Sunday, November 11, 2007

The Ottoman Empire (1299 to 1922) (Old Ottoman Turkish: دولت عالیه عثمانیه Devlet-i Âliye-yi Osmâniyye, Late Ottoman and Modern Turkish: Osmanlı Devleti or Osmanlı İmparatorluğu, also known as the Turkish Empire or Turkey by its contemporaries, see the other names of the Ottoman State), was a multi-ethnic and multi-religious Turkish-ruled state which, at the height of its power (16th17th centuries), spanned three continents, controlling much of Southeastern Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, stretching from the Strait of Gibraltar (and, in 1553, the Atlantic coast of Morocco beyond Gibraltar) in the west to the Caspian Sea and Persian Gulf in the east, from the edge of Austria, Slovakia and parts of Ukraine in the north to Sudan, Eritrea, Somalia and Yemen in the south.
The empire was at the centre of interactions between the Eastern and Western worlds for six centuries. At the height of its power, the Ottoman Empire contained 29 provinces, in addition to the tributary principalities of Moldavia, Transylvania, and Wallachia. With Constantinople (today known as Istanbul) as its capital, the Ottoman Empire was in many respects an Islamic successor to earlier Mediterranean empires — namely the Roman and Byzantine empires. As such, the Ottomans regarded themselves as the heirs to both Roman and Islamic traditions, and hence rulers of a "Universal Empire" through this "unification of cultures".

Rise (1299–1453)

Main article: Growth of the Ottoman Empire Expansion and apogee (1453–1566)
Suleiman's death in 1566 marked the beginning of an era of diminishing territorial gains. The rise of western European nations as naval powers and the development of alternate sea routes from Europe to Asia and the New World damaged the Ottoman economy. The effective military and bureaucratic structures of the previous century also came under strain during a protracted period of misrule by weak Sultans. But in spite of these difficulties, the empire remained a major expansionist power until the Battle of Vienna in 1683, which marked the end of Ottoman expansion into Europe.
European states initiated efforts at this time to curb Ottoman control of overland trade routes. Western European states began to circumvent the Ottoman trade monopoly by establishing their own naval routes to Asia. Economically, the huge influx of Spanish silver from the New World caused a sharp devaluation of the Ottoman currency and rampant inflation. This had serious negative consequences at all levels of Ottoman society. Sokullu Mehmet Pasha, who was the grand vizier of Selim II, created the projects of Suez Channel and Don-Volga Channel to save the economy but these were cancelled as well.
In southern Europe, a coalition of Catholic powers, led by Philip II of Spain, formed an alliance to diminish Ottoman naval strength in the Mediterranean Sea. Their victory over the Ottomans at the naval Battle of Lepanto (1571) hastened the end of the empire's primacy in the Mediterranean. In fact, Lepanto was considered by some earlier historians to signal the beginning of Ottoman decline. By the end of the 16th century, the golden era of sweeping conquest and territorial expansion was over.
The Habsburg frontier in particular became a more or less permanent border until the 19th century, marked only by relatively minor battles concentrating on the possession of individual fortresses. This stalemate was partly a reflection of simple geographical limits: in the pre-mechanized age, Vienna marked the furthest point that an Ottoman army could march from Istanbul during the early-spring to late-autumn campaigning season. It also reflected the difficulties imposed on the empire by the need to maintain two separate fronts: one against the Austrians (see:Ottoman wars in Europe), and the other against a rival Islamic state, the Safavids of Persia (see: Ottoman wars in Near East).
On the battlefield, the Ottomans gradually fell behind the Europeans in military technology as the innovation which fed the empire's forceful expansion became stifled by growing religious and intellectual conservatism. Changes in European military tactics caused the once-feared Sipahi cavalry to lose military relevance. Discipline and unit cohesion in the army also became a problem due to relaxations in recruitment policy and the growth of the Janissary corps at the expense of other military units.
Murad IV (1612–1640), who recaptured Yerevan (1635) and Baghdad (1639) from the Safavids, is the only example in this era of a sultan who exercised strong political and military control of the empire. Notably, Murad IV was the last Ottoman emperor who led his forces from the front.
The Jelali revolts (15191610) and Janissary revolts (1622) caused widespread lawlessness and rebellion in Anatolia in the late 16th and early 17th centuries, and toppled several governments. However, the 17th century was not simply an era of stagnation and decline, but also a key period in which the Ottoman state and its structures began to adapt to new pressures and new realities, internal and external.
The Sultanate of women (1530s1660s) was a period in which the political impact of the Imperial Harem was unchallenged, as the mothers of young sultans exercised power on behalf of their sons. Hürrem Sultan, who established herself in the early 1530s as the successor of Nurbanu, the first Valide Sultan, was described by the Venetian Baylo Andrea Giritti as 'a woman of the utmost goodness, courage and wisdom' despite the fact that she 'thwarted some while rewarding others'. The last prominent women of this period were Kösem Sultan and her daughter-in-law Turhan Hatice, whose political rivalry culminated in Kösem's murder in 1651. This period gave way to the Köprülü Era (16561703), during which the Empire was controlled first by the powerful members of the Imperial Harem, and later by a sequence of Grand Viziers. The relative ineffectiveness of the successive sultans and the diffusion of power to lower levels of the government have characterized the Köprülü Era.

