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  • Dustin Koski

    Little footnote about Cyrus: Alexander the Great, who made most of his name conquering the Persian Empire, was supposed to have been a big admirer of him.

  • Amrendra

    Well Akbar and Shah Jahan were native born but of Afghani origins. Babur had invaded India from Afghanistan and thus putting in the roots of the Mughal Dynasty. In real terms of a great native Indian king who truly has been forgotten is Ashoka the Great of the Murya Dynasty who spread Buddhism to different countries and even the Indian emblem of four lions is from his period.

    • Dr. Matthew D. Zarzeczny, FINS


      I had considered including Babur. My original draft of the list had thirteen rulers, but given the site’s name of TopTenz, I of course had to whittle it down. If you are curious who barely missed the cut, below are my 11 through 13 greatest rulers of Asia:

      13.Tomyris (c. 530 BC): Tomyris ruled as queen of the Massagetae in
      Central Asia. She rejected Cyrus the Great of Persia’s offer of
      marriage and subsequently fought a war against the great king. In one
      battle, the Persians captured Tomyris’s son who committed suicide while
      in captivity. Infuriated, she not only won the next battle and captured
      Cyrus, but also had him beheaded before personally shoving his head
      wineskin filled with human blood, saying, “I warned you that I would
      quench your thirst for blood, and so I shall.” She later was ranked
      among the Nine Female Worthies of the Middle Ages and appeared on a
      coin minted by Kazakhstan as one of history’s “great commanders”.

      12. Zahir-ud-din Muhammad Babur Beg (14 February 1483 – 26 December
      1530): Babur is the first Mughal Emperor and thereby founder of the
      Mughal dynasty of India. He claimed descent from two higher ranked men
      on this list: Timur and Genghis Khan. His is still considered a hero to
      various central Asian peoples and influenced the architecture of the
      lands over which he ruled.

      11. Wu Zetian (c.625 – 705): Empress Wu is probably the most famous
      Chinese empress. She reigned as empress regnant (a rarity in Chinese
      history). Her legacy is mixed. On one hand, she appears as a playable
      character in the Civilization series of computer games. She has also
      been the subject of numerous films and television programs. That she is
      so celebrated is not surprising given her expansion of China during her
      reign as well as contributions to statuary. Yet, on the other hand, she
      could exhibit vindictiveness that surpassed Tomyris. Most notoriously,
      Wu dealt with her predecessor as empress, Wang, by having Wang caned
      100 times before having her hands and feet cut off. Next, Wang was
      placed in a jar for days before being released only to succumb to



      • Amrendra

        Hello Doctor!
        Thank you for your reply. Really enjoyed your article and deep understanding of history.

        • Dr. Matthew D. Zarzeczny, FINS

          Dear Amrendra,

          Thank you as well! I always enjoy reading people’s comments on not just my list, but also the other lists on this excellent site!



  • Mark

    Genghis Khan was a vegetarian like Hitler..

    • Voorhees

      Kinda ironic that vegetarians can be so blood thirsty. lol

      • z

        genghis khan wasn’t a vegeterian /imposible/ because mongolians eat meat a lot!!

  • Gene Claridge

    Dr. Z.,

    What is your thoughts on the legend that Genghis Kahn’s forces killed more than a million people in one hour? I believe these numbers are exaggerated, but it is still an interesting piece of history.


    – Gene C.

    • Dr. Matthew D. Zarzeczny, FINS

      Dear Gene,

      Those numbers must be exaggerated. Such an “accomplishment” is just not realistic without say nuclear weapons.



  • Yevgeniy

    I enjoyed this post as I did not know of any Asian rulers except for Genghis and Emperor Meji the Great..
    VERY INTERESTING. Glad to see Genghis as number one.

    • Dr. Matthew D. Zarzeczny, FINS

      Dear Yevgeniy,

      Just out of curiosity and based on your name, who do you think was the greatest ruler in Ukrainian history?



      • Yevgeniy

        Dear Matthew,

        This is interesting that you brought this up ha, I honestly do not know much about Ukranian rulers except for Bohdan Khmelnytsky. So I’d say he is the greatest ruler. I assume he was a great ruler because their are great monuments of him in Kiev. But I did ask my grandpa about him one day when I was little, he said he was a bandit like every other ruler and but he was a hero haha. But when I asked if we were related to him he said thank god no.

        p.s. My grandfather hated corruption of the rulers no matter what they achieved.


  • Lindsay B

    Dr. Z,

    I believe that Meiji is THE greatest Asian ruler of all time because of his role in restoring imperial control over Japan and modernizing the country. He initiated such important aspects of Japan as we know it today such as their government, the Diet, and the school system. Without Meiji, Japan would not be such a powerful and successful country as it is today.

    -Lindsay B.

