The Ottoman Empire And Lessons Learnt From It History Essay
Empires rise and fall all the time. Well at least that is what we are led to believe in our history lessons at school. Much like the boom/bust economic cycles of countries; empires and kingdoms also traverse between their peaks and troughs. But unlike economics, history is a narrative, and through every moment of our lives we are a part of a chronicle in a very complex story which we ourselves cannot comprehend. Some like the Muslims, believe, this storyline we are cherishing was conceived rather predestined well before our welcoming into the world. Others like the atheist find this belief to be of proportionate amusement and the subject to much maligning in their discussions and debates. Yet, from whichever angle an observer was to observe, whether what has already come to be was divine or not or even as an academic or social hobby, one cannot deny the fact that history is history littered with facts, fictions, legends and myths supported by strong reliable multi-sourced foundations or very weak, fabricated narrations conjured up by people levying up to their desires and fancies.
The Ottoman Empire like all other empires before it is rife with what the above mentioned. There are stories of legendary making, of great wars and battles, of love, peace and triumph as well as great tragedies in the form of genocides, rivalries and betrayals. There are many heroes and villains, great kings and weak emperors, angel like wives and devilish lovers, scholars of ink who progressed the fields of science, medicine, engineering and scholars of burden who delayed and delayed advancements and developments.
But what makes the Ottoman history more interesting is the fact that it too fell victim to the boom/bust cycle of history in an inconceivable way. It had an almost miraculous rise but then a very excruciating, painful sudden decline which even took those mechanical mischiefs and culprits who engineered its fall by surprise. To some this was the most painful of narratives as today the effects can still be felt by them, to other parasitical people there could not be no better ending as they benefitted immensely in wealth and luxuries as a result of this fall. What this dissertation humbly aims to achieve, is not just to try to analyse some of the reasons behind the fall of one of the greatest empires that ever was, but what lessons can we as a human race acquire and learn from this as we attempt to live out our part of the chronicle in a much more intricate story where the design seems to be thickening with every coming day.
The rising of the followers of Shaykh Abdul Wahab, born in Arabia, follower of a strict school of thought whos founder was none other than Ibn taymiyyah. Their rise to power and then being crushed by the ottomans, to only help annex the hijaz from the Ottomans with the help of lively characters such as the world famous T.E Lawrence, also kown as Lawrence of Arabia.The losing of the Hjiaz to the Sauds with the help of the British, and its impact of the Empire will also be closely scutrinised, and the implications it had, not only the empire but the whole muslims world, especially inIndia.
In this dissertation, I shall be looking at the casues of the demise of the Ottoman Empire, lessons one can learn from it, then comparing the fall to the rise of it, the causes of the rise that may or may not have been present in its demise, and then finally the losing of the Hjiaz, and the implications that came with the latter due to the fact that the Caliphate had now lost the two most holiest sites ever known to the Muslim world, Mecca where the kube is situated, famously known as the "Ka'bah" which Muslims have always believed is the first house of God on earth and his also the " Qibla" of the Muslims, ie the direction they pray towards. And secondly Medina, the second holiest site in Islam, where the prophet is buried, and its merits has been mentioned in numerous Hadeeth.
Beginning of the End
The period of decline of the Ottoman Empire following the defeat at the battle of Vienna in 1683 started with great secession of land to the advancing Christian forces and the forces of a resurgent Russia who was bent on making an empire for herself. The Austrians took Hungary in 1699, and in later 18th century wars much of Serbia was lost in addition to significant territories to the Persians including Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia. A war with Russia ended with Ottoman defeat and signing of a defeatist treaty in which Crimea North Caucasus and Ukraine came within Russian rule. After the defeat in the battle of Navarino, the Ottoman state began to fall rapidly (Quataert, 2000).
Like all empires that decline, the way in which the Ottoman empire declined was no different since it was due to multi-faceted complex interlinked problems that fed off each other rather than a singular major problem. This included external problems problems ranging from geographical challenges, economic woes, rise of other powerful nations, and internal problems such as abolishment of the devsirme, weakening off the Sultans authority, movement away from religion into secularism, lack of progress in development and sticking to old ways. Also not to mention the unity amongst the mischievous elements who worked for the downfall of the Ottoman state (Mango, 2002).
