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Ottoman Empire Notes

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Ottoman Empire Tutorial
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Contents

History of the Ottoman Empire and Modern Turkey, Volume I: Empire of the
Gazis: The Rise and Decline of the Ottoman Empire, 1280--1808 -- S. Shaw

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The Ottoman Empire in the Middle of the Eighteenth Century and the
Fragmentation of Tradition: Relations of the Nationalities (Millets), Guilds
(Esnaf) and the Sultan, 1740--1768 -- R. W. Olson

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The Eastern Question 1744--1923: A Study in International Relations -- M. S.
Anderson

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Some Reflections on the Decline of the Ottoman Empire -- B. Lewis
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Military Reform and the Problem of Centralisation in the Ottoman Empire in the
Eighteenth Century -- A. Levy

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The Ottoman centre versus provincial power--holders: an analysis of the
historiography -- D. Rizk Khoury

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General Notes
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Ottoman Empire Tutorial
Decline -- euro--centric view
~ Historiographical debate
~ Yet geographically independent developments -- should have accepted them
Issue of globalisation -- frontiers with Europe
~ Brockliss -- changed the dynamics of the world
Globalisation is a good introduction to the topic
1453 -- Fall of Constantinople to the Ottomans => Empire
Millet system -- toleration
~ Yet Russia had different religions
How different were the Ottomans from other states in Europe?
~ Comparable to earlier courts
~ Louis XIV -- kept everyone at Versailles and sold tax farms
Unstable power relationship
2 ways of looking at the Ottoman Empire
~ Late 18th century Orientalism -- old and wise cultures => part of sentimentalism
~ Counter--trend to the Enlightenment rational idea that they are backward and
despotic

~ Montesquieu -- climate makes them lazy
Contemporaries do not know that much about the Ottoman Empire
~ Criticism -- used to criticise own society
~ Montesquieu's Persian Letters -- narrator is a Turk

~ Comparison of the Ottoman Empire and France -- finds France very despotic
1798 -- Napoleon's invasion of Egypt
Process of building stronger nations through centralisation
Islam -- should not interfere in another person's sphere of interest
~ Do not take rights from the Janissaries
Cultural--religious discourse used by different interest groups to mobilise people
Janissaries are comparable to the Praetorian Guard in the Roman Empire -- revolts
Mamluks in Egypt -- 'slaves' => were not paid and did not have certain rights

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Rise of nationalism and race in the Balkans
~ Serbian revolt in 1804 -- Janissaries are not kept in check

~ Banditry -- pre--revolutionary condition of lawlessness

~ Are they nationalist? -- not a cohesive movement
~ Feeling of wanting Romanian princes to return -- Russian and Austrian invasion =>
did not want their or Ottoman's rule
Comparison between the Ottomans and the French -- selling offices => different results

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Fragmentation of authority -- more nationalism at a local level





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History of the Ottoman Empire and Modern Turkey, Volume I: Empire of the
Gazis: The Rise and Decline of the Ottoman Empire, 1280--1808 -- S. Shaw
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1976)
pp. 217--299
The War of the Holy League and the Peace of Karlowitz 1683--99
1683 -- collapse of Ottoman army following failure to take Vienna
~ Weakness of Ottoman Empire => Europe took the offensive
Century and a half of nearly continuous warfare -- Ottomans lost major territories
~ Continued efforts at traditional reforms and attempts to modernise elements of
the army
Austrian advances in Hungary -- great landmark of Ottoman penetration of Europe
~ Shattered morale and organisation
Were able to resist the European advance when there was proper organisation -- seen on
the Polish front
Severe internal problems -- disaster at Vienna, loss of major territories in Hungary and
Transylvania, influx of thousands of refugees and the Venetian attacks in the western
Balkans
Years after 1683 saw the empire reach a low point internally as well as externally
~ Financial issues due to loss of revenues and unrest
~ Debasement and famine
Series of Balkan revolts against the Ottomans in the 1680s in support of the advancing
Imperials
1689 -- revolt of thousands of Serbs and rapid Habsburg conquests seemed to presage
the end of Ottoman rule in Europe
~ Yet the Habsburg advance had reached its peak
1689 -- Fazil Mustafa Pasa came to power
~ Made many reforms to administration and the army
~ Sincere concern for subjects => loyalty
Systems of justice and administration began to operate more efficiently than they had
done for over a century
~ Undermined by the grand vezir's failures in the economic sphere
Stalemate in Central Europe between the Emperor and the Sultan
Mustafa II 1695--1703
~ 'His reign epitomised all the glories and disasters of the Ottoman Empire in its
age of disintegration. The pattern was a quick recovery from disaster followed
shortly by a stalemate and subsequent collapses, which when they did come, were
sudden and disastrous' (p. 223)
Unable to pursue war on multiple fronts -- Austrian, Venetian and Northern
Empire was now in desperate straits -- famine, disease, inflation and disorder
~ Austrians were poised on the Danube, Russians had established a claim to the
Black Sea, French had just accepted the Peace of Ryswick (1697) which removed
them as a serious diversion for Austria (although soon embroiled in the War for the
Spanish Succession 1701--14)

