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[Anatolian Civilizations] [Ottoman Empire]


REGRESSION AND COLLAPSE (1699-1923)      


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The Ottoman Empire lost land for the first time with the Treaty of Karlowitz and such losses continued until the whole collapse of the empire. The gain of 400 years was eliminated in almost 200 years. With this agreement the area of Hungary was left for Austrians, Ukraine and Podolia for the Polish, the Castle of Azov for Russians and the Dalmatic coast and Mora for Venetians. Only the city of Temeswar was saved thanks to the heroic people who defended the city. These losses and defeats left deep traces on the mind of the Turks.

After the Treaty of Karlowitz was entered, the Ottoman Empire was engaged in rearrangement of its administrational, financial and economical situation and reorganization of the army and the navy to strengthen the borders. On the other hand, the Europeans and Russians, who had long been imitating the Turks, were progressing in science and technology rapidly and thus laid siege to the Ottomans with greater power.

Following the Treaty of Karlowitz, the Ottoman throne witnessed rapid changes of sultans who sought for remedies to save the empire; however, they all encountered two major obstacles. First, the janissaries, the basic unit of the army, were closed and isolated from modern military knowledge and technique, even abandoning the traditions and losing interest in military profession. They had become a crowd who fought during the time of conflict, but unaware of the modern military understanding and system. Therefore, minor changes in the class of artilleryman and bombardier were not enough to bring a victory.

The second obstacle was the lack of statesmen who understood the importance of science to help the sultans. For example, the horsemen of land had lost power after the elimination of the land system, but the number of janissaries had increased overwhelmingly, establishing a great, uncontrollable power in the centre of the state. No doubt, everyone saw this power. However, some statesmen who considered nothing but their own benefits, opposing to reforms, utilized this power for the sake of their advantage and paved the way for the collapse of the hearth of janissaries and the empire.

There are some who claim that the Ottoman Empire collapsed because it failed to keep up with the developments in the west; however, recent research proves this wrong. It is a recognized fact that the superior naturally undermines the inferior. Deep and timeless development is, however, recognized lately. To comprehend this is rather prophecy than talent, and it is often too late when the fact is clearly understood.

The Ottomans felt the necessity to look into the European secret in military and technical superiority only after losses in battles began. As a result of this, the idea to amend the Ottoman Empire according to its structure in the 17th century was replaced in the 18th century to import some practices and institutions from Europe. Under the peaceful environment of the Treaty of Passarowitz during the reign of Sultan Ahmet III (1703-1730), some cultural and construction activities initiated by Damat İbrahim Pasha were highly influenced by Europe. Ambassadors were sent for the first time to many important centers in Europe. Thus the Turks had the opportunity to get to know the western civilization, though superficially.

Said Celebi, who went to Paris with Yirmisekiz Celebi Mehmet Efendi, grasped the importance of printing press in Europe and on his return, initiated the establishment of a printing house in Istanbul together with Ibrahim Muteferrika, a Hungarian engineer who had converted to Islam. With the fatwa of the Sheikh-ul-Islam and the declaration of the sultan, this important invention of Europe was brought to Turkey. While many works of science and culture were being published and distributed by the printing house, the sultan and the grand vizier highly supported the areas of science, culture and arts in Istanbul and helped to revive such an atmosphere. A paper factory was established in Yalova and china and textile factories were opened in Istanbul. However, the wasteful and extravagant attitude of some statesmen in this period of peace led to social distress. There was a luxurious lifestyle around the resorts in Sadabad and Bosporus, influenced to some extent by the western palace life. This period, called as the Tulip Era was ended by the Rebellion of Patrona Halil (1730).

While the military technique of the west came to Turkey, the Russian War, lasting from 1768 to 1774, demonstrated the weakness of the Turkish army (the janissaries) to whole world. After this grave defeat, the Treaty of Kucuk Kaynarca (1774) was signed, which separated the Crimean Khan from the Ottoman Empire and the Russians were given the right to have a navy in the Black Sea, which was then a Turkish lake.

