History’s Top Conquerors

The greatest conquerors of all time, in the amount of square miles taken:

1. Genghis Khan (4,860,000) [Mongolia]
2. Alexander the Great (2,180,000) [Macedonia]
3. Tamerlane (2,145,000) [Turkestan]
4. Cyrus the Great (2,090,000) [Persia]
5. Attila the Hun (1,450,000) [Hun Empire]
6. Adolf Hitler (1,370,000) [Germany]
7. Napoleon (720,000) [France]
8. Mahmud of Ghazni (680,000) [Afghanistan]
9. Francisco Pizarro (480,000) [Spain]
10. George W. Bush (423,424) [United States]

The last one is partially tongue-in-cheek — but the always funny Chase Me Ladies, I’m in the Cavalry added this:

If Bush invades Canada, as I believe he should, he will overtake Alexander the Great, but still be a Napoleon short of Genghis Khan.

Younghusband, would you greet our soldiers with candy and flowers?

About Curzon

Lord George Nathaniel Curzon (1859 - 1925) entered the British House of Commons as a Conservative MP in 1886, where he served as undersecretary of India and Foreign Affairs. He was appointed Viceroy of India at the turn of the 20th century where he delineated the North West Frontier Province, ordered a military expedition to Tibet, and unsuccessfully tried to partition the province of Bengal during his six-year tenure. Curzon served as Leader of the House of Lords in Prime Minister Lloyd George's War Cabinet and became Foreign Secretary in January 1919, where his most famous act was the drawing of the Curzon Line between a new Polish state and Russia. His publications include Russia in Central Asia (1889) and Persia and the Persian Question (1892). In real life, "Curzon" is a US citizen from the East Coast who has been a financial analyst, freelance translator, and university professor; he is currently on assignment in Tokyo.
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32 Responses to History’s Top Conquerors

  1. Younghusband says:

    I think if the US military decided to cross that line again (last time was “1812 and we whooped ass”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_of_1812), I think this time we could only greet them with maple syrup and social welfare.

  2. Dan says:

    Lenin and/or Stalin don’t make the list?

  3. Curzon says:

    Those were internal revolutions, not conquests of enemy territory. The USSR’s moves into Central Asia and Ukraine were just retaking the territory conquered by the Czar.

  4. Mutantfrog says:

    That maple syrup candy ain’t bad, I say go for it!

  5. Alfred Russel Wallace says:

    No Brits on the list??

  6. Curzon says:

    Soviets and Brits don’t qualify because it took lots of time over the span of many different leaders. All of these were (at a minimum) the commander in chief of the conquering forces. Do PMs or Kings of Britain have such statutory power?

  7. Kushibo says:

    Why does my Canadian comment not show up?

  8. Kushibo says:

    This browser is completely whack! Just now, after hitting the refresh button, the text BELOW the top-ten list finally is revealed.

    That might explain why my Canada comment didn’t show up: Curzon had already beat me to it in the original post and the “egg-on-the-face control function” prevented by comment from going through. Now that’s a blog function I can use!

  9. sun bin says:

    Qing emperorShunzi (Huang Taiji) conquered the whole of China proper. (subtract Yunnan, Taiwan, Xinjiang, Tibet, Manchuria, Inner Mongolia)


    that is about 4M sq m.

  10. sun bin says:

    I think Catherine the Great got half of Siberia in her reign.
    that is 10M sq km.

  11. sun bin says:

    “All told, [catherine] added some 200,000 mile² (518,000 km²) to Russian territory”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catherine_II_of_Russia

  12. phil says:

    How about FDR during WW2? At the time of his death the US exercised power over vast regions of the globe that certainly outstripped previous conquerors.

  13. sun bin says:

    I know you want to push W into top 10.

    But what about Louisiana purchase, and the Texas annexation (and california)?

  14. Kushibo says:

    phil, I think FDR’s conquered territories would have to be divided with his Allies, at least the Chinese and the Soviets (hey, wouldn’t Tojo or Hirohito be on this list?).

    sun bin, the Louisiana Purchase was 828,000 square miles, which would put Thomas Jefferson at #7, between Hitler and Napoleon.

    But the question is, was that “conquering” or just buying? The French had already “conquered” the territory, at least nominally, so what Jefferson did was just take over the deed.

    And the Texas annexation was not a conquering situation either, if I recall. The Treaty of Velasco made Texas an independent nation in 1836, so the Texans themselves were the ones who conquered the area (which was significantly larger than its present-day shape, since it included half of New Mexico, and sizable pieces of Oklahoma, Colorado, Kansas, and even Wyoming). In 1845, it was annexed by mutual decision.

    The Mexican-American War that came afterward led to the US getting the 525,000-sq-mile Mexican Cession: all of California, Nevada, and Utah; almost all of Arizona, and most of the remainder of New Mexico not already part of Texas (the rest of present-day Arizona and New Mexico would be bought as part of the Gadsen Purchase); and a good deal of Colorado and Wyoming.

