The story of the rise and fall of Turkish war history
April 1453: 21-year-old Ottoman Sultan Muhammad II with his army besieges Constantinople, the capital of the thousand-year-old Byzantine Empire. He recalls a conversation between him and his father, Sultan Murad II, 10 years ago, standing in front of the city walls with his army in the background of shelling.
These are the highlights of the Ottoman film about Constantinople’s victory over Netflix.
Sultan Muhammad recalls how in 1443, Sultan Murad II, standing in front of this historic city and its strong walls, told him that Constantinople was the heart of the universe, the promised land, and Whoever conquers Constantinople, the world will belong to him.
His father had told him to look at the walls that stood in the way of every army that tried to conquer the city. “They stopped me.”
Sultan Muhammad II listened to his father and asked him at that time why they did not let him (the walls of Constantinople) fall. When his father replied that he had not yet developed a powerful weapon that could bring him down, Prince Muhammad said with full confidence, “I will tear down these walls, my dear father. And when I become Sultan, I will conquer Constantinople. “
An important and noteworthy thing here is that there is a big difference between the scenes of 1443 and 1453 shown in the film.
When Sultan Murad II is seen standing in front of Constantinople, his power is seen behind him with the cavalry of his army. No enemy had heard of it before.
When Sultan Muhammad II arrives in Constantinople in 1453, he arrives with a thunderclap that no enemy in the world has ever heard before. A scene from the movie Ottoman on Netflix
“Never before has the world seen so many cannons, 69 or 70, in one place,” says one historian in the film.
Prince Muhammad also defeated the strong walls of Constantinople in 1453, as promised to his father after becoming Sultan Muhammad II, and made this city, considered the “heart of the universe”, the new capital of the Ottoman Empire.
Historian Gabor Auguston, in his book Guns for the Sultan: Military Power and the Weapons Industry in the Ottoman Empire, writes that the conquest of Constantinople by the Ottomans is an example of how artillery became a decisive weapon for siege wars by 1450. Had done
More importantly, in addition to adopting the latest technology of the time, the Ottoman Empire had the resources and facilities to build large-scale weapons, which gave it an advantage over its European opponents.
In the film Ottoman, an artisan named Orban appears in the court of Sultan Muhammad II and designs a cannon, which he claims his shells will tear down the city’s historic walls.
He said the cannon would be eight meters long and would cost 10,000 dollars.
In this scene, Sultan Muhammad II replied to the artisan that if the cannon tore down the walls of Constantinople, it would cost four times as much, but on the condition that the cannon should be ready in three months.
Historian Auguston wrote in an article published in the online magazine Jay Store that Master Orban was from Hungary and was a very skilled mechanic.
Regarding the siege of Constantinople, historians say that “the world has never seen such a large number of cannons in one place.” A scene from the movie “Ottoman” on Netflix.
He said Orban had first offered the cannon to the Byzantine king in Constantinople, but he could not pay the price and did not have the resources to build such a large cannon. Orban, seeing this situation, came to the Ottoman Sultan with his offer.
History shows that Sultan Muhammad II accepted Aruban’s offer. But before proceeding, it is important to remember that artillery made by Turkish artisans also played an important role in the siege of Constantinople, and that the Ottomans did not rely solely on large cannons called bombards, which we will discuss in detail later ۔
Auguston writes that the Turkish archives are full of documents and evidence that give a glimpse of the Ottoman artillery industry, shipbuilding, penmanship and ammunition making.
Orban’s cannon was ready and the process of delivering it to Constantinople began.
In his article (Ottoman Artillery and European Military Technology in the 15th and 17th Centuries), Auguston cited various historical sources in the magazine J. Store, detailing the delivery of this gigantic cannon from the Ottoman capital, Adrana, to Constantinople.
He wrote that 30 wagons were attached for this work and 60 powerful oxen were arranged to pull them. 200 personnel were deployed on both sides of the wagons to ensure that the wagons were not out of balance and the cannon did not fall.
Fifty artisans and 200 of their assistants were advancing to pave the way for the cannon. Their job was to build bridges over rough roads along the way. The journey from Edirne to Constantinople took about two months, and after February and March, it was installed five miles from Constantinople.
Auguston wrote that during the siege of Constantinople the cannon could only fire seven times a day and had to be repaired in May. But its heavy shells severely damaged the besieged city walls and played a key role in the Ottoman conquest.
