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TURKEY   >  HISTORY   >> Turkish Period
Türkçe  
TURKISH PERIOD
Seljuk Period Beyliks (Principalities) Period Ottoman Period

THE OTTOMAN PERIOD
Ottoman Turks Period (1299-1923)

1299 Establishment of the Ottoman Principality by Osman Bey in Sogut and Domanic (east of Bursa)
1326-1362 Orhan Bey period. Accepted as the real founder of the Ottoman State by his military and administrative organization and forming the divan. The first ruler to use the title of sultan.
1326 Ottomans under Sultan Orhan take Bursa and establish their first capital there
1364 Turks under Sultan Murat I capture Adrianople (Edirne) and establish Ottoman capital there
1389 Murat I wins the Kosova I Battle; He establishes the Janissary Corps
1396 Ottoman force led by Bayezit I defeats Crusader army at Nicopolis (Nigbolu)
1397 First Ottoman siege of Constantinople
1402 Tamerlane defeats Ottomans under Bayezit I at Ankara; the Sultan is captured and eventually commits suicide. Mongols overrun Anatolia, and Ottoman power in the subcontinent is temporarily crushed
1413-1421 Reign of Mehmet I; revival of Ottoman power in Anatolia
1421-1451 Reign of Murat II; Ottoman armies sweep through the Balkans and also regain lost territory in Anatolia
1451-1481 Reign of Mehmet II, the Conqueror
1452 He builds the Rumeli Fortress on the Bosphorus
1453
(May 29)
Turks under Mehmet II conquer Constantinople, which becomes the fourth and last Ottoman capital under the name of Istanbul; he is entitled as the conqueror
1453-1579 Rise in the Ottoman Empire
1481-1512 Reign of Bayezit II
1512-1520 Reign of Selim I; Battles of Caldiran, Mercidabik, Ridaniye
1517 Selim I captures Cairo and adds the title of caliph to that of sultan
1520-1566 Reign of Suleyman the Magnificent (the longest in the Ottoman Empire; 46 years); zenith of Ottoman power; because he organizes the state by making new laws, he is called Kanuni meaning law-giver; the Mediterranean Sea becomes a Turkish lake with many captures
1526 Battle of Mohacs (Mohac) and the conquest of Buda and Pest (Peste)
1529 First and unsuccessful Siege of Vienna
1534-1535 Suleyman the Magnificient's expedition into Iran and Iraq
1538 Preveze naval battle, Barbaros Hayrettin Pasa (Barbarossa) becomes Kaptan-i Derya (Commander in chief of the fleet)
1566-1574 Reign of Selim II
1569 The great fire of Istanbul
1571 At Lepanto naval battle allied fleet defeat the Ottomans except one squadron of Kilic Ali Pasa.
1588 Death of Sinan
1579-1699 The rule of women. Ineffectual sultans give up control of Ottoman Empire to their women and grand viziers; Reforms and Renaissance in Europe
1607 Celali uprisings, rebellions against the land tenure system of the provincial fief-holding cavalry
1638 Murat IV captures Baghdad
1648 Great earthquake of Istanbul
1661 Another great fire in Istanbul
1666-1812 Period of intermittent wars between Turks and European powers; Ottoman Empire loses much power in southern Europe
1683 Second and unsuccessful Siege of Vienna by Grand Vizier Kara Mustafa Pasa of Merzifon
1686 Ottomans are forced to evacuate Hungary
1699 Treaty of Karlowitz (Karlofca); the first loss of territory by the Ottoman Empires
1699-1792 Decline of the Ottoman Empire
1711 Grand Vizier Baltaci Mehmet Pasa's battle of Pruth against Russians. According to a spicy tradition, Pasa surrounded Peter the Great's army but then let him avoid humiliation because he was persuaded by a secret nocturnal visit to his tent by the czar's mistress (later empress) Catherine
1718-1774 Treaties of Passarowitz (Pasarofca) and Belgrade with Austrians, Kucuk Kaynarca with Russians
1718-1730 Tulip period; Istanbul is decorated with beautiful palaces and gardens; the first printing house in Istanbul and the first paper factory in Yalova are set up
1750 Another great fire in Istanbul
1754 Major earthquake in Istanbul
1782 Fire in Istanbul
1789-1807 Recovery period; Selim III; education becomes obligatory, reform in the army; Nizam-i Cedit (organized army)
1790 Ottoman-Prussian alliance against Austria and Russia
1808-1839 Mahmut II period
1826 Mahmut II abolishes the Janissary Corps; Medical and military schools are opened; General Post Office is set up; Ministries are established instead of the Divan; Government officers obliged to wear trousers
1839-76 The Tanzimat Period; Mahmut II puts the westernizing Imperial Reform Decree of the Tanzimat into operation; Abdulmecit and Mustafa Resit Pasa prepare a new program of reform: laws are made instead of sultan's orders; equal rights for everybody; equal taxes according to incomes; no punishment without trials
1856 Paris Treaty: Ottoman Empire to be accepted as a European state
1876-1909 Reign of Abdulhamit II
1876-1877 Short-lived first Constitutional Regime
1876 First Constitution is prepared by Young Turks and the first Turkish Parliament is established
1877 Parliament is dissolved by Abdulhamit II
1877-1908 Autocracy of Abdulhamit II
1881 Birth of Mustafa Kemal in Salonika
1908 Constitutional Regime II
1908 Abdulhamit is forced to accept constitutional rule; parliament restored
1909 Abdulhamit deposed; Young Turks take power
1912-13 Balkan Wars; Turks lose Macedonia and part of Thrace
1914 Ottoman Empire enters World War I as an ally of Germany
1915 Turks, led by Mustafa Kemal, repel Allied landings on Gallipoli Peninsula
1918 Turks surrender to Allies; Istanbul occupied by Anglo-French Army
1919-1922 War of Independence
1914 Ottoman Empire enters World War I as an ally of Germany
1915 Turks, led by Mustafa Kemal, repel Allied landings on Gallipoli Peninsula
1918 Turks surrender to Allies; Istanbul occupied by Anglo-French Army
1919-1922 War of Independence
1919 Sivas Congress; Ataturk leads Turkish Nationalists to start the struggle for national sovereignty; Greek army lands at Smyrna
1920 Treaty of Sévres; Ottoman Empire dissolved
1920 Establishment of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey with Ataturk as the president
1922 Turks defeat Greeks and drive them out of Asia Minor; sultanate abolished
1923 Treaty of Lausanne establishes sovereignty of modern Turkey, defines its frontiers and arranges for exchange of minorities between Greece and Turkey; Turkish Republic is proclaimed; Mustafa Kemal is elected president; Ankara replaces Istanbul as the capital

