List of medieval great powers

Main article: Middle Ages
Further information: List of ancient great powers
Not to be confused with Empires of the Middle Ages.

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

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 Reduced to Baghdad and the surrounding area by the 10th century. Fell to the Mongols in 1258.
Fatimid Caliphate 909–1171 Mostly ruled the former lands of the eastern Umayyad.
Ghaznavid Empire 10th c.


Great Seljuk Empire 1037–1194 [3]
Ayyubid Sultanate 1171–1260 Mostly ruled the former lands of the Fatimids. Became a divided realm in the 1230s and fell to the Mamluks and Mongols by 1260.
Mamluk Sultanate of Egypt 1250–1518 Mostly ruled the former lands of the Ayyubids.
Ilkhanate 1256-1353
Timurid Empire 1370–1507 [4]

Christian states

Eastern Christianity

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 681–1018 and 1185–1396/1422, zenith in the 10th c.[5] In the medieval history of Europe, Bulgaria's status as the Bulgarian Empire, wherein it acted as a key regional power (particularly rivaling Byzantium in Southeastern Europe[6]) occurred in two distinct periods: between the seventh and eleventh centuries, and again between the twelfth and fourteenth centuries. The two consecutive Bulgarian Empires are not treated as separate entities, but rather as one state restored after a period of Byzantine rule over its territory.
Kievan Rus' 882-c.1054
Grand Duchy of Moscow 13th–16th c.
Ethiopian Empire 12th–16th c.
Serbian Empire 1346-1371

Latin Christianity

Name Duration Notes and references
Frankish Empire/Carolingian Empire 8th c.-843
North Sea Empire 1016-1035
Kingdom of Germany/Holy Roman Empire 962-16th c.
Kingdom of Hungary 1000-1490s
Kingdom of Jerusalem/Crusader states 1099-1187
Kingdom of France 987-16th c.
Angevin Empire/Kingdom of England 1157-16th c.
Republic of Genoa 1099-1380
Republic of Venice 1204-1489
Crown of Castile 1230-1480s
Crown of Aragon 1282-1480s
Poland-Lithuania 1386-1572
Papal States 14th/15th c.
Kalmar Union 1397-1523
Kingdom of Sicily 1130-1282
Kingdom of Portugal 1415-16th c.

East and Southeast Asia

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

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

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.

Medieval India

Name Duration Notes and references
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
Bagan Empire 849-1297
Ava Kingdom 1364-1555
Gajapati Kingdom 1434-1541

Pre-Columbian Americas

Name Duration Notes and references
Toltec Empire 674-1122
Maya Civilization (Classic period) 250–900
Wari Empire 6th-11th c.
Chimor 9th-1470 c.
Inca Empire 1438-1533
Aztec Empire 1430-1521
Tarascan state 1300-1530
Tlaxcala (Nahua state) 1348-1520
Tlatelolco (altepetl) 1337-1473

See also


  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.
  6. ^ R. Craig Nation. War in the Balkans, 1991–2002. Retrieved 2012-06-28.

External links

  • 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).