A person who doesn't get much attention in the Anglophone world is Pedro II of Brazil. His mother died a year after his birth and his father abandoned him when he was a child. To make matters worse, he generally had an unhappy marriage coupled with the early death of three out of four of his children.
You might think that, with this tragic of a personal life would reflect this in his political life, however Pedro II proves doubters wrong. He was a patron of the arts and sciences, garnering praise from philosophers and musicians alike. When Paraguay invaded Brazil, he threatened to abdicate if he could not go to the front. After the war was won, instead of the plans to build a statue of him, he appropriated these funds to construction of elementary schools. Finally, he abolished slavery at a time when it was immensely popular. Sadly, he was removed by a military coup d'état at the height of his popularity. Not wishing to see civil war, he abdicated and died an exile in Europe.