The History of the Ottoman Empire

The History of the Ottoman Empire

Introduction

The Ottoman Empire is considered as one of the longest-lasting, and greatest empires in history. The empire was wholly ruled and run by Islam and lasted for over 600 years covering parts of the Middle East, Africa and Eastern Europe. The chief leader of the Ottoman Empire was an Islamic leader who was known as a sultan. Sultan had absolute power, both politically and religiously over his people (Halil, 15). The Ottoman Empire was viewed as a threat by western Europeans, but most historians have a different view whereby they saw it as a source of religious stability and security.

The Ottoman Empire came into existence in 1299 founded by Osman 1 who was a Turkish tribe leader in Anatolia. The Ottoman Empire was ruled by several leaders but it reached its peak under the leadership of Suleiman the Magnificent between 1520 and 1566. During his reign, the Ottoman Empire experienced great power, stability, and wealth (Halil, 21).

Islam influence in the rise of the Ottoman Empire

Islam religion was influential to the rise of the Ottoman Empire in various ways. For instance, the empire was inspired by Islam and Islamic institutions. Although the Ottoman Empire was formed by various faiths and customs of people, Islam had a great impact and influence more than other faiths and religions. For instance, the leader of the Ottoman Empire was a Muslim titled sultan. Therefore, most of the significant influence comes from the Islamic religion under its leadership of the sultan and other religious leaders.

The ruling elites from the Islamic religion climbed their way up in the hierarchy of leadership through the Islamic institutions such as the madrassahs, which were the religious schools. In these religious schools, they were trained on how to be mindful of the restrictions of Islamic law and also to be concerned with the needs of the government (Inalcik 25). The Islamic religion was influential to Ottomans empirical rise in the sense that it was incorporated into the state structure. The incorporation of Islam into state structure provided the basis for the unification of the empire through Islam since the leader (sultan) was regarded as the Islam protector.

The empirical rise of the Ottoman was also influenced by Islam through Islamic ideology. The idea that the empire was founded by Osman who was from the Islamic religion, provided the foundation for the ideology that propelled the rise of the Ottoman Empire. The Islamic religion also influenced the Ottoman Empire through the Islamic warrior code which triggered expansion and acquisition of territories through Jihad. Therefore, Islam acted as the cornerstone for the rise of the Ottoman Empire through unification and through Islamic institutions such as madrassahs that were used to institute the Islamic religion in the empire.

Ottoman rise to power from a frontier principality to an empire

Several factors triggered the rise of the Ottoman from a mere frontier to an empire. The factors include both internal and external developments. For instance, the internal developments that propelled Ottoman to rise from its frontier status to an empire include the Islamic religion acting as a unifying factor. The empire was ruled by a sultan and other leaders from the Islamic religion. Therefore, the Islamic religion was considered more superior than other religions which triggered the rise of the empire (Ágoston 110). The Ottoman was united through an Islamic warrior code. The warrior code contributed to the rise of the Ottoman to power from a frontier principality to an empire as they conquered territories through Jihad.

Other than internal developments that saw the Ottoman rise to power from a frontier to an empire, external factors also played a great role in this transition. Holy war was one of the several external factors to contribute to this transition. The intention of the holy war was to subdue the infidel world rather than destroy the world. Through this holy war, the Muslim Anatolia and Christian Balkans were united under the Ottoman rule. The holy war was a fundamental principle of the state as it saw Sultan considered as the protector of the Orthodox Christians and church. As their protector, Islam (Ottomans) required total obedience and payment of poll tax by Christians and Jews in return their lives and property were protected.

Military conquests also contributed to the Ottoman empirical rise to power from a mere frontier principality. In 1350s the Ottoman was considered superior more than other frontiers through gaining a foothold in the Balkans. The ottoman continued its conquest to the western acted as a major boost in rising to power. The struggle of the throne at Karesi provided an opportunity for Orhan the then leader of the Ottoman to annex the principality. With the acquisition of Karesi, the troops from this principality who offered their services to Ottoman advocated for an expansion across the Dardanelles and the venture turned into their favor.

The political situation in Asia Minor provided a platform for an Ottoman rise to power. For instance, several principalities experienced the struggle for the throne which in turn weakened them and also formed an alliance with the Ottoman principality. In 1346, Orhan allied with John v Cantacuzenus, a claimant to the Byzantine throne (Canbakal and Imber 268). Through the ally formation between Orhan and John v acted as a basis for the Ottomans intervene in the domestic problems of Byzantium and also an opportunity to participate in the war at Thrace. The war at Thrace led to its conquest by the Ottomans thus expanding its territories making the Ottoman rise to power and later an empire.

Christian states’ reaction to the Ottoman expansionism and the Ottoman influence on Christian states

The rise to power of the Ottoman was influenced by religion. The ottomans themselves were Muslims, however, through their conquest of other territories they didn’t force them to convert. Some of the religion that Ottomans came across was Christians and Jews, but the Ottoman leader promised them their lives and property could be protected if only they obeyed and paid poll tax to the government. The Christian religion was incorporated in the Ottoman rule which never affected the Christians’ ways of life but rather subjects to the Ottoman Empire.

Christians from Western Europe viewed the Ottoman expansion as a threat. But this was not the case as Christians in territories that Ottomans conquered were not persecuted or forced to convert. The Ottoman influence in Christian states led to stability in religion and also security. Therefore, in other words, it was the western Christian states that were against the Ottoman’s expansion as they saw them as a threat while Christians in conquered states observed and obeyed the Ottoman rule.

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