The Ottoman Empirecontained 29 provincesand numerousvassal states, some of which were later absorbedinto the empire, while others gained various types of autonomy during the course of centuries. The empire also temporarily gained authority over distant overseas landsthrough declarations of allegiance to theOttoman Sultan and Caliph, such as thedeclaration by the Sultan of Acehin 1565; or through the temporary acquisitions of islands in the Atlantic Ocean, such asLanzarote(1585).
With the demise of theSeljuk Sultanate of Rūm(circa1300), Turkish Anatolia wasdivided into a patchwork of independent states, the so-calledGhazi emirates.By 1300, aweakenedByzantine Empirehad seen most of its Anatolian provinces lost to ten Ghazi principalities. One of theGhazi emirateswas led byOsman I(from which the nameOttoman is derived), son of Ertuğrulin the region of Eskişehir in western Anatolia.Osman I extended the frontiers of Ottoman settlement towards the edge of theByzantineEmpire. He moved the Ottoman capital toBursa, and shaped the early politicaldevelopment of the nation. Given the nickname “Kara” (which means “black” in modernTurkish, but alternatively meant “brave” or “strong” in old Turkish) for his courage,
Osman I was admired as a strong and dynamic ruler long after his death, as evident in thecenturies-old Turkish phrase, “may he be as good as Osman.” His reputation has also been burnished by the medieval Turkish story known as “Osman’s Dream”, a foundationmyth in which the young Osman was inspired to conquest by a prescient vision of empire(according to his dream, the empire is a big tree whose roots spread through threecontinents and whose branches cover the sky). In this period, a formalOttomangovernmentwas created whose institutions would change drastically over the life of theempire. The government used the legal entity known as themillet, under which religious
and ethnic minorities were able to manage their own affairs with substantialindependence from central control.In the century after the death of Osman I, Ottoman rule began to extend over the EasternMediterranean and theBalkans. The important city of Thessalonikiwas captured fromtheVenetiansin 1387, and the Turkish victory at theBattle of Kosovoin 1389 effectivelymarked the end of Serbianpower in the region, paving the way for Ottoman expansioninto Europe. TheBattle of Nicopolisin 1396, widely regarded as the last large-scalecrusadeof theMiddle Ages, failed to stop the advance of the victorious Ottomans. Withthe extension of Turkish dominion into the Balkans, the strategicconquest of Constantinoplebecame a crucial objective. The Empire controlled nearly all of theformer Byzantine landssurrounding the city, but theByzantineswere temporarilyrelieved whenTamerlaneinvadedAnatoliawith theBattle of Ankarain 1402, takingSultanBayezid Ias a prisoner. Part of the Ottoman territories in the Balkans (such asThessaloniki, Macedonia and Kosovo) were temporarily lost after 1402, but were later recovered byMurad II between the 1430s and 1450s.The capture of Bayezid I threw the Turks into disorder. The state fell into a civil war which lasted from 1402 to 1413, as Bayezid’s sons fought over succession. It ended whenMehmed Iemerged as the sultan and restored Ottoman power, bringing an end to theInterregnum.His grandson,Mehmed the Conqueror , reorganized the state and themilitary, and demonstrated his martial prowess by capturingConstantinopleon May 29,1453, at the age of 21. The city became the new capital of the Ottoman Empire, andMehmed II assumed the title of
(Roman Emperor). However, this title wasnot recognized by the Greeks or Western Europe, and the RussianCzarsalso claimed to be the successors of the Eastern Imperial title. To consolidate his claim, Mehmed IIaspired to gain control over the Western capital, Rome, and Ottoman forces occupied parts of theItalian peninsula, starting fromOtrantoandApuliaon July 28, 1480. But after Mehmed II’s death on May 3, 1481, the campaign in Italy was cancelled and the Ottomanforces retreated.
This period in Ottoman history can roughly be divided into two distinct eras: an era of territorial, economic, and cultural growth prior to 1566, followed by an era of relativemilitary and political stagnation.
aided this expansion significantly. The navy also contested and protected key seagoingtrade routes, in competition with the Italian city states in theBlack Sea,AegeanandMediterraneanseas and the Portuguese in theRed Seaand Indian Ocean. The state alsoflourished economically thanks to its control of the major overland trade routes betweenEurope and Asia.
Selim IestablishedOttoman rule in Egypt, and created a naval presence on theRed Sea. After this Ottoman expansion, a competition started between thePortuguese Empireand theOttoman Empire to become the dominant power in the region.
Selim’s successor,Suleiman the Magnificent(1520–1566), further expanded uponSelim’s conquests. After capturingBelgradein 1521, Suleiman conquered the southernand central parts of theKingdom of Hungary(while the western, northern andnortheastern parts weren’t conquered)
In 1532,another planned attack on Vienna with an army thought to be over 250,000 strong was repulsed 97 kilometres (60 mi) south of Vienna, at thefortress of Güns. After further advances by the Ottomans in 1543, the Habsburg ruler Ferdinandofficially recognised Ottoman ascendancy in Hungary in 1547. During thereign of Suleiman,Transylvania,Wallachiaand, intermittently,Moldavia, becametributary principalities of the Ottoman Empire. In the east, theOttomanstook Baghdadfrom thePersiansin 1535, gaining control of Mesopotamiaand naval access to thePersian Gulf . By the end of Suleiman’s reign, the Empire’s population reached about15,000,000 people.