The Ottoman Empire arose from a Turkish principality founded in Anatolia (Asia Minor) at the end of the 13th century, when the empire of the Seljuk Turks had collapsed and the Byzantine Empire was crumbling. The Ottoman or Osmanli Turks were named after the founder of the royal dynasty, Osman I (Uthman in Arabic), whose descendants reigned for more than 600 years.
In its heyday, the Ottoman Empire included not only Asia Minor, where modern Turkey is located, but also much of southeastern Europe and the Middle East, Egypt, and part of North Africa. The empire began to decline in the 16th century, partly because of the weakness of its sultans, but it remained a world power until the early 20th century.
The Ottomans sided with Germany and the other Central Powers in the First World War, and as a result the empire fell apart. In 1920 the last sultan, Mehmed VI, signed the Treaty of Sevres, which took away Turkey's territories outside Asia Minor. In 1922, Turkish nationalists abolished the sultanate and Mehmed went into exile. His cousin Abdulmecid II was then given the title of caliph.
In 1923 Turkey became a republic, and the following year the Caliphate was also abolished and Abdulmecid too was exiled.
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Book topics: The Empire, Its Sultans, Mehmed II, Suleiman the Magnificent, Mehmed IV, Rise of the Empire, Harems, Aimee De Rivery, Society, Istanbul, Architecture, Palaces, Money, Ottomans & Europe, War, Miscellaneous, End of Empire, Turkey, Fiction, Children's Books, DVDs, Asia, Anatolia, The Byzantine Empire, Balkans, Africa, Middle East
The Ottoman Centuries: The Rise and Fall of the Turkish Empire by Lord Kinross. An entertaining account of one of the greatest imperial powers in history.
Lords of the Horizons: A History of the Ottoman Empire by Jason Goodwin. For 600 years, the Ottoman Empire swelled and declined. This book explores how the Ottomans rose and how, against all odds, they lingered on.
Osman's Dream: The History of the Ottoman Empire by Caroline Finkel. At its height, the Ottoman realm extended from Hungary to the Persian Gulf, from North Africa to the Caucasus. This book recounts the story of the empire from its origins in the 13th century through its destruction in World War I.
History of the Ottoman Empire and Modern Turkey: Volume 1, Empire of the Gazis by Stanford J. Shaw. Explains how the Ottoman Turks, a small band of nomadic soldiers, expanded from a small principality in on the borders of the Byzantine Empire into one of the great empires of Europe and Asia.
History of the Ottoman Empire and Modern Turkey: Volume 2, Reform, Revolution, and Republic by Stanford J. Shaw and Ezel Kural Shaw. The modernization of the empire during the 19th and early 20th centuries, the spread of nationalism, the empire's demise, and the rise of the Republic of Turkey. Out of print, but sometimes available from Alibris.
The Ottoman Empire and the World Around It by Suraiya Faroqhi. Demonstrates that there was no iron curtain between the Ottoman, the empires of Asia, and the modern states of Europe, but rather a network of connections.
Approaching Ottoman History: An Introduction to the Sources by Suraiya Faroqhi. Explores the documentary sources and explains how to interpret them.
Historical Dictionary of the Ottoman Empire by Selcuk Aksin Somel.
The Second Ottoman Empire: Political and Social Transformation in the Early Modern World by Baki Tezcan. Covers the period roughly from 1580 to 1826 when the empire's medieval, dynastic institution transformed into a limited monarchy.
The Sultan and His Subjects by Richard Davey. First published in 1897, during the reign of Abdulhamid II, this book describes the Ottoman sultan's court and harem, and his subjects' way of life.
Mighty Guests of the Throne: The Ottoman Sultans by Salih Gulen. The 36 Ottoman sultans included great commanders, statesmen, musicians, and poets.
Private and Royal Life in the Ottoman Palace by Ilber Ortayli. Topkapi Palace was the primary residence of the Ottoman sultans for almost four centuries. This illustrated guide explores Ottoman history as it relates to specific sections of the palace.
Inside the Seraglio: Private Lives of the Sultans in Istanbul by John Freely. Explores the decadent world within the palace walls and exposes most of the later sultans as weak, some as insane. Describes the imperial harem, eunuch guards, and the others who served the sultans -- and sometimes imprisoned and murdered them. Illustrated.
Lords of the Golden Horn: From Suleiman the Magnificent to Kamal Ataturk by Noel Barber. Tells the story of the sultans, their harems, and the fall of the Ottoman Empire. Includes illustrations and maps. Published in 1973.
