Brief history of Turkey summarized
A brief review of the history of Turkey summarized, cradle of the great Ottoman Empire.
Catal Huyuk was one of the first cities in the world. It was built in what is now Turkey around 6,500 BC, shortly after agriculture began. Catal Huyuk probably had a population of about 6,000.
In Catal Huyuk the houses were made of mud brick. The houses were built in contact with each other. They had no doors and the houses were entered through hatches in the roofs. Presumably, having entrances in the ceilings was safer than having them in the walls. (Catal Huyuk was unusual among primitive peoples in that it was not surrounded by walls.)
Since the houses were built touching each other, the roofs must have acted as streets! People must have walked through them. In Catal Huyuk the dead were buried inside the houses. (Although they may have been exposed to the outside to be eaten by vultures first).
Although Catal Huyuk was a true city (defined as a community not self-sufficient in food), at least some of its inhabitants lived from agriculture. They grew wheat and barley and kept herds of sheep and goats. They also had dogs. In addition to agriculture, the people of Catal Huyuk also hunted animals such as aurochs (wild cattle), wolves, foxes, and leopards.
The people of Catal Huyuk wore clothing woven from wool. They also wore stone, bone, and shell jewelry.
We don’t know what the people of Catal Huyuk believed, but religion was obviously important to them. They made clay and stone figures, which may have been gods and goddesses. They also mounted bull skulls on the walls of some buildings and covered them with plaster to look like living heads. It is believed that these buildings were sanctuaries.
Catal Huyuk was abandoned around 5,000 BC No one knows why, but it may have been due to climate change. However, later people in Turkey learned to use copper and later still bronze tools. After about 2,600 BC they began to build more important cities.
The Hittites were the first civilization in Turkey. They moved to Turkey around 2,000 BC and at first split into separate states. However, around 1650 BC they were united by King Labarnas. The Hittites were a mighty and warlike people. Around 1595 BC they captured Babylon. Later the Hittites fought against Egypt.
The Hittites reached a peak under King Suppiluliumas (c. 1380 – c. 1346 BC). Under his command, the Hittites ruled not only most of Turkey, but also parts of Syria and Palestine.
Some Hittite warriors fought on foot, but others fought from chariots, which were pulled by teams of horses. Hittite chariots were light enough to be lifted by one man. Each had a driver and a soldier, who often wore iron armor. Hittite archers shot bronze-tipped arrows.
The Hittite capital was at Hattushash. There were many temples in it. Like other ancient peoples, the Hittites were polytheistic (they worshiped many gods). Chief among them was the god of time Tarhun and his wife Istanu. There were many other gods and goddesses, each of whom ruled over some natural phenomenon.
However, the mighty Hittite state fell apart around 1200 BC when the Aegean people attacked it called the “Sea Peoples” and in time the Hittites were largely forgotten.
After the fall of the Hittites a series of civilizations rose and fell in Turkey. Among them were the Phrygians, who were a powerful state in central Turkey in the 8th century BC (The legendary King Midas was a Phrygian). Later the Lydians arrived. They dominated western Turkey in the years 650-546 BC The last Lydian king was Croesus 560-546, whom we still remember in the phrase “as rich as Croesus”.
However, in his time there was a new power in the Middle East: the Persians. The Persian Empire was created by Cyrus II, known as Cyrus the Great (559-529 BC). Cyrus first defeated another Iranian people called the Medes, then in 547 Cyrus defeated the kingdom of Lydia (in what is now Turkey) at the Battle of Pteria and became ruler of most of Asia Minor.
However, in 334 BC Alexander the Great crossed the Dardanelles and quickly conquered the Persian Empire including Turkey. Alexander died in 323 BC and his empire was divided among his generals. Turkey was divided into rival kingdoms. Meanwhile, in 279 BC, the Celts invaded western Turkey and carved out a kingdom there. They were known as the Galatians.
In the second century BC Rome was the dominant power in the region and in 133 BC the ruler of a kingdom called Pergamum left his kingdom to Rome. That was the beginning of Roman rule. Over the next 100 years, the Romans gradually extended their rule over Turkey.
In the first century When the missionary Paul traveled to Turkey, Christianity took root in many cities. The new religion grew rapidly despite persecution. However, the persecution ended in 313 when Emperor Constantine became a Christian. In 330 Constantine moved his capital to Byzantium, which was renamed Constantinople. (Now it is called Istanbul).
