10 People Who Changed History - Owlcation - Education
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10 People Who Changed History

The Face of Evil

The war that Hitler plunged the world into in 1939 helped accelerate the onset of modern technology.

The war that Hitler plunged the world into in 1939 helped accelerate the onset of modern technology.

A Look at Some of the Secret Weapons Designed by the Nazi's.

10. Adolf Hitler: 1889-1945

Adolf Hitler, undoubtedly the most controversial name to appear on this list, but I can assure you that his place on this list is well deserved, so bear with me. In order to explain his inclusion, we must go back to the beginning, or near beginning. Hitler was a veteran of the Great War who felt deeply let down by his country leaders who, in the opinion of many in the German army had accepted a humiliating armistice agreement in 1918. As a result Germany became burdened with reparations that were simply impossible to pay, a staggering 269 Reichmarks or 11 billion pounds.

Towards the end of the war, waves of workers’ strikes crippled munitions factories across the country. In Hitler’s mind these strikes snatched defeat from the jaws of certain victory. His anger wasn’t directed at the workers in general but instead Socialist Jewish Marxists, whom he believed were responsible for trying to cripple Germany.

The aftermath of the Treaty of Versailles saw Germany plunge into an unprecedented economic depression, hyperinflation was rife with the now famous images of men carrying home their pitiful wages in a wheelbarrow. The Weimar government that presided over German affairs at the time was weak, many including Hitler’s fledgling Nazi party tried to overthrow the government. For his part Hitler was thrown in jail, and it was during his time in captivity that his hatred of Jews and Bolsheviks grew even more. He believed that Jewish bankers were responsible for the rises in capitalist powers, through their money lending and pursuit of profit.

Eventually, Hitler became obsessed with the notion of restoring all life on earth to some sort of supposed natural order. He attempted to re-create a supposed master human race of blond hair and blue eyes that could eventually breed ‘impure stock’ out of existence. These ghastly ideas led to a second global war that stimulated the advance of modern technology, especially nuclear energy and rocket technology. You could say that Hitler’s global war helped to speed up the onset of the space race, and also the development of advanced computers, plus industrialised agriculture which has simply transformed the world. That’s why he’s on this list.

The Man With an Idea

Karl Marx's Communist Manifesto outlined an alternative to the way civilisation had operated up until that point.

Karl Marx's Communist Manifesto outlined an alternative to the way civilisation had operated up until that point.

9. Karl Marx: 1818-1883

Karl Marx, the Jewish German philosopher and economic theorist, who wrote a very famous Manifesto during a time when successive rebellions crippled Europe during the mid 19th Century. The cause was obvious to Marx; he stated that human history was a continuous series of struggles between rich and poor. As a result of industrialisation, that struggle was now being waged between greedy capitalist businessmen and impoverished factory workers. But the capitalist ideology that fuelled the growth of Europe and America was now teetering precariously on the brink. Marx confidently stated that capitalism was close to collapse, the aftermath would spawn the development of a new social order across the world, a world where the masses were seen as equals and afforded all the same freedoms as the elite.

Marx’s Communist Manifesto inspired revolutionary leaders’ right across the world, from Lenin to Mao to Castro, and of course led to various ideological struggles between modern civilisations. Even today, all of the debates we see and hear that relate to globalisation, poverty, inequality, environmental damage, obsession with consumerism all lead directly from a battle of ideas that dates from Karl Marx. On the one hand you have the capitalists who still pursue naked profit, with little regard to brutality and morality, and on the other you have the advocates or partial advocates of ideas initially laid down by Karl Marx.

Read the Communist Manifesto in Full

A Giant of Science

Charles Darwin at the age of 45.

Charles Darwin at the age of 45.

8. Charles Darwin: 1809-1882

Charles Darwin, one of the greatest names in science, and a man who forever changed the way that we perceive ourselves and all other life on Earth. For most of human history, when trying to explain the history of the world, we’d mostly refer to religious texts that told us plainly that we were created by some supernatural being in our present state. Up until a point of course, Darwin was no different; he was as devout a Christian as anybody else.

But those beliefs began to crumble on his famous voyage in the Beagle. Darwin examined fossils of long dead ground sloths in South America that dispelled the myth that no kind of animal went extinct naturally. He observed the rheas- huge flightless birds that showed rather superficial variations in plumage and behaviour in accordance to where they lived. The most famous part of his voyage was his stop off on the Galapagos Islands, where he observed the incredible dozen or so species of Finch, each with a different bill suited to a different task.

