Who are your Top 10 favorite historical figures?
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I couldn't possibly narrow it down to one, and I figure you guys probably couldn't either, it's hard! XD But just give a list, and they may not necessarily be your idols or role models, maybe they're just people you like reading about? And they don't have to be deceased, as clearly there are some wonderful people alive and out there making history as we speak :)
ps. Thanks to all of you for joining this very new group, and feel free to invite others who you think might like it as well!
*My list: and sadly, I am a fan of the dead, sorry, no breathers on this list*
1.) Thomas Jefferson (yep, I'm a major Jeffersonian "fangirl")
2.) Queen Elizabeth I (the one got me interested in history in the first place)
3.) Queen Marie Antoinette
4.) Giacomo Casanova
5.) Chevalier D'eon de Beaumont
6.) Comte de Saint Germain
7.) Oscar Wilde
8.) Saint Joan of Arc
9.) Saint George
Don't know if I can give a list of 10 but here are my top ones.
1. Isaac Newton
2. Malcolm X
3. Benjamin Banneker
4. Benjamin Franklin
5. Egyptian pharaohs: Akhenaten and Hatshepsut
Lao Tzu (aka Laozi
WIliam of Occam
Joan of Arc
John F. Kennedy
No particular order:
Henry VIII and wives and extended families
Eleanor of Aquitaine and Henry II
Catherine de Medici and Henri II
Mary Queen of Scots
Lady Jane Grey
Joan of Arc
Vlad the Impaler
Mustafa Kemal Atatürk
Muhammad ibn ‘Abdullāh (and family)
Queen Mary I of England
Great lists! And great question. I love an excuse to geek out in list form.
1. Theodore Roosevelt (total fangirl for this one)
2. Jane Austen (again, another fangirl obsession)
3. Marquis de Lafayette
4. Winston Churchill
5. William Wilberforce
6. John Singer Sargent
7. Virginia Hall
8. Coco Chanel
9. Robert Burns
10. James Garfield (mostly because I think it's tacky we forgot he was ever president)
To All So Far:
I'm really surprised. All these lists are different! I expected some like Marie Antoinette, Elizabeth I and Joan of Arc to show up at least twice, but I like how diverse everyone's tastes are! :)
Here are mine (just off the top of my head, the list would probably change slightly if asked again):
1. Albert Einstein
2. Richard Feynman
3. Edna St. Vincent Millay
4. Robert Louis Stevenson
5. Jane Austen
6. Theodore Roosevelt
7. Wally Schirra
9. Chief Joseph
10. Ernest Shackleton
Again, no particular order:
1 Anne Boleyn
2 Anne of Cleves
3 George Eliot
4 Charles Darwin
6 Pope Joan (allowing for the possibility that she did exist)
7 Alan Turing
9 Aspasia of Miletus
10 Mary Magdalene (also assuming she actually existed)
What a great new group! My list--
Mary, Queen of Scots
No particular order:
Robert E. Lee
Any account from the solider in the ditch.
By the way - I cannot wait for the biography of Shirley Temple to come out (if ever).
have you ever been to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston?
Ms. Gardner has many works by Sargent (they were good friends). If your name is Isabella you get to go in free.
It is more than ten (20) but:
Henry II, of England
Eleanor of Aquitaine
Richard I, of England
Fredrick II, Holy Roman Emperor
Robert the Bruce
Edward III, of England
Silliman the Magnificent
Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor
Hugh O’Neal, The Great O’Neal
yeshua bar joseph
francis of assisi/ giovanni francesco di bernardone
sojourner truth/ isabella baumfree
elizabeth cady stanton
mohandas k. gandhi
teresa of calcutta/ agnese gonxhe bojaxhiu
martin luther king jr
This was difficult as I realised I did not read as much about specific historical figures as I thought I might, so trying to find a top 10 was not really practical. I enjoyed reading Niccolo Machiavelli's despatches. Landucci's Florentine Diary was quite fun too. Leonardo da Vinci's notebooks, and a couple of books about him - lots going on there. I read a very colourful and entertaining biography of Beau Brummell. The Medici family - lots of absorbing stuff there, and still more to read. I enjoyed reading Julian of Norwich, and indeed the book of Margery Kempe, but did not get much of a sense of them as people other than/beyond their spiritual facets. I recall enjoying some of Montaigne's essays.
First hand accounts, documents, letters, diaries, pamphlets - there's usually something in these for me to enjoy, once I've tracked them down. There has to be some kind of spark for me to find them - perhaps some colourful incident described in a general social and political history, or an excerpt from a diary or some letters.
Sometimes I'm interested in people's motivations and what drives them, and that's often not available, so maybe I read fiction of various sorts to fill in that gap?
Livia, wife of Augustus Caesar and their family down to Claudius + wives (more than 10 there!)
Mad King George
The wives of major historical figures.
Any female figure of note from the 17th and 18th century in particular, especially ones from the demi-monde or who broke the 'rules' such as the Duchess of Devonshire.
Any 'ordinary' person whose story has come to light through the examining of historical records. I dont really go for 'big names' I am much more interested in those who lived and died without making too much of a splash, but who make up the majority of human society and who tell us so much more about how people actually lived in the time period. Even just a snippet about the everyday is fascinating and when I find books on this subject I jump on them e.g Antonia Fraser's book on C17th women.
