In this confrontation against the Byzantines in western Anatolia the Ottomans soon distinguished themselves, placing themselves at the head of the Turkmen principalities. Osman I, founder of the Ottoman dynasty, knew how to take full advantage of the enemy’s weakness and secure good booties in his forays into Christian territory, attracting thousands of Turkmen nomads and a large number of Arabs and Iranians fleeing from the Mongols. Osman’s conquests in Anatolia were crowned with the occupation, in 1326, of the provincial capital of Bursa by his son Orjan (reigned 1326 – 1369), which allowed the Ottomans to control the administrative, financial and military system of the area. Thus the Ottoman power began to expand at the expense of the declining western Christian states, but not against the Turkmen principalities located to the east, with whom agreements were reached through purchases or marriages, which served for the Ottomans to take possession. of all the territories of western Anatolia.
Ottoman expansion in Europe began with the reign of Orjan. Ottoman soldiers (Janissaries) fought as mercenaries in support of the Byzantine Emperor John VI Cantacuceno, who was thus able to secure his position on the Byzantine throne in 1347. In return, the Ottomans occupied various Byzantine territories in Thrace and Macedonia and the emperor’s daughter was given to Orjan in marriage. The Ottomans occupied Gallipolis (1354) and carried out continuous attacks on the remaining Byzantine possessions in Europe.
The transformation of the Ottoman principality into a vast empire encompassing southeastern Europe, Anatolia and the Arab world, was consummated between the fourteenth and sixteenth centuries.
The recent Ottoman Empire, which stretched from the Danube to the Euphrates, was founded by Murad I and developed by his son Bayezid I. Murad reached the Danube after defeating the allied forces of Serbs, Bosnians and Bulgarians in the Battle of Kosovo in 1389. On Murad’s death, his son Bayezid completed the victory of the Ottomans. Over the next ten years, Bayezid broke tradition and conquered most of the Turkmen principalities in Anatolia, bringing the newly created empire to its culmination.
Fall and restoration
However, this conquest weakened the foundations of the Ottoman state. Muslim elements and Turkish nobles, who helped the Ottomans achieve their victories in Europe, refused to participate in the Anatolian campaign, and instead Bayezid Isought the support of the Christians. At the same time, the resurgence of the Ottomans as the maximum power in Anatolia threatened the lateral flanks of the Mongol Empire of Tamerlane, which had recently conquered much of the territories of Iran and Central Asia; in 1402 Tamerlane also occupied Anatolia, capturing Bayezid I, who died a prisoner in 1403.
Bayezid I’s youngest son, Mehmed I, restored the Ottoman Empire after having eliminated his brothers in the power struggle, and having subdued the Christian and Turkmen vassals of Europe and Anatolia. His son Murat II reestablished Ottoman rule up to the Danube, after defeating the different Christian princes of Serbia and Bulgaria, territories where a direct Ottoman administration was installed. This policy continued with the reign of Mehmet II the Conqueror, who wiped out the last Christian princes established south of the Danube. His conquests culminated in the taking of Constantinople (1453) and the subjugation of Anatolia to the territories situated on the Euphrates. Bayezid II consolidated the territories that had been occupied during previous reigns. His son, Selim I, continued the military campaigns, taking Syria, Palestine, Egypt and Arabia from the Mamluks in 1517, thus incorporating the heart of the ancient Islamic caliphate into the Ottoman Empire. Suleiman I the Magnificent completed the expansion of the Empire by crossing the Danube to conquer Hungary after the Battle of Mohács (1526) and besiege Vienna in 1529 ; in the east, he conquered the last strongholds of Anatolia and the former Abbasid and Seljuk center of Iraq.
Ottoman society and state
With the conquests of Suleiman I, the Ottoman Empire established several social, governmental and administrative institutions, already developed in the 14th century, formalizing them in a series of codes that lasted until the end of the Empire. As reflected in these codes, society was subject to the will of the Sultan, who imposed his authority over the entire Empire, and was considered the shadow of God on earth.
According to TOPB2BWEBSITES, the basic attribute of the sultan’s authority was the right to exploit the wealth of the Empire, which was divided into administrative and financial units governed by government representatives, considered slaves of the sultan, although in reality it was they who constituted the ruling class of Ottoman society.. His authority, however, was limited to functions relating to the exploitation of the wealth of the Empire and the expansion and defense of the State, organized in such a way that the first purpose could be secured. In order for these functions to be carried out, the ruling class organized itself into four basic institutions: the imperial court, in which the personal servants of the sultan and other officials who attended the external services that guaranteed the functioning of the system were found; the military institution, which maintained order through various military corps, the most important of which was the Janissaries and the cavalry; the public treasury that advised the sultan and the ruling class in the establishment and collection of taxes that would guarantee the administration of the Empire, and finally the religious institution that gave religious and cultural leadership to the sultan, who was responsible for education and the maintenance of justice.
The ruling class was made up of two differentiated elements and, at times, confronted: on the one hand the Turkmen, Arab and Iranian Muslims who formed the aristocracy that dominated the Ottoman administration during the 14th and 15th centuries, and on the other hand the prisoners and slaves. Christians who were recruited, converted, and trained in Islamic principles through the famous devshirme system; in the middle of the 16th century, this last group controlled the main institutions of power.
The rest of the social functions were carried out by communities created with religious criteria and called millets, and others with social and economic criteria. The millets of Jews, Greek Orthodox, Armenians and Muslims were later joined by the millets made up of Catholics, Protestants, and Orthodox Bulgarians who had religious and cultural autonomy.