It took Darwin a further twenty or so years before he gained enough confidence to publish his ideas, and that was only prompted by the news that his friend Alfred Russell Wallace had effectively stumbled upon the same ideas as Darwin whilst in the Asian jungle. The theory of evolution by natural selection suggested that species become extinct frequently, and it also provided almost unquestionable evidence that the Earth is billions of years old, and that every living thing was descended from a common ancestor. Perhaps, more shockingly for a Victorian society was the idea that man shared a common ancestry with Chimps, thus dispelling the myth that humanity was somehow cut above the rest of nature. Now we were just another kind of animal, an ape.

On The Origin of Species- Narrated by Donald Sutherland

Friedrich Wohler

A picture of the man who discovered how to artificially create a chemical of nature

A picture of the man who discovered how to artificially create a chemical of nature

7. Friedrich Wohler: 1800-1882

In 1828, something quite remarkable occurred. A German scientist called Friedrich Wohler discovered that chemicals produced by life itself could be recreated artificially in a laboratory. He did it while trying to concoct the ammonia cyanate, but quite by accident he managed to synthesise something else completely. Until then, people had believed that some sort of fundamental force separated animate from inanimate matter. The artificial creation of a chemical of nature, such as urea, out of inanimate substances in a laboratory had been considered totally impossible.

Wohler’s discovery spawned a second front in man’s knowledge of how to use the same materials as nature, but for his own means. Life’s modelling clay is constructed using mainly carbon and hydrogen that can combine with traces of other elements and oxygen in an almost infinite variety of chains, curls and rings to produce the diverse stuff of living things. One of the richest sources of such is crude oil. Wohler’s amazing discovery now meant that it was now possible for mankind to learn how to model with life’s clay too; of course we weren’t capable of creating life yet. But we now had the ability to synthesise new, useful but wholly unnatural materials.

The discovery ultimately led to the concept of organic chemistry, from which derive almost everything that makes our modern world possible, everything from plastics, synthesised drugs, explosives and artificial fertiliser.

The Man Who Kick-Started the Industrial Revolution

Richard Trevithick's steam locomotives transformed humanity into a true force of nature. By relentlessly collecting natural raw materials, we began competing with the Earth itself.

Richard Trevithick's steam locomotives transformed humanity into a true force of nature. By relentlessly collecting natural raw materials, we began competing with the Earth itself.

6. Richard Trevithick: 1771-1833

In 1801, Cornish inventor Richard Trevithick turned up the pressure on his ‘Puffing Devil’ steam engine, creating a high pressure steam. This was a truly significant moment in human history. For the first time somebody had created a machine that did not rely on any of the Earth’s forces at all. The steam meant that the engine could be mounted sideways on a track and be made to pull a wagon just by using energy rich raw materials from the Earth itself (coal, oil and natural gas).

By simply burning wood or coal in the oxygenated atmosphere, water could be heated in a high pressure kettle to produce a fully independent source of portable power. From this moment on, human beings became a true force of nature, competing with nature itself for the Earth’s finite resources. Though, while nature used these resources to create, sustain, recycle and evolve. Humans now exploited them to maintain a comfortable lifestyle and increase their numbers far beyond natural limits.

One of the First Vehicles Powered by the Earth

The London Steam Carriage built by Trevithick in 1803.

The London Steam Carriage built by Trevithick in 1803.

The Man Who Conquered the Aztec Empire

Hernan Cortes' skill and cunning helped the Spanish to defeat an army that vastly outnumbered them.

Hernan Cortes' skill and cunning helped the Spanish to defeat an army that vastly outnumbered them.

5. Hernan Cortes: 1485-1547

In the spring of 1519, a Spanish mercenary and conquistador called Hernan Cortes landed on the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico with eleven ships, carrying around 110 sailors, 530 soldiers, a doctor, a carpenter, a few women and some slaves. He was actually defying a last minute order from the Spanish governor of Cuba to abandon his mission. The governor knew of Cortes’ ambitions and tried to revoke his commission shortly before he was due to leave. But it failed and Cortes landed in the New World with the ambition of conquest in the name of the Spanish King.

At the time of his arrival, the land that we now call Mexico was ruled by the Aztec Empire which in turn was ruled by a king called Moctezuma, who was renowned for his hospitality. His palace had more than 100 bedrooms, each with an en-suite bath. His grounds contained zoos, elaborate botanical gardens and even an aquarium. Within just 18 months though of Cortes’ arrival, the great city that was the key to the entire Aztec Empire was in Spanish hands. Despite initially welcoming the Spaniards as guests, the Aztec Emperor soon found himself a captive inside his own palace. The Spanish quickly set about emptying the palace of treasure and slaughtering hundreds, if not thousands of the local population.

