List of medieval great powers

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 Caliphate632–661
Umayyad Caliphate661–750
Abbasid Caliphate750–1518
Fatimid Caliphate909–1171
Ghaznavid Empire10th c.


Great Seljuk Empire1037–1194[3]
Ayyubid Sultanate1171–1250
Mamluk Sultanate of Egypt1250–1518
Timurid Empire1370–1507[4]

Christian states

Eastern Christianity

Name Duration Notes and references
Byzantine Empire4th.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 Empire10th c.[5]
Serbian Empire14th c.
Kievan Rus'882-1240
Grand Duchy of Moscow13th–16th c.
Ethiopian Empire12th–16th c.

Latin Christianity

Name Duration Notes and references
Frankish Empire/Carolingian Empire8th/9th c.
North Sea Empire11th c.
Kingdom of Germany/Holy Roman Empire10th-16th c.
Kingdom of Hungary10th-13th c.
Kingdom of Jerusalem/Crusader states12th c.
Kingdom of France12th-16th c.
Angevin Empire/Kingdom of England12th-16th c.
Republic of Genoa1099–1380
Republic of Venice1204–1489
Crown of Castile1230–1480
Crown of Aragon1340s – 1480s
Papal States14th/15th c.
Kalmar Union1397–1523
Kingdom of Sicily1130–1816
Kingdom of Portugal12th–17th c.

Medieval China

Name Duration Notes and references
Sui dynasty581–618
Tang dynasty7th–9th c.
Song dynasty990s–1080s
Yuan dynasty1271–1368
Ming dynasty1370s–1550s

Inner Asia and Mongolia

Name Duration Notes and references
Göktürk Turkic Khaganate7th/8th c.
Uyghur Khaganate8th c.
Mongol Empire1206–1368The Mongol Empire was the largest contiguous empire in the history of the world.

Sub-Saharan Africa

Name Duration Notes and references
Ghana Empire700-1240
Kanem-Bornu Empire700–1380
Mali Empire1300–1450
Kongo Empire1390–1857
Songhai Empire15th/16th c.

South and Southeast Asia

Name Duration Notes and references
Chola Dynasty300-1279
Chalukya Empire543-753
Srivijaya Empire650-1377
Pala Empire750-1174
Rashtrakuta Empire753-982
Khmer Empire802-1431
Delhi Sultanate1192-1506
Majapahit Empire1293-1527
Bengal Sultanate1352-1576

Pre-Columbian Americas

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.
  • 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).
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