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The Ottoman Conquest: from Balkan Orthodox States to Ottoman Rumelia

The Ottoman Conquest: from Balkan Orthodox States to Ottoman Rumelia
 

Introduction

Ottoman Empire was established after 700CE as a result of the Turkish-speaking nomadic tribes’ migration in the Arab world. In 1055, the migrants captured Bagdad creating the Seljuk Empire and ruled there using Muslim principles. However, in the 13th century, the Mongols destroyed the Empire, and Turkish moved west into Anatolia. During the time, they battled the Byzantine Empire against Serbia, Bulgaria, and Christian states. As Byzantine mercenaries, Ottoman soldiers entered Balkan around the year 1345 and later occupied the territory. The war between Ottomans and Serbians in Kosovo was significant since it redefined the people’s culture.

Balkan Orthodox States

In the entire history of the Ottoman conquest, the Balkan was different. During the times of the Ottoman conquest, the Balkan people turned to be the most organized and united in the history of their nation. They established a general legal system, reformed the military, and divided political power. In addition, they had a well-organized economic system. The northern section, including Dalmatia and Pannonia, was under the province of Illyricum. Finally, the southern part was under Thrace (Ribolov 5).

In the 19th century, Bulgarian people adopted Christianity while the Serbs preferred the religion of Byzantine rather than Roman religion. The Romanians made chose the same, while Croats and other nations belonged to the western Christian community. This division led to rivalry between Rome and Constantinople and later their separation in 1054. As a result, the Croats and Slovenes became part of the Roman Catholic Europe with Latin culture. On the other hand, the Bulgarians and Romanians joined Greeks in the Eastern Orthodox Community (Ribolov 8).

Two Orthodox monks Cyril and Methodius developed Cyrillic alphabet translating the religious Roman text into the Slavonic language. Additionally, it encouraged the foundation of the liturgical and literals language of the Balkans. Secondly, with Greeks in commerce administration of the Byzantine Empire, there was no common language in the Orthodox community that could repace Latin. Therefore, when the church set apart from the Byzantine Empire, there arose a need to establish a new church. The state and the church created an association because of the fear that non-Christians can start invasion. Additionally, there was no unity between the rulers and the subjects; however, this changed during the times of social tension. The Orthodox state’s military rested on landlords who held property in exchange of troops in times of war. However, the country had a corrupt civil system with leaders influenced by the wealthy (Ribolov 7).

As a result of corruption, there were conflicts between the first Bulgarian Empire and Constantinople. In addition, the empire faced further threats from the east by the Muslims and the west by the Catholic crusaders. The crusaders later seized the imperial capital and divided it into fiefdoms. As a result, the hatred between the western crusaders and Orthodox community increased. Secondly, after the empire weakened, the Catholics started to dominate the sea trade in the eastern Mediterranean. The loss of land and marine supremacy made manpower, food, and wealth vulnerable to the external aggression (Ribolov 7).

 

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The Ottoman Conquest

In the 12th century, the attempts by the rulers to levy high taxes caused a revolution among the Bulgarians. The revolution, in its turn, led to the establishment of the second empire. However, it ended in a costly war since the community had no capacity to rule. As the Balkan states fought among themselves, a new threat emerged from the south. In 1362, the Ottoman-Turks captured Adrianople, which was a strategic point in the conquest of the Balkan Peninsula. Serbia fell in the battle of Kosovo in1389, and Bulgaria – in 1396. A decade later, Constantinople, Bosnia, Herzegovina, and Montenegro were conquered by the Ottomans (Ágoston, and Bruce 238).

It was easy for the Ottomans to conquer the abovementioned nations as a result of the division among the Orthodox people as well as the Western and Eastern Christians. Although the Albanians, under the Skanderbeg, frustrated Ottoman expansion between 1443 and 1468, the Ottomans were able to proceed northwards. In 1526, the Ottomans defeated Hungarians in the battle of Mohacs; later, they laid sieged to Vienna but without success. During the time, the Ottoman controlled a significant part of Central and Southern Europe. Transylvania, Walachia, and Moldavia acknowledged the Sultan but managed internal affairs juts like Montenegro which was difficult to subdue as a result of the terrain (Ágoston, and Bruce 237).

In the Orthodox regions, the conquest brought a complete social and political revolution. For example, the Sultan’s rule replaced the aristocracy power. However, in Bosnia and Albania many noble people converted into Islam and maintained their property such as land. The Bogomils victimized by both the Orthodox and Catholics had religious and material reasons to convert. Additionally, in the entire region formally ruled by the Orthodox, the Ottomans introduced the timer system based on previous Byzantine practices. For example, the land belonged to the Sultan. However, he leased to spahis, who provided troops in exchange of the land. Peasants worked on the land and generated income for spahis (Sugar 42).

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Authority did not coax Christians to convert into Islam even though there were both legal and financial benefits. The administration divided the empire into millets that consisted of a common religious group. Religious leaders collected taxes and maintained law and order. A significant number of Balkan Christians were Orthodox as members of millet headed by Greek Constantinople. Taxes included a charge on male children taken from Christians and those converted into Islam called devshirme. Greek Constantinople also educated children as the administrative elite and military (İnalcık 15).

Additionally, commoners could not move to the city, because the emperor thought that the rural areas could depopulate. City life was easy since dwellers were free from tax in different categories. The empire also bought inexpensive crops to feed the poor people living in urban areas. Villages were liable of various levies as a community such as cash rent for land.

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