Taking over the world has to be the dream of at least half of all aspiring supervillians everywhere. However, some (questionably) more benevolent people attempt to do so the old fashioned way: exploration, colonization, subjugation, and occasionally (okay… rarely) even mutually-beneficial politics. Though nobody has publicly managed to take over yet (shadow societies don’t count), the age of empires was certainly not boring, and as recently as the late 1900’s, there has been some impressive progress. Let’s begin all the way back at 500 BC and work our way up. Here are the 25 Largest And Most Epic Empires In History.
Eastern Han Dynasty – Circa 100 AD
For nearly 200 years, the Eastern Han Dynasty survived through various rulers, rebellions, instability, and economic crisis. Despite these factors, at its largest, the Eastern Han Dynasty was the 12th largest empire in history. It was much larger than it’s BC counterpart, taking up roughly 190 thousand more square miles of land for a total of 4.36% of the entire world.
The Roman Empire - Circa 117 AD
Just due to the immense amount of exposure the Roman Empire receives, any average person off the street may incorrectly believe it was the largest in history. It’s true that at its height in 117 AD, it was the most extensive political and social structure in western civilization, but even then, the Romans occupied only a total of 1.93 million miles of land, making them the 24th largest empire in history. In this case, it’s a matter of quality over quantity as the influence of the Roman Empire pioneered or impacted nearly every aspect of western civilization.
Göktürk Khaganate – Circa 557 AD
The Göktürk Khaganate was comprised of what is now north central China. The rulers of the Khaganate originated from the Ashina clan, another nomadic tribe of obscure origins from the Northern corner of Inner Asia. Like the Xiongnu some 600 years earlier, they amassed massive numbers and expanded to rule huge territories in Central Asia including the lucrative Silk Road trade. By 557 AD, they would become the 15th largest empire in history by controlling 4.03% of the entire world (far more than the Roman Empire ever did at 3.36%).
Rashidun Caliphate – Circa 655 AD
The Rashidun Caliphate was the first Islamic caliphate in the earliest period of Islam. It was founded directly after the prophet Muhammad’s death in 632 AD in order to lead the Muslim community. After subduing and uniting the various Arab tribes, the caliphate embarked on a conquest that would result in the domination of Egypt, Syria, and the entire Persian Empire. At its strongest in 655 AD, the Rashidun Caliphate was the 14th largest empire ever, encompassing 2.47 million square miles of the Middle East.
Umayyad Caliphate – Circa 720 AD
The second of the four major caliphates following the death of Muhammad, the Umayyad Caliphate rose in the aftermath of the first Muslim Civil War in 661 AD. In addition to dominating the entirety of the Middle East, the Umayyad Caliphate continued to expand into northern Africa and parts of southern Europe. Boasting a complex societal structure made up of 29% of the total world population (62 million people) and 7.45% of the world’s total land mass, the Umayyad Caliphate grew to become the 8th largest empire in current history, and the largest empire the world had ever seen by 720 AD.
Can you guess who holds the current record for the largest empire up to now? Keep reading to find out!