Historical Empires

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An empire is a large political entity where one group of people gains the political, economic, and military muscle to unify a bunch of other groups of people under its banner and either lords over them or integrates them into a cohesive whole; Think the United States, if Washington D.C. was it's own 51st state. Empire is derived from the Latin word Imperium, which means "Authority" and more specifically the authority to command numerous Roman legions.

Notable Real Life Empires[edit]

Ancient[edit]

  • The Akkadian Empire (circa 2234-2154 BC): The oldest known empire in human history, located within northern Mesopotamia.
  • The Neo-Assyrian Empire (911 BC–612 BC): An empire which had in its foundation a belief that if their army ever lost a battle, the world would end. Unsurprisingly, it lasted until slightly after they lost their first major battle.
  • The Egyptian Empire: Mind you, the civilization is not the Empire. For details, please consult relevant professionals and their works instead of a wiki for tactical genius.
  • The Achaemenid or first Persian Empire (550–330 BC): Most famous for being conquered by Alexander and, along with Egypt, providing visual inspiration for the Thousand Sons. Infamous for how they're depicted in the oil-slicked race war fantasy that is 300, the Persian Empire was not, in fact, a highly decadent empire of monsters and evil god-kings; only a regularly decadent empire that was actually quite lenient for empires of the time - Slaves were outlawed among Persians (but not their subjects), and slaves had more rights than usual; women could own businesses and they were very off-hand in their dealings with their vassal kingdoms. It was still a militaristic empire, mind, but they were not some evil eastern "other" for the Greeks to defeat - in fact, the "Greeks" did not exist yet! The people that would become the Greeks were as different culturally from each other as they were from the Persians, and many even saw the Persians as closer to them culturally than some of the other city states! Why was that? Well, a good number of Greek city-states (particularly the ones in Anatolia or very close to it) had had years of either being tributary to the Persians or had incredibly good trade relations with them.
  • Imperial China: Though already unified under a king as late as 841BC (re-dating based on astronomy claims to trace further exact years way into 2100BC and there is evidence of complex agrarian civilization going back well before that), the Chinese did not live under an Emperor until 221BC. They survived interim catastrophes by coming up with the Mandate of Heaven (if the dynasty turns into a bunch of idiots then your local emperor definitely isn't favored by the gods and every peasant can hang them off), their equivalent of a common law, in the Zhou (not empire), and enhanced social mobility with a general disregard in right of blood (began in the Qin(Chin), first empire) and the test system for enlisting government officials (began in the Sui, some 600 years later). Lasted until the fall of the Qing Dynasty in the early 20th century, after the European imperialist ambitions exploited the hell out of the Chinese state and societal structures being essentially the same for almost 3000 (yes, really) years (and also these 3000 years of prevailing against all odds made the Chinese aristocracy complacent to such an extent that the Russian nobles the Soviets had shot looked progressive by comparison). Resurgent, you may say.
  • The Macedonian Empire (330-323 BC) One of the largest Empires in ancient history, created by Alexander the Great. Conquered Persia, the largest Empire in history at the time. Shortly after the empire achieved its height, Alexander died at only 32 years old and his Empire was split into several smaller countries such as Seleucid Empire and Ptolemaic Kingdom, ruled by dynasties started by his generals, called Diadochi.
    • Seleucid Empire(323-63 BC): The only one of the Diadochi Kingdoms to be called an Empire. By far the largest of the Diadochi Kingdoms, it streched at its largest extent from western Anatolia all the way into modern Pakistan, although that period didn't last very long. In spite of the difficulties of managing a realm of such a size, they stuck around for a very long, because of a whole couple of clever alliances struck with proto-Indians and the gradual assimiliation of its Persian populace. Its strength started to vain in the middle of the 2nd century BC when a couple of political intrigues messed up the day of the ruling dynasties as well as the the constant warring with Ptolemaic Egypt in Syria and modern-day Israel and the somewhat-resurgent Greek states in the west. Its final demise came at the hand of the Romans, when Pompeius dismantled the remainders of the Seleucid Empire in Antioch in 63 BC.
