Difference between a territorial state and an empire?

Chlodio

Forum Staff
Aug 2016
4,315
Dispargum
#2
A territorial state is a state that bases its sovereignty on control of territory. All modern states are territorial states. One example of a non-territorial state is a personal union. In a personal union, sovereignty is based on loyalty to the leader. In post-Roman Europe you could find examples of barbarian tribes living side by side with Romans. The barbarian kings based their sovereignty, their ability to collect taxes, enforce laws, etc, on the bond of loyalty they had with their warriors. Romans could often avoid paying barbarian taxes, or being subject to barbarian laws, or serving in barbarian armies on the grounds that they owed no debt of loyalty to the barbarian kings. Similarly, barbarians were often able to avoid Roman taxes, law, etc.

Australia, as a member of the British Commonwealth, has established a kind of personal union with the British crown, however, this is a largely symbolic relationship. The practical basis for Australia's sovereignty lies in Australia's control of the Australian continent.

An empire is a territorial or other kind of state that is ruled by an emperor instead of a king or president. Often in an empire, some of the territory was recently (or not so recently) conquered and the conquered people enjoy fewer rights than the people of the conquering group. For instance, in the British Empire India and other colonies could not send representatives to Parliament in London. Policy decisions effecting the colonies were made in London sometimes with little consideration for the interests or concerns of the colonials. Trade relations might be structured to the advantage of the conquering group, or there might be other inequalities within the imperial structure.
 
May 2019
7
Australia
#3
A territorial state is a state that bases its sovereignty on control of territory. All modern states are territorial states. One example of a non-territorial state is a personal union. In a personal union, sovereignty is based on loyalty to the leader. In post-Roman Europe you could find examples of barbarian tribes living side by side with Romans. The barbarian kings based their sovereignty, their ability to collect taxes, enforce laws, etc, on the bond of loyalty they had with their warriors. Romans could often avoid paying barbarian taxes, or being subject to barbarian laws, or serving in barbarian armies on the grounds that they owed no debt of loyalty to the barbarian kings. Similarly, barbarians were often able to avoid Roman taxes, law, etc.

Australia, as a member of the British Commonwealth, has established a kind of personal union with the British crown, however, this is a largely symbolic relationship. The practical basis for Australia's sovereignty lies in Australia's control of the Australian continent.

An empire is a territorial or other kind of state that is ruled by an emperor instead of a king or president. Often in an empire, some of the territory was recently (or not so recently) conquered and the conquered people enjoy fewer rights than the people of the conquering group. For instance, in the British Empire India and other colonies could not send representatives to Parliament in London. Policy decisions effecting the colonies were made in London sometimes with little consideration for the interests or concerns of the colonials. Trade relations might be structured to the advantage of the conquering group, or there might be other inequalities within the imperial structure.
Thank you so much this was exactly the type of response I was looking for extremely detailed.
 
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Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
21,131
SoCal
#4
A territorial state is a state that bases its sovereignty on control of territory. All modern states are territorial states. One example of a non-territorial state is a personal union. In a personal union, sovereignty is based on loyalty to the leader. In post-Roman Europe you could find examples of barbarian tribes living side by side with Romans. The barbarian kings based their sovereignty, their ability to collect taxes, enforce laws, etc, on the bond of loyalty they had with their warriors. Romans could often avoid paying barbarian taxes, or being subject to barbarian laws, or serving in barbarian armies on the grounds that they owed no debt of loyalty to the barbarian kings. Similarly, barbarians were often able to avoid Roman taxes, law, etc.

Australia, as a member of the British Commonwealth, has established a kind of personal union with the British crown, however, this is a largely symbolic relationship. The practical basis for Australia's sovereignty lies in Australia's control of the Australian continent.

