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  • Cited by 1
  • Print publication year: 2010
  • Online publication date: March 2011

11 - The rise of the Ottomans



The rise

The origins of the Ottomans are obscure. According to legend, largely invented later as part of the process of legitimising Ottoman rule and providing the Ottomans with a suitably august past, it was the Saljuq ruler ʿAlāʾ al-Dīn who bestowed rule on the Ottomans. The Saljuqs had however ceased to be the dominant power in Anatolia after their defeat by the Ilkhans, the Mongol rulers of Iran, at the battle of Köse Daǧ in 641/1243. Towards the end of the century the Ilkhans too no longer controlled the region effectively, while the other major regional power, the Byzantine empire, was a mere shadow of its former self, unable to maintain any strong hold over its territories to the east. It was out of this power vacuum that the Ottomans, like the other small Turkish states, emerged towards the end of the seventh/thirteenth century.

By 700/1300 Anatolia was peppered with Turkish states (begliks). In the west, spread out along the Aegean coast running north to south, lay the begliks of Qarasi, along the Dardanelles, Ṣarukhan, based round Maghnisa, Aydın, with its centre at Tire, and Menteshe, based round Balaṭ. Both Aydın and Menteshe had important trade relations with the Italian city-states, and from early in the eighth/fourteenth century concluded treaties with Venice, the earliest extant with Menteshe dating from 731/1331 and that with Aydın from the same year. To the south, round Anṭalya, lay Tekke, and inland, Ḥamid, round Isparta.