  • The Roman Empire (27 BC – 476 AD (Western)): the trope codifier for fictional Empires everywhere, and (through borrowing/stealing Greek technology) largely blamed for turning Europe from a backwater land of barbarians into the home of the most ambitious superpowers in history. Has lots, and I mean LOTS, of children, whether it be the directly-descended Spanish and French Empires, or the more-religiously-oriented Roman Catholic Church, et cetera. Roma Invicta.
    • Byzantine Empire (395-1453 AD): Originally the chopped off eastern half of the Imperium Romanum with Greece, Egypt and Anatolia as its most important core territories. It came into being when the last Emperor of both halves of the Roman Empire, Emperor Theodosius, made Konstantinople his permanent residence and gave the leadership over the Empire to his two sons, Honorius and Arcadius. The Eastern Empire survived the cataclysmic events of the Migration Period (not in small part due to generous bribes to the Huns and throwing the western half under the bus) much longer than its western cousins did and even enjoyed a long period of relative peace between 400 and 503, during which time the East Roman Emperors consolidated their Empire and greatly strengthened its civil institutions. The first major points of its eventual demise came at the hands of the Seljuk Turks and Mamaluks, who conquered Egypt and all of the Empires holdings in Anatolia as well as the sack of Konstantinople by Crusaders in 1204. After the sacking of its capital, the Empire only persisted as merely a rump state with holding in Thrace and Greece and saw its ultimate end when the attempt of the Polish King Wladyslav to save Konstantinople from the Ottomans failed at the Battle of Varna in 1444 and the city subsequently was conquered by them in 1453.

Medieval[edit]

  • The Holy Roman Empire (962–1806): Sometimes called the first Reich. Started as a powerful medieval state, but ever since Charlemagne died devolved into something "neither holy, nor Roman, nor an empire." (Voltaire) So complex that its easier to explain what it was not than what it was. Basically if you know how the Empire's politics works, thats the HRE in a nutshell. Basically speaking, the HRE was more of a loosely connected confederation of innumerable fiefdoms, counties and kingdoms (over 300 by the late 1600s), formally unified under the leadership of the Romano-German Emperors. Its political power in Europe stood and fell with the willingness and ability of the current Emperor to keep his underlings in line, but by the 1300s, the Emperor's Authority slowly fizzled out, and was completely gone when the Thirty-Years-War (1618-1648) ravaged a third of its population and foreign powers (mainly France, Prussia and Sweden) started to chip away at its territory from then on. Saw its ultimate end when Napoleon defeated the Prussians and the Austrians in short succession, (prompting the major dukedoms that were still left to formally leave the Empire) and the Habsburg Emperor Joseph II. abdicated the imperial crown in 1806.
    • Named such because the Pope back then went around baiting kings with religious recognition to earn more loyalty from the brainwashed god-fearing masses. And the Popes did this because seceding from the Roman Empire in the East where the Roman Emperor was actually ruling over the "Pope" of the Orthodox Church there, the Roman Catholic Church needed to sponsor a Roman Emperor of his own as a partner to be on equal footing (along with a very liberal interpretation of some biblical texts and the fabrication of claims to central Italy). The fact that one of the Dowager Empresses in Byzantium removed her son from power and made herself Empress was the excuse needed for Gothic orientated West to decline recognition of her as Empress and sought out their own Emperor.
    • Was preceded by the Carolingian Empire that lasted for about eight decades until it was partitioned into three and was later absorbed by the Holy Roman Empire. The Ottonian House that founded the HRE liked to claim descent from the Carolingian House and Charlemagne as a result. The aforementioned Byzantine Empress who dethroned her son did consider a marriage alliance with Charlemagne but the same plan was killed off by one of her favored advisors and discarded.
    • Note that the Byzantines in the East also had claim to the title of Roman Emperor and occasionally acknowledged the Holy Roman Emperors as their equals. This was a pretty messy period though and a detailed explanation would require a full article of its own.
