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Rise and fall of the ottoman empire essays

Oxford Islamic Studies Online. Chicago Shaw, Stanford J. Oxford Islamic Studies Online, http: As a multiethnic, multireligious, and multicultural entity, the Ottoman Empire was the last of the great Islamic empires, which emerged in the later Middle Ages and continued its existence until the early twentieth century.

The Ottoman Empire was created by a series of conquests carried out between the early fourteenth and late sixteenth centuries by ten successive capable rulers of the Ottoman Turkish dynasty. Starting as nomadic gazis Ar. These conquests were facilitated by policies that left the defeated Christian princes in control of their states as long as they accepted vassalage and provided tribute and warriors to assist further Ottoman conquests and that allowed Christian officials and soldiers to join the Ottoman government and army as mercenaries without being required to convert to Islam.

This first Ottoman Empire incorporated territories that encompassed the modern states of Greece, Romania, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Serbia-Montenegro, Bosnia, and Croatia; it bypassed the Byzantine capital Constantinople, which, despite the depop- ulation and despoilage inflicted by the Latin Crusaders early in the thirteenth century, held out as a result of its massive defense walls as well as the services provided by soldiers from Christian Europe, though its emperors for the most part accepted the suzerainty of the Ottoman leaders.

Efforts by the Byzantine emperors to reunite the Orthodox church with Rome in order to stimulate the creation of a new crusade to rescue their empire led to new internal divisions that prevented any sort of unified resistance to the Ottomans.

This initial period of Ottoman expansion came to an end during the reign of Bayezid I r. The Muslim Turkomans who had led the conquests into Europe as gazis refused to participate in attacks on their Muslim coreligionists, however, particularly since the spoils available was far less than in Europe, so the conquests to the East were accomplished largely with contingents furnished by Christian vassals.

Tamerlane also preferred to move through Iran into India, but fearing that Ottoman expansion eastward past the Euphrates might threaten his western provinces, he mounted a massive invasion of Anatolia that culminated in his rout of the Ottoman army and capture of Bayezid I at the Battle of Ankara 1402. To ensure that no single power would rise up to dominate Anatolia and threaten his domains, he went on to ravage the peninsula and restore the surviving Turkoman princes rise and fall of the ottoman empire essays resuming his invasion of India.

Bayezid I died in captivity, but enough of his sons survived to contest for power during the Ottoman Interregnum 1402—1413 that followed.

Ottoman Empire

As Mehmed I r. This restoration was accompanied in 1453 by Mehmed II's conquest and long siege of Byzantine Constantinople. The city had been ravaged and largely depopulated since its occupation by Latin Crusaders in 1204. But Mehmed intended to restore it to its old splendor and prosperity so it could serve as the capital of the restored Roman Empire that he wished to create. Mehmed repopulated the new capital with Christians and Jews, in addition to Muslims.

The rapid expansion of the Ottoman dominions created severe financial, economic, and social strains. These were, however, successfully resolved during the long and relatively peaceful reign of Sultan Bayezid II r.

Sultan Selim I r. With the confrontation of the Safavids and the conquest of Arab world complete, the Ottoman Empire's strategic and ideological focus shifted. The sultans became guardians of the hajj and the holy places of Islam, and claimed primacy in the Islamic world as the Great Caliphs.

The Ottoman Empire became the most powerful state in the Islamic world. Rise and fall of the ottoman empire essays the stalemate in land warfare, the struggle between the Ottomans and Habsburgs was transferred to the Mediterranean Sea. Those who failed to meet these requirements were considered members of the subject class regardless of their origins or religion.

Thus ruling class members could be the children of existing members, but only if they acquired and practiced all the required characteristics. The two groups struggled for power and prestige, with the ruler seeking to balance them with equal positions and revenues in order to control and use both. Within the institutions of the Ottoman ruling class, organization was maintained largely in accordance with financial functions.

Each position had certain sources of revenue, either taxes of varied sorts, fees levied in return for the performance of official duties or salaries paid by the treasury. Most important were the religiously based communities, most often called millets, of which three were established by Mehmed the Conqueror soon after he made Istanbul his capital in 1453.

The Greek Orthodox and Armenian Gregorian millets were led by their patriarchs and staffed by the clerics organized in hierarchies under their authority. The former included, in addition to ethnic Greeks, all the Slavs and Romanians living in southeastern Europe; the latter included not only Armenians, but also gypsies, Nestorians, Copts, and other Eastern Christians.

Mehmed II and his successor Bayezid II attempted to organize the Jewish millet like those of the Christians, appointing Moses Capsali, grand rabbi of Istanbul under the last Byzantines, as chief of all the rabbis and all Jews throughout the empire. In the countryside, villages were for the most part constituted entirely of members of one millet or another. In the larger towns and cities, quarters sg. There was no municipal government as such in traditional Ottoman society.

