"Money can't buy friends, but you can get a better class of enemy” (Spike Milligan)





The Ottoman Empire

The history of the Ottoman Empire began in the 13th Century. Back then the Seljuk Sultanate which was bordering on the Byzantine Empire and dominated the Islamic world since the 10 century was weakened by Mongol invasions and succession disputes.


As a result, several smaller empires of Asia gained their independence. One of them was a small Turkmen tribal federation, who had been expelled by the Mongols from Central Asia and settled in northern Anatolia - the Ottomans ((named after its founder Osman).


Like the other emirates the Ottomans also led war against the Christian Byzantine Empire. After the death of Osman his son Orkan continued war. He conquered Broussa, which he made the first Ottoman capital, and the coastal area on the Marmara Sea. He therefore has a strategic position in relation to the Byzantine Thrace and toward Europe.


It is interesting that the Ottomans finally entered Europe with the help of the Byzantines. For as these felt threatened by the expanding Serbian Empire in the west of the Balkans, they asked the Ottomans for help in 1344.

The Ottomans conquered Gallipoli and began the conquest of the Balkan Peninsula. The following march was very impressive. Orkan initiated reforms in the ways that laid the foundations for the later empire. He set up a central administration, known as Diwan, who was under a grand vizier, as well as an elite force for his army. This consisted of kidnapped Christian boys brought up in Anatolian families, converted to Islam and trained for military service.
Orkan’s successor, Murat the First, expanded the empire in the east to other parts of Anatolia. In Europe, he conquered Adrianople in 1363, then Eastern Thrace, Macedonia, Bulgaria and defeated the Serbs in 1389 at Kosovo. This battle is still regarded as the birth of the national identity of the Serbs.

In the late 14th Century, in 1393, the Ottomans attacked the Hungarian troops. The Hungarian King Sigismund then formed the largest crusader army that had ever been to drive the Muslims out of Europe. French, German, British and Italians joined the Hungarians. Nevertheless, the Crusaders were struck devastating in the Battle of Nicopolis in 1396.

The Ottoman supremacy had several reasons. Their artillery, their cavalry, their discipline, the conduct of their troops and the numerical strength. The Ottomans were now superior to the Byzantines, and the only threat to them came from the East by the Mongols. On 20 July 1402, the Ottomans were defeated by the Mongols, and Bayezid I. was taken prisoner.

But the Ottomans began, despite being weakened by this defeat, already in 1412 their renewed conquests. 1421 Murat II started from the Balkan peninsula again the conquest of Europe.
The Ottomans controlled their conquered lands by religions and social traditions intact in exchange for soldiers and other taxes – this contributed to the internal stability of the conquered territories.
The conquest of Constantinople by the Turks on 29 May 1453 was a threefold symbol. It marked the end of the Byzantine Empire, Asia and Europe moved closer together politically, and it symbolized the victory of Islam over Orthodox Christianity. At least it meant the consolidation of the Ottoman Empire, for whom now most European royal families were vassal or tributary trading partner. Constantinople became the capital of the Ottoman Empire and was renamed Istanbul. And from there the Ottomans enlarged their empire.
In the 15th Century, they completed the conquest of the Balkan Peninsula, Anatolia and the Krimkanals on the north coast of the Black Sea.

1516, they conquered Syria and Palestine, in 1517 Egypt. Finally, they conquered the holy cities of Mecca and Medina. The Ottoman Sultan was from now on as leader of the faithful. Suleiman the Great led the Ottoman Empire to the height of its power. He took from the Christians Rhodes, Belgrade in 1521 and in 1526 a large part of Hungary and Transylvania.

At that time, Emperor Charles V ruled over an empire where the sun never set, but Suleyman the Magnificent contested him for supremacy in Europe. He came to Vienna, where his troops laid siege to the city in 1529.

Suleyman was a great strategist, he searched the alliance with the French King Francis I. And he knew as a statesman to manage his empire. In the meetings of the diwan, the highest administrative body, which advised on the laws by which the government regulated the life in the provinces. Apart from taxes the country lived by its control over the trade between the Mediterranean Sea, Indian Ocean and the Continent. Due to the stability of the empire trade flourished. Finally, Suleiman’s reign had also a significant influence on science, culture and art.