Special Report

The Most Ruthless Leaders of All Time

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Phalaris
> Country: Agrigento (Sicily)
> Years in charge: 570-554 B.C.

Phalaris, tyrant of Acragas (now Agrigento) in Sicily, was notorious for his cruelty. He is said to have roasted his victims alive in a bronze bull and to have met the same fate himself after being overthrown.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Qin Shi Huang
> Country: China (Qin dynasty)
> Years in charge: 221-210 B.C.

Qin Shi Huang, who was said to have been unforgiving in his efforts to expand his power and was known for persecuting scholars and burning books, created the first unified Chinese empire, although it collapsed soon after he died.

Source: Hulton Archive / Hulton Archive via Getty Images

Herod the Great
> Country: Herodian kingdom of Judea
> Years in charge: 37-36 B.C.

Herod was a Roman client king of Judea. He appears in the biblical Gospel of Matthew as the ruler who ordered the Massacre of the Innocents at the time of the birth of Jesus Christ.

Caligula
> Country: Ancient Rome
> Years in charge: 37-41

Caligula was the third emperor of Rome. He was known as a cruel, sadistic rules, but was kind to his horse, Incitatus, who he wanted to make a Roman consul and did appoint as a priest.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Nero
> Country: Ancient Rome
> Years in charge: 54-68

Nero was the nephew of Caligula and was perhaps even more ruthless. He was known for his murders, debaucheries, and casual cruelty, and for supposedly playing a fiddle while Rome burned during the great fire of 64 A.D. (though this may have been negative propaganda from one of his rivals).

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