); and Passions of the Soul (1649). (on 10 lists)
A late 17th Century copy of Franz Hals’ 1649 portrait of René Descartes. It is located in the Louvre, Paris.
OLIVER CROMWELL (1599-1658) England (now UK: England). Military and political leader. Member of Parliament (1628-1629, 1640-1649). Supported Parliamentarians in English Civil War. Participated in execution of English king Charles I. As Commander of Parliamentary army, defeated Confederate and Royalist coalition in Ireland (1649-1650) and fought Scottish army (1650-1651). Dominated short-lived Commonwealth of England (1649-1653) as member of the Rump Parliament. Dismissed Parliament by force in 1653 and became absolute ruler as Lord Protector of the Commonwealth (1653-1658). (on 9 lists)
A 1656 portrait of Oliver Cromwell by Samuel Cooper. It is located in the National Portrait Gallery, London.
REMBRANDT (Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn) (1606-1669) Dutch Republic (now The Netherlands). Dutch Golden Age painter and printmaker. Innovative and prolific master of the visual arts; created artworks in a wide variety of styles and subject matters. Paintings include: The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp (1632); The Night Watch (1642); The Supper at Emmaus (1648); Aristotle with a Bust of Homer (1653-1654); Jacob Blessing the Children of Joseph (1656); The Betrayal of Peter (The Denial of St. Peter) (1660); The Syndics of the Cloth-Makers Guild (The Staalmeesters) (1662); The Jewish Bride (c. 1662-1667); and The Return of the Prodigal Son (1668-1669). Prints/etchings include The Hundred Guilder Print (Christ Preaching) (c. 1647-1649) and The Three Crosses (c. 1653). Created nearly 100 self-portraits, including Self-Portrait with Beret and Turned-Up Collar (1659) and Self-Portrait with Two Circles (c. 1665-1669). (on 5 lists)
Rembrandt’s Self-Portrait of 1658. It is located in the Frick Collection, New York.
JOHN LOCKE (1632-1704) England (now UK: England). Enlightenment philosopher and physician. “Father of Liberalism.” Served as: Secretary to Board of Trade and Plantations; Secretary to the Lords Proprietor of Carolina; tutor; and personal physician. Also lived in France (c. 1675-1679) and the Dutch Republic (c. 1683-1688). Known for: empiricism; liberalism; social contract theory; natural law; tabula rasa; primary/secondary qualities; and rights of life, liberty, and property. Writings include: Two Treatises of Government (1689); An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1689); Letters Concerning Toleration (1689-1692); Some Thoughts Concerning Education (1693); and On the Conduct of the Understanding (1706). (on 8 lists)
A 1697 portrait of John Locke by Sir Godfrey Kneller. It is located in the State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg.
ANTONIE VAN LEEUWENHOEK (Antonie Philips van Leeuwenhoek) (1632-1723) Dutch Republic (now The Netherlands). Businessman and scientist. “Father of microbiology.” Opened a draper’s shop in the 1650s in Delft. Served as chamberlain for assembly chamber of the Delft sheriffs (1660-c.1700); appointed as land surveyor (1669); served as official wine-gauger of Delft. Improved accuracy of microscopes through the creation of powerful, high-quality lenses. First observed and documented bacteria, muscle fibers, spermatozoa, red blood cells, and blood flow in capillaries. Announced his discoveries and observations through a series of 560 letters to the Royal Society and other scientific institutions. (on 8 lists)
A portrait of Antonie van Leeuwenhoek by Jan Verkolje from between 1670 and 1693. It is located in the Museum Boerhaave in Leiden.
LOUIS XIV OF FRANCE (1638-1715) France. Bourbon King of France (1643-1715). “The Sun King.” Consolidated system of absolute monarchical rule. Made France the dominant force in Europe. Conducted three major wars: the Franco-Dutch War (1672-1678), the War of the League of Augsburg (1688-1697), and the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-1714). Increased persecution of Protestant Huguenots with the Edict of Fontainebleau (1685). (on 6 lists)
Hyacinthe Rigaud’s 1701 portrait of Louis XIV, which is now located in the Louvre, Paris.
ISAAC NEWTON (1643-1727) England (now UK: England). Physicist, mathematician and inventor. Laid the foundation of classical mechanics, which formed the basis of physical science until Einstein. Formulated universal laws of motion and the law of universal gravitation. Demonstrated how these laws explained both the motion of planets and comets and objects on Earth. Invented a form of the calculus. Generalized the binomial series and developed a method for approximating the roots of a function. Developed a theory of color based on the light spectrum. Propounded a particle theory of light. Invented the first practical reflecting telescope. Proposed that Earth was an oblate spheroid. Calculated the speed of sound. Introduced the notion of a Newtonian fluid. Formulated an empirical law of cooling. Member of Parliament (1689-1690, 1701-1702). President of the Royal Society (1703-1727). Warden (1696-1700) and Master (1700-1727) of the Royal Mint. Writings include: Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica (1687); Opticks (1704); and Arithmetica Universalis (1707). (on 21 lists)
This portrait of Sir Isaac Newton was painted by Sir Godfrey Kneller in 1689, when Newton was 46. It is on display at Farleigh House, Somerset, UK.
PETER THE GREAT (Peter I; Peter Alexeyevich) (1672-1725) Russia. Romanov Tsar of Tsardom of Russia (1682-1721) and Emperor of Russian Empire (1721-1725). Expanded Russia into an empire through wars of conquest. Instituted many Westernized Enlightenment reforms. Laid groundwork for the Russian Navy after capturing the ports at Azov (taken from the Ottoman Empire in 1696) and the Baltic Sea. Founded (in 1703) and developed the city of St. Petersburg as a new capital city. Conducted Grand Embassy tour of Western Europe (1697-1698). Put down the Bulavin Rebellion of the Don Cossacks (1707-1708). Defeated Sweden in the Great Northern War (1700-1721) and acquired significant territory in the Treaty of Nystad. Acquired territory in the Caucasus and Caspian Sea region through the Russo-Persian War of 1722-1723. (on 7 lists)
A portrait of Peter the Great by Paul Delaroche in 1838. It is located in the Hamburg Kunsthalle.
JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH (1685-1750) Duchy of Saxe-Eisenach/Principality of Anhalt-Köthen/Electorate of Saxony (now Germany). Baroque composer and musician. Appointed to posts as organist, music director, concert master, cantor and court musician at: Weimar ducal court (1703-1706; 1708-1717); Blasius Church, Mühlhausen (1706-1708); court of Leopold, Prince of Anhalt-Köthen (1717-1723); and St. Thomas School (and associated churches), Leipzig (1723-1750). Instrumental works include: Cello Suites (c. 1717-1723); Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin (1720); Brandenburg Concertos (1721); The Well-Tempered Clavier, Books I & II (1722, 1742); Orchestral Suites (c. 1725-1739); and the Goldberg Variations (1741). Vocal works include: St. Matthew Passion (1727); Mass in B Minor (1749); and more than 250 cantatas (200 religious and 50 secular are extant), including Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben (1723) and Wachet Auf, Ruft Uns Die Stimme (1731). (on 9 lists)
A portrait of Johann Sebastian Bach. This is a 1748 copy of Elias Haussmann’s 1746 original, which hangs in the Old Town Hall in Leipzig, Germany.
VOLTAIRE (born François-Marie Arouet)(1694–1778) France/Republic of Geneva (now Switzerland). Enlightenment writer, historian and philosopher. Espoused: deism; civil liberties, including freedom of religion and speech; and separation of church and state. Corresponded with Frederick the Great of Prussia and Catherine the Great of Russia. Invited to join the court of Frederick the Great, where he served from 1750 to 1752. Persecuted, exiled and imprisoned for his views. Writings include: Letters Concerning the English Nation (1734); Elements of the Philosophy of Newton (1738); Zadig (1747); Essays on the Customs and the Spirit of the Nations (1756); Candide (1759); and Philosophical Dictionary (1764). (on 10 lists)
A portrait of Voltaire by Nicolas de Largillière from 1724-1725. It is located at the Palace of Versailles in France.
BENJAMIN FRANKLIN (1706-1790) British America/US. Publisher, writer, diplomat, scientist, and inventor, and leading figure in the American Revolution. Published and wrote for the Pennsylvania Gazette (1729-1790) and Poor Richard’s Almanack (1733-1758). Co-founded The Academy and College of Philadelphia (later University of Pennsylvania) (1749). Appointed deputy postmaster-general for British America (1753). Received the Copley Medal from the Royal Society (1753). Elected Speaker of the Pennsylvania Assembly (1764). Based in London as an agent of the Pennsylvania Pennsylvania assembly (1757-1763, 1765-1775). Pennsylvania delegate to the Continental Congress (1775-1776). First U.S. Postmaster General (1775). Envoy/Ambassador to France (1776-1785). Governor of Pennsylvania (1785-1788). Delegate, Constitutional Convention (1787). Signatory to the Declaration of Independence (1776), the Treaty of Alliance with France (1778), the Treaty of Paris (1783), and the U.S. Constitution (1787). Inventions include: bifocals, Franklin stove, the lightning rod; and the glass harmonica. Made scientific discoveries about electricity (including showing that lightning is a form of electricity, discovering the principle of conservation of charge, and coining the term “electrical battery”). Made numerous nautical and oceanographic observations, including identifying and charting the Gulf Stream. Although he owned slaves and participated in the slave trade earlier in his life, his later writings supported the abolition of slavery. His writings include: Observations Concerning the Increase of Mankind, Peopling of Countries, etc. (1751); The Way to Wealth (1758); Rules by Which a Great Empire May Be Reduced to a Small One (1773); The Morals of Chess (1786); and Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin (1791). (on 14 lists)
A portrait of Benjamin Franklin by Joseph-Siffrein Duplessis from about 1785. It is now in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.
CARL LINNAEUS (ennobled as Carl von Linné in 1761) (1707-1778) Sweden. Zoologist, botanist, physician, taxonomist and professor. “Father of modern taxonomy.” Developed formal system of binomial nomenclature for biological classification. Led scientific expeditions to Lapland (1732), Dalarna (1734) Öland and Gotland (1741), Västergötland. (1746), and Scani (1749). Co-founded the Royal Swedish Academy of Science (1739). Obtained position as professor at University of Uppsala (1741); appointed university rector (1750). Appointed chief physician to Swedish king Adolf Frederick (1747). Writings include: Systema Naturae (1st edition, 1735; 10th edition, 1858); Flora Suecica (1745); Fauna Suecica (1745); Philosophia Botanica (1751); and Species Plantarum (1753). (on 4 lists)
This 1775 portrait of Carl Linnaeus by Alexander Roslin is located in the Swedish National Museum in Stockholm.
