The development and flourishing of Middle Eastern states in the 14th-19th centuries is a bright example of the rise and decline of mighty empires. If a modern scientist would have looked at the 16th century world and seen the power of the Middle East, this person would conclude that the whole world would soon be overruled by Muslim states (Gelvin, 2008, p. 32). From the late Middle Ages and for some five centuries on, the Muslim empires of Asia were among the strongest countries. Among those were the Safavid and Mughal Empires with the most powerful and influential one being the Ottoman Empire.
The Ottoman Empire, which has reached its “Golden Age” in the 16th century with sultan Suleyman the Magnificent, dominated Asia Minor and South-Eastern Europe (Quataert, 2000, p. 21). With its rise in the 14th century, the Empire has been developing constantly using all possible means: military invasions, marital alliances, and political and economic unions with weaker states, which became vassals of the empire. A number of external circumstances such as the Mongol invasion, weakening of the Byzantine state, turmoil in the Eastern Mediterranean, and even the plague of the 1348 have also worked for the development and stabilization of the Ottoman Empire (Quataert, 2000, p. 25).
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Military strength of the empire should be taken into account as well. With armies reaching the Hapsburg Vienna walls twice and fleets being present in the Mediterranean and Black Sea as well as Indian Ocean, it has become a significant and mighty country. Moreover, the efficient use of gunpowder has given additional strength to the Ottoman Empire as cannons and fire-armed infantry became the key advantage on the battlefield. Thus, by uniting military power, wise politics, and external influences, the Ottoman Empire has rapidly developed into a strong state (Quataert, 2000, p. 27).
The history of strong Muslim States in 14th – 19th centuries and particularly the development of the Ottoman Empire demonstrate the change of power allocation on the world arena through time. The Ottoman Empire, which reached its peak in mid-16th century as a result of its wise and pragmatic politics, weakened Europe, and strong army is now long gone. Nevertheless, together with other Muslim empires of the past, it has laid the basis for the modern development of Muslim states.
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