NATIONALISM IN THE OTTOMAN EMPIRE
Social Studies for 10th EGB
Teacher: Mauricio Torres
• Before looking at how nationalism
affected the Ottomans, we have to
look further back, at how different
nationalities originally were a
source of strength for the
The Millet System
• Sultan Mehmed established a system
later known as the millet system, in
order to deal with the different
religious minorities within the empire.
– Christians were allowed to live much like they did
before Ottoman rule.
– They were allowed to chose their own religious
leaders, collect their own taxes, use their own
language, and even to have their own courts where
Christians were tried according to Christian laws
« Turks »
• People commonly think of the
Ottoman Empire as a “Turkish”
empire. This is far from the truth.
– While the sultans from the
beginning to the end were
Turkish, the general populace
was a wide variety of peoples.
• With the millet system, different
nationalities, ethnicities, cultures, a
nd religions were allowed to thrive.
• For the word nationalism, we can
find two important definitions:
– : a feeling that people have of being
loyal to and proud of their country
often with the belief that it is better
and more important than other
– : a desire by a large group of people
(such as people who share the same
culture, history, language, etc.) to
form a separate and independent
nation of their own
• During the 18th and 19th
nationalism dictated that the
ethnic minorities of the
Ottoman Empire should not
have a Turkish sultan.
– Nationalism meant that they
had to break free of the
Ottoman Empire and be led
by their own people.
European Aid & Encouragement
• European powers sought to eliminate the
– For this reason they encouraged and
supported nationalist movements and
revolts within the realm.
• The first to do this, were the Greeks
– They accomplished their goals with the
help of the British, Russians and
Arab: early 20th century
Albanian: late 19th century
Armenians: mid 19th century
Bosniaks: late 19th century
Bulgarians: late 19th century
Greeks: early 19th century
Macedonians: late 19th century
Romanians: early 19th century
Serbians: early 19th century
• Perhaps the most odd form of
nationalism during the decline of the
Ottoman Empire was the nationalistic
ideas of the Turks.
– They were the most relevant ethnic group
within the empire, and had every reason to
• In response to the revolts of the
Greeks, Armenians, Serbians, and
others, the Turkish leaders in the
Ottoman Empire needed to find a way to
counter the effects of such revolutions.
• To this effect, they moved away
from pan-Islamism and more to a
« Turkish Identity » movement.
• They promoted the ideas that
Turkish pride should be emphasized
in the same way nationalist pride
was prevalent throughout Europe.
• This policy was promoted by the
same political group (the Young
Turks) that promoted secularism
and a movement away from Islam
throughout the 1800s.
• Many nationalities gathered a
need for independence and
attempted (end some
succeeded) to break away from
the Ottoman Rule, causing a
great loss of territory.
• Turkish nationalism rose and
pushed for a country based on
ethnic union instead of having
Islam as its base.
End of the Empire
• After the Balkan Wars that
preceeded WWI and also itself, the
Ottoman Empire ceased to exist.
– Many of its territories became
independent, giving rise to new
nations and mandates.
– This gave birth to the modern Arab
world and Turkey (the successor of te
empire), led by Mustafa Kemal