Suleiman the Magnificent
The Ottoman Empire was an empire lasting from 1299 to 1923. Osman was leading the small Ottoman Empire in 1299 in western Anatolia and he was slowly extending his settlements away from his Muslim neighbors. It was not allowed for Muslims to kill other Muslims.
He had a number of soldiers called the Ghazis who were brave, loyal and fearless. These solders helped Osman tread into unknown land and spread his rule. Osman’s name was becoming more known and after his death, people called him courageous strong and great.
This is where the centuries old Turkish saying comes from: “May he be as good as Osman. ” After a few centuries the Ottoman Empire was flourishing, it spanned 3 continents and contained 29 provinces. Suleiman the Magnificent was responsible for the prospering Empire that he ruled from 1520 to his death in 1566. Suleiman uses three main factors to run his empire successfully and cohesively. Suleiman the Magnificent used economic, social and military systems or techniques to develop a cohesive empire across a massive and culturally diverse land.
Suleiman the Magnificent had a very culturally accepted land; this benefited the empire a lot since people with different religious backgrounds could live together. The Millet system was made by Sultan Mehmet the Second after he conquered Constantinople in 1453. Mehmet started by instituting the Christian Millets so that Europeans could join the Empire. Millets is what Suleiman used to make sure civilians could live peacefully. The sectors were not defined by ethnical background, rather by religious beliefs.
This way a person from any decent could live in a sector without getting discriminated. There were five of these sectors: Muslims, Orthodox Christians, Armenians, Syriac Orthodox and Judaism. Each sector was usually run by a religious hierarch, like a priest. Millets were so effective because they prevented internal fights in the Empire and travelers felt safe. Another strategy that Suleiman used was that he distributed his laws publicly; this is where his nick name comes from “Suleiman the Lawgiver. ” Making sure that there weren’t any civil wars was a big part of being a leader.
If an enemy doesn’t strike from outside, an enemy may strike from inside. A civil war can cause many deaths and disrupt the focus of any leader. Suleiman would have to put all of his attention to people fighting inside his nation instead of focusing on incoming attacks from the outside. A lot of empires have fallen due to internal attacks. Interaction with other sectors was not too often which helps people be in an environment where everyone follows the same religion. There is also almost no interference from the government on how the leader chooses to run the Millets.
Things like taxes and sometimes even laws aren’t checked by the government because there aren’t any rules against having different styles of living. Travelers from different religious backgrounds can now enter a land where they don’t have to be feared of not being able to walk in and get hurt because of their differences. This encourages travelers, who are usually traders to come to this culturally diverse and peaceful land to trade their goods, instead of going to Europe where only one religion was accepted: Christianity. Suleiman put out the laws on streets so that all could read and understand what is allowed and what is not.
This was important because now everyone knew the difference between right and wrong. This also prevented officials from making fake or arbitrary laws. The Millet system and publicly distributing laws helped Suleiman the Magnificent lead a cohesive Empire because it prevented civil wars and officials planning schemes for the worst of the Ottoman empire. Suleiman’s Empire was also very economically strong; he managed to lead the richest Empire in the world at the time and own the gateway between the Black, Marmora, Aegean and Mediterranean Sea.
Constantinople was part of the Roman Empire before Mehmed the Second conquered it in 1453. Mehmed primarily used gunpowder and ships to take over the centre of trade. At one point in the battle Constantinople made a golden chain in the sea so that Mehmed’s ships could not pass through. To solve the problem Mehmed used planks covered with grease to transport the ships over land, possibly to show his power and intimidate the enemy. Today Constantinople is known as Istanbul. Suleiman the Magnificent used Istanbul and the caravan routes to increase the income of the Empire.
Istanbul was very effective due to its geographical position; it had a thin river going through it which was the only way to enter Africa, the Middle East and Europe by sea. This little strip of water is called the Bosphorous and whoever owned Istanbul could get money off of all the taxation of the heavy traffic. Ships carried silk, tea, spices and porcelain. From the Black Sea and southern Russian came ships with different types of furs, grain and amber. From Europe came mirrors and drugs. Ships from Venice and Genoa carried goods to Europe.
The Ottoman navy protected the Bosphorous from pirates and other kinds of thieves. There was a tax on almost every transaction, but profit was limited to 10%. The trade through the Bosphorous was strictly looked after by the government to make sure there wasn’t any cheating or theft. When an employee left a company the government was notified right away. All markets were assigned a judge who had the right to punish those who tried to cheat. The government also made sure there weren’t any exports containing anything valuable like building material, minerals and food.
The caravan routes were an essential part of making the Ottoman Empire richer than any other. Caravans were made up of groups of people and animals. Up to 20,000 people and 300,000 animals could be a general caravan traveling to Mecca made up of pilgrims and merchants. Numerous goods were shipped across the Middle East, Europe and North Africa. There were hundreds of routes that were protected by Ottoman soldiers. Since these routes were protected, Suleiman taxed travelers, and with the enormous amounts of people, they could make huge amounts of money.
The caravan routes and Istanbul were two ways which Suleiman used to perfect his economy. This income was spent on extending his Empire and building various religious buildings to keep his Millets happy. Happy people meant a more cohesive Empire because everyone will stay motivated to do their job and stay in the Empire. Military is a massive part to a successful Empire, fortunately Suleiman had everything under control and used a system that really worked well. The Devschirme system started with Murad the First in the late 1300’s.
Murad felt a need to counter the Turkic Nobles and started making a Christian army, independent of the regular army. It started off with two types of soldiers: infantry and cavalry. The cavalry was known as Kapikulu suvari (The Cavalry of the Servants of the Porte) and the infantry was called Yeni Ceri (Janissary. ) Firstly Christian slaves were trained for the elite force, but then the Devschirme system started to develop and Christian children were being adopted by the government to be brought up as Muslims. Then they would train in one of the four imperial institutions: the Palace, the Scribes, the Religious or the Military.
Janissaries, army recruitment and technology are why the Military of Suleiman the Magnificent helped make a cohesive Empire. Janissary soldiers helped fight every major battle. They fought in wars against Austria and Hungary, defeated the Egyptian Mamluks and conquered Constantinople. Without the Janissaries there was a possibility that regular soldiers would not be able to withstand forces from Austria or Hungary and the Ottoman Empire could have been long captured. There were hundreds of trade routes to patrol and a huge border to protect.
For this, the Empire needed an enormous army, but luckily with Suleiman Sultan the Military was always in best shape possible. Everyone who was captured would have to enroll in the army and serve the Empire. This way the Ottomans were never short on recruits, and don’t have to worry about any locations that they couldn’t control because of shortage on soldiers. The Ottomans were always ahead in technology when Suleiman was leading the Empire. They used gunpowder and ships to fight battles more efficiently, with cannons and gunpowder they could easily take down fort walls and with ships they could attack from sea.
Janissaries, army recruitment and technology had the Ottoman Empire protected at all times. This way people did not need to worry about incoming attacks, but rather on their daily routines. Suleiman lead a very healthy empire by perfecting the economic, social and military aspects of the Empire to make it successful. The empire worked together not as individual people, making it very cohesive. When Suleiman’s reign finished the Empire headed downhill, but like Napoleon said “Turks can be defeated but never destroyed. ”