Most powerful state/empire/kingdom through history - Politics Forum.org | PoFo

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#14342793
Achaemenid Empire: 539 BC - 331 BC

Macedonia: 331 BC - 323 BC

Seleucid Empire: 323 BC - 221 BC

Qin Dynasty/Han Dynasty: 221 BC - 189 AD

Roman Empire: 189 - 330

Byzantine Empire: 330 - 589

Sui Dynasty/Tang Dynasty: 589 - 907

Abbasid Caliphate: 907 - 945

Saffarid Dynasty: 945 - 960

Song Dynasty: 960 - 1215

Mongol Empire: 1215 - 1271

Yuan Dynasty/Ming Dynasty: 1271 - 1492

Spanish Empire: 1492 - 1648

Kingdom of France: 1648 - 1759

Kingdom of Great Britain: 1759 - 1792

First French Republic/Empire: 1792 - 1812

United Kingdom: 1812 - 1942

United States: 1942 - present



China always seems to bounce back when they unify. They are probably historically all time pound for pound #1.
#14343379
to add to the list

Mauryan Empire : 322 BC to 232 BC

Mughal Empire : 1556 AD to 1710 AD

Empire of Japan : 1910 AD to 1943 AD

Sasanian Empire : 309 AD to 628 AD

Russian Empire : 1866 AD to 1913 AD

Ottoman Empire : 1566 AD to 1683 AD
#14343725
I think the list overall is pretty good actually.

I could quibble about a few of the dates (I'd probably pick 1516 instead of 1492 for Spain's start and 1643 instead of 1648 as the end, but I doubt that this precision is reasonable anyway).

I also might make a mention for the early Qing dynasty somewhere around 1700. I think in Western history we assume that since Spain/France/England were running all over they were ascendant but China still had a third of the world's population and was still the richest country.

Adler wrote:So I wonder the missing Egyptian Empire. If you mention the Macedonian Empire, you should even think about the German domination. Also the Frankish Kingdom would fit in this list.


Potemkin wrote:Where are the Normans in this list? Or the Assyrians, come to that?


The list doesn't go back far enough to include the Assyrians or Egyptians (and I don't have enough knowledge/interest in pre-classical history to comment on that)

I don't think the Normans ever came close to being the most powerful empire on earth in their time, considering that their contemporary in the East was a unified and vastly wealthier and more developed China commanding around a third of the entire human race at the time. You could make the point that at some point during the Hundred Years' War the Angevins were the most powerful state in Europe but...still...

Moments of German domination were fleeting (although if we include revolutionary France, sure), I could tack on maybe a few years for Germany in World War II but not much more than that.

fuser wrote:Mauryan Empire : 322 BC to 232 BC

Mughal Empire : 1556 AD to 1710 AD

Empire of Japan : 1910 AD to 1943 AD

Sasanian Empire : 309 AD to 628 AD

Russian Empire : 1866 AD to 1913 AD

Ottoman Empire : 1566 AD to 1683 AD


- I don't know enough about the Mauryan Empire to comment.
- I think the Mughals would have been dwarfed by Spain's empire or the Qing Empire at most points
- Japan as the preeminent power in the interwar period is really bizarre to me
- The Byzantines were usually much more powerful than the Sassanids (with certain disastrous exceptions...)
- I do not think Russia was ever the world's most powerful country, most certainly not in that period compared to Britain.
- If the Ottomans had their moment as the world's most powerful Empire, it would have been between the acquisition of Egypt in 1516 and the disaster at Lepanto in 1571 - after that I don't see an argument for them being the world's most powerful state.
#14343771
I retract from my list, it was most "powerful" empire, I completely glossed over it.

But I will keep Mauryans there instead of Seleucid in the same time periods. As the former actually managed to defeat and snatch land from the later and had much larger empire and army.
Last edited by fuser on 21 Dec 2013 05:38, edited 1 time in total.
#14344469
starman2003 wrote:

The Sassanian Empire did well prior to that, in the third century under Shapur I. Btw the Roman Empire was better off, on average, even militarily, before 189-330 CE.



I agree the Romans are misrepresented. They were the dominant mediterranean power by end of the Macedonian wars (finishing round 150BC), easily crushing their next rival, the Selucid Empire. The Romans were at their height between around 30BC to 180AD during what is known as the Pax Romana period. The period mentioned on the list is the 3rd century crisis when the Roman social economy was unravelling.

But were they the most powerful? The problem with our list is that geographic isolation is not concidered. See, the Incas, the Mayans and the Aztecs respectively were most powerful in their isolated region before the Spanish arrived. The world only became a single stage of interaction after the Europeans started navigating the world's open oceans. I would say China and the far east were isolated for the most part also. Thus the Romans and the Han could both be regarded as most powerful at the same time as they could not interact to any great extent.
#14344525
foxdemon wrote:easily crushing their next rival, the Selucid Empire.


I just read Antiochus the Great--interesting account of Magnesia 190 BCE. No doubt, the seleucids would've done better without their scythed chariots and elephants.


The Romans were at their height between around 30BC to 180AD during what is known as the Pax Romana period.



IMO 180 CE is a crummy date for the end of the pax Romana, considering that the reign of Marcus was more crisis ridden than the reign of Commodus. I suggest 27 BCE to 235 CE. Btw militarily the Romans were still at their peak during the reign of Septimius Severus.

