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Ottoman History

The Ottoman dynasty was the longest lasting dynasty in the world - 641 years. In addition, the Ottoman Sultans had been Caliph of the Islamic world for 407 years; from 1516 when Selim Khan obtained the title, to 1924 when that dignity was abrogated. However, as both the Caliphacy and the sultanate ceased to function at times, it could be said that the Ottoman Caliphacy continued for 393 years, finishing at the point in time when Sultan Abdulhamid was dethroned. He had been the 98th Caliph (beginning with His Exalted Highness Abu Bakr).
Most of the Ottoman Sultans were craftsmen of one type or another. Some were poets, some calligraphers, athletes and carpenters. The poets were:
Amurath the Second, Mehmed the Conqueror, Bayezid the Lightning, Selim the Excellent, Suleyman the Legislator, Selim the Second, Amurath the Third, Mahomed the Third, Ahmed the First, Osman the Second, Amurath the Fourth, Mahmoud the First, Abdul Hamid the First, Selim the Third, Mahmoud the Second, Abdulaziz, Amurath the; Fifth and Mehmed Reshad.
Some of the calligraphers were - Ahmed the First, Osman the Second, Mahmoud the First and Moustafa the Fourth.
Apart from these, Suleyman the Magnificent was a goldsmith and Abdul Hamid an archer and bowman of great skill.
The longest ruling Sultan was Suleyman the Great, who reigned for 46 years, whilst the shortest reign was that of Amurath the Fifth - a period of just three months.
The 14th Sultan, Ahmed the First, reigned for 14 years. Sultan Abdulhamid II, the 33rd Emperor, reigned for exactly 33 years, and the 17th Sultan, Amurath the Fourth, ruled for 17 years.
From the founding of the great Ottoman Empire in 1299 until it was dissolved in 1922, 623 years passed. The Ottoman Emperors were usually called Padishah and rarely Hunkar or Sultan. Since August 29th, 1516 they were also called Calipha, being the greatest of the Moslem leaders.
The Sultan had to come from the Ottoman family and had total control of the country. To begin with, the eldest son of an Emperor was made Sultan but this honour passed to the eldest person in the family. Ottoman princes were given the title "Shaykh Zade", while princesses were called "Sultana". The mother of a Sultan was called "Walide Sultana" and the Sultan's wives were termed, at first, Haseki and later "Qadin Effendi".
Every Friday in the mosques Houtbes (sermons) were read in the name of the current Sultan. The dynasty colour of the Ottomans was red, while seven or nine aigrettes were taken for the Sultans. In addition, grand viziers, viziers and governor generals had five and Sandjack Beys obtained one.
Anything belonging to the Sultans was given the title Royal (Humayoun) or Imperial (Shakane).
The Turkish Emperors were crowned at the Mosque of Eyub on the first Friday of the sultanate.
The Sultan's palaces were called Saray-i Humayoun, the Palace of Topkapi being constructed on a plot of 700 acres and housing 40,000 people. Other famous palaces were the Imperial Palace of Edirne, Dolmabahche Palace and the Yildiz Palace. For over 405 years, from July 25th, 1518 until March 3rd, 1924, the Holy Qur'an was perpetually recited, day and night, in the Department of Mohammed's Cloak in the Topkapi Palace. The women of the palace lived in the Haram. The palace kitchen was called Matbakh Amire.
"Ottomans are extremely obedient to the principles of morality, honesty and honour, as mentioned in the Holy Qur'an. Social relations and orderliness among them depend on sincerity and compassion. They do not find it necessary to make written contracts between themselves as do people in other countries. Good will and a person's word solve every problem - Ottoman Turks are captives of their promises. They act this way not only to their compatriots but also to foreigners, regardless of their religion. It makes no difference whether people are Muslims or any other religion in respect of keeping their promises and they regard illegal profit as dishonest and against their religion. They sincerely believe that any fortune acquired this way makes one unhappy both in this world and the next."
Marco Polo said that Turkish women were the most chaste and decent in the world and Vembery stated that there were no words such as Fahishe (whore) and Pich (illegitimate child) in the old Turkish language. Such words had been taken from the Persian language.
Self esteem and haughtiness are regarded as characteristics of the Devil and a great statesman who is inordinately proud shows that he is not worthy of his position. In Ottoman ceremonies or processions officials shouted at the Sultan and all of the high officials "Never be proud of yourself. Allah is the only one to be glorified".
Respect for older people who have achieved high position, has been an unchanging Turkish tradition. Parents are to be respected, as are elder sisters and brothers. An elder brother has always been called Aghabei while an elder sister is given the name Abla and it is an insult to call them anything else. No older person is ever called by his or her actual name in Turkey.
Anyone who dies without carrying out a charitable deed was regarded as less than human, and as such, great many mosques (Masajid), fountains and all sorts of architectural works can be found - not counting military establishments - having been built as works of philanthropy during the Imperial era.
Turks are dignified, serious, sedate and humble. They hate noise and are never rowdy or boisterous. They like peace and tranquility, rarely reveal their emotions and regard boasting as shameful. Culture is essential to the Turk, as are courtesy and respect of womanhood.
(from "The Civiliation of the Ottomans" by Yilmaz Oztuna)
Ottoman History: 1281 - 1299
The founder of the Ottoman Empire, Osman Gazi (or, as he is known, Osman Khan or Osman Bey) was descended from a line of great leaders who had, in turn, led the Kayi Tribe, the most famous of all the 24 Turkish tribes.
Osman Khan's father, Ertoghrul Gazi, had been appointed Uchbey on the Byzantine Frontier by the Seljukian Sultan, Alauddin. The land was given to him to control and lay along the boundaries of Brusa, Kutahya and Biledjik. Ertoghrul Gazi captured the town of Saegut from the Byzantine Empire and made it the capital city of the region. The duties of the Uchbey were to defend the frontiers of the Empire and to fight against the attacks of the Crusader Knights.
