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Ottoman Empire

Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman Empire is also known historically as the Turkish Empire or Turkey and was a state founded in 1299 by Turkish tribes in north-western Anatolia under the rule of Osman Bey. It was later after Mehmed II’s conquest of Constantinople in 1453 it changed into an Empire. During the 16th and 17th centuries, in the reign of Suleyman the Magnificent , the Empire was one of the most powerful states in the world, being multinational and multilingual it stretched from the Holy Roman Empire on the borders of Vienna and Hungary, Slovakia, the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth to the north, the south to Yemen and Eritrea and from Algeria in the west, Azerbaijan in the east and controlled most of South-eastern Europe, Western Asia and North Africa.
 It contained 32 provinces with numerous vassal states, some of which were later absorbed into the Empire and others were granted various types of autonomy over the centuries. Constantinople was its capital and it had huge control of lands around the mediterranean basin and was also the centre of communication between the Eastern and Western worlds for over 600 centuries. The Ottoman dynasty lasted for 623 years from 1299 to 1922.

The Rise of the Ottoman Empire 1299–1453

In the 1300s after the fall of the Seljuk Sultanate of Rum, the predecessor of the Ottomans, Anatolia was divided into a network of independent states called the Ghazi Emirates. The Byzantine Empire had lost most of its Anatolian provinces to Ghazi principalities and one of the emirates led by Osman I (1258–1326) and from whom the name Ottoman derives, extended the borders of Turkish settlement toward the edge of the Byzantine Empire. During this time a formal Ottoman government was created and their institutions would radically change the life of the empire and prove vital to the Ottoman Empire's rapid growth. The government used the socio-political institution known as the Millet System where religious and ethnic minorities were allowed to manage their own affairs with greater independence. After Osman I died, Ottoman rule extended over the Eastern mediterranean and the Balkans. His son Orhan took the city of Bursa in 1324 declaring it the new capital of the Ottoman state causing the loss of control the Byzantine’s held over north-western Anatolia and the significant city of Thessaloniki was taken from the Venetians in 1387. Victory over Kosovo in 1389 ended Serbian power and paved the way for Ottoman expansion into Europe. The Battle of Nicopolis in 1396, which is regarded as the final large scale crusade of the Middle Ages, failed to stop the advance of the victorious Ottoman Turks. After the Empire extended into the Balkans, Constantinople became a crucial and strategic objective which was temporarily halted when Timur invaded Anatolia in the Battle of Ankara in 1402.  He took Sultan Bayezid I as a prisoner which threw the Turks into total disorder and who fell into a civil war that lasted from 1402 to 1413 while Bayezid's sons fought over succession. This ended when Mehmed I emerged as the Sultan and restored Ottoman power.

Growth of the Ottoman Empire 1453–1683

The son of Murad II, Mehmed II, reorganised the state and the military going on to conquer Constantinople in 1453 and allowed the Orthodox Church to maintain its autonomy and land in exchange for accepting Ottoman authority.  Due to bad relationships with the Byzantine Empire and the States of Western Europe the majority Orthodox population preferred to be ruled by the Ottomans. The Empire went on to expand during 15th and 16th centuries prospering under the rule of committed Sultans and it flourished economically with its control of trade routes between Europe and Asia.  Sultan Selim I (1512–1520) defeated the Shah of Persia which dramatically expanded the eastern and southern frontiers of the Empire and also established Ottoman rule in Egypt creating a naval presence in the Red Sea to become the dominant power in the region. Süleyman the Magnificent (1520–1566) took Belgrade in 1521, conquering the southern and central parts of Hungary at his historical victory in the Battle of Mohács in 1526. Transylvania, Wallachia and Moldavia also became principalities of the Empire and the eastern Ottoman Turks took Baghdad from the Persians in 1535 gaining control of Mesopotamia and naval access to the Persian Gulf.  Due to opposition of the Habsburg rule, France and the Empire became strong allies and the Habsburg ruler Ferdinand officially recognised the Ottoman rule of Hungary in 1547. The Empire’s population was around 15,000,000 by the end of Süleyman’s reign, with its population stretched over three continents and its navy controlled most of the mediterranean Sea. From 1566 to 1683 the Empire fell behind in terms of military technology and because of the growth of religion and conservatism became stifled although it continued to expand until the Battle of Vienna in 1683. New sea trade routes were being used by Western Europe avoiding the Ottoman monopoly and new currency was introduced by Spain which caused a rapid devalue of Ottoman currency which led to extensive inflation.

