Draft, working on this post.
The following is a list of historical figures, selected primarily for having been interesting. Most either were extremely successful, crazy, won or lost key battles, or committed or were victims of atrocities. The goal is to learn history by knowing the context of their lives and their contemporaries.
Also, I want to quickly summarize their lives using geographical features and cities (rather than modern national borders).
450-404, Alcibiades, Greece, Anatolia
381, King Dao of Chu, Early ruler in the warring states period.
375-316 “Olympias, Queen of Macedonia”, Alexander the Great’s mother
350,-285, Pytheas of Massalia, “Pytheas the Greek” Explored from Greece to Britain
367-283, Ptolomy 1, “Ancestor to Cleopatra, inherited Egypt from Alexander the Great”
312-63, Seleucid Empire figure?
247-181, Hannibal Barca, Carthage, Defeated by Hublius Cornelius Scitio Africanus
~-161, Maccabean Martyrs
215,-164, Antiochus IV Epiphanes, Historical monster
106,-48,Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus, Lost to Julius Caesar
5-67, Paul of Tarsus, wrote much of the New Testament, “Reading from the Letter of Paul to … ”
100-165, Justin Martyr
244-311, Diocletian, Ended the 3rd Century “crisis of emperors.”
437, Gunther, Scandanavia, Hungary?, Killed by Attila the Hun, Norse legend.
480-575, Saint Brendan the Navigator, See also Patrick and Brigid of Kildare
500-548, Theodora, “Mabbug, Cyprus, or Paphlagonia, Wife of Justinian, convinced men to stay during Nika riot, insisted on wearing royal purple.
573-634, Abu Bakr, Muhammed’s father-in-law, Sunni leader.
686-741,Charles Martel, Stopped the Muslim advance at Battle of Tours
752-803, Empress Irene, Byzantine Empress. Killed her own son.
885-954,Erik Haroldsson, King of Norway and Northumbria, “Erik Bloodaxe”
-986, Bjarni Herjolfsson, Overshot Greenland and landed on Labrador Coast / Newfoundland
-1014,Samuel of Bulgaria, Lost to Basil II. 99 / 100 of his men were blinded after loss, brutal.
1022-1066, Harold Godwinson, Harold II, Last Anglo-Saxon King of England. Beaten at Hastings, William the Conqueror.
1215-1294, Kublai Khan, Successor to Ghengis
1304-1377, Ibn Battuta, Major traveler. Berber. Never the same path twice.
1371-1433, Ma He / Zheng He, Explorer, huge fleet, did not conquer. He was a eunuch.
1450-1500, Bartolomeu Dias, Cabo de tempestade, Portuguese explorer
1485-1547, Hernán Cortés de Monroy y Pizarro Altamirano, 1st Marquess of the Valley of Oaxaca. Burned his ships and defeated the Aztecs.
1519-1589: Catherine de’ Medici – influenced by Il Principe (2nd book printed on press behind The Bible), married to King of France, instigated St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre.
1583-1634: Albrecht Wenzel Eusebius von Wallenstein – Bohemian military commander influenced by Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden
1635-1695, Michael Toussaint. Became Michael of Ruffine. First Ruffing.