Throughout time, the term Empire has been one to describe great power and wealth. It describes a bringing together of people from one race, culture, or area of the world. It also deploys people under a power so overcoming that millions become part of an idealistic society. There have been some empires built on conquest and others on creativity. Athens, Persia, and the Chou in China are three empires in history that have made a tremendous impact on the world. Through their examples much has been learned to understand the concept of Empire. Take a trip through time and experience what an empire is all about.
Empires are hard to assemble, create, and organize. That is why understanding some of the characteristics behind empires and how they originated is important. First off, many empires were secured by powerful military forces, effective bureaucracies, and diplomatic alliances that often included the exchange of hostages and arranged marriages between ruling families. In the rise of the Persian Empire for example, they achieved a swift particular rise to power by not only freeing themselves from Median authority but by conquering their former masters and annexing their territory. Also the Chou in China started by overthrowing the Shang Dynasty and setting up their own rule. They than issued a serious of proclamations to explain to the people why they had overthrown the Shang and why the people should submit to their rule. Appealing to the mandate of heaven, they told their new subjects that the last Shang king had forfeited his right to rule by his personal immorality and tyrannical government. These were important steps for the Persians and Chou in obtaining the great empires they created. Some other characteristics that led to the succession of these empires included centralized leadership, an efficiently running government, uniform currencies, standards of weights and measures that simplified tax collection, government finance, and trade; required service from citizens, either as soldiers or laborers; possessing weapons and military technology superior to those of their enemies; uniform legal codes, which the governments enforced; elaborate public works and the patronized learning expressed in literature, art, and philosophy.
Another important step in understanding empires is how they fall. Many theories have been originated to justify why one empire may last longer than another or what leads to ones destruction so quickly. Some of these theories include dynastic succession, bureaucratic corruption, inequitable economic burdens, regional, racial, or ethnic tensions, decline or martial spirit, moral decline, escapist or otherworldly religions, external enemies, and costly technology. As seen with the Athenians in ancient Greece, their biggest downfall was not maintaining a strong enough military. They became good sailors as learned from the ancient Egyptians but with half of their population consisting of slaves and a weak military, defeat for them became inevitable after awhile. Also the Eastern Chou are an excellent example of personal defeat within one s own empire. Their destruction came with a time called the Era of Warring States; during that time 132 states were finally reduced down to one. Looking back, sometime it s hard to understand why some empires lasted as long as they did. Every empire has strong points but weak spots are a part of that also. Although every empire has flaws, the world wouldn t be where it is today without their shortcomings.
It is hard to believe that after so many centuries of wars and land-grabbing that empires were as successful as they were. With slaves, technology, and constant fighting many great empires were built but at the same time lost. Athens, Persia, and the Chou in China are great examples of empires and what they stand for. They helped pave the way for future empires and laid a foundation that present society will never forget. By their examples and past mistakes, may the world continue to flourish and build empires that will last for centuries to come.