Despite all the negative conditions, the Ottoman princes, educated with great care and solicitude, tried their best to save the country from depression and bring the glorious old days back. Sultan Mahmut I (1730–1754) and Mustafa III (1757–1773) tried to rearrange the corps of bombardiers and artillerymen in the western style.

Austria and Russia, in an attempt to obstruct the Ottomans from gaining its strength back, constantly opened fronts to the country. Especially the Russians occupation of Crimea in 1783 was an unforgettable pain for the Turks. The loss of this state, which was populated completely by Turks, was not like the loss of Hungary and Middle Europe. A state, whose people were Muslims, was lost for the first time. The Ottoman-Russian War, which started in 1787, was concluded in defeat of the Ottomans again. After the loss of the Ozi Castle in 1789 and the massacre against the Muslims in the castle, Sultan Abdulhamit I died in grief (1789).


Attempts to Westernization


Sultan Selim III had considered of benefiting from the European civilization, establishing a modern army in European style and gaining the strength to the empire as in the past and was always engaged in such ambitions. Taking advantage of the fact that the Europe and the neighboring countries were occupied with the French revolution when he took the throne, he initiated reforms. He ordered Ebu Bekir Ratip Efendi, the ambassador to Venetia, to prepare a report on the situation of Europe and the military and administrational organization in Austria. Ratip Efendi, who was quite clever, soon gathered information about the scientific, political and military situation in Europe. He presented a report to the Sultan on the organization of the Austrian army, military schools, training of the officers and many other issues. Receiving advise from the statesmen on amendments to the state, Sultan Selim III immediately initiated reforms in administrational, commercial, industrial, agricultural, scientific and military areas, which are called as Nizam-i Cedid (New Order) as a whole. Furthermore, during the reign of Selim III, a new army in European style, named Nizam-i Cedid army, was established besides the janissary corps. Indeed, this new army corps, trained with modern methods in a disciplined way, yielded many benefits soon. With the defeat of Napoleon against Cezzar Ahmet Pasha, who had a small Nizam-i Cedid army in Akka in Egypt demonstrated the importance of this new army. This success gained wide support from the public for the new army, when Napoleon said “The Turks can be killed, but not be frightened.” The Nizam-i Cedid corps was transported to the European coast during the Ottoman-Russian and Austria wars in 1806 and the attempts to develop this small army were initiated. However, these attempts were obstructed by the rebellion of the janissaries and the notables of the Roumelia. The rebellion started with the murder of the officers who read the sultan’s declaration on Nizam-i Cedid in Edirne and continued until Selim III was taken down from the throne. Mustafa IV was declared the sultan. Afterwards, Alemdar Mustafa Pasha, the notable of Ruscuk, came to Istanbul with its army of 16,000 men to take Selim III to the throne back; however, the rebels killed Selim III in return (1808).

The Ottoman Empire, which has a particular place in history with its worldwide order, was no more able to preserve its order due to the corruption of the janissary corps, shattering of the administration, grave defeats in wars and rebellions, despite the efforts of some Sultans. Many other states than Crimea were seized by enemy and the relationship of the government with the far countries, such as South Africa, Egypt and Arabia, were almost ceased. When the organization of the soldiers with lands in Roumelia and Anatolia was corrupted, some notables replaced them. They eventually benefited from the lack of authority and became feudal lords who ignored the declarations of the Sultan and did not pay their taxes. Therefore, the state was shattered inside. Finally Alemdar Mustafa Pasha established his authority in the center and took Mahmut II to the throne, and the notables and bandits seized the states. Consequently, an agreement between the notables and the government, Sened-i Ittifak, was signed in Istanbul. According to this agreement, the notables would be loyal to the sultan and pay their taxes and supply the state with armies; however, the agreement also included the approval of their privileges by the government and acknowledged their right to heir their property to their sons. Some historians define this agreement as the Magna Carta of the Ottomans and a draft of a constitution.

