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The Conqueror

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"Veni, vidi, vici."Translation 

"Great men are not peacemakers. Great men are conquerors!"

Throughout history, there have been a few individuals who have had a marked personal effect on the course of events around them. Some did this through political or sometimes aesthetic means, but most of those who were single-handedly instrumental in deciding the path of history have been military leaders. It seems that certain men combine a rare set of natural traits — leadership ability, tactical thinking, staggering ambition, copious ego, and a large dose of suicidal bravery, all combined with a visionary drive to rule the world and the imagination to see it done — to create a whole individual who is patently capable of turning even a ragtag band of woefully underfed and poorly equipped vagabonds into a fighting force that is not only formidable but easily capable of crushing any opposition that stands before it.

A true Conqueror strives to claim the whole of the known world through military means and often succeeds. (Note that he often doesn't put much thought into running it once he's taken it; he just wants the bragging rights). This is in contrast to those characters who rise to universal power through other means (such as subverting the democratic process or literally being appointed dictator by a legislative body).

The easiest way to recognize this character is by what he manages to accomplish. If he doesn't take over two or three countries (at least) in the course of the story, he's not The Conqueror.

Most Conquerors are by nature Magnificent Bastards. Some even dip into Omnicidal Maniac territory. They are also their own Trope Namers. Quite often, these characters appear in the Backstory of a setting, and all that is left of their conquests is a Vestigial Empire.

Subtropes include the following:

  • Conqueror from the Future: When the Conqueror in question is a person from the future who has, in fact, actually managed to conquer something in their time period of origin.
  • Galactic Conqueror: When the Conqueror's ambition is galactic or even universal in scale.
  • Multiversal Conqueror: When the Conqueror desires to take over all of The Multiverse, rather than just one or a handful of universes. The Logical Extreme of this trope.
  • Myopic Conqueror: A Conqueror who is very good at conquering...but nothing that comes after that.
  • Young Conqueror: When the Conqueror is still in his early adulthood or even adolescence at the time of his conquering.

These fellows often get "The Conqueror" as a sobriquet—frequently one of many.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Lelouch of Code Geass tried and aimed for this. He didn't particularly need to be in control, of course.
    • By the Grand Finale, Lelouch conquers the ENTIRE PLANET by taking control of a near-indestructible flying fortress that fires super nukes, now manned by elite scientists that are mind controlled to be absolutely loyal to him. YAY. Then he dies, but intentionally, and gives the empire to his little sister, so that's a happy end for everyone else.
  • Reign: The Conqueror has Alexander the Great as the main character.
  • Rider in Fate/Zero is none other than Alexander the Great and is known by the additional title King of Conquerors. Unusually for this trope and despite the acknowledged ruthlessness of his conquest, Rider is one of the most sympathetic characters in the story.

    Comic Books 
  • Marvel Comics has Kang the Conqueror, Rama Tut, the Scarlet Centurion and Immortus. The catch is that these are all actually the same guy: He's traveled through time so often, and created so many Alternate Timelines, that there is now an entire Legion of Doom called the Council of Kangs made up entirely of his own iterations. Immortus, it seems, is the original Kang, who is now a Boxed Crook: forced to spend eternity undoing the Continuity Snarl that is the Marvel universe thanks largely to him.
  • Wonder Woman (1987): While the current Sangtee Emperor is more concerned with maintaining the Empire and quelling slave rebellions (until they just outlaw most forms of slavery) they are the clone of the Emperor(s) who expanded the Empire past the kreel homeworld. As all legally born kreel have been clones for generations the Emperors who were responsible for the expansion were mostly genetically identical.