Revolts and revival (1566–1683)
The long period of Ottoman decline is typically broken by historians into an era of failed reforms and a subsequent era of modern times. The military and political details of this period are covered in three separate articles: the stagnation of the Ottoman Empire (1699–1827), when the empire began to lose territory along its western borders, but managed to maintain its stature as a great regional power; the decline of the Ottoman Empire (1828–1908), when the empire lost territory on all fronts, and there was administrative instability due to the breakdown of centralized government, despite efforts of reform and reorganization such as the Tanzimat; and the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire (1908-1922), when the Ottoman state finally met its demise under the government of the Committee of Union and Progress which administered the country during the Italo-Turkish War of 1911–1912, the Balkan Wars of 1912–1913, and the First World War of 1914–1918.

Decline and reform (1699–1908)

Main article: Stagnation of the Ottoman Empire Reform (1699–1827)

Main article: Decline of the Ottoman Empire Modernization (1828–1908)

Main article: Dissolution of the Ottoman Empire Dissolution (1908–1922)
The Ottoman Empire took part in the Middle Eastern theatre of World War I, under the terms of the Ottoman-German Alliance. The Ottomans managed to win important victories in the early years of the war, particularly at the Battle of Gallipoli and the Siege of Kut; but there were setbacks as well, such as the disastrous Caucasus Campaign against the Russians. The Russian Revolution of 1917 gave the Ottomans the opportunity to regain lost ground and Ottoman forces managed to take Azerbaijan in the final stages of the war, but the Empire was forced to cede these gains at the end of World War I. A significant event in this conflict was the creation of an Armenian resistance movement in the province of Van, in response to deportations and murders of hundreds of thousands Armenians by Turks and Kurds (Armenian Genocide) Similar arguments swirl around the concurrent mass mortalities suffered by the Assyrian and later the Pontic Greek communities of the Ottoman Empire. The Turkish rejection of the genocide definition is widely viewed by the Armenians as historical revisionism, who often compare it to Holocaust denial. See the main Armenian Genocide article for more information.

World War I
Partitioning of the Ottoman Empire happened in the aftermath of World War I. The empire was forced to submit to a complete partition. The process began with the signing of the Armistice of Mudros on 30 October 1918, followed 13 days later with the occupation of Istanbul; under the shadow of Turkish Courts-Martial of 1919-20 and the Malta exiles followed by the subsequent Treaty of Sèvres. Partition of its Middle Eastern territories under the mandates of Britain and France, cede the Turkish Mediterranean coast to Italy, the Turkish Aegean coast to Greece, cede the Turkish Straits and Sea of Marmara to the Allied powers as an international zone, and recognize the Wilsonian Armenia, an extension of Democratic Republic of Armenia in eastern Anatolia (in an area which was mostly inhabited by Turks and Kurds). Britain obtained virtually everything it had sought under the secret Sykes-Picot Agreement it had made with France in 1916 for the partitioning of the Middle East. The other powers of the Triple Entente, however, soon became entangled in the Turkish War of Independence.
Occupation of Istanbul along with the occupation of İzmir mobilized the establishment of the Turkish national movement, and led to the Turkish War of Independence and the foundation of the Republic of Turkey.
The Turkish national movement, under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal (Atatürk) resulted in the creation of the Grand National Assembly (Büyük Millet Meclisi) in Ankara on 23 April 1920, which refused to recognize the Ottoman government in Istanbul and the invading forces in Turkey. Turkish revolutionaries raised a "people's army" and expelled the invading Greek, Italian and French forces. They took back the Turkish provinces which were given to the Republic of Armenia with the Treaty of Sèvres, and threatened the British forces controlling the Straits. Turkish revolutionaries eventually freed the Straits and Istanbul, and abolished the Ottoman sultanate on 1 November 1922. The last sultan, Mehmed VI Vahdettin (1918-1922), left the country on 17 November 1922, and the Republic of Turkey was officially declared with the Treaty of Lausanne on 24 July 1923. The Caliphate was constitutionally abolished several months later, on 3 March 1924. the Sultan and his family were declared persona non grata of Turkey and exiled. Fifty years later, in 1974, the Grand National Assembly of Turkey granted descendants of the former dynasty the right to acquire Turkish citizenship. See also: Ertuğrul Osman V.
The new countries created from the remnants of the empire currently number 40 (including the disputed Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus).
The fall of the Ottoman Empire can be attributed to the failure of its economic structure; the size of the empire created difficulties in economically integrating its diverse regions. Also, the empire's communication technology was not developed enough to reach all territories. In many ways, the circumstances surrounding the Ottoman Empire's fall closely paralleled those surrounding the fall of the Roman Empire, particularly in terms of the ongoing tensions between the empire's different ethnic groups, and the various governments' inability to deal with these tensions. In the case of the Ottomans, the introduction of a parliamentary system during the Tanzimat proved too late to reverse the trends that had been set in place.