On the death of Ertoghrul Gazi in 1281, his son Osman Gazi, despite being the youngest member of his family, was elected Uchbey to succeed his father.
Osman Gazi, through a clever mixture of diplomacy and warfare, gained large tracts of land from the neighboring Byzantine Emperors. Faced by an alliance of the Byzantine Emperors of Brusa and Nice on the one hand, and Yarhisar and Karadjahisar on the other, Osman Gazi declared war. He attacked Nice and in 1291 captured Karadjahisar. He changed the Castle Church into a mosque and assigned a judge to rule the area.
After further victories at Biledjik and Yarhisar in 1299 he married his son, Orkan Gazi, to the daughter of the Byzantine Emperor of Yarhisar.
In 1299 Osman Gazi declared independence, granting fiefs to his Moslem army veterans and appointing wardens, judges and magistrates to take charge of castles and strong points.
Ottoman History: 1301 - 1399
In 1301 Osman captured Yenisheheer and Youndhissar, making the former the capital of the territory. After besieging Iznick in 1303 and gaining numerous minor victories, he siezed the city of Brusa in 1326. Shortly afterwards, Osman Gazi died.
He was succeeded by his son Orkan Gazi (or Orkan Bey) who continued to extend the boundaries of the new country, adding Izmit and other places to his territories. Orkan gained a notable victory over a Byzantine army which attempted to lift the siege of Nice and added the principality of Karesi to his lands. Angora was regained from the Ahi Tribe and Cheembi Castle, Gallipoli, Bolayir, Malkara, Chorlou and Tekirdagh were added to Ottoman territories.
During the reign of Orkan Gazi coins were used for the first time in the Ottoman Empire. Orkan died in 1360, being succeeded by his son Amurath the First.
Amurath captured Chorlou and Lulebourgaz and regained Angore from the Ahi Tribe once more in 1363. His generals Evranos Bey and Jadji Ilbey annexed Malkara, Keshan, Ipsala, Dedeaghach and Dimetoka while Edirne, Philibe and Gumushhane were also taken.
The Crusader armies attacked Edirne but were defeated by Hadji Ilbey. After further victories the Bulgarian Kingdom was annexed to the Ottoman Empire and Amurath married Maria, the sister of the Bulgarian King.
After the Serbian Tribe was defeated in 1371 their leader acknowledged the overlordship of the Ottoman Empire and
agreed to pay 50 okkas of silver to the Sultan. He also agreed to send troops to fight for the Empire as and when needed. Following this victory Amurath returned to Brusa and married his son, Bayezid, to Solyman Shah's daughter, receiving Kutalya, Tavshanh, Simav and Emet as dowry.
Aksheheer, Karaaghach, Eghirdir and Hamidogllou were purchased from Hussein Bey and, in 1385, Ishtip, Monaster and Ohree were conquered by Timourtash Pasha. Sophia and Nish in Bulgaria became mandates of the Ottomans but there was a setback when the Kings of Serbia and Bosnia and the Princes of Albania and Crotia defeated Timourtash Pasha at Ploshnik with an army of 30,000 troops.
In an attempt to take advantage of this reversal, several European nations formed a Union of Crusaders, but before they could launch an assault the armies of the Ottoman Empire, under Ali Pasha, defeated the forces of the King of Bulgaria and the Prince of Dobroudja, thus preventing a Crusader attack. Amurath then passed on into Roumelia and in 1389 put the Crusaders to rout.
Tragically, Amurath was slain by a Serbian soldier after the battle and was succeeded by his son, Bayezid.
Tribes such as the Menteske and Hamid Oghoullari seized the opportunity to declare war on the Ottoman Empire but Bayezid the Yilderim (Lightning) quickly moved against them and put an end to their challenge. Beysheheer was ceeded to the Empire and peace was declared.
Sultan Bayezid Khan now besieged Istanbul, an action which led to a new Crusade. At the Battle of Nighbolou the Crusaders were utterly defeated and the siege of Istanbul continued. The Anatolian Castle was built and Bayezid, leaving the siege in the hands of the Vizier Ali Pasha, passed on to Anatolia and annexed Koniah. Burhanuddin and Malatia were also conquered.
While Bayezid was away, a fleet under the command of Boucicant raised the siege of Istanbul and regained the castles. Bayezid renewed the siege in 1400 but the invasion of Anatolia by Timour caused him to lift it again.
Ottoman History: 1400 - 1452
Timour plundered Siwas and moved into Western Anatolia and Syria. Bayezid gathered his forces and attacked Angora in 1402. However, he was routed by Timour and taken prisoner and died in captivity in 1403.
On Bayezid's death, his sons declared separate, independent sultanates - Solyman in Romelia, Isa Chelebi in Balikeseer, Chelebi Mehmed in Amassia and Mousa Chelebi in Brusa.
Subsequently, Chelebi Mehmed became the sole sovereign in 1413. After his death in 1421 his son Amurath the Second took his place.
He supressed a rebellion led by his brother Moustapha, attacked the Byzantines, made war with Venice and besieged Eghriboz and Morea. In 1430 he regained Salonica from the Venetians and Wallachia and Serbia joined the Ottoman Empire once more. In 1437 Hamidili, Tashili, Koniah and Beysheheer were conquered.
Amurath left the throne to his young son Mehmed but this resulted in new attacks by the Crusaders. However, the invaders were routed and Amurath took the throne once more. He defeated another Crusader force in 1448 and then attacked Albania. Akcha-Hissar was besieged but not taken.
On Amurath's death, his son Mehmed succeeded him. Having built the fortress of Roumelia he then besieged Istanbul. After a siege of 53 days the city fell on May 29th, 1453.
Ottoman History: 1453 - 1511
Shortly afterwards Serbia and Morea were taken, as were the islands of Limni, Tashos, Midilli, Imros and Eghribos in the Aegean Sea. Mehmed next put an end to the Greek Empire of Trebizond in 1461 and siezed Geonese Colonies in the Crimea. The Crimea was subjected to the Ottoman Empire.
