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History The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History  

Mike Rothschild
38.9k votes 3k voters 34.6k 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
579 352
Benjamin Franklin is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
RobLein added Died at 84 (1706-1790)

2
555 372
Thomas Jefferson is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Died at 83 (1743-1826)

3
436 275
Augustus is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Died at 76 (62 BC-14)

4
615 424
George Washington is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Died at 67 (1732-1799)

5
227 106
Otto von Bismarck is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Paweł Langowski added Died at 83 (1815-1898)

6
502 342
Elizabeth I of England is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Died at 70 (1533-1603)

7
476 324
Martin Luther is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
RobLein added Died at 63 (1483-1546)

8
443 305
Catherine II of Russia is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Died at 67 (1729-1796)

9
586 431
Theodore Roosevelt is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Died at 61 (1858-1919)

10
777 599
Mahatma Gandhi is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Died at 79 (1869-1948)

11
490 351
Peter the Great is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Died at 53 (1672-1725)

12
349 228
Alfred the Great is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Died at 50 (849-899)

13
368 268
James Madison is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
RobLein added Died at 85 (1751-1836)

14
375 275
John Adams is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
RobLein added Died at 91 (1735-1826)

15
299 210
Hammurabi is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Died at 42 (1791 BC-1749 BC)

16
176 94
William Tell is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Newhere added William Tell legendary Swiss freedom fighter

17
159 80
Eberhard I, Duke of Württember... is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Newhere added 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
169 90
Charles Augustus, Grand Duke o... is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Newhere added Died at 71 (1757-1828) - promoted Enlightenment ideals

19
669 585
Winston Churchill is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Died at 91 (1874-1965)

20
304 226
Constantine the Great is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
RobLein added Died at 65 (272-337)

21
169 96
Subhash Chandra Bose is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Indian added Died at 48 (1897-1945)

22
318 251
Dag Hammarskjöld is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Died at 56 (1905-1961)

23
169 113
Ho Chi Minh is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
TrầnĐứcNhã added Died at 79 (1890-1969)

24
419 379
Napoleon Bonaparte is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
leon-snyers added Died at 52 (1769-1821)

25
315 274
Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History

26
73 18
Leonardo da Vinci is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Debra Myal added Died at 67 (1452-1519)

27
127 81
Ashoka is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Newhere added Died at 72 (303 BC-231 BC) - first Buddhist ruler

28
473 469
Franklin D. Roosevelt is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Died at 63 (1882-1945)

29
534 563
Abraham Lincoln is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Died at 56 (1809-1865)

30
109 72
Alexander Hamilton is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Died at 47 (1757-1804)

31
125 91
A. P. J. Abdul Kalam is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Indian added age 86

32
76 36
Pedro II of Brazil is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Arthur Brum added 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).

33
284 285
Louis IX of France is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Died at 56 (1214-1270)

34
99 64
B. R. Ambedkar is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Shefali added Died at 65 (1891-1956)

35
424 458
John F. Kennedy is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Died at 46 (1917-1963)

36
158 146
Justinian I is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Died at 83 (482-565)

37
244 261
Julius Caesar is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
RobLein added Died at 56 (99 BC-43 BC)

38
266 294
Pope John Paul II is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Died at 85 (1920-2005)

39
326 371
Mikhail Gorbachev is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History

40
183 195
Ronald Reagan is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Scott Reece added Died at 93 (1911-2004)

41
68 51
Emperor Meiji is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
John Zauser added Died at 60 (1852-1912)

42
443 568
Martin Luther King, Jr. is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
leon-snyers added Died at 39 (1929-1968)

43
157 179
Akbar is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Died at 63 (1542-1605)

44
151 173
Willy Brandt is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Died 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 Died at 91 (1876-1967)

46
63 53
Queen Victoria is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Pdegeorge80 added Died at 82 (1819-1901)

47
314 411
Charles de Gaulle is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
leon-snyers added age 69

48
279 365
Lech Wałęsa is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
age 74

49
63 59
Cyrus the Great is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Newhere added

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