chapter  24
38 Pages

The development of empires

WithStephen L. Dyson

The conquest and subjection of other social and political groups has been a process in human history ever since the appearance of Homo sapiens. Most of those conquests have been savage, but transitory. The concept of empire implies a systematic, long-term organization of that conquest. This organization developed around a series of institutions that allowed the initial domination to turn into stable control based on a whole variety of exploitations. Among these were systems of military control such as forts and garrisons, the extraction of economic resources in the form of tribute and taxation, trade dominated by the imperial power, the purposeful spread of the political, social and economic institutions of the imperial society into the conquered areas, and systematic efforts to acculturate at least members of the conquered élite into the dominant society.