History had been greatly shaped and dominated by reputable and infamous empires. The societies that man belongs today would not be as organized and efficient if not molded by the traditional empires of the pre-historic era.
The footmarks left by those empires are immortalized in history textbooks, or yet remains integrated to the nation it once governed. An unparalleled empire of its own time, that is how the Ottoman Empire is coined. The Ottoman Empire indeed had a glorious rise, but also an undeniably ignoble fall, making it the unparalleled Sick Man of Europe.The Ottoman Empire or Turkey as what is known today was founded by Osman I around 1307. He expanded his Ghazi territory and upon his death, his son, Orkhan, captured Bursa and made it his capital. Subsequent rulers continued the expansion and the rulers had assumed the title of Sultan.
The Ottoman empire spread into Asia minor, conquered parts of North Africa and Europe, and encompassed most of the Middle East. In the Middle East, the Ottomans ruled Syria, Palestine, Egypt, Iraq, and some places in Arabia.It was only Persia, now called Iran, and the Eastern part of the Arabian Peninsula which remained free from Ottoman rule ( The Ottomans. org).
The Ottoman Empire had an undeniably chivalrous and glorious rise, and can be attributed to three major reasons. First is the big opportunity it possessed during the 13th century. It was very timely and fortunate for the Ottoman Empire to arrive when the Byzantine Empire was in deterioration. Asia Minor was weak at the moment and thus fell under conquest, while Europeans’ were slow to unite against the Ottomans.They took advantage of the divisive political squabbles of the Italian and European principalities.
Furthermore, the Ottomans were fierce and valiant fighters. They supplemented their Muslim troops with exemplary converted Christian slaves turned troops. They call this elite army the Yeni Chery or Janissaries. Primarily, the Ottoman empire remained the world's only superpower at its time because of its standing army for hundreds of years.
Second, Ottoman Empire had greatly risen due to its leaders’ strong envision of merits. Power, religious fervor, and sustainability, could be attributed as the motives for conquest.They needed to have a system that relied on expansion to sustain and perpetuate itself. The progress of the empire continued to be grand and explosive. It was Sultan Mohamad II who conquered Constantinople, which put an end to the Roman Empire in 1453.
Sultan Suleiman conquered modern Yugoslavia and Hungary afterwards. The empire integrated itself to become a significant part of the European politics and entered into military alliances as well. It was the empire’s third strategy; to become a facsimile of a politically powerful and dominating empire.During the Ottoman empire’s so-called tyranny, leaders built a bureaucratic centralized state.
But due to poor means of communications and transport, the state had become vulnerable. The transmission of messages or orders to remote outposts was meager, for an adequate system of roads and relay messengers were not developed. In addition, local administrators can have their own interpretation of the laws. Moreover, the offering of bribes were also open in the society. The empire also relied on slavery, which is accomplished either by conquest or purchase of African slave traders.But they tend to spend more money than gain revenue so they could not fund their gallant army with their agriculture-based economy.
As a result, they turned into expansion and more slave imports as a solution. Thus, they controlled the spice routes in Central Asia and they also benefited from the revival of European commerce. The Ottoman empire controlled lands with an embracing wealth in natural resources, but disappointingly they did not develop to an extensive industry. The economy could not prosper much for even mere banks could not develop because the Muslims’ highly prohibit interest schemes.Industrial revolution and modernity is not well-embraced by the society.
Because of its stagnant lifestyle, it had a stagnant economy as well. They did not afford expensive purchases of weaponry for its army, which lead them to eventually become bankrupt (MidEastWeb for Coexistence R. A - Middle East Resources). Ottoman power was put to a bigger test when the siege of Vienna failed in 1863.
The empire progressed negatively due to corruption and poor judgment of the Sultans. Furthermore, the Janissaries became corrupt and ineffective soldiers.They used their power to dictate political affairs instead of promoting order in the empire. The victories of Napoleon at the beginning of the 19th century served as the wake up call. Several attempts were made to reform the empire, but it was just headed into deceleration. The Ottomans lost Egypt , Greece, Serbia and other territories in the 19th century.
Attempted reforms, such as the Tanizmat, which aimed to raise new taxes, failed. Other attempts of modernization, like engaging into banking, investment of capitals, also failed (MidEastWeb for Coexistence R. A - Middle East Resources).With all the data provided, the gist is that the empire’s stagnation paved its way to its disintegration. What was innovative in 1300 was already inefficient by 1700. The empire fell under the financial control of the Europe and had lost its territories in a series of wars.
The society remained frozen in time and did not cope with the changing and progressing world. The Ottoman Empire had fallen into a state of decrepitude, and will always be the original Sick Man of Europe, no matter how glorious its origin was.