Ottoman Empire

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Osmanlı İmparatorluğu
Devlet-i Aliyye-i Osmâniyye
دولت علیه عثمانیه
Ottoman Empire
Flag of Turkey # Flags of the Ottoman Empire
Coat of arms of the Ottoman Empire
flag coat of arms
Motto : دولت ابد مدت
Devlet-i Ebed-tired
("The Eternal State")
Capital Istanbul ( Kostantiniyye , from 1453)
previously Söğüt (1299–1326)
Bursa (1335–1368)
Dimetoka (1361–1365)
Adrianople (1368–1453)
Head of state sultan
Head of government Grand Vizier
surface 4,800 km² (1299)
5,200,000 km² (17th century)
3,400,000 (1900, excluding vassals) km²
population 30–35,000,000 (1600)
24,028,900 (1906)
without vassals
12,600,000 (1922)
currency Akçe (1327), Sultani (1454), Kuruş (1690), Lira (1844), Para
founding 1299
National anthem Most recently Reşadiye - for Sultan Mehmed V. Reşad (1909–1918)
The Ottoman Empire from 1481 to 1683
The Ottoman Empire from 1481 to 1683
Template: Infobox State / Maintenance / NAME-GERMAN

The Ottoman Empire ( Ottoman دولت علیه İA Devlet-i ʿAlīye , German 'the sublime state' and official from 1876دولت عثمانيه/ Devlet-i ʿOs̲mānīye / 'the Ottoman State', Turkish Osmanlı İmparatorluğu ) was the empire of the Ottoman dynasty from approx. 1299 to 1922. The term Ottoman Empire , which is outdated in German-speaking countries and still found in English and French-language literature, derives from it of variants of Arabic names form Uthman of the dynasty founder Osman I. ago.

It emerged at the beginning of the 14th century as a regional rulership ( Beylik ) in northwestern Asia Minor in the border area of ​​the Byzantine Empire under a leader of presumably nomadic origin. This broke away from the dependence on the Sultanate of the Rum Seljuks , which had come under the dominance of the Mongolian Ilchanate after 1243 and had lost its power. The capital was Bursa from 1326 , Adrianople from 1368 , and finally Constantinople from 1453 ( Ottoman Kostantiniyye ; officially called Istanbul since 1876 ).

At the time of its greatest expansion in the 17th century, it stretched from its heartland Asia Minor and Rumelia northward to the area around the Black Sea and the Azov Sea , westward to far south-east Europe . For centuries the Ottoman Empire claimed a major European power role politically, militarily and economically alongside the Holy Roman Empire , France and England. In the Mediterranean, the empire fought with the Italian republics of Venice and Genoa , the Papal States and the Order of Malta for economic and political supremacy. From the late 17th to the late 19th century, the Russian Empire fought for rule over the Black Sea region . In the Indian Ocean, the empire challenged Portugal in the struggle for priority in long-distance trade with India and Indonesia. The history of the Ottoman Empire is closely linked to that of Western Europe due to the continuously intensive political, economic and cultural relations.

In the Middle East, the Ottomans ruled the historical heartlands of Islam with Syria , the area of ​​today's Iraq and the Hejaz (with the holy cities of Mecca and Medina ) , in North Africa the area from Nubia via Upper Egypt to the west to the Middle Atlas Mountains was under Ottoman rule. In the Islamic world, the Ottoman Empire was the third and last Sunni great power after the Umayyad and Abbasid Empire . After the Safavid dynasty had established the Shia as the state religion in Persia , both empires divided the old inner-Islamic conflict between the two Islamic denominations into three major ones Get away.

In the course of the 18th and especially in the 19th and 20th centuries, the empire suffered considerable territorial losses in its Rumelian heartlands in disputes with the European powers as well as national independence efforts . Its territory was reduced to European Thrace and Asia Minor. In the few years from 1917 to 1922, the First World War led to the end of the four great monarchies of the Hohenzollerns , Habsburgs , Romanovs and Ottomans, which had shaped the history of Europe for centuries.

In the Turkish Liberation War , a national government under Mustafa Kemal Pascha prevailed; In 1923, the Republic of Turkey was founded as the successor state.

Political history

Anatolia before 1300

The Byzantine Empire around 1270
Anatolia around 1300, including with parts of the Byzantine Empire, Sultanate of the Rum Seljuks and Ilkhanate

Asia Minor (Anatolia) was under the rule of the Byzantine Empire until the 11th century . After the Battle of Manzikert in 1071, the Turkic Rum Seljuks founded their own sultanate in Central Anatolia . Their capital was Konya . In the Battle of the Köse Dağ the Seljuks were defeated by the Mongols in 1243 and had to recognize the supremacy of the Ilkhan people . At the end of the 13th century, the governor of the Ilkhan in Anatolia, Sülemiş, revolted against Ghazan Ilkhan . The weakness of the Byzantine Empire in the west and the Ilkhanid Empire in the east offered the Turkic Beys the opportunity to establish independent, smaller dominions in the area between the two empires. The Beyliks of Mentesche , Aydın , Germiyan , Saruhan , Karesi , Teke , Candar , Karaman , Hamid and Eretna were created .

In the north-west of Anatolia, the ancient region of Bithynia , the Ottoman Beylik, named after its founder Osman I , existed at the beginning of the 14th century . Osman I ruled over a nomadic tribe or a group of predatory fighters ( Ghāzīs ) who had their seat near Söğüt and claimed the area between Eskişehir and Bilecik . According to tradition, he came from the Oghuz clan of the Kayı from the Bozok tribe . The Moroccan world traveler Ibn Battūta describes Osman I as a "Turkmen". Turkmen was a synonym for Oghuse at the time. Osman's land is called Ibn Battuta barr al-Turkiyya al-Ma'ruf bi-Bilad al-Rūm ("The Turkish Land, known as the Land of Rum").

Many books and articles about the early days are in the destruction of Bursa by Timur lost 1,402th One of the oldest surviving Turkish chronicles , the Düstür-nāme of Ahwad al-Dīn Enveri (d. 1189/90), deals with the history of the western and central Anatolian Beyliks, but focuses on the Beylik of Aydın. The Karaman-nāme des Şikārî (d. 1512) deals with the story of the Karamanoğulları, the Beys of Karaman. Ottoman chronicles such as the menāḳib or tevārīḫ-i Āl-i ʿOsmān of the Aschikpaschazade are only passed down from the 15th century. The Ottoman sources deliver a smooth, sometimes legendary narrative of his own ascent, which is not in line with the Byzantine chronicles that were created at the same time. They are therefore only suitable for research into the early history of the empire to a limited extent.

In the first years of its existence, the Ottoman Beylik was apparently only one of several equally powerful domains. Until the end of the 13th century, Osman was possibly still tributary to the Ilchanids. How he and his successors managed to shape a world empire out of a small domain remains the subject of research.

Establishment of an empire and expansion: 14th century

Osman I.

The year 1299 is traditionally considered to be the founding year of the Ottoman Empire. With the first conquests of Osman in the west, his rule came into focus in the Byzantine chronicles. Georgios Pachymeres was the first Byzantine historian to report an Ottoman victory over a Byzantine army : On July 27, 1302, the Ottomans won the Battle of Bapheus (Koyunhisar); this day has since been regarded as the day the dynasty was founded.

Nomadic raids

The Ottoman Empire around 1326

Osman I (1258–1324 / 26) was able to secure the support of mounted warriors of the neighboring Turkish tribes due to his success and expanded his domain to the northwest, mainly at the expense of the Byzantine Empire . In the 1930s the Ghazi thesis was formulated, which sought to explain the direction of western expansion from the ideology of Islamic religious fighters. In the 1980s it was contrasted with the nomad thesis , which understood the western orientation from the way of life of the Turkic peoples who were still largely nomadic at that time. In the fertile areas of western Anantolia, which were only protected by weak Byzantine garrisons, they found suitable pastureland for their herds. Ottoman chroniclers report trade between Osman I and the Byzantine administrator (tekfur) of Bilecik .

Conquest of the first cities

The first territorial gains came in the border area to the Byzantine Empire ( Turkish Uc , Greek άκρον akron ; tip, end). During the civil wars there, mercenaries of Turkic origin fought on both sides. Following the Byzantine model, the Ottomans also conquered fortified cities by closing a thick ring of siege around them and at the same time devastating the surrounding area until the starved city population gave up their resistance. With the city of Bursa , shortly before Osman's death, an important trading post on the Silk Road fell into Ottoman hands in 1326 . Cities depopulated after a siege received new residents from other regions: Osman I is said to have repopulated the city with resettlers from Germiyan in 1288 after the conquest of Karacahisar . Voluntary resettlements and deportations remained a constant of Ottoman population policy throughout the existence of the empire.

Settling down, trading, training of administrative structures

Their raids brought the nomadic Turkic peoples of Anatolia control over the pastures that were economically important for them. They were therefore an effective means of gaining territory. The prospect of rich booty secured the leaders support in battle. However, the siege of cities and the devastation of their surrounding areas meant that the arable land of the city dwellers could not be cultivated and their flocks could not graze. With the transition to a sedentary, urban way of life and economy, the picture changed: The raids threatened the now Ottoman cities as well as the already highly developed trade at the time of the Beyliks: The territory of Osman was conveniently located on the old trade routes between Asia and Europe and could thus participate in east-west trade, the exchange of raw materials, commercial goods and precious metals from the start. The neighboring country of Byzantium, like the Seljuk Sultanate, had a highly developed economic and currency system, which the pragmatic new rulers used as a model. The expanding Ottoman Empire thus had economic strength and the skills necessary to use it to their advantage early on. This was one of the prerequisites for his military and political successes.

The sedentary life and the expanding own trade presented the emerging administration of the Ottoman Beyliks with two important tasks: cities, agricultural production and trade routes now had to be protected from the same predatory nomads who had previously driven the conquests. The control and taxation of the elusive nomad population had already posed challenges to the Byzantine Empire. The new rulers inherited this task, which continued to cause problems for the Ottoman government into the 20th century. With the transition from nomadic subsistence farming to agricultural production and long-distance trade as the main sources of income, the land had to be redistributed and administered. The expected and achieved yields of what is now the most important production factor had to be recorded. This is where the origins of the later Ottoman land management and tax system lie.

Orhan I. and Murad I.

Osman's son and successor Orhan (1281–1359 / 62) had inherited only a small principality in 1326 that was barely half the size of Switzerland . Iznik was conquered by him in 1331 after defeating a Byzantine army at Maltepe in the Battle of Pelekanon in 1329 . He made Bursa the capital, and until the conquest of Constantinople in 1453 it remained the burial place of the Ottoman sultans .

Military innovations changed the classic nomadic warfare by means of mounted archers and were decisive for further military successes: Probably already under Orhan, certainly under his successor Murad I (1319 / 29–1389), arose with the Janissaries (Turkish Yeniçeri , “new Troop ") a standing infantry. During the following centuries they made up the elite of the Ottoman army : by means of the boys' reading (devşirme) in the Balkans and the Caucasus, mostly Christian boys were forcibly raised and converted to Islam under the spiritual guidance of the Sufi Bektashi order. They received training designed to make them capable officials. Their position as slaves (ḳul) of the ruler made them directly subordinate to him and ensured their loyalty. Due to their central importance for the administration of the empire, the Janissaries gained increasing political influence and rose to a third force in Ottoman society alongside the political elite of the court and the Islamic scholars, the derUlamā ' . In addition to the janissary troops , the heavy Sipahi cavalry, mostly of Turkic origin, played an important role. Akıncı , also mostly Turkish , were other troop units , storm riders whose livelihood was mainly made from the spoils of war, including the slave trade . At the same time, the headquarters maintained the sultan's own troops with the bodyguard, the Kapikuli , while the provincial governors, the Walis , maintained regional units, including the Serratkuli .

The economic gains from the newly conquered territories at that time outweighed the costs of the war. The conquered areas were divided into individual, non-heritable military fiefs called Tımar , whose owners had to provide and maintain mounted sipahi depending on the size and income of their fiefdom. In some cases, the former rulers of the conquered regions received fiefs and were obliged to be loyal and to achieve military success. Outwardly, this system was similar to the European feudal system of the Middle Ages, but there were major differences: only sources of income, not sovereign rights, were assigned. The farmers who tilled Tımarland were not serfs . The tenant usually did not exercise any jurisdiction. This was - in accordance with Islamic law - reserved for an independent hierarchy of Kadis . In 1383 Murad I appointed a chief judge ( ḳāżıʿasker ) for the first time . As long as the cost of the war was covered by the income of the Tımar, the conquests were self-financing and profitable. It was only with the advent of expensive firearms in the 16th century that the costs of the standing armies, equipped with modern equipment and paid in cash, exceeded the financial resources of the classic Tımar organization.

The growing empire now received a higher-level administrative structure: From 1385, the military leadership was given over to a " Beylerbey of Rumelien " (the European part of the Ottoman Empire) and a "Beylerbey of Anatolia", with the former having priority. The jurisdiction was administered separately in the two regions. Throughout the following history, the European parts of the empire were the heartlands of the Ottoman Empire. Their loss in the 19th century was a serious political and economic setback.

The Ottomans drove the Byzantine Empire almost entirely from Asia Minor by the end of the 1330s . When Orhan died in 1359, the empire was already more than three times as large as when his father died. But he had not only expanded his sphere of influence at the expense of Byzantium, which first paid tribute in 1333 , but also at the expense of his Turkmen neighbors. In 1345 he broke the regional power of the neighboring Karesi . By acting skillfully during the Byzantine throne disputes (1321-1328) he was able to incorporate other areas of the Aegean Sea into his dominion. The Ottoman Empire became a dominant power in Asia Minor. The Byzantine prince Johannes Kantakuzenos achieved the imperial throne with Sultan Orhans military support in the Byzantine civil war of 1341-1347. The alliance was sealed by the marriage of Johannes' daughter Theodora to Orhan. The history of Johannes Kantakuzenos, together with the Rhomean history of Nikephoros Gregoras, is an important Byzantine source from the early days of the Ottoman Empire.

Orhan Gazi conquered some areas such as the coastal areas on the Black Sea and Thrace . At the same time the Ottomans extended their power to Smyrna , Sardis and Miletus . The expansion to Europe began during Orhan's lifetime by crossing the Sea of Marmara (Marmara Denizi) . In 1354, Gallipoli, the first Byzantine city on European soil, was conquered. In 1361 they took Adrianople , one of the largest cities of the Byzantine Empire. After the Battle of the Mariza in 1371, the conquest of the Serbian Macedonia followed shortly thereafter and, until 1396, Bulgaria . At the same time, the conquest of Asia Minor progressed: Ankara came under Ottoman influence and marriage relationships were established with the Beylik of Germiyan , the previously most powerful of the Turkmen principalities in Western Anatolia. In 1389 Murad I succeeded in the battle on the Amselfeld, a victory over the allied Christian princes of the Balkans from Serbia and Bosnia and other allied principalities. The sultan himself was killed, according to later tradition, by the Serbian nobleman Miloš Obilić .

