Culture & Literature
History's Greatest Leaders

History's Greatest Leaders

Historys Greatest Leaders

Discover the extraordinary stories behind some of history’s biggest names... Whether using their leadership skills in pursuit of peace or power, these men and women have defined the times within which they lived. Their ability to gather huge followings unites them, but the outcomes of their actions couldn’t be more different... INSIDE YOU WILL FIND: - Gripping historical tales - Revealing images - Expert analysis - Facts and fgures

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Immediate Media Company London Limited
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in this issue

1 min.

Looking back through history, the men and women who have made the most impact are very often the most-effective leaders – those legendary characters who, rightly or wrongly, have rallied their people to further a cause. What makes a leader great, of course, is a matter of opinion. To be a great leader doesn’t mean we have to agree with what they did, after all! Our selection includes some of history’s biggest villains, as well as many of its finest heroes. "e one thing they all have in common is their ability to lead. I’m sure you’ll have your own ideas about which ones we got right and wrong! Regardless, I’m sure you’ll agree their stories are all remarkable – and don’t forget you can read about more great characters from the…

9 min.
the empire builder

ARISTOTLE (384-322 BC) Macedon’s most famous son (after Alexander himself, of course) was the great philosopher and scientist Aristotle, who studied under Plato in Athens. Aristotle tutored the teenage soon-to-beking, but the pair’s relationship soured in later years. Even so, there’s little evidence to back theories that Aristotle may have been involved in Alexander’s death. When, on 1 October 331 BC, Alexander III of Macedon faced the massed Persian forces of Darius III at Gaugamela, the outcome should have been a foregone conclusion. Comprising 34,000 infantry and 7,000 cavalry, Alexander’s Greek army was by no means small – but Darius commanded a mighty cavalry numbering 34,000 and, it is reckoned, more than 200,000 infantry. What’s more, the hot and dusty plain – in what is now northern Iraq – was home turf…

1 min.
character of a conqueror

As with many figures from ancient history, descriptions of Alexander’s character are prone to exaggeration and elaboration. We know that he came from Macedon, an area that stretched across the northern part of modern Greece and into neighbouring Balkan lands. The Macedonians were largely regarded by the southern Greek states as uncouth and uneducated, but with Aristotle as his personal tutor, Alexander’s own education would have been second to none. He was, by all accounts, nothing special to look at – short, curly-haired and bug-eyed – but made up for it with boundless charisma. His speed of thought was exceptional, especially in the heat of battle. And though he could be ruthless, there are also tales of him sparing, and even rewarding, those enemies who impressed him. As for his…

1 min.
a knotty problem

Of all the heroics attributed to Alexander – some truthful, others decidedly dubious – the most familiar is the loosening of the Gordian Knot. This was a leather knot, of the most complex kind, that held together the yoke and shaft of an ancient ox cart in the Temple of Zeus in the city of Gordion (on the site of the modernday village of Yassihuyuk in Turkey). The cart had been left there by a former king, Gordius. Legend foretold that whoever managed to loosen the knot would rule all of Asia. Various sources claim that Alexander untied the knot but, bizarrely, none makes it clear how he did so – some believe that he may simply have slashed it with his sword. Who knows? As with so many tales…

13 min.
killing caesar

Et tu Brute? _en fall Caesar!” Julius Caesar utters these final words less than halfway through Shakespeare’s play which, in spite of its name, is more concerned with the tragic hero, Brutus. _e playwright was confident that he did not need to translate the three Latin words; even today, this is one of a handful of Latin phrases most people know. The scene, where the greatest and most powerful man in Rome is repeatedly stabbed during a meeting of the Senate – killed by conspirators whose leader likes Caesar personally but feels that he must die for the good of the state – is both spectacular and dramatic. Over the centuries it has been depicted countless times in art, on stage, in print and on screen, the latter both seriously (by…

1 min.
crossing the rubicon

The River Rubicon was little more than a stream, so small and obscure that we cannot even find it today. The road from Ravenna to Ariminum (modern Rimini) went across it and, in 49 BC, the river marked the boundary between Caesar’s province, where he could legally command his legions, and Italy itself where his powers as governor lapsed. On the night of 10-11 January, Caesar slipped away from a feast in Ravenna and travelled south in a mule-drawn carriage. He had already sent soldiers disguised in civilian clothes ahead of him and the Thirteenth Legion was following them. The great general got lost in the darkness, but eventually found his way back to the main road and reached the Rubicon. For a while he paused, telling his companions: “Even now we…