Ottoman Empire(ot'umun),vast state founded in the 13th century by Turkish tribes in Anatolia and ruled by the descendants of Osam I until it's dissolution in 1918, modern tukey formed only part of the empire, but the terms "Turkey" and "Ottoman Empire" were often used interchangeably.

In the Beginning

From prehistoric times a constellation of people had been migrating throughout Central Asia in the area between Pamir and Yenissei, the Volga and the T'ien Shan Mountains. From this loose collection of people sprang communities speaking FinnoUgric, Turkish and Mongolian languages. Later, at the time of Christ's birth and mainly through Chinese sources, the first Prototurkic people in Western and Northwestern China are recorded. They were the ancestors of today's Turks. Neighbors of the Mongols and probably related to them, they were a nomadic equestrian people who were more mobile than the other people scattered across the Asian continent at the time. The first historical references to the Turks appear in Chinese records dating around 200 B.C.E. These records refer to tribes called the Hsiung-nu (an early form of the Western term Hun ).

The Ottoman state rose to become a world empire, which lasted from the late 13th century to 1923. Like that of the Habsburgs, its eventual rival, the Ottoman Empire was dynastic; its territories and character owed little to national, ethnic or religious boundaries, and were determined by the military and administrative power of the dynasty at any particular time. The Ottomans attempted to bring as much territory as possible into the Islamic fold. The non-Muslims living in these areas were then absorbed into the Empire as protected subjects.
Ottoman time line map

Ottoman Empire Time line

The Empire

Bey- A provincial governer in the Ottoman Empire, (formerly) a title of respect for Turkish dignataries.
Sultan-The sovereign of an Islamic country
Caliph- A spiritual leader of Islam, claiming succession from Muhammed.

The Pax Ottomanica

The period of Suleiman the Magnificent is known as the "Pax Ottomanica." Suleiman the Magnificent is regarded by many Muslims as the near-perfect ruler. Named after King Solomon, whose rule the Qur'an extols, he is reputed to have ruled justly and humanely. He was also a renowned poet and patron of the arts. His architect, Sinan, built some of the most significant mosques, famously the Suleymaniye Mosque as well as public buildings in Islamic history. Suleiman also rebuilt the walls of Jeruselem, which survive to this day. He codified Ottoman law, which, based on the Hanafi view where Shariah has no explicit ruling, the Sultan can use qiyas or analogy to extend the law, and virtually replaced Islamic Law with kanum. These rules covered taxation and regulation of the military. Both Mongol and Turk tradition understood the rulers' law as sacred. However, the law was far from arbitrary—it was impersonal and was generally administered impartially regardless of gender, religion, ethnicity, or social status (see Gerber, 1994). Jews and Christians often preferred to take their cases to the qadis (Muslim judges), even though they did not have to, because of the qadis reputation for fairness. Technically, the Caliph is subject to Shariah and during Ottoman history several were removed for allegedly violating Shariah—Ibrahim I (1648) who was probably mad, Mehmed IV (1687), Selim III (1807), and Ahmed III (1731).

external image 108.gifThe Mehterhane, or military band coprs, had long been a distinctive feature of the Ottoman Army.Mehterhane bands normally stood ina crescent formation.The kös player stood slightly forward,like a star within this crescent Before the band started to play a junior sergeant stepped forward and called "Attention Mehterbaşı Aga, it is time for happiness and fun".The concert then began with the Mehterbasi shouting "Haydi Ya Allah!" - "Attention, let's go.
The history of Mehter that (which is) considered as the oldest military of the world, reaches to Orhun inscriptions that are the oldest written sources of Turkish history from VIIth century. Mehter, today, is a splended monument of Turkish heroism and understanding of domination reaching to universal dimensions. The first military band of the World history carries the emotive rhytms of ancient Turkish music to the present time.
external image 03.gifThe clothing of Mehter has the distinct characteristics and beauty with regard to its color and cut. It's possible to see all the colors on their costumes. The instruments used are shrill pipe,pipe,kos drum, kettle drum,bell and human voice.
Mehter, considered as the beginning of the history of military music and the founder of world's military bands, today, continues its actions in the constitution of Istanbul Military Museum and Culturel Center which belongs to the General Staff.
Mehter, attracting the interest of the whole World with itsconcerts in the country and abroad, continues its presence and effective power today and keeps its lovely place in the hearth of Turkish Republic.

