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Reasons for the Decline of the Ottoman Empire

Info: 2434 words (10 pages) Essay
Published: 23rd Sep 2019 in History

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What were the reasons for the decline of the Ottoman Empire

 

The Ottoman Empire was one of the biggest and strongest empires in history, however, the identity of them being a military superpower was slowly fading away. The reasons behind this were due to social factors such as religious leaders not supporting the Ottoman Empire’s goals, the Ottoman Empire’s weakening economy as they failed to compete with other countries economies and also the decline of Ottoman armed forces led to them constantly losing battles and territories. It can be said that the most significant reason for the decline of the Ottoman Empire was due to the Ottoman’s military decline because their armed forces are what made them famous and well known so without the abundant level of armed forces they were not seen as a powerful country. On the other hand, the weakening economy and the lack of support from religious leaders also contributed to the constant decline of the Ottoman Empire. This essay explores the reasons for the decline of the Ottoman Empire and justifies why the decline in armed forces was the most significant reason for the decline of the Ottoman Empires. This essay goes through the Military Decline, weakening the economy and lack of support from religious leaders that all led to the decline of the Ottoman Empire.

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The most significant decline of the Ottoman Empire was the decrease of the Ottoman military. Amid the hundreds of years, despite the fact that the Ottoman Empire could safeguard the greater part of their region, they endured a long arrangement of embarrassing annihilation from Europe and different domains. The war between the Ottoman and Austria and Russia in the 1690s brought about the thrashing of the Ottoman. Also, the Treaty of Karlowitz that marked with Austria in 1699, obliged the Ottoman to surrender the majority of Hungary to Hapsburgs. This additionally denoted the Ottoman’s first real surrender of An European area. The Ottoman-Russian War in 1768, additionally came about the loss of the Ottoman’s regions.[1] This was because Russia forced the Ottoman Empire out of Romania and the Crimea on the Black Sea. Cleveland and Bunton argue that the Treaty of Kuchuk Kaynarja in 1774 was one of the most embarrassing agreements which were the Ottomans engaged in.[2] Lewis states how once the Ottoman Empire were one time feared in Europe but now the table turned as he argues it was now the own population and sovereignty that feared for the fall of their Empire due to humiliating defeats against their enemies. [3] In the sixteenth century, the Ottoman Empire achieved the breaking points of its development, and faced obstructions which it couldn’t go because of Ottoman armed forces did not have the capacity to progress into Persia regardless of the triumphs in the field of Selim I and Suleyman. The huge examinations between quality training and resources started to clearly appear. Incredible innovative progressions in European armed forces in the seventeenth century was pursued belatedly and unsuccessfully by the Ottomans. [4] This demonstrates that the Ottoman Empire lost their purpose and identity when there were limitations in the armed forces because a strong military force was what made them one of the most powerful empires in Europe so without this meant rivalling countries were not hesitant to battle with the Ottomans. Modern historians have tended to lean towards the loss of territory to invaders rather than the overall weakness of the army that led to the decline of the Ottoman Empire but they also argue that the effect of lack of manpower and revenue. However, Halil Inalcik argues that Europe’s new military technology as a contribution to Ottoman decline by the early seventeenth century. He states, “the Ottoman failure meant that traditional Asiatic culture, even when it borrowed war technology from the West, was doomed before the rise of modern Europe.[5] It can be said that the failure to advance technology and compete with other countries in terms of armed forces had more of an impact to the Ottoman Empire declining than losing territory has their lack of military power and resources would mean they would be viewed as one of the weakest forces in the world making them vulnerable.

Religious leaders being conservative about the Ottoman Empire’s advancement plans can be seen as a contributing reason for the decline of the Ottoman Empire. Conservatism in the Ottoman Empire shielded it from modernizing effectively in the nineteenth. This was because the ulamas wanted their schools to maintain the curriculum to be about religious instruction instead of European topics. There were protests against modernization from the ulamas as they were against the principal reforms that affect their education system and when the Ministry of Awqaf was introduced it put control over religious institutions comprising the financial independence of the Ulemas.[6] This shows that the way religious leaders, like the Ulema, made them dissatisfied and not wanting to support any advancement made by the Ottoman Empire. In addition, there were Muslim religious associations that also did not support the Ottoman Empire’s aims of advancement. They symbolized their non-involvement with capital and power as Muslim spiritualists would wear the undyed woollen garment.  In his book, Peters states how due to pressure from Western Powers, reform with Western ideas was a necessity and it led to Western dresses being brought into the Ottoman Empire and Western architecture was introduced which led to major protest against Westernized culture coming in.[7] Religious leaders became dissatisfied as it showed they are putting more of an emphasis on wealth and power which is what Western countries were all about.  This put a strain on the relationship between the government and religious leaders as they did not support westernized modern advancement. Therefore, the Muslim religious societies for the majority prevented the Ottoman Empire from modernizing their transportation, educational systems that would have been key for them if they wanted to compete with their rivalling countries in 19th century Europe. Even though religious conservatism was a contributing factor, it was not more significant than the military decline of the Ottoman Empire. This is because Empire would lose any status and power in world if religious leaders did not support what the Ottoman Empire aims and goals, on the other hand, the decline of armed forces makes them vulnerable to any of their competitors in the world and the Ottoman Empire lose their status as this powerful, feared military Empire.

