Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Great Ottoman Empire.

T
hough its lands were once occupied by the Romans and the Byzantines, modern day Turkey has largely been shaped by more than 600 years of Ottoman rule.


Before the rise of the Ottomans, the Byzantine Empire controlled western Anatolia - that part of modern day Turkey that is bordered to the north by the Black Sea, to the south by the Mediterranean Sea, and to the east by the the Eastern Taurus Range. To the east of Byzantine lands lay territory controlled by the Seljuk Turks. In the 13th century, Seljuk power began to fade and a number of small Turkish states emerged in the frontier lands between the Byzantine Empire and the shrinking Seljuk state. In 1299 a Turkish Muslim warrior known as Osman I began to lead raids on Christian Byzantine settlements in western Anatolia. The followers of Osman became known as Osmanlılar (Turkish for “those associated with Osman”), or, the Ottomans. Beginning with Osman I, members of the House of Osman ruled the Ottoman state in unbroken succession until 1922. As with many empires, the Ottoman started modestly with successive Ottoman sultan conquered neighboring lands to expand the Empire's territory.

In 1453, Mehmed II conquered Constantinople, the capital of the Byzantine Empire, renamed it Istanbul and declared it to be the center of the Ottoman Empire. The seige of Constantinople was the single event led to the demise of the Byzantine Empire. Ottoman dominance of the region continued and reached its apex under Suleiman I (called "The Lawmaker" in Islamic history and "The Magnificent" in European history) in the 17th century when the Empire encompassed an area including today's Hungary, Yugoslavia, Croatia, Bosnia, Albania, Macedonia, Greece, Romania, Moldova, Bulgaria, southern Ukraine, Turkey, Georgia, Armenia Iraq, Kuwait, Cyprus, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Palestine, Jordan,eastern and western Saudi Arabia, Oman, Bahrain, eastern Yemen, Egypt, northern Libya, Tunisia, and northern Algeria.

After the death of Suleiman I in 1566, the Ottomons took only two important new territories: Cyprus in 1571 and Crete in 1669. The gradual but steady decline of Ottoman power and control began with their unsuccessful siege of Malta in 1565.

From 1699 to 1827, the Empire began its slow decline - several territories including much of the Balkans, Egypt and Algeria were either ceded to other nations.

The period of Ottoman decline (828-1908) was characterized by a breakdown in the central government and more territorial losses. Attempts to implement government, military and economic reform programs were largely unsuccesful. During this time, the Empire faced challenges in defending itself against foreign invasion and occupation.

By the early 20th century, the demise of the Ottoman Empire was well underway. Following the end of World War I, most of the Empire was ceded to neighboring European nations and Britain.

On July 24, 1923, the Republic of Turkey was officially declared with the Treaty of Lausanne, signalling the end of the great Ottoman Empire.