Modern empires

Modern empires

Numerous legendary empires were built (and destroyed) in the course of history.

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Inca Empire, Aztec Empire, Spain, Ottoman Empire, Russia, British Empire, Huayna Capac, Cuzco, Tenochtitlan, modern history, empire, Madrid, Constantinople, Saint Petersburg, London, Suleiman I, Nicholas II, Victoria, country, countries, border, history, conquest, colony, colonisation, coloniser, capital city, great power, map, map knowledge, blank map, Earth globe

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Modern empires

From a political point of view, an empire is a state of great territorial extent that includes numerous ethnic groups and countries. Usually, empires are culturally and ethnically diverse.

Most legendary empires in history were established through conquests (that is, via the use of military force) or economic and political coercion. A common feature of these empires was that all of them were governed by a strong central power.

Inca Empire (16th c.)

In the 14th century, the South American state of the Inca tribal confederation was only a small city state that included Cuzco and its vicinity. After the Inca conquests in the 15th century, its area increased enormously: it measured about 4,000 km from north to south and about 800 km from east to west. The Inca Empire, the largest empire of the Pre-Columbian Americas, reached its greatest territorial extent at the turn of the 15th and 16th centuries, during the reign of Huayna Capac.

After the death of Huayna Capac, a war that broke out between his successors, together with the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors, led by Francisco Pizarro, resulted in the fall of the empire.

Aztec Empire (16th c.)

After the Aztecs had conquered the Toltec, they migrated to the Valley of Mexico, and in the 14th century Tenochtitlan became their capital. The hegemonic military confederation expanded steadily thanks to conquests.

Three city-states (Tenochtitlan, Texcoco, Tlacopan) entered into alliance in 1428, establishing the Aztec Empire. The empire, which stretched from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean, reached its greatest territorial extent at the beginning of 16th century, during the reign of Moctezuma II. In 1519, Spanish conquistadors, led by Hernán Cortés, destroyed the empire along with its capital.

Spanish Empire (16th c.)

Spain was united at the end of the 15th century by Ferdinand II of Aragon and his wife, Isabella I of Castile. The Spanish conquered large territories overseas, competing with Portugal. The resulting empire was the first truly global empire in history. Its heyday was during the 16th and 17th centuries, under the rule of the Spanish Habsburgs. The well-known phrase, "the empire on which the Sun never sets" originally referred to the Spanish Empire.

The empire that reached its peak during the reign of Charles I (known as Charles V, as Holy Roman Emperor) started to decline for economic and political reasons.

Ottoman Empire (17th c.)

The Ottoman Empire was established around 1300 by the conquests of the first sultan, Osman I. The empire, continuously expanding in all directions, conquered the Byzantine Empire as well in 1453 by capturing Constantinople.

The Ottoman Empire reached its peak during the reign of Suleiman I (Suleiman the Magnificent) in the mid-16th century. However, the fate of the empire could be foreseen even during its golden age. Eventually, internal and external problems led to a gradual decline and the fall of the empire that was also called the 'sick man of Europe'.

Russian Empire (1914)

The name of the Russian Empire was given by Peter the Great himself who wanted to modernise the previous Tsardom. He established a new capital, Saint Petersburg, in 1703 which was named after Saint Peter, one of the twelve apostles.

The empire reached its peak during the reign of Catherine II, who made significant territorial gains and the Russian Empire became even larger. It reached its greatest territorial extent in the 2nd half of the 19th century, at which time there were more than a hundred ethnic groups living on an area of about 23 million square kilometres. The empire started to decline in the mid-19th century and was finally overthrown by the February Revolution in 1917.

British Empire (1914)

In contrast to other states, the English started colonisation relatively late but with great enthusiasm. The British Empire became a truly global empire by the 19th century. It was the largest and most populous territory in history ruled by a single state and it had the strongest economy in the world.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the British Empire controlled about a quarter of the Earth’s total land area and one-fifth of the population was living on its territories. The phrase 'the empire on which the Sun never sets' is also true of the British Empire.

The global influence of the British Empire as well as the period of relative peace after the Napoleonic Wars, Pax Britannica, ended in 1914 with the outbreak of World War I.

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