The vast armies of Persia were repeatedly beaten back by the Greeks, subjugated by the might of Alexander, and destroyed by the rise of Islam. The fates of once great and proud nations fill the pages of history books—and then there are those forgotten powers even the history books seldom mention.
10 Burgundy Western Europe
France's greatest historical rivals are often considered to be England or Germany. Yet, for a time, Burgundy was arguably its greatest opponent.
We've previously mentioned how Louis the Pious, son of Charlemagne, divided the Carolingian Empire among his sons. His eldest, Lothair, received a vast swath of land that included what would become Burgundy. Over time, a powerful duchy evolved, controlling Burgundy proper, Alsace, Lorraine, Flanders, and Holland. At its height during the 15th century, it was one of the richest and most powerful states in Europe. The Burgundian's rivalry with France knew no bounds—from betraying Joan of Arc to the English, to fighting on foreign soil during the War of the Roses.
For a time, it seemed that fortune favored Burgundy. Indeed, had history turned out differently, proper French might have been a mere dialect and Bourgignon the norm.