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Unforgettable Tyrants in History

Updated on October 30, 2015

Throughout the course of history, the world has seen the rise and all of heroes and great leaders. However, for every good man in history, there has to be at least several bad guys. Some of these men were so bad that they were nothing more than tyrants who sought to rule a land or group not for the sake of their people but for their own benefit.

You may suppose that these tyrants were just misunderstood or that they had some motives that people just could not fathom. That may be true but the fact still stands that these men did things for their own gain and some of them were very close to insanity. Before you delve into the world of tyrants, their minds, and their sick doings, it would behoove you to know the exact definition of “tyrant.”

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a tyrant is someone who has complete rule over a country and who also happens to be cruel and oppressive. That might bring to mind some current leaders but while some of the leaders the world sees today are indeed cruel and oppressive, they do not hold a candle to some of the most famous names in the past.

Dictators = Tyrants?

When people hear the word “tyrant” they would almost always think of dictators. Is this a fair analogy? Some would say yes, but a dictator, in the truest sense of the word, is not necessarily a tyrant though it has to be said that almost all tyrants are dictators or started out as dictators at least. To some, “dictatorship” is one and the same with tyranny but it is worth noting that a dictatorship is actually a form of government. Indeed, it is easy to mistake one for the other but bear in mind there is a very fine line between the two. In a dictatorship one man or the government has absolute power over the people and while that might sound bad, it is really not without any merit. On the other hand, you have tyranny wherein the leader or the government takes that absolute power and “presses” it on the people.

While it has been established that not all dictators are tyrants, all tyrants almost always start out as dictators who get a taste of power and get hungry for more; others seem to be just plain cruel or borderline insane.

Top Tyrants in History

Below is a list of tyrants and some examples of their tyrannical deeds. You might want to take note how many of them are dictators and you will see why dictatorship is almost always linked to tyranny.

  • Kim Jong-il – Kim Jong-il is perhaps one of the strangest and most cruel tyrants in history because, well, his actions do not seem to have any rhyme or reason. His actions are that of a madman and here is why: this is a man who claims to hate the west and everything it represents but is often photographed wearing gaudy western-brand sunglasses and clothing. This is a man who claims to hate the USA but invites US citizens and American basketball players to his country. This is a man who has fashioned himself into a god to his people—a man who is fat while his people are starving. It is worth noting that North Koreans—most of them anyway—have been subject to so much brainwashing and propaganda that they cry at the mere thought of their great leader. That might not seem so bad but his people are starving, they do not have any medical care, and they have no free will. He died in 2011 of a heart attack but that did not mean freedom for his people since Kim Jong-Un, his son, is now supreme leader and is as much of a tyrant as his father was.

  • Adolf Hitler – A list of tyrants in history would really not be complete if you do not mention the “worst” of them all. Adolf Hitler, the man who was responsible for the death of millions of Jews and people all throughout Europe. Some people decide to focus on the Jews only but they forget that he was also at the very center of World War II. Hitler had a dream and that dream was to bring about a new world order and to bring about German hegemony in Europe since he believed that they were the highest race. He espoused not only Pan-Germanism but also anti-communism and anti-Semitism. The cruelties performed during his reign are too horrible to recount here but it has to be said that what Adolf Hitler did would resound through the ages. He died in the year 1945 but it wasn’t anything heroic—he died with a self-inflicted gunshot to the head.

Other Tyrants

Those are just the top three most famous tyrants in history but you can bet there are so many more. For one, there are the tyrants from the Soviet Union, namely Joseph Stalin and Vladimir Lenin. Under Stalin’s rule, millions of people got sent to jail and more were displaced to remote areas in the country. Added to that, he was also presiding over the country during the Soviet Famine. Lenin, for his part, had a hand in the massacre of the Romanovs. He belonged to the Bolshevik party that was responsible for the killing of the Russian Imperial family. Of course, he had other tyrannical deeds like multiple abuses of power though some supporters still say that he had limits in his power and what he could do and that did not make him a dictator or a tyrant.

Another tyrant that is worth mentioning is Francisco Franco from Spain. For the record, Franco came from a military background and was a decorated soldier. It was only after he was marginalized after the fall of the monarchy that he gained power. He ruled for 40 years and at that time he jailed numerous people and forced them into concentration camps. He was also a believer in forced labor.

Tyrants Here and Everywhere

There are so many other tyrants in history; almost too many to count. However, the main point here is to show that perhaps there are always tyrants everywhere to contend with. There will also be that one person who gets so drunk with power that they want more until they forget why they are in power in the first place. It has been proven that most tyrants do not meet very happy fates but that doesn’t seem to stop any would-be dictators and tyrants from giving it a go anyway.

Do you think that tyranny or dictatorship should ever be considered in any government?

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