Mehmed declared war against the Akkoyun Empire in 1473 and at the Battle of Otlukbeli he defeated Ouzoun Hassan, the Akkoyun Emperor. With that victory Mehmed the Conqueror annexed the whole of Anatolia as far as the River Euphrates.
In 1480 Gedik Ahmed Pasha began a campaign against Italy. He captured the citadel of Otranto but his own death prevented a complete conquest. Mehmed the Conqueror set out for Egypt but, on his way to do battle at Gebze, he died.
Mehmed was succeeded by his son Bayezid. His brother Djem rebelled against him but was eventually defeated and took refuge in Europe. Bayezid added Herzegovina and Moldavia to his Empire but did not conduct many campaigns while his brother still lived in Europe.
War between the Ottoman and Mameluke Empires began in 1485 and continued for six years, only ending after the Peace of Tunis in 1491. There were many gains for the Ottoman Empire and a rebellion by Shah Ismail began in Anatolia. The rebellion was put down by Hadim Ali Pasha. During Bayezid's last days his sons began to struggle between themselves for the sultanate.
After considerable argument Sultan Bayezid Khan was, either willingly or unwillingly, obliged to hand over power to his son Selim (the Excellent) who had been supported by the Janissaries because of his bravery and courage.
Ottoman History: 1512 - 1539
Sultan Selim immediately began operations against Shiite rebels who had strong support in Anatolia. Forty thousand of them were killed in battle and later, at the Battle of Childiran, Shah Ismail was routed. The provinces of Dulkadiroghoullari, Marash and Elbistan were siezed. The Mamelukes were totally defeated at Medjibadik in 1516 and at Ridaniye in 1517. In addition, Syria, Egypt and Hejaz came, administratively, into the Ottoman Empire. On his last campaign to Edirne, Selim died at Chorlou in 1520. His son, Solyman the Magnificent (or Legislator) succeeded him.
During Solyman's sultanate the rebellion of Djanberdi Gazali was suppressed and Belgrade and Rhodesia added to the Empire. At the Battle of Mohadj the Hungarian armies were routed and Hungary became a Kingdom of the Ottoman Empire. In 1529 Vienna was siezed but never fully conquered.
After the retreat of the Ottoman armies the Austrian Emperor attacked, in an attempt to take Boudin, and Solyman began a new campaign. Austria was occupied and peace declared in 1533. The Grand Vizier, Ibrahim Pasha, was sent to rule Persia and Solyman left for Iraq.
Solyman conquered Baghdad and Tebriz and then declared war on Venice. Solyman attacked by land and Barbarossa Khairuddin by sea but, after the unsuccessful siege of Corfu, Turkish troops withdrew in 1537. A year later, however, Barbarossa destroyed the Christian fleet at Preveze and extended the Ottoman domination of the Mediterranean region.
Ottoman History: 1540 - 1570
In 1540 Hungary became a Turkish province and in 1543 Barbarossa bombarded Nice. Suleyman siezed the citadel of Estergon and in 1544 a new campaign was waged against Persia. Shah Tahmasb did not dare to face Suleyman and a great many castles were taken. Following an inconclusive action in 1552 Shah Tahmasb offered to make peace and, as part of the Treaty, Azerbijan, Eastern Anatolia and Iraq were added to the Empire of the Ottomans.
In 1566, while engaged in besieging the Castle of Sigetwar, Suleyman the Magnificent died. The castle fell shortly after his death and the throne was assumed by his son, Selim.
The mid-16th century also saw the triumph of the devsirme over the Turkish nobility, which lost almost all its power and position in the capital and returned to its old centres of power in southeastern Europe and Anatolia. In consequence, many of the timars formerly assigned to the notables to support the spahi cavalry were seized by the devsirme and transformed into great estates--becoming, for all practical purposes, private property--thus depriving the state of their services as well as the revenue they could have produced if they had been transformed into tax farms. While the spahis did not entirely disappear as a military force, the Janissaries and the associated artillery corps became the most important segments of the Ottoman army
Ottoman History: 1570 - 1644
Cyprus was conquered in 1570 although a large part of the Turkish fleet was destroyed by the Crusaders at Inebahtin the same year.
Selim was succeeded by his son Amurath the Third. The long wars which had lasted for 12 years ended with the victory of the Turks, the Peace of Istanbul being signed in 1590. Tebriz, Karadagh Gendje, Kars, Tilflis, Shehrizar, Nihavend and Luristan were added to the Empire.
The Austrian-Ottoman Wars began again when the King of Erdel and the Mayors of Walachia and Moldavia, in alliance with Rudolph, the Austrian Emperor, rebelled against Turkish rule. During these wars Amurath died and his place was taken by his son, Mehmed the Third in 1595. The fortress of Eghri was siezed in 1596 and the Austrian army routed at Hachova. The Castle of Kanije was taken, Austrian attempts to retake the citadel in 1601 failing in the face of stern resistance by Tiryaki Hassan Pasha. Transylvania, Walachia and Moldavia were subjected to the Ottomans once again and in 1606 the Treaty of Zitvator was signed. During the war Mehmed died, to be succeeded by his son Ahmed the First (1603).
Economic difficulties began in the late 16th century, when the Dutch and British completely closed the old international trade routes through the Middle East. As a result the prosperity of the Middle Eastern provinces declined. The Ottoman economy was disrupted by inflation, caused by the influx of precious metals into Europe from the Americas and by an increasing imbalance of trade between East and West. As the treasury lost more of its revenues to the depredations of the devsirme, it began to meet its obligations by debasing the coinage, sharply increasing taxes, and resorting to confiscations, all of which only worsened the situation. All those depending on salaries found themselves underpaid, resulting in further theft, overtaxation, and corruption. Holders of the timars and tax farms started using them as sources of revenue to be exploited as rapidly as possible, rather than as long-term holdings whose prosperity had to be maintained to provide for the future. Political influence and corruption also enabled them to transform these holdings into private property, either as life holdings (malikâne) or religious endowments (vakif), without any further obligations to the state.
