Being fearless, brave, and deadly are some of the characteristics of a warrior. Still, some warriors are more talented, skillful, and brutal than the rest—an overview of the 15 greatest warriors in history.
There have been many great people in various human endeavors throughout history – from science to art, from philosophy to politics, from business to technology. Still, none of these greats have shed more blood than the greatest warriors in recorded history. So take a moment to take a deep breath and get ready to learn about 15 of the most brutal and talented warriors of all time.
1. Eric Bloodaxe
Eric the Bloodaxe was a Norwegian prince and the last independent king of York. He became ruler of the Northumbrians twice, in 947 and 952.
Eric was considered one of the most legendary names in Viking history for his incredible skill, battlefield courage, and warlike spirit.
2. Vlad the Impaler
Very few people in history have instilled more terror in human hearts than Vlad the Impaler or, as he became better known, Vlad Dracula. The ruler of Wallachia, who became a legend and was considered at one time (and after the novel by Bram Stoker and the film based on him) the Lord of Darkness, was a natural person and a truly outstanding fighter. Born in 1431 in Transylvania, a central region of modern Romania, he ruled for many years.
Vlad’s victories over the Ottoman Empire, which invaded this region, were appreciated not only in his native Romania but also throughout Europe. For example, there are records that Pope Pius II was impressed by his skill and fighting spirit. Vlad was remembered as the “Impaler” because he did not spare his enemies. He did plant prisoners on stakes to intimidate his opponents and, according to legend, drank their blood.
3. Sun Tzu
During the unprecedented political and military unrest in China (the “Period of the Warring States,” V-II centuries BC), Sun Tzu became an army strategist whose works were still being studied in military institutions.
He recognizes as a legend after writing a book on Chinese military strategy and martial arts called The Art of War.
4. William Wallace
Thanks to “Braveheart” by Mel Gibson, William Wallace became famous worldwide. Still, those who know the history of Europe had heard before what a true warrior the legendary Scotsman was.
Wallace is considered one of the most crucial Scottish national heroes who fought to the death to free Scotland from English rule.
5. Yue Fei
During his 25 years of military career, Yue Fei fought 126 battles, mainly in central China, and never lost a single action. In addition, he has managed to build a truly outstanding career from the ordinary soldier to the commander-in-chief of the Empire forces.
He also coined many martial arts styles and wrote many epic poems about how he will “kick your enemy’s asses.” Currently, Yue Fei is considered a national hero in China and the main symbol of integrity, patriotism, and loyalty.
6. Alaric the Visigoth
Alaric was the ruler of the Visigoths who became famous for sacking Rome. Initially, he was an honorary Roman citizen and “master of the army,” but then the Goths rebelled due to salary delays, declared Alaric king, and marched on Rome.
After the sack of Rome, Alaric led his troops south to Campania, taking Nola and Capua along the way. The Visigoth king was heading for the Roman province of Africa, which provided Rome with bread, but a storm destroyed his ships, temporarily making it impossible to move troops. Only Mother Nature was able to defeat Alaric.
7. Pyrrhus of Epirus
The king of Epirus, Pyrrhus, managed to arrange an absolute hell for the Romans. He was the first and only menace to Rome during its heyday as an empire. He was the only person to crush the Roman legions over and over again.
Some historians believe that history would have been different if Pyrrhus had not been killed in Argos. Hannibal Barca regarded him as the best general and greatest warrior-king in history. After some of his battles, Pyrrhus’s losses were so enormous (despite the victory) that they gave rise to Pyrrhic victory, which is still used today.
8. Richard the Lionheart
Richard was the King of England who later became known as the “Lionheart” for his exploits in the Third Crusade. Interestingly, during his ten-year reign, he spent only six months at home in England.
Richard is a highly skilled warrior who did not spare his enemies and led others with an example of extraordinary courage. No wonder he was nicknamed “The Lion Heart.”
9. Miyamoto Musashi
Musashi was an invincible Japanese ronin (samurai with no lord or master) and is considered one of the most famous swordsmen in history. He became a legacy mainly because of his outstanding sword skills and numerous duels from thirteen battles. He was the originator of the Hyoho Niten Ichi-Ryu or Niten Ichi-Ryu style of swordsmanship.
Towards the end of his life, after perfecting his two-sword fighting style to perfection, Musashi retired to a cave on Mount Kimpo and wrote The Book of Five Rings on tactics, strategy, and philosophy of the art of war. Many historians and experts consider him to be the greatest swordsman in history.
10. Julius Caesar
Gaius Julius Caesar is perhaps the most famous and successful Roman statesman and general in history. He led the Roman army in numerous victorious battles that expanded the territory of the Republic.
Many works have described his military adventures, thanks to contemporaries who understood his genius and bravery on the battlefield.
11. Genghis Khan
Genghis Khan conquered a quarter of the world’s population, founded the most extensive continental (with adjacent territory) empire in history, and is considered one of the greatest conquerors of all time.
His people believed that Genghis Khan was the greatest man of all time and sent from heaven.
12. Alexander the Great
Although he died at the age of thirty-three, the famous Greek (or more precisely, Macedonian) king managed to conquer most of the world known at the time, which is why most historians consider him the most outstanding military leader ever lived. He fought on the front lines in every battle (unlike many other rulers who watched their troops’ actions).
Alexander remained undefeated and conquered all the central states of his time, such as Persia, India, and Egypt. He was the first ruler to spread Greek and, therefore, Western civilization to other parts of the world.
13. Scipio Africanus
Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus the Elder was one of the most talented and successful Roman commanders in history. He managed to defeat Hannibal at the Battle of Zama during the Second Punic battle.
Even though Scipio was 100% Roman, he was given the nickname “Africanus” after his victory because his most outstanding achievements were in Africa. Later, he received the nickname “Asiatic” when he fought under his brother Lucius Cornelius Scipio against Antiochus III of Syria at the Battle of the Seleucids.
Undoubtedly the most famous and skillful gladiator in history was Spartacus, who led the slave and gladiator rebellion in Italy in 73-71. BC.
He led the largest slave uprising (his army numbered from 70 to 120 thousand people) against the Roman Republic. No other person terrorized the powerful Republic as he did.
15. Hannibal Barca
Born in 247 B.C., Hannibal In Carthage (today’s city of Tunisia), his country lost a protracted and significant war with Rome, losing many territories. When he grew up, he entirely took revenge on his old enemy, having won these and other regions from Rome.
It believes that Hannibal was one of the greatest generals and military leaders of the ancient world and a brilliant strategist. They developed tactics for flanking and encircling the enemy with combined forces of infantry and cavalry. His wars with the Roman Empire were among the most epic in antiquity.