Islamic Gunpowder Empires
IntroductionThe term Gunpowder Empires is a general one that describes the three empires namely Ottoman, Safavid and Mughal empires. The three empires were known as the Gunpowder Empires because they rapidly expanded during the fifteenth to sixteenth century because they focused their attention to military exploits. This paper will compare the institutional, ideological, economical and military achievements in the three empires that contributed to their success. The comparison concludes that of the three empires, the Ottoman Empire was by far the most significant empire due to its long developed military power, economic power and organized and developed institutions that saw the empire expand and survive its rule until the nineteenth century. The middle east or near the Middle East was a much developed place in the sixteenth century. Three of the greatest West European empires were the namely the Ottoman, Safavid and Mughal and were very powerful into the seventeenth century. The term gunpowder empires is used to signify the three empires military exploits especially the use of small arms and cannons for their military exploits. The three states had a centralized administration that had powerful manpower to collect financial and natural resources that they used to purchase cannon and gunpowder arms. They used their resources to train soldiers who could in turn use the weapons for protection and defend the empire. As Dale notes, from the sixteenth century to the eighteenth century Islamic world contiguous territory encompassed the Near East, Central Asia and India Muslims dominated the military in those regions. The regions empires including the Safawid, the Ottoman, the Safavid and the Mughal represented a powerful military triumph and great political influence in the region. The ruling families in all these empires spoke related Turkic language and relied on military power to gain authority and control of the empires.
The Ottoman EmpireThis is the oldest empire and according to Dale, the most enduring of the four empires noted above. The Ottoman Empire was the longest of the three empires and it survived from the late thirteenth century onto the twentieth century. The Ottoman Empire was the first of the three empires to acquire and use gunpowder weapons. This was mainly because it faced a number of enemies and empires that possessed these gunpowder weapons that it attacked and ruled as it continued to expand. A defeat of Timur saw the empire embark on an expansion strategy which saw it capture the emperor of Bayazid in 1402. It faced more attacks and wars with other empires such as the Balkan and Hungarian that they fought and defeated. This saw the Ottomans acquire weapons quickly in their quest to win major wars and defeat their enemies. The Ottomans managed to seize Bursa and Balkans as they expanded into the Byzantine Empire. By 1430, the Ottomans had shown their worthy when they were successfully in the battle of Salonica. Dale further notes that the Ottoman military gained prosperity as it regularized use of firearms and other war artilleries that saw them continue winning a number of wars with the help of Janissaries. The Ottoman created a state controlled religious system and suppressed voices they thought were a threat. The battle of Chaldiran convinced the other powers (the Mughals and the Safavids) that the Ottoman use of artillery was well advanced. The use of cannons by the Ottoman saw the destruction of the Safavids empire albeit temporarily. Even in the midst of Ottoman military and political deterioration, Dale remarks that the empire still benefited from a pervasive and effective institution. The rulers shaped the ulama into state bureaucracy. They developed into a religious hierarchy that trained scholars and potential members of the ruling class. Their people became intelligent as a result of madrasas. Thus, the Ottomans had an effective way of collecting taxes. They were able to run an effective administration.
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