  • fdx

    Wow amazing list, thanks for this.
    I particularly appreciate your perspective on persian history since the persian empire was, not only an important military force, but also an advanced society of the time.
    I’ve always been shocked by Frank Miller’s description of Xerxes; perception relayed in the 300 movie based on his comic.
    Miller’s point a view is a sad side-effect of his right-wing perception of humanity and the movie, which was shot soon after the irak war, displayed an oversimplified east vs west dichotomy by rewriting history.
    I’m not saying the battle of thermopylae is not an important event in the persian/ greece wars, i’m just saying it wasn’t necessary to display Xerxes as a degenerated monster to make a point.

    • Dr. Matthew D. Zarzeczny, FINS

      Thank you for your kind comments! I am looking forward to the 300 prequel coming out later this year! 🙂

  • Nicholas Fill

    I believe that Cyrus II of Persia had arguably the biggest effect of Asia. It is fascinating that at that time, he created a tri-continental empire in the Persian Empire. With that said, I would have to agree with you that even more remarkable than that is Genghis Kahn’s dominance in Asia. Having ruled the largest empire, he maintained his magnificent rule and is arguably one of the most effective military commanders. How could one argue with such a large, dominant, and destructive empire than his under his rule?

  • Mitch Bartholomai

    Dr. Z,

    I couldn’t agree with you more about Genghis Khan being the greatest Asian ruler of all time. The fact that he conquered more land than Alexander the great is a statement in itself. He may not have been the most heartfelt ruler, but he definitely got things accomplished that nobody ever has.

  • Mark Jackson

    Enjoyed the article. Genghis Khan is clearly the greatest Asian ruler. The amount of land he conquered is a great accomplishment or his time period. Part of the reason he was so successful was because of his attitude. He didn’t let anyone get in his way. Though he killed many innocent people, his dominance in Asia will forever be known.

    • Dr. Matthew D. Zarzeczny, FINS

      Dear Mark,

      I am happy you enjoyed it!



  • Ryan Winchell

    By establishing the Persian Empire, Cyrus II Of Persia started one of history’s greatest empires of all time only to be followed by a handful of other tremendous leaders. Therefore, I am not surprised to see him sitting second on the list. I think Genghis Khan deserves to be the number one greatest Asian ruler on the list due to his major accomplishments such as conquering an incredible amount of land, initiating the world’s largest contiguous empire, and heavily influencing Eurasia. Interesting list of Asian rulers from top to bottom.

    – Ryan W.

    • Dr. Matthew D. Zarzeczny, FINS

      Dear Ryan,

      Thanks! 🙂



  • Shashwat

    Not completed .

    The Great Ashoka was one of the best leaders .

    His territory covers afganistan to burma and kashmir to kanyakumari

  • Tyler

    I have heard of Emperor Meiji before but nothing too in depth. I like his entry in the article because its intresting to see all of his acomplishment as Emperor especially because he had a long reign and was able to fight off two great powers in China and Russia, and not to mention only happened about 100 years ago.

  • Adam Lenhart

    I’m glad there are a few what-ifs that never came to pass. Some would have been just too brutal, but I have a feeling that Genghis Khan had no real appreciation for people because of his overzealous sexual relations and the fact that he had such an impact on Eurasian culture through the amount of people killed. Of course, it could have just been a vengeful blood lust as well. It’s hard to say without interrogating the man himself.

  • Steve

    What I don`t get, is while people are saying Genghis Khan was a good ruler, don`t people remember that he murdered in the tens of millions, committed genocides, built pyramids of heads, like you see in Cambodia, if people didn`t surrender to him, he killed them, had people crushed to death in a carpet, “so not to bloody his hands,” and he raped so many women, that 16, million people are descended from him?

  • shashi

    one thing is clear, where all over the time various parts of world were conquered and conquerers
    mixed with local populations and spread there genes and religion, in hindu rajputs this could never be done by anyone , not alexander not genghis and not mughals, many of them still trace their lineage to before christ

  • Kaitlyn Hummel

    7. Shah Jahan would have to be my favorite. From what we learned in class he accomplished a lot militarily and as a ruler, but he also accomplished wonders architecturally through building the tomb for his wife and later him as well. It is not a wonderful tourist attraction and everyone goes there to see the marvels it has to show off.

  • Imon

    Dr. Z,

    Firstly I would like to congratulate you for this well written article. But I do have a difference of opinion with you in certain aspects of this list. Some how it seems that though the list is named as the 10 greatest rulers of all time, but it makes rarely any distinction between rulers & conquerors. Is it necessary a great conqueror will be considered a great ruler ? Timur & Ghengiz were great conquerors in my opinion, not necessarily the greatest rulers.
    Would really like to know your views on this subject.

  • the list is interesting but strange that nobody from India is listed….how about Ashoka?

  • Ganeshan

    Kindly check in the following links and conclude who is the best king in India

    Raja Raja Chola & Rajendra Chola (10th century AD) – The greatest of Tamil kings and among the best of India – the father-son duo established the Tamil empire in South East Asia. They built 100+ great temples (including the Tanjore Siva temple) that are a part of UNESCO’s world heritage site. Unlike other kings of Bharat, they proceeded to extend their influence beyond India and controlled the Indian ocean’s