The Ottoman Empire was an absolute monarchy encompassing all of Turkey and much of the Middle East and the Balkans. First established in 1299, it soon spread it reach throughout most of the Middle East and nearly all of the Mediterranean, and was often regarded by historians as being the preeminent world power around 1600. From this period until the 1830s, however, the country endured bitter political and economic decline, brought about by external threats, bureaucratic corruption, inefficient administration and leadership (in the form of inept Sultans), and military defeats, particularly those dealt by the nearby Russian Empire. Following the initiation of the Great Reform under Mahmud II. However, the country's prospects turned around and the Empire experienced several large waves of economic and industrial growth throughout the remainder of the 19th century. Her military, though not the best in Europe, was in such shape that it was able to fight the entire Allied coalition during the Balkan War, and gave itself a good name in many battles. Power was successfully centralized in the hands of the Sultan and a series of strong rulers helped to unify the Empire politically.