The Ottoman Empire, 1300–1683

Despite relatively modest beginnings as a small principality, established about 1300 C.E. in what is now modern-day Turkey, the Ottoman Empire grew to encompass parts of Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East. One of the most powerful and expansive empires in history, the Ottoman Empire was particularly important because of its nexus point between the diverse cultures of West Asia, Europe, and North Africa. The empire’s political and religious center was Constantinople, Turkey, and prominent architecture of the period can still be found, such as the Suleymaniye Mosque , though Constantinople is now known as Istanbul (2). The empire’s reach was extensive, as is evidence by fresco remains from as far away as northern Bulgaria (5). In addition to depicting the sheer breadth of the Ottoman Empire at its height and the diverse areas it included, this map also points to the steady addition of territory to the empire from the fourteenth through the sixteenth centuries. The various battles marked on the map reflect the expanding empire as well as reminding us of the empire’s military prowess (3); they were, for example, among the first fighting forces to use cannons and muskets.