The empire on which the sun never sets
The phrase "the empire on which the sun never sets" has been used with variations to describe certain global empires that were so extensive that there was always at least one part of their territory that was in daylight.
It was originally coined for the Empire of Charles V and the Spanish Empire, mainly in the 16th and 17th centuries. In more recent times, it was used for the British Empire, mainly in the 19th and early 20th centuries. During this period, the British Empire reached a territorial size larger than that of any other empire in history.
A similar concept in the Old Testament might pre-date Herodotus and Xerxes I where Psalm 72:8 speaks of the Messianic King: ‘He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth’  for ‘as long as the sun and moon endure, throughout all generations’ Ps 72:5. This concept had existed in the Ancient Near East before the Old Testament. The Story of Sinuhe (19th century BC) announces that the Egyptian King rules “all what the sun encircles.” Mesopotamian texts contemporary to Sargon of Akkad (c. 2334 – 2279 BC) proclaim that this king ruled “all the lands from sunrise to sunset.”
Empire of Charles VEdit
The Empire of Charles V, the first "empire on which the sun never sets", was a composite monarchy under the personal rule of Charles V of the House of Habsburg. Charles was born in 1500 in the Flemish region of the Low Countries in modern-day Belgium, then part of the Habsburg Netherlands, from Joanna the Mad (daughter of Isabella of Castille and Ferdinand of Aragon) and Philip the Handsome (son of Mary of Burgundy and Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor). He inherited his homeland from his father as Duke of Burgundy in 1506, became jure matris king of Castille and Aragon in 1516, and was elected Holy Roman Emperor in 1519. As ruler of Castille and Aragon, he has been referred to as King of Spain. As Holy Roman Emperor, he was crowned King of Germany and King of Italy. 
As founder of the Burgundian Circle he integrated the low countries in the Holy Roman Empire and made Brussels the imperial capital and the seat of his Grand Chancellors. However his court was itinerant and he often visited cities such as Toledo, Aachen and Bologna. Bruselles (the palace of Coudenberg in particular) was also the city where he announced his legacies in 1515 and announced his abdication in 1555. As ruler of Spain he inherited the West Indies "discovered" by Columbus and greatly expanded his territories in the Americas by ordering the operations of the conquistadores: Hernan Cortes annexed the Aztecs and subjugated Middle America following the Fall of Tenochtitlan, and Francisco Pizarro conquered the Incas and extended colonial rule to South America following the Battle of Cajamarca. He also financed the expeditions of the explorer Magellan and subsequent colonizers to the Philippines. As Holy Roman Emperor he managed to defend his German territories in Austria from the Ottomans of Suleiman the magnificent (Siege of Vienna) and his Italian territories in the Duchy of Milan from the French of Francis I (Battle of Pavia): to finance the Ottoman-Habsburg Wars and the Italian Wars the Empire made large use of the gold and silver coming from the Americas.
Unable to resist the rise of protestantism, Charles V announced his resignation. His abdication divided his territories between his son Philip II of Spain, who took the colonial tertitories, and his brother Ferdinand I, Holy Roman Emperor and King of Hungary and Bohemia. The Habsburg Netherlands and the Duchy of Milan continued to be part of the Holy Roman Empire but were also left in personal union with the King of Spain, and the Spanish King had claims on the crowns of Hungary and Bohemia. These issues will be settled with the Onate treaty of 1617.
Charles's son, Philip II of Spain, made Spain (his homeland) the metropole of the colonies that he inherited. In particular, he placed the Council of the Indies, originally created as an itinerary council that followed Charles V, in Madrid in 1561. When King Henry of Portugal died, Philip II pressed his claim to the Portuguese throne and was recognised as Philip I of Portugal in 1581. Therefore he added to the territories in the Americas and the Philippines (named after him), the Portuguese Empire, which itself included territories in the Americas, in the North and the Sub-Saharan Africa, in all the Asian Subcontinents, and islands in the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific oceans.
In 1585, Giovanni Battista Guarini wrote Il pastor fido to mark the marriage of Catherine Michelle, daughter of Philip II, to Charles Emmanuel I, Duke of Savoy. Guarini's dedication read, "Altera figlia / Di qel Monarca, a cui / Nö anco, quando annotta, il Sol tramonta." ("The proud daughter / of that monarch to whom / when it grows dark [elsewhere] the sun never sets.").
In the early 17th century, the phrase was familiar to John Smith, and to Francis Bacon, who writes: "both the East and the West Indies being met in the crown of Spain, it is come to pass, that, as one saith in a brave kind of expression, the sun never sets in the Spanish dominions, but ever shines upon one part or other of them : which, to say truly, is a beam of glory [...]". Thomas Urquhart wrote of "that great Don Philippe, Tetrarch of the world, upon whose subjects the sun never sets."
