Most powerful state/empire/kingdom through history

Jan 2012
13
Achaemenid Empire: 539 BC - 331 BC

Macedonia: 331 BC - 323 BC

Seleucid Empire: 323 BC - 221 BC

Qin Dynasty/Han Dynasty: 221 BC - 189 AD

Roman Empire: 189 - 330

Byzantine Empire: 330 - 589

Sui Dynasty/Tang Dynasty: 589 - 907

Abbasid Caliphate: 907 - 945

Saffarid Dynasty: 945 - 960

Song Dynasty: 960 - 1215

Mongol Empire: 1215 - 1271

Yuan Dynasty/Ming Dynasty: 1271 - 1492

Spanish Empire: 1492 - 1648

Kingdom of France: 1648 - 1759

Kingdom of Great Britain: 1759 - 1792

First French Republic/Empire: 1792 - 1812

United Kingdom: 1812 - 1942

United States: 1942 - present



China always seems to bounce back when they unify. They are probably historically all time pound for pound #1.
 

bartieboy

Ad Honorem
Dec 2010
6,616
The Netherlands
I find it odd that you haven't mentioned Russia or the USSR anywhere.
I for one am quite certain that both were the most powerful states at certain times in history.

Besides that I think it's also a bit wrong to seperate the period from the Roman empire and the ''Byzantine empire'' while they were of course more or less the same thing.

Apart from all of that I think you have made quite a decent list.
 

greatstreetwarrior

Ad Honorem
Nov 2012
3,852
The Mauryans defeated Selucids and yet they are not number 1. The Seleucid king gave his daughter to Chandragupta to sue for peace. Not a single Indian empire. Can’t take this list seriously
 
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Aug 2012
1,554
Not to stray into contemporary issues and politics, but is the US an "empire"? Is it considered so because of their huge cultural influence or because of the presence of their military bases in so many nations? I mean, militarily, they're more powerful than any other nation in history, but I've always been confused if they are indeed an empire in the traditional sense.
 
Mar 2016
1,222
Australia
Not to stray into contemporary issues and politics, but is the US an "empire"? Is it considered so because of their huge cultural influence or because of the presence of their military bases in so many nations? I mean, militarily, they're more powerful than any other nation in history, but I've always been confused if they are indeed an empire in the traditional sense.
In the traditional sense of something like the 19th century colonial empires? No, definitely not. Aside from small exceptions like Puerto Rico and their Pacific island territories they don't engage in much direct colonisation. And they certainly don't annex land they conquer (e.g. they did not annex land in Korea or Vietnam or Iraq). Instead their 'empire' is more of a 'soft empire', relying on dozens of military bases, armed coalitions (e.g. NATO) and client states (of which countries such as South Korea and Australia, and arguably even Japan, could qualify). The US has the ability to project its massive military anywhere in the world on short notice, and dozens of allies that really aren't in the position to say 'no' (sure, they technically can, but diplomatically it would be disastrous). There empire is of a more subtle kind.
 

MAGolding

Ad Honorem
Aug 2015
2,933
Chalfont, Pennsylvania
In the traditional sense of something like the 19th century colonial empires? No, definitely not. Aside from small exceptions like Puerto Rico and their Pacific island territories they don't engage in much direct colonisation. And they certainly don't annex land they conquer (e.g. they did not annex land in Korea or Vietnam or Iraq). Instead their 'empire' is more of a 'soft empire', relying on dozens of military bases, armed coalitions (e.g. NATO) and client states (of which countries such as South Korea and Australia, and arguably even Japan, could qualify). The US has the ability to project its massive military anywhere in the world on short notice, and dozens of allies that really aren't in the position to say 'no' (sure, they technically can, but diplomatically it would be disastrous). There empire is of a more subtle kind.
What is "traditional" about such recent things as "the 19th century colonial empires". Some of those "colonialcracys" as I call them actually began during the 19th century and so between 119 and 219 years ago. Others began earlier but only the Spanish and Portuguese ones began a little more than 500 years ago. Furthermore, the practice of calling accumulations of colonial possessions "empires" is much more recent, possibly having been started by Karl Marx (1818-1883) or during his lifetime.

For many centuries there was one and only one empire recognized in western European civilization. The Holy Roman Empire was the only Empire ruling over western Christians 800 to 1804. The Russian "empire" proclaimed in 1721 became recognized by western European governments but mostly ruled Orthodox Christians. It wasn't until 1804 that other "empires" ruling over Catholics were proclaimed (the French, Austrian, and Haitian "empires"), and not until 1871 that a mostly protestant "empire" was proclaimed.

In 1204 the so called "Latin Empire of Constantinople" was proclaimed, with a Catholic upper class ruling in Orthodox lands, the only other medieval "empire" that was partially western European. The last claimant to the title of emperor of that realm died in 1383.

So for 404 years from 800 to 1204, and for 338 years from 1383 to 1721, a total of 742 years, or possibly for 1004 years from 800 to 1804, the Holy Roman Empire was the only empire in western European culture. For most of western European history the Holy Roman Empire was not "an empire" but THE EMPIRE. And I see no reason to go along with the modern fad of describing accumulations of colonial possessions as "empires".
 
Mar 2016
1,222
Australia
Furthermore, the practice of calling accumulations of colonial possessions "empires" is much more recent, possibly having been started by Karl Marx (1818-1883) or during his lifetime.
There are references to the "British Empire" in the early 18th century by English writers and politicians.

And I see no reason to go along with the modern fad of describing accumulations of colonial possessions as "empires".
Considering that everyone at the time referred to them as empires, I see no reason why not. Don't know what your personal grudge is against the term, but whatever, I'll continue using it because it's accurate. I don't need a lecture from you about the history of empires, I am very well aware of them. There are different types of empires - the British and French colonial empires are no less empires just because they weren't crowned by the Pope or created by Charlemagne.