politics 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.
list ordered by

1
+ - 366 146
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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2
+ - 383 179
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
+ - 453 229
George Washington is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
George Washington Died at 67 (1732-1799)

4
+ - 284 115
James Madison is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
James Madison Died at 85 (1751-1836)

5
+ - 457 243
Theodore Roosevelt is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Theodore Roosevelt Died at 61 (1858-1919)

6
+ - 285 119
John Adams is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
John Adams Died at 91 (1735-1826)

7
+ - 487 317
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
+ - 341 227
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
+ - 277 211
Charles de Gaulle is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History

10
+ - 269 211
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
+ - 288 239
Napoleon Bonaparte is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Napoleon Bonaparte Died at 52 (1769-1821)

12
+ - 197 150
Augustus is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Augustus Died at 76 (62 BC-14)

13
+ - 247 204
Catherine II of Russia is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Catherine II of Russia Died at 67 (1729-1796)

14
+ - 280 240
Peter the Great is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Peter the Great Died at 53 (1672-1725)

15
+ - 171 134
Constantine the Great is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Constantine the Great Died at 65 (272-337)

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16
+ - 175 141
Alfred the Great is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Alfred the Great Died at 50 (849-899)

17
+ - 169 136
Hammurabi is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Hammurabi Died at 42 (1791 BC-1749 BC)

18
+ - 207 189
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
+ - 395 416
Mahatma Gandhi is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Mahatma Gandhi Died at 79 (1869-1948)

20
+ - 178 160
Dag Hammarskjöld is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dag Hammarskjöld Died at 56 (1905-1961)

21
+ - 177 163
Pope John Paul II is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Pope John Paul II Died at 85 (1920-2005)

22
+ - 214 210
Louis IX of France is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Louis IX of France Died at 56 (1214-1270)

23
+ - 222 225
Lech Wałęsa is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Lech Wałęsa age 73

24
+ - 142 132
Julius Caesar is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Julius Caesar Died at 56 (99 BC-43 BC)

25
+ - 255 273
Mikhail Gorbachev is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History

26
+ - 107 94
Justinian I is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Justinian I Died at 83 (482-565)

27
+ - 116 114
Willy Brandt is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Willy Brandt Died at 79 (1913-1992)

28
+ - 90 83
Konrad Adenauer is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Konrad Adenauer Died at 91 (1876-1967)

29
+ - 167 188
Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History

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30
+ - 97 97
Akbar is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Akbar Died at 63 (1542-1605)

31
+ - 44 27
A. P. J. Abdul Kalam is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History

32
+ - 38 19
Ashoka is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Ashoka Died at 72 (303 BC-231 BC) - first Buddhist ruler

33
+ - 115 125
Pope John XXIII is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Pope John XXIII Died at 82 (1881-1963)

34
+ - 338 432
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
+ - 69 77
José Rizal is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
José Rizal Died at 35 (1861-1896)

36
+ - 105 130
Suleiman the Magnificent is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Suleiman the Magnificent Died at 72 (1494-1566)

37
+ - 33 26
Subhash Chandra Bose is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Subhash Chandra Bose Died at 48 (1897-1945)

38
+ - 71 89
Hatshepsut is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History

39
+ - 15 4
Alexander Hamilton is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Alexander Hamilton Died at 47 (1757-1804)

40
+ - 59 74
Sun Yat-sen is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Sun Yat-sen Died at 59 (1866-1925)

41
+ - 62 82
Solon is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History

42
+ - 62 82
José Mujica is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
José Mujica age 81

43
+ - 247 380
John F. Kennedy is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
John F. Kennedy Died at 46 (1917-1963)

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44
+ - 58 81
U Thant is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
U Thant Died at 65 (1909-1974)

45
+ - 14 11
B. R. Ambedkar is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
B. R. Ambedkar Died at 65 (1891-1956)

46
+ - 18 18
Cyrus the Great is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History

47
+ - 11 7
Simon Bolivar is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Simon Bolivar

48
+ - 14 12
Lee Kuan Yew is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Lee Kuan Yew age 93

49
+ - 7 2
Ataturk is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Ataturk

50
+ - 134 210
Pope Francis is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Pope Francis age 80