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HIST231: Empire and States in the Middle East and Southwest Asia

Unit 6: The Ottoman Empire   The collapse of the Abbasid Empire at the end of the 13th century enabled Turkish rulers in eastern Asia Minor to consolidate political power in the region.  Over the course of the 14th and 15th centuries, Ottoman Turks chipped away at the Byzantine Empire and established control over territories in the Balkans.  In 1453, the Ottomans captured the Byzantine capitol of Constantinople and the Turkish sultanate quickly emerged as a major world power.  The Ottoman Empire continued to expand into Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean Basin during the 1500s, but gradually became overextended in the East and the West.  During the next three centuries, the Ottomans attempted to consolidate their far-flung political and military holdings while dealing with new threats along the periphery of their empire.  During this time period, the Empire also entered a period of economic and cultural decline, and, by the mid-19th century, it had lost much of the economic and political power it had once possessed.  Nationalist movements threatened the integrity of the Empire and the Ottomans became dependent on Western European banks for funding to finance modernization projects.  Consequently, the Empire was no longer in a position to resist encroachments by imperialist European powers. 
In this unit, you will look at the rapid expansion and gradual decline of the Ottoman Empire from the 1300s through the end of the 19th century.  You will examine the administrative structure of the Ottoman state and consider why central authorities failed to implement important social, cultural, and economic reforms in the 18th and 19th centuries.  Finally, you will examine how European nations began to undercut the economic and political power of the Empire at the beginning of the 19th century.

Unit 6 Time Advisory
This unit will take you approximately 11.5 hours to complete

☐    Subunit 6.1: 3 hours

☐    Subunit 6.2: 4 hours

☐    Subunit 6.3: 2.5 hours

☐    Subunit 6.4: 2 hours

Unit6 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, the student will be able to:
- Identify the origins of the Ottoman Empire in the 13th century. - Assess how the Ottomans established political and economic control over the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East. - Analyze the political, economic, and military interactions between the Ottoman Empire and the nations of Europe in the 18th and 19th centuries. - Assess the reasons behind the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.

6.1 Origins of the Ottoman Empire   - Reading: History of Islam: Dr. Nazeer Ahmed’s “The Origins of the Ottoman Empire” Link: History of Islam: Dr. Nazeer Ahmed’s “The Origins of the Ottoman Empire” (HTML)
 
Instructions: This brief encyclopedic entry provides an overview of the origins of the Ottoman Empire.  Reading this text and taking notes on how the Ottoman Empire came to be should take you approximately 1 hour.
 
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  • Reading: Michigan State University: Halil Inalcik’s “The Question of the Emergence of the Ottoman State” Link: Michigan State University: Halil Inalcik’s “The Question of the Emergence of the Ottoman State” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Read the entire text closely.  Halil Inalcik is the most recognized historian of the Ottoman Empire; in this text, he examines how a small principality transformed into a major world empire.  You may consider the questions at the end of the text, but please note that you do not need to fill out and submit your personal information.  The reading should take you approximately 2 hours to complete.
     
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6.2 Fall of Constantinople in 1453   - Reading: Hellenic Electronic Center’s Professor Dionysios Hatzopoulos’ version of Nicolo Barbaro’s “The Fall of Constantinople, 1453” Link: Hellenic Electronic Center’s Professor Dionysios Hatzopoulos’ version of Nicolo Barbaro’s “The Fall of Constantinople, 1453” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please skip the poem at the beginning and start reading from the text below it.  The narrative is based on eyewitness accounts and reflects the view of those who are conquered.  It is a very vivid description of the capture of the capital city of the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire.  Keep in mind that its walls defended city over a thousand years.  After you read this text, write a brief paragraph that describes the fall of Constantinople.  You should dedicate approximately 4 hours to reading this text, taking notes, and writing this paragraph.
 
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6.3 Ottoman Social, Political, and Military Institutions   - Reading: Library of Congress’s Country Studies: Helen Chapin Metz’s “Ottoman Institutions” Link: Library of Congress’s Country Studies: Helen Chapin Metz’s “Ottoman Institutions” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read the entire webpage to learn about the class system and the general hierarchy in the Ottoman Empire.  The reading and taking notes should take you approximately 1 hour to complete.
 
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  • Reading: Fordham University’s Internet Modern History Sourcebook: Paul Halsall’s version of “A Visit to the Wife of Suleiman the Magnificent” Link: Fordham University’s Internet Modern History Sourcebook: Paul Halsall’s version of “A Visit to the Wife of Suleiman the Magnificent” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Please read this brief excerpt translated from a letter (circa 1550) by an unknown Genoese traveler.  It vividly describes a portion of a daily life in the women’s section of the palace (Harem).  It is an exceptional piece, because generally no one was allowed to visit this section of the palace but the sultan and close servants.  An argument can be made that the Harem was an Ottoman institution also.  After reading the text, take about 10 minutes to write a paragraph that describes the Harem, based on what you learned in this reading You should spend approximately 1.5 hours in reading this text, taking notes, and writing the descriptive paragraph.
     
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6.4 Decline of the Ottomans   - Reading: Naqshbandi’s “The Decline” Link: Naqshbandi’s “The Decline” (HTML)
 
Instructions: This text describes how the Ottoman Empire went on decline and the major players responsible for it.  The information is very easy to read but very important, especially considering that after the collapse of this empire the modern Middle East emerged.  While reading the text, keep in mind that the next unit will explain the infiltration of the Western power into the region and its effects.  Reading and taking comprehensive notes should take you approximately 2 hours to complete.
 
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