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Culture & People

The Turkish people (Turkish: Turk), also known as (Turks) are defined mainly as citizens of the Republic of Turkey. An early history text provided the definition of being a Turk as any individual within the Republic of Turkey, whatever his faith who speaks Turkish, grows up with Turkish culture and adopts the Turkish ideal is a Turk. This ideal came from the beliefs of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. Today the word is primarily used for the inhabitants of Turkey, but may also refer to the members of sizeable Turkish-speaking populations of the former lands of the Ottoman Empire and large Turkish communities which been established in Europe (particularly in Germany, France, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands), as well as North America, and Australia.

In 1037, they entered Persia and established their first powerful state, called by historians the Empire of the Great Seljuks. They captured Baghdad in 1055 and a relatively small contingent of warriors (around 5,000 by some estimates) moved into eastern Anatolia. In 1071, the Seljuks engaged the armies of the Byzantine Empire at Manzikert, north of Lake Van. The Byzantines experienced minor casualties despite the fact that Emperor Romanus IV Diogenes was captured. With no potent Byzantine force to stop them, the Seljuks took control of most of Eastern and Central Anatolia. They established their capital at Konya and ruled what would be known as the Seljuk Sultanate of Rum. The success of the Seljuk Turks stimulated a response from Latin Europe in the form of the First Crusade. A counteroffensive launched in 1097 by the Byzantines with the aid of the Crusaders dealt the Seljuks a decisive defeat. Konya fell to the Crusaders, and after a few years of campaigning, Byzantine rule was restored in the western third of Anatolia. Although a Turkish revival in the 1140s nullified much of the Christian gains, greater damage was done to Byzantine security by dynastic strife in Constantinople in which the largely French contingents of the Fourth Crusade and their Venetian allies intervened. In 1204, these Crusaders conquered Constantinople and installed Count Baldwin of Flanders in the Byzantine capital as emperor of the so-called Latin Empire of Constantinople, dismembering the old realm into tributary states where West European feudal institutions were transplanted intact. Independent Greek kingdoms were established at Nicaea (present-day Iznik), Trebizond (present-day Trabzon), and Epirus from remnant Byzantine provinces. Turks allied with Greeks in Anatolia against the Latins, and Greeks with Turks against the Mongols. In 1261, Michael Palaeologus of Nicaea drove the Latins from Constantinople and restored the Byzantine Empire. Seljuk Rum survived in the late 13th century as a vassal state of the Mongols, who had already subjugated the Great Seljuk sultanate at Baghdad. Mongol influence in the region had disappeared by the 1330s, leaving behind gazi emirates competing for supremacy. From the chaotic conditions that prevailed throughout the Middle East, however, a new power was to emerge in Anatolia, the Ottoman Turks.

Ottoman era
The Ottoman Empire (Old Ottoman Turkish: Devlet-i Âliye-yi Osmâniyye, Late Ottoman and Modern Turkish: Osmanly Devleti or Osmanly Ymparatorlu?u), was a Turkish state. The state was known as the Turkish Empire or Turkey by its contemporaries. (See the other names of the Ottoman State.) Starting as a small tribe whose territory bordered on the Byzantine frontier, the Ottoman Turks built an empire that at the height of its power (16th–17th century), spanned three continents, controlling much of Southeastern Europe, the Middle East and North Africa.

As the power of the Seljuk Sultanate of Rum weakened in the late 1200s, warrior chieftains claimed the lands of Northwestern Anatolia, along the Byzantine Empires borders. Ertu?rul gazi ruled the lands around Sö?üt, a town between Bursa and Eskisehir. Upon his death in 1281, his son, Osman, from whom the Ottoman dynasty and the Empire took its name, expanded the territory to 16,000 square kilometers. Osman I, who was given the nickname Kara (Turkish for black) for his courage, extended the frontiers of Ottoman settlement towards the edge of the Byzantine Empire. He shaped the early political development of the state and moved the Ottoman capital to Bursa.

