Countries that were federations for a very long time

Jun 2017
734
maine
What is the difference? To me it was more of a federation than some Latin American country with artificial states or the Soviet Union, which was really a unified empire.
The US went from confederation (under the Articles of Confederation: 1777-1789) to a federation (present form). The difference may be clearer in the Confederacy vs Union.
 
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MAGolding

Ad Honorem
Aug 2015
3,030
Chalfont, Pennsylvania
Holy Roman Empire.
Was it a confederation or a federation?
Picky, picky.

The Holy Roman Empire lasted for 844 years from 962 or for 1006 years from 800, or for 1,833 years from 27 BC, or for 2,559 years from 753 BC, or possibly for some other number of years.

A government can change a lot during even a "mere" 844 years from 962 to 1806, and the Holy Roman Empire changed a lot.

If I have to choose, I would say that it was never legally a confederation and always legally a federation at the least, because all the states within it had legally limited amounts of sovereignty, and the empire as a whole was always legally supreme over each and every one of its parts.

Or one could say that the Holy Roman Empire was the main example of an empire existing in western European culture, or Catholic & Protestant culture, or in Latin European culture, or however the culture may be called that arose in western Europe after the western part of the Roman empire fell.

Even if the Holy Roman Empire is not considered to be the continuation of the Carolingian Empire, or of the "Byzantine" Empire, or of the original Roman Empire, or of the Roman Republic and Roman Kingdom, it still existed for 844 years. All of the other so-called empires that ever existed in the culture that arose in western Europe after the western part of the Roman Empire fell lasted for much shorter periods.

Empire of Romania ("Roman Land"), commonly called the Latin Empire of Constantinople (179 years from 1204-1383). It is commonly said to have lasted for only 57 years until 1261, when the Emperor's crownlands and capital were conquered by Nicaea, but the exiled emperors were acknowledged as the overlords of the remaining fiefs until 1383 after which nobody claimed the title. It was in a mostly Orthodox society, but the rulers were members of western European society.

Empire of Austria or Austrian Empire (114 years from 1804-1918), and a component of Austria-Hungary from 1867-1918.

The Carolingian Empire (88 years from 800-888, 8 years from 891-899, 4 years from 901-905, and 9 years from 915-924, or a total of about 109 years)

Empire of Brazil (67 years from 1822-1889).

German Empire (47 years from 1871-1918).

Second French Empire (18 years from 1852-1870).

First French Empire (10 years from 104-1814/15).

Second Empire of Haiti (10 Years from 1849-1859).

Second Mexican Empire (3 years from 1864-1867).

First Mexican Empire (2 years from 1821-1823).

First Empire of Haiti (2 years from 1804-1806).

So those other empires lasted for a grand total of 561 years.

And if we add the Russian Empire that lasted 196 years from 1721 to 1917 which was a majority Orthodox Christian society but was influenced by western European ideas, and the Empire of India (the British Raj) that lasted for 71 years from 1876 to 1947 and ruled over a mostly Hindu and Muslim society but was controlled by a European country, and the Central African Empire that lasted for 3 years form 1976-1979 we get a total of years 831 years, 13 years fewer than the Holy Roman Empire lasted.

Furthermore, the Holy Roman Empire was the only empire in western European society for 242 years from 962 to 1204, and again for 338 years from 1383 to 1721, a total of 580 years. Or if the Russian Empire isn't counted as an empire in western European society, there was no other empire in western European society until 1804, thus making the Holy Roman Empire the only empire in western European civilization for a total of 663 years.

So the Holy Roman Empire should be considered to be the main example of an empire in western European civilization, and thus should be the very model of an empire in western European ciivilization. An empire in western European civilization should be defined as either the Holy Roman Empire, or a state that resembles the Holy Roman Empire. So I think that the Holy Roman Empire should be listed as an empire or even as the empire.
 
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Jan 2013
1,120
Toronto, Canada
Which countries were federations for a very long time? So far, I could think of the US, Canada, Australia, Austria-Hungary, and the USSR. However, what other countries were already federations before World War II?
The USSR was a federation in name only. The individual republics had no actual autonomy.
 
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Larrey

Ad Honorem
Sep 2011
6,109
Medieval Sweden was a united kingdom of the realms of Svear, western Goths and eastern Goths. The king had to be accepted in al three, and if he hadn't complied with certain conditions he could be legally slain (happened at least once). The Swedish national seal still sports the three crowns.
1566757023826.png
 

Naomasa298

Forum Staff
Apr 2010
35,886
T'Republic of Yorkshire
If I have to choose, I would say that it was never legally a confederation and always legally a federation at the least, because all the states within it had legally limited amounts of sovereignty, and the empire as a whole was always legally supreme over each and every one of its parts.
What powers did the HRE government exert over the individual states within the empire?
 
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deaf tuner

Ad Honoris
Oct 2013
14,828
Europix
Just how long was Switzerland officially a federation, though? Ever since 1291? Or only from a later point in time?
"Officially" ... difficult to say.


The Federal pact from 1291 (*) between the cantons of Uri, Schwytz & Nidwald is considered the "act of birth" of the Swiss confederation. But there are researchers that dismiss it's real impact at the time, considering that the real founding act of the Swiss federation is the Brunner pact from 1315.

But either one You consider, it is the constitution of a federation (and the charter from 1291 is using "confederate" and is more than just an alliance, as is already dealing with a common juridic frame, for example).

So yes, it is a 700 years federation. And, in my opinion, the oldest democratic state, and still running ...

________
* the full text, translated in more languages: Pacte fédéral suisse
 
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