OTTOMAN EMPIRE – ITS CAUSES OF COLLAPSE
1. Introduction Ottoman Empire which was stretched on Southeast Europe, parts of Central Europe, Western Asia, parts of Eastern Europe and the Caucasus, North Africa and the Horn of Africa containing 32 provinces and numerous vassal states, was recognized by many scholars as the great empire which has once influenced countries and made a great civilization. The Ottoman Empire has ruled their society from 1291-1922 and survived for almost 600 years.
As the great state, the Ottoman Empire also was a multiethnic empire which consists of 75 different ethnic groups living within its rules. In fact, it was also multi- religious empire with big populations of Muslims, Jews, and Christian who live in the area. Even though the Ottoman Empire was founded by Muslim Turks and the administration of the empire was semi-theocracy.
The Ottoman system of administration which recognized the multi-religious composition of the population also introduced the concept of millet (religious communities). It can be noted that the system of administration was relatively successful in keeping peace within the Ottoman borders until the arrival of nation-state in the 19th century. However, the golden age of the Ottoman Empire seems to be decline in the eighteenth century. The main problems which triggered to its decline were the lose confidence of many Ottomans about their system after they suffered military downfall at the hand of European powers. This condition pushed them to realize that in many ways they had become backward
and in the late of nineteenth century, the Ottoman Empire was labeled by other countries as the ‘Sick Man of Europe’ Indeed, at the same time, many of Young Turks also want to reform their country to become modern nation state as a respond to the rapid influence of modernization around the world.
2. Aim. This study is aimed at the deliberate analysis of Ottoman Empire – Its Causes Of Collapse
3. The Rise Of The Ottoman Empire. The Ottoman Empire also historically known in Western Europe as the Turkish Empire or simply Turkey was a state that controlled much of Southeast Europe Western Asia and North Africa between the 14th and early 20th centuries. It was founded at the end of the 13th century in northwestern by the Turkish tribal leader Osman I
a. Osman I. Osman I’s real conquests followed the collapse of Seljuk authority when he was able to occupy the fortresses of Eski?ehir and Karacahisar. Then he captured the first significant city in his territories, Yeni?ehir, which became the Ottoman capital.
In 1302 after soundly defeating a Byzantine force near Nicaea Osman began settling his forces closer to Byzantine controlled areas.
Osman I spent the remainder of his reign expanding his control in two directions north along the course of the Sakarya River and southwest towards the Sea of Marmora achieving his objectives by 1308. That same year his followers participated in conquest of the Byzantine city of Ephesus near the Aegean Sea thus capturing the last Byzantine city on the coast although the city became part of the domain of the Emir of Aydin.
Osman’s last campaign was against the city of Bursa. Although Osman did not physically participate in the battle the victory at Bursa proved to be extremely vital for the Ottomans as the city served as a staging ground against the Byzantines in Constantinople and as a newly adorned capital for Osman’s son Orhan.
The Ottomans ended the Byzantine Empire with the 1453 conquest of Constantinople by Mehmed the Conqueror.
b. Mehmed The Conqueror’s. Mehmed The Conqurer is one of those emperors in Ottoman Empire who have broaden the frontiers of their Empire. During his Regin his conquests are mentioned below.
1) Conquest of Constantinople (1453).
2) Conquest of Serbia (1454–1459).
3) Conquest of Morea (1458–1460).
4) Conquests on the Black Sea coast (1460–1461).
5) Conquest of Bosnia (1463).
6) Conquest of Albania (1466–1478).
7) Conquest of Genoese Crimea.
During the 16th and 17th centuries, at the height of its power under the regime of Suleiman the Magnificent
c. Suleiman the Magnificent. Suleiman became a prominent monarch of 16th-century Europe presiding over the apex of the Ottoman Empire’s economic, military and political power. Suleiman personally led Ottoman armies in conquering the Christian strongholds of Belgrade and Rhodes as well as most of Hungary before his conquests were checked at the Siege of Vienna in 1529. He annexed much of the Middle East in his conflict with the Safavids and large areas of North Africa as far west as Algeria. Under his rule, the Ottoman fleet dominated the seas from the Mediterranean to the Red Sea and through the Persian Gulf
At the beginning of the 17th century the empire contained 32 provinces and numerous vassal states.
