The rise of the Ottoman Empire

In the 15th century, the Turkish Ottomans already dominated large parts of today's Turkey, the Balkans and the north of Greece. On May 29, 1453, they conquered Constantinople and thus wiped out the Byzantine Empire. At the beginning of the 16th century, the Ottoman Empire, with incredible speed and efficiency, more than doubled its territory within a century and even reached Vienna.


The strength of the Ottoman forces was mainly due to the large number of soldiers, cannons and its sophisticated logistics. Thus, after the fall of Constantinople in 1453, the army was able to freshen up and regroup before marching further north towards the territory of Hungary at the beginning of the 16th century. There it came on 29 August 1526 at Mohács for the meeting with the force of the Hungarian Jagellone Ludwig II whose army with scarce 35,000 men only half as large as that of Süleiman I. In addition, the Hungarians had 80 guns less than half as their counterpart. The lack of discipline and numerical superiority ensured Sülaiman the victory and he could continue his way north where he stood in 1529 at the gates of Vienna and began to besiege the city. Here, however, the otherwise so effective logistics showed their limits and the army commander had to give up the siege after a few months and pull back.


At the same time, the Ottoman Empire continued its expansion not only to the north, but also to the east and south. Thus, wide areas of the Middle East and the Arabian Peninsula could be taken. At the end of the 16th century, the area also expanded over North Africa, the invasions of the Mediterranean island could be largely averted. So had the Ottomans 1565 defeat in the invasion of Malta, 1571 also on Lepanto. Only in 1669 they were able to conquer an island with the conquest of Crete.



Expansion und größte Ausdehnung des Osmanischen Reichs zwischen 1481 und 1681

Expansion and largest expansion of the Ottoman Empire between 1481 and 1681



At the end of the 17th century attempts were again made to penetrate further north to Central Europe. Thus Vienna was besieged a second time in 1683. After 59 days of siege, however, this time an alliance of the European powers united in the holy league could win a victory and inflict a heavy defeat on the Ottomans at Kahlenberg. Spurred on by this success, the European army invaded the Ottomans, gained further victories in Hungary, and in 1697 the Ottomans defeated Senta decisively. The onslaught on Europe was thus averted.


Despite the defeat in the attempt to conquer Central Europe, the Ottoman Empire remained the strongest force in the eastern Mediterranean area. But slowly this empire began to disintegrate. At first, the loss of the trading centers in the Indian Ocean and the Persian Gulf to the Portuguese, the countries of Egypt and Algeria were seeking more autonomy in North Africa. The Ottoman elite troops of the Janissaries also sought more political power. This endeavor went so far that the sultan felt threatened in his position at the beginning of the 19th century and forcibly dissolved unity in 1826. Thus, he got rid of his competition, but deprived the military of the most successful and dangerous unit.
This was to prove devastating in the coming wars, when the Ottoman Empire at the end of the 18th century had to suffer a severe defeat in the war against Russia under Catherine II and then had nothing to oppose against the independence aspirations of the Greeks.



Das osmanische Reich um 1900

The Ottoman Empire around 1900



After the end of World War One and the consequent defeat on the side of Germany and Austria-Hungary, the Ottoman Empire finally disintegrated and developed into today's Turkey.






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