Say the USA has been the worlds most dominant power for 75 years. Before that one could argue the British Empire during the Victorian era, approx 1810 to 1915, was the world dominant power. Other dominent hegemons I can think of are the Spanish empire from 1500 to 1700, the Roman Empire, the Persian Empire. What country/empire has been a world hegemon for the longest solid period of time?

I know deciding world power is much more difficult in ancient times. Hegemon one who economically \ militarily \ politically dominates all they encounter in their region.

  • 3
    I would say that the Brits went from 1810 to 1945, not 1915. – SMS von der Tann Apr 3 '16 at 12:08
  • 1
    This question makes no sense. No power was ever a "world dominant" or "world hegemon". The Roman and Persian empires just did not know about much of the rest of the world. Same applies to the Arab Chalifate and various empires in China. British empire was large and powerful but it never "dominated the world". – Alex Apr 3 '16 at 17:48
  • 2
    The question makes perfect sense @Alex. "Which power retained global primacy for the longest time?" It's entirely valid. – Anaryl Apr 3 '16 at 23:37
  • Then it has to be reworded. You already replaced "dominance" to "primacy", now I recommend to replace "global" to "regional" so that China and the Chalifate qualify. – Alex Apr 4 '16 at 13:07
  • 1
    There has never been a worldwide hegemonal power, from prehistory through until present. – CGCampbell Apr 5 '16 at 2:43

Well for starters, the United States has not been the world's "most dominant" power for 75 years. It was in competition with the USSR after the Second World War. There's an argument that the U.S might have been the stronger of the two powers, but it certainly did not "dominate" - which was pretty the basis for Cold War competition between the two powers.

What was naively referred to as "the end of history" or a period of global U.S primacy really only stretched from 1991 to 2007. (The dissolution of the Soviet Union to the Lehman's brother collapse).

This depends on how far we are willing to stretch the definitions. We could say Rome was the longest surviving "world" power. But in reality the Roman Empire went through a few incarnations, and by today's standards was really only a regional hegemon. It never truly possessed what could be described as a 'world power' status. I mean, the Romans never even kept a foothold above the Rhine. There were other Empires in existence that the Romans didn't really have much awareness of such as China, whom it could never hope to dominate.

The only real candidate here is the British Empire during the period mentioned. But then, we run into semantic difficulties with the term "dominate". The British Empire was powerful militarily, but it used its economic power rather than its military to protect its vital interests. The British still had a number of near peer competitors militarily, and it was not able to unilaterally impose its will on other nations through the use of either lever (see the Crimean War).

So I would say the British Empire, but it's murky.

| improve this answer | |
  • 1
    Why the Lehman Brothers collapse - an event that few people other than economists (and not all of them) either know or care about - as marking the end of "the end of history"? I think a better date would be 9/11, as marking the resurgence of Islamic jihad. – jamesqf Apr 3 '16 at 6:12
  • 3
    I would say that whilst "a few" is an understatement; nearly everybody on the planet is familiar with the consequences of that event. At 9/11 the U.S still possessed all of its husbanded military and economic might. By 2007 the military and diplomatic might had been squandered in an Iraqi quagmire and the economic strength in the subprime housing crisis. – Anaryl Apr 3 '16 at 7:42
  • You could also argue the mess in Iraq and failure in Afghanistan showed the limits of American power. I tend to point to this, rather than Lehman or 9/11 directly as the end of American hegemon. – sksamuel Apr 4 '16 at 1:08
  • Sure, but it took time for those particular messes to evolve - and if we examine the timelines - 2007 is the year which truly demonstrated it - the American surge in Iraq (which was supposed to pacify the country but really marked a handover - an echo of "Vietnamisation") and the resurgence of the Taliban in Southern Afghanistan. Lehman Bros wasn't the only reason I chose 2007 ;) – Anaryl Apr 4 '16 at 10:10
  • @Anaryl: Strange, as I'm not familiar with consequences of Lehman Brothers collapse, though I consider myself fairly well-read. Just the opposite, in fact: it was just one of many consequences of a normal (though severe) downturn in the economic cycle. I also disagree with your military analysis, though there's no room to discuss it. Basically, 9/11 marked the point at which it became obvious (at least to some :-)) that jihad had become a world problem on the lines of communism, thereby marking the resumption of history. – jamesqf Apr 4 '16 at 18:23

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.