LEONHARD EULER (1707–1783) Switzerland//Russian Empire/Kingdom of Prussia (now Germany) Mathematician, physicist, astronomer, logician, and engineer. Known for his work in mathematics, mechanics, fluid dynamics, optics, astronomy and music theory. Made important mathematical discoveries in infinitesimal calculus, graph theory, topology, and analytic number theory. Introduced modern mathematical terminology and notation. Appointed to posts at the Imperial Russian Academy of Sciences in St. Petersburg (1727-1741, 1766-1783) and the Berlin Academy (1741-1766). Works include: Mechanica (1736); Methodus inveniendi lineas curvas maximi minimive proprietate gaudentes, sive solutio problematis isoperimetrici latissimo sensu accepti (1744); Introductio in analysin infinitorum (1748); Institutiones calculi differentialis (1755); Elements of Algebra (1765); Institutionum calculi integralis (1768–1770); and Letters to a German Princess (1768–1772). (on 3 lists)
This 1753 portrait of Leonhard Euler by Jakob Emanuel Handmann is now in the Kunstmuseum Basel in Basel, Switzerland.
JEAN-JACQUES ROUSSEAU (1712-1778) Republic of Geneva (now Switzerland)/France. Enlightenment philosopher, social reformer, writer, and composer. He espoused: social contract theory; romanticism; the general will; child-centered learning; popular sovereignty; positive liberty; and amour de soi/amour-propre. He contributed numerous articles to Denis Diderot and Jean le Rond D’Alembert’s Encyclopédie. His other writings include: Discourse on the Arts and Sciences (1750); Discourse on Inequality (1754); Julie, or the New Heloise (1761); The Social Contract (1762); Émile, or On Education (1762); and The Confessions (1770, pub. 17812. He was persecuted by the French and Swiss governments for his unorthodox views and spent many years as an exile and a fugitive. (on 10 lists)
A portrait of Jean-Jacques Rousseau by Maurice Quentin de la Tour between 1750 and 1775. It is located in the Musée Antoine Lécuyer in Saint Germaine, France.
ADAM SMITH (1723-1790) UK: Scotland (now UK: Scotland). Economist, philosopher and author. “Father of Economics.” Laid the foundations of classical free market economic theory. Espoused: the modern free market; division of labor; the “invisible hand”; rational self-interest, competition; and the theory of absolute advantage. Lecturer (1748-1751). Professor, Glasgow University (1751-1764). Member, Philosophical Society of Edinburgh (later Royal Society of Edinburgh) (1752-1790). Tutor to Henry Scott, Duke of Buccleuch (1764-1766). Appointed commissioner of customs (1778). Lord Rector, University of Glasgow (1787-1789). Writings include: The Theory of Moral Sentiments (1759) and An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (“The Wealth of Nations”) (1776). (on 11 lists)
A portrait of Adam Smith. This is a 19th Century etching based on a 1787 medallion by James Tassie.
IMMANUEL KANT (1724-1804) Königsberg, Kingdom of Prussia (now Russia). Philosopher and scientist. Known for: transcendental idealism; synthesizing rationalism and skepticism; analytic-synthetic distinction; the “thing-in-itself”; deontological ethics; the categorical imperative; social contract theory; universal democracy; and international cooperation. Professor, University of Königsberg (1770-1796); served as rector in 1786 and 1788. Writings include: Universal Natural History and Theory of the Heavens (1755); Critique of Pure Reason (1781); Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics (1783); Answer to the Question: What Is Enlightenment? (1784); Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals (1785); Critique of Practical Reason (1788); and Critique of Judgment (1789). (on 6 lists)
An 18th Century portrait of Immanuel Kant by an unknown artist.
JAMES COOK (1728-1779) England (now UK: England). Explorer, navigator, and cartographer. Captain in the Royal Navy. Conducted three voyages of scientific discovery in the Pacific (1768-1771, 1772-1775, 1776-1779). First European to cross the Antarctic Circle (1773); first to encounter the Sandwich Islands; and first to have extensive contact with the indigenous people of the Pacific. Created accurate charts and maps of unknown and less well known areas, including Australia, New Zealand, South Georgia, the South Sandwich Islands, the Hawaiian Islands and the Pacific Northwest coast of America. Cook was killed during a dispute with Hawaiian indigenous people on his last expedition. Cook’s journals of the first voyage, edited by John Hawkesworth, were published in 1773, along with records of other voyages. Narrative of the Voyages Round the World, Performed by Captain James Cook (1788) is an account by Andrew Kippis of Cook’s voyages and death that relies heavily on Cook’s journals. (on 3 lists)
This portrait of Captain James Cook by Nathaniel Dance-Holland, c. 1775, is now at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, UK.
CATHERINE THE GREAT (born Princess Sophie of Anhalt-Zerbst) (1729–1796) Kingdom of Prussia (now Poland)/Russia. Political leader and author. Empress Consort of Russian Emperor Peter III (January-July 1762). Became Empress of Russia (July, 1762-1796) after staging a coup that overthrew her husband Peter III, who died shortly thereafter. Refused to allow her son Paul (Peter III’s heir) to ascend to the throne during her lifetime. Expanded Russian Empire by 200,000 square miles through military conquests and diplomacy. Acquisitions included: New Russia, Crimea, northern Caucasus, parts of Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania and Courland. Her armies defeated the Ottoman Empire in the Russo-Turkish Wars of 1768-1774 and 1787-1792. Participated in the Partitions of Poland (1772, 1793, 1795). Put down Pugachev Rebellion (1773-1775). Promoted numerous reforms and modernizations, including freeing the nobility from compulsory service. Founded the Smolny Institute, the first institute of higher learning for Russian women (1764). Corresponded and met with Enlightenment intellectuals such as Diderot and Voltaire; acquired Voltaire’s library. (on 10 lists)
A portrait of Catherine the Great by Fyodor Rokotov in 1763. It is now in the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow.
GEORGE WASHINGTON (1732-1799) British America/US. Military and political leader. Plantation owner. Successful military officer, French and Indian War (1754-1758). Member, Virginia House of Burgesses (1758-1776). Virginia delegate to Continental Congress (1774-1775). Appointed Commander in Chief of the Continental Army (1775). Led US armies to victory over Great Britain in the American Revolution (1775-1783). Battles and campaigns included: Siege of Boston (1775); Battle of Long Island (1776); Battle of Trenton (1776); Battle of Princeton (1776); Battle of Monmouth (1778); and the Siege of Yorktown (1781). Presided over Constitutional Convention (1787). Served two four-year terms as 1st US president (1789-1796). Created executive departments and appointment members of the first cabinet. Put down the Whiskey Rebellion (1794). Established US neutrality in European conflicts. Signed the Fugitive Slave Act (1793). In his Farewell Address (1796), he warned against regionialism, partisanship, and foreign entanglements. (on 19 lists)
Gilbert Stuart’s 1797 portrait of George Washington, which can be seen in the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas.
JOHN ADAMS (1735-1826) British America/US. Lawyer, statesman, diplomat and leading figure in the American revolution. Attorney for British soldiers in the Boston Massacre (1770). Massachusetts delegate to Continental Congress (1774-1778). Participated in negotiations over alliance with France and peace treaty with Great Britain (1778-1783). Primary author of Massachusetts Constitution (1779-1780). First US Ambassador to the Netherlands (1782-1788). First US Ambassador to Great Britain (1785-1788). 1st US Vice President (1789-1797); served as President of the US Senate, where he cast 31 tie-breaking votes. 2nd US President (1797-1800). Signed the Alien and Sedition Acts (1798), which were used to harass political opponents. Engaged in undeclared “Quasi-War” with France (1798-1800). Appointed John Marshall to the US Supreme Court (1801). Writings include Thoughts on Government (1776) and Defence of the Constitutions (1787). (on 5 lists)
Official Presidential portrait of John Adams by John Trumbull, from 1792 or 1793. Now located in the White House, Washington, D.C.
JAMES WATT (1736-1819) Great Britain: Scotland (now UK: Scotland). Inventor, mechanical engineer, and chemist. Pioneer of steam technology, whose idea of introducing a separate condenser radically improved the power, efficiency and cost-effectiveness of the steam engine. Developed the concept of horsepower. Co-founded engineering and manufacturing firm of Boulton and Watt (1775). First fully-operational Watt-designed steam engine produced in 1776. Obtained patents for further steam engine improvements (1781-1788). Designed and patented a portable copying machine (1779-1794). (on 8 lists)
A portrait of James Watt by Carl Frederik von Breda in 1792. It can be seen in the National Portrait Gallery, London.
ANTOINE LAVOISIER (Antoine-Laurent de Lavoisier) (1743–1794) France. Chemist. “Father of Modern Chemistry.” Known for: explaining the nature of combustion, the nature and properties of hydrogen and oxygen; disproving the phlogiston theory. He articulated the law of conservation of mass, identified sulfur as an element and made the first extensive list of the chemical elements. He helped construct the metric system and reform chemical nomenclature. He was a pioneer of stoichiometry and conducted some of the first truly qualitative chemical experiments. Works include: Essays, on the Effects Produced by Various Processes On Atmospheric Air; With A Particular View To An Investigation Of The Constitution Of Acids (1777-1783); Reflections on Phlogiston (1783); and Elementary Treatise on Chemistry (1789). Served as an administrator of the Ferme générale. Executed in French Revolution after being charged with tax fraud and selling adulterated tobacco. (on 3 lists)
This 1788 portrait of Antoine Lavoisier and his wife, chemist Marie-Anne Pierrette Paulze, by Jacques-Louis David, is now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
THOMAS JEFFERSON (1743-1826) British America/US. American revolutionary, diplomat, political leader, lawyer, inventor, and architect. Representative to Continental Congress from Virginia, where he served as principal author of the Declaration of Independence (1775-1776). Governor of Virginia (1779-1781). US Minister to France (1785-1793). First US Secretary of State (1790-1793). 2nd US Vice President (1797-1801). 3rd US president (1801-1809). During his presidency, he conducted war against Barbary pirates (1801-1805); authorized Louisiana Purchase (1803); sponsored Lewis and Clark expedition to the west (1804-1806); signed Embargo Act of 1807 and Act Prohibiting Importation of Slaves (1807). Wrote Notes on the State of Virginia (1785). Co-founded Democratic-Republican Party. Founded University of Virginia (1819). Architectural designs include: Virginia State Capitol (1788) (with Charles-Louis Clérisseau); Addition, George Divers House (1802-1803); Monticello (1768–1809); Charlotte County Courthouse (1822-1823); Poplar Forest (1806–1826); and Academical Village, University of Virginia (1817-1826). Owned many slaves and fathered children with Sally Hemings, an enslaved woman of mixed race. (on 12 lists)
This 1800 portrait of Thomas Jefferson by Rembrandt Peale hangs in the White House, Washington, D.C.
