Historical Figures

From Musketeers to Nazis, Archimedes to Harriet Tubman, these famous historical figures changed the course of history -- for better or worse.

Many people enjoy their cliched 15 minutes these days, but their notoriety quickly fizzles out. The most famous among us remain iconic across generations. But how can you measure John Lennon's fame against Muhammad's?

Becoming famous through war is nothing new -- many military men have been lauded and feared throughout history. Many have had long political careers as well. We’ve collected photos of leaders -- from Caesar to MacArthur -- who have been characterized as both heroes and villains.

He was called the "Washington of the South," but Francis Marion's guerilla war tactics were less distinguished than Gen. George Washington's.

She was a humble Irish immigrant working as a cook in New York's prestigious Oyster Bay community. Sure, Mary Mallon was a carrier of typhoid fever, but was she really a ruthless murderer? Some say her trademark dessert was to die for -- literally.

These Harriet Tubman pictures will show photographs and illustrations of the leader of the Underground Railroad. Get to know this influential woman in this gallery.

Take a look at our collection of photographs and illustrations of the Civil War president, Abraham Lincoln.

Our royalty image gallery will show you pictures of famous kings and queens, both ancient and modern.

King Arthur pictures at HowStuffWorks show illustrations and historical depictions of King Arthur and Camelot. Take a look at pictures of King Arthur.

The Inca empire spread across the entire western coast of South America before the arrival of the Spanish. Learn about Inca culture and celebrations in this image gallery.

The Maya civilizations were one of the greatest of pre-Columbian America. Their achievements included a full written language and complex mathematics. Take a look at the art and architecture of the ancient Mayans.

Whether you think of the first lady as the nation's hostess or an adviser to the U.S. president, the position has been evolving constantly for the last 200 years. Who defines her role if it lies outside the parameters of the Constitution?

With her stoic expression and flexed bicep, Rosie the Riveter really can do it. And for the women of the World War II generation, that meant anything from riveting to welding. But even Rosie's pert, polka-dotted headscarf scraped the glass ceiling.

The Corps of Discovery set out to explore the Missouri River and made their way across the continent to the Pacific Ocean. See more pictures of Lewis and Clark's expedition.

Christopher Columbus inspired a popular children's rhyme with his 1492 voyage. Take a look at these pictures to learn more about the explorer and his trips across the Atlantic.

In addition to their great monuments of architecture, the Greeks left an impressive legacy of ideas. Learn about the lives of Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, and other great thinkers of ancient Greece.

Is the extent of your knowledge about Marco Polo that you're supposed to answer "Polo" when someone swimming in a pool with you yells out "Marco"? Thought so. Well, strap in for a bumpy trek down the Silk Road with one of Europe's greatest explorers.

Archimedes calculated pi and developed calculus proofs 2,000 years before the subject was invented. Did he really create a death machine with mirrors?

Joe Biden's combination of tough talk and 35 years of Senate experience made him Barack Obama's VP pick for the 2008 presidential campaign. What are his goals for the vice presidency?

Sarah Palin was the famous Republican vice-presidential candidate in 2008. Learn more about her and her campaign with John McCain in this image gallery.

Joe Biden is the newest Vice President of the United States after serving 6 terms in the United States Senate. Check out scenes from his political career and the 2008 campaign.

Barack Obama was elected the 44th president of the United States after a hotly contested primary race and general election. Check out photos from his life and the 2008 Obama campaign in this gallery.

John McCain was the 2008 Republican candidate for President of the United States. Learn more about his political career and see images from the McCain presidential campaign.

Sarah Palin's combination of femininity and toughness has captured the admiration of supporters among what had been a divided and stale Republican base in the 2008 presidential campaign. What are her goals for the vice presidency?

Her subjects called her Madame Déficit, and they snickered at the dismal state of affairs in her royal bedroom. Marie Antoinette's death may very well be the most well-known scandal of her life, but what are the other juicy details?

When you think about the Middle Ages, you probably imagine knights, lords and ladies in a castle. Learn about how castles were constructed, how they were used and what became of them.