Despite all these, Mahmut II, who took the throne from Selim III at the age of 24, realized the Nizam-i Cedid with great courage and strength and established a new order, besides a modern army. The rebellion of the janissaries in 1808, which is called as the “Alemdar Event” and concluded in the murder of Mustafa Pasha and elimination of the Sekban-i Cedid, did not discourage the young sultan. He continued his struggle with strong will. Meanwhile, the state encountered rebellions inside and enemies outside. The Greek Rebellion, which started in 1821, was concluded in the establishment of Greece in 1830. On the other hand, the rebellion of Kavalali Ali Pasha in Egypt brought pains to the sultan. Again, during his reign, the Ottoman-British commercial agreement in 1838 rendered the Ottoman Empire an open market.

One of the most important events of the period of Mahmut II was the elimination of the janissary corps on June 15th, 1826, as they had become an obstacle in every beneficial attempt, and became a monster against the sultan and people but a lamb against the enemy. Though very effective during the rise of the empire, it was very effective again in the catastrophes of the last century. Therefore, the elimination of the janissary corps was considered a beneficial event and was called the “Auspicious Event.”

After the elimination of the janissary corps, the government decided to establish a new army corps called Asakir-i Mansure-i Muhammediye (1826).

Sultan Mahmut II also laid the ground for the institutions to develop Turkey into a new order. He sent students to Europe to research military and use of new weapons. He tried to develop a new form of government like Europe and established ministries. He made reforms on dressing. Fez replaced the turban. Jacket and trousers were introduced for the first time during his reign. He established the schools of Military Medicine and War School and brought instructors and experts from Europe to bring the educational level of these schools to the highest. The first official newspaper, called Takvim-i Vekayi was published in Istanbul in Turkish, Arabic, French, Greek and Armenian (1831). Later on some private newspapers such as Ceride-i Havadis (1840), Tercuman-i Ahval (1860) and Tasvir-i Efkar (1862) were published.

These reforms by Sultan Mahmut constituted a new milestone in the Turkish history.

After the death of Mahmut II, Abdulmecit (1839-1861) took the throne at the age of 16. Just after his inauguration, the Tanzimat Declaration was prepared by Mustafa Resit Pasha, the ministry of foreign affairs, with the pressure of the European states. This declaration was a program of reformation which gave guarantee to the public on fundamental rights and freedoms and included social and economical reforms. The declaration was read out by Mustafa Resit Pasha in front of the sultan, statesmen, foreign ambassadors and public at the Gulhane Park (1839). It is also known as the Gulhane Hatti Humayunu (Gulhane Royal Declaration) as it was declared at the Gulhane Park. During the period following the Tanzimat Declaration (1839-1876), many reforms exemplified in the western culture were applied. The collapse of the empire accelerated during this period. In 1853, a war broke out between Ottomans and Russians. In 1854, the Ottoman Empire took foreign debts for the first time. In 1856, the sultan and his family left the Topkapi Palace, which did not meet the modern needs, and moved to the modern, western Dolmabahce Palace.

Taking the throne in 1861, Abdulaziz took over a country who financial prestige was destroyed and economical depression aggravated during his reign. Problems in the Balkans were intense. In the active publication environment, many writers such as Namik Kemal, Ali Suavi and Sinasi carried the problems of the empire to the public via newspapers. The New Ottomans, represented primarily by journalists, is considered the first libertarian movement in the Ottoman Empire in the western sense of the concept. The first novels in Turkish were published during the reign of Abdulaziz. Education received higher attention and new schools were opened. Abdulaziz also made visits abroad. His travel to Europe in 1867 is the first diplomatic visit of an Ottoman sultan to the western countries.

Sultan Abdulaziz made attempts to bring the power of the empire back, to establish a powerful army and navy, to eliminate the threats to the country to heal the empire, which was defined as an ill man by the European countries. At the time when Abdulaziz took the throne, technology was rapidly developing and the industrial revolution had accelerated in Europe. Having followed such developments since the time he was a prince, Abdulaziz accepted the technical progress brought by the revolution and made every sacrifice to glorify the empire as in the past.

