Yes another weird English word I have discovered. [Along with Prolix]
It determines a state that controls, or holds dominion, over another servile state. But only where that servile state still retains some sovereighnty on domestic issues.
I found this word in the Discources by Niccolo Machiavelli, which I am presently reading.
He discusses three attempts at empire and their comparative merits and sucesses.
The first is that attempted by the Spartans, and others in ancient Greece. That of restricing the control and power to those of the Spartan race. Preventing intermarriage, and making all other states totally servile in nature.
He points out that this does not work. That eventually the people revolt against the ruling class, when the numbers of plebs outweigh the armies of the original state. You could call it a xenophobic, or racist, or true colonialist aproach to empire.
The second is that used by the romans of Suzerainty. The Romans kept the control of the empire in Rome, but local or domestic issues, including laws, were determined in the member states. Anyone state could become Roman, and thus have the protection of the combined army, and intermarriage was permitted and even encouraged. [The idea was to spread the Roman culture. Cultural Imperialism was just as important as any other from to them.]
The final kind is confederacy of equals. This was the system used in ancient Tuscany. Each state was considered equal and shared its resources. Each kept their language, laws, currency and traditions, but cooperated as a whole on foreign policy and trade. This system was successful for many generations and was a, mostly, peaceful competitor to Rome.
The Romans eventually destroyed them, their language, arts, laws and history. [All we know of their system is what is written by Romans]
Machiavelli says that such a system can only expand to a certain limit before it is unweildy, and either collapses from within or is destroyed by an enemy. [Rome in this case]
You can see some interesting paralels between the Roman Empire and the USA. It tries to control the global aspects, and even cultural aspects, of it’s allied states. It uses force to defend it’s interests. And also prefers short hard wars. And the word suzerain is probably a good one for this conduct.
And the Tuscan confederacy model is surprisingly similar to the present EU. It is more interested in trade. It creates an equal footing for all its allied members. And is more interested in negotiating.
If history repeats itself, as it is wont to, then at some time in the future the two Imperial systems will clash again. And if that happens then the USA will destroy all the culture and history of the EU and supplant it with it’s own.
Of course, nowadays things are a little different.
We have a third player in China, whose Imperial system seems to be a combination of trade and power.
Perhaps something strange will happen and History will not repeat itself.
Only time will tell. But reading Herodotus and Machiavelli will give you a good insight into how things might pan out.