The Ottoman Empire – a superpower for six centuries

ImperioOtomano1683The Ottoman Empire (1299 – 1922) represented, for more than six centuries, an imperial superpower from the Mediterranean area and not only. This great power has its origins in the Sunnit nation founded by the Turks in the Nord-West of Antalia, under the leadership of Osman the Ιst, considered the founder of the Empire.

Mehmed the ΙΙnd is considered by Turkish historians, but also by western erudites, the key to Ottomans’ success. Since the age 19, when he became a sultan, he was seen as a great strategist; the Empire was reorganized under his reign, arriving to enormous proportions.

The expansion of the Ottoman Empire began with the occupation of the Balkan Peninsula, under the leadership of Murad the Ιst, between 1362-1389 and the fall of Constantinople(Istambul nowadays) in 1453, which became the third capital of the Empire. The decline of the Byzantine Empire was a world catastrophe, being associated with the subjugation of Troy. 


Mehmed the IInd


Between 1700-1800, under the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent, the Empire has seen the most impetuous development, becoming an important pawn on the world map. During this period, Antalia, the Middle East, parts of North Africa, the Balkans and the Caucasus were under Ottoman domination. Due to its importance, numerous book-men of the time have had as subject of analysis the evolution of the Ottoman Empire. The first to write about this great power were the Byzantines. Manuel Puglia Ducas wrote “The Turkish-Byzantine Historia 1341-1362”, and Laonikos Chalkokondyles described the Byzantine Empire’s decline in comparison with the Ottoman ascension. Furthermore the influence exerted by the Turks upon nearly the entire globe was not overlooked by others of the educated of the world. Critobul of Imbros compiled the essay “From the reign of Mehmed ΙΙ, years 1451-1467”, Naples priest, Makarios Melissenos, also dedicated a part of his research to the Ottomans,  composing two chronicles about the fall of Constantinople. Hence, because the Ottoman tentacles bashed the Romanian provinces too, Dimitrie Cantemir wrote “The history of the growth and retreat of the Ottoman Empire, History of the Ottoman Empire”, and Nicolae Iorga distinguished himself with “The history of the Ottoman Empire”.

The Ottoman Empire occupied, at the beginning of the ΧVΙΙΙth century, 32 provinces and a considerable number of vassal and tributary states.


„Osmanli-nisani” by Juris Tiltins


A thorough analysis of the military actions taken in various regions concluded the existence of two periods: first, the territorial expansion and a series of chain conquests, and the second represented by the decline of the Empire. Until 1566, the Ottoman Empire was in a continuous ascent. An impressive territorial growth was marked under the leadership of Suleiman the Magnificent; the Byzantine Empire being subjugated and Serbia being subdued through the Ottomans’ victory after the battle from Kosovopolie, the Ottoman Empire will penetrate slowly but surely towards Central Europe.

The appearance of a fleet in the Red Sea was possible under the rule of Selim the Ist, during which Persia Safovida was defeated. Then followed the conquering of Belgrade, the subduing of Hungary and neighbouring peoples. Although it was in full territorial development, the Empire’s descent occurred simultaneously with the failure after the defeat in Vienna.

This was followed by a series of failures that culminated with the conclusion of World War Ι. Winning states wished to divide the territories of the Ottoman Empire between them. A 3 years war followed, until 1922, against the Triple Entente. Thus, on September 18th 1922, Turkey is released from the invasion of the Triple Entente’s army, Sultan Mehmed the VΙth abdicates, and what was once the Ottoman Empire would become the Turkish Republic in 1923, at a much reduced scale than the Ottoman expansion of the past.

The ΧΧth century marked the burial of an empire that grew for 631 years.

Mihaela – Ștefania Puțeanu (translated by Paula Turnea)

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