Historians write that the Ottoman sultans were in awe, but their reputation was that they valued knowledge and skills, especially if both were related to the military.
Sultan of the Ottoman Empire with extraordinary abilities
As with any major and successful empire in history, the Ottoman Empire of the 15th and 16th centuries was a place to which all sorts of skilled and agenda-oriented people were drawn.
Among other virtues, there were opportunities for social development and when Muslims and Jews in Europe, Spain and Portugal were being forced to convert, they had no choice but to be deported, religious intolerance. “People were being tortured and killed for not recognizing the official religion. At that time, there was a relatively religious tolerance in the Ottoman Empire.”
Historians write that the Ottoman sultans had their place in terror, but they had a reputation for valuing knowledge and skills, especially if both were related to the military. Augustine writes that “the empire was endowed with exceptionally capable rulers.”
He said that Sultan Muhammad II’s interest in military affairs was so much talked about that European experts attributed his military documents to him.
Augustine writes that many European rulers sent their military experts to be close to him. All of this was happening at a time when the pope was strictly forbidding the non-Christian state from providing any military information.
The artisans and craftsmen of the conquered territories were not only allowed to continue their old professions but also had opportunities for development. The same was true of the artisans who were taken prisoner.
In addition, a large number of artisans settled in the empire under rehabilitation schemes. Historians say that Sultan Salim I was said to have brought all the artisans from Tabriz to Istanbul and settled them.
It is not clear when the regular full-time paid Ottoman artillery corps was set up, but it is possible that this happened long before the establishment of such an artillery unit in Europe during the reign of Sultan Murad II (1421-1451).
Ottoman Empire and Jewish and Christian artisans
Europeans who came to Istanbul in those centuries were amazed to see a large number of Christians working in the royal foundry and arsenal, and Jews were also seen there.
Augustus claims in a book published in 1556 that Jews expelled from Spain passed on military knowledge to the Ottomans and told them a great deal about bronze military equipment and ‘firelocks’. ۔
Augustine writes that the military services of the Jews to the Ottoman Empire should not be overemphasized, but at the same time their help cannot be denied in the light of the Ottoman and Jewish documents. The accounts of the Royal Artillery of Istanbul dated 1517-1518 mention Jewish artisans.
But in those days it was not uncommon for experts from different nations to work for different rulers and empires. Jerome Morand, a traveler from Seville, wrote in 1544 that he saw 40 to 50 Germans at the foundry in Istanbul making cannons for the Sultan.
Similarly, the French ambassador to Istanbul wrote in 1547-1548 that many French, Spanish, Venetian, Genoese and Sicilian experts were working there.
However, here too, historians say to be wary of exaggerating the importance of foreigners. Auguston points out that in the mid-15th century, Turks, “Tafanchi” and “Topchu” (artillerymen) also worked with Christians in the European forts of the Ottoman Empire, and by the 16th century their numbers had outnumbered those of the Christian artisans.
Lack of craftsmanship halted work in Spanish cannon factories
But we must remember that the Ottoman Empire was not the only one benefiting from foreign artisans. In his book, Auguston gives many examples in this regard, as most of the Hungarian artillerymen were Germans, and there were also some Italians.
He also cited the example of Venice, where Germans made cannons until the first decade of the 16th century, and this situation persisted until the middle of the century when Venice established its own Gunners’ School.
An interesting example in this regard is Spain, where Auguston stated that the 16th did not have its own artisans to make cannons and that the kings had to repeatedly recruit German, Italian and Flemish artisans. Once, in 1575, the unavailability of artisans became so bad that history shows that the Malaga foundry had to close.
Another side effect of the incident was that when artisans were called in from Germany, it was revealed that they belonged to the Protestant sect and that Spain was officially a Catholic country. The artisans were arrested and “work at the foundry began only after the arrival of Catholic artisans from Engelsburg.”
The same is true of Portugal, a major world power at the time, which is believed to have played a key role in delivering new weapons to Africa and Asia, says Agsuton. “It relied heavily on foreign technology and imported weapons.”
Who taught Russia to make cannons?
Similar examples are found in history in Russia and France.
Augustine writes that the famous arms factory in Russia was set up by Andreas Venice, a native of the Netherlands, and was responsible for it until 1647, when he trained Russian artisans in accordance with the agreement. After his contract, Russia tried unsuccessfully to run the factory itself and in 1648 he had to recall Andreas for 20 years.
