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A BRIEF HISTORY OF TURKS
The Republic of Turkey, founded in 1923, has its roots in two historical resources well in the depths of the past. One of these resources inherited by modern Turkey is the successful and bright history of the Turks over a time frame of more than 4000 year. The other is fact that Turks have settled in Anatolia since the 11th century.
The first Turkish tribe that is mentioned is the Huns made their appearance in the 8th Century B.C. Chinese sources refer to the Huns as Hiung-nu and its is here that the culture of horseback migration first makes its appearance in history. The Huns who migrated to the West in time achieved superiority over the Germans, of the same horseback discipline as themselves, and over the highly cultured Romans, because of their splendid state of readiness and amazing mobile capabilities.
Founded in 552 AD by Bumin Kagan, the Gokturks engaged in widespread diplomatic activity. Although the Gokturks were forced to become subjects of China in the 7th Century, they regained their independence in 632, led by a hero named Kutluk. In the year 716 Kutluk’s son Bilge Kagan became the ruler, and prosperity with the aid of his brother Kultegin and his father’s elderly vezir, Tonyukuk. This lasted until the year 745. The famed Orhun Epitaphs from this period are made up of the tombstone inscriptions of Tonyukuk (d.720), Kultegin (d.731) and Bilge Kagan (d.734).
The rule of the Gokturks was brought to an end in the year 745 by the Uygur, who were of the same ethnic stock as themselves. In this manner all the Turks who had converged under the banner of the Gokturks were dispersed to that of the Uygurs and other tribes. It is because of the Uygurs that the agricultural basin became known as Turkistan. In the year 1229, the Mongols put an end to Uygur sovereignty; the Uygurs however became their cultural and political mentors.
The Turks and Islam
Contacts between the Turks a nd Moslems commenced in the beginning of the 8th Century and some of the Turks favoured Islam. However the pro-Arab policies of the Omayads (661-750 A.D.) restricted these relation somewhat. It is because of this that a major part of the political struggle against the Omayads at that time, helping the Abbasside dynasty to attain sovereignty, rested on the efforts of Moslem Turks and Iranians of the area (750 A.D.).Many Moslem Turks took office in the Abbasside government, and because of this, great interest in the Islamic world spread among the Turks beyond the River Ceyhun. The interest became even more pronounced when the Calph of the time Muktasim established an elite army formed only of Turks in 835. Commercial relationships also played a major role in the spread of Islam into the steppes of Central Asia. Turkish Sufi dervishes who joined the caravans were instrumental converting the Turks to Islam. The Turks had become Moslem by the 10th century, and this resulted in the achievement of political unity. Following these developments, the first Muslim Turkish state was formed by the Karahans.
The Karahans ruled between 990-1212 in Turkistan and Maveraunnehir and put an end to the sovereignty of the Samanogulları. The founder of the state is Satuk Bugra Khan, and this is inscribed in the legend praising Bugra Khan. The reign of the Karahans is especially significant from the point of view of Turkish culture and art history. It is during this period that mosques, schools, bridges and caravansarays were constructed in the cities. Buhara and Semerkand became centres of learning. In this period, the Turkish language found the means to develop. Among the most important works of the period is Kutadgru Bilik (translated as The Knowledge That Gives Happiness) by Yusuf Has Habib, written between the years 1069-1070. It is a political work expressed in verse. This work in fact comprises knowledge for the ruler, in which Yusuf personalises his key principles of justice, power (state), comprehension (reason) and belief.
The Ghaznavi state was formed in the year 963 by the Turkish ruler Bevuktekin and is one of the first Moslem Turkish states. It is in the time of Bevuktekin’s son Mahmut that the state lived its brightest period (977-1030) Mahmut realized 17 sorties and missions into India; he worked relentlessly for the expansion of Islam in the area and expanded the borders of the state from Toharistan and Maveraunnehir to Puncab, Multan and some districts of the Sind. During the time of Mahmut’s son Mes’ud, the Ghaznavids lost a large part of their lands, following the battle of Dardanakan (1040) against the founder of the Great Selcuk Empire Tugrul Bey . The Ghaznavids finally collapsed in 1186 and were assimilated by the Oguz.
