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Ottoman and Persian Empires 1300-1700

Ottoman and Persian Empires 1300-1700

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Published by Mays Mouhalla

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Published by: Mays Mouhalla on Jun 16, 2012
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Ottoman Empire to 1451
The origins of the Ottomans are indicated by early tales of the Oghuz and Turksattributed to the soothsayer Dede Korkut. According to historian Rashid al-Din (d.1318), Dede Korkut went on an embassy for Oghuz Khan Inal Syr Yavkuy to theprophet Muhammad and was converted to Islam but lived to be 295 years old. The
Oghuz migrated west from the Altai mountains and Lake Baikal to the Caspian Sea
region. They became Muslims and helped the Seljuq family conquer Persia and
Anatolia in the eleventh and twelfth centuries. The army of the early Ottoman dynastywas mostly Oghuz. The
 Book of Dede Korkut 
was finalized about 1400 but describesthe primitive life of the early warriors in heroic terms. The Oghuz warriors prided
themselves on telling the truth, courage in battle, and family loyalty. They weredevoted to the one God of their Muslim religion and had no qualms about "cutting off heads" and taking booty from infidels. Even a princess could fight in battle or wrestlea prospective husband. The wisdom of Dede Korkut noted, "When a man has wealth
as massive as the black mountain, he piles it up and gathers it in and seeks more, but
he can eat no more than his portion."2The most important Oghuz relationship was between father and son. In the story of Dirse Khan's son Boghach, forty jealous warriors slander Boghach, causing the fatherto shoot his son with an arrow for supposed immorality. The boy is nursed back to
health by his mother and is reunited with his father. In these tales the just win their
rewards, but the unjust are disgraced. The heroes often win phenomenal victories over
the unbelievers or monsters, sometimes for the love of a princess. An Oghuz warrior
tells the son of Ushun Koja that every noble has to win his place with his sword and
bread, asking him, "Have you cut off heads and spilled blood? Have you fed the
hungry and clothed the naked?"3 Young Egrek replies that if this is a clever thing to
do, he would like to go on a raid. Egrek is captured by six hundred infidels, but he is
rescued by his brother Segrek and is brought home to his family.Ahmad ibn Taymiyya (1263-1328) was a religious critic in Syria and Egypt. He was
arrested at various places for his decrees and writings, and he spent the last two years
of his life in prison at Damascus. In his
 Book on Religious Law
he argued that Islam is
superior to Judaism and Christianity because the religious duty of commanding right
and forbidding wrong is made effective by the power and authority of a leader(imam). Yet the ruler is morally and legally obligated to consult with others, and eventhe executive is subordinate to Islamic law.The founder of the Ottoman dynasty was Osman Ghazi (r. 1299-1326), son of Ertoghrul, whose band of warriors converted to Islam and grew from four hundred tofour thousand. Ghazi implies a holy warrior for Islam, and Osman's army managed to
defeat a Byzantine force of 2,000 men at Baphaeon in 1301. After a nine-year siege,
Brusa (Bursa) was conquered the year Osman died. He was succeeded by his son
Orkhan (r. 1326-60), who was chosen by Osman for his military ability over hisscholarly older brother Ala-ed-Din. Traveler Ibn Battuta called Orkhan the greatest of the Turkman kings, noting that his wealth included a hundred fortresses. Orkhandefeated the Byzantine army of Andronicus III at Pelekanon in 1329 and took overNicaea two years later. Raiding in the Aegean Sea by a Turkish navy led by UmurBey caused the Christian nations to begin planning a crusade in 1332. Nicomedia fellto the Turks in 1337.The Ottomans tolerated Christians, but only Muslims were obligated to serve in themilitary and thus could have tenure over tax-free land. While Orkhan led the militaryconquests, Ala-ed-Din organized the Ottoman government in a civilized way. The
Ottomans drove out the Greek and Latin landlords that had oppressed the peasants,
who found their taxes were lower when the Turkish Sultan "owned" their lands.Bordering lands could be held by Christians if they became vassals of the Sultan andpaid tribute; but the Turks outlawed using the forced labor of peasants by feudal lordsor monasteries. The Ottomans encouraged immigration, and many nomad Turkssettled in Europe. The motive of holy war
continually expanded their empire
into Christian lands; but they needed a legal decree
from an Islamiccleric
to justify attacking other Muslims.Orkhan gave John Cantacuzenus military aid and married his daughter Theodora in1346. About 6,000 Turkish troops had crossed over into Europe the previous year and
ravaged Thrace, besieging Constantinople and enabling Cantacuzenus to return there
in 1347. Three years later the Ottoman cavalry helped Cantacuzenus dislodge Serbian
Dushan from Salonika; but the Turks did not stay in Europe, returning to Asia Minor
with their booty. In 1352 the Ottomans granted their first commercial capitulation to
Genoa. The next year Orkhan's son Sulayman Pasha led an Ottoman force thatcaptured the fortress of Tzympe near Gallipoli, which was occupied by the Turks aftera devastating earthquake in 1354. The Ottomans made an alliance with the Genoese
that year and also took over Ankara. Sulayman Pasha extended their conquests west
and cut off Constantinople from Adrianople; but he died in a horse accident. When
Theodora's son Khalil was captured by pirates in 1357, his father Orkhan ordered
John V to besiege Phocaea. However, John could not persuade his Byzantine navy to
maintain the siege, and in 1359 he made a treaty with Orkhan acknowledging hisholdings in Thrace.Orkhan's son Murad I (r. 1361-89) and the Turks spread terror by taking Demotika
and massacring the garrison at Chorlu. Adrianople submitted and replaced Bursa as
the Ottoman capital Edirne. The Turks defeated the Serbians and Hungarians at the
Maritza River in 1364. Two years later Amadeo of Savoy answered a papal crusade
and regained Gallipoli before sailing into the Black Sea to attack Bulgarian Christians.
He also fought Greeks who would not submit to the Roman Church. However, SultanMurad accepted thousands of Christian troops into his army and exempted them fromtaxation on the imperial lands allotted to them. The Turks enslaved those captured in
war if they did not convert to Islam, and the Ottoman government received one-fifthof their value; many Greeks bought their freedom. Orkhan had begunthe
practice of training enslaved Christian boys to be Muslim soldiers
called Janissaries; they were selected for their ability and were strictly disciplined to
serve the Sultan, not being allowed to marry, own property, or do other work.
Christians criticized this system of military slavery.By 1369 the Ottomans had taken over the Maritza valley and most of southernBulgaria, making Shishman a vassal. The Serbian army was defeated again at theMaritza in 1371, and the Turks conquered eastern Macedonia, colonizing Drama and
Serres and converting their churches into mosques. Murad was the Sultan who had his
son Sauci blinded and ordered the same done to the Greek rebels. In the 1380s theOttoman empire extended into Serbia by taking several major cities; resistance in
Anatolia was crushed at Konya in 1387, and they completed the conquest of Bulgariain 1388. However, Murad was assassinated prior to the Turks' climactic victory overthe Serbians at Kosovo in 1389.Murad's son Bayezid I (r. 1389-1402) was called the Thunderbolt and began his reignby having his brother Yaqub strangled with a bowstring so that the popular
commander would not challenge his rule. After killing many Serbian nobles atKosovo, Bayezid made an alliance with Prince Lazar's son Stephen Bulcovitz, who
paid tribute from Serbian silver mines and provided Serbian troops for the Ottoman
army, sharing in the booty. In 1390 Bayezid got the Byzantines to help his army

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