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Ottoman Empire

The Ottoman Empire (Ottoman Turkish: دولت عالیه عثمانیه Devlet-i Âliye-yi Osmâniyye, Turkish: Osmanlı İmparatorluğu, also known as the Turkish Empire or Turkey by its contemporaries, see the other names of the state) (1299 to 1922), was a multi-ethnic and multi-religious Turkish ruled state which, at the height of its power (16th – 17th centuries), spanned three continents (see the extent of Ottoman territories), 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 overseas territorial acquisitions of the Ottoman Navy further expanded the extent of the Ottoman sphere of influence on distant lands in both the Indian and Atlantic oceans, such as the addition of Aceh (1569) as a vassal state to the Ottoman Empire, and temporary occupations like those of Lanzarote (1585), Madeira (1617), Vestmannaeyjar (1627) and Lundy (1655-1660).

The empire was at the centre of interactions between the Eastern and Western worlds for six centuries. With Istanbul as its capital, the Ottoman Empire was in many respects an Islamic successor to earlier Mediterranean empires — namely the Roman and Byzantine empires — filling the centuries-old power vacuum left behind by them in roughly the same territories around the Mediterranean Sea, while adopting their traditions, art and institutions; and adding new dimensions to them. The Turkish Bath which has its origins in the Roman Bath, Ottoman classical music which was largely inspired by Byzantine church hymns, and Ottoman mosques which were greatly influenced by the design of the Hagia Sophia, a Byzantine cathedral, are only a few examples. 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".[2]

In the course of its lifespan, it undertook, more than once, programmes of both Islamisation and modernisation (reform), blurring the difference between the West and the East.[3] The golden age of the Ottoman Empire was during the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent in the 16th Century. This could be observed in many different fields, such as the architectural masterpieces of Koca Mimar Sinan Ağa, and the domination of the Mediterranean Sea by the Ottoman Navy, led by Barbarossa Hayreddin Pasha. The Ottoman Empire reached its territorial peak in the 17th century. It developed its own distinctive culture, from a diverse system of Millets to a multi-ethnic state (see Ottomanism); which was influential in both Europe and the Muslim lands.[4]

The empire was the only Islamic power to seriously challenge the rising power of Western Europe between the 15th and 19th centuries. It steadily declined during the 19th century and met its demise after its defeat in the Middle Eastern theatre of World War I. In the aftermath of the war, the Ottoman government collapsed and the empire's lands were partitioned.

Following the victory of the Turkish revolutionaries led by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk at the Turkish War of Independence, the Ottoman Sultanate was abolished on November 1, 1922. The last Ottoman Sultan, Mehmed VI Vahideddin, left Istanbul on November 17, 1922. Turkey was declared a republic on October 29, 1923.

The history of the Ottoman Empire spans more than six centuries, and primary documentation of the empire's relations with other powers can be found in the archives of thirty-nine nations. Early historiography of the empire was based largely on analysis of Ottoman military victories and defeats, while current approaches take a wider perspective, the scope of which includes the social dynamics of territorial growth and dissolution, and the examination of economic factors and their role in the empire's eventual stagnation and decline. However, the Ottoman Empire is one of the longest lasting empires in recorded history. The empire adopted its coat of arms during the Crusades.

[edit] Origins

Main article: Anatolian Turkish Beyliks
Further information: Turkic peoples, Turkic migration and Oghuz Turks

The core of the Ottoman Empire, the Kayi tribe of Oğuz Turks, was part of the westward Turkic migrations from Central Asia that began during the 10th century. The Seljuks settled in Persia during this period and began to push west into Anatolia at the beginning of the 11th century. Suleyman Shah, grandfather of Osman I, was drowned in the river Euphrates and his tomb resides in modern-day Syria. This movement brought them into conflict with the Byzantine Empire.

The permanent Turkish foothold in Anatolia, the Seljuk Sultanate of Rūm, was established after a historic victory at the Battle of Manzikert against the Byzantines in 1071. Under the suzerainty of the Sultanate of Rūm, the bey Ertuğrul, received land on the territory's western fringe after backing the Seljuks in a losing border skirmish. The Seljuk system offered the beylik protection from outsiders, and also allowed it to develop its own internal structure. Ertuğrul's position on the far western fringe of the Seljuk state enabled him to build up military power through co-operation with other nations living in western Anatolia, many of whom were Christian.

The Seljuk Turks fell apart rapidly in the second half of the 13th century, especially after the Mongol invasions in Anatolia.[5] Following the Mongol invasion (1241 - 1244) with the Battle of Köse Dag, beyliks became the vassals of the Mongol Ilkhanate. With the demise of the Seljuk Sultanate, Turkish Anatolia was divided into a patchwork of independent states, the so-called Ghazi emirates. One of the Ghazi emirates was Ottoman which the name Ottoman derives from Osman I (Arabic: Uthman), son of Ertuğrul, who became the first Bey when he declared the independence of the Ottoman state in 1299.
Rise (1299–1453)
While the other Turkish beyliks were preoccupied with fighting each other, Osman I was able to extend the frontiers of Ottoman settlement towards the edge of the Byzantine Empire. He moved the Ottoman capital to Bursa, and shaped the early political development of the nation. Given the nickname "Kara" (Turkish for black) for his courage,[6] Osman I was admired as a strong and dynamic ruler long after his death, as evident in the centuries-old Turkish phrase, "May he be as good as Osman." His reputation has also been burnished by the medieval Turkish story known as "Osman's Dream", a foundation myth in which the young Osman was inspired to conquest by a prescient vision of empire.

This period saw the creation of a formal Ottoman government whose institutions would remain largely unchanged for almost four centuries. In contrast to many contemporary states, the Ottoman bureaucracy tried to avoid military rule. The government also utilized the legal entity known as the millet, under which religious and ethnic minorities were able to manage their own affairs with substantial independence from central control.

In the century after the death of Osman I, Ottoman rule began to extend over the Eastern Mediterranean and the Balkans. After defeat in Battle of Plocnik, the Turkish victory at the Battle of Kosovo effectively marked the end of Serbian power in the region, and paved the way for Ottoman expansion into Europe. With the extension of Turkish dominion into the Balkans, the strategic conquest of Constantinople became a crucial objective. The empire controlled nearly all of the former Byzantine lands, the Greeks gained a temporary repreive when Timur Lenk invaded Anatolia in 1402, taking Sultan Bayezid I prisoner. The Ottomans recovered from this setback and Constantinople was eventually taken during the rule of Mehmed II.

Mehmed II reorganized the structure of both the state and military, and demonstrated his martial prowess by capturing Constantinople (see: Istanbul (Etymology)) on 29 May 1453, at the age of 21. The city became the new capital of the Ottoman Empire. Before Mehmed II was killed, Empire's forces occupied Corsica, Sardinia and Sicily. But with his death, campaign on (Italy) was canceled. Sokullu Mehmet Pasha, who was a great grand vizier, created the projects of Suez Channel and Don-Volga Channel but these were cancelled.
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