The Turkish scholar Ebu Reyhan el-Beyruni, brought to Gazne by Sultan Mahmut from Harzem, helped make this period an important one within Islamic cultural history. Beyruni, who wrote his works in Arabic, also wrote the famed Kitabn’ı-Hind (the Book of India)i which discussed the language, the literature, the religion and philosopy of India, from the campaigns of Mahmut. The famed work by the poet Firdevsi, the Sehname, was also presented (in 1009) to Sultan Mahmut during this period.
The Oguz, who destroyed the Ghaznavid state, succeeded in putting Anatolia, Iraq, the southern part of the Caucasus, Azerbaijan and the north of Iran under Turkish rule. The Oguzs had first formed the Gokturk Empire in the 6th century; after the expansion of Islam among the Turks, the Oguz came to be called the Turkmens among the other Turks.
Seljuk, whose name the Seljuk dynasty adopted, is the son of Dukak of the line of Kiniks, which is a branch of the Ucoks of Oguz. Tugrul Bey and Cagri (Cakir) Bey are the grandsons of Seljuk, in whose time they, and the Oguzs, known as the Seljuks in history, subjected Horasan, defeated the Ghaznavid ruler Mesud and established the Great Seljuk Empire in 1040.
In 1071, the nephew of Tugrul Bey, Alp Arslan (1063-1072) fought the battle of Malazgirt and having defeated the Byzantine Emperor’s forces in this battle opened the doors of Anatolia to the Muslim Turks.
The Anatolian Seljuks
The year 1071 is considered to be the beginning of the Turks and that of Islam in Anatolia. It is following this date that the Turks fully conquered the whole of Anatolia and establihed the Anatolian Seljuk state in Anatolia as a part of the Great Seljuks Empire.
Although the first ruler and founder of the Anatolian Seljuks Suleyman Shah (d.1086) first establihed the capital in Iznik, in Bursa, he was later compelled to move the capital well into the interior of Anatolia, to Konya, during the time of the First Crusade.
The first schooling institutions, the Moslem theological medreses, were formed in Anatolia during the time of Kilic Arslan (1153-1192). Following the establishment of two medreses by Kilic Arslan, one in Konya and the other in Aksaray,
the medreses of Sircali in Konya (1242-1243), Karatay (1251), Ince Minareli (1252-1253), Atabekkiye (after 1251-1268), Gokmedrese in Sivas (1271), Buruciyye (1271-1272), Cifte Minareli (1271), and the Cacoglu in Kirsehir (1272) were established.
The Seljuks also attributed much importance to the medical sciences and in almost all their cities treatment institutions called Darush-Shifa, Darul-Afiye and Darus-Sihna and hospital were set up. The main medical treatment centres are the Gevher Nesibe in Kayseri (1205), the Izzettin I Keykavus in Sivas (1217), the Torumtay in Amasya (1266), the Muinuddin Pervane in Tokat (1275), and the Pervaneoglu Ali in Kastamonu (1272).
Because of the influence of Persian aspects coming from Iran among the enlightened, the administrators, the men of arts and the traders, the anatolian Seljuk state became increasingly affected by Iranian culture and language.
The Period of Principalities
Political unity in Anatolia was disrupted from the time of the collapse of the Anatolian Seljuk state at the beginning of the 14th century (1308), and until the beginning of the 16th century each of the region in the country fell under the domination of Beyliks (Principalities). The Principalities were formed in the following regions: The Eshrefoguls in Beysehir (1328), the Karesioguls in Balikesir-Bergama (1336), the Inancoguls in Denizli (1368), the Hamidoguls in Beysehir (1328), Hamidoguls in the Isparta-Antalya area (1391), the Aydinoguls in the Aydın-Izmir area (1405), the Saruhanoguls in Manisa (1410), the Mentesoguls in Mugla area (1425), the Candaroguls in Kastamonu (1461), the Dulkadiroguls in the Maras area (1521), and the Ramazanoguls in the Cukurova area (1608). The Osmanoguls, who were to eventually destroy these Principalities and establish political unity in Anatolia, lived in the Eskisehir, Bilecik and Bursa areas.
