10 Greatest Empires in the History of World


An empire involves the extension of a state’s sovereignty over external territories. the greatness of an empire is based on the extent, population, economy, duration and many other factors such as type of rule and government, satisfaction by its people etc. The calculation of the land area of a particular empire is controversial. In general, the sequence in list centers on all the aspects that make an empire mighty, strong and progressive and all the factors as mentioned that make a kingdom great.

 

10. Akkadian Empire (2300 BC–2200 BC)

Akkadian Empire
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The Akkadian Empire (2334 BC to 2083 BC) was an empire centered in the city of Akkad and its surrounding region (in Ancient Iraq). The Akkadian state was the predecessor of the ethnic Akkadian states of Babylonia and Assyria; formed following centuries of Akkadian cultural synergy with others, it reached the height of its power between the 24th and 22nd centuries BC following the conquests of king Sargon of Akkad, and is sometimes regarded as the first manifestation of an empire in history.

  • It was the first empire to manifest on the earth.
  • It reached record breaking size of its time and is considered the largest empire of dark ancient era – 0.8 million km2 (2250 BC)

 

9. Achaemenid Empire (550 BC–330 BC)

Achaemenid Empire

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The Achaemenid Empire (ca. 550–330 BC), also known as the Persian Empire , was the successor state of the Median Empire, ruling over significant portions of what would become Greater Iran. The Persian and the Median Empire taken together are also known as the Medo-Persian Empire , which encompassed the combined territories of several earlier empires. The empire was forged by Cyrus the Great, and spanned three continents: Asia, Africa and Europe. At its greatest extent, the empire included the territories of Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan, parts of Central Asia, Asia Minor, Thrace and Macedonia, much of the Black Sea coastal regions, Iraq, northern Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Palestine, Israel, Lebanon, Syria, and all significant population centers of ancient Egypt as far west as Libya. It is noted in western history as the foe of the Greek city states during the Greco-Persian Wars, for emancipation of slaves including the Jews from their Babylonian captivity, and for instituting the usage of official languages throughout its territories. The Achaemenid Persian empire was invaded by Alexander III of Macedon, after which it collapsed and disintegrated in 330 BC into what later became the Ptolemaic Kingdom and Seleucid Empire, in addition to other minor territories which gained independence after its collapse.

  • It was the largest empire in ancient history. At the height of its power, the empire encompassed approximately 8 million km2
  • In universal history the role of the Persian empire founded by Cyrus the Great lies in their very successful model for centralized administration and a government working to the advantage and profit of all.

 

8. Roman Empire ( 27 BC–AD 476/1453)

Roman Empire
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The Roman Empire was the post-Republican phase of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean. The Roman Republic, which preceded it, had been weakened and subverted through several civil wars.Several events are commonly proposed to mark the transition from Republic to Empire, including Julius Caesar’s appointment as perpetual dictator (44 BC), the Battle of Actium (2 September 31 BC), and the Roman Senate’s granting to Octavian the honorific Augustus (4 January 27 BC). Roman expansion began in the days of the Republic, but reached its zenith under Emperor Trajan. At this territorial peak, the Roman Empire controlled approximately 6.5 million km² of land surface. Because of the Empire’s vast extent and long endurance, Roman influence upon the language, religion, architecture, philosophy, law, and government of nations around the world lasts to this day.

  • The powers of an emperor existed, in theory at least, by virtue of his “tribunician powers”  and his “proconsular powers”  In theory, the tribunician powers made the emperor’s person and office sacrosanct, and gave the emperor authority over Rome’s civil government, including the power to preside over and to control the Senate. The proconsular powers  gave him authority over the Roman army.
  • Roman Empire achieved great territorial gains in both the East and the West. It had one of the strongest armies recorded.
  • The enduring Roman influence is reflected pervasively in contemporary language, literature, legal codes, government, architecture, engineering, medicine, sports, arts, etc. Much of it is so deeply inbedded that we barely notice our debt to ancient Rome. Consider language, for example. Fewer and fewer people today claim to know Latin — and yet, go back to the first sentence in this paragraph. If we removed all the words drawn directly from Latin, that sentence would read; “The.”

 

7. Umayyad Caliphate (661–750)

Umayyad Caliphate
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A caliphate is the Islamic form of government representing the political unity and leadership of the Muslim world. The Caliph’s position is based on the notion of a successor to Muhammad’s political authority. According to Sunnis, a Caliph can be any pious Muslim who is elected by the Muslims or their representatives; and according to Shia Islam, an Imam descended in a line from the Ahl al-Bayt.

The Umayyad Caliphate was the second of the four Islamic caliphates established after the death of Muhammad (PBUH). It was ruled by the Umayyad dynasty, whose name derives from Umayya ibn Abd Shams, the great-grandfather of the first Umayyad caliph. Although the Umayyad family originally came from the city of Mecca, Damascus was the capital of their Caliphate. Eventually, it would cover more than five million square miles, making it the largest empire the world had yet seen. The Umayyads established the largest Arab-Muslim state in history. From the time of prophet Muhammad until 1924, successive and contemporary caliphates were held by various dynasties, including the Rashidun Caliphate of the first four caliphs after Muhammad, the Umayyads based in Damascus and Córdoba, the Abbasids based in Baghdad & later in Cairo, the Fatimids based in Cairo, and finally the Turkish Ottoman Empire based in Istanbul.

