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Ottoman Empire

Former empire in Southeast Europe, Southwest Asia, and North Africa

Top 10 Ottoman Empire related articles

The Sublime Ottoman State

دولت عليه عثمانیه
Devlet-i ʿAlīye-i ʿOsmānīye
Coat of arms
Motto: دولت ابد مدت
Devlet-i Ebed-müddet
("The Eternal State") [1]
Anthem: various
The Ottoman Empire in 1683
Largest cityConstantinople (Istanbul)
Common languages
GovernmentAbsolute monarchy
(1299–1876; 1878–1908; 1920–1922)
and Caliphate (1517–1924[11])
Constitutional monarchy
(1876–1878; 1908–1920)
• c.1299–1323/4 (first)
Osman I
• 1918–1922 (last)
Mehmed VI
• 1517–1520 (first)
Selim I[12][note 2]
• 1922–1924 (last)
Abdülmecid II
Grand Vizier 
• 1320–1331 (first)
Alaeddin Pasha
• 1920–1922 (last)
Ahmet Tevfik Pasha
LegislatureGeneral Assembly
• Unelected upper house
Chamber of Notables
• Elected lower house
Chamber of Deputies
• Founded
c. 1299
23 January 1913
1 November 1922
• Republic of Turkey established[note 4]
29 October 1923
3 March 1924
1451[13]690,000 km2 (270,000 sq mi)
1521[13]3,400,000 km2 (1,300,000 sq mi)
1683[13][14]5,200,000 km2 (2,000,000 sq mi)
1844[15]2,938,365 km2 (1,134,509 sq mi)
• 1912[16]
CurrencyAkçe, Para, Sultani, Kuruş, Lira
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Sultanate of Rum
Anatolian beyliks
Byzantine Empire
Kingdom of Bosnia
Second Bulgarian Empire
Serbian Despotate
Kingdom of Hungary
Kingdom of Croatia
League of Lezhë
Mamluk Sultanate
Hafsid Kingdom
Aq Qoyunlu
Hospitaller Tripoli
Kingdom of Tlemcen
Empire of Trebizond
Principality of Samtskhe
Despotate of the Morea
Principality of Theodoro
Hellenic Republic
Caucasus Viceroyalty
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Revolutionary Serbia
Kingdom of Romania
Principality of Bulgaria
Eastern Rumelia
Emirate of Asir
Kingdom of Hejaz
Mandatory Iraq
French Algeria
British Cyprus
French Tunisia
Italian Tripolitania
Italian Cyrenaica
Sheikhdom of Kuwait
Kingdom of Yemen
Sultanate of Egypt

The Ottoman Empire (/ˈɒtəmən/; Ottoman Turkish: دولت عليه عثمانيهDevlet-i ʿAlīye-i ʿOsmānīye, literally "The Sublime Ottoman State"; Modern Turkish: Osmanlı İmparatorluğu or Osmanlı Devleti; French: Empire ottoman)[note 5][17] was a state[note 6] that controlled much of Southeastern Europe, Western Asia, and Northern Africa between the 14th and early 20th centuries. It was founded at the end of the 13th century in northwestern Anatolia in the town of Söğüt (modern-day Bilecik Province) by the Turkoman[18][19] tribal leader Osman I.[20] After 1354, the Ottomans crossed into Europe and with the conquest of the Balkans, the Ottoman beylik was transformed into a transcontinental empire. The Ottomans ended the Byzantine Empire with the 1453 conquest of Constantinople by Mehmed the Conqueror.[21] The Ottoman Empire would very slowly decline until its fall after World War I, in which it sided with the losing Central Powers of the German Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and Bulgaria.

Under the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent, the Ottoman Empire marked the peak of its power and prosperity as well as the highest development of its government, social, and economic systems.[22] At the beginning of the 17th century, the empire contained 32 provinces and numerous vassal states. Some of these were later absorbed into the Ottoman Empire, while others were granted various types of autonomy over the course of centuries.[note 7]

With Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul) as its capital and control of lands around the Mediterranean Basin, the Ottoman Empire was at the centre of interactions between the Eastern and Western worlds for six centuries. While the empire was once thought to have entered a period of decline following the death of Suleiman the Magnificent, this view is no longer supported by the majority of academic historians.[23] The empire continued to maintain a flexible and strong economy, society and military throughout the 17th and for much of the 18th century.[24] However, during a long period of peace from 1740 to 1768, the Ottoman military system fell behind that of their European rivals, the Habsburg and Russian empires.[25] The Ottomans consequently suffered severe military defeats in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The successful Greek War of Independence concluded with decolonization following the London Protocol (1830) and Treaty of Constantinople (1832). This and other defeats prompted them to initiate a comprehensive process of reform and modernisation known as the Tanzimat. Thus, over the course of the 19th century, the Ottoman state became vastly more powerful and organised, despite suffering further territorial losses, especially in the Balkans, where a number of new states emerged.[26]