Interesting lists! I would add:
1. Julius Caesar
3. Frederick Douglass
6. Eleanor Roosevelt (sans FDR)
7. Louis XIIII
8. Margaret Thatcher
10. George Patton
Names on other members' lists that I was particularly glad to see:
Isaac Newton, Malcolm X,
Akhnaten & Hatshepsut (Godesspt2)
Henry VIII and wives and extended families (in spite of, not because of, the inclusion of Henry himself.) (nellista)
Mustafa Kemal Ataturk & Abraham Lincoln (heather)
Marquis de Lafayette, Robert Burns, and
James Garfield ("...it's tacky we forgot...") (maBrown)
Einstein, Millay, and Schirra (janoorani)
George Eliot, Alan Turing, & Aspasia of Miletus (Booksloth)
Aristotle, Caesar, Brian Boru, Hugh O'Neal, Winfield Scott, and von Ranke, & Burckhardt
Yeshua bar Joseph (aka Isa) (aka Jesus)
Francesco di Assissi
Mohandas K. Gandhi
Martin Luther King (angelrose)
Cicero and Augustus (RChurch)
When a list like this get long, it is a "Great equalizer -- e.. sounds like I admire YeshuaBen Joseph and Emma Goldman about equally; of course I admire Yesua much more. Actually they don't have much in common except a concern for ordinary peopele and both being Jewish.
Thinking about this some more overnight, that often I'm reading about unnamed, or perhaps rather unknown or unfamiliar, people. This might be in a social history, trial records, Society for the Reformation of Manners reports, newspapers, pamphlets, .... I've been enjoying reading Mother Clap's Molly House - some of the people are named and known, most are not - but the excerpts are so fascinating.
Hmmm . . . this question is difficult for me. I tend to read more cultural and social history than biography. But I'll give it a try. Please note, list is subject to change at any moment.
John Wilmot Earl of Rochester
Fyodor Mikhaylovich Dostoyevsky
Elizabeth I of England
Sir Thomas Moore
Mary Boykin Chesnut
Not interpreting the question as what figures I most ADMIRE but like to READ ABOUT/BY:
Strange crew, eh?
Edit: I forgot one interesting historical figure, that surprisingly nobody has mentioned yet, :
And, like several others here, my greatest love is for the ordinary Joe and Josephine caught up in history against their will.
#21 Several others have mentioned him but quite a few are trying to confuse you with this Yeshua bar Joseph stuff!
Ed for typos
Tough to limit it to 10, but:
Richard I Coeur de Lion
Sir Francis Drake
Marquis de Lafayette
Joan of Arc
....and just because she had chutzpah, Agnes Randolph Countess of Dunbar
This is right now - in a year I might be reading about heresy and list Wycliff, Hus and Bernard of Gui
Edit - Childeric, not Chilperic.
24 I've heard of Justinian, Wycliff, and Hus, but if you don't mind, can you briefly tell me about others on your list? I'm always looking for new historical figures to learn and read about, and your list seems the most foreign to me. :)
20: Excellent! Mary Wollstonecraft! I want to get her Vindication of the Rights of Women.
21: Diderot, D'Alembert, and Voltaire? I take you like your Enlightenment! Well Voltaire is a favorite of mine too, he was so different from the rest. Candide and L'Ingenu may be my favorites of his.
23: Yay Horatio Nelson! :D From the profile pic, can you tell that I'm a fan?
No particular order for me either;
Louisa May Alcott
Robert la Salle
John Wilkes Booth (I actually found this page interesting; http://www.rense.com/general80/slin.htm)
Ida B. Wells Barnett
Mary Harris Jones
(As you can probably tell- I am quite interested in slavery acts/women's rights/free Africans) :)
I don't know if I have ten favorites, but I'll give this a go:
Laura Ingalls Wilder
Herman Goehring (not a "favorite" by any means; interesting is a better word)
"Herman Goering (not a ʻfavoriteʻ by any means; interesting is a better word." #29
My attitude about him, too. And I hope Vortigern, on your list is just interesting and not a favorite.
Let me add that the figures on my post are interesting rather than favorites.
# 25 - I'll try to keep this brief. My enthusiasm can sometimes get me carried away. My favorites are always people I want to learn more about - not who I'd want to hug if I met 'em on the street. ;)
Stilicho - Stilicho was a Roman General at the end of the 4th and beginning of the 5th century. Pretty brilliant guy who always was one step ahead of things except when a bunch of barbarian tribes crossed the Rhine in 405/06 and he lost a good chunk of Gaul and Spain. The Roman Emperor, Honorius, was persuaded to go after him by other advisors and in 408 Stilicho had a choice between a Civil War or surrendering to be executed. He surrendered - of course his wife and kids were killed too. Two years later Alaric sacked Rome.
Aetius - Aetius was Stilicho a generation later. He managed to defend the Empire's Northern borders and even pushed the frontier back to the Loire by using Federates - armed forces from Barbarian tribes - both as part of his armies and as garrisons. His biggest success was in 451 when he put together a coalition that defeated Attila. Valentinian assassinated him a couple of years later - apparently he was intimidated by him. A few months later a couple of Aetius' guards killed Valentinian. Procopius called him "The last true Roman." Things fell apart pretty quick after that.
Childeric I - Clovis and Childeric actually go together. Childeric was Clovis' father. He was a Frank general who ruled N Gaul as a Roman Federate. He was exiled for about 8 years in the middle of it, then returned. Clovis took over after his father died, converted to Christianity and also defeated the Visigoths in 507 to really establish the Merovingians.
