Russian-Ottoman Relations Online, Part 4: The End of the Empires, 1857-1914

Russian-Ottoman Relations Online, Part 4: The End of the Empires, 1857-1914
Russian-Ottoman Relations Online, Part 4: The End of the Empires, 1857-1914

Advisor
: Maurits van den Boogert

The material in the final part of this series is again highly diverse. Some works focus on trade, while others portray individual Ottoman or Russian statesmen. Some are personal accounts, whereas others are polemical or propagandistic. The collection is a veritable treasure trove of original sources, personal views, military analyses and national(istic) policy statements, which have never before been published together.

More information on Brill.com
Purchase Access

Russian-Ottoman Relations Online, Part 4: The End of the Empires, 1857-1914

During the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries, the balance of power between Russia and the Ottoman Empire was constantly monitored in Western Europe, where several powers had designs of their own on some of the Ottoman territories. In Germany and France, in particular, all kinds of accounts, opinions, and plans were published that were influenced by, or aimed to influence, Russian-Ottoman relations. They include publications of relevant government documents, diplomatic reports, travel accounts that provided new details about hitherto relatively unknown regions, and fiercely political (and polemical) tracts and pamphlets designed to rally public support for one power or the other.

Introduction
In the thirteenth century large swathes of Asia were overrun by the Mongols, but new political entities arose from the ashes. Moscovy became independent of the Golden Horde around 1480, and by building and expanding their central power, the Moscovite princes soon became the dominant rulers in the region. Until the sixteenth century Russian territorial expansion concentrated on the northern borders, where Sweden was the principal opponent. In this period the nobility still held a powerful position, and the Tsar was not yet an autocratic ruler. The Mongol invasion of Anatolia to the south of Russia had only temporarily reversed the position of the Ottomans as the dominant power in Asia Minor. Soon the Turks were expanding their empire into the Balkans in the West, later spreading eastward into the traditional heartlands of Islam. The sultan ruled his empire more or less autocratically, his powers constrained only by the precepts of Islamic law. Initially, Russia and the Ottoman Empire were not direct neighbors, but the two empires soon edged closer to each other.

In 1569 the first Ottoman-Russian war broke out after an army of the Ottoman Sultan Selim III marched on Astrakhan. Although the siege was broken by a Russian relief army and the Ottomans withdrew, the city was partially razed. Two years later Moscow suffered the same fate at the hands of Crimean Tatars, whose Khanate was a vassal of the Ottoman Empire. However, their ambitions to expand northward were frustrated by the Russians at the Battle of Molodi in 1572. Though Ottoman aspirations for expansion to the north were checked at an early stage, Russian designs on territorial gains at the Ottomans' expense only became stronger. Wars and the subsequent redefinition of borders would become a central theme in Russian-Ottoman relations until the twentieth century.

Part 4: The End of the Empires, 1857-1914

The position of the Ottoman Empire continued to decline during the second half of the nineteenth century. Succumbing to foreign pressure, the sultan had decreed far-reaching reforms in favor of his non-Muslim subjects in 1856. Less than two decades later the Ottoman Empire went bankrupt and had to allow foreign bankers to supervise its finances. The Ottomans found themselves increasingly marginalized in the debate on the Eastern Question of whether the Ottoman Empire should be preserved in some form or divided.

The material in the final part of this series is again highly diverse and multi-faceted. Some works focus on trade, while others portray individual Ottoman or Russian statesmen. Some are personal accounts, whereas others are polemical or propagandistic. The collection is a veritable treasure trove of original sources, personal views, military analyses and national(istic) policy statements, which have never before been published together.

Location of originals

National Library of Russia, St. Petersburg
 
 

Cite this page

Russian-Ottoman Relations Online, Part 4: The End of the Empires, 1857-1914, Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2008 <http://primarysources.brillonline.com/browse/russianottoman-relations-part-4>