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

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 750–1258
Fatimid Caliphate 909–1171
Ghaznavid Empire 10th c.


Ayyubid Sultanate 1171–1246
Great Seljuk Empire, Sultanate of Rûm 1040–1154 [3]
Mamluk Sultanate of Egypt 1250–1380
Ilkhanate/Timurid Empire 1250s–1526 [4]

Christian states

Eastern Christianity

Name Duration Notes and references
Roman Empire 4th.–12th c. The Eastern Roman/Byzantine 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

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

Medieval China

Name Duration Notes and references
Sui dynasty 581–618
Tang dynasty 7th–9th c.
Song dynasty 990s–1080s
Ming dynasty 1370s–1550s
Yuan dynasty 1271–1368

Medieval Korea

Name Duration Notes and references
Silla 57 BCE–935 Unified Silla 668–935
Goryeo 918–1392

Inner Asia and Mongolia

Name Duration Notes and references
Göktürk Turkic Khaganate 7th/8th c.
Uyghur Khaganate 8th c.
Mongol Empire 1206–1260s The Mongol Empire was the largest contiguous empire in the history of the world.

Sub-Saharan Africa

Name Duration Notes and references
Kingdom of Nri 948–1911
Ghana Empire 10th c.?
Kingdom of Zimbabwe 1220–1450
Mali Empire 1300–1450
Songhai Empire 15th/16th c.

South and Southeast Asia

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.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  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
  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.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • 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).