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Maciamo
22-06-13, 17:53
Many lists have been written about the most long-lived empires or states in the history of mankind and oddly enough nobody seems to agree on the ranking. That is because it depends how one counts. For example:

a) Shall we consider only empires or also kingdoms and republics ? The longest-lived form of government ever is the Republic of Venice, which lasted for exactly 1,100 years. But that was neither a kingdom nor strictly speaking an empire (though it could be considered a commercial empire).

b) Do we count only uninterrupted forms of governments or can there be brief interludes or changes of government ? The Kingdom of England has so far lasted for 936 years, but was interrupted by 11 years of republic under Cromwell between 1649 and 1660. Additionally the form of government changed from absolute to constitutional monarchy.

c) Do we only look at the name of the empire or should the capital and original homeland be maintained through its history ? The Roman Empire is often claimed to have lasted from 27 BCE to 1453 CE, but these were actually two entities that shared little in common. The original Roman Empire was based in Rome with Latin as its official language, while the Eastern Roman Empire was based in Constantinople and had Greek as its official language. Personally I consider them as distinct, though related empires. Additionally the Eastern Roman Empire was dissolved between 1204 and 1261 when it was replaced by the much smaller Latin Empire. Many would regard the Holy Roman Empire as the true successor of the Western Roman Empire, as it also included Rome and was to a large extent Latin-speaking among its ruling elite.

d) How about counting uninterrupted states, which might have changed name or form of government ? Rome is the obvious example, having started as a kingdom, evolved into a republic then an empire. In that sense the Roman state lasted for nearly 1,000 years without cultural or linguistic interruption. Using this logic the longest lasting empire ever is Japan, which has existed as an empire for over 2600 years if we count legendary emperors, and still 1743 years and counting if we start from the first historical emperor. Japan however changed many times forms of government (absolute monarchy, shogunate, constitutional monarchy) and moved its capital four times since the establishment of the first permanent capital in Nara in 710.


I will make several ranking considering all these factors and various possible combinations.

Let's start with the longest lasting uninterrupted empires (only), which always maintained the same official language and managed to preserve its original homeland. The capital is allowed to have changed.

I did not list unofficial commercial and colonial empires such as the Portuguese and the Spanish Empires, which never had an emperor (except under Charles V), or the British Empire, which only existed in name from 1876 to 1947.

I also left out many so-called empires that were actually kingdoms (Armenia, Egypt, Francia, Chola, Kush, Pandyan, Satavahana, Silla, Srivijaya), and the Carthaginian Empire, which was a kingdom then a republic. To be called an empire, a state normally has to be multi-ethnic and include several conquered kingdoms. Emperor is basically a title that means king of kings. Japan is probably the only exception to this rule, unless we see it as the Yayoi people from Korea conquering the native Jomon people.

I have lumped the Habsburg Empire with the Austrian Empire and the Austro-Hungarian Empire since they were essentially the same empire ruled by the same monarchy with the same capital and court language. The ranking would be as follows:

15 longest uninterrupted empires in history


Empire of Japan: minimum 1743 years to date (see above)
Byzantine Empire: 874 years (uninterrupted from 330 to 1204)
Holy Roman Empire: 844 years (962-1806)
Zhou Empire: 790 years (1046–256 BCE)
Ethiopian Empire: 666 years (1270-1936)
Khmer Empire: 629 years (802–1431)
Ottoman Empire: 624 years (1299-1923)
Roman Empire: 503 years (27 BCE-476)
Parthian Empire: 471 years (247 BCE-224)
Han Empire: 422 years (202 BCE-220)
Habsburg Empire (+ Austrian and Austro-Hungarian Empires): 392 years (1526-1918)
Mughal Empire: 331 years (1526-1857)
Ming Empire: 276 years (1368-1644)
Qing Empire: 268 years (1644-1912)
Russian Empire: 204 years (1721-1917)



Now let's list the longest continuous states, whatever their form of government (kingdom, empire, republic) or the ruling dynasty, as long as the country existed under the same name without interruption, remained independent, and was ruled by the same ethnico-cultural group all the time. China as a single state was frequently divided between major dynasties or ruled by non-Chinese dynasties (Yuan, Qing), which explains that only one ancient period qualifies for the list. The same applies to ancient Egypt, which does not even make the top 20.

I did not include city-states, not prehistoric cultures that do not truly qualify as states in the modern sense (e.g. the Minoans). I also left out Sumerian dynasties because of mythological kings who supposedly ruled for hundreds of years at a time and frequent rules by foreign dynasties.

