List of medieval great powers

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This is a list of great powers during the medieval period. The term "great power" has only been used in historiography and political science since the Congress of Vienna in 1815.[1] Lord Castlereagh, the British Foreign Secretary, first used the term in its diplomatic context in 1814. Use of the term in medieval historiography is therefore idiosyncratic to each author. In historiography of the pre-modern period, it is more typical to talk of empires (itself a poorly-defined term, see list of empires).

Muslim states[edit]

The Middle Ages proper begin with the collapse of the remnants of Late Antiquity in the 7th century due to the Islamic conquests. The Old World is largely dominated by Muslim caliphates during the mid-7th to 10th centuries.

Name Duration Notes and references
Rashidun Caliphate 632–661
Umayyad Caliphate 661–750
Abbasid Caliphate 750–1518
Fatimid Caliphate 909–1171
Ghaznavid Empire 10th c.


Great Seljuk Empire 1037–1194 [3]
Ayyubid Sultanate 1171–1250
Mamluk Sultanate of Egypt 1250–1518
Ilkhanate 1256-1353
Timurid Empire 1370–1507 [4]

Christian states[edit]

Eastern Christianity[edit]

Name Duration Notes and references
Byzantine Empire 4th.–13th c. The Byzantine Empire (Eastern Roman Empire) was the foremost Christian power in the early medieval period, but under pressure from the Islamic conquests and the Turkic expansion it declined in the high medieval period. It fell to Frankish conquest in 1204 and although restored in the 1260s it did not regain its former stature.
Bulgarian Empire 10th c. [5]
Serbian Empire 14th c.
Kievan Rus' 882-1240
Grand Duchy of Moscow 13th–16th c.
Ethiopian Empire 12th–16th c.

Latin Christianity[edit]

Name Duration Notes and references
Frankish Empire/Carolingian Empire 8th/9th c.
North Sea Empire 11th c.
Kingdom of Germany/Holy Roman Empire 10th-16th c.
Kingdom of Hungary 10th-13th c.
Kingdom of Jerusalem/Crusader states 12th c.
Kingdom of France 12th-16th c.
Angevin Empire/Kingdom of England 12th-16th c.
Republic of Genoa 1099–1380
Republic of Venice 1204–1489
Crown of Castile 1230–1480
Crown of Aragon 1340s – 1480s
Poland-Lithuania 1386–1572
Papal States 14th/15th c.
Kalmar Union 1397–1523
Kingdom of Sicily 1130–1816
Kingdom of Portugal 12th–17th c.

Medieval China[edit]

Name Duration Notes and references
Sui dynasty 581–618
Tang dynasty 618–907
Liao dynasty 907–1125 Liao was initially named the Khitan State. Its name was changed to Liao in 947.
Song dynasty 960–1279
Jin dynasty 1115–1234
Yuan dynasty 1206–1368 The Mongol Empire was founded in 1206. Kublai Khan proclaimed it to be the Yuan dynasty in 1271.
Ming dynasty 1368–1644

Inner Asia and Mongolia[edit]

Name Duration Notes and references
Göktürk Turkic Khaganate 7th/8th c.
Uyghur Khaganate 8th c.
Qara Khitai 12th c.
Mongol Empire 1206–1368 The Mongol Empire was the largest contiguous empire in the history of the world.

Sub-Saharan Africa[edit]

Name Duration Notes and references
Ghana Empire 700-1240
Kanem-Bornu Empire 700–1380
Mali Empire 1300–1450
Kongo Empire 1390–1857
Songhai Empire 15th/16th c.

South and Southeast Asia[edit]

Name Duration Notes and references
Maurya Empire 321-185 BC
Chola Empire 300-1279
Pandian Empire 300-1650
Chalukya Empire 543-753
Srivijaya Empire 650-1377
Pala Empire 750-1174
Rashtrakuta Empire 753-982
Khmer Empire 802-1431
Delhi Sultanate 1192-1506
Majapahit Empire 1293-1527
Bengal Sultanate 1352-1576

Pre-Columbian Americas[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Fueter, Eduard (1922). World history, 1815–1930. United States of America: Harcourt, Brace and Company. pp. 25–28, 36–44. ISBN 1-58477-077-5.
  2. ^ Meisami, Julie Scott, Persian Historiography to the End of the Twelfth Century, (Edinburgh University Press, 1999), 143. "Nizam al-Mulk also attempted to organise the Saljuq administration according to the Persianate Ghaznavid model." Encyclopaedia Iranica, Iran: Islamic Period – Ghaznavids, E. Yarshater Archived 2009-08-15 at the Wayback Machine.
  3. ^ Jean Paul Roux: Historie des Turcs (Trans:Prof Dr.Aykut Kazancıgil - Lale Arslan Özcan) Kabalcı yayınevi, İstanbul, 2007, ISBN 975-997-091-0, p.205–205
  4. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica article: Consolidation & expansion of the Indo-Timurids, Online Edition, 2007.
  5. ^ "Bulgaria - The Slavs and the Bulgars". Retrieved 5 October 2014.

External links[edit]

  • Cooper, F. (2008). Empires and Political Imagination in World History. Princeton [u.a.]: Princeton University Press.
  • Doyle, M. W. (1986). Empires. Ithaca, N.Y: Cornell University Press.
  • English, Edward D. ed. Encyclopedia Of The Medieval World (2 vol. 2004).
  • Farrington, K. (2003). Historical Atlas of Empires. London: Mercury.
  • Harrison, T., & J. Paul Getty Museum. (2009). The Great Empires of the Ancient World. Los Angeles, Calif: J. Paul Getty Museum.
  • Khan, A. (2004). A Historical Atlas of India. New York: Rosen Pub.
  • Jordan, William Chester. (1996) The Middle Ages: An Encyclopedia for Students (4 Volumes)
  • Labberton, R. H. (1884). An historical atlas: A chronological series of one hundred and twelve maps at successive periods. New York.
  • Litwin, H. (2016), Central European Superpower, BUM Magazine, October 2016.
  • Loyn, H. R. (1989) The Middle Ages: A Concise Encyclopedia. (1989)
  • Morris, I., & Scheidel, W. (2009). The Dynamics of Ancient Empires: State power from Assyria to Byzantium. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Pella, John & Erik Ringmar, History of International Relations Open Textbook Project, Cambridge: Open Book, forthcoming.
  • Petitjean, P., Jami, C., Moulin, A. M., & Equipe REHSEIS (Centre national de la recherche scientifique (France)). (1992). Science and Empires: Historical Studies about Scientific Development and European Expansion. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers.
  • Shepherd, W. R., & C.S. Hammond & Company. (1911). Historical Atlas. New York: Henry Holt and Co.
  • Stearns, Peter N. ed. The Encyclopedia of World History (2001).