Ottoman Turks

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The Ottoman Turks (or Osmanlı Turks) were the Turkish-speaking population of the Ottoman Empire who formed the base of the state's military and ruling classes. Reliable information about the early history of Ottoman Turks is scarce, but they take their Turkish name, Osmanlı ("Osman" being corrupted in some European languages as "Ottoman"), from the house of Osman I (reigned ca. 1299–1326), the founder of the dynasty that ruled the Ottoman Empire for its entire 624 years. After the expansion from its home in Bithynia, the Ottoman principality began incorporating other Turkish-speaking Muslims and non-Turkish Christians, becoming the Ottoman Turks and ultimately the Turks of the present. The Ottoman Turks blocked all land routes to Europe by conquering the city of Constantinople, the capital city of the ByzantineEast Roman Empire, and Europeans had to find other ways to trade with Eastern countries.[1]

Location of Bithynia within Anatolia. Anatolia comprises the western two-thirds of the Asian part of Turkey.

Brief history[edit]

The "Ottomans" became first known to the West in the 14th century when they migrated westward into the Seljuk Empire, in Anatolia. The Ottoman Turks created a state in Western Anatolia under Ertugrul, the capital of which was Sögüt, near Bursa to the south of the Marmara. Ertugrul 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. Osman's son Orhan expanded the growing empire, taking Nicaea (present-day Iznik) and crossed the Dardanelles in 1362. The Ottoman Empire came into its own when Mehmed II captured the Byzantine Empire's capital, Constantinople (Istanbul), in 1453.[1]

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 through the Turkish War of Independence. Blaming the Armenians for much of their defeat, there followed the first Genocide of the 20th century, driving most of the indigenous Christian population on forced death marches which included looting and barbaric acts of cruelty. Following the successful Turkish War of Independence, the revolutionaries abolished the Ottoman Sultanate on November 1, 1922, and proclaimed the Republic of Turkey on October 29, 1923. The movement terminated the Treaty of Sèvres and negotiated the Treaty of Lausanne, assuring recognition of the 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 and Greeks).

Culture and the 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.

Ottoman calligraphy[edit]

Because Islam is a monotheistic religion that focuses heavily on learning the central text of the Quran, and because 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 favor 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[edit]

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.

Ottoman painting[edit]

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 pagentry, 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. ^ a b Tolan, John; Veinstein, Gilles and Henry Laurens (2013). "Europe and the Islamic World: A History". Princeton University Press. pp. 167–188. ISBN 978-0-691-14705-5. 


Primary sources[edit]