On the other hand, the area in central Anatolia east of the Ankara-Aksaray line as far as the area of Erzurum remained under the administration of the Ilhani General Governor until 1336. The infighting which resulted upon the death of the Ilhan ruler Ebu Said Bahadir Khan in 1338 gave the principalities in Anatolia their complete independence. In addition to this, new Turkish principalities were formed in the locaties previously under Ilhan occupation. One of these is the Eretna Principality formed by the Uygur Turks at Eretna in the Kayseri-Sivas region. In the same area, another principality, the Turkmen Kadi Burhanettin State, was formed in the second part of the century. In this period, the Karakoyuns and the Akkoyuns started political activities in Eastern Anatolia.
During the 14th century, the Turkmens, who made up the western Turks, started to re-establish their previous political sovereignty in the Islamic world.
Rapid developments in the Turkish language and culture took place during the time of the Anatolian Principalities. In this period, the Turkish language became used in the sciences and in literature, and became the official language of the Principalities. New medreses were established and progress was made in the medical area during this period.
Gulsehri, Nesimi (d.1404) and Ahmedi (1335-1412) are the prominent Turkish language poets of the 15th century.
In the cities, the Turkish communities composed of villagers and Turkmen migrants started to form guilds among the more populous craftsmen, calling themselves “Ahi”. These guilds pioneered the development of city life.
THE OTTOMAN PERIOD
The Ottoman Principality was founded by a Turkmen tribe living on the Turkish-Byzantine border. The geographic location of the principality and the weak state of Byzantines combined to make the Ottoman principality the strongest state within the Islamic world by the 14th century.
When, in the year 1402, Tamerlane defeated the forces od Yildirim Beyazit, the principalities which had come under Ottoman sovereignty all became independent. A unity between them was achieved again in the middle of the 15th century.
When Fatih Sultan Mehmet conquered the Byzantine capital in 1453, the Ottoman state became the strongest of the time. The tolerant approach taken by Fatih Sultan Mehmet to other religions and to the adherents thereof became a tradition adopted by his successors. Following the capture of Istanbul, the Orthodox Church was feed from obedience to the Catholic Church and granted its independence.
On the other hand, the technical superiority of t he Ottoman army began to be evident; Selim the first (1512-1520) conquered the Safevi Ruler Shah Ismail (1514) with such an army and thereby obliterated the Mamelake state in 1517. At the end of these battles, the Ottomans had added, in addition to the major part of east Anatolia, the lands considered holy in the Islamic worl-Mecca and Medine-to their territories.
The brightest period of the Ottoman State was during the reign of Sultan Suleyman (1520-1566) when the boundaries of the Empire spread from the outskirts of Vienna to the Bay of Basra and from the Crimea to an expanded north Africa as far as Ethiopia.
The Ottoman Empire continued to acquire territory until the middle of the 17th century. In 1683, it suffered its first major loss with defeat in the siege of Vienna.
When the losses of land and defeats continued, the Ottoman Empire sought salvation in a series of renewal movements, taking the western institutions which had shown great developments after the Renaissance. As a result, the (nautical engineering) Muhendishane-i-Bahr-i Humayun was founded in 1773 and the (civil engineering) Muhendishane-i Berri-i Humayun in 1795.
The declaration of the Tanzimat Reform movement in 1839 is considered a major link in the chain of modernization events which had continued unabated since the beginning of the 17th century. The Tanzimat Reform period started with the reading on November 3, 1839, of the royal Tanzimat Decree by Mustafa Reshit Pasha in Gulhane Park in Istanbul.
The Tanzimat Decree is considered to be a kind of constitution giving Turkey the means to enter the road to
The constitutions of the 19th century mostly contained provisions that limit the rights and powers of monarchs. The major point in the Tazminat Reform Decree, that of equality under the law, brought about the development of political unity in the Ottoman state in a spirit of equality before the law. It is because of this policy that the salient point in the Islahat (Improvement) Decree of 1856 is t hat of egality before the law. Later, the 1876 constitution contained the following provision: “All individuals who are citizens of the Ottoman State are considered Ottoman regardless of Religion or Sect”.
