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Ottoman History
Ottoman History

Geoffrey Woodward assesses how great an impact the Turks had on sixteenth-century Europe.

‘Now shalt thou feel the force of Turkish arms
Which lately made all Europe quake for fear.’

The Ottoman Empire and Europe, 1453-1922

The Ottoman Empire was one of the largest and longest-surviving empires in history. It existed in one form or another from the turn of the fourteenth century until 1922, and at its greatest extent reached to Croatia and Algeria in the west, the Persian Gulf in the east, Ukraine in the north and Yemen in the south. The empire played a significant role in the history of Europe: it ruled large parts of eastern and southern Europe; it was an important antagonist or ally of all the European powers; and it was a major trading partner for European societies.

Foreign relations of the Ottoman Empire

The foreign relations of the Ottoman Empire were characterized by competition with the Persian Empire to the east and Europe to the west. The foreign relations of the Ottomans began to collapse in the late 19th century and the early 20th century, the rise of nationalism under the Ottoman Empire eventually leading to the loss of many important territories. Austria-Hungary annexed Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Bulgarian Declaration of Independence soon followed, and eventually most of the Arab lands became independent soon before the Empire entered World War I.

The Ottoman Empire's diplomatic structure was unconventional and departed in many ways from its European counterparts. Traditionally, foreign affairs were conducted by the Reis ül-Küttab (Chief Clerk or Secretary of State) who also had other duties. In 1836, a Foreign Ministry was created.[1]


History of the Ottoman Empire during World War I

The Ottoman Empire participated in World War I as one of the Central Powers. The Ottomans entered the war when they carried out a surprise attack on Russia's Black Sea coast on 29 October 1914, following which Russia declared war on it on 1 November 1914. Ottoman forces fought the Allies in the Balkans and the Middle Eastern theatre of World War I. A naval blockade imposed by the allies and the conscription of farmers caused severe food shortages in the cities, especially in the winter of 1916-17. The Ottomans' defeat in the war in 1918 was crucial in the eventual dissolution of the empire in 1922.

Military Activities[edit]

Ottoman Empire 2

The Ottoman Empire which was heavily courted by Germany had been hard-pressed by Russia saw the opportunity to win back lost territory and joined the Central Powers. The Ottomans entered the War after the Western Front had settled down to static trench warfare, but the Germans had achieved major victories against the Russians on the Eastern Front. The Ottomons declared war on Russia on October 29, 1914. The first operation was a combined German-Turkish bombardment of Russian Black Sea ports. Russia and Britain and France quickly declared war on Turkey (November 2-5). The first Ottoman offensive was aimed at the Russian Caucauses (December). After initial successes, the Russiand retook much lost ground (August 1915).

Ottoman Empire

The Ottoman Empire (/ˈɒtəmən/; Ottoman Turkish: دَوْلَتِ عَلِيّهٔ عُثمَانِیّه‎, Devlet-i ʿAlīye-i ʿOsmānīye; Modern Turkish: Osmanlı İmparatorluğu or Osmanlı Devleti), also known as the Turkish Empire,[9] Ottoman Turkey,[10][11] was an empire founded at the end of the thirteenth century in northwestern Anatolia by the Turkish[12] tribal leader Osman,[13] according to the Ottoman tradition said to have been descended from the Kayı tribe.[dn 4] After conquests in the Balkans by Murad I between 1362 and 1389, the Ottoman sultanate was transformed into a transcontinental empire and claimant to the caliphate. The Ottomans ended the Byzantine Empire with the 1453 conquest of Constantinople by Mehmed the Conqueror.[15]

List of sultans of the Ottoman Empire

The sultans of the Ottoman Empire (Turkish: Osmanlı padişahları), made up solely of the members of the Ottoman dynasty(House of Osman), ruled over the transcontinental empire from its inception in 1299 to its dissolution in 1922. At its height, the Ottoman Empire spanned from Hungary in the north to Yemen in the south, and from Algeria in the west to Iraq in the east. Administered at first from the city of Bursa, the empire's capital was moved to Edirne in 1363 following its conquest by Murad I, and then to Constantinople (present-day Istanbul) in 1453 following its conquest by Mehmed II.[1]

