The Smallest Empires in History

MAGolding

Ad Honorem
Aug 2015
2,843
Chalfont, Pennsylvania
#1
3) The Roman Empire was very small by the time it was conquered by the Turks in 1453, consisting of a vassal fiefdom containing most of the Peloponnesus and the capital city Constantinople and a small region around it. The Peloponnesus has an area of 21,5439.6 square kilometers or 8,320.3 square miles. It is smaller than Haiti, and some parts of it were ruled by Venice, making the Despotate of the Morea smaller still. The parts of the empire around Constantinople may may or may not have been enough to make the Roman Empire in it's last period larger than the Haitian Empire. But of course it was the surviving part of the vast Roman Empire.

2) The Thessalonikan realm was very small by the time it was conquered by Nicaea, probably containing only a small area around the capital city. But it was a fragment of the Roman Empire that was originally many times times much larger.

1) Modern Haiti has an area of 27,750 square kilometers or 10,710 square miles. The first and second Haitian Empires probably had very similar areas. Thus they probably count as the smallest empires by constant size all during their existence.

Note: The current official size of Wales is 20,779 Square kilometers or 8,023 square miles. If the rulers of sub Roman Britain claimed to be the rightful successors of Constantine III (see number 8 above), then they might be considered Roman Emperors even when their realm was reduced to the approximate size of modern Wales, or even much smaller. Thus the hypothetical Welsh Roman Empire might have been the smallest empire ever.

Note: At its peak around 1241 the Second Bulgarian Empire had a territory of 477,000 square kilometers or 184,000 square miles. By about 1350, in the reign of Ivan Alexander (r. 1331-1371), Emperor of the Bulgarians and the Romans, the size was down to 137,000 square kilometers or 53,000 square miles.

Ivan Alexander made several of his sons co-emperors at various periods. Ivan Alexander's son Ivan Sracimir became Emperor of Vidin or Badin about 1356, defying his farther's authority. Vidin was conquered by Hungary in 1365, and when Ivan Sracimir regained Vidin in 1369 he had to be an Hungarian vassal. Judging by the map I would guess his empire at Vidin was about 27,400 to 34,250 square kilometers or 10,600 to 13,250 square miles.

The Ottomans conquered southern parts of Bulgaria in the reigns of Ivan Alexander and his son Ivan Shisman (r. 1371-1395). The Bulgarian capital Tarnovo was captured in 1393 and Ivan Shishman was captured in Nicopolis in 1395. The Turks captured Vidin in 1396 and Ivan Sracimir was probably killed in 1397. Fruzhin (d. c. 1460) son of Ivan Shisman and Constantine II (d. 1422), son of Ivan Sracimir, were recognized by the Christian powers as Bulgarian Emperors. They may have regained some Bulgarian lands in the Uprising of Konstantin and Fruzhin which may have lasted from 1404 or 1408 to 1413 or 1418. It is believed by some historians that Constantine II may have retained some lands in Bulgaria until 1422 shortly before his death. In which case Constantine II's last remaining possessions may have been the smallest empire ever.

Note: The Island of Elba has an area of 224 square kilometers or 96 square miles. Thus Napoleon's rule of Elba in 1814-1815 could be called the smallest empire in history. But Article II of the Treaty of Fountainebleau said that Napoleon would retain the title and rank of Emperor for life, and Article III said that the Island of Elba would be an independent principality for life for Napoleon. Thus the title of emperor and rule of Elba were two distinct and separate things.

So these are my thoughts about the smallest empires in history.
 

Naima

Ad Honorem
Jun 2014
2,323
Venice
#2
3) The Roman Empire was very small by the time it was conquered by the Turks in 1453, consisting of a vassal fiefdom containing most of the Peloponnesus and the capital city Constantinople and a small region around it. The Peloponnesus has an area of 21,5439.6 square kilometers or 8,320.3 square miles. It is smaller than Haiti, and some parts of it were ruled by Venice, making the Despotate of the Morea smaller still. The parts of the empire around Constantinople may may or may not have been enough to make the Roman Empire in it's last period larger than the Haitian Empire. But of course it was the surviving part of the vast Roman Empire.

