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Decline Of Ottoma Empire Essay

1626 words - 7 pages

The decline of the Ottoman Empire (1565-1918)
In the late 1500's, the Ottoman Empire started going into decline as a result of both internal and external factors. Internally, the Ottomans suffered from three major problems. First of all, after Suleiman's death, the sultans were less capable and energetic, being raised and spending their time increasingly at court with all its harem intrigues. Without the sultan's strong hand at the helm, corruption became a major problem. Second, the Janissaries became a virtual hereditary caste, demanding increasingly more pay while they also grew soft and lazy. Finally, the size of the empire created problems. The sultan was expected to lead the ...view middle of the document...

That economic decline hurt the empire militarily in two ways that fed back into further economic decline. First of all, after 1600, the Turks lost their technological and military edge. While European armies were constantly upgrading their artillery and firearms, the Ottomans let theirs stagnate, thus putting them at a disadvantage against their enemies. Also, as Turkish conquests ground to a halt, a stable frontier guarded by expensive fortresses evolved, which drained the empire of even more money. At the same time, Europeans were reviving the Roman concept of strict drill and discipline to create much more efficient and reliable armies. However, the Turks failed to adapt these techniques and, as a result, found themselves increasingly at a disadvantage when fighting against European armies.
Second, the tough feudal Turkish cavalry that had been the backbone of the army in the mobile wars of conquest were less useful to the sultans who now needed professional garrisons to run the frontier forts. Without wars of conquest to occupy and enrich them, they became restless and troublesome to the central government. That combined with the problems from the Janissaries, caused revolts that further disrupted the empire. (Eventually, the Janissaries would become so troublesome that one sultan would have to surround and massacre them.) Both of these military problems, the failure to keep up with the West and the increasingly rebellious army, fed back into the empire's economic decline, which further aggravated its military problems.
The following centuries saw the Ottoman Empire suffer from steady political and economic decay. By the 1800's, its decrepit condition would earn it the uncomplimentary title of "The Sick Man of Europe". Finally, the shock of World War I would destroy the Ottoman Empire once and for all, breaking it into what have become such Middle Eastern nations as Turkey, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Lebanon, and Israel.
Cause of demise
One of the distinguishing factors of the Ottoman Empire from other peripheries was that it was never colonised but was subject to inter-imperialist rivalry. The empire did have difficulty trying to protect and develop its nascent industries (which arguably contributed to its financial difficulties in the late 19th century), however this problem was no different to that faced by other nations at the time. Unable to develop financing models and techniques like the British and the Dutch, along with its inability to mobilise and equip reserves en masse like its European counterparts, this shortcoming contributed towards its military weakness and shrinking borders. With the defeat against the Russians in the mid-19th century and fighting on many fronts, it had to capitulate against Britain and allow an influx of zero-tariff goods along with an increased European military presence on its lands resulting in a weakened position in international relations. These capitulations prevented it from...

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