Which empire in history do you consider to be the most interesting?

Mar 2016
1,210
Australia
#1
Not necessarily the greatest or most impressive, or even necessarily successful, but something you find has qualities or features that are fascinating and unique to you.

For me it's the Byzantine Empire (as much as I prefer not to call it "Byzantine" since it's anachronistic), specifically in the period of the 8th century to the 11th century. I like the unique hybrid of Western and Eastern culture, the prominence of Greek language and Orthodoxy, the direct succession from the old Roman Empire, the large variety of enemies they fought - from Bulgarians to Huns to Normans to Arabs - and the unpredictable and bloody political system. It feels like a distinctly Eastern empire in many ways, but without being Muslim, thus giving it a uniqueness. It has this other-wordly and almost mythical quality to it, I find. Reading about Medieval Europe can be occasionally boring for me because of how small scale and repetitive the inter-dynastic feuding becomes after a few centuries, but the Byzantine Empire never feels dull because something new and interesting is always happening. They very rarely had any extended periods of peace and stability, being an enemy to both Christian and Muslim states, as well as facing uncountable civil wars and rebellions. While Europe languished in its semi-Dark Age, Byzantium's preservation of knowledge, science and culture was remarkable.

Anyway, that's my pick. What about you guys?
 

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
20,235
SoCal
#2
Either the German Empire or the Russian Empire--since these two empires would have been the most formidable competitors for the US in the long(er)-run had these empires avoided losing WWI. I'm a fan of huge countries--such as China, the US, Russia, et cetera--due to the fact that these countries have a lot of potential and are economic and military powerhouses.
 
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Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
20,235
SoCal
#3
The Byzantines certainly deserve credit for largely keeping the Muslims out of Europe. However, they were simply too far back; had they survived to the present-day, they might have been more fascinating for me. I'm more into modern history than more ancient history due to the fact that there was much more technological progress and prosperity in the modern era.
 
Likes: macon
#4
Magadhan Empire. I'm especially curious about its early days and whether or not the Shishunagas/Nandas had left any of their architecture behind.

Khmer Empire. I want to know what their relations were like with the Burmans before the arrival of the Thais from the North-East.
 
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Kirialax

Ad Honorem
Dec 2009
4,816
Blachernai
#5
The Byzantines certainly deserve credit for largely keeping the Muslims out of Europe.
I really hate this argument, as if a thousand-year-long phase of state already a thousand years old at that point is nothing more than a footnote to the later rise of Europe. Yet they are one of the most long-lived and stable polities in all of human history.
 
Mar 2019
106
Victoria, Australia
#6
If we restrict solely to empires. then the Byzantines. The roman empire prior to the fall of the western roman empire doesn't interest me all that much.

if we expand to just any type of nation, civilisation or otherwise. then the Gauls (and by extent the Celts). I find it annoying that the Celts nowadays pretty much is used only the refer to the irish and the british isles. there were celtic people from Spain, to Ireland to Turkey and Romania.
 
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Sep 2017
722
United States
#7
Rome. It's just so rich in variation and history, much more than popular media makes it out to be.

From a collection of farming settlements on the Tiber, all the way through the fall of Constantinople and the Byzantine rump states, there is just so much change and so many stories with a great amount complexity.

I've even recently heard a theory that Venice can be considered a successor to Rome, and Venice didn't fall until Napoleon came IIRC. It's all just fascinating to me.
 
Likes: macon
Mar 2019
1,482
Kansas
#8
Well I will be super boring and say the British Empire. The culture and people are new enough I can relate to them, while being unusual enough to pique my interest. Also being so new, there is a lot of documentary evidence, journals, diaries etc.
 
Mar 2016
1,210
Australia
#9
I've even recently heard a theory that Venice can be considered a successor to Rome, and Venice didn't fall until Napoleon came IIRC. It's all just fascinating to me.
The Venetian empire (it can certainly be called that in hindsight, even though I don't believe it was called such a thing at the time) is definitely something I find very interesting as well. When one thinks of Venice, they immediately think of the beautiful lagoon-city and their unique government structure, but rarely do people realise that for centuries this tiny city-state ruled lands as far-flung and diverse as the Balkans, Greece and Crete. It's interesting reading about an empire that was fueled and motivated not by either dynastic shenanigans like the rest of Medieval Europe, or religious propagation like in the Middle East, but simply to make money and protect their trade routes. It's a distinctly proto-modern and secular conception of empire, strange to find it so early in European history.

Well I will be super boring and say the British Empire. The culture and people are new enough I can relate to them, while being unusual enough to pique my interest.
As an Australian, I can confirm our unusualness, even to our British masters.
 
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