Turkey was created in 1923 from the Turkish remnants of the Ottoman Empire. Soon thereafter the country instituted secular laws to replace traditional religious fiats. In 1945 Turkey joined the UN and in 1952 it became a member of NATO. Turkey occupied the northern portion of Cyprus in 1974 to prevent a Greek takeover of the island; relations between the two countries remain strained. Periodic military offensives against Kurdish separatists have dislocated part of the population in southeast Turkey and have drawn international condemnation.
The Republic of Turkey, founded in 1923, has its roots
in two historical sources deep in the depths of the
past. One of these resources inherited by modern Turkey
is the successful and shining history of the Turks over
a time frame of more than 4,000 years. The other is
the fact that Turks have been settled in Anatolia since
the 11th century.
The first Turkish tribe that is mentioned in history
is the Huns. Clear records about the Huns made their
appearance in the 8th century B.C. Chinese sources refer
to the Huns as Hiung-nu and in time, some of the Huns
migrated to the West.
Founded in 552 AD by Bumin Khan, the Gokturks engaged
in widespread diplomatic activity. The famed Orhun epitaphs
from this period are made up of the tombstone inscriptions
of Tonyukuk (d.720), Kültigin (d.731) and Bilge
The rule of the Göktürks was brought to an
end in the year 745 by the Uygurs, who were of the same
ethnic stock as themselves. In this manner all the Turks
who had converged under the banner of the Göktürks
were dispersed to that of the Uygurs that the agricultural
basin where they lived became known as Turkistan. In
the year 1229, the Mongols put an end to Uygur sovereignty;
the Uygurs however, became their cultural and political
The Turks and Islam
between the Turks and Moslems commenced at the beginning
of the 8th century and some of the Turks began to favour
Islam. However the pro-Arab policies of the Omayads
(661-750 A.D) restricted these relations somewhat. Later,
many Moslem Turks took office in the Abbside government
and because of this, great interest in the Islamic world
spread among the Turks beyond the River Ceyhun. Commercial
caravans also played a major role in the spread of Islam
into the steppes of Central Asia. The Turks became fully
Moslem by the 10th century, and this resulted in the
achievement to political unity. Following these developments,
the first Moslem Turkish state was formed by the Karahans.
The Karahans ruled between 990-1212 in Turkistan and
Maveraünnehir. 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 Samarkand became centres of
learning. In the period, the Turkish language found
the means to develop. Among the most important works
of the period is Kutadgu Bilik (translated as "The
Knowledge That Gives Happiness") written by Yusuf
Has Hacib, between the years 1069-1070.
The Ghaznavi state was formed in the year 963 by the
Turkish ruler Sevuktekin and is one of the first Moslem
Turkish states and worked relentlessly for the expansion
of Islam in India. The Ghaznavids finally collapsed
in 1186 and were assimilated by the Oguz. The Turkish
scholar Ebu Reyhan el-Beyruni makes this period an important
one within Islamic cultural history and wrote the famed
work by the poet Firdevsi, the ?ehname, was also written
in this period (A.D. 1009)
Ouz, who destroyed the Ghaznavid state, succeeded in
bringing Anatolia, Iraq, the southern part of the Caucasus,
Azerbaijan and the north of Iran under Turkish rule.
The Ouz had first formed the Göktürk Empire
in the 6th century; after the expansion of Islam among
the Turks, but among the Turks the Oguz came to be called
Turul Bey and Ça?ry (Çakyr) Bey were the
grandsons of Seljuks whose name the Seljuks Dynasty
adopted. In their time they, and the Ouz, known as the
Seljuks in history, subdued Horasan, defeated the Ghaznavid
ruler Mesud in Dandanakan Battle and established the
Great Seljuk empire in 1040.
In 1071, 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 Moslem Turk. The year 1071 is considered to be the
beginning of the Turks and that of Islam Anatolia. It
is following this date that the Turks fully conquered
the whole of Anatolia and established the Anatolian
Seljuk state there as a part of the great Seljuk Empire.