EDWARD JENNER (1749-1823) England (now UK: England). Physician and scientist. “Father of Immunology.” Pioneer of vaccination. Developed smallpox vaccine – the world’s first vaccine – by using live cowpox. Works include: Inquiry into the Variolae vaccinae known as the Cow Pox (1796). Appointed physician extraordinary to King George IV (1821). He advanced the understanding of angina pectoris and was the first to describe brood parasitism in the cuckoo. (on 4 lists)
A portrait of Edward Jenner by James Northcote, from between 1803 and 1823. It is now in the National Portrait Gallery, London.
JAMES MADISON (1751-1836) British America/US. Political leader. “Father of the Constitution.” Served as member of Virginia’s House of Delegates, the Second Continental Congress and the Constitutional Convention, where he played a pivotal role in drafting the US Constitution. Co-wrote The Federalist Papers (1787-1788) in support of ratification of the new constitution. Represented Virginia in the US House of Representatives (1789-1797), where he introduced the Bill of Rights. Co-founded the Democratic-Republican Party (c. 1792). US Secretary of State (1801-1809). Fourth US president (1809-1817). Presided over successful War of 1812 against Great Britain; re-established a national bank; and approved federal spending on road improvements. (on 4 lists)
This 1816 portrait of James Madison by John Vanderlyn now hangs in the White House in Washington, D.C.
LOUIS XVI OF FRANCE (born Louis-Auguste) (1754-1793) France. Last king of France before and during the French Revolution (1774-1792). Supported American Revolution at great expense to France. Attempts at reform thwarted by the aristocracy. Deregulated the grain market, leading to increased bread prices and food shortages. Debt and financial crisis caused by his policies led to revolution. Forced to recognize legislative authority of the National Assembly (1789). Attempted unsuccessfully to flee the country (1791). Monarchy abolished (1792). Found guilty of high treason and executed by guillotine (1793). (on 4 lists)
This 1779 portrait of King Louis XVI by Antoine-François Callet is now located at the Palace of Versailles.
ALEXANDER HAMILTON (1755-1804) Nevis, British Leeward Islands/US. Statesman, military and political leader. Senior aide to General George Washington during the American Revolutionary War (1777-1782). New York delegate to the Congress of the Confederation (1782-1783, 1788-1789). Co-author of The Federalist Papers in support of the U.S. Constitution (1787-1788). 1st US Secretary of the Treasury (1789-1795). Proposed the creation of the U.S. Coast Guard (1790). Established a national bank (1791). Arranged Jay Treaty with Great Britain (1795). Co-founder of the Federalist Party. Commanding General of the US Army (1799-1800). Founded the New York Post (1801). Killed in duel with Vice President Aaron Burr. (on 3 lists)
This 1806 portrait of Alexander Hamilton by John Trumbull is now at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.
WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART (born Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart) (1756-1791) Archbishopric of Salzburg, Holy Roman Empire (now Austria). Musician and composer in the Classical style. Began career as child prodigy performer (1762-1773). Court musician at the Salzburg for Prince-Archbishop Hieronymus Colloredo (1773-1777, 1779-1781). Worked as freelance musician and composer in Vienna (1781-1787). Appointed by Holy Roman Emperor Joseph II as chamber composer (1787). Composed more than 600 works in nearly every genre. Vocal music includes: Le nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro) (1786) (opera); Don Giovanni (1787) (opera); Così fan tutte (1790) (opera); Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute) (1791) (opera/singspiel); and Requiem (completed posthumously by Franz Xaver Süssmayr, 1792) (mass). Symphonic music includes: Violin Concerto No. 5 “The Turkish” (1775); Piano Concerto No. 20 (1785); Piano Concerto No. 21 (1785); Symphony No. 38 “Prague” (1786); Piano Concerto No. 23 (1786); Symphony No. 39 (1788); Symphony No. 40 (1788); Symphony No. 41 “Jupiter” (1788); Clarinet Concerto (1791). Chamber music includes: Piano Sonata No. 11 (1783); String Quartet No. 19 “Dissonance” (1785); String Quintet No. 4 (1787); Serenade No. 13 “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik” (1787); and Clarinet Quintet “Stadler” (1789) (on 10 lists)
This portrait of Mozart is taken from a group portrait of his family, painted by Johann Nepomuk Della Croce in 1780 or 1781. The painting hangs in the Stiftung Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria.
WILLIAM BLAKE (1757-1827) Great Britain: England/UK: England). Poet, author, artist, and printer. Poems include: The Tyger (1794); The Sick Rose (1794); London (1794); Mock On, Mock On! Voltaire, Rousseau (1800-1803); Auguries of Innocence (1803); and Jerusalem (“And did those feet in ancient time…”) (1804-1810). Books include: Poetical Sketches (1783); An Island in the Moon (1784-1785); There Is No Natural Religion (c. 1788); All Religions Are One (c. 1788); Songs of Innocence (1789); The Marriage of Heaven and Hell (1790-1793); Visions of the Daughters of Albion (1793); America A Prophecy (1793); Europe A Prophecy (1794); The First Book of Urizen (1794); Songs of Experience (1794); Continental Prophecies (1793-1795); The Book of Los (1795); The Song of Los (1795); The Book of Ahania (1795); The Dance of Albion (c. 1796); The Four Zoas (1797); Milton a Poem (c. 1804-1811); and Jerusalem The Emanation of the Giant Albion (1804-1820). Works of visual art include: Titania and Puck with Fairies Dancing (1786); Satan (c. 1789); The Ancient of Days (1794); Newton (1795-c. 1805); The Angels Hovering Over the Body of Christ in the Sepulchre (c. 1805); Adam Naming the Beasts (1810); The Ghost of a Flea (c. 1819-1820); and The Body of Abel Found by Adam and Eve (1825). He illustrated his own books and also created illustrations for Original Stories from Real Life, by Mary Wollstonecraft (1791) and The Book of Job (1826). Illustrations for an edition of The Divine Comedy were left incomplete at his death. (on 3 lists)
This 1807 portrait of William Blake by Thomas Philips is now at the National Portrait Gallery in London.
HORATIO NELSON (Lord Nelson; Admiral Nelson; 1st Viscount Nelson) (1758-1805) Great Britain: England/UK: England. Naval commander. Led British fleet to victories, especially during Napoleonic Wars (1793-1805). “England expects that every man will do his duty.” Killed by a French sharpshooter at the Battle of Trafalgar (1805). (on 3 lists)
A 1799 portrait of Horatio Nelson by Lemuel Francis Abbott 1799. It is now in the National Maritime Museum in London.
MARY WOLLSTONECRAFT (1759-1797) Great Britain: England/UK: England. Writer, philosopher and women’s rights advocate. Advocate of education for women. Supported French Revolution. Works include: Thoughts on the Education of Daughters (1787); A Vindication of the Rights of Men (1790); A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792); and An Historical and Moral View of the French Revolution (1794). (on 6 lists)
John Opie’s portrait of Mary Wollstonecraft, from about 1797, is now in the National Portrait Gallery, London.
WILLIAM WILBERFORCE (1759-1833) Great Britain: England/UK: England. Politician and philanthropist. Member of Parliament (1780-1825). Leader of British anti-slavery movement in the British Parliament, which led to the Slave Trade Act of 1807 and the Slavery Abolition Act (1833). Evangelical Christian who was founding member of the Church Missionary Society (1799) and the British and Foreign Bible Society (1804). In 1824, co-founded the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Royal National Lifeboat Institution. (on 4 lists)
A 1794 portrait of William Wilberforce by Anton Hickel. It may be found at Wilberforce House, Kingston upon Hull, UK.
THOMAS ROBERT MALTHUS (1766–1834) Great Britain. Cleric and scholar. Pioneer in political economy and demography. Works include: An Essay on the Principle of Population (1798); Observations on the effects of the Corn Laws (1814); and Principles of Political Economy (1820). His work on population grown influenced Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace in their evolutionary theories. (on 3 lists)
A print of an 1833 portrait of Thomas Malthus by John Linnell.
JOHN DALTON (1766–1844) Great Britain. Chemist, meteorologist, and physicist. Best known for developing a comprehensive atomic theory of matter that identified all elements as composed of tiny indivisible particles called atoms, that differ from element to element, and combine to form molecules and are combined, separated or rearranged in chemical reactions. He invented a method for calculating the relative atomic weights for the chemical elements and compiled a table of atomic weights. His work in chemistry included investigating and conducting experiments regarding the behavior of gases and discovering the law of multiple proportions and Dalton’s Law of Partial Pressures. He also studied and published papers on topics such as color blindness, the origin of springs, light reflection and refraction, various aspects of meteorology, and English grammar. Works include: Meteorological Observations and Essays (1793); Elements of English Grammar (1801); and A New System of Chemical Philosophy (1808). (on 3 lists)
An 1834 portrait of John Dalton by Charles Turner.
NAPOLEON BONAPARTE (1769-1821) France. Military and political leader. Commanded troops that put down royalist rebellion on behalf of French Revolutionary government (1795). Led French army against Italy and Austria and conquered northern Italy (1796-1797). Invaded Egypt (1798). Overthrew the Directory in a coup d’etat and became First Consul of France (1799). Returned to Italy to fight the Austrians. Signed temporary peace treaty with Great Britain. Sent troops in unsuccessful attempt to put down slave rebellion in Saint-Domingue, which became the nation of Haiti in 1804. Crowned himself Emperor of the French Empire (1804). Defeated the Third Coalition at the Battle of Austerlitz (1805). Defeated the Prussians at Jena and Auerstedt (1806). Invaded Portugal and Spain (1807). Invaded Russia (1812); despite a victory at the Battle of Borodino, the French were forced to retreat. Suffered major loss to the Sixth Coalition in the Battle of Leipzig (1813); France surrendered to the Coalition in March 1814. Forced to abdicate and exiled to the Mediterranean island of Elba (1814). Escaped from Elba, returned to France and raised an army; declared Emperor again (1815). Defeated by Coalition armies at the Battle of Waterloo (1815). Exiled to St. Helena in the South Atlantic, where he died in 1821. (on 20 lists)
Napoleon Crossing the Alps, by Jacques-Louis David (1801). The painting is located at the Château de Malmaison in Rueil-Malmaison, France.
LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Bonn, Electorate of Cologne, Holy Roman Empire (now Germany)/Vienna, Austrian Empire (now Austria). Composer and musician. Transitional figure between the Classical and Romantic periods. His compositions are typically divided into early (until 1802), middle (1802-1812) and late (1812-1827) periods. Important works include: Piano Sonata No. 8 “Pathetique” (1798);
Piano Concerto No. 3 (1800); Piano Sonata No. 14 “Moonlight” (1801); Symphony No. 3 “Eroica” (1804); Piano Sonata No. 23 “Appassionata” (1804-1805); Fidelio (1805) (opera); Piano Concerto No. 4 (1805-1806); Violin Concerto (1806); Symphony No. 5 (1808); Symphony No. 6 “Pastoral” (1808); Piano Concerto No. 5 “Emperor” (1809-1810); Symphony No. 7 (1812); Piano Sonata No. 29 “Hammerklavier” (1819); Missa Solemnis (1819-1823); Symphony No. 9 “Choral” (1824); String Quartet No. 13 (1825); and String Quartet No. 14 and Grosse Fugue (1826). His hearing began to deteriorate in his late 20s and he was almost completely deaf by 1811 but he continued to compose until his death. (on 15 lists)
Portrait of Beethoven composing the Missa Solemnis, by Joseph Karl Stieler, from 1820. It may be seen at Beethoven-Haus, in Bonn, Germany.
JANE AUSTEN (1775-1817) Great Britain: England/UK: England. Novelist. “Her use of biting irony, along with her realism, humour, and social commentary, have long earned her acclaim among critics, scholars, and popular audiences alike.” [Wikipedia]. Her novels are: Sense and Sensibility (1811); Mansfield Park (1814); Pride and Prejudice (1815); Emma (1815); Persuasion (1818); and Northanger Abbey (1818). (on 7 lists)
Colorized portion of an undated portrait of Jane Austen by her sister, Cassandra Austen.
SIMÓN BOLÍVAR (Simón José Antonio de la cruz Santa maria Trinidad Bolívar Palacios Ponte y Blanco) (1783-1830) Venezuela, Spanish Empire/Gran Colombia (now Venezuela, Colombia, Panamá and Ecuador). Military and political leader in struggle for Latin American independence. “El Libertador.” Beginning in 1808, led military campaign for the independence of New Granada (now Colombia and Panama with parts of Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Venezuela, Peru, and Brazil). President of Republic of Venezuela (1813-1814, 1817-1819). Defeated Spanish royalists at numerous battles, including Battle of Boyacá (1819) and Battle of Carabobo (1821). President of Gran Columbia (now Venezuela, Colombia, Panama and Ecuador and parts of Peru, Guyana and Brazil) (1819-1830). Led military campaigns against Spanish rulers in what is now Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia. President of Peru (1824-1827). President of Bolivia (1825). (on 10 lists)
A portrait of Simón Bolívar. This is a late 19th or early 20th Century copy of an original work made before 1830.
LOUIS DAGUERRE (Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre) (1787-1851) France. Artist, photographer and physicist. Co-invented the diorama (1822). Invented early type of photography known as daguerreotype process (1839). Daguerre sold his rights to the process to the French government in return for lifetime pensions for himself and the son of his early collaborator Nicéphore Niépce. The French government then made the process free to the world. Well-known early daguerreotypes by Daguerre include: Still Life: The Artist’s Studio (1837) and Boulevard du Temple, Paris (1838). (on 5 lists)
Daguerrotype of Louis Daguerre in 1844, taken by Jean-Baptiste Sabatier-Blot. On display at the George Eastman House, Rochester, New York.
MICHAEL FARADAY (1791-1867) Great Britain: England/UK: England. Scientist and inventor. His work was crucial in leading to the practical use of electricity in technology and engineering. Discovered the principles of electromagnetic induction and diamagnetism and the laws of electrolysis. Described an underlying relationship between magnetism and light. Invented early electromagnetic rotary devices and an early form of the Bunsen burner. Discovered benzene. Developed a system of oxidation numbers. Popularized the terms “anode”, “cathode”, “electrode” and “ion.” Named first Fullerian Professor of Chemistry at the Royal Institution, London (1833). Works include: Chemical Manipulation (1827); Experimental Researches in Electricity (1839); Experimental Researches in Chemistry and Physics (1859); A Course of Six Lectures on the Chemical History of a Candle (1861). (on 5 lists)
Photograph of Michael Faraday from about 1861, probably taken by John Watkins.
CHARLES BABBAGE (1791-1871) Great Britain: England/UK: England. Mathematician, philosopher, inventor, and mechanical engineer. Pioneer of the programmable computer. Designed the Difference Engine (partially completed) and the Analytical Engine (never built). If built, the Analytical Engine would have been the first true computer that met all the Turing tests. Formulated the “Babbage principle” that more careful division of labor brings commercial advantages. Co-founder of the Royal Astronomical Society (1820). Lucasian Professor of Mathematics, Cambridge University (1828-1839). Founding member, British Association for the Advancement of Science (1831). Invented the pilot (cowcatcher) for the fronts of locomotives (1838), a dynamometer car; and an early version of the ophthalmoscope. Made important contributions to cryptography and broke the Vigenère cipher used by Russia during the Crimean War. Works include: Reflections on the Decline of Science and some of its Causes (1830); On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures (1832); On the Power, Wisdom and Goodness of God (1837); and Passages from the Life of a Philosopher (1864). A working model of his Difference Engine No. 2 (1847-1849) was built (using 19th Century manufacturing standards) in 1989-1991. (on 8 lists)
A photograph of Charles Babbage in 1860.
SAMUEL MORSE (1791-1872) US. Painter, inventor, and photographer. He invented a single-wire electrical telegraph system, which eventually was installed commercially throughout the US. With Alfred Vail, co-inventor of the Morse code telegraph language, which became standard. Pioneer in daguerreotype photography; taught Matthew Brady. Co-founder, National Academy of Design (1826). His paintings include: Dying Hercules (1812); Judgment of Jupiter (1814-1815); Portrait of James Monroe (c. 1819); Portrait of Eli Whitney (1822); Portrait of Marquis de la Lafayette (1826); and The Gallery of the Louvre (1831-1833) (on 4 lists)
An 1840 photograph of Samuel Morse, which is kept in the Archives of American Art, Washington, D.C.
JOHN KEATS (1795-1821) Great Britain: England/UK: England. English Romantic poet. Poems include: On First Looking Into Chapman’s Homer (1816); Endymion (1817); When I Have Fears that I May Cease to Be (1818); Ode on a Grecian Urn (1819); Ode on Melancholy (1819); Ode to a Nightingale (1819); Ode to Psyche (1819); La Belle Dame Sans Merci (1819); To Autumn (1819); Bright Star (1819); and The Eve of St. Agnes. (on 3 lists)
A posthumous portrait of John Keats, c. 1822, by William Hilton. It is now in the National Portrait Gallery in London.
ROBERT E. LEE (1807-1870) US. Military leader. Aide to Winfield Scott in Mexican-American War (1846-1848). Appointed Superintendent of the US Military Academy at West Point (1852). Led military detail that suppressed John Brown’s uprising at Harpers Ferry (1859). At the outset of the US Civil War, he rejected an offer of the position of major general in the Union army, resigned his position and became military advisor to Jefferson Davis, President, Confederate States of America (1862). Commanding general, Army of Northern Virginia (1862-1865). Appointed General in Chief of the Armies of the Confederate States (1865). Important Civil War battles include: Second Battle of Manassas/Bull Run, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Wilderness, Spotsylvania Court House, Cold Harbor, and Siege of Petersburg. Surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant at the Battle of Appomattox Court House (1865). Appointed President of Washington College (now Washington and Lee University) (1865). (on 3 lists)
A photograph of Robert E. Lee by Julian Vannerson from March 1864.
ABRAHAM LINCOLN (1809-1865) US. Attorney and political leader. Practicing attorney (1837-1860). Member, Illinois House of Representative (1834-1842). US House of Representatives (1847-1849). Helps organize the Republican Party of Illinois (1856). Ran unsuccessfully for Senate against Stephen Douglas; Lincoln-Douglas debates (1858). Elected 16th US president (Republican, 1861-1865); re-elected in 1864. His election triggered the secession of Southern states. Commander-in-Chief of the Union during the US Civil War. Issued Emancipation Proclamation freeing enslaved African Americans in the rebel states (1862, took effect January 1, 1863). Gave Gettysburg Address (Nov. 19, 1863). Successfully advocated for the 13th Amendment to the US Constitution abolishing slavery (1864-1865). Gave second inaugural address (March 4, 1865). Other laws passed during his presidency include: the Homestead Act (1862); Morrill Land-Grant Colleges Act (1862); and the Pacific Railway Acts (1862, 1864) (which led to the first transcontinental railroad). Assassinated by actor and Confederate sympathizer John Wilkes Booth while attending a performance of Our American Cousin at Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C. (on 20 lists)
A daguerreotype of Abraham Lincoln in 1863, taken by Alexander Gardner.
CHARLES DARWIN (1809-1882) UK: England. Biologist, naturalist and geologist. Developed theory of evolution by means of natural selection. His book On the Origin of Species (1859) set out with abundant evidence the mechanism of evolution. Proposed that all living things have a single common ancestor. Also studied: human evolution; sexual selection; barnacles; the formation of atolls; phototropism in plants; and the role of earthworms in soil formation. Served as naturalist for HMS Beagle on five-year voyage (1831-1836). Appointed Secretary, Royal Geological Society (1838). Elected Fellow of the Royal Society (1839). Other works include: The Voyage of the Beagle (1839); The Structure and Distribution of Coral Reefs (1842); Fertilisation of Orchids (1862); The Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication (1868); The Descent of Man (1871); The Expression of Emotions in Man and Animals (1872); The Power of Movement in Plants (1880); and The Formation of Vegetable Mould through the Action of Worms (1881). (on 21 lists)
A photograph of Charles Darwin by Henry Maull and John Fox, probably taken in 1854.