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'The Treaty of Karlowitz was the first of many agreements between the Ottomans and
coalitions of European powers allied against them and it represented the Ottoman
transition from the offensive to the defensive' (p. 224)
'The legal acknowledgement of the loss of integral parts of the empire -- Hungary and
Transylvania to the Habsburgs; Dalmatia, the Morea and important Aegean Islands to
Venice; Podolya and the southern Ukraine to Poland; above and the lands north to the
Dniester to Russia -- marked the real beginning of the Ottoman withdrawal from Europe'
(p. 224)

The New Age of Decline and Traditional Reform
'Not only did the Treaty of Karlowitz mark a watershed in Ottoman relations with
Europe, but it also marked the culmination of the era of internal disintegration and the
beginning of rapid decline' (p. 225)
~ Long years of war
~ Loss of territories considered integral -- shook morale
'For the first time a few Ottomans began to see that reform was possible if only the
empire could discover what Europe had done to achieve its new supremacy and
incorporate what was best into the Ottoman system' (p. 225)
~ Began to accept idea that Europe might have specific techniques that could be
used to strengthen traditional ways

~ Particularly new military organisation and weapons
'Traditionalistic reform, therefore, became a combination of old and new, creating an
amalgam that, while not successful in itself, opened the way for a new style of modern
reform during the 19th century' (p. 225)
~ Even limited change developed hesitantly and gradually
Continued opposition from those who felt that 'innovations' would weaken the
Ottoman structure
'Therefore, reform had its ups and downs during the 18th century; temporary successes
usually led to disaster for the reformers, but enough traces of them remained to provide
models and experience for those who followed' (p. 225)

The Reforms of Amca zade Huseyin Pasa
! Served as grand vezir for 3 years following Karlowitz (1699--1702)
! Sought to meet the needs of the common people as well as those of the army and
government by emphasising economic and financial solutions

~ Excise taxes on tobacco and coffee as well as on essentials such as oil and soap

were substantially reduced
! Efforts made to restore the value of coinage
! Wartime impositions were excused
! Tax concessions to induce cultivators to return to their fields and merchants to their
trades
! Places such as Cyprus, Urfa, Malaya and Antalya where new cultivators were particularly
needed -- nomadic tribes were encouraged to settle
! Efforts were made to develop factories to compete with European manufactured
imports that had devastated the traditional Ottoman craft industries

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Also took steps to make the Ottoman army effective and reliable

~ Janissary corps had ballooned to 70k men before Karlowitz (with no more than

10k members actually serving) => reduced to 34k fighting men, all ready and able

to serve

~ Artillery corps was similarly reduced from 6k to 1,250 men

~ Feudal cavalry was also replenished with nomadic tribesmen
! Efforts were also made to revive the Ottoman navy

~ It was only now that they followed 17th century European naval innovations --

change from oar--powered to sail--powered vessels, new fleet of galleons and
developed a new naval structure to man them


~ Naval service was organise hierarchically
! Reforms in the scribal service and the palace

~ For the first time all officials were required to enter the dates on official
documents and to preserve them
! Efforts were renewed to end bribery

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The Fall of Amca zade Huseyin Pasa
! Opposition of those with a vested interest in abuse -- members of the Ruling Class
! 'As had been the case in the 17th century, the Ruling Class allowed reform only as long as
it was needed to save the empire from its enemies. But as soon as the danger was past,
it worked to undermine the reforms' (pp. 226--7)
! Feyzulla Efendi intervened in affairs of state and placed relatives in key positions
! Huseyin Pasa became ill and retired from office in 1702

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The Edirne Event
! Feyzullah Efendi was more dominant than ever -- controlled the grand vezirs and
extended his power to all areas of government

~ Bribes came to him and his men from most members of the Ruling Class and

holders of tax farms and fiefs

~ Even able to secure a large portion of the funds set aside for the wages and
supplies of the army
! Sultan's tendency to retire to his palace at Edirne and allow Feyzullah to do what he
wished

~ Further antagonised the soldiers and powerful merchants -- began to fear that the

Sultan was planning to transfer the empire's centre of power to Edirne => harmful

to their economic interests

~ Feyzullah's domination, the sultan's impotence and the politicking of their
opponents

~ Were also serious financial and economic difficulties
! Long war and series of imperial accessions had drained the treasury -- payments that
were made were in new debased coins

~ Inflation continued

~ Regular system of assigning and collecting taxes broke down almost completely
! Many tax farm and fiefs were transformed into life holdings called malikane (possession)
for which only token payments were required to the treasury
! 'Malikane holders gathered together hundreds of mukata'as in vast estates with
tremendous private revenues, often subfarming them to secure their maximum
exploitation, all at the expense of the artisans and cultivators who paid the taxes. Once
again, therefore, thousands of peasants began to flee from their lands, cultivation fell

off even more, the cities became overcrowded and town and country alike became
tinderboxes, waiting for only a spark to catch' (p. 227)
! Soldiers provided the spark for rebellion

~ 4 companies of Janissaries assigned to the Georgia expedition refused to go
unless back wages were paid (18 July 1703)


~ Joined by thousands of other soldiers, artisans, merchants etc.


