Contents Index


In 324 CE, the Emperor Constantine made Constantinople (modern Istanbul) the capital of the Roman Empire. The Ottoman Empire captured Constantinople in 1453 and ruled the entire eastern Mediterranean area for half a millennium. During this period, Turkey represented the closest point of contact between the Muslim world and Europe, and provided Europeans with much of their knowledge about the East. The power of the Ottoman Empire (and its perceived threat to the West) crested in the sixteenth century, and entered a decline in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Various European powers struggled for position, resulting in a series of wars: the Greek War of Independence (1821-1829), the Crimean War (1853-56), and the Russo-Turkish Wars (1877-78). The empire finally fell apart after the First World War, and Turkey became a republic in 1923.