Naval Power

In addition to gaining considerable territory, the empire extended its influence at sea. Selim I conquered the Safavid Empire, only to lose it soon after; the Safavids later defeated and conquered the Ottomans and captured Baghdad. It established a navy in the Red Sea that succeeded, at least for a time, in countering Portuguese influence on the spice trade. During this period, the empire vied with the emerging European colonial powers in the Indian Ocean. Fleets with soldiers and arms were sent to support Muslim rulers in Kenya and Kech and to defend the Ottoman spice and slave trade. In Aceh, the Ottomans built a fortress and supplied huge cannons. The Dutch Protestants were helped by the Ottomans against Catholic Spain. The Ottoman navy also had much influence in the Mediterranean Sea, and trade flourished because of the stability afforded to shipping lanes.
Enver Pasha was born in Apana in 1881. Commissioned in the Turkish Army and received some of his training with the German Army. While serving in the Salonika garrison he developed ideas on how the Ottoman Empire could be modernized. In 1908 Pasha was one of the three main leaders of the Young Turks that rebelled against the rule of Sultan Abdual Hamid.
Pasha considered forming a military alliance with Britain but after a meeting with Winston Churchhill in 1910 he decided to see the military support of the German Army. By 1914 Turkey had clearly aligned itself with the Central Powers.
On the outbreak of the first world war. Pasha became Minister of War and assumed field command for the Turkish campaign against the Russians in Caucasia. Enver launched an un prepared offensive in the winter of 1914-15 against the Russians in the caucasus vainly hoping that an impressive demonstration of Ottoman stregnth there would incite an insurrection among the tsar's Turkish-speaking subjects. In guiding his government toward alignment with Germany, Enver was able to play on fear of the traditional Ottoman enemy, Russia, the ally of Britain and France in the war.
In Mesopotamia the Ottoman army defeated a British expeditionary force that had marched on Baghdad from a base established at Basra in 1915. The British mounted a new offensive in 1917, taking Baghdad and driving Ottoman forces out of Mesopotamia.
In eastern Anatolia, Russian armies won a series of battles that carried their control west to Erzincan by July 1916, although Atatürk, who was then given command of the eastern front, led a counteroffensive that checked the Russian advance. Russia left the war after the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917. The new Russian government concluded the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk with the Central Powers in March 1918, under which the Ottoman Empire regained its eastern provinces.
In four years of war, the Ottoman Empire had mobilized about 2.8 million men, of whom about 325,000 were killed in battle. In addition, more than 2 million civilians, including both Turks and Armenians, are believed to have died of war-related causes. When Turkey was defeated in 1918 Pasha fled to Turkestan. Enver Pasha was killed in 1922 while leading an anti-Bolshevik revolt in Turkestan.
The First Capital of Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman province of Hüdavendigar
When the Seljuks commenced their conquest of Anatolia from 1071 onwards, they began settling their new lands with Turkish tribes from further east. When the Seljuk Empire weakened and began to fall apart in the thirteenth century, numerous small Turkish principalities sprang up, one of which was the Ottoman Beylik in northwest Anatolia. The Ottomans expanded rapidly as they conquered additional lands from the Byzantines.
A Picture from Ancient Bursa
A Picture from Ancient Bursa
Founder of the Ottoman Beylik was Osman Bey, who was born in the town of Söğüt in Bithynia in 1258. In 1299 he conquered Bilecik, Yenikent, İnegöl and İznik, and this is the year regarded as the founding of the Ottoman Empire, which was to survive for over six hundred years. As Osman Gazi gained in strength, the Byzantine governor of Bursa Atranos sought assistance from the governors of Kestel and Kite. Their united army joined battle against the Ottomans at Koyunhisar in 1301. The Ottomans were victorious.Osman Bey resolved to take Bursa, and began preparations to besiege the city in 1317. First he had to cut off its link to the sea, for which purpose he built a fort near Kaplıca and appointed his nephew Ak Timur its commander. His slave Balabancık was given command of a second fort in the mountains behind Bursa., so cutting off access to the city on either side. The Turks then demolished the fort of Atranos Beyce and made their encampment at Pınarbaşı. Leaving the command of the army to his son Orhan Bey, Osman Gazi returned to Yenikent.
A Picture from Ancient Bursa
A Picture from Ancient Bursa
The siege lasted eight years, and meanwhile Osman Gazi fell seriously ill and could no longer fight. He ordered his son Orhan Gazi to take Bursa, and Orhan began by taking Evrenos Fortress. The governor of the fortress fled into the rnöuntains. Orhan Gazi sent Mihal Bey to the governor of Bursa demanding his surrender. The governor sent a gift of precious clothes and forty thousand gold sovereigns as a gesture of submission, and after consıilting his father Orhan Gazi allowed the governor to leave the city with his family and entourage. They made their way to Gemlik on the coast and sailed for Istanbul. In 1326 ' the Turkish army entered Bursa.