In the 4th century the Roman Empire split in two. The western half declined and in the 5th century was conquered by the Germanic peoples. However, the eastern half of the Roman Empire flourished. Today we call it the Byzantine Empire and it included what is now Turkey.
The Byzantine Empire
Under Byzantine rule the arts and architecture flourished. Perhaps the largest building of those times was the church called Hagia Sophia, which was built by Emperor Justinian in the 6th century. However, in the 7th century a powerful new enemy arose: the Arabs. They besieged Constantinople twice, but failed to capture it.
Then, in the 11th century, a people called the Seljuk Turks from Central Asia moved south. They took Baghdad in 1055 and in 1071 they defeated the Byzantine army at the Battle of Manzikert. Later the Turks came to rule most of Turkey and introduced Islam and Turkish culture.
For centuries Turkish culture flourished, but in 1243 the Turks were defeated by the Mongols. For a short time the Mongols had loose control of Turkey, but they soon withdrew, leaving Turkey divided into several states.
Around 1288 a man named Osman created a new state in Turkey, which became the core of a great empire – the Ottoman Empire. In the 14th century the Ottomans gradually expanded their territory and in 1453 they captured Constantinople, ending the Byzantine Empire.
The ottoman empire
After capturing Constantinople (which was renamed Istanbul) the Turks made inroads into Europe. They captured the Balkans. They also captured Egypt in 1517 and by the 16th century the Ottoman Empire was immensely powerful and wealthy. However, the Ottoman Empire reached its height under Suleiman I (1520-66), known as Suleiman the Magnificent.
In 1522 he captured Rhodes and in 1526 he captured Hungary, but failed to capture Malta in 1566. The Turks were defeated at sea by the Spanish and the Venetians at the Battle of Lepanto in 1571. However, the Turks were left with a force to consider. In 1573 they captured Cyprus.
During the 17th century the Ottoman Empire declined (although it remained very powerful). In 1683 the Turks besieged Vienna, but were driven out. Afterward, the Turks were forced to hand over territory to the Europeans (the Turks surrendered to Hungary in a 1699 treaty). In the 18th century there were several wars between Russia and the Ottoman Empire and the Russians gradually took land from them.
In the 19th century, the Ottoman Empire faced the rise of nationalism in Europe. The first country to secede was Greece in 1832. In the 19th century the Ottoman Empire continued to decline. Abdulhamid II (1876-1909) attempted to modernize Turkey by building railways and telegraph lines, but his rule was repressive.
Meanwhile, parts of the Ottoman Empire broke away. In 1878 Romania and Serbia became independent. Bulgaria became independent in 1908. Also in 1908 there was a revolution in Turkey and the sultan was forced to call elections. The following year he abdicated and his replacement was just a figurehead.
Then, in 1914, Turkey joined the German side in World War I. However, Turkey surrendered on October 30, 1918. Afterwards the Turks were stripped of their empire. Greece, France, Italy, and Great Britain occupied parts of Turkey.
The sultan was powerless and in 1920 General Mustafa Kemal formed a national assembly in Ankara. Kemal and his army expelled foreigners in the 1920-22 Turkish War of Independence and in November 1922 the sultanate was abolished by the national assembly. Mustafa Kemal became the president of Turkey. Kemal introduced reforms and made Turkey a modern, secular state.
He also promoted education and introduced a modified Latin alphabet. The fez was abolished in 1925 and in 1934 women gained full voting rights. Mustafa Kemal took the name of Kemal Ataturk. He was president of Turkey until his death in 1938.
Turkey remained neutral in World War II but joined NATO in 1952. In 1960 the Turkish army staged a coup, but new elections were held soon after and democracy was restored.
There was another coup in Turkey in 1970, but again elections were held soon after. The army intervened again in 1980. In 1983 elections were held and Turgut Ozal became prime minister. Under Ozal, tourism grew and foreign investment was encouraged. Turgut Ozal died in 1993.
In the same year, Tansu Ciller became Turkey’s first female prime minister. In July 2016 there was a coup attempt in Turkey, but it was defeated.
In 1999, Turkey was formally accepted as a candidate country for EU membership. At the beginning of the 21st century Turkey’s economy is growing rapidly. Important industries in Turkey are tourism and textiles. Today, the population of Turkey is 80 million.
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