Popularly known as “the Magnificent” or “the Lawmaker/Lawgiver,” Suleiman the Magnificent, led the Ottoman empire into an apogee of military and political power. Under his rule, the Ottoman fleet dominated the seas from the Mediterranean to the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf. Seemingly unstoppable, this would later become the period where the imperial system worked to perfection. Portugal, Oman, and Dutch, played an important part in the history of the Ottomans and trading system in the Indian Ocean and Southeast Asia. Like all great empires in history, the Ottoman empire’s reign would come to a halt which would affect the Safavid and Mughal empires. Suleiman brought the Ottoman Empire into a Golden Age where architecture, literature, art, theology, and philosophy flourished.
The Ottoman Empire were one of the few empires in the 1500s to have a meritocratic system, a society based on economic goods or power to be vested in individuals who actually excelled in that area(s). Everyone in Suleiman’s court were thoughtfully and meticulously chosen by the Sultan himself, thus resulting in successful undertakings. Suleiman personally instituted a canonical law (Kanuns) resulting in legislative changes relating to society, education, taxation, and criminal law. This established the form of the empire for centuries after his death. Religious tolerance was part of the reason why the Ottomans were so successful in persisting for 624 years despite the special taxes implemented on those practicing other than Islam which were adapted into the Safavid and Mughal empires. As other countries would try to expand their trading territory to the Americas, the Ottoman empire would venture and try to halt those who would pursue their same goals. On the conquest for riches, the Portuguese and the Dutch followed the Ottoman through the ocean via found trading routes that would supplement their rise as one of the great empires of all time. When the Portuguese discovered a naval route for trading to the Indian Ocean through the southern tip of Africa.
The Ottomans tried to challenge Portugal in the Persian Gulf region by sending an armada against the Portuguese. Despite support from the chiefs of local principalities, the Portuguese successfully intercepted and destroyed the Ottoman Armada. Oman became a strategic point of trade to transport goods (e.
g. spices) to Southeast Asia. The Portuguese tried to gain control of this fruitful cove.
However, this did not last long due to attacks from the Ottoman, leaving the Portuguese forced to surrender their trading port.Invasion, extreme economical poverty, and growing European power all played a role in the declination of the Ottoman, Safavid, and Mughal Empires, also known as the Gunpower Empires. Although the Ottoman empire continued to be a vigorously powerful empire until the late 17th century it proved to be too extensive to be maintained. Leaders and officials became corrupt using revenues for their own purposes such as personal or political gain. As a result, oppressed peasants and laborers fled the land or rebelled. Problems at the center of the state added to the downhill slope.
Court factions ruled over sultans and their sons who were confined to the palace until they became weak and no longer able to govern. If this did not happen another scenario would be Ottoman sultans would kill their own heirs in desperate measures to stay on the throne as long as possible. Having expanded exponentially to the point where chaos would erupt in individual villages, the central government’s hold on the villages and cities it conquered decreased which led to corrupt local governments. Not only was the political faction greatly affected, but the once powerful Ottoman military navy and army, would start to fall as well as seen with the major naval defeat of the Battle of Lepanto.
The Safavid Empire would face a faster decline than the Ottomans. Shah Abbas would kill his sons, and blind a lot of men, in a greedy attempt to stay on the throne. When Abbas II comes over to rule the Safavids, the empire was already declining, both bureaucratically and authoritatively. Although a leader named Nadir Khan Afshar would come to rule the Safavids to restore order, it was too late. The last empire, Mughal, was left dangerously overextended, by its ruler Aurangzeb by his religious intolerance and inability to keep regional governments in line.
Although successors took over this empire, the devastating blow Aurangzeb had dealt to his empire, resulted in the inevitable decline making it an easy target for incoming European powers.