History of the Ottoman Empire
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The history of the Ottoman Empire centers in the lands of southeastern Europe, western Asia, and northern Africa that it occupied between the 14th and early 20th centuries. It was founded at the end of the 13th century in northwestern Anatolia by tribal leader Osman I. After 1354, the Ottomans crossed into Europe and with the conquest of the Balkan, the Ottomans were transformed into a transcontinental empire. They overthrew the Byzantine Empire with the conquest of Constantinople by Mehmed I in 1453.
Under the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent, the Ottoman Empire reached the peak of its power and prosperity along with the highest development of its government, society, and economy. At the beginning of the 17th century, the empire was comprised of 12 provinces and many subordinate states later absorbed into the Ottoman Empire or granted various levels of autonomy over the course of centuries.
With Constantinople (now Istanbul) as its capital and its control of extensive Mediterranean lands, the Ottoman Empire lay at the center of East-West intrigue for six centuries. While the empire seemed to decline after the death of Suleiman, its economy, society and military continued to strengthen into the late 18th century. The long period of peace from 1740 to 1768 softened the empire, and the Ottoman military began to lag its rivals, the Habsburg and Russian empires. As a result, the Ottomans suffered defeat at the hands of these rivals in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, and again in and the successful Greek War of Independence. The Ottomans responded with a program of reform and modernization known as the Tanzimat, and regained much of its power and organization despite losing territory. In the Balkans, nationalism brought the emergence of a number of new states at Ottoman expense.
The Young Turk Revolution in 1908 brought constitutional monarchy with multi-party elections. A coup in 1913 by the Constitutional Union Party created a one-party regime. The CUP allied the Empire with Germany in an effort to reverse its diplomatic isolation and territorial losses by joining World War I on the side of the Central Powers. It struggled with internal dissent, especially with the Arab Revolt in its Arabian holdings, and the Ottoman government committed genocide against the Armenians, the Assyrians, and Greeks living within its borders . The Empire’s defeat and the dismemberment in the aftermath of the Great War resulted in the loss of its Middle Eastern territories, which were given to Britain and France as mandates to govern. But the successful Turkish War of Independence led by Mutafa Kemal (Ataturk) against the occupying Allies led to the establishment of the Republic of Turkey and the end of the Ottoman Empire.
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Pre-Modern Middle East Index | Ottoman Empire: Society • Culture: Architecture • Tulip Period | Timurid Empire | Power • Suleiman • Governance • Decline • Koprolu Viziers • Crisis • Relations with Europe 18th Century • Relations with Europe 19th Century • Abdul Hamid II • Modernization • Egypt: Power | Morocco | North Africa
Pre-Modern Middle East
Suleiman the Magnificent
Relations with Europe 18th Century
Relations with Europe 19th Century
Abdul Hamid II