Bruce Morrison » The Muslim World Expands, 1300–1700

The Muslim World Expands, 1300–1700

Three great Muslim powers—the Ottoman, Safavid, and Mughal empires—emerge between 1300 and 1600. By 1700 all three were in decline.


Section 1: The Ottomans Build a Vast Empire

Section 2: Cultural Blending Case Study: The Safavid Empire

Section 3: The Mughal Empire in India


Section 1: The Ottomans Build a Vast Empire

The Ottomans establish a Muslim empire that combine many cultures and lasted for more than 600 years.


Turks Move into Byzantium


Turkish Warriors

  • Many Turks live in Anatolia, on edge of Byzantine Empire
  • Many see themselves asghazis—warriors who fight for Islam


Osman Establishes a State

  • From 1300 to 1326, Osman, successful ghazi, builds state in Anatolia
  • Europeans call him Othman and followersOttomans
  • Ottomans win battles because they use muskets and cannons
  • Successors expand state through alliances and land buying


Osman Establishes a State

  • Orkhan, Osman’s son, declares himselfsultan—overlord
  • In 1361, Turks conquer Adrianople
  • Ottomans rule fairly over conquered peoples


Timur the Lame Halts Expansion

  • Timur the Lame—Tamerlane—rises to power in Central Asia
  • Timur defeats Ottomans in 1402, burning Baghdad


Powerful Sultans Spur Dramatic Expansion


Murad II

  • Murad II begins expansion


Mehmed II Conquers Constantinople

  • Murad’s son, Mehmed II, conquers Constantinople in 1453
  • Opens city to Jews, Christians, and Muslims and rebuilds


Ottomans Take Islam’s Holy Cities

  • In 1512, Selim the Grim, Mehmed’s grandson, comes to power
  • He defeats Persian Safavids and pushes into North Africa
  • Conquers Mecca, Medina, and Cairo: important Muslim cities


Suleyman the Lawgiver


A Great Ruler

  • Suleyman the Lawgiver, Selim’s son, rules from 1520 to 1566


The Empire Reaches Its Limits

  • Suleyman conquers Belgrade (1521) and Rhodes (1522)
  • Ottomans control eastern Mediterranean
  • Turks take North African coastline, control inland trade routes
  • Suleyman’s forces advance to Vienna
  • By 1526, Ottoman Empire is the largest in the world


Highly Structured Social Organization

  • Suleyman creates law code, reduces bureaucracy, simplifies taxation
  • Army usesdevshirme—drafts boys from conquered lands
  • Trains 30,000 elite soldiers—janissaries—loyal only to the sultan
  • Jews and Christians allowed to practice own religion


Cultural Flowering

  • Suleyman’s broad interests lead to flourishing of arts, learning
  • Sinan, brilliant architect, designs magnificent Mosque of Suleyman


The Empire Declines Slowly


Gradual Fall

  • Suleyman kills one son and exiles another
  • Third son inherits throne but rules weakly
  • Later sultans kill their brothers and leave their sons uneducated
  • Long line of weak sultans leads to empire’s eventual fall


Section 2: Cultural Blending Case Study: The Safavid Empire

The Safavid Empire produce a rich and complex blended culture in Persia.


Patterns of Cultural Blending


Cultural Blending in Persia

  • Between 16th and 18th centuries a Shi’ite Muslim dynasty ruled Persia
  • Safavid Empire—Shi’ite Muslim dynasty from 16th to 18th centuries


Causes of Cultural Blending

  • Changes occur through migration, conquest, trade, or religion


Results of Cultural Blending

  • Changes in language, religion, government, use of technology
  • Racial and ethnic blending, intermarriage
  • Cultural styles adapted into arts and architecture


    • The Safavids Build an Empire


Safavid Origins

  • Begins as religious order named for founder
  • Safavids concentrate on building powerful military


