Ottoman EmpireFounded in 1299 CE by Turks in Asia Minor. Had a mostly antagonistic relationship with the Byzantine Empire. The Sultan, claiming to be the caliph and holding control over religious leaders, led the Sunni Islamic Ottoman Empire. The caliph is Muhammad’s successor, leading Muslims in religious/ civil matters. As the empire expanded, it became multinational, containing many vassal states.
Osman, a tribal leader from the northwest portion of Asia Minor/Anatolia, established the Ottoman Empire (1299 CE-1922 CE). The beginning of the empire consisted of almost constant expansion, especially at the detriment of the Byzantines. Sultan Mehmed II conquered Constantinople in 1453 CE, ending the Byzantine Empire.
Constantinople became the empire’s capital. It was the most populous city in Europe, attracting scholars with its religious schools. Gazis (war leaders) led conquests, bringing Sufis and janissaries with them. Sufis practiced mystical forms of Islam and introduced Islam to the conquered, while janissaries were slaves and elite foot soldiers. The empire was an autocracy under the Sultan, who was always descended from Osman. It reached its height under Suleiman I, who expanded to Vienna. Similar to Spain and Portugal, the Ottomans did not control their own trade, with foreign merchants getting much of the wealth. This contributed to the empire’s decline, finally ending after World War I.
Until the late 15th century, the Empire was made up mostly of Christians, even though it was ruled by the Muslim minority. The non-Muslim population fell in the late 1800s due to immigration. Christians and Jews were allowed to worship freely, but had a lower social status than Muslims. The Ottoman Empire became a safe haven for the Jewish, who were persecuted elsewhere. After Jews were expelled from Iberian Peninsula, causing many to immigrate to the Ottoman Empire in the late 15th century. The Ottoman Empire was multinational, so it took on many of the cultural aspects of the regions they conquered, becoming especially Persian in nature.
The official language was Ottoman Turkish, which was influenced by Arabic and Persian. Persian was a language for the high-class and educated, while Arabic was used for religious ceremonies.