Main article: Economic history of the Ottoman Empire Economic history

Main article: State organisation of the Ottoman Empire State
Further information: Ottoman Dynasty, House of Osman
The "Ottoman dynasty" (c. 12901922) or as an institution "House of Osman" was unprecedented and unequaled in the Islamic world for its size and duration..
Throughout Ottoman history, however — despite the supreme de jure authority of the sultans and the occasional exercise of de facto authority by Grand Viziers — there were many instances in which local governors acted independently, and even in opposition to the ruler. On eleven occasions, the sultan was deposed because he was perceived by his enemies as a threat to the state. There were only two attempts in the whole of Ottoman history to unseat the ruling Osmanlı dynasty, both failures, which is suggestive of a political system which for an extended period was able to manage its revolutions without unnecessary instability.
After the dissolution of the empire, the new republic abolished the Caliphate and Sultanate and declared the Ottoman Dynasty as persona non grata of Turkey. Fifty years later, in 1974, the Grand National Assembly of Turkey granted descendants of the former dynasty the right to acquire Turkish citizenship. The current head of the House of Osman is Ertuğrul Osman V living in New York City.

House of Osman

Main article: Imperial HaremOttoman Imperial Harem

Main article: Palace school Palace schools

Main articles: Porte, Grand Vizier, and Vizier The Divan (Council)

Main article: Imperial Government of the Ottoman Empire Young Turk period
Further information: Tughra, Ottoman Flag
The Tughra were calligraphic monograms, or signatures, of the Ottoman Sultans, of which there were 35. Carved on the Sultan's seal, they bore the names of the Sultan and his father. The prayer/statement "ever victorious" was also present in most. The earliest belonged to Orhan Gazi. The ornately stylized Tughra spawned a branch of Ottoman-Turkish calligraphy.


Main article: Social structure of the Ottoman Empire Society

Main article: Millet (Ottoman Empire) Millet
Further information: Devshirmeh
Slavery was an important part of Ottoman society. In Istanbul, about 1/5 of the population consisted of slaves.


Main articles: Lifestyle of the Ottoman Empire and Culture of the Ottoman court The court and lifestyle
Apart from the Ottoman court, there were also large metropolitan centers where the Ottoman influence expressed itself with a diversity similar to metropolises of today: Sarajevo, Skopje, Thessaloniki, Dimashq, Baghdad, Beirut, Jerusalem, Makkah and Algiers were other cities that had their own examples of Ottoman diversity, with their own small versions of Provincial Administration replicating the culture of the Ottoman court locally.

The provincial capitals

Main article: Culture of the Ottoman Empire Culture

Main article: Ottoman architecture Architecture

Main article: Ottoman Turkish language Language

Main article: Ottoman classical music Music

Main article: Ottoman cuisine Cuisine
Further information: State and Religion (Ottoman Empire), Ottoman Caliphate, History of the Jews in Turkey, History of the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire
Before adopting Islam — a process that was greatly facilitated by the Abbasid victory at the 751 Battle of Talas, which ensured Abbasid influence in Central Asia — the Turkic peoples practised a variety of shamanism. After this battle, many of the various Turkic tribes — including the Oghuz Turks, who were the ancestors of both the Seljuks and the Ottomans — gradually converted to Islam, and brought the religion with them to Anatolia beginning in the 11th century.
The Ottoman Empire was, in principle, tolerant towards Christians and Jews (the "Ehl-i Kitab", or "People of the Book", according to the Qu'ran but not towards the polytheists, in accordance with the Sharia law.
Under the millet system, non-Muslim people were considered subjects of the empire, but were not subject to the Muslim faith or Muslim law. The Orthodox millet, for instance, was still officially legally subject to Justinian's Code, which had been in effect in the Byzantine Empire for 900 years. Also, as the largest group of non-Muslim subjects (or zimmi) of the Islamic Ottoman state, the Orthodox millet was granted a number of special privileges in the fields of politics and commerce, in addition to having to pay higher taxes than Muslim subjects.
The Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II allowed the local Christians to stay in Constantinople (Istanbul) after conquering the city in 1453, and to retain their institutions such as the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate. In 1461 Sultan Mehmed II established the Armenian Patriarchate of Constantinople. Previously, the Byzantines considered the Armenian Church as heretical and thus did not allow them to build churches inside the walls of Constantinople. In 1492, when the Muslims and Sephardic Jews were expelled from Spain during the Spanish Inquisition, the Ottoman Sultan Bayezid II sent his fleet under Kemal Reis to save them and granted the refugees the right to settle in the Ottoman Empire.
The state's relationship with the Greek Orthodox Church was largely peaceful, and recurrent oppressive measures taken against the Greek church were a deviation from generally established practice. The church's structure was kept intact and largely left alone but under close control and scrutiny until the Greek War of Independence of 18211831 and, later in the 19th and early 20th centuries, the rise of the Ottoman constitutional monarchy, which was driven to some extent by nationalistic currents, tried to be balanced with Ottomanism. Other Orthodox churches, like the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, were dissolved and placed under the jurisdiction of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate; until Sultan Abdülaziz established the Bulgarian Exarchate in 1870 and reinstated the autonomy of the Bulgarian Church.
Similar millets were established for the Ottoman Jewish community, who were under the authority of the Haham Başı or Ottoman Chief Rabbi; the Armenian Orthodox community, who were under the authority of a head bishop; and a number of other religious communities as well.