The Committee of Union and Progress (CUP) would establish the Second Constitutional Era in the Young Turk Revolution in 1908, turning the Empire into a constitutional monarchy which conducted competitive multi-party elections. A few years later, the now radicalized and nationalistic Union and Progress Party would take over the government in the 1913 coup d'état, creating a one party regime. The CUP allied the Empire with Germany hoping to escape from the diplomatic isolation which had contributed to its recent territorial losses, and thus joined World War I on the side of the Central Powers.[27] While the Empire was able to largely hold its own during the conflict, it was struggling with internal dissent, especially with the Arab Revolt in its Arabian holdings. During this time, genocide was committed by the Ottoman government against the Armenians, Assyrians, and Greeks.[28] The Empire's defeat and the occupation of part of its territory by the Allied Powers in the aftermath of World War I resulted in its partitioning and the loss of its Middle Eastern territories, which were divided between the United Kingdom and France. The successful Turkish War of Independence led by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk against the occupying Allies led to the emergence of the Republic of Turkey in the Anatolian heartland and the abolition of the Ottoman monarchy.[29]

Ottoman Empire Intro articles: 43


A Dutch map from 1635, referencing the "Turkish Empire" (TVRCICVM IMPERIVM).

The word Ottoman is a historical anglicisation of the name of Osman I, the founder of the Empire and of the ruling House of Osman (also known as the Ottoman dynasty). Osman's name in turn was the Turkish form of the Arabic name ʿUthmān (عثمان‎). In Ottoman Turkish, the empire was referred to as Devlet-i ʿAlīye-yi ʿOsmānīye (دولت عليه عثمانیه‎),[30] literally "The Supreme Ottoman State", or alternatively ʿOsmānlı Devleti (عثمانلى دولتى‎). In Modern Turkish, it is known as Osmanlı İmparatorluğu ("The Ottoman Empire") or Osmanlı Devleti ("The Ottoman State").

The Turkish word for "Ottoman" (Turkish: Osmanlı) originally referred to the tribal followers of Osman in the fourteenth century. The word subsequently came to be used to refer to the empire's military-administrative elite. In contrast, the term "Turk" (Türk) was used to refer to the Anatolian peasant and tribal population and was seen as a disparaging term when applied to urban, educated individuals.[31] In the early modern period, an educated, urban-dwelling Turkish-speaker who was not a member of the military-administrative class would often refer to himself neither as an Osmanlı nor as a Türk, but rather as a Rūmī (رومى‎), or "Roman", meaning an inhabitant of the territory of the former Byzantine Empire in the Balkans and Anatolia. The term Rūmī was also used to refer to Turkish-speakers by the other Muslim peoples of the empire and beyond.[32] As applied to Ottoman Turkish-speakers, this term began to fall out of use at the end of the seventeenth century, and instead the word increasingly became associated with the Greek population of the empire, a meaning that it still bears in Turkey today.[33]

In Western Europe, the names Ottoman Empire, Turkish Empire and Turkey were often used interchangeably, with Turkey being increasingly favoured both in formal and informal situations. This dichotomy was officially ended in 1920–23, when the newly established Ankara-based Turkish government chose Turkey as the sole official name. At present, most scholarly historians avoid the terms "Turkey", "Turks", and "Turkish" when referring to the Ottomans, due to the empire's multinational character.[34]

Ottoman Empire Name articles: 7


Rise (c. 1299–1453)

As the Seljuk Sultanate of Rum declined in the 13th century, Anatolia was divided into a patchwork of independent Turkish principalities known as the Anatolian Beyliks. One of these beyliks, in the region of Bithynia on the frontier of the Byzantine Empire, was led by the Turkish tribal leader Osman I (d. 1323/4), a figure of obscure origins from whom the name Ottoman is derived.[35] Osman's early followers consisted both of Turkish tribal groups and Byzantine renegades, with many but not all converts to Islam.[36] Osman extended the control of his principality by conquering Byzantine towns along the Sakarya River. A Byzantine defeat at the Battle of Bapheus in 1302 contributed to Osman's rise as well. It is not well understood how the early Ottomans came to dominate their neighbours, due to the lack of sources surviving from this period. The Ghaza thesis popular during the twentieth century credited their success to their rallying of religious warriors to fight for them in the name of Islam, but it is no longer generally accepted. No other hypothesis has attracted broad acceptance.[37]

The Battle of Nicopolis in 1396; An Ottoman miniature from 1523

In the century after the death of Osman I, Ottoman rule began to extend over Anatolia and the Balkans. The earliest conflicts began during the Byzantine–Ottoman wars, waged in Anatolia in the late 13th century before entering Europe in the mid-14th century, followed by the Bulgarian–Ottoman wars and the Serbian–Ottoman wars waged beginning in the mid 14th century. Much of this period was characterised by Ottoman expansion into the Balkans. Osman's son, Orhan, captured the northwestern Anatolian city of Bursa in 1326, making it the new capital of the Ottoman state and supplanting Byzantine control in the region. The important port city of Thessaloniki was captured from the Venetians in 1387 and sacked. The Ottoman victory in Kosovo in 1389 effectively marked the end of Serbian power in the region, paving the way for Ottoman expansion into Europe.[38] The Battle of Nicopolis for the Bulgarian Tsardom of Vidin in 1396, widely regarded as the last large-scale crusade of the Middle Ages, failed to stop the advance of the victorious Ottoman Turks.[39]

