An empire is a sovereign state functioning as an aggregate of nations or people that are ruled over by an emperor or another kind of monarch. The territory and population of an empire is commonly of greater extent than the one of a kingdom.
An empire can be made solely of contiguous territories, such as the Austro-Hungarian Empire or the Russian Empire, or of territories far remote from the homeland, such as a colonial empire. Aside from the more formal usage, the word empire can also refer colloquially to a large-scale business enterprise (e.g. a transnational corporation), a political organisation controlled by a single individual (a political boss), or a group (political bosses). The word empire is associated with such other words as imperialism, colonialism, and globalization. Empire is often used to describe a displeasure to overpowering situations.
An imperial political structure can be established and maintained in two ways: (i) as a territorial empire of direct conquest and control with force or (ii) as a coercive, hegemonic empire of indirect conquest and control with power. The former method provides greater tribute and direct political control, yet limits further expansion because it absorbs military forces to fixed garrisons. The latter method provides less tribute and indirect control, but avails military forces for further expansion. Territorial empires (e.g. the Mongol Empire and Median Empire) tend to be contiguous areas. The term, on occasion, has been applied to maritime empires or thalassocracies (e.g. the Athenian and British empires) with looser structures and more scattered territories.
An empire is a multi-ethnic or multinational state with political and/or military dominion of populations who are culturally and ethnically distinct from the imperial (ruling) ethnic group and its culture. This is in contrast to a federation, which is an extensive state voluntarily composed of autonomous states and peoples. An empire is a large polity which rules over territories outside of its original borders.
Definitions of what physically and politically constitute an empire vary. It might be a state affecting imperial policies or a particular political structure. Empires are typically formed from diverse ethnic, national, cultural, and religious components. 'Empire' and 'colonialism' are used to refer to relationships between powerful state or society versus a less powerful one.
Tom Nairn and Paul James define empires as polities that "extend relations of power across territorial spaces over which they have no prior or given legal sovereignty, and where, in one or more of the domains of economics, politics, and culture, they gain some measure of extensive hegemony over those spaces for the purpose of extracting or accruing value". Rein Taagepera has defined an empire as "any relatively large sovereign political entity whose components are not sovereign".
Sometimes, an empire is a semantic construction, such as when a ruler assumes the title of "emperor". That ruler's nation logically becomes an "empire", despite having no additional territory or hegemony. Examples of this form of empire are the Central African Empire, or the Korean Empire proclaimed in 1897 when Korea, far from gaining new territory, was on the verge of being annexed by the Empire of Japan, the last to use the name officially. Among the last of the empires in the 20th century were the Central African Empire, Ethiopia, Vietnam, Manchukuo, the German Empire, and Korea.
The terrestrial empire's maritime analogue is the thalassocracy, an empire composed of islands and coasts which are accessible to its terrestrial homeland, such as the Athenian-dominated Delian League.
Furthermore, empires can expand by both land and sea. Stephen Howe notes that empires by land can be characterized by expansion over terrain, "extending directly outwards from the original frontier" while an empire by sea can be characterized by colonial expansion and empire building "by an increasingly powerful navy".
Empires originated as different types of states, although they commonly began as powerful monarchies. Ideas about empires have changed over time, ranging from public approval to universal distaste. Empires are built out of separate units with some kind of diversity – ethnic, national, cultural, religious – and imply at least some inequality between the rulers and the ruled. Without this inequality, the system would be seen as a commonwealth.
Throughout history, the major powers of the world constantly seek to conquer other parts of the world. Most of the powers were centralized in Europe, for example the Roman Empire. During the Age of Discovery, the idea of taking over other nations was brought back in a more modernized way. Imperialism is the idea of a major power controlling another nation or land with the intentions to use the native people and resources to help the mother country in any way possible.
Many empires were the result of military conquest, incorporating the vanquished states into a political union, but imperial hegemony can be established in other ways. The Athenian Empire, the Roman Empire, and the British Empire developed at least in part under elective auspices. The Empire of Brazil declared itself an empire after separating from the Portuguese Empire in 1822. France has twice transitioned from being called the French Republic to being called the French Empire while it retained an overseas empire.
Weaker states may seek annexation into the empire. An example is the bequest of Pergamon to the Roman Empire by Attalus III. The Unification of Germany as the empire accreted to the Prussian metropole was less a military conquest of the German states than their political divorce from the Austrian Empire, which formerly ruled loosely over the Holy Roman Empire. Having convinced the other states of its military prowess, and having excluded the Austrians, Prussia dictated the terms of imperial membership.
Politically, it was typical for either a monarchy or an oligarchy, rooted in the original core territory of the empire, to continue to dominate. If governmental authority was maintained by controlling water supplies, vital to colonial subjects, such régimes were called hydraulic empires.
Europeans began applying the designation of "empire" to non-European monarchies, such as the Qing Empire and the Mughal Empire, as well as the Maratha Empire, eventually leading to the looser denotations applicable to any political structure meeting the criteria of "imperium".
Some monarchies styled themselves as having greater size, scope, and power than the territorial, politico-military, and economic facts support. As a consequence, some monarchs assumed the title of "emperor" (or its corresponding translation, tsar, empereur, kaiser, shah etc.) and renamed their states as "The Empire of ...".
Empires were seen as an expanding power, administration, ideas and beliefs followed by cultural habits from place to place. Empires tend to impose their culture on the subject states to strengthen the imperial structure. This can have notable effects that outlast the empire itself, both positive and negative.
The earliest known empire appeared in Egypt when King Narmer of the Upper Valley conquered the Lower Valley circa 3000 BC and laid the foundations for the Old Kingdom. The Akkadian Empire, established by Sargon of Akkad (24th century BC), was an early all-Mesopotamian empire. This imperial achievement was repeated by Hammurabi of Babylon in the 17th century BC. In the 15th century BC, the New Kingdom of Ancient Egypt, ruled by Thutmose III, was ancient Africa's major force upon incorporating Nubia and the ancient city-states of the Levant.
Circa 1500 BC in China rose the Shang Empire which was succeeded by the Zhou Empire circa 1100 BC. Both surpassed in territory their contemporary Near Eastern empires. The Zhou Empire dissolved in 770 BC into feudal multi-state system which lasted for five and a half centuries until the universal conquest of Qin in 221 BC.
The first empire comparable to Rome in organization was the Neo-Assyrian Empire (916–612 BC). The Median Empire was the first empire within the territory of Persia. By the 6th century BC, after having allied with the Babylonians to defeat the Neo-Assyrian Empire, the Medes were able to establish their own empire, which was the largest of its day and lasted for about sixty years.
The Axial Age (mid-First Millennium BC) witnessed unprecedented imperial expansion in the Indo-Mediterranean region and China. The successful and extensive Achaemenid Empire (550–330 BC), also known as the first Persian Empire, covered Mesopotamia, Egypt, parts of Greece, Thrace, the Middle East, much of Central Asia, and North-Western India. It is considered the first great empire in history or the first "world empire". It was overthrown and replaced by the short-lived empire of Alexander the Great. His Empire was succeeded by three Empires ruled by the Diadochi—the Seleucid, Ptolemaic, and Macedonian, which, despite being independent, are called the "Hellenistic Empire" by virtue of their similarities in culture and administration.
Meanwhile, in the western Mediterranean the Empires of Carthage and Rome began their rise. Having decisively defeated Carthage in 202 BC, Rome defeated Macedonia in 200 BC and the Seleucids in 190–189 BC to establish an all-Mediterranean Empire. The Seleucid Empire broke apart and its former eastern part was absorbed by the Parthian Empire. In 30 BC Rome annexed Ptolemaic Egypt.
In India during the Axial Age appeared the Maurya Empire—a geographically extensive and powerful empire, ruled by the Mauryan dynasty from 321 to 185 BC. The empire was founded in 322 BC by Chandragupta Maurya, who rapidly expanded his power westward across central and western India, taking advantage of the disruptions of local powers following the withdrawal by Alexander the Great. By 320 BC, the Maurya Empire had fully occupied northwestern India as well as defeating and conquering the satraps left by Alexander. Under Emperor Asoka the Great, the Maurya Empire became the first Indian empire to conquer the whole Indian Peninsula — an achievement repeated only twice, by the Gupta and Mughal Empires. In the reign of Asoka Buddhism spread to become the dominant religion in ancient India. It has been estimated that the Maurya dynasty controlled an unprecedented one-third of the world's entire economy, was home to one-third of the world's population at the time (an estimated 50 million out of 150 million humans), contained the world's largest city of the time (Pataliputra, estimated to be larger than Rome under Emperor Trajan) and according to Megasthenes, the empire wielded a military of 600,000 infantry, 30,000 cavalry, and 9,000 war elephants.
In China of the Axial Age, the era of the Warring States ended in 221 BC with the universal conquest of Qin. The King of Qin, Ying Zheng, became China's First Emperor and began the pattern of successive dynasties. Ying Zheng connected all the existing defense walls of northern China into what is known today Great Wall of China which marked the northern frontier of China. The Qin Dynasty was short lived and in 207 BC was overthrown by the Han Dynasty (207 BC - AD 220) which became one of East Asia's most long-lived dynasties. In the second century AD the Han Empire expanded into Central Asia. By this time only four Empires stretched between the Pacific and the Atlantic—Han, Parthia, Rome, and the Kushans.
The Romans were the first nation to invent and embody the concept of empire in their two mandates: to wage war and to make and execute laws. They were the most extensive Western empire until the early modern period, and left a lasting impact on Western Europe. Many languages, cultural values, religious institutions, political divisions, urban centers, and legal systems can trace their origins to the Roman Empire. The Roman Empire governed and rested on exploitative actions. They took slaves and money from the peripheries to support the imperial center. However, the absolute reliance on conquered peoples to carry out the empire's fortune, sustain wealth, and fight wars would ultimately lead to the collapse of the Roman Empire. The Romans were strong believers in what they called their "civilizing mission". This term was legitimized and justified by writers like Cicero who wrote that only under Roman rule could the world flourish and prosper. This ideology, that was envisioned to bring a new world order, was eventually spread across the Mediterranean world and beyond. People started to build houses like Romans, eat the same food, wear the same clothes and engage in the same cruel games. Even rights of citizenship and authority to rule were granted to people not of Roman or Italian birth.
The Latin word imperium, referring to a magistrate's power to command, gradually assumed the meaning "The territory in which a magistrate can effectively enforce his commands", while the term "imperator" was originally an honorific meaning "commander". The title was given to generals who were victorious in battle. Thus, an "empire" may include regions that are not legally within the territory of a state, but are under either direct or indirect control of that state, such as a colony, client state, or protectorate. Although historians use the terms "Republican Period" and "Imperial Period" to identify the periods of Roman history before and after absolute power was assumed by Augustus, the Romans themselves continued to refer to their government as a republic, and during the Republican Period, the territories controlled by the republic were referred to as "Imperium Romanum". The emperor's actual legal power derived from holding the office of "consul", but he was traditionally honored with the titles of imperator (commander) and princeps (first man or, chief). Later, these terms came to have legal significance in their own right; an army calling their general "imperator" was a direct challenge to the authority of the current emperor.
The legal systems of France and its former colonies are strongly influenced by Roman law. Similarly, the United States was founded on a model inspired by the Roman Republic, with upper and lower legislative assemblies, and executive power vested in a single individual, the president. The president, as "commander-in-chief" of the armed forces, reflects the ancient Roman titles imperator princeps. The Roman Catholic Church, founded in the early Imperial Period, spread across Europe, first by the activities of Christian evangelists, and later by official imperial promulgation.
In Western Asia, the term "Persian Empire" came to denote the Iranian imperial states established at different historical periods of pre–Islamic and post–Islamic Persia. In East Asia, various Celestial empires arose periodically between periods of war, civil war, and foreign conquests. The greatest of them was the Tang Empire (AD 618-907).
The 7th century saw the emergence of the Islamic Empire, also referred to as the Islamic Caliphate. The Rashidun Caliphate expanded from the Arabian Peninsula and swiftly conquered the Persian Empire and much of the Byzantine Roman Empire. Its successor state, the Umayyad Caliphate, expanded across North Africa and into the Iberian Peninsula. By the beginning of the 8th century, the Umayyad Caliphate had become the largest empire in history, it would not be surpassed in size until the establishment of the Mongol Empire in the 13th century. In 750 the Caliphate clashed with the Tang China at Talas. By this time only these two Empires stretched between the Atlantic and the Pacific. From the 11th century Moroccan empires began to appear, starting with the Almoravid Empire, dominating territories in both Europe as well as Sub-Saharan Africa.
The Ajuran Sultanate was a Somali empire in the medieval times that dominated the Indian Ocean trade. They belonged to the Somali Muslim sultanate  that ruled over large parts of the Horn of Africa in the Middle Ages. Through a strong centralized administration and an aggressive military stance towards invaders, the Ajuran Sultanate successfully resisted an Oromo invasion from the west and a Portuguese incursion from the east during the Gaal Madow and the Ajuran-Portuguese wars. Trading routes dating from the ancient and early medieval periods of Somali maritime enterprise were strengthened or re-established, and foreign trade and commerce in the coastal provinces flourished with ships sailing to and coming from many kingdoms and empires in East Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia, Europe, Middle East, North Africa and East Africa.
