Sta Hungry Stay Foolish

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

A blog by Leon Oudejans

Political Islam in Europe (4) – Ottoman Empire

17 March 2017


The Ottoman Empire is an area of interest to me as I think, feel and believe that the current Turkish President wants to revive its glorious history. To explain the rise of the Ottoman Empire, it’s necessary to address the fall of the Byzantine – or Eastern Roman – Empire. The geographical overlap between both empires is impressive.

The Roman Empire (27 BC-1453 AD) had large territorial holdings around the Mediterranean Sea in Europe, Africa and Asia (picture).

The Western Roman Empire, headed by Rome, began to disintegrate in the early 5th century.

The Eastern Roman (or Byzantine) Empire, headed by Constantinople, survived until 1453 AD when it was captured by the Turks. 

The fall of the Eastern Roman or Byzantine Empire probably relates to its weakening following the Black Death pandemic that started in Central Asia and then moved westward into Europe. 

Wiki: “The Black Death was one of the most devastating pandemics in human history, resulting in the deaths of an estimated 75 to 200 million people in Eurasia and peaking in Europe in the years 1346–1353. [] The Black Death is estimated to have killed 30–60% of Europe’s total population. [] The world population as a whole did not recover to pre-plague levels until the 17th century.”

From a geographical perspective, the Ottoman Empire basically mirrors the Byzantine or Eastern Roman Empire. This overlap suggests a kind of voluntary succession from the Byzantine to the Ottoman Empire.

This Wiki picture excludes Vienna in the north west. The reason is that the Battle of Vienna (1683) was lost by the Turks. 

The current size of Turkey reflects the post-WW1 adjustments following the defeat of Germany and the Ottoman Empire, its ally.

The map also shows the arch enemies of Turkey: Iran (east), Russia (north) and Europe (west). Its southern borders are protected by African and Arab deserts. The Ottoman Empire is largely non-EU and non-NATO territory. Turkey can afford to lose its 1963 EU Association Agreement but cannot afford to lose its 1952 NATO membership. That would expose Turkey to all of its arch enemies.

Young Turks (1981) by Rod Stewart – artist, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2


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