The Greatest Medieval Empires

Genghis Khan

Today, it is usually understood that an empire is a geographically extensive group of peoples and states (ethnic groups) combined and ruled either by an emperor, empress, monarchy or an oligarchy. Listed here are five of the greatest empires of the Medieval Era:

  • The Mongol Empire
  • The Umayyad Empire
  • The Rashidun Arab Empire
  • The Ming Dynasty
  • The Tang Dynasty

The Mongol Empire

The Mongol Empire is the largest empire in the history of Asia, the largest empire of the Medieval period and the second largest empire in human history behind the British Empire of modern times. The Mongol Empire consisted of peoples of ethnic groups from various societies who were Ottomans, Bulgars, Khazars, Seljuks, Huns, Azerbaijanis, Uyghur, Kyrgyz, Uzbeks, Timurids, Chinese, and Kazakhs.

Firstly, this great and vast empire was founded by Genghis Khan through the unification of an assortment of Mongolian tribes in 1206 AD. Second, by the acquisitioning of territory from defeating the Jin, Western Xia and Southern Song Chinese Empires and other numerous foes in what is known today as parts of the Middle East, Iraq and parts of Korea, Georgia, Volga Bulgaria, Kievan Rus, and Khwarizmia; This enormous empire ruled with terror for about half a century before bloodletting lessened. And through Kublia Khan, the Mongolian Empire was vaster than ever. The Europeans heard about the Mongols and respected them immeasurably due to the Mongolian fearsome reputation. This was another reason why the Mongols started to become more diplomatic than barbaric marauding lunatics. Bloodletting was no longer needed, at the moment.

In spite of their massive destructive nature, the Mongol Empire was one of the leaders in technological and economical advancement. In addition to that, the Mongol Empire had some of the best generals, had one of the finest cavalries and also saw hundreds of years of good rule. That of course was until it became fragmentized into different khanate empires. In – family feuds would became frequent and took its toll eventually. And at the beginning of the 15th century, what was once the great Mongol Empire was finally in pieces. The powerhouses China under Ming rule and the Islamic Empires from the west would finish off what was once the hugest Asian empire in human history.

The Umayyad Arab Empire

The Umayyad Arab Empire which existed from 660 – 750 AD was the first dynasty of the first Arab Caliphate. The Umayyads were said to be related kinship to the prophet Muhammad, and thus Muslims who were Shia would follow them. It was also the largest Muslim Empire in the medieval period. This empire was ruled by a Muslim named Umayya ibn Abd Shams.

The Rashidun Arab Empire

The Rashidun Arab Empire was the second large Islamic Empire after the Umayyad Arab Empire. It was created by the first regarded Sunni Muslim named Abu Bakr (who was the life long friend of the prophet Muhammad). During and after his time as a Rashidun Caliphate, Islamic thought started to branch elsewhere into Africa, Syria, and further places. It was said that the Rashidun Empire reached its height under Caliphate (or Caliph) Uthman in 654 AD.

The Ming Dynasty

Following the collapse of the Mongol Empire’s Yuan Dynasty, the Ming Dynasty took full advantage in 1368 AD. It was also the last ethnic majority groups known as the Han to rule China as a dynasty. Under the Ming dynasty, there stood an army of 1,000,000 soldiers. The navy was one of the best in the region and was commanded by one of its best Muslim admirals Zheng He. The fall of the mighty Ming Empire occurred due to worldly events in Europe and socio/economical events in China. Not to mention poor governorship in the face of weather calamities. It was overtaken by the Manchu Dynasty.

The Tang Dynasty

The Tang Dynasty appeared at a point in time regarded as one of China’s finest. China’s capital of Chang’an was the most populous city in the world and called one of the finest of cities. During this time, trade was well and the empire saw renewed urbanization thanks to the Grand Canal built during the previous Sui Dynasty (among its many urban and political improvements). The Tang putting down the Huang Chao Rebellion (874 – 884) would never fully recover. That got started with the An Shi Rebellion by the Turkish – Sogdian general An Lushan.


  1. Wall Bingham, Marjorie, An Age of Empires, 1200-1750 (The Medieval and Early Modern World) [Hardcover]. Oxford University Press, USA (August 25, 2005). ISBN-10: 0195178394