The Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman Empire was a Turkish kingdom that existed between 1299 and 1923.The kingdom was made up of 29 provinces. It ruled over many parts of southern Europe, west Asia and North Africa. The kingdom further extended its territory to include overseas lands that were acquired through declarations of loyalty to the Ottoman Sultan and caliph. The kingdom ended on 24Th, July 1923 and was replaced the present republic of Turkey (History World, n.d).
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The ottoman leadership transformed the three major capitals Bursa, Edime and Constantinople into commercial and industrial centers due to the influence of merchants and artisans. Under the regime of Mehmed and Bayezid the Jews who were fleeing from Europe were given refuge and treated equally just like the locals. This gentleness was necessary to avoid the rise of revolts which could dismantle the kingdom.
The success of Ottoman kingdom according to Hovanissian (2004) was owed to a group of professionals that was responsible for monitoring the activities of the treasury. These professionals acted as the financial advisors of the kingdom. The strategic location of Ottoman kingdom barred the Spanish and Portuguese explorers to access the western and eastern routes hence they had to look for alternative routes. This hindered economic development in the region since trade was considered an economic driver.
The influence of ottoman kingdom was enhanced by the authority that exercised on the new trade links to India that were first used by Vasco da Gama. Ottoman kingdom contributed to the growth of Western Europe by establishing commercial centers and allowing European immigrants to cultivate idle tracts of land.
The ottoman kingdom’s system of governance comprised of two administrative units. These units were namely military administration and civil administration units. The Sultan was the premier of the government. The civil administrative unit was in charge of religious leaders. Caliphate is the highest position in Islam was assumed by the sultan. The ottoman Sultan existed as the supreme leader of the kingdom. The Imperial Herem was one of the most crucial elements of the Kingdom’s court (Bernstein, 2009).
The ottoman court was chaired by a Valide Sultan who presided over the court rulings. There also existed a council of women who were referred to as the Sultanate of Harem who were in authority in absence of the Valide Sultan. For one to be appointed as the successor of a sultan he must have been sired by the sons of the preceding Sultan.
Besides, the palace school was established with the objective of enlightening the potential successors. It was also used as a training center for future government officials. The madrasa classes were specifically reserved for Muslims and the most learned persons in the kingdom.
Bernstein (2009) argues that the madrasa classes were funded by the Vakifs which helped children from poor families were educated on how to use their acquired skills in improving their livelihood. Christians on the other hand had a dedicated boarding school commonly known as Enderun that was free for all Christian communities that resided in the Ottoman kingdom.
The Sultan of Ottoman kingdom ruled with the aid of a council of advisors that was called Divan that included ministers, military officers and religious leaders. The kingdom incorporated educated professionals into government administrative units regardless of their ethnicity or religion which was very fruitful.
The Sultan of the Ottoman had 35 signatures accorded to him and were engraved on his seal and they included his name and the name of his father. Ottoman kingdom was strongly bonded by community groups referred to as Millets. The diverse groups cohabited peacefully. The Sultan ensured the cultures and interests of these groups were safeguarded. The groups were allowed to exercise their culture, language and their respective religious policies (Havanissian, 2004).
The Sultan’s unbiased acceptance of immigrants was very beneficial towards uniting the kingdom. The lifestyle of Ottoman kingdom was a blend of western and eastern elements. Slave trade and slavery was very active in the Ottoman kingdom.
Ottoman kingdom acquired new traditions and cultures by interacting with its adjacent neighbors. This improved trade relations with the Western Europe. These interactions led to the introduction of multicultural practices such as intermarriages. These marriages were responsible for the cultural reforms that followed. The kingdom also adopted some cultures and traditions from its newly acquired territories.
According to Balakian (2003), the dominant Ottoman architecture was blended to feature diverse designs from Persia, Byzia and Islam. During the reign of Tulip, designs were mainly characterized by ornamented elements that were borrowed from European lifestyles. Mosques were the major exhibitors of this cultural interchange. Majority of the inhabitants of Ottoman kingdom were Muslims and that’s why these designs revolved around places of worship.
Other places that continue to exhibit Ottoman culture include Egypt, Eritrea, Algiers, Tunisia and Hungary. Ottoman Classical music was integrated into Ottoman’s system of education and was highly appreciated by scholars. The rhythm and melodies used in this classical music resemble those that are used in western music.
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Music in Ottoman kingdom was divided into two classes, namely classical music and folk music. Ottoman cuisine is the kind of delicacy found at the capital of Ottoman, Constantinople. Most of these cuisines were introduced into Ottoman kingdom by chefs who were brought at the capital from other regions of the empire to try new dishes during Ramadan festivities (Bernstein, 2009).
Ottoman language was greatly distorted by Persians and Arabs. Ottoman Turkish language is a combination of Persian and Arabian languages and is used as the official language .This new language was limited to literate people only and people who lived in commercial centers. Therefore, Western Europe assimilated the practices of Ottoman Empire to enable people to engage in trade and intermarriages and consequently leading to economic, political, and social stability.
Balakian, P. (2003).The Burning Tigris: The Armenian Genocide and America’s Response. New York: Perennial.
Bernstein, D. (2009). “Weary of Modern Fictions, Turks Glory in Splendor of Ottoman Past” New York Times, December, 5, 2009.
History World. (n.d). History of the Ottoman Empire. Retrieved from http://www.historyworld.net/wrldhis/PlainTextHistories.asp?historyid=ab37
Hovanissian, R.G. (2004).The Armenian People from Ancient to Modern Times. 2 (218), UK: Palgrave Macmillan.