The Ottoman Empire: Facts, Government & Rulers

Instructor: Michael Gott

Mike is a veteran of the New Hampshire public school system and has worked in grades 1-12. His role has varied from primary instructor to special needs support.

Born of Turkish tribes from the Asian minor in 1300, the Ottoman Empire would become one of the largest empires in World History peaking in the 15th and 16th centuries. In 1922 the Ottoman Empire would fall, with the center of the Empire replaced by the Turkish Republic.

The Birth of the Ottoman Empire

With roots firmly in the traditions of Turkish warriors of faith, the early founders and ancestors of the Ottoman Empire were nomads migrating from central Asia to present day Iran. Battles with the crumbling Byzantine Empire and Mongol armies resulted in the first land that would be controlled by the Ottoman Empire. It would be a prince known as Osman I that would be the first to show the world what the Ottoman Empire would become.

Osman I

After defeating invading Mongols in 1239, Osman I took control of a large amount of land bordering with the Byzantines, located in modern day Turkey. Osman was able to use his Islamic faith to attack wandering Muslims in search of a home against the Christian Byzantines. The desire of Middle Eastern Muslims to expand a Muslim homeland, combined with the crumbling Byzantine Empire, allowed for great expansion, especially with Osman I's successors. Each of his successors continued to push Ottoman control until reaching South Eastern Europe. Almost 100 years after Osman I created the Ottoman Empire, a man named Bayezid took control and had to weather the cost of continual expansion.

Bayezid I

After the death of his father at the Battle of Kosovo in 1389, Bayezid I took control of the expanding empire from his father Murad. Murad had been overly focused on expanding the Ottoman territory into Europe and neglected the principality of Karaman, never fully ensuring control of the territory. The Ottoman Empire to this point had relied on marriages and land purchases to take control of the Turkish land around Karaman, but never actually took control of it.

Karaman initiated and formed an alliance with Serbia in opposition to Ottoman expansion. This alliance was strengthened by the recruitment of Balkans resentful of Ottomans taking over. In 1390, Bayezid I turned his attention from expansion into Europe to deal with this internal rebellion. When Turkish royalty went east into the Tatar Empire , they successfully convinced Emperor Timur to move against the Ottomans. At the Battle of Ankara in 1402, Timur defeated and captured Bayezid I, who died a prisoner less than a year later.

From 1402 to 1413, Bayezid I's four children fought for control and the right to rule the Ottoman Empire. This period of internal fighting ended when Mehmed successfully killed his three brothers and became sultan, or ruler.

Mehmed and Murad II

After killing his brothers Mehmed ruled the Ottoman Empire for seven years. This period would be a renewed time of expansion and built upon by his son Murad II. Murad II brought his forces into Italy. Venice had previously had an open trade relationship with the Ottomans. In 1492, the Ottomans successfully conquered Venice.

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