The Ottoman Advance 1451–1566

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Map Code: Ax02328

The Ottoman expansion that began in 1453 with the fall of Constantinople to Sultan Mehmed II saw a rapid growth in the Turks’ territorial dominion and a steady increase in their naval reach. Between 1459 and 1478 Mehmed took Serbia, Bosnia, Morea (the Greek Peloponnese), Anatolia, Trabzon and Albania, and began a gradual erosion of Venetian naval dominance in the Mediterranean, but his death in 1481 led to a ten-year power struggle in which the Osmanli Turks fought the Mamluks, a rival dynasty that ruled Syria and Egypt from 1250. Sultan Selim I (1512–1520) dramatically expanded the Empire’s eastern and southern frontiers by defeating the Safavid Persians at the Battle of Chaldiran (1514), and took control of Egypt, Syria and Palestine in 1516 by subjugating its Mamluk Sultanate. Selim’s successor Suleiman (‘the Magnificent’) captured Belgrade in 1521, took control of southern and central Hungary in a famous victory at the battle of Mohács in 1526, and laid siege to Vienna in 1529, although unsuccessfully. Transylvania, Wallachia and Moldavia became tributary states, while in the east, the Ottomans took Baghdad from the Safavid Persians in 1535, gaining Mesopotamia and access to the Persian Gulf. In the Peace of Amasya (1555), western Armenia, Kurdistan, and Georgia also became Ottoman. By the end of Suleiman’s reign in 1566, the Ottomans controlled almost a million square miles (2.6 million square km) over three continents, and some historians have since compared their empire to that of Rome.

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