100 Most Influential People of the 2nd Millennium (easier)

In 1999 the documentary series Biography released Biography of the Millennium, in which they profiled the 100 most influential people (good or bad) who lived in the previous 1000 years. The list was compiled with the aid of 360 journalists, scientists, theologians, historians, and scholars from all over the world. They considered these to be the 100 people from that period who had most shaped the world as it existed in 1999.
A few of these are groups rather than individuals
Also try the harder version which has a "yellow box."
Quiz by Damangio
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Last updated: June 15, 2021
First submittedMay 10, 2020
Times taken862
Average score62.4%
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Rank
Clue
Person
100
Sultan of the Ottoman Empire during its apex in the 16th century
Suleiman I
99
Explorer who established the first sea link between Europe and Asia
Vasco da Gama
98
Jazz trumpeter and singer, civil rights activist
Louis Armstrong
97
Biologist who developed the first effective polio vaccine
Jonas Salk
96
Operatic singer, one of the first international recording stars
Enrico Caruso
95
Actor, comedian, and filmmaker known for his silent films
Charlie Chaplin
94
Moniker referring to the unknown first person to have AIDS
Patient Zero
93
First lady of the US, diplomat and civil rights activist, first chair of the UN Commission on Human Rights
Eleanor Roosevelt
92
Founder of the profession of nursing
Florence Nightingale
91
Filmmaker of Jaws, Raiders of the Lost Ark, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Jurassic Park, and Schindler’s List
Steven Spielberg
90
Inventor of the daguerreotype, the first widely used process of photography
Louis Daguerre
89
Activist for women’s suffrage in the US. The constitutional amendment that granted this was nicknamed after her.
Susan B. Anthony
88
Physicist who led the development of the atomic bomb
J. Robert Oppenheimer
87
Biologist whose book Silent Spring brought environmentalism into the mainstream
Rachel Carson
86
Modernist author of Ulysses and Finnegan’s Wake
James Joyce
85
President of the US in the 1980s, icon of conservatism
Ronald Reagan
84
Inventor of radio
Guglielmo Marconi
83
Tsar who developed the Russian Empire into a major European power
Peter the Great
82
Physicist who pioneered theories of atomic structure and quantum mechanics
Niels Bohr
81
South African civil rights activist and president
Nelson Mandela
80
Monarch who led England during a golden age in the 16th century
Elizabeth I
79
Totalitarian Soviet dictator during World War II and the early Cold War
Joseph Stalin
78
Monarch of Castile who supported Columbus’s voyages and ended Muslim rule in Iberia
Isabella I
77
17th-century philosopher known for socio-political theories such as the social contract
Thomas Hobbes
76
The most influential band in the history of popular music
The Beatles
75
Biologist who co-invented the birth control pill
Gregory Pincus
74
Physicist who created the first nuclear reactor
Enrico Fermi
73
Human rights activist, extremely popular member of the British royal family
Diana, Princess of Wales
72
Military leader who led several South American countries to independence
Simón Bolívar
71
US civil rights activist and conductor on the Underground Railroad
Harriet Tubman
70
European church leader who established the independence of the church from secular authority
Pope Gregory VII
69
Physician who first described the circulatory system in detail
William Harvey
68
Political leader in the early United States, inventor of the lightning rod and bifocal glasses
Benjamin Franklin
67
Inventor who pioneered television technology
Vladimir Zworykin
66
Pioneering filmmaker of The Birth of a Nation and Intolerance
D. W. Griffith
65
Physicist who did pioneering work in quantum mechanics, known for the uncertainty principle
Werner Heisenberg
64
Painter who pioneered Cubism, an art movement in which subjects are portrayed from multiple angles at once
Pablo Picasso
63
18th-century author of Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice
Jane Austen
62
Filmmaker and entrepreneur, pioneer of animation
Walt Disney
61
Physicist who developed theories of electromagnetism and invented the electric generator
Michael Faraday
60
US President during the Great Depression and World War II, known for liberal social policies
Franklin Delano Roosevelt
59
Enlightenment philosopher whose writings deal with the limitations of human knowledge
Immanuel Kant
58
French folk heroine and martyr during the Hundred Years’ War
Joan of Arc
57
Singer known as “The King of Rock and Roll”
Elvis Presley
56
Activist for women’s suffrage in the US, writer of the Declaration of Sentiments
Elizabeth Cady Stanton
55
Explorer whose expedition was the first to circumnavigate the earth
Ferdinand Magellan
54
European explorer who published his account of his travels along the Silk Road and throughout Asia
Marco Polo
53
Physicist who pioneered the study of radioactivity
Marie Curie
52
Prime Minister of Britain during World War II and the early Cold War
Winston Churchill
51
Physician who developed the first vaccine, for smallpox
Edward Jenner
50
Sex educator and activist for birth control in the US
Margaret Sanger
49
Soviet leader who instituted social reforms and played a pivotal role in bringing the Cold War to and end
Mikhail Gorbachev
48
Enlightenment feminist philosopher and activist for women’s rights in Britain
Mary Wollstonecraft
47