  • On the Discworld, the very word "tactics" is derived from a famous Morporkian leader of antiquity, General Tacticus. He more or less wrote the Disc's book on military strategy, helped Ankh-Morpork forge a mighty empire, and when given command of a satellite city-state, promptly made the most rational choice in its self-interest and declared war on Ankh-Morpork (and won, of course). This is only partly why he isn't much liked by Ankh-Morpork's modern leaders - Tacticus was a Combat Pragmatist who tended to minimize his own side's casualties, something the likes of Lord Rust consider cheating.
  • Artur "Hawkwing" Paendrag of The Wheel of Time not only managed to take over the entire continent but also ran it so well that "a child could carry a bag of gold from one coast to the other without fear", although his justice system became a bit draconian in later years. The only group he failed to conquer were the Aes Sedai, and possibly only because he died before his war against them was concluded. Unfortunately, he succumbed to Vetinari Job Security, and his hard-won Empire collapsed soon after he died.
  • The Malloreon had Emperor Korzeth, who managed to unite his continent after their patron god and king, Torak, was felled (but not killed) in battle, spending his entire life in a series of bloody wars so that he could pass the empire on to his descendants. His ultimate descendant, Zakath, had aims to finish the job and take the whole planet, but his ambitions cooled over time.
  • Part of the irony in Percy Bysshe Shelley's Ozymandias is that the empire of the Great Conqueror Ozymandias is now nothing more than sand and ruins. The message being that all things pass away, even Empires.
  • Aegon the First, also called The Conqueror, in A Song of Ice and Fire, went from ruling a small volcanic island to ruling the better part of a continent in only a few years. He only managed it since he and his sisters were the last three Dragon Riders in the world, and no conventional army could stop them.
  • Kieron in Steven Brust's Dragaera. In addition, Sethra the Younger is a wannabe The Conqueror, though she has not succeeded (yet).
  • Robert Asprin's Myth Conceptions introduces Big Julie, the general in charge of one of the largest armies anyone has ever seen. He's conquered a fair bit of the entire world by the time he's stopped by the heroes. Of course, he's a Captain Ersatz of Julius Caesar.
  • In the Back Story to the first Gor book, Marlenus, the Ubar of Ar, has captured the Home Stones of about a hundred other city-states, which in practical terms means those city-states are vassal to Ar. It is Tarl's assignment to steal Ar's Home Stone, thereby breaking their power.
  • In the distant backstory of Deep Secret, there's Koryfos, a pseudo-Alexander the Great who conquered entire universes. By the time of the story, his empire has dwindled and is on the verge of total collapse. Then he comes back at the end to fix it.
  • In The Black Company series, The Lady qualifies as this, having subjugated an entire continent. In the past, her husband The Dominator was even worse.
  • There's a reason Conn Iggulden's novels about Genghis Khan are called Conqueror.
  • Dragonriders of Pern: Lord Fax of The Seven Holds. He was Lord of one hold by birthright, gained another through marriage, and just took over the other five through force. By the time we first see him in Dragonflight, it's just in time to see him killed by F'lar. His takeover occurs in the background of the prequel novel, Masterharper of Pern.
  • Emperor Dayless, the eponymous character in Shadow of the Conqueror, earned his title in spades: both a master strategist and a Magitek Gadgeteer Genius, he turned a band of rebels into an unstoppable force of Industrialized Evil, conquering his homeland of Hamahra in a matter of months. His purges of the nobility provoked every neighboring country to attack him, all of whom he defeated and incorporated into his Dawn Empire. In over thirty years of power, he only lost two battles: one against Sky Pirates whom he gave up on getting rid of after they repeatedly rebuilt their destroyed cities, and once when The Alliance brought half the world into declaring war against him and incited most of his own provinces to rebel.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Hercules: The Legendary Journeys:
    • In the "Armageddon Now" two-parter, Callisto's time travel leads to a changed timeline in which Hercules was never born, and thus never "unchained" Xena's heart. She ended up the cold and ruthless Conqueror. As the name implied, she brought most of Ancient Greece and the Mediterranean region under her boot.
    • Earlier that season, "Stranger In A Strange World" introduced a parallel universe where Hercules is a ruthless conqueror known as the Sovereign.
  • In the Supernatural episode "Devil May Care" (S09, Ep02), Abaddon takes on this role.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In the official setting for Champions, there's Istvatha V'han, "The Empress of a Billion Universes", an immortal time-travelling Dimension Lord who really has conquered a billion other dimensions.
  • Warhammer 40,000 naturally has a few:
    • The oldest from the game's background would of course be the Emperor of Mankind himself. In the 31st Millennium, he won the Unification Wars on Terra and led his Great Crusade to conquer the galaxy, with the help of twenty Space Marine legions led by his clone-sons, who in most cases were great conquerors themselves. The problem started with he decided to shift back to an Emperor Scientist, gave command to his favorite son, but remained vague as to what the Space Marines' role would be once the Great Crusade was finished. The result was the Horus Heresy and ten thousand years of grim darkness until there is only war.
    • During the 41st Millennium, Lord Commander Solar Macharius waged a seven-year crusade that added a thousand worlds to the Imperium, the greatest expansion since the Great Crusade. He only stopped when his troops refused to push into space outside the range of the Astronomican, the psychic lighthouse required for safe Warp travel. Much like Alexander the Great, Macharius died suddenly, and his conquests collapsed into a civil war between his successor generals.
    • A nonhuman example would be Shas'O'Shovah, Fire Commander Farsight or the Rising Empire of the Tau. One of three foremost students of the legendary warmaster, Puretide, Farsight was the first Tau commander to claim major victories against both the Orks and the Imperium; he literally Wrote the Book on both foes, The Book of the Beast and the Mirrorcodex (after the Space Marines' Codex Astartes) respectively. After fending off an Imperial Crusade, Farsight led an assault across the Damocles Gulf to quickly retake several Imperial worlds and push back against the Orks. But in the process, his army's Etheral Caste "guides" were slain, and Farsight found... something on the artifact world of Arthas Moloch. The end result was that he took direct control of these "Farsight Enclaves" and declared independence from the Tau Empire, the first of his kind to do so, turning him from one of the Tau's greatest heroes to an almost taboo subject.

