Spartacus (c. 109–71 BC)
One of the slave leaders who led a major revolt against the Roman Empire, in the Third Servile War. Spartacus has become symbolic of revolutionary leaders fighting oppression.
William Wallace (1270-1305)
Scottish rebel who led an uprising against the English during the Scottish wars of independence.
Joan of Arc (1412-1431)
A most unlikely revolutionary who inspired the French Dauphin to renew the French fight against occupying English forces. Seven years after death, as she had predicted, the English were defeated.
Oliver Cromwell (1599 – 1658)
British politician and military leader, who led Parliamentary forces during the English civil war. Cromwell’s victory saw the temporary overthrow of the English monarchy, and the supremacy of Parliament asserted.
Maximilien Robespierre (1758 – 1794)
Robespierre was one of the foremost figures of the French revolution. He passionately believed in the revolution to overthrow the monarchy and ruling classes. In the ‘reign of terror’ he was ruthless in his attempt to execute any who might oppose the revolution. As Robespierre said: “The government in a revolution is the despotism of liberty against tyranny.”
Napoleon Bonaparte (1769 – 1821)
French military and political leader. Napoleon revolutionised Europe. He cemented the ideas of the French revolution (in his own autocratic style) and enabled these ideas, and his Napoleonic code to be spread across Europe.
George Washington (1732 – 1799)
Military leader of US during the American war of independence. Washington successfully led the United States to its independence from Great Britain. Also elected 1st President of US.
Thomas Jefferson (1743- 1826)
3rd President of US. Principle author of Declaration of Independence, whicha pivotal moment in the American war of independence.
Simon Bolivar (1783 – 1830)
Bolivar was known as ‘El Libertador’ – the Liberator. He led several Latin American countries (Peru, Bolivar, Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela) to independence from the Spanish monarchy. After successfully leading the liberation struggle, he served as president for a federation of Latin American countries until his death in 1830.
Giuseppe Mazzini (1805-1872)
Italian political activist. Campaigned for a United Republic of Italy. Mazzini supported several insurrections against the foreign rule of Italian states. He played a key role in cementing support for a united Italy.
Giuseppe Garibaldi (1807-1882)
National hero of Italy. Garibaldi led volunteer army in the Italian Wars of Independence. He played a key role in uniting Italy. He also fought in Latin America and became known as ‘The Hero of Two Worlds.’
V. Lenin (1870-1924)
Leader of Russian Revolution in 1917. He masterminded the Bolshevik revolution and became the first leader of the Soviet Union.
Leon Trotsky (1879-1940)
Marxist revolutionary. Trotsky was a key figure in the Russian revolution. He also advocated worldwide Marxist revolution. In 1940, he was assassinated on the orders of Stalin in Mexico.
Michael Collins (1890-1922)
Irish revolutionary leader. Collins took part in the Easter Rising of 1916, and the later war of independence. Collins was killed during the Irish civil war by members of the IRA who felt Collins he had sold out by making a deal with the British.
Fidel Castro (1926-2016)
Cuban revolutionary leader. Castro led the Communist revolution of 1959, where he successfully ousted the US-backed Fulgencio Batista.
Che Guevara (1928 – 1967)
A Latin American Marxist revolutionary. Guevara was a key figure in the Cuban revolution, but Guevara also wanted to ferment other revolutions in Africa and Latin America and criticised many aspects of the Soviet Union for betraying Marxist principles.