One of the biggest problems the Ottoman state had was the challenges posed to its economic state since the major traders in the region were Jews and Greeks. Since all major overland routes were controlled by the Ottomans, the European powers were forced to find routes in order to bypass the state (Reilly, 1996). The Portuguese went west and discovered the Americas and also south around Africa to the Cape of Good Hope (Wilson, 2003). This posed a serious problem to the Ottoman state since they had to protect the Greek elite in order for their economy to function reasonably well. Once these elite reduced their trading and bypassed the Ottoman state their economy started to weaken (Wilson, 2003). With the arrival of Peruvian silver into Europe by the Portuguese the Ottoman currency lost significant value and caused high inflation in the empire. In addition far too much reliance on agriculture and other traditional means of revenue pulled the Ottomans decades behind their rivals through Europe whose industries were rapidly advancing (Reilly, 1996). So instead of becoming manufacturers of commercial products they were reduced to suppliers of some raw materials to Europe. With unemployment rising and cheaper products coming in from India and America, the economic woes worsened in the empire leading to great pressure on the government by its people (Wilson, 2003).
The internal problems faced by the Ottomans were very great since they had too many political and administrative stumbling blocks which prevented them from advancing in order to compete against the growing European powers of the time. As the empire grew it was too much to manage and control and with war looming on many fronts and the economic structure in shambles, the Ottomans started to lose a lot of land to advancing forces including Russia, Britain, France etc. and also a lot of eastern land to the Persians (Quataert, 1983). What's more, revolts by different people from the lower class as well as a rise in nationalism - mainly arab and calls for cessation from the Ottoman empire left the Ottoman state in disarray (M"Gregor 1854). What did not help the Sultan was the constant revolts and assassination attempts by various elements in the state including coup attempts by some factions within the Janissaries and other mischievous groups. With a military that had not advanced beyond its glory years into a more mechanized military with guns, bombs etc. and new military strategies, the defence of the empire was weakened (Mango, 2002).
The Janissaries were the main culprits in preventing any advancement of the Ottoman army even though this was in stark contradiction to what they stood up for. The main reasons for this were corruption that had seeped through the ranks due to gaining of too much power overtime (Shaw, 1976). The flimsiest of excuse was required and there would be a threat of a coup by the Janissaries. This led Sultan Mahmud II to slaughter all of the Jannisaries by completely annihilating their fleeing soldiers after bombing their barracks in Constantinople and the surrounding bases. Many were thrown into prison, executed or exiled from the land. The Jannisaries in their time had also corrupted the system in place through which competent able leaders would pass through in order to achieve the higher levels of office (Quataert, 2000). Through bribery, nepotism and favoritism, many loyal subjects of the state failed to gain the higher echelons of office but those for whom greed was a primary motive, they bribed their way through. This resulted in the important places of office being run by incompetent men who had little ruling or governing experience and no real leadership skills. Their bad management, corrupt methods and poor decisions led to a dwindling cycle of disasters that culminated in the loss of many lands to neighboring rival powers and weakening of the army to become a real challenge to some of the other greater powers in the region (Quataert, 2000). A weaker military in terms of technology, strategies and methods meant that the army was decades behind their rivals across Europe. With the assassination of all the Janissary corps and abolishment of the devsirme which for centuries had been the recruitment ground for the state, pushed the empire even further back thus preventing it from developing a rapid advanced army in order to compete with its rivals (Quataert, 2000).
Furthermore threats by the powerful Ulema of issuance of religious verdicts against the Sultan prevented him from instituting reforms to the military in order to advance it (Shaw, 1976). One example being that of the French artillery brigade that came at the request of the sultan to train his corps in advanced artillery strategies caused the Ulema to threaten religious edicts or fatwa against the sultan if he did not remove the French units, since they were non-Muslims and it was forbidden (Shaw, 1976). The sultan was powerless so resorted to his units being trained in secret which under difficult circumstances. In addition to the powerful scholars and strong Janissary corps, the influence of the viziers especially that of the grand vizier was reduced due to pressures from the former mentioned (Shaw, 1976). This caused some sultans to see through many viziers and grand viziers throughout their time in power leading to instability across the board including that of forming poor policies, weak diplomatic efforts and ineffective military ventures (Shaw, 1976). A lack of vision and clear course of action resulted in ad-hoc responses to problems that arose. These scholars were against any reform that could modernize or make efficient the transport, media, army etc. They objected to the printing press calling it ungodly and an innovation to the traditional method of writing by hand (Shaw, 1976). This led to a fall back in educational advancement in both religious and secular education as well as a loss of a vital propaganda tool for the state. It wasn't until decades later that one scholar issued a verdict permitting the printing press proving that it was not in contradiction to the teachings of Islam (Shaw, 1976).