~ Each concession was followed by new demands


~ Revels marched before the gates of the palace -- with the sultan and

Feyzullah in Edina it was easy for the rebels to take the palace
! 21 July 1703 -- all Istanbul was in the rebels' hands

~ Members of the government in the capital were torn apart and replaced by the

appointees of the rebels


~ Issued a decree demanding that Feyzullah and his associated be returned


from Edirne for trial
For some time the sultan remained oblivious
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~ When he finally learned of the affair he attempted to save himself by dismissing

Feyzullah and his sons and ordering them exiled to Erzurum

~ When this did not end the revolt, Mustafa attempted to summon the feudal army

to defend Edirne and march to Istanbul as the only way of saving his throne
! Rebels anticipated him and gained the support of most of the feudal soldiers => left the
sultan with only a few thousand men

~ Gained support of thousands of subjects in towns
! 21 August 1703 -- sultan's soldiers went over to the rebels => Mustafa was deposed and
his brother Ahmet III was proclaimed sultan

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Ahmet III 1703--30
! Showed interest in state affairs -- regularly changed grand vezirs and ministers to control
them and their parties

~ Tried to remedy past difficulties

~ Took about a decade to free himself from pressure of those who had brought him

to the throne
! Forced to distribute the largest accession tax ever paid to soldiers who had brought him
to power -- other soldiers then began to demand these => intended to overthrow the
Ottoman family and began to ravage eastern Thrace
! Divide and conquer -- sultan appointed members of one party and then another to key
positions => ultimately placed his own men as grand vezir and in charge of the Janissary
corps
! Once his authority was recognised, was content to leave affairs of state to ministers

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Corlula Ali was grand vezir until 1710 -- avoided the kinds of wars that had drained the
empire's resources in the 17th century
~ Devoted attention to balancing the treasury's budget

~ Even reduced the extravagances of the palace kitchens -- first 'traditional

reformer' who dared suggest that the sultan should join the effort
Executed thousands while confiscating their properties to increase treasury revenues
and transforming timar fiefs into tax farms to provide the treasury with cash revenue
Janissary corps was again reorganised
Naval reforms were also continued -- number of new ships and large--calibre canons were
increased

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New naval hierarchy was extended -- unfit men were removed
Naval ammunition and supply warehouses were filled to capacity
Feudal forces were strengthened

The Pruth Campaign
! Corlulu Ali also kept the empire out of the War of the Spanish Succession (1701--14) and
the Great Northern War (1700--21) despite the efforts of France and Sweden to get the
sultan's cooperation against Austria and Russia and the agitation of the new Crimean
han, Devlet Giray, who wanted support to resist the Russian advances north of the Black
Sea
! Peter the Great was free to defeat the Swedish king Charles XII in 1709 => refuge for
Charles and others in Ottoman territory

~ Ottoman court then became a centre of intrigue

~ Partisans of the Crimean han and opponents of the grand vezir supported
Charles

~ British and Russian ambassadors supported the peace party


~ War party prevailed => grand vezir Baltic Mehmet (August 1710--November


1711)
Party struggles and foreign intrigues now increased -- war partisans were divided over
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campaigns
! Tide shifted in favour of those who wanted a new move against Russia

~ Mattered little in Istanbul -- Peter had resolved that the time was ripe for the
attack
! Peter used as a pretext the continued presence of Charles XII on Ottoman territory
! Imperial Council declared war on the same day as Peter's ultimatum (20 December 1710)

~ Beginning of the conflict between Ottomans and Russians that was to become

the central element of the Eastern Question during the next 2 centuries

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Peter delayed war and attempted to make peace -- fear that without Habsburg
assistance he might lose both Poland and the Ukraine

~ Ottomans ignored overtures
! 20 July -- Peter and his army were completely surrounded and at the mercy of the
Ottomans in Wallachia

~ Appeared that the grand vezir could have demanded and obtained
unconditional surrender
! Yet the Ottomans had major problems -- army lacked sufficient supplies and he was
uncertain whether or not the Tatars would remain loyal or whether the Russians might
have replacements from the north
! 23 July 1711 -- Treaty of the Pruth

~ Russians were to return all conquered areas to the Ottomans

~ Destroy all their frontier forts and promise to abstain from further intervention in

Ottoman internal affairs

~ Sultan in return allowed free trade for Russian merchants

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Help had been promised to the Russians by the native princes of Wallachia and
Moldavia => supplanted by rulers appointed form among the Greek Phanariote
mercantile families of Istanbul
~ Principalities thus lost their native leadership -- resented the increased presence
of Greek language and culture in their political and religious administration

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