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Weird History The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History  

Mike Rothschild
39.3k votes 3k voters 35.1k 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
587 359
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
441 277
Augustus is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 76 (62 BC-14)

3
559 375
Thomas Jefferson is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 83 (1743-1826)

4
622 428
George Washington is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 67 (1732-1799)

5
233 107
Otto von Bismarck is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Paweł Langowski added Dec. at 83 (1815-1898)

6
505 344
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
480 326
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
790 604
Mahatma Gandhi is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 79 (1869-1948)

9
589 432
Theodore Roosevelt is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 61 (1858-1919)

10
446 309
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
497 354
Peter the Great is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 53 (1672-1725)

12
355 230
Alfred the Great is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 50 (849-899)

13
304 210
Hammurabi is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 42 (1791 BC-1749 BC)

14
377 279
John Adams is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
RobLein added Dec. at 91 (1735-1826)

15
370 273
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
183 98
Subhash Chandra Bose is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Indian added Dec. at 48 (1897-1945)

17
179 95
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
164 81
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
172 92
Charles Augustus, Grand Duke o... is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Newhere added Dec. at 71 (1757-1828) -

promoted Enlightenment ideals

20
308 226
Constantine the Great is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
RobLein added Dec. at 65 (272-337)

21
672 589
Winston Churchill is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 91 (1874-1965)

22
321 253
Dag Hammarskjöld is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 56 (1905-1961)

23
82 18
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
424 381
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
320 274
Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History

26
172 117
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
131 82
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
477 472
Franklin D. Roosevelt is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 63 (1882-1945)

29
133 91
A. P. J. Abdul Kalam is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Indian added age 86

30
539 564
Abraham Lincoln is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 56 (1809-1865)

31
104 65
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
110 74
Alexander Hamilton is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 47 (1757-1804)

33
78 37
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
288 286
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
428 459
John F. Kennedy is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 46 (1917-1963)

36
160 147
Justinian I is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 83 (482-565)

37
248 264
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
270 296
Pope John Paul II is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 85 (1920-2005)

39
327 373
Mikhail Gorbachev is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History

40
187 196
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
69 52
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
449 570
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
161 181
Akbar is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 63 (1542-1605)

44
151 173
Willy Brandt is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 79 (1913-1992)

45
125 138
Konrad Adenauer is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
RobLein added Dec. at 91 (1876-1967)

46
64 54
Queen Victoria is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Pdegeorge80 added Dec. at 82 (1819-1901)

47
316 411
Charles de Gaulle is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
leon-snyers added age 69

48
66 59
Cyrus the Great is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Newhere added

49
281 367
Lech Wałęsa is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
age 74

50
170 217
Suleiman the Magnificent is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 72 (1494-1566)