Ottoman Empire Map At Its Height, Over Time


Ottoman Empire Map

Ottoman Empire Map At Its Height, Over Time, Largest Borders

The Ottomans were founded in 1299 after the collapse of the Seljuk Sultanate of Rum. The Ottoman Principality was established on the territory of Bilecik and Kutahya cities of Anatolia. Although there were more powerful principalities in Anatolia, it managed to become a rapidly expanding state by making the right strategic moves.

Short History of Ottoman Empire

What changed the fate of the Ottoman Principality was the fights of the throne in the neighboring Byzantine Empire. The ancient Byzantine Empire of the past was very weak, especially due to the Sack of Constantinople (4th Crusade), and could not be restored. The founding Ottoman Sultans make great use of this golden opportunity with very important strategic moves.

Orhan Bey, the second Ottoman Sultan, married the daughter of a Byzantine Emperor and took over an important fortress named “Chimpe Castle” in Gallipoli as the dowry. This castle, the first land of the Ottoman Empire on the European side (Rumelia), became a starting point and the Ottomans spread rapidly to the inner parts of the Balkans.

The Ottomans, who came from a military tradition, established a recruitment system called Devshirme from the reign of Sultan Murad I, the third ruler. The recruitment system was to ensure that healthy and strong men selected from rural areas in the Balkans received good military training and became an elite Ottoman warrior.

The Ottoman State administration succeeded in creating a war machine from these selected children for 300 years. Although the Janissary army began to deteriorate from the 16th century, it was very successful in the early days.

Ottoman Empire Map Over Time

Reign of Mehmed the Conqueror

After the conquest of Constantinople, the last stronghold of the Byzantine Empire, the Ottoman principality became a real state. Constantinople became the capital and the Ottomans ensured Turkish unity in Anatolia. During the reign of Sultan Mehmed II, the first constitution of the Ottoman Empire, Kanunname-i Ali Osman, was also written.

Ottoman Empire Map in 1453

Reign of Selim I

The Ottomans conquered the holy lands during the reign of Sultan Selim I. Cities such as Mecca, Medina, Jerusalem and Alexandria, which had great importance in the past as well as in the present day, passed into the hands of the Ottoman Empire.

The Ottoman conquest of trade routes gave the empire an endless source of income. The most important trade routes of the past, such as the Silk Road and the Spice Road, were controlled by the Ottoman Empire for centuries.

Ottoman Army in the Classical Period

Ottoman Janissary Soldiers

Ottoman Army

Reign of Suleiman the Magnificent

The period of Suleiman the Magnificent became the peak of the Ottoman Empire. During this period, famous architects such as Mimar Sinan decorated Istanbul with beautiful buildings. Turkish sailors such as Piri Reis, Murat Reis and Hayreddin Barbarossa dominated the southern Mediterranean.

Ottoman Empire Map At Its Height

Ottoman Empire Map Largest Borders

Ottoman Empire under Suleiman the Magnificent

Largest Borders of the Ottoman Empire

The expansion and rise of the Ottoman Empire continued after Suleiman’s reign. Though the sultans who came to the throne after Sultan Suleiman I (Selim II, Murad III, Mehmed III, Ahmed I) did not have the same strong character.

During this period, powerful Valide Sultans -mothers of sultans- (Nurbanu Sultan, Safiye Sultan, Kosem Sultan) and resourceful Grand Viziers -prime ministers- (Sokullu Mehmed Pasha, Koprulu Family) ruled the state.

The most powerful characters that came to the throne after Sultan Suleiman were Osman II and Murad IV. However, because they died at an early age, they could not fully realize their designs.

Ottoman Empire Map Greatest Extent


Ottoman Empire At Its Height

Decline of the Ottoman Empire

After the Treaty of Karlowitz in 1699, the Ottoman Empire began to lose land and entered a period of decline. The shrinking of the Ottoman Empire, which continued to lose land until the World War I, is marked with a light brown below. As of 1914, when the First World War broke out, only dark brown parts remained in the hands of the Ottoman Empire.

Ottoman Empire Map before WWI

Ottoman Empire Map Decline from 1800 to 1914

Territories lost from 1800 to 1914 WW1

Military and Political Refoms in the Empire

In the late Ottoman period, some sultans made serious reform attempts but these were not accepted by the army and the conservative people. Some sultans who wanted to get the janissaries out of the army system were killed in riots.

Terrified by the murder of the reformist sultan Selim III, his successor, Mahmud II, was determined to eliminate the janissaries. The janissaries, which became a state within the state, were destroyed with the common will of the sultan and the people.

With the abolition of the Janissary army by Sultan Mahmud II, a new army (Nizam-ı Cedit) was established and some successes were achieved.

However, with the Industrial Revolution in Europe and the enrichment it brought, the Ottoman Empire was left behind in technological terms. Russia, a deadly enemy, was on the rise and became a great threat to the Ottomans. During this period, the empire lost many educated people to deal with its technically superior enemies.

Modern Army was formed by Mahmud II


Modern Ottoman Army

Fall of Ottoman Empire during WW1

Upon the decision of the Sultan’s son-in-law Enver Pasha, the Ottoman Empire, joined World War I with the Central Powers (Germany and Austria). The Ottoman people found themselves in a destructive war that would last four years.

The Ottoman Empire suffered great losses on all fronts during the World War I. The epic defense in the Battle of Gallipoli was not enough to save the country in the long run and the imperial capital of Istanbul was occupied by the allies.

However, a new leader was born on the tough fronts of the First World War. A colonel named Mustafa Kemal became a general thanks to his success in the wars. He was the army inspector general by the end of the war.

Mustafa Kemal rejected the treaty, which was signed after the war and contained severe conditions. He resigned from the army and started the liberation war in Ankara with his fellow soldiers.

Foundation of Modern Turkey

Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, a former Ottoman general, organized the War of Independence (1919-1922) with the support of the people he organized in Anatolia. He managed to open the way to independence with his generals such as Fevzi Cakmak Pasha, Kazim Karabekir Pasha and Ismet Inonu Pasha.

In Anatolia, once the heart of the Ottoman Empire, the modern Republic of Turkey was founded. Parliament was established in Ankara and the war of liberation was directed from there. Therefore, the capital of the new state was Ankara. Although Istanbul is no longer the capital, it is still the economic capital.

Map of Turkey

Modern Day Turkey Map

Republic of Turkey Map

Ottoman Empire Map by Serhat Engul


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