Ottoman Empire (1299–1923)

Ottoman Empire (1299–1923)

Introduction

The Ottoman Empire also known by its contemporaries as the Turkish Empire, was an Islamic empire that lasted from 1 November 1299 to 24 July 1923. It was succeeded by the Republic of Turkey, which was officially proclaimed on October 29, 1923. At the height of its peak (16th–17th centuries), the Ottoman Empire spread in three continents. Western Asia, Eastern and Southeastern Europe, the Caucasus, and North Africa were controlled by Ottoman Empire. The Ottoman Empire contained 29 provinces and numerous vassal states, some of which were later absorbed into the empire, while others gained various types of autonomy during the course of centuries.

Formation

The Ottoman Empire began after the arrival of the leader of Kayi Tribe, Ertugrul and his son named, Osman Ghazi in the Empire of Rome in Anatolia (Asia Minor) from Central Asia. They helped Seljuk’s Sultan Kaihusrev II in defeating the Mongolian army at Eskisehir following saving the Seljuk’s Empire of Rome. Because of this excellent work, Ertugrul and his son was awarded with a piece of land ranging from Ekisehir to Sakarya which is known as Turkey. It was the land which emerged as an Empire and of which Bursa became the Capital. That was the foundation of the Ottoman Empire being named after Osman Ghazi, converted to Ottoman in English and Othman later on. Now it started the expansion of the Ottoman Empire.

Rise of the Empire

Janissary

After the foundation of the Ottoman Empire, its Sultan’s kept struggling for its expansion. At the end of the Osman’s reign, the area of the Ottoman Empire was increased to 16,000 sqkm. Later, his successor Sultan Orhan Ghazi further extended his Empire. He took over the  Seljuk’s Empire of Rome, and it became a part of the Ottoman Empire. He also conquered the port of Tarnat fort “Gallipoli” in which the forts of Jinaqla, Absala and Rodosto were situated. The most important work of the Sultan Orhan was the formation of a permanent Islamic force (Army) because before this act, at the time of war people gathered willingly. This new army was named as “Janissary” which means a new battalion, also recognized as the first Organized Army. At the end of the Orhan’s reign, the area of the Ottoman Empire was increased to 95,000 sqkm.

After Orhan Ghazi, his successor Sultan Murad I took the throne and started the invasion of the Balkan (Europe). In 1389 AD, Sultan Murad I defeated the mutual army of Christians of the Balkans including Northern Serbia, Bosnia, and Bulgaria in the first Battle of Kosovo.  And when the Sultan Murad I was martyred, the area of the Ottoman’s Empire was 500,000 sqkm. Its means he added 5 times more in the area of the Ottoman’s Empire. He got the title of “Sovereign”( Hudavendigar ). Sultan Murad I was succeeded by Sultan Bayezid I. In the reign of Bayezid I, the only cities with strong protective support at the European boundaries remain safe from being invaded by the Ottoman Empire which were Athens and Constantinople. Bayezid I attacked the battlefields of Europe and Anatolia with such speed that he was given the title of “Yildirim” ( Sky lightening ).

Sultan Bayezid I defeated the mutual host of the crusaders, the Christian, and the Europeans at the Battle of Nicopolis. Germany, France, England, Scotland, Switzerland, Southern deeper areas were also included in this alliance. This was the biggest alliance of the 14th century against the Ottoman Empire. In this crusader’s attack, there were 1.2 million warriors. After that he was taken over by the warrior ruler of the Middle East, Timur. Sultan Bayezid I reached Ankara while taking his host to compete Timur in 1402 AD. On 20th July 1402 AD, Timur arrested Sultan Bayezid I by defeating the Ottoman”s army in the Battle of Ankara. Sultan Bayezid was in much grief because of being defeated in the Battle of Ankara that he died during imprisonment just after one year in 1403 AD. Before Ankara war, the area of the Empire reached 942,000 square sqkm in 1401 AD, in which 442,000 sqkm of Europe ( Balkans) and 500,000 sqkm of Anatolia were included.

In 1403 AD, after the death of Sultan Bayezid I, there started wars in the Ottoman Empire. While moving from here, Emir Timur announced Prince Mohammad I ( Mehmed I ), who was settled at Amasya, as the next Sultan of the Ottoman Empire. He handled the throne with such wisdom that he was given the title of  “Mosis Saani”, means re-installer or re-constructor. Sultan Muhammad I was succeeded by Sultan Murad II. He defeated the mutual alliance of the Christian and Hungarians being commanded by the Pop (Evgeni’s-IV Pont Max), Kardinal Julian, John Hunyadi, and Wladyslaw at the Battle of Varna in 1444 AD. Then he handed over the throne to his youngest son, Sultan Muhammad II ( Mehmed II).

