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History The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History  

Mike Rothschild
38.6k votes 2.9k voters 33.9k 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.

1
576 345
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
553 367
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
613 419
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
431 273
Augustus is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Augustus Died at 76 (62 BC-14)

5
222 103
Otto von Bismarck is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Paweł Langowski added Otto von Bismarck Died at 83 (1815-1898)

6
499 338
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
473 321
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
771 589
Mahatma Gandhi is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Mahatma Gandhi Died at 79 (1869-1948)

9
441 302
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
584 428
Theodore Roosevelt is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Theodore Roosevelt Died at 61 (1858-1919)

11
488 348
Peter the Great is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Peter the Great Died at 53 (1672-1725)

12
347 225
Alfred the Great is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Alfred the Great Died at 50 (849-899)

13
374 271
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
366 265
James Madison is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
RobLein added James Madison Died at 85 (1751-1836)

15
296 209
Hammurabi is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Hammurabi Died at 42 (1791 BC-1749 BC)

16
174 92
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
157 79
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
167 89
Charles Augustus, Grand Duke o... is listed (or ranked) 18 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

19
303 224
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
666 582
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
317 249
Dag Hammarskjöld is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dag Hammarskjöld Died at 56 (1905-1961)

22
162 93
Subhash Chandra Bose is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Indian added Subhash Chandra Bose Died at 48 (1897-1945)

23
166 111
Ho Chi Minh is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
TrầnĐứcNhã added Ho Chi Minh Died at 79 (1890-1969)

24
416 378
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
310 269
Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History

26
471 466
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
123 79
Ashoka is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Newhere added Ashoka Died at 72 (303 BC-231 BC) - first Buddhist ruler

28
69 18
Leonardo da Vinci is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Debra Myal added Leonardo da Vinci Died at 67 (1452-1519)

29
531 561
Abraham Lincoln is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Abraham Lincoln Died at 56 (1809-1865)

30
107 71
Alexander Hamilton is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Alexander Hamilton Died at 47 (1757-1804)

31
121 89
A. P. J. Abdul Kalam is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Indian added A. P. J. Abdul Kalam age 86

32
98 62
B. R. Ambedkar is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Shefali added B. R. Ambedkar Died at 65 (1891-1956)

33
282 282
Louis IX of France is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Louis IX of France Died at 56 (1214-1270)

34
74 35
Pedro II of Brazil is listed (or ranked) 34 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).

35
421 458
John F. Kennedy is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
John F. Kennedy Died at 46 (1917-1963)

36
157 145
Justinian I is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Justinian I Died at 83 (482-565)

37
242 260
Julius Caesar is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
RobLein added Julius Caesar Died at 56 (99 BC-43 BC)

38
325 369
Mikhail Gorbachev is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History

39
264 293
Pope John Paul II is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Pope John Paul II Died at 85 (1920-2005)

40
179 195
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 51
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
441 566
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)

43
157 177
Akbar is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Akbar Died at 63 (1542-1605)

44
151 172
Willy Brandt is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Willy Brandt Died at 79 (1913-1992)

45
125 137
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
63 51
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
314 408
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
279 363
Lech Wałęsa is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Lech Wałęsa age 74

49
62 58
Cyrus the Great is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Newhere added Cyrus the Great

50
167 216
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)