  • Ummayads had the best administration system the world had yet seen. To assist the Caliph in administration there were six Boards at the Centre: Diwan al-Kharaj (the Board of Revenue), Diwan al-Rasa’il (the Board of Correspondence), Diwan al-Khatam (the Board of Signet), Diwan al-Barid (the Board of Posts), Diwan al-Qudat (Board of Justice) and Diwan al-Jund (the Military Board).
  • Fifth largest contiguous empire to ever exist.
  • Modern Arab nationalism regards the period of the Umayyads as part of the Arab Golden Age.

 

6. Qing Dynasty (1890–1912)

Qing Dynasty
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The Qing Dynasty was the last ruling dynasty of China, ruling from 1644 to 1912 (with a brief, abortive restoration in 1917). It was preceded by the Ming Dynasty and followed by the Republic of China. The dynasty was founded by the Manchu clan Aisin Gioro in what is today northeast China, (also known as Manchuria). Starting in 1644 it expanded into China proper and its surrounding territories, establishing the Empire of the Great Qing. Complete pacification of China was accomplished around 1683.The Qing Dynasty was overthrown following the Xinhai Revolution, when the Empress Dowager Longyu abdicated on behalf of the last emperor, Puyi, on February 12, 1912.

  • During its reign the Qing Dynasty became highly integrated with Chinese culture.
  • The dynasty reached its height in the 18th century, during which both territory and population were increased.
  • It covered an immense area of  14.7 million km2 (1790) making it the 5th largest according to land mass.
  • It had the 4th largest %age of world’s GDP i.e 32.9% ($228.6 billion out of $694.4 billion in 1820)

 

5. Russian Empire (1721–1917)

Russian Empire

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The Russian Empire was a state that existed from 1721 until the Russian Revolution of 1917. It was the successor to the Tsardom of Russia, and the predecessor of the Soviet Union. At one point in 1866, it stretched from eastern Europe, across Asia, and into North America. At the beginning of the 19th century, Russia was the largest country in the world, extending from the Arctic Ocean to the north to the Black Sea on the south, from the Baltic Sea on the west to the Pacific Ocean on the east.

  • It was the second largest contiguous empire the world has ever seen, surpassed only by the Mongol Empire, and the third largest empire the world has ever seen, surpassed only by the British Empire and the Mongol Empire .
  • The household servants or dependents attached to the personal service were merely set free, while the landed peasants received their houses and orchards, and allotments of arable land.

 

4. Mongol Empire (1206–1368)

Mongol Empire Image Source

The Mongol Empire was an empire from the 13th and 14th century spanning from Eastern Europe across Asia. It emerged from the unification of Mongol and Turkic tribes in modern day Mongolia, and grew through invasions, after Genghis Khan had been proclaimed ruler of all Mongols in 1206. At its greatest extent it stretched from the Danube to the Sea of Japan (or East Sea) and from the Arctic to Camboja, covering over 24,000,000 km2 , 22% of the Earth’s total land area, and held sway over a population of over 100 million people. It is often identified as the ” Mongol World Empire ” because it spanned much of Eurasia. However, the empire began to split following the succession war in 1260–1264. By 1294, he Mongol Empire had already fractured into four separate empires, each pursuing its own separate interests and objectives.

  • It is the largest contiguous empire in the history of the world, and the second largest empire in history, after the British Empire.
  • Under the Mongols new technologies, various commodities and ideologies were disseminated and exchanged across Eurasia.

 

3. Mughal Empire (1526–1858)

Mughal Empire
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The Mughal Empire was an Islamic imperial power that ruled a large portion of Indian subcontinent which began in 1526, invaded and ruled most of South Asia by the late 17th and early 18th centuries, and ended in the mid-19th century.The Mughal Emperors were descendants of the Timurids of Turkistan, and at the height of their power around 1700, they controlled most of the Indian Subcontinent—extending from Bengal in the east to Balochistan in the west, Kashmir in the north to the Kaveri basin in the south. Its population at that time has been estimated as between 110 and 130 million, over a territory of over 4 million sq. km (1.5 million sq. mi.).The “classic period” of the Empire started in 1556 with the accession of Jalaluddin Mohammad Akbar, better known as Akbar the Great. It ended with the death of Emperor Aurangzeb in 1707, although the Empire continued for another 150 years.

  • The Empire was marked by a highly centralized administration connecting the different regions.
  • All the significant monuments of the Mughals, their most visible legacy, date to this period which was characterised by the expansion of Persian cultural influence in the Indian subcontinent, with brilliant literary, artistic and architectural results. A major Mughal contribution to the Indian Subcontinent was their unique architecture. Many monuments were built by the Muslim emperors, especially Shahjahan, during the Mughal era including the UNESCO World Heritage Site Taj Mahal, which is known to be one of the finer examples of Mughal architecture.
  • The Indian economy remained as prosperous under the Mughals as it was, because of the creation of a road system and a uniform currency, together with the unification of the country. Manufactured goods and peasant-grown cash crops were sold throughout the world.
  • n the Mughal Empire, the 16th and 17th centuries saw a synthesis of Muslim scientists who are the pioneers of modern science.
  • It remained strong for longest duration above other empires and 4th largest population as compared to all other kingdoms – 175.0 million in 1700.

 

2. British Empire

British Empire
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The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates, and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom, that had originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height it was the largest empire in history and, for over a century, was the foremost global power. By 1922, the British Empire held sway over a population of about 458 million people, one-quarter of the world’s population at the time, and covered more than 13,000,000 square miles (33,670,000 km2): approximately a quarter of the Earth’s total land area. As a result, its political, linguistic and cultural legacy is widespread. At the peak of its power, it was often said that “the sun never sets on the British Empire” because its span across the globe ensured that the sun was always shining on at least one of its numerous territories.

