Friday, June 15, 2007

The Ten Most Influential People

Who do you think were the ten most important people who had major influences on the whole world?

I was thinking about that last night and came up with the following:

Napoleon Bonaparte:

Napoleon was an important figure across the world in that late 18th and early 19th centuries.

Napoleon was an innovative Military leader who is largely responsible for several innovations:

The "innovation" of destroying the enemy's army in battle (the earlier custom being outmaneuvering your enemy to the point that they retire from the field). Napoleon believed, correctly, that once you destroyed the enemy's ABILITY to fight effectively, they would have no choice but capitulate politically. Of course, this only applies when your enemy has the central political existence as a nation-state.

Napoleon was also the first modern General to promote officers from the ranks. Some of most successful "Marshals of France", such as Ney, MacDonald (a distant kinsman of mine), and Bernadotte were not born to wealth or even the most minor nobility... indeed, in the case of the three aforementioned Marshals, all of them began their military careers as enlisted men.

Napoleon was also an innovator in that he believed in mobility... and army that could march hard and fast, usually arrived at the battlefield with the pick of terrain, which was, and still is, very important.

Lastly, Napoleon began the concept of the professional conscript army. Regiments were raised locally, served for a time, and sent home... but were subject to recall... much like today's national guard.

Napoleon also had his hands deeply involved in the early histories of the United States and Canada. War of 1812, anyone? The United States, being involved in a war with Britain could only be a benefit to Napoleon's ambitions on the Continent of Europe.... but not enough to keep Napoleon from ultimate defeat.

Jesus of Nazareth:

What is there to say? Whether you are a Christian or not, Jesus of Nazareth is largely responsible for the world today. Of course, I believe that in a spiritual context, but even if you don't, Jesus, the Christ, has influenced almost every nation on earth, even those that are predominantly non-christian. Wars of conquest have been fought in his name. Unspeakable acts of violence and cruelty have been perpetrated in his name. On the other hand, incredible acts of goodness, decency and mercy have also done in his name.

Nations have been born, and destroyed based on his legacy.

There are some who would argue that the Apostle Paul was more important than Jesus, because of Paul's zeal and spreading the gospels. Well, I beg to differ. No Jesus, no story for Paul to tell, right?

I was going to avoid making a statement about about my faith here, but you know what? This is MY blog!

When I think of my salvation, it always brings me back to an old fovorite hymn whose lyrics sum up so nicely for me: "My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly trust in Jesus' name"

Benjamin Franklin:

People frequently suggest the George Washington had more influence on the world than Franklin did, but I beg to differ. While Washington led the Continental armies against the British during the American revolution, the Continental armies wouldn't have been able to stay in the field of it weren't for military and naval aid from France. Credit for securing said assistance from France belongs to the diplomatic artistry of Franklin.

No Franklin, no French support, no French support, no ability to say in the fight against the British.

Do the math.

Mahatma Ghandi:

Born Mohandas Ghandi, was a British educated lawyer, but will, of course be remembered as the leader of the Indian independence movement. Ghandi's resistance to British rule in India is legendary, not only for it's success, but also for it's goal of action through non-violence.

Because of Ghandi, India is the largest (population-wise) democracy on earth.

Around the world, Ghandi's example of non-violent protest has had major effects in not only the United States, but also in South Africa.

Ghandi will remain a hero until the end of time.


Although Johannes Gutenberg wasn't responsible for the invention of the movable type (many believe this occurred in China, about 400 years earlier), it was certainly Gutenberg who made the movable, metal type, a fast, functional process that allowed people to (relatively) rapidly reproduce books/newspapers, etc...

Gutenberg was responsible for the beginning of the first information age.

Pope Urban II:

Upon receiving a request for aid from the Byzantine Empire, to come to their defense against the Seljuk Turks, Urban called for the first Crusade... not only to defend their eastern Christian brothers and sisters, but also to liberate the Holy Lands from the Muslim infidels.

The crusades lasted for over two hundred years... the legacy of which is the continued slaughter we see in the middle east today.

The crusades had other effects, such as the liberation of Spain from Moorish occupiers, and the recent wars in the Balkans.

Martin Luther:

Wow. Martin Luther. There is so much to say about this guy... and not just because I am a Lutheran. Hm.

Martin Luther, that really smart, German Augustinian Monk, was destined to be a fearless leader since he was born on what later became the Marine Corps Birthday, and was baptized the following day, on the feast day of St. Martin of Tours... which later became Veteran's Day, here in the United States.

