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history The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History  

Mike Rothschild
37.6k votes 2.8k voters 31.9k 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
558 323
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)

2
543 344
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
597 402
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
418 258
Augustus is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Augustus Died at 76 (62 BC-14)

5
211 90
Otto von Bismarck is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Paweł Langowski added Otto von Bismarck Died at 83 (1815-1898)

6
490 323
Elizabeth I of England is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Elizabeth I of England Died at 70 (1533-1603)

7
460 307
Martin Luther is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
RobLein added Martin Luther Died at 63 (1483-1546)

8
430 291
Catherine II of Russia is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Catherine II of Russia Died at 67 (1729-1796)

9
573 417
Theodore Roosevelt is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Theodore Roosevelt Died at 61 (1858-1919)

10
342 216
Alfred the Great is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Alfred the Great Died at 50 (849-899)

11
479 338
Peter the Great is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Peter the Great Died at 53 (1672-1725)

12
728 576
Mahatma Gandhi is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Mahatma Gandhi Died at 79 (1869-1948)

13
171 79
William Tell is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Newhere added William Tell legendary Swiss freedom fighter

14
367 260
John Adams is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
RobLein added John Adams Died at 91 (1735-1826)

The Greatest Minds of All Time

15
361 255
James Madison is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
RobLein added James Madison Died at 85 (1751-1836)

16
167 77
Charles Augustus, Grand Duke o... is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Newhere added Charles Augustus, Grand Duke of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach Died at 71 (1757-1828) - promoted Enlightenment ideals

17
155 71
Eberhard I, Duke of Württember... is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Newhere added Eberhard I, Duke of Württemberg Died 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)

18
289 202
Hammurabi is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Hammurabi Died at 42 (1791 BC-1749 BC)

19
296 213
Constantine the Great is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
RobLein added Constantine the Great Died at 65 (272-337)

20
657 573
Winston Churchill is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Winston Churchill Died at 91 (1874-1965)

21
315 242
Dag Hammarskjöld is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dag Hammarskjöld Died at 56 (1905-1961)

The Best U.S. Presidents in the Past 50 Years

22
163 101
Ho Chi Minh is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
TrầnĐứcNhã added Ho Chi Minh Died at 79 (1890-1969)

23
409 371
Napoleon Bonaparte is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
leon-snyers added Napoleon Bonaparte Died at 52 (1769-1821)

24
302 259
Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History

25
145 91
Subhash Chandra Bose is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Indian added Subhash Chandra Bose Died at 48 (1897-1945)

26
460 460
Franklin D. Roosevelt is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Franklin D. Roosevelt Died at 63 (1882-1945)

27
73 27
Pedro II of Brazil is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Arthur Brum added Pedro II of Brazil Died 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).

28
60 12
Leonardo da Vinci is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Debra Myal added Leonardo da Vinci Died at 67 (1452-1519)

The Best American Founding Fathers

29
103 62
Alexander Hamilton is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Alexander Hamilton Died at 47 (1757-1804)

30
282 275
Louis IX of France is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Louis IX of France Died at 56 (1214-1270)

31
521 556
Abraham Lincoln is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Abraham Lincoln Died at 56 (1809-1865)

32
416 450
John F. Kennedy is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
John F. Kennedy Died at 46 (1917-1963)

33
105 76
Ashoka is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Newhere added Ashoka Died at 72 (303 BC-231 BC) - first Buddhist ruler

34
85 56
B. R. Ambedkar is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Shefali added B. R. Ambedkar Died at 65 (1891-1956)

35
154 142
Justinian I is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Justinian I Died at 83 (482-565)

14 Famous People Who Have PhDs

36
322 363
Mikhail Gorbachev is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History

37
261 287
Pope John Paul II is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Pope John Paul II Died at 85 (1920-2005)

38
105 88
A. P. J. Abdul Kalam is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Indian added A. P. J. Abdul Kalam age 86

39
175 183
Ronald Reagan is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Scott Reece added Ronald Reagan Died at 93 (1911-2004)

40
233 259
Julius Caesar is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
RobLein added Julius Caesar Died at 56 (99 BC-43 BC)

41
66 49
Emperor Meiji is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
John Zauser added Emperor Meiji Died at 60 (1852-1912)

42
152 171
Akbar is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Akbar Died at 63 (1542-1605)

16 World Leaders Who Were (Or Are) Tall AF

43
150 170
Willy Brandt is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Willy Brandt Died at 79 (1913-1992)

44
431 560
Martin Luther King, Jr. is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
leon-snyers added Martin Luther King, Jr. Died at 39 (1929-1968)

45
124 135
Konrad Adenauer is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
RobLein added Konrad Adenauer Died at 91 (1876-1967)

46
59 45
Queen Victoria is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Pdegeorge80 added Queen Victoria Died at 82 (1819-1901)

47
312 402
Charles de Gaulle is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
leon-snyers added Charles de Gaulle age 69

48
276 360
Lech Wałęsa is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Lech Wałęsa age 74

49
61 55
Cyrus the Great is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Newhere added Cyrus the Great

50
67 67
Elizabeth II is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Pdegeorge80 added Elizabeth II age 91