Realising Eurasia. Empire and Connectivity during Three Millennia
All empires aspire to universality, which is to say that they aim to be world empires. But they are generally aware of the existence of other empires, past and present, and of the need to come to terms with them. It helps if they can make links, ideologically and materially, with each other. In the case of the older Eurasian land empires – Rome, Byzantium, the Arab and Persian empires, India, China – the links were supplied by trade and religious interchange, Christian, Islamic, Buddhist. With the newer overseas empires – Spanish, Dutch, French, British – these links continued, but were supplemented now by the strong European presence in every corner of the globe, making them Eurasian in an even stronger sense. Behind much of this, it is argued, is the example of the vast Eurasian empire of Alexander the Great, the memory of which is to be found in practically every succeeding empire, and the example of which all aspired to imitate.