Special Report

The Most Ruthless Leaders of All Time

Source: Kean Collection / Archive Photos via Getty Images

Attila the Hun
> Country: Hunnic Empire
> Years in charge: 434-453

Attila was a tribal leader who became one of the most powerful leaders in world history. He was known for his attacks on the Roman Empire and for destroying many of the cities he conquered..

Source: gyn9038 / iStock via Getty Images

Wu Zetian
> Country: China (Tang dynasty)
> Years in charge: 690-705

Wu Zetian is one of the few women on our list. She ruled China for more than half a century and was known for mercilessly eliminating her rivals, including family members.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

John I of England
> Country: England
> Years in charge: 1199-1216

John I, known as “Bad King John,” known for his cruelty, ruled England in the early 13th century. He’s familiar to many people as the villain of the Robin Hood stories.

Genghis Khan
> Country: Mongolian Empire
> Years in charge: 1206-1227

Genghis Khan founded the Mongol Empire by uniting the tribes of Northeast Asia and by killing all his rivals. His name has become synonymous with the cruel use of power.

Timur
> Country: Timurid Empire
> Years in charge: 1370-1405

Timur, also known as Tamerlane, was a Mongol ruler more than 150 years after Genghis Khan. Millions of people are thought to have died as a result of his military campaigns.

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