IV. The Early Modern Period, 1500–1800 > C. The Middle East and North Africa, 1500–1800 > 2. The Middle East, 1501–1808
  The Encyclopedia of World History.  2001.
(See 1512, Apr. 24)
2. The Middle East, 1501–1808
a. The Ottoman Empire
1. The Rise to World Empire
SULTAN SELIM I. In his first year as ruler Selim faced down a challenge to his throne by his brothers and nephews; he extinguished their rebellion in Anatolia and had them eliminated. His ruthlessness and harsh temper made him known as “the Grim” (Yavuz). His conquest of Syria and Egypt began the empire's absorption of the Arab lands of the Middle East and North Africa, which established the Ottomans as heirs to the great Islamic imperial states.  1
First war with Safavid Iran. Ottoman expansion and Sunni-Shi’ite religious antagonism brought the Ottomans and Safavids into rivalry for control of eastern Anatolia. Selim led a large army against Iran, and in the decisive Battle of Chaldiran in Azerbaijan (Aug. 23), his forces defeated Shah Isma‘il's army and temporarily occupied the Safavid capital of Tabriz. The victory opened the way for Ottoman expansion in eastern Anatolia and northern Iraq.  2
Annexation of Diyarbakr, the principality of Dulkadir, and the greater part of northern Iraq, including Mosul.  3
THE CONQUEST OF SYRIA, following the defeat of the Mamluk army in Marj Dabiq near Aleppo (Aug. 24). The Syrian lands as far as the frontier town of Gaza fell to the Ottomans. Aleppo and Damascus became the administrative capitals of two newly constituted provinces.  4
THE CONQUEST OF EGYPT, following the decisive defeat of the Mamluk army at al-Raydaniyya (Jan. 22) and at Giza (April 2). Egypt was organized as a single province with its capital in Cairo. The Holy Cities of Mecca and Medina were also absorbed into the empire after the Hashemite emir of Mecca pledged submission to the sultan (July). The Mamluk state thus ceased to exist, but many of the defeated Mamluk officers and administrators entered Ottoman service. They continued to purchase new slaves, mostly Circassians, and gradually regained control of the government machinery of Egypt.  5
SULTAN SULEYMAN I (THE MAGNIFICENT). With the death of Selim I (Sept. 1520), his only son, Suleyman, inherited a powerful empire, which rose under him to the peak of its grandeur. Suleyman added new territories in Europe, Asia, and Africa, leading his army in person on numerous campaigns. He systematized the institutions of law and administration, for which he came to be known by his own people as the Lawgiver (Kanuni). In his reign began the rise to power of the imperial harem, as high-ranking women of the dynasty (especially the mother of the reigning sultan and his favorite concubines) acquired an unusual degree of political influence and public prominence. This power, which continued until the mid-17th century, has led to references to the period as “the sultanate of the women.”  6
Although Suleyman is the most celebrated of Ottoman sultans, various problems associated with Ottoman decline began to emerge during his reign: rural overpopulation, unemployment, inflation, and heavy taxation. These fueled discontent and popular revolts.  7
Anti-Ottoman revolt in Damascus, led by Janbardi al-Ghazali, the Mamluk notable appointed by the Ottomans in 1516 to govern the newly conquered province. An Ottoman force defeated his troops in Damascus and killed him (Feb. 1521), ending his bid for independent rule. The governorship of Damascus was henceforth given to Ottoman officials.  8
The Ottomans captured Belgrade (Aug.) and completed the conquest of Serbia.  9
1522, Dec. 20
The conquest of Rhodes, after some five months of siege. With the elimination of this center of Christian piracy, the Ottomans secured the maritime routes in the eastern Mediterranean.  10
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.