As the Turks expanded into the Balkans, the conquest of Constantinople became a crucial objective. The Ottomans had already wrested control of nearly all former Byzantine lands surrounding the city, but the strong defence of Constantinople's strategic position on the Bosphorus Strait made it difficult to conquer. In 1402, the Byzantines were temporarily relieved when the Turco-Mongol leader Timur, founder of the Timurid Empire, invaded Ottoman Anatolia from the east. In the Battle of Ankara in 1402, Timur defeated the Ottoman forces and took Sultan Bayezid I as a prisoner, throwing the empire into disorder. The ensuing civil war, also known as the Fetret Devri, lasted from 1402 to 1413 as Bayezid's sons fought over succession. It ended when Mehmed I emerged as the sultan and restored Ottoman power.[40]

The Balkan territories lost by the Ottomans after 1402, including Thessaloniki, Macedonia, and Kosovo, were later recovered by Murad II between the 1430s and 1450s. On 10 November 1444, Murad repelled the Crusade of Varna by defeating the Hungarian, Polish, and Wallachian armies under Władysław III of Poland (also King of Hungary) and John Hunyadi at the Battle of Varna, although Albanians under Skanderbeg continued to resist. Four years later, John Hunyadi prepared another army of Hungarian and Wallachian forces to attack the Turks, but was again defeated at the Second Battle of Kosovo in 1448.[41]

Expansion and peak (1453–1566)

Sultan Mehmed II's entry into Constantinople; painting by Fausto Zonaro (1854–1929)
Barbarossa Hayreddin Pasha defeats the Holy League of Charles V under the command of Andrea Doria at the Battle of Preveza in 1538

The son of Murad II, Mehmed the Conqueror, reorganised both state and military, and on 29 May 1453 conquered Constantinople, ending the Byzantine Empire. Mehmed allowed the Eastern Orthodox Church to maintain its autonomy and land in exchange for accepting Ottoman authority.[43] Due to tension between the states of western Europe and the later Byzantine Empire, the majority of the Orthodox population accepted Ottoman rule as preferable to Venetian rule.[43] Albanian resistance was a major obstacle to Ottoman expansion on the Italian peninsula.[44]

In the 15th and 16th centuries, the Ottoman Empire entered a period of expansion. The Empire prospered under the rule of a line of committed and effective Sultans. It also flourished economically due to its control of the major overland trade routes between Europe and Asia.[45][note 8]

Sultan Selim I (1512–1520) dramatically expanded the Empire's eastern and southern frontiers by defeating Shah Ismail of Safavid Iran, in the Battle of Chaldiran.[46][47] Selim I established Ottoman rule in Egypt by defeating and annexing the Mamluk Sultanate of Egypt and created a naval presence on the Red Sea. After this Ottoman expansion, competition began between the Portuguese Empire and the Ottoman Empire to become the dominant power in the region.[48]

Suleiman the Magnificent (1520–1566) captured Belgrade in 1521, conquered the southern and central parts of the Kingdom of Hungary as part of the Ottoman–Hungarian Wars,[49][50] and, after his historic victory in the Battle of Mohács in 1526, he established Ottoman rule in the territory of present-day Hungary (except the western part) and other Central European territories. He then laid siege to Vienna in 1529, but failed to take the city.[51] In 1532, he made another attack on Vienna, but was repulsed in the Siege of Güns.[52][53] Transylvania, Wallachia and, intermittently, Moldavia, became tributary principalities of the Ottoman Empire. In the east, the Ottoman Turks took Baghdad from the Persians in 1535, gaining control of Mesopotamia and naval access to the Persian Gulf. In 1555, the Caucasus became officially partitioned for the first time between the Safavids and the Ottomans, a status quo that would remain until the end of the Russo-Turkish War (1768–74). By this partitioning of the Caucasus as signed in the Peace of Amasya, Western Armenia, western Kurdistan, and Western Georgia (incl. western Samtskhe) fell into Ottoman hands,[54] while southern Dagestan, Eastern Armenia, Eastern Georgia, and Azerbaijan remained Persian.[55]

In 1539, a 60,000-strong Ottoman army besieged the Spanish garrison of Castelnuovo on the Adriatic coast; the successful siege cost the Ottomans 8,000 casualties,[56] but Venice agreed to terms in 1540, surrendering most of its empire in the Aegean and the Morea. France and the Ottoman Empire, united by mutual opposition to Habsburg rule, became strong allies. The French conquests of Nice (1543) and Corsica (1553) occurred as a joint venture between the forces of the French king Francis I and Suleiman, and were commanded by the Ottoman admirals Barbarossa Hayreddin Pasha and Turgut Reis.[57] A month before the siege of Nice, France supported the Ottomans with an artillery unit during the 1543 Ottoman conquest of Esztergom in northern Hungary. After further advances by the Turks, the Habsburg ruler Ferdinand officially recognised Ottoman ascendancy in Hungary in 1547. Suleiman I died of natural causes in his tent during the Siege of Szigetvár in 1566.