    Video Games 
  • Most 4X games, by definition, involve the player trying to be this, or at least offer it as an option.
  • In Everlong, Emperor Daevus hopes to become this.
  • Lord Median the Conqueror from Soul Nomad & the World Eaters united the game's war-torn world under his own rule.
  • Walhart of Fire Emblem: Awakening may as well be the trope page provider, as he unified the warring states of Valm into a mighty empire through force prior to the events of the game. He now sets his eyes on the neighboring continent of Ylisse in part because he wants to stop the revival of the Fell Dragon, Grima, as Walhart has no interest in watching the world die. His unique class is even called Conqueror and his special class skill is called "Conquest".
  • The Elder Scrolls: Tamriel has seen several of these in its time:
    • Most notable is Emperor Tiber Septim (born either Talos Stormcrown in Atmora or Hjalti Early-Beard in High Rock, or possibly both), who became the first person to unite all of Tamriel under his rule (as the Third Cyrodiilic Empire) and after his death became the Ninth Divine, Talos. He did so primarily through, well, conquest, but gained a couple provinces through shrewd diplomacy as well (such as the peaceful vassalization of the Dunmeri (Dark Elven) theocracy, Morrowind).
    • Reman Cyrodiil, founder of the Second Empire, conquered less territory than Septimnote  but was no less influential on Tamrielic history and culture. The capital province of the Empire, Cyrodiil, still bears his name (though conflicting sources in-game state that he probably took the name of the country for himself - it was called "Cyrod" by the Abusive Precursor Ayleids). Coronated as a child, Reman quickly proved to be something of a Child Prodigy/Bunny-Ears Lawyer, reuniting the two halves of Cyrodiil (Colovia and Nibenay), and then the other kingdoms of Men (High Rock and Skyrim). He later defeated the Akaviri invasion and absorbed the survivors into his fledgling proto-empire. He would not, however, take the title of Emperor in his lifetime.
    • Uriel Septim V, the 17th Emperor of Tiber's Third Empire, is considered a warrior-emperor second only to Tiber himself in Imperial history. Inheriting an Empire wracked with internal strife and floundering support in the provinces, Uriel V would lead the Third Empire back to greatness by launching a series of invasions outside of Tamriel. Over a span of 13 years, he conquered several island nations in the Padomaic Sea to the east of Tamriel. Then, he invaded Akavir itself. Despite initial successes, he would fail to conquer Akavir as he had hoped, and would fall there in battle himself, making a Heroic Sacrifice to cover the retreat of his legions.
    • Though he was originally a peaceful immigrant from Atmora, the ancient King Ysgramor became one after the Falmer (Skyrim's native Snow Elves) sacked and slaughtered the Atmoran city of Saarthal. Ysgramor returned to Atmora, recruited an army of 500 of Atmora's greatest warriors, and brought them back to Skyrim where he led them on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge against the Falmer. He conquered Skyrim for mankind ever after, and his line would create the first Empire of Men in Tamriel, expanding as far as High Rock and Morrowind at its height.