  • It was the largest empire by landmass covering 33.7 million km2 (1922)
  • It was the largest empire by population.
  • It had the second largest GDP size of  $683.3 billion (in 1938) after the US in 1945
  • It had the largest percent of world GDP  35.9% ($399 billionout of $1,111 billion in 1870)
  • It had the largest military of all times.
  • During the rule, people were quite unsatisfactory with the government and many disputes arose therefore the empire was soon brought done like house of cards as soon as it emerged, therefore although being largest, it is on second number.

 

1. Ottoman Empire (1299–1923)

Ottoman Empire
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The Ottoman Empire also known by its contemporaries as the Turkish Empire. was an Islamic empire that lasted from 1299 to November 1,  July 24, 1923 It was succeeded by the Republic of Turkey,which was officially proclaimed on October 29, 1923. At the height of its power (16th–17th centuries), the empire spanned three continents, controlling much of Western Asia, Eastern and Southeastern Europe, the Caucasus, and North Africa. The Ottoman Empire contained 29 provinces and numerous vassal states, some of which were later absorbed into the empire, while others gained various types of autonomy during the course of centuries.

  • It existed at the globe for the longest period of time for 7 centuries.
  • The Ottoman legal system accepted the religious law over its subjects. The Ottoman Empire was always organized around a system of local jurisprudence.
  • The Ottoman Empire was, in principle, tolerant towards Christians and Jews.
  • Numerous traditions and cultural traits of this previous empire (in fields such as architecture, cuisine, music, leisure and government) were adopted by the Ottomans, who elaborated them into new forms and blended them with the characteristics of the ethnic and religious groups living within the Ottoman territories, which resulted in a new and distinctively Ottoman cultural identity.
  • By developing commercial centres and routes, encouraging people to extend the area of cultivated land in the country and international trade through its dominions, the state performed basic economic functions in the Empire.
  • The empire was at the centre of interactions between the Eastern and Western worlds for seven centuries.

Info Courtesy: Wikipedia

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31 thoughts on “10 Greatest Empires in the History of World

  1. For some reason I feel like I need to disagree that the U.S. is not an empire. In terms of this list you’re correct (ie geographic conquests) but the U.S. asserts an authority over the rest of the world at present that has never existed before.

    Obviously we are in a different times than when these empires existed, and I argue that the definition of a global empire needs revision.

    Geographically and even Militarily the U.S. may not be a dominant global force (the latter may be in question) but diplomatically and economically the U.S. wields considerably more power than any other nation on the planet.

    One might argue that China wields more economic power than the U.S. solely on the basis of economic activity, and while China is an emerging manufacturing force, the U.S. remains the premier global financial center for better or for worse.

    I argue that the U.S. is the newest in a long line of global empires, but that they fulfill a definition very different from empires past.

  2. Exactly because the greatness of an empire is multifactorial, the Byzantine Empire should be in the list. The reason? Not only it was large, powerful and of enormous influence to the area it covered, it also was the longest standing empire ever. From the formation of the Eastern Roman Empire till Contantinople fell to the Ottomans, 1000 years passed. So please, reconsider…

  3. The British Empire created the modern world. The Industrial Revolution began in Great Britain and through it’s empire spread across the globe. I would create a different list looking like this: 1. British Empire 2. Alexandrian Empire 3. Akkadian Empire 4. Abbasid Caliphate 5. Roman Empire 6. Gupta Empire 7. Egyptian Old Kingdom 8. Portuguese Empire 9. Han Dynasty 10. Mongol Empire

  4. The American empire is the largest in the modern age. Not with their armies but by their cultural influence through internet over all nations and societies. They have subdued individuals families societies etc etc. Modern empire is not an empire lands and territories but of power over minds and money. Dimensions of concepts are changing.

  5. I think drawing up such a list is difficult, but clearly the British Empire is the ‘greatest’ and, like all empires, was carried out with cruelty and sacrifice. It was only in its later years that those in power began to see it was wrong morally. However, it is, far and away, the greatest empire the world has ever seen because of its worldwide spread. It’s influence carries on today even.

    As for the comments on the US ’empire’ I’m afraid some people aren’t thinking straight. The US isn’t an ’empire’, but it does have considerable influence across the world. However, I wouldn’t say this is “cultural” but based on something less tangible, such as technology and politics.

  6. U cant give the whole credit of Industrial revolution to Great Britain.It was part of Renaissance which covered larger geography and varied reason behind it.Thought I’m not denying the positive attributes of British but you have take into consideration that British were sadistic despot who treated their subjects worse than a person treats his/her animals.And in that context British Empire does not fit into the top position u r mentioning.

  7. depending on how you define empire ( generally one government who expands its territory by economic and military means, controls protectorates and territories, uses it’s governmental style to push itself onto others, et cetera) then, yes the USA is considered an empire. This article’s first sentence even includes it : “An empire involves the extension of a state’s sovereignty over external territories.”

  8. Ottoman empire existed in the darkest ages of Europe. Christians and Jews were living freely in their religion and nationality under Ottoman rule meanwhile even Chirstians were suffering under the rule of church in europe(when peope were being killed without judging if they were not Christian or if they say something church don’t like for church’s benefits). i mean Ottoman empire fits perfectly to number one for the multifactoria reasons of this page.