2) The Thessalonikan realm was very small by the time it was conquered by Nicaea, probably containing only a small area around the capital city. But it was a fragment of the Roman Empire that was originally many times times much larger.

1) Modern Haiti has an area of 27,750 square kilometers or 10,710 square miles. The first and second Haitian Empires probably had very similar areas. Thus they probably count as the smallest empires by constant size all during their existence.

Note: The current official size of Wales is 20,779 Square kilometers or 8,023 square miles. If the rulers of sub Roman Britain claimed to be the rightful successors of Constantine III (see number 8 above), then they might be considered Roman Emperors even when their realm was reduced to the approximate size of modern Wales, or even much smaller. Thus the hypothetical Welsh Roman Empire might have been the smallest empire ever.

Note: At its peak around 1241 the Second Bulgarian Empire had a territory of 477,000 square kilometers or 184,000 square miles. By about 1350, in the reign of Ivan Alexander (r. 1331-1371), Emperor of the Bulgarians and the Romans, the size was down to 137,000 square kilometers or 53,000 square miles.

Ivan Alexander made several of his sons co-emperors at various periods. Ivan Alexander's son Ivan Sracimir became Emperor of Vidin or Badin about 1356, defying his farther's authority. Vidin was conquered by Hungary in 1365, and when Ivan Sracimir regained Vidin in 1369 he had to be an Hungarian vassal. Judging by the map I would guess his empire at Vidin was about 27,400 to 34,250 square kilometers or 10,600 to 13,250 square miles.

The Ottomans conquered southern parts of Bulgaria in the reigns of Ivan Alexander and his son Ivan Shisman (r. 1371-1395). The Bulgarian capital Tarnovo was captured in 1393 and Ivan Shishman was captured in Nicopolis in 1395. The Turks captured Vidin in 1396 and Ivan Sracimir was probably killed in 1397. Fruzhin (d. c. 1460) son of Ivan Shisman and Constantine II (d. 1422), son of Ivan Sracimir, were recognized by the Christian powers as Bulgarian Emperors. They may have regained some Bulgarian lands in the Uprising of Konstantin and Fruzhin which may have lasted from 1404 or 1408 to 1413 or 1418. It is believed by some historians that Constantine II may have retained some lands in Bulgaria until 1422 shortly before his death. In which case Constantine II's last remaining possessions may have been the smallest empire ever.

Note: The Island of Elba has an area of 224 square kilometers or 96 square miles. Thus Napoleon's rule of Elba in 1814-1815 could be called the smallest empire in history. But Article II of the Treaty of Fountainebleau said that Napoleon would retain the title and rank of Emperor for life, and Article III said that the Island of Elba would be an independent principality for life for Napoleon. Thus the title of emperor and rule of Elba were two distinct and separate things.

So these are my thoughts about the smallest empires in history.

I don't thinki you can claim Roman empire was small because when conquered by Turks was small, By that logic then also Chinese empire was small by they time Mongols conquered their last city , Island of Elba was not even an empire .

If you want to make aserious list you should instead start from the opposite, or the maximum expansion of the empires and then measure that .
But remember that most of time the size of an Empire is not indicative of power ... For example Mongol Empire conquered a hugge land , but most of it was empty deserts and couln't control it but for some reasons Historians keep painting in color half a globe when Mongols couln't control evenhalf of it but only some scattered cities and kingdoms in between.
 

Scaeva

Ad Honorem
Oct 2012
5,588
#3
I don't thinki you can claim Roman empire was small because when conquered by Turks was small, By that logic then also Chinese empire was small by they time Mongols conquered their last city , Island of Elba was not even an empire .

If you want to make aserious list you should instead start from the opposite, or the maximum expansion of the empires and then measure that .
But remember that most of time the size of an Empire is not indicative of power ... For example Mongol Empire conquered a hugge land , but most of it was empty deserts and couln't control it but for some reasons Historians keep painting in color half a globe when Mongols couln't control evenhalf of it but only some scattered cities and kingdoms in between.
By that standard some maps of the Roman Empire would also have to change, since areas shaded as "Roman" often include client kingdoms.