He prompted the import of “Martini” rifles, which were newly developed in America, and he furnished the land troops with these rifles. Later on he established a perfect navy, which became the third greatest navy around the world, after Britain and France. He re-established and re-organized the army of 500,000 men, which became the most modern power on the world.

The Ottomans failed to comprehend the new order of the world, the industrial revolution and the following developments on time adequately. At first, they did not think much about reforms as long as victories came at wars. They also did not feel such necessity due to the great power they had, or they thought they had. However, with the process of collapse, initiated with the revolts of Serbians and Greeks in the Balkans everything changed. The governors adopted a discourse of "Ottoman identity" to unite the different ethnical groups around the dynasty. The terms "Ottoman" and "Ottoman state" were first used in 1876.

As the nationalist movement gained power all around the world, its reflection on the Ottoman Empire, which was a mosaic of nations, were destructive. First, the ethnical groups and nations in the Balkans, provoked by the west, began to revolt and this spread rapidly. The Turkish intellectuals who had been to Europe thought that the problem could only be settled with the establishment of constitutional monarchy, and regarded the reforms as insufficient.

In May, 1876, Sultan Abdulaziz was taken down and then was murdered, which was demonstrated as a suicide. Murat V took the throne, but he went insane when he heard that his uncle was killed. Soon, Abdulhamit II took the throne, promising that he would declare constitutional monarchy.


Constitutional Monarchy


I. Constitutional Monarchy was declared on December 23rd, 1876. The sultan was isolated from the administration of the state during the first eighteen months of his sultanate. The country was governed by the Grand Vizier Mithat Pasha and his friends. The Ottoman-Russian war broke out on April 24th, 1877. Lasting nine months, the war was concluded with the defeat of the Ottomans, despite the success of Gazi Osman Pasha in Plevne and of Gazi Ahmet Muhtar Pasha on the eastern front. The Russians arrived at the town of Yesilkoy (Ayastefanos) in Istanbul. The Ayastefanos Agreement was signed with the Russians on March 3rd, 1878. The western states did not acknowledge this treaty, which had very grave provisions against the Ottomans. A conference was gathered in Berlin with the participation of the representatives of the western countries and the Berlin Agreement was entered on July 13th, 1878. Serbia, Romania and Montenegro became independent with this agreement. A Bulgarian Princedom was established, which would be subject to the Ottoman Empire. Bosnia and Herzegovina were left to Austria. Kars, Ardahan and Batum were surrendered to the Russians. This was caused great pain and loss. Millions of Muslims and Turks left their homes and came to Istanbul and to Anatolia, to save their lives. Many of those left behind were not as lucky.

The sultan closed the parliament (Meclis-i Mebusan) on his right in the constitution, as the parliament had become redundant due to the war and failed to agree as there were deputies from several ethnical groups. All the governance was again upon the sultan.

France, after occupying Algeria in 1830, had an eye on Tunisia. After Berlin Agreement, France occupied Tunisia in 1881, with the consent of Germany and Britain. However, the Ottoman Empire never acknowledged this occupation and presented it as a political problem till the end. The British invaded Cairo and occupied Egypt in 1882.

Having seized Teselya with the Berlin Agreement, Greece accelerated its activities against the Ottoman Empire. They provoked the bandit war in Cretan and sent troops to the island. The Greek troops began to violate the borders in the Balkans. Consequently, Ottomans declared war on Greece in 1897 and after the victory in the war of Domeke, progressed towards Athens. Western countries again intervened and stopped the war. The son of Greek king was appointed the governor of Cretan and the island was declared to be autonomous and impartial under Ottoman sovereignty. They demanded that the Ottoman troops be dislodged from the island. Thus, the Cretan, which was seemingly subject to the Ottoman Empire, was practically lost. The island was aligned to Greece in 1908.