    • As to the frequent asked question why there were so goddamn many states on the territories that up the HRE, one needs to look at German inheritance custom, which survives to this day. It was the normal custom for each son of a noble family to inherit a piece of the realm after the previous rulers death and founding their own little dukedoms, especially if the sons couldn't agree on who gets what. Add to that an incomprehensibly complicated net of political marriages with the addition of bishoprics which were issued by the Vatican and free cities (plus a number of other miniscule imperial territories like the "Imperial valley of Zell) and you get a clusterfuck of fractured territories that are constantly at each others throats.
  • The Ummayyad Caliphate (661-750): The Largest of the four classical caliphates established after the death of Muhammad.It's borders stretched from Northern Spain to Pakistan. Overthrew the last Rashidun ("Rightly-Guided") Caliph Ali in order to gain power. At it's apex, it was one of the mightiest empires the world had ever seen and cemented Islam's new role as a religion of caliphs and kings. When one thinks of the Islamic Golden Age, it's either these guys or the dudes that took them down, the Abbassids. The Ummayyad's were rebels who promoted an early form of Arab nationalism throughout the Islamic World, as well as shifting the role of the Caliph from an elected position to a hereditary one. Eventually, their rampant Arab nationalism would get them overthrown by the Abbassids and the last remaining heir fled to Muslim Iberia, where they established the Emirate of Cordoba
  • The Abbasid Caliphate(750-1258): A caliphate born in a revolution against the Umayyads, the Abbasids are what you think of when you think of the Arabian Nights. Opulent cities glistening with the fruits of empire, crafty viziers who hide behind puppet sultans, and all the glories of Baghdad in it's prime. Notable achievements include the many inventions and advancements of the Islamic Golden Age, Dominating the Mediterranean (Just look at Sicily), and battling the Chinese Tang Dynasty for control of Central Asia. Unfortunately with the coming of the Seljuk Turks, their hegemony would shatter and eventually their dynasty would become nothing more than a line of puppet kings hiding out in Mamluk Egypt.
  • The Ethiopian Empire (1137-1935/1941-1974): an empire of Africans, and one of the only two African nations to remain independent of the West. Also used to have Judaism as the official religion and then switched to its own version of Christianity. Its last Emperor, Haile Selassie, was revered by a religious movement as God incarnate (which, notably, he neither started nor approved of).
  • The Portuguese Empire (1139-1975): the Western kingdom-turned-empire that liked keeping their maritime maps secret, becoming the first global empire in the world. Notable for the founding of Nagasaki, moving their capital and court to Brazil to escape Napoleon, and coming back from the brink of dissolution three times. Also, their nicknames, Portugal Overseas: Ultramar Português or the Império Ultramarino Português has something to do with some smurfs made by a British company of Grimdark. Due to secrecy, nobody has found the old Portuguese royal sea route maps.
  • The Mongolian Empire (1206–1368 AD): Your stereotypical savage-nomad-kill-burn-kill-maim-burn empire. But only thought of so by propaganda and charlatans. Was more civilized than Alexander the Great and their empire lasted even longer than his when you think about it. The Empire made from Empires. The empires they conquered were actually at THEIR golden ages too, like the Khwarazm and Song (China).
    • Like Romans, once a people surrendered (murdered if they did put up a fight. Scientists could not find Khwarazm descendants in the central Asian gene pool to this day), they welcomed scholars and engineers with their new ideas, especially that of war, and they went from plains light cavalry with arrows to heavily armored cavalry with horse trains, gunpowder, and siege weapons. Religiously tolerant/gave no shits. Built a lot of bridges and blazed a lot of trade routes. Remember Marco Polo was writing about their empire. Put the Four Khanates and the conquered China (Yuan) together, and lol, the second largest human empire, ever, at 88% the size of the British one. Mind you, the Mongol Empire is continuous, though, unlike the British Empire with isolated territories and islands. But the British are a seafaring empire, so there's that.