Bayezid I .: From Beylik to Reich

View over the Bosporus to Europe, colored photo, around 1895: The Anadolu Hisarı fortress was built by Bayezid I in 1394.
Great Mosque of Bursa, 1396-1399

Murad I was followed by Bayezid I (sometimes written as Beyazıt or Bayezıt , 1360-1403). The expansion in Anatolia continued. By 1392 the Beyliks of Teke , Aydin , Saruchan , Mentesche and Germiyan were conquered. Bayezid I then besieged Konya , but was not yet able to conquer the Beylik of the Karamanids : the Byzantine emperor Manuel II Palaiologos occupied areas in Rumelia at the same time, as did the principalities of Wallachia and Bosnia . In 1394 Bulgaria and Wallachia came back under Ottoman rule. In negotiations with the Republic of Venice , Bayezid I managed to stop deliveries of grain to Constantinople. The Anadolu Hisarı fortress , built in 1393/4 on the Anatolian bank of a 700 m wide Bosphorus strait, is one of the largest preserved buildings from the Bayezid period. Together with the Rumeli Hisarı fortress built later (1452) by Mehmed II on the opposite bank, the facilities dominated the sea route to Constantinople from the Black Sea and thus represented one of the prerequisites for the later conquest of the city that he claimed the title "Sultan-ı Rūm" for himself. In 1396 he achieved that the Muslim inhabitants of Constantinople were placed under their own jurisdiction. In 1397 the Sultan finally conquered the Beylik of Karaman and rearranged the conquered areas in the Beyerbeylik of Anatolia. He conquered Sinope , Eretna and in 1400 Erzincan . The threat from Timur , who had made himself an advocate of the conquered Beyliks, caused him to break off the blockade of Constantinople in 1401 at the price of a renewed obligation to pay tribute to the Byzantine Empire. The first Ottoman chronicles have come down to us from the late period of Bayezid's government, which heralds a new self-confidence in the empire.

Bayezid granted trading privileges to the maritime republics of Genoa and Ragusa . The port facilities at Gallipoli or the Great Mosque of Bursa built under his rule 1396-1399, are among the first known structures of the still of the architecture of the Seljuk influenced Ottoman architecture .

The conquests in the Balkans after the battles on the Mariza and on the Amselfeld finally brought the new power into the public consciousness of Western Europe. In 1396 the Ottomans defeated an army of crusaders under the Hungarian king and later emperor Sigismund in the battle of Nicopolis . Eyewitnesses such as Johannes Schiltberger reported on the event and their experiences in captivity. The negotiations for the ransom of high-ranking European prisoners of war such as Jean II. Le Maingre brought the Ottoman Empire into direct diplomatic contact with Western European countries for the first time. It had become a direct neighbor and thus a serious threat to the European empires.

Conquest by Timur, Ottoman Interregnum: 1402 to 1413

Mehmed I receives dignitaries between 1413 and 1421

The Ottoman Empire had to endure its first existential crisis when its army was defeated in the Battle of Ankara against Timur Lenk in 1402 and Bayezid was captured. The founder of the Timurid dynasty had conquered a huge empire from northern India via Georgia and Persia to Anatolia within a short period of time , but it quickly disintegrated after his death in 1405. He had distributed the administration of the areas of the Ottoman Empire to the sons of Bayezids, Suleyman (Rumelia), Mehmed (Central Anatolia with Amasya ) and İsa (Anatolian part around Bursa). As a result, they fought both for the territories that had been lost to Timur and against each other for supremacy. In the fratricidal battles, Süleyman was defeated by his brother Musa in 1410, who in turn was defeated by Mehmed in 1413 with Byzantine support. As Sultan of the reunited empire, Mehmed I faced the challenge of consolidating the country and at the same time restoring it to its former size.

Mehmed's son Murad II's accession to the throne did not go smoothly. Shortly before Mehmed's death, a certain Mustafa asserted Bayezid's claims to the throne as the alleged son of Bayezid. Perhaps this Mustafa was actually a biological son, but he was defamed by Mehmed as a "false (stupid) Mustafa". Both he and another brother of Murad, the "little (küçük) Mustafa", who had been built up by Byzantium as a pretender to the throne , were executed. In 1422 the siege of Constantinople had to be broken off again. Venice defended Selânik ( Thessaloniki ) from 1423 against the Ottomans, to whom, however, the city, whose surrounding area had long been in their hands, finally fell in 1430. Already twice, 1387-1391 and 1394-1403, the city was Ottoman, then for the last time Byzantine.

Resurgence and further expansion to the west: 1420 to 1451

In south-eastern Europe, the Kingdom of Hungary had become the main enemy. In 1440 it was able to avert the capture of the important fortress in Belgrade . Above all, Johann Hunyadi achieved military successes again and again, although his and the Pope's attempts to summon an army of crusaders to expel the Ottomans from Europe were hardly heard in Western and Central Europe. Three years later, Hunyadi was even able to penetrate into what was then Ottoman Bulgaria .

Üç Şerefeli Camii in Edirne , built 1437–1447 under Murad II.

The Albanians under Skanderbeg also fought for independence against the Ottomans. In 1444 Murad concluded a ten-year peace treaty in Szeged , which was immediately broken by Hungary in order to lead a campaign initiated by the Pope. Murad had just surrendered power to his son Mehmed II and retired, but now reigned at the head of the army that defeated the Crusaders under the Polish - Hungarian King Władysław in the Battle of Varna . Once again Murad had to take power for his inexperienced son and successor in 1446 to put down a Janissary uprising, and in 1448 he inflicted a heavy defeat on the Hungarians under Johann Hunyadi in Kosovo in the Battle of the Blackbird Field .

With the beginning of the conquest of Byzantine Thrace from 1354 onwards , the Ottomans had found a badly broken and depopulated country. The previous Byzantine civil wars of 1341-1347 and 1352-1354 , in which Ottoman mercenaries fought on both sides, as well as the "Great Plague Pandemic" (1346-1353) had devastated the region. The oldest surviving Ottoman population registers (tahrir defterleri) from the 15th century show both the extent of the losses and the result of the Ottoman settlement policy. In addition to the spontaneous immigration of nomads of Turkic origin ( Yörük ), significant numbers of the inhabitants of Anatolia were resettled to the Balkans on the orders of the Sultan. The study of place names suggests that subjects have been transported from all regions of Asia Minor to Thrace and Macedonia.

Edirne had been the capital of the Ottoman Empire since 1368 . Murad II erected monumental buildings there. The Muradiyye Mosque, the Üç Şerefeli Mosque with a 24 m wide dome, Külliye complexes with a mosque-attached baths ( hammām ) and poor kitchens ( İmaret ) as well as the Cisr-i Ergeni ("Ergeni-" or "long bridge") , Turkish uzun köprü ), which gave the first Ottoman city foundation in the Balkans, Uzunköprü , its name, show the sultan's regained power.

Ottoman Empire: 1451 to 1566

Conquest of Constantinople and consolidation of power

Mehmed II finally ascended the throne in 1451. He devoted himself to the final conquest of Constantinople , which, as the "golden apple", was the goal of the Ottoman expansion policy even before the first siege (1422) ; Vienna later bore this name. With Orhan, Byzantium had set up another Ottoman pretender to the throne and tried one last time to turn Ottoman policy in its favor: in the case of the “wrong” Mustafa (see above), a similar policy had led to a war of Ottoman succession. Constantinople fell after a 54-day siege on May 29, 1453. In Europe, this event was perceived as an eschatological turning point. In historiography, the fall of the city is considered a turning point in world history, the end of the Byzantine Empire and the turn of the epoch from the Middle Ages to the early modern period . In fact, Byzantium had little political influence at that time and ruled little more than the actual urban area. However, the heavily fortified city controlled access to the Black Sea . Constantinople became the new capital of the Ottoman Empire. Attempts were made to increase the urban population again by persuading the old inhabitants - such as Greeks and Jews - to stay and to settle new ones. The largest Christian church of its time, Hagia Sophia , was rededicated as the Aya-Ṣofya mosque in an act of symbolic appropriation . After the conquest, Sultan Mehmed II took the title "Emperor of the Romans " (قیصر روم/ Ḳayṣer-i Rūm ) and thus consciously placed himself in the tradition and succession of the Eastern Roman Empire. In the final phase of Byzantine historiography , the rise of the Ottoman Empire was taken up, but interpreted very differently: Laonikos Chalkokondyles, for example, based on ancient classics, constructed a contrast between East and West, while Michael Kritopulos took the perspective of the Turkish victors and these as the ideal heirs viewed from Byzantium.

The Battle of Belgrade 1456 , Ottoman miniature from the Hüner-nāme

In the Balkans, the Ottoman expansion progressed more slowly. In 1456 Hunyadi was able to avert the conquest of Belgrade and secured Hungary's independence for the next seventy years. In 1460 Mehmed II conquered the despotate of Morea (the Peloponnese ) and the rest of Serbia. With the conquest of the Trebizond Empire in 1461, the territorial rule of the last Byzantine dynasty, the Comnenes , came to an end. Albania came to the empire in 1470, and Crimea in 1475 .

During his long reign (1444–1446 and 1451–1481), Sultan Mehmed II carried out reforms which, according to today's terms , organized the empire centralistically and its economy interventionalistically . Promoting trade and gaining control of trade routes was a major goal of Ottoman policy in the eastern Mediterranean. At the same time, this brought the empire into conflict with the leading trading and maritime power, the Republic of Venice. The Ottoman – Venetian War (1463–79) ended with territorial losses and the tribute obligation of Venice.

Bayezid II ascended the throne in 1481 . His brother Cem was first used by the Order of Malta and later by the Pope as a hostage against him, which limited the Ottoman room for maneuver in the west. The first law books (Ḳānūnnāme) were created under Mehmed II and Bayezid II . These supplemented the tax registers ( Defter ) that had already been kept earlier, which had specified in detail the type of taxation, the time and procedure for collecting them, as well as the legal relationship between Tımar owners and taxpayers. Bayezid II was deposed by his son Selim in 1512 and possibly poisoned.

Selim I continued the campaigns of conquest, especially in the east. In 1514 there was a victory against the Safavids in Persia, and in 1516 against Syria. Finally, in 1516/17, the Mamluks Empire in Egypt was smashed. With this, the Ottoman Empire took over the protectorate of the holy cities of Mecca and Medina (i.e. the protection of the pilgrimage routes and the supply of the cities). The Ottoman sultan had thus succeeded in consolidating the supremacy of his empire in the Islamic culture.

Self-image and organization as a great power

Nakkaş Osman : Suleyman the Magnificent as a young man , miniature, 1579

The era of Suleyman I (1520–1566) is usually regarded as the height of the power of the Ottoman Empire. In Ottoman and Turkish historiography he was nicknamed "Ḳānūnī" ("Lawgiver"), in Western European "the magnificent". Under his rule, the Şeyhülislam Mehmed Ebussuud Efendi created a code of law (Ḳānūnnāme) that was valid throughout the empire . Ebussuud derived Ottoman law from the Sharia interpretation of the Sunni - Hanafi school of law . During Süleyman's rule, a special branch of this school of law was formed with Ottoman Islam , which religiously legitimized the Ottoman dynasty's claim to rule. In addition to Ebussuud, the Imperial Chancellor (nişancı) Celâlzâde Mustafa was one of Suleyman's closest and most influential employees. Under his leadership, the administrative structure of the early modern empire emerged with an independent Ottoman bureaucracy (ḳalemiyye) .

The nickname “the Magnificent” marks his perception in the West: He is considered one of the greatest art patrons among the Ottoman rulers. Sinan's architectural masterpieces, for example, fall under his reign . Through many campaigns, Süleyman expanded the empire to the west, east and south-east.

In 1521 he conquered Belgrade in just 3 weeks . The fortress was then considered to be the strongest in the Balkans . In 1522 an Ottoman army besieged Rhodes , starved the fortress and took it in December 1522. Four years later , the fate of Hungary was sealed in the Battle of Mohács , in which Ludwig II was killed. The Ottoman army withdrew for the time being before the end of the year. In the succession dispute between the Habsburg Ferdinand I and the Hungarian Johann Zápolya , in which Ferdinand initially gained the upper hand, Johann Zápolya asked the Ottomans for help and submitted to the sultan's sovereignty. Süleyman I used the location in 1529 to besiege Vienna for the first time . After only 19 days, the siege had to be abandoned because of the early onset of winter. In 1533 there was an armistice between Ferdinand and Süleyman, in which both parties recognized their areas of influence. Without the participation of the sultan, Ferdinand and Johann Zápolya agreed in 1537 in the Treaty of Greater Oradin on the Hungarian royal dignity. Zápolya was recognized as king in his domain, but his successor was to be Ferdinand. After his death in 1540, however, his widow Zápolyas had son Johann Sigismund proclaimed King of Hungary. She called Suleyman to help against Ferdinand's attacks. He occupied Ofen in 1541 and placed the middle third of the Kingdom of Hungary as a province under direct Ottoman rule. Zápolya's son Johann Sigismund received this as the Hungarian king Transylvania and some neighboring regions. In 1547 a five-year peace treaty was signed between Ferdinand and Süleyman. Ferdinand's possessions were limited to northern and western Hungary, for which he had to pay tribute to the Ottoman Empire. The war flared up again in 1550 with a Habsburg intervention in Transylvania, which Suleyman refused to accept. The conflict between the Habsburgs and Zápolya was resolved in the Treaty of Speyer in 1570 by the fact that Johann Sigismund renounced the Hungarian royal dignity, but instead the membership of Transylvania, known as a principality, to the Hungarian crown was suspended. The Hungarian royal title was only to be used by Johann Sigismund in dealings with the Ottoman Empire. This development led to the emergence of a principality of Transylvania, detached from Hungary, as an Ottoman vassal state. Ultimately, the war ended only after Suleyman's death in 1568 in the Treaty of Adrianople , which essentially laid down the status quo of the possessions and the Habsburgs' obligation to pay tribute for their share in Hungary.

Power relations and trade routes in the eastern Mediterranean around 1500

In the East succeeded the Ottoman Empire in the three campaigns of the Ottoman-Safavid war against the Safavids , Eastern Anatolia to conquer final. In 1534 Mesopotamia with Baghdad and Azerbaijan with the Safavid capital Tabriz fell into the hands of the Ottomans. In the Peace of Amasya in 1555, the Ottomans succeeded in securing a large part of the conquests permanently. Mesopotamia with Baghdad, Basra and the associated coast of the Persian Gulf , Eastern Anatolia and Shahrazor remained Ottoman, Azerbaijan and the eastern parts of the Caucasus remained under the Safavids.

In the Mediterranean, too, there were disputes with varying successes: In 1535, during the Tunis campaign , Emperor Charles V succeeded in driving the corsair Khair ad-Din Barbarossa, who had been appointed commander-in-chief of the Ottoman fleet, from Tunis and making Tunisia a Spanish vassal state. In 1537, the Ottoman fleet of this Khair ad-Din Barbarossa attacked the Venetian possessions in Greece. The united naval forces of the Holy League , formed for defense, could not offer effective resistance. In 1538 the fleet of Khair ad-Din Barbarossa defeated the fleet of the Holy League under Andrea Doria at Preveza . This marked the beginning of a military supremacy of the Ottoman fleet in the Mediterranean for more than 30 years until the naval battle of Lepanto in 1571. Venice concluded a separate peace with the Ottomans in 1540, in which parts of Dalmatia , the remaining possessions of Venice in the Peloponnese and almost all of Venice's island possessions in the Aegean Sea except Tinos and Crete fell to the Ottomans. In 1560 the Ottomans asserted their supremacy in the naval battle of Djerba . In 1565, the siege of Malta failed: the Knights of the Order of Malta were able to withstand the invaders until the Ottoman forces, weakened by losses and diseases, withdrew in view of the advanced season and the relief troops arriving from Sicily, Spain.

In the southeast the Ottoman Empire fought with Portugal for supremacy in the Indian Ocean : In 1538 Diu was besieged . In 1547 large parts of Yemen were occupied. The Ottoman admiral Piri Reis expelled the Portuguese from Aden in 1548 and from Muscat in 1552 . These gains were only temporary, however, Bahrain and Hormuz remained in the hands of the Portuguese. In 1557 Massaua in Eritrea was conquered and remained Ottoman until the 19th century.

In 1566, Suleyman I set out again on a campaign in Hungary. He besieged Szigetvár, which was defended by Nikola Šubić Zrinski . The Sultan died during the siege of Szigetvár . His death, the heavy casualties of the siege of around 20,000 men, and the onset of winter caused the Ottoman army to retreat.