30 longest uninterrupted states in history


Ethiopia : c. 2916 years (c. 980 BCE-1936)
Văn Lang: c. 2621 years (c. 2879-258 BCE)
Japan: c. 2673 years to date (c. 660 BCE to present)
Gojoseon Kingdom: c. 2225 years (c. 2333-108 BCE)
Assyrian Kingdom: c. 1805 years (c. 2400-605 BCE)
Chola Kingdom: c. 1570 years (c. 300 BCE-1279)
Yellow River China (Shang + Zhou): c. 1444 years (c. 1700–256 BCE)
France (from the death of Clovis to WWII): 1429 years (511-1940)
Anuradhapura Kingdom: 1394 years (377 BCE–1017)
Sabaean Kingdom: c. 1375 years (c. 1100 BCE-275 CE)
Kingdom of Sweden: c. 1358 years (c. 655 to present)
Korea (Unified Silla + Goryeo + Joseon + Korean Empire): 1242 years (668-1910)
Kingdom of Denmark: c. 1230 years (c. 710-1940)
Ancient Rome (Kingdom, Republic and Empire) : 1229 years (753 BCE-476)
Republic of Venice: 1100 years (697-1797)
England: 1086 years to date (927 to present)
Kingdom of Norway: 1068 years (c. 872-1940)
Sunda Kingdom: 910 years (669-1579)
Byzantine Empire: 874 years (uninterrupted from 330 to 1204)
Kingdom of Scotland, 859 years (848-1707)
Holy Roman Empire: 844 years (962-1806)
Austria (from the independence of the Duchy of Austria): 782 years to date (1156-1938)
Kingdom of Armenia: 759 years (331 BCE–428)
Turkey (including Ottoman Empire): 714 years to date (1299 to present)
Baekje Kingdom: 678 years (18 BCE–660)
Kingdom of Amman: c. 668 years (c. 1000-332 BCE)
Phoenicia: c. 661 years (c. 1200-539 BCE)
Lydia: c. 654 years (c. 1200-546 BCE)
Khmer Empire: 629 years (802–1431)
Srivijaya/Melayu Kingdom: 605 years (683-1288)



A continuous state does not always keep the same form of government. The best example is France, which shifted from monarchy to republic and to empire no less than seven times between 1789 and 1871. France remained France throughout this period, but its people were ruled very differently under each form of government.

This ranking will look at political stability. Only states in historical times (i.e. with written records) are taken into account, as its impossible to determine political stability otherwise. Monarchies that passed from absolute to constitutional, or monarchs that officially stopped ruling personally to the profit of a Prime Minister or warlord (e.g. the shogun in Japan) are counted as separate forms of governments. A change of status (e.g. upgrade from kingdom to empire, even with the same ruler) also counts as a new form of government.

I didn't count the Holy Roman Empire as it comprised many independent kingdoms and duchies and was long ruled by the Habsburg dynasty from Vienna or Prague. Likewise the Roman Empire was split many times, with rival empires set up within its borders (Gallic Empire, Palmyrene Empire) before being finally divided into a Western and an Eastern Empire.

10 longest uninterrupted forms of governments in historical times


Republic of Venice: 1100 years (697-1797)
Byzantine Empire: 874 years (uninterrupted from 330 to 1204)
Kingdom of Scotland, 859 years (848-1707)
Kingdom of France (absolute monarchy): 802 years (987-1789)
Khmer Empire: 629 years (802–1431)
Ottoman Empire: 624 years (1299-1923)
Kingdom of Joseon: 505 years (1392-1897)
Roman Republic: 482 years (509-27 BCE)
Ethiopian Empire (Solomonic Dynasty until the Era of the Princes): 467 years (1270-1737)
Han Dynasty of China: 426 years (206 BCE-220 CE)

Yetos
22-06-13, 19:09
Kingdom of Pontus 344 years (281 BC - 63 BC)
remember Veni Nidi Vici at Zela
and Mithridateian wars

it is uninterupted from Mithridates Ktistes until Mithridatic wars 344 years,

if we put Artobarzanos of Cius (κιος) then we speak about an uninterupted dynasty of more than 425 yeras.

much longer than Hapbsburgs or Mings

zanipolo
22-06-13, 20:49
Any idea on the length of Hittite empire, IIRC it fell and arose twice.

BTW, the republic of Venice was an oligarchy merchantine republic ruled by about 300 families . But they also had no involvement in the merchant guilds of the republic, so they where besically a trading/middlemen empire...........entrepreneurs

Maciamo
01-07-13, 14:09
FYI, I have updated the OP.

LeBrok
01-07-13, 16:45
Nothing about Egypt?

albanopolis
03-07-13, 19:16
Nothing about Egypt?
Chinese empire is still living and in a very good health, so is Russian Empire. Now they are called in new names like Federation but its the same thing.
So the oldest World Empire has been, is, and will be China and Russia.

intorg
19-11-13, 10:44
This is very nice work. Thanks for posting.


http://irglobal.blogspot.com/

CaptainBurrito
12-05-15, 17:06
I might have misunderstood your criteria for the first list but the Han Empire was interrupted during AD 9-23 when the Xin Dynasty ruled briefly. The last Liu ruling the Western Han Dynasty was gay although he had an empress and was devoted to his male lover (the other Han Dynasty Emperors were bisexual). Leaving no heir, he leaves his lover the imperial seal (signifies the authority of the emperor when stamped on edicts and symbolises you are emperor) on his deathbed. That got his lover killed fast in the ensuing consolidation of power by the next in line to the throne who was young.