The Ottoman Empire was a Moslem Turkish state that encompassed Anatolia, Southeastern Europe, the Arab Middle East and North Africa from the 14C to the early 20C.

The Ottoman Empire succeeded both the Byzantine Empire (1453) and the Arab Caliphate, the mantle of descent from Mohammed after the conquest of Egypt (1517).

Expansion of the Ottoman Empire

The Ottoman Turks were descendants of Turkoman nomads who entered Anatolia in the 11C as mercenary soldiers for the Seljuks. At the end of the 13C, Osman I (from whom the name Ottoman is derived) asserted the independence of his small principality in Sogut near Bursa, which adjoined the decadent Byzantine Empire.

Gazis from all over Anatolia hitched themselves to Osman's rising star, following the usual custom of adopting the name of their leader and thus calling themselves Osmanli. Their fight for their religion, holy war, was called gaza, and was intended not to destroy but to subjugate the non-Moslem world.

Within a century the Osman Dynasty had extended its domains into an Empire stretching from the Danube to the Euphrates. In Bosnia, Bulgaria, Greece and Serbia the conquered Christian princes were restored to their lands as vassals, while the subjects were left free to follow their own religions in return for loyalty. The Ottomans accepted submissive local nobility and military commanders into their service, along with their troops, instead of killing them.

The empire was temporarily disrupted by the invasion of the Tatar conqueror Timur, who defeated and captured the Ottoman Sultan Bayezit I at the Battle of Ankara (1402). However, Mehmet I (1389-1421), the Restorer, succeeded in reuniting much of the Empire and it was reconstituted by Murat II and Mehmet II. In 1453, Mehmet II conquered Constantinople, the last Byzantine stronghold.

During the reigns of Murat II and Mehmet II the devsirme system of recruiting young Christians for conversion to Islam and service in the Ottoman army and administration was developed. The Christians in the army were organized into the elite infantry corps called the Janissaries. Urban families, those with particular skills vital to the local economy, or families with only one son were excluded in this devsirme system. From the poor families' point of view, it was a great chance for their sons to be offered a high level of education especially in the palace which would provide good future prospects.