This news reached Osman Gazi on his deathbed, and he died happy in the knowledge that his greatest goal had been achieved. The capture of Bursa marked a turning point for the Ottoman Empire. Orhan bin Osman, who had been born in 1281, the year that his grandfather Ertuğrul Gazi died, was now the second Ottoman sultan. Orhan Gazi's elder brother one day advised him to do three things. The first was to strike coins in his name, the second was to wear clothing which would distinguish him from his subjects, and the third was to form an army of infantry soldiers to be paid out of the treasury. Previously coins had been struck in the name of the Seljuk sultans, but in 1328, following his brother's advice, Orhan Gazi became the first Ottoman sultan to mint his own coins. He also introduced white uniforms for his soldiers, in place of their former red and black apparel.
A Picture from Ancient Bursa
A Picture from Ancient Bursa
In 1335 Bursa became the first Ottoman capital. Orhan Gazi ruled for nearly 35 years until his death in 1360. He was succeeded by his son Murad, who had been born in 1326. Sultan Murad Han bin Orhan bin Osman Gazi was the third Ottoman sultan, and became known by the cognomen Hüdavendigar.

In 1362Murad captured the city of Edirne (Adrianople). One night Murad Hüdavendigar dreamed that a white bearded man with a radiant face told him to build a palace in Edirne. A great palace was immediately built and in 1363 the Ottoman capital moved from Bursa to Edirne, although Bursa retained its spiritual and economic importance.
In 1399 Bayezid Yıldırım (the Thunderbolt) founded a hospital in Bursa where the hot mineral springs of the city featured largely in the treatment of patients. When Timur's armies captured Bursa in 1402, they destroyed and burnt many of the medreses (colleges), mosques and other monuments of the city. In 1429 further disaster struck, this time in the form of plague which decimated the population. In 1482, when Cem Sultan was fighting for the throne against his brother Bayezid, he ruled in Bursa for just eighteen days, but in this brief time struck coins in his name. In the battle against the army of his brother Bayezid II, Cem's forces were defeated and he fled the city.

Hadrianopolis becomes Edirne
A Picture of Ancient Edirne
A Picture of Ancient Edirne
One night in 1354 Süleyman Bey took the fortress of Kallipolis, opening the way for the Ottoman advance into Thrace. In 1360 under Orhan Gazi's successor Murad I (1359-1389) Turkish forces conquered Didymotheikos. Murad I set his sights on expanding Ottoman territory into Europe, and quickly took Sultan, Çorlu and Keşan in western Thrace. He charged Lala Şahin Paşa with the conquest of Hadrianopolis, and together with another Turkish commander Hacı İlbeyi the city was captured from the Byzantines in July 1362.