Agsuton writes that in terms of new technology, the most developed country at the time, England also needed foreign aid and French blacksmiths and artillerymen played an important role in its dominance.
Turkish bombardment cannons
Master Orban’s cannon falls into the category of cannons that were called bombs.
The book “Guns for the Sultan” details that the largest of these cannons were 50 to 80 cm in diameter and weighed 6,000 to 16,000 kilograms, and the bullets fired from them weighed 150 to 700 kilograms. Used to be In Europe, these cannons were abandoned in the early 16th century, but some such cannons continued to be made in the Ottoman Empire in 1510 and beyond.
A special group of blacksmiths called the ‘Jamaat Topchiyan Ahangaran’ worked to manufacture these cannons, and from 1490 to 1527, their number ranged from eight to 29.
In 1517-1518, Muslim and Jewish blacksmiths made 22 cast iron cannons, of which four large cannons were 714 cm long, nine were 558 cm long, and nine small cannons averaged 491 cm. The meter was.
These cannons were among the heaviest cannons in Europe with an average weight of 6210 kg. The largest bombardment of Maximilian I (1493-1519), ruler of the Hapsburg Empire, weighed 5,600 to 7,280 kilograms.
However, following in the footsteps of Master Orban, Ottoman experts developed two giant temple cannons in the 15th century. A bronze cannon made in 1467 for Sultan Muhammad II weighed 17,500 kilograms. A similar 15th century cannon weighing more than 18 tons was also gifted to Queen Victoria by Sultan Abdulaziz in 1867.
Auguston writes that the size of these cannons made it difficult to move them from one place to another. The solution to this problem was that the raw materials used in the manufacture of these cannons were loaded on camels and other animals and transported to the siege area, where the cannons were manufactured.
These huge bombarded cannons helped the Ottomans conquer many forts in Byzantium, the Balkans and Hungary. Historians, however, insist that war cannot be won with these cannons alone, and a great example from Ottoman history was the siege of Belgrade by Sultan Muhammad II in 1456, 13 years after the conquest of Constantinople.
According to an eyewitness, Sultan Muhammad’s 22 bombarded cannons leveled the fort, but the Ottomans could not conquer Belgrade at that time due to timely and effective support of the fort’s defenders.
Augustine writes that the Ottoman artillery’s superiority over the Europeans is evidenced by the speed with which the forts in Europe came under their control one after the other. For example, between 1521 and 1566, only 13 Hungarian garrisons were able to withstand the Ottoman siege for ten days and only nine forts for more than twenty days.
He details a siege, quoting the Ottoman historian Ibrahim Pejvi, who spent most of his life in the Hungarian border areas. First he (Mohammad Pasha) ordered all the cannons to be aimed at one place at a time. Then one by one the same place was targeted.
Pejvi writes that Muhammad Pasha learned this technique from the Christians during the siege of Esthergon in 1595.
What is the role of a brave man in the age of dynamite and firearms?
Resources were not the only obstacle to the introduction of firearms, and a prime example is the battle in which 500 Christian soldiers defeated 2,500 Ottoman soldiers.
When the Ottoman commander was asked to respond, he replied to the Prime Minister of the Empire, Rustam Pasha, “You do not understand the matter. You have not heard that we are defeated by firearms. It was a fire we lost, not a lack of courage. If they had fought us like brave men, the outcome would have been very different.
The response of this commander of the Ottoman Empire at that time was to the sentiments of the military elites of all the major powers, Spain, Italy, the Safavid Empire, France, Germany and England, especially the Knights.
Genghis Khan: The Mongols had known about dynamite and related devices since the 1230s, and through them the information reached Central Asia, Iran, Iraq and Syria through the middle of the 13th century.
How did dynamite reach Europe and then the Ottoman Empire?
Augustine writes that ammunition was first made in China in the seventh or eighth century, and regular firearms began to be made there after 1280. These weapons began to be used on European battlefields and sieges in the early decades of the 14th century.
Remember that at the beginning of the 14th century, the Ottoman Empire had not yet come into being and their state was still a regional power.
Historians write that by the middle of this century the weapon had reached Hungary and the Balkans, and that the Ottomans had become acquainted with it in the 1380s.
He cites two Turkish historians, one of whom states that the Ottomans first used cannons in the battle of Kosovo in 1389, and mentions an artilleryman named Haider, while elsewhere he is mentioned From 1364 came the manufacture of cannons, which he first used in 1386.