19th-century inventor who designed the first programmable computer (which was mechanical, not electronic)
Charles Babbage
46
Renaissance philosopher whose political theories excuse acts of evil for political ends
Niccolò Machiavelli
45
Duke of Normandy who conquered England
William the Conqueror
44
Inventor of the first practical telephone
Alexander Graham Bell
43
Communist revolutionary leader, first chairman of the People’s Republic of China
Mao Zedong
42
Biologist who established the rules of heredity, consider the father of modern genetics
Gregor Mendel
41
Software developer and entrepreneur, co-founder of Microsoft
Bill Gates
40
Inventors of the first successful heavier-than-air powered aircraft
Wright Brothers
39
Medieval poet who wrote the Divine Comedy, proponent of vernacular poetry
Dante Alighieri
38
Renaissance philosopher who dealt with logic and deduction, credited with developing the scientific method
Francis Bacon
37
Enlightenment philosopher known for his wit, criticism of the church, and advocacy for freedom of speech and religion
Voltaire
36
Physician and biologist who discovered penicillin, the first antibiotic
Alexander Fleming
35
Communist leader of the Russian Revolution, first chairman of the Soviet Union
Vladimir Lenin
34
Enlightenment philosopher whose writings on self-determinism and republicanism spurred the French Revolution
Jean-Jacques Rousseau
33
US civil rights leader known for activism through nonviolence and civil disobedience
Martin Luther King, Jr.
32
17th-century rationalist philosopher known for methodological skepticism, mathematician who invented coordinate geometry
Rene Descartes
31
Biologists who discovered the structure of DNA
James Watson
Francis Crick
30
Classical composer whose dramatic music was pivotal in the the transition to the Romantic Era
Ludwig van Beethoven
29
Entrepreneur who was the first to mass-produce automobiles
Henry Ford
28
Baroque composer often considered the greatest composer of all time
Johann Sebastian Bach
27
19th-century French emperor and highly successful military leader
Napoleon Bonaparte
26
Prodigious composer whose work is often considered the best of the Classical Era
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
25
Inventor of the steam engine which was fundamental to the Industrial Revolution
James Watt
24
Medieval philosopher who sought to reconcile Catholic Church doctrines with classical philosophy
Thomas Aquinas
23
President of the US during the American Civil War, instrumental in the abolition of slavery in the US
Abraham Lincoln
22
Conqueror who ruled the Mongol Empire, the largest contiguous empire in history
Genghis Khan
21
Military leader in the American Revolution; first president of the United States
George Washington
20
Enlightenment philosopher known as the father of economics, laid the foundations of free market economic theory
Adam Smith
19
Renaissance artist known for sculptures such as David and the Pietà and paintings in the Sistine Chapel
Michelangelo
18
17th-century philosopher known as the father of liberalism, known for writings on the natural rights of people
John Locke
17
Leader of the nonviolent revolution that led to India’s independence
Mahatma Gandhi
16
Leader of Nazi Germany
Adolf Hitler
15
Political leader and early president of the US, principal writer of the Declaration of Independence
Thomas Jefferson
14
Inventor of the phonograph, the motion picture camera, and the first practical electric light bulb
Thomas Edison
13
Scientist known as the father of microbiology, proved germ theory correct, developed processes to prevent the growth of bacteria
Louis Pasteur
12
Psychologist who founded psychoanalysis, a clinical method for psychological treatment through dialogue with a patient
Sigmund Freud
11
Renaissance polymath, painter of the Mona Lisa and the Last Supper, inventor who designed many mechanical devices
Leonardo da Vinci
10
Renaissance scientist who developed foundational laws of physics, discovered Jupiter’s moons, proponent of heliocentrism
Galileo Galilei
9
Renaissance polymath who developed the heliocentric model, in which the earth orbits the sun, and the quantity theory of money
Nicolaus Copernicus
8
Physicist who developed the theory of relativity
Albert Einstein
7
19th-century philosopher and sociologist, proponent of socialism and communism
Karl Marx
6
Explorer who established contact between Europe and the Americas, beginning the era of trans-Atlantic colonization and trade
Christopher Columbus
5
English Renaissance playwright and poet, known for plays such as Hamlet, Macbeth, and Romeo and Juliet
William Shakespeare
4
Naturalist who introduced the theories of evolution and natural selection
Charles Darwin
3
Church leader who started the Protestant Reformation
Martin Luther
2
Scientist and mathematician who developed calculus and foundational laws of motion and gravitation
Isaac Newton
1
Inventor who developed processes to mass-produce books using a movable-type printing press
Johann Gutenberg
+1
Level 65
May 10, 2020
360 smart people is a lot, but these choices are still of course subjective. What names do you think they should have included?
+1
Level 74
May 11, 2020
Great Quiz. I've a few ideas of my own but I'll keep them to myself - shan't argue with 360 experts.
+3
Level 83
Jun 14, 2021
I could. Like Blob makes an extremely valid point below. i mean... Lady Di over Frederick Roosevelt? Deng Xiaoping? Mussolini? Rosseau? Tesla? Urban II? Henry VIII? Meiji? Ben-Gurion? Nasser? Nelson? Turing? Twain? Wilson? Bismarck? Ataturk? Tull? Tamerlane? Stowe? Or about a million other people? Gimme a break.