Cortes himself took little part in the capture of the palace, as he was forced off to fight off Spanish troops sent by the governor of Cuba to arrest him for his earlier defiance. Cortes did manage to persuade many of the troops to switch sides by regaling them with tales of riches and gold. But among the arresting party was an African slave carrying smallpox. This highly infectious disease was all too familiar to Europeans, but nothing like it had ever appeared in the Americas, thus the Native Americans lacked the necessary immunity against it. Unsurprisingly, within a year of its appearance, more than 40 per cent of the Aztecs were dead. Over the coming centuries, the native population would crash by around 90 per cent from the 500 million it had been just before the arrival of Columbus. The actions of Hernan Cortes and contemporaries such as Francisco Pizarro, who wiped out the Inca Empire, resulted in the most devastating conquest in all of human history.

The Guns, Germs and Steel Documentary

The Symbol of a Prophet

The common calligraphic representation of Mohammed's name.

The common calligraphic representation of Mohammed's name.

4. Mohammed: 570-632 AD

Mohammed is one of the most instantly recognisble names in all history. He was a prophet and the founder of Islam, a religion that has helped change the course of human and natural history. Around 1400 years ago, this merchant who hailed from the Arabian city of Mecca was seized by a series of visions in which he saw the Archangel Gabriel reveal the true and final word of Allah. His family and followers then proceeded to write down these revelations in a series of verses called the Koran. Today, there are more than a billion Muslims in the world, making it the second most popular religion behind Christianity.

During his lifetime Mohammed built up a loyal community of followers, although the Jews stubbornly refused to part with their own traditions and texts, remaining highly sceptical about the possibility of a non-Jewish prophet. Even so, it seemed as though nothing would stem Islam’s growth, within a century of Mohammed’s death its simple and powerful message had penetrated the whole Middle East. By 651 AD, it had engulfed the previously strong Sassanid Empire of Persia and had reached the north of what is now Pakistan. Further west, Muslim armies conquered North Africa and Spain, and if not for a miraculous victory in 732 AD by the Frankish ruler Charles Martel at Poitiers, they may have conquered Western Europe. Islam’s greatest legacy was the rise and spread of political and trading empires spread over vast swathes of Eurasia that ultimately helped to connect both the Eastern and Western cultures.

Jesus Christ

Jesus Christ- the founder of Christianity who sacrificed his life on the cross to guarantee the salvation of humanity.

Jesus Christ- the founder of Christianity who sacrificed his life on the cross to guarantee the salvation of humanity.

3. Jesus Christ: 2 BC- 36 AD

From one religious giant to another; Jesus Christ was the son of a Jewish carpenter, whose miraculous powers helped to convince his followers that he was the son of God. He was a highly charismatic man who delivered a rather simple message, be peaceful. Love your neighbour as yourself. If someone strikes you on the cheek, don’t hit back but offer them the other. Don’t worship false idols such as money or material possessions, and above all, be humble for one day the meek will inherit the Earth. Amazingly, Jesus is only ever known to have lost his temper once, in the Temple of Jerusalem, where markets had been set up for traders to make a profit.

His followers saw him perform unbelievable miracles and quickly came to regard him as the earthly incarnation of God, which had been prophesied by Isaiah and others in the Jewish Torah. However, this soon caused consternation among the Jews as it was believed that the Israelites had been identified as God’s people. Yet, here was a man, whose followers already claimed he was King of the Jews; here was a man who offered eternal salvation to anyone and everyone regardless of their colour, creed or race.

Eventually Jesus was given over to the Roman governor Pontius Pilate as a heretic who condemned him to die by crucifixion like a common criminal. However, the act of crucifying Jesus only served to strengthen his message and image. Three days later, his body mysteriously vanished from the tomb he’d been incarcerated in. His followers wrote about these events, calling it the Resurrection and believed it was their divine mission to spread the good news about the son of God coming down to Earth and dying on a cross so that everybody who believed in him might have an everlasting life.

The legacy of Jesus Christ was the development of Christianity as the world’s biggest religion, with more than two billion claiming to practice it. Its spread wasn’t quite as fast as Islam, but within three centuries of his death, the Roman Empire had adopted it as a state creed.