    Web Original 
  • The Worldbuild Project: The deceased emperor Verek kel Aldeos desperately wanted to be one of these. After spending nearly his entire reign at war, he still wasn't very close, though.
  • Danny Hebert of Worm unknowingly describes his daughter, who is, unbeknownst to him, a supervillain, as one. More specifically, when asked (by his daughter, out of costume) if it would better to live in a system that worked run by 'evil' or a hellhole policed by the 'good', he likens her actions to that of a feudal lord or emperor, and that that sort of thinking would set humanity back to bronze age mentalities.

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • Sargon of Akkad, aka Sargon the Great, more or less invented the concept of empire, and is the first great conqueror we have on record. This Semitic son of a royal gardener launched a coup d'etat in his home city of Akkad and overran every Semitic and Sumerian city-state in Iraq, creating the Akkadian Empire, which endured for 150 years after his death.
  • During his reign (1479 - 1425 BC), Pharaoh Thutmose III conquered Northern Africa and the Middle East from Niy in north Syria to the fourth waterfall of the Nile in Nubia, the largest extent ever covered by the Egyptian empire.
  • Cyrus the Great created the Persian Empire by conquering pretty much every other civilization in Southwest Asia, the Near East, and the Middle East, from Anatolia to the Indus River. Furthermore, he was a savvy statesman able to give his empire a lasting stability by being generous to the conquered peoples, securing their loyalty. Cambyses and Darius, Cyrus's successors, added Egypt, parts of Greece, and even more of India to Cyrus's empire.
  • Alexander the Great holds the record for most land personally conquered by a single individual. His empire fell apart after his death due to infighting over who would be his successor (either because he failed to name one or because all the rest of his subordinates conveniently "misheard" his designation, depending on which theory you believe), but the impact of his conquest continued to be felt long afterward and two of the cities he founded in his own name remain important to this day (Alexandria, Egypt and Khandahar, Afghanistannote ).
  • Qin Shi Huangdi, the conqueror of "all under heaven" (i.e. China). Not only did he conquer, the empire (and the idea) of China that he founded continues to this day as a major world power more than 2,000 years later, unlike most other conquerors' handiwork.
  • Julius Caesar was so effective his name became a title for emperors after him - future Roman rulers were referred to as Caesarsnote , while German and Russian leaders were referred to as Kaisers and Czars/Tsars, respectively.
  • Attila the Hun carved out an empire that stretched from Germany to the Ural River and from the Danube to the Baltic Sea.
  • Charlemagne, King of the Franks and later the original Holy Roman Emperor.
  • Harald Fairhair, first king of Norway.
  • King William I of England, better known as William the Conqueror, first battled to secure his claim on Normandy, then invaded England in 1066. Though he only conquered the larger part of one small island, the impact of that one small conquest on world history cannot possibly be overstated. It certainly helped him be remembered as more than William the Bastard (he was the son of Duke Robert I by a mistress, hence the aforementioned battle to secure his claim on Normandy.)
  • Genghis Khan, who ruled an empire that made Alexander's look like a postage stamp (though he didn't personally conquer all of said land). What's said above under Literature about Artur Hawkwing's realm is actually adapted from a boast Genghis Khan made: "A virgin with a bag of gold around her neck could walk naked from one end of my realm to another without being attacked."
