There's too many I'm not going to end it with Geronimo, Saladin, and William Wallace
Another honorable mention:
Genghis Khan; "military and politcal genius"
This man had the largest empire and he was undefeated in war!
In the late 1100s and early 1200s a Mongol military leader named Tem¸jin was creating a confederation of tribes, Mongol and non-Mongol but which would
be called Mongol. He was a good manager, collecting under him people of talent. And, when necessary, he warred. In 1202 his forces fought and defeated
the Tatars to his immediate east. He had no hope of them, so he put the surviving men to the sword and distributed the women and children among other
With Tem¸jin's defeat of the Tatars, the aging Mongol khan, Ong, declared Tem¸jin as his adoptive son and heir. Ong's natural son, Sengg¸m, had been
expecting to succeed his father, and he organized an assassination of Tem¸jin. Someone leaked the plans to Tem¸jin, whose forces defeated forces loyal
to Sengg¸m, and Tem¸jin became ruler over of the Mongols. In 1206, at the age of 42, Tem¸jin took the title Universal Ruler, which translates to
Genghis Khan, and he addressed his joyous supporters thanking them for their help and their loyalty.
Like others, Genghis Khan's subjects saw themselves at the center of the universe and the greatest of people -- favored, of course, by the gods. And
they justified Genghis Khan's conquests in previous years by claiming that he was the rightful master not only over the "peoples of the felt tent"
but the entire world.
Genghis Khan continued organizing. He improved his military organization, which was also to serve as a mobile political bureaucracy, and he broke up
what was left of old enemy tribes, leaving as ethnically homogeneous only those tribes that had demonstrated loyalty to him. He introduced record
keeping, taking advantage of his move years before to have his native language put into writing. He created official seals. He created a supreme
officer of the law, who was to collect and preserve all judicial decisions, to oversee the trials of all those charged with wrongdoing and to have the
power to issue death sentences.
Genghis Khan's first military action was to secure his northern, Siberian, border. He subjugated reluctant tribes there, and he then felt ready to
deal with powers to his south -- to act on his mandate as the rightful ruler of the entire world. In 1209 he led a large army against the Tangut (who
occupied what had been northwestern China). And in 1210 the Tangut kingdom recognized Genghis Khan as its overlord. The Tangut monarch pledged to
supply future Mongol military operations with troops, and he presented Genghis Khan with a princess as a new wife.
In 1211, Genghis Khan and his army pushed against the Ruzhen (who ruled in northeastern China). The Ruzhen had a large and effective army but they
were hard pressed by both the Mongols and a border war with the Tangut. The Ruzhen (Jin) were also attacked by southern China, the Song dynasty
emperor wishing to take advantage of the Ruzhen's fight against the Mongols and to liberate northern China. But the Ruzhen drove the southern
Chinese armies into retreat.
Genghis Khan and his army overran Beijing and pushed into the heartland of northern China. They ravaged the countryside, gathering information and
booty, and then they pulled back from most of Ruzhen territory, staying put at key northern frontier passes. The Ruzhen emperor negotiated with the
Mongols and agreed to pay them tribute in exchange for an end to hostilities.
Genghis Khan had not yet committed himself to the conquest of the whole of China, and in 1217 he returned to Mongolia, leaving one of his best
generals in charge of Mongol positions in the Far East. Genghis Khan was concerned about a hostile power beyond his realm to the west -- a recently
formed Islamic empire, Khwarazm, which extended from Persia to Transoxiana. Genghis Khan wanted trade with the lands to his west. He wanted goods for
the Mongol nation, including weapons. That trade ended when subjects of the Khwarazm shah seized a Mongol caravan of several hundred merchants.
Khwarazm claimed that spies had been in the caravan. Genghis Khan sent envoys to the shah. The shah saw his rule as superior to that of the Mongol's
and he had the chief of Genghis Khan's envoys killed and the beards burned off the others and these others sent back to Genghis Khan.
Genghis Khan launched a war against Khwarazm, the Mongols believing that their gods were superior to Allah. In 1219, Genghis Khan and his Mongol army
drove through Transoxiana, engaging in difficult assaults against prosperous cities such as Bukhara (now Uzbekistan) and Samarkand. In reprisal for
resistance to Mongol advances, and reprisal for uprisings against Mongol occupation, the Mongols laid waste to various cities, including Samarkand,
and put the people of those cities to the sword. According to a Muslim writer, Genghis Khan drew from some old fashioned religion and told the
Muslims, "I am the punishment of God. If you had not committed great sins, God would not have sent punishment like me upon you."
The Mongols pushed into Persia. While Genghis Khan was consolidating his conquests there, a force of 40,000 Mongol horsemen pushed through Azerbaijan
and Armenia. They crushed Georgian crusaders, captured a Genoese trading fortress in Crimea and spent the winter along the coast of the Black Sea.
Then, as they were headed back home they met 80,000 warriors led by Prince Mstitslav of Kiev. The battle of Kalka River (1223) commenced, and the
Mongols routed the prince's army.
In 1225, Genghis Khan returned to Mongolia. He now ruled everything between the Caspian Sea and Korea. He looked forward to the Mongols continuing
their ways while benefiting from caravan trade and drawing tribute from agricultural peoples in the west and east. Genghis Khan created an efficient
pony express system. He declared freedom of religion for the areas he had conquered. And wishing for order and tax producing prosperity he forbade
troops and local officials to abuse people.
Soon again Genghis Khan was at war. He believed that the Tangut (in northeastern China) were not living up to their obligations to his empire, and he
was unwilling to expand in China until the Tangut were thoroughly subdued. In 1227, around the age of sixty-five, while leading the fighting against
the Tangut, Genghis Khan, it is said, fell off his horse and died.
In terms of square miles conquered, Genghis Khan had been the greatest conqueror of all time -- greater than Alexander the Great. The Mongol nation
believed that he had been the greatest man of all time and a man sent from heaven. Among the Mongols he was known as the Holy Warrior, and not unlike
the Jews who continued to see hope in a conquering king (messiah) like David, Mongols were to continue to believe that one day Genghis Khan would rise
again and lead his people to new victories.
[Edited on 1-21-2003 by Illmatic67]