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The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History  

Mike Rothschild
43.4k votes 3.5k voters 41.4k 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
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26
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
James Madison is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
RobLein added Dec. at 85 (1751-1836)
28
Dag Hammarskjöld is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dag Hammarskjöld Dec. at 56 (1905-1961)
29
Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
30
Winston Churchill is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 91 (1874-1965)
31
Napoleon Bonaparte is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
leon-snyers added Dec. at 52 (1769-1821)
32
Emperor Meiji is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
John Zauser added Dec. at 60 (1852-1912)
33
Queen Victoria is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Pdegeorge80 added Dec. at 82 (1819-1901)
34
Justinian I is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 83 (482-565)
35
Simon Bolivar is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Gregory Ditzler added Simon Bolivar
36
Cyrus the Great is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Newhere added
37
Abraham Lincoln is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 56 (1809-1865)
38
Franklin D. Roosevelt is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 63 (1882-1945)
39
Ataturk is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Ataturk
40
John F. Kennedy is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 46 (1917-1963)
41
Louis IX of France is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 56 (1214-1270)
42
Julius Caesar is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
RobLein added Dec. at 56 (99 BC-43 BC)
43
Akbar is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 63 (1542-1605)
44
Pope John Paul II is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 85 (1920-2005)
45
Mikhail Gorbachev is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
46
Martin Luther King, Jr. is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
leon-snyers added Dec. at 39 (1929-1968)
47
Konrad Adenauer is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
RobLein added Dec. at 91 (1876-1967)
48
Ronald Reagan is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Scott Reece added Dec. at 93 (1911-2004)
49
Elizabeth II is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Pdegeorge80 added age 92
50
Suleiman the Magnificent is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 72 (1494-1566)