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history The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History  

Mike Rothschild
37.9k votes 2.8k voters 32.4k 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
565 328
Benjamin Franklin is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
RobLein added Benjamin Franklin Died at 84 (1706-1790)

2
549 348
Thomas Jefferson is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Thomas Jefferson Died at 83 (1743-1826)

3
603 404
George Washington is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
George Washington Died at 67 (1732-1799)

4
422 263
Augustus is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Augustus Died at 76 (62 BC-14)

5
492 326
Elizabeth I of England is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Elizabeth I of England Died at 70 (1533-1603)

6
213 96
Otto von Bismarck is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Paweł Langowski added Otto von Bismarck Died at 83 (1815-1898)

7
464 311
Martin Luther is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
RobLein added Martin Luther Died at 63 (1483-1546)

8
575 420
Theodore Roosevelt is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Theodore Roosevelt Died at 61 (1858-1919)

9
432 296
Catherine II of Russia is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Catherine II of Russia Died at 67 (1729-1796)

10
483 342
Peter the Great is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Peter the Great Died at 53 (1672-1725)

11
342 218
Alfred the Great is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Alfred the Great Died at 50 (849-899)

12
736 578
Mahatma Gandhi is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Mahatma Gandhi Died at 79 (1869-1948)

13
363 257
James Madison is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
RobLein added James Madison Died at 85 (1751-1836)

14
369 263
John Adams is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
RobLein added John Adams Died at 91 (1735-1826)

The Greatest Minds of All Time

15
172 84
William Tell is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Newhere added William Tell legendary Swiss freedom fighter

16
167 80
Charles Augustus, Grand Duke o... is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Newhere added Charles Augustus, Grand Duke of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach Died at 71 (1757-1828) - promoted Enlightenment ideals

17
155 73
Eberhard I, Duke of Württember... is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Newhere added Eberhard I, Duke of Württemberg Died 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
291 204
Hammurabi is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Hammurabi Died at 42 (1791 BC-1749 BC)

19
297 216
Constantine the Great is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
RobLein added Constantine the Great Died at 65 (272-337)

20
659 575
Winston Churchill is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Winston Churchill Died at 91 (1874-1965)

21
317 244
Dag Hammarskjöld is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dag Hammarskjöld Died at 56 (1905-1961)

The Most Beautiful Women of All Time

22
164 103
Ho Chi Minh is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
TrầnĐứcNhã added Ho Chi Minh Died at 79 (1890-1969)

23
149 92
Subhash Chandra Bose is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Indian added Subhash Chandra Bose Died at 48 (1897-1945)

24
410 373
Napoleon Bonaparte is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
leon-snyers added Napoleon Bonaparte Died at 52 (1769-1821)

25
304 263
Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History

26
462 462
Franklin D. Roosevelt is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Franklin D. Roosevelt Died at 63 (1882-1945)

27
62 15
Leonardo da Vinci is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Debra Myal added Leonardo da Vinci Died at 67 (1452-1519)

28
525 557
Abraham Lincoln is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Abraham Lincoln Died at 56 (1809-1865)

The Best American Founding Fathers

29
105 66
Alexander Hamilton is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Alexander Hamilton Died at 47 (1757-1804)

30
73 30
Pedro II of Brazil is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Arthur Brum added Pedro II of Brazil Died 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).

31
282 279
Louis IX of France is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Louis IX of France Died at 56 (1214-1270)

32
108 77
Ashoka is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Newhere added Ashoka Died at 72 (303 BC-231 BC) - first Buddhist ruler

33
418 453
John F. Kennedy is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
John F. Kennedy Died at 46 (1917-1963)

34
88 59
B. R. Ambedkar is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Shefali added B. R. Ambedkar Died at 65 (1891-1956)

35
155 143
Justinian I is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Justinian I Died at 83 (482-565)

The Smartest Celebrities

36
108 89
A. P. J. Abdul Kalam is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Indian added A. P. J. Abdul Kalam age 86

37
322 365
Mikhail Gorbachev is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History

38
261 289
Pope John Paul II is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Pope John Paul II Died at 85 (1920-2005)

39
234 259
Julius Caesar is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
RobLein added Julius Caesar Died at 56 (99 BC-43 BC)

40
176 187
Ronald Reagan is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Scott Reece added Ronald Reagan Died at 93 (1911-2004)

41
66 50
Emperor Meiji is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
John Zauser added Emperor Meiji Died at 60 (1852-1912)

42
435 563
Martin Luther King, Jr. is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
leon-snyers added Martin Luther King, Jr. Died at 39 (1929-1968)

16 World Leaders Who Were (Or Are) Tall AF

43
151 171
Willy Brandt is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Willy Brandt Died at 79 (1913-1992)

44
152 173
Akbar is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Akbar Died at 63 (1542-1605)

45
125 136
Konrad Adenauer is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
RobLein added Konrad Adenauer Died at 91 (1876-1967)

46
60 49
Queen Victoria is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Pdegeorge80 added Queen Victoria Died at 82 (1819-1901)

47
312 406
Charles de Gaulle is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
leon-snyers added Charles de Gaulle age 69

48
277 361
Lech Wałęsa is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Lech Wałęsa age 74

49
61 56
Cyrus the Great is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Newhere added Cyrus the Great

50
166 212
Suleiman the Magnificent is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Suleiman the Magnificent Died at 72 (1494-1566)