1.10. The Ottoman Empire

In the 11th century, Turkish tribes started to invade the Middle East through Buchara after they had converted to Islam. Among them were the Seldchuks, who ruled almost the complete Orient in that era; after their victory at Manzikert in 1071 over the forces of the Byzantinian Empire they settled in Asia Minor. The Seldchuk Kylydsch-Arslan fonded a new realm in eastern Anatolia in 1097, where his descendants ruled until 1307 with Konya as their capital.

From there, the Turk Ottoman I. appealed for a battle of faith against the Byzantinians. He ousted Byzantium from the western Asia Minor and laid the foundation for the Ottoman Empire. His son Orchan conquered Brussa (Bursa, the first capital of the Ottoman Empire), organized the administration of the new state and founded an army out of Christian slaves. The Sinti became a part of this slave army, while the Roma were already fully integrated in the society as Muslims. Tax records of the time prove that they paid their taxes as craftsmen. Nevertheless, the Roma too had to provide contingents for the army.

As early as the middle of the 14th century the Turks intruded into Europe. Shortly after, the first Roma fleeing from slavery appeared in Serbia.

Suleiman I. occupied Gallipoli in 1354. Murad I. (1359-1389) conquered Thrakia and moved the capital from Brussa to Adrianopel in 1366. The united sovereigns of the Balkan were defeated on the “Amselfeld” in 1389, Serbia was forced to pay tribute. Bajezid I. subdued Bulgaria and parts of Greece in 1393/94. The crusading army under Sigismund of Hungary was defeated by him at Nikopoli in 1396. In 1402, though, he lost to the Mongolian Khan Timur at Ankara. Mehmed I. was able to rebuild the Empire. Mehmed II. finally conquered Konstantinopel in 1453 after a siege of two months (this marked the end of the Byzantinian Empire).

In 1459 Serbia became a Turkish province, in 1461 Greece, Bosnia in 1463 and Albania in 1479. Wallachia (1462) the Khanate of the Krim Tartars (1478) and Moldavia (1506) were turned into vassal states of Turkey. In 1451 Mehmed took over the title of sultan. Bajezid II. followed in 1481 and was displaced by his son Selim I. in 1512. Selim defeated the shah Ismail of Persia and conquered Syria, Palestine, Egypt and other territories in Northern Africa in 1516/17. The Ottoman Empire had become a world power.

The caliphate was turned over to Istanbul. Under the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent (1520-1566) it won further territories: Bagdad fell in 1521, in 1522 Rhodos was conquered, in 1233-1536 Mesopotamia, the Hungarians were defeated at Mohács in 1526, only the siege put on Vienna in 1529 was futile. Cheir Ad Din Barbarossa founded the naval force of the Turks and put it in charge of the territories of Tripolis, Tunis and Algeria. The Ottoman Empire reached its greatest expansion.

It would stand as a mighty force until 1912, when it finally collapsed. The Ottoman Empire was the last station of the Roma before they came to Europe.