Similarly maps of European colonial empires of the 16th - 18th Centuries would have to change since they include areas that were claimed by those empires but that were in practice still governed by native people who were to varying degrees independent.
 
Last edited:

Naima

Ad Honorem
Jun 2014
2,323
Venice
#6
By that standard some maps of the Roman Empire would also have to change, since areas shaded as "Roman" often include client kingdoms.

Similarly maps of European colonial empires of the 16th - 18th Centuries would have to change since they include areas that were claimed by those empires but that were in practice still governed by native people who were to varying degrees independent.
Actually not, is not the same thing, one thing is control kingdoms , another is empty land without even population.
Most Roman empire maps include civilization lands and directly controlled zones, even if Romans could project power way beyond borders like Deserts, Hibernia, Nubia , Germany and so on , by the actual "Mongol" type of mapping Roman Empire would look much larger .
 

MAGolding

Ad Honorem
Aug 2015
2,843
Chalfont, Pennsylvania
#7
I don't thinki you can claim Roman empire was small because when conquered by Turks was small, By that logic then also Chinese empire was small by they time Mongols conquered their last city , Island of Elba was not even an empire .

If you want to make aserious list you should instead start from the opposite, or the maximum expansion of the empires and then measure that .
But remember that most of time the size of an Empire is not indicative of power ... For example Mongol Empire conquered a hugge land , but most of it was empty deserts and couln't control it but for some reasons Historians keep painting in color half a globe when Mongols couln't control evenhalf of it but only some scattered cities and kingdoms in between.
I said that the tiny remnant Roman Empire conquered by the Turks in 1453-1460 was
But of course it was the surviving part of the vast Roman Empire.
Should the size of the Roman Empire be listed at its largest or at its smallest or at some intermediate size? In a list of the largest empires ever it might be appropriate to list the Roman Empire at its largest instead of its average size. And in a list of smallest empires ever it may be appropriate to list the Roman empire at its smallest instead of at its average size.

Anyway, l point out that the first and second Haitian Empires were probably the smallest ever, and that they were always that small and were never much bigger.
 
Oct 2016
692
On a magic carpet
#8
What about the "Empire" of Trebizond? That consisted of a small strip of land between the Pontic mountains and the Black Sea. Probably the smallest and least powerful "Empire" I've ever heard of.

In reality it was barely more than a tiny city state for most of its existence, or a very small principality at most. Not even a kingdom. Let alone an empire - a title far in excess of its puny actual reach and power.
 

MAGolding

Ad Honorem
Aug 2015
2,843
Chalfont, Pennsylvania
#9
What about the "Empire" of Trebizond? That consisted of a small strip of land between the Pontic mountains and the Black Sea. Probably the smallest and least powerful "Empire" I've ever heard of.

In reality it was barely more than a tiny city state for most of its existence, or a very small principality at most. Not even a kingdom. Let alone an empire - a title far in excess of its puny actual reach and power.
It is hard to tell how large a distant region is just by looking at a map. Distant regions are always smaller in the imagination that nearby ones, so it is easy to think that they are a lot smaller than they are.

I see that the Trebizond Eyalet had a reported area of 10,507 square miles or 27,210 square kilometers in the 19th century. An expert on Turkish historical geography could compare that to the size of the Trebizond empire at various stages. Thus it is possible that the Trebizond Empire was sometimes smaller than the Haitian Empire.
 
Oct 2016
692
On a magic carpet
#10
It is hard to tell how large a distant region is just by looking at a map. Distant regions are always smaller in the imagination that nearby ones, so it is easy to think that they are a lot smaller than they are.

I see that the Trebizond Eyalet had a reported area of 10,507 square miles or 27,210 square kilometers in the 19th century. An expert on Turkish historical geography could compare that to the size of the Trebizond empire at various stages. Thus it is possible that the Trebizond Empire was sometimes smaller than the Haitian Empire.
 

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