After the expulsion of the Mongols in 1368, the Ming Empire in China, with a standing army of a million troops and a population nearing 100 million, was probably the wealthiest and most powerful dominion worldwide. To the west, the empire of Timur was nearing the peak. In 1402, Timur routed the Ottomans and captured their Sultan Bayezid who, in turn, had routed the combined armies of Christendom at Nicopolis (1396), thereby underlining Europe’s modest ranking in the military pecking order. The Holy Roman Empire had been vitiated by the electoral system ordained by the Golden Bull (1356), and the papacy’s power had been drastically undermined by its exile to Avignon. Meanwhile, two of the most powerful unitary states, France and England were locked in a century of conflict. In Africa, the Songhai were overtaking the Malian Empire, and in the Americas, Inca and Aztec empires were nascent.
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