Inflation also weakened the traditional industries and trades. Functioning under strict price regulations, the guilds were unable to provide quality goods at prices low enough to compete with the cheap European manufactured goods that entered the empire without restriction because of the Capitulations agreements. In consequence, traditional Ottoman industry fell into rapid decline. Christian subjects combined with foreign diplomats and merchants, who were protected by the Capitulations, largely to drive the sultan's Muslim and Jewish subjects out of industry and commerce and into poverty and despair
In 1603, while the Ottomans were fighting with the Austrians, the Iranian Shah attacked and the second war with Persia began. The war ended with an agreement that the Shah would pay 200 yuks (an ancient unit of weight) of silk to the Emperors each year. War again broke out when this agreement was broken but it was an inconclusive affair in which neither side gained the upper hand.
Rebellion broke out in Anatolia (Jelali Revolts) and from this point on, the great Ottoman Empire began to decline. Military achievements began to diminish. The rebellion in Anatolia dragged on and was only subdued in the time of Amurath Pasha (the Well-digger).
Mustapha the First succeeded Ahmed on the latter's death, but was dethroned due to ill health. Osman the Second took power instead of him. The Polish Cossacks invaded Ottoman lands and war broke out. Osman realised that the Janissaries were out of control and undisciplined and, therefore, resolved to abolish them and found a new military corps. Hearing of this the Janissaries rioted and in 1622 Osman was murdered.
Mustapha was made Sultan for the second time but, again, his reign did not last long. He was dethroned and Amurath the Fourth was made Sultan. A new war broke out between the Empire and Persia. Baghdad was lost and, in Anatolia, Abaza Mehemet Pasha and, in Istanbul, the Sultan's Bodyguard, rioted against Imperial administration. Amurath, in response, brought in fierce rules and laws and subdued the rebellions by quick, bloody action.
Amurath reorganised the Empire and waged a fierce campaign against Persia. Revan was regained and, in a second campaign, Baghdad was taken. When Amurath died in 1640 his brother Ibrahim (Abraham) took his place.
Ottoman History: 1645 - 1710
In the East, anarchy in Iran was brought to an end by Shah 'Abbas I, who not only restored Iranian power but also conquered Iraq (1624) and threatened to take the entire Ottoman Empire. Though Murad IV was able to retake Iraq (1638), Iran remained a major threat.
In 1645 the Castle of Hania on the island of Crete was lost to the Venetians, as was a large part of the island. Following this the Venetians attacked the coastal areas of Turkey with their fleet. Sultan Ibrahim was dethroned and his son Mehmed the Fourth took his place. Some sections of the Sultan's Bodyguard in Istanbul rebelled, while further rebellions were provoked by Djelal in Anatolia. The Ottoman Empire lost more land in Crete.
However, in 1656, Kiuprili Mahomed Pasha was made Grand Vizier and it was largely thanks to his efforts that the Ottoman Empire regained much of its power at this time. The rebellion in Istanbul was put down, a new war declared against Venice and Crete was regained after the defeat of the Venetian fleet.
Finally, a long war with Venice (1645-69), occasioned by Ottoman efforts to capture Crete, exposed Istanbul to a major Venetian naval attack. Although the Venetians finally were pushed back in a naval campaign culminating in the Ottoman conquest of Crete (1669), they still posed a major threat that, like those which had occurred earlier in the century, stimulated the ruling class to accept needed reforms.
Efforts were made to restore the timar and tax farm systems as the basis of the administration and army and to limit taxes to the limits imposed by law. Provincial revolts were suppressed, peasants were forced back to the land, and cultivation was increased. Debased coins were replaced by coins of full value. Industry and trade were encouraged, corrupt officials executed, and insubordination driven out.
Europe now faced by the Ottomans was far more powerful than that which the great sultans of the past had defeated; even if the reforms had been more permanently successful, they could not have corrected the increasing Ottoman weakness relative to the powerful nation-states then rising in Europe. Such an understanding was to come to the Ottoman reformers only in the 19th century.
War was declared against the King of Transylvania who had risen against the Ottomans. The fortress of Yanova and several other citadels were seized while the rebellion of Abaza Hassan Pasha was subdued. On the death of Kiuprili Mahomed Pasha in 1661, his son Fazyl Ahmed Pasha became Grand Vizier and war was declared on Austria. Kiuprili Fazyl Pasha was appointed Serdar-i Ekrem (Great Commander in Chief). The fortresses of Uyvar and Zerinvar were captured and Fazyl Pasha set out for Crete where the fortress of Kandiye was captured.
In 1666, on the condition that Venice retained some small castles, the island of Crete was annexed to Ottoman territories. A campaign was launched on Poland where the Cossacks were attacked and the castle at Kommaniche was taken. Fazyl Ahmed Pasha died in 1676 and Kara Moustapha Pasha took his place. The Castle of Cherin, previously held by the Russian Empire, was taken.
In 1683 Mehmed declared war on Austria again and Vienna besieged for the second time. However, due to treachery by the Khan of the Crimea, the Polish King, king Jan Sobieski (ruled 1674-96), not only held out but also built a major European coalition that was to bring destruction to the Ottoman Empire during the 18th century. The Habsburgs set out to reconquer Hungary, Serbia, and the Balkans, while Venice hoped to regain its naval bases along the Adriatic coast and in the Morea and to resume its naval and commercial power in the Levant, and Russia worked to extend its reach through the Bosporus, the Sea of Marmara, and the Dardanelles to the Aegean. was able to arrive to support the city and the Ottoman army was defeated. Austria, Venice and Poland formed an alliance against Turkey and, shortly afterwards, it was joined by the Russian Empire. The Ottomans were routed and, according to the Peace of Karlofcha in 1699, the Empire was divided up as follows:
Hungary, apart from Temeshvar, to Austria. Morea to Venice. Podolia and Kommaniche to Poland.
