Did the Comanche ruled over an Empire?

Feb 2019
241
Thrace
#1
Finnish historian Pekka Hämäläinen wrote a book called The Comanche Empire, so I was wondering if there is any truth to it, and if we can clear up the term a bit.
 
Oct 2015
766
Virginia
#2
Clearly it depends on what you mean by "empire".
The Comanche were a linguistic-cultural group that had no central leadership. They had migrated south from Wyoming beginning in the 1600's; and consisted of 8-12 loose, shifting, nomadic warrior bands based on kinship or the following of some notable warrior. Several bands might join temporarily to fight a powerful enemy or conduct a raid, but they soon broke up, each band or family going its own way.
The Comanche were, however, superlative horsemen and fearsome warriors. With their allies the Kiowa, they exterminated or drove out other native american groups, including Apaches and Pueblos, and dominated the southern plains (west Texas, Oklahoma, east New Mexico, southern Kansas) from the 1720's-1870's.
 

Edratman

Ad Honorem
Feb 2009
6,580
Eastern PA
#3
Not in any sense of the term "empire" as it is used today. A common definition of "empire" is a group of states or nations controlled by a single nation/person/government. The Comanche may have controlled a large land area, but they did not control other nations/tribes/states.
 
Feb 2019
241
Thrace
#4
Not in any sense of the term "empire" as it is used today. A common definition of "empire" is a group of states or nations controlled by a single nation/person/government. The Comanche may have controlled a large land area, but they did not control other nations/tribes/states.
Can this be applied to Ghenghis Khan? Did he rule over an empire?
 

Chlodio

Ad Honorem
Aug 2016
3,831
Dispargum
#5
Can this be applied to Ghenghis Khan? Did he rule over an empire?
I would say that yes, Ghenghis Khan did rule an empire as he and his immediate successors regularly exacted tribute from various conquered peoples. Are you saying the Comanche regularly exacted tribute from groups they had conquered?
 
Aug 2018
348
Southern Indiana
#6
I'd say the Iroquois League might be the only North American group that can be termed an empire unless you go pre-columbian, then I might add the Natchez and Cahokian civilization. Really though, I tend to associate the term "empire" with larger, mainly international states.
 
#7
There's a recently published book called Empire of the Summer Moon that also deals with the history of the Comanche Indian tribe, and it's very good. The Comanches were the dominant American Indian tribe in what's now Texas and Oklahoma. They were allied with the Kiowa and Wichita, and were enemies of the Apaches and Tonkawas. They resisted the American settlement of Texas, and warred with the Army and the settlers. After the Red River War, the Army moved them out of Texas, and resettled them in Oklahoma.

The territory that they originally lived in is sometimes referred to as Comancheria. But it wasn't really an empire in the conventional sense of the word. There was no central government. Each Comanche band had it's own chiefs, and although they had a common tribal culture, and sometimes came together for common interests, they acted in accordance with tradition and customs, rather than formal laws. I think that the use of the word empire in reference to them is used in a sense that's honorary rather than political.
 
Feb 2019
241
Thrace
#8
I would say that yes, Ghenghis Khan did rule an empire as he and his immediate successors regularly exacted tribute from various conquered peoples. Are you saying the Comanche regularly exacted tribute from groups they had conquered?
My knowledge on the Comanche is limited. But most importantly, I'm still unsure what the exact requirements for an empire are.
 
Oct 2015
766
Virginia
#10
Doesn't an "empire" require some sort of central government that receives tribute or taxes from subject peoples or cities? does it require an "emperor"? Would the Athenian "alliance" of the 4th century BC qualify? The Roman Republic of the 1st-2nd century BC?, the Roman alliance of the 3rd-4th century BC?
 
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