10 Empires that Came the Closest to World Domination

Aidan Herklotz

An Empire is defined as an extensive group of states or countries under a single group of supreme authority (at least according to dictionary.com). There’s no doubt that there have been an extensive amount of empires, big and small. Today we will be focusing on the “big” aspect. Here are 10 Empires that came the closest to world domination.

10) The Ming Dynasty

China has had hundreds of dynasties across thousands of years, so it’s quite difficult to determine which one was the most powerful. While the Qing Dynasty was the largest in land, the Ming Dynasty conquered China and much of Asia through culture. Although they were not as big as the Qing, the Ming controlled many tributary states: countries dependent on the dynasty. Sadly, due to China’s affinity to collapse in on itself, the Ming Dynasty died out in 1644.


9) Nazi Germany

Warning: I do not agree with or sympathize  with the views of Nazism.

In 1918, the Great War ended with an Allied victory, and a subsequent German loss. The treaty of Versailles humiliated the Germans extensively. This humiliation eventually lead to an economic collapse, and the rise of fascism in the Nation. Under fascism, Nazi Germany and the axis powers enveloped almost all of Europe, until the Battle of Stalingrad and the D-Day invasion, which were widely considered the turning points of World War II. Even though Nazi Germany died out quickly, they were still pretty massive, containing portions of about 15 modern day countries, and that’s not including the other European axis powers. At least we can all agree that the world would be a drastically different place if the Axis won World War II. Nazi Germany collapsed in 1945.


8) The Ottoman Empire

Beginning in modern day Turkey, the Ottoman Empire rose to destroy the final remnants of the Roman Empire (specifically Byzantium), and conquer massive swathes of the middle east, North Africa, and the Balkans. But, in the centuries to come after their golden age, the Ottomans slowly started to collapse under their own weight (which is a popular trend with empires). Along with its ally the Austro-Hungarian empire, the Ottomans had many different ethnic groups that were crying out for freedom. Countries like Britain, France, and Russia took advantage of the crumbling empire and took bites out of it’s African, European, and Asian territories. During this period the Ottoman Empire would be dubbed “the Sick Man of Europe.” The “Sick Man” died when the first Great War came around, as they chose the losing side of the Central powers. The Ottoman Empire fell in 1918.


7) Alexander the Great’s Empire (Macedonian Empire)

In this segment, we’re going back a bit. About 23 centuries back, in 336 B.C. , Alexander the Great is born. Alexander’s father was Philip II, who expanded Macedon greatly, but our buddy Alex would do the real expanding. First he took over Greece and the Balkans. Then he invaded Persia, which expanded from modern day India to modern day Turkey, and continued to expand way beyond Macedon.  Alexander succeeded, and the Persian Empire fell. But Alexander’s trek home was a treacherous one, and he died at the age of 32. Because Alex had no heir, his Empire was split between his generals, and Macedon was no more. Alexander the Great’s Empire fell in 300 B.C.


6) Spanish Empire

Through the 14th, 15th, and 16th centuries, Spain was a huge power with a massive empire, until Napoleon came in and ruined anything. Anyway, there are now 20 countries where Spanish is the official language, and it’s one of the most spoken languages in the world, and that’s all because of the Spain. The Spanish Empire fell in 1898.


5) The Roman Empire

Beginning as a small Italian city state, Rome grew over a period of 1000 years to encompass all of the Mediterranean. It’s probably the most famous Empire in history, not only because of their massive conquering abilities, but also because of their language, Latin, which was the basis for both our alphabet and all of the romantic languages. Rome lived through a Monarchy, a Republic, and an Empire, or really 2 empires actually. You see, even after Rome fell in 476, the Eastern Roman Empire, which became known as the Byzantine Empire, survived with it’s capital in Constantinople (modern day Istanbul). In 1453, it fell to the Ottoman Empire.

4) The French Colonial Empire

Before Napoleon, France really only colonized Canada and a bit of Algeria. Post-Napoleon France was deep rooted in Africa, especially during the scramble for Africa, which was a rapid colonization of Africa by the European powers. During this, France took a massive portion of Northwestern Africa and Madagascar. During World War II, when Hitler took over mainland France, the Free French Army administered French Africa under the leadership of Charles de Gaulle. Obviously, during the latter half of the 20th century, France lost its African colonies during decolonization, as did all European colonial powers. France lost its last African colony in 1977.

3) The Russian Empire

Today, Russia is a federation and is considered a democracy. 30 years ago it was a socialist dictatorship, but 130 years ago it was an empire which was ruled by a monarchy. At it’s height, the Russian Empire stretched from the Canadian-Alaskan border to modern day Poland. It was ruled by a tzar from a dynasty that had been in power for about 300 years, the Romanovs. But the Russian tsardom came to an end in 1917, when the working class revolted, taking over and killing the tsar’s family. At this point Russia was in World War I, they negotiated peace with the Germans and lost land to about 8 different countries. The Russian Empire collapsed into revolution and civil war in 1917.

2) The Mongol Empire

The Mongol Empire is the largest contiguous land empire in history. It was a state made almost solely from war, which expanded over almost all of Asia. They conquered, oppressed, and murdered millions of people. For most of its existence, the Mongol Empire was ruled by the infamous Genghis Khan, who had so many illegitimate children that about 16 million people today are related to him. The mongol Empire expanded from modern day Turkey to Shanghai, and from modern day Romania to Korea. At its height, the Mongol Empire controlled 16% of the world’s land mass and about 25% of the world’s population. Like the Macedonian Empire, the Mongol Empire collapsed after the death of its leader, Genghis Khan, in 1368.

1) The British Empire

There was once a phrase:  “the sun never sets on the British Empire.” Unlike many other sayings, this one is technically true, as it refers to the fact that the empire was so massive that at least one country in its holdings was in daylight. The British Empire first began with the colonization of America. They reached their true height in 1921, after World War I,  when they still had Ireland as well as Germany’s Asian and African colonies. Speaking of Africa, the Brits also participated in the Scramble of Africa, and the decolonization of Africa. Britain won two world wars, conquered 24% of the world’s landmass, and controlled 23% of the world’s population. The British Empire is still around today, if you count the Commonwealth of Nations, which is an alliance between former British colonies (and Mozambique, for some reason). The actual British empire fell in 1997, when they lost Hong Kong. Truly, even today, the sun will never set on the British empire.