Lecture 15 – The Ottoman Empire in the Middle East, 15171921
• Chronology: Premodern, modern and contemporary
o 400 years under Ottoman rule
o 100 years of Arab, Turkish and Iranian independent states in the Middle
o The last 50 years
• Introduction to the Ottoman Conquest
o After 400 years of living as partthf the Ottoman Empire the Middle East
has been broken again in the 20 century into its fundamental geographic
and ethnic components; Arabs, Turks and Iranians, all sharing one
o The approach here is one of continuity
As medieval Islamic societies transform themselves into the pre
modern, modern, then contemporary Middle Eastern societies
o Middle East is currently divided into independent states
o There are common denominations to the region nit there is no political
Is there cultural unity?
o In fact the dividing issues are as numerous of the ones which unite its
states, minorities, linguistics, religious, physical resources and geographic
o They have common history as well as cultural heritage which this history
gives to the people of the Middle East
Does it give them the sense of belonging together?
• Was the Middle East unified before the arrival of the Ottomans?
o This will be significant when we evaluate the impact of the Ottoman
o Did the Ottoman conquest unify the Middle East?
o By the time of the conquest, the Middle East has already embedded
political units with definitive geographical units
o Was the Ottoman Empire the cause of the Middle Eastern decline?
Need to measure and evaluate the role of this prolonged rule over
the current situation
• Additional Methodological Observations
o Looking for patterns of Islamic history:
Global versus regional
Cultural patterns: were Islamic societies dynamic, pluralistic, or
were they dogmatic and stagnating?
Did ideas circulate freely?
His did they create a culture from the top or the bottom?
Were they equal in wealth distribution?
o What were its economic achievements and did they ensure progress or
Urbanization? Status of women? Religious tolerance? o Elements of unity and variety: geographical conditions, ethnicity, religion,
o The question of the political institutions: how accessible, how
authoritarian, local politicization
• Most important issues:
o 1. There will be some major themes running through the discussions of
this period: Secularization and Westernization are the more important
ones, but are they the determinant issues in the Middle East today?
o 2. The rise of Nationalism and its transformed into military dictatorships
o 3. Economic developments or lack thereof
• Be aware of the Historical Sources
o Plenty of primary sources available
o In additional to local Turkish sources, chronicles, court documents,
administrative legislation and accounts of taxes and production
o There are Ottoman, European and local communities archives
o Large amount of Western sources: diplomatic reports, journals,
newspapers, parliamentary discussions, etc.
• The Ottoman Empire and It’s Glory
The Seljuks and the Ghazi state
Fighting the Byzantines
Fighting the Mongols
The Turks were a confederation of nomadic tribes Turcoman
coming from East of the Caspian Sea
By the 10 century they have converted to Islam through the
influence of holy men, merchants or prisoners that they have taken.
They were encouraged by the Seljuk government in Baghdad to
raid the Eastern provinces of the Byzantine Empire
In 1070 in the Battle of Manzikert they defeated the Byzantine
army and opened to the road to Anatolia (Turkey)
• Triggered the Crusades
• 1. “Turkification”
• 2. Conversion to Islam
• 3. Ethnic migration
• Processes began to occur with the first Turcoman kingdom
established in Anatolia which lasted until 1243
• Sending nomads westward to occupy and control further
stretches of land. After the defeat of the Mongols they
created several Turcoman Ghazi principalities led by Sufi
• Migration process is in full force
o First Ottoman Emirate Founded in the northwest of Anatolia, the emirate of Osman was
established and remained strong defeating al its neighbours
By the 13 century Osman is in constant war with the Byzantine
Empire holding territories in Anatolia
o The Black Death, which hit the region by the middle of the 14th century
further, diminished the resistance of the local population. The “Osmanic”
state, later to become the Ottoman state, began to show migration of
cadres and implementing administrative measures, elements which are
going to be useful later
o Mongol invasion between 14021413 disrupts the process
o By the time the Ottomans conquered Constantinople in 1453, the
Byzantine empire was nothing but a series of villages and in total
administration and economic collapse and disintegration
Ottomans bring some powerful traditions
o “Step” traditions from Central Asia which dictates that rulership is to
remain within the family
o Ghazi: “raider”, ideal for conquering land and taking it away from infidels
o High Islam: Persian traditions, administration, social institutions, religious
• Conquests in Europe and the Middle East
o Conquest of Balkans, Vienna, Poland
o Conquest of Egypt, Irth, North Africa