Süleyman was well aware of his importance as the ruler of a great power: He had the inscription placed above the main entrance of the Süleymaniye Mosque he had built :

"Conquerors of the countries of the East and the West with the help of the Almighty and his victorious army, rulers of the empires of the world."

To make this claim come true, Suleyman had to assert himself against the Holy Roman Empire . Only by conquering the imperial crown could he claim rule of the west . Under his government, diplomatic relations with Europe therefore deepened: he sought the support of the German Protestant princes, who had allied themselves in the Schmalkaldic League against the religious policy of the Catholic Emperor Charles V , and concluded an alliance with the French King François I . This wrote:

“I cannot deny my desire to see the Turks mighty and ready for war, not for his sake, because he is an infidel and we are Christians, but to weaken the emperor's power, to impose high expenses on him and against all other governments to strengthen such a powerful opponent. "

In the economic field, relations grew closer. The first so-called surrender , which agreed on free trade and gave trading partners jurisdiction over their subjects on the soil of the Ottoman Empire, was granted to the Republic of Genoa as early as 1352 , followed by the Republic of Venice in the 1380s , under Mehmed II (r 1451–81) the Republic of Florence , under Bayezid II (r. 1481–1512) Naples . As early as 1517, France had the Porte confirming the surrender it had concluded with the Egyptian Mamluk dynasty. The surrender agreed within the framework of the Franco-Ottoman alliance in 1536 was considered the first for a long time, but was never ratified. The first surrender to England, which until then had imported goods via Venice, dates back to around 1580. The Reich used the surrenders to gain diplomatic advantages from the competition between European countries for the best trading conditions.

16th and 17th centuries

TVRCICI IMPERII DESCRIPTIO (“Description of the Turkish Empire”), map by Abraham Ortelius ( Antwerp , 1570)

Modern historians see the period after Suleyman I (the period from 1550 to 1700) more as a time of extensive change than an era of slow decline. Economic and political crises shaped this time, which the empire not only knew how to survive, but from which it emerged fundamentally changed. Not only the Ottoman Empire, but also Europe and the Mediterranean region suffered from the severe economic and fiscal setbacks of the "crisis of the 17th century". Politically, this period of upheaval was marked by the emergence of elitist patronage networks, for example the grand vizier, the provincial governors or high-ranking ʿulamā '. Following the example of the Sultan's court in Istanbul, these networks were called “households (ḳapı) ”. While all power was still united in the person of the sultan in the early 16th century, a network of relationships between influential households shaped political life in the second half of the century. The political fragmentation into individual power factions is understood by some scholars as an early form of a democratization process by restricting the power of government. In the course of this adjustment process, the character of the Ottoman Empire changed from one geared towards military conquest to one aimed at the best possible use of the existing territories and a new self-image as the “bastion of Sunni Islam”. Baki Tezcan coined the term "Second Ottoman Empire" for this epoch.

European countries like England were also interested in good relations with the Ottoman sultan's court: First and foremost, Elizabethan England sought the support of the sultans in their endeavors to disrupt the Portuguese and Spanish silver fleets . This became particularly clear in England's policy towards the Holy League, and in the conspicuous silence of the English public in contrast to the rest of Western Europe after the naval battle of Lepanto. The correspondence of the Elizabethan with the Ottoman court chancellery has also come down to us, whereby the role of Elizabeth I as " Fidei defensor " was particularly emphasized in relation to Christian heresies. The positive attitude of English society towards Islamic countries is also reflected in the dramas of Elizabethan theater , for example in William Shakespeare's plays " The Merchant of Venice " and " Othello ".

Financial crises

Until the middle of the 15th century, the silver content of the most important Ottoman currency, the Akçe coin, remained largely constant at 1.15–1.20 g of pure silver. As early as the 15th century, the silver content of the Akçe was repeatedly reduced and the coin was devalued as a result. Although this measure increased the amount of coins in circulation, the simultaneous rise in prices nullified the expected profits for the treasury. In addition, the repeated devaluations led to the first revolt of the cash, in silver coins, paid Janissaries in 1444 . Another reason for the decline in value of the coins came from the west: Because large amounts of silver from the Spanish colonial empire flowed into Europe via the Atlantic trade , its value fell.

With the advent of new technologies such as firearms and the introduction of standing, cash-paid armies, warfare became increasingly expensive in the 16th century. Despite all efforts, land gains, which had opened up new sources of income for the state treasury at the beginning of the Ottoman expansion, now failed to materialize. Originally had Ottoman army financed by the individual fiefdoms ( Timar ) mounted lancers ( Sipahi ) established and maintained. The Tımar owners mostly lived on or near their goods, consumed some of the goods produced there themselves and claimed compulsory labor (kulluk) or natural produce as a tax. The technical revolution in warfare led to the decline of the cavalry from the 16th century, while the military importance of directly paid troops armed with modern weapons at the expense of the state increased. Increasingly, the Tımare were drafted and added to the land of the Sultan, or given to favorites and courtiers as sinecures . The tax collection was often given in tax lease ( "iltizam" , later "malikâne" ) to a tax farmer ("mültezim") , who had to pay a fixed annual tax to the state treasury. In the course of history, taxes in kind and compulsory labor were mostly converted into cash taxes. The levying of taxes in cash meant that the rural population could no longer sell part of their products directly, as was previously the case, but instead had to sell their products for cash first. In addition, in an effort to amortize their investments, the tax tenants sometimes squeezed the population unrestrainedly.

The corruption and buyability of offices , which had been widespread since the 17th century, filled the pockets of the grand viziers and Beylerbeys, who were responsible for filling vacancies, with considerable sums, in addition to the treasury. On the other hand, it brought incompetent civil servants into office and dignity who were not trained for the respective task and who tried to amortize the amount invested in the purchase of offices as quickly as possible. The need to generate ever increasing amounts of cash made the living conditions of the rural population even more difficult. The increasing dissatisfaction of large parts of the common population was reflected in a series of uprisings such as the Celali uprisings , which hardly allowed Anatolia to rest during the years 1519 to 1598. Because the rural population suffered particularly from increasing tax pressure, inflation and corruption, many farmers left their homesteads. They moved to the cities, in inaccessible mountain areas or joined the rebels or marauding bands of robbers, the so-called Levent, which were often led by former Sipahis whose tımars were no longer sufficient to make a living. The rural exodus, the consequences of which are still noticeable in the structural problems of agriculture in Anatolia, in turn exacerbated the problems, since without the farmers the Tımare no longer made a profit, the food supply of the population became more difficult and the taxpayers also escaped the tax.

“Women's rule” and Köprülü restoration

Reception at Selim II in Edirne, around 1580

With Suleyman I ends the era of the warlike sultans who led their armies themselves and ruled the empire as sole rulers. Repeatedly unsuitable personalities came to the sultan's throne , such as the alcoholic Selim II , the mentally retarded Mustafa I , Murad IV , who was only eleven years old when he ascended the throne, or İbrahim the Mad . In this situation the sultan's mother ( Valide Sultan ) ruled the empire de facto . Often the mothers of the sultans were concubines or slaves of the ruling sultans. Due to the patrilineal succession to the throne without birthright, the most important task of the Valide Sultan was to secure the rule of her son, which could also include the murder of his half-brothers. She was most likely to find loyal support from family members who, with the help of the sultan's mother, were able to rise to high offices. The sultan's mothers guaranteed and legitimized the continued existence of the dynasty in politically unstable times. On the other hand, the direct influence of the sultan, who was no longer, as before, the sole head of the household in the patrimonial empire, disappeared. A network of relationships developed with other households headed by influential figures in the political hierarchy, such as the grand viziers of that time . The result of this process, which was sometimes chaotic and characterized by nepotism , was ultimately a greater independence of the Ottoman bureaucracy from the sultan's arbitrariness and ability to govern, whose person, thanks to the loyalty owed to him, ensured the continuity and legitimation of the empire and its dynasty.

In 1656 Köprülü Mehmed Pascha (around 1580–1661) was appointed Grand Vizier by Mehmed IV . He and his subsequent son Fâzıl Ahmed (1635–1676) succeeded in strengthening the central government again. In addition to military success, they carried out austerity measures as part of the "Köprülü Restoration" named after them, reduced the tax burden and intervened against unlawful tax collection. At times they were able to calm the revolts that broke out again and again by the Janissaries and political factions. The military remained a factor of political unrest: In 1703 the Janissaries deposed Sultan Mustafa II in the capital . There were repeated uprisings in the provinces, for example the Celali uprisings from 1595 to 1610, 1654 to 1655 and 1658 to 1659, the Canbulad rebellion until 1607 or the Ma'noğlu Fahreddin Pasha rebellion from 1613 to 1635.

European Turkish Wars and War with Persia

Ali Pasha, commander of the Ottoman fleet off Lepanto, woodcut after 1571

In the naval battle of Lepanto on October 7, 1571, the major Christian powers with Spain and Venice at their head were able to achieve the first major victory with the almost complete annihilation of the Ottoman fleet. The political impact was small, however, as the Christian alliance broke up shortly afterwards and the Ottomans were able to fully rebuild their fleet a year later. Venice even had to cede to Cyprus . However, the dispute in front of Lepanto led to an adjustment of the spheres of influence in the Mediterranean. The Ottomans were now limited to their supremacy in the eastern part, for example with the conquest of the Venetian islands of Cyprus in 1571 and Crete in 1669, while Spanish, Maltese and Italian fleets divided the western Mediterranean among themselves. Nevertheless, Selim II turned his attention to Tunisia, which in 1574 fell into the hands of barbarian corsairs who were tribute to the Sublime Porte. Selim also supported the Muslim rulers in Southeast Asia. After the Long Turkish War (1593–1606), Sultan Ahmed I had to recognize Emperor Rudolf II for the first time as an equal negotiating partner. 1623–1639 the empire again waged war with the Persian Safavids .

Kara Mustafa Pascha , commander of the Ottoman troops during the siege of Vienna in 1683

Last foray into Central Europe

In 1683 the gate made another attempt to advance to Central Europe and conquer Vienna . But what did not succeed in the heyday of the Ottoman Empire around 150 years earlier, was now in Kara Mustafa's campaign against Jan III. Sobieski of Poland-Lithuania on the disaster and the turning point in the dispute with the European states. After the military weaknesses of the Ottomans became evident in this defeat, a Holy League initiated by the Pope from Austria , the Republic of Venice and Poland-Lithuania began an attack on the Ottoman Empire on several fronts. After several heavy defeats at Mohács in 1687, Slankamen in 1691 and Senta in 1697, during the Great Turkish War , in the Peace of Karlowitz in 1699 the loss of central Hungary with Transylvania to Austria, Podolia and the right bank Ukraine to Poland-Lithuania and the Peloponnese with Dalmatia to Venice be accepted. Russia came into play as a new opponent on the northern border . An important goal of Tsar Peter I was access to the Black Sea, which he got with Azov in 1695 .

The external difficulties created internal problems. In 1687 Mehmed IV was deposed because of the military defeats. In 1703 the bloody "incident of Edirne" occurred, in which insurgents murdered the Sheikhul Islam Feyzullah Efendi and deposed Sultan Mustafa II .

18th century

In 1711, during the Great Northern War , the sultan's army enclosed the Russian army on the Prut after the Ottoman Empire at the request of the fugitive King of Sweden Charles XII. entered the war. In the negotiations that followed, Peter the Great had to return Azov to the Ottomans. After the Moldavian Voivode Dimitrie Cantemir had defected to Russia, the Ottomans occupied the Hospodars -Ämter in Moldavia and Wallachia until the mid-19th century with Phanariots , Greeks from the Phanar district of Constantinople Opel, which for a long time as a translator in had played an important role in politics. In the Danube principalities , this epoch is known as the Phanariot rule. They were also successful against the Republic of Venice and regained the Peloponnese in 1715.

Because the Crimean Tatars threatened Ukraine with their raids , Russia began a war against the Ottoman Empire in an alliance with Austria in 1736 . The Russians invaded the Crimea and considerably weakened the Ottoman vassal. Under the leadership of Burkhard Christoph von Münnich , the Russian army defeated the Turks at Otschakow and Stawutschany and took the important fortress of Chotin . The Austrians suffered a defeat against the Turks. In the Peace of Belgrade in 1739 they had to return northern Serbia with Belgrade and Little Wallachia to the Ottomans , which the Habsburgs had previously won from the Ottomans in the Peace of Passarowitz in 1718. Russia was again and permanently awarded Azov. A role in this war was played by the fact that the Ottomans had modernized their artillery ( Topçu ) with French advisers such as Ahmed Pascha, the Comte de Bonneval . On the whole, there has been no significant change in territory in the expensive and costly wars of the past three decades. This was followed by a comparatively long period of peace. By the second half of the 18th century, the cost of war had become so high that tax income could no longer cover them. The complex supply system of the Ottoman military collapsed. It was precisely at this time that the (fifth) Russo-Turkish War (1768–1774) broke out. The financially exhausted empire no longer had anything to oppose the Russian resources.

Russo-Turkish Wars

In the Russo-Turkish War of 1768–1774 , the Ottoman Empire finally had to recognize that it had lost its imperial power. In 1770 Russia moved its fleet from the Baltic Sea to the Mediterranean and destroyed the Ottoman fleet at anchor in the sea ​​battle near Çeşme . In the peace treaty of Küçük Kaynarca , the Ottomans had to release the Crimean Khanate into "independence" (but after a few years it became a Russian province); Parts of the North Caucasus went to Russia, Bukovina to Austria.

Neither side intended to keep it that way for long. Tsarina Catherine II designed her so-called " Greek Project ", in which the Byzantine Empire was to rise again as a Russian vassal and the remaining parts of the Ottoman Empire were to be divided between Austria, Venice and Russia, in which these allies, however, showed little interest. In 1783 Russia annexed the Crimea and began its economic development. The Ottomans, who were eager to reverse their losses from the previous war, declared war on Russia in the same year after various disputes. After the initial success of the Black Sea Fleet, however, in the Peace of Jassy in 1792 they again suffered territorial losses, including areas between the Dnieper and the Bug .

Domestic reforms and power struggles

Audience with Sultan Selim III, around 1800
Anton Ignaz Melling: Palace of Hatice , mother of Mehmed IV , between 1795 and 1815

With the defeats towards the end of the 17th and 18th centuries, Ottoman society became more aware of its own political weakness. Selim III. learned his lesson from the defeats and carried out extensive reforms in the administration and in the military. He sought the solution in modernizing warfare by adopting new technologies. In the past, the sultans had succeeded in converting the army from a Sipahi, financed from Tımarlehen, into a standing army equipped with modern firearms and paid for in cash. For this purpose, European military advisers were hired. 1755–1776, François de Tott modernized the Ottoman artillery, at the same time Grand Admiral Cezayirli Gazi Hassan Pasha reformed the Ottoman fleet. In parallel with the Janissaries, Selim III tried a new force, the Nizâm-ı Cedîd /نظام جديد/ 'New order' to be built. However, his planned gradual transfer of the Janissaries to the new corps led to uprisings.

In 1807 the Janissaries revolted, seeing their political and economic privileges endangered. In alliance with Ottoman religious scholars and supported by the nişancı (Imperial Chancellor) Mehmet Said Halet Efendi , they deposed the sultan. The Wali (governor) of Eyâlet Silistria , Alemdar Mustafa Pascha , marched with his troops into Constantinople and planned to reinstate Selim as sultan. However, he was late because Selim had already been strangled. All that was left for him was to replace Mustafa IV , appointed by the Janissaries, with Mahmud II , who had narrowly escaped his assassination. Mustafa Pasha tried to secure the support of influential provincial rulers by concluding an alliance treaty ( Sened-i ittifak ) with them . In 1808, Mustafa Pascha was killed in renewed unrest. The Sened-i ittifak , which is at the beginning of the Turkish constitutional history, was never ratified.

