Byzantinians to Ottomans

Korean Minjok Leadership Academy

Table of Contents

Millet System (Dec. 6th 2009)
Sample Chapter (Dec. 5th 2009)
Sample Chapter (Dec. 22nd 2008)
Working Table of Contents (Nov. 13th 2008)
Bibliography (Sept. 25th 2008)

Chapter VII References as of December 6th 2009 .. Go to Teacher's Comment

VII. 2 Social System ? The Millet System
            The Ottoman Empire, for the integration of the minority groups, had millets, or confessional autonomous communities. Aside from the Ottoman Empire, the autonomous community concept has long been in practice in Middle East countries. The Middle East countries closely linked the system to Islamic rules on the treatment of non-Muslim minority, which was commonly called the 'dhimmi.'
            People bound to specific millets had same religious affiliations, and normally, not the same ethnicity. The millet was controlled by the head of the group who were most often a religious hierarch. The millets set their own laws, and collected and distributed their own taxes. However, they stayed royal to the Ottoman Empire. And the heads of the millets reported directly to the Ottoman Sultan.
            The Christian millet of Ottoman Empire was instituted by Sultan Mohammad II, after the conquest of Constantinople in 1453. To reorganize the state as the heir of the East Roman Empire, the Sultan himself created millets of Christians, and the millets were chartered as national corporations. The heads were elected by the community and was recognized both as the headship of a voluntary "Rayah" association and also the status of an Ottoman official. The heads had the authority to control the schools, and even the administration of certain branched of civil law. The Christian millets were practically autonomous bodies in all that concerns religion, culture and social life.
            One of the successes of the social structure of the Ottoman Empire was the unity that it brought about among its highly varied populations through millets (1). Plurality was the key to the longevity of the Empire. The extensive rights were granted to millets invited Phanariot Greeks, and Jews to settle in Ottoman territory. The Ottoman Empire's relatively high degree of tolerance for ethnic differences became one of its greatest strengths in integrating the new regions. However, the non-assimilative policy became a weakness after the rise of nationalism.
            In the 19th century, with the Tanzimat reforms, the term started to refer to legally protected religious groups.

(1) Wikipedia, Ottoman Empire,


Wikipedia, Millet (Ottoman Empire),
Wikipedia, Ottoman Empire,

Chapter VII References as of December 5th 2009 .. Go to Teacher's Comment

Encyclopedia of the Middle East, Janissary,
LookLex Encyclopedia, Janissaries,
Wikipedia, Janissary,

Chapter : The Integration of Two Civilizations as of December 5th 2009 .. Go to Teacher's Comment

VII. The Integration of the Two Civilizations

VII. 1 Military System - The Janissaries
            The Janissaries is a standing Ottoman army, first organized by Sultan Murad 1 in the late 14th century lasted until 1826. The Ottomans were the first to devise a standing army in recent times, giving them an immense advantage over Europeans countries.
            The term is from a Turkish word, yeniçeri, which means new troops. They were indeed an alternative to the old regular army.
            The Janissaries were famous not only for their military skills, but also because they were staffed by youths conscripted from Christian families in the Balkans. Later, practically all of them converted to Islam.
            They were subject to strict rules which limited their freedom and demanded high moral standards in the society. In the first couple of centuries, they were forced to celibacy, but this later changed. The janissaries were not allowed to grow beard, which was the sign of free men.
            At first, the Janissaries were put together of war prisoners. But from 1420s, they recruited young men from their homes at an early age. This system was called devsirme. They could not contact with their communities after recruitment. Through their training, they were learned to put their allegiance to the sultan.
            The Janissaries were originally archers, but the Janissary force became particularly important with the introduction of firearms. Infantry carrying muskets proved more effective than cavalry equipped with sword and spear, but such soldiers required intensive training. Only a standing army could really master firearms and infantry drill. Janissaries adopted firearms?from about the 15th century. By the 16th century, the main weapon of the Janissary was the musket. Janissaries also made extensive use of early grenades and hand cannon.
            But over time, the Janissaries were so successful that they grew into one of the strongest power institutions in the empire. They could exercise this strength to influence the policy and to defend their own interests. From the 17th century and on, they staged many palace coups to exercise this power. But this would eventually be the main reason for their downfall - their strength made them dangerous to the sultan, and when the final battle over power came, the Janissaries lost, and all troops were killed or banished. They replaced the feudal ghazi army with a core consisting of a small body (about 1,000 - 20,000 troops originally) of trained professional soldiers who were supposedly loyal only to the sultan.
            Other reasons for the sultan to want to remove the Janissaries were that they had grown into a large number, up from 20,000 in 1574 to 135,000 in their last year of 1826. This was expensive, and in addition the Janissaries had found their own (unacceptable) way of financing their military activities as well as their high living standard: they performed various trades and were more an more in contact with the society. They were truly a state in the state.

