The Roman Empire: "comparison" maps of "successor" Empires

This page contains maps of three Empires that came after the end of the Roman Empire, which were "successors" in the sense that they contained an Imperial city (Rome or New Rome). I compare them at their height to the Roman Empire at various times. I also include the kingdom of Greece, even though this was not an Empire and did not include New Rome.

> Ottoman Empire in 1606.

The first successor Empire came into being immediately following the end of the Roman Empire in 1453. It was the Ottoman Empire, with Constantinople as its capital. Named after its first ruler, Osman (1280-1324), it grew fairly steadily for three centuries to the early 17th century. It then declined fairly steadily for another three centuries until its end in 1923 when the modern state of Turkey replaced it. Above it is shown at its peak, in 1606, following the successful conclusion of a war with the Hapsburg Empire which extended the Ottomans' hold over Hungary. In the east, however, a war since 1603 with Safavid Persia was going badly, and would lead to the loss of significant territory by 1639.  Its territories here are comparable to that of the Byzantine Empire in 564, under Justinian, shown below. The Byzantine Empire at its peak extended a lot further west, but the Ottoman Empire extended further east, north, and south. The Byzantine Empire lasted almost 900 years after its peak; the Ottoman Empire little more than 300.

< Byzantine Empire in 564.

> Napoleon's Empire in 1812

The second successor Empire was Napoleon's Empire of the French. As the most successful general of the French revolution, Napoleon made himself dictator of France in 1799. In imitation of Classical Rome, he took the title of First Consul. In 1804, he followed the lead of that earlier Emperor of the Franks, Charlemagne, by being crowned Emperor in Rome. Pointedly unlike Charlemagne, however, he took the crown from the Pope and placed it on his own head himself. In 1809 he annexed the Papal States, bringing Rome into his Empire. His Empire reached its height in 1812 as shown above. The stippled areas were mostly ruled by members of Napoleon's family. Of the great powers, only Britain and Russia remained in opposition to him. In 1812 he marched east with an army of half a million men to bring the Czar into line. This campaign was a disaster, and the next year all of Europe rose against him. With his final defeat in 1815, Napoleon's Empire crumbled to nothing. Yet at its height, it was well comparable to Charlemagne's Empire 1000 years before, as shown below.

< Charlemagne's Empire in 812

> Fascist Empire in 1942

The third successor Empire was Mussolini's Fascist Italian Empire (1922-1943). It was named after the Fasces, a bundle of sticks symbolizing authority in the ancient Republic of Rome. Mussolini portrayed himself as the new Julius Caesar, and then the new Augustus. Around the turn of the century the kingdom of Italy had taken Libya and Somalia (south of this map) in Africa. Mussolini's only real success at Empire building was his annexation of Ethiopia (south of this map) in 1936 and Albania in 1939. In the Second World War, Italian forces were at first humbled by the Greek army. The Italians were able to annex (solid) or occupy (stippled) the European territories shown above only with German assistance. Just one year later Italy was invaded by the British and Americans, and Mussolini overthrown.  At its height, the Fascist Italian Empire plus the areas in occupied was comparable to the Republican Roman Empire in 146 BC, when it had just become indisputably the greatest power in the northern Mediterranean. The map for this time, which is not reproduced anywhere else in this site, is shown below.

< Roman Empire in 146 BC

> Greek Kingdom in 1921

The last state shown does not strictly belong, as it was not an Empire, and did not contain New Rome. However, I could not resist showing the Greek Kingdom in 1921. This was after the First World War, when the Ottoman Empire was on the losing side. Its territories south of Anatolia and Armenia had already been lost to British and French forces, and much of its other territories occupied by the Allies (Britain, France, Italy and Greece). In 1920 the Allies decided to recreate a large Armenian state, give Smyrna and its hinterland to Greece, and make Constantinople and the straits an international area. The Ottoman Sultan agreed to these terms, but nationalist Turks refused to accept this further loss of territory. In the ensuing civil war, Greece saw its chance to recreate a Greek state encompassing western Anatolia as well as European Greece. By 1921 Greek forces controlled the area shown above (also including southern Albania, which was occupied 1918-23). With the notable exception of Constantinople, almost all of the area held by the Byzantine Empire before its collapse in 1204  was briefly under Greek control again. (The map below which shows this is not reproduced elsewhere in this site.) But the nationalist Turks under Kemal (later Attaturk) won their civil war, and by 1923 had beaten the Greek army and negotiated the withdrawal of the other Allied forces. Following this, both sides expelled their ethnic minorities, so that western Anatolia became overwhelmingly Turkish for the first time, and the southern Balkans (apart from Istanbul and its hinterland) overwhelmingly Greek. There was to be no Byzantine restoration, and no demographic justification for one in the future.

< Byzantine Empire in 1204

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