The Worst Military Leaders in History

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In war, there are winners and losers. Sometimes an army is defeated because they simply faced a larger and more powerful foe. Other times they lose because of some bizarre set of circumstances no one could have foreseen, or because they were simply outwitted by a cunning adversary. Sometimes an army is even dealt a defeat because of bad weather (as happened to the Mongol fleet of Kublai Khan in 1281 AD, which was destroyed by a typhoon as it tried to cross the narrow strait between Korea and Japan.) However, there are also those battles that were lost due to the sheer incompetency of a leader, which is the source for this list.

Of course, even a good military leader can have a bad day. As such, this list is not about leaders who simply lost a battle, but those who either snatched defeat out of the jaws of victory or were classic incompetents that somehow managed to be given command of entire armies. A few are on this list because they are perceived as being far more capable than history demonstrates them to have been; in other words, besides the worst leaders, this list also contains the most overrated leaders who, while competent to a degree, do not rightly deserve the level of credit given to them by history. Finally, this is not a list of Generals only, but of men—some of whom may not even have been in uniform—that made the decisions that ultimately led their armies to utter catastrophe. And so, without further ado, here is my list for the top ten most incompetent, overrated, or just plain unlucky military leaders in history.


This is an encore of one of our previous lists, as presented by our YouTube host Simon Whistler. Read the full list!


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