1299 to Monday Mar 3, 1924
TurkeyThe Ottoman Empire was a state 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 tribal leader Osman I. 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 conquest of Constantinople in 1453 by Mehmed the Conqueror.
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, a figure of obscure origins from whom the name Ottoman is derived.
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 neighbors, due to the lack of sources surviving from this period.
On 10 November 1444, Murad II 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.
The son of Murad II, Mehmed the Conqueror, reorganized 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.
Suleiman the Magnificent conquered the southern and central parts of the Kingdom of Hungary as part of the Ottoman–Hungarian Wars, 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.
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, 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.
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 recognized Ottoman ascendancy in Hungary in 1547.
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 (1768–1774). 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, while southern Dagestan, Eastern Armenia, Eastern Georgia, and Azerbaijan remained Persian.
On 17 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.
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.
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.
The Sultanate of Women (1533–1656) 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.
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. The Ottomans surrendered control of significant territories, many permanently.
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.
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).
The Austro-Russian–Turkish War (1735–1739), which was ended by the Treaty of Belgrade in 1739, resulted in the Ottoman recovery of northern Bosnia, Habsburg Serbia (including Belgrade), Oltenia, and the southern parts of the Banat of Temeswar; 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.
This action (Battle of Balta) 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 of worship for the Christian citizens of the Ottoman-controlled provinces of Wallachia and Moldavia.
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.
Selim III (1789–1807) made the first major attempts to modernize 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.
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 Muhammad Ali Pasha of Kavala, the vali (governor) of the Eyalet 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.
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 part of the Ottoman Empire to achieve independence (in 1829).
In 1831, Muhammad Ali Pasha revolted against Sultan Mahmud II due to the latter's refusal to grant him the governorships of Greater Syria and Crete, which the Sultan had promised him in exchange for sending military assistance to put down the Greek revolt (1821–1829) that ultimately ended with the formal independence of Greece in 1830.
Thus began the first Egyptian–Ottoman War (1831–1833), during which the French-trained army of Muhammad Ali Pasha, under the command of his son Ibrahim Pasha, defeated the Ottoman Army as it marched into Anatolia with a great victory, reaching the city of Kütahya within 320 km (200 mi) of the capital, Constantinople.
In desperation, the defeated Sultan Mahmud II appealed to the empire's traditional arch-rival Russia for help, asking Emperor Nicholas I to send an expeditionary force to assist him and to save his reign. In return for signing the Treaty of Hünkâr İskelesi, the Russians sent the expeditionary force which deterred Ibrahim Pasha from marching any further towards Constantinople.
Under the terms of the Convention of Kütahya, signed on 5 May 1833, Muhammad Ali Pasha agreed to abandon his campaign against the Sultan, in exchange for which he was made the vali (governor) 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.
In 1839, the Sublime Porte attempted to take back what it lost to the de facto autonomous, but de jure still Ottoman Eyalet of Egypt, but its forces were initially defeated, which led to the Oriental Crisis of 1840. Muhammad Ali Pasha had close relations with France, and the prospect of him becoming the Sultan of Egypt was widely viewed as putting the entire Levant into the French sphere of influence.
Sublime Porte had proved itself incapable of defeating Muhammad Ali Pasha, the British Empire and Austrian Empire provided military assistance, and the second Egyptian–Ottoman War (1839–1841) ended with Ottoman victory and the restoration of Ottoman suzerainty over Egypt Eyalet and the Levant.
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.
The Russo-Turkish War (1877–1878) 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.
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 a 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.
Britain later sent troops to Egypt in 1882 to put down the Urabi Revolt – Sultan Abdul Hamid II was too paranoid to mobilize 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 serves as the cover for a coup, but he did see the need for military mobilization.
The Young Turk Revolution (July 1908) was a constitutionalist revolution in the Ottoman Empire. The Committee of Union and Progress (CUP), an organization of the Young Turks movement, forced Sultan Abdulhamid II to restore the Ottoman Constitution and recall the parliament, which ushered in multi-party politics within the Empire.
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.
The partition of the Ottoman Empire was finalized 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.