With Constantinople as its capital and control of lands around the Mediterranean basin the Ottoman Empire was at the centre of interactions between the Eastern and Western worlds for six centuries. While the empire was once thought to have entered a period of decline following the death of Suleiman the Magnificent this view is no longer supported by the majority of academic historians. The empire continued to maintain a flexible and strong economy society and military throughout the 17th and much of the 18th century. Murad IV was the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire from 1623 to 1640 known both for restoring the authority of the state and for the brutality of his methods.
d. Murad IV Role. He was only 11 when he took the throne. His reign is most notable for the Ottoman–Safavid War (1623–39) of which the outcome would permanently part the Caucasus between the two Imperial powers for around two centuries, while it also roughly laid the foundation for the current Turkey–Iran–Iraq borders.
However during a long period of peace from 1740 to 1768 the Ottoman military system fell behind that of their European rivals the Habsburg and Russian empires. The Ottomans consequently suffered severe military defeats in the late 18th and early 19th centuries which prompted them to initiate a comprehensive process of reform and modernization known as the Tanzimat. Thus over the course of the 19th century the Ottoman state became vastly more powerful and organized despite suffering further territorial losses especially in the Balkans where a number of new states emerged.
The empire allied with Germany in the early 20th century hoping to escape from the diplomatic isolation which had contributed to its recent territorial losses, and thus joined World War I on the side of the Central Powers. While the Empire was able to largely hold its own during the conflict it was struggling with internal dissent, especially with the Arab Revolt in its Arabian holdings. During this time atrocities were committed by the Ottoman government against the Armenians Assyrians and Pontic Greeks.
The Empire’s defeat and the occupation of part of its territory by the Allied Powers in the aftermath of World War I resulted in its partitioning and the loss of its Middle Eastern territories, which were divided between the United Kingdom and France. The successful Turkish War of Independence against the occupying Allies led to the emergence of the Republic of Turkey in the Anatolian heartland and the abolition of the Ottoman monarchy.
4. Its Causes Of Collapse
a. Qualities Of Kingship. It has been argued that the qualities of kingship of the Ottoman Empire after Suleman’s death deteriorated rapidly. Although some of the sultans after Sultan Suleman such as Selim, Mehmed III, and Murad IV have capabilities to conquer and expand the Ottoman lands like Suleman none of them fine warriors and wise rulers in the old tradition. Ironically no Sultan acceding later than 1595 who had any experience in military service before they became the ruler. In this case Murad IV who served as Sultan between 1623 and 1640 was an exception. This is because he showed ability as a military commander in the Caucus and Mesopotamia. Unfortunately, he was forced to spend much of his concentration for reasserting over rebellious soldier in the provinces under the Ottoman Empire. Indeed, although he has similar capability with Suleman as an able Sultan, he could not continue his programs because he died at the early age of thirty one.
b. The moribund nature of the Ottoman government. Moribund nature of the Ottoman government directly caused the big impact for their people. Besides that the changes policies which were issued by the empire often obliged people to follow it. As a consequence people’s life in terms of economic, social, politic, and culture has close relations with the empire policy.
1) Sultanate. One primary cause for the decline of the Empire was the decline of the Sultanate. The Sultanate was a powerful organization where the sultan would chose a capable successor from his many sons. Over periods of time the sultanate weakened gradually. The weakening of the empire began late in the ruling of Suleyman the Magnificent. Although he was the height of the Golden Age Suleyman became less concerned with the affairs of state added to that his two qualified successors went against him they were later executed. As Selim II became Sultan he did not have much experience in the running of the government. He was fond of physical pleasures rather than taking the governing responsibility seriously. After him the decline of the Sultanate continued. Because the brothers of the Sultans were restricted in the harem, they became incompetent.
