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Weird History

The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History  

Mike Rothschild
43.5k votes 3.5k voters 41.4k 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
Leonardo da Vinci is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Debra Myal added Dec. at 67 (1452-1519)
2
Subhash Chandra Bose is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Indian added Dec. at 48 (1897-1945)
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
Ashoka is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Newhere added Dec. at 72 (303 BC-231 BC)

first Buddhist ruler

5
Augustus is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 76 (62 BC-14)
6
Benjamin Franklin is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
RobLein added Dec. at 84 (1706-1790)
7
Alfred the Great is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 50 (849-899)
8
George Washington is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 67 (1732-1799)
9
Eberhard I, Duke of Württember... is listed (or ranked) 9 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)

10
Mahatma Gandhi is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 79 (1869-1948)
11
Martin Luther is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
RobLein added Dec. at 63 (1483-1546)
12
Elizabeth I of England is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 70 (1533-1603)
13
A. P. J. Abdul Kalam is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Indian added age 87
14
William Tell is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Newhere added William Tell

legendary Swiss freedom fighter

15
Charles Augustus, Grand Duke o... is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Newhere added Dec. at 71 (1757-1828)

promoted Enlightenment ideals

16
Hammurabi is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 42 (1791 BC-1749 BC)
17
Peter the Great is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 53 (1672-1725)
18
Catherine II of Russia is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 67 (1729-1796)
19
Thomas Jefferson is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 83 (1743-1826)
20
B. R. Ambedkar is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Shefali added Dec. at 65 (1891-1956)
21
Theodore Roosevelt is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 61 (1858-1919)
22
Alexander Hamilton is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 47 (1757-1804)
23
Constantine the Great is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
RobLein added Dec. at 65 (272-337)
24
John Adams is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
RobLein added Dec. at 91 (1735-1826)
25
Pedro II of Brazil is listed (or ranked) 25 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).