By the end of Suleiman's reign, the Empire spanned approximately 877,888 sq mi (2,273,720 km2), extending over three continents.[58] In addition, the Empire became a dominant naval force, controlling much of the Mediterranean Sea.[59] By this time, the Ottoman Empire was a major part of the European political sphere. The Ottomans became involved in multi-continental religious wars when Spain and Portugal were united under the Iberian Union, the Ottomans as holders of the Caliph title, meaning leader of all Muslims worldwide, and Iberians, as leaders of the Christian crusaders, were locked in a worldwide conflict, with zones of operations in the Mediterranean Sea[60] and Indian Ocean[61] where Iberians circumnavigated Africa to reach India, and on their way, wage wars upon the Ottomans and their local Muslim allies. Likewise, the Iberians passed through newly-Christianized Latin America and had sent expeditions that traversed the Pacific in order to Christianize the formerly Muslim Philippines and use it as a base to further attack the Muslims in the Far East.[62] In this case, the Ottomans sent armies to aid its easternmost vassal and territory, the Sultanate of Aceh in Southeast Asia.[63][64] During the 1600s the worldwide conflict between the Ottoman Caliphate and Iberian Union was a stalemate since both powers were at similar population, technology and economic levels. Nevertheless, the success of the Ottoman political and military establishment was compared to the Roman Empire, by the likes of the contemporary Italian scholar Francesco Sansovino and the French political philosopher Jean Bodin.[65]

Stagnation and reform (1566–1827)

Revolts, reversals, and revivals (1566–1683)

The extent of the Ottoman Empire in 1566, upon the death of Suleiman the Magnificent
Ottoman miniature about the Szigetvár campaign showing Ottoman troops and Tatars as avant-garde

In the second half of the sixteenth century, the Ottoman Empire came under increasing strain from inflation and the rapidly rising costs of warfare that were impacting both Europe and the Middle East. These pressures led to a series of crises around the year 1600, placing great strain upon the Ottoman system of government.[66] The empire underwent a series of transformations of its political and military institutions in response to these challenges, enabling it to successfully adapt to the new conditions of the seventeenth century and remain powerful, both militarily and economically.[23][67] Historians of the mid-twentieth century once characterised this period as one of stagnation and decline, but this view is now rejected by the majority of academics.[23]

The discovery of new maritime trade routes by Western European states allowed them to avoid the Ottoman trade monopoly. The Portuguese discovery of the Cape of Good Hope in 1488 initiated a series of Ottoman-Portuguese naval wars in the Indian Ocean throughout the 16th century. Despite the growing European presence in the Indian Ocean, Ottoman trade with the east continued to flourish. Cairo, in particular, benefitted from the rise of Yemeni coffee as a popular consumer commodity. As coffeehouses appeared in cities and towns across the empire, Cairo developed into a major center for its trade, contributing to its continued prosperity throughout the seventeenth and much of the eighteenth century.[68]

Under Ivan IV (1533–1584), the Tsardom of Russia expanded into the Volga and Caspian region at the expense of the Tatar khanates. In 1571, the Crimean khan Devlet I Giray, commanded by the Ottomans, burned Moscow.[69] The next year, the invasion was repeated but repelled at the Battle of Molodi. The Ottoman Empire continued to invade Eastern Europe in a series of slave raids,[70] and remained a significant power in Eastern Europe until the end of the 17th century.[71]

The Ottomans decided to conquer Venetian Cyprus and on 22 July 1570, Nicosia was besieged; 50,000 Christians died, and 180,000 were enslaved.[72] On 15 September 1570, the Ottoman cavalry appeared before the last Venetian stronghold in Cyprus, Famagusta. The Venetian defenders would hold out for 11 months against a force that would come to number 200,000 men with 145 cannons; 163,000 cannonballs struck the walls of Famagusta before it fell to the Ottomans in August 1571. The Siege of Famagusta claimed 50,000 Ottoman casualties.[73] Meanwhile, the Holy league consisting of mostly Spanish and Venetian fleets won a victory over the Ottoman fleet at the Battle of Lepanto (1571), off southwestern Greece; Catholic forces killed over 30,000 Turks and destroyed 200 of their ships.[74] It was a startling, if mostly symbolic,[75] blow to the image of Ottoman invincibility, an image which the victory of the Knights of Malta against the Ottoman invaders in the 1565 Siege of Malta had recently set about eroding.[76] The battle was far more damaging to the Ottoman navy in sapping experienced manpower than the loss of ships, which were rapidly replaced.[77] The Ottoman navy recovered quickly, persuading Venice to sign a peace treaty in 1573, allowing the Ottomans to expand and consolidate their position in North Africa.[78]

