Ottoman Empire and Europe during 16th Century

*My original thesis was too broad. It was suggested that I choose a specific time and place.*

During the 16th century, the Ottoman Empire had a great impact on Europe through conquests and trade.

The Ottoman Empire (1299-1922/3) was one the largest and longest-lasting empires in history. At its peak, parts of the empire could be found in three continents: Africa, Asia and Europe. It controlled a good portion of southeastern Europe (Greece, Balkans)

While Ottoman Empire was very influential in the Muslim world, its conquests and decisions about trade impacted European powers throughout the centuries. I chose the 16th century because it is considered the golden age of the Ottoman Empire.

Timeline Explanation:

Digital History Map and Encyclopedia Britannica Online:

Trade has always been an important aspect of an economy. It was no different in the 16th century. As the Ottoman Empire expanded, it started gaining control of important trade routes. The capture of Constantinople (1453) to the Ottoman Turks was a key event. Along with their victory, they now had significant control of the Silk Road, which European countries used to trade with Asia. Many of the sources I came across stated that the Ottoman Empire “blocked” the Silk Road. From my understanding, this meant that while Europeans could trade through Constantinople and other Muslim countries, they had to pay high taxes. Ottoman-Europe relations weren’t always ideal because a difference in religion seems to have played an important role with their individual societies.

(Referencing the Map) Now while the Portuguese had been looking for new, ocean trade routes in the early 15th century, the growing power of the Ottoman Empire in the late 15th/early 16th centuries motivated Portugal to search harder. From the map, many routes were drawn out in the early 1500s; the routes also go around Africa to Asia. The Ottoman Empire is almost, if completely, avoided. Other countries, in competition with Portugal, also found ocean trade routes. While there were probably other contributing factors, the Ottoman expansion did encourage European countries to figure out new ways to reach Africa and Asia.

Met Museum/Artwork: Throughout the 16th century, the Ottomans and the Venetians also had conflicts. Disagreements about maritime trade guidelines and territorial boundaries in the Balkans were causes for conflict. However, according to a Venetian ambassador to Sublime Porte (1553), “Being merchants…[Venetians] cannot live without [Ottoman Turks]” (Carboni). I would say there was a kind of love-hate relationship between the two.

Pinterest Post (3rd on Timeline) and Demographics (Filipovic source): The painting shows the process of recruiting future janissaries. Many janissaries were young Christian boys from the Balkans (Southeast Europe). A reason why the Ottomans were powerful and well-respected/feared was because of their military. Not all soldiers were Muslims, but also Ottoman Christians. During this time, there was a noticeable divide between Christian and Muslim groups. So the Ottoman did have an impact on the population and society. It was difficult to find real statistics (list of numbers), but the Filipovic source mentions how there was an dramatic increase in population in the Balkans during the 16th century. It was “estimated that the Ottoman Balkans in the period 1525–1530 contained some one million taxable households” and again, it was “estimated that the population of the Balkans around 1600 to have been around eight million.” (Filiopovic). A reason for why the population could have changed: Ottoman conquest (raids, migration, ethnic colonization).

Works Cited

“Ottoman Empire.” Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Accessed December 2016.

Kemp, Charvonne. “Janissary Recruitment in the Balkans-Suleymanname.” Pinterest. 2014. Accessed December 2016.

“Digital History.” Digital History. Accessed December 2016.
Map Used:

“The Ottoman Empire, 1481-1683.” The Ottoman Empire in the Seventeenth Century. Accessed December 2016.  (First Map)

FILIPOVIC, NENAD. “Balkans.” Europe, 1450 to 1789: Encyclopedia of the Early Modern World, edited by Jonathan Dewald, vol. 1, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 2004, pp. 191-201.
Information Used: Demographic Characteristics and Changes

Carboni, Stefano, Trinita Kennedy, and Elizabeth Marwell. “Venice’s Principal Muslim Trading Partners: the Mamluks, the Ottomans, and the Safavids.” In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. (March 2007
Image Used:







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