Sultan Mohammad II started preparing to attack Constantinople right after getting the rule.  In the reign of the Ottoman Empire, first of all, Sultan Bayezid I (Yildirim) and after that Sultan Murad II also sieged this city but not succeeded in conquering this city. On 29th May 1453 AD, Sultan Mohammad II conquered this city at the age of 21 years only. Sultan Mohammad II was given the titles of “Conqueror” and “Caesar Rome”.

Expansion and Peak

After Mehmed the Conqueror, his successors kept on adding area into the Ottoman Empire until it reaches to 556,700 sqkm in the reign of Sultan Selim I, who defeated Shah Ismail of the Safavid’s Empire ( Empire of Persia ) in the Battle of Chaldiran. After this dramatic expansion, there started a competition between the Ottoman Empire and the Portuguese Empire to become the dominant power of the world. Ottoman Empire reached to its maximum extension in the reign of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent (1520 – 1566). He conquered Belgrade and Rhodes right after taking the throne. Later, he took over Hungary by defeating Ferdinand I. Charles V and Ferdinand I signed a treaty with Sultan Suleiman I for five years according to which Hungary and Transylvania would be under the Ottoman rule and Ferdinand I accepted to pay 30,000 coins annual tax.

In 1534 CE, Sultan Suleiman I moved towards Iran (Persia). He took over Tabriz without any resistance. After that two bigger provinces of Iran, Masal and Baghdad were included in the Ottoman Empire without any resistance. From 1548 CE to 1554 CE, Sultan Suleiman attacked Iran many times and included many areas of Armenia and Mesopotamia. Except these, because of the strong host of Sultan Suleiman, Aden was also conquered. Regarding Naval power, no empire of Asia and Europe was able to compete with the Ottoman Empire. So Sultan Suleiman included several provinces of Al-Jazira, Tripoli and many other areas which were under Venice, in the Ottoman Empire. At the end of his reign of 46 years, the area of the Ottoman Empire was increased to 3,200,000 sqkm.

 

In the next century, Ottoman’s Sultans kept on adding more area to the Empire. There was a new competitor of the Ottoman Empire named Iberian Empire as the Caliphate (leader of all Muslims Worldwide) was of Ottoman’s and Iberians as the leaders of the Christian crusaders. Iberians were actively operating in the Mediterranean Sea and the Indian Ocean to reach Africa, India and Latin America to Christianize the formerly Muslims and and use it as a base to attack Muslims in the Far East.  The Ottoman Empire sent armies to aid the Empire of Aceh in the South Asia. But at the end, there was a settlement between the Iberian Empire and the Ottoman Empire because both were at same position regarding technology, armies and population. In the reign of Sultan Mehmed IV, area of the Ottoman Empire reached to its peak which was 5,200,000 sqkm.

Demise and Dissolution

The Tanzimat period (1839-1876) and a series of governmental constitutional reforms marked a lot of modern changes in the banking system, military system, religious law was replaced with the secular law and homosexuality was decriminalized. Further, the Christians started getting power in all the departments of the Ottoman Empire. Major demise and defeat of the Ottoman Empire started in 20th century with the beginning of the second constitutional era. There was a new revolution from the Young Turks. They reformed the old Ottoman Constitution of 1876 and  started the electoral system consisting of several parties under the Ottoman Parliament. All the departments were given freedom to strengthen themselves to hold its own power against the outsiders. Members of the Young Turks revolution established their own parties. On the other hand, Ottoman Empire lost its African territories and Dodecanese in the Italo-Turkish War (1911) and the  European territories in the Balkan Wars (1912-1913). After this, World War I and revolts from other areas like Arabia, Syria, and Greek arose and were seen to hold greater power.

Then finally, in the Conference of London, the Sultan Abdulhamid II was asked to retain the position and title but Constantinople and Izmir were included in the establishment of a new Turkish national movement which won the Turkish war of Independence (1919-1923) under the command of Mustafa Kemal (Ataturk). The Empire was abolished on 1st November 1922. The last Sultan of the Ottoman Empire named Mehmed VI left the country on 17th November 1922. Caliphate was diminished on 3rd March 1924.

Note:

  • It existed at the globe for the longest period of time for 7 centuries.
  • The Ottoman legal system accepted religious law over its subjects. The Ottoman Empire was always organized around a system of local jurisprudence.
  • The Ottoman Empire was, in principle, tolerant towards Christians and Jews.
  • Numerous traditions and cultural traits of this previous empire (in fields such as architecture, cuisine, music, leisure and government) were adopted by the Ottomans, who elaborated them into new forms and blended them with the characteristics of the ethnic and religious groups living within the Ottoman territories, which resulted in a new and distinctively Ottoman cultural identity.
  • By developing commercial centers and routes, encouraging people to extend the area of cultivated land in the country and international trade through its dominions, the state performed basic economic functions in the Empire.
  • The empire was at the center of interactions between the Eastern and Western worlds for seven centuries.

 

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