How & Where Empires Were Created & The Factors That Influenced Them

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  • 0:01 Types of Empires
  • 1:02 Where Were Empires Created?
  • 1:45 Factors
  • 3:50 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: David Wood

David has taught Honors Physics, AP Physics, IB Physics and general science courses. He has a Masters in Education, and a Bachelors in Physics.

After watching this video, you will be able to describe how empires are often created, and describe the factors that influence them. A short quiz will follow.

How Empires Are Created: Types of Empires

An empire is a multi-national or multi-ethnic state where one culture is politically or militarily dominant over the others. Or in other words, it's where one country or ethnic group takes over the land resources of many others. It's pretty obvious why that's an advantage for the country in charge. But empires are created in a variety of ways.

There are two main types of empire: territorial empires and hegemonic empires. A territorial empire is an empire that is gained through direct military conquest -- an empire taken by direct force. A hegemonic empire, on the other hand, is an empire that is created by exerting influence and coercing other states into doing things. For example, the British Empire used economics to influence the government of India, gradually gaining more and more power until they were effectively in charge. While the British Empire did use military power and force, they were often able to exert just as much influence through coercion.

Where Were Empires Created

There have been many empires over the course of history. Let's look at a few of the most well known ones. The British Empire, at one point, covered all of this land across the world, particularly in the 19th and early 20th century.

Graphic of former British Empire

The Mongol Empire covered all of this land in 1279.]

Graphic of the Mongol Empire

The Roman Empire had control over much of Europe, its biggest extent looking like this.

Graphic of the Roman Empire

The Ottoman Empire was extremely long lasting, and covered this land at one time or another.

Graphic of the Ottoman Empire

And the Chinese Empire, separated into dynasties, covered many different mixes of land, but at one time or another reached this far, during the Qing dynasty in 1759.

Graphic of the Chinese Empire

Factors

Whatever the type of empire, there were many factors that influenced the creation, growth and decline of those empires. Those factors include philosophy, political systems, technology, trade, and military developments.

The desire for more resources, a better standard of living for its people, and the desire for power among its leaders were of course big factors. But so were the philosophies of the people of a country. Maybe it's commonly believed that they are superior to all other ethnic groups, or that there is glory in war. These factors make it more likely that an empire will be created. But sometimes empires were created as a direct result of mutual conflict. If two neighbors have different political systems or beliefs, that can make the conquest of one by the other all the more likely.

Political systems are also a factor in the creation of empires. A country with a single, dictatorial ruler is much more likely to create an empire, because that leader has the ability to make quick decisions, and doesn't have to be checked by anyone else. A single leader with a desire for power is more than enough to spark an expansion.

Technology, trade and military developments are also factors. Military developments can be a factor in territorial empires, because it allows the domination of one country with greater military strength over others with lesser military strength. But all three can be factors in hegemonic empires, because greater technology, trading leverage and military power can be a huge bargaining chip that can be used in coercive ways, allowing countries to exert control over others.

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