Since forever, people have subjugated each other to demand labor or resources. A monarchic or centralized power that subjugates several other peoples is an empire.

Half a dozen European empires expanded into the Americas during the Age of Exploration. With the help of infectious disease, these powers defeated lots of local tribes, and some larger groups. Best known are Spain's conquests of the Aztec empire in Tenochtitlán and the Incan empire in Cuzco.

Did other American empires also fall to the Europeans?

Some specific exclusions as I understand them: the Iroquois Confederacy was an important power but association in it was voluntary. The Taíno and Tupi cultures were widely distributed but had no central government to conquer. The Chimú empire was conquered by the Incas shortly before Europeans arrived.

  • 7
    This question seems to hinge on how you define "empire".
    – Semaphore
    Mar 13 '18 at 5:50
  • The Muisca formed a confederation that is occasionally considered to be one of four advanced pre-Columbian civilizations (the other three being the Aztecs, the Mayans, and the Incas). Mar 13 '18 at 11:26
  • @DenisdeBernardy - As a clarification, I believe they meant to say there were 4 in existence in 1492. Obviously several pre-deceased civilizations like the Olmecs and Toltecs existed as well. I'd encourage expanding that comment into an answer.
    – T.E.D.
    Mar 13 '18 at 13:42
  • @Semaphore I defined it in the second sentence. If you prefer another definition, you can use that one too. Mar 15 '18 at 3:11

The Tarascan State was also a powerful, centralized empire, occupying about 100,000 km2 northwest of the Aztec Empire. They were enemies of the Aztecs, who could never conquer them. They were subdued by /allied to the Spaniards peacefully around 1520 and were more violently subjugated in 1530.

Tarascan State in green

I don't think I remember that since 1500 onwards there were more native political entities in the American continent that were sufficiently centralized so that they could be called "empires".

  • The Pueblo communities in the Rio Grande valley were certainly all associated with each other, but not centrally ruled. They did manage to unite in the Pueblo Revolt and drive the Spanish out of what is now New Mexico for a decade (after being under Spanish rule for more than 100 years).
    – Jon Custer
    Apr 27 '18 at 19:36

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