Which empire had the greatest cultural and social impact on its conquered lands?

Which empire had the greatest cultural and social impact on its conquered lands?


  • Total voters
    62
Mar 2019
53
Victoria, Australia
#21
I'm surprised the Haitian empire is not on here. I mean, everyone knows that they held the most powerful empire in history and world, perhaps even galactic-history. Darth Vader himself would quake in his boots if he ever had to attack that empire.....

No, but seriously, I would say the Roman empire from the list above. I don't think the British make the cut in comparison. I mean sure they made English the international language. But other than that? Not really too much in comparison. Romans helped the dissemination of numerous inventions and ideas, reshaped the culture and religious map of Europe formed an entirely separate branch of languages that spawned from it (romance) and eventually came to be regarded by Europeans as one of the "greatest" empires ever. Now the reason why I think this trumps other massive empires like the Mongols (whom barely even "ruled" their conquered lands) is simply because the European powers who were so influenced by the Romans eventually came to colonize the Americas, Africa and become world-leading powers in the modern ages (post-renaissance) and able to project their power globally, thereby enabling them to influence people worldwide.

If we extend a bit, I would say that the greeks city-states, whilst never forming an empire, may well be the most influential 'civilization', since even the Romans became ever more greek over time.

I also dislike the idea of giving credits to certain nation for inventing something if it never went anywhere. For example, if civilization A in 2000BC invented the computer, but never actually did anything with it and jealously guarded it so no one else knew it, then really, it's invention whilst interesting and thoroughly fascinating amounts to nothing important. I think China falls very much in that category since many of its ideas generally failed to leave an impressionable mark across the world, or alternatively, it was another civilization or people that promoted those inventions (either as theirs or otherwise). So, I would not actually agree to say that China has been that influential worldwide.
 
Mar 2016
762
Australia
#22
No, but seriously, I would say the Roman empire from the list above. I don't think the British make the cut in comparison. I mean sure they made English the international language. But other than that? Not really too much in comparison.
They were instrumental in spreading things like free trade, parliamentarianism, constitutional law and anti-slavery across the world. One of the British Empire's successors - the United States - is the most powerful and influential country in the world right now, and some of their other former colonies are among the best places in the world to live, e.g. Canada, Australia, New Zealand. Compared to other former colonies of countries like France, Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands, etc. they have a far more positive legacy in terms of creating stable, advanced and modern countries.

But I do personally agree with you that the Romans have had the greatest impact, although I wouldn't discount the British Empire as much as you do. Perhaps it's just been too short a time since it dissolved for us to get a fuller picture of its impact, meanwhile we've had 2,000 years to consider the Romans' legacy.
 
Mar 2018
597
UK
#23
I think it's a bit much to give the British empire credit for everything the US has done. For starters, the US was already independent for most of the period which is typically considered "The British Empire" (ie, from the end of the Napoleonic wars to Suez). You might as well say that everything the UK has done is attributed to Rome because they colonised the British islands. The question is about "influence" not "who has had the most successful successor states".

For me influence is only defined with a counter-factual approach: how different would the world be had that empire not existed? If the USA had formed via French colonies rebelling, would it be that different now? After all, the philosophical ideas adopted by the new Republic takes as much from 18th Century French political works (such as Montesquieu) as it does from British parliamentary tradition. That said, obviously a post-French USA would be still be rather different to a post-English USA. But how would a never-romanised Italy (say, in 600AD) look compared to the real post-Roman Italy at the same time period? I have absolutely no idea, and cannot even imagine a way to begin to approach that question other than to say "vastly, in every way shape and form". That is why the Roman empire had far more influence.

On a side note about the English language. It's use as an international language owes more to the rise of the USA as a super-power and leader in Globalisation, than it does to anything the British did in the 19th century. After all, in 1900 the lingua franca - at the peak of the empire - was still French; it only really starts to change to English in the 1960s and 1970s.
 
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Mar 2019
53
Victoria, Australia
#24
I think it's a bit much to give the British empire credit for everything the US has done. For starters, the US was already independent for most of the period which is typically considered "The British Empire" (ie, from the end of the Napoleonic wars to Suez). You might as well say that everything the UK has done is attributed to Rome because they colonised the British islands. The question is about "influence" not "who has had the most successful successor states".

For me influence is only defined with a counter-factual approach: how different would the world be had that empire not existed? If the USA had formed via French colonies rebelling, would it be that different now? After all, the philosophical ideas adopted by the new Republic takes as much from 18th Century French political works (such as Montesquieu) as it does from British parliamentary tradition. That said, obviously a post-French USA would be still be rather different to a post-English USA. But how would a never-romanised Italy (say, in 600AD) look compared to the real post-Roman Italy at the same time period? I have absolutely no idea, and cannot even imagine a way to begin to approach that question other than to say "vastly, in every way shape and form". That is why the Roman empire had far more influence.

