Today in Middle Eastern/European history: the last Ottoman Sultan is deposed (1922)

If we’re going to talk about the beginning of the Ottoman Empire, then we ought to also talk about its end, right? So let’s discuss the removal of Sultan Mehmed VI Vahideddin (d. 1926), one of history’s great anti-climaxes. Although there was still technically an “Ottoman Sultan” until November 1, 1922, he’d been effectively out … Continue reading Today in Middle Eastern/European history: the last Ottoman Sultan is deposed (1922)

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Today in Turkish history: the last Ottoman Sultan is deposed (1922)

If we’re going to talk about the beginning of the Ottoman Empire, then we ought to also talk about its end, right? So let’s discuss the removal of Sultan Mehmed VI Vahideddin (d. 1926), one of history’s great anti-climaxes. Although there was still technically an “Ottoman Sultan” until November 1, 1922, he’d been effectively out … Continue reading Today in Turkish history: the last Ottoman Sultan is deposed (1922)

Today in European history: the Taksim Square massacre (1977)

You probably don’t need me to tell you that today is May Day, since I’m betting your ability to keep track of which day it is exceeds mine. May Day’s origins go back to pre-Christian European cultures, but nowadays for much of the world it’s also International Workers’ Day and, in some countries, Labor Day. Ironically, for … Continue reading Today in European history: the Taksim Square massacre (1977)

Today in European History: the Russians capture Plevna (1877)

and that's the way it was

If you think the state of Russo-Turkish relations is bad these days…well, actually it’s kind of good lately. But historically that hasn’t always been the case. Consider that the Russian Empire, one of the precursors of modern Russia, and the Ottoman Empire, the precursor of modern Turkey, fought a whopping 12 wars against one another between the second half of the 16th century and World War I (which, of course, brought about the end of both empires). The Russians, who were on the ascendance for most of this period, won most of these wars, while the Ottomans, who were not so ascendant, needed help from Britain and France to win their biggest victory against the Russians, in the Crimean War.

By 1877, both empires were in pretty steep decline. What was on the rise was Balkan nationalism. All those Christian and/or European provinces and peoples that had been part…

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Today in Turkish history: the last Ottoman Sultan is deposed (1922)

and that's the way it was

I guess if I’m going to write about the beginning of the Ottoman Empire, I ought to at least mention the end of it, right? But the removal of Mehmed VI Vahideddin (d. 1926) as sultan is among history’s greatest anti-climaxes. The Ottomans had (obviously) lost World War I, which resulted in the dismantling of their empire under the terms of the 1918 armistice and the 1920 Treaty of Sèvres. Sèvres not only put the empire’s Arab dominions under British and French control, but it also apportioned big chunks of the real Turkish heartland of the empire, Anatolia, out to various European states (France, Greece, Italy, Britain) either as ceded territory or in the form of “zones of control.”

The immediate resistance to the Anatolian part of Sèvres was led by what should be considered a brand-new Turkish national movement, not by the remnants of the old empire. The…

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The History of Turkey’s Diyanet

Kristin Fabbe and Kimberly Guiler, at The Washington Post's "Monkey Cage" blog, looked at the proliferation of conspiracy theories surrounding last week's attempted coup in Turkey. In their piece, they made a point about a Turkish institution that probably deserves more explanation than they were able to give it, the Diyanet: Turkey’s self-avowed secularists also … Continue reading The History of Turkey’s Diyanet

Today in Middle Eastern history: the Turkish War of Independence begins (1919)

There’s a kind of symmetry in the fact that the Turkish War of Independence began around three years to the date after Britain and France signed the Sykes-Picot agreement on how to divide up the Arab world. Sykes-Picot, for better or worse, has become the symbol for all of the plans the Allies had for … Continue reading Today in Middle Eastern history: the Turkish War of Independence begins (1919)