Alex Dolphin former Election Officer (2008-2016)
Perhaps the larger they are the harder they fall.
The most powerful empires existed in the twentieth century and the reason isn’t due to expanse or wealth though that is a part of it.
These two empires had one thing no other power has ever had.
The power to destroy every single life on this planet:
The USSR and the United States both wielded more power than any other empire in the history of humankind, they could destroy the world several times over and that gave this nations power on a global scale.
Both empires had significant sway from their military and nuclear might.
Now we obviously know which power fell first:
The USSR no longer exists and has now become the Russian Republic.
They are still powerful, but no longer an empire.
However, the second power in this equation is already on a fall from grace.
The US once commanded the ear of the world, it commanded respect and the US economy was something to behold.
But now America is number one at these lovely things:
* People behind bars
* Military Spending despite having no declarations of war.
* Healthcare cost
* Energy use per person (climate change doesn’t exist right?)
* Anxiety disorders
* Most expensive place to have a baby
* Number of adults who believe angels are real
The US no longer commands respect and is no longer the Beacon on the Hill it once was, the empire is crumbling and that was before electing a reality TV star as President.
Oddly enough that same year the US lost its status as a full democracy and is now a flawed one and has never been the most free nation based on indexes.
Then the US goes and elects the Republican Party which is the only major political entity that does not believe in the reality that climate change could kill millions and they threaten the entire human race with their policies.
The US is currently the only nation to deny this so much so it is the only nation not in the Paris Climate Accord:
The US has lost its respect on the global stage and currently nations are circling politicians like vultures getting ready to pick the carcass… Russia is meddling in our elections, China controls a vast amount of America’s wealth, Saudi Arabia just straight up bribes the President and Israel…
Not only that but Netanyahu can bypass the President and talk straight to Congress imagine if any other world leader tried that.
The rest of the world just shakes their head when looking at the US, it is either a puppet to play with or a nation to be pitied. We just happen to have a huge military and some nukes.
Strength is not just measured in raw power, but also in character, respect, and intelligence…
The US lacks three of those.
So what country once was powerful but now is weak?
While the Vatican today may be the world’s smallest country with limited power in the UN, back in its heyday as the Papal States, most of Europe’s kings had to submit to its authority.
The Papal States were centered in Rome with the Pope as its leader.
What made the Papal States so powerful was that in medieval Europe the Catholic Church and their practices were an integral part of everyday life for the kingdoms that followed the Roman Catholic faith.
Aspects such as literature, art, and even time was in the power of the Church.
Everyone from the poorest of peasants to the richest of kings paid the Tithes, a tax that was one tenth of annual produce or earnings, for the support of the church and clergy.
All Catholic Kings had to submit to the Pope, or be excommunicated.
Being excommunicated from the church meant you were cut off from society. You could not in church, participate in marriages, be buried (or have other family members buried) in the graveyard, or participate in the numerous Christian feasts and festivals scattered throughout the year, and so forth.
To be excommunicated was to be a pariah. This was probably as dire threat as any spiritual ones.
Not to mention that the Pope had the power to call Crusades, not just to take the Holy Land, but also against Pagans and so -called Heretics as well.
What made the Pope, and the Papal States to decline was from many factors.
First, as the Black Death killed 1/3 of Europe’s population with the Church being unable to stop it, doubt began to be sowed in the common people.
Second, as increasingly corrupt officials were able to bribe their way into the papacy, to the point of Pope Alexander VI having orgies in the Vatican itself, the reputation as God’s messenger began to fade.
Third, with the Protestant Reformation splitting the Catholic world into two, the power of the papacy had diminished.
Lastly, as the Enlightenment began, and more liberal governments came to Europe and elsewhere, a separation of Church and State came with free thinking and new developments in Science taking over religion’s legitimacy in how the world worked.
So after all these events, when Italy was finally unified in 1870 with the capture of Rome, all that was left of the Papal States was the Vatican City.
Today, the Vatican is the world’s smallest nation with a population of 800, with only 450 having citizenship.
Even though the Vatican is a fully recognized country, it has limited power in the UN as an observer state.
So while the Pope may be an influential figure today, he doesn't compare with the power of Popes of the Middle Ages.