Augustine writes that the real question is not when the first firearm was developed, but when its effective use began, and this development took place in the middle of the 15th century.
The use of new weapons gradually became commonplace, he writes. Acquiring firearms, supplying them with ammunition, setting up special forces for their use was a challenge that not all states were prepared for, but the Ottomans excelled because of their pragmatism and flexibility in social structure. Skills shown.
The most important development by the Ottomans was the establishment of Janissary troops and special forces for the manufacture and use of firearms as mercenary infantry.
Auguston writes that information about dynamite in Asia came through trade or direct contact with the Chinese. “The Mongols had known about dynamite and related devices since the 1230s, and through them in the middle of the 13th century this information reached Central Asia, Iran, Iraq and Syria.”
He further writes that during the reign of Shah Rukh, son of Timur Ling (1405-1447) in his empire, which spread to parts of Iran, the Axis region, Azerbaijan and parts of Afghanistan, not only about ammunition. I knew people, but firearms were being made here.
On the other hand, in the year 1434-135, a mechanic named Farrukh had made a cannon which is said to have fired shells weighing at least 320 kg.
How did firearms and ammunition change the world?
Augustine writes that experts agree that the realization of the importance of firearms was greatest in Europe, and that it was there that the weapon found the life that changed the form of “organized violence in the coming centuries.”
The advent and widespread use of firearms changed the way states and great empires fought. “States now needed artillery, artillery forts, infantry with guns and a navy with artillery to survive militarily.”
The era of dynamite was at least in Europe where war was more of a siege than a battlefield. Artillery and ammunition were essential for success in the siege and for defending the empire against opponents such as Hungary, Hapesburg, Venice and the Safavids.
He writes that for many European historians, the two great inventions of the Middle Ages were dynamite and printing.
He wrote that because only kings could have the power to have artillery and fortifications protected by artillery, it was difficult for small centers of power to survive after this invention. However, there are historians who believe that the changes of that era were not due to gunpowder alone and the importance of gunpowder continues to this day.
He writes that the pragmatism of the Ottoman sultans of the 14th and 15th centuries facilitated the adoption of new technology and the formation of administrative structures for the production of firearms on a permanent basis. The strongholds of the Mediterranean, Hungary and the Byzantine Empire forced them to change their war strategy and adopt new weapons.
“The technology of firearms in Europe did not change radically until the end of the 18th century, and it was not difficult for them to compete with Europe with the help of European technology and the Ottoman superiority in logistics.”
Ottoman artillery and mineral deposits in the empire
He wrote that from the 16th century to the 18th century, the Ottomans used cannons of all sizes, ranging from 30 to 500 gram cannonballs to 31 to 74 kg cannonballs.
However, in the 15th and 16th centuries, bombardment of shells weighing more than 100 kilograms was also part of their artillery. In Ottoman documents, the word “fortress” is used for a type of cannon that fires 15 to 20 kilograms. The bullets used in the Ottoman arsenal, the Darbzin, weighed between 15 and 2.5 kilograms.
Augustine writes that there was not much difference between the weapons of the Ottomans and their opponents.
He also said that in the 16th and 17th centuries, the Ottomans were making their large and medium-sized cannons from bronze, which were lighter and safer than the Austrian, Spanish and English cannons.
Copper was abundant in the Ottoman Empire. In the 16th and 17th centuries, the empire was self-sufficient in the production of brass, iron and lead and had to import only tin.
“In the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, when the Ottoman Empire spread from Bada (Hungary) in Europe to Basra in Asia, ammunition was produced in almost every major province.” However, by the middle of the 18th century, this production The empire began to decline and then the empire’s imports of ammunition from Europe increased. However, the reorganization later made it self-sufficient.
We are defeated by firearms. It was a fire that we lost, not a lack of courage. If they had fought us like brave men, the outcome would have been very different. “
The importance of the Middle Ages and dynamite
In the book Guns for the Sultan, Prime Minister Hassan Pasha’s plea to the Sultan of 1603 is recorded as follows: “My dear King, as the great lord knows, the real power of the sultans’ campaigns is ammunition.” War is impossible without dynamite. Ammunition is not like other things … Where there is a shortage of ammunition, even a sea of gold coins cannot replace ammunition. Fortress defense and war campaigns are carried out with the help of ammunition.