The First Ethical Ruler in History

Ashoka's stunning revelations following the Battle of Kalinga transformed his kingdom into a Buddhist utopia

Ashoka's stunning revelations following the Battle of Kalinga transformed his kingdom into a Buddhist utopia

2. Ashoka: 304-232 BC

Ashoka, a great Indian King started out his reign as a typically ruthless and violent ruler, controlling his Empire through the threat of force. Indeed his name means ‘without sorrow’ in Sanskrit. But in the aftermath of one of the bloodiest wars of the time, he underwent a profound and complete conversion.

The Kalinga War ended with the famous Battle of Kalinga which left more than 100,000 dead on the battlefield. A day later, Ashoka walked out across the city where, as far as his eye could see, the only sights were burned out houses, dead horses and scattered bodies. At that moment, he let out a cry, saying ‘What have I done?’ over and over again.

From that moment hence, Ashoka committed his life and his reign to non violence. He became a devout Buddhist and over the next twenty years devoted himself to spreading the message of this powerful religion. Prisoners were freed and given their land back, the unnecessary slaughter of animals was forbidden as was hunting for sport. Branding animals was also outlawed and vegetarianism was encouraged as official policy. Ashoka built rest houses for travellers and pilgrims, universities so people could become more educated and hospitals for people and animals alike throughout India. Ashoka was the first ruler in history to put animal and human rights on an equal footing.

A Look at one of the Pillars of Ashoka Still Standing Today

The Lawmaker

Hammurabi (standing) receiving his royal insignia. He's holding his hand over his face as a sign of prayer.

Hammurabi (standing) receiving his royal insignia. He's holding his hand over his face as a sign of prayer.

1. Hammurabi: 1810-1750 BC

Hammurabi, the famous King of Babylon set out a code of laws that helped transform and stabilise his city into the most powerful of all Mesopotamia. A copy of his code of 282 laws was prominently displayed on an eight foot tall slab of stone in the centre of the city, so that everyone could see it, thus ignorance of the law was never accepted as an excuse, this principle lives on in most societies today. Hammurabi had the laws chiselled on to stone so that they were unchangeable; this is where we get the phrase ‘set in stone’ from to describe something permanent.

Hammurabi’s laws were copied by other civilisations and they set several important principles that are still cornerstones of justice in many parts of the world. For example, they established the principle that a person is innocent until proven guilty. But to maintain proper order, these laws were necessarily harsh, for example: ‘If a man put another man’s eye out, his eye should be put also.’ Another one that probably didn’t give them the biggest incentive to study medicine was as follows: ‘If a patient dies in or after surgery, the doctor’s hand will be cut off.’

Of course, the laws were useless if no one could read them. So for the rules to gain effectiveness, a strong emphasis was placed on education. Most Mesopotamian cities had public libraries. Both men and women were encouraged to learn how to read and write. However, the golden age of Babylon wasn’t to last, the people soon learned that living life in a fixed place wasn’t sustainable. After many generations of intensive farming, the land became less and less fertile, until finally all of the nourishment was exhausted. By 2000 BC, the land around the mouth of the Euphrates and Tigris was as it is today, a barren desert. The once great cities of Ur and Uruk fell into permanent decline.

The Code

The Babylonian law code devised by Hammurabi on a clay tablet

The Babylonian law code devised by Hammurabi on a clay tablet

Who Was The Greatest?

© 2012 James Kenny

Comments

Sezan Rahman on August 07, 2020:

Obviously Prophet Muhammad(SAW)

lisa on June 18, 2020:

jesus would probably be the person who changed history the most -_- but people who think it aldof hitler it still works the same

Shaun on June 06, 2020:

Herman Cortez should not be on the list. Julius Caesar would have been an appropriate addition because of his influence on leaders

Hunta on March 08, 2020:

Obviously Jesus

Saqib on December 09, 2019:

Mohammad is best leader prophet in history

Taya Sanchez on August 12, 2019:

Royal Raymond rife should have been on this list the greatest impact and most forgotten genius inventor healing cancer decades before chemotherapy was even thought of and only recorded in the 1920s when it was discovered in the 1800's

This is not a new discovery it's just a forgotten one. everyone should know about this.

Thank you rife machine

Forgiving so many that believed another chance at life

ccc on June 04, 2019:

jesus is not even real

YASSSSSSSS on May 14, 2019:

i love JESUS WWJD

Shoobadoo on April 20, 2019:

It puts no one on a pedestal. Like if they were a cousin or a friend almost. Lol (as it should).

So much goes on in this article. Crazy.