Middle Eastern theatre of World War I

The Middle Eastern theatre of World War I saw action between 29 October 1914 and 30 October 1918. The combatants were, on one side, the Ottoman Empire (including Kurds and some Arab tribes), with some assistance from the other Central Powers; and on the other side, the British (with the help of Jews, Greeks, Assyrians and the majority of the Arabs), the Russians (with the help of Armenians) and the French from the Allies of World War I. There were five main campaigns: the Sinai and Palestine Campaign, the Mesopotamian Campaign, the Caucasus Campaign, the Persian Campaign, and the Gallipoli Campaign. There were also several minor campaigns: the North African Campaign, Arab Campaign, and South Arabia Campaign.
Both sides used local asymmetrical forces in the region.

Ottoman entry into World War I

The Ottoman Empire's entry into World War I began when its navy carried out a surprise attack on Russia's Black Sea coast on 29 October 1914, following which Russia declared war on it on 1 November 1914. Russia's allies, Britain and France, then declared war on the Ottoman Empire on 5 November 1914. The reasons for the Ottoman action were not immediately clear, since the Empire was not formally allied with any of the great powers.[1] This decision would ultimately lead to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Ottomans and the eventual dissolution of the empire.[2][3][4]


The Ottoman Empire

In the decade up to 1914 the Ottoman government invested heavily in the modernisation of its army's weapons and equipment. This programme concentrated on buying material directly from foreign companies rather than building domestic industrial capacity. As part of this modernisation process the Ottoman government invited a German military mission to advise the army on its choice of modern weapons and how best to use them. Under the influence of these advisers most of the pre-war military contracts went to large German arms manufacturers, including Krupp, Mauser and Rheinmetall.

Eastern Front (World War I)

The Eastern Front of World War I (Russian: Восточный фронт, sometimes called the "Second Fatherland War" or "Second Patriotic War" (Russian: Вторая Отечественная война) in Russian sources)[7] was a theatre of operations that encompassed at its greatest extent the entire frontier between the Russian Empire and Romania on one side and the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Bulgaria, the Ottoman Empire and the German Empire on the other. It stretched from the Baltic Sea in the north to the Black Sea in the south, included most of Eastern Europe and stretched deep into Central Europe as well. The term contrasts with "Western Front", which was being fought in Belgium and France.

Western Front (World War I)

The Western Front was the main theatre of war during World War I. Following the outbreak of war in August 1914, the German Army opened the Western Front by invading Luxembourg and Belgium, then gaining military control of important industrial regions in France. The tide of the advance was dramatically turned with the Battle of the Marne. Following the race to the sea, both sides dug in along a meandering line of fortified trenches, stretching from the North Sea to the Swiss frontier with France. This line remained essentially unchanged for most of the war.

Western front 2

Late during the summer of 1914, train stations all over Europe echoed with the sound of leather boots and the clattering of weapons as millions of enthusiastic young soldiers mobilized for the most glorious conflict since the Napoleonic Wars. In the eyes of many men, pride and honor glowed in competition with the excitement of a wonderful adventure and the knowledge of righting some perceived infringement on the interests of their respective nation. Within weeks however, the excitement and glory gave way to horror and anonymous death, brought on by dangerous new machines of war which took control of the old fields of honor and turned them into desolate moonscapes littered with corpses and wreckage. This new great war, called World War One, began as a local disturbance in Southern Europe but eventually spread into a worldwide struggle which produced two of the greatest bloodlettings in history; the battles of the Somme and Verdun.

Western Front

The Western Front, a 400-plus mile stretch of land weaving through France and Belgium from the Swiss border to the North Sea, was the decisive front during the First World War. Whichever side won there – either the Central Powers or the Entente – would be able to claim victory for their respective alliance. Despite the global nature of the conflict, much of the world remembers the First World War through the lens of the Western Front, in large part thanks to the success of Erich Maria Remarque’s classic, All Quiet on the Western Front. This article looks at the war on the Western Front from 1914-1918, its major events, battles, and strategies.


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