Western Interaction

                           This page explains the influence of the Ottoman Empire on its European counterparts.

        Extended empires are like expanded gold, exchanging solid strength for feeble splendor.   -Samuel Johnson     

     The Ottoman Empire, named so after Osman Bey, was one of the few empires to stand the test of time for nearly a thousand years. During those thousand years or so, the Ottoman Empire was one of the few challenges to Western Europe in military and splendor, matching Europe piece for piece, if not better. Due to its vast size(the empire at its height stretched from beyond the Balkan Peninsula, Anatolia, Mesopotamia, and Saudi Arabia to the northern coast of Africa) the Ottoman Empire influence Europe like none other before it.

           It all started with the Battle of Kosovo, in which "contact" occured between a European force, Russia, and the Ottoman Empire. After the defeat of the Russians, the Ottoman empire was free to expand into Europe without much resistance.

      Next came the invasion of Constantinople in 1453, which was later converted into the Ottoman capital Istanbul. After this capture and the downfall of the Byzantine Empire, the Ottomans became a force to be reckoned with. Soon enough, they established footholds in eastern Europe and northern Africa. Their numerous military and naval campaigns often spurred contact between the Ottomans and their European rivals. However, these battles just didn't serve military purposes; in fact, the Europeans learned much from their counterparts which they began to apply in their own lives.One such innovation that changed the world was the use of gunpowder. The Europeans knew of gunpowder, but couldn't use it efficiently. However, the Ottomans were experts at using gunpowder and related equipment and from them, the Europeans learned to correctly use gunpowder.

      Despite all this fighting, many trade routes existed between the Ottoman empire and the rest of Europe. The Ottoman empire was a lush and wealthy land, and was far more prosperous and modernized than the Europeans. Thus, the Europeans constantly felt the need to learn more. Europeans would trade raw materials such as wood, iron, fur, and even gems for some of the exotic goods the Ottomans offered, such as silk, spices, incense, and finely crafted metalworks, and tropical fruits that they obtained from east Asia. Numerous merchants from Europe would flock to Istanbul and other Ottoman cities to witness these spectular goods first hand. Not only did these trade goods increase trade, but they also promoted curiosity among Europeans, who, in sail of fortune and adventure, immediately set out on voyages to far away lands. Trade also encouraged the diffusion of innovations in architecture, science, and literature.

       Ottoman architects made great strideswhen developing new buildings. Not only were their designs beautiful, but they were also long-lasting and very stable. What Ottoman architects learned to do best was to increase the center of gravity of their buildings. so they would be less prone to damage. Many western architects used Ottoman building techniques to construct magnificent cathedrals and monuments.

       Perhaps the most important field in which the Europeans benefited from the Ottomans was in science. In astronomy, for example, Muslim astronomers used much more advanced and efficient techniques to chart the stars and also used more advanced navigational instruments,such as the cross-staff, to get more accurate readings of their position on Earth's surface. Another field the Ottomans excelled in was medicine. Ottoman doctors found remedies that would soothe pain and other symptoms and for a fact, the general health of the Ottoman empire was better than that of Europe. Also, Ottoman surgeons performed some breakthrough surgeries and many European scholars and doctors yearned to learn Ottoman techniques.

       The Ottomans valued literature and composed many pieces during the Dark Ages in Europe. Major Ottoman cities all had extensive libraries containing thousands of pieces of literature ranging from science to medicine to poetry. Since many European scholars didn't have access to books as much in Europe, they would go to major Ottoman cities to study in the libraries and from reknowned Ottoman scholars.

      All in all, the interaction between Europe and the Ottomans wasn't always what one would call "beneficial", since both sides oftenfought each other in order to gain land and acquire a strong foothold. Nevertheless, both sides did learn from each other in ways that affect them today. Even though the Ottoman empire no longer exists, their legacy is still visible in many parts of the world.