plenty of other valid criticisms, too. Kind of a disappointing list considering everyone who worked on it.

Fine quiz, all the same.

+1
Level 83
Jun 14, 2021
oops I see Rosseau actually is on the list... did I spell his name wrong? maybe
+1
Level 70
Jun 14, 2021
Who is "Frederick Roosevelt"? I assume that's a typo, but I'm also assuming you don't mean FDR since he's already on here. Did you mean Theodore Roosevelt? Or perhaps Frederick the Great? I would agree that those are both way better options than Lady Di.
+2
Level 83
Jun 14, 2021
major brain fart. I meant Franklin Roosevelt. aka FDR. I knew that Frederick looked weird... and maybe that's why I didn't find his name on the quiz when I searched... but then I failed to look up why this looked weird. My mistake.

Theodore Roosevelt was also vastly more influential to history than Princess Diana by at least a factor of 1,000. But less influential than FDR.

+2
Level 83
Jun 14, 2021
as was Frederick the Great. Whom also crossed my mind while typing the above comment. Perhaps that is where my wires got crossed...
+1
Level 65
Jun 15, 2021
I've changed the type-ins to be more forgiving on Rousseau's name.
+1
Level 83
Jun 14, 2021
Another valid criticism, as raised on the QM's own version of this quiz, would be that Pincus doesn't really deserve his spot as the co-inventor of one method of birth control. Didn't do most of the work himself. Only ever gets billed as co-inventor anyway and who's the other co-inventor? He's never on such a list. Was not involved in politics or any social movements or anything like that and his work was organized, funded, and pushed for by other people... notably Margaret Sanger... who I'm pleased is guessed more than Pincus is. She might actually deserve a spot on the list, too.
+3
Level 63
Jun 14, 2021
A lot of these make sense, but some of them seem really tied to the pop culture at the time. Like do you really think that people even a decade from now would list princess diana as one of the most influential people of the 2nd millenium?
+2
Level 76
Jun 14, 2021
It's a laughable list, in my opinion. One one hand there's the absences of Jesus, Mohammad, Buddha, Confucius, Laozi, Augustus, Plato, or Aristotle. All of them (and many others that are missing) should belong to a top 30 list).