The Armenian Question


The western countries did not stop provoking and encouraging rebels among the ethnical groups in the Ottoman Empire, particularly the Armenians. However, there was no problem among the Armenians until the Ottoman-Russian war in 1877-1878. During this war, the Russians seized some cities in the eastern Anatolia and encouraged the Armenians to revolt, promising them independence. The majority of the Armenian population refused to fall into this trap, as they were leading well-off lives through commerce. Though from different roots, the Armenians had been living together with the Turks in brotherhood like flesh and bone through centuries and they had established a common culture. However, the provocation of the Russians and the British was supported by some of the Armenian population and many Armenian guerillas were supplied with weapons. The most important of such bands of guerillas were the Hincak and Dashnaksutiun associations. The Armenians were the minority in all regions all around Anatolia and had been living in peace and safety with the Turkish people. They were also appointed to high ranks of state offices after the Declaration of Reformations. Especially after the Greek rebellion, most of the offices that had been given to the Greek were transferred to the Armenians. Armenian rebels, trained in Europe and America, started planning a government takedown in Turkey and threatened the Armenians in state offices to participate them. These bands also made a massacre among the Armenians in the eastern Anatolia. They started intense activities to propagate that these massacres were realized by the Turks. Their aim was to invoke a rebel movement in Turkey and then let the European states to intervene. However, most of their attempts were prevented with actions on time. The rebellions in Bitlis and Erzurum were immediately suppressed and the sovereignty of the state was strengthened in the region. Later on, the Armenians started terrorist attacks such as the raid of Babiali (the Parliament), attacking on the Ottoman Bank building and assassination against Abdulhamit II. They broke into the bank after killing the guarding soldiers. The sultan was saved from the explosion of the bomb installed on his car, as he was a little late from the Friday prayer. The rebellions among the Armenians continued likewise until the World War I. The Armenians, supplied by the Russians with weapons, started to massacre the unarmed Muslims in 1915 and the tension mounted rapidly afterwards. The state entered a law of emigration, which stipulated the transfer of the Armenians to safer regions in Syria, to prevent the conflict and to bring peace and public security. Some of these Armenians died on the way due to epidemic diseases, adverse climate, difficulties of journey and the attacks of bandits. The press in Europe and the separatists among the Armenians distorted these events to declare it as genocide against the Armenians. However, the transfer of Armenians to other regions was not at the aim of genocide, but to bring security and to protect the Armenian people. It was quite risky to leave them in the eastern Anatolia after all the conflict and attacks. It is also an historical fact that not all of the Armenians were forced to emigrate and that many of those who emigrated succeeded to arrive at the regions of immigration.

The supporters of constitutional monarchy began to organize with the help of Young Ottomans, after the parliament was closed down by Abdulhamit II in 1877. The Party of Progress and Union (ITC-Ittihat ve Terakki Cemiyeti) was established in 1889 and soon the branches of the party spread at home and abroad. When the military members of the party started a rebellion, Abdulhamit II, fearing that the rebellion would spread, declared the constitutional monarchy again on July 23rd, 1908.

During the reign of Abdulhamit II, education, culture, publishing, transportation and construction activities received higher attention. Many educational institutions, such as universities, academies of fine arts, Commercial and Agricultural Schools, primary and secondary schools, schools for the mute and blind and girls' professional schools, were established and spread during his reign. The number of the educated people increased in an unseen rate. All works and sources written since the establishment of the empire were republished. Many social institutions such as hospitals, healthcare houses and home of the old, were founded. Istanbul was supplied with high quality drinking water with the network called Hamidiye. Anatolia was connected to Istanbul via motorways and railways, which were extended as far as Baghdad and Medina. Metropolises were upholstered with horse-tramcar lines. The country was developed with construction works by native and foreign architects. The extreme rate of foreign debt, which had been received since the time of Mahmut II and became unpayable because of unsuccessful investments, was settled. Abdulhamit II always tried to settle the problems in foreign affairs through diplomatic means, because it was obvious that the state would not support a war. He also saw that the war against Greeks, though concluded with absolute victory of the Ottomans, did not yield any beneficiary results. His principal was to keep the state away from wars. During his 33-year reign, Ottoman Empire sustained its power in stability, despite minor losses. However, his oppressive policy at home created a vast opposition against him.

