Learning Goals• Describe the Ottoman Empire’s Origins• Trace the expansion of Ottoman power
We saw previously that control of the Middle East had changed hands several times.• By the 1300’s, it was the Ottomans’ turn.The Ottoman Empire was begun by a Turkish warrior king, Osman I, who successfully laid siege to several Byzantine forts.• He was succeeded by his son, Orkan I, who conquered the important Byzantine city Adrianople.• Subsequent sultans kept expanding the borders, usually at Byzantine expense.
Tamerlane (Timur the Lame) threw a kink in Ottoman expansion.• He claimed descent from Genghis Khan and may at least have been married into the Khan family.• He conquered a great deal of territory in central Asia and into the Middle East. • He’s actually considered a hero to many in central Asia, such as in Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, etc., while he’s a villain to Persians and Arabs since he overthrew their rule and destroyed their cities.
• He wars with the Ottomans and even captures the Ottoman sultan, Bayezid, in the Battle of Ankara. • Tamerlane wanted to restore power to the Seljuks who he thought were the rightful rulers of Anatolia because they had been granted rule by the Mongols.
• To say Tamerlane was brutal is being too kind. He laid waste to cities and slaughtered their inhabitants: 70,000 people in Isfahan (and stacked their skulls into pyramids), another 100,000 prisoners executed in Delhi, 70,000 in Tikrit, 90,000 in Baghdad. • It’s estimated that Tamerlane’s conquering claimed anywhere from 7 million to 20 million lives.
• He was called “the Lame” because of a leg wound he sustained as a child. Reconstruction based on exhumation of his body in 1941.
After recovering from Tamerlane and settling out who was going to be the new sultan, the Ottomans went back on the offensive.• Constantinople was the prize the sultan Mehmet II wanted. It was wealthy, it controlled the Bosporus Strait sea and land traffic, it wasn’t Muslim, it had resisted conquering for nearly a thousand years, and it was the continuation of the Roman Empire. Conquering it would be good for bragging rights alone.
Mehmed II –He was only 12 whenhe became sultan and he conqueredConstantinople at age 21
Selim the Grim comes along in 1512• He overthrew his father and then executed all his brothers and nephews. • The family killing was to eliminate the possibility of anyone else with a possible claim to the throne trying to overthrow him. It was risky to be in the Ottoman royal family.
• Selim was known to have a fiery temper and executed several viziers who he didn’t think were doing well enough. • One vizier jokingly asked to be told when he was going to be executed so he could put his affairs in order. Selim responded that he had been thinking about it for awhile, but just hadn’t found a good replacement yet. When he had, he’d make sure to tell the vizier.
• Selim went on to conquer Egypt, which was under control of the Mamluke dynasty and also Mecca and Medina.
Suleiman the Magnificent/Lawgiver• Sultan from 1520 to 1566.• The most powerful sultan and under whom the Ottoman Empire reached its peak of power.• He continued conquering into Europe, including the Balkans and most of Eastern Europe – nearly to Vienna. Once again, Europe seemed seriously threatened by the Muslims from the east (guess they should have given the Byzantines more help in 1453).
• Suleiman also formed a legal code covering instances falling outside Islamic sharia, hence his title of ‘lawgiver.’• He was a good ruler who promoted people based on merit rather than wealth or contacts.• Also allowed for religious tolerance. Jews were not to be oppressed and Christians could continue practicing their own religion. • This was more practicality than high-mindedness. People tend not to care who governs them so long as they can live their lives the way they want. A content populace is one which won’t rebel.
You can’t pull off this look. Suleiman could.He was magnificent.
Military• There were different levels of the military, but the elite corps were the Janissaries. • They were non-Muslim boys who were taken from their families at a young age: about 12-16. This was part of the devshirme tax. • The boys would be trained in fighting and cultural arts and to think of the sultan as a father.
• They were cut off from their biological families and their new family was the Janissaries. While not forced to convert to Islam, the vast majority did. • Since they converted, their sons would be Muslims and inelligible for the devshirme and the Janissaries. This prevented a powerful hereditary class from developing, like what happened with the Mamlukes and Seljuks.
The Decline• After Suleiman, a series of bad sultans have control of the Empire.• They get pasted at the Battle of Lepanto in 1571, for example.
• Lepanto was a naval battle between Ottoman forces and a loose alliance of Europeans, led by the Venetians under Don Juan. The Ottomans were commanded by Ali Pasha. • The Ottomans had been gobbling up territory and seemed nearly unstoppable. They threatened to take the island of Cyprus, which the Venetians owned (though the Venetians had previously made agreements with the Ottomans). • Venice appealed for aid, but not many were interested – Venice was a republic, which the monarchies didn’t like, wealthy, and powerful. • The pope eventually answer because he can’t allow a Muslim entity to dictate to a Christian one.
• The Ottomans had 230 galleys and 60 galliots, while the Holy League had just 206 galleys and 6 galleasses. • A galley wasn’t all that much more advanced from ancient triremes. They were oar powered and relied and ramming or boarding to defeat enemy ships. • Galliots were small, light, maneuverable galleys. • Galleasses were a new innovation. They were a hybrid between sail and oar power, were larger, and, most importantly, used cannons.
• The battle started out with the galleasses at the front, just hammering the Ottoman ships, which couldn’t even get in range of the new ships. • Most of the battle gets fought on the flanks and it was ugly. Ultimately, Ali Pasha is captured, killed, and his head displayed on a pike.
• The whole commander’s head on a pike thing seriously demoralized the rest of the Ottomans who withdrew from the battle. The Holy League had won.• The final tally was: • Holy League: 9,000 dead or wounded and 12 galleys lost • Ottomans: 30,000 dead or captured, 137 ships captured (and all their loot), and 50 ships sunk. • Another 15,000 galley slaves were freed.
• Lepanto had three major effects • First, it marked the end of the seemingly invincible Ottoman Muslims. After so many years of conquering and pushing back Christian boundaries, they were soundly beaten. • Second, it effectively ended the Ottomans as a naval force in the Mediterranean and paved the way for it to become Europe’s lake. • Third, it presaged the end of the galleys and that type of warfare. After this, sail and cannon would rule the seas and would require new types of naval warfare.