Ottoman Empire

Authored by: Virginia H. Aksan

The Ashgate Research Companion to Modern Imperial Histories

Print publication date:  May  2012
Online publication date:  March  2016

Print ISBN: 9780754664154
eBook ISBN: 9781315613277
Adobe ISBN: 9781317042525


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The Ottoman Empire, the largest of the pre-modern Muslim empires, survived six hundred years from c. 1300 to 1923, and at it greatest extent encompassed the majority of the geopolitical space of the present-day Middle East and the Balkans: Hungary, Albania, Bosnia, Romania, Greece, Bulgaria, large parts of North Africa, especially Egypt and Libya and the Hijaz in Saudi Arabia. The Ottomans first appeared in Anatolia (present-day Turkey) in the thirteenth century. Their arrival there was part of an immense shift in the geopolitical and cultural parameters of civilisations in the Middle East in the post-Mongolian age. Arab geographers recorded the settlement of tens of thousands of tents in the mountain valleys and plateaus of Anatolia, signalling the arrival of nomadic, pastoral (and largely Turkish) tribes, who had converted to Islam by contact with itinerant preachers and Sufis since the ninth century. One of the eight to ten significant such tribes was that of Osman I (r. 1281–1324), who gave his name to the dynasty. 1 1

Europeans derived Ottoman from the Arabic form of Osman’s name, ‘Uthman (the third caliph of early Islam), signifying the dynasty’s attachment to Islam from the beginning.

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