For its small beginnings as a principality in Western Anatolia, the Ottoman Empire grew through conquest to be one of the largest, most durable empires in history. During its height, it covered more than 2 million square miles and 15 million people.
But like the laws of gravity, the Ottomans were subject to the immutable laws of political history: What goes up must come down. In this video, Seeker's Jules Suzdaltsev explains what caused the collapse of the Ottoman empire.
WATCH VIDEO: The Rise Of The Ottoman Empire
Perhaps the crowning achievement of the Ottomans was the conquest of Constantinople in 1453. What had been a Christian capital for more than 1,000 years fell into Muslim hands. With the expansion of the Ottomans came a challenge to the Christian nations of Europe that weren't about to stand by and let Islamic influence threaten Christian interests.
If the seizure of one Christian capital marked the height of the expansion of the Ottomans, the siege of another more than 200 years marked the beginnings of its retreat. In 1683, the Ottomans spent two months trying to take Vienna. The powerful Habsburg Empire, one of the most powerful rivals to the Ottomans in Europe, joined forces with the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and the Holy Roman Empire to repel the invading Ottomans.
Like the capture of Constantinople, the defeat of the Ottomans in 1683 marked a major turning point in history. After centuries of expansion, the Ottomans had begun its retreat, losing control of almost all of Hungary before the century was out. The Ottomans would never again expand into Europe, even if they would maintain a presence there for another couple of hundred years.
The next 200 years brought a series of military defeats for the Ottomans against the Habsburgs, the Russian empire and other foreign rivals that compelled the Turks into peace treaties that further eroded their territorial claims.
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By the beginning of the 20th century, Ottoman territory in Europe and North Africa had largely eroded, and the empire was just a shell of its former self entering into World War I. Seeing the opportunity to regain some of its territorial claims, the Ottomans joined forces with the Central Powers against Britain, France, Russia and eventually the United States.
The end of World War I also essentially meant the end of the Ottomans, as the victorious allies carved up and divided the remaining territory of the empire, vanquishing a historic foe that spanned across seven centuries.
-- Talal Al-Khatib
BBC: Ottoman Empire (1301-1922)
History: Byzantine Empire
Britannica: Ottoman Empire
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum: World War I: Treaties And Reparations