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7 - Ottoman military organisation in south-eastern Europe, c. 1420–1720

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 June 2012

Frank Tallett
Affiliation:
University of Reading
D. J. B. Trim
Affiliation:
University of Reading
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Summary

The main focus of this chapter's analysis of early-modern Ottoman military practice in the European sphere is the Empire's institutional development and the expansion of its capacity for waging war. A number of developments impacted on the Ottomans in the period between the mid fifteenth and early eighteenth centuries, resulting in changes to the bureaucratic structure and procedures supporting military operations. There were substantial shifts in the Empire's geo-political situation; the size and composition of the Ottomans' own armies altered, as did the manner of and methods for waging war; and there were significant changes in the pace of military change amongst the Empire's traditional adversaries, including the Austrians and Hungarians. In response, the bureaucratic structures and procedures supporting Ottoman military operations changed and developed. Because this was an ongoing process it is difficult to pinpoint a particular point of critical change from the experimental and immature phases of military organisational and institutional development, to the achievement of a fully developed institutional infrastructure capable of supporting mass recruitment and multi-seasonal wars, which became typical after c. 1600. It is therefore appropriate to consider the ways in which, in addition to maintaining parity with their European counterparts in terms of weapons technology and battlefield tactics, the Ottomans managed to generate a process of ‘continuous military revolution’ in the organisational, bureaucratic, and institutional aspects of the warfare that was sustained right up to the 1720s.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2010

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