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History and Culture of Ottoman Empire

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Ottoman Empire

The Ottoman Empire, sometimes referred to as the Turkish Empire or simply Turkey, was an empire founded by Turkic tribes under Osman in north-western Anatolia in 1299. With the conquest of Constantinople by Mehmet II in 1453, the Ottoman state was transformed into an empire. During the 16th and 17th centuries, in particular at the height of its power under the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent, the Ottoman Empire was one of the most powerful states in the world – a multinational, multilingual empire, controlling much of Southeast Europe, Western Asia and North Africa.

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At the beginning of the 17th century the empire contained 32 provinces and numerous vassal states, some of which were later absorbed into the empire, while others were granted various types of autonomy .

With Constantinople as its capital and control of vast lands around the Mediterranean basin, the Ottoman Empire was at the centre of interactions between the Eastern and Western worlds for over six centuries. It was dissolved in the aftermath of World War I; the collapse of the empire led to the emergence of the new political regime in Turkey itself, as well as the creation of the new Balkan and Middle East.

1. The formation and rise of Ottoman Empire
Upon the demise of the Turkish Seljuk Sultanate of Rum, precursor of Ottomans, in 1300s, Anatolia was divided into a patchwork of independent, mostly Turkish states. One of which was led by Osman I, from which the name Ottoman is derived. Osman I extended the frontiers of Turkish settlement toward the edge of the Byzantine Empire. In the century after the death of Osman I, Ottoman rule began to extend over the Eastern Mediterranean and the Balkans. Osman’s son, Orhan, captured the city of Bursa in 1324 and made it the new capital of the Ottoman state. The fall of Bursa meant the loss of Byzantine control over Northwestern Anatolia.

The important city of Thessaloniki was captured from the Venetians in 1387. The Ottoman victory at Kosovo in 1389 effectively marked the end of Serbian power in the region, paving the way for Ottoman expansion into Europe. The Battle of Nicopolis in 1396, widely regarded as the last large-scale crusade of the Middle Ages, failed to stop the advance of the victorious Ottoman Turks. With the extension of Turkish dominion into the Balkans, the strategic conquest of Constantinople became a crucial objective.

The Empire controlled nearly all former Byzantine lands surrounding the city, but the Byzantines were temporarily relieved when the Turkish-Mongolian leader Timur invaded Anatolia in the Battle of Ankara in 1402. He took Sultan Bayezid I as a prisoner. The capture of Bayezid I threw the Turks into disorder. The state fell into a civil war that lasted from 1402 to 1413, as Bayezid’s sons fought over succession. It ended when Mehmet I emerged as the sultan and restored Ottoman power, bringing an end to the Interregnum, also known as the Fetret Devri in Ottoman Turkish.

Part of the Ottoman territories in the Balkans were temporarily lost after 1402, but were later recovered by Murad II between the 1430s and 1450s. On 10 November 1444, Murad II defeated the Hungarian, Polish and Wallachian armies under Władysław III of Poland (also King of Hungary) and János Hunyadi at the Battle of Varna, which was the final battle of the Crusade of Varna. Four years later, János Hunyadi prepared another army (of Hungarian and Wallachian forces) to attack the Turks, but was again defeated by Murad II at the Second Battle of Kosovo in 1448.

2. It’s glourious past
The son of Murad II, Mehmed II, reorganized the state and the military, and conquered Constantinople on 29 May 1453. Mehmed allowed the Orthodox Church to maintain its autonomy and land in exchange for accepting Ottoman authority. Because of bad relations between the states of western Europe and the latter Byzantine Empire, the majority of the Orthodox population accepted Ottoman rule as preferable to Venetian rule. The Ottoman Empire reached the peak of its power during the rule of Selim’s son, Suleiman the Magnificent (ruled 1520 -66) and his grandson Selim II (1566 – 74). Suleiman came to the throne as one of the wealthiest rulers in the world. His strength owed much to the work his father Selim had done in stabilizing government, removing opposition, frightening (but not successfully conquering) the Safavid Empire of Iran into adopting a non-aggression policy, and conquering the Mamluk empire of Egypt and Syria. These conquests, which united the lands of Eastern Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean under a single ruler, brought a time of peace and stability, under which the Empire flourished. Suleiman had no internal rivals for power. His father had seen to that by executing his own brothers and their sons, and all 4 of Suleiman’s brothers.

The Ottoman Empire now included so much of the territory where Islam was practiced, and so many of the Islamic holy places, that Suleiman was widely regarded as the religious leader of Islam, as well as the earthly ruler of most Muslims. Ornate mosaic tiles on building walls The Empire attracted Muslim artists and craftsmen The wealth and stability of the Empire at this time attracted the top Muslim brains of the period, and craftsmen, artists, intellectuals and writers were eager to move to Istanbul. Suleiman was named ‘The Magnificent’ by the Europeans, but his own people called him ‘The Lawgiver’.