The empire reached its peak in the 16C. Sultan Selim I (r. 1512-20) conquered Egypt and Syria, gained control of the Arabian Peninsula and beat back the Safavid rulers of Iran at the Battle of Caldiran (1514). He was succeeded by Suleyman I (the Magnificent, r. 1520-66), who took Iraq, Hungary and Albania and established Ottoman naval supremacy in the Mediterranean. Suleyman codified and institutionalized the classic structure of the Ottoman state and society, making his dominions into one of the great powers of Europe.

Decline of the Ottoman Empire

The decline of the empire began late in the 16C. It was caused by a myriad of interdependent factors, among which the most important were the flight of the Turco-Islamic aristocracy and degeneration of the ability and honesty both of the sultans and of their ruling class. The devsirme divided into many political parties and fought for power, manipulated sultans and used the government for their own benefit. Corruption, nepotism, inefficiency and misrule spread.

Reform Attempts

Sultan Selim III (r. 1789-1807) attempted to reform the Ottoman system by destroying the Janissary corps and replacing it with the Nizam-i Cedit (new order) army modeled after the new military institutions being developed in the West. This attempt so angered the Janissaries and others with a vested interest in the old ways that they overthrew him and massacred most of the reform leaders. Defeats at the hands of Russia and Austria, the success of national revolutions in Serbia and Greece and the rise of the powerful independent Ottoman governor of Egypt, Mohammed Ali, so discredited the Janissaries, however, that Sultan Mahmut II was able to massacre and destroy them in 1826.

Mahmut then inaugurated a new series of modern reforms, which involved the abolition of the traditional institutions and their replacement with new ones imported from the West. This affected every area of Ottoman life, not just the military. These reforms were continued and brought to their culmination during the Tanzimat reform era (1839-76) and the reign of Abdulhamit II (1876-1909). The scope of government was extended and centralized as reforms were made in administration, finance, education, justice, economy, communications and army.

Financial mismanagement and incompetence, along with national revolts in the Balkans and eastern Anatolia, the French occupation of Algeria and Tunisia, the takeover by the British in Egypt and the Italians in Libya, threatened to end the very existence of the Empire, let alone its reforms. By this time the Ottoman Sultanate was known as the "Sick Man of Europe," and European diplomacy focused on the so-called Eastern Question how to dispose of the Sick Man's territories without upsetting the European balance of power. Abdulhamit II, however, rescued the empire, at least temporarily, by reforming the Ottoman financial system, manipulating the rivalries of the European powers and developing the pan-Islamic and pan-Turkic movements to undermine the empires of his enemies. The sultan granted a constitution and parliament in 1876, but he soon abandoned them and ruled autocratically so as to achieve his objectives as rapidly and efficiently as possible. He became so despotic that liberal opposition arose under the leadership especially in the palace which would provide good future prospects.

The empire reached its peak in the 16C. Sultan Selim I (r. 1512-20) conquered Egypt and Syria, gained control of the Arabian Peninsula and beat back the Safavid rulers of Iran at the Battle of Caldiran (1514). He was succeeded by Suleyman I (the Magnificent, r. 1520-66), who took Iraq, Hungary and Albania and established Ottoman naval supremacy in the Mediterranean. Suleyman codified and institutionalized the classic structure of the Ottoman state and society, making his dominions into one of the great powers of Europe.

Decline of the Ottoman Empire

The decline of the empire began late in the 16C. It was caused by a myriad of interdependent factors, among which the most important were the flight of the Turco-Islamic aristocracy and degeneration of the ability and honesty both of the sultans and of their ruling class. The devsirme divided into many political parties and fought for power, manipulated sultans and used the government for their own benefit. Corruption, nepotism, inefficiency and misrule spread.

Reform Attempts

Sultan Selim III (r. 1789-1807) attempted to reform the Ottoman system by destroying the Janissary corps and replacing it with the Nizam-i Cedit (new order) army modeled after the new military institutions being developed in the West. This attempt so angered the Janissaries and others with a vested interest in the old ways that they overthrew him and massacred most of the reform leaders. Defeats at the hands of Russia and Austria, the success of national revolutions in Serbia and Greece and the rise of the powerful independent Ottoman governor of Egypt, Mohammed Ali, so discredited the Janissaries, however, that Sultan Mahmut II was able to massacre and destroy them in 1826.

Mahmut then inaugurated a new series of modern reforms, which involved the abolition of the traditional institutions and their replacement with new ones imported from the West. This affected every area of Ottoman life, not just the military. These reforms were continued and brought to their culmination during the Tanzimat reform era (1839-76) and the reign of Abdulhamit II (1876-1909). The scope of government was extended and centralized as reforms were made in administration, finance, education, justice, economy, communications and army.

