An enlightened despot was a monarch during the Enlightenment who ruled with some concern for the welfare of his people. In other words, this type of king allowed some reforms for the good of the people but still maintained absolute power. Voltaire, a prominent French philosophe and Enlightenment thinker, was a proponent of such a government. Monarchs that are considered enlightened despots usually ruled over Eastern European countries, such as Emperor Joseph II of Austria or Catherine the Great of Russia.
The term has also been applied to many modern dictators, often of a Communist viewpoint. Joseph Stalin, Fidel Castro, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, Napoleon Bonaparte, Mussolini, and Josip Broz Tito.