It is widely known that one of the (main) inspirations for the Foundation series by Isaac Asimov was Gibbon's The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.
The parallels between the decline of the actual Roman Empire and the Galactic Empire are fairly obvious, not only regarding the broader history, Asimov himself also wrote some characters that were directly inspired by real historical figures.

I'm mainly referring to Bel Riose and Emperor Cleon II: the former was a highly successful general, that later fell in disgrace because his popularity was seen as a threat by the latter, his Emperor.
They were respectively the "galactic" versions of the late roman/byzantine general Belisarius (his name is essentially an imperfect anagram) and Emperor Justinian I: even Belisarius was possibly the greatest general of his time, he is mainly remembered for his successes in the Greco-Gothic War that was fought by the Eastern Roman Empire to reconquer the italian peninsula. And even Belisarius during the last part of his life had troublesome confrontations with the imperial power (the alleged "blind beggar" story was probably only a legend, but it served as a basis for Bel Riose nonetheless).

I'm wondering if other Foundation's characters were also inspired by real historical figures, not necessarily in this fairly evident fashion but even in more subtle ways.


The Mule is partly based on Tamerlane (also known as Timur):

[My] notion of the Mule as someone who destroyed an apparently inevitable sweep of victory, which was then reconstituted after his passing, was based on Tamerlane’s disruption of the march of the Ottoman Empire—which resumed after Tamerlane’s death.
From a letter to Joseph F. Patrouch, Jr., published in The Science Fiction of Isaac Asimov (1974)

Bel Riose and Cleon II are not only based on Belisarius and Justinian I, as already mentioned by the OP, but also on Sejanus and Tiberius:

Here’s a passage [...] from one of the Foundation stories, one which was originally called “The Dead Hand” and which was eventually included in Foundation and Empire, the middle book of the trilogy. It deals with Cleon II, Galactic Emperor, and while I wrote it, I had in mind Roman history. There was a little bit of Justinian and Belisarius of the sixth century and a little bit of Tiberius and Sejanus of the first century and so on.
From Opus 100 (1969)

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