Monumental Victories and Tragic Fall of an Empire in Middle East

  December 17, 2020   Read time 1 min
Monumental Victories and Tragic Fall of an Empire in Middle East
Ottoman Empire was a spectacular phenomenon in the early modern history of Middle East. This Empire thrived for a while and later its moments of glory came to its end.

There were, to be certain, occasional victories. In 1711, the Ottomans forced the surrender of the Russians at the river Pruth, and in 1715 the Greek provinces were recovered from Venice. But, in the words of the historian Andrew Wheatcroft, “whenever an Ottoman army met a European army on roughly equal terms the result was invariably a defeat for the Turks.” This was not a product of the Ottoman soldiers’ lack of bravery or, on occasion, the ingenuity of their commanders. More often, it was a product of the innate conservatism and lack of adaptability that permeated the whole Ottoman system of rule, including warfare and conquest. “By the end of the eighteenth century,” Wheatcroft continues, “the sultan’s soldiers had not varied their equipment or method of war for more than two hundred years.” There were multiple causes for the steady decline of the once mighty empire. Principally, however, decay began at the top, with the royal court and the janissaries. The janissaries increasingly lost their strict discipline, and the quality of their training deteriorated as many began using their positions for other, often personal pursuits. At one point they grew so powerful that they massacred most male members of the dynasty for fear of being disbanded, and it was not until 1826 that they were successfully attacked by the sultan and neutralized. The end came after the janissaries mutinied a second time against proposed reforms, when in a surprise move Sultan Mahmud ordered palace troops to open fire on the advancing janissary corps and then bombarded the barracks to which they had retreated. In the coming months, thousands of janissaries were killed, and the sultan proclaimed the formation of a new army, to be called “the Victorious Muhammaden Soldiery.” (Source: Political History of Middle East).