Wang Mang had styled himself as a do-gooder official who gained everyones trust and became regent. Soon he overthrew the Han and established the Xin (new) Dynasty. The Liu Royal Family eventually restored the dynasty after some civil war, renewing it for another 200 or so years of rule.

Deank
02-06-15, 18:04
very good information.

Giacomo Pozza
02-06-15, 19:00
Phoenicia didn't really exist, there was a so called common phoenician culture in the mediterranean and there were many different city states.

AlveraMistress
03-03-19, 00:23
I have a slight issue with Japan being uninterrupted till present Since their official name was The Empire of Japan from 1868-1947 I understand Japan is still in their official name today but by the criteria you put out for uninterrupted unless I'm getting something wrong would mean it was Interrupted a long time ago especially since this was a sheer force of power from non domestic powers that ultimately brought this change which grant it doesn't mean It's interrupted by the definition set but the name change does since officially it was changed from "The Empire of Japan" to "Japan" unlike 1871-1949 for Germany when they essentially kept "German Empire" in their name (Excluding The word Greater from 43-45) keep in mind Reich does translate into Empire so with that being said I do think Present should be removed from Japan since it did go through a name change I do apologize if I'm getting something wrong though

Maciamo
26-09-20, 14:26
I have a slight issue with Japan being uninterrupted till present Since their official name was The Empire of Japan from 1868-1947 I understand Japan is still in their official name today but by the criteria you put out for uninterrupted unless I'm getting something wrong would mean it was Interrupted a long time ago especially since this was a sheer force of power from non domestic powers that ultimately brought this change which grant it doesn't mean It's interrupted by the definition set but the name change does since officially it was changed from "The Empire of Japan" to "Japan" unlike 1871-1949 for Germany when they essentially kept "German Empire" in their name (Excluding The word Greater from 43-45) keep in mind Reich does translate into Empire so with that being said I do think Present should be removed from Japan since it did go through a name change I do apologize if I'm getting something wrong though

It is true that Japan has changed forms of governments several times, but it was always a monarchy with an emperor. The real question is whether Tennō (天皇) should really be translated as emperor or not, since Japan as a country does not fit the usual definition of empire. Empires should be vast multicultural entities created through conquest of a state by another. Since Japan always had a Tennō above the daimyos in feudal times, and as the country was ethnically and linguistically unified, it shouldn't be considered an empire. Without an empire, there should be no emperor. In any case the Tennō has a more spiritual than political role and should be regarded more like a sort of pope than an emperor. Perhaps it's time to update history books and change the translation of Tennō to something else than 'emperor'.

Carlos
29-09-20, 15:34
Imperio español
Spanish Empire

The essential and incontrovertible thing is that the Hispanic Monarchy was the longest of the modern empires, they were 333 years - from 1492 to 1824-

The Spanish Empire, Spanish Universal Monarchy, Hispanic Monarchy or Spanish Monarchy was the set of Spanish territories governed by Hispanic dynasties between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries.

After the discovery of America in 1492, Spain explored and conquered large tracts of territory in America, from the current southwestern United States, Mexico and the Caribbean, to Central America, most of South America, and the northwestern coast of North America (present-day Alaska and British Columbia). All these territories were integrated into the Crown of Castile and, later, as kingdoms of the Spanish Crown. Initially they were organized into two viceroyalties, that of New Spain and that of Peru. With the discovery and settlement in various Pacific archipelagos in the late sixteenth century, the Spanish East Indies, consisting of the Philippines, the Marianas (which included Guam) and the Carolinas (which included the Palau), were incorporated into the empire under the jurisdiction of New Spain. Later, the Viceroyalty of Peru was divided into two: that of Nueva Granada and that of Peru, and finally that of the Río
de la Plata was created.

https://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Imperio_espa%C3%B1ol


https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/5/55/Spanish_Empire2.png/1280px-Spanish_Empire2.png

Wanderer
29-09-20, 20:32
Summerian empire
circa 4500 BC – 1900 BC

Maciamo
30-09-20, 11:55
Summerian empire
circa 4500 BC – 1900 BC

Not sure you can call a proto-state the size of one third of modern Iraq and "empire".

Wanderer
03-10-20, 04:18
Not sure you can call a proto-state the size of one third of modern Iraq and "empire".

Spartans were even smaller. And repelled the persian invasian.

Why would you call it a proto state?

Maciamo
06-10-20, 10:10
Spartans were even smaller. And repelled the persian invasian.

Why would you call it a proto state?

Sparta was surely not an empire.