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The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History  

Mike Rothschild
42.7k votes 3.4k voters 40.3k 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
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
Mahatma Gandhi is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 79 (1869-1948)
3
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
Augustus is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 76 (62 BC-14)
5
George Washington is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 67 (1732-1799)
6
Subhash Chandra Bose is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Indian added Dec. at 48 (1897-1945)
7
Elizabeth I of England is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 70 (1533-1603)
8
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
Thomas Jefferson is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 83 (1743-1826)
10
Peter the Great is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 53 (1672-1725)
11
Theodore Roosevelt is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 61 (1858-1919)
12
Catherine II of Russia is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 67 (1729-1796)
13
Alfred the Great is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 50 (849-899)
14
Leonardo da Vinci is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Debra Myal added Dec. at 67 (1452-1519)
15
Hammurabi is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 42 (1791 BC-1749 BC)
16
John Adams is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
RobLein added Dec. at 91 (1735-1826)
17
James Madison is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
RobLein added Dec. at 85 (1751-1836)
18
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
Winston Churchill is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 91 (1874-1965)
20
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
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
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
Ashoka is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Newhere added Dec. at 72 (303 BC-231 BC)

first Buddhist ruler

24
A. P. J. Abdul Kalam is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Indian added age 87
25
Dag Hammarskjöld is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 56 (1905-1961)