On a side note about the English language. It's use as an international language owes more to the rise of the USA as a super-power and leader in Globalisation, than it does to anything the British did in the 19th century. After all, in 1900 the lingua franca - at the peak of the empire - was still French; it only really starts to change to English in the 1960s and 1970s.
I have to say, I disagree with you on a few points. I'm not going to get into a debate or drag out my notebook or anything for this since i'm about to go to bed. So take what you will, i'm just posting my opinions and a brief explenation why.

Anyway, French as the lingua franca started to decline a long time before the 1960-1970s. the treaty of versaille (post WWI), which was also written in English, is a common turning point or changing point for the lingua-franca. Besides, England had acquired a large empire that resulted in English being regularly spoken somewhere near you. It also resulted in trade switching to English as a lingua-franca a long time before World War 1.

Prior to the 19th century, the USA was little more than a footnote compared to that of the UK, France or Russia. It was mostly isolationist and did not, unlike european powers, flex it's international powers like the europeans powers of France and the UK/GBR. Also, the USA was not nearly as powerful as people think it was at the time. It wasn't really until the massive industrial boom during and following World War 1 did it become an international diplomatic power. However, yes, it was mostly independant. even during colonial british rule the thirteen colonies had a fairly large amount of autonomy.

I also think that american influence is a seperate entity from the british influence, especially with the rise of hollywood and the media industries of America circa the 1960s-1970s. However, the american influence was arguably built upon the british one.
 
Mar 2018
597
UK
#25
I have to say, I disagree with you on a few points. I'm not going to get into a debate or drag out my notebook or anything for this since i'm about to go to bed. So take what you will, i'm just posting my opinions and a brief explenation why.

Anyway, French as the lingua franca started to decline a long time before the 1960-1970s. the treaty of versaille (post WWI), which was also written in English, is a common turning point or changing point for the lingua-franca. Besides, England had acquired a large empire that resulted in English being regularly spoken somewhere near you. It also resulted in trade switching to English as a lingua-franca a long time before World War 1.

Prior to the 19th century, the USA was little more than a footnote compared to that of the UK, France or Russia. It was mostly isolationist and did not, unlike european powers, flex it's international powers like the europeans powers of France and the UK/GBR. Also, the USA was not nearly as powerful as people think it was at the time. It wasn't really until the massive industrial boom during and following World War 1 did it become an international diplomatic power. However, yes, it was mostly independant. even during colonial british rule the thirteen colonies had a fairly large amount of autonomy.

I also think that american influence is a seperate entity from the british influence, especially with the rise of hollywood and the media industries of America circa the 1960s-1970s. However, the american influence was arguably built upon the british one.
Thanks for enlightening me on the history of the dominant language, I was unaware the change had started that early. At what point would you say English was more widely used than French in diplomatic circles?

As for you last sentence, that is the crux of the matter, and frankly a matter of how we choose to evaluate "influence". However, one ought to be consistent. If we say "The British Empire had huge influence, because it gave rise to the highly influential American culture" then we also ought to say "The Roman Empire had huge influence, because it gave rise to every Christian state there after, which had enormous influence on the world." Personally, I believe that's a bit silly, and it's better to judge the total influence as the more-or-less direct impact that the Empires had from their birth until their end.

But, which ever option for quantifying influence you choose, the Roman empire clearly was more influential.
 
Feb 2016
4,227
Japan
#26
Variable. Britain has had massive ramifications for US, Canada, Australia, NZ.
But has only been absent for 230-100 years for some of them. Quite a small period of time.

Rome obviously had massive immediate effects on all its subjects... though subsequent invasions and empires may have eroded or eradicated any impacts.
But then it’s been gone 1500 years.

Naturally the British Enpire might feel the greater as they were the most recent and largest. But it’s impact was mostly outside of Europe.
Rome will still feel the greater to some, it affected mainly Europeans and a small number of Africans. It’s impacts out side of Europe are fairly minimal now various African and Asian kingdoms/Empire and Islam will have done much to diminish it there.
Macedonia ... overshadowed by Rome, even further back in time. It might have left a heavy lasting impact in some of its successor states... until they fell and were Romanised, Turkified, Africanised or whatever. Maybe for 300-1000 years after it fell its affects were more relevant.

But it’s why it’s not a fair comparison... the world has had 2000 years to erode Macedonian legacy. 1500 to do the same to Rome and only 100 odd years to do the same to the. British.
 
