Timeline of the Ottoman Empire

The Ottoman Empire, also known as the Turkish Empire, was one of the largest and longest-lasting empires in history.

It was founded at the end of the 13th century in northwestern Anatolia by the Turkoman tribal leader Osman I, and it expanded to span three continents, covering parts of Europe, Asia, and Africa.

At its height during the 16th and 17th centuries, it included present-day Turkey, Egypt, Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, Macedonia, Hungary, Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and parts of the Arabian Peninsula and southeastern Europe.

The empire’s power and influence grew significantly under the rule of Suleiman the Magnificent in the 16th century, when it became a major power in the Mediterranean and Middle East.

The Ottoman Empire made significant contributions to the political, legal, and cultural development of the regions it ruled, including advancements in architecture, arts, literature, and cuisine.

However, by the late 17th century, the empire was in a state of decline, facing economic difficulties and military defeats. It gradually lost territories in wars and revolts over the next couple of centuries. Its involvement on the losing side of World War I led to its partitioning by the victorious Allies.

In 1922, following a war of independence led by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the sultanate was abolished, and in 1923, the Republic of Turkey was established in its place. The transition marked the official end of the Ottoman Empire after more than 600 years of continuous rule.

1299The Ottoman Sultanate is established by Osman I.
1354The Ottomans cross into Europe and capture Gallipoli.
1389The Battle of Kosovo takes place, strengthening Ottoman control over the Balkans.
1453The Ottoman Empire conquers Constantinople, ending the Byzantine Empire.
1478Ottomans take control of Albania after the Siege of Shkodra.
1514Ottomans defeat the Safavid Empire at the Battle of Chaldiran.
1517The Ottomans defeat the Mamluk Sultanate and take control of Egypt, becoming the Caliph of Islam.
1520-1566Reign of Suleiman the Magnificent; the Ottoman Empire reaches its peak.
1529 & 1683Failed sieges of Vienna occur.
1699The Treaty of Karlowitz marks the end of the Ottoman-Habsburg wars and results in territorial losses for the Ottomans.
1700s-Early 1800sThe Ottoman Empire starts to decline in political and military power.
1830 & 1831Greece and Egypt gain independence from the Ottoman Empire.
1853-1856The Crimean War takes place, further weakening the Ottoman Empire.
1876-1909Abdul Hamid II rules, characterized by autocracy and the first constitutional era.
1908The Young Turk Revolution leads to the restoration of the Ottoman constitution.
1914-1918The Ottoman Empire participates in World War I as part of the Central Powers.
1915-1917The Armenian Genocide takes place.
1918World War I ends with the defeat of the Central Powers and the occupation of Constantinople by Allied forces.
1920The Treaty of Sèvres dismembers the remaining territories of the Ottoman Empire, but it is rejected by the Turkish National Movement.
1922The Turkish War of Independence ends with Turkish victory and the abolition of the Sultanate.
1923The Republic of Turkey is established, and the Treaty of Lausanne replaces the Treaty of Sèvres, ending the state of war between Turkey and the Allies.

Ottoman Empire Timeline

Establishment of the Ottoman Sultanate (1299)

Osman I, the leader of a small Anatolian beylik (a principality), was granted land by the Seljuks, leading to the foundation of the Ottoman Empire.

Also Read: Facts About the Ottoman Empire

The empire is named after him, as “Ottoman” is derived from his name. Osman I initiated a series of conquests that would set the stage for the empire’s growth in the following centuries.

Capture of Gallipoli (1354)

The Ottomans’ capture of Gallipoli (also known as Gelibolu) marked a significant moment as it was their first step into Europe.

This move was initiated by Orhan, the son of Osman I, but was solidified by his grandson, Sultan Murad I. This foothold allowed them to start expansion into southeastern Europe.

Battle of Kosovo (1389)

This was a significant military engagement between the Ottomans and the Serbian-led Balkan coalition. Both the Ottoman Sultan Murad I and the Serbian Prince Lazar Hrebeljanović were killed in battle.

Also Read: Accomplishments of Ottoman Empire

The conflict ended without a clear victor but it notably weakened the Serbian forces and allowed for the further expansion of the Ottomans into the Balkans.

Conquest of Constantinople (1453)

Under Sultan Mehmed II, also known as Mehmed the Conqueror, the Ottomans laid siege to Constantinople, the capital of the Byzantine Empire. The city fell on May 29, 1453, marking the end of the Byzantine Empire.

Also Read: Timeline of Constantinople

The city was renamed Istanbul and became the new capital of the Ottoman Empire. This event is often considered the end of the Middle Ages and the start of the Early Modern period.

Siege of Shkodra (1478) and control of Albania

This marked the end of the long-standing resistance of the Albanian forces led by Gjergj Kastrioti (known as Skanderbeg), against the Ottomans.

Following Skanderbeg’s death and the fall of Shkodra (now in modern-day Albania), the Ottomans solidified their control over Albania.

This extended the Empire’s reach further into southeastern Europe and gave it control of an important strategic point along the Adriatic Sea.

Battle of Chaldiran (1514)

The Battle of Chaldiran was a decisive fight between the Ottoman Empire, under Sultan Selim I, and the Safavid Empire led by Shah Ismail I.

The Ottomans, using superior artillery and tactics, won the battle, marking a significant setback for the Safavid Empire. This victory solidified Ottoman control of eastern Anatolia and allowed them to briefly occupy parts of northwestern Iran.

