About this sample
About this sample
Words: 1256 |
7 min read
Published: Dec 18, 2018
Words: 1256|Pages: 3|7 min read
In my opinion, the Ottoman victory at Constantinople was the most significant event that altered the history of Mankind. The Ottoman Empire lasted for over 600 years, longer than the Mughal and the Ming Empires combined. While the peasant revolution that ushered in the Ming dynasty was one of its kind, the Ottoman Empire was also founded by a tribal leader who was born in a world of chaos and perpetual war. The fall of Constantinople was significant for a number of reasons. It was a psychological blow for the Europeans. They realized that even their most fortified walls could be breached. It was the final blow for the Byzantine Empire and it sent ripples throughout Eurasia. The city of Constantinople had a profound hold in the minds of the Islamic people. Army after army had failed to conquer it. On May 29, 1453, when the city finally fell, a crescent moon hung in the sky. Constantinople under the Turks adopted the Crescent as its symbol.
More than half a millennium later, Islamic nations around the world commemorate the victory with crescent moons on their flags. Prior to the fall of Constantinople, the economic conditions of the city were terrible. It’s population had been reduced to 40,000 from about half a million in the previous century. After the Ottoman capture of the city, the economy of the city revived. Sultan Mehmet II established the Grand Bazaar near his palace and gave tax reliefs to people willing to settle in his city. The Grand bazaar is often regarded as one of the first shopping malls of the world. However, the capture had a negative impact on the trade in the European region. It led to the closure of the silk road which was one of the strategic routes to the east and sparked the beginning of the age of exploration and discovery of the new world. The Europeans could no longer trade through the black sea as the Ottomans established a monopoly in that region. The Ottoman conquest affected the Italian trade and reduced the number of trade bases in that area.
Although this did turn out to be positive for the Italian state of Geneva who invested in the Spanish and Portuguese expeditions, instead of the former Byzantine Empire. Spanish colonization was financed by Genoese semi-governmental bankers, to whom Spain’s monarchs were deeply in debt. The Colonization of the new world brought them great profits. The fall of Constantinople was economically beneficial to the Ottomans but not so much so to the former trade partners of the Byzantine Empire. The rise of the Ottoman Empire also started an animosity between the Greeks and the Turks. Greeks had dominated both sides of the Aegean sea for thousands of years. When the Ottomans ran over the Byzantine empire, the Greeks and their city which had once been the greatest in Europe found themselves with Turkish masters. The Turks passed on an un-free, repressive system of beliefs to all their subjects, including the Greeks.
Christianity was now an inferior religion. Hagia Sophia, the world’s largest cathedral at that time was converted to a Mosque. Many Greek scholars fearing death or forced conversion to Islam fled across the Adriatic sea. They took back Greek manuscripts which were thousands of years old. These manuscripts were translated into Latin and were influential in fuelling the Renaissance. The Ottomans were given a new base for their future conquests. A few years later, in 1529, they knocked the doors of Vienna. They were indeed a great threat to the existing Western Civilization. The hate and bias that the Europeans have for the Turks has persisted over the years. Many historians claim that the hesitation to include Turkey in the European Union has its roots deeply engraved in the fall of Constantinople.
The achievements of the Mings and the Mughals are minuscule compared to the Ottomans. The Ming Dynasty was an empire that closed all its doors to trade. The Chinese thought of the merchant class as an inferior class and labelled them as parasites due to the fact that they did not make goods but fed off other people’s work. The Chinese wanted no external influences to penetrate their civilization. The only time when the Chinese interacted with the world during the reign of the Ming dynasty was due to the travels of Zheng He. The peasant rebellion that ushered in the Ming dynasty gave rise to a line of sadistic and sexually rapacious emperors. The concubines were forced to immolate themselves after the death of their emperor. The Ottoman empire had its share of concubines too but the Mings bestowed upon their concubines a life of abuse, torture and a form of cruelty that knew no bounds. The problem with an absolute emperor, coronated as a result of his hereditary was that he could be incompetent and have little interest in the affairs of the state. The Chinese recognized this and appointed a Prime Minister as an insurance against incompetent emperors. However, the Hong Wu Emperor abolished this post as he wanted complete authority.
On the other hand, fratricide was a common practice in the ruling family of the Ottoman and they sacrificed themselves for the benefit of the state. Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror legalized the killing of the male members of the family in order to prevent interregnum. A prince had to kill all his brothers if he desired to become the Emperor. This is one of the major reasons why the Ottoman Emperors were highly competent and ambitious. “Survival of the fittest, not the eldest” ensured that the prince would have to suffer a great deal of trauma before achieving glory but nonetheless, this would also make him ruthless and able. This writer believes that if Ahmed I would not have discontinued the practice and replaced it with seniority succession, the Ottomans would not have declined as they did and perhaps the situation would have been different today.
On the other hand, Babur’s victory at Panipat established a dynasty that would rule for close to 200 years. The dynasty would give India some brilliant pieces of art and architecture. They had a significantly larger population to rule than the Ottomans. But Babur was a nomad in central Asia before he came to India. He was burdened with financial difficulties which vanished once he conquered North India. He now had to deal with the regional Princes and faced immense struggle before establishing stability in North India. India has been immensely diverse since the beginning of recorded history. This is precisely the reason why the Mughal empire was engulfed in conflicts within India and never gave the thought to venture outside it. This is also well entailed in the fact that the Mughals overlooked the importance of building a navy. The Ming and the Mughal Empire gradually declined and died a slow but sure death. India was colonized by the British after the Mughals and the Qing dynasty took over the reigns in China. In contrast, the ruins of the Ottoman Empire gave birth to the republic of Turkey and a great leader in the name of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.
In conclusion, the fall of Constantinople ended an empire that had lasted for over two thousand years in some form or other. It started the Age of Discovery and gave birth to the Ottoman War machine. The Sultanate of the Ottoman empire may have been dissolved in 1923, but the multiculturalism, architecture, religious pluralism and the military techniques of the Ottomans have had a lasting impact on the modern world.
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