In the 7th century, Maritime Southeast Asia witnessed the rise of a Buddhist thallasocracy, the Srivijaya Empire, which thrived for 600 years and was succeeded by the Hindu-Buddhist Majapahit Empire that ruled from the 13th to 15th centuries. In the Southeast Asian mainland, the Hindu-Buddhist Khmer Empire was centered in the city of Angkor and flourished from the 9th to 13th centuries. Following the demise of the Khmer Empire, the Siamese Empire flourished alongside the Burmese and Lan Chang Empires from the 13th through the 18th centuries. In Eastern Europe, during the year of 917, the Byzantine Empire was forced to recognize the Imperial title of Bulgarian rulers (who were called Tsars). The Bulgarian Empire remained a major power in the Balkans until its fall in the late 14th century.
At the time, in the Medieval West, the title "empire" had a specific technical meaning that was exclusively applied to states that considered themselves the heirs and successors of the Roman Empire. Among these were the "Byzantine Empire", which was the actual continuation of the Eastern portion of the Roman Empire, the Carolingian Empire, the largely Germanic Holy Roman Empire, and the Russian Empire. Yet, these states did not always fit the geographic, political, or military profiles of empires in the modern sense of the word. To legitimise their imperium, these states directly claimed the title of Empire from Rome. The sacrum Romanum imperium (Holy Roman Empire), which lasted from 800 to 1806, claimed to have exclusively comprehended Christian principalities, and was only nominally a discrete imperial state. The Holy Roman Empire was not always centrally-governed, as it had neither core nor peripheral territories, and was not governed by a central, politico-military elite. Hence, Voltaire's remark that the Holy Roman Empire "was neither holy, nor Roman, nor an empire" is accurate to the degree that it ignores German rule over Italian, French, Provençal, Polish, Flemish, Dutch, and Bohemian populations, and the efforts of the ninth-century Holy Roman Emperors (i.e., the Ottonians) to establish central control. Voltaire's "nor an empire" observation applies to its late period.
In 1204, after the Fourth Crusade conquered Constantinople, the crusaders established a Latin Empire (1204–1261) in that city, while the defeated Byzantine Empire's descendants established two smaller, short-lived empires in Asia Minor: the Empire of Nicaea (1204–1261) and the Empire of Trebizond (1204–1461). Constantinople was retaken in 1261 by the Byzantine successor state centered in Nicaea, re-establishing the Byzantine Empire until 1453, by which time the Turkish-Muslim Ottoman Empire (ca. 1300–1918), had conquered most of the region. The Ottoman Empire was a successor of the Abbasid Empire and it was the most powerful empire to succeed the Abbasi empires at the time, as well as one of the most powerful empires in the world. The Ottoman Empire centered on modern day Turkey, dominated the eastern Mediterranean, overthrew the Byzantine Empire to claim Constantinople and it would start battering at Austria and Malta, which were countries that were key to central and to south-west Europe respectively — mainly for their geographical location. The reason these occurrences of batterings were so important was because the Ottomans were Muslim, and the rest of Europe was Christian, so there was a sense of religious fighting going on. This was not just a rivalry of East and West but a rivalry between Christians and Muslims. Both the Christians and Muslims had alliances with other countries, and they had problems in them as well. The flows of trade and of cultural influences across the supposed great divide never ceased, so the countries never stopped bartering with each other. These epochal clashes between civilizations profoundly shaped many people's thinking back then, and continues to do so in the present day. Modern hatred against Muslim communities in South-Eastern Europe, mainly in Bosnia and Kosovo, has often been articulated in terms of seeing them as unwelcome residues of this imperialism: in short, as Turks. Moreover, Eastern Orthodox imperialism was not re-established until the coronation of Peter the Great as Emperor of Russia in 1721. Likewise, with the collapse of the Holy Roman Empire in 1806 during the Napoleonic Wars (1803–1815), the Austrian Empire (1804–1867) emerged reconstituted as the Empire of Austria–Hungary (1867–1918), having "inherited" the imperium of Central and Western Europe from the losers of said wars.
In the thirteenth century, Genghis Khan expanded the Mongol Empire to be the largest contiguous empire in the world. However, within two generations, the empire was separated into four discrete khanates under Genghis Khan's grandsons. One of them, Kublai Khan, conquered China and established the Yuan dynasty with the imperial capital at Beijing. One family ruled the whole Eurasian land mass from the Pacific to the Adriatic and Baltic Seas. The emergence of the Pax Mongolica had significantly eased trade and commerce across Asia.
In the pre-Columbian America, two Empires were prominent—the Azteca in Mesoamerica and Inca in Peru. Both existed for several generations before the arrival of the Europeans. Inca had gradually conquered the whole of the settled Andean world as far south as today Santiago in Chile.
In the 15th century, Castile (Spain) landing in the so-called "New World" (first, the Americas, and later Australia), along with Portuguese travels around the Cape of Good Hope and along the coast of Africa bordering the southeast Indian Ocean, proved ripe opportunities for the continent's Renaissance-era monarchies to establish colonial empires like those of the ancient Romans and Greeks. In the Old World, colonial imperialism was attempted and established on the Canary Islands and Ireland. These conquered lands and people became de jure subordinates of the empire, rather than de facto imperial territories and subjects. Such subjugation often elicited "client-state" resentment that the empire unwisely ignored, leading to the collapse of the European colonial imperial system in the late 19th century and the early and mid-20th century. Portuguese discovery of Newfoundland in the New World gave way to many expeditions led by England (later Britain), Spain, France, and the Dutch Republic. In the 18th century, the Spanish Empire was at its height because of the great mass of goods taken from conquered territory in the Americas (nowadays Mexico, parts of the United States, the Caribbean, most of Central America, and South America) and the Philippines.
The French emperors Napoleon I and Napoleon III (See: Premier Empire, Second French Empire, and French colonial empire) each attempted establishing a western imperial hegemony centered in France. The German Empire (1871–1918), another "heir to the Holy Roman Empire", arose in 1871.
The Ashanti Empire (or Confederacy), also Asanteman (1701–1896), was a West African state of the Ashanti, the Akan people of the Ashanti Region, Akanland in modern-day Ghana. The Ashanti (or Asante) were a powerful, militaristic and highly disciplined people in West Africa. Their military power, which came from effective strategy and an early adoption of European firearms, created an empire that stretched from central Akanland (in modern-day Ghana) to present day Benin and Ivory Coast, bordered by the Dagomba kingdom to the north and Dahomey to the east. Due to the empire's military prowess, sophisticated hierarchy, social stratification and culture, the Ashanti empire had one of the largest historiographies of any indigenous Sub-Saharan African political entity.
The Sikh Empire (1799–1846) was established in the Punjab region of India. The empire collapsed when its founder, Ranjit Singh, died and its army fell to the British. During the same period, the Maratha Empire (also known as the Maratha Confederacy) was a Hindu state located in present-day India. It existed from 1674 to 1818, and at its peak, the empire's territories covered much of Southern Asia. The empire was founded and consolidated by Shivaji. After the death of Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb, it expanded greatly under the rule of the Peshwas. In 1761, the Maratha army lost the Third Battle of Panipat, which halted the expansion of the empire. Later, the empire was divided into a confederacy of states which, in 1818, were lost to the British during the Anglo-Maratha wars.
The Empire of Brazil (1822-1889) was the only South American modern monarchy, established by the heir of the Portuguese Empire as an independent nation eventually became an emerging international power. The new country was huge but sparsely populated and ethnically diverse. In 1889 the monarchy was overthrown in a sudden coup d'état led by a clique of military leaders whose goal was the formation of a republic.
The British established their first empire (1583–1783) in North America by colonising lands that made up British America, including parts of Canada, the Caribbean and the Thirteen Colonies. In 1776, the Continental Congress of the Thirteen Colonies declared itself independent from the British Empire, thus beginning the American Revolution. Britain turned towards Asia, the Pacific, and later Africa, with subsequent exploration leading to the rise of the Second British Empire (1783–1815), which was followed by the Industrial Revolution and Britain's Imperial Century (1815–1914). It became the largest empire in world history, encompassing one quarter of the world's land area and one fifth of its population. The impacts of this period are still prominent in the current age "including widespread use of the English language, belief in Protestant religion, economic globalization, modern precepts of law and order, and representative democracy."
The term "American Empire" refers to the United States' cultural ideologies and foreign policy strategies. The term is most commonly used to describe the U.S.'s status since the 20th century, but it can also be applied to the United States' world standing before the rise of nationalism in the 20th century. The United States is not traditionally recognized as an empire, in part because the U.S. adopted a different political system from those that previous empires had used. Despite these systematic differences, the political objectives and strategies of the United States government have been quite similar to those of previous empires. Due to this similarity some scholars confess: "When it walks like a duck, talks like a duck, it's a duck." Academic, Krishna Kumar, argues the distinct principles of nationalism and imperialism may result in common practice; that is, the pursuit of nationalism can often coincide with the pursuit of imperialism in terms of strategy and decision making. Throughout the 19th century, the United States government attempted to expand its territory by any means necessary. Regardless of the supposed motivation for this constant expansion, all of these land acquisitions were carried out by imperialistic means. This was done by financial means in some cases, and by military force in others. Most notably, the Louisiana Purchase (1803), the Texas Annexation (1845), and the Mexican Cession (1848) highlight the imperialistic goals of the United States during this “modern period” of imperialism. The U.S. government has stopped pursuing additional territories since the mid 20th century. However, some scholars still consider U.S. foreign policy strategies to be imperialistic. This idea is explored in the "contemporary usage" section.
In time, an empire may change from one political entity to another. For example, the Holy Roman Empire, a German re-constitution of the Roman Empire, metamorphosed into various political structures (i.e., federalism), and eventually, under Habsburg rule, re-constituted itself in 1804 as the Austrian Empire, an empire of much different politics and scope, which in turn became the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1867. The Roman Empire, perennially reborn, also lived on as the Byzantine Empire (Eastern Roman Empire) - temporarily splitting into the Latin Empire, the Empire of Nicaea and the Empire of Trebizond before its remaining territory and centre became part of the Ottoman Empire. A similarly persistent concept of empire saw the Mongol Empire become the Khanate of the Golden Horde, the Yuan Empire of China, and the Ilkhanate before resurrection as the Timurid Empire and as the Mughal Empire. After 1945 the Empire of Japan retained its Emperor but lost its colonial possessions and became the State of Japan.
An autocratic empire can become a republic (e.g., the Central African Empire in 1979), or it can become a republic with its imperial dominions reduced to a core territory (e.g., Weimar Germany shorn of the German colonial empire (1918–1919), or the Ottoman Empire (1918–1923)). The dissolution of the Austro–Hungarian Empire after 1918 provides an example of a multi-ethnic superstate broken into constituent nation-oriented states: the republics, kingdoms, and provinces of Austria, Hungary, Transylvania, Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Czechoslovakia, Ruthenia, Galicia, et al. In the aftermath of World War I the Russian Empire also broke up and became reduced to the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (RSFSR) before re-forming as the USSR (1922-1991) - sometimes seen as the core of a Soviet Empire.
After the Second World War (1939–1945), the deconstruction of colonial empires quickened and became commonly known as decolonisation. The British Empire evolved into a loose, multinational Commonwealth of Nations, while the French colonial empire metamorphosed to a Francophone commonwealth. The same process happened to the Portuguese Empire, which evolved into a Lusophone commowealth, and to the former territories of the extinct Spanish Empire, which alongside the Lusophone countries of Portugal and Brazil, created a Ibero-American commowealth. France returned the French territory of Kwang-Chou-Wan to China in 1946. The British gave Hong Kong back to China in 1997 after 150 years of rule. The Portuguese territory of Macau reverted to China in 1999. Macau and Hong Kong did not become part of the provincial structure of China; they have autonomous systems of government as Special Administrative Regions of the People's Republic of China.
France still governs colonies (French Guiana, Martinique, Réunion, French Polynesia, New Caledonia, St Martin, Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon, Guadeloupe, TAAF, Wallis and Futuna, Saint Barthélemy, and Mayotte), and exerts hegemony in Francophone Africa (29 francophone countries such as Chad, Rwanda, et cetera). Fourteen British Overseas Territories remain under British sovereignty. Sixteen countries of the Commonwealth of Nations share their head of state, Queen Elizabeth II, as Commonwealth realms.
In 2004 Eliot A. Cohen summarized the contemporary transition from empire: "The Age of Empire may indeed have ended, but then an age of American hegemony has begun, regardless of what one calls it."
The fall of the Roman Empire in the West is seen as one of the most pivotal points in all of human history. This event traditionally marks the transition from classical civilization to the birth of Europe. The Roman Empire started to decline at the end of the reign of the last of the Five Good Emperors, Marcus Aurelius in 161–180 A.D. There is still a debate over the cause of the fall of one of the largest empires in the history. Piganiol argues that the Roman Empire under its authority can be described as "a period of terror", holding its imperial system accountable for its failure. Another theory blames the rise of Christianity as the cause, arguing that the spread of certain Christian ideals caused internal weakness of the military and state. In the book The Fall of the Roman Empire, by Peter Heather, he contends that there are many factors, including issues of money and manpower, which produce military limitations and culminate in the Roman army's inability to effectively repel invading barbarians at the frontier. The Western Roman economy was already stretched to its limit in the 4th and 5th Centuries C.E. due to continual conflict and loss of territory which, in turn, generated loss of revenue from the tax base. There was also the looming presence of the Persians which, at any time, took a large percentage of the fighting force's attention. At the same time the Huns, a nomadic warrior people from the steppes of Asia, are also putting extreme pressure on the German tribes outside of the Roman frontier. The German tribes really had no other choice, geographically, but to move into Roman territory. At this point, without increased funding, the Roman army could no longer effectively defend its borders against major waves of Germanic tribes. This inability is illustrated by the crushing defeat at Adrianople in 378 C.E. and, later, the Battle of Frigidus.
