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

Sep 2015
1,673
England
#31
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?
There's also analogy's and similarities to be found, here and there, if you've the patience! As well as contradictions that needs some thinking - about why, or is it how? Apparently tolerance and compromise are things we are familiar with, that the Byzantines, at least in the time of Anastasius were less inclined towards! But can we really be that tolerant and prepared to compromise?
 
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Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
16,680
SoCal
#32
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.
Oh, the Byzantines certainly deserve credit for surviving and being stable for as long as they were. This is especially true considering that they bordered hostile neighbors in the east. Of course, I haven't heard the Byzantine Empire being a particular center of innovation. Was it? I mean, I know that they created Greek fire and they did have some manuscript production but were later overtaken by Western Europe in regards to this. What else did they invent or are famous for?
 

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