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In the 16th and 17th centuries, the Ottoman Empire was a multi-ethnic and multi-lingual state holding the majority of southeast Europe, the middle east and north Africa. During its time of expansion, the nation took dominion over 37 different vassal states, or Eyelets, which eventually became departments as time progressed.
Having Constantinople, later Istanbul, as its capital, the Ottoman confederacy controls the crossroads between Europe and Asia, somewhat maintaining control over trade in the area.
Rise to Power (1300-1450)
In 1300, Ertrugral, father of Ottoman Emperor Osman I, arrived at the Anatolian peninsula to assist the Sultanate of Rum in a battle against the Byzantine Empire over a claim to land near the north of the peninsula. After the eventual fall of Rum in 1303, the Ottoman Turks took control of the power and land that had been left behind, becoming the largest Turkic sultanate in the area. Osman I had nearly tripled the size of his nation in the course of as little as 10 years.
Within the next hundred years following the collapse of Rum, Ottoman rule expanded exponentially. The sultanate managed to bypass Byzantine control of the Strait of Anatolia and made rapid conquests into the Balkans, absorbing the nations of Bosnia, Serbia, Bulgaria and Wallachia.
Under Sultan Mehmed I, the empire experienced a large amount reform and reorganization, capturing the Byzantine capital of Constantinople in 1453. Mehmed allowed for the Orthodox Christian church to hold religious authority in the city for exchange of the church recognizing Ottoman Control of the city's physical territory. Albanian resistance proved a major obstacle in Ottoman conquest of the Balkans as well.
During the following century, the empire experienced a period of rapid expansion due to a long line of powerful and dedicated sultans, as well as a growth in trade caused by Ottoman control of the Anatolian Strait.
Suleiman the Magnificent captured Belgrade in 1521, defeating Serbia and taking the entire Balkan Peninsula within 10 years. The Empire had, at this point, reached its largest, and went largely unchallenged in terms of power in all of southern Europe. Several attempts had been made by Suleiman to take Italy, Venice especially, but never managed to hold land for more than a month. In the east, Ottoman forces seized Baghdad, taking Mesopotamia from Persia and holding it until 1920.
Many scholars argue as to what caused the sudden and slow decline of the Ottoman empire at the end of the 16th century. The factors in this stage that are most often agreed upon to have caused the degradation of the empire are incompetent Sultans and Grand Viziers, a shrinking and untrained army and the growth of surrounding enemies such as Russia and Austria-Hungary. The aggressive strategies of the Ottomans in all areas put a large strain on their military and economic strength due to inflation caused by a large quantity of wars.
Modernization and the Great War (1830-1917)
Note: This Paragraph Contains a Point(s) of Divergence
After several reforms of the Ottoman Constitution, the empire established a modern conscripted army, banking system, and replaced its religious law with a new secular one.
The Crimean War of 1853 to 1856 was part of a long-running battle between several European powers for influence over territories in the declining Ottoman Empire.The empire fought, with the help of the UK and France against the large and powerful Russian Czardom to determine the rights of Christian minorities in the Holy Land. The war was a decisive Ottoman Coalition victory and resulted in the exile of most of the nation's Christian population.
By the time the Great War had struck Europe, the Ottomans had been involved in several treaties and agreements, mostly with Austria-Hungary. In 1915, the empire entered the war on the side of the Axis, or Central powers, declaring jihad, or holy war, on Serbia, Russia, the UK and France. The Turkish state invaded the British colony of Kuwait and the Italian held Libya.
At the end of the war, Anatolia became occupied by the Allied forces of Greece, France, Great Britain and Russia, with occupation of Iraq as a Prussian colony. The free Turkish Government ruled over small portions of the peninsula (under allied supervision), namely the strait of Anatolia and the Ankara urban area.
Post War Confederacy
After the Turkish war of Independence, the empire transformed into a confederation of states, made of 6 provinces; Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Israela, Transjordan and Egypt. The former Sultan, Mehmed VI, was ejected to Italian Libya, where he lived for the rest of his life under constant watch by Italian authorities.
The republic later involved itself in several minor wars with Greece, Italy and the Soviet Union, altering its borders only slightly from what they had been at the end of 1917.
Turkey now openly opposes the continuation of the EASP (European Association for Sovereignty Protection), as the organisation's goals threaten to tear its territorial unity apart.