A Timeline of World Empires

By Tim Lambert

Empires in the Ancient World

C. 2,350-2,150 BC The Akkadian Empire exists in what is now Iraq

C. 1,600 BC The Hittite empire arises in what is now Turkey

C. 1,200 BC The Hittite Empire in Turkey collapses

C. 880 BC The Assyrians of Northern Iraq begin to create a great empire

C. 750 BC Rome is founded

The Assyrian Empire is at its peak

An Assyrian relief

620s BC The Assyrian Empire is split by civil war

612 BC A rebellion led by Babylon brings the Assyrian Empire to an end. The Babylonians then create their own empire.

559-529 BC Cyrus the Great founder of the Persian Empire reigns

546 BC Cyrus conquers Lydia in Asia Minor

539 BC Babylon is captured by the Persians

525 BC The Persians conquer Egypt

490 BC The Greeks defeat the Persians at the Battle of Marathon

480 BC The Greeks defeat another Persian invasion

C. 480 BC The Phoenicians found Carthage in Tunisia

391 BC The Romans defeat the Etruscans

322 BC In India the Mauryan Empire is founded

338 BC Philip of Macedon conquers Greece

334 BC Alexander the Great invades the Persian Empire

333 BC Alexander wins the Battle of Issus

332 BC Alexander conquers Egypt

330 BC Alexander controls all of the former Persian Empire

323 BC Alexander dies and his generals split his empire between them

247 BC The Parthian Empire is founded in Persia

273-236 BC The great Indian Emperor Asoka lives

264-241 BC The First Punic War is fought between Rome and Carthage (on the North African coast). Rome wins and gains Sicily.

218-201 BC

The Second Punic War is fought. The great Carthaginian general Hannibal leads an expedition through Spain over the Alps against Rome but he fails to capture the city.

202 BC The Romans defeat the Carthaginians in at the battle of Zama in North Africa

185 BC The Mauryan Empire in India ends

149-146 BC The Third Punic War is fought between Rome and Carthage. Rome destroys Carthage.

111 BC China conquers northern Vietnam

58-51 BC Julius Caesar conquers Gaul (France)

30 BC Egypt becomes a province of the Roman Empire

98-117 AD Trajan is Emperor of Rome. The Roman Empire reaches its peak.

A Roman soldier
Roman soldier

224 AD In Persia a member of the Sassanid family kills the last Parthian king and founds the Sassanid Empire

C. 300 The Ghana Empire arises in Western Africa

C. 320 In India the Gupta Empire begins

395 The Roman Empire permanently splits into two parts, East and West

407 Germanic tribes overrun Gaul (France)

410 The Goths capture Rome

455 AD The Vandals capture Rome

476 AD The Western Roman Empire ends completely

Empires in the Middle Ages

527-565 Justinian rules the Byzantine Empire (the Eastern Roman Empire)

c 550 The Gupta Empire in India ends

642 The Arabs conquer Egypt. They begin the conquest of Persia.

651 The Sassanid Empire in Persia ends

698 The Arabs conquer Carthage in Tunisia

711 The Moors invade Spain

732 The Franks defeat the Moors at the Battle of Tours in France

800 Charlemagne is crowned Emperor. He rules a great empire including France, Germany, and North Italy.

802 The Khmer Empire is founded in Cambodia. The Empire rules most of mainland Southeast Asia from the 9th century to the 15th century.

814 In Europe, Charlemagne dies. After his death, his empire splits up.

938 Chinese rule over northern Vietnam ends

976 The Great Byzantine Emperor Basil II rules. He strengthens the Byzantine Empire.

1055 The Seljuk Turks, a people from Central Asia take Baghdad

1071 The Seljuk Turks defeat the Byzantine Empire at the Battle of Manzikert

1076 The Seljuk Turks take Damascus and Jerusalem

1099 The Crusaders capture Jerusalem

C. 1100 In Africa the Ghana Empire comes to an end

1187 Saladin captures Jerusalem

1206 Genghis Khan unites the Mongols and begins to build a huge empire

1211 The Mongols invade Northern China

1215 The Mongols capture Beijing

1221 The Mongols attack Delhi

1227 Genghis Khan dies

C. 1230 The Mali Empire arises in western Africa

1236 The Mongols invade Russia

1240 The Mongols capture Kyiv

1241 The Mongols invade Poland and Hungary but they retreat after the death of Ogedei, Genghis Khan’s son

1258 The Mongols capture Baghdad

1260 The Mongols fail to capture Egypt

1270 The Ethiopian Empire is founded

1279 The Mongols capture Southern China

1281 A Mongol invasion of Japan fails

C. 1325 The Aztecs found their capital at Tenochtitlan

1368 The Mongols are driven out of Beijing


Tamerlane king of Samarkand builds up a great empire in Asia. He conquers Herat in 1381 and destroys Delhi in 1398. In 1401 he takes Baghdad and in 1402 he defeats the Ottoman Empire in Turkey.