The first schooling institutions, the Moslem theological
medreses, were formed in Anatolia during the time of
Kylyç Arslan (1153-1192), one in Konya and the
other in Aksaray. Following the establishment of these
two medreses the medreses of Syrcaly in Konya (1242-1243),
Karatay (1251), Ynce Minareli (1251-1253), Atabekkiye
(after 1251-1268), Gökmedrese in Sivas (1271),
Buruciye (1271-1272), Çifte 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 medical institutions
called Darush-Shifa, Darul-Afiye and Darus-Sihna and
hospitals 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 Persian influence
coming from Iran among the intellectuals, the administrators,
the men of arts and the traders, the Anatolian Seljuk
state became increasingly affected by Iranian culture
The Beyliks - The Period Principalities
unity in Anatolia was disrupted from the time of the
collapse of the Anatolia Seljuk State at the beginning
of the 14th century (1308), when until the beginning
of the 16th century each of the regions in the country
fell under the domination of Beyliks (Principalities).
Eventually, the Ottoman Principality which destroyed
all the other Principalities and restored political
unity in Anatolia, was established in the Eskiehir,
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 in Ilhan gave the
principalities in Anatolia their complete independence.
In addition to this, new Turkish principalities were
formed in the localities previously under Ilhan occupation.
During the 14th century, the Turkomans, 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
toot place during the time of the Anatolia Principalities.
In this period, the Turkish language began to be 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 sciences during
The Ottoman Principality was founded by a Turkoman tribe
living on the Turkish-Byzantine border. The geographic
location of the principality and the weak state of the
Byzantines combined to make the Ottoman principality
the strongest state within the Islamic world by the
When Fatih Sultah Mehmet II. conguered the Byzantine
capital in 1453, the Ottoman state became the strongest
of the time. The tolerant approach taken by Fatih Sultan
Mehmet II toward other religions and to the adherents
thereof became a tradition accepted by his successors.
Following the capture of Istanbul, the Orthodox Church
was freed from obedience to the Catholic Church and
granted its independence.
On the other hand, the technical superiority of the
Ottoman army began to be evident during the reign of
Selim I. The Ottomans has added, in addition to the
major part of east Anatolia, the lands considered holy
in the Islamic world-Mecca and Medine and their territories.
brightest period of the Ottoman State was during the
reign of Sultan Suleyman (1520-1555) when the boundaries
of the Empire spread from the outskirts of Vienna to
the Persian Gulf 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 defeat
in the siege of Vienna. As the losses of land and sought
continued, the Ottoman Empire sought salvation in a
series of reform movements and established education
institutions taking after the western institutions which
had shown great developments after the Renaissance.
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 Decree is considered
to be a kind of constitution which gave Turkey the means
to enter road to contemporary civilization. The principles
inherent in the Tanzimat Reform Decree thereby laid
the basis for the constitutional regime of modern Turkey
and the realization of secularism.
Despite many internal problems and disturbances during
the reign of Abdülaziz (1861-1876) the effects
of westernization in society became even more evident.
Namyk Kemal, Ziya Pasha, Mustafa Fazyl Pasha and his
friends published the newspaper "Hürriyet"
(Freedom) in London in the year 1864. The literary themes
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 Abdülhamid 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. The Ottoman empire entered
the First World War in 1914 on the side of the allied
The Ottoman State emerged defeated from the war, together
with its allies, and was compelled to sign the Mudrow
Armistice on October 30, 1918. Also among the terms
of the armistice was a provision that the cocupying
powers might occupy areas deemed to be of strategic
importance; the powers started therefore to occupy Anatolia
on November 1, 1918 according to these terms.
On May 15, 1919, the Greeks occupied Yzmir. A national
resistance movement commenced. In many areas of the
country the Society For Defense of Rights (Müdafaa-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.
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