Later...the leaders were able to amass enough wealth to purchase the loyalty of guards, and with enough people purchased, they were able to unilaterally screw everyone else. This is the natural state of leader-systems.
Later, there were some number of cases where the leaders were (a) thrown off, (b) released some amount of control, of (c) partially constrained.
The best of times where a leader was thrown off, or constrained were: Athens, Roman Republic, Venice, Portugal 1400s, Netherlands 1500s, England 1600s, America 1700s. These times are collectively known as civilization.
However, in all the cases, the throwing off of the control of a leader eventually collapsed back into a state as bad as when there was a leader before. USUALLY, the throwing off didn't result in as crappy of a situation as the super-bad leader situations (North Korea), but it sucked pretty much.
Also...not all throwing off of leaders resulted in civilization. French Revolution. Russian Revolution. Vietnam. Etc. Any case where the mob took MORE control than the leader had seems to have turned out badly.
I've advocated the position before that the CORE of what is good in all of history was a weakening of the central power, and the ability for new, better institutions to evolve. AND that the eventual decline was when central power became a lever that could be used by others.
I think myself and MOST of the formalists would agree that most new institutions fail... and so, I think I have a proposition that is at least interesting to the formalists.
What historically observed long-lasting system of government has the correct balance of MOST stable, and MOST beneficial to the citizens? No fair choosing something that only lasted 70 years, like the pre-civil war US federalism.
Hmm...how about the swiss system. Stable, except for Napoleon since 1291. Massive devolution of power to effectively the COUNTY (Canton) level (1/2 million people each). Substantial differences between cantons (Hell, neighboring counties speak different languages). Moderate, non-war competition between cantons. Near zero federal power. Direct democracy inside the cantons.
IF we were going to try to design a system that was both stable, and good for the citizenry, I'd suggest that something resembling the Swiss system is the best thing we have in the world today. There is some question of whether it's TOO conservative...but regardless, it's awful good.