The decline of the Ottoman’s economic power was also a contributing reason for the decline of the Ottoman Empire. Wong and Yip argue that if a country cannot catch up with the advancement of trade, it can never keep up with the rest of the world.[8] This is what happened during the Ottoman Empire during the Industrial Revolution as the industry became more important than agriculture. The Wong and Yip also state that if the economy is all about agriculture and specializes in it, it means they would have no incentive to invest in physical capital because it is not used in the agricultural sector.[9] The Ottoman economy was disturbed by price increases, caused by the arrival of valuable metals into Europe from the Americas and by an increasing disproportion of trade between East and West. All those reliant on salaries found themselves underpaid which led to theft and corruption. [10]  The west began to correspondences with different nations which made the Ottomans  exceptionally powerless and made them not the middle person in terms of trading among east and west any longer, this anyway brought about a frail economy and reliance toward the west, as items in the footrest realm was purchased from the west and national items were not being sold any longer. Cleveland and Bunton state that the perception of European merchant capital into the empire caused a huge economic problem for the empire. Although this trading system gave many benefits for the merchants, it led to a decline in state revenues and a shortage of raw materials for domestic consumption.[11] The fact that now the Ottomans were left out of the trade and were now reliant on other countries creates a sense of their superiority to other countries fading as now they were unable to have any input or contribution to how trading between countries in Europe. This demonstrates that the economic decline of the Ottoman Empire was a contributing factor to the decline of the Ottoman Empire because their economic status reduced dramatically due to their decreasing influence in trade in Europe. Even though this was not the most significant reason for the decline of the Ottoman Empire it was more important than the lack of support from religious leaders in the Ottoman Empire as they lost they lost their role in Europe as other countries viewed them as a country that was struggling constantly – whereas the religious conservatism was more of an internal problem which does not affect their status with other countries.

To conclude, the most significant reason for the decline of the Ottoman Empire was the decline of the armed forces as during the rising era, the military army of the Ottoman very popular with their power and strategies to defeat their rivalling. However, now that they have started to experience humiliating defeat the Ottoman lose their identity and are no longer looked at as a feared country meaning other countries can come here and be confident of a victory. In addition, religious conservatism was another contributing reason for the decline of the Ottoman Empire due to the religious leaders being powerful figures in the Ottoman Empire they were able to have an influence on the Ottomans advancements. Due to the religious leaders not being on the same wavelength as the government of the Ottomans, they were able to prevent any advancements that promoted wealth and power. Finally, the weakening economy was a contributing factor to the decline of the Ottoman Empire as the Ottoman’s continued to lose economic power and status amongst Europe countries as they now relied on other European countries in trade.

Bibliography

  • Fuad Fanani, Ahmad, The Ottoman Empire: Its Rise, Decline, And Collapse, p. 103 <http://ejournal.umm.ac.id/index.php/salam/article/view/1606/1714> [Accessed 18 February 2019]
  • Cleveland, William L. and Bunton, Martin, 2009. A History of Modern Middle East, Boulder: Westview Press, Boulder
  • Lewis, Bernard, Some Reflections On The Decline Of The Ottoman Empire ([Place of publication not identified]: [publisher not identified], 1958)
  • Grant, Jonathan, Rethinking The Ottoman “Decline”: Military Technology Diffusion In The Ottoman Empire, Fifteenth To Eighteenth Centuries (University of Hawai’i Press), p. 191
  • Peters, Rudolph, Religious Attitudes Towards Modernization In The Ottoman Empire. A Nineteenth Century Pious Text On Steamships, Factories And The Telegraph
  • Nagle, Jeanne, Feudalism, Monarchies, And Nobility
  • Duranoglu, Erkut, and Guzide Okutucu, Economic Reasons Behind The Decline Of The Ottoman Empire (NORGES HANDELSHØYSKOLE, 2019) <https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/52071559.pdf> [Accessed 21 February 2019]

[1] Ahmad Fuad Fanani, The Ottoman Empire: Its Rise, Decline, And Collapse, p. 103 <http://ejournal.umm.ac.id/index.php/salam/article/view/1606/1714> [Accessed 18 February 2019].

[2] Ahmad Fuad Fanani, The Ottoman Empire: Its Rise, Decline, And Collapse, p. 103 <http://ejournal.umm.ac.id/index.php/salam/article/view/1606/1714> [Accessed 18 February 2019].

[4] Bernard Lewis, Some Reflections On The Decline Of The Ottoman Empire 1958).

[5] Jonathan Grant, Rethinking The Ottoman “Decline”: Military Technology Diffusion In The Ottoman Empire, Fifteenth To Eighteenth Centuries (University of Hawai’i Press), p. 191.

[7] Rudolph Peters, Religious Attitudes Towards Modernization In The Ottoman Empire. A Nineteenth Century Pious Text On Steamships, Factories And The Telegraph.

[9] Erkut Duranoglu and Guzide Okutucu, Economic Reasons Behind The Decline Of The Ottoman Empire (NORGES HANDELSHØYSKOLE, 2019) <https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/52071559.pdf> [Accessed 21 February 2019].

[10] Jeanne Nagle, Feudalism, Monarchies, And Nobility. P145

[11] Cleveland, William L. and Bunton, Martin, 2009. A History of Modern Middle

East, Boulder: Westview Press, Boulder

 

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