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Ottoman Empire

Suleiman the MagnificentThe Ottoman Empire was the one of the largest and longest-lasting empires in history. Bolstered by its powerful army, the empire was at its height during the reign of Suleiman I "the Magnificent" (1520–66), when it encompassed southeastern Europe, most of the Middle East and large parts of North Africa. The Ottoman capital, Istanbul, stood at the centre of a wealthy and glittering Islamic empire. The Ottoman Empire began its long decline after being driven back in Europe by an alliance of Habsburg, German and Polish forces at the Siege of Vienna in 1683. It survived long enough, however, to fight in World War I in 1914–18, before defeat led to its collapse.



Sultan Osman I, founder of the Ottoman dynasty

Rise of the Ottomans

The Turks originally settled in Anatolia (modern-day Turkey) in the late 1200s. At that time, the land was under the rule of the declining Seljuk Empire. Osman, a Turkish tribal leader, overthrew the local Seljuk ruler in 1299 and proclaimed himself Sultan. The word “Ottoman” comes from his name. 

The Turks believed in a prophecy called Osman's dream. The story goes that a tree which sprouted from a holy man's navel (belly button) grew until it covered the whole world. They took this to mean that they would one day gain a worldwide empire.

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