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Weird History The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History  

Mike Rothschild
41.3k votes 3.2k voters 37.6k 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
611 396
Benjamin Franklin is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
RobLein added Dec. at 84 (1706-1790)

2
467 295
Augustus is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 76 (62 BC-14)

3
648 456
George Washington is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 67 (1732-1799)

4
252 126
Otto von Bismarck is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Paweł Langowski added Dec. at 83 (1815-1898)

5
842 628
Mahatma Gandhi is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 79 (1869-1948)

6
575 404
Thomas Jefferson is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 83 (1743-1826)

7
522 360
Elizabeth I of England is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 70 (1533-1603)

8
499 344
Martin Luther is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
RobLein added Dec. at 63 (1483-1546)

9
467 327
Catherine II of Russia is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 67 (1729-1796)

10
607 451
Theodore Roosevelt is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 61 (1858-1919)

11
517 372
Peter the Great is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 53 (1672-1725)

12
368 244
Alfred the Great is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 50 (849-899)

13
219 113
Subhash Chandra Bose is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Indian added Dec. at 48 (1897-1945)

14
320 225
Hammurabi is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 42 (1791 BC-1749 BC)

15
390 294
John Adams is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
RobLein added Dec. at 91 (1735-1826)

16
381 286
James Madison is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
RobLein added Dec. at 85 (1751-1836)

17
322 239
Constantine the Great is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
RobLein added Dec. at 65 (272-337)

18
170 93
Eberhard I, Duke of Württember... is listed (or ranked) 18 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)

19
185 108
William Tell is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Newhere added William Tell

legendary Swiss freedom fighter

20
691 609
Winston Churchill is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 91 (1874-1965)

21
176 104
Charles Augustus, Grand Duke o... is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Newhere added Dec. at 71 (1757-1828)

promoted Enlightenment ideals

22
102 30
Leonardo da Vinci is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Debra Myal added Dec. at 67 (1452-1519)

23
327 265
Dag Hammarskjöld is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
Dec. at 56 (1905-1961)

24
443 398
Napoleon Bonaparte is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History
leon-snyers added Dec. at 52 (1769-1821)

25
336 286
Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History