The fortress of Azoph went to Russia by the Treaty of Istanbul, 1700. Shortly after this, rebellions broke out again in Anatolia and Istanbul. Mehmed had been dethroned in 1687, being succeeded by Solyman the Second. He, in turn, had been succeeded by Ahmed the Second in 1691.
Attempts were made to retake land lost by the Treaties of Istanbul and Karlofcha. At one stage the Swiss King took refuge with the Ottomans. Subsequently there was another war with Russia. Under the command of Mehemet Pasha the Baltadji (Woodcutter) the Turks defeated Russian armies at Pruth and by the Peace of Pruth, 1711, the land given to Russia by the Treaty of Istanbul was given back. After war with Venice, Morea and other islands given to Venice by the Treaty of Karlofcha were also regained.
Ottoman History: 1710 - 1820
In 1710-11 it fought Russia again, and at the Treaty of the Pruth (1711) it regained some territories previously lost. The war of 1714-18 with Venice and Austria was concluded by the Treaty of Passarowitz (1718); and three wars with Russia and Austria, in 1736-39, 1768-74, and 1787-92, culminated in the treaties of Belgrade (1739), Küçük Kaynarca (1774), and Jassy (1792). As a result of these wars, the Ottomans lost Hungary, the Banat of Temesvár region, Transylvania, and Bukovina, establishing their European boundary on the Danube, where it had been early in the 16th century.
Three wars with Russia and Austria, in 1736-39, 1768-74, and 1787-92, culminated in the treaties of Belgrade (1739), Küçük Kaynarca (1774), and Jassy (1792). As a result of these wars, the Ottomans lost Hungary, the Banat of Temesvár region, Transylvania, and Bukovina, establishing their European boundary on the Danube, where it had been early in the 16th century.
Sultan Ahmed III (ruled 1703-30) built several lavish summer residences on the Bosporus and the Golden Horn (an inlet that forms part of the harbour of Istanbul), and members of his immediate entourage built similarly lavish houses, holding frequent garden parties in imitation of the pleasures of Versailles. The sultan and his ministers were no longer confined behind the walls of the Topkapi palace
Beginning in the so-called Tulip Period - Lale Devri (1717-30), some Ottomans under the influence of the grand vizier Ibrahim Pasa began to dress like Europeans, and the palace began to imitate European court life and pleasures. Growing tulips became an obsession with rich and poor alike, signifying Westernization, and the flower gave its name to the period. In 1727 Turkish-language books were printed for the first time in the empire, by a Hungarian convert who took the name Ibrahim Müteferrika.
In 1723, during war with Persia, parts of Iran close to the Iraq boundary were annexed to Ottoman territories and the Peace of Hemedan was signed in 1727. Hemedan and Tebriz were soon lost to the Shah, however, and the Patrona Riot broke out in Istanbul. Ibrahim Pasha was slaughtered and Ahmed the Third dethroned from his sultanate.
The most successful and lasting Ottoman military reform during this time came in the navy, which was modernized by the grand admiral Gazi Hasan Pasa (served 1770-89) with the support and encouragement of the sultan Abdülhamid I (ruled 1774-89); this success came largely because the Ottoman naval establishment was devastated in 1770 at the Battle of Çesme by a Russian fleet that had sailed from the Baltic Sea, and there was none of the inbred resistance that stifled significant reforms elsewhere. Important reforms introduced into the army under the grand vizier Halil Hamid Pasa (served 1782-85), with the help of Western technicians, were limited to new corps specially created for the purpose. The bulk of the Ottoman army remained unchanged and therefore was more equipped to suppress reform at home than to challenge modern Western armies.
These 18th-century reform efforts culminated during the reign of Selim III (ruled 1789-1807), often considered the originator of modern reform in the Ottoman Empire. While still a prince, Selim developed plans for modernizing the Ottoman army. He came to the throne during the 1787-92 war with Austria and Russia and had to postpone serious reform efforts until its completion. Selim's early efforts to modernize the Janissary corps created such opposition that thereafter he concentrated on creating a new European-style army called the nizam-i cedid ("new order"), using modern weapons and tactics developed in Europe. This new force, never numbering more than 10,000 active soldiers, was trained in Istanbul and in a number of Anatolian provincial centres by officers and military experts sent by the different European powers that were competing for the sultan's support. In order to avoid disrupting the established Ottoman institutions, it was financed by an entirely new treasury, called the irad-i cedid ("new revenue"), whose revenues came from taxes imposed on previously untaxed sources and from the confiscation of some timars whose holders were not fulfilling their military and administrative duties to the state. Under the guidance of European technicians, factories were erected to manufacture modern weapons and ammunition, and technical schools were opened to train Ottoman officers. Limited efforts also were made to rationalize the Ottoman administrative machinery, but largely along traditional lines. The older military corps, however, remained intact and hostile to the new force, and Selim was therefore compelled to limit its size and use.
By 1812 the Ottomans had lost all their possessions on the northern coast of the Black Sea, from the Romanian principalities to the Caucasus, including Bessarabia, southern Ukraine, and the Crimea (the soldiers of which had provided the strongest element in the Ottoman army during the 17th century). In addition, the Ottomans were compelled to allow the Russians and Austrians to intervene legally on behalf of the sultan's Christian subjects, increasing European influence in internal Ottoman affairs.
Ottoman History: 1821 - 1838
War came to an end in 1821 with the Peace of Bucharest. The river Pruth was agreed as the frontier between the two countries and Walachia and Moldavia returned to Turkey.
The Greeks of Morea now rose in rebellion. It was put down but England, France and Russia formed an alliance. They destroyed the Ottoman-Egyptian fleet at Nevarin and Russia seized Walachia and Moldavia once more. The fortress of Calas, Ibrael, Isakchi, Tolchi, Machin and Silistre were lost and Russian forces advanced as far as Edirne and the eastern region of Anatolia. The Peace of Edirne ended the war with large parts of Anatolia abandoned to the Russians. In 1830 Turkey accepted the establishment of an independent Greek Empire.
