Chapter 19 Outline
Southwest Asia and the Indian Ocean (1500-1750)
I. The Ottoman Empire
A. Expansion and Frontiers
-The Ottoman Empire began as a small state in northwest Anatolia, and
succeeded largely due to their strategic hold on the Dardanelles straight. This
meant that they could regulate all trade and travel going between Europe and
Asia. The Ottomans also maintained a strong army, combining Christian
gunpowder tactics with Turkish horseback tactics. (The population was made up
of Turkish horseback riders, zealous Muslims, and Islam converts) Their strong
military won several key battles against their Christian enemies, including
defeating the seemingly invincible Constantinople state.
-Suleiman the Magnificent led one of the greatest assaults on the Christian
Europe, ousting groups like the Knights of the Hospital of St. John. The Ottomans
also gained control of the Red Sea, helping to regulate trade and controlling many
of the ports. The Portuguese became a problem though, raiding and attacking
merchant ships. The Ottomans weren’t hugely concerned about it however, and
didn’t act very much naval-wise.
B. Central Institutions
-The military traditions for the Ottomans originally came from the Turkish
horseback riders and their early military tactics and weapons reflected this.
However after the conquests of the Christian states, the Ottomans not only used
new tactics, but new troops as well. Christian slaves and prisoners of war were
forced into military slavery, and they were often times forced to fight against
people of their own religion.
-The Ottomans also used Janissaries, or converted troops who trained year round
and fought on foot using guns. In order to maintain their large armies and
bureaucracies, the government would impose a law that forced families to give up
sons, who would then learn the language and military training.
-The military and bureaucratic class spoke the language of Osmanli, or a cross
between Turkish and Ottoman. These classes were exempt from taxes and
depended heavily on the Sultan to survive. There was also a large influx of Jews
after they were expelled from Spain in 1492.
-The cavalrymen in the Ottoman Empire received land grants for their military
service, and they regulated their own rural area, imposing taxes and maintaining
order. Islam was the reigning religion in the empire, and the Muslim traditions
were prominent in all areas of life for the Ottomans, even in the non-Islam
C. Crisis of the Military State
-The Ottoman Empire had a hard time paying for all of the new military technology
that they were using in their army. They also were being forced to pay large sums
of money to the Janissaries, who were fully aware of the situation and more that
happy to exploit it. Inflation was also a huge problem. A large influx of New World
silver suddenly caused a widespread crash, as silver lost its monetary value.
Religious laws prevented the leaders from enacting new taxes, although the
government was able to create an “emergency tax” which many of the peasants
could not pay. Soldiers often came home with little money and no work. Many of
the soldiers could no longer report for duty, causing a large weakening of their
military strength.
D. Economic Change and Growing Weakness
-While the Ottoman Empire was struggling with economic and military weakness,
the Sultan retreated into the palace and stayed there. The Sultan used to lead
their armies and be very knowledgeable in the matters of the state. Now the
Sultan was inexperienced and would very rarely be seen outside of the palace.
Their families would often be kept in the palace to prevent them from meddling in
the political situation or from planning a coup.
-The failing state was forced to enact very high taxes and the normal commodities
that the people were used to soon disappeared. No longer were the soldiers given
land grants for service, which resulted in disrupted rural governments and
administrations. The Janissaries also took advantage of the situation gaining
increased power and abusing by planning coups and disrupting the state. The
disrupted rural government led to a total breakdown in the Ottoman bureaucracy,
although the breakdown was not all bad. As a result of the government’s
breakdown, small cites began to govern themselves and created their own
separate economy through trade.
-There was very little military power at this time. The Janissaries were very poorly
trained, and they often sent substitutes on their military campaigns. Eventually,
the lack of central military power led to a coup, in which the government was over
thrown, and no longer considered a threat to the European states.
II. The Safavid Empire
A. The Rise of the Safavids
-The rise of the Safavids began with Timur’s successor, Ismail. He declared
himself Shah of Iran, and declared that his kingdom was to practice Shi’ite Islam.
It was difficult however because the population of Iran was filled with Sunnis, and
Ismail’s own son engaged in ferocious wars with his father. Finally though, after
years of open warfare and persecution of Sunnis, Ismail finally made his state
mostly Shi’ite.
B. Society and Religion
-The fact that Ismail converted his state to Shi’ite created a deep groove of
frustration between the people of Iran and their neighboring countries, as the
neighboring countries were mostly Sunni.
-During this time period there was a massive creation of art, literature, theology,
and science. New artistic techniques were used in their paintings and art, as well
as new colors. There was also a demand for painted mosaics back then. The
literature also was also very good back then too. The main language was Arabic,
although Turkish was also very common and the two languages were often mixed.
Very elegant poetry was created back then too, and other texts were written
-Religious traditions varied too from place to place, although it was mostly the
same within one sect. The architecture style was very similar too.
C. Economic and Political Collapse
-The Safavids faced the same problems that the Ottomans had to face. Their
economy wasn’t particularly strong, as their manufacturing skills were very poor
and very few people wanted to be part of the agricultural community. The Safavids
also had problems supplying and buying their troops expensive firearms. When
their mounted cavalrymen refused to switch from bows to firearms, the Safavids
did the same thing that the Ottomans did and hire soldiers, and once again had
the issue of having to pay them and buy them firearms. The influx of silver drove
up inflation and since the Safavids had never bothered to fund or create a navy,
the Portuguese captured key strategic positions right off of the Iranian coastline.
III. The Mughal Empire
A. Political Foundations
-The founder of the Mughal Empire was named Babur, and he was a descendant
of Timur. Technically the word Mughal means Mongol, but the population traced
its heritage to the Turks. The Mughal enjoyed a fairly stable and safe empire for
the first couple of years. The government offered land revenues to those who
gave them military services, and it helped them to regulate trade and taxes.
Foreign trade thrived during this time too, although the Mughal Empire never
knew that the Europeans were cheating them. The Mughals would manufacture
cotton and then sell it to the Europeans for silver, but what they didn’t realize is
that Europe already had vast sums of silver, making its value go way down.
B. Hindus and Muslims
-The Hindus had been long repressed by the Muslims in India, where the Muslims
would destroy Hindu temples, monuments, and force conversion among the
people. However the Hindus had never before been able to organized themselves
before and raise up against the Muslims. The Mughals however adopted
traditions of both, and used Mongol practices for religions.
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