  9. Portuguese empire

    -It was the 10th-largest empire ever.
    -It was one of the longest, with more than 500 years (1415-1999)
    -It was the very first oversea empire.
    -The country still exists nowadays and is the 5th oldest country in the world.
    It’s one of the most politically stable nations of all time (no major changes in the constitution, form of government, civil wars, rebellions, etc.);
    -Have whit Spain the oldest unchanged land border ever (since 1817 after the French invasion)

  10. Great documentary of the Ottoman Empire from the History Channel. Offers a pretty balanced view. Even though I object to it’s outlook of the tragic event of 1915 which it calls “Armenian genocide” it does state afterward, that “though it was a genocide, in no way should the Ottoman Empire be defined by this incident.” It states that the Ottoman Empire was incredibly tolerant of people of different cultural and religious backgrounds. It also states that after the decline of the Ottoman Empire, those who gained from its decline (France, England and Russia) went on a huge anti Ottoman/Turk campaign to aid their own political agendas of gaining control of the new lands. This unfortunate political strategy fueled by hatred has resulted in much conflict and tainted much of the western worlds view of Turks and Muslims.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AFJJCem0c3I&feature=related

  11. As a IR professional, I think the best would be to evaluate greatness of the empires to certain criterions. My criterion would be an empire who made the greatest material and non-material influence all over the world(rather than than sheer area criterion) and left permenant institutions and a cultural heritage. Although I am from a non-British empire nation which is widely debated here , I would say that British Empire was all time greatest empire far from all controversions. Thanks to its preeminet maritime power status, the British managed to have felt its existence all over the world from the Far East to Latin America. Withstanding its being a colonial power, it brougt permenant institutions to the territories controlled by itself,such as the application Common Law. It made its language lingua franca among its colonies and as a result Commonwealth still continues to exist even if is remains on paper. British achieved to utilize from technology and managed to spread its civilization to the most remote places in the world like Fiji.No doubt,we are talking about empires and every empire means blood.

  12. ”The Ottoman Empire was, in principle, tolerant towards Christians and Jews.”

    Because of this, the Ottoman Empire lasted for long time, otherwise you can’t keep lots of nations under one empire for that long time. Leave your prejudice at the door.

  13. The Greek empire was never one of the greatest because Alexander didn’t create an empire, he conquered one that was already existed and was created hundreds of years earlier by Cyrus the Great of Persia. Upon Alexander’s death in his early 30’s after many military conquests, the Greeks fell apart into different kingdoms rather than a unified well run empire. So the Greeks didn’t create or even teach the world how to create or run a world empire. The others on this list did in fact stand the test of time. Greek culture was more important contribution than their empire. Alexander was a great military conqueror but was not revered as an empire builder or ruler.

  14. All great empires fall , we are now at the beginning of the end of the American empire ,Read “Confessions of an economic Hitman ” By John Perkins , Economic hit men (EHMs) are highly-paid professionals who cheat countries around the globe out of trillions of dollars. They funnel money from the World Bank, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and other foreign “aid” organizations into the coffers of huge corporations and the pockets of a few wealthy families who control the planet’s natural resources. Their tools included fraudulent financial reports, rigged elections, payoffs, extortion, sex, and murder. They play a game as old as empire, but one that has taken on new and terrifying dimensions during this time of globalization.

  15. The persians were the first people to establish an empire. Their empire lasted the longest and was the biggest…most importantly, they were the first ones to do it. The stupid ottomans and the romans copied it. The ottomans took their empire from the arabs.

  16. A well done list, but unfortunately both points are wrong.

    1. The Ottoman’s control over many parts of their empire, especially at the extremities, consisted of a handful of Turkish taxmen, Turkish merchants, and Turkish slave-soldiers. It was not as dissimilar from British control as you might think.

    2. When the Ottoman Empire was crumbling during World War II, Turkish forces massacred millions of their Bulgarian, Greek, Assyrian, Arab, and Armenian subjects. I realize that you are Turkish and this was probably not taught in your school.

    No empire in world history has a guiltless record: the Brits have the Peterloo Massacre, the Americans have Kent State, and the Romans their own share. But the Turkish Empire was a purely military empire that took its heritage from the Mongols and was therefore based on exploitation through threat of force. That is why, despite its longevity, it did not have nearly the impact on global culture as did the Roman, Han, Umayyad, or British empires.

  17. The Mongol Empire is the greatest empire in world history. It should be No.1
    It introduced so many new inventions that we use today. Also, the Mughal Empire is from the Mongol Empire and also the turks came from the Mongols therefore, the Ottoman Empire, and Mughal Empire both belong to the Mongol Empire.

  18. Definition of Empire: An extensive group of states or countries of various ethnicities under a single supreme authority, an emperor, empress or dynasty.
    Their span is defined by: The point of expansion until the point of major territorial loss or division, or declaration of dissolution.

    Rome itself was founded according to legend in 753 BC, it later became a republic in 509 BC. Rome conquers all of Italy in 264 BC. However, the Roman Empire wasn’t founded until Emperor Augustus 31 BC ~ 14 AD. Previously to this it was still a Republic, even though it had expanded into much of Europe and the Mediterranean. This empire is ruled until 395 AD, after the death of Theodosius, when it permanently split into two completely new and separate empires;
    The Western Roman Empire, which continued losing territory to the Goths until the emperor was dethroned in 476 AD.
    And The Eastern Roman Empire which is also known as the Byzantine Empire, which by 563 AD had reconquered much of the territory lost by the fall of the Western Roman Empire. However, over the next 200 years it would decline from conquests by the Avars, Persians, Lombards & Arabs.
    The Western Empire was reborn in 756 AD by Pepin and then ruled by his son, Charles the Great (Charlemagne), as The Holy Roman Empire, until his death in 814 AD. The empire continued in decline until its end circa 924 AD.
    The conquest of Italy in 962 by Otto I, King of Germany forced the Pope to crown him emperor, thus reviving the Western Roman Empire as the 2nd Holy Roman Empire.
    The Byzantium Empire also recovered much of it’s lost territory from 960 ~ 1040 AD under the generals Nicephorus II Phocas, & John I Tzimisces who became the empires rulers.
    After 1040 AD the Byzantine Empire started falling apart. The 2nd Holy Roman Empire and other papal states under instruction from the Pope began the First Crusade in 1097 AD, which recaptured the Byzantine Empire under the 2nd Holy Roman Empire’s control. Territory was then successively lost and won until the Fourth Crusade in 1204 AD where the crusaders replaced the Byzantine Empire completely by placing themselves on the throne of Constantinople.
    From 1183 til 1282 AD the conquered territories of the 2nd Holy Roman Empire declared independence, until the empire ceased to exist.