On the Origins of the Ottoman Emperors by Theodore Spandounes, translated by Donald M. Nicol. This account of the origins of the Turkish rulers and their rise to power was written by a Byzantine refugee who settled in Venice after the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople in 1453.
The Holy Wars of King Wladislas and Sultan Murad: The Ottoman-Christian Conflict From 1438-1444 by John Jefferson. About the conflict between Wladyslaw III of Poland (Wladyslaw I of Hungary) and Sultan Murad II of the Ottoman Empire.
Mehmed the Conqueror and His Time by Franz Babinger, translated by Ralph Manheim. Biography of the 15th century sultan Mehmed II. One of the most important figures in Ottoman history, Mehmed was the architect of victories that inspired fear throughout Europe.
The Grand Turk: Sultan Mehmet II, Conqueror of Constantinople and Master of an Empire by John Freely. Biography. Mehmet was barely 21 when he conquered Byzantine Constantinople. Three popes called for crusades against him. Revered by the Turks and seen as a tyrant by the West, Mehmet was a brilliant military leader and a renaissance prince.
Sultan of Vezirs by Theoharis Stavrides. The life and times of the Mahmud Pasha Angelovic (1453-1474), who served as grand vezir during the reign of Mehmed II.
Struggle for Domination in the Middle East: The Ottoman-Mamluk War, 1485-91 by Shai Har-El. Based largely on Ottoman, Mamluk, and Italian primary sources, this book explains the second and final war between the Ottomans and Mamluks, which resulted in the firm establishment of Ottoman power in the Middle East.
Jem Sultan: The Adventures of a Captive Turkish Prince in Renaissance Europe by John Freely. Jem Sultan was a son of Sultan Mehmet II. Jem was held prisoner for seven years in France, then imprisoned in the Vatican. He died in 1495, probably poisoned by Pope Alexander VI. From Alibris.
1453: The Holy War for Constantinople and the Clash of Islam and the West by Roger Crowley. Tells the stories of two ambitious battling leaders: Mehmed II, sultan of the Ottoman Empire, and Constantine XI, the 57th emperor of Byzantium, a vivid, intense tale of courage and cruelty, technological ingenuity, endurance and luck.
The Fall of Constantinople, 1453 by Steven Runciman explains how the Turks conquered Constantinople (now Istanbul).
Constantinople: City of the World's Desire 1453-1924 by Philip Mansel. Tells the story of the city, and of the impact upon it of the Ottoman sultans and their dynasty.
Istanbul: The Imperial City by John Freely. In more than 26 centuries of existence the city has survived countless catastrophes, conquests, dynastic upheavals, changes in religion, language, political status, and name.
Constantinople: Capital of Byzantium by Jonathan Harris. Offers insight into the spiritual and mythic dimensions of Constantinople.
Constantinople and Istanbul Old and New by H. G. Dwight. Written in 1915 and illustrated with rare period photographs. The author describes everyday life in the city and the traces of Byzantium.
A History of Ottoman Architecture by Godfrey Goodwin. Treats the subject chronologically and within its historical perspective. Buildings are described with a minimum of technical terminology. A glossary of Turkish words is provided, and there is a table of Ottoman rulers and historical events.
Female Architectural Patronage in the Early Modern Ottoman Empire: Hatice Turhan Sultan by Lucienne Thys-Senocak. Hatice Turhan Sultan was wife of 17th century Ottoman ruler Sultan Ibrahim and mother of Sultan Mehmet IV.
The Sultan's Fountain: An Imperial Story of Cairo, Istanbul, and Amsterdam by Agnieszka Dobrowolska and Jaroslaw Dobrowolski. Why did 18th century Ottoman sultan Mustafa III build a sabil-kuttab (public water dispensary with a Quranic school) in Cairo decorated with tiles depicting the Dutch countryside? This illustrated history of the building also describes recent efforts to preserve it.
Suleiman the Magnificent
Honored by the Glory of Islam: Conversion and Conquest in Ottoman Europe by Marc David Baer. Focuses on the reign of 17th century sultan Mehmed IV.
The Sultan's Procession: The Swedish Embassy to Sultan Mehmed IV in 1657-1658 and the Ralamb Paintings edited by Karin Adahl. Over 150 color illustrations provide revealing insight into the 17th century court of Sultan Mehmed IV in Ottoman Turkey.
The Ottoman Empire: The Classical Age 1300-1600 by Halil Inalcik. Vividly portrays 300 years of history as the empire grew from a military principality to the world's most powerful Islamic state.
