Ottoman History - the 1700s AD - Mihrisah Valide Sultan
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Ottomans 1700s AD

Enderun Library
Enderun Library, Topkapi Palace (Istanbul, 1719)

November 2016 - By 1703 AD, people were unhappy enough with Feyzullah Efendi that the Sultan killed him, and the Sultan's mother, Rabia Gulnus, took charge of the government. Rabia's main worry was Peter the Great's strength in Russia, just north of the Ottoman Empire. In 1710, Rabia had her son declare war on Russia, and took back some of southern Ukraine (modern Moldova and Romania). But soon she was distracted by eastern attacks of the last Safavid, and abandoned the war with Russia. Rabia died in 1715, and by 1718 the Grand Vizier, Damat Ibrahim Pasha, had retaken control of the Ottoman Empire. Damat Ibrahim Pasha took part of Iraq from the Safavids, encouraged manufacturing and trade and European-style architecture, and left the Ottoman Empire with plenty of money. But the changes he made to make the army more efficient made the soldiers angry. In 1730, the soldiers revolted: Ibrahim was killed, and Ahmed retired.

In 1730, Nadir Shah attacked the Ottomans and took back much of the land that the last Safavids had lost. Under Czarina Anna, the Russians took more land from the Ottoman Empire.

By 1743, the Ottomans were able to take advantage of Nader Shah's attacks on the Mughal Empire in India to attack Iran from the west and recapture Iraq. The Ottomans coordinated with the Mughal emperors to weaken Nader Shah until Nader Shah was killed in 1747 and then the Mughal emperor, Muhammad Shah, died in 1748.

In 1789, Mihrisah Valide Sultan took over power as regent for her son, Selim III. Like the other Ottoman rulers of the 1700s, Mihrisah wanted to modernize the Ottoman Empire, especially by reorganizing the army and by opening more schools. But the British and the French controlled ocean trade with their navies. Without much trade, the Ottoman Empire just didn't have enough money. Mihrisah couldn't really afford to modernize her empire. While in the early days, the Ottomans themselves had been leaders in new military tactics, especially the use of gunpowder and light cannon, by the 1700s the European countries had new military ideas that the Ottomans could not imitate.

In addition, the Europeans were producing tools, housewares, and clothing cheaper than the Ottomans could make them themselves. This was partly from investing the money from trade in building new modern factories in Europe - Industrial Revolution - but it was mostly from using cheap slave labor in the Americas and practically slave labor in Africa and India. Again, the Ottomans couldn't afford to buy or capture all those slaves, or to industrialize their factories.

By the late 1700s, the new tactics and weapons of the European armies allowed them to take more and more land from the Ottoman Empire, so the empire slowly got smaller and smaller, and poorer and poorer. Even with help from Britain and France during the Crimean War in the 1850s, the Ottomans gradually lost Eastern Europe and the Black Sea to Russia during the 1870s. They lost Egypt to the British in 1882, and North Africa to France. Finally in 1922, after the end of World War I, the Ottoman Empire collapsed entirely, and the last Sultan, Mehmed VI, handed over power to the new Republic of Turkey. There are still people alive today who were born in the Ottoman Empire.

More about the Ottomans
More about the Crimean War
Modern Iran

Bibliography and further reading about the Ottomans:

Modern Iran
More about West Asia
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Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter.
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