As a Monk, Martin didn't quite like the way The Church (the Roman Catholic church... that was the only church there was in Europe) was doing things. Luther didn't like the idea that for a sum of money, people could buy, actually purchase pardon from sin. Worse, at the time of Martin's life, indulgences were being sold in order to build the Basilica of St. Peter, in Rome.

Martin was also of the the belief that the salvation of the soul was justified by faith alone, not works.

Martin, a distinguished scholar and theologian, wrote down his thoughts and on October 31st, nailed them to the door of the castle church at Wittenberg, sparking The Reformation.

The Reformation, which continues to this day, has shaped a large, perhaps the largest, part of all of Christendom.

Martin Luther was a scholar, a theologian, a preacher, a Priest, and a writer of Hymns

Although, today, many churches reject Catholicism and the authority of the Pope in Rome, Martin Luther went to his grave never intending to separate himself or his movement from the Catholic (which means universal) church. This is clearly apparent in the use, by the mainline protestant denominations, of the Apostle's Creed and the Nicene Creed.

Martin Luther was one hell of a guy, I am proud to call him (Like Jesus and Chuck Norris) one of my homeboys.

Douglas MacArthur:

Douglas MacArthur, was the architect of allied victory over the Empire of Japan during the second world war. MacArthur was primarily responsible for the American "Island Hopping" campaign that captured strategically important Japanese-held islands, and bypassing (and cutting off) less important ones. MacArthur's victory in the Pacific did much to shape the nations of the region that we see today.

MacArthur is also largely responsible for the shaping of modern Japan, turning that nation away from the militarists and into a nation of industry. During the occupation of Japan, MacArthur helped to shape the stable democracy that governs Japan to this day.

MacArthur's influence didn't end there... When the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea), invaded the Republic of Korea (South Korea), MacArthur commanded United States troops (later United Nations troops) engaged in combat to preserve South Korea's sovereignty. In September of 1950, troops under MacArthur's command executed the amphibious landings at the Battle of Inchon.

Without MacArthur's influence, it is very likely that the far east of today would be a very, very different place.


Saladin (or Sala Ha Din) was the ruler of Egypt and Syria at the height of the second and third crusades. He was responsible for the not only the defense of the Islamic lands anoud what Christians call "The Holy Land", but also responsible for the conquering of most of the Crusader kingdoms.

Islam is as strong as it is today, because of Saladin's victory in battle against the Crusader forces, particularly during the Third Crusade, led by King Richard I (The Lionheart), of England.

Sun Tzu:

Sun Tzu was a 6th century (BCE) Chinese General who was born to the landless aristocracy. He made his living as a military advisor to the King of Wu. During his employment by the King, he led the military forces of Wu, considered to be something of a barbaric backwater, to become the most powerful Chinese state in that period.

More importantly, Sun Tzu was the first known chronicler of the operational military art. Recording on scrolls, precepts such as making use of weather and terrain, and the importance of combat logistics, that are still used in modern warfare.
Sun Tzu can be considered the father of formal military strategy and scholarship.

So there you have it.

Who do YOU think were the ten most influential people in the world?


Madame M. said...

Great list! And might I add: Ben Franklin = teh awesome.

jessabean said...

Wow, I just got a mini history lesson...I thought school was out for the summer???

Hmmm I'll have to think about 10 people who influenced the WORLD. That's a toughie!

Janet M Kincaid said...

Just off the top of my head, for better or worse, I'd say:

Jesus of Nazareth
John Marshall
Adolf Hitler
Thomas Alva Edison
Rachel Carson
Florence Nightingale
Deepa Mehta
John Paul II
Steve Jobs and Bill Gates

Lawyer Mama said...

Think how different the world would be if someone had taken away Martin Luther's hammer and nails!

cathouse teri said...

I thought it strange that Jesus wasn't first.

So what's with visiting my blog and making half remarks and protesting loudly that you are shallow? (Which I know you know you are not and you know I know you are not, so what's the deal?)

KarenO said...

Let me go think about it a bit and I'll get back to you on that one (10?) Maybe Adam and Eve should share one spot :P

Brillig said...

VERY interesting list. I have to say that I wouldn't have even thought of some of those, but others would have been obvious choices for me too. I'm gonna think about this one. Very thought-provoking!

Gunfighter said...


Christ wasn't first for no other reason than the fact that I had organized my thoughts about what I was going to write about Napoleon first.

Hahn at Home said...

Great list - had I more time to think, I'd do that myself - especially found your selection of MacArthur interesting. Very good post.