Ottoman Turks amy refer to any of the following:
Rise of the ModernsEdit
The nation known as Turkey was ruled by the Ottoman Turks during the 16th to 18th centuries. The empire peaked in power in the sixteenth century when it was the greatest Muslim empire in the modern era, stretching across the Middle East, North Africa and even southeastern Europe. It was the only other point in history other than the Muslim invasion into Spain in the 7th century that Islam seemed to establish a presence in Europe. This Islamic influence is still very evident today as it was back in the 16th century.
For 60 years, the empire was greatly expanded under the rule of Sultan Selim I and his son Sultan Suleyman (called "The Lawmaker" in Islam and "The Magnificent" in Europe), but were soon succeeded by weaker rulers who rendered the empire powerless and a pawn between the British, Russians and French in the 19th century, before being utterly demolished after the Great War.
The life and times of Selim the GrimEdit
Selim was a ruthless ruler (he earned the epithet "Yavuz" or "the Grim") and general, qualities badly needed by the empire. However, the threat posed by another Turkic-born dynasty, Safavid Iran, was ever so great great. Unlike the Mamluks in the Middle East, the Ottomans initially did not see them as enemies. In fact, many Ottomans and members of the Janissaries corps were attracted to the religious ideals of the Safavids and that was a problem that Selim solved by using brutal force. He ordered his forces to hunt down any Safavid supporters in Anatolia, killing thousands upon thousands of his own people. The two empires confronted militarily many times during the reign of Selim, but each engagement ended inconclusively. It could be said thus that both sides did succeed in their endeavours: Iran to halt Ottoman encroachment, and the Ottomans to stamp out any possibility of Persian intrigue in its own military.
Besides the Safavids, the Mamluks in the Middle East were posing a serious threat to Selim's empire. When he raised an army in 1516, it was not known if he was going to attack the Safavids in the north like for a second time or the Mameluke Empire in the south. However, the Mamluks, with their poor system of government and revolts in Egypt, were definitely the weaker opponent and so the great sultan marched his army south. Battle was joined at Marj Dabiq in Syria on 24 August 1516. The Ottomans had an easy victory and the remnants of the Mamluks were soon defeated in Egypt.
The Ottoman Empire at its zenithEdit
Suleyman succeeded his father in 1520. In his time, Suleyman was considered to be the most significant ruler in the world. He expanded the Ottoman Empire far into the east and the west. Working on the foundation that his father has built, Suleyman went to work on his own campaigns of conquest. His campaigns lasted for a long time. During the years between the 1520's and the 1530's, the Ottoman Empire successfully conquered Hungary by making it an Ottoman province, before being stopped short of invading by the Habsburg Austrians. But Suleyman's troubles with the gâvurs (a perjorative term in Ottoman times for Christians) were only just beginning. Since the Ottomans traded extensively with countries in Asia (China, India, etc.), they were seen as a serious problem by the Portuguese, who set out to destroy all Muslim trade. In 1552, the Portuguese routed the Ottoman fleet and gained control over the Persian Gulf. Although the Ottomans did manage to defend the Red Sea, they would never recover from this blow as Portuguese trade prospered while the opposite happened to the Ottomans.
Despite these setbacks, Suleyman still wanted to wage war: his priority now was the Safavid Empire that his father never destroyed, as it still posed a serious threat. To ensure that Europeans (especially Austrians) would not invade his empire while the bulk of his army is in Iran, he made peace with Austria in 1553 and immediately marched upon Iran. Unlike his father, he did not attack from the north where the Safavids had full preparations for invasion but rather from the south where there were little defenses. By the end of 1553, Baghdad was in Ottoman hands and Bersa came into Ottoman rule not long after.
However, the longest lasting of the sultan's contribution was in the codification of laws (thus giving him the title "Lawgiver"). The system was based on the foundation built by Sultan Mehmed II ("The Conqueror") and recorded a huge body of law that included the workings of the state and emphasised the power of the sultan and government over people and property. He thus grudgingly earned his title "The Magnificent" from his European adversaries since he had built a large and prosperous (or magnificent) empire. Aside from this, just the mere news of his army marching would make the enemy tremble (especially for the Austrians and the Italians). His reign was also a total success, since the Ottoman Empire was greater than ever in both size and prosperity.
Decadence and court intriguesEdit
However, after the death of Suleyman the empire began to lose its forward momentum. Its glorious conquests ceased and its long decline began. This was due to the reign of Selim II, the successor of Suleyman. Unlike his father and grandfather, Selim II seemed to be more interested in alcohol and sex more than ruling the empire. Suleyman did not intend to pass the throne to Selim, but rather Mustafa, his eldest son or Bayezid, his second son — Selim II never participated in this apprenticeship, starting a precedent that would doom the top-heavy empire.
Although by theory the Sultanate passed to the eldest child of the family, this was not always the case. In fact, the Ottomans did not pass their throne to the eldest or most senior person but rather believed that all the members of the royal family were eligible. This meant that sultans would execute or (much later, just) incarcerate all of his brothers and nephews to prevent them from competing for the throne. This is why some sultans were succeeded by their brothers in later times. In some cases, the throne could then be possessed by an individual who had been a prisoner for the better part of his life (meaning that the individual would have little knowledge of how the world was now changing), leading to incompetent or sometimes "mad" rulers and corruption in the bureaucracy. And if a Sultan was seen as incompetent, others would conspire to overthrow him.