The Origins of the Ottoman Empire by M. Fuad Koprulu, translated by Gary Leiser. The first comprehensive account of the Turkish history of Anatolia in the 13th and 14th centuries. Outlines factors that led to the rise of the Ottomans.
Ottoman Empire 1353-1699 by Stephen Turnbull. Covers the rise of the Ottomans and their early years of fighting for a foothold across the Bosphorous.
Between Two Worlds: The Construction of the Ottoman State by Cemal Kafadar. This subtle and complex interpretation of the early Ottoman period demonstrates how ethnic, tribal, linguistic, religious, and political affiliations were all at play in the struggle for power in Anatolia and the Balkans during the late Middle Ages.
The Ottoman Empire, 1300-1650: The Structure of Power by Colin Imber. Shows how the complex Ottoman state worked in practice. Includes chapters on the Ottoman dynasty, the army, the provinces, and the palace.
The Nature of the Early Ottoman State by Heath W. Lowry. Argues that the empire grew because of the desire for booty and slaves, and the society was open to anyone (Muslim or Christian) who could contribute to this goal.
The Ottoman Turks: An Introductory History to 1923 by Justin McCarthy. A history of the empire that concentrates on social life and customs.
Daily Life in the Ottoman Empire by Mehrdad Kia. Includes chapters on the sultan and the palace, governing an empire, popular culture, courtship, and more.
Ottoman Empire and Islamic Tradition by Norman Itzkowitz. Presents the full sweep of Ottoman history from its beginnings in about 1300, through its development as an empire, to its late 18th century confronation with a rapidly modernizing Europe.
An Introduction to Religious Foundations in the Ottoman Empire by John Robert Barnes.
Embassy to Constantinople by Lady Mary Wortley Montagu. This collection of letters written by the wife of an 18th century English ambassador to the sultan's court provides a unique picture of Turkish life and customs. Lady Mary visited the harem and even donned men's clothes to visit the all-male Santa Sophia mosque. Out of print, but available from Alibris.
The Sons of Bayezid by Dimitris J. Kastritsis. After Timur defeated the Ottomans at the Battle of Ankara, the sons of Bayezid the Thunderbolt fought bloody battles for his throne.
Portraits and Caftans of the Ottoman Sultans by Nurhan Atasoy. Portraits and lavishly decorated caftans display the magnificence of the Ottoman Empire's sultans. If you're feeling rich, there's also a deluxe edition.
Ottoman Silk Textiles of the Royal Museum of Art And History in Brussels by Daniel De Jonghe.
An Economic and Social History of the Ottoman Empire, 1300-1914 by Halil Inalcik, Suraiya Faroqhi, Bruce McGowan, Donald Quataert, Sevket Pamuk. A two-volume set.
A Monetary History of the Ottoman Empire by Sevket Pamuk. Covers all regions of the empire from the Balkans through Anatolia, Syria, Egypt and the Gulf to the Maghrib.
The Ottoman Empire and the World-Economy edited by Huri Islamogu-Inan. Collection of essays.
Gold for the Sultan: Western Bankers and Ottoman Finance, 1856-1881 by Christopher S. Clay. The financial collapse of the Ottoman government in 1875 was a pivotal event in the history of the Middle East. This economic history of Ottoman finances explains the reasons for the bankruptcy. From Alibris.
Southeastern Europe Under Ottoman Rule, 1354-1804 by Peter F. Sugar. Provides an overview of the least studied period of Balkan history, the Ottoman period. The appendixes include lists of dynasties and rulers with whom the Ottamans dealt, data for the House of Osman and some grand viziers, and more.
The Ottoman Empire and Early Modern Europe by Daniel Goffman. Strips away stereotypes to present a thorough introduction to the Ottoman Empire and a claim for its inclusion in European history.
The Sultan's Court by Alain Grosrichard, translated by Liz Heron. A survey of Western accounts of "Oriental despotism" in the 17th and 18th centuries. It focuses particularly on portrayals of the Ottoman court with its viziers, janissaries, mutes, dwarfs, eunuchs, and countless wives.
The Struggle for the Ottoman Empire 1717-1740 by Lavender Cassels. Scholarly book about the struggle between France and Austria over the Ottoman Empire during the reigns of sultans Ahmed III and Mahmud I. Out of print, but available from Alibris.
Ottomans, Hungarians, and Habsburgs in Central Europe: The Military Confines in the Era of Ottoman Conquest edited by Pal Fodor and Geza David. Examines Hungarian and Habsburg defense systems, and the Ottoman military establishment in Hungary.