After the elections following the declaration of constitutional monarchy, the supporters of ITC took the majority in the parliament. However, rebellions against constitutional monarchy started soon and eventually the government resigned. Members of ITC demanded an army from Thessalonica to suppress the rebellions and the Movement Army from Thessalonica suppressed the rebels very soon. As a result of this event, which is called as the event of March 31st in history, Abdulhamit II was taken down and Mehmet Resat V took the throne. The Constitution was amended and the rights of the sultan were constrained. The parliament was given the authority to supervise and change the government. Under the governance of ITC, the domestic politics was based on being Turkish. In foreign affairs, Germany was supported.


Collapse of the Ottoman Empire


Declaration of the second constitutional monarchy did not stop the Empire’s process of the collapse; on the contrary, it accelerated. After then, the country was faced with grave disasters. In 1911 the Italians occupied Tripoli. The Ottomans were defeated at the Balkan war in 1912. Most of the lands in Africa and Roumelia was lost. The government failed to find appropriate solutions for the sensitive situation in the country. Their erroneous and adventurous politics led the state to a catastrophe. Consequently, they led the country into the whirlpool of World War I, where it would not come out again.

The Ottoman state was involved in the World War I in 1914, as a result of a fait accompli, on the side of Germany against France, Britain and Russia. The Ottomans fought on seven fronts during four years and lost many soldiers. 250,000 soldiers were killed at the Dardanelles. Most of them were educated and qualified cadres of the country. The Turkish troops achieved great successes at wars. The allied forces were defeated on the fronts of Dardanelles and Iraq and achieved victory on many other fronts. However, when Germany resigned its alliance for peace, the Ottomans had to defend peace under the circumstances. The members of the ITC signed the Armistice of Mudros on October 30th, 1918, which stipulated surrendering the country to the enemy, and fled abroad at night.

Sultan Mehmed Resad died at the last days of the war and Sultan Vahdeddin took the throne (1918). However, he was faced with a country which was occupied by the victories states day by day upon the treaty and consumed up. On November 13th, 1918, the crowded navy of the allied countries reached Istanbul. The troops occupied the city and took the Ottoman government under their control. The Ottoman State was practically collapsed and the process of evacuation had begun. Several regions in Anatolia were occupied. On May 15th, 1915, Izmir was occupied by the Greeks.


Independence War


Now, all the armies of the holy homeland were demobilized, all defense mechanisms were destroyed, all castles were seized, all navy yards were captured, and every step of the country was practically under occupation. The country was sacked and tired due to poverty. What was worse, some of the statesmen became ignorant of the situation and some became traitors.

The existence and independence of the Turkish nation, who had never been subject to another nation, were under serious threat. The nation resented the situation. Resistance, demonstrations, meetings and gatherings went on all around Anatolia. The Turkish nation declared that they would never accept subjugation even if they were killed, shouting “Either independence or death!” Since there was no government, it was up to the people's courage and will to save the independence of the nation. However, they needed a leader. The Turkish nation, who had always overcome every difficulty, managed to emerge its leader despite the grave circumstance. Taking the leadership of the movement, Mustafa Kemal Pasa left Istanbul by sea to start the independence war, after the occupation of Izmir, and arrived at Samsun, hence Anatolia on May 19th, 1919.

The Treaty of Sèvres was prepared on August 10th, 1920. According to this treaty, the Ottoman state was surrendered to other countries, its land shared among the victorious states and the minorities received many rights, while the Turks were deprived of many of them. This draft of agreement destroyed the great Turkish State with its six centuries of past and wiped it off the history. The agreement had be signed by the government to be entered.

