Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Ottoman Empire

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The Ottoman Empire was a long lasting Islamic empire established in 18. It was dissolved until 1. The economy in the Ottoman Empire was an agriculturally based system which provided large profits for the Turkish government. By harvesting the rice and wheat which grew abundantly in the lands they conquered, the Ottomans were able to finance their army and their further conquest. While the Colombian exchange brought other food-crops to the Empire (i.e. maize, potatoes, tomatoes etc.) they did not have as large an impact on society as in Europe, meaning that these new crops did not become a necessity for living as they did in Europe. Maize, for example, was used mainly for animal feed instead of a source of food for humans.

The government of the Ottoman empire was an absolute monarchy, meaning that the emperor held most of the political power. This type of government led to what is known as a Dynastic state, meaning that political power was handed down from father to son. This handing down of power, however, did not go smoothly. Many of the emperor’s sons would engage in fights for the throne, often resulting in bloodshed. This infighting between relatives became so bad that Mehmed the Conqueror decreed that a sultan could kill of his family members in order to protect their position as leaders.

This decree is but an example of the many kanun (“laws” or “decrees”) passed by the Ottoman emperors. The Ottoman emperors, being absolute monarchs, usually did as they pleased, rewriting the law as they saw fit. Suleyman did this so often that he became known as “Suleyman the Lawgiver.”

Religion was an important part of life in the Ottoman Empire. The Ottomans were also very tolerant of other religions. For example, people conquered by the Ottomans were extended the status of “Protected people” or dhimmi. This meant that in exchange for an oath of allegiance and the payment of a special tax, the local community could maintain it’s own legal, religious and cultural traditions. These communities were to become known as “Millet” communities. The existence of these communities proves that the Ottoman’s were much more tolerant of other religions than the other two Islamic empires, which attempted to force conversion to Islam.

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Overall, the Ottoman Empire was the most stable of the Islamic Empires discussed in this chapter. They’re religious tolerance as well as their strong economy allowed them to exist until the first half of the 0th century.

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