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Tuesday, August 03, 2004
 
THE OTTOMAN EMPIRE



This powerful empire, which lasted almost 500 years, is one that many know very little about. Yet many of today's 'hot spots' , from the Balkans through the Middle East, have their origins in the policies, and especially in details of the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire after WWI.

The Ottoman Empire can be said to begin with the fall of Constantinople, the capital of the Byzantine Empire, in 1453 to the Ottoman Turks. This also marked the passing of leadership in the Muslim world from Arab Caliphates into Turkish hands, where it remained until less than 100 years ago. A good overview of the empire can be found here, and maps showing its expansion and decline can be found here.

To many Westerners, mention of the sultans evokes an image of 'harems'..

Unlike some Islamic polities before and since, the Ottamans were interested more in political, military and economic power than in imposing their faith upon subject peoples. This led to fairly remarkable coexistence at times. The Ottoman strategy for rule in the Balkans is discussed here.

Because the Ottomans left such a legacy of unresolved issues, it is hard to find impartial sites devoted to them. For example, here is a Palestinian site devoted to
Ottoman Jerusalem, and a Jewish site devoted to Suleyman the Magnificent.

People always seemed to know half of history, and to get it confused with the other half.
Jane Haddam

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