A growing rise in Turkish nationalism led to the formation of a student body known as the Young Turks better known as the Committee of Union and Progress or CUP who held their first meeting in Paris, and whose objective was to do away with the Ottoman empire which they saw as not bringing them in line with Western advancement in art, literature, industry, culture and secularism (Wilson, 2003). They joined hands with other Balkan rebels including Armenians, Macedonians, Bulgarians and Serbians in addition to many troops that had defected from the state. They worked towards establishing a constitutional monarch with a parliament much like its counterparts in Europe (Wilson, 2003). Eventually due to much pressure, Sultan Abdul Hamid II leader at the time had no choice but to give in to the demands of the movement and implemented their wishes in 1908. However religious conservatives within the military soon launched an unsuccessful coup of their own secretly supported by the Ottoman Sultan Abdul Hamid II (Wilson, 2003). He was then forced to leave office after the plot was exposed (Wilson, 2003). This pretty much ended any hopes of continuation of the Ottoman state and with the onset of World War I, the Ottoman state was eventually abolished and replaced with the Republic of Turkey. An irreligious secular state based on Western models of democracy with a constitution and a parliament and a clear distinct separation between religion and state (Wilson, 2003). The proponent for this was none other than Mustafa Kemal Attaturk who abolished centuries of Ottoman history by completely changing the cultural attitude of Turkish people, forcing women to wear skirts and men to wear the attire of their western counterparts (Wilson, 2003). The Quran itself, the source of Muslim belief was translated in Latin and Arabic reading of it was prohibited. An act considered heretical by many Muslim theologians. The ban on the veil and other such moves to westernise the Turkish Muslim women were completely in contradiction to the centuries old Muslim ways adopted by the Ottoman empire (Wilson, 2003)..
Next, we shall look at their miraculous rise to power, how they went about it and who where the main players in carving up this empire into of the histories greatest.
The losing of the Hijaz
A Miraculous Rise
For one to rise another must fall and with the case of kingdoms, fiefdoms, or empires the case is no different. The rise of the Ottoman empire compares very closely with the fall of the Roman empire of both the eastern Byzantine empire with its capital in Constantinople and the western Roman empire with its capital in Rome along with the weakening of the Byzantines staunch enemy at the time, the Seljuq Sultanate of Rum. Anatolia, or historical Turkey was ruled by the Seljuqs. With the western advancement of Islam from the Middle East, small Muslim nomadic communities across Anatolia started to accept this new found faith (Holt and Lewis, 1977). These people were mainly of Turkic origins and their primary role was to defend the border areas of the Sultanate of Rum against Byzantine attacks. As this community began to grow, with more conversions and migrations due mainly in part to the Mongol invasion (Bideleux and Jeffries, 1998) it declared its independence from the Sultanate after the great victory over the Byzantines after the battle of Manzikert in 1073. This battle was led by the heroic legend Muhammed ibn Daud Chagri better known by his title Alp Arsalan meaning heroic lion and assisted by his most able and famous vizier Nizam ul Mulk widely regarded as a great statesman of Islam. This defeat was the beginning of the decline of the Byzantine empire and the beginning of the rise of the Ottoman empire. By 1281 Osman I succeeded his father Ertugul and credited the dynasty by becoming the first ever Sultan of it in 1299 (Bideleux and Jefferies, 1998). His ascension to lead what became the Ottoman empire is a story of many legends and romances penned by the poets, the most famous of them being the Osman dream in which he saw a tree growing from his navel with many complicated branches which was interpreted by his sheikh (whose daughter he later married) as him and his son coming to rule the world (Shaw, 1976). During his time many forts, cities, citadels, towns and villages fell to Osman due to both wars i.e. battle of Bapheus and sieges i.e. Nicaea and Prusa which fell after 9-10 years in 1326. It is ironic that Osman's military advancements were mainly due to the arrival and reinforcement of ghazi warriors from the decline of the Eastern Islamic empire the khilafa state in Baghdad which had been annexed by the Mongols (Shaw, 1976).
