Land Empires in the Age of Imperialism,
I0. The Ottoman Empire
A0. Egypt and the Napoleonic Example, 1798–1840
10. In 1798, Napoleon invaded Egypt and defeated the Mamluk forces he
encountered there. Fifteen months later, after a series of military defeats,
Napoleon returned to France, seized power, and made himself emperor.
20. His generals had little hope of holding on to power and, in 1801, agreed to
withdraw. Muhammad Ali emerged as the victor in the ensuing power struggle.
30. Muhammad Ali used many French practices in effort to build up the new
40. He established schools to train modern military officers and built factories to
supply his new army.
50. In the 1830s his son Ibrahim invaded Syria and started a similar set of reforms
60. European military pressure forced Muhammad Ali to withdraw in 1841 to the
present day borders of Egypt and Israel.
70. Muhammad Ali remained Egypt's ruler until 1849 and his family held onto
power until 1952.
B0. Ottoman Reform and the European Model, 1807-1853
10. At the end of the eighteenth century Sultan Selim III introduced reforms to
strengthen the military and the central government and to standardize taxation
and land tenure. These reforms aroused the opposition of Janissaries, noblemen,
and the ulama.
20. Tension between the Sultanate and the Janissaries sparked a Janissary revolt in
Serbia in 1805. Serbian peasants helped to defeat the Janissary uprising and went
on to make Serbia independent of the Ottoman Empire.
30. Selim suspended his reform program in 1806, too late to prevent a massive
military uprising in Istanbul in which Selim was captured and executed before
reform forces could retake the capital.
40. The Greeks gained independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1829. Britain,
France, and Russia assisted the Greeks in their struggle for independence and
regarded the Greek victory as a triumph of European civilization.
50. Sultan Mahmud II believed that the loss of Greece indicated a profound
weakness in Ottoman military and financial organization. Mahmud used popular
outrage over the loss of Greece to justify a series of reforms that included the
creation of a new army corps, elimination of the Janissaries, and reduction of the
political power of the religious elite. Mahmud’s secularizing reform program
was further articulated in the Tanzimat (restructuring) reforms initiated by his
successor Abdul Mejid in 1839.
60. Military cadets were sent to France and Germany for training, and reform of
Ottoman military education became the model for general educational reforms in
which foreign subjects were taught, foreign instructors were employed, and French became the preferred language in all advanced scientific and professional
70. Educational reform stimulated growth of the wealth and influence of urban
elites. The reforms also brought about unexpected cultural and social effects that
ranged from the introduction of European clothing styles to the equal access to
the courts for all male subjects to equalization of taxation.
80. The public rights and political participation granted during the Tanzimat were
explicitly restricted to men. The reforms decreased the influence of women,
while at the same time the development of a cash economy and competitive labor
market drove women from the work force.
C0. The Crimean War and its Aftermath, 1853–1856
10. Russia’s southward expansion at the expense of the Ottoman Empire led to the
Crimean War. An alliance of Britain, France and the Ottoman Empire defeated
Russia and thus blocked Russian expansion into Eastern Europe and the Middle
20. The Crimean War brought significant changes to all combatants. The Russian
government was further discredited and forced into making further reforms,
Britain and France carried out extensive propaganda campaigns that emphasized
their roles in the war, and the French press promoted a sense of unity between
Turkish and French society.
30. The Crimean War marked the transition from traditional to modern warfare. The
percussion caps and breech-loading rifles that were used in the Crimean War
were the beginning of a series of subsequent changes in military technology that
included the invention of machine guns, the use of railways to transfer weapons
and men, and trench warfare.
40. After the Crimean War the Ottoman Empire continued to establish secular
financial and commercial institutions on the European model. These reforms
contributed to a shift of population from rural to urban areas and the
development of professional and wage laborer classes, but they did not solve the
regime’s fiscal problems.
50. Problems associated with the reforms included the Ottoman state’s dependence
on foreign loans, a trade deficit, and inflation. In the 1860s and 1870s discussion
of a law that would have permitted all men to vote left Muslims worried that the
Ottoman Empire was no longer a Muslim society. This worry may have
contributed to Muslim hostilities against Christians in the Ottoman territories in
Europe, Armenia, and the Middle East.
60. The decline of Ottoman power and wealth inspired a group of educated urban
men known as the Young Ottomans to band together to work for
constitutionalism, liberal reform, and the creation of a Turkish national state in
place of the Ottoman Empire. A constitution was granted in 1876, but a coup
soon placed a more conservative ruler on the throne; the Ottoman Empire thus
continued its weakened existence under the sponsorship of the Western powers
II0. The Russian Empire
A0. Russia and Europe
10. In 1700, only three percent of the Russian population lived in cities and Russia
was slow to acquire a modern infrastructure and modern forms of transportation.