Sample Chapter as of December 22nd 2008 .. Go to Teacher's Comment

II. History of the Early Ottoman Empire (-1453)
II.1 Demise of the Seljuk Sultanate
            The Seljuk Turkish history spanned the period from 1060 to around 1307. The Seljuks were a tribe of Tartars from Central Asia who established a powerful empire in Persia in the 11th century. They captured Baghdad in 1055. The Caliph of Baghdad was so impressed with their strength and skill that he made their leader, Tugrul Bey his deputy and conferred on him the title of "King of East and West". The Seljuks however assumed they were the rightful owners of all land conquered during the time of Prophet Mohammed and were keen to extend their kingdom. So a contingent of around 5000 moved into eastern Anatolia and left their mark there for some time.
            The Seljuk Turkish history is significant in that they are regarded as the ancestors of the Western Turks - the modern Turks of today. The Seljuk Turks were the first people to invade Anatolia completely. With the establishment of the Anatolian Seljuk State as part of the Great Seljuk Empire began the Islamic period in Turkey. The Seljuks played a major role in the Middle Ages in defending the Islamic world against the Crusaders, and conquering large parts of the Byzantine Empire. They also did a service to Europe by providing a barrier between them and the raiding Mongols. Finally their importance lay in the fact that they paved the way for the Ottoman Turks.
            The Seljuk Empire in Persia was at its peak during the reign of Alp Arsalan and his son Malik Shah. With the death of Malik Shah, began the decline of this great empire. The borders of the Seljuk Sultanate were under constant pressure from the Crusaders in the west, the Arabs in the south and the Mongols in the east. A quarrelling and faction-ridden Seljuk dynasty was unable to withstand the onslaught and by 1192, it ended in obscurity.
            Once the decline of the great Seljuks began, the lesser Seljuk clans established their own principalities throughout Anatolia. But on June 26th, 1243, the Seljuk army was defeated at Kose Dagi, outside the city of Siva by the Mongol descendants of Cengiz Khan. Subsequently, the remaining Turkish clans were reduced to the role of vassals. The Mongols however, withdrew just as suddenly as they came leaving behind many small states led by obscure chieftains. One among them - Osman was to later found an extensive empire that came to be known as the Ottoman Empire.
            The Ottomans rose as the obscure reaches of Anatolia in the west of Turkey. These western Turks were called as Oghuz, and were first known to the western world in 1227, when they migrated westward to the Seljuk Empire. As the Seljuk Sultanate started to divide into some independent states, so called the Ghazi Emirates, Ottoman Truks gained power in Anatolia. By 1300, about ten of those Ghazi Emirates procured parts of Byzantine Empire. At that time, the Ottoman government created some administrative institutions. The government had the legal entity known as the millet, under which religious and ethic minorities were able to manage their own affairs with substantial independence form the central control. Under Osman I, the Ottoman Empire had expanded over the eastern Mediterranean and the Balkans. By the victory at the battle of Kosovo (1389), the Ottomans could expand over to Europe too.

Working Table of Contents as of November 13th 2008 .. Go to Teacher's Comment

I. Introduction
II. History of the Early Ottoman Empire (-1453)
     II.1 Demise of the Seljuq Sultanate
     II.2 Division of Turkish Anatolia
     II.3 Rise of the Gazi Emirate in Western Anatolia, the Eastern Mediterranean and the Balkans
     II.4 The Ottoman Turks under Mehmed I.
     II.5 Preparations of the Conquest of Byzantium
III. The Social, Political and Military System of the Ottoman Empire (-1453)
IV. Byzantium in its Last Days
     IV.1 The Fourth Crusade
     IV.2 Instable Latin States
     IV.3 Disintegration into Greek Successor States
     IV.4 Attacks from Foreign Powers
     IV.5 Contacts with the Ottoman Empire
V. The Social, Political and Military System of the Byzantine Empire (-1453)
VI. The Fall of Constantinople 1453
VII. The Integration of the Two Cvilizations
     VII.1 Social System
     VII.2 Political System
     VII.3 Military System
     VII.4 Arts and Architecture

Bibliography as of September 25th 2008 .. Go to Teacher's Comment

Books Accessible

(1)      Jason Goodwin, Lords of the Horizons: A History of the Ottoman Empire, Henry Holt 1999
(2)      Douglas A. Howard, The History of Turkey, Greenwood 2001
(3)      Halil Inalcik, An Economic and Social History of the Ottoman Empire, Vol.I : 1300-1600, Cambridge : UP 1994
(4)      John Julius Norwich, Byzantium. 3 volumes 1996 - Volume III : the decline of the Byzantium
(5)      Turkey: A Country Study. Paul M. Pitman III, ed. Washington, DC: Federal Research Division of the Library of Congress, 1987
(6)      Anatolian Dynasties - Regnal Chronologies
(7)      Edward Gibbon - Decline and fall of the Roman Empire (1770)
(8)      The Historical Dictionary of Turkey
(9)      The Macropeadia - Anatolia, Balkans

Books to be Bought

(10)      Lord Kinross (1977). Ottoman Centuries: The Rise and Fall of the Turkish Empire. New York: Morrow Quill Paperbacks
(11)      Runciman, Steven (1990). The Fall of Constantinople, 1453, Cambridge University Press.
(12)      Charles T. Riggs , History of Mehmed the Conqueror (1954).
(13)      Edwin Pears, The Destruction of the Greek Empire and the Story of the Capture of Constantinople by the Turks (1903; repr. 1968),

Books which would be helpful

(14)      The Byzantine Tradition after the Fall of Constantinople, University Press of Virginia
(15)      Babinger, Franz (1978). Mehmed the Conqueror and His Time, Princeton University Press.

Relevant Books Provbably not being used

(16)      Byzantium and Crusades. Jonathan Harris (London: Hambledon Press, 102 Gloucester Avenue, London NW 1 8HX, 2003).
(17)      The Fall of Constantinople: The Ottoman conquest of Byzantium (General Military) (Hardcover) by David Nicolle, Stephen Turnbull, John Haldon
(18)      1453: The Holy War for Constantinople and the Clash of Islam and the West by Roger Crowley