By contrast, the Habsburg frontier had settled somewhat, a stalemate caused by a stiffening of the Habsburg defences .[79] The Long Turkish War against Habsburg Austria (1593–1606) created the need for greater numbers of Ottoman infantry equipped with firearms, resulting in a relaxation of recruitment policy. This contributed to problems of indiscipline and outright rebelliousness within the corps, which were never fully solved.[80] Irregular sharpshooters (Sekban) were also recruited, and on demobilisation turned to brigandage in the Jelali revolts (1590–1610), which engendered widespread anarchy in Anatolia in the late 16th and early 17th centuries.[81] With the Empire's population reaching 30 million people by 1600, the shortage of land placed further pressure on the government.[82] In spite of these problems, the Ottoman state remained strong, and its army did not collapse or suffer crushing defeats. The only exceptions were campaigns against the Safavid dynasty of Persia, where many of the Ottoman eastern provinces were lost, some permanently. This 1603–1618 war eventually resulted in the Treaty of Nasuh Pasha, which ceded the entire Caucasus, except westernmost Georgia, back into Iranian Safavid possession.[83] The treaty ending the Cretan War (1645–1669) cost Venice much of Dalmatia, its Aegean island possessions, and Crete. (Losses from the war totalled 30,985 Venetian soldiers and 118,754 Turkish soldiers.)[84]

During his brief majority reign, Murad IV (1623–1640) reasserted central authority and recaptured Iraq (1639) from the Safavids.[85] The resulting Treaty of Zuhab of that same year decisively divided the Caucasus and adjacent regions between the two neighbouring empires as it had already been defined in the 1555 Peace of Amasya.[86][87]

The Sultanate of women (1623–1656) was a period in which the mothers of young sultans exercised power on behalf of their sons. The most prominent women of this period were Kösem Sultan and her daughter-in-law Turhan Hatice, whose political rivalry culminated in Kösem's murder in 1651.[88] During the Köprülü Era (1656–1703), effective control of the Empire was exercised by a sequence of Grand Viziers from the Köprülü family. The Köprülü Vizierate saw renewed military success with authority restored in Transylvania, the conquest of Crete completed in 1669, and expansion into Polish southern Ukraine, with the strongholds of Khotyn and Kamianets-Podilskyi and the territory of Podolia ceding to Ottoman control in 1676.[89]

This period of renewed assertiveness came to a calamitous end in 1683 when Grand Vizier Kara Mustafa Pasha led a huge army to attempt a second Ottoman siege of Vienna in the Great Turkish War of 1683–1699. The final assault being fatally delayed, the Ottoman forces were swept away by allied Habsburg, German, and Polish forces spearheaded by the Polish king John III Sobieski at the Battle of Vienna. The alliance of the Holy League pressed home the advantage of the defeat at Vienna, culminating in the Treaty of Karlowitz (26 January 1699), which ended the Great Turkish War.[90] The Ottomans surrendered control of significant territories, many permanently.[91] Mustafa II (1695–1703) led the counterattack of 1695–96 against the Habsburgs in Hungary, but was undone at the disastrous defeat at Zenta (in modern Serbia), 11 September 1697.[92]

Military defeats

Aside from the loss of the Banat and the temporary loss of Belgrade (1717–39), the Ottoman border on the Danube and Sava remained stable during the eighteenth century. Russian expansion, however, presented a large and growing threat.[93] Accordingly, King Charles XII of Sweden was welcomed as an ally in the Ottoman Empire following his defeat by the Russians at the Battle of Poltava of 1709 in central Ukraine (part of the Great Northern War of 1700–1721).[93] Charles XII persuaded the Ottoman Sultan Ahmed III to declare war on Russia, which resulted in an Ottoman victory in the Pruth River Campaign of 1710–1711, in Moldavia.[94]

Austrian troops led by Prince Eugene of Savoy capture Belgrade in 1717

After the Austro-Turkish War of 1716–1718, the Treaty of Passarowitz confirmed the loss of the Banat, Serbia and "Little Walachia" (Oltenia) to Austria. The Treaty also revealed that the Ottoman Empire was on the defensive and unlikely to present any further aggression in Europe.[95] The Austro-Russian–Turkish War (1735–1739), which was ended by the Treaty of Belgrade in 1739, resulted in the recovery of Serbia and Oltenia, but the Empire lost the port of Azov, north of the Crimean Peninsula, to the Russians. After this treaty the Ottoman Empire was able to enjoy a generation of peace, as Austria and Russia were forced to deal with the rise of Prussia.[96]

Educational and technological reforms came about, including the establishment of higher education institutions such as the Istanbul Technical University.[97] In 1734 an artillery school was established to impart Western-style artillery methods, but the Islamic clergy successfully objected under the grounds of theodicy.[98] In 1754 the artillery school was reopened on a semi-secret basis.[98] In 1726, Ibrahim Muteferrika convinced the Grand Vizier Nevşehirli Damat İbrahim Pasha, the Grand Mufti, and the clergy on the efficiency of the printing press, and Muteferrika was later granted by Sultan Ahmed III permission to publish non-religious books (despite opposition from some calligraphers and religious leaders).[99] Muteferrika's press published its first book in 1729 and, by 1743, issued 17 works in 23 volumes, each having between 500 and 1,000 copies.[99][100]

Ottoman troops attempting to halt the advancing Russians during the Siege of Ochakov in 1788

In Ottoman North Africa, Spain conquered Oran from the Ottoman Empire (1732). The bey received an Ottoman army from Algiers, but it failed to recapture Oran; the siege caused the deaths of 1,500 Spaniards, and even more Algerians. The Spanish also massacred many Muslim soldiers.[101] In 1792, Spain abandoned Oran, selling it to the Ottoman Empire.

