Every so often, a leader emerges whose legacy seems larger-than-life. Some of them inspire us and invite us to envision a better future, like Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks. Others had tumultuous lives and careers that read like a cautionary tale, such as Mary, Queen of Scots and Henry VIII. Still others were tyrants, politicians on the wrong side of history, and various other leaders whose examples we’d do well not to follow, like Russia’s Ivan the Terrible and Andrew Johnson, the first US president to be impeached.
If you want to know more about the people who stood out from their contemporaries, for better or worse, you’ve come to the right place. Our research on historical leaders examines not just who they were and what they did, but the lasting impact they’ve had on the world.
Sudden and illegal seizures of power have the capacity to change world history.
These powerful speeches continue to linger in the public imagination.
They were more than a stuffy group of old men—in fact, many of them were young and rowdy.
By Sara Barry & Ella Burch
These tragic murders reverberated throughout their kingdoms.
Politician Sir Thomas Wyatt the Younger sought to overthrow Mary I.
Sometimes the truth is stranger—and more alarming—than fiction.
In 1791, the people of Haiti rose up against their oppressors.
The new Showtime series The First Lady has piqued our interest in the lives of these remarkable women.
By Kara Brand
The Roman holiday was marked by religious observances before Julius Caesar's notorious murder.
Lessons from the greatest minds in history.
By John Tuttle
Read up on the man who defined the American ethos.
Mad for the monarchy? Get a behind-the-scenes look at the great royals of the past.
These women are fascinating figures in their own right.
Learn more about the civil rights icon.
By Grace Felder
These evening radio addresses revolutionized the relationship between the president and the American people.
These may be the strangest cases of claims to power.
What would the world be like if these plots had worked?
He was the first Black man to hold the position, amid a long and impactful career as a soldier and statesman.
These faux pas tarnished several family names.
These 10 accomplished women led countries, wrote poetry, chronicled history, and made their own.