Thursday, February 9, 2023

The Ottoman Empire

In a few weeks we're headed to Kuşadasi, Turkey.  Or rather, I should get used to saying Türkiye.  Either way I am so ready for a week away.

I know that modern Türkiye came about after the end of WWI and the fall of the Ottoman Empire.  What I didn't know was just how vast the Ottoman Empire was.

The Ottoman Empire was actually one of the world's most powerful states during the 15th and 16th centuries.  It was an Islamic superpower founded by Osman I around 1299 and it lasted more than 600 years, only coming to an end back in 1922.  

Covering about 2 million square miles with 15 million people, it was huge!  At its height, the Ottoman Empire stretched all the way to the gates of Vienna.  Today, it would be made up of Türkiye, Greece, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Egypt, Hungary, North Macedonia, MontenegroBosnia and Herzegovina, AlbaniaSerbia, KosovoRomaniaMoldova Jordan, Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Qatar, plus parts of Saudi Arabia, Libya, Algeria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Ukraine, and Russia.  

Here's a short YouTube video about the rise of the Ottoman Empire.


The Ottoman Empire is known for its achievements in art, architecture, science, and medicine.  

But nothing lasts forever.  Here's another short video but this one is about the decline of the empire.


The darkest legacy of the Ottoman Empire is the Armenian genocide where up to approximately 1,5 million Armenian Christians living in the empire were killed from spring 1915 through autumn 1916 .  It is often called the first genocide of the 20th century and I still remember visiting the Armenian Genocide memorial in Yerevan.

Türkiye still denies that genocide occurred.  However, the Catholic Church, the United Nations, the European Parliament, and the Council of Europe have all recognised it as genocide.

In 2017, the Czech Parliament approved a resolution condemning the Armenian genocide and in 2020 the Czech Senate unanimously adopted a resolution recognising the Armenian genocide.

In 2019, the U.S. Congress affirmed the Armenian genocide and the Senate unanimously recognised the genocide.  Of course then-President Trump did not support the resolution but in 2021 President Biden officially recognised the Armenian genocide.

The Ottoman Empire made the fatal decision to side with the Central Powers in WWI.  Here's a short four-minute video about why they chose to fight alongside Germany.

©History Matters

Following the end of the war, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk became the first president of the Republic of Turkey.  Here's a bit about how the empire was carved up.

©History Matters

Considering that the Ottoman Empire contained parts of the Middle East, North Africa, the Caucasus and the Balkans, it's not a big surprise that there have been multiple conflicts between countries there since the breakup of the empire.  This map shows the borders of the Ottoman Empire in 1801in green.  The red lines show wars that have been fought between countries.  

Fortunately, I'm not expecting any drama whilst on holiday in Kuşadasi.  Fingers crossed.

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