2) Bureaucracy. The Ottoman bureaucracy expanded dramatically both with regard to size and range of activity. While only 38 salaried scribes were serving in 1549 by 1593 this number had increased to 183. As the Timar System was phased out of use tax revenues which had once been distributed locally to the empire’s army of feudal cavalry were now remitted to Istanbul either through direct collection or through tax farming. A larger bureaucracy was thus needed in order to cope with the empire’s increasingly centralized fiscal system. Bureaucratic organization was diversified with new branches being formed and scribal duties increasingly specialized. The high quality of the Ottoman bureaucracy was underpinned by stringent standards of scribal recruitment. By the early seventeenth century the bureaucracy was moved out of its original location in Topkap? Palace indicating that it was becoming independent of the sultan’s household. It thus became a stabilizing influence for the empire while sultans and viziers rose and fell the bureaucracy remained in place providing cohesion and continuity to imperial administration.
3) Military. The first military unit of the Ottoman State was an army that was organized by Osman I from the tribesmen inhabiting the hills of western Anatolia in the late 13th century. The military system became an intricate organization with the advance of the Empire. The Ottoman military was a complex system of recruiting and fief-holding. The main corps of the Ottoman Army included Janissary Turkish Yeniceri (New Soldier or Troop) member of an elite corps in the standing army of the Ottoman Empire from the late 14th century to 1826. Highly respected for their military prowess in the 15th and 16th centuries, the Janissaries became a powerful political force within the Ottoman state. The Janissary corps was originally staffed by Christian youths from the Balkan provinces who were converted to Islam on being drafted into the Ottoman service. Subject to strict rules including celibacy they were organized into three unequal divisions (cemaat, bolukhalk?, segban) and commanded by an aga. In the late 16th century the celibacy rule and other restrictions were relaxed and by the early 18th century the original method of recruitment was abandoned. The Janissaries frequently engineered palace coups in the 17th and 18th centuries and in the early 19th century they resisted the adoption of European reforms by the army. Their end came in June 1826 in the so-called Auspicious Incident. On learning of the formation of new westernized troops the Janissaries revolted. Sultan Mahmud II declared war on the rebels and on their refusal to surrender had cannon fire directed on their barracks. Most of the Janissaries were killed and those who were taken prisoner were executed.
c. Rise of Nationalism. In the Ottoman Empire the Islamic faith was the official religion with members holding all rights as opposed to non-Muslims who were restricted. Non-Muslim (dhimmi) ethno-religious legal groups were identified by different millets, meaning “nations”. Ideas of nationalism emerged in Europe as a result of the Enlightenment and Romanticism. In the early 19th century most of the Balkans were still under Ottoman rule. The Christian peoples of Serbs and Greeks, under Ottoman yoke for four centuries but nevertheless preserving national consciousness rose up and succeeded in obtaining autonomy through the Serbian Revolution of 1804–17 and Greek War of Independence of 1821–29, establishing the Principality of Serbia and Hellenic Republic. The first revolt in the Ottoman Empire to acquire a national character was the Serbian Revolution while Arab nationalism is a nationalist ideology that arose in the 20th century mainly as a reaction to Turkish nationalism. It is based on the premise that nations from Morocco to the Arabian peninsula are united by their common linguistic, cultural and historical heritage. Pan-Arabism is a related concept, which calls for the creation of a single Arab state, but not all Arab nationalists are also Pan-Arabists. In the 19th century in response to Western influences, a radical change took shape. Conflict erupted between Muslims and Christians in different parts of the empire in a challenge to that hierarchy. This marked the beginning of the tensions which have to a large extent inspired the nationalist and religious rhetoric in the empire’s successor states throughout the 20th century.