In the German dramatist Friedrich Schiller's 1787 play, Don Carlos, Don Carlos's father, Philip II, says, "German: Ich heiße / der reichste Mann in der getauften Welt; / Die Sonne geht in meinem Staat nicht unter." ("I am called / The richest monarch in the Christian world; / The sun in my dominion never sets.").
Joseph Fouché recalled Napoleon saying before the Peninsular War, "Reflect that the sun never sets in the immense inheritance of Charles V, and that I shall have the empire of both worlds."  This was cited in Walter Scott's Life of Napoleon.
In the 19th century, it became popular to apply the phrase to the British Empire. It was a time when British world maps showed the Empire in red and pink to highlight British imperial power spanning the globe. Scottish author, John Wilson, writing as "Christopher North" in Blackwood's Magazine in 1829, is sometimes credited as originating the usage. However, George Macartney wrote in 1773, in the wake of the territorial expansion that followed Britain's victory in the Seven Years' War, of "this vast empire on which the sun never sets, and whose bounds nature has not yet ascertained."
In a speech on 31 July 1827, Rev. R. P. Buddicom said, "It had been said that the sun never set on the British flag; it was certainly an old saying, about the time of Richard the Second, and was not so applicable then as at the present time." In 1821, the Caledonian Mercury wrote of the British Empire, "On her dominions the sun never sets; before his evening rays leave the spires of Quebec, his morning beams have shone three hours on Port Jackson, and while sinking from the waters of Lake Superior, his eye opens upon the Mouth of the Ganges."
Daniel Webster famously expressed a similar idea in 1834: "A power which has dotted over the surface of the whole globe with her possessions and military posts, whose morning drumbeat, following the sun and keeping company with the hours, circles the earth with one continuous and unbroken strain of the martial airs of England." In 1839, Sir Henry Ward said in the House of Commons, "Look at the British Colonial empire — the most magnificent empire that the world ever saw. The old Spanish boast that the sun never set in their dominions, has been more truly realised amongst ourselves." By 1861, Lord Salisbury complained that the £1.5 million spent on colonial defence by Britain merely enabled the nation "to furnish an agreeable variety of stations to our soldiers, and to indulge in the sentiment that the sun never sets on our Empire".
The United States of AmericaEdit
From the mid-nineteenth century, the image of the sun never setting can be found applied to Anglophone culture, explicitly including both the British Empire and the United States, for example in a speech by Alexander Campbell in 1852: "To Britain and America God has granted the possession of the new world; and because the sun never sets upon our religion, our language and our arts...".
By the end of the century, the phrase was also being applied to the United States alone. An 1897 magazine article titled "The Greatest Nation on Earth" boasted, "[T]he sun never sets on Uncle Sam". In 1906, William Jennings Bryan wrote, "If we can not boast that the sun never sets on American territory, we can find satisfaction in the fact that the sun never sets on American philanthropy"; after which, The New York Times received letters attempting to disprove his presupposition. A 1991 history book discussion of U.S. expansion states, "Today ... the sun never sets on American territory, properties owned by the U.S. government and its citizens, American armed forces abroad, or countries that conduct their affairs within limits largely defined by American power."
Although most of these sentiments have a patriotic ring, the phrase is sometimes used critically with the implication of American imperialism, as in the title of Joseph Gerson's book, The Sun Never Sets: Confronting the Network of Foreign U.S. Military Bases.
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- Psalm 72:5
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- Don Carlos, Act I, Scene 6.
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Not a more abstemious man than old Kit North in his Majesty's dominions, on which the sun never sets.
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It seems this proverbial phrase was first used by 'Christopher North' (John Wilson) in Blackwood's Magazine (April 1829).
- Morris, Jan (1978). Farewell the Trumpets: An Imperial Retreat.
as Christopher North the poet, had long before declared it, an Empire on which the sun never set.
- Miller, Karl (9 August 2003). "Star of the Borders". The Guardian. Retrieved 2009-06-15.
the British empire, on which, as Wilson may have been the first to say, the sun never set.
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- Bryan, William Jennings (1908). "American Philanthropy". In Richard Lee Metcalfe. The real Bryan; being extracts from the speeches and writings of "a well-rounded man". Vol. 2. Des Moines: Personal Help Publishing Company. pp. 44–45.
- "That never-setting sun". The New York Times. 5 August 1906. p. 8. Retrieved 2009-06-14.
- Williams, William Appleman (1991). "Expansion, Continental and Overseas". In Eric Foner; John Arthur Garraty. The Reader's companion to American history. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. p. 365. ISBN 0-395-51372-3. Retrieved 2016-02-23.
- Gerson, Joseph; Bruce Birchard, eds. (1991). The Sun Never Sets: Confronting the Network of Foreign U.S. Military Bases. Boston, Massachusetts: South End Press. ISBN 0-89608-399-3.