Likes: WhatAnArtist
Apr 2019
40
Mumbai
#27
I'm surprised the Haitian empire is not on here. I mean, everyone knows that they held the most powerful empire in history and world, perhaps even galactic-history. Darth Vader himself would quake in his boots if he ever had to attack that empire.....

No, but seriously, I would say the Roman empire from the list above. I don't think the British make the cut in comparison. I mean sure they made English the international language. But other than that? Not really too much in comparison. Romans helped the dissemination of numerous inventions and ideas, reshaped the culture and religious map of Europe formed an entirely separate branch of languages that spawned from it (romance) and eventually came to be regarded by Europeans as one of the "greatest" empires ever. Now the reason why I think this trumps other massive empires like the Mongols (whom barely even "ruled" their conquered lands) is simply because the European powers who were so influenced by the Romans eventually came to colonize the Americas, Africa and become world-leading powers in the modern ages (post-renaissance) and able to project their power globally, thereby enabling them to influence people worldwide.

If we extend a bit, I would say that the greeks city-states, whilst never forming an empire, may well be the most influential 'civilization', since even the Romans became ever more greek over time.

I also dislike the idea of giving credits to certain nation for inventing something if it never went anywhere. For example, if civilization A in 2000BC invented the computer, but never actually did anything with it and jealously guarded it so no one else knew it, then really, it's invention whilst interesting and thoroughly fascinating amounts to nothing important. I think China falls very much in that category since many of its ideas generally failed to leave an impressionable mark across the world, or alternatively, it was another civilization or people that promoted those inventions (either as theirs or otherwise). So, I would not actually agree to say that China has been that influential worldwide.

However, since the Egyptians and Mesopotamians invented "civilization", I would say they had a far longer lasting impact than the Greek, Roman or British.
 
Apr 2019
40
Mumbai
#28
Variable. Britain has had massive ramifications for US, Canada, Australia, NZ.
But has only been absent for 230-100 years for some of them. Quite a small period of time.

Rome obviously had massive immediate effects on all its subjects... though subsequent invasions and empires may have eroded or eradicated any impacts.
But then it’s been gone 1500 years.

Naturally the British Enpire might feel the greater as they were the most recent and largest. But it’s impact was mostly outside of Europe.
Rome will still feel the greater to some, it affected mainly Europeans and a small number of Africans. It’s impacts out side of Europe are fairly minimal now various African and Asian kingdoms/Empire and Islam will have done much to diminish it there.
Macedonia ... overshadowed by Rome, even further back in time. It might have left a heavy lasting impact in some of its successor states... until they fell and were Romanised, Turkified, Africanised or whatever. Maybe for 300-1000 years after it fell its affects were more relevant.

But it’s why it’s not a fair comparison... the world has had 2000 years to erode Macedonian legacy. 1500 to do the same to Rome and only 100 odd years to do the same to the. British.


9 of the 10 largest cities in the Roman Empire were in the modern Middle East. So Rome was mostly a non European Empire. The Europeans adopted the Roman Empire as their spiritual ancestors due to Christianity. After all, it was non civilized Europeans like the German tribes who destroyed the Roman Empire.
 
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Theodoric

Ad Honorem
Mar 2012
2,646
#29
While we all love the Romans, their impact was not as transformative as the British and European colonial powers who transformed multiple continents.

The Democracies of the West are NOT nearly so much the legacy of Rome as they are the legacy of the UK and Western Europe.


There’s also some misinformation in the posts. Monarchies are not based on the Imperial government of the Romans - they are based largely on Monarchal forms which existed in Indo-European societies who were independent of the Romans. Even the HRE electors were a different sort of system than the old Roman Empire.

The Romans actually shunned the idea of Monarchy and used the title to mock Caesar. While Caesar, Augustus, and the “Emperor” title collection of Tiberius and his heirs may have created a head of state - it is a very different in nature from the European Monarchies: while the title of “Emperor” as we today call it was a collection of high Republican titles with various functions, it wasn’t the rulership over the lands and people, merely the most powerful among them (kind of like a modern head of government). A Kingdom in Europe is a title based on the rulership of land and people: though the degree or that authority depends largely on the time period: we have constitutional Monarchies in the modern world, for example, but a few hundred years earlier they had absolute power. Kingdoms are inheritable by various heritability laws: while the Romans had no such system - usually from father to eldest son or daughter. While the inheritance of the Imperial titles required the military support or legitimacy granted by the senate: with the previous Emperor usually having some sway - but unlike European Monarchies, no succession laws like those stating an eldest child inherits. Lands, in the Empire, were granted to Governors for governance, while this could happen in a European Monarchy (especially after 1500) this generally wasn’t the case, lands were inherited as titles.

