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The Mind of the Good Ruler: Governance and Empathy

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 The Grand Duke of Tuscany, Leopold II (1797-1870) did something very peculiar for a ruler of a state: he left us a personal diary. It was a collection of handwritten notes that cover all the period of his rule as Grand Duke, up to when he was deposed in 1871. It was published in 1987. It is a fascinating document (unfortunately existing only in Italian, as far as I know) that allows us a rare chance of a glimpse of how the mind of a ruler works -- in this case a good ruler.   Why are our leaders so bad? Maybe it is us who always choose the worst possible persons for the job? But are they bad at the start, or do they go bananas as things go on? It would be nice to be able to understand what goes on inside the head of leaders, but they are people notoriously capable of cheating just about anyone, including themselves. And the main tool of the cheater is to hide what he is thinking.  Maybe we could know more if we could have the personal diary of some of those powerful figures, but they don't usually keep diaries. That's probably part of their habit of keeping hidden what they really think. But sometimes we do have documents that open a view for us inside the head of these people. I already discussed the case of Benito Mussolini on the basis of the diary kept by his son-in-law, Galeazzo Ciano. Mussolini was an almost paradigmatic bad leader and here I would try to contrast his approach to ruling with another figure of leader who, under many respects, was completely opposite: that of the Grand Duke Leopold II, who ruled Tuscany from 1824 to 1859. And he did something that very few rulers did: he left us a diary of his everyday life throughout all the period of his rule as Grand Duke of Tuscany!It is a fascinating document that gives us an incredibly detailed view on the life of a person who was in charge of a state of nearly 2 million inhabitants. Of course, it is not the only document we have about Leopold's life. The story is complex and a. . .

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News source: Cassandra's Legacy

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