Theoderic Amal - He defeated Odoacer in 493 and took over rule of Italy. Retained Roman institutions, kept the Senate in place, etc. A decade after his death Justinian invaded.
Geiseric - He was the King of the Vandals for over 50 years. He took them across Gibralter from Spain in the early 5th century and later defeated Carthage and turned N Africa into a Vandal kingdom. He's been portrayed as being pretty brutal but archaeology's beginning to show that he probably wasn't that bad.
Euric - In the later 5th century he defeated a bunch of Visigoth kinglets to create something of one people that ruled Spain (sort of). Also developed taxation systems and wrote a law code.
Alcuin - Probably the leader of the Carolingian renaissance in the late 8th/early 9th centuries. Taught at Charlemagne's palace school, wrote educational treatises on Grammar, Rhetoric, Math, Dialectics and used to engage in philosophical debate through poetry with other Carolingians. We also have a bunch of his letters.
fun idea! here are some off the top of my head i may try to add others later
john quincy adams
Henry the navigator
When I was a kid, my favorites were
Alexander the Great
Hero of Alexandria
Leonardo da Vinci
Nowadays, I tend to study people I don't actually like. I have a ton of books on Mao and Genghis Khan.
Ok, also not in order
Mohamed Ibn Abdullah
Alexander The Great
Leonardo Da Vinci
Socrates – representing the Greek civilization – there’s too many heroes here for me to mention them all.
Virgil and Horace – for reminding us that Rome was not all about world domination
Ragnar Lodbrok – representing the Viking raiders
Alcuin & Bede – representing the Christian Church of the time
Ethelfred, Queen of Mercia – representing the Saxons
The Empress Maud – for fighting
The Black Prince – for dying
Richard iii – for being misunderstood
Henry Bolingbroke – for being Shakespeare’s hero
Bess of Hardwick – for succeeding
Alexander the Great
Baron von Steuben
Marquis de Lafayette
Leonardo da Vinci (Italy, Renaissance)
William the Conqueror (France, Middle Ages)
Raymond VI, Count of Toulouse (France, Cathars, Middle Ages)
Elizabeth I (United Kingdom, Renaissance)
Pierre Bérégovoy (France, 20th C)
T.E. Lawrence (United Kingdom, 20th C)
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (France, 20th C)
Alfred Dreyfus (France, 19th-20th C)
Antoine Bernardin Fualdès (France, 18th-19th C)
Pierre Benoit (France, 20th C)
36: Huh. Henry Bolingbroke, looks pretty cool. Ha, I know of a Henry St John, 1st Viscount of Bolingbroke. His writings influenced Thomas Jefferson a lot.
Yay for Bolingbrokes? :D
@37: Wow, that's twice I've seen Caravaggio. And another for Oscar Wilde! Yay! Like Oscar doesn't' get enough love on here lol
@38: Yes, someone else who likes Lawrence! And Antoine de Saint-Exupéry? Interesting choice! :)
Antoine de St Exupéry was a famous historical figure in Toulouse, where he used the airport for airmail distribution and geographical exploration. He disappeared suddenly, and some thought he had run out of fuel in Northern Africa. Someone recently discovered his plane and his name-tagged bracelet off the French coast - it appears that the Germans shot his plane and he went down with it. His essays and novels mix deep romantic and heroic notions and also include moving personal views. I recommend 'Vol de Nuit' most of all (his other books are very good too)!
I always wanted to plan a dinner party with historical figures assuming they could understand each other, get along, and nobody starts a fight.
Sir Walter Raleigh
Catherine the Great
What to server for dinner, hmmm...
#41 Like you, I do have a dinner party list with a mixture of current and historial guests - some dead, some alive. I think that may be one for another thread.
>41 varielle: varielle,
I can see that Dali would be a good mixer, but Churchill and Boudicca???? Do you think it wise?
Here's some I'd want to have dinner with, ideally with a tape recorder:
Aristotle or maybe Theophrastus
The emperor Claudius
For personal interest I'd add:
Ada of Halicarnassus (Carian dynast with an interesting life)
Aristander of Telmessus (Alexander's diviner)
Artemidorus of Daldis (diviner/author)
These would be interesting to meet or know more about, but I'm not sure they'd be good dinner companions:
Alexander the Great
And I hope Vortigern, on your list is just interesting and not a favorite.
Nowadays, I tend to study people I don't actually like.
Seems like I'm in the same conundrum.
Best dinner party evah, and I would sit at the head of the table indeed with a camcorder (after explaining to them what it is and they wouldn't be too surprised)
Fanceh Dinnah Parteh:
Dr. Benjamin Rush
John Locke (because it would make Jefferson's day)
Charles Willson Peale
Marquis de Lafayette (for George)
and Oscar Wilde for kicks. XD
Newton was an unpleasant man.
George Wythe, for Jefferson? With all these pairings, perhaps you should add:
Aspasia, for me.
Yeah, I added Newton and Wythe for Jefferson. One's his hero and the other was the "father-figure".
Aspasia huh? Why don't you make your own list, because I think she might feel a little out of place with all my stuffy 18th c. guys (not saying she couldn't hold her own in an intelligent conversation) :)
Benjamin Franklin - a must at every dinner party. I would include Voltaire and Dorothy Parker.