  • The Ottoman Empire (1299–1923): A vast and powerful Muslim empire that started out as an amalgamation of nomadic tribes uniting to fight off Mongol raiders. From there they became a small Turkish state in Anatolia that conquered Constantinople, the Balkans, Middle East, and North Africa. In its heyday, it was huge, technologically advanced, well-governed and constantly driving forward, the terror of Europe. Its Janissary Corps the most feared and elite group of soldiers in Europe or the Middle East. Yet beginning in the 1600s the Empire began to transition towards a more sedentary state, and while it kept parity with its contemporaries well into the 18th century, missing out on the advances that came with Europe's Seven Years War and then its age of Colonization created a gap the Ottomans were incapable of surmounting. Adding to this was the introduction of Nationalism into the boiling pot of ethnic tensions, (with the Greeks being the first to win their independence in a brutal civil war), the conquest and liberation of much of its territories in Europe by the Austro-Hungarians in the mid 1700s and the Pre-WW1 Imperial Powers of Europe frequently exploiting the political weaknesses of the Ottoman Empire to their benefit. Its eventual end came with World War 1, when the German-allied Ottomans suffered a series of embarrassing defeats against the British-lead Arab minorities and the Russian Empire in the Caucasus. Kemal Atatürk ultimately dissolved the Empire in 1923 and founded the Republic of Turkey.

Modern Period[edit]

  • The Spanish Empire (1402-1975, at its height 1516-1700): Starting with the discovery of America by Columbus, it quickly colonized huge swaths of the New World, making Spanish the official language of most of Central and South America and the Caribbean. Annihilated the Aztec empire in the process of plundering its gold and silver. They established a trade route with China from the Philippines to Europe going through America, which was one of the first oceanic spice routes of the Early Modern World (the other one being the Portuguese route to India). In its hay day, the Spanish Empire was a frightening entity, controlling the overwhelming majority of trade with Silver and Gold, fielding the largest army and navy in Europe and only adding to it was the union between Spain, Portugal and the Holy Roman Empire under the Habsburg dynasty which dominated much of the history of 1500s central Europe. Its strength started to fade when economic stagnation and an over-reliance on its colonies paired with a serious succession crisis (the result of generations of relentless inbreeding within the Habsburg dynasty) in the early 1700s made its oversea holdings more of a liability than a boon. Adding to this were the constant efforts of the Dutch, British and French to chip away at its powerbase in the Caribbean. In the early 1800s, when mainland Spain was thoroughly beaten into submission by Napoleon, the colonial elites in the new world saw no use in their status anymore and declared independence in quick succession between 1810 and 1830. The final nail in the coffin was the establishing of the Monroe-doctrin as a central tenet in US foreign policy, which saw the Spanish kicked out of Cuba and the Philipines in 1898, ceding its last holdings in the Americas to the United States.
    • When talking about the Spanish and Portuguese empires the Treaty of Tordesillas is worth a mention. Created by Pope Alexander VI, the treaty split the New World between the Spanish and the Portuguese, which is why the Portuguese settled Brazil and got to Japan because that was east of the line.
      • Also, between 1578-1668 the Spanish and Portuguese Empire were under the same crown, turning it into the biggest colonial entity until the XIXth Century.
  • The Aztec Empire (1428–1521): Inspiration for Lizardmen buildings and homeland. Enuff.
