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  • Print publication year: 2009
  • Online publication date: October 2014

2 - The rise of Muslim empires


Turco-Mongol, Perso-Islamic states

The Ottoman, Safavid, and Mughal empires arose between the fourteenth and the sixteenth centuries. Identifying precise dates for the founding of each state is a matter of emphasis, and this is especially true in the case of the Ottomans, Sunni Muslims who had a considerable history as leaders of a minor Oghuz beğlik before they became fully independent as rulers of a state that threatened other beğliks or the Byzantine Empire. Led by Osman (d. 1324), the Ottomans became independent of their Mongol overlords sometime around 1300 CE – a conveniently memorable date – but they might be seen to have achieved significant status only after defeating a Byzantine army near Iznik, just southeast of Constantinople, in 1302. Based on the issue of coins, which (along with the proclamation of a ruler's name in the Friday prayers) was one of the two symbols of Muslim sovereignty, the Ottoman state became a fully self-conscious, independent state only in 1326, when Osman's son Orhan (r. 1324–62) issued coins with such legends as: “The great Sultan, Orhan son of Osman, God perpetuate.” Between then and the conquest of Constantinople in 1453, the Ottomans evolved through constant warfare to become rulers of a Eurasian sultanate, with their first Asian or Anatolian capital at Bursa in 1326 and the second, European or Balkan capital at Edirne in Thrace after 1402.