Most manifestations of decline were only continuations and elaborations of earlier conditions. In the later Ottoman period, however, a new factor of decline was added: the weakness of the central government resulted in the loss of control of most of the provinces to the local ruling notables, called ayan or derebeyis ("lords of the valley") in Anatolia and klephts or hayduks in Europe, who took more or less permanent control of large areas, creating a situation that in many ways resembled European feudalism much more than the traditional Ottoman timar system ever did.
In the Balkans and Anatolia local rulers solidified their positions by taking advantage of currents of local nationalism that were arising among the Balkan Christians. The notables formed private armies of mercenaries and slaves, which they sometimes used to provide important contributions to the Ottoman armies in return for recognition of their autonomy by the sultans. These rulers were able to exercise almost complete authority, collecting taxes for themselves and sending only nominal payments to the treasury, thus further increasing its problems.
France now occupied Algeria. Mehmet Ali Pasha, the Governor of Egypt, rebelled and advanced as far as Kutahia Sultan Mahmoud asked Russia for help and this was agreed in 1833. As part of the agreement Mehmet Ali Pasha was made Governor of Syria and Governorship of Adana was abandoned to Ibrahim Pasha.
Ottoman History: 1839 - 1859
In 1839 another war broke out between Mehmed Pasha in Egypt and the Ottoman Empire. The Turkish armies were defeated at Nizip. Sultan Mahmoud died and was succeeded by his son Abdulkhamid the First.
In 1839 the Ottoman Political Reformation Firman was made public and this edict began a period of political reform in the Ottoman Empire. In 1846 Lebanon was divided in two, following French diplomatic moves. Rebellions broke out in Walachia and Moldavia but, with Russian help, these were put down. Hungarian refugees from political troubles in Hungary arrived in Turkey at about this time but, despite pressure from both Russia and Austria, they were not ejected.
In 1853 the Crimean War broke out, Turkey fighting Russia near the Danube and, with French and British support, in the Crimea. The war ended in 1856 with the Peace of Paris.
The Tanzimat is the name given to the series of Ottoman reforms promulgated during the reigns of Mahmud's sons Abdülmecid I (ruled 1839-61) and Abdülaziz (1861-76). The best-known of these reforms are the Hatt-i Serif of Gülhane ("Noble Edict of the Rose Chamber"; Nov. 3, 1839) and the Hatt-i Hümayun ("Imperial Edict"; Feb. 18, 1856).
Before the reforms, education in the Ottoman Empire had not been a state responsibility but had been provided by the various millets; education for Muslims was controlled by the ulama and was directed toward religion. The first inroads into the system had been made with the creation of naval engineering (1773), military engineering (1793), medical (1827), and military science (1834) colleges. In this way specialized Western-type training was grafted onto the traditional system to produce specialists for the army. Similar institutions for diplomats and administrators were founded, including the translation bureau (1833) and the civil service school (1859); the latter was reorganized in 1877 and eventually became the political science department of the University of Ankara and the major training centre for higher civil servants.
In 1846 the first comprehensive plan for state education was put forward. It provided for a complete system of primary and secondary schools leading to the university level, all under the Ministry of Education. A still more ambitious educational plan, inaugurated in 1869, provided for free and compulsory primary education. Both schemes progressed slowly because of a lack of money, but they provided a framework within which development toward a systematic, secular educational program could take place.
By 1914 there were more than 36,000 Ottoman schools, although the great majority were small, traditional primary schools. The development of the state system was aided by the example of progress among the non-Muslim millet schools, in which the education provided was more modern than in the Ottoman schools; by 1914 these included more than 1,800 Greek schools with about 185,000 pupils and some 800 Armenian schools with more than 81,000 pupils. Non-Muslims also used schools provided by foreign missionary groups in the empire; by 1914 there were 675 U.S., 500 French Catholic, and 178 British missionary schools, with more than 100,000 pupils among them. These foreign schools included such famous institutions as Robert College (founded 1863), the Syrian Protestant College (1866; later the American University of Beirut), and the Université Saint-Joseph (1874).
The Capitulations exempted foreigners and those Ottoman citizens on whom foreign consuls conferred protection from the application of criminal law. The Tanzimat reformers had two objects in the reform of law and legal procedure: to make Ottoman law acceptable to Europeans, so that the Capitulations could be abolished and sovereignty recovered, and to modernize the traditional Islamic law. Their efforts resulted in the promulgation of a commercial code (1850), a commercial procedure code (1861), a maritime code (1863), and a penal code (1858). French influence predominated in these, as it did in the civil code of 1870-76. Increasingly, the laws were administered in new state courts, outside the control of the ulama. Although they failed to achieve the purposes intended, they provided the basis for future success.
Ottoman History: 1860 - 1908
Centralization, meanwhile, was slowed by interference from the major European powers, who obstructed the Ottoman attempt to recover power in Bosnia and Montenegro in 1853, forced the granting of autonomy to Mount Lebanon in 1861, and considered, but eventually rejected, intervention to prevent the Ottomans from suppressing a Cretan revolt of 1868. Although Britain and France helped the Ottomans resist Russian pressure during the Crimean War (1853-56), the Ottomans derived no real benefits from the peace settlement; new arrangements helped to bring about the unification of the principalities (1859) and paved the way for the emergence of independent Romania.
In 1860 French troops appeared in Lebanon and Syria and new solutions were prepared for the problems in Lebanon. Meanwhile Abdulmedjid died, being succeeded by Abdulaziz. There were immediate rebellions in the Balkans but these were soon subdued. They were followed by further mutinies in Crete but these were solved by diplomacy rather than military might.
During this decade two influential newspapers were established, the Tercüman-i Ahval (1860) and the Tasvir-i Efkâr (1862); along with later newspapers, these became the vehicles for Young Ottoman ideas.