European parts of the empire in the 19th century

The history of the Rumelian heartlands in the west of the empire in the 19th century is shaped by the Balkan crisis and the increasing intervention of Western European powers guided by their own political and strategic interests:


The first Serbian uprising took place from 1804 to 1813 ; after a second uprising , a Serbian principality was first recognized by the governor in Belgrade and later by the Ottoman sultan. In 1838, following joint intervention by the Russian and Ottoman empires, the principality received a constitution and constitutional institutions, and Belgrade became the capital, initially only nominally, because an Ottoman garrison remained in the Belgrade fortress until 1867. With the Berlin Congress of 1878, the principality achieved its full independence and international recognition. On March 6, 1882, it was converted into the Kingdom of Serbia .

Athens bazaar


In the battle of Navarino , Greece gains independence from the Ottoman Empire

In the 1820s, the independence movement in Greece, supported by the great powers France , Great Britain and Russia , gained momentum. In Europe, the Greek uprising attracted great public interest and sparked a wave of philhellenism . The Greek uprising presented the Ottoman government with particular problems: Above all, the Greek inhabitants of Istanbul, the Phanariotes , traditionally served as interpreters for the Ottoman officials who were ignorant of the language. For its diplomatic communication with European powers, the Hohe Pforte was still dependent on these people at the beginning of the 19th century, some of whom sympathized with the independence movement. In the war of 1826, Mahmud was forced to call on Muhammad Ali Pasha's troops from Egypt, of all people. Nevertheless, he had to give Greece independence in 1830.


In the Crimean War (1853-1856), which was triggered by the Russian occupation of the principalities of Wallachia and Moldova , Great Britain, France and later also Sardinia-Piedmont fought on the side of the Ottomans against Russian expansion. In the Peace of Paris , part of southern Bessarabia, which was won by Russia in 1812 in the area of ​​the mouth of the Danube (about a quarter of the total area) with the districts of Cahul, Bolgrad and Ismail, went back to the Principality of Moldova, which was an autonomous state under the suzerainty of the Porte, and the Black Sea has been demilitarized . At the same time, the territorial independence and inviolability of the Ottoman Empire were guaranteed. In 1859 the Ottoman rule came to an end with the election of Alexandru Ioan Cuza as Prince of Romania . Bucharest became the capital of the new principality. In 1878, Romania's independence was recognized in the Berlin Congress. Romania received the Dobruja and Russia South Bessarabia . The Kingdom of Romania was founded on March 26, 1881 .

Conferences of Constantinople, San Stefano and Berlin

After the uprisings of the Orthodox population against Ottoman rule in Herzegovina and later Bulgaria in 1875/1876, the conflict with the Ottoman Empire escalated in 1876 in the war between the principalities of Serbia and Montenegro . In 1876 the Bulgarian April Uprising was violently suppressed. Since Russia saw itself as the protective power of the Bulgarians due to its political doctrine of Pan-Slavism , a Russian-Turkish war threatened. In order to prevent this, the Conference of Constantinople met from December 1876 to January 1877 , during which the great European powers demanded that the gate make peace with Montenegro and grant the Bulgarians extensive rights of autonomy . In the London Protocol of 1877, the Western European powers reserved the right to monitor the implementation of the resolutions. After Sultan Abdülhamid II was unwilling to have his sovereignty restricted so much, Russia declared war on the Ottoman Empire in April 1877.

Anton von Werner : The Berlin Congress - final session on July 13, 1878 , 1881. On the far right in the picture Mehmed Ali Pascha , second from right Alexander Carathéodory Pascha .
The newly drawn borders in the Balkans in the Berlin Treaty

In the Russo-Ottoman War (1877–1878), the Russian army advanced to the city limits of Constantinople and the Marmara Sea . To prevent an occupation of his capital, the Sultan was forced in March 1878 to sign the peace of San Stefano after the armistice of Edirne . This peace would have meant the loss of almost all European possessions for the Ottoman Empire. Russia had the hegemony on the Balkan Peninsula , and with the control of the strategically important Straits of Bosphorus and Dardanelles access of blacks to the Mediterranean won.

The course of Russian foreign policy threatened the strategic interests of the other great powers. Another war between the European powers threatened, for which states like Austria-Hungary did not see themselves equipped. The German Empire was the only major power that did not pursue its own interests in the Balkans and therefore appeared suitable for the role of mediator. In 1878 the Berlin Congress took place, mediated by Otto von Bismarck . Several, sometimes secret, agreements had been concluded between individual states beforehand. The Berlin Treaty of 1878 partially revised the decisions of San Stefano. As a result, Serbia, Montenegro and Romania were recognized internationally as independent states. Guided by Bismarck's ideas on alliance policy , the European contracting parties were given equal opportunities to influence the Reich in their favor.

Bosnia, Herzegovina, Bulgaria

As a result of the Berlin Treaty, Bosnia and Herzegovina had been under the administration and military occupation of Austria-Hungary since 1878 , while the areas nominally continued to belong to the Ottoman Empire. The Principality of Bulgaria formed its own state, which, however , remained tributary to the Ottoman Empire . Since 1885 the autonomous Ottoman province of Eastern Rumelia was forcibly united with the principality . To protect both sides of the face, the association was formally regulated in such a way that the Prince of Bulgaria was also appointed Governor General of the Province of Eastern Rumelia in exchange for an increase in tribute. The emergence of representatively legitimized institutions made these factual political conditions appear to be endangered. Austria-Hungary unilaterally annexed Bosnia and Herzegovina also formally ( Bosnian annexation crisis ). In the shadow of the resulting international tensions, Bulgaria, including Eastern Rumelia, declared itself an independent state.

"Oriental Question" and the "Sick Man on the Bosporus"

Ivan K. Aivazovsky : The Battle of Sinope on November 18, 1853 (night after the battle) , 1853

In the last third of the 19th century, the Ottoman Empire, which by the media the time lost " Sick man of Europe " satirizes was increasingly the political initiative to the European powers. In the debate about the so-called Oriental Question , the Western European powers sided with the Ottoman Empire against Russian interests. On the one hand, the collapse of the still extensive empire would have created a political vacuum. On the other hand, it was not in the interests of Great Britain, which had signed a free trade agreement in 1838, to lose one of its most important trading partners. With the political and economic rise of the German Empire , the balance of the European powers changed again. The Pax Britannica was replaced by the struggle of Britain, France and the German Empire for spheres of influence not only in the Middle East. By building railways such as the Baghdad and Hejaz Railway and the Suez Canal , the Western European states divided the empire into their own spheres of influence. Direct investments from abroad thus led to closer ties between the empire and world trade rather than being used to expand and modernize the Ottoman economy.

East Turkestan (1873–1877)

In the wake of a series of uprisings by the Dungans , the Tarim oases saw a massive uprising against the Qing rule in 1862 . The uprisings forced China to withdraw from East Turkestan . Instead, an independent emirate with the capital Kashgar was founded under the leadership of the Uzbek adventurer Jakub Bek , who came from the Kokand Khanate and ruled the region from 1864 to 1877. In terms of foreign policy, Jakub Bek sought support from the last remaining Islamic superpower, the Ottoman Empire, as well as from Russia and Great Britain against the expected Chinese offensive. The Ottoman flag was raised over Kashgar from 1873 to 1877 , and coins bearing the name of the Ottoman sultans were minted. This behavior follows the tradition with the reactions of the Ottoman Empire to the requests for help from Indian and Indonesian princes at the time of Suleyman the Magnificent. In the course of these events, Kashgar developed into the main setting of the " Great Game ", in which colonial powers (such as Great Britain , Russia ) and China fought for supremacy over East Turkestan. A Chinese expeditionary force restored control of the Qing in 1877. Jakub Bek died in the course of the Chinese offensive under circumstances that were not entirely clear. Instead of the loose Manchurian suzerainty, which left the local elite in control, the area was now incorporated into China proper as the new province of Xinjiang . The rule of Jakub Bek forms one of the kernels of the Uighur national consciousness.

Arab parts of the empire in the 19th century

Inner-Islamic disputes

In the 18th century, local, reform-oriented groups emerged in various parts of the Islamic world, which can be understood more in terms of regional religious and social challenges. A direct examination of European ideas did not take place at this time.

In the Hejaz , Muhammad ibn ʿAbd al-Wahhāb came up with a particularly strict interpretation of Islam that was capable of calling the intellectual predominance of the Ottoman-Sunni doctrine into question: Following the stricter Hanbali school of law, he called for a return to the purity of faith that had been lost in the early days of Islam. He concluded an alliance with Muhammad ibn Saud , whose grandson Saud I ibn Abd al-Aziz occupied the holy cities of Mecca and Medina in 1803 and "cleansed" them of the "un-Islamic" buildings and decorations of the Ottomans. For the first time in the history of the empire, he had questioned the religious legitimacy of Ottoman rule in the Islamic world. The Ottoman government reacted to this challenge by deliberately emphasizing the role of the sultan as patron of holy places and pilgrims on the Hajj . In the Ottoman-Saudi War (1811-1818) the empire was able to push back the Saudi Wahhabis once again.

New communication media and the emergence of a "new Islamic public"

The Egyptian expedition of Napoleon Bonaparte is placed at the beginning of a direct and active confrontation between the Islamic world and Europe and European ideas. Napoleon's invasion brought the modernization of the Egyptian provincial administration with it; technical innovations from Europe were introduced, including printing presses, which were originally intended to distribute the proclamations of the French Emperor. A printing company was already active in Cairo around 1820. After a brief resistance, al-Azhar University used the new technology, which made Cairo one of the centers of Islamic printing. Mecca received a printing press in 1883. The newly introduced book printing revolutionized the communication and exchange of reform ideas within the intellectual elite.

Especially the growing number of printed newspapers brought new ideas to the entire Islamic World: The Egyptian journalist and temporary Grand Mufti of Egypt Muhammad Abduh (1849-1905) coined the term Islah , the religious and political renewal of Islam. Until 1887 he had published the magazine al-ʿUrwa al-Wuthqā together with Jamal ad-Din al-Afghani . From 1876 he went public with the newspaper al-Ahrām . In the pan-Islamic magazine al-Manār ("The Lighthouse"), which ʿAbduh published from 1898 together with Raschīd Ridā (1865-1935), he worked out his thoughts on and on. al-Manar appeared for almost 40 years.

The Syrian scholar ʿAbd ar-Rahmān al-Kawākibī (1854–1902) published two books in which he held the Ottoman Empire under Sultan Abdülhamid II responsible for the decline of the Islamic world and glorified the Arab contribution to the formation of Islam: Taba ' i 'al-Istibdad ("The Nature of Despotism") and Umm al-Qura ("The Mother of Cities", 1899). In it he called on the Ottoman Sultan to give up his illegitimate claim to the caliphate. The leading role in Islam should again be assumed by the Arabs. His idea that Arab Islam was the purer form of teaching prepared the ground for the Arab opposition to the Ottoman Empire as well as for the Islamic renewal movement of the Nahda .

Egypt under Muhammad Ali Pasha and his successors

Egypt under the Muhammad Ali dynasty from its founding until 1914

In 1801 the empire assembled an army to push the French expeditionary army out of Egypt. Muhammad Ali Pascha , originally only the leader of a contingent of troops from his south Macedonian homeland, quickly gained influence after the surrender of the French expeditionary army. 1805 Sultan appointed him Mustafa IV. The wali of Egypt. A victory over the British army at Rosetta, which remained in the country after the French withdrawal, in the course of the Anglo-Turkish War of 1807 consolidated his political position. In March 1811 he had the influential Mamluk emirs murdered in the citadel of Cairo . Due to the far-reaching patrimonial relationships of their households, the Mamluk princes were the only power factors in the country that could have successfully organized a nationwide resistance. Regional uprisings were quickly put down. Muhammad Ali consolidated his influence by filling the most important offices with family members.

Muhammad Ali carried out a number of reforms: Land reform favored the creation of extensive estates. In contrast to the traditional Ottoman practice of land allocation, private ownership was possible from 1842 onwards. New agricultural crops such as long-fiber cotton were introduced, the cultivation and trade of which were subject to state monopolies and thus filled the state treasury. Following the example of the military reform of Selim III. Muhammad Ali raised "Nizami" troops from among the Muslim population, which provided the Pasha with an efficient standing army, but placed an additional burden on the peasants, resulting in massive desertions . Numerous young men were sent to Europe to study there, especially in England and France. Among them was Rifa'a at-Tahtawi as a spiritual guide to a group of students . After his return from Paris he published a report (" Taḫlīṣ al-ibrīz fī talḫīṣ Bārīz - The Purification of Gold in a Representation of Paris"), which was translated into Ottoman and read and discussed far beyond the Arabic-speaking world. At-Tahtawi's work thus marks the beginning of the intellectual confrontation of the Islamic public with the Western European states, which are now increasingly perceived as technically, economically and intellectually advanced and superior. New engineering schools trained military and administrative personnel, medical facilities and the introduction of mass vaccinations improved health. From 1828 a printed government gazette in Arabic and Ottoman languages ​​distributed official news in the country. Muhammad Ali thus created the basis for new administrative structures and a way of thinking that is oriented towards western progress in his now officially "just Egyptian state - ad-daula al-misriyya al-ʿadila ". With this name, Muhammad Ali emphasized the independence of his rule in relation to the Ottoman Empire. Through his reforms, he laid the foundation for transforming the patrimonial rule of a “household” into a bureaucratic state according to the Ottoman understanding. The rule of the dynasty of Muhammad Ali over Egypt did not end until the middle of the 20th century. In terms of its fundamentals, however, his policy remained committed to Ottoman ideas: In particular, the reforms he and his successors implemented did not lead to an expansion of - in modern terms - "civic" rights, but rather served to discipline the population and to involve the subjects more and more closely into the bureaucratic order.

After Sultan Mahmud II refused to appoint Muhammad Ali Pasha as governor in Syria , Egyptian troops under Ibrahim Pasha occupied Palestine and Syria in 1831 and, after several victories over the Ottomans near Homs and Konya , advanced to Anatolia in 1832 . In 1838 the Ottoman Empire felt strong enough to resume fighting against the Egyptian troops under Ibrahim Pasha in Syria. However, the Egyptian troops defeated the Ottoman army under Hafiz Pasha in the battle of Nisibis on June 24, 1839. The later German field marshal Helmuth von Moltke took part in this battle as a military advisor to the Turkish army. It was only through the intervention of Great Britain, Russia, Prussia and Austria (1840) that Muhammad Ali Pasha was forced to evacuate Syria and Palestine in 1841.

Egypt was by Albert Hourani under Muhammad Ali and his successors "practically a cotton plantation [...] whose earnings were intended for the UK market." 1867 appointed Sultan Abdulaziz Muhammad Ali's grandson Ismail Pasha the Khedive of Egypt. Formally, the khedivat existed until 1914. The American Civil War (1861–1865) expanded the sales opportunities for Egyptian cotton, new transport connections such as the construction of the Suez Canal (1859–1869) and the relatively early onset of railroad construction in Egypt made transport and trade easier. The profitable cotton cultivation made the country interesting for European investors. Between 1862 and 1873 Egypt borrowed 68 million pounds sterling , but was unable to meet its financial obligations by 1876 and was placed under English and French debt management.

The growing economic and political influence of European states led to uprisings such as that of the Urabi movement (1879–1882) and ultimately in 1882 to British military intervention. From now on, Great Britain practically ruled the country, which, with the Suez Canal as the shortest sea connection between Great Britain and British India, was of enormous strategic importance for the Empire . After the suppression of the Mahdi uprising in 1899, Sudan , which had previously been ruled by Egypt, was in fact under British rule. In 1904 France officially recognized British supremacy in Egypt. In 1914 the British installed Hussein Kamil from the Muhammad Alis dynasty as Sultan of Egypt . The country officially received the status of a British protectorate , which ended the rule of the Ottoman Empire over Egypt, which had existed since 1517.