HARRIET BEECHER STOWE (1811-1896) US. Author and abolitionist. Her bestselling novel and play Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852), which depicts the harsh conditions for enslaved African Americans, was influential in energizing anti-slavery forces in the northern US. Editor, Hearth and Home magazine (1868). Co-founder, Hartford Art School (later University of Hartford) (1877). Other works include The Minister’s Wooing (1859); Oldtown Folks (1869); and Palmetto Leaves (1873). (on 3 lists)
A photograph of Harriet Beecher Stowe from about 1852.
CHARLES DICKENS (1812-1870) UK: England. Journalist, author, lecturer, and social critic. Editor, Bentley’s Miscellany (1836-1839). Editor, the Daily News (1846). Founder and manager, Urania College, a home for “fallen women of the working class” (1846-1856). Editor, Household Words (1850-1859). Beginning in 1858, engaged in a series of public readings of his work. Founding member, The Ghost Club (1862). Works of fiction include: The Pickwick Papers (1837); Oliver Twist (1838); Nicholas Nickleby (1838-1839); A Christmas Carol (1843); Martin Chuzzlewit (1843-1844); Dombey and Son (1846-1848); David Copperfield (1849-1850); Bleak House (1852-1853); Hard Times (1854); Little Dorrit (1857); A Tale of Two Cities (1859); Great Expectations (1860-1861); and Our Mutual Friend (1864-1864). Works of nonfiction include: Sketches by Boz (1836); American Notes for General Circulation (1842); Pictures from Italy (1846); and The Life of Our Lord (1846). Buried in Poet’s Corner, Westminster Abbey. (on 7 lists)
A photograph of Charles Dickens by Herbert Watkins, dated 1858. It is now in the National Portrait Gallery, London.
OTTO VON BISMARCK (Otto Eduard Leopold, Prince of Bismarck, Duke of Lauenburg; born von Bismarck-Schönhausen) (1815-1898) Prussia/German Empire (now Germany). Political leader and diplomat. Practitioner of realpolitik diplomacy and architect of a united Germany. “The Iron Chancellor.” Minister President, Prussia (1862-1873, 1873-1890); Minister of Foreign Affairs, Prussia, then German Empire (1962-1890). Chancellor, North German Federation (1867-1871). 1st Chancellor, German Empire (1871-1890). (on 8 lists)
A photograph of Otto von Bismarck from about 1875. It is located in the German Federal Archives, Koblenz.
ELIZABETH CADY STANTON (1815-1902) US. Women’s rights activist, abolitionist, and suffragist. Wrote the influential Declaration of Sentiments, which was presented at the Seneca Falls Convention for women’s rights (1848). Co-founder, Woman’s State Temperance Society (1852-1853). Co-founder, Revolution (a weekly periodical) (1868). Co-founder, National American Woman Suffrage Association (1869); served as president (1890-1892). Other works include: The Slave’s Appeal (1860); History of Woman Suffrage (co-author, Vol. I, 1881 and Vol. II, 1886); Solitude of Self (1892); The Woman’s Bible (written with a committee of 26 women) (1895, 1898); and Eighty Years and More (1898), a memoir. (on 4 lists)
A photograph of Elizabeth Cady Stanton from c. 1880.
CHARLOTTE BRONTË (1816-1855) UK: England. Novelist and poet. Best known for her novel Jane Eyre (1847), which was “the first [novel] to focus on its protagonist’s moral and spiritual development through an intimate first-person narrative, where actions and events are coloured by a psychological intensity.” [Wikipedia]. Other works include: The Professor (c. 1846, pub. 1857); Shirley (1849); and Villette (1853). (on 3 lists)
An 1854 photograph of Charlotte Brontë.
EMILY BRONTË (1818-1848) UK: England. Novelist and poet. Best known for her only novel, Wuthering Heights (1847), with its “unusually stark depiction of mental and physical cruelty … that challenged strict Victorian ideals regarding religious hypocrisy, morality, social classes and gender inequality.” [Wikipedia.] Initially controversial, the book is now recognized as a classic of English literature. Her poems include: Come Hither Child (1839); A Death-Scene (1846) and Remembrance (1846). (on 3 lists)
An undated portrait of Emily Brontë by her brother Branwell Brontë.
KARL MARX (1818-1883) Kingdom of Prussia (now Germany)/France/Belgium/UK: England. Political philosopher, economist, historian, sociologist, journalist and social revolutionary. Originator of Marxism and communism. Known for: materialism; surplus value; class struggle; labor theory of value; alienation and exploitation of labor; and the materialist conception of history. Co-editor, Deutsch–Französische Jahrbücher (1843-1844). Co-founder, the Communist League (1847). Publisher and editor, Neue Rheinische Zeitung (1848-1849). Correspondent, New-York Daily Tribune (1852-1862). Elected to General Council of the International Workingmen’s Association (1864). Works include: The Holy Family (1844) (with Friedrich Engels); The German Ideology (1846, pub. 1932); The Poverty of Philosophy (1847); The Communist Manifesto (1848) (with Friedrich Engels); A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy (1959); Capital (Das Kapital) (3 vols., 1867-1883). (on 21 lists)
A photograph of Karl Marx, taken about 1875. It is now at the International Institute of Social History in Amsterdam.
FREDERICK DOUGLASS (born Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey) (1818-1895) US. Social reformer, author and orator. Leader in US abolitionist movement. Supported women’s rights movement. Escaped from enslavement (1838). Became licensed preacher (1839). Publisher and editor, The North Star (1847-1851), later Frederick Douglass’ Paper (1851-1860). Publisher and editor, the New National Era (1870). Nominated for Vice-President by the Equal Rights Party (1872). Appointed President, Freedmen’s Savings Bank (1874). Served as US Ambassador to Haiti (1889-1891). Works include: Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave (1845); My Bondage and My Freedom (1855); and Life and Times of Frederick Douglass (1st ed., 1881, revised, 1892). (on 3 lists)
A photograph of Frederick Douglas from 1856. It is now in the National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C.
GEORGE ELIOT (pen name of Mary Anne Evans) (1819-1880) UK: England. Novelist, journalist, poet, and translator. Her novels are known for their realism and psychological insight. Assistant editor, The Westminster Review (1851-1854). Novels include: Adam Bede (1859); The Mill on the Floss (1860); Silas Marner (1861); Romola (1862-1863); Middlemarch (1871-1872); and Daniel Deronda (1876). (on 3 lists)
A photograph of George Eliot from about 1865. It is now in the National Library of France.
QUEEN VICTORIA (Victoria, Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland; born Alexandrina Victoria) (1819-1901) UK. Constitutional monarch. Queen of the British Empire during the Victorian Era (1837-1901). Empress of India (1876-1901). Married Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (1840). They were parents to nine children, one of whom would become King Edward VII (reigned 1901-1910). Survived several assassination attempts. Her reign included: the Great Famine in Ireland (1845-1849); the Great Exhibition of 1851; the Crimean War (1853-1856); the Indian Rebellion of 1857 and the subsequent incorporation of India into the British Empire; significant expansion of the British Empire, particularly into Africa. (on 11 lists)
A photograph of Queen Victoria from 1887, by Alexander Bassano.
SUSAN B. ANTHONY (1820-1906) US. Civil rights leader. A leader in movements for temperance, abolition of slavery and women’s suffrage. Co-founder: New York Women’s State Temperance Society (1852): Women’s Loyal National League (1863) (anti-slavery organization); American Equal Rights Association (1866); The Revolution (1868) (newspaper); National Woman Suffrage Association (1869); National American Woman Suffrage Association (1890). Co-author, History of Woman Suffrage (six volumes, 1881-1922). Arrested and tried for attempting to vote in a presidential election (1872). Campaigned for the 19h Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (giving women the right to vote). Her image is depicted on the dollar coin issued in 1979. (on 5 lists)
A photograph of Susan B. Anthony on her 50th birthday in 1870.
FLORENCE NIGHTINGALE (1820-1910) UK. Social reformer and statistician. “The Lady with the Lamp.” Founder of modern professional nursing. Served as manager and trainer of nurses during the Crimean War (1853-1856). Established the first secular nursing school at St. Thomas’ Hospital in London (1860). Pioneer in the visual presentation of information and statistical graphics; developed the polar area diagram. First female member, Royal Statistical Society (1859). Wrote many books and articles on feminism and religion. Lobbied for improved sanitation in India and the UK. Works include: Notes on Nursing (1859); Suggestions for Thought to Searchers after Religious Truth (1860). (on 8 lists)
A photograph of Florence Nightingale taken about 1860. This is a 1920 print from the original negative.
HARRIET TUBMAN (Born Araminta Ross) (1820-1913) US. Abolitionist, humanitarian and spy. Instrumental in creating Underground Railroad to rescue enslaved Americans. After escaping from slavery in Maryland in 1849, she returned 13 times to help approximately 70 other enslaved people reach freedom. She worked with John Brown and helped him plan and recruit supporters for his 1859 raid on Harpers Ferry. During the Civil War, she served as an armed scout and spy. She guided a raid on Combahee Ferry in South Carolina, which freed 750 slaves. Active in the women’s suffrage movement. Donated land for the Harriet Tubman Home for the Aged in Auburn, New York. (on 3 lists)
A photograph of Harriet Tubman by H. Seymour Squyer, taken about 1885.
GREGOR MENDEL (1822-1884) Silesia (now Czech Republic). Scientist and Catholic friar. “Father of Modern Genetics.” Founded science of genetics. Discovered laws of heredity (Mendelian inheritance), including the law of segregation and the law of independent assortment. Works include: Experiments on Plant Hybridization (1865). The importance of his work was not realized at the time but was rediscovered in 1900 by several scientists, including Hugo de Vries and Carl Correns. (on 5 lists)
Undated photograph of Gregor Mendel.
ULYSSES S. GRANT (born Hiram Ulysses Grant) (1822-1885). US. Military general and political leader. Served in Mexican-American War (1846-1848). Union general in U.S. Civil War. Fought at many battles including: Fort Donelson (1862), Shiloh (1862); Vicksburg (1863); Chattanooga (1863); the Overland Campaign (including the Wilderness, Spotsylvania Court House, and Cold Harbor) (1864); and the Siege of Petersburg (1864). Led Army of the Potomac to defeat of Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia, accepted Lee’s surrender at Appomattox Court House (1865). General of the Army of the United States (1865-1869). Served two terms as 18th US president (1869-1877). As president, supported ratification of the 15th Amendment, established Department of Justice, prosecuted Ku Klux Klan. Wrote Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant (1885). (on 3 lists)
An 1864 photograph of General Ulysses S. Grant.
