The Ottoman Empire: Europe’s sick man in the 19th century
At the beginning of the 19th century, the Ottoman Empire was “ the sick of Europe ”, as it was later defined by the Russian Tsar Nicholas I. Its territorial possessions were those seen on the map, but within these territories tensions began to arise mainly caused by by the rise of nationalist sentiment. During the first half of the 19th century, nationalism was a creative and emancipatory force. Still under the influence of enlightened ideas, nationalism shaped European territorial policy during the 19th century. What happened to the ottoman empire after ww1?
The emotional appeal of nationalism was stronger than any political force known until then. Loyalty no longer applied to the king or lord, but to the nation. Nationalism defended the rights of men and their equality: the nation would be defended not by a class of warriors, but by the citizens of the nation.
The dismemberment of the Ottoman Empire during the 19th century
On the map we see different territories in which nationalist movements took place during the 19th century and which produced a dismemberment of the empire, especially in the European zone (Serbia, Greece, Transylvania, Moldova, Drobudja). At the beginning of the century the nationalist movements in Serbia and Greece stood out. Between 1804 and 1813 the first Serbian insurrection took place, which was suppressed by the Ottomans, although in 1815 the Serbian insurrection broke out again, this time achieving success. As a consequence, Serbia became a de facto independent country , achieving de jure independence in the 1878 Treaty of Berlin.
The independence of Greece
On the other hand, Greece rose up against Turkish rule in 1821, influenced by growing nationalism and the Greek bourgeoisie, encouraged by the influence of the Greek patriarch of Constantinople. The Greek War of Independence began . In 1822, the National Assembly of Greece proclaimed independence and established a Constitution, although the Ottoman Empire defeated the Greeks.
Finally, these, with the help of European intervention (France, Great Britain and Russia), managed to sign the Treaty of Adrianápolis in 1829, which recognized the autonomy of Greece, as well as that of Serbia and the Romanian principalities of Wallachia. and Moldova. Finally, Greece obtained independence in the year 1830. What happened to the ottoman empire after ww1?
The losses of the Balkan territories
If already in 1830, the Ottoman Empire had lost Greece, in the following decades the territorial empire was slowly unraveling. The Balkan territories, with a Serbia that had already obtained autonomy and with other peoples such as Romanians, Montenegrins or Bulgarians, began to demand the right to an independent existence and were constituting the new Balkan nationalities. Because of this growing Ottoman weakness, the Austrian Empire and the Russian Empire saw in this “sick man of Europe” the immediate way to territorial expansion.
With this they tried to dominate the eastern Mediterranean, especially after the opening of the Suez Canal. In return, British and French interests increased, who viewed with fear the disappearance of the Ottoman Empire and the increase of Russian or Austrian power. To all these nationalist movements and desires for expansion of the European states were added the internal weaknesses of the Ottoman Empire itself. It had a corrupt administration, a weak army, and a theocracy that prevented it from modernizing.
The Russo-Turkish War of the mid-19th century
As a result of the previous situation, a Russo-Turkish war took place in the middle of the century, sponsored by Tsar Nicholas I, who wanted to be the defender of all the Christians of the Empire. In July 1853, the Russians occupied Turkish principalities, subsequently defeating the Turks at the Battle of Sinope, when the Turkish fleet was defeated by the Russian in the waters of the Black Sea, which was significant because the Russians could gain control. from sea. What happened to the ottoman empire after ww1?
As can be seen on the map, Russia’s maritime exit to the Mediterranean passed through the Black Sea and from there to the Dardanelles Strait, which increased the interest of Russian rule in the area.
The Crimean War and the Peace of Paris
As a consequence of these Russian victories, the Crimean War (1853 – 1856) broke out , in which the French and British fought the Russians in the Crimean peninsula, located north of the Black Sea, as shown on the map, and that for several centuries belonged to the Ottomans until it came to Russian power.