Aspasia aside, you definitely need more women at your dinner party. We can start with Abigail Adams and Madame de Staël.
Hmmm, the perfect dinner party...
Percy and Mary Shelley
Leonardo Da Vinci
Catherine de' Medici
Hah, you're right. Alright, Abigail Adams, Martha Jefferson, Martha Washington, Émilie du Châtelet and Mme de Pompadour :D
Nah, Sally Hemmings would make things too awkward, plus she'd feel more out of place than anybody, and I wouldn't want her to just sit there and feel uncomfortable.
An all-woman dinner party might be interesting. How about;
Hildegard of Bingen
Eleanor of Aquitaine
Dhuoda (mainly because I just read an article which I think gets her thoughts WAY wrong and would like to ask her about that)
Mary Magdalene - I'd like to get her an Aramaic copy of The Davinci Code and see what she thinks of it
Galla Placidia - poor girl got passed around like a deck of cards, be nice to hear her side of the story
If the after dinner entertainment is Braveheart I'd invite Isabella
Dinner guests (in no particular order):
1. Thomas Jefferson
2. John Adams
3. Benjamin Franklin
4. Samuel Johnson
5. Francis Bacon
6. Michel de Montaigne
7. Alexandre Dumas pere
8. Johann Sebastian Bach
9. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
10. Mark Twain
11. Abraham Lincoln
12. Theodore Roosevelt
13. Winston S. Churchill
14. Ptolemy I Soter
I have to disagree with your list, Betelgeuse. Lucretius was a total bore, and he wrote crap Latin. There, that feels better.
Well Betelgeuse can put who ever they want on their list. As hinted at before, why not make your own list and make use of your suggestions?
"Lucretius...a total bore and....wrote crap Latin"
I totally disagree with the second half of the above, but I would be interested in seeing an example of the alleged crap Latin. I havenʻt read much criticism or evaluation of Lucretius. I have read that he indulged in pseudo-archaic diction and vocabulary, but even that was not said disparigingly.
Something like the first half of your post appears in a History of Science that I read in the mid-70s (I donʻt r emember the author or the exact title. It was probably someone who read L. in translation). I remember being surprised that the author thought L. was of little or no importance in the history of science. But thinking it over I guess he wasnʻt-- not in Science, but only in philosophy, because the remains of his master Epicurus are so fragmentary that Epicureanism can now be known mainly through Lucretius.
As for his philosophical school, the Epicurean m to my mind, it could be called at best only the lesser of two evils, as against its arch-rival Stoicism.
# 59 "Lucretius...a total bore and....wrote crap Latin"
Tim, I can't really comment on the quality of his Latin, as I am not proficient in that language. And I can't really comment on the personality (or lack thereof) of Lucretius, Aristotle, or Ptolemy I Soter because they lived so long ago and so little is known of their lives. I invited them to my imaginary dinner party because of what they did or wrote. Ptolemy I Soter was the father of the Library of Alexandria (so you and he, as fathers of libraries, are kindred spirits); Aristotle was well...Aristotle; and Lucretius' poem De Rerum Natura fascinated me (at least in the English translation by Loeb Classical Library). I know Lucretius was parroting Democritus and earlier Epicureans, and I'm not especially fond of the Epicurean philosophy per se, but nevertheless I was struck by the modernity of Lucretius' thought: atomism, Brownian motion, his views on death (which I don't share), etcetera.
Ovid, Virgil, Cicero, and Montaigne were brilliant men who did speak Latin, and they were awed by Lucretius, and little ol' me was, too, even if I disagreed with much of what he believed. I invited Lucretius because I'd like to know more about him -- about the quality of his own original thoughts, and what he'd make of the world today. Tim, I'll set another chair at my table for you. I'd love to watch you grill him or anyone else on my guest list. Regards, Betelgeuse.
No, I don't mean his Latin is bad Latin, but bad writing, bad poetry. I won't fight it... :)
>44 urania1: Well, they did both love Britain, so hopefully they could find something in common.
"(Lucretiusʻs)..bad writing, bad poetry..." (#64)
I would say GOOD poetry and (generally) good writing, even though I donʻt usually agree with his ideas. Maybe thatʻs just me as a classicist. As an individual, I think he expresses the ideas in beautiful poetry, like them or not. And itʻs a case of "like them or not" with all poetry. (L. wouldnʻt by the way be on any list of "TEN greatest" or "TEN favorites" of mine.)
As others have mentioned, these are among the persons I find most interesting:
Catherine the Great
Catherine de Medici
Charles-Henri Sanson (executioner during French Revolution)
@67: Charles-Henri Sanson is a great choice for an interesting read, and I'm glad there's someone else who likes Voltaire :)
ps. All these lists are giving good ideas for my history sprite project. Keep them coming!
#59: "I have to disagree with your list, Betelgeuse."
One certainly shouldn't dispute others tastes, but I also ask that you remain respectful as well.
>70 asukamaxwell: Hear hear!!!! Furthermore, the literary critic in me wants evidence and explanation rather than sweeping generalizations. For example, provide some lines that one feels are particularly bad, explain why said lines do not work well, offer suggestions for what might work better.
57> Dinner guests? Wicked idea.
(It's a small dining room.)
@72 Wow, what a list, that would probably be the most entertaining dinner!
#72 I'm tempted to ask for an invite but the thought of ending up next to Brian Sewell puts me off.
