III. The Postclassical Period, 500–1500 > B. The Middle East and North Africa, 500–1500 > 2. The Muslim Middle East and North Africa, c. 945–1500 > d. The Ottoman Empire > 2. Defeat, Recovery, and Imperial Expansion > c. 1481
  The Encyclopedia of World History.  2001.
c. 1481
Death of the historian Ashikpashazade (b. c. 1392), whose chronicle Tevarih-i Al-i Osman (Histories of the House of Osman) ranks among the most valuable sources of early Ottoman history.  1
SULTAN BAYEZID II. His reign brought a needed respite from the almost relentless campaigns of his father, Mehmed, and marked a period of consolidation before the conquests were resumed in full force by his successors. Bayezid ended some of his father's unpopular modes of raising revenue, restoring the private and vakif (endowed) property he had confiscated. He organized an orderly system of administration and public finance that increased revenues and contributed to economic growth. Although he owed his accession to the backing of the Janissaries, he gradually freed himself of their powerful influence. In the last ten years of his life he devoted himself mainly to religion and the encouragement of learning.  2
Civil war. Following Bayezid's accession, his younger brother Jem declared himself sultan of Anatolia and assembled an army to defend his claim to the Asian provinces of the empire. Bayezid rejected the proposed division and decisively defeated Jem's forces near Yenishehir (June 20, 1481). After another failed military effort one year later, Jem went into exile in Europe, where he was a political instrument in the hands of various Catholic rulers, and a potential threat to his brother, until his death in Naples in 1495.  3
The Ottomans completed the absorption of Herzegovina into the empire.  4
Capture of Kilia and Akkerman in Moldavia, which gave the Ottomans mastery of the Black Sea as well as control of the important trade in these two commercial centers.  5
War with the Mamluks. Competition over influence in the buffer principality of Dulkadir led to the first Ottoman-Mamluk war. The intermittent campaigns, fought in southern Anatolia, were inconclusive, and the Ottomans failed in their attempts to take the Cilician towns of Adana and Tarsus. The peace signed in May 1491 left the boundaries approximately as they had been before the war.  6
Beginning of the mass migration of Spanish Jews into the empire. Following the edicts of expulsion against the Jews of Spain (1492) and Portugal (1496), as many as 200,000 Jews from the Iberian Peninsula settled in Ottoman territories, setting up large Sephardic communities in Istanbul, Izmir, Salonika, and other cities in Anatolia, the Balkans, and in Arab lands that were later absorbed into the empire. With their valuable commercial and professional skills, they were welcomed by the Ottoman authorities, and they enjoyed a period of prosperity and cultural efflorescence during the 16th century.  7
The first Hebrew printing press in Istanbul was established by two Jewish exiles from Spain, Samuel ibn Nahmias and his brother David. Other Jewish presses soon followed in various cities, notably Salonika. A Muslim ban on printing in Arabic and Turkish remained in effect until the 18th century and kept the new technology from spreading to the Muslim population earlier.  8
War with Venice. Using their newly expanded fleet, the Ottomans captured Lepanto, the major Venetian ports in the Morea, and Durazzo in Albania. Their gains, recognized in the peace signed in Dec. 1502, established their presence as a major naval and commercial power in the eastern Mediterranean.  9
The writer Idris Bitlisi (d. 1520) wrote his monumental chronicle, Hesht Bihisht, at the order of Bayezid II. It recorded the history of the first eight sultans, providing much firsthand information on events in Iran and eastern Anatolia.  10
Completion of the Mosque of Bayezid II in Istanbul, the first Ottoman monument in which the influence of the basilica of Hagia Sophia was clearly evident.  11
1509, Aug. 22
A great earthquake in Istanbul, with several weeks of aftershocks that caused immense devastation and loss of life. The city was subject to many earthquakes, suffering 66 shocks between 1711 and 1894.  12
The Encyclopedia of World History, Sixth edition. Peter N. Stearns, general editor. Copyright © 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Maps by Mary Reilly, copyright 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.