Origins of the Ottoman Empire
Founded in Anatolia in the 13th century by a Turkic dynasty, the Ottoman Empire would come to conquer and rule vast lands and an ever-growing number of peoples across Western Asia (the Middle East), Southeastern Europe and Northern Africa.
The power of the Sultan
Two hundred years after its establishment, contemporaries in the European capitals marvelled at the imperial cities of Constantinople and Cairo, recognised the Sultan as the most powerful ruler in the known world, and respected and feared the strength of the imperial armies.
At its peak, the Ottoman Empire dwarfed several European powers as one of the largest Eurasian empires with millions of imperial subjects across two continents, several religions and numerous ethnic groups. Remarkably, it also lasted centuries, adapting to everchanging circumstances both within and beyond the empire.
Growing discontent and enduring interest
Towards the end of the 19th century, the Ottomans faced an increasing level of internal discontent. There was a growing number of nationalist movements in the Balkans and rebellious provincial governors elsewhere.
The empire also attracted increasing interest of several European rivals, which had grown increasingly stronger through their colonial and imperial projects in Africa, the Americas and/or Asia. Eventually, these pressures led to the demise of the empire at the end of the First World War, several centuries after its formation.
Given its vast reach and longevity, the Ottoman Empire continues to captivate the world. Favourable or not, the fascination of its emergence, expansion, ability to resist both internal and external resistance and eventual demise has found expressions in history, archaeology, popular culture and, of course, memories (or counter-memories).
Nearly a century after its demise, media headlines day in and day out are perhaps the strongest reminders of the importance of the Ottoman Empire and its legacies in Western Asia (the Middle East), Southeastern Europe and Northern Africa.
Learn more about the Ottoman Empire at City Lit
This term City Lit offers two courses that will help you understand better the history of the Ottoman Empire:
‘The Ottoman Empire’ (from 12 October 2.45pm-4.45pm)
This course explores the history of the Ottoman empire from its formation to its end as well as its legacies.
‘The Ottoman Empire and the Western Powers’: Politics, Archaeology and the Public Imagination’ (21 October 6pm-7.30pm)
This course surveys the later political history of the Ottoman Empire to explore the importance of archaeology and museums in understanding the construction of empire and nation in both Ottoman and Western public imaginations.
Interested in World History?
City Lit offers a range of World History courses online. Browse our online catalog for more information.