The 4 most powerful nations in the past but no longer are anymore
1 - The British Empire
The British Empire was a massive multi-continental Empire that stretched from Canada to New Zealand, had the second largest population (China was still #1).
Over time it didn’t lose territories, they gradually increased their expansion of territories worldwide especially India and Africa, but after World War II most of them were given independence due to decolonization efforts by the UN.
Nowadays the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is still a force to not be reckon with as it has a permanent seat in the Security Council which is nice way to say it’s still a formidable power.
2 - The Spanish Empire
The Spanish Empire was one of the first Global Empires in history that reached from Spain to the Philippines, it lost territories during the 1600s to 1800s (losing Naples, Sicily and their Holy Roman Territories that were given to Austria and Savoy).
Now then in the 1800s they pretty much lost almost their entire American Colonies due to Latin Wars of Independence, a famous example is the Mexican War of Independence during the 1810s.
Now then they fully lost their Asian and American colonies in the Spanish-American War (they sold their East Indies Islands to Germany in 1899 Purchase).
3 - The Ottoman Empire (Turkish Empire)
The Ottoman Empire was a large Muslim Empire that stretched to the ends of Mesopotamia to the far west of Algeria. They were a powerful state during the 1400s to 1700s till they gradually started to decline like the Spanish.
They were very powerful back in the past due to their standing armies and elite Janissary units that made the Ottoman Army look fearsome, they defeated numerous Christian Nations like the Byzantine Empire, Kingdom of Hungary and Principality of Wallachia, majority of them were annexed by the Ottomans, some of the few were made as vassals like Wallachia.
Then in 1900s they were defeated by the Entente (Allied) powers which tried to partition Turkey after defeating them, but this man named Ataturk would not let that happen and has founded Modern Day, Republic of Turkey.
Rui Zhang I have researched history for 20 years.
The Greeks today are no longer descendants of the Greeks of the classical era. Greece is deeply mired in the European debt crisis, cultural faults have emerged, and it no longer produces great philosophers, artists, and politicians. It is no longer a regional power.
Britain was the first industrialized country in the world. It first completed the industrial revolution and its national strength grew rapidly. From the 18th century to the early 20th century, the territory under British rule spanned seven continents around the world. It was the most powerful country in the world at that time, known as the "Sunless Empire". At its peak, the ruling area reached about 34 million square kilometers, accounting for about a quarter of the earth's land. It has dominated the world order for a century.
Although Britain achieved victory in both world wars, its national strength was severely damaged. However, as Canada, India, Australia, South Africa, etc. have successively achieved the status of dominion, the British Empire is no longer glorious and gradually transformed into the British Commonwealth, but the British Commonwealth has limited binding power. Britain is now just the 240,000 square kilometer site on the British Isles.By the disintegration of the British Empire in the second half of the 20th century, the status of the capitalist world hegemony was replaced by the United States. From the non-sunset empire to the return to the island country, the British actual control area lost about 99%.
Austria was one of the European powers from the beginning of the Middle Ages to the end of World War I, and it was the seat of the Habsburg dynasty that ruled Central Europe for 650 years. Vienna, the capital of Austria, is a destination that many "entertainment" people yearn for-because there is a golden hall where they can stand out. Austria not only has golden Vienna, but also the cruelty of imperialism. At that time, Austria was a member of the Eight-Power Allied Forces invading China, one of the world's eight great powers, the master of the Holy Roman Empire, and the spokesperson of continental Europe.
But after two world wars, Austrian territories suffered heavy losses. The Austrian empire changed from a nominally European emperor to a small landlocked country that retained only the capital Vienna and surrounding states. In total, Austria has lost more than 80% of its territory.
The founder of Turkey was Ottoman, so it was also called the Ottoman Empire in the 17th century. At its heyday, the forces reached three continents in Asia, Europe and Africa, and they occupied most of the territories of southeastern Europe and the Balkan Peninsula, and north of Hungary and Slovenia. Turkey was an important power in the Mediterranean region from the 15th to the 19th centuries, and in the 16th to 17th centuries, Spain, France, and Austria were among the strongest countries in the region.
However, this glory is hard to last. Turkey lost to the Allies in World War I and the country split.
