History

Turkish History could be simply outlined as:

Pre-Anatolian period, from the steppes of Asia, to Malazgirt and Selcuks.

The Ottoman Empire

The War of Independence and the emergence of the new Turkish Republic.

The Republican Period

Following the collapse of the Anatolian Selcuks, several families from various Turkish tribes emerged in Anatolia. These were called beylik which we could also call a principality, and the early period until the emerge of the Ottoman Empire is called the ‘Beyliks Period’. One of these was the Ottomans, a member of the Kayi tribe of Oguz Turks from the Sögüt-Yenisehir-Bilecik region.

The Ottomans succeeded in establishing the union of these families in Anatolia in a short period of time. The Ottomans who fought against the neighboring Byzantine State, first crossed into Rumeli, (present day Thrace) and then captured Constantinople in 1453 during the reign of Sultan Mehmed II (1451-1481), ending the Byzantine Empire and the Middle Ages. In the reign of Sultan Mehmed II, who was also called ‘the Conqueror’, the Ottoman State entered into an era of rapid development which would last until the end of the sixteenth century.

The Ottomans fought with the Serbs, Bulgarians, Hungarians, Venetians, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Britain, the Vatican, Spain and also France and Russia in different erasin the West, and other Turkish families such as Akkoyunlus, Tamerlanes, Mamelukes, Safavids and the Karamanids in the South & the East. During the reign of Sultan Selim I (1512-1520), Egypt was conquered and the ‘Caliphate’ was transferred to the Ottoman dynasty. During the reign of Süleyman the Magnificent (1520-1566), the Ottoman State had a developed a state organization, a powerful army and finances.

The borders of the Empire extended from the Crimea in the North to Yemen and Sudan in the South, and from Iran and the Caspian Sea in the East to Vienna in the Northwest and Spain in the Southwest. However, the Ottoman Empire lost its economic and military superiority vis-a-vis Europe, which had developed rapidly with the Renaissance and the geographical discoveries starting with the sixteenth century and failed to keep pace with Europe. This gave reason to the power balances developing in favor of the European States.

The nationalist movements that started in the nineteenth century and the Balkanic rebellions which were organized by the European States and Russia ended with the emerge of varius independent states within the Ottoman territories in the Balkans. The military defeats which exacerbated the process of dissolution of the Empire forced the Ottoman administration to take steps to modernize the country. In the following decades, reform efforts were made constantly in the Empire. The most significant act was the ‘First Constitutional Period’ in 1876, which coincided with the reign of Sultan Abdülhamid II (1876-1909), and it provided a Western model constitution.

This constitution was prepared by a group of intellectuals called the ‘Young Turks’ and forced Sultan Abdülhamid and the Ottoman Empire into a constitutional state. However, Sultan Abdülhamid disbanded the Parliament in 1877 and terminated the constitutional rule, using the Ottoman-Russian War of 1877-1879 as a pretext. ‘The Committee of Union and Progress’ which started activities as an opposition organization founded by the Young Turks, first forced the Sultan to repromulgate the Constitution in 1908 and later seized power. Yet, the liberalization which started after Abdülhamid with the Second Constitution did not last long. The Tripoli War (1911-1912) against the Italians and the Balkan Wars (1912-1913) which erupted in the awakening of these political developments weakened the new administration and the environment of freedom that started with the Second Constitution transformed the democratic environment into a single-party autocracy.

The territories of the Ottoman State, which had allied with Germany in the First World War (1914-1918), were occupied by Britain, France, Russia and Greece following the Moudhros Armistice signed in 1918, after the Central Powers were defeated. The occupation of the homeland and the helplessness of the Istanbul government left no other choice but resistance for the Turkish people in Anatolia and Thrace.

The Greek occupation accelerated the establishment of small defense fronts and the formation of regional resistance organizations. The Ottoman Empire had a state identity which provided the most tolerant administration of its age throughout the Middle Ages and the New Age. In fact, throughout the six hundred years of its administration it was able to hold together people of different religions, languages and races and undertook an important role in the protection of cultures and languages of these nations by providing freedom of religion and conscience.

Furthermore, it contributed significantly to the history of civilization with both scientific and cultural masterpieces due to its cultural, scientific, artistic and state administrative experience and acquisitions of the previous Turkish states. The Ottoman Empire created rare masterpieces with its unique architecture, stone and wood carving, the art of tile-making, ornamentation, the art of miniature painting, calligraphy and bookbinding. Above all, it was influencial for hundreds of years in world politics.


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