Ottoman Empire: Rise and Growth of the Muslim Empire 1299-1683

  • February 24, 2013 · 3:00 PM
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The origins of the Ottoman Empire lie in it's Nomadic traditions. With the disintegration of the Seljuk Sultanate and the rise of the Mongol power in Asia, the nomadic Turkic tribes poured into Byzantine controlled Asia Minor. Escaping the Mongol onslaught and establishing the Ghazi Emerates all throughout Western and Northwestern Anatolia, the Turkic people of Central Asian steppes, gradually became a dominant power in the region and the main contender to Byzantine rule. The Ottoman Empire traces it's roots to Osman I, a Ghazi Emir who used the millet system (personal law) to rule over his subjects in Asia Minor. Toleration of other religions, and relative control over his subjects business and personal affairs allowed Osman and his descendants to conquer large areas of land with minimal resistance. In less then 100 years, the Ottomans were able to conquer most of Byzantine lands in Anatolia and Western Balkans. The sobsequent conquest of the Byzantine Empire and encroachment on Southeastern and Central Europe placed the Ottomans on head to head collision with premier European powers of the day. By the first half of the 16th century the Ottomans were at the gates of Vienna, with a control over most of North Africa, Levant, Balkans and Eastern Mediterranean. Not a one single European power could decisively challenge Ottoman influence or match the quality/quantity of their military might.

Our discussion will cover 'Ottoman history' from it's humble beginings in Asia Minor to spread of Turkish power all throughout Byzantium (starting with Bursa in 1324, Kossovo in 1389, Nicopolis in 1396, Varna in 1444 and culminating with a siege of Constatinople in 1453). We'll discuss the Ottoman political and social systems and compare it with their European counterparts. We'll talk about the Ottoman drive into Central Europe and their conquest of Hungary, as well as a decades old struggle with the great European defenders of the faith like Charles V and Phillip II of Spain, Janos Hunyadi of Hungary, Matthias Corvinus, and Vlad III Dracul of Wallachia). What aspects of the Ottoman society attracted, repulsed and intrigued Europeans? How did Europe view the Ottoman threat in its entirety? How successful were the European Monarchs in finally preventing the Ottoman incursion on the continent, as well as the areas of their own self interests?

 

Reading Suggestions:

Galleys of Lepanto by Jack Beeching

The Ottoman Impact on Europe by Paul Coles

Defenders of the Faith: Charles V, Suleyman the
Magnificent, and the Battle for Europe,[masked]
by James Reston Jr

1453: The Holy War for Constantinople and the Clash of
Islam and the West Roger Crowley

Jason Goodwin, Lords of the Horizons - a good general intro, which I will be reading soon

PERIOD-SPECIFIC

Ernle Bradford, The Great Siege of  Malta - Well-written account of the battle

Sir Steven Runciman, The Fall of Constantinople 1453 - A classic

FICTION

Ivo Andric, Bridge on the Drina - a Nobel Prize winning  novel about how a community in Bosnia fared under the Ottomans and the Austro-Hungarian monarchy
Jason Goodwin, The Janissary Tree and The Snake Stone - two mystery novels about a 19th century Ottoman detective  who just happens to be a eunuch
Orhan Pamuk, My Name is Red - Another Nobel Prizewinner   set in the 16th century Istanbul
Cecelia Holland, Rakossy - About Suleiman the      magnificent's conquest of Hungary, from the point of view of the Hungarians

POETRY

G. K. Chesterton, Lepanto - Short but good

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  • Tracy

    Thanks, Wendy!

    February 25, 2013

  • Wendy

    Slava, NPR did a story on Aramaic which I heard on the way home in the car--what linguists are doing to try to preserve it. Jim, REAL linguists I'm talking about here, card-carrying:-). A student today also gave me an article from Smithsonian magazine about the same thing. If I find it online, I will post the link here.

    2 · February 25, 2013

  • Bronislav M.

    It was good seeing everyone. Excellent discussion

    2 · February 25, 2013

  • Edward L.

    Very intriguing discussion about the history of an important part of the world that is barely (if even) covered as part of today's public education curriculum.

    2 · February 24, 2013

    • Wendy

      Well put, Ed

      1 · February 25, 2013

  • Roy L.

    I always learn a lot from these most interesting discussions.

    1 · February 24, 2013

  • Angela C

    It was great. Almost every one contributed and it was well presented.

    1 · February 24, 2013

  • Bronislav M.

    Mary, snacks are optional. Gary, I'll take over the group and become the official organizer.

    February 23, 2013

  • mary j.

    Hello all, Since this will be my first meeting, I was wondering if we are supposed to bring something to munch on? Mary

    February 23, 2013

  • Anthony C.

    Damn it! I hate being a student and not having time to come to these meetups, haha! Better luck next time (sigh....)

    1 · January 22, 2013

    • Bronislav M.

      Hope to see you at the next one Anthony. Take care

      February 12, 2013

  • Angela C

    I HAVE SEVERAL OF THE RECOMMENDED READINGS ON HOLD AT THE LIBRARY. I SHOULD RECEIVE ONE OR TWO OF THEM A COUPLE OF WEEKS BEFORE THE MEETING.

    January 30, 2013

    • Michael L.

      Same here; if anyone needs to share, please let me know.

      February 3, 2013

  • Nancy D.

    No worries, Bron - Chris has moved his meetup to the following week so we're all good. Thanks, and looking forward to our next discussion!

    January 24, 2013

  • Nancy D.

    Already downloaded The Great Siege - Malta 1565 to my iPad, and I'm already pretty absorbed and loving it! So yeah, thanks for the suggestion, Jim. It's really well-written.

    Mary: thanks for pointing out the conflict; I had signed up for both without catching that. I wrote a message to Chris on the book club site to see if he'd be open to changing his date, so I'll let you know what he says. Bron: if that's manageable, then we hopefully get to see you at both! :-)

    January 23, 2013

    • Bronislav M.

      Hi Nancy. Yes, if you and Mary can make it that would be wonderful. Sorry can't change the date this time around. Schedule conflict :-(

      January 24, 2013

  • mary j.

    Hi, Is there any way you can change the date... because your meeting coincides with the Los Angeles History Book Club

    January 23, 2013

  • mary j.

    i would love to read about the Ottoman Empire, just as long as it's close to the downtown area

    January 22, 2013

  • Bronislav M.

    I would like to thank Jim for all his wonderful reading suggestions.

    January 22, 2013

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