European and Islamic Trade in the Early Ottoman State: The Merchants of Genoa and Turkey by Kate Fleet. Looks at money, commodities, slaves, Ottoman-Genoese relations after 1453, and more.
Ottoman Warfare 1500-1700 by Rhoads Murphey. Focuses on the evolution of the Ottoman military and its impact on Ottoman society, and evokes the physical and psychological realities of war as experienced by Ottoman soldiers.
Armies of the Ottoman Turks, 1300-1774 by David Nicolle. Short, illustrated guide from the "Men at Arms" series.
The Janissaries by David Nicolle, illustrated by Christa Hook. Describes and analyzes the history, uniforms, weaponry, and military practices of the elite military force and Sultanate guard of the Ottoman Empire from the 14th to 19th centuries.
The Janissaries by Godfrey Goodwin. The Janissaries set up semi-independent states along the North African coast and even fought at sea. Their political power was such that even sultans trembled. Who were they? Why did they decline?
Innovation and Empire in Turkey: Sultan Selim III and the Modernisation of the Ottoman Navy by Tuncay Zorlu. Argues that although the Ottoman Empire was a major power, some technological dependence on Europe remained.
Arming the Sultan: German Arms Trade and Diplomacy in the Ottoman Empire Before World War I by Naci Yorulmaz. Concentrates on the personal relationships which shaped the development of the arms trade, including the private relationships between Kaiser Wilhelm I, Otto von Bismarck and the Sultan.
Defeat in Detail by Edward J. Erickson. Ottoman army operations in the Balkan Wars, 1912-1913.
Ordered to Die: A History of the Ottoman Army in the First World War by Edward J. Erickson and Huseyin Kivrikoglu. Based on Turkish archival and official sources. Outnumbered and outgunned, the Ottoman army performed astonishingly well and kept fighting long after many other armies had quit the field.
A Peace to End All Peace by David Fromkin is about the fall of the Ottoman Empire and the creation of the modern Middle East.
Shadow of the Sultan's Realm by Daniel Allen Butler. The destruction of the Ottoman empire and the creation of the modern Middle East.
From the Sultan to Ataturk: Turkey: The Peace Conferences of 1919-23 and Their Aftermath by Andrew Mango. Defeat in WWI saw the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire and marked the beginning of a prolonged and bloody transition to an independent Turkey.
The Ottoman Empire, 1700-1922 by Donald Qataert. A lively, authoritative, and accessible introduction supported by maps, illustrations, and a chronology. The book pays attention to gender issues and the treatment of minorities.
The Ottoman Peoples and the End of Empire by Justin McCarthy. By the 19th century, the Ottoman empire had become known as the "sick man of Europe." This book considers the validity of this nickname, and examines what successor states owe to the empire.
The Fall of the Dynasties: The Collapse of the Old Order, 1905-1922 by Edmond Taylor. About the fall of the Habsburg, Hohenzollern, Ottoman, and Romanov dynasties. Out of print, but available from Alibris.
Istanbul Under Allied Occupation, 1918-1923 by Bilge Criss. The socio-political, intellectual, and institutional dynamics of underground resistance to the Allied occupation in Istanbul.
Turkey, From Empire to Revolutionary Republic by Sina Aksin. The emergence of the Turkish nation from 1789 to present.
The Sultan's Seal: A Novel by Jenny White. The body of an English governess from the sultan's harem washes up in 19th century Istanbul. Was it a political murder involving the palace, or a crime of personal passion?
A Gift for the Sultan by Geoffrey Fox. In 1402, the Christian city of Constantinople is under attack by a Muslim army. The spoils are to be the key to the city and a 14-year-old princess.
The Oracle of Stamboul: A Novel by Michael David Lukas. In 19th century Turkey, a girl named Eleanora Cohen becomes an advisor to Ottoman sultan Abdulhamid II.
Regards From the Dead Princess by Kenize Mourad. Epic novel based on the life of the author's mother, an Ottoman princess named Selma who was the granddaughter of Sultan Murad V. After an arranged marriage to an Indian rajah, Selma died in German-occupied Paris soon after the birth of her daughter. (Also sometimes called Memories of an Ottoman Princess, Death of a Princess, or Farewell, Princess.)
The Ottoman Empire by Lucile Davis. For children age 9 to 12.
These movies and documentaries are formatted for North American audiences.
Suleiman the Magnificent
Encyclopedia of the Orient: Ottoman Empire