The Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman Empire an empire not well known yet one of the most influential empires in world history yet few know much of it. In 1299 under Osman Bey the Ottoman dynasty founded its kingdom in western Anatolia fighting against Byzantines and other Turkish Sultans. The Ottoman Empire would rise from a small principality to an empire stretching from Morocco to Turkey, and from Austria to Sudan. The Ottoman Empire was dissolved in 1922 and the Republic of Turkey was its primary successor state but its memory lives on. In this article I will explore the origins, rise, and fall of this mighty empire and take look at its enduring legacy.
The Ottoman Empire has its roots in the Turkish migrations in the middle Ages as various Turkic tribes migrated from Central Asia they began settling in the Middle East. The mightiest of these was the Seljuk dynasty which covered Iran and nearby areas. From out of the Seljuk realm numerous other Turkic tribes and dynasties arose and began spreading westward into Anatolia. Out of these would come the founder Osman who’s named became corrupted in western sources as Ottoman. He would found a small principality which would eventually conquer all of Anatolia and his descendant Mehmed II would conquer Constantinople that is the modern city of Istanbul. The armies of Mehmed and his descendants would conquer North Africa, and the Middle East even pushing into Central Europe, and controlling most of the Balkan Peninsula.
After a mighty expansion the Ottoman Empire began to decline and recede losing much of its territory. The beginning of this decline was in the 1600’s when several attempted major invasions of Central Europe resulted in defeat. In 1683 a combined Polish, Prussian, and Austrian force led by Polish King Jan Sobieskie III defeated a large Turkish army outside the Gates of Vienna. This began the rollback of Turkish power in Europe and beginning of loss of it’s Balkan territory. Over the next few centuries continued battles with European powers would lead to the stagnation and failure of the empire resulting in numerous coups and civil uprisings. As the 1800’s arrived the Ottoman state began losing many of territories such as Greece, Serbia, and Bulgaria who with European aid would break free from the Ottoman yoke.
In 1922 several years after World War I the Ottoman Empire was defeated by the western allies and faced invasion and partition. The Ottomans had lost most of their territory and faced a revolution led by the secularizing and westernizing Kemal Mustafa “Ataturk” who would transform the Turkish state. In 1922 the Caliphate and Sultanate were abolished and a secular Republic of Turkey proclaimed and the Ottoman Empire was no more. While the Empire was gone its legacy would live on in the memory of its successor states many of whom would have their cultures and very territory shaped by it.
The Ottoman Empire was one of the biggest empires in history, however the influence and power of the empire declined slowly until it diminished due to internal and external factors. This essay will compare and contrast the change in the Ottoman Empire between the golden age and the decline period in government and administration, military strength and economic power.
In the golden age of the Ottoman Empire, the empire controlled various parts of Europe combined with Asia with a strong government and administration. The empire was very powerful in its control and government. The ottoman gold age was during the life of the sultan Suleiman the magnificent. He encouraged expansion of the empire and seized control and instituted taxes in the trade routes between Europe and Asia, He made use of the resources of the empire making it very independent, the golden age also saw a rise in the empire in knowledge, technology and pushed the agenda for innovation the golden age also encouraged scientific researchers, engineers and specialized craftsmen to migrate into the ottoman empire living under the safe haven of the empire that welcomed people from different races and religions and encouraged them to live freely under the rule of one man they voted for from their religion as a spokesperson to the government and the sultan Christians and muslims together were selected for government posts, and administrative positions according to their merit. However in the decline of the Ottoman Empire, the empire was deemed very weak as it became very dependent to outside forces, and the decline of knowledge and power encouraged people to flee to other countries and the government became very weak as people started to be very unconnected from the government and their loyalty would be to their own chosen leader rather than the ottoman empire sultan. The decline of the empire also made other countries enforce power and exempt its citizens to ottoman law, which were called capitulations. The capitulations that somehow symbolized the decline of the power and made it very obvious that the empire was not able to control its law.
The military force of the Ottoman Empire during the gold age was one of the strongest militaries in the world. The military was feared and deemed very powerful by other countries due to the fact that have invaded very strong and powerful countries. The sultan encouraged military expansion during the golden age paying them very high salaries, in return for their loyalty. Muslims and non-Muslims were encouraged to join the army according to their merit. The sultan also formed some sort of special army made from very strong men that were trained and paid heavily and deprived from marriage and cold them janissaries. The decline in the ottoman empire saw few numbers of janissaries and corrupted army forces, the decline of the empire as a whole caused the military to focus on other things rather than training which made it very weak, the decline of weapon innovation and technology made the military power fall behind and become one of the weakest forces in the world.
The economic power of the Ottoman Empire reached its peak during the golden age. Where the power of the country was very noticeable that the country was almost independent to its resources like for example food and other necessities. Istanbul and other big cities were made very important due to trade, and the trade mostly involved luxury goods, and traders from different areas came together to trade in goods from all over the world. On the other hand, in the decline of the Ottoman Empire the west started making agreements with other countries which made them very weak and made them not the middle men in trade between east and west anymore, this however resulted in a very weak economy and dependency to the west, as products in the ottoman empire was bought from the west and national products were not being sold anymore. The country’s economical status diminished causing it to fail due to increased external trade and influence.
In my opinion, the worst decline in the ottoman empire would be the governmental control, as reformers tried to change the government but their tries were deemed to fail due to the fact that the government did not support change and innovation anymore, and focused on many sociology and art rather than the government, and economics and military power. The government was weakened to a point it did not even control its own territory that encouraged revolts and some countries wanting to separate from the Ottoman Empire. The agreements between the ottoman government and western countries however made the ottomans succumb to western rule causing it to be a weaker country that the government could not even enforce rules on most of its people and maybe caused most of the conservatives that were against the reform of the country to disregard the government.