Thank you great knowledge imparter!

oof on April 04, 2019:

he changed history for the worst

lala on August 19, 2018:

i can`t belive that hitler is on this list...WHY? He killed so many millions of people and is the most racist,homophopic man to ever walk the earth.

EmanuelVola on July 18, 2018:

I am really really enlightened by this article. Just kept my eye for a while. Will check detailed later.

Hermes,Burundi on July 11, 2018:

Thanks so much to share your research.I never thought that a man like Hitler would be of a positive contribution in the world since he plunged the entire humanity in mouring and desolation.

I think that Jesus is the greatest through his teaching and the miracles he accomplished.

zaydu on June 01, 2018:

As a Muslim my choice obviously the Prophet Muhammad and Jesus Christ peace be upon them both.

J on March 14, 2018:

Pisspoor list, but I will just make one point. Why do you apologize for Hitler's obviously warranted inclusion on the list, but not apologize for Cortes who slaughtered so many?

coolguy on October 23, 2017:

thanks fam

Bratt on October 03, 2017:

Where is Alexander Graham Bell

Bella Anderson on January 30, 2017:

I love this web

christina on January 27, 2017:

this is pretty good even tho adoph hitler is in it

Bella Anderson on January 27, 2017:

I love this wed

w on January 06, 2017:

:bonk

THE WARRIORS BLEW A 3-1 LEAD on January 06, 2017:

The warriors blew a 3-1 lead

Abhilekh shrestha on November 28, 2016:

where is lord buddha ?

Onajinrin Olusegun Gabriel on November 19, 2015:

To say I enjoyed reading the piece is an understatement. It is one knowledge that will stay with me for life. One unique aspect of the research effort is ability to combine almost all aspect of human daily contact. Thanks.

A Muslim on April 26, 2015:

i really enjoyed your topic well done! My choice is our beloved prophet Mohammed of course :)

Adam Goodfellow on April 05, 2015:

Hitler's single greatest contribution to history is that he made clear how incorrect any doctrine of racial superiority is.

"Racially inferior" Russians and "mongols" destroyed his reich.

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on February 27, 2015:

It is quite something to select those that we believe have impacted history the most. Interesting choices.

Well done.

Angels are on the way to you tonight ps

Randy Horizon from Philadelphia on February 26, 2015:

Always been interested in history. Very interesting and informative. Must have taken a lot of research. Great hub.

Guest on December 14, 2014:

As Iraqi and Muslim, I'm really glad that someone make the research and look deep into history and write the best in it, for the first time I feel we get the credit t for lighting up the world with first written constitution in history (Hammurabi code), and logic words in prophet Mohammed well done my friend and hope to read more about Mesopotamian history from your point of view.

Regards from Iraq

peachy from Home Sweet Home on October 05, 2014:

i hate number 9 and 10, they are the disaster people

Hendrika from Pretoria, South Africa on September 26, 2014:

This is a very interesting Hub and must have taken a lot of research. Of course people will disagree about the ranking as everyone looks at it from their vantage point.

Ashutosh Tiwari from Lucknow, India on April 07, 2014:

@JKenny

Nice and very informative hub.

I believe that Jesus Christ should have been ranked first and then Prophet Saheb but that`s fine since it`s your Hub.

Ashoka was indeed a great King and his teachings, the world needs badly.

Wishes

James Kenny (author) from Birmingham, England on October 31, 2013:

Thank you very much.

Avinesh Prahladi from Chandigarh on October 30, 2013:

Surely the list does contain some of the popular people who played a key role in changing the history. Thanks for the hub.

Keep up the good work.

Evan on August 14, 2013:

Since the article isn't accurate, and there never was an actual Jesus Christ, It's a little misleading. The Jesus Christ in the bible (first mentioned in around 200 a.d. ) is based off the ancient Assyrian religious figure Zarathustra.

LMM on March 11, 2013:

Ahhhhh!!! Where's Gutenberg?!?!?!

James Kenny (author) from Birmingham, England on December 19, 2012:

I'm not sure about him being the most important of all, but he's certainly the most important in relation to modern history. You could make genuine arguments that he was either directly or indirectly responsible for the development of the space race and the information age. You could also argue, like you say why racism and xenophobia became unfashionable and wholly offensive.

BC on December 18, 2012:

Also i believe he is why people are more tolerant today because we know what people are capable of

BC on December 18, 2012:

I think Hitler is the most important because he is why the world is like it is today and is in part why are technology is like it is. WW2 is why the Cold War started which is why i think he changed history the most

James Kenny (author) from Birmingham, England on December 18, 2012:

Thank you very much iguidenetwork, appreciate you taking the time to visit.

iguidenetwork from Austin, TX on December 18, 2012:

Excellent hub! I have learned something about other historical figures I haven't known before. Voted up and interesting.

