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Weird History The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History  

Mike Rothschild
40.4k votes 3.1k voters 36.3k 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
602 379
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
458 287
Augustus is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 76 (62 BC-14)

3
247 118
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
635 443
George Washington is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 67 (1732-1799)

5
566 393
Thomas Jefferson is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 83 (1743-1826)

6
516 354
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
815 617
Mahatma Gandhi is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 79 (1869-1948)

8
491 338
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
363 237
Alfred the Great is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 50 (849-899)

10
508 365
Peter the Great is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 53 (1672-1725)

11
597 444
Theodore Roosevelt is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 61 (1858-1919)

12
456 320
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
197 106
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
313 218
Hammurabi is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 42 (1791 BC-1749 BC)

15
375 281
James Madison is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
RobLein added Dec. at 85 (1751-1836)

16
383 290
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
170 88
Eberhard I, Duke of Württember... is listed (or ranked) 17 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)

18
317 233
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
183 103
William Tell is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Newhere added William Tell

legendary Swiss freedom fighter

20
683 600
Winston Churchill is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 91 (1874-1965)

21
176 100
Charles Augustus, Grand Duke o... is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Newhere added Dec. at 71 (1757-1828) -

promoted Enlightenment ideals

22
325 260
Dag Hammarskjöld is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 56 (1905-1961)

23
95 27
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
436 389
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
330 280
Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History

26
178 126
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
140 89
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
144 98
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
486 481
Franklin D. Roosevelt is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 63 (1882-1945)

30
553 571
Abraham Lincoln is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 56 (1809-1865)

31
111 72
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
116 79
Alexander Hamilton is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 47 (1757-1804)

33
83 43
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
292 294
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
436 468
John F. Kennedy is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 46 (1917-1963)

36
166 151
Justinian I is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 83 (482-565)

37
258 269
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
333 379
Mikhail Gorbachev is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History

39
274 306
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
191 210
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
462 576
Martin Luther King, Jr. is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
leon-snyers added Dec. at 39 (1929-1968)

42
166 189
Akbar is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 63 (1542-1605)

43
72 60
Emperor Meiji is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
John Zauser added Dec. at 60 (1852-1912)

44
71 60
Queen Victoria is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Pdegeorge80 added Dec. at 82 (1819-1901)

45
73 65
Cyrus the Great is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Newhere added

46
152 178
Willy Brandt is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 79 (1913-1992)

47
127 143
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
320 418
Charles de Gaulle is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
leon-snyers added age 69

49
284 373
Lech Wałęsa is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
age 74

50
59 55
Simon Bolivar is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Gregory Ditzler added Simon Bolivar