After Osmans I death, he was succeeded by his son Orhan I. A very intelligent and competent leader. He rapidly advanced Ottoman territory through a series of strategic wars, sieges and heavy colonization as well as clever deals, negotiations and placing his support behind strong Christian leaders such as John VI (whose daughter he also married) who in turn allowed him to take many strategic strongholds in Europe (Shaw, 1976). This included Nicaea, Pelekanon, Nicomedia, Gallipoli and Thrace, cutting of direct support of the Byzantines from the Balkans and other strong European allies. An important point to note here is that Osman I gave sole leadership of the Ottoman empire to his son Orhan I. He however offered to his brother Alaeddin joint ruler ship who refused on the grounds of not going against the last wish of their deceased father and only took a village from him (Shaw, 1976). Orhan I then offered the role of grand vizier (advisor) to Alaeddin who reluctantly took the post. Historians credit this move favourably with Orhan I in the strongest terms since Alaeddin was a very intelligent man like his brother (Shaw, 1976). He is credited with what became symbols of the Ottomans included their total break from the Seljuk ruler, ceasing the mentioning of his name in public prayer and stamping his name on money etc (Shaw, 1976). He developed very advanced civil as well as military systems and formulated wise political policies. He also laid the foundations to the famed Janissary corps to which the children of defeated people would be admitted to become the first regular full time conscripted army the world had known (Shaw, 1976). He basically organised all of Orhan's victories. A 20 year peace time remained during Orhan's time which allowed for the institutions his brother had created to set into place.
The civil war of 1341-1347 of the Byzantines again had the involvement of Ottoman armies who were employed by some of the Christian leaders including John VI who later gave his daughter Theodora in marriage to Orhan I. After the death of Orhan in 1360, Murad I, second eldest son of Orhan I took the reigns of leadership since his older brother Suleiman Pasha died due to an injury from falling of a horse. Murad I is credited with establishing the Ottomans stronghold within Europe and make known to the other European powers that the Ottomans were here to stay permanently (which they did not think so) (Holt and Lewis, 1977). He conquered much of the Balkans including Albania, Hungary, Bulgaria and Serbia and also some rebellious emirates that remained in Anatolia. Macedonia, Greece and other areas fell to them after the amazing feats of commander Sahin Pasha who was vastly outnumbered at the battle of Maritsa. Most Serb Bajars (rulers) were forced to become Vassals under Murad I army after subsequent battles including the Bulgarian Tsar Shishman who sent his sister to become Murad I wife in the harem at Edirne (Holt and Lewis, 1977). This was a practice which was to become more frequent as more and more Tsars, Bajars, Bojours, kings and rulers of various fiefdoms within the Balkans were forced to accept vassal status and become pawns in the vast army of the Ottoman empire. These vassals would prove useful against other Balkan armies as well as being utilized by the Ottoman rulers against their other Turkish arch rivals and competitors in South Eastern Anatolia (Holt and Lewis, 1977).
Murad was assassinated by Milos Obilic in the battle of Kosovo. There are differing accounts as to his death with some saying it was after the battle whilst others say it was the day after. However his son Bayazeid after getting his brother Yakub strangled in the battlefield tent became the leader. These two were the only claimants to the throne since their other brother Savci had been killed by Murad I after he rebelled along with the son of John V, Adronicus after both had plotted to overthrow their fathers and seek leadership. Adronicus was later captured and blinded at the persistence of Murad I. An important point to mention here is that the killing of Yakub by his brother Bayazeid was the first ever fratricide 'killing of a brother' to occur within the Ottoman dynasty (Ä°nalcik, 1994). A practice which was to become widespread later on. Bayazeid had a very short fuse and was thus nicknamed, lightning bolt (Ä°nalcik, 1994). He very aggressively dealt with betrayals by various vassals including the Bulgarian Tsar Shishmund whom he captured and beheaded and annexed the lands of other vassals who were forced to flee into Northern Europe for safety. He later called a meeting of all Vassals to deal with any outstanding issues and for all to re-affirm their vassalage to Bayazeid (Shaw, 1976).
Bayazeid's death lead to what is known in Ottoman history as the interregnum or civil war which halted any rapid advancement of Ottoman victories through the Balkans (Ä°nalcik, 1994). The civil war reigned for 11 years and started after the invasion of eastern Anatolia by Timur at the battle of Ankara Bayazeid was captured and later died in captivity, leading to bitter internal rivalries between his children for the ascension to the throne (Ä°nalcik, 1994). Eventually Sultan Mehmud I reigned victorious and became the emperor after a series of wars, assassinations and enlistment of the loyalty of one brother Musa against the others Isa (ruled Bursa) and Suleyman (ruled Greece, Thrace etc) until eventually only Musa was left on his own and his army was defeated by Sultan Mehmud. Another example of fratricide amongst the sons of Ottoman sultans. Also the allegiances of the brothers with Christian rulers against each other also occurred in later successions. This is a very controversial decision since it stark contrast to Islamic legal doctrine which prohibits the allegiance of non-muslim forces against muslims.
