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Ottoman Empire

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After going through this chapter, the students will be able to:

  • Analyse the History and Rise of the Ottoman Empire.
  • Assess and Study the Decline of the Ottoman Empire.

7.1         INTRODUCTION

The Ottoman Turkish or the Ottoman Empire was founded in 1299 under the reign of Osman I lead by Oghuz Turks beginning with Anatolia. Many conquests were undertaken from 1362-1389 by Murad I, this was the time when the Ottoman Sultanate would transform and become an Empire with a varied mix of culture and languages. When in 1453 Byzantine ended that was the fall of Constantinople with invasion by Mehmed who conquered it.

It was between the 16th and the17th centuries that the Ottoman Empire was at the peak of its power as it grew stronger with the reign of Suleiman. During this time the Empire was known to have numerous elements of influences from different cultures and religions which made the Empire grow strong and helped in gaining a stronger footing in other regions included North Africa, Western Asian Caucasus, Southeast Europe and Horn of Africa. By the beginning of the 17th century, the Empire spread across the containing 32 provinces and many vassal states. Absorbing these, the Ottoman Empire grew strong with various autonomy for centuries to come that would make it stronger and the most dominant during its time.

Soon the Ottoman Empire became the prime interaction Empire that would act as a link with communication ties between eastern and the western regions. Constantinople became its capital during that time and its influence spread across the Mediterranean basin that was powerful for six centuries to come.

Even with its strong military base the Empire still declined due to the constant invasion and wars with Europe. The decline of the Ottoman Empire came in the late 19th century. Despite forming allied forces with Germany in the beginning of 20th century and joining World War I, the Empire still declined. The reasons that support its decline were not just the external threats, but, many compounded to the Arab revolt, internal dissent and conflicting internal forces were responsible too. The Arabian holdings of the Ottoman Empire suffered largely due to Arab revolt that became a major reason for its decline.

The Empire was defeated and the territory with allied forces suffered the consequences of world war I that resulted in partition. Even though the Turkish war was already in works to establish their dominion, but it still would render the Empire powerless with the sudden consequences of the world war. Anatolian heartland was still under the rule of Turks and their allies were having a strong hold, but still there was nothing to stop the decline. Ottoman monarchy along with their Caliphate would be abolished by the newly formed republic in the region that created the Middle Eastern and Balkan states free from the power and reign of Ottoman.


Tracing back the history of the Ottomans, the data obtained would mark its origin in the 11th century in Anatolia. It began with the Ghazis who worked for the Islamic cause and the Turkic origin emirates, the Beyliks, are said to be the first to have founded the Empire in Anatolia. The joining of different parts was with the motive of defending the Seljuk border from the Byzantines. It was in 1073 that Seljuk won and overtook the Byzantines in the battle of Manzikert. At this time Beyliks had started building up strength that would result in their openly establishing sovereignty.

The Byzantine Empire reigned for about 400 years to come. The crusades however, still contested the Empire and the Manzikert victory marked the beginning of the Turkic success in Anatolia. During this time the Byzantine Empire had started weakening from within due to many unprecedented situations that lead to a lot of insurmountable troubles, besides the growing rivalry. The Seljuk Sultanate and the Egyptian Fatimids were up in arms against each other along with the forces of Syria that became the prime factor for fuelling the war. Even in this war like situation the Beyliks saw it as an advantage and established their principalities. They were able to unify the principalities and their power was experienced by these very Sultanates.

The most popular of the principalities was Sogut, which was founded by Ertugrul who had settled in the Sakarya Valley.  His successor was Osman who started his reign in 1281, as the Sultan and become the leader who founded and established the Ottoman Dynasty.

Osman I (1299–1326)

Osman I began his reign in 1299 which marked the beginning of the Ottoman Dynasty. Osman was an extremely powerful ruler who had a strong militia. So strong was his army that he easily led an invasion to a Byzantine city called Thebasion and took it over without much struggle. This became the first city to be conquered by Osman and the Ottomans during the 1300s. His fierce battle tactics helped him to easily conquer nearby tribes and Turkish emirates. It was during the 1310s that the Byzantine forts were captured and were under his reign. This led to the complete disintegration of the Byzantine Empire. Osman I further led invasions to the largest known city in Anatolia -  Nicaea, which was captured easily.

Orhan (1326–1362)

Orhan I, the son of Osman I, further expanded the Empire of Ottoman. Under his rule, the Empire grew in strength and the economy become robust as they had their own coins and endowment deeds through the use of siege tactics. This was the exact time when the Ottoman Empire grew exponentially attracting scholars from the east who held positions of judges and administrators and helped with the formation of colleges in 1331 in Iznik.

Theodora was married to Orhan, the daughter of John VI who was the prince of Byzantine. It was during 1346 that John VI became an open supporter of his reign and during 1347-1354 that Orhan raided the Gallipoli Peninsula with full support from John VI. This was a major achievement for the Ottomans that helped them gain a stronger hold in Europe. Next, the Orhan invaded Europr and raised the forces against the Bulgarians and Byzantines.



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