Re: Greatest Warrior and Greatest Military Genius before 1900
My vote would be split between Saladin and Sun Tzu.
Saladin or Salah al-Din was a twelfth century Kurdish Muslim warrior from Tikrit, in present day northern Iraq. He founded the Ayyubid dynasty of Egypt, Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Mecca Hejaz and Diyar Bakr. Saladin is renowned in both the Muslim and Christian worlds for leadership and military prowess tempered by his chivalry and merciful nature, during his war against the Crusaders. Salah ad-Din is an honorific title which translates to The Righteousness of the Faith from Arabic.
Despite his fierce struggle to the Christian incursion, Saladin achieved a great reputation in Europe as a chivalrous knight, so much so that there existed by the fourteenth century an epic poem about his exploits, and Dante included him among the virtuous pagan souls in Limbo. The noble Saladin appears in a sympathetic light in Sir Walter Scott's The Talisman (1825).
He may not have actually fought in any battle but his writing revolutioned military strategy for all time.
The only surviving source on the life of Sun Tzu is the biography written in the 2nd century BC by the historian Sima Qian, who describes him as a general who lived in the state of Wu in the 6th century BC, and therefore a contemporary of one of the great Chinese thinkers of ancient times—Confucius. According to tradition, Sun Tzu was a member of the landless Chinese aristocracy, the shi, descendants of nobility who had lost their dukedoms during the consolidation of the Spring and Autumn Period. Unlike most shi, who were traveling academics, Sun Tzu worked as a mercenary.
According to tradition, King Helü of Wu hired Sun Tzu as a general approximately 512 BC after finishing his military treatise, the Bing Fa (The Art of War). After his hiring, the kingdom of Wu, previously considered a semi-barbaric state, went on to become the most powerful state of the period by conquering Chu, one of the most powerful states in the Spring and Autumn Period. Sun Tzu suddenly disappeared when King Helu finally conquered Chu. Therefore his date of death remained unknown.
The title Bing Fa can be translated as "military methods", "army procedures", or "martial arts". Around 298 BC, the historian Zhuang Zi, writing in the state of Zhao, recorded that Sun Tzu’s theory had been incorporated into the martial arts techniques of both offense and defense and of both armed and unarmed combat. His Bing Fa was the philosophical basis of what we now know as the Asian martial arts.