The role of land, as well, was a very different system in Europe (I am speaking of post-Roman Europe) when compared to the Roman system. Roman lands were expected to be governed in such a way to serve as a cog in the overall Empire, while European lands had no such expectations. The ruler could generally do with them as they saw fit so long as they followed general cultural expectations. Medieval society was largely based on local economic interests rather than Empire-wide interests - and these mark two very distinct types of culture. In later periods, Lybeck, Hamburg, Visby, and other places rose to prominence with a more globalist type of economic order - but again, this was VERY different from the Roman order as it existed within the European Monarchal system, and had license granted by their leaders - in the case of the Free Imperial Cities, from the Holy Roman Emperor or the King of Germany/Teutons when an Emperor was not elected... another distinction with the HRE - it could function without an Emperor for very long periods of time.

Anyway, British culture is still very strong throughout the world, and it MUCH more heavily transformed the Americas, Oceania, and the other regions it touched: vast lands, completely transformed - FAR greater in extent than the Roman Empire. The US is not really American, but rather the product of British colonization - and while they separated and formed an independent republic - the English people were still there, and continued to shape the land much like an English country (just with more guns and conspiracy theories). The social culture of the English is largely intact, while the Roman culture throughout Europe, outside of Iberia, was largely replaced shortly after the Gothic wars of Justinian.
 
Last edited:
Likes: WhatAnArtist
Mar 2016
762
Australia
#30
While we all love the Romans, their impact was not as transformative as the British and European colonial powers who transformed multiple continents.

The Democracies of the West are NOT nearly so much the legacy of Rome as they are the legacy of the UK and Western Europe.


There’s also some misinformation in the posts. Monarchies are not based on the Imperial government of the Romans - they are based largely on Monarchal forms which existed in Indo-European societies who were independent of the Romans. Even the HRE electors were a different sort of system than the old Roman Empire.

The Romans actually shunned the idea of Monarchy and used the title to mock Caesar. While Caesar, Augustus, and the “Emperor” title collection of Tiberius and his heirs may have created a head of state - it is a very different in nature from the European Monarchies: while the title of “Emperor” as we today call it was a collection of high Republican titles with various functions, it wasn’t the rulership over the lands and people, merely the most powerful among them (kind of like a modern head of government). A Kingdom in Europe is a title based on the rulership of land and people: though the degree or that authority depends largely on the time period: we have constitutional Monarchies in the modern world, for example, but a few hundred years earlier they had absolute power. Kingdoms are inheritable by various heritability laws: while the Romans had no such system - usually from father to eldest son or daughter. While the inheritance of the Imperial titles required the military support or legitimacy granted by the senate: with the previous Emperor usually having some sway - but unlike European Monarchies, no succession laws like those stating an eldest child inherits. Lands, in the Empire, were granted to Governors for governance, while this could happen in a European Monarchy (especially after 1500) this generally wasn’t the case, lands were inherited as titles.

The role of land, as well, was a very different system in Europe (I am speaking of post-Roman Europe) when compared to the Roman system. Roman lands were expected to be governed in such a way to serve as a cog in the overall Empire, while European lands had no such expectations. The ruler could generally do with them as they saw fit so long as they followed general cultural expectations. Medieval society was largely based on local economic interests rather than Empire-wide interests - and these mark two very distinct types of culture. In later periods, Lybeck, Hamburg, Visby, and other places rose to prominence with a more globalist type of economic order - but again, this was VERY different from the Roman order as it existed within the European Monarchal system, and had license granted by their leaders - in the case of the Free Imperial Cities, from the Holy Roman Emperor or the King of Germany/Teutons when an Emperor was not elected... another distinction with the HRE - it could function without an Emperor for very long periods of time.

Anyway, British culture is still very strong throughout the world, and it MUCH more heavily transformed the Americas, Oceania, and the other regions it touched: vast lands, completely transformed - FAR greater in extent than the Roman Empire. The US is not really American, but rather the product of British colonization - and while they separated and formed an independent republic - the English people were still there, and continued to shape the land much like an English country (just with more guns and conspiracy theories). The social culture of the English is largely intact, while the Roman culture throughout Europe, outside of Iberia, was largely replaced shortly after the Gothic wars of Justinian.
It's interesting to compare the Ottoman Empire to the Roman Empire, and see how many similarities the two had with each other - certainly more than the Ottomans had with the standard Western European feudal kingdom - less strictly enforced primogeniture succession, state-appointed governors rather than hereditary nobility, etc.
 

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