Photo: via Reddit

history The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History  

Mike Rothschild
34.7k votes 2.6k voters 28.1k views Embed

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
513 285
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
506 307
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
567 361
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
175 55
Otto von Bismarck is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Paweł Langowski added Otto von Bismarck Died at 83 (1815-1898)

5
384 236
Augustus is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Augustus Died at 76 (62 BC-14)

6
453 299
Elizabeth I of England is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Elizabeth I of England Died at 70 (1533-1603)

7
544 388
Theodore Roosevelt is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Theodore Roosevelt Died at 61 (1858-1919)

8
418 281
Martin Luther is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
RobLein added Martin Luther Died at 63 (1483-1546)

9
402 271
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
452 320
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
316 203
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
346 230
James Madison is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
RobLein added James Madison Died at 85 (1751-1836)

13
352 238
John Adams is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
RobLein added John Adams Died at 91 (1735-1826)

14
149 59
Charles Augustus, Grand Duke o... is listed (or ranked) 14 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

15 Actors Who Hate Why They're Famous

15
150 60
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
138 56
Eberhard I, Duke of Württember... is listed (or ranked) 16 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)

17
662 556
Mahatma Gandhi is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Mahatma Gandhi Died at 79 (1869-1948)

18
618 539
Winston Churchill is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Winston Churchill Died at 91 (1874-1965)

19
273 200
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
296 223
Dag Hammarskjöld is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dag Hammarskjöld Died at 56 (1905-1961)

21
260 189
Hammurabi is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Hammurabi Died at 42 (1791 BC-1749 BC)

World Leaders With The Most Children

22
139 75
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
381 349
Napoleon Bonaparte is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
leon-snyers added Napoleon Bonaparte Died at 52 (1769-1821)

24
433 429
Franklin D. Roosevelt is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Franklin D. Roosevelt Died at 63 (1882-1945)

25
268 244
Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History

26
116 75
Subhash Chandra Bose is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Indian added Subhash Chandra Bose Died at 48 (1897-1945)

27
57 11
Pedro II of Brazil is listed (or ranked) 27 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).

28
267 260
Louis IX of France is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Louis IX of France Died at 56 (1214-1270)

The 15 Most Famous Introverts In World History

29
81 43
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
75 41
B. R. Ambedkar is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Shefali added B. R. Ambedkar Died at 65 (1891-1956)

31
92 63
Ashoka is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Newhere added Ashoka Died at 72 (303 BC-231 BC) - first Buddhist ruler

32
387 429
John F. Kennedy is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
John F. Kennedy Died at 46 (1917-1963)

33
477 541
Abraham Lincoln is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Abraham Lincoln Died at 56 (1809-1865)

34
146 135
Justinian I is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Justinian I Died at 83 (482-565)

35
251 267
Pope John Paul II is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Pope John Paul II Died at 85 (1920-2005)

The Most Overrated Actors of All Time

36
159 154
Ronald Reagan is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Scott Reece added Ronald Reagan Died at 93 (1911-2004)

37
309 346
Mikhail Gorbachev is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History

38
97 79
A. P. J. Abdul Kalam is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Indian added A. P. J. Abdul Kalam age 86

39
122 121
Konrad Adenauer is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
RobLein added Konrad Adenauer Died at 91 (1876-1967)

40
217 247
Julius Caesar is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
RobLein added Julius Caesar Died at 56 (99 BC-43 BC)

41
58 39
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
146 158
Willy Brandt is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Willy Brandt Died at 79 (1913-1992)

Where You've Seen All The Black Panther Actors Before

43
25 3
Leonardo da Vinci is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Debra Myal added Leonardo da Vinci Died at 67 (1452-1519)

44
305 383
Charles de Gaulle is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
leon-snyers added Charles de Gaulle age 69

45
140 162
Akbar is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Akbar Died at 63 (1542-1605)

46
55 47
Cyrus the Great is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Newhere added Cyrus the Great

47
46 35
Queen Victoria is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Pdegeorge80 added Queen Victoria Died at 82 (1819-1901)

48
265 352
Lech Wałęsa is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Lech Wałęsa age 74

49
397 547
Martin Luther King, Jr. is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
leon-snyers added Martin Luther King, Jr. Died at 39 (1929-1968)

50
143 190
Pope John XXIII is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
RobLein added Pope John XXIII Died at 82 (1881-1963)