In 1768 Russian-backed Ukrainian Haidamakas, pursuing Polish confederates, entered Balta, an Ottoman-controlled town on the border of Bessarabia in Ukraine, massacred its citizens, and burned the town to the ground. This action provoked the Ottoman Empire into the Russo-Turkish War of 1768–1774. The Treaty of Küçük Kaynarca of 1774 ended the war and provided freedom to worship for the Christian citizens of the Ottoman-controlled provinces of Wallachia and Moldavia.[102] By the late 18th century, after a number of defeats in the wars with Russia, some people in the Ottoman Empire began to conclude that the reforms of Peter the Great had given the Russians an edge, and the Ottomans would have to keep up with Western technology in order to avoid further defeats.[98]

Selim III (1789–1807) made the first major attempts to modernise the army, but his reforms were hampered by the religious leadership and the Janissary corps. Jealous of their privileges and firmly opposed to change, the Janissary revolted. Selim's efforts cost him his throne and his life, but were resolved in spectacular and bloody fashion by his successor, the dynamic Mahmud II, who eliminated the Janissary corps in 1826.

Selim III receiving dignitaries during an audience at the Gate of Felicity, Topkapı Palace. Painting by Konstantin Kapıdağlı.

The Serbian revolution (1804–1815) marked the beginning of an era of national awakening in the Balkans during the Eastern Question. In 1811, the fundamentalist Wahhabis of Arabia, led by the al-Saud family, revolted against the Ottomans. Unable to defeat the Wahhabi rebels, the Sublime Porte had Mohammad Ali the Great, the vali (governor) of Egypt tasked with retaking Arabia, which ended with the destruction of the Emirate of Diriyah in 1818. The Suzerainty of Serbia as a hereditary monarchy under its own dynasty was acknowledged de jure in 1830.[103][104] In 1821, the Greeks declared war on the Sultan. A rebellion that originated in Moldavia as a diversion was followed by the main revolution in the Peloponnese, which, along with the northern part of the Gulf of Corinth, became the first parts of the Ottoman Empire to achieve independence (in 1829). In 1830, the French invaded Ottoman Algeria, which was lost to the empire; between 500,000 and 1,000,000 Algerians were killed,[105][106] while French forces suffered only 3,336 killed in action.[107] In 1831, Mohammad Ali revolted with the aim of making himself sultan and founding a new dynasty, and his French-trained army under his son Ibrahim Pasha defeated the Ottoman Army as it marched on Constantinople, coming within 320 km (200 mi) of the capital.[108] In desperation, the Sultan Mahmud II appealed to the empire's traditional archenemy Russia for help, asking Emperor Nicholas I to send an expeditionary force to save him.[109] In return for signing the Treaty of Hünkâr İskelesi, the Russians sent the expeditionary force, which deterred Ibrahim from taking Constantinople.[109] Under the terms of Peace of Kutahia, signed on 5 May 1833 Mohammad Ali agreed to abandon his claim to the throne, in exchange for which he was made the vali of the vilayets (provinces) of Crete, Aleppo, Tripoli, Damascus and Sidon (the latter four comprising modern Syria and Lebanon), and given the right to collect taxes in Adana.[109] Had it not been for the Russian intervention, it is almost certain Mahmud II would have been overthrown and Mohammad Ali would have become the new sultan, marking the beginning of a recurring pattern where the Sublime Porte needed the help of outsiders to save itself.[110]

The Greek War of Independence (1821–1829) against the Ottomans

In 1839, the Sublime Porte attempted to take back what it lost to the de facto independent vilayet of Egypt, and suffered a crushing defeat, leading to the Oriental Crisis as Mohammad Ali was very close to France, and the prospect of him as Sultan was widely viewed as putting the entire empire into the French sphere of influence.[109] As the Sublime Porte had proved itself incapable of defeating the Egyptians, Britain, and Austria intervened to defeat Egypt.[109] By the mid-19th century, the Ottoman Empire was called the "sick man" by Europeans. The suzerain states – the Principality of Serbia, Wallachia and Moldavia – moved towards de jure independence during the 1860s and 1870s.

Decline and modernisation (1828–1908)

During the Tanzimat period (1839–1876), 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[111] and guilds with modern factories. The Ottoman Ministry of Post was established in Istanbul in 1840. American inventor Samuel Morse received an Ottoman patent for the telegraph in 1847, which was issued by Sultan Abdülmecid who personally tested the new invention.[112] The reformist period peaked with the Constitution, called the Kanûn-u Esâsî. The empire's First Constitutional era was short-lived. The parliament survived for only two years before the sultan suspended it.

Romania, fighting on the Russian side, gained independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1878 after the end of Russo-Turkish War.