LOUIS PASTEUR (1822-1895) France. Chemist and microbiologist. Made important discoveries about racemization, crystal asymmetry, and optical isomers (1848). Identified the mechanism of fermentation and invented the pasteurization process (1857-1865.) Developed and proved the germ theory of disease. Disproved spontaneous generation of life through experiments. Improved vaccination techniques using artificially-weakened bacteria. Used vaccines to fight cholera, anthrax and rabies. “In the field of observation, chance only favors the prepared mind.” Established Pasteur Institute (1887) and served as its director. Works include: Studies on Wine (1866); Studies on Vinegar (1868); Studies on Silk Worm Disease (1870); Some Reflections on Science in France (1871); Studies on Beer (1876); Microbes Organized… (1878); and Treatment of Rabies (1886). (on 17 lists)
An undated photograph of Louis Pasteur, taken by Nadar.
JOSEPH LISTER (1st Baron Lister) (1827–1912) UK. Physician. “Father of Modern Surgery.” Professor of Surgery, University of Glasgow (1861-1869). While working at Glasgow Royal Infirmary, after reading about Pasteur’s germ theory of disease, he introduced the use of carbolic acid (phenol) as an antiseptic to sterilize surgical instruments and clean wounds. The treatment significantly reduced the rate of post-surgical infections. Professor of Clinical Surgery, University of Edinburgh (1869-1878). Professor of Surgery, King’s College, London (1878-1893). (on 3 lists)
A 1902 photograph of Joseph Lister.
LEO TOLSTOY (Count Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy) (1828-1910) Russia. Author and philosopher. Served in Crimean War (1853-1856). Founded schools for children of newly-freed serfs (1861-1862). His radical anarcho-pacifist Christianity led to his excommunication from the Russian Orthodox Church (1901). He wrote three novels – War and Peace (1869); Anna Karenina (1877); and Resurrection (1899) – and seven novellas, including: Family Happiness (1859); The Death of Ivan Ilyich (1886); The Kreutzer Sonata (1889); and Hadji Murat (written 1896-1904, pub. 1912). He also wrote numerous short stories, including The Three Questions (1885); How Much Land Does A Man Need? (1886); and Master and Man (1895). Works of nonfiction include: A Confession (1882); What Is to Be Done? (1886); The Kingdom of God Is Within You (1894); and A Letter to a Hindu (1908). (on 5 lists)
A photograph of Leo Tolstoy taken between 1880 and 1886. It is in the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.
EMILY DICKINSON (1830-1886) US. Reclusive but prolific poet. Several of her poems were published (in altered form) during her lifetime in the Springfield Republican, Drum Beat, the Brooklyn Daily Union and A Masque of Poets (1878), but most of her poems were not discovered and published until after her death. Her poems (most of which were written between 1861 and 1865, include: ‘Hope’ Is the thing with feathers; A Narrow Fellow in the Grass; I’m Nobody! Who are you?; Wild Nights! Wild Nights!; After Great Pain a Formal Feeling Comes; I Felt a Funeral in My Brain; Much Madness Is Divinest Sense; The Soul selects her own society; A Bird came down the Walk; There’s a Certain Slant of Light; Because I Could Not Stop for Death; and I Heard a Fly Buzz – When I Died. She was also a fervent gardener and plant collector. Her herbarium, which consists of 424 pressed specimens, is now in the Houghton Library at Harvard University and was published as Emily Dickinson’s Herbarium in 2006. (on 3 lists)
The only known photograph (actually a daguerrotype) of Emily Dickinson as an adult. It was taken between 1846 and 1848.
JAMES CLERK MAXWELL (born John Clark) (1831-1879) UK: Scotland. Theoretical physicist. Professor of Natural Philosophy, Marischal College, Aberdeen, Scotland (1856-1860). Professor of Natural Philosophy, King’s College, London (1860-1865). Professor of Physics, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, England, UK (1871-1879). Discovered that electricity, magnetism and light are different manifestations of the same phenomenon: electromagnetic radiation. Explained electromagnetism mathematically through Maxwell’s equations. Predicted the existence of radio waves. Helped develop the Maxwell–Boltzmann distribution to describe the kinetic theory of gases. Investigated color theory, color blindness and color perception and pioneered color photography. Developed a method for analyzing the rigidity of rod and joint trusses. Explained the stability of Saturn’s rings. Established the foundations of control theory. Books include: Theory of Heat (1871); A Treatise on Electricity and Magnetism (1873); and Matter and Motion (1876). Important papers include: “On the Transformation of Surfaces by Bending” (1854); “Experiments on Colour” (1855); “On the stability of the motion of Saturn’s rings” (1859); “On the Theory of Colour Vision” (1860); “On physical lines of force” (1861); “A Dynamical Theory of the Electromagnetic Field” (1865); and “On governors” (1867-1868). (on 4 lists)
An undated portrait of James Clerk Maxwell. This is an engraving by G. J. Stodart, based on a photograph by Fergus of Greenock.
ALFRED NOBEL (1833-1896) Sweden. Businessman, chemist, engineer, inventor, and philanthropist. Manufacturer and inventor of armaments and explosives. Among his 335 inventions are: a detonator (1863); a blasting cap (1865); dynamite (1867); gelignite (1875) and ballistite (1887). Dynamite and gelignite were much safer explosives than nitroglycerine used alone. Elected member, Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences (1884). Established Nobel prizes with money from his estate (1895). The original five prizes were for: (1) physical science; (2) chemistry; (3) medical science or physiology; (4) literary work “in an ideal direction”; and (5) “the person or society that renders the greatest service to the cause of international fraternity, in the suppression or reduction of standing armies, or in the establishment or furtherance of peace congresses” (the Peace Prize). Wrote Nemesis, a prose play (before 1896). (on 5 lists)
An undated photograph of Alfred Nobel by Gösta Florman.
MARK TWAIN (pen name of Samuel Clemens) (1835-1910) US. Author and humorist. Steamboat pilot. Journalist. Lecturer. Inventor. Publisher. Vice-president, American Anti-Imperialist League (1901-1910). First gained notice as a writer for his story The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County (1865). Novels include: The Adventure of Tom Sawyer (1876); The Prince and the Pauper (1881); The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884); A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (1889); The Tragedy of Pudd’nhead Wilson (1894); and Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc (1896). Nonfiction writing includes: The Innocents Abroad (1869); Roughing It (1872); Life on the Mississippi (1883); and Autobiography of Mark Twain (1870-1910, pub. 2010). Other stories and sketches include: The Private History of a Campaign That Failed (1885); The Man that Corrupted Hadleyburg (1900); A Dog’s Tale (1903); Was it Heaven? Or Hell? (1903); Eve’s Diary (1905); The War Prayer (1905); and The McWilliamses and the Burglar Alarm (pub. 1916). His inventions included adjustable and detachable straps for clothing (to replace suspenders), a trivia game, and a self-adhesive scrapbook. His publishing company published the memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant in 1885. (on 7 lists)
Undated photograph of Mark Twain (possibly 1880).
J.P. MORGAN (John Pierpont Morgan, Sr.) (1837-1913) US. Financier and banker. Founder, J.P. Morgan & Co. (1871). Arranged creation and/or mergers of major manufacturing corporations (which he then controlled or influenced) including: U.S. Steel, General Electric, AT&T, International Harvester and several dozen railroads. Art collector and philanthropist. Sold gold to the U.S. government to avoid a default (1895). Led the effort by banks to end the Panic of 1907. His railroad mergers were broken up by President Theodore Roosevelt (with the backing of the Supreme Court) under the Sherman Antitrust Act (1904). (on 3 lists)
A 1902 photograph of J.P. Morgan.
FRIEDRICH NIETZSCHE (1844-1900) Germany. Philosopher, philologist, critic, poet and composer. Professor of Classical Philology, University of Basel (1869-1879). Known for: idealism; existentialism; metaphysical voluntarism; will to power; Übermensch; anarchism; Apollonian/Dionysian; resentiment; “God is dead”; herd instinct; master-slave morality; transvaluation of values; Nietzschean affirmation. Works include: The Birth of Tragedy (1872); Human, All Too Human (1878); The Gay Science (1882); Thus Spake Zarathustra (1883); Beyond Good and Evil (1886); On the Genealogy of Morals (1887); Twilight of the Idols (1888); The Antichrist (1888); and Ecce Homo (1888). (on 6 lists)
A photograph of Friedrich Nietzsche from about 1875, taken by F. Hartmann.
WILHELM CONRAD RÖNTGEN (1845–1923) Germany. Physicist and mechanical engineer. Appointed Professor of Physics, University of Strasbourg (1876); University of Giessen (1879); University of Würzburg (1888); University of Munich (1900). Produced, detected and identified X-rays (also known as Röntgen rays). Writings include: “On a New Kind of Rays” (1895). Awarded first Nobel Prize in Physics (1901). (on 3 lists)
A 1900 photograph of Wilhelm Röntgen.
ALEXANDER GRAHAM BELL (1847-1922) UK: Scotland/Canada/US . Scientist, inventor, engineer and educator of the deaf. Appointed Professor of Vocal Physiology and Elocution, Boston University (1872). Credited with inventing first practical telephone (despite a patent dispute with Elisha Gray) (1876), the photophone (1880) and an early form of the metal detector (1881). Co-founder, Bell Patent Association (1875) and Bell Telephone Company (1877) (which eventually led to AT&T). Co-founder, Volta Laboratory (1880-1881) and Volta Bureau (1887). Invented an improved phonograph called the Graphophone and co-founded the Volta Graphophone Company (which eventually led to Columbia Records). Second president of the National Geographic Society (1897-1903). Experimented with aeronautics and hydrofoils; founded the Aerial Experiment Association (1907). Made first transatlantic telephone call (1915). (on 13 lists)
A photograph of Alexander Graham Bell taken at Moffett Studio between 1914 and 1919. It is now part of the Library and Archives of Canada in Ottawa.
