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Ever since the Romans, 'Empire' has been a word of power to rulers and theorists of statecraft. It implied much more than 'rule' or 'kingdom': those states which could pretend to the title of Empire thereby compared themselves with Rome, and implied that they were its successors. Professor Koebner's widely ranging book examines the use of the concept in European history from classical times until the early nineteenth century. He begins with the Romans, and analyses the original meanings of the word imperium. He then turns to later uses, in the Holy Roman Empire founded by Charlemagne, and its successors. The main part of the book considers the British Empire, from its uncertain foundation under Henry VIII to the secession of the American colonies - an event which caused a re-examination of the whole nature of the Empire. A final chapter considers the Napoleonic period.