By 1413 Mehmud stood as the sole surviving son of Bayazeid, he set out to re-organise much of the states problems incurred due to the civil war. This included revolts by the lower class peasants and nomads of both the Christian and Muslim people resulting in a strange yet surprising alliance between a popular Muslim preacher Sheikh Bedruddin and a popular Christian voivod Mircea I (Ä°nalcik, 1994). After Mehmud died in 1413 his son Murad II took the reigns of leadership and spent most of his time quelling rebellions and revolts throughout the kingdom (Shaw, 1976).
Murad II retired from leadership in 1444 and passed it to his son sultan Mehmud till 1446 who returned it to his father. After he passed away in 1451 sultan Mehmud once again took the post of leadership defying many doubters. He set his sights on Constantinople, something his forefathers had never done since they always had maintained treaties with the Byzantines (Holt and Lewis, 1977). This decision of his led many to regard him rash and foolish including many senior officials of the divan such as the grand vizier himself. He laid plans for this many years before the actual war by initiating the creation of his navy which would cut off any reinforcements from the sea. After the conquest of Constantinople in 1453 Sultan Mehmud repopulated the city, built many mosques and developed the city into a powerful commercial hub for people from all races, religions and backgrounds (Holt and Lewis, 1977). The occupation of Constantinople pretty much cemented the Ottomans empire across both the east and west. He then went on to complete the occupation of the Balkans in full by finishing off all rebellions and thereafter set his sights on Rome which was abandoned due to his death in 1481 (Shaw, 1976).
Sultan Mehmed is regarded as one of the finest of all the Ottoman emperors due to his strong religious inclination due to good teachers), good political and military prowess. After his amazing feats, the growth of the empire became rapid and the economic and social stability in conquered provinces was stabilized as there were no more significant rebellions etc (Holt and Lewis, 1977). His sons, Bayazeid II and Selim I started to focus towards the south, Africa as well as East against the re-immerging Safavid empire allied with the Mamluks, war which ended in Selim I favour in 1514.
After Selim I, Suleman the magnificent as he is known took the throne and fought many battles against the Safavid empire forcing them into humiliating treaties as well as conquering significant parts of North Africa. He completely rewrote Ottoman legal law as well as advancing the architecture, culture and arts of the empire (Kemal, 2001). He spoke five languages, served the longest of the Ottoman rulers since he ruled for over 46 years. His effects were to last for centuries. After his death in 1566 many leaders advanced the Ottoman empire until the Battle of Vienna in 1683 which resulted in a defeat (Kemal, 2001). This was a turning point in the fortunes of the empire.
Empires rise and fall all of the time and the case of the Ottoman empire has been no different. To some this was the greatest tragedy that could befall them whereas to others, this was the best thing that ever happened. When one looks at the Ottoman history there are many markers which show how the empire rose and also how it declined. An important factor that can clearly be seen in early Ottoman history is the question of leadership of the state. Early Ottoman leaders had significant experience in governing from an early age since they would be sent to provinces as early as the age of 10-11 with teachers and guides to rule over towns, cities and even provinces. They would also have strong military training and taught the tactics as well as the strategies of war from a very early age. They would be prevented from worldly delicacies and would not be exposed to singing, dancing, music, women etc. activities they saw futile.
This culminated in very strong adept leaders that took part in many diplomatic and military victories for the state. The case of Sultan Fatih Mehmed - conqueror of Constantinople being a primary case. Contrast this with the leaders towards the end of the Ottoman empire who grew up with the women of the harem, had their mothers and other female relatives guide, train and be influenced by them until eventually they themselves were too scared to come out of the fort and limit their contact with only certain trusted people. Some of the last few rulers of the Ottoman dynasty are good examples of this. They ended up not leading from the front, didn't take part in battles eventually making disastrous decisions.
