Ottoman History Essay
We all are familiar with a principal in life that one may never know what may happen to him/her in the next couple of moments. Many of us have many times experienced unexpected joy, or, on the contrary, got stroked by a trouble that they did not expect. When it comes to lives it takes a moment to bring one’s life to a positive or negative change. Though, when it comes to the lives of states and empires for the change to occur it usually takes years. It is incontrovertible that the power of the Turks was once dreadful to their neighbors. The Ottoman Empire was a powerful giant on the world arena, holding its composing countries in awe. Everyone trembled at the name of the Turks. They, in their turn procured by their constant successes, treated the Christians and other religious representatives with the disdain, peculiar to proud and vainglorious conquerors. Though, the time has passed, and at the beginning of the 19th century the former almighty Ottoman Empire did not simply suffer territory losses but simply stopped its existence. In my paper I would like to describe what the reasons for the collapse of the Ottoman Empire were. Nevertheless, the primary purpose of this paper is not only present the reasons for the empire’s failure.
The goal is to prove with the support of facts that the European countries brought the Ottoman Empire to failure. The Ottoman Empire was the one of the largest and longest lasting Empires in history, moved and sustained by Islam and Islamic institutions. The actual rise of the empire was gradual, and for half a century their own forces were enough to gain more land and then keep it. At the peak of its glory it included: Turkey, Egypt, Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, Macedonia, Hungary, Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Parts of Arabia, and much of the coastal strip of North Africa (Wittek).
However, the glorious years of the Empire also came to an end. It all started in the 18th century when the Ottoman Empire was struggling with internal difficulties: the tax reforms were not applicable, corruption was prevailing, banditry became common in the provinces and the government found it difficult to maintain order (World Civilisations). It was at that time of internal troubles and distress when the Ottoman Empire drew closer to Germany, which had economic interests in the empire and became its leading supplier of weapons(Zürcher).
The reasons for decline I have mentioned above of course step by step led to the downfall of the empire. However, what is important to acknowledge and what will be elaborated in the paper is that the interference of the Great Powers in the Empire brought it to decline (Johnson). The 19th century was a century of territorial expansion for European countries. The Europeans madly raced for territory at that period of time. Of course, some of this was European territory, but mostly it was simply the territory that they desired and that was not theirs (Zürcher).
The first crisis to bring about European intervention in the Ottoman Empire was the Greek War of Independence in years 1821-32. At the Battle of Navarino in 1827 the Ottoman fleet was destroyed by the Europeans. By year 1829 the Russian army advanced as far as Edirne before a cease-fire was called in 1829. After the war, under the London Convention of 1832, the Europeans forced the accord to recognize Greece to be independent (History of Ottoman Empire).
Recovering after the Greek War the country was hit again. In 1854 started the first major war of the Empire - Crimean War (1854-1856) with the Russian Empire. What is important to notice is that this conflict as well as other conflicts with the European powers was initiated not by the Ottomans, but by the Europeans. The reason for Crimea War was Russia’s interest in territories. Restless to take possession of territories of Moldavia and Romania, the Russians went to war with the Ottomans. The official reason for the war was the fact that “the Ottomans had granted Catholic France the right to protect Christian sites in the Holy Land rather than Orthodox Russia” (History of Ottoman Empire) .
The war ended badly for the Russians, though, it had important consequences for the Ottoman Empire, as well. After that war the way the Ottomans perceived themselves changed. They realized that they were heavily controlled by Europeans, because they assisted them in the Crimean War. Europeans, in their turn, no longer saw the Ottomans as a force to consider, but as a tool to be used in bigger European concerns.
Twenty years later the Empire was hit again by the Balkan Rebellion. In 1875, the people from Bosnia and Herzegovina led an uprising against the Ottomans in order to gain their independence. The two neighboring independent Slavic states, Montenegro and Serbia managed to aid the rebellion. A year later the rebellion spread to Bulgaria. The rebellion was part of a larger political movement called the Pan-Slavic movement, which had as its goal to unite all Slavic people under the rule of Russia. The war went very badly for the Ottomans, and in 1878 peace had to be declared. The outcome of the war was that the Ottomans had to free all the Balkan provinces, and give Russia considerable amounts of Ottoman territory “to pay” for the war (Eton). Three decades later in 1911, Italy and France were in competition over Libya. Italians were afraid that France might attack the Ottoman Empire and get Libya, so they attacked first. They beat the ottomans and gained control of the Dodacanese Islands and Libya. At the same time the states Greece, Serbia, Bulgaria, and Montenegro also attacked the Ottomans. The reason for their attack was hoping to gain all of the Ottoman provinces in the north of Greece, Thrace, and the southern European coast of the Black Sea. They also managed to defeat the previously mighty empire. This was known as a first Balkan War. The Second Balkan War started just two years later in 1913. The states of Greece, Serbia, and Montenegro did not agree with the amount of territory Bulgaria had gained. The countries joined the Ottomans and managed to roll back Bulgarian territorial gains. This was the last military victory in Ottoman history (Eton).
The continued military and political weakness of the Ottoman Empire was very apparent to the European policy makers of the day. The terms “Eastern Question” and “the Sick Man of Europe” were used throughout Europe. It was considered that the weakness of the Ottoman Empire “would create a power vacuum for competing European great powers to fill”, thus leading to the stability of Europe (Brown). The reasons why the Ottoman Empire failed are easy: it lacked the manpower, the money and the industrial base to contend successfully with European powers. What was also deadly for the Ottoman Empire was a mistake of entering the WWI on the side of the Central Powers (particularly Germany).
The Ottoman Empire had existed for 600 years that is longer than the empire of Rome or the British Empire. The time of the downfall of the empire was in the history of Europe the time of territory grabbing and conflict among European states. The Ottoman Empire, approaching its decease, was dragged into these conflicts and beaten till death. The end result for the Ottomans was the loss of Empire, and, finally, the loss of the Ottoman dynasty itself (Lewis). In 1922, Ottoman rule officially came to an end and Turkey was declared to be a republic.