The development of the principle of equality before the law in the west and its application in the Ottoman state resulted in the different ethnic groups within the Empire becoming equal with Moslems in every sense and it is in this regard that the first steps toward the separation of religion and state affairs were taken. In this period, the statues of more and more public bodies started to be changed away from the provisions of Islamic jurisprudence to that of civil codes. The principles inherent in the Tanzimat Reform Decree thereby laid the basis for the constitutional regime of modern Turkey and the realization of laicism.
Despite many internal problems and disturbances during the reign of Abdulaziz (1861-1876) who ascended to the throne after Abdulmecit, the effects of westernization in society became even more evident.
This influence was apparent in the field of literature. It is in this period that Constitution, Parliament and similar words began to be used. The group known in history as the “Young Turks” was to a large degree responsible for this development. Namik Kemal, Ziya Pasha, Mustafa Fazil Pasha and his friends published the newspaper “Hurriyet” (Freedom) in London in the year 1864. The literary beginnings of the newspaper later gave way to political issues. Although it is because of these trends that the first constitution was promulgated under the leadership of Mithat Pasha in 1876, Sultan Addulhamid II (1876-1909) used the Ottoman-Russian war (1877-78) as an excuse to dissolve Parliament and effectively put an end to this constitutional period. This action of Abdulhamid the Second paved the way for an organized opposition movement. One of these organizations, the Ittihat ve Terakki (Union and Progress) Society compelled Sultan Abdulhamid the Second to accede to a second constitutional government system. Ittihat ve Terakki won the majority and entered Parliament in 1908 as a party. It is during this period that the wars of Tripoli (1911-12) and the Balkans (1912-13) were lost, and the Ottoman State entered the First World War in 1914. On side of the allied powers.
The Ottoman State emerged defeated from the war, together with her allies, and was compelled to sign the Mudrow Armistice on October 30, 1918. According to the terms of the armistice, the states were to be occupied by the victors and opened to all shipping:; the Ottoman army was to be disbanded and all communication and transport handed over to the control of the victors.
Also among the terms of the armistice was a provision that the entente power might occupy areas deemed to be of strategic importance; the powers started to occupy Anatolia on November 1, 1918 according to these terms.
The occupation started to spread out, and on May 15, 1919, the Greeks occupied Izmir. A national resistance movement commenced. In many areas of the country the Society For Defence of Rights (Mudafaa-i Hukuk) started to spring up, and the military arm of the society, called the Kuvayi Milliye, started to take action.
The resistance movement was, until Mustafa Kemal landed at Samsun, sporadic and disorganized: under his leadership the resistance became cohesive, its forces progressively turned into an organized army and the movement became a full scale war of independence.
Upon the foundation, on April 23, 1920, of the Turkish Grand National Assembly in Ankara, a second Parliament to conduct the War of Independence outside of occupied Istanbul came into existence.
When the decisive battle at Dumlupinar on August 26, 1922, called the “Battle of the Commander-in-Chief” (Baskomutanlik Savasi), ended with victory for the Turkish force, and following this, Izmir was liberated, on September 9, 1922, the War of Independence finally ended in victory.
On November 1, 1922, the Sultanate was abolished. The last Ottoman Sultan Vahdettin left Istanbul on board a Brithis warship on November 17, 1922. Abdulmecit the second was appointed the Caliph in his place. More on Ottoman Empire
REPUBLIC OF TURKEY
On July 24, 1923, the Lausanne Peace Agreement was signed, and the Turkish Grand National Assembly announced on October 13, 1923 that Ankara was the new capital.
On October 29, 1923, the Republic was proclaimed. On March 3, 1924, the Caliphate was abolished.
Following the foundation of the Republic, a series of reforms took place one after the other; through amendments to the civil code, women were given social rights and privileges, the Latin alphabet was adopted, and a secular state was formed.
Source : Turkey : an official handbook /The General Directorate of Press and Information. --Ankara, 1990. --286 s.