For starters this obviously has many variables so it would be difficult to provide concrete answers on the level of 1+1=2. Thus I'm including our historical precedent element so it won't be total chaos.

The context is I have this one particular massive empire with all sorts of good stuff that tragically fell one day. And having read like at least 2 Wikipedia pages on history it was not difficult to figure out the blood and terrible power vacuum...etc.

The end result was many many small states all claiming to be the true heirs to the empires.

Yes it is not lost on me that perhaps people are not truly interested in restoring the empire with all its complexity but I digress.

I want all the states on the continent to have a strong connection to the previous empire and be greatly influenced by them.

We know from history that Byzantium claimed to be Romans even after more than a 1000 years. But I see that as complete PR move. They were no more Romans than the later Ottomans. Speaking of which Ottomans also claimed to be the rightful caliphate despite the impossibility of that in technical terms, it requires the holder to be a male with clear heritage to a tribe, but they did not care.

So. The claiming parts is easy. I want the actual influence part.

That is why I'm asking about what elements would be needed for the overall society to be influenced by the original state?

The time part I think is integral to the answers below. So. I really hope it is not as a second question because it's like if you do X then you get effect that lasts X.

This, time and elements, will be important as I want the story to happen in a time where several hundred years, at least, had passed and the people are very slowly forgetting.

The setting is very inconsistent to our own.

For example legal representation, investigation, burden of prove. right of silence...etc are all parts of the legal systems of the vast majority of state now. This is directly inherited from that after mentioned empire. However nobility has many exceptions.

Similarly there are many places with a more "Greek" style free citizens kind of mentality while there are absolute monarchy similar to older Japanese stories, I'm merely judging from movies and mean no offense.

But basically there are not French revolution or printing press or Newtonian physics or gunpowder or electricity.

So. Just to make it clear. I want elements I can incorporate, say awesome buildings, in the story that keeps most people in the setting truly believing that the old empire was awesome and they need to copy it as much as possible. The more subtle stuff is easy to figure out, I not easy but that is my job.

What are those elements and for how long can they keep working?

Edit: Sorry if it is confusing. As "JBH" said it needs clarifying. What I'm looking for is "elements" that exist in the world so that the later states are still influenced but the older state.

Like what are the fundamental principles that I need to follow so that kingdom A after like 2000 years is still influenced by Empire B?

I tried giving an example of building but guess it was stupid.

Now let me give you an obvious example. If we have something like say god-king who created an empire and made a detailed list of laws, best music types, and the best architect. And then he dies and his empire fall.

Now later kingdoms would believe that he is like the best dude ever and would go around making their laws as close as possible to his laws and making their music and architect as close as possible, or just copy it, because he was a god-king.

The fundamental principle here is that he was a god-king.

So. I'm looking for such fundamental principles.

Like would it be martial success, or would it be scientific progress, or economical power, a combination of both...etc.

And I know people and culture are different. But we in our history had a lot of that so there are definite and clear rules to such things even if they are different from place to place.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Is there any way to make this question more clear? I'm trying not to VTC, but this is a fishing-for-ideas question and we don't host those for a reason. If we narrow it, it might become a finite-list-of-ideas question, which is acceptable. When's the last time you read Asimov's Foundation series of books? Because the broken galactic empire and the remnants that claimed to be the successor is what you're talking about. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Oct 28, 2020 at 5:08
  • $\begingroup$ @JBH, Sorry. Is it more clear now? I am not looking for ideas. I know this is not the place. I'm only interested in the social science or history aspect of things. Like what are the top 10 things your empire needs to do so that people after it's fall will want to emulate kind of thing. Thought this is more of a top 10 youtube video format. But it is about the basic idea $\endgroup$
    – Seallussus
    Oct 28, 2020 at 5:26
  • $\begingroup$ At a high level - What you had in the past had to be better than what's available elsewhere. Once this is combined with an inertia to change, hanging onto a past identity will last forever. $\endgroup$
    – Ash
    Oct 28, 2020 at 6:46
  • $\begingroup$ "Byzantium claimed to be Romans [...] as complete PR move": It was the Roman Empire. The Emperor in Constantinople called himself Roman emperor. The people called themselves Romans. The surrounding states called them Romans. To this day, the European part of Turkey is called Rumelia. (And Byzantine is name invented by a German historian long after that empire fell.) "The rightful caliphate [...] requires the holder to be a male with clear heritage to a tribe": That's the Shi'ite (= Iran) point of view. For the Sunnis, the Ottoman emperor was for real the rightful caliph. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Oct 28, 2020 at 7:48
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ We are STILL strongly influenced by the Roman Empire. that is between 1200 and 2600 years ago. We are significantly influenced by Ancient Greek culture. Figure 3800 years there. And our concepts of language structure date back to the early Indus civilizations, at 5000 years++. It depends on where you draw the line for "influenced by" $\endgroup$
    – user79911
    Oct 28, 2020 at 12:37

2 Answers 2


Judging by historical precedents we don't have all that many historical precedents. There are only a handful of great empires which fell to pieces and of which the influence is still felt, or at least was felt: the empire of Alexander; the Roman Empire; the Arab empire; the Holy Roman Empire; the Ottoman Empire; the British Empire; and the two French Empires.

