We have all seen the series on Netflix, but in the day, the Vikings really were a global force to be reckoned with.
To compile a list of the greatest powers of the ages, we had to set some rules. The powers had to be the most successful in mastering the world system of their times. That limits the list to those that competed on the world stage. It rules out some great regional powers—like the Egyptians, the Song Dynasty, Mayans, Incas and the Iroquois nation—that never really pressed their power beyond their own neighborhood.
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Also, the list is limited to recorded history. Archeologists are free to compile their own lists of prehistoric powers.
Further, staying power matters. That kept the likes of Napoleonic France and dominions of Alexander the Great from making this list, even though those regimes left their mark on the world.
Finally, to be fair we made the list is chronological. Trying to compare power across time and world makes no sense, so presenting a ranked roster of all-time all-stars is ultimately arbitrary. Unlike baseball fanatics who relish unending debates over who’s better, Babe Ruth or A-Rod. We are just not going there.
Still, when we get to Number #1 (spoiler alert—Canada), you are going to be surprised why.
Who is #7? Pax Romana. Seriously, who would question Rome’s right to head the list? The republic-turned-empire lasted 500 years and pretty much invented global reach. At its greatest extent, parts of Africa, Europe and the Middle East fell under Rome’s dominion. With a population estimated at upwards of 60 million, Rome was boss of about one-quarter of the world’s population. And talk about strong—it was even able to survive leaders like Caligula and Nero.