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Weird History The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History  

Mike Rothschild
41.9k votes 3.3k voters 38.3k 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
615 409
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
474 306
Augustus is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 76 (62 BC-14)

3
870 638
Mahatma Gandhi is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 79 (1869-1948)

4
263 133
Otto von Bismarck is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Paweł Langowski added Dec. at 83 (1815-1898)

5
656 467
George Washington is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 67 (1732-1799)

6
531 364
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
581 411
Thomas Jefferson is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 83 (1743-1826)

8
509 350
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
523 377
Peter the Great is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 53 (1672-1725)

10
473 333
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
230 119
Subhash Chandra Bose is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Indian added Dec. at 48 (1897-1945)

12
612 457
Theodore Roosevelt is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 61 (1858-1919)

13
373 248
Alfred the Great is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 50 (849-899)

14
324 229
Hammurabi is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 42 (1791 BC-1749 BC)

15
395 298
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
385 290
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
112 32
Leonardo da Vinci is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Debra Myal added Dec. at 67 (1452-1519)

18
324 242
Constantine the Great is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
RobLein added Dec. at 65 (272-337)

19
700 615
Winston Churchill is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 91 (1874-1965)

20
189 112
William Tell is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Newhere added William Tell

legendary Swiss freedom fighter

21
173 98
Eberhard I, Duke of Württember... is listed (or ranked) 21 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)

22
180 108
Charles Augustus, Grand Duke o... is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Newhere added Dec. at 71 (1757-1828)

promoted Enlightenment ideals

23
331 269
Dag Hammarskjöld is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 56 (1905-1961)

24
155 93
Ashoka is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Newhere added Dec. at 72 (303 BC-231 BC)

first Buddhist ruler

25
343 290
Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History