    In effect the “Roman Empire” was in fact five separate empires; The Roman Empire (31 BC ~ 395 AD), The Western Roman Empire (395 ~ 476 AD), Eastern Roman Empire or Byzantine Empire (ruled by the Byzantines, 395 ~ 1204 AD), the Holy Roman Empire (ruled by the French, 756 ~ 924 AD), & the 2nd Holy Roman Empire (ruled by the Germans, 962 ~ 1282 AD).
    The longest spaning empire being the Byzantine Empire 809 years, which itself could be broken down into multiple smaller empires over the history of its conquests and declines.

  19. Empires come and go, and thats the name of the game. Greece is considered the mother of WESTERN CULTURE, yet, today it is one of the most brokest countries on the face of the earth, and can not pay it’s government worker’s. The question must be asked, why did Greece go backwards unstead of forward?? How did England go from being a very poor nation with a gnp worth of $180,000.usd in 1066 a.d., controlled by France as a Vassal territory from Normandy France, to becoming an empire so large by 1750 a.d. that the sun could not set on it’s territory, to back to being a nation and not an empire. Like all empires, they all think that they will have super power forever. I wonder is the U.S.A. thinking the same way as Ethiopia, Egypt, Nubia etc etc, that those dumb European’s will never be more powerful than us, and are the Europeans thinking that the African’s who seemingly cn not get it together, will not return to “Glory Day’s”. Well, one thing that we know for sure, and that is that the African’s before was very wrong. Now, I wonder will the European’s and other nations be p[roven wrong in a few hundred year’s when most or all living flesh and blood thing’s will be long gone from this planet that we call earth.

  20. I disagree with alot, for one Britain should be #1 because it was not only the largest empire in history; but also because it has left an influence larger than even Rome.

    #2 The Russian empire should not be on this list. They rules over mostly inhospitable land and the few large population centers they had (including Muscovy, the original kingdom) had the most cruel form of a feudal society and its tsars did nothing to increase the populations literacy or well being, as well as they gave their subjects no freedom or no votes. They were all tyrants.

    #3 Where is the Spanish Empire? If i recall right they were the first global empire and were the dominant power from the late 1400s until the 1600s meaning they ruled over the world for longer than even the british.

    #4 The ottomans, really? The ottomans performed many acts of ethnic cleansing and the only thing you can give them about connecting the east and west is that they made the portugese (and ultimately all of europe) want to go around them and thus the age of discovery was born.

  21. I think Ottomans deserve to be in number 1. firstly they have ruled the europe near 200 years. secondly around 1800’s the ottomans took tribute from the us more than 15 years. and lastly 350 years ago nobody could compare their power with the ottomans

  22. What of the first and second french colonial empires? The french language is extremely widespread and whilst I don’t have sources to hand I am sure they spread much more than their language.

    The Roman empire deserves to be higher in the list. In my opinion it should be a contender for number 1. The culture/way of life they spread changed all of Europe and beyond.

    Selecting a number 1 is difficult because every empire is different. In my opinion the way to judge it would be to look at the world now and see which empire had a lasting effect and which empire gave the most to it’s subjects.

    I can’t believe the Portuguese and the Spanish empires don’t get a mention and perhaps the Dutch… the Dutch empire may have been pretty small in terms of landmass but was similar to the British empire in the way it operated. I personally feel number 1 should be the Romans, closely followed by the Spanish and then the British and then the French. Let me explain why…

    The Romans gave so much to the world in terms of culture, technology and the way people lived their lives. They were pivotal in the development of educated/cultured people all over their empire. They were ready to incorporate other cultures into their own and were prepared to give “citizenship” to those who could earn it.

    The Spanish discovered the Americas.. although Columbus wasn’t Spanish himself his voyages were paid for by Spain. This alone gives them 2nd place. They were also a major player on the world stage despite what happened 1588.

    The British did it properly and in the latter stages of their empire they fueled the industrial revolution which resulted in the rest of the world becoming industrialized! They made a lot of money and managed to successfully De-imperialize without a major national change (the french didn’t do so well, nor did the Russians or the Spanish or the moguls etc etc etc).

    The French hassled the British in fact I am pretty sure these two nations are natural enemies. The British colonized north America… the French did the same. in-fact conflict between the french and British can be traced right from 11th century to 19th century. War breeds technological advancement and you could argue that the British empire wouldn’t have been what it was because of their conflict with France and the french colonial empire wouldn’t have been what it was because of their conflict with the British. Of course there were many other parties involved including the dutch and Spanish etc. But to miss out the French and indeed the Spanish is stupid.

    Many seem to be mentioning the Mauryan Dynasty… Not needed for this list. Ashoka ruled only the Indian region and by all accounts ruled it well but it isn’t big enough an area and doesn’t involve any overseas areas. I think having overseas areas is a crucial requirement for an empire to be on this list as it must have expanded beyond its own cultural/racial region. After his death his empire pretty much died. For an empire to be on this list it needs to have survived many different leaders and the Roman empire is the best example of expanding into different cultural/racial areas and surviving many different emperors.