Financial mismanagement and incompetence, along with national revolts in the Balkans and eastern Anatolia, the French occupation of Algeria and Tunisia, the takeover by the British in Egypt and the Italians in Libya, threatened to end the very existence of the Empire, let alone its reforms. By this time the Ottoman Sultanate was known as the "Sick Man of Europe," and European diplomacy focused on the so-called Eastern Question how to dispose of the Sick Man's territories without upsetting the European balance of power. Abdulhamit II, however, rescued the empire, at least temporarily, by reforming the Ottoman financial system, manipulating the rivalries of the European powers and developing the pan-Islamic and pan-Turkic movements to undermine the empires of his enemies. The sultan granted a constitution and parliament in 1876, but he soon abandoned them and ruled autocratically so as to achieve his objectives as rapidly and efficiently as possible. He became so despotic that liberal opposition arose under the leadership of the Young Turks, many of whom had to leave the country from Abdulhamit's police.

Overthrow of the Ottoman Empire

In 1908 a revolution led by the Young Turks forced Abdulhamit to restore the parliament and constitution. After a few months of constitutional rule, however, a counterrevolutionary effort to restore the sultan's autocracy led the Young Turks to dethrone Abdulhamit completely in 1909. He was replaced by Mehmet (Resit) V (r. 1909-18), who was only a puppet of those controlling the government.

Rapid modernization continued during the Young Turk era (1908-18), with particular attention given to urbanization, agriculture, industry, communications, secularization of the state and the emancipation of women.

The empire was involved in World War I to take sides with Germany and Austria-Hungary. The defeat of these Central Powers led to the breakup and foreign occupation of the Ottoman Empire.

The Administration

The head of the empire was the sultan and the sultanate passed from father to son. The orders of the sultan were accepted as laws. His three major duties were commanding the army, appointing the statesmen and supervising the Divan, today's Cabinet. Members of the Divan were the chief vizier (prime minister), viziers (state ministers), kazasker (minister responsible for the military), two defterdars (finance ministers), nisanci (general secretary), seyhulislam (authorized head of the religious matters) and kaptan-i derya (Commander in chief of the fleet).

The functions of the ruling class were limited to exploiting the resources of the empire, largely for their own benefit; expanding and defending the state and maintaining order and preserving the faith and practice of Islam as well as the religions of all the subjects of the sultan.

The vast class of subjects were left to carry out all other functions of the state through autonomous religious communities, artisans' guilds, popular mystic orders and confederations, which together formed a substratum of popular society.

The Use of Land

In the Ottoman Empire the lands belonged to the state. The right to use the land was given to people and some revenue from the income received was given to the state. However, when people failed to use their land effectively for three consecutive years it had to be returned.

The lands in general were divided into two categories; Vakif and Dirlik. Vakif estates were spared for charity institutions and public use like mosques, hospitals, caravansaries and suchlike. Dirlik (fief) lands were given to statesmen according to their incomes; each of these lands was classified as Has, Zeamet, or Timar. Owners used some part of them for themselves and spared other parts for the expenses of a certain number of soldiers. With this system, the state had a powerful army without costs.

The Army

The Ottoman army was mainly divided into three classes:

a) Kapikulu soldiers were professionals who acted directly under the strict command of the sultan. They were not even allowed to marry. They did not have any connection to the land holding system as they worked for salaries. Ulufe was the name given to their salaries which they received every 3 months. The majority of these Kapikulu soldiers consisted of janissaries. There were both foot-soldiers and cavalrymen.

b) Eyalet soldiers were Dirlik-holding soldiers. The majority of the Ottoman army were Eyalet soldiers. They were the front line soldiers and like Kapikulu soldiers they were divided into both foot-soldiers and cavalrymen.

c) Reinforcements were soldiers who came from annexed rulers.

Education

The two main arteries of education were Enderun and Medrese.

Enderun was a royal school with a very high level of education. The aim of this school was to educate statesmen. Students were treated with considerable discipline and by the age of 30 approximately, they finished their schooling and attained their posts.

Although the medrese was originally a theological school, in the Ottoman period, education in the medrese was conducted in four faculties; 1-religion and law, 2-language and literature, 3-philosophy, 4-basic sciences. The language of education was Arabic. There was no set period, students had to finish particular books rather than years. Students lived in cells, ate in imarets (kitchens for the public, generally the poor) and received some pocket money from the school Foundations.




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