Contemporaneously, the concept of empire is politically valid, yet is not always used in the traditional sense. For example, Japan is considered the world's sole remaining empire because of the continued presence of the Japanese Emperor in national politics. Despite the semantic reference to imperial power, Japan is a de jure constitutional monarchy, with a homogeneous population of 127 million people that is 98.5 percent ethnic Japanese, making it one of the largest nation-states.
Characterizing some aspects of American foreign policy and international behavior as "American Empire" is controversial but not uncommon. This characterization is controversial because of the strong tendency in American society to reject claims of American imperialism. The initial motivations for the inception of the United States eventually led to the development of this tendency, which has been perpetuated by the country-wide obsession with this national narrative. The United States was formed because colonists did not like being under control of the British Empire. Essentially, the United States was formed in an attempt to reject imperialism. This makes it very hard for people to acknowledge America's status as an empire. This active rejection of imperialist status is not limited to high-ranking government officials, as it has been ingrained in American society throughout its entire history. As David Ludden explains, "journalists, scholars, teachers, students, analysts, and politicians prefer to depict the U.S. as a nation pursuing its own interests and ideals". This often results in imperialist endeavors being presented as measures taken to enhance national security. Ludden explains this phenomenon with the concept of "ideological blinders", which he says prevent American citizens from realizing the true nature of America's current systems and strategies. These "ideological blinders" that people wear have resulted in an "invisible" American empire of which most American citizens are unaware.
Stuart Creighton Miller posits that the public's sense of innocence about Realpolitik (cf. American exceptionalism) impairs popular recognition of US imperial conduct since it governed other countries via surrogates. These surrogates were domestically-weak, right-wing governments that would collapse without US support. Former President G. W. Bush's Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, said: "We don't seek empires. We're not imperialistic; we never have been." This statement directly contradicts Thomas Jefferson who, in the 1780s while awaiting the fall of the Spanish empire, said: "till our population can be sufficiently advanced to gain it from them piece by piece". In turn, historian Sidney Lens argues that from its inception, the US has used every means available to dominate other nations.
Since the European Union began in 1993 as a west European trade bloc, it has established its own currency, the Euro (1999), established discrete military forces, and exercised its limited hegemony in parts of eastern Europe and Asia. The political scientist Jan Zielonka suggests that this behaviour is imperial because it coerces its neighbouring countries into adopting its European economic, legal, and political structures.
In his book review of Empire (2000) by Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Mehmet Akif Okur posits that since the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks in the US, the international relations determining the world's balance of power (political, economic, military) have been altered. These alterations include the intellectual (political science) trends that perceive the contemporary world's order via the re-territorrialisation of political space, the re-emergence of classical imperialist practices (the "inside" vs. "outside" duality, cf. the Other), the deliberate weakening of international organisations, the restructured international economy, economic nationalism, the expanded arming of most countries, the proliferation of nuclear weapon capabilities and the politics of identity emphasizing a state's subjective perception of its place in the world, as a nation and as a civilisation. These changes constitute the "Age of Nation Empires"; as imperial usage, nation-empire denotes the return of geopolitical power from global power blocs to regional power blocs (i.e., centred upon a "regional power" state [China, Russia, U.S., et al.]) and regional multi-state power alliances (i.e., Europe, Latin America, South East Asia). Nation-empire regionalism claims sovereignty over their respective (regional) political (social, economic, ideologic), cultural, and military spheres.
The chart below shows a timeline of polities that have been called empires. Dynastic changes are marked with a white line.
Empires have been the dominant international organization in world history:
The fact that tribes, peoples, and nations have made empires points to a fundamental political dynamic, one that helps explain why empires cannot be confined to a particular place or era but emerged and reemerged over thousands of years and on all continents.
Empires ... can be traced as far back as the recorded history goes; indeed, most history is the history of empires ... It is the nation-state—an essentially 19th-century ideal—that is the historical novelty and that may yet prove to be the more ephemeral entity.
Our field’s fixation on the Westphalian state has tended to obscure the fact that the main actors in global politics, for most of time immemorial, have been empires rather than states ... In fact, it is a very distorted view of even the Westphalian era not to recognize that it was always at least as much about empires as it was states. Almost all of the emerging European states no sooner began to consolidate than they were off on campaigns of conquest and commerce to the farthest reaches of the globe… Ironically, it was the European empires that carried the idea of the sovereign territorial state to the rest of the world ...
Empire has been the historically predominant form of order in world politics. Looking at a time frame of several millennia, there was no global anarchic system until the European explorations and subsequent imperial and colonial ventures connected disparate regional systems, doing so approximately 500 years ago. Prior to this emergence of a global-scope system, the pattern of world politics was characterized by regional systems. These regional systems were initially anarchic and marked by high levels of military competition. But almost universally, they tended to consolidate into regional empires ... Thus it was empires—not anarchic state systems—that typically dominated the regional systems in all parts of the world ... Within this global pattern of regional empires, European political order was distinctly anomalous because it persisted so long as an anarchy.
Similarly, Anthony Pagden, Eliot A. Cohen, Jane Burbank and Frederick Cooper estimate that "empires have always been more frequent, more extensive political and social forms than tribal territories or nations have ever been". Many empires endured for centuries, while the age of the ancient Egyptian, Chinese and Japanese Empires is counted in millennia. "Most people throughout history have lived under imperial rule."
Empires have played a long and critical part in human history ... [Despite] efforts in words and wars to put national unity at the center of political imagination, imperial politics, imperial practices, and imperial cultures have shaped the world we live in ... Rome was evoked as a model of splendor and order into the Twentieth century and beyond… By comparison, the nation-state appears as a blip on the historical horizon, a state form that emerged recently from under imperial skies and whose hold on the world's political imagination may well prove partial or transitory… The endurance of empire challenges the notion that the nation-state is natural, necessary, and inevitable ...
Political scientist Hedley Bull wrote that "in the broad sweep of human history ... the form of states system has been the exception rather than the rule". His colleague Robert Gilpin confirmed this conclusion for the pre-modern period:
The history of interstate relations was largely that of successive great empires. The pattern of international political change during the millennia of the pre-modern era has been described as an imperial cycle ... World politics was characterized by the rise and decline of powerful empires, each of which in turn unified and ordered its respective international system. The recurrent pattern in every civilization of which we have knowledge was for one state to unify the system under its imperial domination. The propensity toward universal empire was the principal feature of pre-modern politics.
Historian Michael Doyle who undertook an extensive research on empires extended the observation into the modern era:
Empires have been the key actors in world politics for millennia. They helped create the interdependent civilizations of all the continents ... Imperial control stretches through history, many say, to the present day. Empires are as old as history itself ... They have held the leading role ever since.
Expert on warfare Quincy Wright generalized on what he called "universal empire"—empire unifying all the contemporary system:
Balance of power systems have in the past tended, through the process of conquest of lesser states by greater states, towards reduction in the number of states involved, and towards less frequent but more devastating wars, until eventually a universal empire has been established through the conquest by one of all those remaining.
German Sociologist Friedrich Tenbruck finds that the macro-historic process of imperial expansion gave rise to global history in which the formations of universal empires were most significant stages. A later group of political scientists, working on the phenomenon of the current unipolarity, in 2007 edited research on several pre-modern civilizations by experts in respective fields. The overall conclusion was that the balance of power was inherently unstable order and usually soon broke in favor of imperial order. Yet before the advent of the unipolarity, world historian Arnold Toynbee and political scientist Martin Wight had drawn the same conclusion with an unambiguous implication for the modern world:
When this [imperial] pattern of political history is found in the New World as well as in the Old World, it looks as if the pattern must be intrinsic to the political history of societies of the species we call civilizations, in whatever part of the world the specimens of this species occur. If this conclusion is warranted, it illuminates our understanding of civilization itself.
Most states systems have ended in universal empire, which has swallowed all the states of the system. The examples are so abundant that we must ask two questions: Is there any states system which has not led fairly directly to the establishment of a world empire? Does the evidence rather suggest that we should expect any states system to culminate in this way? ... It might be argued that every state system can only maintain its existence on the balance of power, that the latter is inherently unstable, and that sooner or later its tensions and conflicts will be resolved into a monopoly of power.
The earliest thinker to approach the phenomenon of universal empire from a theoretical point of view was Polybius (2:3):
In previous times events in the world occurred without impinging on one another ... [Then] history became a whole, as if a single body; events in Italy and Libya came to be enmeshed with those in Asia and Greece, and everything gets directed towards one single goal.
Fichte, having witnessed the battle at Jena in 1806 when Napoleon overwhelmed Prussia, described what he perceived as a deep historical trend:
There is necessary tendency in every cultivated State to extend itself generally ... Such is the case in Ancient History ... As the States become stronger in themselves and cast off that [Papal] foreign power, the tendency towards a Universal Monarchy over the whole Christian World necessarily comes to light ... This tendency ... has shown itself successively in several States which could make pretensions to such a dominion, and since the fall of the Papacy, it has become the sole animating principle of our History ... Whether clearly or not—it may be obscurely—yet has this tendency lain at the root of the undertakings of many States in Modern Times ... Although no individual Epoch may have contemplated this purpose, yet is this the spirit which runs through all these individual Epochs, and invisibly urges them onward.
Fichte's later compatriot, Geographer Alexander von Humboldt (1769–1859), in the mid-Nineteenth century observed a macro-historic trend of imperial growth in both Hemispheres: "Men of great and strong minds, as well as whole nations, acted under influence of one idea, the purity of which was utterly unknown to them." The imperial expansion filled the world circa 1900. Two famous contemporary observers—Frederick Turner and Halford Mackinder described the event and drew implications, the former predicting American overseas expansion and the latter stressing that the world empire is now in sight.
Friedrich Ratzel, writing at the same time, observed that the "drive toward the building of continually larger states continues throughout the entirety of history" and is active in the present. He drew "Seven Laws of Expansionism". His seventh law stated: "The general trend toward amalgamation transmits the tendency of territorial growth from state to state and increases the tendency in the process of transmission." He commented on this law to make its meaning clear: "There is on this small planet sufficient space for only one great state."
Two other contemporaries—Kang Yu-wei and George Vacher de Lapouge—stressed that imperial expansion cannot indefinitely proceed on the definite surface of the globe and therefore world empire is imminent. Kang Yu-wei in 1885 believed that the imperial trend will culminate in the contest between Washington and Berlin and Vacher de Lapouge in 1899 estimated that the final contest will be between Russia and America in which America is likely to triumph.
The above envisaged contests indeed took place, known to us as World War I and II. Writing during the Second, political scientists Derwent Whittlesey, Robert Strausz-Hupé and John H. Herz concluded: “Now that the earth is at last parceled out, consolidation has commenced.” In "this world of fighting superstates there could be no end to war until one state had subjected all others, until world empire had been achieved by the strongest. This undoubtedly is the logical final stage in the geopolitical theory of evolution."
The world is no longer large enough to harbor several self-contained powers ... The trend toward world domination or hegemony of a single power is but the ultimate consummation of a power-system engrafted upon an otherwise integrated world.
Writing in the last year of the War, German Historian Ludwig Dehio drew a similar conclusion:
[T]he old European tendency toward division is now being thrust aside by the new global trend toward unification. And the onrush of this trend may not come to rest until it has asserted itself throughout our planet ... The global order still seems to be going through its birth pangs ... With the last tempest barely over, a new one is gathering.
The year after the War and in the first year of the nuclear age, Albert Einstein and British Philosopher Bertrand Russell, known as prominent pacifists, outlined for the near future a perspective of world empire (world government established by force). Einstein believed that, unless world government is established by agreement, an imperial world government would come by war or wars. Russell expected a third World War to result in a world government under the empire of the United States. Three years later, another prominent pacifist, Theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, generalized on the ancient Empires of Egypt, Babylon, Persia and Greece to imply for the modern world: "The analogy in present global terms would be the final unification of the world through the preponderant power of either America or Russia, whichever proved herself victorious in the final struggle."
Originally drafted as a secret study for the Office of Strategic Services (the precursor of the CIA) in 1944 and published as a book three years later, The Struggle for the World... by James Burnham concludes: If either of the two Superpowers wins, the result would be a universal empire which in our case would also be a world empire. The historical stage for a world empire had already been set prior to and independently of the discovery of atomic weapons but these weapons make a world empire inevitable and imminent. "The atomic weapons ... will not permit the world to wait." Only a world empire can establish monopoly on atomic weapons and thus guarantee the survival of civilization. A world empire "is in fact the objective of the Third World War which, in its preliminary stages, has already began". The issue of a world empire "will be decided, and in our day. In the course of the decision, both of the present antagonists may, it is true, be destroyed, but one of them must be." In 1951, Hans Morgenthau concluded that the "best" outcome of World War III would be world empire:
Today war has become an instrument of universal destruction, an instrument that destroys the victor and the vanquished ... At worst, victor and loser would be undistinguishable under the leveling impact of such a catastrophe ... At best, the destruction on one side would not be quite as great as on the other; the victor would be somewhat better off than the loser and would establish, with the aid of modern technology, his domination over the world.
Expert on earlier civilizations, Toynbee, further developed the subject of World War III leading to world empire:
The outcome of the Third World War ... seemed likely to be the imposition of an ecumenical peace of the Roman kind by the victor whose victory would leave him with a monopoly on the control of atomic energy in his grasp ... This denouement was foreshadowed, not only by present facts, but by historical precedents, since, in the histories of other civilizations, the time of troubles had been apt to culminate in the delivery of a knock-out blow resulting in the establishment of a universal state ...