Further information: Mecelle
Ottoman legal system accepted the Religious law over its subjects. The Ottoman Empire was organized around a system of local jurisprudence. Legal administration in the Ottoman Empire was part of a larger scheme of balancing central and local authority. The Ottoman system had three court systems: one for Muslims, one for non-Muslims, involving appointed Jews and Christians ruling over their respective religious communities, and the "trade court". The entire system was regulated from above by means of the administrative Kanun, i.e. laws. Kanun system based upon the Turkic Yasa and Töre which were developed in the pre-Islamic era. The kanun law system, on the other hand, was the secular law of the sultan, and dealt with issues not clearly addressed by the sharia system.
These court categories were not, however, wholly exclusive in nature: for instance, the Islamic courts — which were the empire's primary courts — could also be used to settle a trade conflict or disputes between litigants of differing religions, and Jews and Christians often went to them so as to obtain a more forceful ruling on an issue. The Ottoman state tended not to interfere with non-Muslim religious law systems, despite legally having a voice to do so through local governors. The Islamic Sharia law system had been developed from a combination of the Qur'ān; the Hadīth, or words of the prophet Muhammad; ijmā', or consensus of the members of the Muslim community; qiyas, a system of analogical reasoning from previous precedents; and local customs. Both systems were taught at the empire's law schools, which were in Istanbul and Bursa.
Tanzimat reforms, had a drastic effect on the law system. In 1877, the civil law (excepting family law) was codified in the Mecelle code. Later codifications covered commercial law, penal law and civil procedure.


Main article: Military of the Ottoman Empire Military
The first military unit of the Ottoman State was an army that was organized by Osman I from the tribesmen inhabiting western Anatolia in the late 13th century. The military system became an intricate organization with the advance of the Empire.
The Ottoman military was a complex system of recruiting and fief-holding. The main corps of the Ottoman Army included:
The Ottoman army was once among the most advanced fighting forces in the world, being one of the first to employ muskets. The Ottoman cavalry used bows and short swords and often applied nomad tactics similar to those of the Mongol Empire; such as pretending to retreat while surrounding the enemy forces inside a crescent-shaped formation and then making the real attack.
Starting from the Battle of Kosovo in 1389 and the Battle of Nicopolis in 1396, the Ottoman army quickly advanced towards central Europe, capturing Hungary with the Battle of Mohács in 1526 and twice laying siege to Vienna, in 1529 and 1683.
The modernization of the Ottoman Empire in the 19th century started with the military. In 1826 Sultan Mahmud II abolished the Janissary corps and established the modern Ottoman army, which he named as the Nizam-ı Cedid (New Order). The Ottoman army was also the first institution to hire foreign experts and send its officers for training in western European countries.

Janissary: Infantry units recruited at a very young age from the non-Muslim ethnic groups of the empire and raised as Muslim Turkish warriors; also forming the Sultan's household troops and bodyguard.
Sipahi: Elite cavalry knights who were granted tımars (fiefs) throughout the empire's lands. Their alternative name was Tîmârlı Sipahi (Enfiefed Knight).
Akıncı: Frontline cavalry units of the Ottoman Army which raided and scouted the border areas and outposts.
Mehterân: Ottoman Army Band which played martial tunes during military campaigns. The mehterân was usually associated with the Janissary corps. Ottoman Army

Main article: Ottoman Navy Ottoman Navy

Main article: Ottoman Air Force Ottoman Air Force
47 Constantelos, D (1978) "The neomartyrs as evidence for methods and motives leading to conversion and martyrdom in the Ottoman Empire" published in The Greek Orthodox Theological Review, vol. XXII, No. 3-4, pp. 216-234


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