Whether rabbis or bishops or imams, the religious leaders of each quarter or village carried out all the secular functions not performed by the ruling class, basing these duties on their own religious laws as interpreted in their religious councils and courts, and conducting their affairs in their own languages and in accordance with their own customs and traditions. Thus they organized and operated schools, old-age homes, and kitchens for the poor.

Leaders of the different urban millets came together on occasion for specific functions that required general cooperation, such as the celebration of certain festivals or organization against attacks, plagues or fires; but for the most part each lived independently with little input either by members of the ruling class or by members of the other millets.

In the second half of the sixteenth century, there emerged a series of external and internal challenges to the classical Ottoman system, and this led to a series of crises and subsequent transformations of the empire in military, political, social, and financial institutions.

The long and exhausting wars in the second half of the sixteenth century and early seventeenth century, often on two fronts, with the Habsburgs and Persians, both increased the financial burden and spoiled the classical military structure.

And both of these gave way to corruption of the classical land system and the tax system. This in turn led to transformation in political, administrative, social, and financial structures of the empire, throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. New developments in European warfare demanded more soldiers with firearms. This brought about the elimination of timar holding sipahi cavalry which used traditional weapons, and the increase of the number of standing janissary army and mercenaries with firearms.

This substantial increase put strains on the financial system and treasury. This huge financial strain turned into a profound financial crisis as a result of inflation caused by the influx of silver from the New World. The measures to remedy this financial crisis led to the gradual replacement of timar system with the direct taxation tax-farming system, transforming the Ottoman classical land and tax system.

Thus the economic and military changes in Europe, and subsequent crises and responses to these crises radically transformed the empire and its political, administrative and socioeconomic structure. These transformations from the late sixteenth to the late eighteenth centuries tended towards a decentralization of Ottoman authority and administration.

In face of military defeats against the European powers and chronic internal political crises, the ruling elites attempted several reform initiatives in order to forestall the military decline of the empire, in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Under the leadership of Sultan Murad IV r. This reform, however, was undertaken on the basis of the prevailing belief that Ottoman institutions and practices were superior to anything developed in Christian Europe; that therefore Ottoman weakness was due less to any inferiority of its institutions than to a failure to apply them as had been in the centuries of Ottoman greatness.

Traditional reform at this time therefore consisted of efforts to restore the old ways, executing corrupt and incompetent officials and soldiers.

As soon as the government and army had been restored sufficiently to beat back the European attacks, however, the corruption returned and continued until the next crisis forced similar efforts. Inevitably, however, the Janissary corps refused to accept this sort of change, because their status in the ruling class depended on their monopoly of the traditional techniques and practices.

This compelled the sultans to create a separate modern infantry and artillery corps, which, however, could not for the most part be used because of opposition by the Janissary corps, supported by members of the ruling class who also feared that the new forces would be used to eliminate them.

From the late eighteenth century onward the Ottoman Empire faced three prominent challenges, and responses to these challenges once more transformed the empire in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, thus paving rise and fall of the ottoman empire essays way for the Tanzimat period.

The first was a strategic threat posed by the Russian Empire. In the eighteenth century, the emergence of Russia as a great power brought about a shift in the balance of power, at the expense of the Ottoman Empire. The Empire was in decline militarily, and Russia was eager to fill the vacuum that Ottoman weakness had created in the region.

There were a series of Russo-Ottoman wars, resulting in the Russian invasion of Ottoman territory in the Balkans, southeastern Europe, and the Caucasus. The Ottomans were persistently defeated by the Russians with the exception of the Crimean War of 1853—1856and the very heart of the Ottoman Empire, the capital Istanbul, was often threatened by the Russian army.

At the same time, the decline of the empire and the prospect of its disintegration created a power struggle among European Great Powers. This struggle, known as the Eastern Question, over the fate of the empire to safeguard the strategic, territorial, and commercial interests of the European Great Powers in the Ottoman domains, lasted until the end of the empire. The second challenge was the emergence and spread of nationalist ideas and movements in the Ottoman Empire after the French Revolution, first among non-Muslim elements, and then among non-Turkish Muslim elements.

From the beginning of the nineteenth century until the end of the First World War, the empire faced a series of nationalist and separatist uprisings, from different ethnic groups, seeking to break up the empire in order to secure their independence. The uprisings of the Christian minorities, supported by Russia and other European Great Powers, who sought to use these movements as vehicles to extend their influence within the Ottoman body politic and, ultimately, to replace Ottoman rule with their own.

It started with the Greek revolution early in the century and continued in Serbia and Bulgaria; later in the century, it spread to Macedonia and to the Armenians in Anatolia.

