Kingdom vs Empire
The terms kingdom and empire are generally used in the same sense though there is some difference between the two. One of the main points to remember is this. An empire is ruled by an emperor whereas a kingdom is ruled by a king. In other words, it can be said that a country with a king (or queen) as the head of the state is called a kingdom. The term empire is derived from the Latin ‘imperium’. Imperium means power or authority. States and people of various ethnic groups constitute an empire. Some of the best examples of empires of the world are the British Empire, the Spanish Empire, and the Holy Roman Empire.
What is a Kingdom?
A kingdom is a domain ruled by a king or a queen. The normal ruler of a kingdom is a king. So how does a queen comes to power? This happens if the next heir to the throne is a female. Also, sometimes if the king dies, his wife becomes the ruler. So, she gains power as the queen. Even when the king is there the title of queen remains. This can be a reference to the king’s mother or wife. To gain full controlling power of the kingdom, a queen has to be the sole ruler without a king. A kingdom ruled by one king is called a monarchy whereas a kingdom ruled by many kings is called oligarchy. If it is ruled by two kings it is called diarchy. The United Kingdom comprises the England, Scotland and Wales that fall under the direct rule of the monarch (king or queen).
In the older times, a kingdom was created by conquest or the king inherited the right to rule from the family. In the modern day, there are still kingdoms. These kingdoms exist as traditional or constitutional monarchies. For example, United Kingdom, Malaysia, Nepal, and Spain are examples for constitutional monarchies. Constitutional monarchies are the kingdoms where the king or queen is a figure head. They do not participate in decision-making as there is a government to do that. Then, there are traditional monarchies as Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, etc. These kingdoms have the old way of ruling. That means these kingdoms are still ruled by kings. There are no governments in these kingdoms.
In general parlance, kingdom also means, according to the American Heritage dictionary, ‘a realm or sphere is which one thing is dominant.’ For example, kingdom of dreams.
What is an Empire?
An empire, on the other hand, comprises of a set or regions ruled separately by governors and viceroys or vassal kings that rule in the name of the emperor. An empire contains many provinces and colonies as well. The British Empire is again the best example of an empire that contained provinces, colonies, and small kingdoms too such as Kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Wales. One of the most powerful western empires was the Roman Empire. It is interesting to note that prior to the Roman Empire, the kingdom of Macedonia became an empire too under Alexander the Great. The British Empire comprised a collection of countries (known as commonwealth countries, previously British colonies) around the world that were once under British rule, but not part of the British Kingdom. One of the well-known empires in India is the Mauryan Empire. The Mauryan Empire was a powerful empire in ancient India. It was ruled by the emperors of the Mauryan dynasty between 321 BC and 185 BC.
An empire generally refers to a set of regions ruled by an emperor. Sometimes you can see the word empire used to refer to a period in which a certain rule by an emperor existed. For example, the second French empire. However, by today the word empire is also used to refer to a large powerful enterprise controlled by a single group. This group can be a single family or a group of associates.
What is the difference between Kingdom and Empire?
• An empire is ruled by an emperor whereas a kingdom is ruled by a king or a queen.
• The United Kingdom comprises the England, Scotland, and Wales that fall under the direct rule of the monarch (king or queen) where as the British Empire comprised a collection of countries (known as commonwealth countries, previously British colonies) around the world that were once under British rule, but not part of the British Kingdom.
• Kingdom sometimes could have more than one king. In such cases, a kingdom with two kings was known as a diarchy. A kingdom that was ruled by many kings was known as an oligarchy. However, an empire is always ruled by one emperor.
• The female ruler of a kingdom is known as queen. The female ruler of empire is known as empress.
• A kingdom is usually a land that is in the same area. That means it is a region that is not situated here and there in the world. However, an empire can consist of regions from faraway places as well. That means an empire does not have all the regions that it holds in the same area as a kingdom. For example, the British Empire. British Empire consisted of a number of colonies from around the world.
• Usually, an empire is more powerful than a kingdom as it controls a large number of people.
• A kingdom is passed from its king to the next through heredity. Sometimes, it can pass through conquest too. A kingdom sometimes passes to the next king through an election as was done in the ancient Kingdom of Rome. An empire, however, passes from emperor to emperor only through inheritance or conquest.
These are the differences between kingdom and empire.
Images Courtesy: Coronation portraits of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth and Reception of the Emperor and Empress of Russia at Balmoral via Wikicommons (Public Domain)