The year this volume of A Study of History was published, US Secretary of State John Foster Dulles announced "a knock-out blow" as an official doctrine, a detailed Plan was elaborated and Fortune magazine mapped the design. Section VIII, "Atomic Armaments", of the famous National Security Council Report 68 (NSC 68), approved by President Harry Truman in 1951, uses the term "blow" 17 times, mostly preceded by such adjectives as "powerful", "overwhelming", or "crippling". Another term applied by the strategists was "Sunday punch".
A pupil of Toynbee, William McNeill, associated on the case of ancient China, which "put a quietus upon the disorders of the warring states by erecting an imperial bureaucratic structure ... The warring states of the Twentieth century seem headed for a similar resolution of their conflicts." The ancient "resolution" McNeill evoked was one of the most sweeping universal conquests in world history, performed by Qin in 230–221 BC. Chinese classic Sima Qian (d. 86 BC) described the event (6:234): "Qin raised troops on grand scale" and "the whole world celebrated a great bacchanal". Herman Kahn of the RAND Corporation criticized to an assembled group of SAC officers their war plan (SIOP-62). He did not use the term bacchanal but he coined on the occasion an associating word: "Gentlemen, you do not have a war plan. You have a wargasm!" History did not completely repeat itself but it passed close.
According to the circumscription theory of Robert Carneiro, "the more sharply circumscribed area, the more rapidly it will become politically unified." The Empires of Egypt, China and Japan are named the most durable political structures in human history. Correspondingly, these are the three most circumscribed civilizations in human history. The Empires of Egypt (established by Narmer c. 3000 BC) and China (established by Cheng in 221 BC) endured for over two millennia. German Sociologist Friedrich Tenbruck, criticizing the Western idea of progress, emphasized that China and Egypt remained at one particular stage of development for millennia. This stage was universal empire. The development of Egypt and China came to a halt once their empires "reached the limits of their natural habitat". Sinology does not recognize the Eurocentric view of the "inevitable" imperial fall; Egyptology and Japanology pose equal challenges.
Carneiro explored the Bronze Age civilizations. Stuart J. Kaufman, Richard Little and William Wohlforth researched the next three millennia, comparing eight civilizations. They conclude: The "rigidity of the borders" contributed importantly to hegemony in every concerned case. Hence, "when the system's borders are rigid, the probability of hegemony is high".
The circumscription theory was stressed in the comparative studies of the Roman and Chinese Empires. The circumscribed Chinese Empire recovered from all falls, while the fall of Rome, by contrast, was fatal. "What counteracted this [imperial] tendency in Europe ... was a countervailing tendency for the geographical boundaries of the system to expand." If "Europe had been a closed system, some great power would eventually have succeeded in establishing absolute supremacy over the other states in the region".
The ancient Chinese system was relatively enclosed, whereas the European system began to expand its reach to the rest of the world from the onset of system formation… In addition, overseas provided outlet for territorial competition, thereby allowing international competition on the European continent to ... trump the ongoing pressure toward convergence.
His 1945 book on the four centuries of the European power struggle, Ludwig Dehio titled The Precarious Balance. He explained the durability of the European states system by its overseas expansion: "Overseas expansion and the system of states were born at the same time; the vitality that burst the bounds of the Western world also destroyed its unity." Edward Carr causally linked the end of the overseas outlet for imperial expansion and World Wars. In the nineteenth century, he wrote during the Second World War, imperialist wars were waged against "primitive" peoples. "It was silly for European countries to fight against one another when they could still ... maintain social cohesion by continuous expansion in Asia and Africa. Since 1900, however, this has no longer been possible: "the situation has radically changed". Now wars are between "imperial powers." Hans Morgenthau wrote that the very imperial expansion into relatively empty geographical spaces in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth centuries, in Africa, Eurasia, and western North America, deflected great power politics into the periphery of the earth, thereby reducing conflict. For example, the more attention Russia, France and the United States paid to expanding into far-flung territories in imperial fashion, the less attention they paid to one another, and the more peaceful, in a sense, the world was. But by the late nineteenth century, the consolidation of the great nation-states and empires of the West was consummated, and territorial gains could only be made at the expense of one another. John H. Herz outlined one "chief function" of the overseas expansion and the impact of its end:
[A] European balance of power could be maintained or adjusted because it was relatively easy to divert European conflicts into overseas directions and adjust them there. Thus the openness of the world contributed to the consolidation of the territorial system. The end of the 'world frontier' and the resulting closedness of an interdependent world inevitably affected the system's effectiveness.
Some later commentators drew similar conclusions:
For some commentators, the passing of the Nineteenth century seemed destined to mark the end of this long era of European empire building. The unexplored and unclaimed "blank" spaces on the world map were rapidly diminishing ... and the sense of "global closure" prompted an anxious fin-de-siècle debate about the future of the great empires ... The "closure" of the global imperial system implied ... the beginning of a new era of intensifying inter-imperial struggle along borders that now straddled the globe.
The opportunity for any system to expand in size seems almost a necessary condition for it to remain balanced, at least over the long haul. Far from being impossible or exceedingly improbable, systemic hegemony is likely under two conditions: "when the boundaries of the international system remain stable and no new major powers emerge from outside the system." With the system becoming global, further expansion is precluded. The geopolitical condition of "global closure" will remain to the end of history. Since "the contemporary international system is global, we can rule out the possibility that geographic expansion of the system will contribute to the emergence of a new balance of power, as it did so many times in the past." As Quincy Wright had put it, "this process can no longer continue without interplanetary wars."
One of leading experts on world-system theory, Christopher Chase-Dunn, noted that the circumscription theory is applicable for the global system, since the global system is circumscribed. In fact, within less than a century of its circumscribed existence the global system overcame the centuries-old balance of power and reached the unipolarity. Given "constant spatial parameters" of the global system, its unipolar structure is neither historically unusual nor theoretically surprising.
Randall Schweller theorized that a "closed international system", such as the global became a century ago, would reach "entropy" in a kind of thermodynamic law. Once the state of entropy is reached, there is no going back. The initial conditions are lost forever. Stressing the curiosity of the fact, Schweller writes that since the moment the modern world became a closed system, the process has worked in only one direction: from many poles to two poles to one pole. Thus unipolarity might represent the entropy—stable and permanent loss of variation—in the global system.
For a major power, prosecution of any war that is not a defense of the homeland usually requires overseas military bases for strategic reasons. After the war is over, it is tempting for the victor to retain such bases and easy to find reasons to do so. Commonly, preparedness for a possible resumption of hostilities will be invoked. Over time, if a nation’s aims become imperial, the bases form the skeleton of an empire.
Simon Dalby associates the network of bases with the Roman imperial system:
Looking at these impressive facilities which reproduce substantial parts of American suburbia complete with movie theatres and restaurant chains, the parallels with Roman garrison towns built on the Rhine, or on Hadrian’s wall in England, where the remains are strikingly visible on the landscape, are obvious … Less visible is the sheer scale of the logistics to keep garrison troops in residence in the far-flung reaches of empire ... That [military] presence literally builds the cultural logic of the garrison troops into the landscape, a permanent reminder of imperial control.
Kenneth Pomeranz and Harvard Historian Niall Ferguson share the above-cited views: "With American military bases in over 120 countries, we have hardly seen the end of empire.” This “vast archipelago of US military bases … far exceeds 19th-century British ambitions. Britain’s imperium consisted of specific, albeit numerous, colonies and clients; the American imperial vision is much more global…”
Conventional maps of US military deployments understate the extent of America's military reach. A Defense Department map of the world, which shows the areas of responsibility of the five major regional commands, suggests that America's sphere of military influence is now literally global … The regional combatant commanders—the 'pro-consuls' of this imperium—have responsibility for swaths of territory beyond the wildest imaginings of their Roman predecessors.
Another Harvard Historian Charles S. Maier opens his Among Empires: American Ascendancy and Its Predecessors with these words: "What a substratum for empire! Compared with which, the foundation of the Macedonian, the Roman and the British, sink into insignificance."
One of the most accepted distinctions between earlier empires and the American Empire is the latter's “global” or “planetary” scope. French former Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine wondered: "The situation is unprecedented: What previous empire subjugated the entire world...?" The quests for universal empire are old but the present quest outdoes the previous in "the notable respect of being the first to actually be global in its reach." For Historian Eric Hobsbawm, a "key novelty of the US imperial project is that all other great powers and empires knew that they were not the only ones..." Another Historian Paul Kennedy, who made his name in the 1980s with his prediction of the imminent US “imperial overstretch,” in 2002 acknowledged about the present world system:
Nothing has ever existed like this disparity of power. The Pax Britannica was run on the cheap. Napoleon’s France and Philip II’s Spain had powerful foes and were part of a multipolar system. Charlemagne’s empire was merely western European in stretch. The Roman Empire stretched further afield, but there was another great empire in Persia and a larger one in China. There is … no comparison.
Walter Russell Mead observes that the United States attempts to repeate “globally” what the ancient empires of Egypt, China and Rome had each accomplished on a regional basis. Professor Emeritus of Sociology at the University of Leeds, Zygmunt Bauman, concludes that due to its planetary dimension, the new empire cannot be drawn on a map:
The new ‘empire’ is not an entity that could be drawn on a map… Drawing a map of the empire would also be a pointless exercise because the most conspicuously ‘imperial’ trait of the new empire’s mode of being consists in viewing and treating the whole of the planet … as a potential grazing ground…
Times Atlas of Empires numbers 70 empires in the world history. Niall Ferguson lists numerous parallels between them and the United States. He concludes: “To those who would still insist on American exceptionalism, the historian of empires can only retort: as exceptional as all the other 69 empires.” Fareed Zakaria stressed one element not exceptional for the American Empire—the concept of exceptionalism. All dominant empires thought they were special.
In 1945, Historian Ludwig Dehio predicted global unification due to the circumscription of the global system, although he did not use this term. Being global, the system can neither expand nor be subject to external intrusion as the European states system had been for centuries:
In all previous struggles for supremacy, attempts to unite the European peninsula in a single state have been condemned to failure primarily through the intrusion of new forces from outside the old Occident. The Occident was an open area. But the globe was not, and, for that very reason, ultimately destined to be unified… And this very process [of unification] was clearly reflected in both World Wars.
Fifteen years later, Dehio confirmed his hypothesis: The European system owed its durability to its overseas outlet. “But how can a multiple grouping of world states conceivably be supported from outside in the framework of a finite globe?”
During the same time, Quincy Wright developed a similar concept. Balance-of-power politics has aimed less at preserving peace than at preserving the independence of states and preventing the development of world empire. In the course of history, the balance of power repeatedly reemerged, but on ever-wider scale. Eventually, the scale became global. Unless we proceed to “interplanetary wars,” this pattern can no longer continue. In spite of significant reversals, the “trend towards world unity” can “scarcely be denied.” World unity appears to be “the limit toward which the process of world history seems to tend.”
Five scholars—Hornell Hart, Raoul Naroll, Louis Morano, Rein Taagepera and the author of the circumscription theory Robert Carneiro—researched expanding imperial cycles. They worked with historical atlases but the advent of YouTube provided us with a better visualization. They reached the same conclusion—that a world empire is pre-determined—and attempted to estimate the time of its appearance. Naroll and Carneiro found that this time is close at hand: around the year 2200 and 2300 respectively.
The founder of the Paneuropean Union, Richard von Coudenhove-Kalergi, writing yet in 1943, drew a more specific and immediate future imperial project: After the War America is bound “to take over the command of the skies.” The danger of “the utter annihilation of all enemy towns and lands” can “only be prevented by the air superiority of a single power … America’s air role is the only alternative to intercontinental wars.” Despite his outstanding anti-imperialism, Coudenhove-Kalergi detailed:
No imperialism, but technical and strategic problems of security urge America to rule the skies of the globe, just as Britain during the last century ruled the seas of the world… Pacifists and anti-imperialists will be shocked by this logic. They will try to find an escape. But they will try in vain… At the end of the war the crushing superiority of American plane production will be an established fact… The solution of the problem … is by no means ideal, nor even satisfactory. But it is the minor evil…
Coudenhove-Kalergi envisaged a kind of Pax Americana modeled on “Pax Romana”:
During the third century BC the Mediterranean world was divided on five great powers—Roma and Carthage, Macedonia, Syria, and Egypt. The balance of power led to a series of wars until Rome emerged the queen of the Mediterranean and established an incomparable era of two centuries of peace and progress, the ‘Pax Romana’… It may be that America’s air power could again assure our world, now much smaller than the Mediterranean at that period, two hundred years of peace…
This period would be necessary transitory stage before World State is eventually established, though he did not specify how the last transformation is expected to occur. Coudenhove-Kalergi's follower in the teleological theory of World State, Toynbee, supposed the traditional way of universal conquest and emphasized that the world is ripe for conquest: "…Hitler's eventual failure to impose peace on the world by the force of arms was due, not to any flaw in his thesis that the world was ripe for conquest, but to an accidental combination of incidental errors in his measures…" But "in falling by so narrow a margin to win the prize of world-dominion for himself, Hitler had left the prize dangling within the reach of any successor capable of pursuing the same aims of world-conquest with a little more patience, prudence, and tact." With his "revolution of destruction," Hitler has performed the "yeoman service" for "some future architect of a Pax Ecumenica... For a post-Hitlerian empire-builder, Hitler's derelict legacy was a gift of the Gods."