    • The real reason they were conquered by a band of Conquistadors under Hernan Cortes... was not that they beardy crack team of war vets and military engineers of the reclamation of Spain from Muslims, not horses, not cannons, not guns (guns aren't all that deadlier than arrows until in the 19th century with machine guns. Guns are easier to handle and train with, and that is what made them useful), but his craftiness in exploiting how the native city-states all hated the Aztecs. Because they kept demanding humans for their ritual sacrifices, even going so far as to plant spies to instigate rebellions every decade or so, and spies informing Aztec warriors of all enemy intel to easily reconquer them... all just to justify their taking of even more sacrifices/slaves as "punishment." (Really similar to what Spartans did to their vassal cities). Unlike the greedy and short-sighted Columbus who was reviled by his own men for stealing their cut and discoveries (once they even allied with natives to kill him in his sleep). It doesn't matter how good you are, a few hundred men can't control 10s of 1000s of natives especially when you have limited supplies, arms, and bullets. Cortes promised the natives a good life and equal treatment as new subjects of His Majesty of Spain if they cooperated, and later even pushed to get his mestizo children legitimately recognized by the Church. As it turns out, he was the nicest and most successful conquistador as a result. Still killed a lot of people but that was in war rather than pointless massacres and backstabbing/slavery of cooperative natives like Columbus.
      • A good example of this are the Tlaxcaltecs. Cortes kept his promise to them. Chichimecs and peoples of Mayan descent also hated the Aztecs and banded together with Cortes.
  • The Inca Empire (1438–1533): Notable for it's size, road systems and the fact that it got so big without horses or wheeled vehicles. Unfortunately for them they got hit with the full Guns, Germs and Steel package when the Spanish showed up.
  • Maya Empire (?-1520): The progenitors of most of the central American city-states. Much of their earlier history is shrouded in mystery due to the complete collapse of its society around 900 AD due to causes that are still the subject of lively debates. Coerced by Cortes to become part of the Spanish colony New Spain in 1520.
  • The Mughal Empire (1526–1857): A Muslim superpower. After squandering the treasury on buildings and war, British influence managed to increase its presence on the subcontinent. Technically spent its last century as a British vassal.
  • The British Empire (1583-1997): At its height, the British Empire ruled a quarter of the Earth's land. Began the decolonization process after World War II and the Empire is considered to have ceased to exist as such when Hong Kong was formally turned over to China. Even so they still have handful of overseas territory over which the sun has still yet to set. Had a hilarious war over trying to peddle drugs into China. And again. God Save the King/Queen.
  • The Russian Empire (1721-1917): Big, powerful but often backwards in technology and social development. And when it finally started to catch up it decided to enter a world war. Genius indeed.
  • The First French Empire (1804–1815): "Vive la Napoleon!" A pampered child of /v/, too. Also the O.G. IMPERIAL GUARD (Napoleon's La Garde Impériale)
    • Seriously, fa/tg/uys need to stop with the tired French surrender monkeys meme and actually learn some history other than parrot arrogant British mockeries of their rivals. The French up until the Franco-Prussian War had the largest land forces in Europe, because after the Revolution, the military forces of the Republic were filled with people for the first time feeling like they mattered to the country, and this helped Napoleon immensely since his genius in logistical capabilities that let him to outnumber his enemies on the battlefield when least expected and minimize losses so they can keep on going and soon attack the next enemy army.
    • Their defeats in WW1 in the trenches were not because they were stupid surrender monkeys like Italians, but too brave to a fault: they kept charging into MG nests and if they didn't make it, they thought they were simply not trying hard enough. Just like many scientific concepts at the time (like Social Darwinism), some generals misused the science/philosophy of the "Élan vital", which basically meant a creature is its will to live. Which in military terms, a military force is not dead until its commanders finally throw in the towel, so to keep up the pressure of life, one must never cease attacking. This on the surface The French learned that mindless charges and machismo won't win wars the hard way in WW1, but the Japanese took WW2 to learn it from their devastating losses by American hands.
    • Next time you compare them to the British Empire, try minding that unlike Britain, they had to divide their forces among the sea, AND the land (The real reason Napoleon invaded Russia was because of England's blockade + Russia's refusal to cooperate with his isolation plans for the English). Do mind that a war on two fronts was only ever really won in history by Americans in WW2 (Pacific and Europe) by sheer industrial-economic might (One steel mill in Pittsburgh produced more steel than all of the 3rd Reich, for instance).