Drought in 1873 and floods in 1874 had produced widespread discontent and even famine among the Ottoman peasantry, who already were disturbed by the increased burdens of a landholding system that had spread in the Balkans in the 19th century and by increased taxation and greater liability to conscription resulting from the 1869 military reorganization. The burden of taxation had been aggravated by the Ottoman debt burden. The first Ottoman foreign loan was in 1854; by 1875 the nominal public debt was £200,000,000, with annual interest and amortization payments of £12,000,000, more than half the national revenue. The Ottomans could meet only about half of their annual obligation, however, because a world financial crisis in 1873 had made new credit difficult to obtain.
In 1876 Abdulaziz was dethroned after a rule of just 90 days. Abdul Hamid the Second succeeded him.
Balkan discontent was fanned by nationalist agitation supported by Serbia and by émigré Slav organizations. It culminated in uprisings largely of Christian peasants against Muslim lords in Bosnia and Herzegovina (July 1875) and in Bulgaria (August 1876). Ottoman efforts to suppress the uprisings led to war with Serbia and Montenegro (July 1876) and to attempts by European powers to force Ottoman reforms
Arising within the higher Ottoman bureaucracy itself, it was led by Midhat Pasa. Midhat and others became determined, because of their own exclusion from power and because of the disastrous results of Abdülaziz's policies, to impose some check on the sultan's power. The traditional check was deposition, and this was accomplished (May 30, 1876) following a riot by theological students and the removal of the hated grand vizier Mahmud Nedim Pasa, Abdülhamid was persuaded to agree to a constitution. The December 23 document was the first comprehensive Ottoman constitution and (except for a Tunisian organic law of 1861) the first in any Islamic country. The constitution was derived entirely from the will of the ruler, who retained full executive power and to whom ministers were individually responsible. In legislation the sultan was assisted by a two-chamber Parliament, the lower house indirectly elected and the upper house nominated by the ruler. Rights of ruler and ruled were set out, but the system it established might best be described as attenuated autocracy. Midhat has been criticized for accepting certain amendments demanded by Abdülhamid, including the then-notorious article 113, which gave the sultan the right to deport persons harmful to the state.
At this point Serbia and Karadagh declared war on Turkey but their forces were routed by the Sultan at the head of his army. Despite this the Serbian Khanate declared themselves independent and began war again. The Serbs, under Prince Milan, were defeated and peace terms agreed upon. The peace conference began on December 23rd, 1876 when the Ottoman administration announced the First Legitimacy. The meetings ended without any result and a new war broke out between Turkey and Russia (April 24, 1877). The war ended in defeat for the Ottomans, but their unexpected resistance at Plevna (modern Pleven, Bulg.; July-December 1877) allowed other European powers, led by Britain, to intervene. According to the Treaty of San Stefano (March 3, 1878), the Ottomans were to recognize the independence of Romania, Serbia, and Montenegro and cede territory to them, concede autonomy to an extensive new state of Bulgaria, cede territory to Russia in the Dobruja (west of the Black Sea) and eastern Asia Minor, introduce various administrative reforms, and pay an indemnity.
The Parliament summoned under the constitution in March 1877 was dissolved in less than a year and was not recalled until 1908. The liberals were exiled; some, including Midhat, were put to death. and Abdul Hamid took personal charge of the administration. The reign of Abdülhamid II (1876-1909) is often regarded as having been a reaction against the Tanzimat, but, insofar as the essence of the Tanzimat reforms was centralization rather than liberalization, Abdülhamid may be seen as its fulfiller rather than its destroyer
The Congress of Berlin (June-July 1878) concluded when England had invaded Cyprus and Austria had taken Bosnia and Herzegovina, whilst France seized Tunisia. England took the rest of Egypt and the province of Eastern Roumania was subjected to Bulgaria in 1885. The settlement was a major defeat for the Ottomans. The Ottoman territories in Europe were reduced to Macedonia, Albania, and Thrace, and European influence had attained new dimensions. Britain now proposed to supervise governmental reforms in the Asian provinces, although this was skillfully frustrated by Abdülhamid II (ruled 1876-1909).
In addition, the Ottomans were soon forced to accept new financial controls. By the Decree of Muharrem (December 1881) the Ottoman public debt was reduced from £191,000,000 to £106,000,000, certain revenues were assigned to debt service, and a European-controlled organization, the Ottoman Public Debt Administration (OPDA), was set up to collect the payments. The OPDA subsequently played an important role in Ottoman affairs, acting as agent for the collection of other revenues and as an intermediary with European companies seeking investment opportunities.
Ottoman lost Tunisia to France in 1881, and Egypt, occupied by Britain in 1882. In 1891 Colonel Bassos, with 10,000 men, invaded Crete, conquering the island in the name of the Greek Empire. He then turned to mainland Turkey, but the Ottoman forces under Edhem Pasha routed the Greeks in a number of battles. Greece asked for peace and in 1897 the Peace of Istanbul was signed. The European powers, however, forced Abdülhamid to concede autonomy to Crete. There were rebellions in Macedonia in 1902 and Abdul Hamid was more successful in obstructing European efforts to force the introduction of substantial reforms in Macedonia.
Several conspiracies took place against Abdülhamid. In 1889 a conspiracy in the military medical college spread to other Istanbul colleges. These conspirators came to call themselves the Committee of Union and Progress (CUP; Ittihad ve Terakki Cemiyeti) and were commonly known as the Young Turks. When the plot was discovered, some of its leaders went abroad to reinforce Ottoman exiles in Paris, Geneva, and Cairo, where they helped prepare the ground for revolution by developing a comprehensive critique of the Hamidian system.
The real origin of the Young Turk Revolution of 1908 lay in the discontent within the 3rd Army Corps in Macedonia. On July 3, 1908, Major Ahmed Niyazi, apparently fearing discovery by an investigatory committee, decamped from Resne with 200 followers, including civilians, leaving behind a demand for the restoration of the constitution. The sultan's attempt to suppress this uprising failed, and rebellion spread rapidly. Unable to rely on other troops, on July 24 Abdülhamid announced the restoration of the constitution.
