Leaders and rulers

History is filled with stories of great empires and the peoLeaders and Rulers: Shah 'Abbasple who led and ruled them. Their impact can still be felt in the world today.

Discover the lives and legacies of some of history's most renowned leaders and rulers through objects from the British Museum collection. Read on to discover the lives of:

  • Shah 'Abbas
    He ruled Iran from 1587 to 1629, built a new capital and established the country’s largest empire for 1000 years
  • Hadrian
    For 21 years he ruled an empire that stretched from Scotland to the Sahara, the Atlantic Ocean to the River Euphrates
  • Qin Shihuangdi (the First Emperor)
    He turned a small state into a mighty empire and created the modern country of China

The rise to power
They went on to achieve great things, but how did the leaders and rulers of the past come to power

Ruling an empire
Whether fighting to build empires, or making peace to ensure their survival, the actions of great leaders have lasting effects 

The image of a leader
From soldier to philosopher, leaders and rulers present themselves to their people and to history in many different ways

Life and legacy
What were these figures like and what did they leave behind?

More information about the object featured here:

Banner image: Detail of Shah 'Abbas as depicted on the wall of Chihil Sutun Palace, Isfahan, c. AD 1647. Photo: Ebrahim Khadem Bayat.

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The Terracotta Army of the First Emperor, £9.99

The Terracotta Army of the First Emperor, £9.99