The next “architect of a Pax Ecumenica,” known more commonly as Pax Americana, demonstrated “more patience, prudence, and tact.” Consequently, as President Dwight Eisenhower put it, the NATO allies became “almost psychopathic” whenever anyone talked about a US withdrawal, and the reception of his successor John Kennedy in Berlin was “almost hysterical,” as Chancellor Conrad Adenauer characterized it . John Ikenberry finds that the Europeans wanted a stronger, more formal and more imperial system than the United States was initially willing to provide. In the end the United States settled for this “form of empire—a Pax Americana with formal commitments to Europe.” According to a much debated thesis, the United States became “empire by invitation.” The period discussed in the thesis (1945-1952) ended precisely the year Toynbee theorized on "some future architect of a Pax Ecumenica.”
Dissociating America from Rome, Eisenhower gave a pessimistic forecast. In 1951, before he became President, he had written on West Europe: “We cannot be a modern Rome guarding the far frontiers with our legions if for no other reason than that these are not, politically, our frontiers. What we must do is to assist these [West European] peoples.” Two years later, he wrote: When it was decided to deploy US divisions to Europe, no one had “for an instant” thought that they would remain there for “several decades”—that the United States could “build a sort of Roman Wall with its own troops and so protect the world.”
Eisenhower assured Soviet Chairman Nikita Khrushchev on Berlin in 1959: “Clearly we did not contemplate 50 years in occupation there.” It lasted, remarks Marc Trachtenberg, from July 1945 to September 1994, 10 months short of 50 years. Notably, when the US troops eventually left, they left eastward. Confirming the theory of the “empire by invitation,” with their first opportunity East European states extended the “invitation.”
Chalmers Johnson regards the global military reach of the United States as empire in its “initial” form. Dimitri Simes finds that most of the world sees the United States as a "nascent" imperial power. Some scholars concerned how this empire would look in its ultimate form. The ultimate form of empire was described by Michael Doyle in his Empires. It is empire in which its two main components—the ruling core and the ruled periphery—merged to form one integrated whole. At this stage the empire as defined ceases to exist and becomes world state. Doyle examplifies the transformation on the case of the Roman Emperor Caracalla whose legislation in AD 212 extended the Roman citizenship to all inhabitants of the Mediterranean world.
International Relations scholar Alexander Wendt in his 2003 article “Why the World State is Inevitable…” supposed the pathway of universal conquest and subsequent consolidation provided the conquering power recognizes all conquered members. Replying on criticism, Wendt invoked the example of the Roman Empire: A "world empire would be an unstable equilibrium, still subject to the struggle for recognition." However, conquest can "produce a proper ‘state’ if, as a result of internal reform, the world empire eventually recognizes all of its members (like the Roman Empire did, for example).”
Doyle's case of the Roman Empire had also been evoked by Susan Strange in her 1988 article, "The Future of the American Empire." Strange emphasized that the most persistent empires were those which best managed to integrate the ruling core and the peripheral allies. The article is partly a reply on the published a year earlier bestseller The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers which predicted imminent US "imperial overstretch." Strange found this outcome unlikely, stressing the fact that the peripheral allies have been successfully recruited into the American Empire.
Envisaging a world empire of either the United States or the Soviet Union (whoever is victorious in World War III), Bertrand Russell projected the Roman scenario too: "Like the Romans, they will, in the course of time, extend citizenship to the vanquished. There will then be a true world state, and it will be possible to forget that it will have owed its origin to conquest."
To the case of Caracalla, Toynbee added the Abbasid cosmopolitan reformation of 750 AD. Both "were good auguries for the prospect that, in a post-Modern chapter of Western history, a supranational commonwealth originally based on the hegemony of a paramount power over its satellites might eventually be put on the sounder basis of a constitutional partnership in which all the people of all the partner states would have their fare share in the conduct of common affairs.”
Historian Maks Ostrovski finds above mentioned cosmopolitan reformations to be the characteristic fate of persistent empires. When such a reformation occurs in our world, he writes, the green card would be abolished since all earth inhabitants would have it by birth. This cosmopolitan World State, as the records of earlier circumscribed civilizations suggest, will last millennia.
any monarchy that for reasons of history, prestige, etc, has an emperor rather than a king as head of state
government by an emperor or empress
a monarchy with an emperor as head of state
government by an emperor or empress
it left many legacies, including widespread use of the English language, belief in Protestant religion, economic globalization, modern precepts of law and order, and representative democracy.
By 1914 common law, trail by jury, the King James Authorized Version of the Bible, the English language, and the British navy had been spread around the globe.
The Achaemenid Empire (; 𐎧𐏁𐏂, Xšassa (Old Persian) "The Empire" c. 550–330 BC), also called the First Persian Empire, was an empire based in Western Asia founded by Cyrus the Great. Ranging at its greatest extent from the Balkans and Eastern Europe proper in the west to the Indus Valley in the east, it was larger than any previous empire in history, spanning 5.5 (or 8) million square kilometers. Incorporating various peoples of different origins and faiths, it is notable for its successful model of a centralised, bureaucratic administration (through satraps under the King of Kings), for building infrastructure such as road systems and a postal system, the use of an official language across its territories, and the development of civil services and a large professional army. The empire's successes inspired similar systems in later empires.By the 7th century BC, the Persians had settled in the south-western portion of the Iranian Plateau in the region of Persis, which came to be their heartland. From this region, Cyrus the Great advanced to defeat the Medes, Lydia, and the Neo-Babylonian Empire, establishing the Achaemenid Empire. Alexander the Great, an avid admirer of Cyrus the Great, conquered most of the empire by 330 BC. Upon Alexander's death, most of the empire's former territory came under the rule of the Ptolemaic Kingdom and Seleucid Empire, in addition to other minor territories which gained independence at that time. The Iranian elites of the central plateau reclaimed power by the second century BC under the Parthian Empire.The Achaemenid Empire is noted in Western history as the antagonist of the Greek city-states during the Greco-Persian Wars and for the emancipation of the Jewish exiles in Babylon. The historical mark of the empire went far beyond its territorial and military influences and included cultural, social, technological and religious influences as well. Despite the lasting conflict between the two states, many Athenians adopted Achaemenid customs in their daily lives in a reciprocal cultural exchange, some being employed by or allied to the Persian kings. The impact of Cyrus's edict is mentioned in Judeo-Christian texts, and the empire was instrumental in the spread of Zoroastrianism as far east as China. The empire also set the tone for the politics, heritage and history of Iran (also officially known as Persia).Aruba
Aruba ( ə-ROO-bə; Dutch: [aːˈrubaː]; Papiamento: [aˈruba]) is an island and a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in the southern Caribbean Sea, located about 1,600 kilometres (990 mi) west of the main part of the Lesser Antilles and 29 kilometres (18 mi) north of the coast of Venezuela. It measures 32 kilometres (20 mi) long from its northwestern to its southeastern end and 10 kilometres (6 mi) across at its widest point. Together with Bonaire and Curaçao, Aruba forms a group referred to as the ABC islands. Collectively, Aruba and the other Dutch islands in the Caribbean are often called the Dutch Caribbean.
Aruba is one of the four countries that form the Kingdom of the Netherlands, along with the Netherlands, Curaçao, and Sint Maarten; the citizens of these countries are all Dutch nationals. Aruba has no administrative subdivisions, but, for census purposes, is divided into eight regions. Its capital is Oranjestad.
Unlike much of the Caribbean region, Aruba has a dry climate and an arid, cactus-strewn landscape. This climate has helped tourism as visitors to the island can reliably expect warm, sunny weather. It has a land area of 179 km2 (69.1 sq mi) and is densely populated, with a total of 102,484 inhabitants at the 2010 Census. It lies outside Hurricane Alley.Austria-Hungary
Austria-Hungary, often referred to as the Austro-Hungarian Empire or the Dual Monarchy, was a constitutional monarchy in central and eastern Europe from 1867 to 1918. It was formed by giving a new constitution to the Austrian Empire, which devolved powers on Austria (Cisleithania) and Hungary (Transleithania) and placed them on an equal footing. It broke apart into several states at the end of World War I.
The union was a result of the Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867 and came into existence on 30 March 1867. Austria-Hungary consisted of two monarchies (Austria and Hungary), and one autonomous region: the Kingdom of Croatia-Slavonia under the Hungarian crown, which negotiated the Croatian–Hungarian Settlement in 1868. It was ruled by the House of Habsburg, and constituted the last phase in the constitutional evolution of the Habsburg Monarchy. Following the 1867 reforms, the Austrian and the Hungarian states were co-equal. Foreign affairs and the military came under joint oversight, but all other governmental faculties were divided between respective states.
Austria-Hungary was a multinational state and one of Europe's major powers at the time. Austria-Hungary was geographically the second-largest country in Europe after the Russian Empire, at 621,538 km2 (239,977 sq mi), and the third-most populous (after Russia and the German Empire). The Empire built up the fourth-largest machine building industry of the world, after the United States, Germany, and the United Kingdom. Austria-Hungary also became the world's third largest manufacturer and exporter of electric home appliances, electric industrial appliances and power generation apparatus for power plants, after the United States and the German Empire.After 1878, Bosnia and Herzegovina was under Austro-Hungarian military and civilian rule until it was fully annexed in 1908, provoking the Bosnian crisis among the other powers. The northern part of the Ottoman Sanjak of Novi Pazar was also under de facto joint occupation during that period but the Austro-Hungarian army withdrew as part of their annexation of Bosnia. The annexation of Bosnia also led to Islam being recognized as an official state religion due to Bosnia's Muslim population.Austria-Hungary was one of the Central Powers in World War I which started when it declared war on the Kingdom of Serbia on July 28, 1914. It was already effectively dissolved by the time the military authorities signed the armistice of Villa Giusti on 3 November 1918. The Kingdom of Hungary and the First Austrian Republic were treated as its successors de jure, whereas the independence of the West Slavs and South Slavs of the Empire as the First Czechoslovak Republic, the Second Polish Republic and the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, respectively, and most of the territorial demands of the Kingdom of Romania were also recognized by the victorious powers in 1920.British Empire
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom and its predecessor states. It originated with the overseas possessions and trading posts established by England between the late 16th and early 18th centuries. At its height, it was the largest empire in history and, for over a century, was the foremost global power. By 1913, the British Empire held sway over 412 million people, 23% of the world population at the time, and by 1920, it covered 35,500,000 km2 (13,700,000 sq mi), 24% of the Earth's total land area. As a result, its political, legal, linguistic and cultural legacy is widespread. At the peak of its power, the phrase "the empire on which the sun never sets" was often used to describe the British Empire, because its expanse around the globe meant that the sun was always shining on at least one of its territories.During the Age of Discovery in the 15th and 16th centuries, Portugal and Spain pioneered European exploration of the globe, and in the process established large overseas empires. Envious of the great wealth these empires generated, England, France, and the Netherlands began to establish colonies and trade networks of their own in the Americas and Asia. A series of wars in the 17th and 18th centuries with the Netherlands and France left England and then, following union between England and Scotland in 1707, Great Britain, the dominant colonial power in North America. It then became the dominant power in the Indian subcontinent after the East India Company's conquest of Mughal Bengal at the Battle of Plassey in 1757.
The independence of the Thirteen Colonies in North America in 1783 after the American War of Independence caused Britain to lose some of its oldest and most populous colonies. British attention soon turned towards Asia, Africa, and the Pacific. After the defeat of France in the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars (1792–1815), Britain emerged as the principal naval and imperial power of the 19th century. Unchallenged at sea, British dominance was later described as Pax Britannica ("British Peace"), a period of relative peace in Europe and the world (1815–1914) during which the British Empire became the global hegemon and adopted the role of global policeman. In the early 19th century, the Industrial Revolution began to transform Britain; so that by the time of the Great Exhibition in 1851, the country was described as the "workshop of the world". The British Empire expanded to include most of India, large parts of Africa and many other territories throughout the world. Alongside the formal control that Britain exerted over its own colonies, its dominance of much of world trade meant that it effectively controlled the economies of many regions, such as Asia and Latin America.During the 19th century, Britain's population increased at a dramatic rate, accompanied by rapid urbanisation, which caused significant social and economic stresses. To seek new markets and sources of raw materials, the British government under Benjamin Disraeli initiated a period of imperial expansion in Egypt, South Africa, and elsewhere. Canada, Australia, and New Zealand became self-governing dominions.By the start of the 20th century, Germany and the United States had begun to challenge Britain's economic lead. Subsequent military and economic tensions between Britain and Germany were major causes of the First World War, during which Britain relied heavily upon its empire. The conflict placed enormous strain on the military, financial and manpower resources of Britain. Although the British Empire achieved its largest territorial extent immediately after World War I, Britain was no longer the world's pre-eminent industrial or military power. In the Second World War, Britain's colonies in East and Southeast Asia were occupied by Japan. Despite the final victory of Britain and its allies, the damage to British prestige helped to accelerate the decline of the empire. India, Britain's most valuable and populous possession, achieved independence as part of a larger decolonisation movement in which Britain granted independence to most territories of the empire. The transfer of Hong Kong to China in 1997 marked for many the end of the British Empire. Fourteen overseas territories remain under British sovereignty.
After independence, many former British colonies joined the Commonwealth of Nations, a free association of independent states. The United Kingdom is now one of 16 Commonwealth nations, a grouping known informally as the Commonwealth realms, that share a monarch, currently Queen Elizabeth II.British Raj
The British Raj (; from rāj, literally, "rule" in Hindustani) was the rule by the British Crown in the Indian subcontinent from 1858 to 1947. The rule is also called Crown rule in India, or direct rule in India. The region under British control was commonly called British India or simply India in contemporaneous usage, and included areas directly administered by the United Kingdom, which were collectively called British India, and those ruled by indigenous rulers, but under British tutelage or paramountcy, and called the princely states. The whole was also informally called the Indian Empire.