@74 Well I'll scoot over and make room for you between Wilde and Voltaire :D
Sanson is a great pick, you could actually put together a pretty good list from his, eh... clientele alone. Any suggestions for reading up on him in English?
1. Ben Franklin
2. Eugene Debs
3. A. Philip Randolph
4. Mary Harris Jones
5. Elizabeth Gurley Flynn
6. Thomas Jefferson
7. Salvador Allende
8. A. J. Muste
9. Ella Baker
10. Lucy Parsons
To TLCrawford (#78)
I recognize all but the last 2 of your list, and approve of all of them -- except that I could live without Franklin.
I notice that 4 of the 8 are Labor activists -- 6 if you count Allende and Flynn who were marginally that.
Ella Baker was a civil rights worker / leader. She worked with NAACP from 1940, ran SCLC for King until she decided that her title would never lose the word ‘Acting’. From that she went to SNCC. She stood up to King when she thought he was wrong. He did not like that.
Lucy Parsons was the widow of Albert Parsons, one of the ‘Haymarket Martyrs’. She was active with the IWW, another labor activist
There have been a lot of interesting people listed here.
I'll give it a shot - if not all "favorites," at least fascinating. I would love to have the following at my dinner party:
Eugene V Debs
To Doug 1943:
You may be the only one that has ever put Churchill and Cromwell on the same list with Eugene Debs.
I was going to say "why Churchill and William III?", but never mind; I can surmise it, even if not agree with it.
I will say, why Cromwell?
If you want the psychological justification, as opposed to a rationalization, it's probably because I am re-reading (for the fourth time) Macaulay's wonderful History of England, so all the major political figures of 17th Century England have been on my mind.
He was not a great thinker, granted. And I don't think they like him in Ireland. But he did do what was necessary to do, I think, to preserve our liberties. Which sounds Tea-Partyish ... what I mean is, I've been pondering a lot on the growth of liberal democracy, what were the necessary conditions, how fragile is it, how "automatic" is it, why did it grow in England, what would have happened had the Stuarts beat the Whigs and went on to establish ... or could they? ... a European style powerful monarchy in England. Same reason for William III.
So he was in my mind. I actually have only read one biography of him, a long time ago (by that woman, who was married to that Oxford fellow ... you'll know whom I mean), and didn't even finish it.
I read The Bending Cross while a teenager in 1950s Houston and Debs has been a personal hero ever since, even as I changed my mind about the desirability (or rather possibility) of achieving his political goals.
But they were rather randomly chosen. We ought to ask people for their choices, without any particular limit.
1. George Washington
2. Issac Newton
3. Robert E. Lee
4. A. Lincoln
5. W. S. Churchill
6. F. D. Roosevelt
7. C. Darwin
8. Wilbur Wright
9. B. Franklin
85 I also have Macaulay's History of England and I also love it :)
@86 Robert E. Lee and Lincoln I can see as not confrontational at all, I think the two would have a certain level of respect towards each other. And I think Franklin would enjoy meeting and speaking with Darwin.
A very disjointed passing thought -
A (very) quick count up reveals that only about 10% or our nominees so far are women. I would partly expect that from our male members (please don't all post in and accuse me of hating men because I said that - I just mean I think we are more likely to be interested in people we can identify with) but am surprised, even so, that the percentage is quite so low, even allowing for the old 'women-had-to-stay-at-home-and-cook-while-their-men-were-out-getting-famous' stuff.
However, of the women who are listed (and I'm including repeats, so an awful lot of them are Elizabeth 1st) it is great to see that the majority of them are famous because of something they did, rather than just who they married or mothered. The real 'passive' ones would have to include Mary and Jane Grey (though I'm not denying they might both have interesting stories to tell) but out of the others, even those who might not have achieved fame other than through their marriages (eg Henry VIII's wives) are now remembered for what they did rather than who they were - so that, at least, has to be a good thing.
No question here or real point to make. Just wondered whether anyone else had any thoughts on the subject?
"Robert E. Lee and Lincoln I can see as not confrontational AT ALL. . . . a certain level of respect towards each other." (emphasis added) #87
I see your point, but I guess the "at all" is what I object to. Having respect doesn't rule out being an implacable enemy. The Duke of Wellington respected Napoleon. No doubt many Roman militarists respected Hannibal. Allied countries' historians have generally respected Erwin Rommel, as the George Patton of the famous movie did -- and probably the real Patton, too. But then, Rommel did as much as he could, short of changing sides, to oust the Nazi Government. Lee, by contrast, refused an offer -- you might say even a plea-- to head the Union Army, made to him by Lincoln's Chief of Staff, the aging Winfield Scott, a Virginian.
There's a story that Lincoln (about late 1864) had an informal conference with Confederate representatives -- sort of an unofficial "peace conference". And the Southerners made sure it was unofficial by not sending anyone high up to it.
A Confederate opened by politely asking Lincoln, "What do you think is the main obstacle to peace?"
Lincoln's answer: "I think -- General Lee's Army."
So, respect will mix with determination to defeat the respected enemy.
In regard to LT, I'm glad to have seen your post, because it reminded me of a book that I
haven't seen for decades: J.G. Randall's Lincoln and the South. I have now added it to my Wish List section. I recently added another Civil swar title, Carleton Beals's War within a War about the Southerners who supported the Union, not the Confederacy -- that one's Wish List , too.
