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destroyed with the invasion of the Mongols in the
thirteenth century. Baghdad was captured and sacked in
1258. Mongol rule lasted for about a century, and it was
followed by another century of anarchy. Ottoman Empire
While the Middle East was in turmoil following the
Mongol invasion, a dynamic new dynasty was growing
in Turkey. In 1281, a Seljuk tribal leader, Osman
established a small region in the middle of the Anatolian
Peninsula. His descendants gradually conquered the
entire peninsula, taking it away from the Eastern Roman
(Byzantine) Empire. They then expanded into the Balkan
Peninsula—also at the expense of the Byzantine Empire. Essentials of Modern World History. Wk 8: Mid-East and North Africa, 1453-1914, © D. G. Rowley, 2004. Rev. 2011. 2 The landmark date in the rise of the Ottoman Empire
is 1453—the year in which it overran Constantinople, the
capital of the Byzantine Empire and brought that empire
to an end. Then, beginning in 1512, under Selim I, the
Ottoman Empire began to expand southward into the
Middle East, and, by the end of his reign, he had
conquered Baghdad and Mesopotamia.
Selim was succeeded by Suleiman the Magnificent
(1520-1566) who expanded the Empire to its greatest
extent and brought it to its peak wealth and power.
During Suleiman’s rule, the Empire included Turkey,
North Africa, the Middle East west of the Tigris River,
Greece, the Balkan Peninsula, and Hungary.
For the next century after the death of Suleiman,
Europe lived in fear of Ottoman expansion; several times
Ottoman armies advanced as far as the gates of Vienna.
The Ottoman Empire controlled trade in the Black Sea,
the Eastern Mediterranean, the Red Sea, and the Persian
Gulf and enjoyed a period of prosperity unmatched in
Eurasia. Nevertheless, its hostility toward Safavid Iran
(which temporarily seized Mesopotamia), and its
aggressive expansion in Europe was not conducive to
economic cooperation. Its neighbors sought to by-pass,
rather than trade with, Ottoman merchants.
The decline of the Ottoman Empire was halted in the
middle of the seventeenth century by a series of prime
ministers who made taxation more equitable, suppressed
rebellions, forced peasants to return to the land,
encouraged trade, and prosecuted corrupt officials.
These conservative policies restored the regime and
allowed the government to turn the tide against Iran and
to reconquer Mesopotamia in 1638.
These reforms, however, did not change the Ottoman
Empire’s military decline vis-a-vis Europe. After a series
of defeats by the combined armies of Austria, Hungary,
and Poland, the Ottoman Empire signed the Treaty of
Karlowitz (1699) and gave up Hungary to Austria.
Europe didn’t realize it yet, but the long and gradual
decline of the Ottoman Empire had begun.
After 1700, the Ottoman Empire (often referred to
simply as “Turkey”) continued to hold its own against
Persia but in a war against Austria and Russia (1736-9) it
was decisively defeated by the Russian army. Alarmed
that Russia might annex the Balkan Peninsula, Austria
withdrew from the war, and France...
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