Strengthened russian state expanded into the caucasus

    Strengthened russian state expanded into the caucasus

    By the early 18th century, the Ottoman Empire which ruled the Middle East was in decline. Weak rulers left the way open for power struggles between officials, religious experts, and Janissaries (Guards). Provincial administrators and landholders colluded to drain revenue from the central treasury.

    The general economy suffered from competition with the West as imported goods ruined local industry. European rivals took advantage of Ottoman weakness. The Austrian Hapsburgs pushed the Ottomans from Hungary and the northern Balkans.

    The strengthened Russian state expanded into the Caucasus and Crimea. The subject Christian peoples of the Balkans challenged their rulers: the Greeks won independence in 1830, Serbia in 1867. By the 1870s, the Ottomans had lost nearly all of the Balkans, and their capital was often threatened by Balkan or Russian armies.

    Faced with difficult challenges and the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire, Sultan Mahmud II initiated a set of reforms. Mahmud’s successors followed with the Tanzimat, or “reorganization,” a sweeping set of reforms designed to modernize and Westernize the Ottoman Empire.

    Every Islamic people or state had a different experience with Western influence according to its particular circumstances and history—wholesale emulation and adoption of Western ideas and institutions. This reaction is best exemplified by Muhammad Ali, pasha of Egypt from 1805-1849 and Mahmoud II, whose Tanzimat reforms modernized the Ottoman government, but failed to produce an economically sound or politically powerful state.

    What were the Tanzimat Reforms and were they effective in allowing the Middle East to catch up to the West?

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