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?
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
Ernle Bradford, The Great Siege of Malta - Well-written account of the battle
Sir Steven Runciman, The Fall of Constantinople 1453 - A classic
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
G. K. Chesterton, Lepanto - Short but good