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]


  • 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 aesethical insipration for the Thousand Sons.
  • The Chinese Empire: 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. 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.
  • The Roman Empire (27 BC – 476 AD (Western), 330–1204 AD (Eastern/Byzantine)): 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.


  • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
  • 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 Mongols, 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.
  • 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).
    • 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.
  • 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. 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 Template:BLAMMED 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 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), 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, 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.