    An Interesting topic and very difficult to say which empires were the best as we never actually lived within any of them. Our opinion is of course retrospective and educated. I would love to live through each empire on the list at its peak to see what they were like!

    It is also exciting to think that most empires of the European region were mostly built on discovery. For example in 1491 nobody in Europe knew of the Americas. It is even more exciting to think that in 1769 nobody in Europe knew of Australia! We take for granted these days that we know our planet… what next… we can only look to the stars to quench our exploratory urges!

  23. I think that the Mauryan Empire, while still having many lasting achievements wasn’t influential enough on a whole-world scale. It didn’t influence the Europeans in anyway except for trading with them for spices. I think that the Romans however deserve to be number one. They ruled almost every single ethnicity in the ancient world or had some kind of authority over them: Gauls, Latins, Egyptians, Mesopotamians, Persians, Jews, Christians, Arabians, Hispans, Carthaginians, etc. Rome really had a stronghold over all of the ancient world and their influence on law, architecture, philosophy, government, military, and art had been felt by all major empires after Rome. The Mongol Empire is replaced ridiculously high for being a bunch of idiotic savages who ruled over a large amount of land, didn’t even have the power to govern it, and lost all of it within a short amount of time. The fact that this empire placed so high in the top five discredits this list entirely. The mongol empire was not great at all. Also, why is the Mughal empire on here? This is ridiculous. They were also just savage kings who were ruthless to the people they ruled. They didn’t even last for a very long time. Anyway, Rome should be number one; the Ottoman empire was not great enough to be more influential than the Roman empire and british empire; the Umayyad Caliphate should be much higher on the list at number three after roman and british because it too was very influential in many aspects of science, religion, and culture; the Mongol Empire shouldn’t be on the list or at least be number ten. The base language of the world, the language most people use to communicate to each other with if they don’t understand either language being spoken, is English (British empire at no. 2) which directly came from Latin (Roman Empire at no. 1).

  24. I’m not going to discuss the ranking because it does not make too much sense. However, I mostly agree with the ranking above. First, if you ask a guy from South America, his ranking will surely be different (Maya, Aztec…).
    Roman empire could have indeed be no 1. Yet, the rank of the ottoman empire makes sense. Some comments point out that people living in their territories do not speak turkish. This is because the ottoman empre did not forced these population to speak turkish. Indeed, except the very last decades of its existence, the ottoman empire gave quite freedom to its subjects. Other says there were ethnic cleansing. Again, such event happened during or just before WWI (and one should know that this was reciprocal). The ottoman empire is very unknown to us; yet they stood up 7 century, this is incredible. And yes, they had a lot of influence (culture, science, politics and military).
    We are still living under the effect of the British empire (including USA). So it is not really easy to judge. European colonial empires didn’t allow so much freedom that we may think they did. Language was imposed and we killed almost all native population of “the new world”. If this is having influence, it might be the wrong way.
    The language spoken throughout Europe in the 19th century was French. In less then 1 century it changed to English. This is why I’m being careful judging the British Empire. Yes, it was the biggest, but having a large empire in the 19th and 20th century is easier than in the time of the roman empire.
    For me, a european, I would say at equal importance Roman, Ottoman, British (and mention that I’m amazed by Egyptian civilization – all the math and so on).

  25. No mention of the American empire? How can this be? The American empire has 900 overseas military bases in 130 nations! They have the first “world reserve currency” in history forcing other nations to use their currency, and stealing their wealth every time they print money. They have the Cocaine Importers of America instigating insurgency in foreign nations to empower rulers friendly to their global corporate interestes. The US has the largest military in history, but gone are the days of measuring empire by invasion and obvious occupation. America has invisible occupation over a most of the globe. Read “Confessions of an Economic Hitman” and “Secret History of the American Empire” both by John Perkins. I’d date the American Empire 1944 (Bretton Woods, plus military bases established forever in Asia and Germany resulting from WWII) to 2015-2025. I’m sure it will collapse by 2025, maybe sooner.

  26. the list looks right. First we have to think what the list is about, it is about the greatest empire not the largest or the most famous. A great empire defines an empire where it brought people happiness , a great reform of development and a peaceful cultural living throughout the empire. The ottomans , Umayyad and mughals brought colorful traditions to the states they once ruled. They weren’t famous for brutalizing or forcing the people to different religion such as the romans or the nazi’s. i personally admire Mongols ruling but they weren’t good at administration so they had to quickly deform. Alexanders empire ended very shortly but made huge influences on places where he once ruled.

  27. The Romans deforested Europe and built most of the roads still in use today ( in the meaning of direction and geographic location) this has speed up commerce and interconnection between people in the continent.

    The Roman invented the legal figures of the; Judge, barister, wrote codes and jurisprudence most of wich still in use today (The Greek used the ostracism system)
    They invented the currency in terms of coin and notes, still used today. Before roman times they used to exchange good and animals or gold and other precious material in exchange for primary goods.
    The first empire to build structure in cement, still used today
    They named the days of the weeks , which we still use today
    They named the months of the year witch we still use today
    The copied the Argentarii systems from the Greeks (banks) and take it to the next level
    They copied a lot from Greek art and architecture, but again took it to another level.
    They introduced Christianity into Europe and invented the Church as an institution
    They invented Christmas holiday. It was a pagan wine festival of November, later adapted as nativity of Jesus.
    First Empire to use a passport ‘’Cives Romanus’’
    The Roam destroy all the scrolls relative to the true account of Jesus life, with profound consequences
    They came up first with the idea of franchising lots of shops with the same name and products have been excavated throughout the empire (Europe)
    They invented glass windows and double glasses
    They invented the Sauna as we know it
    They created new countries like Lidia and Syria.
    They expelled the Jew from their Land changing the course of their history forever
    They built higher than anyone else ever did before ten storey high
    With the failing to conquer Eastern Europe they condemned those countries to be a thousand year back of the west, with all the relative wars and dictatorial regimes that succeeded in the next two thousand years.
    They studied Greek philosophy but unfortunately did not produce better philosophic thoughts then Greeks did, but thanks to them the world was aware of the Hellenistic literature treasures.