  • Austrian Empire (1804–1918, including time spent as Austria-Hungary): Ripped apart after WWI. On the height of its power, Austria commanded respect across Europe through a strong army, reinforced thorugh its very liberal policies towards non-Germans (Hussars were an Austro-Hungarian invention, after all). By the time the run-up to WW1 started, Austria had fallen by the way side and was overshadowed in every way by its larger cousin, the German Empire, (ironically enough mainly because of it and Prussia) and although the peace between the Austrians and the Hungarian state structures was tenous even at the best of times, it persisted quite successfully for a state whose structures looked like a relic well before it collapsed. Lick a Stamp, Lick the Kaiser!
  • Second French Empire (1852–1870): Mostly known for getting their ass kicked by Prussia, thus allowing Germany to be created.
  • Brazilian Empire (1822-1889): Like Russia but more backwards and way less powerful. Stopped existed when the rich landowners that controlled the country got sick of the Emperor's shit for making the slaves free so they sacked him and delcared a republic. Oh how ironic the monarchy was better than the "free" republic.
  • The Empire of Japan (1868–1947): They've had an emperor since 538, but didn't actually make significant conquests of any sort (Though in the late 16th century they tried to invade Korea but were Crushed on land by China (but the corrupt Chinese generals kept taking bribes and letting besieged Japanese forces go) and at sea by Korean navy led by the famed Admiral Yi's and his fire-breathing spike-armored turtle ships in melee supported by long range cannons from other ships of the line. Which meant no matter how far the Japanese advanced, they couldn't supply themselves en masse by sea, so they had to fall back. Still, to make up for their war expenses they chopped the noses off of captured civilians as "receipts" to get paid for their "kills" before sending them to build fortresses and to this day there are graves specifically made for them in fear of ghostly retribution, which were euphemized to "ear graves" called Mimizukas. Look them up. Also enslaved 1000s of Koreans and sold them to Europeans to the point of crashing the slave market, and took many of Korean craftsmen and hid them away when asked to trade prisoners, and for the next century Japan's pottery technology went from dirt pottery to exportable bone chinaware bought by Europeans. To this day there are Korean craftsmen families in western Japan and towns named in Korean)
    • NO CONQUESTS? WRONG. Manifest Destiny Eastern Edition: by divine right they thought themselves righteous to go from western Japan all the way up north and eastward to commit genocide on all the native peoples of Japan like the Ainu, Hayato, Tsuchigumo (the ancient bygone people, not the fabled monster), Ezo (from whom they filched the samurai armor and swords). And only the Ainu survived to this day because they fled to the cold barren island of Hokkaido in the North which the Japanese thought was too shitty to colonize until the 18th century (and the Ainu only got recognized officially as a minority in the 21st century). In fact, the need for genocidal conquest is why the Shogun (short for Sei-I Daishogun, literally meaning "Grand General for Conquest of Barbarians") had more power and merely used the Emperor as a figurehead and Japan was hence ruled by a military dictator until the Meiji Restoration when revolutionaries donned the excuse of wresting power from the Shogunate restoring power to the Emperor... which of course was a promise they never kept once they took power in 1894.
    • And even from then through 1947 it is still debated whether the emperor or the military was running things, with notable incidents such as the military attacking the Imperial Palace after Emperor Hirohito made a public broadcast in 1945, his first broadcast, telling the Japanese that he was not the living god they worshipped him as and asking the Japanese people to surrender to the United States. Because, the Japanese revere their Emperor as the descendant of Amaterasu the sun goddess, and therefore the rightful God-Emperor of Mankind. And people say the Tau are space weeaboos *BLAM*
      • To the point that during these times, Japanese actually kicked out the original priests/priestesses of all the various mythological polytheistic deities of Shintoism, and utilized the existing religious organizations but supplanted the old gods with the Imperial Family, and everyone everyday had to kowtow to the direction of the Imperial Palace. This was called State Shintoism. Imperial Cult IRL?
      • On top of every classroom and public office holding the emperor's photo which was saluted to, like North Korea today, and records of people rushing into burning buildings to rescue the holy emperor's photo... to drive the point that the emperor was a figurehead, the pictures were heavily edited. Especially during Meiji times, where they purposefully deleted his protruding mouth and high-lighted his brows and nose to make him look more Caucasian. Because they worshipped whiteness. This is true, look it up.