d. Intrigues Of The Princes Mother. Valide sultan – Princes Mother ( was the title held by the legal mother of a ruling Sultan of the Ottoman Empire). One example of the problem which reduced the capability during the late sixteenth and early seventeenth century was the intrigues of the Princes Mother who always intervene the Sultan policies. Regarding the discussion about the Ottoman Empire decline, some scholars and historians state that the golden age of the Ottoman Empire reached in the sixteenth century under Suleman the Magnificent. In contrast, the period after that considered as the stagnation era. The most powerful and well-known of all valide sultans in the history of the Ottoman Empire were Nurbanu Sultan, Safiye Sultan and Kosem Sultan and Hurrem sultan
1) Nurbanu Sultan. Nurbanu became the valide sultan to her son Murad III. she effectively managed the government together with the Grand Vizier Sokollu Mehmed Pasha who acted as co-regent with the sultan during the Sultanate of Women. Her intermediary to the world outside the harem was her “kira” Esther Handali. “Kira” was serving as a business agent and secretary. She corresponded with the queen Catherine de’ Medici of France. Venetian accounts are the most prolific in describing Nurbanu Sultan as a woman who never forgot her Venetian origins. During her nine years of regency (1574–1583), her politics were so pro-Venetian that she was hated by the Republic of Genoa. Some have even suggested that she was poisoned by a Genoese agent. In any case she died at Istanbul on 7 December 1583.
2) Safiye Sultan. When Murad died in 1595 Safiye arranged for her son Mehmed to succeed as sultan and she became the Valid e Sultan – one of the most powerful in Ottoman history. Until her son’s death in 1603 Ottoman politics were determined by a party headed by herself. When Mehmed III went on the Eger campaign in Hungary in 1596 he gave his mother great power over the empire leaving her in charge of the treasury. During her interim rule she persuaded her son to revoke a political appointment of the judgeship of Istanbul and to reassign to the grand vizierate to Ibrahim Pasha her son-in-law. In 1600 the imperial cavalry rose in rebellion at the influence of Malchi and her son who had amassed over 50 million aspers in wealth. The greatest crisis Safiye endured as valide sultan stemmed from her reliance on her kira, Esperanza Malchi. A kira was a non-Muslim woman (typically Jewish) who acted as an intermediary between a secluded woman of the harem and the outside world serving as a business agent and secretary. Safiye also maintained good relations with England. She persuaded Mehmed III to let the English ambassador accompany him on campaign in Hungary. One unique aspect of her career is that she corresponded personally with Queen Elizabeth I of England volunteering to petition the Sultan on Elizabeth’s behalf. The two women also exchanged gifts and letters. This exchange of letters and gifts between Safiye and Elizabeth presented an interesting gender dynamic to their political relationship. In juxtaposition to the traditional means of exchanging women in order to secure diplomatic, economic, or military alliances Elizabeth and Safiye’s exchange put them in the position of power rather than the objects of exchange.
3) Kosem Sultan. Kosem rose to prominence early in Ahmed’s reign. Kosem was considered his favorite consort and gave birth to many of his children. During her time as Vilade sultan she received 1,000 aspers a day. As the mother to a number of princesses she had the right to arrange their marriages which were of political use. Kosem came in power again when her son ascended to the throne on 10 September 1623 as Murad IV. Since her son was a minor, she was appointed not only as a Valide Sultan but also, as an official regent (naib-i-sultanat). During most of Murad IV’s reign she essentially ruled through him and effectively ran the empire attending meetings of the divan (cabinet) from behind a curtain even after 1632 when she was no longer regent.
After Murad’s death Ibrahim was left the sole surviving prince of the dynasty. Upon being asked by the Grand Vizier Kemanke? Kara Mustafa Pasha to assume the Sultanate,This enabled Kosem to continue in power.
Mehmed IV With Mehmed’s ascendancy the position of Valide Sultan should have gone to his mother Turhan Hatice Sultan. However Turhan was overlooked due to her youth and inexperience, Instead Kosem Sultan was reinstated to this high position as Vilade Sultan.