Ottoman History: 1909 - 1924
In April 1909, however, an army mutiny in Istanbul (known because of the Julian calendar as the "31st March Incident") exposed the weakness of the CUP and at the same time gave it a new opportunity. A force from Macedonia (the Action Army), led by Mahmud Sevket Pasa, marched on Istanbul and occupied the city on April 24. Abdülhamid was deposed and replaced by Sultan Mehmed V (ruled 1909-18), son of Abdülmecid. The constitution was amended to transfer real power to the Parliament. The army, and particularly Sevket Pasa, became the real arbiters of Ottoman politics.
Abdul Hamid was dethroned in 1909, beginning the last act in the destruction of the Ottoman Empire. Italy invaded Tripoli, in Libya, and 12 Mediterranean islands. The Ottomans withdrew and left the islands to Italy. Assaults by the Balkan territories resulted in defeat for the Ottomans and a treaty signed on May 30th, 1913 in London drew up boundary lines for Turkey and the Balkan States along the Midie-Enez line.
The basic ideologies of the state remained Ottomanism and Islam, but a new sense of Turkish identity began to develop. This new concept was fostered by educational work of the Turkish Society (formed 1908) and the Turkish Hearth (formed 1912).
The foreign relations of the Ottoman Empire under the Young Turks led to disaster. The 1908 revolution provided an opportunity for several powers to press their designs upon the empire. In October 1908 Austria-Hungary annexed Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Bulgaria proclaimed its independence. Italy seized Tripoli (Libya) and occupied the Dodecanese, a group of Aegean islands; by the Treaty of Lausanne (Oct. 18, 1912) Italy retained the former but agreed to evacuate the Dodecanese. In fact, however, it continued to occupy them.
The two Balkan Wars (1912-13) almost completed the destruction of the Ottoman Empire in Europe. The Ottoman entry into World War I resulted from an overly hasty calculation of likely advantage. German influence was strong but not decisive; Germany's trade with the Ottomans still lagged behind that of Britain, France, and Austria, and its investments, which included the Baghdad railway, were smaller than those of France. A mission to Turkey led by the German military officer Otto Liman von Sanders in 1913 was only one of a series of German military missions, and Liman's authority to control the Ottoman army was much more limited than contemporaries supposed. Except for the interest of Russia in Istanbul and the Straits, no European power had genuinely vital interests in the Ottoman Empire. The Ottomans might have remained neutral, as a majority of the cabinet wished, at least until the situation became clearer. But the opportunism of the minister of war Enver Pasa, early German victories, friction with the Triple Entente (France, Russia, and Great Britain) arising out of the shelter given by the Ottomans to German warships, and long-standing hostility to Russia combined to produce an Ottoman bombardment of the Russian Black Sea ports (Oct. 29, 1914) and a declaration of war by the Entente against the Ottoman Empire.
During the war the Young Turks also took the opportunity to attack certain internal problems--the Capitulations were abolished unilaterally (September 1914), the autonomous status of Lebanon was ended, a number of Arab nationalists were executed in Damascus (August 1915 and May 1916), and the Armenian community in eastern Asia Minor and Cilicia was massacred or deported to eliminate any domestic support for the pro-Christian tsarist enemy on the Eastern Front. Possibly 600,000 Armenians were killed, principally by Kurdish irregulars. (see also Index: Armenian massacres).
After 1916, army desertions took place on a massive scale, and economic pressures became acute. The surrender of Bulgaria (Sept. 28, 1918), which severed direct links with Germany, was the final blow. The CUP cabinet resigned on October 7, and a new government was formed under Ahmed Izzet Pasa on October 9. On October 30 the Ottomans signed the Armistice of Mudros.
Mahomed the Fifth had died and Prince Mahomed Vahiduddin had been made Sultan in his place. Following the Armistice the Russian powers withdrew from Turkey and soldiers of the victorious nations entered Istanbul. Kars was occupied by the Armenians, Ardahan by the Georgians, Anatolia by the Italians, Izmir by the Greeks and Ourfa, Anteppo, Marash and Adana by the French.
A new system of administration was established in Anatolia. . In the Fundamental Law of Jan. 20, 1921, the assembly declared that sovereignty belonged to the nation and that the assembly was the "true and only representative of the nation." The name of the state was declared to be Turkey (Türkiye), and executive power was entrusted to an executive council, headed by Mustafa Kemal, who could now concentrate on the war.
The Kemalists had already begun to gain European recognition. On March 16, 1921, the Soviet-Turkish Treaty gave Turkey a favourable settlement of its eastern frontier by restoring Kars and Ardahan. Domestic problems induced Italy to begin withdrawal from the territory it occupied; and, by the Treaty of Ankara (Franklin-Bouillon Agreement, Oct. 20, 1921), France agreed to evacuate Cilicia. Finally, by the Armistice of Mudanya, the Allies agreed to Turkish reoccupation of Istanbul and eastern Thrace.
On Oct. 29, 1923, the assembly declared Turkey to be a republic and elected Mustafa Kemal as first president. The caliphate was abolished on March 3, 1924, and all members of the Ottoman dynasty were expelled from Turkey. A full republican constitution was adopted on April 20, 1924; it retained Islam as the state religion, but in April 1928 this clause was removed and Turkey became a purely secular republic.
There was little opposition to Mustafa Kemal--the small Progressive Republican Party (November 1924-June 1925) had only 29 members and was suppressed because Kemal feared that its leading members, who included some of his most notable associates in the war of independence, might have too much influence in the army; the similarly short-lived Liberal Republican Party (August-December 1930) was an abortive attempt by Kemal to organize a moderate opposition to his own party. Otherwise, Kemal ruled quite autocratically. A plot against his life in 1926 gave him the chance to deal with his rivals, who were tried by a special court. Many of them were sentenced to death, imprisonment, or exile. Opposition outside the assembly, of which the most dangerous were the Kurdish revolts of 1925, 1930, and 1937, was suppressed vigorously.
Kemal's six fundamental principles were republicanism (the creation of the republic), nationalism, populism, statism, secularism, and revolution.
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