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politics & history The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History

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List Rules World leaders with progressive yet realistic (for their times) approaches that bettered the lives of their people. Can be from any time period.

Enlightened leadership takes on many forms. Sometimes, especially in the ancient world, it was the codifying of laws and precepts to ensure fair treatment for all. But it could also be taking control of a country after a particularly bloody time and ushering in peace and prosperity. Or it could be campaigning for equal rights, even at great risk to yourself. All of those qualities are what you'll find in history's most progressive world leaders. These are leaders with humane, intelligent, and compassionate leadership styles, that improved the lives of those living under their rule.

History is full of despotic leaders - presidents, emperors, kings, and popes who used their power and privilege to enrich themselves and their cronies. But there have also been enlightened and wise leaders, who have united their people, stood firm for peace and freedom, and enhanced the human condition for everyone.

Here are some of the most enlightened leaders in history, from ancient to modern. Upvote those you feel were the most progressive and enlightened, not just those you agreed with.

1
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Benjamin Franklin is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Benjamin Franklin Died at 84 (1706-1790)

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Thomas Jefferson is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Thomas Jefferson Died at 83 (1743-1826)

3
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John Adams is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
John Adams Died at 91 (1735-1826)

4
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George Washington is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
George Washington Died at 67 (1732-1799)

5
+ - 253 69
James Madison is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
James Madison Died at 85 (1751-1836)

6
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Theodore Roosevelt is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Theodore Roosevelt Died at 61 (1858-1919)

7
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Winston Churchill is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Winston Churchill Died at 91 (1874-1965)

8
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Franklin D. Roosevelt is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Franklin D. Roosevelt Died at 63 (1882-1945)

9
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Charles de Gaulle is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History

10
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Elizabeth I of England is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Elizabeth I of England Died at 70 (1533-1603)

11
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Catherine II of Russia is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Catherine II of Russia Died at 67 (1729-1796)

12
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Peter the Great is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Peter the Great Died at 53 (1672-1725)

13
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Napoleon Bonaparte is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Napoleon Bonaparte Died at 52 (1769-1821)

14
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Alfred the Great is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Alfred the Great Died at 50 (849-899)

15
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Augustus is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Augustus Died at 76 (62 BC-14)

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Louis IX of France is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Louis IX of France Died at 56 (1214-1270)

17
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Constantine the Great is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Constantine the Great Died at 65 (272-337)

18
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Martin Luther is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Martin Luther Died at 63 (1483-1546)

19
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Pope John Paul II is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Pope John Paul II Died at 85 (1920-2005)

20
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Hammurabi is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Hammurabi Died at 42 (1791 BC-1749 BC)

21
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Dag Hammarskjöld is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dag Hammarskjöld Died at 56 (1905-1961)

22
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Lech Wałęsa is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Lech Wałęsa age 72

23
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Willy Brandt is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Willy Brandt Died at 79 (1913-1992)

24
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Justinian I is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Justinian I Died at 83 (482-565)

25
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Mikhail Gorbachev is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History

26
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Julius Caesar is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Julius Caesar Died at 56 (99 BC-43 BC)

27
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Konrad Adenauer is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Konrad Adenauer Died at 91 (1876-1967)

28
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Pope John XXIII is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Pope John XXIII Died at 82 (1881-1963)

29
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Mahatma Gandhi is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Mahatma Gandhi Died at 79 (1869-1948)

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José Rizal is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
José Rizal Died at 35 (1861-1896)

31
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Akbar is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Akbar Died at 63 (1542-1605)

32
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Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History

33
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Suleiman the Magnificent is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Suleiman the Magnificent Died at 72 (1494-1566)

34
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Abraham Lincoln is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Abraham Lincoln Died at 56 (1809-1865)

35
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Hatshepsut is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History

36
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Solon is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History

37
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Alexander Dubček is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Alexander Dubček Died at 71 (1921-1992)

38
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U Thant is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
U Thant Died at 65 (1909-1974)

39
+ - 49 61
Sun Yat-sen is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Sun Yat-sen Died at 59 (1866-1925)

40
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A. P. J. Abdul Kalam is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History

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Alfonso X of Castile is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Alfonso X of Castile Died at 63 (1221-1284)

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José Mujica is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
José Mujica age 80

43
+ - 6 0
William Tell is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
William Tell legendary Swiss freedom fighter

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Václav Havel is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Václav Havel Died at 75 (1936-2011)

45
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Subhash Chandra Bose is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Subhash Chandra Bose Died at 48 (1897-1945)

46
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John F. Kennedy is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
John F. Kennedy Died at 46 (1917-1963)

47
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Ronald Reagan is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Ronald Reagan Died at 93 (1911-2004)

48
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Ashoka is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Ashoka Died at 72 (303 BC-231 BC) - first Buddhist ruler

49
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Corazon Aquino is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Corazon Aquino Died at 76 (1933-2009)

50
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Cyrus the Great is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History