Western World Historical Leaders Essay
A charismatic, eloquent, patriotic, elegant, wealthy statesman of Athens – Pericles inspired confidence, pride and respect amongst its citizens. Born 495 BC, Pericles espoused citizen participation and recognition as the true spirit of democracy and liberty.
“The idea that democracy was best served by involving a cross-section of the male citizenry…. Pericles successfully proposed that state revenues be used to pay a daily stipend to [poorer] men who served on juries, in the Council of the Five Hundred, and in other public offices…[but] elected generals, the most influential public officials, were to receive no stipends… rich men like Pericles won election as generals because they were supposed to have been able to afford the education and training required to handle this top job and to have the personal wealth to serve without financial compensation. They were compensated by the prestige conferred by election to their office.…[he] became the most influential leader in Athens [in] his era by devising innovations to strengthen the egalitarian tendencies of Athenian democracy..….remuneration for poorer men serving in public offices was an essential foundation of Athenian democracy…” (Martin, 1999)
Of the many other innovative features of Pericles’ leadership, his standing by the rights of others, especially, the marginalized servants of government is the most remarkable because it inspires the true exemplification of honest and compassionate governance. This is precisely as what democratic governance admonished by Abraham Lincoln is all about: “of the people, by the people, FOR the people”.
As citizens are recognized for their contribution and participation to governance, they appreciate the responsibilities and transparency that they are enjoined to make their country work. The nobility of servitude without the lure of rewards indulges in a man a spirit of putting others first. Enlivening and propagating this legacy of Pericles’ exemplary leadership would have made modern day governments closer to the hearts of any and every man, instead of earning irony, cynicism and ridicule from disheartened citizens.
King Henry II (England, b.1133-d.1189, r.1154-1189)
An intelligent and learned leader, King Henry II is more a ruler than just a king. Insightful and dynamic as he has been, King Henry II refined, revised, re-invigorated his government and made his kingdom powerful.
“Henry instituted many reforms to weaken traditional feudal ties and strengthen his position. Unauthorized castles built during the previous reign were razed. Monetary payments replaced military service as the primary duty of vassals. The Exchequer was revitalized to enforce accurate record keeping and tax collection. Incompetent sheriffs were replaced and the authority of royal courts was expanded. Henry empowered a new social class of government clerks that stabilized procedure – the government could operate effectively in the king’s absence and would subsequently prove sufficiently tenacious to survive the reign of incompetent kings. Henry’s reforms allowed the emergence of a body of common law to replace the disparate customs of feudal and county courts. Jury trials were initiated to end the old Germanic trials by ordeal or battle. Henry’s systematic approach to law provided a common basis for development of royal institutions throughout the entire realm.” (Britannia, 2005)
A clear-cut and disciplined justice and administrative system in governance established the importance of the constitutionality of a nation. What Henry II implemented was to ensure effective and proper conduct of responsibilities of the functions of government, thereby its citizenry. The brilliance of instituting jury trial inspired what came about to be the humane spirit of the world’s justice system.
Between an accused of a crime and the participants in a jury, the rights of the people is truly exemplified and elevated to its true pedestal. As the most appropriate venue of finding the truth, it is logical that a community assessing a wrongdoing brings to life the principle of “innocent until proven guilty” (or, guilty until proven innocent in case of the English laws). As Alexis de Tocqueville said in “Democracy in America” (1835), “the jury, which is the most energetic means of making the people rule, is also the most efficacious means of teaching it to rule well”. Thus, came forth the ideals and spirit of people empowerment.
Queen Elizabeth I (England, b.1533-d.1603, r.1558-1603)
Determination, dedication and destiny are the definitions of the reign of Queen Elizabeth I – as she bequests England’s glorious, shining, immortal years. Arts flourished, the Church of England was solidly established and foreign domination was put to halt. As the likewise referred to as “The Virgin Queen”, “Gloriana”, “Good Queen Bess” – England for decades perpetuated Queen Elizabeth I to eternal reckoning.
“She was very well-educated (fluent in six languages), and had inherited intelligence, determination and shrewdness from both parents. Her 45-year reign is generally considered one of the most glorious in English history….a secure Church of England was established. Its doctrines were laid down in the 39 Articles of 1563, a compromise between Roman Catholicism and Protestantism…..Elizabeth had astute political judgment and chose her ministers well…. Social and economic regulation and law and order remained in the hands of the sheriffs at local level, supported by unpaid justices of the peace….Elizabeth’s reign also saw many brave voyages of discovery [that] prepared England for an age of colonization and trade expansion, which Elizabeth herself recognized by establishing the East India Company in 1600. The arts flourished during Elizabeth’s reign….miniature painting reached its high point, theatres thrived…… Elizabeth’s reign is one of triumph and success…..In 1588, aided by bad weather, the English navy scored a great victory over the Spanish invasion fleet of around 130 ships – the ‘Armada’. The Armada was intended to overthrow the Queen …….” (History of the Monarchs)
She has indeed put her strength of will – from claiming and instituting her right to rule and England’s global power. Her most significant course of action of leadership to attest the rigor she exuded was when she led the defeat of such magnanimous show of force, the Spanish Armada. Elizabeth I seemingly declared: England rules, she will not be ruled (as an extended metaphor to her firmly standing her ground as the rightful Queen inspite of the reference to her illegitimacy). The Armada’s pushing her to the wall, made her prove she was Europe’s most dangerous enemy.
This legacy of discipline of intent and strength is wishfully reckoned in our modern day and age. Any man standing his ground to any magnanimous deterring force to what is right will make the better of days and prove the destiny that one truly deserves. Man leads his path to stake his just claim to what is his right – and living that up breaks the shackles of any slavery or unjust dominion.
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