The 1856 Peace of Paris marked the end of the war, with France and England securing their position on the Black Sea and a Russian-free Danube, which would later benefit the Austrian Empire and nationalist movements.
The autonomy of Moldova and Wallachia
On the other hand, the Ottoman Empire continued to survive, although its territories of Moldavia and Wallachia (the future Romania) achieved an autonomous government and undermined its powers in the Black Sea, since free navigation through the mouths of the Danube and neutrality were allowed. of the Black Sea. As you could see, the Ottoman Empire saw how the rest of the powers decided on their territories without them having the strength to oppose the agreements made.
From that moment until 1914, the Ottoman Empire gradually dissolved as different territories were progressively lost. In Europe, nationalist liberalization movements were the cause for the emancipation of the countries of the Balkan area. In 1875, with a government declared bankrupt, the insurrection of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Serbia and Montenegro broke out in the midst of a crisis that ended with another Russo-Turkish war between 1877 and 1878.
The treaty of Stéfano and its consequences
In 1878 the Treaty of San Stefano was signed , by which Russia occupies a large part of the Balkans and the independence of Greater Bulgaria is achieved. What happened to the ottoman empire after ww1?
Later, that same year, at the Berlin Congress some points were defined:
- the Balkans obtained by Russia are returned to Turkey, maintaining the independence of Bulgaria and achieving the independence of Serbia, as mentioned above.
- Cyprus passed into British hands.
- France occupied Tunisia.
- Italy occupied Tripolitania (Libya).
- Bosnia and Herzegovina passed to the Austrian Empire.
- Turkey obtained the territories of Armenia.
- At the same time, Turkey saw the autonomy of territories in Asia Minor and North Africa increase.
In 1882, Turkey virtually lost Egypt, becoming the British Protectorate.
The end of the Ottoman Empire
The loss of Crete and growing internal unrest
The Ottoman Empire was mortally wounded and of the territories it presented at the beginning of the 19th century, it already held a few. Even so, in 1895 Turkey fought the Greeks for the island of Crete. Despite the Turkish victory, the island passed into Greek hands. After this fact, all signs of magnificence in the Ottoman court disappeared. The sultan and his officials abandoned their rich robes and adopted simple Western dress. But Turkish finances did not recover, and neither did imperial status. What happened to the ottoman empire after ww1?
Growing unrest led to increased internal opposition, started in 1905 by the “Young Turks” from Damascus. These managed to finish off Sultan Abdul Hamid II in April 1909.
At the dawn of the First World War
Finally, the Balkan conflicts during the years 1912 and 1913 will cause the loss of the last remaining Turkish territories in the Balkans and a reorganization of the Balkan states. In 1913, at a time before the First World War and one hundred years after the observed map, the territories of Turkey included the Anatolian Peninsula, Armenia, Kurdistan, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, the Arabian coast of the Red Sea and the European zone of Rumelia.
Comparing with the map, it is observed that the territorial losses mainly encompassed the area of Europe and North Africa, although the general meaning is the decline of the Ottoman Empire that will finally end after the defeat in the First World War.
The problem of other empires during the 19th century
The dismemberment of the Ottoman Empire cannot be understood without briefly explaining other contemporary events that are related:
- In Europe, the other great Empire (the Austro-Hungarian) had problems similar to the Turks, although not as serious. Within the Austrian Empire there were nationalist movements, such as those of Bohemia, Croatia or Hungary, which were treated differently. Although the Austrian Empire took advantage of the loss of Turkish territories, the same nationalist movements that the Turks had suffered ended up causing the downfall of the Austrians.
- In parallel, during the nineteenth century there was a progressive change in the dominant powers. The empires that had dominated the Modern Age such as the Ottoman and the Austrian, showed signs of weakness. What happened to the ottoman empire after ww1?
- Other states were increasing their power, such as Prussia or Russia, and colonial empires were being formed from which new powers emerged, such as Japan or the United States, which would be dominant during the 19th century. The Ottoman Empire had been left behind, as had other Latin states such as Spain and Portugal.