The Christian population of the empire, owing to their higher educational levels, started to pull ahead of the Muslim majority, leading to much resentment on the part of the latter.[113] In 1861, there were 571 primary and 94 secondary schools for Ottoman Christians with 140,000 pupils in total, a figure that vastly exceeded the number of Muslim children in school at the same time, who were further hindered by the amount of time spent learning Arabic and Islamic theology.[113] Author Norman Stone further suggests that the Arabic alphabet, which Turkish was written in until 1928, was very ill-suited to reflect the sounds of the Turkish language (which is a Turkic as opposed to Semitic language), which imposed a further difficulty on Turkish children.[113] In turn, the higher educational levels of the Christians allowed them to play a larger role in the economy, with the rise in prominence of groups such as the Sursock family indicative of this shift in influence.[114][113] In 1911, of the 654 wholesale companies in Istanbul, 528 were owned by ethnic Greeks.[113] In many cases, Christians and also Jews were able to gain protection from European consuls and citizenship, meaning they were protected from Ottoman law and not subject to the same economic regulations as their Muslim counterparts.[115]

The Bulgarian martyresses (1877) by Konstantin Makovsky, a Russian propaganda painting which depicts the rape of Bulgarian women by the bashi-bazouks during the April Uprising, with the purpose of mobilising public support for the Russo-Turkish War (1877–78).[116][117] Unrestrained by the laws that governed regular soldiers in the Ottoman Army, the bashi-bazouks became notorious for preying on civilians.[118]

The Crimean War (1853–1856) was part of a long-running contest between the major European powers for influence over territories of the declining Ottoman Empire. The financial burden of the war led the Ottoman state to issue foreign loans amounting to 5 million pounds sterling on 4 August 1854.[119][120] The war caused an exodus of the Crimean Tatars, about 200,000 of whom moved to the Ottoman Empire in continuing waves of emigration.[121] Toward the end of the Caucasian Wars, 90% of the Circassians were ethnically cleansed[122] and exiled from their homelands in the Caucasus and fled to the Ottoman Empire,[123] resulting in the settlement of 500,000 to 700,000 Circassians in Turkey.[124][125][126] Some Circassian organisations give much higher numbers, totalling 1–1.5 million deported or killed. Crimean Tatar refugees in the late 19th century played an especially notable role in seeking to modernise Ottoman education and in first promoting both Pan-Turkism and a sense of Turkish nationalism.[127]

In this period, the Ottoman Empire spent only small amounts of public funds on education; for example in 1860–61 only 0.2 per cent of the total budget was invested in education.[128] As the Ottoman state attempted to modernise its infrastructure and army in response to threats from the outside, it also opened itself up to a different kind of threat: that of creditors. Indeed, as the historian Eugene Rogan has written, "the single greatest threat to the independence of the Middle East" in the nineteenth century "was not the armies of Europe but its banks".[129] The Ottoman state, which had begun taking on debt with the Crimean War, was forced to declare bankruptcy in 1875.[130] By 1881, the Ottoman Empire agreed to have its debt controlled by an institution known as the Ottoman Public Debt Administration, a council of European men with presidency alternating between France and Britain. The body controlled swaths of the Ottoman economy, and used its position to ensure that European capital continued to penetrate the empire, often to the detriment of local Ottoman interests.[130]

The Ottoman bashi-bazouks brutally suppressed the Bulgarian uprising of 1876, massacring up to 100,000 people in the process.[131] The Russo-Turkish War (1877–78) ended with a decisive victory for Russia. As a result, Ottoman holdings in Europe declined sharply: Bulgaria was established as an independent principality inside the Ottoman Empire; Romania achieved full independence; and Serbia and Montenegro finally gained complete independence, but with smaller territories. In 1878, Austria-Hungary unilaterally occupied the Ottoman provinces of Bosnia-Herzegovina and Novi Pazar.

British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli advocated for restoring the Ottoman territories on the Balkan Peninsula during the Congress of Berlin, and in return, Britain assumed the administration of Cyprus in 1878.[132] Britain later sent troops to Egypt in 1882 to put down the Urabi Revolt – Sultan Abdul Hamid II was too paranoid to mobilise his own army, fearing this would result in a coup d'état – effectively gaining control in both territories. Abdul Hamid II, popularly known as "Abdul Hamid the Damned" on account of his cruelty and paranoia, was so fearful of the threat of a coup that he did not allow his army to conduct war games, lest this serve as the cover for a coup, but he did see the need for military mobilisation. In 1883, a German military mission under General Baron Colmar von der Goltz arrived to train the Ottoman Army, leading to the so-called "Goltz generation" of German-trained officers who were to play a notable role in the politics of the last years of the empire.[133]

From 1894 to 1896, between 100,000 and 300,000 Armenians living throughout the empire were killed in what became known as the Hamidian massacres.[134]

In 1897 the population was 19 million, of whom 14 million (74%) were Muslim. An additional 20 million lived in provinces which remained under the sultan's nominal suzerainty but were entirely outside his actual power. One by one the Porte lost nominal authority. They included Egypt, Tunisia, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Lebanon.[135]

As the Ottoman Empire gradually shrank in size, some 7–9 million Muslims from its former territories in the Caucasus, Crimea, Balkans, and the Mediterranean islands migrated to Anatolia and Eastern Thrace.[136] After the Empire lost the First Balkan War (1912–13), it lost all its Balkan territories except East Thrace (European Turkey). This resulted in around 400,000 Muslims fleeing with the retreating Ottoman armies (with many dying from cholera brought by the soldiers), and with some 400,000 non-Muslims fleeing territory still under Ottoman rule.[137] Justin McCarthy estimates that during the period 1821 to 1922, 5.5 million Muslims died in southeastern Europe, with the expulsion of 5 million.[138][139][140]

Defeat and dissolution (1908–1922)

Mehmed V was proclaimed Sultan of the Ottoman Empire after the Young Turk Revolution.

