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.

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