4) Hurrem Sultan. Hurrem became Suleman’s partner not only in the Sultan’s household but also in state affairs. Thanks to her intelligence she acted as Suleman’s chief adviser on matters of state and seems to have had an influence upon foreign policy and international politics. She frequently accompanied him as a political adviser. Hurrem’s influence on Suleman was so significant that rumors circulated around the Ottoman court that the sultan had been bewitched. Her influence with Suleman made her one of the most powerful women in Ottoman history and in the world at that time. Even as a consort her power was comparable with the most powerful woman of the Imperial. Harem who by tradition was the Sultan’s mother or valide sultan. For this reason she has become a controversial figure in Ottoman history subject to allegations of plotting against and manipulating her political rivals.
e. Ottoman Naval Defeat At Lepanto. The Battle of Lepanto was a naval engagement that took place on 7 October 1571 where a fleet of the Holy League, led by the Venetian Republic and the Spanish Empire, inflicted a major defeat on the fleet of the Ottoman Empire in the Gulf of Patras. The Ottoman forces were sailing westward from their naval station in Lepanto. Ottoman when they met the fleet of the Holy League which was sailing east from Messina, Sicily. The Holy League was a coalition of European Catholic maritime states which were arranged by Pope Pius V and led by John of Austria. The league was largely financed by Philip II of Spain, and the Venetian Republic was the main contributor of ships. It was the largest naval battle in Western history since classical antiquity, involving more than 400 warships.The victory of the Holy League is of great importance in the history of Europe and of the Ottoman Empire, marking the turning-point of Ottoman military expansion into the Mediterranean. Some historians also point outs that the Ottoman naval defeat at Lepanto in 1571 and the failure of the second siege of Vienna in 1683 as the beginning of the “decline” of the Ottoman Empire. This argument can be understood, because during the previous era, the Ottoman Empire was very famous with its army and naval power which often got victory in the war among others.
f. Modernization of education in Ottoman Empire. The modernization of education in the Ottoman Empire was a project of long standing. The sultans Selim III (1789-1807) and Mahmud II (1808-1839) were among the earliest rulers to concern themselves with the matter but it was during the Taanzimat Era (1839- 1876) that efforts at modernizing education reached a peak in the Empire largely due to the work of intellectual and political figures
such as Mustafa Resit Pasa , Ali Pasa and Fuat Pasa under the protection of Sultan Abdul Mecit I . The modernization trend continued during the reign of Sultan Abdulhamid II (1876-1909) but here more emphasis was placed on Islamic morality and discipline. The word Tanzimat means “regulations” in Turkish. Many sectors of national development came in for regulation at this time while a considerable number of Western-inspired political and social reforms were introduced in an effort to modernize the Ottoman Empire. Modernization in education specifically refers in this context to attempts at redesigning the educational system in the Empire so that it might be compatible with the state’s priorities. Western advances particularly in education drove this effort at modernization. Thus modernization of Education in Ottoman Empire could be seen as Westernization in education.
g. Janissary Army. Janissary also spelled Janizary Turkish Yeniceri (New Soldier or Troop) member of an elite corps in the standing army of the Ottoman Empire from the late 14th century to 1826. Highly respected for their military prowess in the 15th and 16th centuries the Janissaries became a powerful political force within the Ottoman state. The Janissary corps was originally staffed by Christian youths from the Balkan provinces who were converted to Islam on being drafted into the Ottoman service. Subject to strict rules, including celibacy, they were organized into three unequal divisions (cemaat, bolukhalk?, segban) and commanded by an aga. In the late 16th century the celibacy rule and other restrictions were relaxed and by the early 18th century the original method of recruitment was abandoned. The Janissaries frequently engineered palace coups in the 17th and 18th centuries, and in the early 19th century they resisted the adoption of European reforms by the army. Their end came in June 1826 in the so-called Auspicious Incident. On learning of the formation of new, westernized troops, the Janissaries revolted. Sultan Mahmud II declared war on the rebels and, on their refusal to surrender, had cannon fire directed on their barracks. Most of the Janissaries were killed, and those who were taken prisoner were executed.
h. Ottoman Russain War. The early Russo-Turkish Wars were mostly sparked by Russia’s attempts to establish a warm-water port on the Black Sea which lay in Turkish hands. The first war (1676–81) was fought without success in Ukraine west of the Dnieper River by Russia which renewed the war with failed invasions of Crimeain 1687 and 1689. In the war of 1695–96, the Russian tsar Peter I the Great’s forces succeeded in capturing the fortress of Azov. In 1710 Turkey entered the Northern War against Russia and after Peter the Great’s attempt to liberate the Balkans from Ottoman rule ended in defeat at the Prut River (1711) he was forced to return Azov to Turkey. War again broke out in 1735 with Russia and Austria in alliance against Turkey. The Russians successfully invaded Turkish-held Moldavia but their Austrian allies were defeated in the field and as a result the Russians obtained almost nothing in the Treaty of Belgrade (September 18 1739).
