I have no idea. So I decided to ask.My motivation is that it would be an interesting juxtaposition of violence and non violence.

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    What makes you think there has ever been an empire that didn't have capital punishment? Perhaps you could edit your question to share where you have already searched and what that research has shown you so far? SE sites work best if the questions are supported by preliminary research – sempaiscuba Oct 25 '19 at 17:01
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    Yeah, I'd have to think the Venn Diagram of good candidates for "Biggest Empire" and political Units that had capital punishment is pretty much going to just be a circle. – T.E.D. Oct 25 '19 at 17:36
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    What does Wikipedia say? Cursory read suggests that capital punishment is universal until the mid 19th century at least. It also lists the countries that have abolished capital punishment; whether they are Empires is an opinion, but at first glance the answer is the null set. – Mark C. Wallace Oct 25 '19 at 17:49
  • Could you edit your question to clarify what you've looked into already, complete with links and references, and context if applicable? In particular, please let us know what you find missing or unclear about the Wikipedia entry on the topic, if one exists. This allows those who might want to answer to do so without needing to redo the work you've already done. You might find it helpful to review the site tour and Help Centre and, in particular, How to Ask – Mark C. Wallace Oct 25 '19 at 17:53
  • How would ancient peoples have no capital punishment with no personal IDs (Joe kills Doe, runs away to the next province, and changes his name), organized investigative police (possible in large scale with no modern tech to investigate?), an extensive prison system (not cheap), and a judiciary ? Moreover, life was not as anti-septic as today. A robber stabs superficially a man, today it would be nothing. The would infects and the man dies after one month of suffering, the whole village sees it (not nice). And then you just jail the robber for a few years? Would this be justice? – Luiz Oct 25 '19 at 19:31

It is hard to answer your question.

Are you asking about the biggest empire that never ever had capital punishment during its entire existence as an empire? The problem with that would be defining what counts as an empire and also in some cases defining how long an empire lasted.

It seems to me that the longer an empire lased, the more likely it would be to change whether it had capital punishment. If you question is about an empire which never had capital punishment during its entire duration, then the shorter an empire lasted the better. An empire which lasted for a really short time might have had capital punishment the entire time or might have been without capital punishment the entire time. So short lasting empires would be a logical group of candidates to search for empires without capital punishment for their entire duration.

Here is a link to a thread about various empires or states that are often classified - accurately or not - as empires and which lasted for short periods of time.


In post number one I list 18 empires and "empires" which lasted for no more than 27 years.

Several other empires and "empires" were suggested, and in post number twelve on page two I gave a revised list of 20 empires and "empires" that lasted between 27 years and 12 days.

In most number thirteen I list 21 empires and "empires" that lasted between 27 years and 12 days in my final list.

So perhaps a study of the laws of those 21 empires and "empires" might find one or more without the death penalty. if any of them were without the death penalty (which I doubt) the largest of them would be the largest empire without the death penalty. Unless some larger empire lasted for more than 27 years without the death penalty, which I doubt.

But if you are asking for the largest empire which ever abolished the death penalty, even if that empire later restored the death penalty, then you have some luck.

According to Wikipedia's List of Largest Empires by land area at their greatest extent, number 22 on the list is the Tang Empire, the empire of the Tang Dynasty, at its greatest extend in AD 669 or 715. In those eras the Tang Dynasty ruled 5,400,000 to 10,760,000 square kilometers or 2,080,000 to 4,150,000 square miles.


Emperor Xuanzong (reigned 712-756) abolished the death penalty in China in 747, but it was reinstated in 759 due to the bloody An Lushan Rebellion that killed millions in 755-763.


The size of the eastern section of the Roman Empire, the so called "Byzantine" Empire, fluctuated greatly over time. After the defeat at Manzikert in 1071, the Empire lost a lot of land to invaders. In 1097 the size of the Empire was about 555,000 square kilometers, but by 1143 it had regained much lost territory and was up to 950,000 square kilometers.


This increase of about 1.7117 times in the size of the Empire in only 46 years was due to the leaderships of the Emperors Alexios I Komnenos (reigned 1081-1118) and John II Komnenos (reigned 1118-1143).

Emperor John II Komnenos (r. 1118-1143) fought many wars in which many thousands of people were killed, but he was said to have never executed or mutilated any Roman subjects as legal punishment during his 25 year reign.

Present day Japan has an area of 377,973 square kilometers or 145,936 square miles. Medieval Japan didn't include the island of Hokkaido with an area of 83,423.84 square kilometers or 32,210.12 square miles, so Medieval Japan would have had an area of 294,549.16 square kilometers or 113,725.88 square miles, or less.

The death penalty was abolished or suspended in Medieval Japan for over 300 years from some time in the 9th century until the Hogan Rebellion in 1156.


(added 10-26-19.

The oldest country I know which abolished the death penalty was Magadha under the Gupta Dynasty (at latest under Chandragupta II who reigned from 375 - 413/415). The Chinese monk Faxian (he traveled from 399 - 412) mentions that even high treason was only punished by cuting the right hand.

Post number 58 on page 6 of: https://historum.com/threads/which-was-the-first-country-to-abolish-the-death-penalty.124922/page-66)


These are the only examples I know of where states which might be classified as empires abolished or suspended the death penalty, and none of them did so for their entire existence.

See also:


I think that the OP is incorrect in supposing that an empire without the death penalty would combine violence and nonviolence any more than a nation or other non empire without the death penalty would. That supposes that empires are more violent than non empires, and that seems to be without proof.

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