On the criteria used, may I suggest there may be some omissions? For example, the wealth and controlled populations of the Spanish and Portuguese Empires would certainly qualify for inclusion.
While the Spanish empire was truly the first empire where the sun never set, the population under its control was not all that significant. Spain's population in the late 16th century was only around 8 million, which is only a slightly above medium sized state even by European standards. Thanks to the disease it brought to the new world, the population in Spanish America has declined from a possible high figure of above 30 million to a low figure of barely 8 million by the early 17th century. ("La catastrophe démographique" (The Demographical Catastrophe"), L'Histoire n322, July-August 2007, p. 17)
In addition to a few other colonies abroad, namely the Philipines, the population of the entire Spanish empire in 1600 was probably less than 20 million. Even after it briefly occupied Portugal in the late 16th century, the total population of the Empire was probably just above that of France and the Ottoman Empire and about equal to those of contemporary Japan and far below those of Ming China and the Mughal empire.
Spain's standing army was the biggest in Europe(with the exception of the Ottoman Empire's 120,000 sized standing army), but it only numbered around 60,000-70,000, and occasionally up to 80,000 at its maximum. European armies of the time were all equipped with matchlocks and cannons like culverin, falconet and mortars. These equipments were on the whole the same in design throughout much of Eurasia. Numbers, discipline, tactics, mobility, and experience were more important than equipments throughout Eurasia during this time. In terms of military power, Philip II's standing army were dwarfed by those of Wangli's Ming army(with 900,000 standing force, of which 300,000 are still battle efficient), Hideoshi's Japan (with over 300,000 army when adding up all the Daimyo's forces), Akbar's Mughal state(a force several hundred thousand large which grew to 900,000 by Aurangzeg's time) and to a lesser extent, by the Ottoman empire.
The Spanish Navy might have had an edge over most other European states but its numbers are not all that significant either, and were quickly outpaced by the Dutch, French and English. Compared to Asian navies, while European navies had a greater projection power and more durable ships, the number of ships they had were simply outclassed by the major Asian powers. Not to mention, 16th century warfare in most instances are still decided more by the army than the navy.
Where, also, does the Mughal Empire rate?
The Mughal empire was at its strongest under the reign of Aurangzeg in the late 17th century, it had a population of around 140 million and a standing army of around 900,000, equal in scope to the Qing empire under Kangxi and higher than contemporary France and Russia under Louis XIV and Peter the Great. Although the Mughal empire is far less stable or centralized than the other three polities and unlike the later three, much of Mughal military establishments were unprofessional soldiers.
Also, what of the Holy Roman Empire in the West after 800AD and up until perhaps 1400AD? It was not a single country, but fits the term polity, as the Emperor was able to exercise considerable military, political, end even religious influence, as demonstrated by Sigismund at the Council of Constance.
Compared to other states that were around in the world during that time, such as the Song, Jin, Mongols, Delhi Sultanate, and Seljuks, it was not at all large or populous.
Edited by Borjigin Ayurbarwada, 28 August 2010 - 06:22 AM.