(Before you ask, the Persian, Chinese and Russian empires didn't fall; they are alive and well and they are called Iran, the Russian Federation, and the People's Republic. I suspect that if the Russian and Chinese empires will eventually fall, their influence will resonate for millennia. The Japanese Empire was never really an empire, so it doesn't count.)

(Great empires are rare. An empire in general is difficult to put together; and then it is even more difficult to make it a great empire.)

Given that we have only a handful of great empires which have fallen and yet left an enduring heritage we can look at why have they left such enduring heritages; and it appears to be, first, a balance between duration and greatness, and, second, a function of the cultural strength of the empire.

  • In the limit, an empire just needs to be there for a long time.

    Consider the Ottoman Empire. We cannot honestly say that it had a great culture, or a great legal system, or a great economy. But it was there for a loooong time, some seven centuries, and during this time it spread words and concepts which took root and flourished. The Romanian principalities were protectorates of the Ottoman Empire for centuries, and in this long span of time many Turkish words found their way into the Romanian language, many elements of culture diffused and were assimilated. Even in the English language and in the international culture we have words and concepts of Turkish origin, or received through a Turkish intermediary, such as janissary or baksheesh. (And never forget that it was the Ottomans who introduced coffee to Europe.)

  • And the example of coffee brings us to the second way an empire can leave a lasting legacy, namely, by serving as a vehicle for words, products and concepts. By their very nature, empires bring together disparate cultures, and create the conditions enabling the diffusion of words, products, concepts far beyond the area where they first came to be.

    This is why the emphemeral short-lived empire of Alexander the Great was so important in history. It spread the Greek language and the Greek culture far and wide, creating the conditions for the emergence of Greek as the first truly international language, and setting the foundation for a common world view and common culture over an immense territory.

  • The Arab and the French empires show that a third way for an empire to remain relevant long after its fall is to introduce dramatic cultural changes. (Which, of course, have to be seen as positive changes by the peoples upon which they are inflicted.) The Arabs introduced Islam, a great religion, which emphasized the equality of all men of all races; the French introduced the luminous concepts of the French revolution, embodied in an admirable legal system, and the refined French culture. The Arab and French empires fell quickly, but the cultural changes they brought about endured and remain relevant to this day.

  • And we finally come to the fourth and strongest way for an empire to influence history after its fall, and that is for the empire to be at the same time durable and great. We have only two examples here, the Roman and the British Empire. They both endured for a very long (Roman) or at least respectable (British) span of time. They both possessed great cultures and admirable judicial systems; they both ensured peace over large territories, and fostered economic prosperity.

    People tend to remember long periods of peace, justice and prosperity. For an example, consider that by 2020, western and central Europe have been at universal peace for some 75 years: the previous time western and central Europe had marked such a long period of peace was during the reign of emperor Hadrian. A Roman emperor. It's no wonder that if you squint you can see the history of Europe as the history of successive attempts to recreate the Roman empire.

And that's it, just four. Endure for long enough; serve as a conduit to spread words, products and concepts; introduce dramatic and positive cultural changes; and ensure peace, justice and prosperity. That's all.


China might be the best example. Following the Mongol conquest the new rulers quickly adopted Chinese cultural norms and were within a few generations subsumed into the local population. This was because they had firstly conquered a vast sway of densely populated territory that, prior to its conquest and been ruled and administered by a highly complex but realtivly efficient administrative and judicial system. The New rulers, faced with the a generational task of installing their own administration across the country staffed by their own people simply co-opted what was already there for their own purposes.

Co-opt the administration and you have co-opted the lauguage, writing style, temples, palaces and civic buildings etc along with cities and towns occupied by millions of citizen's with entirely different cultural norms.

By the second generation if not sooner you are conscripting them into your armies and having fought them long and hard, adopting those military practices, tactics and weapons etc that suit your purposes. Pretty soon most of the army is native born Chinese. Which means you have to start issuing orders in the local dialects.

Intermarriage does the rest. After a couple of generations the new rulers are Chinese.


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