Isma’il Conquers Persia

  • Fourteen-year-oldIsma’ilconquers Iran by 1451
  • Takes title ofshah—king
  • Makes Shi’a Islam official religion; kills Sunnis
  • Son, Tahmasp, greatly expands empire


A Safavid Golden Age


Abbas the Great

  • Shah Abbas—Abbas the Great—takes throne in 1587



  • Helps create a thriving Safavid culture
  • Reforms military and government; brings in Christian trade


A New Capital

  • Esfahan—new capital—is one of world’s most beautiful cities


Art Works

  • Chinese artisans blend Chinese and Persian styles



  • Carpet weaving becomes national industry


The Dynasty Declines Quickly


The Safavid Empire Weakens

  • Abbas kills and blinds his ablest sons
  • Safi, Abbas’s incompetent grandson, leads to empire’s decline
  • By 1722, the empire is losing land to the Ottomans and Afghans
  • Nadir Shah Afshar expands the empire, but it falls apart in 1747


Section 3: The Mughal Empire in India

The Mughal Empire brings Turks, Persians, and Indians together in a vast empire.


Early History of the Mughals


Mongol Invaders

  • Mughals, or Mongols, invade northwestern India



  • Muslims and Hindus fight for almost 300 years
  • In 1000, loose empire of Turkish warlords—Delhi Sultanate—forms


Delhi Sultanate

  • Sultans rule from Delhi between 13th and 16th centuries
  • Timur the Lame destroys Delhi in 1398


Early History of the Mughals


Babur Founds an Empire

  • Baburbecomes king of small land in Central Asia at age 11
  • Is dethroned and driven south into India
  • Army conquers much of northern India, formingMughal Empire
  • Son Humayun loses most of the territory Babur conquered
  • Babur’s grandson succeeds Humayan


Akbar’s Golden Age


Babur’s Grandson

  • Akbar—“Greatest One”— rules India from 1556 to 1605


A Military Conqueror

  • Akbar uses cannons; names native Indians as officers


A Liberal Ruler

  • Akbar allows religious freedom and abolishes tax on non-Muslims
  • Akbar allows all people a chance to serve in high government office
  • Hindu finance minister develops better tax plan; income grows
  • Akbar gives land to his officials, then reclaims it when they die


A Flowering of Culture

  • Many cultures blend, mixing art, education, politics, and language
  • New languages like Hindi and Urdu emerge


The Arts and Literature

  • Book illustrations, called miniatures, flourish
  • Hindu literature reemerges during Akbar’s rule



  • New architectural style named for Akbar develops


Akbar’s Successors


Jahangir and Nur Jahan

  • Akbar’s son, Jahangir, allows wife Nur Jahan to control government
  • Nur Jahan appoints her father prime minister
  • Nur Jahan favors son Khusrau over other sons
  • Khusrau rebels, supported by Sikhs, nonviolent religious group
  • Sikhs become targets of Mughal hatred


Shah Jahan

  • Shah Jahan—Jahangir’s son and successor, marries Persian princess
  • Assassinates all competitors for throne
  • His wife dies while giving birth to her 14th child in 1631
  • Taj Mahal—huge marble tomb Shah Jahan builds for his wife
  • Taj Mahal is one of the most beautiful buildings in the world


The People Suffer

  • People suffer paying for wars and monuments
  • Shah Jahan’s third son—Aurangzeb—imprisons father and takes over


Aurangzeb’s Reign

  • Rules between 1658 and 1707; expands empire to its largest
  • Strictly enforces Islamic law and attempts to get rid of Hindus
  • Hindus rebel and Sikhs become militant
  • Levies oppressive taxes on Hindus, causing more rebellion


The Empire’s Decline and Decay


The Mughal Empire Crumbles

  • Over 2 million people die of famine while Aurangzeb wages war
  • Emperor becomes a figurehead; empire breaks into separate states
  • Meanwhile, traders arrive from England, Holland, France, Portugal
  • European traders gain key ports