Further, the business of government was actually borne by a huge bureaucracy. This bureaucracy, headed by the Grand Vizier, was controlled by a whole bunch of complex and rigid set of rules (of which some even applied to the sultan). As the sultans became more and more disinterested in governing due to the fact that most sultans were selected from members who were locked in isolated conditions for most of their lives, the more powerful the Vizier and the bureaucracy became. This led to mighty power struggles within the bureaucracy, constant shifts in power, and corruption in government. Power also shifted onto the military, in the form of the Janissaries, who were the warrior caste and military administration for the empire. In earlier times, one's position in the military was determined entirely by merit. By the mid-seventieth century, this had became hereditary, eroding Ottoman military might. One man, Muhammad Koprülü, tried to reverse all this by using his authorities as the Grand Vizier to restore the empire to the old ways, calling for expansion into Europe again, but this never happened in his lifetime. Koprülü's new expansionist policies came into being shortly after his death, and the Ottomans marched onto Austria only to be defeated at Vienna in 1683 by an alliance of European nations armed with heavy artillery, something that the Ottomans did not use actively in their military conquests. After its defeat, the Ottoman Empire started losing its grip over existing territories in Europe. Hungary and Transylvania were ceded to Austria in 1699, leaving only Macedonia and the Balkans under Ottoman control, and even these territories began to destabilise after the Ottoman defeat in 1683.
"The Sick Man of Europe"EditBy the end of the 18th century, the Ottoman Empire was well on its way on becoming from the most powerful empire in the Mediterranean in the 16th century to a petty nation with internal corruption and economic instability written all over it in the late 18th century. Nevertheless art, culture and architecture continued to flourish. Like the many Islamic cultures before them, the Ottomans made it their duty to dignify their civilisation. Traditional religious architecture already enriched by the experiments of the 15th and 16th centuries, continued to flourish, as did the development of Ottoman textile weaving and painting. Ottoman silversmiths were often esteemed to be among the most skilled throughout Europe. The 18th century also saw the introduction of "Islamic Baroque", a unique offshoot of Baroque art and architecture that first arose in Europe, as well as that of the theatre culture of Europe. This was not a one-way, street however: of all Ottoman exports, the most indelible mark the Ottomans left on contemporary culture to this day was in food and drink: coffee. Almost every Starbucks outlet owes its origins to the humble Ottoman kahvehane which was the direct descendent of the Arab maqha. A notable addition was also yoghurt, which was first introduced to the west by the Ottomans through the French, with whom they had an alliance in the 18th century. This cross-pollination would further enrich the artistic and cultural legacy of the Ottomans, which has been handed down to us to up to this very day.
Politically, however, the Ottoman Empire was a mess. It was now preoccupied with maintaining its existing territory while inconclusive wars with Europe, overpopulation, famine and unemployment broke out, and the Ottoman economy, hitherto based on the overland Silk Road, went downhill once the gâvurs learnt to sail to America and Asia. Failure to industrialise its economy meant that Ottoman products could not compete with the cheaper and better products of the Europeans. Since a large percentage of the empire depended on cottage industry for a living, this made the empire ever so weaker. Internal corruption also played a part in preventing modernisation - for instance, during attempts at military reforms, or the so-called Nizam-e-Cedit, the Janissaries arose up in anger at the abolition of their privileges in the 19th century. The revolt was put down only with the extermination of the last few remaining rebels. The 19th century revolutions did nothing to better conditions. Aroused by nationalist sentiment, the ethnic minorities of Ottoman Europe rose up in revolt. Most notable was the insurgency movement in Hellas, which reached boiling point by 1821. This time, the Europeans, hitherto accustomed to a blasé attitude towards Ottoman occupation in the Helladic Peninsula, chose to intervene and an independent Kingdom of Greece was declared by 1833. By the 1880s, almost all of Europe west of the Bosphorus was free as would be the Middle East almost forty years later.
The end for the Empire came in 1914. During the opening months of the Great War, pro-nationalist and revanchist strains in politics compelled the Empire into war with the Triple Entente of Russia, France and Britain. The first act of war was the takeover of two German ships fleeing from British pursuers. Although in theory they were now Ottoman property, the ships were then subsequently used to bombard Russian assets in the Crimea. Naturally, the Entente responded in kind and although the Turks enjoyed some success in defeating Allied invasions of the Anatolian heartland, elsewhere they were hopelessly defeated. Countless battles in the Caucasus bled the Empire dry, the province of Armenia staged a successful revolt, while the British exacerbated an insurgency campaign in the Middle East against the Ottomans. By 1918 it was clear who was winning, and a treaty was signed between the Ottoman Empire and the Entente. An ambitious general and the victor at Gelibolu, Attaturk, then launched a coup, sending the sultan, Abdülmecid II, into exile in France, establishing the Republic of Turkey with himself as president. The Turkish republic, however, still had yet to reach the light at the end of the tunnel — in the wake of the fall of the sultanate, Turkey came under attack from a variety of European powers, mostly Greece and France and Armenia, and it was only with great difficulty that Greece was repulsed, and a settlement reached with France over the new roles each side would play in the Middle East.