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During the medieval period in Europe, there would be 3 kingdoms that came to dominate the entire known world. All other kingdoms had to interact with the power of these kingdoms/empires on a regular basis. Each of these large kingdoms’ territories stretched for thousands of miles and established the modern map of the world after their breakup. Simply put, these top 3 medieval kingdoms were by far the biggest in the known world.
Out of all the kingdoms of medieval Europe here are the 3 biggest by far.
- The Carolingian Empire (800-888 AD)
- The Umayyad Caliphate (661-750 AD)
- The Mongol Empire (1206-1368)
The Umayyad Caliphate and Mongol Empire were so large that even though they were located in Africa and Asia their territory expanded well into Europe. This article goes over the absolutely massive expanse of these 3 large medieval Kingdoms, their locations, and how we can see their influence today.
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Without further ado, here are the 3 biggest medieval kingdoms in Europe.
The Carolingian Empire (800-888 AD): 430,000 Square Miles
To this day the Carolingian Empire remains one of the largest empires to have ever existed. From 800-888 AD this empire stretched from Rome to England, from northern Spain to modern Romania, and all the way up to the top of Germany.
Simply put, all of western Europe outside of England and Spain was ruled by one empire during the medieval period. This empire was so large that many considered the empire as having recreated the western Roman Empire which collapsed nearly 400 years before.
The reason this massive empire came about was because of the ambitions of one man along with a degree of luck and timing. In 768 AD Frankish King Charlemagne would engage in a series of wars to unite the kingdoms around him.
At first, this was just a series of wars in the north, east, and south of France. However, after 6 years of fighting in 774 AD, Charlemagne became king of the Lombards as well as King of the Franks. This was a massive feat as the Lombards had power over Italy and the Franks had power over modern France.
As such Charlemagne had united the two biggest powers in medieval Europe into one kingdom. The result of this was that in 800 AD King Charlemagne was given the title of the first Holy Roman Emperor; this was the establishment of the Carolingian Empire.
Over the next 88 years, the Carolingian Empire would dominate western Europe. However, the Viking invasions which lasted from 860/70 AD up until the 11th century would eventually break up the Carolingian Empire. In 888 AD the Carolingian Empire would fall and break into a series of kingdoms.
These kingdoms today have led to the creation of the modern nations of France, Germany, and Italy. As such many historians call Charlemagne the Father of Europe for his unification and establishment of the modern nations of Europe.
Simply put, the Carolingian Empire was massive. Which is why it ends up on this list of the 3 biggest medieval kingdoms in Europe.
The Umayyad Caliphate (661-750 AD): 4,200,000 Square Miles
The second kingdom/empire that lands on this list is the Umayyad Caliphate which at its peak held nearly 4.3 million square miles of territory!
Most western historians seem to forget about the size and power of the Umayyad Caliphate during the early middle ages. This powerhouse of an empire stretched from the southern tip of the Arabian Peninsula to the north of modern Spain and as far east as modern India.
While most of this kingdom was outside of Europe it did hold the most powerful state in all of Europe. This was the land of Al-Andalus in modern Spain. While the Franks, Lombards, and Germanic peoples were living in the ‘dark ages’ Al-Andalus was experiencing a cultural renaissance.
After the death of Muhammad in 632, the early Islamic Empire broke up into a series of caliphates. The second of these four caliphates was ruled by the Umayyad dynasty. This created a kingdom that was at first headquartered in Damascus but would later move its capital to Harran in 744 AD.
During the nearly 120 years of power, the Umayyad Caliphate would continue conquering territory to the east and west of the Arabian Peninsula. In 711 the Umayyad Caliphate would conquer the Visigothic Kingdom in Spain and established the new province of Andalusia. This was the first time that an Islamic army had conquered a Christian kingdom. Al-Andalus would remain a powerhouse in Europe for the next 300 years until infighting would eventually cause a breakup.
The Umayyad Caliphate today remains one of the largest empires in history. Covering nearly 4.3 million square miles the breakup of this Caliphate has created the modern nations that can be found across Northern Africa, the middle east, and western parts of Asia.
Simply put, the Umayyad Caliphate was massive. It sparked the Islamic Golden Age which lasted for nearly 700 years and brought massive amounts of knowledge back to Europe after it was ‘lost.’ However, it was not the largest medieval kingdom in Europe. There was one kingdom that was even larger.
The Mongol Empire (1206-1368 AD): 9,300,000 Square Miles
By far the largest medieval kingdom to have ever existed in Europe is the Mongol Empire/Kingdom which lasted from 1206-1368 AD.
It is hard to imagine the massive size of the Mongol Empire at its peak. Stretching from modern Romania all the way to China, from Turkey to India, from Russia to Siberia, this medieval kingdom dominated nearly all of the politics of the late medieval period in Europe.
Although much of the Mongol Empire did not reach into Europe there were portions of it that did. This was the land of Russia, Romania, Belarus, Ukraine, and parts of the Baltic States. Nearly all of eastern Europe was controlled or heavily influenced by this massive kingdom/empire which covered nearly 9.3 million square miles!
The Mongol Empire came to its peak under the highly ambitious leader Genghis Khan. Today Genghis Khan’s name ranks up there with Julius Caesar, Augustus, and Alexander The Great when people discuss the great conquests of history. In total land mass conquered none come close to Genghis Khan.
From 1206-1227 Genghis Khan was in a near-constant state of warfare. He was an expert at forcing his armies to march fast enough to cover massive amounts of land. On top of this, he would give cities and kingdoms the option to submit to his rule or be directly conquered. This allowed Genghis Khan to rapidly expand his empire’s territory.
After the death of Genghis Khan, his empire continued to grow under the guidance of his sons. In the mid-14th century this empire would reach its peak and become the largest empire/kingdom that has ever existed in human history.
As such the largest kingdom in Medieval Europe was the Mongol Empire which came to dominate nearly all political life in eastern medieval Europe.
There you have it, an entire article that goes over the 3 biggest medieval kingdoms in Europe.
Most people assume that the largest medieval Kingdoms in Europe came from Europe. This was not the case, only the Carolingian Empire is considered to be fully European. However, the kingdoms of the Mongols and Umayyads were by far bigger than the Carolingian Empire.
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