@89 *face palm* Seriously, let's not pick at words. Okay, so not "AT ALL". But all I was saying if that they could tolerate each other's presence peaceably. I'm not saying they would be "buddies".
For sure, we can be blind to certain social realities because of unconscious prejudices of various sorts, and seeing women as non-people, or non-people-of-consequence may well be one of them.
On the other hand, oppression oppresses. Women did have to-stay-at-home-and-cook-while-their-men-were-out-getting-famous. We now know that this meant the choking off of a huge amount of talent.
You could count the number of genuine female mathematicians before the 20th Century on the fingers of one hand, and none of them were in the first rank, probably not even the second rank. Now, more than half of young people taking up a mathematics degree in the US are women. (Whether they will produce really first-rate mathematicians from among their numberremains to be seen.)
So .... it may be that there lots of outstanding women whom we should have named, but didn't, due to our male chauvinist conditioning.
Or these outstanding women may have existed, but their achievements have been suppressed. The Aphra Benn argument. In which case we are innocent victims of past discriminators against women.
Or it may be that the 10% that you counted is about right (or even represents an over-count, by an objective criterion).
Of course, the same argument could be put about Black African historical figures, or Chinese, or Arabs or the American (North and South). Their relative lack of presence here probably can be explained in different ways: to generate great historical figures of whom we can be aware, you have to
(1) have generated a fairly high degree of civilization, and have it persist long enough to record its own history , which explains why there are few great African figures -- their great achievements lie in the future -- and no American Indians -- they didn't have enough time to advance the promising beginnings of the Aztecs and Incas, before the Spaniards demolished them (including burning such written records as they had).
(2) your civilization has to have transformed the world, not kept itself to itself, which goes some way to explaining why we know so little about China (in a quick scan of the posts I didn't see a single Oriental name) and scarcely more about the Islamic world (again, only about four Arabs). Here we really do have a case of missing persons, I expect: people we should know about, who existed and did noteworthy things, but about whom we are ignorant, despite the best efforts of people like Joseph Needham.
I think if we aggregated all the names listed here so far, we would find that there are few missing great historical figures who were female; only a few who were Black (where is Toussaint L'Ouverture, for example?) -- and of these, Blacks who were forcibly inducted into Western civilization -- but many -- whose names may have vanished -- who were Arab or Oriental.
Another point: the original call was for "favorite" historical figures, not necessarily people who had played a great role in history, or made great contributions to ideas, etc. "Favorite" is a broad term. You might find a historical figure interesting -- Alexander the Great would qualify for me -- but not approve of them, and thus be reluctant to enlist them among your "favorites" (which seems to imply some degree of approval). Even the term "historical" is pretty broad. Some of my choices are historically insignificant, but I just happened to like them.
Oh for god's sakes people, it's just a list of your favorite historical figures, don't look so deep into it, it's honestly not that complicated. Yes, I'm a woman and I don't really care if someone makes a list and it's all white, all men, all women, whatever. Who you admire or like to read about is your business.
If you make a list of all women, for example, not because you admire them, but because "there's too many men on here!" or "it's only fair!", then you're completely missing the point of this very simple topic.
Well, as they used to say back in the 60s ... the personal is the political.
Or, as they used to say back in the 50s - let's never discuss anything.
Or as they used to say back in 1865 - "Suppose we change the subject, I'm getting tired of this."
I have favorite people for different reasons, so it’s hard to limit it to just ten. Let’s say I had a time machine and could meet whoever I wanted. For curiosity’s sake, I’d like to meet the Emperors Trajan and Heraclius, to get a first-hand account of their military campaigns. Then, I’d like to have Confucius and Aristotle meet and line up their ideas, as I suspect they’d like each other.
Finally I’d hold two temporal councils, one for the United States in particular and the other for the West as a whole. For the American one I’d have a cross-section of our most important founders, Washington, Jefferson, both Adams, Hamilton, Madison, Mason, Henry, Franklin, Martin, Wilson and Clinton to do a post-mortem on the Constitution. For the Western council, I’d have Cato the Younger, Marcus Aurelius, Boethius, St. Thomas More, Bolingbroke, Burke, Metternich, the Duke of Wellington, Lord Salisbury, and Adenauer discuss the tragic folly of the 20th Century.
By the way, in his excellent Let the Sea Make a Noise, Walter McDougall does just this type of exercise, breaking his narrative up by creating a fictional dialogue every few chapters between some of the interesting figures involved in his history. Will Durant does the same thing in an epilogue to the Age of Voltaire.
Alexander the Great
Antigonos the One-eyed
King Edward I, (Longshanks)
King George IV
Thomas B. Reed
Kaiser Wilhelm II
sorry, I forgot to add, some of these are obviously not my favorite people, just most interesting!