James Kenny (author) from Birmingham, England on December 10, 2012:

Thank you Michele, while I agree with you about Hitler being evil. What you have to remember is that he thought he was doing good. He didn't see himself as evil, he thought he was acting in the best interests of Germany and indeed the world by exterminating the Jews. As for Jesus I deliberately refrained from calling him the Son of God, because while many like yourself believe that he is, there are many more that would dispute that fact. I always try to remain neutral whenever politics or religion arises in my hubs.

Michele Travis from U.S.A. Ohio on December 10, 2012:

This is an amazing hub. After reading it, I believe Hitler was the most evil man in history. However Jesus was the greatest, because He was more then a man. He is the Son of God.

Voted up.

James Kenny (author) from Birmingham, England on December 05, 2012:

Thank you Megan, really glad you liked it, and thanks for the follow too. :)

Megan from Clearwater, Florida on December 05, 2012:

This is awesome. I always love learning new things I didn't know about history.

James Kenny (author) from Birmingham, England on November 30, 2012:

Not necessarily, as my interest in politics is minimal at best. It was simply a statement that I wrote after doing a little research on Marx.

wba108@yahoo.com from upstate, NY on November 30, 2012:

"On the one hand you have the capitalists who still pursue naked profit, with little regard to brutality and morality, and on the other you have the advocates or partial advocates of ideas initially laid down by Karl Marx."

Is it your opinion that many of the stances of Labor party socialists and liberals originated with Marx?

James Kenny (author) from Birmingham, England on November 09, 2012:

Thanks crystolite, I don't know about that, I just love history the same as you. Thanks for popping by.

Emma from Houston TX on November 09, 2012:

You must be a good historian. I'm a lover of history and would like to know more. Thanks for sharing.

James Kenny (author) from Birmingham, England on August 04, 2012:

Thanks so much knowl, that was my plan when writing both this and the unsolved mysteries hub- to remain as objective as possible. Thanks for the follow, I'll go ahead and follow you too.

knowl from Tandil on August 03, 2012:

I'm again astonished by your ability to remain objective through topics like Jesus and Darwin, without showing a bit of bias. I'm now following you :), great hubs!

James Kenny (author) from Birmingham, England on August 01, 2012:

Thank you very much, of course Hitler's influence on the modern world were purely inadvertent on his part. I totally agree that we need to learn from the mistakes of the past, before its too late. Thanks for stopping by.

Lovelovemeloveme from Cindee's Land on August 01, 2012:

Very informative. I enjoyed this very much. I actually never thought of Hiter's era to be a contribution to society's growth but now that ive read your HUB, I guess some good did come from the ordeal. And because it happened, we really learned from history to make preventions of this kind from happening in the future. In an essence, our ancestor's mistakes will spare us from danger for decades to come. Thank god i was born in this time!

James Kenny (author) from Birmingham, England on July 29, 2012:

Thanks very much for your kind words Joan, very much appreciated.

James Kenny (author) from Birmingham, England on July 29, 2012:

Thanks Judi, I'd never heard of Trevithick before this; and you're right the name doesn't seem to be known generally, which is remarkable considering what he did.

Joan Veronica Robertson from Concepcion, Chile on July 29, 2012:

Very well written article! I read every word right to the end, and I found it clear and informative. Voted up, awesome, beautiful and interesting.

Fantastic construction! Congratulations!

Judi Brown from UK on July 29, 2012:

Glad to see Richard Trevithick on the list (his name's well known in Cornwall, but not, I think, so much generally), but ashamed not to have known Wohler's name nor Ashoka's. I do now though, thanks very much!

Voted up (and not sure how I missed this when it came out!)

James Kenny (author) from Birmingham, England on July 29, 2012:

Thanks Jainismus.

Mahaveer Sanglikar from Pune, India on July 29, 2012:

Great information, but I do not agree about contribution of Ashoka in changing the history.

James Kenny (author) from Birmingham, England on July 25, 2012:

Thanks Nate, really glad you liked it :)

Nathan Bernardo from California, United States of America on July 25, 2012:

Very fascinating with thorough information, and that is definitely a good selection of very consequential people in human history.

James Kenny (author) from Birmingham, England on July 14, 2012:

Thanks Trees for me, Darwin has probably had the biggest impact on modern society, and even today people still revere him as a beacon of rationalism and enlightened thinking. Thanks for stopping by.