      • And to this day, criticizing him can get you killed. Like when Nagasaki mayors in 1990 and 2007 got literally *BLAM*'d for saying "the Imperial Family should shoulder the blame for starting pointless wars and getting our city nuked." This happened in broad daylight. By guns. In a country with uber-tight gun control laws. TWICE. Coincidence? (Also note Nagasaki is strongly against Japanese attempts to nuclear armament while they exploit their city and Hiroshima to play the nuclear victim without so much as asking them or hiding they too tried to develop nukes during WW2, but were just too incompetent to complete them in time.)
  • The German Empire (1871–1918): The Second Reich, put together by Otto von Bismarck's political genius and Prussian efficiency, it took a collection of feuding principalities and, in a few decades, turned them into the greatest industrial power in Europe until it was exhausted fighting pretty much every other industrial power that mattered, twice.
  • (Great) Germany (Grosdeutsches Reich) (1933-1945): Colloquially known as Nazi Germany. The third and shortest Reich. The Nazis were just the ruling political party within said Reich.
    • Did you know the term "NAZI" was not an official term, but a derisive slur originally used by their political enemies? The political party was actually named NSDAP, Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei, or "National Socialist German Worker Party". They were called Nazis because, in German, it was an insult for Bavarian Hicks, and most National Socialists came from Bavaria.
    • If you seriously believe they are Socialist then you get a *BLAM*. Why would you believe Hitler's lies? They invaded Communist USSR, remember? They are as socialist as the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea) are Democratic.
  • The Soviet Union (1922-1991): THE HEAD OF THE SECOND WORLD. The successors to the Russian Empire, Too many people forget the USSR was a body of many nations and peoples (to the point a lot of ex-Soviet peoples wistfully think of the old days when all were equal under the Soviet rule and Russians weren't jingoistic and neo-Nazis were unheard of), even when Russia was its most powerful unit with no doubt. With a Global Ideology based on Communism. But do keep in mind that not all (self-proclaimed) Communist nations were actually part of the Soviet Union (quite a number of them were just de facto dictator/monarchs with Anti-Western ideologies that proclaimed they were going to save the downtrodden people with Communism, and also get monetary supplement from USSR for being Anti-West). After defeating the 3rd Reich, managed to extend its influence over Eastern Europe and thanks to the appeal of Communism was also able to influence states on almost every continent. But was unable to keep up economically or militarily with the United States and eventually finally fell apart with a whimper at the end of the Cold War.
    • In it's height of power, the USSR's GDP was around half of USA, but its military budget equaled it. And during the Cold War, American military budget was almost 10% of its GDP compared to 4.5% of today, compared to around 3% to 1st world nations who depend on the US military to protect them from China/Russia.
    • Really screwed themselves over with a 20% GDP military budget. Every ruble spent in the military is one not spent in civil industry and commerce. But even this is heavenly compared to bleak militaristic shit holes like North Korea.
      • That, and their version of Vietnam, called the Soviet-Afghanistan war. Started on the same year when China invaded Vietnam, in 1979. Ended in 1989. Not long before the collapse of the Union.