In the fetihname (declaration of conquest) sent by Murad I to Üveys Han, ruler of the Turkish Celayirli principality, Hadrianople is referred to as Edirne. In 1363 Murad I paid a visit to his new city, and appointed Lala Şahin Paşa commander of the garrison. Edirne became a crucial military base for subsequent territorial conquests by the Turks in Rumelia (Land of the Romans) as they called the Balkans and Thrace. The following year the Battle of Sırpsındığı was fought 25 km west of Edirne against a joint army of Serbs, Wallachians and Hungarians. One night Sultan Murad had a dream in which he was conversing with a wise, white bearded old man, who advised him to build a palace in Edirne. Murad I took heed of this dream and constıucted himself a large palace beside the river.
The Ottoman Dar-ül Mülk
Following the conquest large numbers of Turks began to settle in Edirne, which was proclaimed the Ottoman capital in 1365, marking a new chapter in its history. It was from here that Sultan Bayezid I (1389-1403) commanded the first Turkish siege of Constantinople.
A Picture of Ancient Edirne
A Picture of Ancient Edirne
After the death of Yıldırım Bayezid I, the empire was torn apart by a decade of strife between his sons who all laid claim to the throne. During the interregnum, which lasted from 1403 to 1413, Edirne acquired even more importance. Bayezid's eldest son Emir Süleyman Çelebi moved the state treasury from Bursa to Edirne, where he declared himself sultan. In 1411, his brother Musa Çelebi, with the help of the voyvode of Wallachia, attacked the city and seized it from his brother. Musa Çelebi struck coins in his own name. In 1413 Mehmed I Çelebi (1413-1421) reunited the country and took Edirne from his brother.

In 1419, another claimant to the throne made a sudden appearance, declaring himself to be Mustafa Çelebi (Mustafa the Pretender), the son of Bayezid I who had disappeared at the Battle of Ankara against Tamerlane. Gathering an army of supporters he captured Edirne and struck money in his name. Later he marched into Anatolia, but was defeated by Murad II (1421-1451) near Bursa. Mustafa Çelebi, who had made off with his father's treasury but been waylaid on his way to Wallachia, was brought back to Edirne in 1442 and executed. The first public festival was held in the city in the wake of this event.
Murad II also held magnifıcent celebrations in Edirne upon the circumcision of his sons Alaeddin and Mehmed. In 1444 Murad II abdicated in favour of his son Mehmed so as to lead a life of peaceful retirement in Manisa. Mehmed II was the first Ottoman sultan whose accession took place in Edirne after the city became the Ottoman capital. The future Mehmed the Conqueror was just a child of 12 when his father entrusted him with the throne, but Murad II's retirement did not last long. When a crusader army gathered against the Ottoman Empire he was obliged to return to Edirne and resume leadership of the army against the enemy.
Murad II crushed the enemy at Varna, and attempted again to leave the country to his son, but this time the janissaries mutinied, and he had to return to Edirne again to take up his throne for the third time. Only upon his death on 5 February 1451 did his son Mehmed II (1451-1481) finally rule independently. This young man of 19 had a very important goal ahead of him, to take Constantinople, and he began his preparations in Edirne.
Constantinople becomes capital
A Picture of Ancient Edirne
A Picture of Ancient Edirne
Mehmed II achieved his greatest ambition in 1453. In a final attack on the morning of 29 May, the landward walls of Constantinople were breached. That day the young sultan, rode into the city and performed his prayers in the great church of Haghia Sophia. He was to go down in history as Fatih Sultan Mehmed, Mehmed the Conqueror. Constantinople became the third Ottoman capital, but Edirne was not pushed altogether into the background, and was the scene of many important events in the empire's subsequent history. Mehmed II's son Bayezid II (1481-1512) had Gedik Ahmed Paşa executed at Edirne Palace, and it was here that the struggle with his son Selim for the throne took place.

Edirne was the main military base for all the sixteenth century campaigns of conquest westwards into Europe, and in consequence the sultans spent much of their time in the palace there. So Edirne was effectively the seat of government for much of that time, enjoying the attention that this brought. Yavuz Sultan Selim I (1512-1520), Süleyman I the Magnificent (1520-15ü6) and Selim II (1566-1574) all founded public buildings here.