Trees for me from www.treesforme.com on July 14, 2012:

Very interesting! My favorite is Darwin as well. I really enjoyed the selection of individuals you chose- quite a nice read. Thanks for it!

James Kenny (author) from Birmingham, England on July 02, 2012:

Thanks Jools, my personal favourite is Darwin, but I would say that being a naturalist. I'm so grateful to him, I love knowing that I'm just another animal and that my ancestry goes back billions of years. Awesome!!

Jools Hogg from North-East UK on July 02, 2012:

James, excellent hub and I could not vote at the end. Strange when you look at history 'outside of the box' all of these people have been influential in their own way and in their own context though there is a lot of overlap to be found if you go looking - industrialisation - Marxism - anti-Socialism - right wing politics/Nazi thinking ....fascinating really. If I had to pick one from your list, it would probably be Jesus given the number of people he influences but my favourite would be Trevithick - completely underestimated and someone who shaped the British industrial landscape indefinitely.

James Kenny (author) from Birmingham, England on June 29, 2012:

Thanks Cogerson, to be honest I hadn't heard of Trevithick and Wohlerm but it was so fascinating to learn about them. Thanks very much for stopping by.

UltimateMovieRankings from Virginia on June 29, 2012:

That is a pretty tough list when Jesus only finishes in the 3rd place....lol. A fascinating and informative hub.....sadly I was not even aware of 2 of the 8 people(Richard Trevithick and Friedrich Wohler) but now I do thanks to this excellent hub....job well done. Voted up and across the board.

James Kenny (author) from Birmingham, England on June 28, 2012:

Thanks CyberShelley, yes I read it too, I found it a little dry as well, but a fascinating account of why European culture is so dominant today.

Shelley Watson on June 28, 2012:

Excellent hub I really learnt something here thank you. I read 'Guns germs and steel' fascinating, if a little dry, voted up,shared

James Kenny (author) from Birmingham, England on June 22, 2012:

Thanks Angie, really glad you liked it. Thanks for popping by.

Angie Jardine from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ... on June 22, 2012:

I just love your ’10’ hubs, J ... this one too had me transfixed. Lots of votes up etc.

Well done!

James Kenny (author) from Birmingham, England on June 21, 2012:

Thank you Rahul, and yes you're right it did take the combined efforts of man from all different fields to make us what we are today. Cheers.

James Kenny (author) from Birmingham, England on June 21, 2012:

Thanks Starmom41, really appreciate your kinds words. Thanks for popping by.

Jessee R from Gurgaon, India on June 21, 2012:

A very fascinating and interesting read James, a look at the most influential people from the past millenia....

If one could notice... it takes the combined effects of the works of the leaders of Science, Religion, Spirituality and Polity to make mankind undergo what it has undergone and stands as it is today...

Great hub

Starmom41 on June 21, 2012:

amazing hub- very informative! it looks like you put a lot of work into it, and it turned out great!!!

James Kenny (author) from Birmingham, England on June 20, 2012:

Thanks for stopping by Chris

Chris Hugh on June 20, 2012:

German laws did not allow German Jews to own land, so they couldn't be farmers. Thus a lot of them became merchants or bankers or professionals. So when economic downturns happened, they were somewhat cushioned, an unexpected result of the laws meant to oppress them.

I would have added General George Marshall to the list. His Marshall Plan has done much to create peace and stability. He once said, "There's no limit to the amount of good you can do if you don't care who gets the credit."

Normal Barlaug is a person who exemplifies Marshall's remark. By creating a strain of high-yield wheat, he is said to have save one billion lives. Back in the 70's, famine was a threat in parts of the world, it spurred China's one-child only policy. While others were calculating the lives to be lost, he did something about it.

Your discussion of Mohammedism seems a bit odd. Jews "stubbornly" refused to depart from their own religion? Yes, they can be so stubborn that way. Their obstinant refusal to be obliterated has annoyed many.

James Kenny (author) from Birmingham, England on June 19, 2012:

Thanks Quittomer, yes the list contains people that I'd never heard of either, so it was great fun to learn about such remarkable people.

James Kenny (author) from Birmingham, England on June 19, 2012:

I was actually tempting with the idea of placing Hitler higher. If I were to compile a list of the ten people who changed modern history, then he'd definitely be near the top. Without that global war, we'd still be using propeller planes and I doubt whether modern computers would exist.

