The Ottoman Turks: An Introductory History to 1923

The Ottoman Turks: An Introductory History to 1923

The Ottoman Turks: An Introductory History to 1923

The Ottoman Turks: An Introductory History to 1923

Synopsis

This is a major survey of the whole span of the Ottoman history, from their arrival in the 13th century, their rise to power and dominance of the medieval worlds, through to stagnation in the 17th and 18th century and their eventual collapse after WWI.

Excerpt

In the beginning of their recorded history Turks were nomads. Their original home was in Central Asia, in the vast grassland region that spreads north of Afghanistan and the Himalaya Mountains, west and northwest of China. By any normal standards of human comfort, Central Asia was a good place to leave. Its lands ranged from desert to forested mountains, but the general environment was bleak -- high plains that were only slightly more attractive than desert for human habitation. Temperatures in winter could fall below -34 °C (-30 °F) and in summer rise to over 49 °C (120 °F). Average temperatures over most of the region were below freezing in January, well over 27 °C (80 °F) in August. Spring was short, winter long, with snow covering the ground at an average depth of two and a half feet (75 cm) for almost half the year. Geographers classify some of the land as tundra, some as steppe.

The steppe grasses of their homeland best supported livestock and the Turks were primarily hunters and herdsmen. Because sheep devoured the grass in any one area fairly quickly, the Turks were forced to move from one pasturage to another in order to feed the flocks upon which they depended. Large groups would have quickly over-grazed the land and small groups could not defend themselves, so the earliest Turkish political units were tribes. Although the size of each tribe varied according to its environment and the success of its leadership, none could have been considered large or important.

Had the Turks remained solely in their tribes, they would have had little effect on world history, but they did not. When necessary the Turkish tribes proved able to cooperate. Out of mutual necessity they joined together for defence or conquest under strong leaders to form armies and ultimately empires. Accepting the overlordship of a strong leader (called han or khan) meant that tribal feuds were diminished and the tribes could be organized for major conquests. The tribes remained as separate units, but they cooperated with one another. When united, the Turkish tribesmen were a formidable force. Turkish nomads were raised in harsh surroundings . . .

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