    They did not invade India, but protected the country for hundreds of years from foreign invasion, because they could buy goods, precious metal and spices cheap without occupation of this huge continent. By protecting India from foreign attacks they indirectly changed their history. I do not know if in positive or negative.
    They did business with China a and practically invented drown the silk way route (hundreds of years later claimed by Marco Polo
    Today African counties like North Morocco and Tunisia get most of their money from tourists visiting Roman Ruins
    Most of the European Languages comes from Latin
    Most European cities were founded by the Romans
    Theyr Medicine were advanced as our today
    Roman appartments lloked better than today suites in any capital of the world
    There were no racism in rome, it was about rich and poor, a coloured african could become emperor.
    The above is roughly 10% of their achievements. So who is arguing that we are not living in a Roman World?

  28. As usual there are embellishments and misconceptions on several sides, but chiefly with the British Empire- it’s a point of a lot of irritation for us from Australia due to the still-ongoing arguments regarding WWI and our sense of national identity, but it goes well beyond us.

    The British Empire was no-where near the largest, and it did not rule a quarter of the world, not even close in terms of land or population- unbelievable that this doltish myth still gets so much attention. This statement has always depended on specious and ludicrous exaggerations by Pom historians who even today continue with their overstatements.

    For example British Empire boosters constantly trot out claims that large-landmass countries like Afghanistan, Tibet, Persia, Egypt and Sudan were within the British Empire. No, they absolutely were not. The Poms for example TRIED to conquer Afghanistan several times in the 1800’s and annex it to the British raj in India but got taken to the cleaners, in fact the Afghans defeated the British so severely and completely in the First Anglo-Afghan War- around 1840- that the British lost AN ENTIRE ARMY of close to 20,000 depending on specific estimates. Only the British army surgeon Brydon rode back through the Afghan siege. The British tried again around 1880 but were routed at Maiwand. Afghanistan was not a part of the British Empire, at all.

    Tibet and Persia also, were not part of the British Empire, ever. Yes, Henry McMahon was heavily involved in Tibet and yes, there were oil interests and other reasons for installations in Persia, but they were never British colonies.

    Nor were Egypt and Sudan. Egypt also rubbished a British invasion around 1804 or so- the Alexandra expedition, and whilst Egypt wasn’t in right good shape in the late 1800’s, it was nobody’s colony. British affairs with Egypt even after 1881 were run from the foreign bureau not the colonial bureau, and as far as spheres of influence, Egypt was more in a kind of power-balancing situation. The French also held massive sway over Egypt, for example it was a Frenchman who built the Suez Canal and it was French officials who kept closest watch over it, plus other European powers maintained their own spheres.

    By the same weak arguments the French could say that Egypt was their colony, which happily they don’t perhaps because they’re not as insecure as the Brits are about this. I don’t know what it is, perhaps the Poms can’t deal with how insignificant their has-been world power has become, so embellish their empire to try to compensate? They probably didn’t reach 1/8 of the world’s surface, maybe about 1/10th or so if being generous. Egypt for its part was nobody’s colony, nor was Sudan for similar reasons. The British tried to establish themselves in Iraq after WWI but got kicked out, on part due to the ongoing bungling of the situation by Churchill, an oft-repeated theme.

    Even the Subcontinent wasn’t British to nearly the extent the Poms like to pretend. Only about half of what’s now India and Pakistan were British-ruled, the other half was under Indian rajas, including the wealthiest parts of India like Hydarabad. Other portions of India were under French or Portuguese rule, and NW Pakistan was under nobody’s rule!

    Pom imperialists also exaggerate in North America, for example almost all of what’s now the United States was NOT PART OF THE BRITISH EMPIRE! The Midwest and Western USA, almost all of it except for the Pac NW, were never in the British Empire- they were in the French and Spanish or Russian Empires, and then annexed by the USA long after the Americans dismantled the British in the American Revolutionary war. To the extent that Canada was within the British Empire, most of it is an uninhabitable, largely unexplored ice-box anyway. But even then, a good stretch of Canada wasn’t British. Canada became independent in 1867, well before much of its landmass had been charted or administered by anybody, in fact Norway and others were embroiled in territorial disputes about Canadian claims well into the 1940’s, so these obviously weren’t British territories.

    There’s a lot of dispute about this for us in Australia, but we were self-governing by 1901 and thus independent from the British Crown. The Outback, the Bush and general core of Australia basically weren’t administered by anyone then, thus it’s a stretch at best to say that was British empire territory. We were not obligated to send our soldiers to fight in World War I, but it was thanks to our corrupt, idiotic twits pretending to be leaders, Cook and Fisher and, oh yes, a certain drunken British incompetent named Winston Churchill that a generation of Australian and New Zealander youth died in the disastrous failure at Gallipoli. Ironically, it’s only the fact that we were independent in 1914 that we blame our own leaders as well as the Brits for the Dardanelles, for using us as cannon fodder in one of the most imbecilic military operations of the 20th century.

