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The Ottoman Empire - History

TerritoryModernFromTo *
Marmara SeaTurkey13561922
Morea / MoraGreece1458-14601830
Micaz / HejazSaudi Arabia15171920
Cyrenaica / BarqaLibya15211711
Felix ArabiaYemen15381630
ShirvanWest Iran15871603
al-HasaSaudi Arabia15911604
Felix ArabiaYemen18711920
* de facto, many remained de jure thereafter
The history of the conquests of the Ottoman Empire is complicated to narrate, as some of the names most familiar to geographical literature, do not correspond to earlier entities. For instance, Roumelia, [so called from the Turkish country of the Roman people], is that part of European Turkey encompassed the Balkans on the north and west, and bordered by the Black Sea and the Archipelago, with the interconnecting waters, on the east and south. Broadly, it is the geographical equivalent of the Thracia of the Romans, the older Thrace including Bulgaria, and a still older one, before the rise of Macedonia. The inhabitants are a mixed race or rather a mixture of races, Greeks, Romanized Greeks or Graeco - Romans, Groecized Slavs, Macedonians, Bulgarians, Servians and Turks.

Montenegro, or, in the language of the natives, Czernagora, or, in Turkish, Kara Dagh, meaning in all forms Black Mountain, may be mentioned incidentally as separating the Turkish vilayets, Ochrida and Hersek. On the downfall of Servia in 1389 it became independent, or some scattered fragments of the Slavic army defeated at Kossovo maintained their independence, in the fastnesses of the Black Mountain, against the Turks. Prince Ivan Crnojevic had to accept Ottoman sovereignty in the late 15th century. They were, however, a thorn in the side of the Ottoman Empire ever since - sometimes subject, at other times independent, and always troublesome.

In more than a few instances, the first Ottoman conquest of a city did not decisively resolve matters. Murad III, who succeeded his father in 1575, was credited with Mesopotamia as far south as Mosul, won from the Persians ; but it was not till after the short and inglorious reigns of Mohammed III, Achmet I, and Mustapha I, that Murad IV resumed the role of conqueror, and by recovering Baghdad from the same hereditary foes in 1638 - when he cruelly massacred 30,000 of the surrendered garrison and inhabitants - completed the stretch of Ottoman dominion from the Black Sea to the Gulf. With the exception of Crete, which, after a tedious siege of more than twenty years, was captured by the Grand Vizier Achmet Kiuprili in 1669, this was the last Turkish conquest made out of Europe, for although the actual subjection of Kurdistan and the recovery of Yemen have been the work of the 19th Century, both these provinces had ranked as Ottoman territory since much remoter dates. Similarly, though the Taurus Turcomans of the Kozan-dagh and the Ghiaour-dagh enjoyed a sort of feudal independence down to 1863, the Sultan's firman "ran" through all Caramania since Adana and Selefkeh fell to Bayazid. Towards the close of the 17th century, when the Crescent had already passed its military zenith, several points were colonized on the Circassian coasts - at Gelandjik, Soukoum-Kale, Anapa, and elsewhere - but, although the Porte afterwards based on the possession of these stations a claim to sovereignty over the whole coast, their real object was to facilitate and regulate the white slave traffic on which the harems of Byzantium and of Stamboul had alike depended for their supplies.

Thus, on the foundation laid by a petty chieftain with a smaller following than that of many a Kurdish or Arab sheikh of the present day, was built up, in Asia alone, an empire larger than Spain, France and Austria combined. From the Bosphorus to Georgia, and from the eastern corner of the Black Sea to the Persian Gulf, Ottoman power was supreme, or disputed only by a few barbarous tribes. After a century, however, the ebb in this long tide of conquest began.

The loss of Hungary by the Treaty of Karlowitz in 1699 marked the beginning of the long decline of the Ottoman Empire. In 1738, Nadir Shah recovered Georgia, Erivan, Azerbijan, Kermanshah, and the other districts in Persia which had been in turn absorbed, and established substantially the border that has since divided the two countries. Fifty-four years later, the treaty of Jassy surrendered to Russia the Crimea and the Kuban, with such rights as the Porte claimed to have over the rest of the Circassian seaboard. The war of 1829 further gave the Czar Akhaltsik and the slice of country inclosing it, from Gumri to the Rhion, and pushed the Caucasian frontier westwards from close behind Ani to the near neighborhood of Batoum. To this the treaty of Berlin added Kars, with Ardahan, Olti, Atvin, and Batoum itself. The Turks were, however, driven out of Yemen in 1630 by a native Imauin called Khasim, whose successors held the province till 1870, when the Porte despatched an army from Syria, and reconquered the whole down to Bab-el-Mandeb.

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