Period of reforms: 1808 to 1878

Mahmud II

Tughra Mahmuds II

Sultan Mahmud II (ruled 1808–1839) achieved what his predecessor Selim III. failed: in 1826 he ordered the establishment of a new, modern army corps. As expected, the Janissaries revolted, but Mahmud used his new troops to forcibly abolish the Janissaries, the most influential opponents of reform, in a massacre on June 15, 1826. In the same year he replaced the Sipahi troops, which had become militarily insignificant, with a modern cavalry, and in 1831 the Tımār system was finally abolished. The Ottoman army was reformed on the European model and now called ʿAṣākir-i Manṣūre-i Muḥammedīye ("Victorious Army of Mohammed") to counter the accusation of apostasy , on which Selim's attempt at reform had failed. Supported by capable officials such as the military reformer and serʿasker (commander in chief) Hüsrev Mehmed Pascha , the reʾīsü 'l-küttāb (chief secretary of the court chancellery) Canip Mehmet Besim Efendi and the liberal-minded Grand Vizier Mehmet Said Galip Pasha , he pushed through his reforms. In 1827 Mahmud II first founded a medical military college , and in 1834 the Ottoman military academy based on the model of the French military school Saint-Cyr . The language of instruction was French. He reorganized the administration by creating ministries based on the European model. In 1831 he founded the Taḳvīm-i Veḳāyiʿ ("Calendar of Events") the first gazette in Ottoman-Turkish language . In the 1830s, the Ottoman embassies in Western Europe reopened. In order to no longer be dependent on Greek interpreters for diplomatic exchanges, a translation agency was set up. He strengthened the political influence of the central government on Islamic scholarship by giving the Şeyhülislâm the status of a state official. A Ministry of Religious Foundations now controlled the finances of the Vakıf Foundations. Any surpluses generated now had to be transferred to the state. Thus the ʿUlamā 'were deprived of significant financial sources.

The reforms of Mahmud II gave rise to a new elite in the empire that was familiar with the languages ​​and political and social customs of Western Europe. The influence of religious scholars was gradually reduced and circumvented. As the political and economic pressure of Europe began to have an increasing effect in the course of the 19th century, it was these people who continued Mahmud's reforms and ushered in a new era in the Ottoman Empire.

Tanzimat reforms from 1839

A new phase of reform (1838–1876) began, which is closely linked to the name of the grand vizier Mustafa Reşid Pascha and later Ali Pascha and Fuad Pascha . The measures became known as "Tan „īmāt-ı Ḫayrīye" ( salutary reorganization) and coincide with the reigns of Abdülmecid and Abdülaziz . They put the non-Muslims in the empire on the same level as the Muslims and introduced a new judicial system, reorganized the tax system and established general compulsory service in the army. In the course of the following decades, tax leases were abolished. The disrupted state finances led to the declaration of bankruptcy on April 13, 1876 .

The most important reform edicts were, in addition to a large number of individual decrees, the Edict of Gülhane (1839), the Renewal Decree of 1856 and the Ottoman Constitution , in which, step by step and with restrictions (1839 these are "within the framework of the Scheriat laws"), the equality and equal treatment of all subjects independently was introduced by their religion. A penal code decreed in 1840 was revised in 1851 and rewritten in 1858 based on the French Code pénal . Also based on the French model, a commercial code (Ḳānūnnāme-i ticāret) was created in 1850 . The Agricultural Law (Ḳānūnnāme-i arāżī) of 1858 reorganized land ownership. A proposal by Mehmed Emin Ali Pasha to also draft a civil code based on the French Civil Code failed due to the resistance of the ʿUlamā '. Instead, Ahmed Cevdet Pasha led the codification of the Seriat Law, which was published as Mecelle in 1870-77 . In 1890 a law banned the slave trade.

From 1840 new courts of law were created, initially the commercial courts, which were presided over by judges appointed by the administration. From 1864 a network of ordinary courts ( niīāmīye courts) had emerged. The new judges continued to include members of the ʿUlamā ', so that there was no clear secularization of the courts. The rule of law (hukuk devleti) , idealized by Turkish legal scholars , could not fully prevail over the authoritarian understanding of the state.

First constitutional period: 1876 to 1878

Title page of the Ottoman Constitution ( Kanûn-ı Esâsî ) of 1876

The Ottoman Constitution of 1876 in addition to the Tanzimat edicts of the third step in the great reforms of the 19th century. It is seen as a logical consequence of international development as well as the emergence of regional constitutions and the constitutions (nizam-nāme) of the Millets. In the 1860s, Crete and Lebanon had their own laws, and Tunisia and Romania (1866) had constituted themselves. The increasing knowledge of the Western European constitutions suggested a separate constitution. The ideas of the rule of law , basic rights, and general equality had also arrived in Ottoman political thought.

Sultan Abdülhamid II (r. 1876–1909)

Abdülhamid II , who came to power in 1876 in the wake of a coup d'état of high officials , finally had the first Ottoman constitution drawn up by a committee of religious scholars, military and civil officials, headed by Grand Vizier Midhat Pasha . This regulated the territorial integrity of the empire, the sultanate, the rights and duties of the subjects, the role of ministers and state officials, parliament, the judiciary and the role of the provinces. Of particular importance was Article 7, which left the sultan's prerogatives largely open, but stipulated, for example, that the sultan had to appoint and dismiss ministers so that they were free from responsibility towards the general public. The Sultan was responsible for enforcing Seriat and Kanun. He still had the right to govern by means of decrees and to revoke parliamentary decisions by means of his veto . Article 113 stated that it was reserved for the Sultan to exile persons under the terms of martial law. A prominent victim of this regulation was Midhat Pasha himself in 1876. The constitution came into force on December 23, 1876 by decree of the sultan. This decree specifically emphasized the conformity of the constitutional provisions with Islamic law ("aḥkām-ı şerʿ-i şerīfe [...] muṭābıḳ").

Abdulhamid II's autocracy: 1878 to 1908

Domestically, Abdülhamid II broke off the constitutional experiment and ruled autocratically. The background to this approach is the fact that, on the one hand, his uncle Abdülaziz was deposed in a coup of high officials and officers and died under unexplained circumstances; Ottoman Empire ended disastrously. In large areas that nominally continued to belong to the empire (Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Eastern Rumelia, Cyprus, Egypt, Tunis), their parliamentary representation in an Ottoman parliament was politically as good as impossible. The reformer and short-term grand vizier Midhat Pasha was sent into exile, citing Article 113 of the constitution he initiated, and parliament was closed. Abdülhamid's reign was marked by despotism and spying. As the last sultan of his dynasty, he ruled as sole ruler . The Ottoman constitution remained formally in force and was still applied, with the exception of the provisions on the Ottoman parliament. The reforms and the cultural rapprochement with Europe continued. Financially, the gate was now completely dependent on the major European powers. After the national bankruptcy was declared, the Dette publique took over a large part of the financial administration.

Young Turks and Second Constitutional Period: 1908 to 1918

The Ottoman Empire around 1900
“March of the Deputies”, Young Turkish march by Mehmed Zati, 1909

In the years 1905–1907, crop failures exacerbated the economic crisis in the Ottoman Empire. The officials' salaries could no longer be paid. In June / July 1908 an armed conflict loomed between the constitutionally -minded Young Turks and the Ottoman military. Sultan Abdülhamid II finally gave in to the pressure (see Young Turkish Revolution ) and put the constitution of 1876 suspended in 1878 back into force on July 23, 1908. A new government was formed under Kıbrıslı Kâmil Pasha . End of April 1909, Abdul Hamid, the last monarch of the kingdom, after the so-called 31 March Incident deposed and by his brother Mehmed V replaced. From now on, the Sultan had essentially only representative functions, while the government was installed by the Grand Vizier. The Young Turks, in turn, had an influence on the appointment of this office.

In the history of the Ottoman Empire, the last era began, the " Second Constitutional Period " ( İkinci Meşrutiyet ). The government's political power relied primarily on the military. In return for the guarantee of military power, armament expenditures were increased to such an extent that hardly any funds were available for building civil institutions or for reforms. The armament was financed mainly through loans from German banks, the weapons were supplied by the German companies Friedrich Krupp AG and Mauser .

Share of military expenditure in the state budget in the Ottoman Empire, Egypt for comparison
year Ottoman Empire Absolutely Egypt
1889 42.1% 7.8 million T £ 4.2%
1900 39.0% 7.2 million T £ 5.8%
1908 34.6% 9.6 million T £ 5.0%
1911 35.7% £ 12.6 million 5.8%

In 1912 Tripolitania and Cyrenaica (today's Libya ) and the Dodecanese were lost to Italy in the Italo-Turkish War . In the First Balkan War , Bulgaria, Serbia, Greece and Montenegro formed the Balkan League against the Ottoman Empire in 1912 , which after its defeat in the London Treaty of May 30, 1913, lost almost all European possessions including the city of Adrianople . Less than a month later, Bulgaria attacked its former allies (Second Balkan War), who were supported by the Ottomans. After the defeat of Bulgaria, the Ottoman Empire regained eastern Thrace with the old capital Edirne in the treaties of Bucharest and Constantinople . The demoralizing loss of the rich and prosperous Balkan provinces brought enormous losses for the Ottoman state, which was heavily indebted due to the cost of the war, while at the same time providing for thousands of refugees and making up for the war losses in people and material at high costs.

Domestic political unrest then broke out in the Reich. On June 11, 1913, Grand Vizier Mahmud Şevket Pasha was murdered in Istanbul. Under the new Grand Vizier Said Halim Pascha , the “Young Turkish Triumvirate” came to power with Mehmed Talaat , Ismail Enver and Cemal Pascha . The leading men of the Freedom and Unity Party were sentenced and in some cases executed in rapid trials, which broke the political influence of the liberal rival party. The reconquest of Edirne in July 1913 finally consolidated the power of the Young Turk Committee for Unity and Progress .

In the years from 1908 to 1918, the Reich faced several challenges that could only be partially and insufficiently resolved by the end of the period:

  1. The loss of territory and population in the 19th and early 20th centuries, especially the loss of most of the European heartland after the Balkan Wars, forced a concentration on the central provinces of Asia Minor and the Arabian Peninsula;
  2. The strengthening of the central government against the continued striving for autonomy on the part of the periphery as a determining factor in Young Turkish politics;
  3. The question of the identity-creating role of Islam with regard to the increasing loss of importance of the Sultan Caliph and the Islamic scholarship with a simultaneous increase in the Islamic population as a result of the migration movements after the Balkan Wars;
  4. The emergence of new political and social elites to replace the traditional rulers (influential households or clientele networks, ulama);
  5. The question of how to deal with modernity and the Western European great powers, which were perceived on the one hand as a role model, on the other hand, together with Russia, as a considerable political and economic threat.

The preservation of the traditionally multinational, multiethnic identity of the old world empire counteracted the fact that the empire was gradually shrinking. An independent national culture and language as identity-creating factors was perceived as an essential condition for the successful independence movements in individual parts of the empire, at the same time the lack of these factors in one's own country became clear. Although it was the declared aim of the Young Turkish revolutionaries of 1908 to preserve the multinational empire, Turkish nationalist ideas had already found their way into their political thought shortly after the turn of the century. With reference to pan-Turkish ideas and by establishing a generally understandable Turkish colloquial language, they tried to create a new “Ottoman identity”. In doing so, they used rhetoric radically related to Islam on a case-by-case basis, in dealing with the non-Islamic sections of the population they emphasized common Ottoman concepts, while their liberal wing, in line with Prince Sabahaddin, emphasized liberal and progressive ideas compared to the western states . In 1907 the Armenian Dashnak concluded an alliance with the Young Turks at the Ottoman opposition congress in Paris. Turkish and Armenian groups in northeastern Anatolia had long resisted Russia together; 1906–1907 a Turkish-Armenian committee ruled the city of Erzurum during an uprising . However, as early as 1907, Bahattin Şakir on the Young Turkish side referred to the cooperation with the Armenians internally as a temporary "alliance with the mortal enemy". The abolition of the privileges laid down in the Millet system for non-Muslim sections of the population and the associated propagation of the common Ottoman identity met with greater resistance in the nationalist-minded circles of Greeks, Bulgarians and Armenians, the more Turkish nationalist ideas entered the ideology of the Young Turks found. Albanian and Arab nationalism grew stronger under the KEF government, as did the striving for autonomy among the Kurds and Circassians, who were all the less willing to compromise as the central government insisted that the search for recognition of existing differences meant rebellion. This attitude determined the policy towards the Armenians, who, under the impression of growing threats, turned to European diplomacy again from 1913 onwards to seek protection. Şakir and the management of the KEF interpreted this as treason and initiated the "resettlement" and extensive extermination of the Armenian population.

With the massive immigration of Muslim refugees and the loss of large Christian populations, there was a kind of “concentration on Islam” in the Reich. But the Sultan-Caliph had lost his identity-creating primacy in the center of the Islamic world and in the empire itself. The independence of Albania , which was achieved in 1913, showed that a Muslim nation-state was also conceivable independent of Ottoman rule. From today's perspective, the KEF's attitude towards Islam appears contradictory: On the one hand, the Young Turkish ideology was shaped by secular ideas. On the other hand, the proportion of Muslims in the population increased significantly as a result of migration after 1912. The committee invoked Islam primarily to legitimize and strengthen ethnic-Turkish concepts, which met resistance from Islamic scholars such as Babanzâde Ahmet Naim from Darülfünun University in Istanbul. Islamic rhetoric also served as the basis for sharply anti-Christian polemics.

In the period between 1908 and 1914, foreign policy also shaped domestic political and social activity to a previously unknown extent. The perception of the military inferiority of the empire, which had been exhausted in the previous wars, lent further domestic economic, administrative and social reforms emphasis. The Ottoman Empire, which had been part of European power politics since the Congress of Vienna in 1815, stood in the field of tension between its own efforts to keep the remaining parts of the empire under central control and the interests of the Western European great powers, which subjugated the empire in their own influence and economic interests Wanted to divide zones. In an initially open-ended search for a Western European alliance power, the Ottoman government concluded an alliance with the German Empire only after the failure of its initiatives in Paris and London in 1914.

First World War

initial situation

In the Balkans, the Ottoman territorial loss led to a power vacuum in which the interests of Russia and the Habsburg Empire now came into competition. The Russian side tried to gain control of the Black Sea straits. During the First World War , this geostrategic interest determined the Russian two-front war against the German Empire and Austria-Hungary as well as against the Ottoman Empire in the Caucasus. Vienna, on the other hand, feared that the Austro-Hungarian compromise found in 1867 could be endangered by the south-eastern fringes: In these parts of the country, before 1914, the “South Slav question” about how to deal with the independence efforts of the Catholic Slovenes and Croats as well as the Serbian-Orthodox Serbs determined Domestic policy of the Habsburg Monarchy. In the last quarter of the 19th century, radical national movements had developed there under the protection of Russia, aimed at secession from the Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian empires. The international efforts after the Russo-Ottoman wars of the 1870s, especially Bismarck's actions at the Paris Congress, show the endeavor to balance interests without military conflicts. The Ottoman Empire diverted the tensions between Russia and Austria-Hungary and thus stabilized the center of Europe. With the development of the new nation states such as the German Reich, the political situation changed: In place of changing political alliances, as in the Crimean War, long-term alliances that were still concluded in peacetime were introduced. The Russian-Austrian conflict of interest in south-eastern Europe forced Berlin to form an alliance with Austria in a two-way alliance in 1878 , which was expanded to form a three-way alliance with Italy in 1882 . With the conclusion of the French-Russian alliance in 1894, a classic “balance of power” was created in Europe , reinforced by the neutrality of Great Britain.

