Napoleon ‘second most important man in history’

France’s former Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte is second only to Jesus in terms of importance in history, according to rankings based on a new software programme. Napoleon was deemed more significant than the likes of the Prophet Mohammed and Hitler.

Napoleon 'second most important man in history'
Is Napoleon really the second most important person in history? Pictured here is not Napoleon himself but a man dressed as the French Emperor at a re-enactment. Photo: Eric Feferberg/AFP

Napoleon Bonaparte, the former French emperor, is the second most important person in history, coming in behind Jesus Christ.

That’s according to rankings based on a new software programme that placed the man known as "the little corporal" above the likes of the Prophet Mohammed, who was ranked third, Shakespeare, who was fourth and Hitler, seventh.

The table was put together by Google engineer and tech wizard Charles Ward and Steven Skiena through a new software programme that collates millions of online opinions using the same method as Google’s ranking of web pages, the UK’s Sunday Times newspaper reported.

The innovative programme trawls the web for opinions expressed about famous people and then uses a special "reputation decay algorithm" to determine the significance of the world’s most important figures and how it would change after 200 years. They published their findings in a new book entitled "Who's Bigger".

For Ward and his team it was not important the reason why the figures were famous just that their fame stands the test of time. Surprisingly former South African President Nelson Mandela was ranked down at 356. Although some have criticised the merits of the rankings and the formula they are based on, the fact that US singer Justin Bieber was placed down in 8,633, suggests they are not totally inaccurate.

Napoleon's notoriety has clearly lasted over the 200 years since his demise. He rose to prominence in the final days of the French Revolution and ruled as Emperor between 1804 and 1815. By conquering much of Europe he made France the dominant power on the continent until he was defeated at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.

His legacy is the subject of much debate, which some arguing he was just an evil dictator and warmonger whereas others say he was a visionary and a national hero.

His legal reform, known as the Code Napoleon, which made all men equal under the law and forms the basis of the French civil code. Its influence went far beyond France’s borders, and has had an impact on civil law jurisdictions worldwide.

Although there is no national museum to his name, plans were announced last year to build a theme park called Napoleonland near Paris, that would rival Disneyland. Some in France clearly believe the Emporer is still at large as seen last week when The Local reported how officials at the country's census office sent out a letter addressed to "Napoleon Bonaparte". See below.

French census bureaucrats send letter to Napoleon

Other notable French entrants in the pantheon of world’s most important people in history include King Louis XIV at 26 and the philosopher René Déscartes at 92.

Here are is the full top 50:

1. Jesus

2. Napoleon

3. Muhammad

4. William Shakespeare

5. Abraham Lincoln

6. George Washington

7. Adolf Hitler

8. Aristotle

9. Alexander the Great

10. Thomas Jefferson

11. Henry VIII of England

12. Charles Darwin

13. Elizabeth I of England

14. Karl Marx

15. Julius Caesar

16. Queen Victoria

17. Martin Luther

18. Joseph Stalin

19. Albert Einstein

20. Christopher Columbus

21. Isaac Newton

22. Charlemagne

23. Theodore Roosevelt

24. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

25. Plato

26. Louis XIV of France

27. Ludwig van Beethoven

28. Ulysses S. Grant

29. Leonardo da Vinci

30. Augustus

31. Carl Linnaeus

32. Ronald Reagan

33. Charles Dickens

34. Paul the Apostle

35. Benjamin Franklin

36. George W. Bush

37. Winston Churchill

38. Genghis Khan

39. Charles I of England

40. Thomas Edison

41. James I of England

42. Friedrich Nietzsche

43. Franklin D. Roosevelt

44. Sigmund Freud

45. Alexander Hamilton

46. Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi

47. Woodrow Wilson

48. Johann Sebastian Bach

49. Galileo Galilei

50. Oliver Cromwell

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