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Weird History The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History  

Mike Rothschild
39.8k votes 3.1k voters 35.8k 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
597 371
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
244 112
Otto von Bismarck is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Paweł Langowski added Dec. at 83 (1815-1898)

3
451 282
Augustus is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 76 (62 BC-14)

4
629 437
George Washington is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 67 (1732-1799)

5
563 387
Thomas Jefferson is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 83 (1743-1826)

6
512 350
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
485 334
Martin Luther is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
RobLein added Dec. at 63 (1483-1546)

8
803 612
Mahatma Gandhi is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 79 (1869-1948)

9
504 359
Peter the Great is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 53 (1672-1725)

10
452 314
Catherine II of Russia is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 67 (1729-1796)

11
359 234
Alfred the Great is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 50 (849-899)

12
592 440
Theodore Roosevelt is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 61 (1858-1919)

13
193 102
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
310 214
Hammurabi is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 42 (1791 BC-1749 BC)

15
381 285
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
372 277
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
182 97
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
167 84
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
313 228
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
174 95
Charles Augustus, Grand Duke o... is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Newhere added Dec. at 71 (1757-1828) -

promoted Enlightenment ideals

21
677 596
Winston Churchill is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 91 (1874-1965)

22
322 256
Dag Hammarskjöld is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 56 (1905-1961)

23
90 22
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
432 384
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
326 275
Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History

26
175 120
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
136 85
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
140 94
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
481 476
Franklin D. Roosevelt is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 63 (1882-1945)

30
547 568
Abraham Lincoln is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 56 (1809-1865)

31
108 69
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
113 76
Alexander Hamilton is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 47 (1757-1804)

33
81 40
Pedro II of Brazil is listed (or ranked) 33 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).

34
291 289
Louis IX of France is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 56 (1214-1270)

35
431 462
John F. Kennedy is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 46 (1917-1963)

36
163 148
Justinian I is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 83 (482-565)

37
254 266
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
331 375
Mikhail Gorbachev is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History

39
271 300
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
188 202
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
71 55
Emperor Meiji is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
John Zauser added Dec. at 60 (1852-1912)

42
454 575
Martin Luther King, Jr. is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
leon-snyers added Dec. at 39 (1929-1968)

43
163 185
Akbar is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 63 (1542-1605)

44
71 60
Cyrus the Great is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Newhere added

45
67 57
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
151 175
Willy Brandt is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 79 (1913-1992)

47
125 140
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
319 413
Charles de Gaulle is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
leon-snyers added age 69

49
282 369
Lech Wałęsa is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
age 74

50
174 219
Suleiman the Magnificent is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 72 (1494-1566)