The Rise of Islamic
Empires in the Middle
East, Europe, and
Readings: Spodek, pp. 476-477,
500-502, 502-505, 505-506
The Rise of The Ottoman Empire
The Rise of the Ottoman Turks
Under Osman Bey the
Ottomans begin to expand
broadly from 1290-1326 by
organizing Steppe Peoples in
Central Asia
In 15th Century they moved
broadly against Europe,
Persia, and Egypt.
April 6-May 29 1453 They
besieged and conquered
Constantinople, capital of the
Byzantine Empire, under
Sultan Mehmed II, which
ended the Byzantine Empire.
Constantinople becomes Instanbul
Churches like Haghia
Sophia were
transformed into
mosques, though
many Christian
features remain.
Turks faced hostile
populations of Jews,
Catholics, Orthodox
Christians, some Muslims.
The Turks allowed everyone to
practice whatever religion they
wanted as long as they paid
Managed vast, culturally
diverse empire through the
Janissary Army and Civil
The Ottoman Empire under Mehmed II
Janissaries - Took Christian
boys and made them slaves
Under Mehmet II - By 16th
century they had control of
Mediterranean and Black
Seas—fought with Portugal
over control of Indian OceanMehmet aimed to recreate
Byzantine Empire as an
Islamic state – attempted to
rely heavily on Italian culture
and fashion
Suleiman the Magnificent
Joined royal and
religious law.
He had many
Mostly from Eastern
Turkey, the Safavid
Empire (the Persians)
How Did Ottomans Exercise Power?
Center of Power – in Istanbul—
the Topkapi Saray
A fortress, sanctuary, and shrine
Laid out by Mehmed II
Outer walls and inner walls with
Inner palace in deep interior—
palace housed treasury, a library,
and the sultan’s pavillion
Inner court closed to all but state
officials – visitors confined to
outer court
Around the edges, secret
hideaway spots for the Sultan’s
Ottoman Power
Topkapi Palace housed 10 mosques,
14 bathhouses, 2 hospitals, 2,000
women and 4,000 horses
Sultan housed in sacred spaces with
relics of the prophet Muhammad –
controlled the institutions and sacred
places related to Sunni Islam
Externally—law code, tolerance,
military power, still profited from spice
trade, tribute from Europeans
Internally—palace often ruled by
eunichs and concubines, as well as
sultan’s mother, but more rational than
many Europeans believed
Safavid Empire
Shaped by Persians (15011773), more a state than an
empire, but had imperial
Like Ottomans, benefitted from
trade across Eurasia
Ruled through a hereditary
class of fighters – the
Shah Abbas
Expanded the Safavid Empire
from 1588-1629
Created capital at Isfahan
Won gains in the caucuses
and central Asia, expelled the
Portuguese from Hormuz
Insisted that everyone practice
Shi’ite version of Islam – left
no room for religious pluralism
– even though most people
they governed not originally
The Mughal Empire
Babur started to conquer India
in 1523 and took Delhi in
Mughal was the Indian word
for Mongols
Babur and his followers didn’t
like India because of the caste
system and religion
Early Mughal Rulers – Babur (1483-1530)
Early Mughal Rulers – Humayun – Babur’s Son
Legacy of Humayun (1508-1556)
Faced many obstaclesmostly from brothers
Consolidated Rule
Interested in Science
and Astrology
Died falling down stairs
from library carrying
Picture—Humayun with
Akbar – Humayun’s Son (1556-1605)
Was one of the great leaders of
He couldn’t read; there is a
chance he was dyslexic
He had others read to him so he
could learn.
Married daughters of Rajputs (800
He encouraged art and
Good fighter but believed in
diplomacy – picture with Jesuits at
Tolerated and encouraged
toleration of Hindus
Akbar’s Palace – Fatehpur Sikri
Jahangir (1569-1627
Ruled from 1605-1627 after
Very well educated, spoke 4
He had little interest in India
Emphasized Sunni Islam
He married a Persian – Nur
Jahan and let her run the
country – she had been a
widow in his court
More interested in drinking
and smoking opium than
Nur Jahan – Power Behind the Throne
Persian – gave positions in
government to all her male
Tough ruler
Good businesswoman–
encouraged trade and
perfume, cosemitcs
Owned ships she used for
commerical endeavors
Wrote poetry under the name
Shah Jahan
Jahangir’s son
Basically imprisoned Nur
Jahan until she died (she
had backed his brother)
He ruled from 16281657.
Built the Peacock throne
and the Taj Majal.
Built the Taj Majal as a
monument to his wife
when she died in
childbirth in 1631.
Peacock Throne
Taj Majal
Rebellion of Aurangzeb
Defeats Father - Shah
Jahan in 1658 and
becomes emperor.
Ruled until 1707.
He actively tries to
conquer all of India
and got most of it
except the South.
Rule of Aurangzib
Aurangzib was an ardent
Muslim and he prohibited the
Hindu religion and destroyed
the Hindu temples.
In 1679 he imposed a special
tax on non-Muslims and
created an Islamic moral
police that tried to enforce
He also required all women to
By his death there was much
A summary of these empires
Though these were powerful empires why did
they decline?
One reason was they spent a lot of money fighting wars
Spent enormous sums on monumental architecture to
display power
Power – Superficially external visible – Real power Hidden
in inner quarters
Worked well when tolerant – mostly not
Resisted new developments in western technology and
Saw trade very differently from Europeans.

The Rise of Islamic Empires - California State University