Foreign relations of the Ottoman Empire

Foreign relations of the Ottoman Empire

The foreign relations of the Ottoman Empire were characterized by competition with the Persian Empire to the east and Europe to the west. The foreign relations of the Ottomans collapsed after the Young Turks took over the empire in 1908 and this led to the loss of many important territories. Austria-Hungary annexed Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria proclaimed its independence, and eventually all the Arab lands became independent.


The Ottoman Empire's diplomatic structure was unconventional and departed in many ways from its European counterparts.


Ambassadors from the Ottoman Empire were usually appointed on a temporary and limited basis, as opposed to the resident ambassadors sent by other European nations.Watson, 218.] The Ottomans sent 145 temporary envoys to Venice between 1384 and 1600.Yurdusev et al., 27.] The first resident Ottoman ambassador was not seen until Yusuf Agah Efendi was sent to London in 1798.Yurdusev et al., 2.] Yurdusev et al., 30.]

Ambassadors to the Ottoman Empire began arriving shortly after the fall of Constantinople. The first was Bartelemi Marcello from Venice in 1454. The French ambassador Jean de la Forèt later arrived in 1535.Yurdusev et al., 39.] In 1583, the ambassadors from Venice and France would attempt unsuccessfully to block William Harborne of England from taking up residence in Istanbul. This move was repeated by Venice, France and England in trying to block Dutch ambassador Cornelius Haga in 1612.Yurdusev et al., 39-40.]


Capitulations were a unique practice of Muslim diplomacy that was adopted by Ottoman rulers. In legal and technical terms, they were unilateral agreements made by the Sultan to a nation's merchants. These agreements were temporary, and subject to renewal by subsequent Sultans.Yurdusev et al., 41.] Watson, 217.] The origins of the capitulations comes from Harun al Rashid and his dealings with the Frankish kingdoms, but they were also used by both his successors and by the Byzantine Empire.


The Ottoman Empire was a crucial part of the European states system and actively played a role in their affairs, due in part to their coterminous periods of development.Yurdusev et al., 21.]

Towards the end of the 15th century, the Ottomans began to play a larger role in the Italian Peninsula. In 1494, both the Papacy and the Kingdom of Naples petitioned the Sultan directly for his assistance against Charles VIII of France in the First Italian War.Yurdusev et al., 22.]

Ottoman policy towards Europe during the 16th century was one of disruption against the Habsburg dynasties. The Ottomans collaborated with Francis I of France and his Protestant allies in the 1530s while fighting the Habsburgs.Watson, 177.] Although the French had sought an alliance with the Ottomans as early as 1531, one was not concluded until 1536. The sultan then gave the French freedom of trade throughout the empire, and plans were drawn up for an invasion of Italy from both the north and the south in 1537.Inalcik, 36.]

Francis I later admitted to a Venetian ambassador that the Ottoman Empire was the only thing that prevented Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor from creating a Europe-wide empire under Habsburg dominion.Yurdusev et al., 23.] Inalcik, 35.]

Later, the Dutch would ally with the Ottomans. Prince William of Orange coordinated his strategic moves with those of the Ottomans during the Turkish negotiations with Philip II of Spain in the 1570s. After the Habsburgs inherited the Portuguese crown in 1580, Dutch forces attacked their Portuguese trading rivals while the Turks, supportive of the Dutch bid for independence, attacked the Habsburgs in Eastern Europe.Watson, 222.]



* Inalcik, Halil. (1971). "The Ottoman Empire: The Classical Age 1300-1600". New York: Praegar. ISBN 1842124420.
* Watson, Adam. (1992). "The evolution of international society: a comparative historical analysis". New York: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-06998-X.
* Yurdusev, A. Nuri et al. (2004). "Ottoman Diplomacy: Conventional or Unconventional?". Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 0-333-71364-8.

See also

* Persian-Ottoman relations
* Foreign relations of Turkey

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Foreign relations of the Arab League — The Arab League was founded in 1945 and has 22 members. The Organization has Three observer members Eritrea, India and Venezuela. Turkey and Iran have both expressed their desire to join as observers, Fact|date=October 2008 but their requests… …   Wikipedia

  • Economic history of the Ottoman Empire — covers the period 1299 1923. The economic history falls into two distinctive sub periods.Fact|date=July 2008 The first is the classic era (enlargement), which comprised a closed agricultural economy, showing regional distinctions within the… …   Wikipedia

  • State organisation of the Ottoman Empire — House of Osman (Ottoman Dynasty) …   Wikipedia

  • Fall of the Ottoman Empire — issues cleanup=Sep 2008 refimprove=Sep 2008 wikify=Sep 2008 Republic of Turkey (superimposed upon modern borders). Some scholars argue the power of the Caliphate began waning by 1683, and without the acquisition of significant new wealth the… …   Wikipedia

  • Dissolution of the Ottoman Empire — This article is about the events between 24 July 1908 and 30 October 1918. For a summary of the reasons that led to the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire, see Fall of the Ottoman Empire. History of the Ottoman Empire This article is part of …   Wikipedia

  • Armenians in the Ottoman Empire — Main article: History of Armenia Social structure of the Ottoman Empire Millets: (Jews · Armenians  …   Wikipedia

  • Decline of the Ottoman Empire — This article is about the period of 20 October 1827 – 24 July 1908 in the Ottoman Empire. For the reasons that led to the empire s dissolution, see Fall of the Ottoman Empire. History of the Ottoman Empire …   Wikipedia

  • Ottoman Empire–Persian Empire relations — The history of Persian Ottoman relations started with the establishment of Safavid dynasty in the Persian Empire in the early 16th century. The initial Ottoman Safavid conflict culminated in the Battle of Chaldiran in 1514, and was followed by a… …   Wikipedia

  • Ottoman Empire — a former Turkish empire that was founded about 1300 by Osman and reached its greatest territorial extent under Suleiman in the 16th century; collapsed after World War I. Cap.: Constantinople. Also called Turkish Empire. * * * Former empire… …   Universalium

  • OTTOMAN EMPIRE — OTTOMAN EMPIRE, Balkan and Middle Eastern empire started by a Turkish tribe, led by ʿUthmān (1288–1326), at the beginning of the 14th century. This entry is arranged according to the following outline: sources …   Encyclopedia of Judaism