According to various historical references, Auguston states in the minutes of the Venetian Senate dated June 16, 1489, that “without these weapons and artillery, no state can be saved, nor can it be defended, nor can the enemy.” Attack on
Production of pen and ammunition in the Ottoman Empire
Pen spray is one of the ingredients used in the production of ammunition. For any large empire, the supply of ammunition used in the era of firearms was crucial to maintaining its military supremacy.
Augustine writes that the Ottoman Empire was more self-sufficient in the production of penmanship than its opponents. The empire had set up some plants for it in different areas, which were managed by some elites or government officials.
In some areas, the production of pen shura was handed over to hundreds of villages who were tax-exempt for this service. He writes that similar arrangements were made in the empires of Europe.
“The empire was self-sufficient in the production of pen and ammunition until the end of the 17th century, when the annual requirement for ammunition was estimated at 540 metric tons.” However, he said that self-sufficiency in the production of pen was only a fraction of the production of ammunition. According to the military needs of the production was a different challenge.
When the Ottoman Empire had to buy ammunition from Sweden, England and Spain
Historical documents prove that the Ottomans were self-sufficient in ammunition production for a long time in the 18th century. For the first time in the war with Russia in 1768-74, they faced operational difficulties due to lack of ammunition.
“In the 17th century, the Ottomans could produce 761-1037 metric tons of ammunition, but in the second half of the 18th century this quantity was reduced to 169 metric tons.”
Auguston quotes various sources as saying that in the late 1770s, the empire had to procure 50% of the required ammunition from Europe. In 1778, 84600 kg of ammunition was obtained from Sweden. Then in the year 1782 95485 kg of ammunition came from the same source. In the year 1783 39198 kg of ammunition came from England. And that same year, the largest amount of ammunition, 133386 kg, came from Spain.
These matters reached Sultan Saleem III (1789-1807) who announced measures to rectify the situation. These measures included the establishment of water-powered factories. A water tank was also built along with the ammunition factory so that in case of fire, it could be extinguished immediately.
At the end of the 18th century, Mahmoud Affandi, an Ottoman official, said: “Our dependence on foreign ammunition is gone, our warehouses are full, and we have enough for military campaigns, we even started exporting it. Has given.
Ottoman Empire and dynamite
“In general, the Ottomans set up full-time and centrally controlled special forces to manufacture and use firearms before their European and Middle Eastern rivals.”
Augustine gave the impression that the Ottomans relied on European experts for new weapons technology. He said that it was common for scholars of different religions to visit different empires at that time and the Muslim-Christian difference should not be overemphasized.
“The theory of the clash of civilizations that is in vogue today may not be very helpful in understanding the intercultural ties between Europe and the Ottoman Empire from the 15th to the 18th century.”
Queen Catherine the Great of Russia (1762-1796): In the difficult economic situation, wars with Russia in the 18th century cost the empire dearly, which at the time became its main opponent.
So where did the problems of the Ottoman Empire begin?
Where did the problems of the Ottoman Empire begin after maintaining its superiority on the frontiers and battlefields spread over millions of square kilometers for centuries? There can be no straightforward answer to this and no single historian can explain it.
The book Guns for the Sultan covers the statements of various historians. For Augustine, the main reason was a change in the economic environment. He says the general economic situation in the Mediterranean region has made it difficult to maintain such a large productive sector.
During this time many economic and managerial terms were used in Europe and it also advanced in the field of science and finance.
“When the Ottoman-European war changed in nature, these changes became very important … From 1526 to 1683, only two major wars were fought in Europe. The Sultan’s army was mostly under siege.
In the difficult economic situation, wars with Russia in the 18th century also cost the empire dearly, which at that time had become their main opponent.
What was the situation at the Royal Foundry in Istanbul during this time? The book Guns for the Sultan states that by the end of the 18th century, she was able to make hundreds of cannons on several occasions, weighing up to 200,000 kilograms. But the real problem is said to be the production of ammunition, which was 15-30 per cent lower than in the 16th and 17th centuries.
Augustine quotes European and Ottoman observers of the time as saying that the Ottoman army also had weaknesses in discipline and technique.
Didn’t the empire realize these weaknesses and why weren’t efforts made to overcome them? In this regard, the book mentions a Turkish document of 1734 which called for reforms in the “modern system”.
Augustine says the Ottoman leadership was unprepared for this because it said it would jeopardize the “social structure” and it was too late when they made such an attempt after the failure of the war with Russia in 1787-92. Was done
The 28th Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, Salim III (1789-1807), had to pay the price for his efforts to build a “new model army”.