The Ottoman Empire was a complex system of government that, at its height, combined an effective dynastic system, a unifying religion, and a powerful military force. In this activity students will examine three important elements of Ottoman rule to gain an understanding of why the Ottomans came to power and how their empire eventually collapsed.
Students will go to the Twenty-Five Lectures On Modern Balkan History Web site to read about the many factors that contributed to the rise and fall of the Ottoman Empire. They will then devise an original theory, based on their reading, for the success of the Ottoman Empire.
- Students will be able to describe the principles of Ottoman rule.
- Students will be able to discriminate among possible explanations for the successful rule of the Ottomans and to develop new theories based on reasoned arguments.
Student Web Activity Answers
- According to the author, the principles underlying modern states in Western Europe are nationalism, ethnic uniformity, the rule of law, and citizenship. The principles that underlay the Ottoman Empire were dynastic rule, faith, and the military, all acting together.
- The early Ottoman state and its armies were more tightly organized and controlled than their feudal European rivals. European rulers were often at war with one another. Turkish armies regularly got fresh, highly motivated reinforcements from Central Asia. Early Ottoman rule was unthreatening to most conquered Christian and Jewish subjects, so the Ottoman armies faced few threats of revolt.
- When recruits for the military were needed, Christian boys were taken as slaves and converted to Islam. After growing up and being trained, they took on all kinds of roles in the imperial establishment and the military.
- Usufruct land was land belonging to the Sultan that was granted to an Ottoman subject to use, but without actually owning it.
- Students' essays will vary but should include relevant information about the Ottoman and Hapsburg Empires.
Go To Student Web Activity