    • The reason for its downfall are not easy to boil down. Aformentioned oversized military budget, being caught in the Cold War did a substantial part, but also a culture of administrative corruption and cronyism the Soviets inherited from the state structures of the Russian Empire. The whole economy was centrally planned around the ideal of maximizing productivity through a series of four or five-year-plans in which certain goals, issued by the Communist Party, were meant to be achieved. However, the slow, monolithic bureaucracy that would give the Administratum a run for its money in how inefficient in worked, made achieving these goals impossible, be it through the tedious gears of administrators that had to approve every single thing on their desks or just straight up incompetence: The Socialist ideal pushed people from the factories and lowest stratas of society into high level government offices they were in no way equipped or capable to manage. The constant atmosphere of fear and terror that drooled out of the KGB also made sure that no serious innovative initiatives could take place; you had to accept the party line or say goodbye to your (and your families) few priviledges, if you had some sort of power or ability useful to the Soviet State. This created a self-destructive culture of officials and directors frequently falsifying factory and bureaucracy records, which were then further edited the higher they went up in order to earn a promotion, make themselves look better or just avoid the all too watchful eye of the KGB - it was only after Chernobyl and the beginning of Perestroika under Gorbachev when the Soviet Leadership started to grasp how deeply fucked the entire Soviet economy even was. The revelations from these inquiries very quickly lead to the collapse of the USSR within just 5 years through the people that finally had enough of the Communists. Gorbachev, for the shit he (on some accounts, rightfully) gets was by 1986 presented with a problem that was impossible to find a solution for, even for more capable statesmen he ended up being.
    • These aformentioned problems were further exasperated by rising ethnic tensions in many parts of the multi-ethnic USSR, starting in the Baltic states. The economic situation was so catastrophic that the US (and West Germany) tried desperately to prop up the USSR with billions of Dollars in relief money and debt cuts, as declassified CIA and White House documents show. The current climate of continuing aggression from the Russian side and Western sanctions might have been avoided, if these plans came to fruition, but the USSR was gone before the US had any chance to implement them.
  • The United States of America (1776-Present): THE HEAD OF THE FIRST WORLD. There is much controversy over whether the global Hegemony established by the United States counts as an empire or not. The merriam-webster definition of empire reads: a major political unit having a territory of great extent or a number of territories or peoples under a single sovereign authority, which even before you consider out of territory influence the vast amount of states with different cultures certainly means American meets the technical dictionary definition of empire, which means every body still argues about but that some people are just more nerdy about how they do it then others. For argument's sake, we will consider the American Empire a reality here. What is not in doubt is that since the end of WWII, and especially since the end of the Cold War the United States has held near total sway in terms of global power, though recent moves by a resurgent China look to be eroding American Global Power and Influence. Which is all Bush Jr.'s fault for wasting energy on the Middle East when he should have checked China and Russia.
    • Much of the Global Hegemony of the US results from ordinary political pushes and pulls that happen between nations. It's just that America is seriously advantaged in this game, what with the largest consumer market, dollar currency, lack of resource dependency (America produces the most oil. Shocking, I know. America just need even more of it), Lack of hostile/powerful neighbors being and military might.
    • Controls the mightiest military force in human history. #1 largest military budget, and this is large as the those of nations in #2 to #10 combined. And excluding China and Russia, all those nations are American allies anyway (maybe except India). And GDP Percentage-wise, this is less than half of American military spending during the Cold War. Should an alien invasion occur, they are your first and last hope.
      • And the military with most real combat experience to boot.
    • With NATO, and many nations asking to station American troops around the world (and America pays a large chunk of the expenditures for them too), many nations voluntarily depend on American protection, especially from China or Russia nowadays.
    • Still to this day, no nation in history has ever held as much power as it did as the United States of America. And compared to the other 2 contenders (The Spanish and British Empires), still is the most conscious of human rights and freedoms. (Keep in mind, while the US is a bit behind in human rights/freedoms/corruption than some European nations, most other 200 nations in the world have appalling oppression to the point the people there just don't even complain about it because they've been inoculated by grimdark. If you live in a country that can still complain about injustices happening within it, then there is still hope.)

Note that when WWI started, the crowned rulers of Russia, Great Britain, Denmark, Spain, Greece, Germany, Romania, and Norway were all related by blood or marriage, making both the war the single biggest family feud in history, as well as the royal family the single most sucessful genepool in all ecology.

Notable Fictional Empires[edit]

And what does this have to do with /tg/?[edit]

Historical empires are a commonly-referenced source for fantasy and sci-fi cultures. For example, the Holy Roman Empire had a lot of influence on the design of the Empire of Warhammer Fantasy Battles.