Alliance with the German Empire

In this political situation, the Ottoman Empire found itself in a dilemma: in the now static European alliance system, it had lost its role as a political “zone of equilibrium”. The economic losses caused by the loss of the Balkan provinces, the high debt burden and the army, which had been weakened in the previous heavy wars, would not allow the empire to maintain a neutral position in the impending war between the major European powers. A neutral empire would also be defenseless against the Russian threat to the eastern Anatolian provinces; its outdated navy would not have been able to maintain the sea routes to the Black Sea. Leading Ottoman politicians also saw the world war as an opportunity to recapture lost territories in the Balkans and to expand again towards the Caucasus and Central Asia, as well as to prevent a solution to the Armenian reform question . This question was closely linked to the oriental question . It also meant a constant risk of interference by the Western powers or Russia in the domestic politics of the Ottoman Empire and could provide a pretext for intervention - with the aim of dividing the empire.

The empire had no choice but to seek an alliance with a European protecting power. From 1882 at the latest, closer relations existed with the German Empire . In addition to the construction of the Baghdad Railway , it was primarily German military missions that strengthened relations between the two states. There were close political and trade ties with the Entente powers. Since 1910, a British naval mission has been reforming and modernizing the Ottoman fleet. In May 1914, the French government had again granted the Reich a large loan. During the July crisis in 1914, the Reich was in close diplomatic contact with France, England and the German Reich. A mission by Cemal Pasha in France in July 1914 was unsuccessful. On August 1, 1914, Great Britain confiscated two capital ships that had been ordered by the Ottoman government in a British shipyard and had already been paid for, so that an alliance with Great Britain was now ruled out.

At the instigation of Enver Pasha , one day after the start of the war, a controversial and secret German-Turkish alliance agreement was concluded within the Cabinet, which provided for an Ottoman entry into the war on the part of the Central Powers Germany and Austria-Hungary in the event of hostilities with Russia . In a conversation with the German ambassador in Istanbul, Wangenheim , Grand Vizier Said Halim Pascha formulated the war aims of his government on August 6, 1914:

  • Abolition of the trade capitulations that had given the European powers influence over the Ottoman economy;
  • Support from the German Reich in the implementation of agreements with Romania and Bulgaria;
  • Return of the islands of Chios, Mytilene and Lemnos to the empire in the event of a victory over Greece, thus better maritime control over the Dardanelles and strengthening of the Ottoman sea power in the Aegean;
  • Return of the three eastern provinces of Kars , Batum and Ardahan , lost to Russia in 1878 ;
  • No peace treaty until Ottoman sovereignty is restored in all areas lost in the war;
  • Reparation payments to the Ottoman Empire.

The German Empire hoped that the alliance would primarily support the Muslims inside and outside the Ottoman Empire under the suzerainty of the Ottoman Caliphate . Shaped by the ideas of Max von Oppenheim , a German "Islamic policy" was intended to weaken the supremacy of Great Britain in India and Egypt in particular.

entry into the war

German officers in a Turkish machine gun position at the Dardanelles, 1915

On August 3, the Ottoman government officially announced that it would stay out of the fighting in an “armed neutrality”. On August 10, 1914, the German Rear Admiral Wilhelm Souchon , pursued by forces of the Royal Navy , entered the Dardanelles with the SMS Goeben and the SMS Breslau . After several days of negotiations, he led his small squadron to Istanbul , where it was officially taken over into the Turkish Navy on August 12th. On August 15, Turkey terminated its naval agreement with Great Britain and expelled the British naval mission from the country until September 15. The Dardanelles were fortified with German help, the Bosporus secured by the Goeben , renamed Yavuz Sultan Selim , and both straits were officially closed to international shipping on September 27, 1914. On October 29th, Souchon's attack under the Ottoman flag on the Russian Black Sea Fleet and the city of Sevastopol opened the armed struggle. On November 2, Russia declared war on the Reich and on November 12, 1914, the Ottoman government of the Triple Entente declared war.

Wilhelm II. , With Mehmed V and Enver Pascha , October 1917 in Constantinople

The Ottoman government terminated the agreement of February 8, 1914, soon after the entry into the war. In the middle of the World War, on September 5, 1916, all other treaties and agreements that offered foreign states the possibility of intervention in the Reich were terminated. These included the Treaty of Paris (1856) , the Berlin Treaty (1878) and the Declaration of London (1871).

On April 24, 1915, the Ottoman government arranged for the arrest and deportation of Armenian civilians in Constantinople. This policy ultimately resulted in the murder of around 600,000 to 1,500,000 Christian Armenians . About two thirds of the Armenians living on the territory of the Ottoman Empire died as a result of the deportations, which is considered to be the genocide of the Armenians . Also among the populations of the Syrians and Assyrians led to genocidal actions ; there were also great massacres among the Pontic Greeks (see Persecution of Greece in the Ottoman Empire 1914–1923 ).

In the peace treaty of Brest-Litovsk , Russia was divorced from the war in 1917. On October 30, 1918, the Moudros armistice ended the fighting between the Entente and the Ottoman Empire. From November 1918, the victorious powers occupied a large part of the Ottoman Empire. The "Young Turkish Triumvirate" was dismissed and fled. After Mehmed V died on July 3, 1918, his brother Mehmed VI moved. (Mehmed Vahideddin) after. He responded to all the demands of the victorious powers and was under heavy pressure domestically. After the abolition of the sultanate in November 1922, he left Constantinople and went into exile.

“Hunger Map of Europe”, May 1919: Malnutrition in the Ottoman Empire, hunger in its eastern regions
Ottoman Army losses in World War I
Total number of forces and officers mobilized 2,873,000
Killed in battle 243,598
Missing 61,487
Disease and epidemic losses 466.759
Fallen in combat or other causes of death 771.844
Loss of the Ottoman army due to injuries etc.
Seriously wounded 303.150
Injured in battle 763.753
Prisoners of war 145.104
Deserters 500,000

End of the empire and establishment of the Republic of Turkey

Muschir Mustafa Kemal Pasha (1923)

The nationalist movements of the 19th century had been a powerful force that shook the internal stability of the multi-ethnic empire. But this power was also present in the core areas of the Ottoman Empire. A resistance movement emerged against the occupying powers, who had divided the remainder of the empire into spheres of interest. The leading role was played by the Turkish general Mustafa Kemal Pascha . His role in the following disputes was classified as so significant that the Turkish parliament gave him the nickname Ataturk ("father of the Turks"). The Kemalist movement named after him soon formed a kind of counter-government in the unoccupied areas.

In the elections held in December 1919, the liberation movement won a two-thirds majority and moved its headquarters to Angora ( Ankara ). In April 1920 the " Grand Turkish National Assembly " was constituted here , which in January 1921 passed a provisional constitutional law. The new government maintained good relations with the meanwhile Bolshevik Russia and was effectively recognized by France, which had the mandate for southern central Anatolia. The 1920 by the Sublime Porte signed the Treaty of Sevres , but who knew the Turkish state sovereignty, was not recognized by Ankara. It came to the national liberation war in which the Greek troops from Asia Minor were repulsed. The majority of the Greek civilian population, especially in Smyrna (Turkish İzmir ), was expelled from the country (see Smyrna fire ). From the Greek side, these events are also referred to as the " Asia Minor Catastrophe ". At the same time, hundreds of thousands of imperial residents who were considered Turks were expelled from Greece. The nationalist movements strived - not only in Turkey - for a unified nation.

The successes of the Kemalists caused a loss of prestige for the government of Sultan Mehmed VI. A delegation of Kemalists from Ankara was represented in the negotiations for the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923 , which was equivalent to international recognition. The Constantinople government was also formally invited to the conference (which began on November 30, 1922). To prevent Turkey from being represented by two governments, the government in Ankara under Mustafa Kemal abolished the sultanate on November 1, 1922. Three days later, the Istanbul government under Ahmed Tevfik Pasha officially resigned. The dethroned sultan left the country a few days later. The previous heir to the throne, Abdülmecid II , was appointed caliph .

Ankara was declared the capital on October 13, 1923, and the Republic proclaimed on October 29; Mustafa Kemal Pascha became President, Ismet Pascha , who was later given the surname “Inönü” due to the victories against the Greek army at Inönü, Prime Minister of the newly founded republic . In March 1924 the caliphate was abolished, Abdülmecid and all members of the Osman dynasty had to leave the country.

Concept of the empire, political and social order

Devlet-i ʿAlīye - the sublime dominion

Wedding anniversary of Rukiye Sabiha Sultan 1920, from left to right: Fatma Ulviye Sultan, Ayşe Hatice Hayriye Dürrüşehvar Sultan , Emine Nazikeda Kadınefendi , Rukiye Sabiha Sultan, Mehmed Ertuğrul Efendi, Şehsuvar Hanımefendi.

From its beginnings to the reforms of the 19th century, the Ottoman Empire was shaped by diverse forms of rule and the most varied of relationships between the center and regional forces. In contrast to the linguistically, culturally or ethnically uniform nation state, the term world empire or empire is used for this organizational form of “state” power . According to Klaus Kreiser , this way of exercising power was less the result of a conscious political decision than an expression of the lack of means to organize such a large and diverse area uniformly and centrally. Kreiser therefore speaks of the Ottoman Empire as an "unwilling empire". The Islamic term "al-daula" ( Arabic الدولة, DMG al-daula 'cycle, time, rule', Turkish devlet ) is primarily associated with a “house” or a dynasty, and thus with the person and family of the ruler, less with the institutions of a state administration. State structures had developed in the Ottoman Empire over the centuries to a greater extent than in the rest of the Islamic world .

The House of Osman ruled over the control of strategically important points such as cities, fortifications, roads, and trade routes, as well as its ability to claim resources and obedience. Insofar as in the course of the empire's history different areas were added to the empire at different times, rule was not exercised uniformly everywhere, but regionally different. The empire had various options for action in the newly conquered areas: the subjugated areas could be fully incorporated or managed as vassal states with different close ties, or even enjoy partial autonomy . In each case, the loyalty to the person of the Sultan, the payment of tributes and the provision of troops were demanded.

Since the medieval and early modern empires lacked fast and effective means of communication, a standing army and sufficient regular income to implement a central structure that was uniform across the empire, the central government was dependent on the cooperation of local rulers. Relations with them were based on principles similar to those of the later colonial " indirect rule ": the headquarters maintained independent relationships with the regional rulers, who were entrusted with "state" tasks such as collecting taxes and paying them to the state treasury, but mixed up rarely joins the local administration. In contrast to the colonial model of rule, however, it was in principle possible for every Ottoman subject to rise to the social elite and even to the sultan's court in the capital. Historians like Karen Barkey see this flexible and pragmatic ruling structure as one of the reasons for the empire's long existence under a single ruling dynasty.

The sultans organized their rule starting from Istanbul as the center in a form comparable to the modern hub-spoke model . In this way, the central government largely prevented regional forces from joining forces and acting against them. In the 16th and 17th centuries, this model of government proved its worth during several Celali uprisings . Towards the end of the 18th and beginning of the 19th century, however, the rulers in the provinces (ayan or derebey) had achieved extensive autonomy vis-à-vis the central government. In 1808 their political influence reached a climax with the agreement of the Sened-i ittifak under Grand Vizier Alemdar Mustafa Pasha . In fact, the ayan and derebey were acting like local ruling dynasties with considerable military power at the time. The sultan's authority was limited to Istanbul and its surroundings. Above all, the Balkan provinces with their large estates and commercial enterprises benefited from better connections to the world market and from the more relaxed control by the central government. Pamuk suspects that it is therefore no coincidence that the political collapse of the Ottoman Empire began in these provinces with the Serbian independence movement from 1804 and the Greek Revolution of 1821.

In contrast, the empire sought to compensate for the losses elsewhere. After regaining direct rule over Tripolitania, the Ottomans annexed the Fezzan as a basis for further penetration into the Sahara and sub-Saharan Africa . The Ottomans also increased their control over Arabia and reestablished direct rule over the Yemen. The expansion of the Egyptian dynasty of Muhammad Ali , dependent on the Ottomans, aims in the same direction, expanding the borders of Egypt and thus the Ottoman Empire via Sudan to present-day Uganda , the Congo Basin and present-day Somalia .

Other names

In Western Europe, the country was also known as "Turchia" ("Turkey" or Turkish Empire ) from the 12th century onwards , according to the ethnic origin of the dynasty.

Society and Administration

The social order of the empire followed military principles: The Askerî elite comprised the non-taxable ranks of the Ottoman military , members of the court and the imperial administration, as well as the spiritual elite of the ʿUlama ' . Subordinate to these was the Reâyâ , which paid taxes and duties . For many centuries, Ottoman society was characterized by the coexistence of different ethnic and religious groups under the rule of the sultan and the central government. High officials and important artists and artisans came not only from the Islamic-Turkish population group, because Greeks, Armenians, Jews and other groups contributed to the culture of the Ottoman Empire . In the last decades of its existence an ethnically understood led nationalism to the downfall of these centuries fertile tradition of living together.


Sultan Ahmed III. , Surname-i Vehbi , 1720, f.174b

At the center of power stood the sultan (from Arabic سلطان, DMG sulṭān 'ruler') and his dynasty, whose values ​​and ideals legitimized their rule, determined the organization, guidelines and processes within the administrative apparatus, and created the elites who worked in this apparatus. From the 15th century the empire was patrimonial as a sultanate and organized as an order of estates , Islamic in its values ​​and ideals, shaped according to the idea of ​​a vast household with the sultan at its head. The rule of the sultan was basically only bound by the Sharia ( Turkish Şeriat or şer-i şerif , “the noble law”), and to a limited extent also by the laws of his predecessors. A special interpretation of the Sharia according to the Hanafi school of law legitimized political power religiously.

Sultans' marriages often served to strengthen foreign and domestic political alliances: up to around 1450, the sultans mostly married women from neighboring dynasties, later from the Ottoman elite itself. Children - and thus possible successors - emerged predominantly from relationships with concubines. The mother of a ruling sultan ( Valide Sultan ) was thus given a rank and political significance that did not correspond to her original social status. During the period of “ female rule ” from the end of the 16th to the middle of the 17th century, influential sultan mothers secured the power of the dynasty.

An inheritance of the empire was unknown. A male descendant of the sultan inherited the entire empire. Until the second half of the 19th century there was no explicit and comprehensive regulation of the succession to the throne ; When a sultan died, at the latest, there was often a dispute between his descendants. From around the end of the 14th century, an Ottoman prince ( şeh-zāde ) at the age of about fifteen was given an Anatolian sanjak for administration, so that he became prince-governor (çelebi sulṭān) under the guidance and supervision of an educator ( lālā ) Gain experience in administrative matters and learn the art of governance. The Sultan was able to try to influence the succession by giving his favorite son the governorship closest to the capital. The victor in the succession dispute usually persecuted the defeated brothers and relatives and had them murdered. This custom was viewed as problematic by the sultans themselves and their contemporaries: Selim's first act as ruler was to order his brothers and all his nephews to be executed. In order not to force his son, who later became Süleyman I, to do the same, he renounced the conception of further sons. The Selim-nāme of Şükri-i Bidlisi, the first of a series of historical works that dealt with this period, had the purpose, among other things, of propagandistically belittling the sultan's accession to the throne and his role in history. With Murad III. (from 1562 to 1574) and Mehmed III. (from 1583 to 1595) only the eldest sultan's sons were appointed as presumptive successors actually and not only nominally as governors (in Manisa ), while the others remained locked inside the Topkapı Palace for governorship as young princes . This ensured that the ruler-designate could ascend the throne undisputedly and have his (half) brothers in the palace executed without difficulty. After Mehmed III's accession to the throne. In 1595, no more princes were sent away at all, but kept in the part of the Sultan's palace, originally called şimşīrlik or çimşīrlik (about ' box tree garden ') and later called ḳafe's 'cage'. In the event of an unforeseen change of power, for example in the case of Mustafas I after the death of his brother Ahmed I , the new sultan took office completely unprepared.