The last Capital of the Ottoman Empire (1453 - 1923)
In the attack launched on the morning of 29 May the land walls were breached at Topkapı (not the palace of that name but a city gate several kilometres to the west). The same day Mehmed II entered the city on horseback and performed his prayers in the church of Haghia Sophia. In accordance with Ottoman tradition the city's cathedral was converted into a mosque. The church of the Holy Apostles and numerous others remained as churches for the time being. Thereafter Mehmed II was known as Fatih, or the Conqueror.
A Picture of Ancient Istanbul
A Picture of Ancient Istanbul
The Byzantine Great Palace which had stood between Haghia Sophia and the Hippodrome had been looted and razed during the Latin occupation. With the restoration of the Byzantine rulers in 1261, they used the Palace of Blakhernai situated inside the land walls where they descended to join the sea walls along the Golden Horn. Immediately after the conquest Mehmed II had a fortress and palace built in the area which was to become known as Beyazıt west of Haghia Sophia. A large bazaar was constructed beneath the walls of the fortress.

The once splendid city was falling into nıin when it was taken by the Turks, who set about repairing the old buildings and city walls. Others beyond repair provided foundations on which new Ottoman buildings were constructed. The huge underground water cisterns were also repaired.
Those who had fled the city began to return, while new settlers of diverse ethnic origin and faith arrived from all over the Ottoman Empire, creating a colourful cultural mosaic.

Culture of the Ottoman Empire

If you lived in the Ottoman Empire you lived in a mixture of eastern and western life. The Ottoman lifestyle was broken into many parts. The fact that the Ottomans’ lifestyle was so fragmented allowed it to coexist in such a mixed culture. The fact that Constantinople (the capital of the Ottoman Empire) laid on two continents made it easy to understand its mosaic of cultures.
One of the most important functions in Turkish culture was socialization. People gather and exchanged information in coffee shops. People used coffee to bring them together with people of different homes. Since the 16th century, the coffeehouse has been a social gathering place where men get together to listen to music, read books, play chess or backgammon and of course drink coffee and or tea.

Nearing the end of the 17th century, grand viziers, pashas and others who were considered to be distinguished citizens of Ottoman Istanbul began to build yalis. Yalis in the United States would be referred to as villas. The yalis were built along the shores of Bosphorus. Just like the American villas, the yalis served as summer homes, and the style employed reflected how wealthy the owner was.

A yali on the ocean side
yali on the ocean side.png
yali on the ocean side.png

Turkish baths played an important role in Ottoman culture as well. They served as places of social gathering and ritual cleansings. It was required for every Turkish household to clean at a bath after a long journey. Each patron used a separate water fountain for bathing.

turkish bath ottoman.png
turkish bath ottoman.png

Ottoman Coat of Arms

The Ottoman Coat-of-Arms was made to show the Ottomans Great military power, and hopefully to put The Ottoman Empire in rank with the other great states of the century. Total there are 37 objects that make up the Coat-of-Arms. The most prominent of the piece is the tugra of the current Ottoman Sultan. The Coat-of-Arms Shown in class depicted the tugra of Sultan Abdulhamid. Any writing it was in Arabic because it was shown in their country as well as others. Osman Gazi(Founder of the Coat and first Sultan) was recognized as the turban that rested on the shield. The turban also symbolized world dominion. The flag on the right hand side is red which stood for independence while the flag on the left (green) was the flag used by ottoman sailors. Their flags were green because that color represented life and water in their culture.


The oldest tugra dates back to 1374, shown on a coin. Tugras are baisically the sultans signatures, but included more than just theeir name. Orhan Gazis tugra was the earliest discovered though he was the second sultan of the Ottomans. The Ottomans had 36 sultans but only 35 tugras have been documented.


Mosques had the highest rank in Ottoman architecture because they were places of worship. The Ottomans had mixed qualities in their architecture due to how many peoples they were able to conquer. Their architecture included elements of Roman, persian/Sassanid, Egyptian, and Byzantine architecture. The Dome of Rock(691 AD) is the earliest example but the most Recognized mosques are the Hagie Sophia and the Taj Mahal.
Lewis, Bernard “Istanbul and the Civilization of the Ottoman Empire, Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press 1989