    I’ve even seen some twits put up British Empire maps containing China and Thailand! CHINA WAS NEVER COLONISED! Not by any of the European powers! The Chinese did have a rough go of things after the Opium Wars, which in any case is an indictment of the Poms’ tiresome claims about theirs being the “better empire”- are we to suppose then that international drug trafficking to China, and causing mass famines to kill millions in India for the opium, are among those “British values” the Poms are always chest-beating about? And Thailand? How can any fool claim that Thailand was a British colony? There were special relations between Siam and the British at various points, but Thailand was nobody’s colony.

    The largest empire based on landmass by any calculation, was the Mongol Empire under Kubilai, not under Ghengis! Too many forget that it wasn’t under Ghengis that the Mongols reached their peak, it was his successors. And it included the bulk of Eurasia, from Korea all out to Asia minor to the fringe of Austria. By some estimates it got close to or surpassed 40 million sq km. And unlike the Poms, the Mongols truly administered the territory, it wasn’t a matter of some dolt in a ship getting drunk and lost behind the helm, starting a trading post and then calling it a part of the empire, as the Brits were always fond of doing.

    After this it depends on precisely how your defining the form of an empire. Many say it’s the Russians after 1950 or so who had the next biggest at least up to the spat with China, you had vast territories throughout Eurasia throughout almost all of E Europe, much of Africa and Latin America answering to the dictates of Moscow. Not as big as the Mongols but vast nonetheless. Then maybe the Spanish, I know less about them but there was apparently some marriage alliance between Spain and Portugal, so that any ships leaving from a Portuguese harbour for Brazil had allegiance to the Spanish king. Whenever precisely this was, combining the Spanish with the Portuguese lands would have been enormous, and it predated the British Empire by centuries. Yes, John Caboto under Henry VII started the first little bit of the British Empire in 1495 or so, but it wasn’t until around 1609 that anything else happened in the colonisation and not until the 1800’s and Napoloen’s fall that there was truly that much of a British Empire. The Ottoman Turks and the Abbisids with people all over swearing some allegiance to the caliphs- I guess maybe they were maybe up there too. But however you define it, there were several empires that far exceeded the British however you look at it.

    The Brits also never reached anything close to the feats in durability or cultural impact, or institutional contributions as many other recent or ancient Empires. Heck half of the former British Empire is a still bloody mess, look at Bangladesh, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Pakistan and Burma for just a few examples. And anyone who thinks the Poms had a light hand in their territories should ask someone from Ireland, or India with all the famines and mass killings of Indian villages after 1857 or so, or the indigenous peoples of many continents- see diseased blankets given to the American tribals, or bounties given for how many natives were shot- for an example.

    In terms of the greatest or most influential empires in history, I’d say that’s even more straightforward because then we’re talking about ancient empires, that have had a massive influence on a large collection of what are now modern countries. Then we’re talking about the Roman Empire, Alexander the Great’s Empire and the Chinese and I guess Asoka’s Maurya Empire in India though I know less about that. The Chinese Empire was huge, biggest GDP and economic productivity, lasted millennia and in a sense it’s intact today as a modern country. Alexander defined the culture of a massive region even today more or-less based on that.

    And the Romans? Almost certainly the greatest empire and the most influential empire with the only possible exception being the Chinese. The Romans helped to define civilisation for the West and even much of the world outside Europe. As Gae took note, the old Roman sites of north Africa are the basis of a lot of revenue even today, the very basis of laws, infrastructure and basics of civilisation in the West were invented by the Romans and still used today. Their empire was enormous and durable despite the fact that they didn’t have modern technology at their disposal. Certainly after Caesar Augustus the Roman territories were very well administered, and even in parts of England and south Germany people still use the old Roman aqueduct network and the roads. Also even the cultures of non-Roman regions like India, Persia and China were able to flourish in part as a result of indirect Roman protection and trade.

  29. I know there are multiple factors that are considered when classifying any particular civilization as an “empire”, but the underlying prominent factor is any one civilization pushing their culture and will on another. In this aspect, the United States of America is and has been most dominant. Much of the world has been influenced by America culture and it’s military is imposed at will, even if unilaterally. Lands aren’t seized as in ancient empires due to American choice, not inability. If military presence was seen as territorial gains, than the United States would be the largest “empire” that ever existed. Oh yeah, even Britain has never wielded such military and economical power as the United States, and the U.S. accomplished it in less time.

  30. “If you rail against American imperialism… you must concede that it is an empire… dominating militarily, technologically, economically, exporting its culture on a global scale.”

    Not dominating, one of the major players on the world stage militarily, like the United Kingdom and Russia. It does not dominate anywhere technologically, not in space technology as of the 2010s, and being 70 trillion USD in debt does not allow for any “Economic dominance”. What culture is that? The English language? The Beatles? Wrong country again.

  31. The Portuguese empire was truly the world’s first global empire.

    Spain only looked bigger than what it really was because from 1580 – 1640 the Spanish and Portuguese crowns were joined (Spain actually INVADED Portugal).
    So, all of Portugal’s global territories were usurped by Spain, and then they brag about how big their empire was. Without Portugal’s oversees possessions Spain would have been nothing. Even today, if you look at a map Portuguese is spoken officially right across the globe (i.e., S. Europe, America, Africa, Asia, Oceania), whereas, Spanish is only spoken officially in 1/2 of S. America and Central America. Giant Brazil is HALF of S. America where Portuguese is spoken officially, and it is also spoken officially in 6 African countries, Macau, China, East Timor.

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