3. Achievements
1. Economics
Istanbul became not only a political and military capital, but because of its position at the junction of Europe, Africa, and Asia, one of the great trade centres of the world. Another important city was Bursa, which was a centre of the silk trade.

2. Advancement of educational institutions

The madrasah, which its first institution came forward during the Seljuk period, had reached its highest point during the Ottoman reign. Considered as the world’s first institution of higher learning in 1773, the university was founded by Sultan Mustafa III as the Imperial Naval Engineers’ School (original name: Mühendishane-i Bahr-i Humayun), and it was originally dedicated to the training of ship builders and cartographers. In 1795 the scope of the school was broadened to train technical military staff for the modernizing Ottoman army. In 1845 the engineering function of the school was further widened with the addition of a program devoted to the training of architects.

3. Literature

The two primary streams of Ottoman written literature are poetry and prose. Poetry was by far the dominant stream. Until the 19th century, Ottoman prose did not contain any examples of fiction: there were no counterparts to, for instance, the European romance, short story, or novel. Analogue genres did exist, though, in both Turkish folk literature and in Divan poetry.

4. Collection and translation of books

The Ottomans managed to build a very large collection of libraries. Sultan Mehmet II invited scholars from all over the world to translate books written in other languages. One of the oldest sources on the history and philosophy of Christianity was also developed for the palace school.

5. Geography

The Piri Reis map was discovered in 1929 while Topkapi Palace, Istanbul, Turkey was being converted into a museum. It consists of a map drawn on gazelle skin, primarily detailing the western coast of Africa and the eastern coast of South America. The map is considered to have been drawn in 1513 by Piri Reis, a famous admiral of the Turkish fleet.

6. Architecture

Ottoman architecture was influenced by Persian, Byzantine Greek and Islamic architectures. During the Rise period the early or first Ottoman architecture period, Ottoman art was in search of new ideas. The growth period of the Empire become the classical period of architecture, when Ottoman art was at its most confident. During the years of the Stagnation period, Ottoman architecture moved away from this style, however. During the Tulip Era, it was under the influence of the highly ornamented styles of Western Europe 4. Importance in Islamic world

The highest position in Islam, caliphate, was claimed by the sultan, after the defeat of the Mamluks which was established as Ottoman Caliphate. The Sultan was to be a devout Muslim and was given the literal authority of the Caliph. Additionally, Sunni clerics had tremendous influence over government and their authority was central to the regulation of the economy. Despite all this, the Sultan also had a right to decree, enforcing a code called Kanun (law) in Turkish. Additionally, there was a supreme clerical position called the Sheykhulislam (“Sheykh of Islam” in Arabic).

Minorities, particularly Christians and Jews but also some others, were mandated to pay the jizya, the poll tax as mandated by traditional Islam. Ottoman law did not recognize notions such as ethnicity or citizenship; thus, a Muslim of any ethnic background enjoyed precisely the same rights and privileges under Muslim millet. It was claimed that under such conditions, Muslim Arabs came to view the empire as a revived Islamic empire. However, even if Caliphate played a significant role, the real existence of these feelings is questionable. By the 17th century, the Maghreb regencies were only nominally under Ottoman control and Egypt was almost independent by the beginning of the 19th century.

5. Fall of the empire

The power of the empire was waning by 1683 when the second and last attempt was made to conquer Vienna. It failed. Without the conquest of Europe and the acquisition of significant new wealth the Empire lost momentum and went into a slow decline. Several other factors contributed to the Empire’s decline:

The European powers wanted to expand
Economic problems
Competition from trade from the Americas
Competition from cheap products from India and the Far East
Development of other trade routes
Rising unemployment within the Empire
Ottoman Empire became less centralised, and central control weakened Sultans being less severe in maintaining rigorous standards of integrity in the adminstration of the Empire Sultans becoming less sensitive to public opinion

The low quality Sultans of the 17th and 18th centuries
The ending of the execution of Sultan’s sons and brothers, imprisoning them instead Soon the very word Turk became synonymous with treachery and cruelty. This led Turks like Kemal Ataturk, who was born late in the nineteenth century, to be repelled by the Ottoman Turkish political system and the culture it had evolved. Seeing little but decay and corruption, he led the Turks to create a new modern identity. The empire officially ended on the 1st November 1922, when the Ottoman sultanate was abolished and Turkey was declared a republic. The Ottoman caliphate continued as an institution, with greatly reduced authority, until it too was abolished on the 3rd March 1924.

Cite this History and Culture of Ottoman Empire

History and Culture of Ottoman Empire. (2017, Feb 08). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/ottoman-empire/

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