As India, it was a founding member of the League of Nations, a participating nation in the Summer Olympics in 1900, 1920, 1928, 1932, and 1936, and a founding member of the United Nations in San Francisco in 1945.This system of governance was instituted on 28 June 1858, when, after the Indian Rebellion of 1857, the rule of the British East India Company was transferred to the Crown in the person of Queen Victoria (who, in 1876, was proclaimed Empress of India). It lasted until 1947, when it was partitioned into two sovereign dominion states: the Dominion of India (later the Republic of India) and the Dominion of Pakistan (later the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the eastern part of which, still later, became the People's Republic of Bangladesh). At the inception of the Raj in 1858, Lower Burma was already a part of British India; Upper Burma was added in 1886, and the resulting union, Burma, was administered as an autonomous province until 1937, when it became a separate British colony, gaining its own independence in 1948.Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire and Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire in its eastern provinces during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, when its capital city was Constantinople (modern-day Fatih, İstanbul, and formerly Byzantium). It survived the fragmentation and fall of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century AD and continued to exist for an additional thousand years until it fell to the Ottoman Turks in 1453. During most of its existence, the empire was the most powerful economic, cultural, and military force in Europe. Both the terms "Byzantine Empire" and "Eastern Roman Empire" are historiographical exonyms; its citizens continued to refer to their empire simply as the Roman Empire (Greek: Βασιλεία Ῥωμαίων, tr. Basileia Rhōmaiōn; Latin: Imperium Romanum), or Romania (Ῥωμανία), and to themselves as "Romans".Several signal events from the 4th to 6th centuries mark the period of transition during which the Roman Empire's Greek East and Latin West diverged. Constantine I (r. 324–337) reorganised the empire, made Constantinople the new capital, and legalised Christianity. Under Theodosius I (r. 379–395), Christianity became the Empire's official state religion and other religious practices were proscribed. Finally, under the reign of Heraclius (r. 610–641), the Empire's military and administration were restructured and adopted Greek for official use in place of Latin. Thus, although the Roman state continued and its traditions were maintained, modern historians distinguish Byzantium from ancient Rome insofar as it was centred on Constantinople, oriented towards Greek rather than Latin culture, and characterised by Orthodox Christianity.The borders of the empire evolved significantly over its existence, as it went through several cycles of decline and recovery. During the reign of Justinian I (r. 527–565), the Empire reached its greatest extent after reconquering much of the historically Roman western Mediterranean coast, including North Africa, Italy, and Rome itself, which it held for two more centuries. The Byzantine–Sasanian War of 602–628 exhausted the empire's resources and contributed to major territorial losses during the Early Muslim conquests of the 7th century wherein it lost its richest provinces, Egypt and Syria, to the Arab caliphate. During the Macedonian dynasty (10th–11th centuries), the empire expanded again and experienced the two-century long Macedonian Renaissance, which came to an end with the loss of much of Asia Minor to the Seljuk Turks after the Battle of Manzikert in 1071. This battle opened the way for the Turks to settle in Anatolia.
The empire recovered during the Komnenian restoration, and by the 12th century Constantinople was the largest and wealthiest European city. However, it was delivered a mortal blow during the Fourth Crusade, when Constantinople was sacked in 1204 and the territories that the empire formerly governed were divided into competing Byzantine Greek and Latin realms. Despite the eventual recovery of Constantinople in 1261, the Byzantine Empire remained only one of several small rival states in the area for the final two centuries of its existence. Its remaining territories were progressively annexed by the Ottomans over the 14th and 15th century. The Fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Empire in 1453 finally ended the Byzantine Empire. The last of the imperial Byzantine successor states, the Empire of Trebizond, would be conquered by the Ottomans eight years later in the 1461 Siege of Trebizond.Constantinople
Constantinople (Greek: Κωνσταντινούπολις, translit. Kōnstantinoúpolis; Latin: Cōnstantīnopolis) was the capital city of the Roman Empire (330–395), of the Byzantine Empire (395–1204 and 1261–1453), and also of the brief Crusader state known as the Latin Empire (1204–1261), until finally falling to the Ottoman Empire (1453–1923). It was reinaugurated in 324 from ancient Byzantium as the new capital of the Roman Empire by Emperor Constantine the Great, after whom it was named, and dedicated on 11 May 330. The city was located in what is now the European side and the core of modern Istanbul.
From the mid-5th century to the early 13th century, Constantinople was the largest and wealthiest city in Europe. The city was also famed for its architectural masterpieces, such as the Greek Orthodox cathedral of Hagia Sophia, which served as the seat of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the sacred Imperial Palace where the Emperors lived, the Galata Tower, the Hippodrome, the Golden Gate of the Land Walls, and the opulent aristocratic palaces lining the arcaded avenues and squares. The University of Constantinople was founded in the fifth century and contained numerous artistic and literary treasures before it was sacked in 1204 and 1453, including its vast Imperial Library which contained the remnants of the Library of Alexandria and had over 100,000 volumes of ancient texts. It was instrumental in the advancement of Christianity during Roman and Byzantine times as the home of the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople and as the guardian of Christendom's holiest relics such as the Crown of Thorns and the True Cross.
Constantinople was famed for its massive and complex defences. The first wall of the city was erected by Constantine I, and surrounded the city on both land and sea fronts. Later, in the 5th century, the Praetorian Prefect Anthemius under the child emperor Theodosius II undertook the construction of the Theodosian Walls, which consisted of a double wall lying about 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) to the west of the first wall and a moat with palisades in front. This formidable complex of defences was one of the most sophisticated of Antiquity. The city was built intentionally to rival Rome, and it was claimed that several elevations within its walls matched the 'seven hills' of Rome. Because it was located between the Golden Horn and the Sea of Marmara the land area that needed defensive walls was reduced, and this helped it to present an impregnable fortress enclosing magnificent palaces, domes, and towers, the result of the prosperity it achieved from being the gateway between two continents (Europe and Asia) and two seas (the Mediterranean and the Black Sea). Although besieged on numerous occasions by various armies, the defences of Constantinople proved impregnable for nearly nine hundred years.
In 1204, however, the armies of the Fourth Crusade took and devastated the city, and its inhabitants lived several decades under Latin misrule. In 1261 the Byzantine Emperor Michael VIII Palaiologos liberated the city, and after the restoration under the Palaiologos dynasty, enjoyed a partial recovery. With the advent of the Ottoman Empire in 1299, the Byzantine Empire began to lose territories and the city began to lose population. By the early 15th century, the Byzantine Empire was reduced to just Constantinople and its environs, along with Morea in Greece, making it an enclave inside the Ottoman Empire; after a 53-day siege the city eventually fell to the Ottomans, led by Sultan Mehmed II, on 29 May 1453, whereafter it replaced Edirne (Adrianople) as the new capital of the Ottoman Empire.Empire State Building
The Empire State Building is a 102-story Art Deco skyscraper in Midtown Manhattan, New York City. Designed by Shreve, Lamb & Harmon and completed in 1931, the building has a roof height of 1,250 feet (380 m) and stands a total of 1,454 feet (443.2 m) tall, including its antenna. Its name is derived from "Empire State", the nickname of New York, which is of unknown origin. As of 2017 the building is the 5th-tallest completed skyscraper in the United States and the 28th-tallest in the world. It is also the 6th-tallest freestanding structure in the Americas. The Empire State Building stood as the world's tallest building for nearly 40 years until the completion of the World Trade Center's North Tower in Lower Manhattan in late 1970. Following the September 11 attacks in 2001, it was again the tallest building in New York until the new One World Trade Center was completed in April 2012.
The site of the Empire State Building, located in Midtown South on the west side of Fifth Avenue between West 33rd and 34th Streets, was originally part of an early 18th-century farm. It was later purchased by the Astor family, who built the Waldorf–Astoria Hotel on the site in the 1890s. The hotel remained in operation until the late 1920s, when it was sold to the Bethlehem Engineering Corporation, then to Empire State Inc., a business venture that included famous businessman and former General Motors executive, John J. Raskob, members of the du Pont family, and former New York governor Al Smith. The original design of the Empire State Building was for a 50-story office building. However, after fifteen revisions, the final design was for an 86-story 1,250-foot building, with an airship mast on top. This ensured it would be the world's tallest building, beating the Chrysler Building and 40 Wall Street, two other Manhattan skyscrapers under construction at the time that were also vying for that distinction.
Demolition of the Waldorf–Astoria began in October 1929, and the foundation of the Empire State Building was excavated before demolition was even complete. Construction on the building itself started on March 17, 1930, with an average construction rate of four and a half floors per week. A well-coordinated schedule meant that the 86 stories were topped out on September 19; the mast was completed by November 21; and the building was opened on May 1, 1931, thirteen and a half months after the first steel beam was erected. Despite the publicity surrounding the building's construction, its owners failed to make a profit until the early 1950s. However, since its opening, the building's Art Deco architecture and open-air observation deck has made it a popular tourist attraction, with around 4 million visitors from around the world visiting the building's 86th and 102nd floor observatories every year. Since the mid-2010s, the Empire State Building has been undergoing improvements to improve access to its observation decks.The building stands within a mile of other major Midtown tourist attractions including Grand Central Terminal, Pennsylvania Station, Madison Square Garden, Koreatown, and Macy's Herald Square.
The Empire State Building is an American cultural icon and has been featured in more than 250 TV shows and movies since the film King Kong was released in 1933. A symbol of New York City, the tower has been named as one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World by the American Society of Civil Engineers. The Empire State Building and its ground-floor interior have been designated as a city landmark by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission, and were confirmed as such by the New York City Board of Estimate. It was also designated a National Historic Landmark in 1986, and was ranked number one on the American Institute of Architects' List of America's Favorite Architecture in 2007.Empire of Japan
The Empire of Japan (大日本帝國, Dai Nippon Teikoku, literally meaning "Empire of Great Japan") was the historical nation-state and great power that existed from the Meiji Restoration in 1868 to the enactment of the 1947 constitution of modern Japan.Japan's rapid industrialization and militarization under the slogan Fukoku Kyōhei (富國強兵, "Enrich the Country, Strengthen the Armed Forces") and Shokusan Kōgyō (殖産興業, "Promote Industry") led to its emergence as a world power and the establishment of a colonial empire following the First Sino-Japanese War, the Boxer Rebellion, the Russo-Japanese War, and World War I. Economic and political turmoil in the 1920s led to the rise of militarism, eventually culminating in Japan's membership in the Axis alliance and the conquest of a large part of the Asia-Pacific in World War II.Japan's armed forces initially achieved large-scale military successes during the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937–1945) and the Pacific War. However, after many Allied victories and following the Soviet Union's declaration of war against Japan and invasion of Manchuria, and the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Empire surrendered to the Allies on August 15, 1945. A period of occupation by the Allies followed the surrender, and a new constitution was created with American involvement in 1947, officially bringing the Empire of Japan to an end. Occupation and reconstruction continued until 1952, eventually forming the current nation-state whose full title is the "State of Japan" in Japanese (simply rendered "Japan" in English).
The Emperors during this time, which spanned the entire Meiji and Taishō, and the lesser part of the Shōwa era, are now known in Japan by their posthumous names, which coincide with those era names: Emperor Meiji (Mutsuhito), Emperor Taishō (Yoshihito), and Emperor Shōwa (Hirohito).Genghis Khan
Genghis Khan (born Temüjin, c. 1162 – August 18, 1227, Modern Mongolian pronunciation [ˈt͡ɕʰiŋɡɪs χaːɴ], Middle Mongol pronunciation [ˈt͡ɕʰiŋːɡɪs ˈkaχaːn] or [ˈt͡ʃʰiŋːɡɪs ˈqaχaːn]) was the founder and first Great Khan of the Mongol Empire, which became the largest contiguous empire in history after his death. He came to power by uniting many of the nomadic tribes of Northeast Asia. After founding the Empire and being proclaimed "Genghis Khan", he launched the Mongol invasions that conquered most of Eurasia. Campaigns initiated in his lifetime include those against the Qara Khitai, Caucasus, and Khwarazmian, Western Xia and Jin dynasties. These campaigns were often accompanied by large-scale massacres of the civilian populations – especially in the Khwarazmian and Western Xia controlled lands. By the end of his life, the Mongol Empire occupied a substantial portion of Central Asia and China.
Before Genghis Khan died he assigned Ögedei Khan as his successor. Later his grandsons split his empire into khanates. Genghis Khan died in 1227 after defeating the Western Xia. By his request, his body was buried in an unmarked grave somewhere in Mongolia. His descendants extended the Mongol Empire across most of Eurasia by conquering or creating vassal states in all of modern-day China, Korea, the Caucasus, Central Asia, and substantial portions of Eastern Europe and Southwest Asia. Many of these invasions repeated the earlier large-scale slaughters of local populations. As a result, Genghis Khan and his empire have a fearsome reputation in local histories.Beyond his military accomplishments, Genghis Khan also advanced the Mongol Empire in other ways. He decreed the adoption of the Uyghur script as the Mongol Empire's writing system. He also practiced meritocracy and encouraged religious tolerance in the Mongol Empire, and unified the nomadic tribes of Northeast Asia. Present-day Mongolians regard him as the founding father of Mongolia.Genghis Khan was known for the brutality of his campaigns, and is considered by many to have been a genocidal ruler. However, he is also credited with bringing the Silk Road under one cohesive political environment. This brought relatively easy communication and trade between Northeast Asia, Muslim Southwest Asia, and Christian Europe, expanding the cultural horizons of all three areas.German Empire
The German Empire (German: Deutsches Kaiserreich, officially Deutsches Reich), also known as Imperial Germany, was the German nation state that existed from the unification of Germany in 1871 until the abdication of Kaiser Wilhelm II in 1918.