    That was an actual case of conquering. That would put President Polk or General Zachary Taylor at #8, between Ghazni and Pizarro (General “Old Rough and Ready” Taylor, the hero of this war and others, was elected president in the following election, even though he’d never held public office and allegedly never bothered to vote).

  15. sunbin says:

    wow, kushibo! :)

    1. louisiana, i know it wasn’t really ‘conquest’. i was assuming the french didnt really control all those areas

    2. what about spanish-america war? Florida+Phillipines+ some pacific islands?

  16. Mutantfrog says:

    The Louisiana purchase gave the US control of the territory in the eyes of European international law, but neither the French beforehand or the US immediately after had any real control over the most of it. That was accomplised by informal settlers, bit by bit, without much government help.

  17. Curzon says:

    I think the inclusion of Dubya on this list was inappropriate, but I just copied and pasted as I recieved the list from another site. Both Louisiana and Florida were purchased. And the Philippines/Cuba/Puerto Rico from the Spanish-American War are pretty small in the context of world history.

  18. sun bin says:

    who conquered brazil for portugal?

  19. Kushibo says:

    I think the inclusion of Dubya on this list was inappropriate


    Is it just because he didn’t get on horseback himself and ride through the Afghan mountains or cross the Tigris in a glorious entrance to Baghdad?

    So he didn’t really get his hands dirty, but the former F-102 fighter pilot did fly a Navy S-3B Viking all, er, part of the way to the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier parked just off the coast of San Diego and his people had “Mission Accomplished” blazoned across the tower, where he declared major combat operations had ended in an inspiring speech that will go down in infamy.

    In all seriousness, why should he not be counted as a conqueror of Afghanistan and Iraq, especially considering that other military leaders (which the president is) couldn’t do it AND we have not yet completely given either country back to the people in toto?

  20. Will says:

    For clarity, Hitler would be Austria, not Germany

  21. Norman Long says:

    You can’t say that Dubya actually flew the Viking…”You’ve got it Mr. President…” because he did not go inverted.

  22. Cary says:

    Will Hitler was an Austrian but he moved to Germany and became the leader of Germany also Hitler considered himself a German and Austria joined with germany for WW2 under the name of Germany.

  23. WODEN says:

    Woden, as leader of all Vikings (and once the Angles, Saxons, and all Germanic Tribes,) has conquered more territory than all humans ever.

  24. William V O says:

    does taking the moon count? because we did and its quite alot of land.

  25. William V O says:

    that would be Nixon who took the moon by the way.

  26. Cary says:

    Woden is a mythical figure also know as Odin by the anglo saxons and is not a real person who conqured, although the vikings may have had a real leader that would have been one of the top conquerors Woden is not him.

  27. Ron Patterson says:

    Question to Younghusband: What U.S. forces entered Canada in the war of 1812? Are you referring to naval battles on the Great Lakes? Dont believe U.S. military entered Canada. Perhaps militia or local bandits. Honestly seek answer. I believe that you study at a military academy so you should be able to find the information. Thank you

  28. kushibo says:

    does taking the moon count? because we did and its quite alot of land.

    I think “conquering” would require more than just being there for a short time. Also, I don’t think the Moon was claimed by the United States.

    Why not claim all of space then? Look at me, I’m claiming all the space directly above my person, therefore I’m history’s greatest conqueror… until someone with a bigger head and broader shoulders steals my idea.

  29. lirelou says:

    Ron, among others, the 6th and 22nd U.S. Infantry Regiments: “Regulars, By God!” Who fought the “Bloody British” at Chippewa and Lundy’s Lane.

  30. lirelou says:

    The only problem I have with the list is that the nature of conquest is to “seize and hold for eternity”, to borrow from Nelson A. Miles’ proclamation to the inhabitants of Puerto Rico in 1898. There has been no American conquest in that sense since 1898.
    For Sun Bin, the Indians of Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay, and Argentina did not possess the advanced civilization of the Andean peoples, and were thus largely pushed aside. The original territory of Brazil was quite small compared to present day Brazil. The Portuguese had discovered the Philippines, and the Spanish desperately wanted a foothold in Asia (the original impetus for European exploration being to find a route to the spice islands, or the Indies) Spain held (European) title to most of present-day Brazil, and were uninterested in it. So they traded it to Portugal for the Philippines by simply moving the respective lines of latitude from the original Treaty of Tordesillas line of demarcation westward. Brazil, by the way, contains roughly 55% of South America’s population, so in shear numbers, Portuguese speakers outnumber Spanish speakers south of Panama. Yet very few Americans, outside of Portuguese-Americans (who are mostly concentrated in the Northeast) speak the language. Brazil also fought no war for national independence as the break-up was amicable. Several wars for regional independence were fought in the mid-19th century, some of which were supported by the Italian patriot Garibaldi and his “red shirts”.

  31. Marcos says:

    Suggestion: for best precision, include invaded area versus time of domination in top table.