The period mentioned on the list is the 3rd century crisis when the Roman social economy was unravelling.


Due to monetary debasement, plundering invaders and plague. Everything went wrong around midcentury yet Rome remained remarkably resilient. Even after terrible setbacks in Europe and the Near East, Roman forces could still reach Ctesiphon in 267 and smash the barbarians the following year.


Thus the Romans and the Han could both be regarded as most powerful at the same time as they could not interact to any great extent.


Sure but there has been speculation about which would win if they could.
#14344533
How are we working out relative power? Do we use controlled land and the wealth of the empire and it's holdings?

The US would be at a disadvantage because of the unorthodox way we manage other countries, for instance canada and Mexico would certainly qualify as controlled in many ways by the US but not directly.
#14344536
A state's power is measured by the amount of people they have killed and enslaved. The Mongols then are the clear winners.
They subjugated the world's top three most sophisticated and populous civilisations of the time: chinese arab/iranian and indian. The genocides they commited in terms of percentage of population have never been equalled before or since. The 20th century equivalent of what the Mongols did in the 13th century would be the subjugation of the US, Europe and Soviet Union, including the extermination of 1/2 the population of all three...

A little example of Mongol "power" would be the sacking of Baghdad which at the time was the most highly populated and most literate city in the world. By some estimates over 200,000 people were put to the sword, which today is equivalent to nuking Tokyo.

Siege of the city

On January 29, the Mongol army began its siege of Baghdad, constructing a palisade and a ditch around the city. Employing siege engines and catapults, the Mongols attempted to breach the city's walls, and, by February 5, had seized a significant portion of the defenses. Realizing that his forces had little chance of retaking the walls, Al-Musta'sim attempted to open negotiations with Hulagu, who rebuffed the Caliph. Five days later, on February 10, the city surrendered, but the Mongols did not enter the city until the 13th, beginning a week of massacre and destruction.

Many historical accounts detailed the cruelties of the Mongol conquerors.

The Grand Library of Baghdad, containing countless precious historical documents and books on subjects ranging from medicine to astronomy, was destroyed. Survivors said that the waters of the Tigris ran black with ink from the enormous quantities of books flung into the river and red from the blood of the scientists and philosophers killed.
Citizens attempted to flee, but were intercepted by Mongol soldiers who killed in abundance. Martin Sicker writes that close to 90,000 people may have died (Sicker 2000, p. 111). Other estimates go much higher. Wassaf claims the loss of life was several hundred thousand. Ian Frazier of The New Yorker says estimates of the death toll have ranged from 200,000 to a million.[26]
The Mongols looted and then destroyed mosques, palaces, libraries, and hospitals. Grand buildings that had been the work of generations were burned to the ground.
The caliph was captured and forced to watch as his citizens were murdered and his treasury plundered. According to most accounts, the caliph was killed by trampling. The Mongols rolled the caliph up in a rug, and rode their horses over him, as they believed that the earth was offended if touched by royal blood. All but one of his sons were killed, and the sole surviving son was sent to Mongolia, where Mongolian historians report he married and fathered children, but played no role in Islam thereafter (see Abbasid: The end of the dynasty).
Hulagu had to move his camp upwind of the city, due to the stench of decay from the ruined city.

Baghdad was a depopulated, ruined city for several centuries and only gradually recovered some of its former glory.
Comments on the destruction

"Iraq in 1258 was very different from present day Iraq. Its agriculture was supported by canal networks thousands of years old. Baghdad was one of the most brilliant intellectual centers in the world. The Mongol destruction of Baghdad was a psychological blow from which Islam never recovered. Already Islam was turning inward, becoming more suspicious of conflicts between faith and reason and more conservative. With the sack of Baghdad, the intellectual flowering of Islam was snuffed out. Imagining the Athens of Pericles and Aristotle obliterated by a nuclear weapon begins to suggest the enormity of the blow. The Mongols filled in the irrigation canals and left Iraq too depopulated to restore them." [27]

"They swept through the city like hungry falcons attacking a flight of doves, or like raging wolves attacking sheep, with loose reins and shameless faces, murdering and spreading terror...beds and cushions made of gold and encrusted with jewels were cut to pieces with knives and torn to shreds. Those hiding behind the veils of the great Harem were dragged...through the streets and alleys, each of them becoming a plaything...as the population died at the hands of the invaders." (Abdullah Wassaf as cited by David Morgan)
#14344814
taxizen wrote:With the sack of Baghdad, the intellectual flowering of Islam was snuffed out. Imagining the Athens of Pericles and Aristotle obliterated by a nuclear weapon begins to suggest the enormity of the blow. The Mongols filled in the irrigation canals and left Iraq too depopulated to restore them."


IIRC someone said: "You (a contemporary) ask me to describe the destruction of Baghdad. I cannot, there are no words to describe it; it was a holocaust beyond compare. I wish I had died sooner and not lived to see these idiots destroy such treasures of art and learning. ...I thought I understood the world..."
#14344976
As a traditional Empire, the Soviet Union during the Cold War, we'll say 1980.

Not all their allies were deeply controlled via Moscow, but most were.

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