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History of the Ottoman Empire

Professor William A. Wood

This course provides an overview of the Ottoman Empire from its rise in the fourteenth century to its dissolution in World War I. This key but often overlooked civilization was a standard bearer in the Islamic World for centuries as well as a key player in European history. Its collapse at the end of World War I has continued to shape the modern Middle East down to the present.

April 10: The Rise of the Ottomans and the Conquest of Byzantium

After a brief description of the Inner Asian origins of the Turks, this session looks at the rise of the Ottoman Dynasty in northwestern Anatolia, their entrance into southeastern Europe, and the seminal event of their conquest of Constantinople from the Byzantines in 1453. Attention will be paid especially to the complex and diverse religious environment of this era.

April 24: Suleyman the Magnificent and the Blessed Dynasty

From 1453 to 1600, the Ottomans expanded their territory to include much of the heartland of the Middle East, while challenging the power of their chief rivals: Safavid Iran and Habsburg Austria. Special attention will be given to the reign of Suleyman the Magnificent, perhaps the greatest of all Ottoman Sultans.

May 8: Decline or Something Else? The Ottomans from 1600 to 1792

This session will discuss the ongoing debate whether the Ottomans “declined” after 1600 or, more positively, engaged in “portfolio rearrangement” to ensure the continuing existence of the dynasty. Attention will be given to the role of the women of the Harem in these tumultuous years, as well as the continuing conflicts with Austria and the rising power of Russia down to 1792.

May 22: Reform in the Age of Imperialism

This session will look at the key era from 1785 to 1882 as the Ottomans struggled to contend with an increasingly aggressive and powerful imperialism coming from Europe. We will see the Ottomans as an early example of how a nation attempts to reform and modernize to meet the challenges of Western economic and military power, while still preserving its distinctive religious and cultural identity.

June 5: War, Tragedy, and Collapse

This last session will look at the events of the final decades of the Ottoman Empire leading up to its collapse in the wake of World War I. We will especially note how many of the political structures of the current Middle East, as well as many of its conflicts, are at least in part the legacy of the dissolution of this once great empire.

Instructor: William Wood is Professor of History at Point Loma Nazarene University, where he teaches courses on Islamic history and Russian history and participates in the General Education Program’s World Civilizations sequence. He received his BA from Colorado State University and his MA and PhD from Indiana University.

Coordinator: Steve Clarey

Course Number: OSHR-70058   Credit: 0 units

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