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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
376 154
Benjamin Franklin is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
RobLein added Benjamin Franklin Died at 84 (1706-1790)

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2
462 238
George Washington is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
George Washington Died at 67 (1732-1799)

3
393 189
Thomas Jefferson is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Thomas Jefferson Died at 83 (1743-1826)

4
466 252
Theodore Roosevelt is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Theodore Roosevelt Died at 61 (1858-1919)

5
289 124
James Madison is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
RobLein added James Madison Died at 85 (1751-1836)

6
291 129
John Adams is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
RobLein added John Adams Died at 91 (1735-1826)

7
501 325
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
356 231
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
281 220
Charles de Gaulle is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
leon-snyers added Charles de Gaulle age 68

10
274 217
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
298 247
Napoleon Bonaparte is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
leon-snyers added Napoleon Bonaparte Died at 52 (1769-1821)

12
204 154
Augustus is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Augustus Died at 76 (62 BC-14)

13
285 243
Peter the Great is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Peter the Great Died at 53 (1672-1725)

14
181 134
Constantine the Great is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
RobLein added Constantine the Great Died at 65 (272-337)

15
248 208
Catherine II of Russia is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Catherine II of Russia Died at 67 (1729-1796)

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16
177 137
Hammurabi is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Hammurabi Died at 42 (1791 BC-1749 BC)

17
178 141
Alfred the Great is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Alfred the Great Died at 50 (849-899)

18
421 422
Mahatma Gandhi is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Mahatma Gandhi Died at 79 (1869-1948)

19
213 191
Martin Luther is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
RobLein added Martin Luther Died at 63 (1483-1546)

20
181 161
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
183 169
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
215 210
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
228 227
Lech Wałęsa is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Lech Wałęsa age 73

24
262 274
Mikhail Gorbachev is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History

25
146 134
Julius Caesar is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
RobLein added Julius Caesar Died at 56 (99 BC-43 BC)

26
109 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
119 115
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
93 83
Konrad Adenauer is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
RobLein added Konrad Adenauer Died at 91 (1876-1967)

29
48 27
A. P. J. Abdul Kalam is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Indian added A. P. J. Abdul Kalam age 85

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30
101 98
Akbar is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Akbar Died at 63 (1542-1605)

31
41 20
Ashoka is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Newhere added Ashoka Died at 72 (303 BC-231 BC) - first Buddhist ruler

32
169 190
Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History

33
351 435
Abraham Lincoln is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Abraham Lincoln Died at 56 (1809-1865)

34
119 128
Pope John XXIII is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
RobLein added Pope John XXIII Died at 82 (1881-1963)

35
34 26
Subhash Chandra Bose is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Indian added Subhash Chandra Bose Died at 48 (1897-1945)

36
69 77
José Rizal is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
alger-baldomero added José Rizal Died at 35 (1861-1896)

37
107 132
Suleiman the Magnificent is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Suleiman the Magnificent Died at 72 (1494-1566)

38
17 4
Alexander Hamilton is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Guest_9f3262bd-77a8-43cf-94da-b2e24ab4ed15 added Alexander Hamilton Died at 47 (1757-1804)

39
73 90
Hatshepsut is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History

40
60 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
65 82
José Mujica is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
José Mujica age 81

42
64 82
Solon is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History

43
17 11
B. R. Ambedkar is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Shefali added B. R. Ambedkar Died at 65 (1891-1956)

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44
6 0
Otto von Bismarck is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Paweł Langowski added Otto von Bismarck Died at 83 (1815-1898)

45
15 9
Simon Bolivar is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Gregory Ditzler added Simon Bolivar

46
10 2
Ataturk is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Guest_30ddae15-1997-43bb-aba2-fc78584925c6 added Ataturk

47
55 72
Václav Havel is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Václav Havel Died at 75 (1936-2011)

48
20 18
Cyrus the Great is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Newhere added Cyrus the Great

49
253 382
John F. Kennedy is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
John F. Kennedy Died at 46 (1917-1963)

50
15 12
Vallabhbhai Patel is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
dshah added Vallabhbhai Patel Died at 75 (1875-1950)