    • His grandson, Kublai Khan, on assuming control of China, was supposedly told "You can conquer China on horseback, but you cannot rule China on horseback."
  • Timur-I-Lenk (aka Tamerlane), who claimed descent from Genghis Khan, united both the Chagatai Khantate and the Il-Khanate, as well as various other Central Asian states under one banner - his own. He also earned a reputation for brutality that was pretty much unsurpassed until the modern eras of fascism and communism, building pyramids of skulls from his slain enemies, and massacring entire cities. He was once quoted as saying "As there is only one God in Heaven, there should be only one ruler on Earth."
  • Isabella of Castile and Ferdinand of Aragon united Spain under their joint banners and conquered the last Muslim state in Western Europe. And then they subsidized an ocean voyage by some guy named Christopher Columbus. Modern Spaniards like to give the credit to Ferdinand alone because Isabella was an icon of the Franco regime, but Isabella was a far more capable ruler and a better general to boot; while she was leading troops - often while pregnant - he was off porking his various mistresses before showing up after the battle to take credit.
  • Hernán Cortés and his comparatively small force of Conquistadors toppled the Aztec Empire. Of course, it helps when your opponents have never seen horses, steel weapons or firearms before, have made plenty of enemies to ally with thanks to their practice of human sacrifice, and above all else are dying in droves from the foreign diseases you brought with you. The Conquistadors as a whole got that name applied to them because of this trope; it's Spanish for "Conquerors".
  • Zahir-ud-din Muhammad Babur, descended from Tamerlane on his father's side, and Genghis Khan on his mother's side, followed in both of their footsteps. Hailing from modern Uzbekistan, he lost his kingdom after a series of setbacks, only to assemble enough followers to invade India. Originally planning only to reclaim some of Tamerlane's old territories, Babur ended up overrunning almost every state on the subcontinent, setting up the Islamic Mughal Empire, which would outlast him by several hundred years.
  • Sultan Mehmet II of the Ottoman Empire gained this title at the young age of 21, as he was the man behind The Fall of Constantinople. The page's current picture depicts him.
  • Suleiman The Magnificent, great-grandson of Mehmet II. Under his rule, the Ottomans controlled everything from Algeria to Iran and from Ethiopia to Hungary. In a bit of a departure from some of the other Conquerors here, Suleiman was also known for the great improvements he made to the administrative system of his country. While in the West he was Suleiman the Magnificent, in the East he was known as Suleiman the Lawgiver.
  • Napoléon Bonaparte, who almost succeeded in uniting Europe under his rule, if it weren't for those pesky British, the Spanish ulcer, and a bad summer and winter in Russia.
  • Adolf Hitler nearly managed to succeed where Napoleon had failed and united Europe under one banner. He also failed where Napoleon had failed - he never was able to conquer the British, and possibly due to developments in the Balkans, Operation Barbarossa, the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union, was launched on the same day as Napoleon's invasion of Russia. For extra Tempting Fate points, he planned the later phases of the war from Poltava, where Charles XII's invasion of Russia had failed.


Video Example(s):


Grigor II

Orginally built as the robotic bodyguard of Russian dictator Grigor Stoyanovich, the once mechanical servent was upgraded with sentience, and named Grigor's heir, when the elderly conqueror grew distrustful of his fellow man on his deathbed. Now dubbed, Grigor the Second, the towering machine continues his master's ambitions to see the flag of Novaya Russia fly across the world, with ruthless dedication.

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