It was founded in 1871 when the south German states, except for Austria, joined the North German Confederation. On 1 January 1871, the new constitution came into force that changed the name of the federal state and introduced the title of emperor for Wilhelm I, King of Prussia from the House of Hohenzollern. Berlin remained its capital, and Otto von Bismarck remained Chancellor, the head of government. As these events occurred, the Prussian-led North German Confederation and its southern German allies were still engaged in the Franco-Prussian War.
The German Empire consisted of 26 states, most of them ruled by royal families. They included four kingdoms, six grand duchies, five duchies (six before 1876), seven principalities, three free Hanseatic cities, and one imperial territory. Although Prussia was one of several kingdoms in the realm, it contained about two thirds of Germany's population and territory. Prussian dominance was also established constitutionally.
After 1850, the states of Germany had rapidly become industrialized, with particular strengths in coal, iron (and later steel), chemicals, and railways. In 1871, Germany had a population of 41 million people; by 1913, this had increased to 68 million. A heavily rural collection of states in 1815, the now united Germany became predominantly urban. During its 47 years of existence, the German Empire was an industrial, technological, and scientific giant, gaining more Nobel Prizes in science than any other country. By 1900, Germany was the largest economy in Europe, surpassing the United Kingdom, as well as the second-largest in the world, behind only the United States.From 1867 to 1878/9, Otto von Bismarck's tenure as the first and to this day longest reigning Chancellor was marked by relative liberalism, but it became more conservative afterwards. Broad reforms and the Kulturkampf marked his period in the office. Late in Bismarck's chancellorship and in spite of his personal opposition, Germany became involved in colonialism. Claiming much of the leftover territory that was yet unclaimed in the Scramble for Africa, it managed to build the third-largest colonial empire after the British and the French ones. As a colonial state, it sometimes clashed with other European powers, especially the British Empire.
Germany became a great power, boasting a rapidly developing rail network, the world's strongest army, and a fast-growing industrial base. In less than a decade, its navy became second only to Britain's Royal Navy. After the removal of Otto von Bismarck by Wilhelm II in 1890, the Empire embarked on Weltpolitik – a bellicose new course that ultimately contributed to the outbreak of World War I. In addition, Bismarck's successors were incapable of maintaining their predecessor's complex, shifting, and overlapping alliances which had kept Germany from being diplomatically isolated. This period was marked by various factors influencing the Emperor's decisions, which were often perceived as contradictory or unpredictable by the public. In 1879, the German Empire consolidated the Dual Alliance with Austria-Hungary, followed by the Triple Alliance with Italy in 1882. It also retained strong diplomatic ties to the Ottoman Empire. When the great crisis of 1914 arrived, Italy left the alliance and the Ottoman Empire formally allied with Germany.
In the First World War, German plans to capture Paris quickly in the autumn of 1914 failed. The war on the Western Front became a stalemate. The Allied naval blockade caused severe shortages of food. However, Imperial Germany had success on the Eastern Front; it occupied a large amount of territory to its east following the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk. The German declaration of unrestricted submarine warfare in early 1917, contributed to bringing the United States into the war.
The high command under Paul von Hindenburg and Erich Ludendorff increasingly controlled the country, but in October after the failed offensive in spring 1918, the German armies were in retreat, allies Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire had collapsed, and Bulgaria had surrendered. The Empire collapsed in the November 1918 Revolution with the abdications of its monarchs. This left a postwar federal republic and a devastated and unsatisfied populace, which later led to the rise of Adolf Hitler and Nazism.Holy Roman Empire
The Holy Roman Empire (Latin: Sacrum Romanum Imperium; German: Heiliges Römisches Reich) was a multi-ethnic complex of territories in Western and Central Europe that developed during the Early Middle Ages and continued until its dissolution in 1806 during the Napoleonic Wars. The largest territory of the empire after 962 was the Kingdom of Germany, though it also came to include the neighboring Kingdom of Bohemia, the Kingdom of Burgundy, the Kingdom of Italy, and numerous other territories.On 25 December 800, Pope Leo III crowned the Frankish king Charlemagne as Emperor, reviving the title in Western Europe, more than three centuries after the fall of the earlier ancient Western Roman Empire in 476. The title continued in the Carolingian family until 888 and from 896 to 899, after which it was contested by the rulers of Italy in a series of civil wars until the death of the last Italian claimant, Berengar I, in 924. The title was revived again in 962 when Otto I was crowned emperor, fashioning himself as the successor of Charlemagne and beginning a continuous existence of the empire for over eight centuries. Some historians refer to the coronation of Charlemagne as the origin of the empire, while others prefer the coronation of Otto I as its beginning. Scholars generally concur, however, in relating an evolution of the institutions and principles constituting the empire, describing a gradual assumption of the imperial title and role.The exact term "Holy Roman Empire" was not used until the 13th century, but the concept of translatio imperii, the notion that he—the sovereign ruler—held supreme power inherited from the ancient emperors of Rome, was fundamental to the prestige of the emperor. The office of Holy Roman Emperor was traditionally elective, although frequently controlled by dynasties. The mostly German prince-electors, the highest-ranking noblemen of the empire, usually elected one of their peers as "King of the Romans", and he would later be crowned emperor by the Pope; the tradition of papal coronations was discontinued in the 16th century.
The empire never achieved the extent of political unification as was formed to the west in France, evolving instead into a decentralized, limited elective monarchy composed of hundreds of sub-units: kingdoms, principalities, duchies, counties, prince-bishoprics, Free Imperial Cities, and other domains. The power of the emperor was limited, and while the various princes, lords, bishops, and cities of the empire were vassals who owed the emperor their allegiance, they also possessed an extent of privileges that gave them de facto independence within their territories. Emperor Francis II dissolved the empire on 6 August 1806 following the creation of the Confederation of the Rhine by emperor Napoleon I the month before.Inca Empire
The Inca Empire (Quechua: Tawantinsuyu, lit. "The Four Regions"), also known as the Incan Empire and the Inka Empire, was the largest empire in pre-Columbian America. Its political and administrative structure is considered by most scholars to have been the most developed in the Americas before Columbus' arrival. The administrative, political and military center of the empire was located in Cusco, Peru. The Inca civilization arose from the Peruvian highlands sometime in the early 13th century. Its last stronghold was conquered by the Spanish in 1572.
From 1438 to 1533, the Incas incorporated a large portion of western South America, centered on the Andean Mountains, using conquest and peaceful assimilation, among other methods. At its largest, the empire joined Peru, southwest Ecuador, western and south central Bolivia, northwest Argentina, northern Chile and a small part of southwest Colombia into a state comparable to the historical empires of Eurasia. Its official language was Quechua. Many local forms of worship persisted in the empire, most of them concerning local sacred Huacas, but the Inca leadership encouraged the sun worship of Inti – their sun god – and imposed its sovereignty above other cults such as that of Pachamama. The Incas considered their king, the Sapa Inca, to be the "son of the sun."The Inca Empire was unique in that it lacked many features associated with civilization in the Old World. In the words of one scholar,
The Incas lacked the use of wheeled vehicles. They lacked animals to ride and draft animals that could pull wagons and plows... [They] lacked the knowledge of iron and steel... Above all, they lacked a system of writing... Despite these supposed handicaps, the Incas were still able to construct one of the greatest imperial states in human history.
Notable features of the Inca Empire include its monumental architecture, especially stonework, extensive road network reaching all corners of the empire, finely-woven textiles, use of knotted strings (quipu) for record keeping and communication, agricultural innovations in a difficult environment, and the organization and management fostered or imposed on its people and their labor.
The Incan economy has been described in contradictory ways by scholars:
... feudal, slave, socialist (here one may choose between socialist paradise or socialist tyranny)
The Inca empire functioned largely without money and without markets. Instead, exchange of goods and services was based on reciprocity between individuals and among individuals, groups, and Inca rulers. "Taxes" consisted of a labour obligation of a person to the Empire. The Inca rulers (who theoretically owned all the means of production) reciprocated by granting access to land and goods and providing food and drink in celebratory feasts for their subjects.Mongol Empire
The Mongol Empire (Mongolian: Mongolyn Ezent Güren listen ; Mongolian Cyrillic: Монголын эзэнт гүрэн; Mongolian pronunciation: [mɔŋɡ(ɔ)ɮˈiːŋ ɛt͡sˈɛnt ˈɡurəŋ]; also Орда, 'the Horde' in Russian chronicles) existed during the 13th and 14th centuries and was the largest contiguous land empire in history. Originating in the steppes of Central Asia, the Mongol Empire eventually stretched from Eastern Europe and parts of Central Europe to the Sea of Japan, extending northwards into Siberia, eastwards and southwards into the Indian subcontinent, Indochina and the Iranian Plateau; and westwards as far as the Levant and the Carpathian Mountains.
The Mongol Empire emerged from the unification of several nomadic tribes in the Mongol homeland under the leadership of Genghis Khan, whom a council proclaimed ruler of all the Mongols in 1206. The empire grew rapidly under his rule and that of his descendants, who sent invasions in every direction. The vast transcontinental empire connected the East with the West with an enforced Pax Mongolica, allowing the dissemination and exchange of trade, technologies, commodities and ideologies across Eurasia.The empire began to split due to wars over succession, as the grandchildren of Genghis Khan disputed whether the royal line should follow from his son and initial heir Ögedei or from one of his other sons, such as Tolui, Chagatai, or Jochi. The Toluids prevailed after a bloody purge of Ögedeid and Chagataid factions, but disputes continued among the descendants of Tolui. A key reason for the split was the dispute over whether the Mongol Empire would become a sedentary, cosmopolitan empire, or would stay true to their nomadic and steppe lifestyle. After Möngke Khan died (1259), rival kurultai councils simultaneously elected different successors, the brothers Ariq Böke and Kublai Khan, who fought each other in the Toluid Civil War (1260–1264) and also dealt with challenges from the descendants of other sons of Genghis. Kublai successfully took power, but civil war ensued as he sought unsuccessfully to regain control of the Chagatayid and Ögedeid families.
During the reigns of Genghis and Ögedei, the Mongols suffered the occasional defeat when a less skilled general was given a command. The Siberian Tumads defeated the Mongol forces under Borokhula around 1215–1217; Jalal al-Din defeated Shigi-Qutugu at the Battle of Parwan; and the Jin generals Heda and Pu'a defeated Dolqolqu in 1230. In each case, the Mongols returned shortly after with a much larger army led by one of their best generals, and were invariably victorious. The Battle of Ain Jalut in Galilee in 1260 marked the first time that the Mongols would not return to immediately avenge a defeat, due to a combination of the death of Möngke Khan, the Toluid Civil War between Arik Boke and Khubilai, and Berke of the Golden Horde attacking Hulegu in Persia. Although the Mongols launched many more invasions of the Levant, briefly occupying it and raiding as far as Gaza after a decisive victory at the Battle of Wadi al-Khazandar in 1299, they withdrew due to various geopolitical factors.
By the time of Kublai's death in 1294, the Mongol Empire had fractured into four separate khanates or empires, each pursuing its own separate interests and objectives:
The Golden Horde khanate in the northwest.
The Chagatai Khanate in Central Asia.
The Ilkhanate in the southwest.
The Yuan dynasty in the east based in modern-day Beijing.In 1304, the three western khanates briefly accepted the nominal suzerainty of the Yuan dynasty, but in 1368 the Han Chinese Ming dynasty took over the Mongol capital. The Genghisid rulers of the Yuan retreated to the Mongolian homeland and continued to rule there as the Northern Yuan dynasty. The Ilkhanate disintegrated in the period 1335–1353. The Golden Horde had broken into competing khanates by the end of the 15th century whilst the Chagatai Khanate lasted in one form or another until 1687.Mughal Empire
The Mughal Empire (Persian: گورکانیان, translit. Gūrkāniyān; Urdu: مغلیہ سلطنت, translit. Mughliyah Saltanat) or Mogul Empire was an empire in the Indian subcontinent, founded in 1526. It was established and ruled by the Timurid dynasty, with Turco-Mongol Chagatai roots from Central Asia, claiming direct descent from both Genghis Khan (through his son Chagatai Khan) and Timur, and with significant Indian Rajput and Persian ancestry through marriage alliances; the first two Mughal emperors had both parents from Central Asian ancestry. The dynasty was Indo-Persian in culture, combining Persianate culture with local Indian cultural influences visible in its traits and customs.The beginning of the empire is conventionally dated to the victory by its founder Babur over Ibrahim Lodi, the last ruler of the Delhi Sultanate, in the First Battle of Panipat (1526). During the reign of Humayun, the successor of Babur, the empire was briefly interrupted by the Sur Empire. The "classic period" of the Mughal Empire started in 1556 with the ascension of Akbar the Great to the throne. Some Rajput kingdoms continued to pose a significant threat to the Mughal dominance of northwestern India, but most of them were subdued by Akbar. All Mughal emperors were Muslims; Akbar, however, propounded a syncretic religion in the latter part of his life called Dīn-i Ilāhī, as recorded in historical books like Ain-i-Akbari and Dabistān-i Mazāhib. The Mughal Empire did not try to intervene in the local societies during most of its existence, but rather balanced and pacified them through new administrative practices and diverse and inclusive ruling elites, leading to more systematic, centralised, and uniform rule. Traditional and newly coherent social groups in northern and western India, such as the Marathas, the Rajputs, the Pashtuns, the Hindu Jats and the Sikhs, gained military and governing ambitions during Mughal rule, which, through collaboration or adversity, gave them both recognition and military experience.Internal dissatisfaction arose due to the weakness of the empire's administrative and economic systems, leading to its break-up and declarations of independence of its former provinces by the Nawab of Bengal, the Nawab of Awadh, the Nizam of Hyderabad and other small states. In 1739, the Mughals were crushingly defeated in the Battle of Karnal by the forces of Nader Shah, the founder of the Afsharid dynasty in Persia, and Delhi was sacked and looted, drastically accelerating their decline. By the mid-18th century, the Marathas had routed Mughal armies and won over several Mughal provinces from the Punjab to Bengal. During the following century Mughal power had become severely limited, and the last emperor, Bahadur Shah II, had authority over only the city of Shahjahanabad. During the Indian Rebellion of 1857 against the British, Bahadur issued a firman supporting the Indian Rebellion of 1857. Consequent to the rebellion's defeat he was tried by the British East India Company for treason, imprisoned, and exiled to Rangoon. The last remnants of the empire were formally taken over by the British, and the British Parliament passed the Government of India Act 1858 to enable the Crown formally to displace the rights of the East India Company and assume direct control of India in the form of the new British Raj.