On the other, there's the presence of absurd pop idols (Caruso, Lady Di) that will be just a footnote a century after their deaths, or people with very limited influence outside a particular country (William I, Tubman, Stanton).

+2
Level 70
Jun 14, 2021
In response to your first point: please read the title.

Agree with your second point though. This list clearly has a bias toward the 20th century, leaving out tons of people from earlier centuries who deserve to be on here. In particular, I find the dearth of authors disappointing. No Dickens, Chaucer, Steinbeck, Fitzgerald, Mary Shelley, Orwell, Jonathan Swift, Twain, etc.? People seem to really underestimate the role of literature/storytelling in shaping philosophy and human thought :/

And Kal already mentioned a lot of political leaders, but I think Frederick and Catherine the Great, Robespierre, Louis XIV, Charles V, and Sun Yat-Sen also deserve to be mentioned.

+1
Level 73
Jun 15, 2021
all those religious and philosophical figures were from before the 2nd millenium, which is what the quiz focuses on. But I agree about the pop idols not really making sense.
+1
Level 69
Jun 14, 2021
I know it's not the Quizzmaster's fault- and there is stiff competition- but this may be the worst of this type of list I have ever seen.
+1
Level 69
Jun 14, 2021
for #63 please include an example of her work like you have for some other authors - would never guess austen from ‘critiqued upper class society’
+1
Level 65
Jun 15, 2021
Changed
+1
Level 69
Jun 14, 2021
many of these people also appear on my new ‘One on One’ quiz that charts a daisy chain of famous people meeting each other in the 18th-19th centuries - if you knew a lot of these or liked this quiz, please try mine here
+2
Level 69
Jun 14, 2021
It'd be cool if you included their birth/death dates. Not to make the quiz easier, I just think it'd be neat to see it all in one place.

I agree with Gutenberg, Newton, and Luther, but beyond that I think it's extremely Eurocentric. Genghis Khan is listed as less influential than Leonardo da Vinci. Of course any list like this will be controversial, and I had fun on this quiz so I'm not mad.

I think I would probably have included Mussolini for starting the fascist movement, Bismarck for making Germany and setting up Europe for WWI, Timur for killing a fifth of all humans at the time, Sun Yat-sen for heading the founding of the Republic of China, and Alan Turing for inventing modern computers and shortening WWII greatly.

+1
Level 82
Jun 14, 2021
I did the same quiz seven years ago -- I like my clues better. https://www.jetpunk.com/user-quizzes/42254/top-100-people-of-the-millennium

Almost forgot about my quiz but managed to get 92 in this one

+1
Level 58
Jun 14, 2021
Can't believe they didn't include Alan Turing.

I mostly agree with this list. A little scientist-centric, and I might reorder a few things, but all of these people were pretty significant.

+1
Level 65
Jun 15, 2021
I'm fairly certain that if they were to make the list again today, but still limited to things people did before the year 2000, Alan Turing and Tim Berners-Lee would be on it.
+1
Level 67
Jun 28, 2021
Scientists probably have the longest reach, generally speaking. There are some government leaders whose tenures change the course of history, but most have limited geographic reach. Scientific developments go everywhere. There is an interesting conversation to be had re whether philosophers who developed critical concepts are more important than those who implemented them. For example, John Locke never led a government, but his thinking was influential on Thomas Jefferson. Would Jefferson have led the US as he did without Locke's influence? Impossible to know. But it's interesting to think about.
+1
Level 58
Jul 14, 2021
I know this was 360 people who specialise in this subject, but you can not tell me that Princess Diana, the Beatles, Presley, Mozart, and, to a lesser degree, Beethoven are more important than Theodore Roosevelt, Bismarck, Ivan the Terrible, Tesla, Xiaoping, Ataturk, Meiji, Mussolini, Pizarro, Cortes, Henry VII, Nelson, Ogedei Khan, Mother Teresa and Frederick the Great. One thing which annoyed me is that Napoleon was lower than Mozart.