By 1452 the Ottomans controlled almost all of the former Byzantine lands except Constantinople. On May 29, 1453, Mehmet the Conqueror captured Constantinople after a 53-day siege and proclaimed that the city was now the new capital of his Ottoman Empire. Sultan Mehmeds first duty was to rejuvenate the city economically, creating the Grand Bazaar and inviting the fleeing Orthodox and Catholic inhabitants to return. Captured prisoners were freed to settle in the city whilst provincial governors in Rumelia and Anatolia were ordered to send four thousand families to settle in the city, whether Muslim, Christian or Jew, to form a unique cosmopolitan society.

During the growth of the Ottoman Empire (also known as the Pax Ottomana), Selim I extended Ottoman sovereignty southward, conquering Syria, Palestine, and Egypt. He also gained recognition as guardian of the holy cities of Mecca and Medina; he accepted pious the title of The Servant of The Two Holy Shrines.

Süleyman I, known in the West as Suleiman the Magnificent and in the East, as the Lawgiver, for his complete reconstruction of the Ottoman legal system. The reign of Süleyman the Magnificent is known as the Ottoman golden age. The brilliance of the Sultans court and the might of his armies outshone those of Englands Henry VIII, Frances François I, and Holy Roman Emperor Charles V. When Süleyman died in 1566, the Ottoman Empire was a world power. Most of the great cities of Islam--Mecca, Medina, Jerusalem, Damascus, Cairo, Tunis, and Baghdad were under the sultans crescent flag. After Süleyman, however, the empire declined rapidly due to poor leadership; many successive Sultans largely depended upon their Grand Viziers to run the empire.

The Ottoman sultanate lasted for 624 years, but its last three centuries were marked by stagnation and eventual decline. By the 19th century, the Ottomans had fallen well behind the rest of Europe in science, technology, and industry. Reformist Sultans such as Selim III and Mahmud II succeeded in pushing Ottoman bureaucracy, society and culture ahead, but were unable to cure all of the empires ills. Despite its collapse, the Ottoman empire has left an indelible mark on Turkish culture and architecture. Ottoman culture has given the Turkish people a splendid legacy of art, architecture and domestic refinement, as a visit to Istanbuls Topkapi Palace readily shows.

The Republic of Turkey
Gazi Mustafa Kemal Atatürk
Eighteen female MPs joined the Turkish Parliament in 1935, at a time when women in a significant number of other European countries had no voting rights.The Republic of Turkey was born from the disastrous World War I defeat of the Ottoman Empire. The Ottoman war hero, Mustafa Kemal Pasha (later called Atatürk), fled Istanbul to Anatolia in 1919; he organized the remnants of the Ottoman army into an effective fighting force, and rallied the people to the nationalist cause. Under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal Pasha, a military commander who had distinguished himself during the Battle of Gallipoli; the Turkish War of Independence was waged with the aim of revoking the terms of the Treaty of Sèvres. By 1923 the nationalist government had driven out the invading armies, abolished the Ottoman Empire, promulgated a republican constitution, and established Turkeys new capital in Ankara.
During a meeting in the early days of the new republic, Atatürk proclaimed:
To the women: Win for us the battle of education and you will do yet more for your country than we have been able to do. It is to you that I appeal.
To the men: If henceforward the women do not share in the social life of the nation, we shall never attain to our full development. We shall remain irremediably backward, incapable of treating on equal terms with the civilizations of the West.
Mustafa Kemal ATATURK

Turkish people have a very diverse culture that is a blend of various elements of the O?uz Turkic and Anatolian, Ottoman, and Western culture and traditions which started with the Westernization of the Ottoman Empire and continues today. This mix is a result of the encounter of Turks and their culture with those of the peoples who were in their path during their migration from Central Asia to the West. As Turkey successfully transformed from the religion-based former Ottoman Empire into a modern nation-state with a very strong separation of state and religion, an increase in the methods of artistic expression followed. During the first years of the republic, the government invested a large amount of resources into fine arts, such as museums, theatres, and architecture. Because of different historical factors playing an important role in defining the modern Turkish identity, Turkish culture is a product of efforts to be "modern" and Western, combined with the necessity felt to maintain traditional religious and historical values.

Language  Turkish Religion  Handicraft  Cinema  Music  Architecture 

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