The resulting loss of territories and large-scale massacres of Muslim and in some cases Jewish subjects by the rebels as well as by the newly independent Christian states of southeastern Europe, aimed at securing homogenous national populations for the new nation-states, led to massacres and countermassacres that characterized the empire, with little break, during the last half century of its existence.

The rise of the ottoman empire essay

In the nineteenth century, European powers had succeeded in penetrating the Ottoman Empire to a considerable degree, interfering in its internal affairs, and recruiting networks of clients among the Sultan's own subjects.

A number of factors facilitated this penetration.

Rise of the ottoman empire essay

The European powers acquired certain legal rights of interference in Ottoman internal affairs, through the reform provisions of the treaties of Paris 1856 and Berlin 1878through the capitulations, which gave their subjects legal and fiscal privileges within the Ottoman Empire, and through the religious protectorates that particular European powers asserted over particular groups of Ottoman Christians.

This commercial influence was accompanied by cultural influences, promoted by missionaries and educational institutions.

The Ottoman Empire

The Ottoman statesmen developed a number of responses to these challenges. First, all these challenges pushed the Ottomans into a new series of reforms directed towards centralization and Westernization. Therefore, an administrative centralization process began along with military modernization. Military modernization in turn gave way to bureaucratic, administrative, and legal modernization, and the state underwent a period of Westernization in political, social, economic, and cultural fields throughout the nineteenth century.

As proclaimed in 1839, the Tanzimat reforms promised an overall reorganization in every institution of state and society, from a more orderly tax collection to a fair and regular system of military conscription, and from a reform in education to a radical reorganization of the justice system. The proposed reforms were partially based upon European models, and initiated an unprecedented, though slow, process of institutional and cultural Westernization.

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In another respect, too, the Islamic and Ottoman tradition was partially severed, with the promise of civil equality for the Empire's non-Muslim subjects. The reformers of the Tanzimat believed that the Ottoman Empire could be saved only by being integrated into the Western political and economic system. They argued that it would be wiser for the Empire to join, rather than resist, Rise and fall of the ottoman empire essays and would also benefit from joining the world economic system.

In order to recruit assistance in the struggle against Russia, the Porte offered the British certain financial incentives in order to create a stronger bond. The traditional decentralized Ottoman system became increasingly centralized; the central government extended its authority and activity to all areas of Ottoman life, undermining, though not entirely replacing, the millets and guilds.

Since functions were expanding, moreover, the traditional Ottoman governmental system in which the ruling class acted through the imperial council was replaced with an increasingly complex system of government, divided into executive, legislative, and judicial branches. The executive was organized into ministries headed by ministers who came together in a cabinet led by the grand vizier.

The legislative function was given to deliberative bodies, culminating in a partly representative council of state in the last quarter of the nineteenth century and in the democratically elected parliament introduced initially in 1877—1878 and then again in the Young Turk constitutional period 1908—1918. Administration was turned over to a new hierarchy of well-educated bureaucrats memurs who dominated Ottoman governmental life until the end of the empire.

The reforms introduced during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries transformed the Ottoman Empire into a relatively well-governed and modern state. Emphasis was laid, however, on institutional and physical reforms, with the centralized bureaucracy exercising far more control over the lives of the subjects than was the case in the traditional decentralized Ottoman system.

For all the difficulties and deficiencies in the implementation of government-sponsored reforms, it is clear that the Tanzimat era initiated a process of social and economic change, the development of modern communications, including telegraph lines, and steam navigation.

Additionally, in the age of nationalism and imperialism, the most vital issue for the Ottoman elites was the effort to keep the independence and territorial integrity of the empire, which consisted of very different ethnic and religious elements.

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From the 1830s until the end of the empire, all the political discussions and struggles occurring among the political and military elites consisted of different, and often opposing, solutions for the prevention of nationalist and separatist tendencies among the non-Muslims who constituted about 40 percent of the population at the beginning of the nineteenth century.

To forestall the nationalist challenge, Ottoman statesmen developed the policy of Ottomanism to promote the notion of one Ottoman nation, consisting of individuals with equal rights based on law, sharing the same mother country, and loyal to the state and the sultan.

Ottomanism underwent several phases: First, the state acknowledged basic rights to its citizens, Muslim and non-Muslim alike, as reflected in the Imperial Rescript of Gulhane of 1839; second, the state tried to create socio-economic development together with a joint education system, especially in the Christian provinces of the Balkans, after the Imperial Rescript of Reform of 1856; and third, as a last hope to curb separatist tendencies among the Christians, the state gave its citizens political rights, turning the empire into a constitutional monarchy, with a constitution and a parliament in 1876.