An empire is a territorial or other kind of state that is ruled by an emperor instead of a king or president. Often in an empire, some of the territory was recently (or not so recently) conquered and the conquered people enjoy fewer rights than the people of the conquering group. For instance, in the British Empire India and other colonies could not send representatives to Parliament in London. Policy decisions effecting the colonies were made in London sometimes with little consideration for the interests or concerns of the colonials. Trade relations might be structured to the advantage of the conquering group, or there might be other inequalities within the imperial structure.
Excellent explanation!

BTW, is the US an empire since Washington DC, Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, and American Samoa don't actually have voting representation in the US Congress?
 

AlpinLuke

Forum Staff
Oct 2011
26,878
Italy, Lago Maggiore
#5
No, I think there is a bit of confusion here:

an Empire exists when there is an Emperor [or an Empress, of course]. Even if we talk about the "Soviet Empire", technically that wasn't an Empire since there was no imperial individual to lead it.

The definition "Empire" is connected with the institutional organization, not to the territorial nature of a political entity. A territorial state can be a Republic or a Monarchy without problem ... but also an Empire! Little Empires in history has corresponded to territorial states without problems.
 
Likes: Futurist
Nov 2010
7,666
Cornwall
#6
Central African Empire is my favourite. Sure it was African, pretty central. Not sure about the last bit though :lol:

Luke - though that is one defintion it can't be the only one. Surely you would agree that Rome had an Empire prior to Augustus? As did Carthage before it. And as you rightly say, so did the Soviets.

I would say you either declare yourself an empire (however hysterically funny like CAE) or, more importantly, other people and history do.
 
Likes: Futurist
Mar 2018
756
UK
#7
An empire is a territorial or other kind of state that is ruled by an emperor instead of a king or president. Often in an empire, some of the territory was recently (or not so recently) conquered and the conquered people enjoy fewer rights than the people of the conquering group. For instance, in the British Empire India and other colonies could not send representatives to Parliament in London. Policy decisions effecting the colonies were made in London sometimes with little consideration for the interests or concerns of the colonials. Trade relations might be structured to the advantage of the conquering group, or there might be other inequalities within the imperial structure.
I'd expand that slightly, and split your criteria into two separate types of Empires.
1) An empire is a state ruled by an Emperor
2) An empire is a territorial state where one nation rules over other nations
where a nation is an ethno-cultural group of people with a shared sense of communal political identity.

The first definition is essentially just one of language and is used by a state to confer extra prestige on itself. The second one entails some sort of domination by one ethnic or cultural group over others, this can be in a colonial sense (i.e., the Portugese empire) or over its immediate neighbours (the Habsburg empire). There are many cases of empires that satisfy both of those. But there are also many that only satisfy a single one. For examples of those that obey 1) but not 2) I'd give: modern day Japan, the Byzantine empire after it had lost its far flung territories, or the HRE during most of its history. Examples of those that follow 2) but not 1) include: the British Empire post Victoria, Spain in the 16th Century, or the late Roman republic.
 
Jan 2015
3,538
Australia
#8
An Empire is generally defined as the rule of external territories by a smaller centropole or metropole which controls the external territories, who have no real say in the governance of the Empire. I wrote a paper on it once at uni for international relations. Rome is a good illustration of how the status of territories within an Empire change over time. Early on the city of Rome was the metropole and the territories of Italy were the colonies, but over time all of Italy (and then Italian Gaul too) became part of the Metropol. Text from essay below:
Doyle’s conventional model of empire consists of a “metropole,”3 juxtaposed against “periphery” territories like colonies or provinces.4 Control is premised on coercive asymmetric power from which periphery territories cannot opt out, as distinct from federalist systems.5 The metropole tends to possess greater cohesiveness, to facilitate expansion outwards into new territories lacking such unity;6 this cohesion is typically underpinned by an ideological justification legitimising the metropole’s superiority to the periphery. Doyle’s conception of empire is problematic to apply, as leading proponents7 and critics8 of American imperialism tend to characterise the US as a new kind of imperial power,9 exercising an indirect and more subtle form of control than that found in classical empires, primarily through foreign policy.1
 
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