In terms of leadership in other parts of the governing body such as the Ulema, janissaries, military and governing officials the difference couldn't be more contrasting. Leaders from the early age such as Alaeddin I the grand vizier to his brother Orhan I was the best Grand Vizier that the Ottomans ever had. He stayed in office for decades, developed very advanced military and civil structures, and directed policies that were very successful. Orhan I acquired large territories during his rule at the same time having a 20 year peace without any war. The Ulema/scholars in the divan from the early age were also very intelligent and level headed. They hardly ever resorted to threats of a fatwa against the ruling Sultan and would work on advancing the might of the empire. Contrast this again to the scholars of the later age who on very meager excuses would threaten a fatwa. The main reasons for resisting to change would be fear of consolidation or weakening of their own power. The Janissaries in later years also threatened the sultan with coups every time he tried to make small changes to the force such as changing military uniforms, implementing new strategies or trying to improve some of the brigades. Whilst the earlier Janissaries were far different since they rigorously abided by an ancient code of honour which demanded absolute loyalty to the sultan and they would regularly be ready to sacrifice themselves. The later Jannisaries were more focused on accumulating wealth and became greedy, like a band of thugs. They became slack to war, incompetent and a huge stumbling block for the state. A real shame they had to end with them all being slaughtered by Sultan Mahmud II and their glorious history coming to such a brutal end.
The political skills of the earlier emperors were at a higher level than those towards the end. Earlier Sultans could make major military conquests at the same time make wise diplomatic deals resulting in them fighting the weaker of the enemies before gradually taking on the stronger of their foes. They made good deals, treaties, married daughters of powerful rulers and took the womenfolk of many of their enemy's leaders including the vassals to their harem in order to cement their support. They also advanced the economy of the state by occupying major trading routes overland, discovering new routes and fighting off their rivals for the trading of goods such as the Portuguese in their constant spice wars. They would always try to develop and improve their agricultural ways as well as improve their public services including baths, toilets, schools and universities etc. They advanced the military might of the state by improving fighting strategies and techniques such as the naval fleet that became so powerful that at its height the state could manufacture a ship a day. Contrast this to the later Ottoman rulers who implemented reforms that failed miserably. Did not rise up to the modern economy system brought about by richness from the Americas and India, didn't modernize the industries but stuck to old fashioned agriculture and fiscal policies. They also failed miserably with regards to the military as it deteriorated overtime resulting in large cessation of land to rival powers. How the earlier Ottomans during their rise dealt with revolts and rebellions is also much different to the later years. The earlier rulers destroyed all rebels with an iron fist and due to their strong religious morals did not allow nationalism to grow within the multi-ethnic and multi-racial state. Contrast this with the rise of the secular Young Turks without any religious loyalty to Islam and strong nationalistic sentiment during Sultan Abdul Hamid II rule which eventually led to the falling of the Ottoman state to become the Republic of Turkey.
Two centuries ago the rulers of the Empire took management , technology, education from the west.. However, these plans lacked one decisive element of skill transfer, lacking which no developing country can expect to become scientifically advanced.
Science and education flourished right the way through the period of empire, but predominantly near the beginning of its formation. . Their contribution to the advancement of hospitals and healthcare, was actively seen as advancement in their fields internationally, along with other important industries like mining and military structure As was their setup of one of the earliest known observatories and strongly rooted Islamic education systems known as medreses. All over the Muslim world did students flock to study and research their faith, math, the science of the stars and philosophy.
But sorrowfully this concern declined gradually, and by the seventeenth century, the empire realised that Europe had superiority in the fields of education and technology, and so they tasked themselves on how to adopt some of their more innovative techniques their contemporaries were using in the west.
"They were, for example, fascinated by European military technology. From the empire's earliest days the Ottomans had wanted to learn about handguns and cannons, which they discovered were being made in Bosnia and Serbia. They later employed experts from these countries as well as from England, France and the Netherlands to help them manufacture weapons and train their own technical staff." (Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu 2007)
They also had a keen interest in learning the structure of the European armies so that they too could implement them in their own house. Many a times the military advisors where European themselves or converts to the religion Islam. One could say by doing so they progressed a little by establishing military centers of education and training, and by reorganizing their army in to ranks similar to European armies.
The old system of master-apprenticeship which was the dominant model of learning virtually anything and everything in which the teacher would only allow the student to graduate when he thought the student was ready was replaces by the organisation of secondary and higher forms of education. Although this was still retained in the religious institutes, the aforementioned reorganizing was mostly to do with secular education
At this point it is worthy to make note that the education system needed so much improvement that western styled schools and colleges was springing up in the empire to meet the need of the people. At one point up to seventeen thousand students were enrolled in American missionary schools alone, although some argue that they mainly benefitted the non-Muslims.