1431 The Khmer Empire in Southeast Asia ends

1453 The Ottoman Turks capture Constantinople and bring the Byzantine Empire to an end

1464 The Songhai Empire arises in Western Africa

Empires in the Modern World

1501 The Safavid Empire, based in Persia begins. It eventually rules a large part of Western Asia.

1517 The Ottoman Turks conquer Egypt

1521 Cortes conquers the Aztecs in Mexico

1522 The Ottoman Turks capture Belgrade

1526 In India Babur founds the Mughal Empire

1530 The Portuguese settle in Brazil

1533 Pizarro conquers the Incas

1541 The Turks conquer Hungary

1556-1605 In India Akbar the Great rules over the Mogul Empire

1565 The Turks fail to capture Malta

1568 The Dutch rebel against Spanish rule

1571 The Turkish fleet is badly defeated by Spanish and Venetian ships at the Battle of Lepanto

1587 The Mogul Emperor Akbar takes Kashmir

1591 In Africa the Songhai Empire ends

1592 In India Akbar the Great conquers Sind

1600 In Africa the Mali Empire comes to an end

1607 The English found Jamestown, Virginia the first permanent English colony in North America

1626 The Dutch found New Amsterdam, which later becomes New York

1627-1658 Shah Jahan, Mughal Emperor expands his empire

1648 Spain recognizes Dutch independence

1652 The Dutch found a colony in South Africa

1655 England takes Jamaica from Spain

1664 The English capture New Amsterdam, which is renamed New York

1683 The Ottoman Turks besiege Vienna but fail to capture the city

1687 The Austrians defeat the Turks at the Battle of Mohacs. The Turkish Ottoman Empire begins a long, slow decline.

C 1690 In India the Mogul Empire is at its height

1707 The Mogul Empire in India begins to break down

1722 The Safavid Empire, based in Persia falls

1733 Georgia, the last of the original 13 North American colonies is founded

1757 The British defeat the French at Plassey in India ensuring that India will become a British colony

1759 The British defeat the French at Quebec ensuring Canada becomes British

1772 Russia, Prussia, and Austria help themselves to a slice of Polish territory each

1775-1783 The American War of Independence is fought

1788 The first settlers arrive in Australia from Britain

1793 Russia and Prussia help themselves to more Polish territory

1795 Russia, Prussia, and Austria divide up is left of Poland between them

1799 Napoleon Bonaparte seizes power in France

The Emperor Napoleon

1806 The British take over the Dutch colony of South Africa

1813 Napoleon is defeated at Leipzig

1814 Napoleon abdicates

1815 Napoleon escapes from exile and becomes emperor of France again but he is defeated at Waterloo

1816 Argentina becomes independent

1818 Chile becomes independent

1818 Shaka founds the Zulu Empire in southern Africa

1821 Mexico, Peru, and Guatemala become independent

1825 Bolivia becomes independent

1828 In Africa Shaka, the Zulu emperor is murdered

1829 Following 7 years of fighting Greece becomes independent of Turkey

1830 The French invade Algeria. Over the following years, the French build up an empire in North Africa

1840 Britain annexes, New Zealand

1867 Canada becomes a dominion

1881 Tunisia becomes a French protectorate

1882 The British army occupies Egypt and Sudan

1884 The Germans take Namibia, Tanzania, Togo, and Cameroon

1885 Italy takes Eritrea, and Britain takes Botswana. Belgium takes the Congo.

1886 Kenya becomes a British colony

1888-89 The British take control of Rhodesia (Zimbabwe)

1894 The British take Uganda

1898 War between the USA and Spain takes place. The USA takes the Philippines.

1901 The Australian colonies are united to form the Commonwealth of Australia

1903 Panama becomes independent

1907 New Zealand becomes a dominion

1908 Bulgaria becomes independent of Turkey. Belgium takes over the Congo.

1910 Japan annexes Korea

1912 Morocco becomes a French protectorate. Italy conquers Libya.

1918 Poland becomes independent. Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania become independent from Russia

1931 The Japanese capture Manchuria

1937 The Japanese invaded the rest of China but are unable to conquer the whole country

1938 The Germans take Austria

1939 Germany invades Poland so Britain and France declare war on Germany

1940 Germany conquers Norway, Holland, Belgium, and France. Russia annexes Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.


Germany conquers Yugoslavia and Greece and invades Russia

Japan attacks the USA at Pearl Harbor. Japan occupies Cambodia.


Japan captures Burma, Singapore, and the Philippines

The USA defeats Japan at Midway Island

The British defeat the Germans at El Alamein


The Russians defeat the Germans at Stalingrad and Kursk

German forces in North Africa surrender and Allied forces invade Italy

1944 Allied forces invade France

1945 Germany and Japan surrender

1947 India and Pakistan become independent

1948 Burma becomes independent

1949 Indonesia becomes independent

1950 China occupies Tibet

1951 Libya becomes independent

1956 Morocco becomes independent. Tunisia becomes independent.


Nigeria becomes independent

Senegal becomes independent

Madagascar becomes independent

Congo becomes independent

1961 Tanzania becomes independent


Uganda becomes independent

Jamaica becomes independent

Algeria becomes independent

1964 Malawi and Zambia become independent

1965 Gambia becomes independent

1966 Botswana becomes independent

1974 The last Ethiopian emperor is deposed ending the Ethiopian Empire

1975 Angola and Mozambique becomes independent from Portugal

1991 Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania become independent again

2022 Russia invades Ukraine

Last revised 2024