Young Turk movement

The defeat and dissolution of the Ottoman Empire (1908–1922) began with the Second Constitutional Era, a moment of hope and promise established with the Young Turk Revolution. It restored the Ottoman constitution of 1876 and brought in multi-party politics with a two-stage electoral system (electoral law) under the Ottoman parliament. The constitution offered hope by freeing the empire's citizens to modernise the state's institutions, rejuvenate its strength, and enable it to hold its own against outside powers. Its guarantee of liberties promised to dissolve inter-communal tensions and transform the empire into a more harmonious place.[141] Instead, this period became the story of the twilight struggle of the Empire.

Declaration of the Young Turk Revolution by the leaders of the Ottoman millets in 1908

Members of Young Turks movement who had once gone underground now established their parties.[142] Among them "Committee of Union and Progress", and "Freedom and Accord Party" were major parties. On the other end of the spectrum were ethnic parties, which included Poale Zion, Al-Fatat, and Armenian national movement organised under Armenian Revolutionary Federation. Profiting from the civil strife, Austria-Hungary officially annexed Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1908. The last of the Ottoman censuses was performed in 1914. Despite military reforms which reconstituted the Ottoman Modern Army, the Empire lost its North African territories and the Dodecanese in the Italo-Turkish War (1911) and almost all of its European territories in the Balkan Wars (1912–1913). The Empire faced continuous unrest in the years leading up to World War I, including the Ottoman countercoup of 1909, the 31 March Incident and two further coups in 1912 and 1913.

World War I

The war began with the Ottoman surprise attack on the Russian Black Sea coast on 29 October 1914. Following the attack, Russia and its allies France and Britain declared war on the Ottomans. There were several important Ottoman victories in the early years of the war, such as the Battle of Gallipoli and the Siege of Kut.

The Armenian Genocide was the Ottoman government's systematic extermination of its Armenian subjects. An estimated 1.5 million people were killed.

In 1915 the Ottoman government and Kurdish tribes in region started the extermination of its ethnic Armenian population, resulting in the death of up to 1.5 million Armenians in the Armenian Genocide.[143] The genocide was carried out during and after World War I and implemented in two phases: the wholesale killing of the able-bodied male population through massacre and subjection of army conscripts to forced labour, followed by the deportation of women, children, the elderly and infirm on death marches leading to the Syrian desert. Driven forward by military escorts, the deportees were deprived of food and water and subjected to periodic robbery, rape, and systematic massacre.[144][145] Large-scale massacres were also committed against the Empire's Greek and Assyrian minorities as part of the same campaign of ethnic cleansing.[146]

Arab Revolt

The Arab Revolt began in 1916 with British support. It turned the tide against the Ottomans on the Middle Eastern front, where they seemed to have the upper hand during the first two years of the war. On the basis of the McMahon–Hussein Correspondence, an agreement between the British government and Hussein bin Ali, Sharif of Mecca, the revolt was officially initiated at Mecca on 10 June 1916.[note 9] The Arab nationalist goal was to create a single unified and independent Arab state stretching from Aleppo in Syria to Aden in Yemen, which the British had promised to recognise.

The Sharifian Army led by Hussein and the Hashemites, with military backing from the British Egyptian Expeditionary Force, successfully fought and expelled the Ottoman military presence from much of the Hejaz and Transjordan. The rebellion eventually took Damascus and set up a short-lived monarchy led by Faisal, a son of Hussein.

Following the Sykes-Picot Agreement, the Middle East was later partitioned by the British and French into mandate territories. There was no unified Arab state, much to the anger of Arab nationalists.

Treaty of Sèvres and Turkish War of Independence
Mehmed VI, the last Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, leaving the country after the abolition of the Ottoman sultanate, 17 November 1922

Defeated on every front, the Ottoman Empire signed the Armistice of Mudros on 30 October 1918. Constantinople was occupied by combined British, French, Italian, and Greek forces. In May 1919, Greece also took control of the area around Smyrna (now İzmir).

The partition of the Ottoman Empire was finalised under the terms of the 1920 Treaty of Sèvres. This treaty, as designed in the Conference of London, allowed the Sultan to retain his position and title. The status of Anatolia was problematic given the occupied forces.

There arose a nationalist opposition in the Turkish national movement. It won the Turkish War of Independence (1919–23) under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal (later given the surname "Atatürk"). The sultanate was abolished on 1 November 1922, and the last sultan, Mehmed VI (reigned 1918–22), left the country on 17 November 1922. The Republic of Turkey was established in its place on 29 October 1923, in the new capital city of Ankara. The caliphate was abolished on 3 March 1924.[148]

Ottoman Empire History articles: 336