"The new educational institutions were organised by separating students according to age, employing teachers for specific subjects, organising teaching according to subject syllabuses, conducting qualifying examinations for students and sending teachers abroad for further education and training in the new disciplines.
The first four Ottoman-era students to go abroad went to France in 1830 to study military subjects. Nine years later, 36 students were sent to London, Paris and Vienna to study engineering." (Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu 2007)
Yet even with their close scrutiny of European knowledge and expertise, and their attempts to categorize their own education next to European lines, the Empire never achieved to notice that European science and technology is fundamentally based on encouraging and supporting a tradition of research. The correlation connecting study and knowledge was more or less completely absent in Ottoman technology transfer until the mid-1800s.
"One insight into this comes from the Turkish equivalent of the word 'science', which is fen. Even in the first decade of the twentieth century, fen meant techniques rather than research, knowledge or inquiry. Similarly, modern technology meant being able to manufacture and use instruments that were made and used in developed countries - it did not necessarily mean having the ability to innovate and develop your own methods and products.
Another insight comes from the establishment of the Imperial Naval Engineering College in 1773, perhaps the first modern technical institution in the Ottoman Empire. The four-year curriculum included practical aspects of engineering such as arithmetic, astronomy, ballistics, geometry and hydraulics. Subjects such as physics, chemistry and other natural sciences were not in the curriculum, and neither was metallurgy, essential for a proper understanding of civil and mechanical engineering." (Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu 2007)
The theme of the aforementioned research was that as Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu mentions that no research was carried out in the engineering college's first one hundred year existence. Students who wanted to do research had to embark on a long journey to Europe. The important element of advancement came about in the mid-eighteenth century when the Ottomans began creating more scientific societies and universities along the European model.
One of the most fundamental lessons upcoming nations can learn from the fall of the empire are:
Strong leadership: this is one of the strongest and inner pillars to any organisation or empire. A strong leader, like the early leaders of the Ottoman Empire had vision, and the passion to go about t, as passion is contagious. They must have integrity, honest dealings, well controlled temper and emotions, and absence of harsh outbursts and tantrums are all good signs of a leader's integrity. This in turn makes him more approachable to the people around him. Dedication: this means that spending time and energy is very important to accomplish the task and vision at hand. A leader inspires the people around him by example, doing absolutely everything in his power and strategy take the next step towards his vision. Magnanimity: the leader giving credit where it is due, if the outer barbarian hordes helped him win a battle, then to acknowledge this openly and fairly, thus giving credit to where it is due. Also taking on responsibility to for failures. Like Winston Churchill's failure at Gallipoli, this totaled a hundred thousand allied casualties during WWI. "The campaign was a total fiasco for British military leadership" he writes. But when the war was over, Winston Churchill took complete responsibility, a setback like that could have been very disastrous, but by accepting it as his responsibility he was able to move forward and lead his army to victory in WWII.
Look at your history, success is relative to where you are. For example in the case of the Ottomans; If you came up on religion, then reanalyze your position and look at the points that you rose on, are they there now? Or have they been eroded by time? Are you bringing back that which has been lost, or looking into the opposite direction. For instance the "tanzimat" that the Ottomans bought in the mid-nineteenth century were far from the fundamentals the fathers of this great empire where from in terms of their ideals and methodologies.
Be aware of your surroundings, the empire although looked like it was progressing, it may have been progressing twice as fast as its eastern contemporaries, but only half as fast against is western contemporaries. This resulted in it losing its credibility in scientific terms, and thus in terms of advancement. By doing so, the people will look to other nations for greatness, as is clearly evident, that students who wanted to advance their studies or areas of research would go travel to European universities.
It is not acceptable to merely purchase technology from abroad but rather you have to create a culture of learning and researching, to avoid purchasing technology but rather being inventive, creative and innovative.
The rise and decline of the Ottoman empire truly was a tragedy for many and blessing for many others. But like all other empires, if the morals, methods and ways of the earlier foundation are not adhered to then decline and fall are inevitable. The early Ottomans during their rise and growth had strong religious foundations, a real goal of advancing Islamic lands, becoming economic machines and military superpowers but whereas the later Ottoman rulers during the stagnation and fall period could not have been more different. What lessons if any will the current empires heed from this, is yet to be seen as we try to live our part of the chronicle in a very complex story where history is being made like never before.
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