It may surprise many of you to learn that the Ottomans are not from Turkey. At least not originally.
The first definite historical reference to the Turks (the nomadic tribe from which the Ottomans came) dates back to the 6th century. A vagabond race originating in Central Asia, their name means “strong” or “powerful” in Chinese (for any ‘Game of Thrones’ lovers out there, I’m pretty sure that George RR Martin came up with the idea of the Dothraki from the Turks). Over the next few centuries, the Turks would slowly work their way westward. By the time they got to the Anatolian region (modern day Turkey) their once closely-knit tribe had branched into many.
FOUNDATION AND MORE
Osman, the founder of the Ottomans state, was born in 1300. (From this time on the word “Turk” would be reserved for Anatolian villagers and the elite class would identify themselves as Ottoman.) Osman was one of countless seminomadic Turkomans looking for a place to settle in Anatolia. Practices made famous by Osman would endure the test of time and would become signature customs of the Ottoman Empire. As an example, Osman openly welcomed any and all fighting men dedicated to the advancement of his cause. In addition, and of more importance, Osman allowed Christians and Jews to live openly and freely on his land so long as they payed higher taxes (this is a big reason the Ottoman Empire was able to conquer so many lands, but we’ll get to that in a later post).
Within 3 generations – by 1389 – the Ottomans would control Bulgaria, Macedonia, parts of Serbia and large portions of Anatolia. In fact, the entire region was occupied by the Ottoman Empire up to the very city walls of Constantinople.