Most powerful empire in history?

Discussion in 'History' started by mountainhare, Dec 5, 2005.

  1. Shogun Bleed White and Blue! Valued Senior Member

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    Empire

    1. a) A major political unit having a territory of great extent or a number of territories or peoples under a single sovereign authority; one having an emperor/empress as chief of state
    2. imperial sovereignty rule or dominion

    Also in political terms and Empire is a monarchy, and USSR doesn't fit. USSR is Communist "republic" ( even though it doesn't fit, it is what they claimed ). They never had a sovereign. They also never had a monarch.
     
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  3. Shogun Bleed White and Blue! Valued Senior Member

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    Um....Mongol Empire didn't have self-governing dominions as far as I am aware of. British Empire had self-governing dominions, mandates and the sovereign didn't hold absolute power. I messed up with the size, I thought it was the other way around, my bad.
     
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  5. Dywyddyr Penguinaciously duckalicious. Valued Senior Member

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    Beside the point.
    That "self-governance" was only at the whim of the British. In other words they could rule themselves until we (the Brits) decided they were doing it wrong.
    Sovereign didn't hold absolute power?
    Er, British rule, British law (yes there were "local laws" but there were numerous cases of we Brits deciding [arbitrarily] that they didn't suit the occasion and that everyone was going do it our way. Or else).
    Anybody disagreed and they were stomped on. Ruthlessly. There may well have been lip service to self-governance and "you're equal partners" but it wasn't the truth.

    Maybe you got mixed up: the Mongols had the largest contiguous empire in history.
     
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  7. Shogun Bleed White and Blue! Valued Senior Member

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    Sovereign I meant the monarch. The monarch didn't have unrestricted absolute power and can override any laws and such.

    I got it mixed up, I thought the British Empire was 98% the size of the Mongols.
     
  8. Dywyddyr Penguinaciously duckalicious. Valued Senior Member

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    Er, the definition of empire is (as you yourself have quoted) "a group of nations or peoples ruled over by an emperor, empress, or other powerful sovereign or government".
    The government of the day was the ruling authority.There's no requirement for it to be a single monarch, a cabinet fits the bill as "authority".

    Sovereign:
    http://www.thefreedictionary.com/sovereign
     
  9. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    At its peak, the British Empire included India, Australia, most of North America north of the Rio Grande, and great gobs of Africa. I think that puts the Mongols firmly in second place, if measured by land area. I'm not sure if you measure it by percentage of the human population of the era. So much of it was frontier, with Neolithic or even Paleolithic population densities.
    "Sovereign" in essence simply means "subordinate to no outside power." A nation is sovereign if its government is sovereign, i.e., it is comprised entirely of people of that nation.

    E.g., the Ukraine, Estonia, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, etc., were not truly sovereign nations during the Soviet era, because their rulers were either appointed by, or obliged to take orders from, the Russian leaders. For them all to have seats in the United Nations was a blatant charade, one of the main reasons the U.N. was not very popular among Americans in those days.

    In Europe in the past it was not uncommon for the throne of a kingdom to be occupied by a foreigner, due to the intensive intermarriage between royal families. This did indeed put that country's sovereignty in question.
     
  10. gr3y077 Registered Senior Member

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    Mongol Yuan Dynasty apex size was largest ever

    For ~7 years, the Mongol Empire aka Yuan Dynasty was much larger than the British Empire.

    When Kublai Khan defeated the Song at that point the entire Chinese territory was technically all under the same Mongol Empire, stretching from East to West.

    Kublai named the entire empire to the Yuan Dynasty.. and 7 years after that it effectively split into 4 because the descendants of 2 other sons of Ghenghis (owning the adjacent territories) said he became too Chinese (the 3rd in Persia admitted to Kublai but no longer had direct land route)

    This was already past the peak apec of its the Mongol military power and cohesiveness, but for 7 years it was the largest.
     
  11. Dywyddyr Penguinaciously duckalicious. Valued Senior Member

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    Please refer to this post, and then provide alternative figures.
    Otherwise you're wrong.
     
  12. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    I can't find the exact date, but by interpolation, in the 14th century the world population would have been in the 400-500 million range. So the Mongols' 100 million was comparable to the British Empire's 25%.

    It does seem like the British Empire was probably a teeny bit bigger in both population and land area, if there's some sort of posthumous prize for that. But they were so close, only a statistician would care about the difference. Or the people who stay up nights thinking of questions for "Jeopardy."