The first major Russo-Turkish War (1768–74) began after Turkey demanded that Russia’s ruler Catherine II the Great abstain from interfering in Poland’s internal affairs. The Russians went on to win impressive victories over the Turks. They captured Azov, Crimea, and Bessarabia and under Field Marshal P.A. Rumyantsev they overran Moldavia and also defeated the Turks in Bulgaria. The Turks were compelled to seek peace which was concluded in the Treaty of Kucuk Kaynarca (July 21, 1774). This treaty made the Crimean khanate independent of the Turkish sultan advanced the Russian frontier southward to the Southern (Pivdennyy) Buh River gave Russia the right to maintain a fleet on the Black Sea and assigned Russia vague rights of protection over the Ottoman sultan’s Christian subjects throughout the Balkans.
Russia was now in a much stronger position to expand, and in 1783 Catherine annexed the Crimean Peninsula outright. War broke out in 1787, with Austria again on the side of Russia (until 1791). Under General A.V. Suvorov the Russians won several victories that gave them control of the lower Dniester and Danube rivers and further Russian successes compelled the Turks to sign the Treaty of Jassy(Ia?i) on January 9, 1792. By this treaty Turkey ceded the entire western Ukrainian Black Sea coast (from the Kerch Strait westward to the mouth of the Dniester) to Russia.
When Turkey deposed the Russophile governors of Moldavia and Walachia in 1806, war broke out again though in a desultory fashion since Russia was reluctant to concentrate large forces against Turkey while its relations with Napoleonic France were so uncertain. But in 1811, with the prospect of a Franco-Russian war in sight Russia sought a quick decision on its southern frontier. The Russian field marshal M.I. Kutuzov’s victorious campaign of 1811–12 forced the Turks to cede Bessarabia to Russia by the Treaty of Bucharest (May 28, 1812).
Russia had by now secured the entire northern coast of the Black Sea. Its subsequent wars with Turkey were fought to gain influence in the Ottoman Balkans, win control of the Dardanelles and Bosporus straits, and expand into the Caucasus. The Greeks’ struggle for independence sparked the Russo-Turkish War of 1828–29, in which Russian forces advanced into Bulgaria, the Caucasus, and northeastern Anatolia itself before the Turks sued for peace. The resulting Treaty of Edirne (September 14, 1829) gave Russia most of the eastern shore of the Black Sea and Turkey recognized Russian sovereignty over Georgia and parts of present-day Armenia.
The war of 1853–56 known as the Crimean War, began after the Russian emperor Nicholas I tried to obtain further concessions from Turkey. Great Britain and France entered the conflict on Turkey’s side in 1854, however, and the Treaty of Paris (March 30, 1856) that ended the war was a serious diplomatic setback for Russia, though involving few territorial concessions.
The last Russo-Turkish War (1877–78) was also the most important one. In 1877 Russia and its ally Serbia came to the aid of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Bulgaria in their rebellions against Turkish rule. The Russians attacked through Bulgaria and after successfully concluding the Siege of Pleventhey advanced into Thrace taking Adrianople (now Edirne, Tur) in January 1878. In March of that year Russia concluded the Treaty of San Stefano with Turkey. This treaty freed Romania, Serbia, and Montenegro from Turkish rule, gave autonomy to Bosnia and Herzegovina, and created a huge autonomous Bulgaria under Russian protection. Britain and Austria-Hungary, alarmed by the Russian gains contained in the treaty, compelled Russia to accept the Treaty of Berlin (July 1878), whereby Russia’s military-political gains from the war were severely restricted.
i. The Ottoman Empire’s inability to Industrialize.