Central government

Characteristic of the Ottoman elites was their recruitment from the ruled peoples. A hereditary nobility in the European sense was largely unknown, even if there were influential families like the Çandarlı, who provided several grand viziers such as Çandarlı II. Halil Pasha (vizier 1439-1453). Until the end of the 16th century, many high administrative officials came from Christian families from Rumelia who had been forcibly recruited in the course of the boy harvest and, after their conversion to Islam, enjoyed a thorough training that enabled them to hold the highest state offices.

As is customary in many Islamic states, the sultan was supported by a dīwān of viziers . The Imperial Council ( Ottoman همايون ديوان İA dīvān-ı hümāyūn , German 'grand glorious assembly' ) together. In later times, the Dīwān was usually led by the Grand Vizier , no longer by the Sultan himself. After the domed hall in the Topkapı Palace , in which this meeting took place, the other viziers were also called “Domed Viziers” (Kubbealtı vezirleri) . The governors of Cairo , Baghdad and Buda also held the rank of vizier, they were referred to as "outer viziers". Since Suleyman I, the role of the Grand Vizier has been established as the absolute representative (vekīl-i muṭlaḳ) of the Sultan. On behalf of the Sultan, he became head of the civil and military organization and chief judge. In the event that the Sultan did not lead a campaign himself, the Grand Vizier assumed the role of general (serdār) . Only the grand lord's household and Islamic scholarship were exempt from his authority. When he was appointed, the Grand Vizier was given the imperial seal ( mühr-i hümāyūn , 'the sublime seal'). Since 1654 he had his own residence, the Hohe Pforte ( Ottoman پاشا قاپوسى İA Paşa ḳapusı , German 'Tor des Paschas' , later Ottoman باب عالی Bâbıâli , German for 'high gate' , rarely tooباب اصفی/ Bāb-ı Āṣefī ) called.

The members of the military and administration were considered to be direct subjects (ḳul) of the sultan, who was responsible for their maintenance, but also exercised direct jurisdiction over them. In this way the sultans strengthened their rule. After the 17th century, the central government in the provinces lost its direct political influence to regional rulers (ayan or derebey) , who could act largely independently as long as their loyalty to the sultan was not in question. The sultans thus remained the guarantors of political legitimacy. With reforms since the beginning of the 19th century, the government tried to bring the administration and economy back under central control.

The Ottoman administration had two other important institutions: the court chancellery and the tax office. The court chancellery dealt with the correspondence, which became more and more extensive over the years, issued certificates and documented the decisions of the court council, which it published in the form of decrees ( Fermanen ). The most important office was that of nişancı , the Tughra draftsman. His task was to create the tughra for important documents and thus to certify the document. In reports from European diplomats, this official is often referred to as the "Chancellor". The clerks of the court chancellery were presided over by the reʾīsü 'l-küttāb , the chief clerk. All written documents were registered in the central registry, the defterhane , which was under the direction of a chief registrar ( defter emini ).

The Ottoman Empire was mainly financed by taxes. As early as the second half of the 15th century, Mehmed II placed the tax officials ( Defterdare ) under the direct control of the Grand Vizier. The Defterhane was in the Topkapı Palace right next to the room where the State Council met. One of the most important tasks of the Defterhane was the quarterly payment of wages for the Askerî. The head of the financial administration was the Defterdar. At first there was only one Defterdar, from around the time of Bayezid II a second was installed, which was responsible for Anatolia , while the first, the başdefterdar, was responsible for the European part of the empire. After the conquest of the Arab territories, a third was added, based in Aleppo , Syria . The officials of the financial administration used a special script (siyāḳat) for their records , which could only be read by the officials of the authority and which was forgery-proof mainly because of the special numeric characters used.

Social elites

The ruling social elite in the Ottoman Empire was divided into four institutions: the official scholars of the empire (ilmiye) , the members of the court (mülkiye) , the military (seyfiye) and the administrative officials (kalemiye) .

Since the late 16th century, the Ottoman sultans installed a head ( mufti ) of the ʿUlamā ' in every eyalet , headed by the chief mufti or sheikhülislam ( Turkish Şeyhülislâm ) in Istanbul. In this way, the Sultan was able to exert greater influence on the āUlamā ', which formally remained superior to the Sultan due to their privilege to interpret Sharia law. In the event of unwelcome decisions, the sultan could simply replace one mufti or the Şeyhülislâm with another. With the bureaucratization of the ʿUlamā 'in the Ilmiye group, a further step towards centralizing power in the person of the ruler was taken.

The reforms of Mahmud II further weakened the political influence of the ʿUlamā ': The Şeyhülislâm was now given the position of a state official who had to follow the sultan's instructions. The newly established Ministry of Religious Foundations controlled the finances of the Vakıf Foundations and thus removed control of significant financial resources from Islamic scholars.

Subjects, equality, "fatherland" in the 19th century

Until the reforms of the 19th century, tax subjects were viewed as reâyâ ("flock"), from whom loyalty and obedience were expected. The aim of the Tanzimat decrees was to equate all inhabitants of the empire in principle and to equip them with equal rights: The decree of Gülhane granted all subjects legal security in 1839, the Hatt-ı Hümayun replaced the term “reâyâ” with “tebaa” for the first time in 1856. (from Arabic tabiʿ , 'belonging', 'dependent'). Reâyâ remained as a term only for the non-Muslim subjects in the Balkans and unchanged in Arabic, there without reference to the religious denomination. Tebaa , however, did not describe the politically involved citizen or citizen , but continued to serve to differentiate the subject from the sovereign, the sultan. The Ottoman constitution of 1876 finally declared equality ( “mussavet” , from Arabic مساواة, DMG musāwāt 'fair treatment, equality') of all tebaa before the law. Since Islam continued to be enshrined in the constitution as the state religion, this ran counter to the principle of equality.

The new term “Osmanlı” was first used in the Ottoman constitution of 1876 to refer to all residents, not just to the elites. Based on the thoughts of European philosophers such as Montesquieu and Rousseau , Ottomanism defined belonging to the Ottoman state politically, not ethnically or religiously. With the Tanzimat reforms, the term “vatan” (from Arabic الوطن, DMG al-Watan ' Heimat , Vaterland ') as a name for the empire. Initially, Vatan had a rather apolitical, emotional meaning, similar to the German terms. For example, said the district governor of Jerusalem in 1850 all non-Muslims to participate in the support of the poor and the elderly, "since we are all brothers in the homeland (Ikhwan fi'l Watan) are." From about 1860 it became more common in the context of patriotism and Sultan loyalty used.

Population and religion


The Ottoman Empire was a multi-ethnic state . The total population of the Ottoman Empire is estimated at 12 or 12.5 million people for 1520–1535. At the time of its greatest spatial expansion towards the end of the 16th century, about 22 to 35 million people lived in the Ottoman Empire - although the uncertainty is enormous. The population density increased sharply between 1580 and 1620 . In contrast to the western and eastern European countries, which experienced strong population growth after 1800, the population in the Ottoman Empire remained almost constant at 25 to 32 million. In 1906 around 20-21 million people lived in the Reich territory (which was reduced by the loss of territory in the 19th century).


Throughout its history, the Ottoman Empire was a transit area in which there was a wide range of opportunities for networking and identity formation in the interplay of identification and demarcation. Trade routes to sea and land connected distant areas. Cities served as hubs for trade and cultural exchange. As a rule, residents of different religions, languages ​​and ethnic origins lived in the cities and regions. Because of their relationships with their places of origin, the residents were able to maintain communication and trading spaces even beyond rulers' borders. At the same time, independent social structures and identities developed at the new location, often characterized by multilingualism.

The history of Constantinople provides an example of this: after the Ottoman conquest in 1453, the heavily depopulated city had to be repopulated. This took place at the invitation of the authorities, but also through forced migration and deportation ( sürgün ). Mostly Muslims settled here, but also Jews from the Balkans. From 1492 the Sephardic Jews expelled from Spain by the Alhambra Edict followed , and after 1496/1497 also from Portugal. A decree from Sultan Bayezid II welcomed them. Furthermore, Armenians and Greeks lived in the city. The Ottoman historian Gelibolulu Mustafa Alî (1541–1600) described in his historical work Künhü'l-aḫbār how newly immigrated Turkish and Tatar tribes had mixed with the local population, Arabs and Persians as well as former Christian Serbs who had converted to Islam. At least the social elite saw themselves as "Rûmi".

Growing population pressure in certain regions or social unrest such as the Celali uprisings of the 16th and 17th centuries each triggered massive population shifts. Shepherd nomads, mostly Turkmens , Kurds or Arabs , migrated to Western Anatolia and Cyprus, the Aegean Islands or the Balkans in search of better pastureland or under the pressure of stronger groups of nomads. In addition, the Ottoman government pursued a policy of active deportations in order to get rid of undesirable parts of the population or to repopulate an area that was important for the state. At the beginning of the 18th century, Muslim Bosnians fled Hungary back to Bosnia. At the same time, the Ottoman administration tried to push Turkmen and Kurdish nomads to the Syrian border, where they were to be settled as a counterbalance to the Bedouins , who increasingly immigrated to Syria in the 18th century. The wars in the Balkans were accompanied by devastating epidemics and famine, which further reduced the population. In the 18th and 19th centuries, refugees from the Balkan regions conquered by Russia, Circassians and displaced persons were taken in by the Crimea . The settlement of Albanian mercenaries on the Morea led to the flight of parts of the Greek population at the end of the 18th and beginning of the 19th century. The Ottoman administration repopulated these areas with Anatolian settlers, a temporary exemption from land tax (charaj) served as an incentive . At the end of the 18th century, oppression and exploitative taxation by local rulers led to pronounced rural exodus. The French consul general de Beaujour reported that in the period from 1787 to 1797 in Macedonia there were only two rural residents for every city. At the same time, the Western European population was divided between urban and rural areas at a ratio of 1: 5–6. Famine and natural disasters reduced the population in many parts of the country in the 18th century.

Religious communities

Ottoman Jews

Until the second half of the 15th century, the empire had a Christian majority and was ruled by a Muslim minority. As Sunni Muslims, the sultans followed the Hanafi school of law. Since the conquest of the Mamluk Sultanate in Egypt in 1517, they also had sovereignty over the Hejaz and the holy Islamic cities. In the 18th century this fact was used to justify the Ottoman Caliphate . Christianity ( Orthodox , Armenians and Catholics ), Judaism (see Sephardim ), Alevism and Shiite Islam , Yezidism , Druze and other denominations and religious communities were represented in the empire .

In the late 19th century, the non-Muslim population began to decline considerably - not only because of area reductions, but also because of migratory movements. The proportion of Muslims was 60% in the 1820s, gradually increasing to 69% in the 1870s and then to 76% in the 1890s. In 1914 only 19.1% of the Reich population was non-Muslim, mainly Christians, and some Jews .

Population distribution of the Millets in the Ottoman Empire in 1906, according to the census
Millet Residents proportion of
Muslims a 15,498,747-15,518,478 74.23-76.09%
Greeks b 2,823,065-2,833,370 13.56-13.86%
Armenians c 1,031,708-1,140,563 5.07-5.46%
Bulgarians 761.530-762.754 3.65-3.74%
Jews 253.435-256.003 1.23-1.24%
Protestants d 53,880 0.26%
Others d 332,569 1.59%
total 20,368,485-20,897,617 100.00%
Note: a The Muslim millet included all Muslims including Turks , Kurds , Albanians and Arabs .
b The Greek millet included all Christians of the Greek Orthodox Church , including Slavs and Albanians .
c This includes the various Syrian churches .
d The first source does not include Protestants and "others".

Muslims who were viewed as heretics , such as Alevis , Ismailis, and Alawis , were of a lower rank than Christians and Jews. In 1514, Sultan Selim I , called “the Grim” for his cruelty, ordered the massacre of 40,000 Anatolian Kizilbash ( Shiites ) whom he regarded as heretics, stating that “killing a Shiite in the afterlife is the same reward as killing of 70 Christians ”.

Reform of the Millet system in the 19th century

Ethnological map 1910, the Ottoman Greeks in blue

The Hatt-ı Şerif of Gülhane (1839) had guaranteed individual rights and thus implied the equality of all citizens of the Ottoman Empire. The Hatt-ı Hümâyûn of 1856 proclaimed the idea of ​​a “heartfelt band of patriotism” (“ revabıt-ı kalbiye-ı vatandaşî ”), but challenged the resistance of Muslims, for example in Syria and Lebanon, to theirs from the Sharia saw guaranteed privileged status at risk. With the reorganization of the Millet system in the Edict of 1856, the Ottoman government reacted to the fact that more and more non-Muslim religious communities were claiming Millet status as well as to the corruption prevailing in the Millets. New guidelines came into effect in 1860–62 for the Greek Orthodox Church, in 1863 for the Armenian Church, and in 1864 for the Jews. The creation of laws (nizam-nāme) for the non-Muslim communities on the one hand aroused hope for a general imperial constitution. The practice of separate legislation for individual religious communities, on the other hand, ignored the ethnic differences that formed the basis of the nationalist currents of the 19th century. As a result, the reform projects promoted political separatism rather than reinforcing the idea of ​​a common Ottoman rule ("osmanlılık") .

In the conflict between the Enlightenment, Islamic and Turkish nationalist schools of thought, the cohesion of the various religious and ethnic groups and finally the empire itself broke. The political dominance of the Young Turks led to a nationalistic redefinition of citizenship and ultimately to emigration, deportation and genocide of groups, who had been part of Ottoman society for centuries. In the 20th century, the 1915 Deportation Act triggered a resettlement campaign that eventually led to the Armenian genocide ; The Greek population, who had lived in Asia Minor since ancient times, was also forced to emigrate from 1914 to 1923 .


Even at the time of its founding, the Ottoman Empire benefited from its favorable location on the old trade routes for raw materials, goods and precious metals, such as the Silk Road . The trade continued after the Ottoman conquest and contributed to the economic success of the establishment of Osman. Promoting trade and gaining control of trade routes remained an essential goal of Ottoman policy in the eastern Mediterranean.

The European expansion that began in the 15th century changed the economic equilibrium in favor of Western Europe in the long term: first, large amounts of silver came to Europe from the Spanish colonial empire . In the Ottoman Empire with its silver currency , this led to inflation . With the discovery of the sea ​​route to India , Portugal gained direct access to the spice market, for which Egypt and Venice had previously had a monopoly.

In the period from 1720 to 1765, trade expanded both in the Ottoman Empire and in Western Europe. Production picked up and new craft centers were established. The Ottoman domestic market remained far more economically significant than foreign trade. It was not until around 1750 that the Aegean region was initially connected to international trade via the ports of the Levant . At that time, the import of goods from abroad did not necessarily lead to a trade deficit ; on the contrary, the trade balance of the empire with France, for example, remained positive.

Imports and exports of the Ottoman Empire via Marseille 1700–1789 (in Livres tournois )
1700-1702 1750-1754 1785-1789
Exports to Marseille 9,970,000 21,800,000 32,440,000
Imports from Marseille - 14,600,000 17,480,000
French trade deficit - 7,200,000 15,765,000

While the import of luxury goods had little effect on domestic production in the 18th century, cheaper and better quality American sugar and coffee found such large sales in the country that domestic production in Egypt and Cyprus was affected. From 1720 American coffee was imported, which was about two to three times cheaper than the goods traditionally obtained from Arab Yemen.