    The Mongols killed a much larger percentage of the people who were reasonably accessible by the transportation technology of the era. Just under Genghis Khan's reign the Mongols killed ten percent of the population within their reach. By comparison, all of the combatant nations in WWII taken in aggregate managed to annihilate only three percent of the population within their reach (estimates vary but this seems like the one with the most support), which at that time was all of us. The total number of people killed by agents of the British Empire throughout its existence can't possibly measure up to the Mongols' body count. Not that this would be something to be proud of, but it's unfortunately one dimension of power.

    And Genghis Khan was much more prolific than any British monarch. I keep seeing the statistic that ten percent of the people living within the boundaries of his empire have his DNA.

    So it all depends on how you measure "power."

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  13. quadraphonics Bloodthirsty Barbarian Valued Senior Member

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    Most of the historical comparisons of ancient empires I've seen calculate those things in terms of "the known world" rather than the actual word. The implication presumably being that the salient difference in imperial ambition and capabilities between, say, Alexander the Great and the French Empire shouldn't include major historical differences in general technology and knowledge of geography.

    More to the point, "power" is probably a less interesting metric than "influence," owing to power's dependence on changes in technology. To wit: "power" typically refers to capabilities in absolute terms (how many troops, how much land, etc.) while "influence" refers to an entity's power relative to the other entities it coexisted with. This is important because the power of political units has greatly increased with technology - states that are not terribly influential today are nevertheless massively more powerful than even the greatest empires from ancient history. For example, the modern-day UK wouldn't have the slightest difficulty militarily crushing the Mongol Empire at its peak. But that doesn't mean that the present-day UK is as influential as the Mongols were, by a long shot.

    So comparing power over large historical spans is not interesting: any reasonably advanced polity in the modern world is vastly more powerful than any pre-industrial empire that one cares to name. Influence, on the other hand, compensates for changes in technology and exploration, and so makes a useful metric. There is no question that the Mongol Empire was more influential than the present-day UK is, to continue with the prior example.
     
  14. soullust Registered Senior Member

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    Um The present day UK is nothing but a shadow of the Power she had when she ruled half the world.
     
  15. stratos Banned Banned

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    There's a sense that Britain had fulfilled its obligations to the world (not forgetting the equally significant Industrial Revolution) by the late nineteenth century and that now it's like a nation of spent matches, serving out its time. Just a 44 dialling code, .uk on the web. The British are traditionally very good at fighting but aren't allowed to do it anymore. The Government can't be too patriotic in its foreign policy. The Foreign Office's job is to get along with other countries. So successful is the socialising that the United Kingdom has come bottom three times in the Eurovision Song Contest in the last eight years. (It could be said that in this awful annual competition coming last is the only dignified place to be. But fair play to Germany who won it this year.)

    Die-hard Brits and sentimentalists still see Britain as World War Champion of the World: an undisputed, thousand-year clean sheet at all weights, though now we're fighting lighter than we used to. Strictly speaking, the Americans work for us, which keeps us at heavyweight...

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    . In a sense Britain remains the centre of the earth and lord of time: the zero line of longitude stands at London.
     
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2010
  16. soullust Registered Senior Member

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    Aw Briton is still no weak state, Not by a long shot.

    And I think the usa likes being our gaurdian, 1 because they call most International shots. I Think we are working for them by not beefing up stronger.
     
  17. quadraphonics Bloodthirsty Barbarian Valued Senior Member

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    Yeah, that was kind of the point.
     
  18. Shogun Bleed White and Blue! Valued Senior Member

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    The empire which the sun never sets.......that was what the British Empire once was.
     
  19. Dywyddyr Penguinaciously duckalicious. Valued Senior Member

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    Dang! It's dark outside now, so the Empire must have fallen.

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  20. Shogun Bleed White and Blue! Valued Senior Member

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    :roflmao: Nice one

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  21. Omega133 Aus der Dunkelheit Valued Senior Member

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    I don't know whether to laugh or facepalm.

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  22. Shogun Bleed White and Blue! Valued Senior Member

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    When in doubt........dance on a table

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  23. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    America has no long history of its own, so we regard English history as ours. King Arthur, Shakespeare, Robin Hood, the Beatles, those are our heroes and legends too. It took some time to get over the animosity from the American Revolution and the War of 1812, but I think America eventually regained its sense of England as our "mother country."

    Heck, we still use inches, pounds, acres, pints and Fahrenheit, when even you guys have gone metric. We love that stuff.

    As long as the world keeps turning, Americans will die to protect England.

    God save the Queen.
     

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