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Ottoman EmpireWas founded in Anatolia by Turkish people in 1299 CE. Spanning over 600 years, the Sunni Islamic Ottoman Empire was often antagonistic towards the Byzantine Empire. The Sultan, who had control over religious leaders and claimed to be caliph, led the Ottomans. The caliph is the successor of Muhammad, leading Muslims in religious and civil matters. As the empire continued to expand, it became multinational, containing many vassal states. Osman, a tribal leader in northwest Anatolia, established the Ottoman Empire (1299-1922). Its rise was characterized by almost constant expansion, especially against the Byzantines. The Ottomans ultimately ended the Byzantine Empire when Mehmed II conquered Constantinople in 1453. Constantinople was made the capital of the Empire; by 1600 it was the most populous city in Europe, attracting scholars with its religious schools (madrasas). Gazis, who were war leaders in Islam, led the Ottomans’ conquests, bringing Sufis and janissaries with them. Sufis practiced mystical forms of Islam and introduced Islam to conquered people, while janissaries were elite foot soldiers, made up of slaves. The Empire was an autocracy under a Sultan, who was always descended from Osman. It reached its height under Suleiman I, who expanded to Vienna and faced off with the Habsburgs. The Ottomans did not have control of their trade, with foreign merchants getting much of the wealth. This contributed to the Empire’s decline, finally ending after World War IUntil the late 15th century, the Empire was made up mostly of Christians, even though it was ruled by the Muslim minority. Because of immigration, the non-Muslim population fell in the late 1800s. Christians and Jews were allowed to worship freely, but had a lower social status than Muslims, with greater restrictions. The Ottoman Empire became a safe haven for the Jewish, who were persecuted elsewhere. After Jews were expelled from Iberian Peninsula, causing many to immigrate to the Ottoman Empire in the Late 15th century. The Ottoman Empire was multinational, so it took on many of the cultural aspects of the regions they conquered, becoming especially Persian in nature. The official language was Ottoman Turkish, which was influenced by Arabic and Persian. Persian was a language for the high-class and educated, while Arabic was used for religious ceremonies.

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