James Kenny (author) from Birmingham, England on June 19, 2012:

Thank you MG, yes Gandhi is another that could have made this list. It was quite hard to narrow it down to 10, although I enjoyed learning about Ashoka- what a fantastic man. It's a shame that his ideas didn't further than Asia until relatively recently.

James Kenny (author) from Birmingham, England on June 19, 2012:

Well epi, if I'd have included you on the list, then yours truly would have to be there too hehehe. Thank you posting it to your group, very much appreciated. As for Simon Cowell, I'll reserve him for my upcoming hub 'The Top 10 Most Annoying People in History' Hehehehe. Thanks again epi.

James Kenny (author) from Birmingham, England on June 19, 2012:

Thank you BeingPuneet, I really appreciate you saying that I really work on my Hubs, because this one took a long time to put together. My favourite being a naturalist is Charles Darwin, just so you know. I'll definitely check out your new Hub.

James Kenny (author) from Birmingham, England on June 19, 2012:

Thank you, iamaudraleigh, I am very proud of it, and am also equally proud of the great response this Hub has had. I'm so very grateful, thanks once again.

Quittomer from Metairie on June 19, 2012:

I like that there are people on the list I have never heard about. Captivating read.

ramerican on June 19, 2012:

this is really unique --so many lists like these are cliches. Hammurabi winning the grand prize! I might but Hitler higher actually---his actions have arguably influenced 'exactly where the world is today 2012' a lot. this is really quality writing. do you write for The Economist on the side?

MG Singh from UAE on June 19, 2012:

Very interesting, though I would have liked to see Gandhi in the list

epigramman on June 19, 2012:

...well I am kind of disappointed that the epi-man didn't make the cut - lol - but then again neither did Vincent Moore - lol lol - but love this world class hub subject with all due respect Sir JKENNY and will be most respectfully posted to my FB music/cinema group with a direct link back here - lake erie time 9:49pm and for one last time - on this list - where is Simon Cowell? lol

BeingPuneet on June 19, 2012:

You are really an amazing hubber. This articles hows that you really work on your upcoming hubs and narrowing the list down to ten people might have been difficult. nyway whose your favourite.

And take a look at my new hub also

iamaudraleigh on June 19, 2012:

I am impressed through your knowledge and research how you put this great hub together! You should be proud! What a terrific history lesson!

James Kenny (author) from Birmingham, England on June 19, 2012:

Thank you Christopher, I'm actually ashamed to say that several of the characters were unknown to me before writing this hub. But that's why I love research so much. Glad you liked it, as ever thank you for visiting.

Christopher Antony Meade from Gillingham Kent. United Kingdom on June 19, 2012:

Great hub James. I think you picked the characters very well and your research was very thorough. The only one I never heard of was Friedrich Wohler, But then I am no scientist.

James Kenny (author) from Birmingham, England on June 18, 2012:

Thanks Eric, yeah Jesus had to be in the poll, simply too important to leave out. Yes all of those names could've been on this poll, but unfortunately there were only ten. I was thinking of doing a honourable mention section for those who didn't quite make it. Are there any others who didn't make the list that people feel should be on there?

James Kenny (author) from Birmingham, England on June 18, 2012:

Thanks suzette, after writing this, I have a whole new fascination for history and the characters that helped shape it. Thanks very much.

James Kenny (author) from Birmingham, England on June 18, 2012:

Hehehe...its okay Kathleen, I was largely ignorant too, this took a lot of research to put together.

James Kenny (author) from Birmingham, England on June 18, 2012:

Thank you vmartinezwilson, so glad that this hub enlightened you on certain things. It always gives me pleasure to know that I've actually taught something new.

James Kenny (author) from Birmingham, England on June 18, 2012:

Thanks Tammy, yeah that would be interesting. Although I don't think it would be a good idea to allow Hitler and Karl Marx in the same room together. Wonder how Jesus and Mohammed would get on?

James Kenny (author) from Birmingham, England on June 18, 2012:

Thank you for the votes Victoria, much appreciated.

James Kenny (author) from Birmingham, England on June 18, 2012:

Thank you Jean, to be honest I had quite a lot of trouble in narrowing the list from so many great historical figures.

James Kenny (author) from Birmingham, England on June 18, 2012:

Oh wow, thank you bdegiulio, so so glad you enjoyed it. I'm really glad that this has had such terrific feedback, as it took me quite a long time to put together.

James Kenny (author) from Birmingham, England on June 18, 2012:

Thank Bill, I know, it ended up being much longer than I originally supposed, but I'm glad you enjoyed it my friend. Thanks for popping by, my friend.

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