Ottoman Anatolia
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Ottoman Anatolia

Military History of Anatolia (1071-1918)

The Seljuk victory over Byzantine forces in the Battle of Mantzikert 1071 had far-reaching consequences. It opened Anatolia to Turkish raids and settlement, caused the Byzantine Emperor to ask the Pope for help, thus triggering the crusades. Most of Anatolia, for a few decades, made up the western part of the Seljuk Sultanate. In 1077 it broke up; the westernmost of her successor states was the Sultanate of Rum, with capital at Konya (Iconion); it lasted until 1307. It broke up into a multitude of successor states.
One of these was the Emirate of the Ottoman Turks; their territory was located in the extreme northwest of Anatolia, opposite Constantinople. They expanded at the expense of the Byzantine Empire, even expanded into Europe. In 1345 the Ottomans conquered the Emirate of Karasi, in 1389-1391 Saruhan, Aydin, Menteshe, Germiyan, Hamidali, in 1397 Karaman. Then Timur Lenk crushed the Ottoman Army in battle; the Ottoman conquests in Anatolia became Timurid fiefs and, after his death in 1405, regained independence.
Following an Ottoman Civil War 1403-1413, in 1423, Tekke was reconquered; Aydin and Menteshe followed in 1426, Germiyan in 1428. Sinope was conquered in 1458, Trabzon in 1461, Karaman in 1484. Eastern Anatolia was conquered by the Ottomans in a conflict with Safavid Persia and Mamluk Egypt 1514-1517.

From 1517 to 1918, Anatolia was part of the Ottoman Empire. Western Anatolia was a core region of the Ottoman Empire; mountainous Eastern Anatolia, home to an ethnically and religiously diverse population, was the site of frequent rebellions, and for long periods of Ottoman rule, many regions within Eastern Anatolia were largely autonomous.
Eastern Anatolia was affected by border wars with Persia (1514-1516, 1526-1555, 1577-1590, 1602-1612, 1616-1618, 1623-1638, 1722-1727, 1730-1736, 1743-1747, 1776-1779, 1821-1822). In 1608, Zaporozhe Cossacks raided Sinope and Trabzon; the Russo-Ottoman wars of 1877-1878 and 1914-1918 affected Eastern Anatolia, the Ottoman-Egyptian war of 1832-1833 temporarily brought most of Anatolia under Egyptian control.
Anatolia was the site of numerous revolts, the Jelali Revolt of 1596-1602, the revolt of 1622-1623 etc.

For most of Ottoman history, the network of roads was in bad condition and communication poor. The Empire primarily relied on her elite corps, the Janissaries. By the late 18th century, they were an outdated institution - but domestically still an important factor. In 1826 they finally were suppressed; the Ottoman Empire entered on a path of modernization (the Tanzimat Reforms), in which a reform of army and navy took a central position.
While the abolition of the Devsirme (the recruitment of christian boys to be trained as Muslim Turkish soldiers) did not cause resistance, the policy of enforcing recruitment among population groups hitherto not requested to provide recruits did. The Tanzimat Era thus not only saw reforms, but a reorganization of the Ottoman Empire; the various political entities, one by one, were deprived of political autonomy and disarmd; many nomadic tribes were forced to settle down. This process invlved conflict.
The Tanzimat reforms were beneficial to some groups within Ottoman Anatolia, notably the Greeks, Jews and Armenians who were granted equality in front of the law. On the other hand, the nomadic tribes saw themselves deprived of traditional rights, and saw their lifestyle threatened; occasionally they committed atrocities against defenseless neighbours (Christian Armenians, f.ex.).
The era of Tanzimat reforms came to an end under Sultan Abdulhamid; he ruled in a despotic style, at times inciting one ethnic or political group against another. The Armenians in Eastern Anatolia and in the Çukurova were again exposed to mob attacks (1895/1896, 1908). World War I in Eastern Anatolia was not just a war between Ottomans and Russians, but had a domestic component, Turks and Kurds versus Armenians.

The Beylerbeyliks, Sanjaks, Vilayets of the Ottoman Empire were administrated from provincial capitals, the dominating element of which were castles, which functioned both as seat of governor/administration and as garrison (Janissaries). The list of Anatolian historic cities includes Izmit, Bursa, Bilecik, Eskisehir, Kütahya, Balikesir, Çnakkale, Manisa, Izmir, Aydin, Mugla, Denizli, Usak, Burdur, Isparta, Antalya, Konya, Adana, Nigde, Nevsehir, Kayseri, Kirsehir, Afyon, Bolu, Ankara, Cankiri, Karabük, Sinop, Çorum, Samsun, Amasya, Toket, Sivas, Maras, Gaziantep, Urfa, Adyaman, Malatya, Elazig, Erzurum, Ordu, Giresun, Trabzon, Rize, Artvin, Kars, Erzinçan, Van, Bitlis, Siirt, Mus, Diyarbakr, Mardin.

Article Sultanate of Rum, from Natiomaster
REFERENCE Wolf-Dieter Hütteroth, Wissenschaftliche Länderkunden : Türkei (Country Studies : Turkey), Darmstadt : Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft 1982, in German [G]

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted on July 11th 2005

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