The Turkish Grand National Assembly, gathering on April 23rd, 1920 in Ankara, reacted to the Treaty of Sèvres and they declared that they would not sign it. Those who approved and signed agreement were declared to be traitors. The Turkish nation started a struggle of life and death under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal Pasa, a great genius born to the Turks. The National Independence Was, supervised by Mustafa Kemal ATATURK and the Turkish Grand National Assembly, was concluded in success. The occupiers were forced out of the country, "Left as they came", which was estimated beforehand by Ataturk. The Turkish nation prevented the entrance of the Treaty of Sèvres with its struggle for independence and the Lausanne Peace Agreement was signed instead (July 23rd, 1923).

From the ashes of the Ottoman Empire, the modern Turkish Republic, a secular and social state of law, was born (October 29th, 1923). The Parliament elected Gazi Mustafa Kemal ATATURK as the first president.


Final Evaluations


The role of the Ottoman Empire in history is underestimated and it has been considered as the cause of all problems by some, although it was a state of great conquests, where Muslims and non-Muslims benefited equally from justice, peace and welfare. The collapse of the empire also indicated that the imperial age was over. However, the Ottoman state still lives in the memories with its historical relics and glorious works, on a territory where problems emerged later, and peace and stability never came back, and distress and chaos continues even today.

The Ottoman Empire managed to survive as a global state for more than six centuries, with many religions, language and cultures. They dominated three continents and seized more than half of Europe. Its level of respect for human rights was unmatched by the contemporary states and the governance never applied any discrimination of race, religion or language. Many nations and ethnical groups, which would surely be wiped off from history if not for the Ottoman's protection, could survive until today.

The Ottomans are considered as an Islamic state at its basis. However, many people of different faiths, as well as Christians and Jews, lived together in the territory of this state. Everybody was free in language, religion and culture as long as they respected the others, which cannot be undermined under the conditions of the time. When the Ottomans retreated this territory, nearly thirty nations emerged here soon. The problems among the national states, which lived without any problems under Ottoman control for centuries, still have not been settled as we see in the Balkans and the Middle East.

The Ottomans synthesized the Turkish, Islamic and Roman traditions. The rules of religion were not violated obviously; however, state was isolated from religious institutions. The legal system was very flexible, merging religious law with social law.

The Ottomans never accepted colonialism in the western sense of the concept. They believed that every foot of the land was their homeland, and homeland could be sustained with justice merely. The Ottoman soldiers defended the lands in the Balkans, Libya, Yeomen and the Caucasus, which they believed were theirs, in the early twentieth century. Hence some of the commanders did not understand why they had to leave these lands after the Treaty in 1918 and could not explain it to their troops. The Ottomans were aware that some things were wrong in the early 17th century, despite many glorious victories. They explained the problems as a diversification from their ideal system and thought that the problems would be settled if they amended the corruption with reforms, as during the reign of Suleyman the Magnificent. Later on, they took the west as a model and started reformation.

Abolishment of the janissary corps, establishment of modern armies and other reforms in military, political, social and economic areas did not yield the necessary results. Though they believed in the eternity of the empire, the Ottomans came to the end of its days and withdrew from history, still in a supernatural way. Even the collapse of the empire lasted 200 years. As one historian said, "The collapse of the Ottomans was perhaps more successful an operation than its progress, as we see a miraculous resistance." This resistance astonished everyone during a period when the Europe dominated the whole world. There was not any other political system threatened as much as the Ottomans in history. If not for the modern and rapid development of technology in the west, there were not reasons to assume that the empire would collapse.

The Ottoman state included many nations in its political structure. Though most of the administrating cadre were Turks or converted Turks, but nobody was aware of this.

Hence, Ataturk said in 1923 in his speech to the young people "We understood who we were, that we were a different and alien nation to them, when we were forced out of them as a result of the nationalist movement."

The consciousness of being Turk was established only when the Republic was established. Therefore, it is not possible to understand the Ottoman Empire within the framework of nationalism, which was a product of the nineteenth century.