The Ottoman Empire (Group 5)

By Clayton Whitt, Madison Brekke, and Reed Walker

Rise of the Ottoman Turks

In the late thirteenth century, a new group of Turks under their leader Osman began to build power in the northwest corner of the Anatolian Peninsula. That land had been given to them bu Seljuk Turk rulers as a reward for helping the rulers defend their lands against the Mongols in the late thirteenth century.

Expansion of The Empire

Over the next three hundred years, Ottoman rule expanded to include large areas of Western Asia, as well as North Africa and additional lands in Europe.

The Fall of Constantinople

Under the leadership of Mehmet II, the Ottomans moved to end the Byzantine Empire. With eighty thousand troops ranged against only seven thousand defenders, Mehmet laid siege to Constantinople. The Ottomans brought with them massive cannons that could launch stone balls weighing up to 1,200 pounds.

After almost two months of fighting, the Ottomans were able to push past the city walls and defeat the Byzantines.

Western Asia and Africa

With their new capital at Constantinople, the Ottoman Turks now dominated the Balkans and the Anatolian Peninsula. So after their victories in the east, Ottoman forces spent the next few years advancing westward along the African cpast, eventually almost reaching the Strait of Gibraltar.

The impact of the Ottoman rule on the people of North Africa was relatively light mainly because of their similarities in religion. However, taxes were increased.


After their conquest of Constantinople in 1453, the Ottoman Turks tried to complete their conquest of the Balkans. They proceeded to take Romanian territory of Walachia but were stopped by the Hungarians soon after.

This angered the Ottomans as they later attacked the Hungarians in 1526 at the Battle of Mohacs. This was a major victory over the Hungarians and eventually led to the conquering of them.

After conquering most of Hungary, the Ottomans moved into Austria and Vienna where they were finally defeated in 1529. At the same time, they extended their power into the western Mediterranean until a large Ottoman fleet was destroyed by the Spanish in 1571.

The Nature of the Ottoman Rule

The Ottoman empire was also labeled as the "Gunpowder Empire" because it was lagely based on its mastery of the technology of firearms. The head of the Ottoman system was Sultan. The empire later divided up into providencesand districs governed by officials.

Religion in the Ottoman World

Like most Turkic-speaking peoples in the Anatolian Peninsula and throughout Western Asia, the Ottomans were Sunni Muslims. In theory, they were responsible for guiding the flock and maintaing Islamic law.

In practice, the sultans gave their religious duties to a group of religious advisers known as the ulema. This group administer the legal system and school for educating Muslims. Islamic law and customs were applied to all Muslims in the empire.

The Ottoman system was generally tolerant of non-Muslims, who made up a significant minority within the Empire. They paid a tax, but were allowed to practice their religion or convert to Islam. Most people in the European areas of the empire remained Christian. However, in some areas, large numbers converted to the Islamic faith.

Problems in the Ottoman Empire

Problems began under the Suleyman rule. The problems did not become visable untill 1699 when the empire began to lose some of its territory. Many problems were created when the government allowed their ministers to excercise more and more power.

Ottoman Art

The Ottoman Sultans were enthusiastic patrons of the arts. They produced pootery, rugs, silk, jewlry, textiles, arms, armor, and weapons. The greatest contribution of the Ottoman empire was its arts and architecture. Many of the Ottomans architects did their work in mosques.