1) St. Jeanne d'Arc
2) Jesus Christ
3) Pope Leo XIII
4) Abraham Lincoln
5) Thomas Jefferson
6) Nicholas II
7) Harry Houdini
8) King Arthur
9) Pope Pius V
10) Grand Duchess Elizabeth
I just joined this group and read with interest the lists posted for this question. My choices:
1. Eleanor Roosevelt
2. Jane Swisshelm
3. Thomas Jefferson
4. Frank Lloyd Wright
5. Alice Paul
6. Babe Didrikson
7. Margaret Sanger
8. Lucretia Mott
9. Rachel Carson
10. Matilda Joslyn Gage
@102: Looks like we both enjoy reading about St Joan and Thomas Jefferson! I didn't list them, but I also like Nicholas II, Harry Houdini and King Arthur :)
I have followed this list with interest, but no way could I get it down to ten. Twenty was hard. The following are historical personages (no philosophers!) who have always intrigued me from either Western History or the Middle East. An assortment of Empire builders (or would-be Empire builders), advisors of same, prophets of doom, megalomaniacs, revolutionaries, various defenders of some dying 'golden age', historians, political realists, secular martyrs, and cranks:
1. The Prophet Jeremiah: the end is near, ...always.
2. Cyrus the Great: the first attempt at a 'universal state'.
3. Alcibiades: audacity itself!
4. Thucydides: chronicler of the consequences of Athenian audacity...
5. Cato: beautiful, but doomed, republican resistance to what couldn't not happen.
6. Tacitus: chronicler of what happened when said resistance failed.
7. Julian the Apostate: Another attempt to turn back the clock. ...But what would've happened if Julian had rebuilt the Temple in Jerusalem?
8. Ibn Khaldun: first genuinely scholarly attempt at a Universal History.
9. Hassan-i Sabbah: Founder of the Assassins, another resistance movement.
10. Ghengis Khan: Greatest Empire builder the world has ever seen!
11. Frederick the Great: Stupor Mundi. An early attempt at a truly Mediterranean (North, East, South) Empire?
12. Cesare Borgia: What did Nietzsche say of him? Oh yes, "'è tutto festo'—immortally healthy, immortally cheerful and well turned out". And this came within a hairsbreadth of the Papacy!
Early Modern England:
13. Elizabeth I: The greatest English Monarch! Around her, the last Renaissance Court; but the Empire begins here.
14. Walter Raleigh: Another Jeremiah. No? Then read his magnificent 'History of the World'...
15. Saint Just: The Angel of the Revolution. Angels, inevitably, are disappointed by fallen humanity...
Early American Republic:
16. John Randolph: Idolater of the early American Republic. Once had the audacity to say that for every new law made, an old one should be stricken from the books!
17. Metternich: Political Realist.
18. Talleyrand: Another 'realist'; but since he served so many different regimes, 'traitor' and 'weathervane' might also apply.
19. Trotsky: active resistance to Stalin; eventually slaughtered like a cow by a creature of 'Uncle Joe'. Resistance failed.
German 'Konservative Revolution':
20. Ernst Jünger: passive resistance (the 'inner emigraton') to Hitler; lived a long life. Resistance also failed.
The Virgin Mary
Saint Sir Thomas Moor
Saint Rita of Caska
Sir Thomas Malory
Antonio Vivaldi (the red priest)
While we are on this topic, let me recommend a book that I read recently; 'THE 100 MOST INFLUENTIAL BOOKS EVER WRITTEN' (1998) by Martin Seymour-Smith where he surveys all of Western Thought, pulls no punches, and gives good insightful reasons for his selections. This is no half-hearted sophist review. He is very passionate about his selections, and is, for this reader, the most widely erudite author that I have ever encountered.
Although I am Widely, but not Well, read, some of the authors listed here are new to me, such as: George Berkeley, Giambattista Vico, William Godwin, Herbert Spencer, Vilfredo Pareto, Martin Buber, Karl Popper, Norbert Wiener and Ivanovitch Gurdjieff. This is only a list of my own Ignorance, but now at least I have heard of them.
I would have to name these as some of my favorite historical figures:
1. George Washington
2. Thomas Jefferson
3. Jean Lafitte
4. Robert E. Lee
5. Nathaniel Greene
6. Francis Marion
7. Patrick Henry
8. Samuel Adams
9. Ty Cobb
10. Rogers Hornsby
I love the dinner party idea. I 'long' listed 26 people I like to meet. but as I don't have acess to an auditorium to entertain all of them I just picked the most..bizarre...for the heck of it. ;)
Anne Frank (always wanted Hitler to meet her)
Cyrus the Great
Harriette Beecher Stowe
(I wanted Churchill too but it's a volatile list already...war will break out)
Does anybody else remember the TV show that Steve Allen made that was on PBS called "Meeting of Minds". It had actors portraying various historical figures from different eras in a talk show format. Once he had Emily Dickinson & Genghis Kahn on the same show & predictably Genghis was his barbaric self & soon had Emily in tears & fleeing the scene. It was a great concept & I loved it! 8^)
I answered (112), but it was suddenly taken off the screen,
before I could post it, moving me to one of the "Search" book pages.
Yes, I do remember "Meeting of Minds" -- a few episodes of it; I didnʻt see it very often.
The one where I remember all three characters brought together
Thomas Paine, St. Thomas Aquinas, and Theodore Roosevelt!
I donʻt remember a Paine--Aquinas confrontation, but there were clashes between TR and Paine. No doubt, Allen was aware that Paine was not Rooseveltʻs kind of revered "founding father", and that TR had once called him "a filthy little atheist".
In another, Martin Luther confronted Voltaire; I donʻt remember the third participant. They found some common ground in their opposition to the Catholic Church, but were pretty far apart on general principles.
Voltaire sneered something like, "As a late Medieval character, you probably even still believe thereʻs such a thing as witchcraft!"
Luther answered, fervently and warningly, "Oh, there certainly is!"