Stagnation & Reform of the Ottoman Empire 1623-1827

During 1683–1827 the Russian expansion became a great and rising threat to the Empire. Sweden became an ally following their defeat by the Russians at the Battle of Poltava in 1709 and Sultan Ahmed III declared war on Russia that led to a victory at the Pruth River Campaign of 1710–1711. It was after the Austro-Turkish War of 1716–1718 the Treaty of Passarowitz was signed which revealed the Empire was on the defensive and would no longer present a threat of aggression in Europe. After signing the Treaty of Belgrade in 1739, which resulted in the recovery of Serbia and Oltenia, and although they then lost the port of Azov to the Russians, the Empire enjoyed a generation of peace.  Reforms to technology and education were made establishing higher education institutions such as the Istanbul Technical University and in 1734 an artillery school was founded to teach Western-style artillery methods. Sultan Ahmed III gave permission for non-religious books to be published and the first book was printed in 1729. The Russo-Turkish War of 1768–1774 began after Russian troops massacred the people of Balta and burnt the city to the ground and when the 1774 Treaty of Küçük Kaynarca was signed it ended the war and granted freedom of Christian worship in the provinces of Wallachia and Moldavia.  It was Selim III (1789–1807) who attempted to modernise the army but his reforms were impeded by the religious leaders and the Janissary corps who became jealous opposed the changes that led to the Janissary revolt. This cost Selim his throne and his life and his successor Mahmud II went on to eliminate the Janissary’s in 1826. Between the 1860s and 1870s Europeans referred to the Empire as “the sick man and Serbia, Wallachia, Moldavia and Montenegro were all moving towards their independence. 

The Decline & Modernisation of the Ottoman Empire 1828-1908

The Empire’s decline and modernisation occurred during the Tanzimat period (1839–1876) and the government's series of constitutional reforms led to a fairly modern conscripted army, banking system reforms, the decriminalisation of homosexuality, the replacement of religious law with secular law and guilds with modern factories and the establishment of the Ottoman Ministry of Post in 1840. Samuel Morse received his very first patent for the telegraph in 1847 and Sultan Abdülmecid tested the new invention himself and the installation work of the first telegraph line began.  As the Empire’s Christian population had a higher educational level than the Muslim majority this led to a deep resentment; in 1861 there were 571 primary and 94 secondary schools for Ottoman Christians with a total of 140,000 pupils that well exceeded the number of Muslim children in school at the same time and who were impeded by the amount of time they spent learning Arabic and Islamic theology. The higher educational levels of the Christians allowed them to play a much larger role in the economy and in 1911 out of the 654 wholesale companies in Istanbul 528 of them were owned by ethnic Greeks. As the Ottoman Empire grew smaller many Balkan Muslims migrated to the empire's remaining territory in the Balkans or to the heartlands of Anatolia and by 1923 only Anatolia and eastern Thrace remained as Islamic land.

Dissolution of the Ottoman Empire 1908–1922

The Second Constitutional Era began after the Young Turks Revolution of 1908 which marked the start of the Empire’s dissolution and was a time dominated by the politics of the Committee of Union and Progress and the Young Turks movement. During the Italo-Turkish War (1911–12) the Empire lost Libya and its Balkan territories except for Eastern Thrace and the Ottoman capital city of Adrianople. 400,000 Muslims fearing Greek, Serbian or Bulgarian atrocities retreated with the Ottoman army and during 1821 to 1922 the ethnic cleansing of Ottoman Muslims in the Balkans led to several million deaths and the eviction of the same amount of people. By 1914 the Empire had been expelled from most of Europe and North Africa although it still controlled 28 million people of whom 15.5 million were in modern day Turkey, 4.5 million in Syria, Lebanon, Palestine and Jordan, and 2.5 million in Iraq. Another 5.5 million people were under nominal Ottoman rule in the Arabian peninsula. The Empire entered World War I in 1914 and had a few early important victories such as the Battle of Gallipoli and the Siege of Kut but suffered major disaster from the Caucasus Campaign against the Russians. 
In 1915 as the Russian Caucasus Army advanced into eastern Anatolia aided by Ottoman Armenians, the Ottoman government began to deport and massacre its ethnic Armenian population which became known as the Armenian Genocide. These acts were also committed against the Greek and Assyrian minorities and it is estimated that three million people died during these massacres. It was the 1916 Arab Revolt that turned the tide of the Empire’s Middle Eastern front and the Armistice of Mudros signed in 1918 ended the hostility which was followed by the occupation of Constantinople and partitioning of the Ottoman Empire. This and the occupation of Izmir led to the establishment of the Turkish National Movement which won the 1919-1922 Turkish War of Independence led by Mustafa Kemal Pasha. In 1922 the Sultanate was abolished and the last Sultan, Mehmed VI (1918–22) was forced to leave the country and the Grand National Assembly of Turkey declared the country as the Republic of Turkey on 29 October 1923, with the caliphate being abolished on 3rd March 1924.

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