Chapter 27 Study Packet
Overview- The Islamic Empires
Three powerful Islamic empires emerged in India and southwest Asia after the fifteenth century.
Beginning with the fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Turks in 1453, Turkish warriors and charismatic
leaders established first the Ottoman empire, then the Safavid dynasty in Persia (1502), and finally the
Mughal dynasty in India (1526). Three distinct empires emerged with different cultures and traditions. Yet
there are some striking similarities, including the following:
Autocratic rule. All three empires began as military states in which all power and prestige centered
on the person of the ruler. All three were plagued by problems of succession from one ruler to the
Islamic faith. All three empires embraced Islam. Sizeable Christian minorities in the Ottoman
empire and a large Hindu majority in India forced those rulers to craft policies of religious
toleration. The Safavid dynasty followed the Shia sect of Islam, which brought them into conflict
with their Sunni Ottoman neighbors.
Inward-looking policies. Although all three Islamic states maintained power through the military,
neither the Safavid nor the Mughal dynasties developed a navy or a merchant fleet. Military
resources were concentrated on defending inland borders. The Ottoman did have a powerful navy
at one time, but by the eighteenth century, Ottoman armaments were outmoded and usually of
Agricultural economies. Agriculture was the basis of the Islamic empires, and the majority of the
population was engaged in raising and processing food. In the seventeenth and eighteenth
centuries, the Ottoman and Safavid populations grew slowly; the population in India grew more
Ambivalence toward foreign trade. All three empires existed along important historic trade routes
and derived benefit from their locations. The Safavids actively encouraged foreign trade.
However, none of the three states sent merchants abroad or encouraged new industries.