The price policy of the central government, which forced the producers to sell their goods to the authorities below production cost or even to deliver them for free, in the sense of a tax liability, led to the continued withdrawal of capital and, in the long term, to a weakening of the economy. In the second half of the 18th century, the war costs became so high that tax income could no longer cover them.

Towards the end of the 18th and beginning of the 19th century, the Balkan provinces in particular prospered with their large estates and commercial enterprises due to their better connections to the world market and the only looser control by the central government. The Tanzimat reforms from 1839 aimed not only at a renewed centralization of administration and finance but also at a liberalization of the economy. However, the reforms counteracted the interests of the large landowners and merchants, who could have benefited from a quick connection to the developing capitalist world market.

The period from 1820 to the outbreak of the Crimean War in 1853 is marked by the significant expansion of export trade under the influence of Great Britain, with which a free trade agreement had existed since 1838. Such agreements were later also concluded with other Western European countries. The production of agricultural primary goods rose above all in the coastal regions, while the import of industrially manufactured goods put handicraft production there under pressure. Up until around 1820, domestic trade in the Ottoman Empire, as well as trade with Russia and Egypt, dominated the economy, while export trade with the West only increased significantly in the period after the European coalition wars. In the mid-1870s the share of long-distance trade was only 6–8% of total and 12–15% of agricultural production. From around 1850 onwards, more and more borrowed capital flowed into the country in the form of government bonds and direct investments. Until the national bankruptcy in 1876, the Ottoman state took out more new loans on unfavorable terms than it serviced old debts. Most of the borrowed money was used to purchase foreign armaments and consumer goods, which widened the foreign trade deficit.

In the second half of the 19th century, Western Europe was looking, on the one hand, for sales markets for its products that had been inexpensive and mass-produced since the industrial revolution ; on the other hand, more sources of food and raw materials had to be tapped. For the Ottoman Empire this initially led to a significant increase in the volume of trade, but also to shifts in the exchange of goods towards the predominant export of raw materials that were further processed in Europe and the import of merchandise. Investments by European countries in the infrastructure, such as the construction of the Suez Canal (opened in 1869) or the Baghdad Railway (1903-1940), served on the one hand to facilitate the transport of goods and on the other hand tied the Ottoman economy ever closer to the western one.

The last quarter of the 19th century was marked by extraordinary political, social and economic crises. In 1876 the Reich declared bankruptcy and had to agree to European debt management . This caused further capital outflows, as the foreign debts now had to be serviced preferentially. Aside from the direct costs, the ongoing wars withdrew large parts of the working male population from production, and further diminished much-needed tax revenue by weakening production and trade. The loss of the economically strong European provinces after 1878 was not only a political but also a dramatic economic turning point. The growing proportion of cheap American agricultural goods in world trade, which were imported under the terms of the free trade agreements concluded with the Western powers, put pressure on Ottoman producers and reduced national incomes. The economy stagnated.

Since 1903, more and more foreign loans were taken up again, which strengthened the political and economic influence of the donor countries on the Reich. After the revolution of the Young Turks in 1908, the fiscal income rose significantly due to more efficient tax collection, but could not cover the simultaneous expenditure, and the deficit tended to widen. After 1910, the Ottoman Empire was so integrated into the capitalist world economy that its various regions can be seen as part of different spheres of influence in European centers rather than as an economically independent area.

Territorial division

Table of the Ottoman administrative division, 1905

The vast territory of the Ottoman Empire was divided into regions that were subject to varying degrees to the influence and control of the central government:

  1. A large part of the core countries was administered directly according to a sophisticated system.
  2. Some territories were administered semi-autonomously according to special rules.
  3. A number of vassal states were obliged to pay tribute.

Directly managed territories

Until the Tanzimatz time , the directly administered territories were in large provinces, the Eyâlet ( Ottoman ايالت) divided. From 1867 these territorial units were replaced by the Vilâyet . At the head of the administration of an eyalet stood the Beylerbey , who had the rank of pasha of two horse tails (Tugh), in the later period also often vizier rank (three horse tails).

An eyâlet consisted of two or more sandjaks under the direction of Beys . Most Sandschaks included several hundred to a thousand fiefs (depending on size ascending Timar , zeamet / Ziamet or hatred called) from which the members of the feudal cavalry ( Sipahis ) denied their livelihood; only the Eyalets Egypt, Baghdad, Abyssinia and al-Hasa were not further subdivided into Sanjaks and Tımars.

Semi-autonomous territories

The Maghreb was administered in a similar way to the central imperial areas, but enjoyed extensive autonomy for a long time. Some domains (" hükümet ") of Kurdish and Arab princes in the east were also almost autonomous and mostly had only military successes to be achieved.

Vassal states

The vassal states included those who paid tributes and / or were obliged to serve in the army. The principalities of Transylvania , as well as the principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia , which also performed military service, paid regular tributes . The princes of Moldavia and Wallachia were also appointed by the sultan. The Khanate of the Crimean Tatars , whose khans from the Giray family were subject to confirmation by the Sultan, achieved only military success . The Republic of Ragusa only paid tribute . Regions like Georgia and Mingrelia paid tributes only irregularly and depending on the political situation .

The status of these vassal states was sometimes quite delicate. The city of Ragusa belonged to the Hungarian crown, even if Ragusa's relations with Hungary faded in the course of time. The Voivods of Transylvania were also part of the Hungarian Crown. At first they appeared as pretenders competing with the Habsburgs and carried the Hungarian royal title under Ottoman suzerainty. Later, in addition to the suzerainty of the Ottoman sultan, they temporarily recognized the suzerainty of the Habsburgs in their capacity as Hungarian kings. The acceptance of the title of prince showed the separation of Transylvania from Hungary. The network of relations was further complicated by further circumstances, such as the takeover of the Polish crown by the Transylvanian prince Stephan Báthory , the attacks of the Transylvanian princes directed against the Habsburgs and the temporary dependence of the Moldovan and Wallachian princes on the prince of Transylvania, in addition to theirs Dependence on the Ottoman Sultan. Only the developments after the Peace of Karlowitz in 1699, which ended the Great Turkish War , made for an adjustment. The Ottomans recognized the rule of the Habsburgs in Transylvania, which led to the end of the independent principality and its incorporation into the Habsburg monarchy, and the Ottomans robbed Moldova and Wallachia by appointing foreign princes from the circle of the Phanariots of Istanbul, their own Subjects, almost any independence.

Other countries that have to pay tribute at times

From 1517 until the final conquest by the Ottoman Empire in 1571, Venice paid for the possession of Cyprus , and the Roman-German Emperor Ferdinand I 1533–1593 for his property in northern Hungary. Between 1590 and 1603, after the Ottoman-Safavid Wars, the Persian Empire was also subject to tribute under the Safavids , but remained politically independent.

Division of the Reich territory after the First World War

Territorial loss of the Ottoman Empire (the national borders of the other countries correspond to today's borders, not the historical ones)

The division of the Ottoman Empire operated by the victorious powers primarily followed the self-interests of the Western European powers and did not take into account regional and cultural contexts that had grown over centuries, nor the interests of the Arab allies of the Entente. The conflicts that arose from this division still shape the political and social history of the Middle East.

During the war, the Entente powers had already made a number of agreements on the future division of the Reich territory. Concerned about Russian war fatigue in the face of the German and Ottoman military successes in Poland and Eastern Anatolia, the Constantinople Agreement of March 1915 provided that the Tsarist Empire would occupy Constantinople and control the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles in the event of victory. With the termination of the treaties with the Allies after the Russian October Revolution of 1917, this agreement became obsolete. In 1916 the Emir of Mecca, Hussein ibn Ali , had declared Ottoman suzerainty to be abolished and proclaimed himself King of Arabia. He was eventually recognized as King of the Hejaz .

In the Sykes-Picot Agreement of May 1916, the Ottoman Empire was divided into European spheres of interest. This agreement essentially served to secure the French claim to Ottoman Syria by granting France “direct control” over a zone along the Syrian coast via southern Lebanon to Anatolia. In return, Great Britain was able to claim direct control over southern Mesopotamia as well as an extensive zone of indirect control from Gaza to Kirkuk. In the Balfour Declaration of 1917, the Jews were promised a “national home” in Palestine . This contradicted the British promises to the Arab allies. Compliance with the Balfour Declaration presupposed the continued military presence of Great Britain in Palestine. The sometimes contradicting agreements meant that a solution could ultimately only be achieved through compromise or by force.

The Treaty of Sèvres of 1920 provided for the preservation of the Ottoman monarchy and administration, but severely restricted the national territory: the straits of the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles were therefore subject to the control of an international commission. With Thrace, Greece received the last European province of the empire and should get control of the western Anatolian port city of İzmir. An independent Armenian state was to emerge in Eastern Anatolia and the Russian Caucasus, and the Kurdish regions of Southeast Anatolia were to enjoy semi-autonomy.

The resolutions of the San Remo Conference separated the Arab imperial provinces from Ottoman sovereignty and divided them into Western European spheres of interest: France received the League of Nations mandate for Syria and Lebanon , Great Britain the mandate for Palestine on both sides of the Jordan River and Mesopotamia . Today's Iraq emerged from the three Ottoman vilayets Baghdad , Mosul and Basra including Kurdish northern Iraq . Another Arab state emerged in Transjordan . The desire of the former Arab allies for independence was shattered by the San Remo Agreement. On March 8, 1920, a "Pan-Syrian Congress" declared the independence of Syria, Palestine, Lebanon and parts of northern Iraq and appointed Faisal I as king. With the defeat of Faisal in the Battle of Maysalun by French troops, these plans were thwarted. Faisal's brother Abdallah was proclaimed King of Transjordan, while Faisal took control of the Kingdom of Iraq in 1921 .

The legacy of the Ottoman Empire

The Western and Central European Christian monarchies and the Ottoman Empire share a common history spanning centuries. The image of “the Turk”, often used in a generalized sense for Muslims, represents the “image of the other” in terms of cultural history from around the late 14th century to modern times. Knowledge of the Ottoman Empire shaped Europe's conception of the Islamic world far more than other Islamic countries . On the part of the Republic of Turkey, terms such as “ Sèvres Syndrome ” refer to the experience of the threatened partition of the Ottoman Empire in 1920, which was still having an impact on Turkish foreign policy.

The division of the Arab provinces of the Ottoman Empire, defeated in World War I , into British and French mandate areas hit the Arab countries of the Middle East largely unprepared. For almost a quarter of a century, the states that had emerged without regard to historical or ethnic togetherness were busy gaining full independence from Europe and finding new identities for their countries. The borders drawn by the victorious powers in 1918 lose their validity in the civil war in Syria - with Turkish participation - as well as in Iraq .

The implementation of Ottoman Islam as an “imperial religion” by Suleyman I and the later reforms of Mahmud II can hardly be overestimated in their world-historical significance. In this way, it was possible for the Ottoman government to partially limit the political influence of the Sunni scholars through the status of civil servants and financial control over the Vakıf foundations. In contrast, the Persian Qajar Shahs , especially Nāser ad-Din Shah (ruled 1848-1896), who ruled at the same time as Abdülmecid I and Abdülaziz , failed to gain central control over the clergy in accordance with Ottoman conditions. Compared to the Sunni clergy, the Shiite religious scholars were able to exert considerably more political influence over their followers. Since they continued to have unlimited access to the income from the religious foundations and also from the Muslim zakāt tax, they had the financial means to act politically independently, sometimes against the Shah's government. The political position of the Shiite clergy was particularly evident during the Islamic revolution in 1979 in Iran.

Mustafa Kemal Ataturk and the leading republican politicians of the early years of the Turkish Republic drew a clear historical cut between the Ottoman Empire and its successor state. The introduction of the Latin alphabet or the anchoring of secularism in the Turkish constitution were seen as attempts to institutionalize this separation. The period after 1908 is characterized by a growing influence of the military in Ottoman politics; This, too, along with the idea of ​​a strong state, continues in the history of modern Turkey. In 1971 , 1980 and 1997 the military temporarily took over political power in coups . Ataturk represented the Enlightenment ideal of the fundamental equality of all citizens, as the Ottoman Hatt-ı Hümâyûn edict of 1856 had already introduced in the empire. In relation to the time of the Ottoman Empire, this idea is described with the term Ottomanism . The contrast between the official concept of a unified Turkish nation and the factual ethnic diversity of the country continues one of the basic internal political conflicts of the Ottoman Empire into the present with the question of a Kurdish state of its own .

The history of the Ottoman Empire formally ended with the establishment of the Turkish Republic. At the same time, it remains present in the current political discussion: the catchphrase “ Neo-Omanism ” summarizes efforts to interpret the history of the empire in terms of current (Turkish) politics.

Between 1950 and 2008 around 3–5 million Turks had emigrated to Europe. In 2017 there were 1.5 million Turkish citizens, in 2013 almost three million “people of Turkish origin ” lived in Germany alone. The history of the Ottoman Empire is also part of the history of the largest group of residents with foreign roots in Germany.

See also


The overview article Virginia Aksan: What's up in Ottoman Studies? In: Journal of the Ottoman and Turkish Studies Association , Volume 1, No. 1–2, 2014, pp. 3–21.

Overall representations

Start time

  • The Cambridge History of Turkey. Volume 1 (of 4): Kate Fleet (Ed.): Byzantium to Turkey, 1071-1453. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 2009, ISBN 978-0-521-62093-2 .
  • Cemal Kafadar: Between Two Worlds. The Construction of the Ottoman State . University of California Press, Berkeley 1996, ISBN 0-520-20600-2 .
  • Heath W. Lowry: Early Ottoman Period. In: Metin Heper, Sabri Sayarı (Eds.): The Routledge Handbook of Modern Turkey. Routledge, London 2012, ISBN 978-0-415-55817-4 , pp. 5-14 ( full text).
  • Rustam Shukurov: The Byzantine Turks, 1204–1461. Brill, Leiden / Boston 2016.

Middle phase

  • The Cambridge History of Turkey. Volume 2 (of 4): Suraiya Faroqhi, Kate Fleet (ed.): The Ottoman Empire as a world power, 1453-1603. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 2012, ISBN 978-0-521-62094-9 .
  • The Cambridge History of Turkey. Volume 3 (of 4): Suraiya Faroqhi (ed.): The later Ottoman Empire, 1603-1839. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 2006, ISBN 0-521-62095-3 .
  • Halil İnalcik: The Ottoman Empire. The Classical Age 1300-1600 . Phoenix Press, London 2003, ISBN 1-84212-442-0 .

Later time

  • The Cambridge History of Turkey. Volume 4 (of 4): Reşat Kasaba (Ed.): Turkey in the modern world. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 2008, ISBN 978-0-521-62096-3 . (Not only covers modern Turkey, but also the last 80 years of the Ottoman Empire with Tanzimat, Abdülhamid II, Young Turks and First World War.)
  • Hans Jürgen Kornrumpf, Jutta Kornrumpf: Strangers in the Ottoman Empire 1826–1912 / 13. Kornrumpf, Stutensee 1998, DNB 953110958 .
  • Mehmed Şükrü Hanioğlu: A Brief History of the Late Ottoman Empire. Princeton University Press, Princeton 2008, ISBN 978-0-691-13452-9 .
  • Erik Jan Zürcher: Turkey. A Modern History. 3. Edition. IB Tauris, 2004, ISBN 1-86064-958-0 .
  • Kai Merten: Among each other, not next to each other: The coexistence of religious and cultural groups in the Ottoman Empire in the 19th century (=  Marburg religious-historical contributions . Volume 6 ). LIT Verlag, Berlin / Münster 2014, ISBN 978-3-643-12359-6 ( limited preview in Google book search).

Web links

Commons : Ottoman Empire  - Collection of Images, Videos and Audio Files



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