In another, (and, again, I donʻt remember the third party) the opponents were Karl Marx and Ulysses S. Grant! -- a strange choice it seemed to me, to portray an ANTI-Marxist (though, of course, he was a NON-Marxist.)
I would like to see a contemporary producer produce something
with the same series idea.
Let's not forget Van Loon's Lives, in which Hendrik van Loon provides "a true and faithful account of a number of highly interesting meetings with certain historical personages, from Confucius and Plato to Voltaire and Thomas Jefferson, about whom we had always felt a great deal of curiosity and who came to us as our dinner guests in a bygone year".
#114 Yet another great 'dinner party' text has to be Caryl Churchill's Top Girls, in which the dinner party guests include Pope Joan, Patient Griselda, Lady Nijo and Isabella Bird. A mix of historical and mythical characters but a great premise nonetheless.
I like the idea of themed dinner parties. For instance, it might be fun to have a travellers' night, with Ibn Battutah, Mungo Park, George Borrow, Wilfred Thesiger and Bruce Chatwin. Actually, it would be interesting to put Ibn Battutah next to any of the great 18th and 19th century explorers: wherever it was, he'd have been there and done that a few centuries earlier.
Or a "visit Italy" evening, with Hannibal, E.M. Forster, Frederic Barbarossa, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Attila, Cervantes, and Ruskin...
Martin Luther King Jr
Leonardo da Vinci
Alfred Wegener : I always wanted to show this poor man that he was proved largely correct in the end
Elizabeth I of England
I discovered a lot of intriguing figures on these lists that I will have to follow up on
Is that George VIII of Georgia (the only one of that regnal number Wikipedia seems to know about), or a typo?
Alfred Wegener, who came up with the idea of continental drift and was virtually laughed out of academia, might enjoy looking at a modern geology book. Are there other people in the same situation that I don't know about?
edited for spelling error
Uh, yes it was George III that I was thinking about, I had typed up a longer better letter then noticed I was supposed to be on the desk in miliseconds, then of course my email went to visit a black hole somewhere and I had to type like a maniac to get it back up there.
and yes I feel so sorry for Wegener, it just annoys me that he died with noble intentions in a blizzard and never would be appreciated in his lifetime.
Let me see... In no particular order, I'd say:
George Bernard Shaw
The Brothers Grimm
What a great topic! It's so hard to pick just ten...
St. Francis of Assisi
Maria Callas (I wish I could've heard her sing live!)
1 - Lewis A. Armistead
2 - Robert E. Lee
3 - Sun Tzu
4 - Napoleon Bonaparte
5 - Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson
6 - Joseph V. Stalin
7 - Vladimir Lenin
8 - John F. Kennedy
9 - Alexander The Great
10 - Winfield S. Hancock
11 - Hermann Fegelein
12 - Otto Von Bismarck
13 - Archimedes
14 - Plato
15 - Leonardo da Vinci
Some more famous figures:
1. Thomas Edison
2. Edgar Allan Poe
3. Aleister Crowley
5. Scott Joplin
6. Helen Keller
7. Miles Davis
8. Alfred Hitchcock
9. Clark Gable
10. Jules Verne
11. Jimi Hendrix
12. Stanley Kramer
13. H. G. Wells
14. Steve McQueen
15. Walt Disney
16. Vincnet van Gogh
17. Ivan Pavlov
18. Arthur Conan Doyle
19. Amelia Earhart
21. Grigori Rasputin
22. John D. Rockefeller
23. Clara Barton
24. Alexander Graham Bell
25. P. T. Barnum
26. Mata Hari
Now for the more infamous:
1. Roy Chapman Andrews
2. Simo Hayha
3. Timothy Leary
4. Jean Eugene Robert-Houdin
5. Bobby Fischer
6. Tycho Brahe
7. M. C. Escher
8. Frank Abagnale, Jr.
9. Thomas More
10. Robert Falcon Scott
12. George Went Hensley
13. Typhoid Mary
14. Hassan-i Sabbah
15. Francois Villon
16. Henry Morton Stanley
17. John Logie Baird
19. Rosalind Franklin
20. Joseph of Cupertino
21. Antoni Gaudi
22. Vasili Arkhipov
23. Barry Seal
24. Franz Mesmer
25. Shiro Ishii
26. Pliny the Elder
A whole deck of playing cards' worth of people.
#125 Just interested to know why you think of the second lot as infamous? I was expecting names like Charles Manson and Jack the Ripper.
Yes, why are Bell and Edison with the good guys and poor old John Logie Baird with the villains? Surely the telephone is at least as evil as mechanical TV?
Wait, sorry, my mistake. When I meant infamous, I didn't have in mind the word evil. I meant lesser known figures instead of the most famous names that would first pop to mind. Probably a better word for this case would have been unfamous instead of infamous.
Thanks for the clarification (of "Infamous">lesser known,
instead of themost famous".
You aroused my curiosity enough to makeme
determined to find out just who was
the "not so famous" "Joe of Cupert'o"*
--not to mention Simo Hayha, Frank Abagnale, Jr.#
Robert Falcon Scott et al. And I never, before today, have
mentioned them, or heard anyone else mention them.
* #20 in 125. For some reason I feel like I've known
him all my life, although in reality he's just another
one of the "UNfamous".
#I didn't think putting Simo and Frank in brackets
would produce anything, but Simo Hayha leads
to a title on the Winter War of 1939-40,
which I have made a Wish List item.
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