The Mughal Empire at its peak extended over nearly all of the Indian subcontinent and parts of Afghanistan. It was the third largest empire to have existed in the Indian subcontinent (behind the Maurya Empire, and the British Indian Empire which replaced it), spanning approximately four million square kilometres at its zenith, second to the Maurya Empire. The maximum expansion was reached during the reign of Aurangzeb, who ruled over more than 150 million subjects, nearly one quarter of the world's population at the time. The Mughal Empire also ushered in a period of proto-industrialization, and around the 17th century, Mughal India became the world's largest economic and manufacturing power, producing a quarter of global industrial output up until the 18th century. The Mughal Empire is considered "India's last golden age" and one of the three Islamic Gunpowder Empires (along with the Ottoman Empire and Safavid Persia). The reign of Shah Jahan, the fifth emperor, between 1628 and 1658, was the zenith of Mughal architecture with famous monuments such as the Taj Mahal and Moti Masjid at Agra, the Red Fort, the Jama Masjid, Delhi, and the Lahore Fort.Order of the British Empire
The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire is a British order of chivalry, rewarding contributions to the arts and sciences, work with charitable and welfare organisations,
and public service outside the civil service. It was established on 4 June 1917 by King George V and comprises five classes across both civil and military divisions, the most senior two of which make the recipient either a knight if male or dame if female. There is also the related British Empire Medal, whose recipients are affiliated with, but not members of, the order.
Recommendations for appointments to the Order of the British Empire were originally made on the nomination of the United Kingdom, the self-governing Dominions of the Empire (later Commonwealth) and the Viceroy of India. Nominations continue today from Commonwealth countries that participate in recommending British (Imperial) honours. Most Commonwealth countries ceased recommendations for appointments to the Order of the British Empire when they created their own honours.Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman Empire (; Ottoman Turkish: دولت عليه عثمانیه, Devlet-i ʿAlīye-i ʿOsmānīye, literally "The Exalted Ottoman State"; Modern Turkish: Osmanlı İmparatorluğu or Osmanlı Devleti), also historically known in Western Europe as the Turkish Empire or simply Turkey, was a state that controlled much of Southeast Europe, Western Asia and North Africa between the 14th and early 20th centuries. It was founded at the end of the 13th century in northwestern Anatolia in the town of Söğüt (modern-day Bilecik Province) by the Oghuz Turkish tribal leader Osman I. After 1354, the Ottomans crossed into Europe, and with the conquest of the Balkans, the Ottoman beylik was transformed into a transcontinental empire. The Ottomans ended the Byzantine Empire with the 1453 conquest of Constantinople by Mehmed the Conqueror.During the 16th and 17th centuries, at the height of its power under the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent, the Ottoman Empire was a multinational, multilingual empire controlling most of Southeast Europe, parts of Central Europe, Western Asia, parts of Eastern Europe and the Caucasus, North Africa and the Horn of Africa. At the beginning of the 17th century, the empire contained 32 provinces and numerous vassal states. Some of these were later absorbed into the Ottoman Empire, while others were granted various types of autonomy during the course of centuries.With Constantinople as its capital and control of lands around the Mediterranean basin, the Ottoman Empire was at the centre of interactions between the Eastern and Western worlds for six centuries. While the empire was once thought to have entered a period of decline following the death of Suleiman the Magnificent, this view is no longer supported by the majority of academic historians. The empire continued to maintain a flexible and strong economy, society and military throughout the 17th and much of the 18th century. However, during a long period of peace from 1740 to 1768, the Ottoman military system fell behind that of their European rivals, the Habsburg and Russian empires. The Ottomans consequently suffered severe military defeats in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, which prompted them to initiate a comprehensive process of reform and modernisation known as the Tanzimat. Thus, over the course of the 19th century, the Ottoman state became vastly more powerful and organised, despite suffering further territorial losses, especially in the Balkans, where a number of new states emerged. The empire allied with Germany in the early 20th century, hoping to escape from the diplomatic isolation which had contributed to its recent territorial losses, and thus joined World War I on the side of the Central Powers. While the Empire was able to largely hold its own during the conflict, it was struggling with internal dissent, especially with the Arab Revolt in its Arabian holdings. During this time, atrocities were committed by the Ottoman government against the Armenians, Assyrians and Pontic Greeks.The Empire's defeat and the occupation of part of its territory by the Allied Powers in the aftermath of World War I resulted in its partitioning and the loss of its Middle Eastern territories, which were divided between the United Kingdom and France. The successful Turkish War of Independence against the occupying Allies led to the emergence of the Republic of Turkey in the Anatolian heartland and the abolition of the Ottoman monarchy.Roman Empire
The Roman Empire (Latin: Imperium Rōmānum, Classical Latin: [ɪmˈpɛ.ri.ũː roːˈmaː.nũː]; Koine and Medieval Greek: Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, tr. Basileia tōn Rhōmaiōn; Italian: Impero romano) was the post-Roman Republic period of the ancient Roman civilization. It had a government headed by emperors and large territorial holdings around the Mediterranean Sea in Europe, North Africa, and West Asia. From the constitutional reforms of Augustus to the military anarchy of the third century, the Empire was a principate ruled from the city of Rome (27 BC - 285 AD). The Roman Empire was then divided between a Western Roman Empire, based in Milan and later Ravenna, and an Eastern Roman Empire, based in Nicomedia and later Constantinople, and it was ruled by multiple emperors (with the exception of the sole rule of Constantine I between 324 and 337, and Theodosius I between 392 and 395).
The previous Republic, which had replaced Rome's monarchy in the 6th century BC, became severely destabilized in a series of civil wars and political conflict. In the mid-1st century BC Julius Caesar was appointed as perpetual dictator and then assassinated in 44 BC. Civil wars and executions continued, culminating in the victory of Octavian, Caesar's adopted son, over Mark Antony and Cleopatra at the Battle of Actium in 31 BC. The following year Octavian conquered Ptolemaic Egypt, ending the Hellenistic period that had begun with the conquests of Alexander the Great of Macedon in the 4th century BC. Octavian's power was then unassailable and in 27 BC the Roman Senate formally granted him overarching power and the new title Augustus, effectively making him the first emperor.
The first two centuries of the Empire were a period of unprecedented stability and prosperity known as the Pax Romana ("Roman Peace"). It reached its greatest territorial expanse during the reign of Trajan (98–117 AD). A period of increasing trouble and decline began with the reign of Commodus. In the 3rd century, the Empire underwent a crisis that threatened its existence, but was reunified under Aurelian. In an effort to stabilize the Empire, Diocletian set up two different imperial courts in the Greek East and Latin West. Christians rose to power in the 4th century following the Edict of Milan in 313 and the Edict of Thessalonica in 380. Shortly after, the Migration Period involving large invasions by Germanic peoples and the Huns of Attila led to the decline of the Western Roman Empire. With the Fall of Ravenna to the Germanic Herulians and deposition of Romulus Augustulus in 476 AD by Odoacer, who proclaimed himself King of Italy, the Western Roman Empire finally collapsed and it was formally abolished by emperor Zeno in 480 AD. The Eastern Roman Empire, known in the post-Roman West as the Byzantine Empire, collapsed when Constantinople fell to the Ottoman Turks of Mehmed II in 1453.
Due to the Roman Empire's vast extent and long endurance, the institutions and culture of Rome had a profound and lasting influence on the development of language, religion, architecture, philosophy, law, and forms of government in the territory it governed, particularly Europe. The Latin language of the Romans evolved into the Romance languages of the medieval and modern world, while Medieval Greek became the language of the Eastern Roman Empire. Its adoption of Christianity led to the formation of Christendom during the Middle Ages. Greek and Roman art had a profound impact on the late medieval Italian Renaissance, while Rome's republican institutions influenced the political development of later republics such as the United States and France. The corpus of Roman law has its descendants in many legal systems of the world today, such as the Napoleonic Code. Rome's architectural tradition served as the basis for Neoclassical architecture.Russian Empire
The Russian Empire, also known as Imperial Russia or simply Russia, was an empire that existed across Eurasia and North America from 1721, following the end of the Great Northern War, until the Republic was proclaimed by the Provisional Government that took power after the February Revolution of 1917.The third largest empire in world history, at its greatest extent stretching over three continents, Europe, Asia, and North America, the Russian Empire was surpassed in landmass only by the British and Mongol empires. The rise of the Russian Empire happened in association with the decline of neighboring rival powers: the Swedish Empire, the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, Persia and the Ottoman Empire. It played a major role in 1812–1814 in defeating Napoleon's ambitions to control Europe and expanded to the west and south.
The House of Romanov ruled the Russian Empire from 1721 until 1762, and its matrilineal branch of patrilineal German descent the House of Holstein-Gottorp-Romanov ruled from 1762. At the beginning of the 19th century, the Russian Empire extended from the Arctic Ocean in the north to the Black Sea in the south, from the Baltic Sea on the west to the Pacific Ocean, into Alaska and Northern California in America on the east. With 125.6 million subjects registered by the 1897 census, it had the third-largest population in the world at the time, after Qing China and India. Like all empires, it included a large disparity in terms of economics, ethnicity, and religion. There were numerous dissident elements, who launched numerous rebellions and assassination attempts; they were closely watched by the secret police, with thousands exiled to Siberia.
Economically, the empire had a predominantly agricultural base, with low productivity on large estates worked by serfs, Russian peasants (until they were freed in 1861). The economy slowly industrialized with the help of foreign investments in railways and factories. The land was ruled by a nobility (the boyars) from the 10th through the 17th centuries, and subsequently by an emperor. Tsar Ivan III (1462–1505) laid the groundwork for the empire that later emerged. He tripled the territory of his state, ended the dominance of the Golden Horde, renovated the Moscow Kremlin, and laid the foundations of the Russian state. Emperor Peter the Great (1682–1725) fought numerous wars and expanded an already huge empire into a major European power. He moved the capital from Moscow to the new model city of St. Petersburg, and led a cultural revolution that replaced some of the traditionalist and medieval social and political mores with a modern, scientific, Europe-oriented, and rationalist system.
Empress Catherine the Great (reigned 1762–1796) presided over a golden age; she expanded the state by conquest, colonization and diplomacy, continuing Peter the Great's policy of modernization along Western European lines. Emperor Alexander II (1855–1881) promoted numerous reforms, most dramatically the emancipation of all 23 million serfs in 1861. His policy in Eastern Europe involved protecting the Orthodox Christians under the rule of the Ottoman Empire. That connection by 1914 led to Russia's entry into the First World War on the side of France, the United Kingdom, and Serbia, against the German, Austrian, and Ottoman empires.
The Russian Empire functioned as an absolute monarchy on principles of Orthodoxy, Autocracy, and Nationality until the Revolution of 1905 and then became a de jure constitutional monarchy. The empire collapsed during the February Revolution of 1917, largely as a result of massive failures in its participation in the First World War.Sasanian Empire
The Sasanian Empire (), also known as the Sassanian, Sasanid, Sassanid or Neo-Persian Empire (known to its inhabitants as Ērānshahr, or Iran, in Middle Persian), was the last kingdom of the Persian Empire before the rise of Islam. Named after the House of Sasan, it ruled from 224 to 651 AD. The Sasanian Empire succeeded the Parthian Empire and was recognised as one of the leading world powers alongside its neighbouring arch-rival the Roman-Byzantine Empire for a period of more than 400 years.The Sasanian Empire was founded by Ardashir I, after the fall of the Parthian Empire and the defeat of the last Arsacid king, Artabanus V. At its greatest extent, the Sasanian Empire encompassed all of today's Iran, Iraq, Eastern Arabia (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatif, Qatar, UAE), the Levant (Syria, Palestine, Lebanon, Israel, Jordan), the Caucasus (Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Dagestan), Egypt, large parts of Turkey, much of Central Asia (Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan), Yemen and Pakistan. According to a legend, the vexilloid of the Sasanian Empire was the Derafsh Kaviani.The Sasanian Empire during Late Antiquity is considered to have been one of Iran's most important, and influential historical periods and constituted the last great Iranian empire before the Muslim conquest and the adoption of Islam. In many ways, the Sasanian period witnessed the peak of ancient Iranian civilisation. The Sasanians' cultural influence extended far beyond the empire's territorial borders, reaching as far as Western Europe, Africa, China and India. It played a prominent role in the formation of both European and Asian medieval art. Much of what later became known as Islamic culture in art, architecture, music and other subject matter was transferred from the Sasanians throughout the Muslim world.