Conquest of Egypt (1517)

Sultan Selim I defeated the Mamluk Sultanate in the Battle of Ridaniya, leading to the Ottoman annexation of Egypt. With this victory, the Ottomans took control of the major cities of Cairo, Alexandria, and Jerusalem.

Additionally, Selim I assumed the title of Caliph of Islam, presenting the Ottoman sultan as the leader of the entire Muslim world.

Reign of Suleiman the Magnificent (1520-1566)

This period marked the height of the Ottoman Empire’s power and cultural influence. Suleiman, also known as Suleiman the Lawgiver, greatly expanded the empire’s territory in Europe, Asia, and Africa, including the important conquest of Belgrade, Rhodes, and large parts of the Kingdom of Hungary. He also enacted significant legal and administrative reforms and fostered a cultural and artistic golden age.

Failed Sieges of Vienna (1529 & 1683)

The sieges of Vienna were key events symbolizing the Ottoman Empire’s struggle with the Holy Roman Empire. The first siege in 1529, led by Suleiman the Magnificent, ended in failure due to difficult weather conditions and strong resistance.

The second siege in 1683 also ended in defeat for the Ottomans. The failure of these sieges marked a halt in the Ottoman Empire’s territorial expansion into Europe.

Treaty of Karlowitz (1699)

The Treaty of Karlowitz marked the end of the Ottoman-Habsburg wars and was the first time the Ottoman Empire lost significant territories through a treaty. It ceded control of much of Central Europe (including Hungary and Transylvania) and the Morea in Greece to the Habsburg Monarchy and other European powers.

Decline in Political and Military Power (1700s – Early 1800s)

The Ottoman Empire began to lose its relative political and military strength compared to European powers.

This was due to a combination of internal issues (like political corruption, economic problems, and military defeats) and external pressures (including military advances by European rivals and the rising nationalist movements within its territories).

This period is often referred to as the Empire’s “decline phase.”

Independence of Greece (1830)

The Greek War of Independence, which began in 1821, ended in 1830 with Greece gaining independence from the Ottoman Empire. This conflict was notable as it was marked by significant foreign intervention from Britain, France, and Russia on the side of the Greeks.

The war and the subsequent Treaty of Constantinople marked the beginning of the gradual process of the Ottoman Empire’s disintegration in Europe.

Independence of Egypt (1831)

In practice, Egypt had been a semi-autonomous vassal state under the rule of Muhammad Ali Pasha since the early 1800s.

However, the period of 1831-1841 saw a formal conflict known as the First Egyptian-Ottoman War, after which Egypt’s independence was internationally recognized.

While Egypt was technically still an Ottoman province, Muhammad Ali’s dynasty ruled it virtually independently until the British occupation in 1882.

Crimean War (1853-1856)

The Crimean War was fought between the Russian Empire and an alliance of the Ottoman Empire, France, Britain, and Sardinia.

The war ended in 1856 with the Treaty of Paris, which affirmed Ottoman control over its remaining territories but placed them under the “guarantee” of the other major European powers.

The war exposed the Ottoman Empire’s military weaknesses and further emphasized the need for comprehensive reforms.

Reign of Abdul Hamid II (1876-1909)

During his reign, Abdul Hamid II attempted to consolidate power, leading to what is often called a period of autocracy. He also oversaw the first era of constitutional reforms, known as the First Constitutional Era. However, in 1878 he suspended the constitution and reverted to personal rule.

Young Turk Revolution (1908)

The Young Turk Revolution was led by the Committee of Union and Progress (CUP) and resulted in the restoration of the Ottoman constitution of 1876, marking the start of the Second Constitutional Era.

This period was characterized by the emergence of a multi-party democracy and an effort to modernize the empire and curb foreign influence.

World War I (1914-1918)

The Ottoman Empire participated in World War I as part of the Central Powers, alongside Germany and Austria-Hungary. Its involvement in the war resulted in significant territorial and economic losses. The Arab Revolt during the war also led to the loss of Ottoman control over much of the Arab world.

Armenian Genocide (1915-1917)

During World War I, the Ottoman government orchestrated the systematic mass murder and expulsion of 1.5 million ethnic Armenians living within the empire. This event, known as the Armenian Genocide, is a significant and controversial aspect of Ottoman history.

Today, it is recognized as a genocide by many countries, although Turkey officially denies the extent and systematic nature of the killings.

End of World War I and Occupation of Constantinople (1918)

World War I ended in defeat for the Central Powers, including the Ottoman Empire. Following the Armistice of Mudros, Allied forces occupied Constantinople (now Istanbul), the Ottoman capital. The occupation period lasted from 1918 to 1923 and was marked by a significant foreign influence in the region.

Treaty of Sèvres (1920)

This treaty aimed to formally end hostilities between the Allies and the Ottoman Empire, marking out terms of peace following World War I.

However, the Treaty of Sèvres proposed severe terms, including large-scale territorial losses and foreign control zones, essentially dismantling what was left of the Ottoman Empire.

This treaty was met with fierce opposition in the empire, particularly by the Turkish National Movement led by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, and was never ratified.

Turkish War of Independence and Abolition of the Sultanate (1922)

The Turkish War of Independence was fought between the Turkish National Movement and the occupying Allied forces, as well as the Ottoman government, which the movement considered as collaborating with the occupiers. The war concluded with a Turkish victory.

After the war, the National Assembly abolished the Sultanate, ending 623 years of monarchical Ottoman rule. This marked the official transition from a crumbling empire into a new, nationalist state – the Republic of Turkey. Sultan Mehmed VI Vahdettin was exiled from Istanbul, marking the end of the Ottoman Dynasty.