Ottoman Turks

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The Ottoman Turks (or Osmanlı Turks, Turkish: Osmanlı Türkleri) were the Turkish-speaking people of the Ottoman Empire (c. 1299–1922/1923). Reliable information about the early history of Ottoman Turks remains scarce, but they take their Turkish name, Osmanlı ("Osman" became corrupted in some European languages as "Ottoman"), from the house of Osman I (reigned c. 1299–1326), the founder of the dynasty that ruled the Ottoman Empire for its entire 624 years. Expanding from its base in Bithynia, the Ottoman principality began incorporating other Turkish-speaking Muslims and non-Turkish Christians. Crossing into Europe from the 1350s, coming to dominate the Mediterranean and capturing (1453) Constantinople (the capital city of the Byzantine Empire), the Ottoman Turks blocked all major land routes between Asia and Europe; Western Europeans had to find other ways to trade with the East - [1][need quotation to verify][2] and vice versa.

Brief history[edit]

The "Ottomans" first became known to the West in the 13th century when they migrated westward into the Seljuk Empire in Anatolia. The Ottoman Turks created a beylik in Western Anatolia under Ertugrul, the capital of which was Söğüt in western Anatolia. Ertugrul, leader of the nomadic Kayı tribe, first established a principality as part of the decaying Seljuk empire. His son Osman expanded the principality; the empire and the people were named "Ottomans" by Europeans after him ("Ottoman" being a corruption of "Osman"). Osman's son Orhan expanded the growing Ottoman Empire, taking Nicaea (present-day İznik) and crossed the Dardanelles in 1362. All coins unearthed in Sogut during the two centuries before Orhan bear the names of Illkhanate rulers. The Seljuks were under the suzerainty of the Illkhanates and later the Mongolian Timur lane. The Ottoman Empire came into its own when Mehmed II captured the reduced Byzantine Empire's well-defended capital, Constantinople (present-day Istanbul), in 1453.[3]

The Ottoman Empire came to rule much of the Balkans, the Caucasus, the Middle East (excluding Iran), and North Africa over the course of several centuries, with an advanced army and navy. The Empire lasted until the end of the First World War, when it was defeated by the Allies and partitioned. Following the successful Turkish War of Independence that ended with the Turkish national movement retaking most of the land lost to the Allies, the movement abolished the Ottoman sultanate on November 1, 1922 and proclaimed the Republic of Turkey on October 29, 1923. The movement nullified the Treaty of Sèvres and negotiated the significantly more favorable Treaty of Lausanne (1923), assuring recognition of modern Turkish national borders, termed Misak-ı Milli (National Pact).

Not all Ottomans were Muslims and not all Ottoman Muslims were Turks, but by 1923, the majority of people living within the borders of the new Turkish republic identified as Turks. Notable exceptions were the Kurds and the few remaining Armenians, Georgians and Greeks.

Culture and arts[edit]

The conquest of Constantinople began to make the Ottomans the rulers of one of the most profitable empires, connected to the flourishing Islamic cultures of the time, and at the crossroads of trade into Europe. The Ottomans made major developments in calligraphy, writing, law, architecture, and military science, and became the standard of opulence.


Because Islam is a monotheistic religion that focuses heavily on learning the central text of the Quran and Islamic culture has historically tended towards discouraging or prohibiting figurative art, calligraphy became one of the foremost of the arts.

The early Yâkût period was supplanted in the late 15th century by a new style pioneered by Şeyh Hamdullah (1429–1520), which became the basis for Ottoman calligraphy, focusing on the Nesih version of the script, which became the standard for copying the Quran (see Islamic calligraphy).

The next great change in Ottoman calligraphy came from the style of Hâfiz Osman (1642–1698), whose rigorous and simplified style found favour with an empire at its peak of territorial extent and governmental burdens.

The late calligraphic style of the Ottomans was created by Mustafa Râkim (1757–1826) as an extension and reform of Osman's style, placing greater emphasis on technical perfection, which broadened the calligraphic art to encompass the sülüs script as well as the Nesih script.


Ottoman poetry included epic-length verse but is better known for shorter forms such as the gazel. For example, the epic poet Ahmedi (-1412) is remembered for his Alexander the Great. His contemporary Sheykhi wrote verses on love and romance. Yaziji-Oglu produced a religious epic on Mohammed's life, drawing from the stylistic advances of the previous generation and Ahmedi's epic forms.


By the 14th century, the Ottoman Empire's prosperity made manuscript works available to merchants and craftsmen, and produced a flowering of miniatures that depicted pageantry, daily life, commerce, cities and stories, and chronicled events.

By the late 18th century, European influences in painting were clear, with the introduction of oils, perspective, figurative paintings, use of anatomy and composition.

See also[edit]



  1. ^ Tolan, John; Veinstein, Gilles; Henry Laurens (2013). Europe and the Islamic World: A History. Princeton University Press. pp. 167–188. ISBN 978-0-691-14705-5.
  2. ^ Tolan, John; Veinstein, Gilles; Henry Laurens (2013). "In Search of Egyptian Gold: Traders in the Mediterranean". Europe and the Islamic World: A History. Princeton University Press. pp. 77–78. ISBN 978-0-691-14705-5. [...] from Caffa [...] the Genoese brought back to Europe the Black Plague, which ravaged both Europe and the Arab world in 1347-1348. The plague accelerated a demographic and economic decline that had already begun in Europe in the early fourteenth century. That tendency, coupled with the rise of the Ottomans, decimated European trade in the East.
  3. ^ Tolan, John; Veinstein, Gilles; Henry Laurens (2013). "Europe and the Islamic World: A History". Princeton University Press. pp. 67–68. ISBN 978-0-691-14705-5.


Primary sources

External links[edit]