Founded by Oghuz Turks under Osman Bey, the
Ottoman Empire lasted from the late 13th century to
1923. It was one of the largest and longest-lasting
empires in history.
The empire began in modern-day Turkey, known in the
New Testament as Asia Minor. The seven churches of
Asia from the book of Revelation were located where
Turkey sticks out like a fat fist into the Mediterranean
Sea, below the Balkans and above Crete and Cyprus.
Ottomans tried to incorporate as much territory as
possible--making it Islamic.
Mehmed II conquered Constantinople in 1453 and
renamed it Istanbul. It became the capital of the
Ottoman Empire under the Sultan, who was known as
the "protector of Islam." The empire was inspired and
sustained by Islam. With the fall of Constantinople, it
replaced Byzantium as the major power in the Eastern
The Ottoman Empire reached the height of its power in
the 16th and 17th centuries under Suleiman the
Magnificent. By the end of Suleiman's reign, the
population totaled about 15,000,000 people extending
over three continents. It included Turkey, Egypt, Greece,
Bulgaria, Romania, Macedonia, Palestine, Jordan,
Lebanon, Syria, parts of Arabia and much of the coastal
strip of North Africa. In Europe, it covered the Balkans
and Hungary and reached the gates of Vienna.
The Empire was a dominant naval force, controlling
much of the Mediterranean Sea, but it lost its navy in the
Battle of Lepanto, against Don John of Austria. After
that, the Ottoman Empire began a long decline which
culminated with World War I. Known for decades as the
"Sick Man of Europe," it allied with Germany in World
War I and was defeated.
To see the beauty and sweep of the desert, the history of
the war and some of the colorful characters of the era,
see David Lean's epic film, Lawrence of Arabia, starring
Suleiman the Magnificent
ruler of the Ottomans at the height of their power
founder of the Ottoman Empire
Istanbul, formerly Constantinople, center of power of the Ottoman Empire at its height