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The Decline of the Ottoman Empire

  • Date Submitted: 01/27/2014 08:15 PM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 49.2 
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Empires can be likened to complex kaleidoscopes which change colours through time. For this reason it is difficult to see if an empire is steadily weakening or reforming by changing colour. Hence there is much debate over when the Ottoman Empire began to significantly decline. Historians such as Dan Smith, Edward Freeman, Albert Hourani assert that the empire began to steadily decline after the death of Sulayman the Magnificent in 1566.[1] Others such as Donald Quataert claim that the reformations in the late 17th and 18th Century “should be seen as transformation but not decline”.[2] Some such as Stanford Shaw traced the starting point of decline from “midway in the reign of Sulayman and continuing almost without pause until the end of 18th century,” however the Europeans only noticed this decline in the 17th Century.[3]

Despite the disagreements, the majority agree that it was during the reign of Sulayman that the Empire reached its zenith. Therefore this paper will deal with the major events which took place after Sulayman. I will look at the four sources of power claimed by Michael Mann; military, economic, political, ideological[4] and show how the Ottomans steadily lost power in each of these areas.

Military

Firstly, from a military perspective the Ottomans began to be defeated in battles and despite a few victories, overall they lost and subsequently began to contract. The Ottomans, who began as a warrior state against the Byzantine Empire, were known for their military edge. However with the discovery of the New World and thus the wealth which flowed into Europe, they advanced technologically and militarily and so the balance began to tip. This was exasperated, as Hourani says, by the end of the 16th Century as rulers who were weak in character and intellect came into power.[5] This stopped military progress as this curtailed the constant quest for better and more effective military strategies.

The Ottomans lost many battles and signed many...

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