THOMAS EDISON (1847-1931) US. Inventor, researcher and entrepreneur. Prolific inventor, holding over 1000 U.S. patents. Early inventions included an electronic vote tabulator and a quadruplex telegraph that could send four messages at once. Established the first industrial research laboratory at Menlo Park, NJ (1876). Major inventions include the phonograph, the movie camera and projector (with William K. Dickson), the incandescent light bulb, the stock ticker, and the carbon microphone. Formed Edison Electric Light Company (1878) to produce and sell incandescent light bulbs. Founded the Edison Illuminating Company (1880) and established the first investor-owned electric utility, which provided 110 direct current (DC) volts to 59 customers in lower Manhattan (1882); this was the first large-scale electrical power distribution system. Established a botanical research facility in Florida to develop a local source of latex rubber. Other inventions include the fluoroscope, which takes radiographs using X-rays, and the tasimeter, which measures infrared radiation. He was a pioneer of the American film industry, establishing the first American movie studio (Black Maria in West Orange, NJ) and producing nearly 1,200 films (including 54 feature films) between 1894 and 1918. He and Dickson invented the Kinetoscope for individual viewing of films; the first Kinetoscope parlor opened in New York City in 1894. Films include: Fred Ott’s Sneeze (1894); The Kiss (1896); The Great Train Robbery (1903); and Frankenstein (1910). During World War I, when European chemical imports were cut off, his plant in Silver Lake, NJ produced phenol for use in making explosives, plastic and aspirin. (on 19 lists)
A 1922 photograph of Thomas Edison by Louis Bachrach.
VINCENT VAN GOGH (1853-1890) The Netherlands/France. Post-Impressionist painter. Born in the Netherlands, he moved to France in 1886. In late 1888, during a visit from Paul Gauguin, he suffered a mental breakdown during which he cut off his left ear. He spent part of 1889 recovering at an asylum in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence. He committed suicide in July 1890. Paintings include: The Potato Eaters (1885); The Night Café (1888); Sunflowers (series) (1888); Café Terrace at Night (1888); Starry Night over the Rhone (1888); Bedroom in Arles (two versions: 1888 & 1889); Irises (1889); The Starry Night (1889); The Olive Trees (1889); Olive Trees with the Alpilles in the Background, Saint-Remy (1889); Sorrowing Old Man (At Eternity’s Gate) (1890); Portrait of Dr. Gachet (1890); Wheatfield with Crows (1890); and The Church at Auvers (1890). He created more than 43 self-portraits between 1885 and 1889. His letters to his younger brother Theo are an important source for biographers. (on 7 lists)
Self-Portrait by Vincent Van Gogh in 1889. It is now at the Musée d’Orsay, Paris.
OSCAR WILDE (1854-1900) Ireland/UK. Writer, poet, playwright, and lecturer. Spokesman for and advocate of aestheticism. Editor, The Woman’s World (1887-1889). “Known for his biting wit, flamboyant dress and glittering conversational skill, Wilde became one of the best-known personalities of his day.” [Wikipedia.] His best-known novel is The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890) and his best-known play is The Importance of Being Earnest (1895). Imprisoned from 1895-1897 after being convicted of violating anti-homosexuality laws. Other plays include: Vera, or The Nihilists (1880); The Duchess of Padua (1883); Lady Windermere’s Fan (1892); A Woman of No Importance (1893); Salomé (1893); An Ideal Husband (1895). Other fiction includes: three collections of short stories (including The Happy Prince, The Selfish Giant, and The Nightingale and the Rose, all 1888). His nonfiction works include: “The Rise of Historical Criticism” (essay, 1879); Intentions: The Critic As Artist (1891); “The Soul of Man under Socialism” (essay, 1891); De Profundis (pub. 1905). Works of poetry include: Poems (1881) and The Ballad of Reading Gaol (1898). (on 7 lists)
A photograph of Oscar Wilde by Napoleon Sarony, taken in 1882.
WOODROW WILSON (1856-1924) US. Statesman and scholar. 28th US president (1913-1920). Sponsored reform legislation. Led US into World War I. Sparked creation of the League of Nations. Nobel Peace Prize (1919). (on 8 lists)
A photograph of Woodrow Wilson taken in December 1912 by Pach Brothers.
SIGMUND FREUD (1856-1939) Austria. Scientist, psychologist and philosopher. Developer of psychoanalysis. Free association. Transference. Oedipus complex. Id, ego and super-ego. Repression. Unconscious. Seduction theory. Oral, anal and phallic phases. Studies on Hysteria (with Josef Breuer) (1895). The Interpretation of Dreams (1899). The Psychopathology of Everyday Life (1901). Jokes and their Relation to the Unconscious(1905). Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality (1905). Totem and Taboo (1913). “The History of the Psychoanalytic Movement” (1914). “Mourning and Melancholia” (1917). “Beyond the Pleasure Principle” (1920). Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego (1921). The Ego and the Id (1923). The Future of an Illusion (1927). Civilization and its Discontents (1930). Moses and Monotheism (1937). (on 19 lists)
A photograph of Sigmund Freud from about 1900.
NIKOLA TESLA (1856-1943) Serbia/US. Inventor, electrical and mechanical engineer and physicist. Contributed to development of alternating current (AC) electricity system, radio and the electric light. Invented an alternating current induction motor, a radio remote controlled vehicle and the Tesla coil. Studied X-rays. (on 7 lists)
An 1890 photograph of Nicolas Tesla by Napoleon Sarony.
THEODORE ROOSEVELT (1858-1919) US. Politician, military leader, naturalist and explorer. 26th US president (1901-1908). Led Progressive Movement. Completed Panama Canal. Nobel Peace Prize (1906). (on 5 lists)
A photograph of Theodore Roosevelt from about 1902, by M.P. Rice.
MAX PLANCK (1858–1947) Germany. Theoretical physicist. Quantum theory. Planck constant. Planck’s law of black body radiation. Third law of thermodynamics. Fokker-Planck equation. Nobel Prize in Physics (1918). (on 3 lists)
A 1915 photograph of Max Planck.
JANE ADDAMS (1860-1935) US. Progressive Era social worker, sociologist, author and advocate for women’s suffrage and world peace. Co-founded Hull House, first settlement house in US. Nobel Peace Prize (1931). (on 3 lists)
Jane Addams in 1915.
HENRY FORD (1863–1947) US. Industrialist and business leader. Founder, Ford Motor Company (1903). Developed assembly line method of production to manufacture automobiles. Ford Model T (1908-1927). (on 16 lists)
Henry Ford in 1919.
SUN YAT-SEN (Sun Wen; Sun Deming) (1866-1925) China. Philosopher, revolutionary and political leader. Led overthrow of Qing dynasty and founded Republic of China (Nationalist China), becoming its first president. Three Principles of the People (nationalism, democracy, welfare). The Outline of National Reconstruction (1918). The Fundamentals of National Reconstruction (1924). The Principle of Nationalism (1953). (on 3 lists)
Colorized portrait of Sun Yat-sen.
MARIE CURIE (1867-1934) Poland/France. Scientist. Discovered radioactive elements radium and polonium. Coined term radioactivity. Developed methods for isolating radioactive isotopes. Radioactive Substances (1904). Nobel Prizes in Physics (1903) and Chemistry (1911). (on 19 lists)
Marie Curie in 1920.
WILBUR WRIGHT (1867-1912) & ORVILLE WRIGHT (1871-1948) US. Inventors and pioneer aviators. First to achieve sustained, powered heavier-than-air flight. (on 14 lists)
Wilbur Wright in 1905. Orville Wright in 1905.
FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT (1867-1959) US. Architect and designer. Works include: Wright Home and Studio. Oak Park, Chicago, Illinois (1888-1889). William H. Winslow House. River Forest, Illinois (1893). Unity Temple. Chicago, Illinois (1904).
Robie House. Chicago, Illinois (1908-1910). Taliesin (3rd version). Spring Green, Wisconsin (1925). Hollyhock House. Los Angeles, California (1921-1923). Johnson Wax Headquarters. Racine, Wisconsin (1936). Fallingwater (Kauffmann Residence). Mill Run, Pennsylvania (1936-1937). Taliesin West. Scottsdale, Arizona (1937). Beth Sholom Synagogue. Elkins Park, Pennsylvania (1954). Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. New York, New York (1959). (on 3 lists)
A 1945 photographic portrait of Frank Lloyd Wright by Yousef Karsh.
CZAR NICHOLAS II (1868-1918) Russia. Last emperor of Russia (1894-1917). Executed by Russian revolutionaries. (on 3 lists)
An undated photo of Czar Nicholas II of Russia.
MOHANDAS K. GANDHI (Mahatma Gandhi) (1869-1948) India. Leader of Indian independence movement. Advocate of non-violent civil disobedience (ahisma). Led the Salt March protest (1930). Satyagraha. Brahmacharya. Swaraj (self-rule). Sarvodaya. Hind Swaraj, or Indian Home Rule (1909). The Story of My Experiments with Truth (1925-1928). Assassinated. (on 22 lists)
Gandhi leading the Salt March in 1930.
VLADIMIR LENIN (born Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov) (1870-1924) Russia/USSR. Political philosopher, revolutionary and political leader. Developed theoretical basis for Marxist-Leninist Communism. Led Bolshevik uprising during Russian Revolution. First leader of the Soviet Union. What Is To Be Done? (1902). (on 15 lists)
Vladimir Lenin in 1920.
ERNEST RUTHERFORD (1871-1937) New Zealand/UK. Theoretical and experimental physicist and chemist. Father of nuclear physics. The atomic nucleus. The structure of the atom. The proton. The neutron. Alpha and beta radioactivity. Radioactive half-life. Radio-activity (1904). Radioactive Transformations (1906). Radioactive Substances and their Radiations (1913). Nobel Prize in Chemistry (1908). (on 5 lists)
GUGLIELMO MARCONI (1874-1937) Italy. Inventor, electrical engineer, and entrepreneur. Pioneered the development of wireless radio. Marconi’s law. Nobel Prize in Physics (1909). (on 7 lists)
Guglielmo Marconi in 1901, re-enacting the first wireless signal.
WINSTON CHURCHILL (1874-1965) UK. Political leader and historian. British Prime Minister during World War II (1940-1945). A History of the English-Speaking Peoples (1956-1958). Nobel Prize in Literature (1953). (on 16 lists)
Winston Churchill giving the “V for Victory” sign in 1940.
MUHAMMAD ALI JINNAH (1876–1948) India/Pakistan. Politician and statesman. First Governor-General of Pakistan (1947-1948). Leader, All India Home Rule League and All-India Muslim League. (on 3 lists)
A 1945 photo of Muhammad Ali Jinnah.
