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Weird History The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History  

Mike Rothschild
40.3k votes 3.1k voters 36.2k views

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
601 378
Benjamin Franklin is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
RobLein added Dec. at 84 (1706-1790)

2
457 287
Augustus is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 76 (62 BC-14)

3
247 116
Otto von Bismarck is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Paweł Langowski added Dec. at 83 (1815-1898)

4
634 443
George Washington is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 67 (1732-1799)

5
565 392
Thomas Jefferson is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 83 (1743-1826)

6
516 352
Elizabeth I of England is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 70 (1533-1603)

7
815 614
Mahatma Gandhi is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 79 (1869-1948)

8
489 338
Martin Luther is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
RobLein added Dec. at 63 (1483-1546)

9
456 318
Catherine II of Russia is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 67 (1729-1796)

10
362 236
Alfred the Great is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 50 (849-899)

11
507 364
Peter the Great is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 53 (1672-1725)

12
595 444
Theodore Roosevelt is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 61 (1858-1919)

13
197 105
Subhash Chandra Bose is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Indian added Dec. at 48 (1897-1945)

14
312 218
Hammurabi is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 42 (1791 BC-1749 BC)

15
382 289
John Adams is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
RobLein added Dec. at 91 (1735-1826)

16
373 281
James Madison is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
RobLein added Dec. at 85 (1751-1836)

17
183 101
William Tell is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Newhere added William Tell

legendary Swiss freedom fighter

18
168 88
Eberhard I, Duke of Württember... is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Newhere added Dec. at 51 (1445-1496) -

founded the University of Tübingen; is said to have been "able to rest his head on the lap of every one of his subjects without having fear for his life or property" (Wikipedia)

19
315 233
Constantine the Great is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
RobLein added Dec. at 65 (272-337)

20
682 599
Winston Churchill is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 91 (1874-1965)

21
175 99
Charles Augustus, Grand Duke o... is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Newhere added Dec. at 71 (1757-1828) -

promoted Enlightenment ideals

22
323 260
Dag Hammarskjöld is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 56 (1905-1961)

23
94 26
Leonardo da Vinci is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Debra Myal added Dec. at 67 (1452-1519)

24
434 389
Napoleon Bonaparte is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
leon-snyers added Dec. at 52 (1769-1821)

25
329 279
Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History

26
178 124
Ho Chi Minh is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
TrầnĐứcNhã added Dec. at 79 (1890-1969)

27
139 88
Ashoka is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Newhere added Dec. at 72 (303 BC-231 BC) -

first Buddhist ruler

28
143 97
A. P. J. Abdul Kalam is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Indian added age 86

29
485 480
Franklin D. Roosevelt is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 63 (1882-1945)

30
551 571
Abraham Lincoln is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 56 (1809-1865)

31
109 72
B. R. Ambedkar is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Shefali added Dec. at 65 (1891-1956)

32
114 79
Alexander Hamilton is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 47 (1757-1804)

33
292 292
Louis IX of France is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 56 (1214-1270)

34
436 466
John F. Kennedy is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 46 (1917-1963)

35
82 43
Pedro II of Brazil is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Arthur Brum added Dec. at 66 (1825-1891) -

Inheriting an Empire on the verge of disintegration, Pedro II turned Portuguese-speaking Brazil into an emerging power in the international arena (wikipedia).

36
164 151
Justinian I is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 83 (482-565)

37
256 269
Julius Caesar is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
RobLein added Dec. at 56 (99 BC-43 BC)

38
331 379
Mikhail Gorbachev is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History

39
272 306
Pope John Paul II is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 85 (1920-2005)

40
189 210
Ronald Reagan is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Scott Reece added Dec. at 93 (1911-2004)

41
460 576
Martin Luther King, Jr. is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
leon-snyers added Dec. at 39 (1929-1968)

42
72 58
Emperor Meiji is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
John Zauser added Dec. at 60 (1852-1912)

43
166 188
Akbar is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 63 (1542-1605)

44
73 63
Cyrus the Great is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Newhere added

45
70 59
Queen Victoria is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Pdegeorge80 added Dec. at 82 (1819-1901)

46
320 416
Charles de Gaulle is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
leon-snyers added age 69

47
151 178
Willy Brandt is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 79 (1913-1992)

48
125 143
Konrad Adenauer is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
RobLein added Dec. at 91 (1876-1967)

49
283 372
Lech Wałęsa is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
age 74

50
79 83
Elizabeth II is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Pdegeorge80 added age 91