February 17, 2023
The Ottoman Empire was one of the most prominent and longest-lasting empires in history. At its height, the empire stretched from present-day Morocco to bordering Qatar. It also reached as far north as Ukraine and Hungary. Spanning about 2,000,000 square miles and with a population of, at its peak, 32 million, the Ottoman Empire's influence still sheds light on the world today.
Osman, a territory originally part of the Seljuk empire, was home to Osman I, who united this territory and called it the ottomans. By the beginning of the 14th century, Osman's predecessors would conquer parts of northern Turkey and eventually start the Ottoman Empire. In 1326, Oman's son, Orhan, captured the key city of Bursa from the Byzantine Empire. Bursa was soon the capital of the Ottoman Empire. Then, the ottomans were able to expand into Europe because of their win in Kosovo. In 1453 Mehmed the Conqueror laid his eyes on Constantinople for the Ottoman Empire. Although Constantinople was fiercely guarded, Mehmed had a few tricks up his sleeve. Mehmed used miners to dig tunnels under the city and attack from within while also using massive cannons to lay siege continuously. The peak of the empire came under Suleiman the Magnificent when he captured Belgrade in 1521 and Baghdad in 1535. This allowed Suleiman to gain control of Northern Europe and Mesopotamia, creating the largest empire in the world at that time.
All this led to a golden age in the Ottoman Empire. Their territory was so vast that they had cultures from all over Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and Africa intertwined with one another. The empire was famously known for its architecture, especially the beautiful mosques built across numerous cities. Their extension into Europe brought along much economic growth through trade as they dealt with precious goods such as coffee in exchange for ideas, materials, and so on. Religion also played a significant part in the empire. Islam was the main religion, but the territory was home to Christianity, Judaism, and African folk religions. Although these religions existed there was a certain extent to their freedom. Non-Muslims were shunned by the rest and did not have the same privileges Muslims had. For example, they weren't allowed to join the army and had to pay hefty taxes. Arguably the most impactful thing the ottomans thrived with was vaccination. They popularized the practice of vaccination against smallpox before it spread to places like Europe. Lasting over six centuries, the Ottoman Empire and its influence still encapsulate lives daily.