There have been a load of incredible empires throughout history. Many of them invaded and conquered, while others preferred to evolve more organically. But, there is no denying that most of the big empires in the world had a profound and important impact on the way the world is now, and of a lot of the historical and cultural significance, we have today. Empires might be an outdated concept, but at one point in time, they set the benchmark for the rest of the world.
You can probably name a few empires off the top of your head, and no, the Galactic Empire from Star Wars doesn’t count! But there are a number of famous empires in history that changed the world and altered the way we look at things now. This is a list of some of the empires we feel could have staked a claim for being the greatest the world has ever known.
The Roman Empire
Perhaps the single most famous empire in history, The Holy Roman Empire is probably the most significant the world has ever seen. So much of what we know and study today was directly influenced or made possible by the Romans. The were pioneers in science and masonry, and they created underfloor heating, concrete, and the modern calendar. They also developed roads and built a fearsome army. So much of our modern world has been influenced by the Roman Empire, and we owe a lot to what they were doing hundreds of years ago.
The British Empire
No empire in history has been as vast or as prominent as the British Empire. The Brits had more than 22% of the Earth’s land mass under their control at one point, and the roots they laid then are still being felt today. Beginning with colonies and trading posts overseas, the empire expanded and took more places under its command. Despite playing a vital role in two World Wars, and being on the winning side, the burden of the conflicts weighed heavily on the British and it was the beginning of the end for their empire. Things came to a close in 1947, when India finally reclaimed its freedom, bookending the rule of the British Empire.
The Portuguese Empire
You may not know this, but the Portuguese Empire was actually the longest-running empire in the world! It was the first global empire and actually wound up outlasting everybody. The Portuguese were a naval force, and during the time of trade routes with countries like India, they would go on to colonize Brazil. The Portuguese Empire began in 1412, with the acquisition of the autonomous city of Ceuta, and ended as late as 1999, when the Portuguese handed Macau over to China.
The Qing Dynasty was the last dynasty of China but is often heralded as one of the greatest. It was certainly influential in shaping China into the global force it has become today. The Qing Dynasty, at its peak, contained over 30% of the world’s population. The dynasty ruled over China for three centuries, before ending and being replaced with The Republic of China. Nevertheless, its impact on the nation, and the world in general has been profound.
These represent some of the greatest empires the world has ever known. There are, of course, plenty of others that could have been mentioned, such as the Spanish, Mongol, and Russian Empires, but we feel the ones we’ve listed have all sufficiently influenced the present enough to be classified among the world’s greatest empires.