After great military successes throughout the sixteenth century, the Ottomans face a series of setbacks in the seventeenth. The siege of Vienna against the Habsburgs ends unsuccessfully in 1683, and soon afterward Hungary and Transylvania break free of the empire. In the East, parts of Iraq are lost to the Safavids. The Ottomans continue to hold onto most provinces, but locals gain greater power in determining their governors, and by the 1800s the Ottomans face a new threat in the form of Russian expansionism. The arts, however, continue to flourish and in this period are transformed under the influence of the European Baroque.
160317By the reign of Ahmed I, the role of the Ottoman sultan has transformed from that of a visible and involved military ruler to that of a peacetime autocrat, protected behind veils of ceremonial and little concerned with the daily affairs of the empire. Instead, statesmen and generals compete for power with the Valide Sultan (mother of the sultan) and heads of the eunuch and the Janissary corps.
1606The Ottomans are forced to sign an unfavorable treaty with Austria and recognize the Habsburg emperor as an equal.
161822Osman II, would-be military reformer, has little time to overhaul the Janissary system before he is assassinated.
1623The Ottomans temporarily lose Baghdad, their main Eastern defensive city, to the Safavids.
162340Murad IV is the first sultan in many years to participate in the battlefield and is successful in regaining Baghdad. The tile-revetted Baghdad Kiosk (163839) and the Revan Pavilion (163536) at the Topkapi Palace commemorate his victories in Iraq and Armenia. His mother, Kösem Mahpeyker, has a strong hand in politics.
166083Hostilities with Austria end with the loss of the siege of Vienna, and afterward the Ottoman armies are defeated at Buda, Belgrade, and Slankamen. Uprisings in this region culminate in the 1688 independence of the province of Hungary.
1669The Ottomans capture Crete.
170330The reign of Ahmed III is known as the Tulip Period. The popularity of this flower is reflected in a new style of floral decoration that appears in architectural ornament, clothing, and manuscript illustration. Yirmisekiz Mehmed Çelebi is sent as ambassador to Louis XV at Versailles, and his reports home arouse a great interest in French architecture, gardens, and interior decoration.
1727Ibrahim Müteferrika establishes in Istanbul the first printing press for works in Arabic, Persian, and Turkish.
1730Ibrahim Pasha, vizier of Ahmed III, is killed during revolts in Istanbul protesting the dynasty's extravagant spending, and the sultan is forced to abdicate.
1739The Ottomans regain Belgrade.
176874The Russians, a new player on the field of empire builders, advance into Bulgaria and over the next several years push back the Ottoman border to the Dnieper River. They also gain coastal lands on the Black Sea, which allows them to trade freely there for the first time.
1774Crimea gains its independence from the Ottomans (but is annexed by Russia in 1783).
177489Abdülhamid I attempts to reform the outdated Janissary military system.
1798Napoleon occupies Egypt; the Ottomans do not regain control of the province until 1801.
Velvet cushion cover (yastik), ca. 1600
Silk, cotton, metal-wrapped thread; cut and voided velvet (çatma), brocaded; a: H. 50 in. (127 cm), W. 26 1/2 in. (67.3 cm), b: H. 50 1/2 in. (128.3 cm), W. 26 1/2 in. (67.3 cm)
Mr. and Mrs. Isaac D. Fletcher Collection, Bequest of Isaac D. Fletcher, 1917 (17.120.123)