Defeat and dissolution (1908–1922)
The Treaty of Sèvres (10 August 1920) was one of a series of treaties that the nations that constituted the Central Powers were made to sign subsequent to their defeat that marked the end of World War I
The terms of the treaty brew hostility and nationalistic feeling amongst Turks. The signatories of the treaty, themselves representatives of the Ottoman Empire, were stripped of their citizenship by the Grand National Assembly led by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, and the treaty ultimately led to the Turkish War of Independence, when a new treaty, the treaty of Lausanne was accepted by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk and Turkish nationalists, and which effectively brought into being the modern day republic of Turkey.
The Second Constitutional Era began after the Young Turk Revolution (3 July 1908) with the sultan’s announcement of the restoration of the 1876 constitution and the reconvening of the Ottoman parliament. Although it began a series of massive political and military reform over the next six years, it marked the beginning of the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire. This era is dominated by the politics of the Committee of Union and Progress, and the movement that would become known as the Young Turks.
Profiting from the civil strife, Austria-Hungary officially annexed Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1908, but it pulled its troops out of the Sanjak of Novi Pazar, another contested region between the Austrians and Ottomans, to avoid a war. During the Italo-Turkish War (1911–12) in which the Ottoman Empire lost Libya, the Balkan League declared war against the Ottoman Empire. The Empire lost the Balkan Wars (1912–13). It lost its Balkan territories except East Thrace and the historic Ottoman capital city of Adrianople during the war. Fearing religious persecution, around 400,000 Muslims fled to present-day Turkey. Due to a cholera epidemic, many did not survive the journey. According to the estimates of Justin McCarthy, during the period from 1821 to 1922 alone, the ethnic cleansing of Ottoman Muslims in the Balkans led to the death of several million individuals and the expulsion of a similar number. By 1914, the Ottoman Empire had been driven out of nearly all of Europe and North Africa. It still controlled 28 million people, of whom 15.5 million were in modern-day Turkey, 4.5 million in Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, and Jordan, and 2.5 million in Iraq. Another 5.5 million people were under nominal Ottoman rule in the Arabian peninsula.
In November 1914, the Empire entered World War I on the side of the Central Powers, in which it took part in the Middle Eastern theatre. There were several important Ottoman victories in the early years of the war, such as the Battle of Gallipoli and the Siege of Kut, but there were setbacks as well, such as the disastrous Caucasus Campaign against the Russians. The United States never declared war against the Ottoman Empire.
In 1915, as the Russian Caucasus Army continued to advance into ancient Armenia, aided by some Ottoman Armenians, the Ottoman government started the deportation and massacre of its ethnic Armenian population, resulting in what became known as the Armenian Genocide. Massacres were also committed against the Greek and Assyrian minorities.
The Arab Revolt which began in 1916 turned the tide against the Ottomans at the Middle Eastern front, where they initially seemed to have the upper hand during the first two years of the war. The Armistice of Mudros, signed on 30 October 1918, ended the hostilities in the Middle Eastern theatre, and was followed with occupation of Constantinople and subsequent partitioning of the Ottoman Empire. Under the terms of the Treaty of Sèvres, the partitioning of the Ottoman Empire was solidified. The last quarter of the 19th and the early part of the 20th century saw some 7–9 million Turkish-Muslim refugees from the lost territories of the Caucasus, Crimea, Balkans, and the Mediterranean islands migrate to Anatolia and Eastern Thrace.
The occupation of Constantinople and İzmir led to the establishment of a Turkish national movement, which won the Turkish War of Independence (1919–22) under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal Pasha (later known as Mustafa Kemal Atatürk). The sultanate was abolished on 1 November 1922, and the last sultan, Mehmed VI (reigned 1918–22), left the country on 17 November 1922. The Grand National Assembly of Turkey declared the Republic of Turkey on 29 October 1923. The caliphate was abolished on 3 March 1924.
Christianity and Judaism
In the Ottoman Empire, in accordance with the Muslim dhimmi system, Christians were guaranteed limited freedoms (such as the right to worship), but were treated as second-class citizens. They were forbidden to carry weapons or ride on horseback, their houses could not overlook those of Muslims, and their religious practices would have to defer to those of Muslims, in addition to various other legal limitations. Many Christians and a few Jews voluntarily converted to secure full status in the society.
In the system commonly known as devşirme, a certain number of Christian boys, mainly from the Balkans and Anatolia, were periodically conscripted before they reached adolescence and were brought up as Muslims.
Slavery was a part of Ottoman society. Female slaves were still sold in the Empire as late as 1908. During the 19th century the Empire came under pressure from Western European countries to outlaw the practice. Policies developed by various Sultans throughout the 19th century attempted to curtail the slave trade but, since slavery did have centuries of religious backing and sanction, they never directly abolished the institution outright.
Mustafa Kemal Ataturk Memorial in Yehud, Israel (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
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