KONRAD ADENAUER (1876-1967) Germany. Political leader. First post-war Chancellor of West Germany. Restored Germany’s economy and international relations. (on 3 lists)
Konrad Adenauer in 1955 speaking to the Bundestag.
JOSEPH STALIN (1879-1953) USSR. Political leader. Led Soviet Union to victory over Germany in World War II. Conducted the Great Purge of political enemies. Collectivized farming, leading to famine. (on 17 lists)
Joseph Stalin in 1943.
ALBERT EINSTEIN (1879-1955) Germany/US. Theoretical physicist. The special and general theories of relativity. The photoelectric effect. Brownian motion. E=mc2. E=hf. Einstein field equations. Bose–Einstein statistics. Bose–Einstein condensate. Gravitational wave. Cosmological constant. Unified field theory. EPR paradox. Relativity: The Special and General Theory (1916). Ideas and Opinions (1995). Nobel Prize in Physics (1921). (on 24 lists)
Albert Einstein in Vienna in 1921. Photo by F. Schmutzer.
PABLO PICASSO (1881-1973) Spain/France. Innovative modernist painter, sculptor and collagist. Developed Cubism with Georges Braque. Blue Nude (1902). The Old Guitarist (1903). La Vie (1903). Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (1907). Portrait of Ambroise Vollard (1910). The Accordionist (1911). Three Musicians (1921). Girl Before A Mirror (1932). The Weeping Woman (1937). Guernica (1937). Las Meninas (after Velázquez) (series) (1957). (on 14 lists)
Pablo Picasso in 1908 or 1909.
VIRGINIA WOOLF (1882-1941) UK. Modernist writer. Pioneered stream of consciousness style. Kew Gardens (1919). A Haunted House (1921). Mrs. Dalloway (1925). To the Lighthouse (1927). A Room of One’s Own (1929). Orlando: A Biography (1928). The Waves (1931). The Years (1937). Between the Acts (1941). (on 3 lists)
Virginia Woolf in 1902.
FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT (1882-1945) US. Statesman and politician. 32nd US President (1933-1945). Longest serving US president, through Great Depression and World War II. The New Deal. (on 13 lists)
Franklin D. Roosevelt signing the Lend-Lease Act in 1941.
BENITO MUSSOLINI (1883-1945) Italy. Military and political leader. Fascist dictator of Italy from 1922-1943. Joined Hitler and Hirohito in Axis during World War II. Executed after trying to escape. (on 5 lists)
Benito Mussolini in Germany in 1938.
JOHN MAYNARD KEYNES (1883-1946) UK. Economist. Developed Keynesian economics, which emphasized government spending. The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money (1936). (on 4 lists)
John Maynard Keynes (right) with his partner, painter Duncan Grant.
ELEANOR ROOSEVELT (1884-1962) US. Politician, activist and reformer. Outspoken First Lady. United Nations delegate. Co-drafter of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Chair of Presidential Commission on the Status of Women. (on 6 lists)
Eleanor Roosevelt speaking at the United Nations in 1947.
HARRY S TRUMAN (1884-1972) US. Businessman and politician. 33rd US president (1945-1952). Used atomic bombs on Japan to end World War II. (on 5 lists)
Harry S. Truman after winning election in November 1948. Associated Press photo by Rollins.
NIELS BOHR (1885-1962) Denmark. Theoretical and experimental physicist and philosopher. Made discoveries regarding the structure of the atom and quantum mechanics. Quantum atomic structure. Bohr model. Correspondence principle. Complementarity. Quantum mechanics. Electron complementarity. Founded Institute of Theoretical Physics (1921) (now Niels Bohr Institute). Atomic Theory and the Description of Nature (1934). Nobel Prize in Physics (1922). (on 4 lists)
Niels Bohr in 1922.
DAVID BEN-GURION (1886-1973) Israel. Political and military leader. Led successful movement for independent state of Israel. Co-founded State of Israel and became its first Prime Minister. (on 3 lists)
David Ben-Gurion in 1960.
CHIANG KAI-SHEK (1887-1975) China/Taiwan. Political and military leader. Led Nationalists in civil war with Communists. Ruler of Republic of China in Taiwan from 1949 to 1975. (on 3 lists)
ADOLF HITLER (1889-1945) Austria/Germany. Founder of National Socialist movement (Nazis). Chancellor, then dictator of Germany during Third Reich (1933-1945). Invaded Austria, Czechoslovakia. Invasion of Poland in September 1939 started World War II (1939-1945). Architect of Jewish genocide (the Holocaust). Mein Kampf (1925-1926). Committed suicide at the time of German defeat (April 1945). (on 20 lists)
Adolf Hitler in 1937.
JAWAHARLAL NEHRU (1889-1964) India. Statesman and independence activist. First prime minister of independent India. Architect of the modern socialist, secular democratic India. (on 9 lists)
Jawaharlal Nehru in 1959.
DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER (1890-1969) US. Military and political leader. Supreme Allied Commander in World War II. 34th US president (1953-1960). (on 5 lists)
Dwight D. Eisenhower when he was General of the US Army.
HO CHI MINH (1890-1969) Vietnam. Revolutionary, military and political leader. Led communist revolution for Vietnamese independence and unification. Founder and first leader of of North Vietnam. (on 5 lists)
Ho Chi Minh in 1946.
CHARLES DE GAULLE (1890-1970) France. Military and political leader. Led Free French forces in World War II. Served as 18th president of French Republic from 1959-1969. (on 5 lists)
Charles de Gaulle in 1942.
HAILE SELASSIE I (formerly Tafari Makonnen) (1892-1975) Ethiopia. Political leader. Leader of Ethiopia from 1916-1974 including five years in exile after Italy (under Mussolini) invaded and occupied Ethiopia. (on 3 lists)
Haile Selassie in 1923.
MAO ZEDONG (1893-1976) China. Military and political leader and political philosopher. Led Communist Revolution against Nationalist China (1927-1949). Joined with Nationalists to fight Japan in World War II. First leader of People’s Republic of China (1949-1976). Maoism. Marxism. New Democracy. People’s War. Mass line. Three Worlds Theory. Agrarian socialism. Strategic Problems of China’s Revolutionary War (1936).On Guerilla Warfare (1937). On Practice (1937). On Contradiction (1937). On Protracted War (1938). On New Democracy (1940). Dialectical Materialism (1940). Serve the People (1944). Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-Tung (1964). (on 16 lists)
The large portrait of Mao Zedong by Ge Xioguang in Beijing’s Tianenmen Square is 15 feet wide and 20 feet tall.
NIKITA KHRUSHCHEV (1894-1971) USSR. Statesman and political leader. Soviet Premier (1958-1964). First Secretary of Soviet Communist Party (1953-1964). (on 3 lists)
A 1963 photograph of Nikita Khrushchev.
BABE RUTH (George Herman Ruth) (1895-1948) US. Professional baseball player. Holder of many records for hitting and pitching. (on 3 lists)
A 1927 photo of Babe Ruth.
ERNEST HEMINGWAY (1899–1961) US. Writer and sportsman. Known for his spare writing style. In Our Time (1925). The Sun Also Rises (1926). Hills Like White Elephants (1927). The Killers (1927). A Farewell to Arms (1929). A Clean, Well-Lighted Place (1933). A Day’s Wait (1933). The Snows of Kilimanjaro (1936). The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber (1936). For Whom The Bell Tolls (1940). The Old Man and the Sea (1952). A Moveable Feast (pub. 1964). Nobel Prize in Literature (1954). (on 6 lists)
Ernest Hemingway in 1958.
WALT DISNEY (1901-1966) US. Businessman, animator, producer, director and screenwriter. Mickey Mouse (1928). Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937). Disneyland (1955). (on 8 lists)
Walt Disney in 1954.
LOUIS ARMSTRONG (1901-1971) US. Jazz trumpeter and vocalist. Developed solo improvisation technique and artistry. West End Blues (1928). Weather Bird (1928). (on 5 lists)
Louis Armstrong in the 1940s.
WERNER HEISENBERG (1901-1976) Germany. Theoretical physicist. Pioneer in developing quantum mechanics. Articulated the uncertainty principle. Physics and Philosophy (1958). Nobel Prize in Physics (1932). (on 4 lists)
Werner Heisenberg in 1933.
ROBERT OPPENHEIMER (1904-1967) US. Theoretical and experimental physicist. Led secret Manhattan Project to build uranium and plutonium fission bombs (atomic bombs) during World War II. (on 5 lists)
Robert Oppenheimer in 1946.
JEAN-PAUL SARTRE (1905-1980) France. Philosopher and author. Existentialism. Marxism. Phenomenology. Hermeneutics. Humanism. Bad faith. “Existence precedes essence.” Transcendence of the ego. The Transcendence of the Ego (1937). Nausea (1938). Sketch for a Theory of the Emotions (1939). The Imaginary(1940). Being and Nothingness (1943). No Exit (1944). Roads to Freedom (trilogy, 1945-1949). Existentialism Is a Humanism (1946). Search for a Method (1957). Critique of Dialectical Reason (1960). Nobel Prize in Literature (1964). (on 3 lists)
An undated photo of Jean-Paul Sartre.
RACHEL CARSON (1907-1964) US. Marine biologist, conservationist and writer. Effect of pesticides. The Sea Around Us (1951). Silent Spring (1962). The Sense of Wonder (1965). (on 5 lists)
Rachel Carson in 1951.
LYNDON B. JOHNSON (1908-1973) US. Political leader. 36th US president (1964-1968). Sponsored Great Society programs and civil rights legislation. Increased US involvement in Vietnam War. (on 3 lists)
Lyndon Johnson taking the oath of office on Air Force One, shortly after the assassination of President Kennedy, November 1963.
SIMONE DE BEAUVOIR (1908-1986) France. Author, philosopher, political activist, feminist and social theorist. Existentialism. Existential phenomenology. Marxism. Feminism. The Ethics of Ambiguity (1947). The Second Sex (1949). The Coming of Age (1970). (on 3 lists)
Simon de Beauvoir in 1946. Photo by Henri Cartier-Bresson.
RICHARD NIXON (1913-1994) US. 37th US president (1969-1974). Improved US relations with Communist China and USSR. Implemented new environmental legislation. Resigned amid Watergate scandal. (on 5 lists)
Richard Nixon announcing the release of edited White House transcripts in 1974.