Mexico is one of the centers of ancient civilizations of Indians on the American continent. The world-famous Mayan culture, Toltec culture, and Aztec culture are all created by ancient Indians in Mexico. The Pyramid of the Sun and the Pyramid of the Moon, built in the north of Mexico City in BC, are representative of this splendid ancient culture. The ancient city of Teotihuacan, where the Sun Pyramid and the Moon Pyramid are located, was declared a common heritage of mankind by UNESCO. After the American Independence Movement, Mexico was a well-deserved power in the Western Hemisphere, even larger than the United States. But all this came to an abrupt halt after the westward expansion of the United States. The US-Mexico war was the beginning of all this bad luck. The war was fought from 1846 to 1848. The cause of the war stemmed from a few things. The main cause were political tensions regarding the independence of the Republic of Texas (now the state of Texas), Mexico’s unwillingness to accept Texas’s sovereignty, and U.S President Polk’s expansionist policies.
At the end of the war with Mexico, the United States gained large areas that would eventually become California, Arizona, and other large territories to the north of modern-day Mexico, totaling millions of square kilometers. Texas would become the 28th state, and in total, Mexico would lose about 50% of its territory. From the great power of North America, it has retreated to the narrow strip at the southern end of this America.
The ancestors of the Germans were Germans who lived in Central Europe in ancient times. In the 10th century, the Germans established the Holy Roman Empire. The rise of Prussia in the early 18th century, the formation of the German Confederation according to the Vienna Conference in 1815, revolutions broke out in Germany in 1848, Prussian Prime Minister Bismarck led the arduous military and diplomatic struggle, Prussia defeated Austria in the "seven-week war" in 1866 The North German Federation was established the following year, and a unified German Empire was established in 1871. Germany completed the unification with Prussia as the main body. The Germans were also militants, provoking the First World War in 1914, and declared collapse in 1918 due to defeat. In February 1919 Germany established the Weimar Republic. Hitler came to power in 1933 to practice dictatorship. Germany launched the Second World War in 1939.
Under the attack of the Allies, Germany defeated and surrendered on May 8, 1945. After two world wars, German territory suffered heavy losses. In the west, the disputed German and French states of Alsace and Palin are given to France; in the north, Schleswig is given to Denmark; in the east, all of Silesia, part of Brandenburg, Danzig Freeport, Ceszin and Potsdam were given to Poland.East Prussia was occupied by the Soviet Union, which is now Russia's enclave-Kaliningrad; In total, Germany lost more than 40% of its territory. From the huge German Empire to a small country in Central Europe.
For a little while, the Netherlands had one of the largest colonial empires in the world. The Dutch East Indies company was nearly a sovereign power in its own right. But then it was defeated by the British people. Now the Netherlands is a small country.
The geographical discovery and colonial pioneers were later replaced by France, Britain and the Netherlands. The economy is medium in size and the colonial empire is disintegrated. Colonies such as Mexico, Chile, Peru, Bolivia, and Argentina are independent.
The ancient Persian empire once crossed three continents in Europe, Asia and Africa. The Parthian Empire once fought for power in the Euphrates, Syria and the Roman Empire. Later, Persia declined and the Arabs rose. Today, Iran is only a regional power, but in the face of the siege of Saudi Arabia, Israel, Turkey, and Syria, it is in jeopardy.
Mirwais Afghan lives in Sydney, Australia
First one that comes to my mind is Afghanistan.
Most people see it now as a, war-torn nation, but this image of Afghanistan wasn’t always the case for much of history
Afghanistan is located right in the centre of the Asian continent, located between such economic giants as the Middle East, China and India, Afghanistan naturally grew to have a very large economy of its own. It was quite literally the economic centre of the world for a milennia or two:
Dylan Owens lives in The United States of America
A lot of people don’t know it, but Spain used to be a global superpower.
They controlled most of what’s now the US, all of Mexico and Central America, and half of South America. They also controlled the Philippines, some of Italy, and a whole slew of little islands. They were also given a small part of Africa at the Berlin Conference.
In the 16th and 17th Century, Spain was the most powerful empire on Earth. Their navy took a hit when the Spanish Armada was defeated trying to take over England, but they were still very powerful. For 200 years the Spanish Empire was the global superpower. Their massive amount of land in the New World made them rich.
They fought the British Empire several times, and even destroyed the largest British fleet ever assembled other than the battle of Normandy.