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They used aircraft to bomb the rebels: they called it aerial policing, they took back control and set about creating the new country called Iraq. But because there was no money, the group could also not afford to survey the country. Instead, with no information, Bell and the others simply projected on to the Arabs that powerful romantic dream of an old England. They decided that the middle classes in the cities who had run the country under the Ottoman empire were corrupt and untrustworthy, which meant that they had to be excluded from power. Instead, power should be given to the Sheikhs who ruled the tribes out in the countryside. To the British the Sheikhs represented the true Iraq because they hadn’t been infected by the corruption of the modern world. Their system was one of a natural order just like in the England of the past. The Sheikhs said Gertrude Bell are like great aristocrats; they will run a system that will maintain a natural equilibrium. The truth was that this picture of Iraq was completely detached from reality. The Sheikhs were really marginal figures. While the Ottomans had begun to create a modern progressive society in the cities. The British now tore that apart. Adam Curtis, Can’t Get You Out of My Head V: The Lordly Ones ***** BBC 2021
Could the West be consigned to history? Without superior science there would be no Western superpower today. But it wasn’t always like this. A thousand years ago it was the Muslim world that was at the cutting edge of science. Niall Ferguson, Civilisation: Is the West History? II, Channel 4 2011
For the Ottoman empire it was the beginning of the end. A moment of imperial overstretch with disastrous consequences. It was actually the first time the Ottomans had had to accept a peace treaty from victorious Christian adversities. ibid.
In stark contrast the Ottomans’ progress was severely hampered by religion. In the words of one Muslim cleric: ‘It is rare that someone becomes absorbed in this foreign science without renouncing religion and letting go the reigns of piety within him.’ ibid.
Muslim scientists could not even access the latest research from Europe. Because their religion now prevented them from reading printed books. For the Ottomans script was sacred. ibid.
In Ottoman schools science yielded to narrow religious study. ibid.
Abdul [Hamid] was determined to emulate Western civilisation in every respect. ibid.
Fourteen tons of gold leaf were used to guild the palace ceilings, from which hung a grand total of thirty-six chandeliers ... This place is so wildly over the top it’s like a cross between Grand Central Station and the Grand Paris Opera. But it shows just how far the Ottomans were prepared to go to imitate the ways of the West. ibid.
The Ottomans still didn’t really get it. Because if they were serious with catching up with the West they needed so much more than just a Western-style palace. They needed a new constitution. A new alphabet. A whole new state. And the fact they ended up getting all of these things was thanks in very large part to one man: his name was Kemal Ataturk. His mission was to be Turkey’s Frederick the Great. ibid.
For six centuries the Christian West and the Ottoman empire in the Muslim east had been locked in conflict. Now under the rule of Kemal Ataturk in the early twentieth century that conflict would finally come to an end. For centuries, Ataturk argued, Turks had been walking from the East in the direction of the West. Now under his leadership they would finally reach their destination. Here on the banks of the Bosphorus, East would meet West. Not just geographically but culturally. Central to the Western orientation of Turkey was the introduction of a secular form of government. No longer would religion be allowed to dominate the political arena. There would be secular laws for a secular state. ibid.
The six-hundred-year-old Ottoman Empire was a spent force. The First World War: War Without End, BBC 2003
In March 1917 the British captured Baghdad. In December they entered Jerusalem. The loss of both cities was a severe blow to Ottoman authority in the Middle East. The First World War: Germany’s Last Gamble
Of equal importance in the spiralling decline of the Islamic empires were external factors, in particular the growing power of Christian Europe. The last of the great Muslim empires was that of the Ottomans. The heartland of the Ottoman Empire was Turkey. It began its rise to power in the fifteenth century, and eventually its armies reached the gates of Vienna. It was here in 1683 that European forces decisively halted Islamic expansion. For two months 200,000 soldiers fought each other outside the city walls. In the end the Ottoman army was defeated. Decoding the Past s2e10: Secret of the Koran, History 2006
In the city of Istanbul the soaring domes and minarets reveal the culmination of a thousand years of empire and faith. Empires: Islam: Empire of Faith III: The Ottomans, PBS 2000
It was an age of regal splendour. ibid.
The Ottoman Turks began as a nomadic people. ibid.
They began to organise the new empire. ibid.
By the middle of the 15th century the Ottoman empire spread from present day Turkey, known as Anatolia, deep into the Balkans, with one critical exception: Constantinople. ibid.
The single greatest church in Christendom was now a mosque. ibid.
The Ottomans had reached the gates of the West. ibid.
The Ottoman empire would reach its apex under Suleiman’s [the Magnificent] reign. ibid.
During the 15th century the Ottoman Turks ruthlessly gobbled up the Byzantine lands. Soon all that was left was the once great city of Constantinople ... On the 29th May 1543 the Ottomans poured into the city ... It was a savage end to the long Christian history of the Byzantine Empire. Professor Diarmaid MacCulloch, A History of Christianity, BBC 2009
On the edge of Europe is the city that was once the heart of a mighty empire. From here in Istanbul the glories of the Ottoman Empire came to match those of ancient Rome. Rageh Omaar, The Ottomans I: Europe's Muslim Emperors, BBC 2013
A single family ruled over huge swathes of the world. ibid.
The break-up of the Ottoman Empire after the First World War ... The Ottomans first emerged over seven hundred years ago. ibid.
The early Ottomans matched the sophisticated infrastructure of the Romans. ibid.
The Ottomans took Christian children to provide manpower within the empire. ibid.
Two rival powers on a collision course: Ottomans v Safavids ... The Ottomans tamed the Safavid empire, they did not defeat it. ibid.
In 1517 Ottoman troops marched into battle in Egypt. ibid.
This is the magnificent Topkapi palace, the nerve centre of the most powerful Muslim empire the world has ever seen. It was built by the Ottoman sultan Mehmed II in the middle of the fifteenth century. Rageh Omaar, The Ottomans II
His father had taken control of new lands across Africa and the Arab Muslim world. ibid.
Suleiman: first and foremost he was emperor and he wanted to be as strong as possible in that role. ibid.
Suleiman spent a quarter of his reign on the battlefield and expanded the empire almost to the peak of his power. ibid.
The Ottomans didn’t capture Vienna, and they lost Hungary. ibid.
An old world dynasty colliding with the modern world. ibid.
The war between Russia and Turkey was the big news of the day. ibid.
At the gates of Vienna the Pope’s troops imposed a crushing defeat. Rageh Omaar, The Ottomans III
The empire was already fracturing from within. ibid.
The First World War: the great powers of Europe had been waiting for an opportunity to pounce on the Ottomans’ lands. ibid.
He [Ataturk] had a vision of a new state rising from the ashes of the failed empire. ibid.
It was a social revolution of incredible proportions. ibid.
A global leader: an advanced highly organised state with a sophisticated culture and for its time tolerant of religious difference. ibid.
A European story and a Middle Eastern story. ibid.