The Ottoman Empire

Watch The Ottoman Empire

  • 2017
  • 1 Season

The Great Courses Signature Collection presents The Ottoman Empire, a fascinating exploration of one of the most powerful empires in world history. The show is presented by Kenneth W. Harl, a renowned historian and professor of history at Tulane University. With his deep expertise in the subject matter, Harl delivers an engaging and informative narrative that takes viewers on a journey through the rise and fall of the Ottoman Empire.

The Ottoman Empire was founded in 1299 by Osman, a Turkish warrior who established a small state in Anatolia. Over the centuries, the empire grew in size and power, eventually becoming a major player in world affairs. At its height, the Ottomans controlled much of southeastern Europe, western Asia, and northern Africa, and their armies were feared and respected by all who opposed them.

The Ottoman Empire was a complex and multifaceted society, with a rich culture, a diverse population, and a dynamic political system. In The Ottoman Empire, Harl takes viewers on a deep dive into this society, exploring the customs, beliefs, and practices that made this empire so distinctive. From the Ottoman Sultans, who ruled with absolute power and authority, to the myriad cultures and peoples who lived within the empire's borders, Harl provides an insightful and nuanced look at this fascinating world.

Throughout the series, Harl examines key events and personalities that shaped Ottoman history. He discusses the empire's expansionist policies, which allowed it to conquer vast territories and establish a global empire. He also examines the role of religion in Ottoman society, showing how Islam shaped the empire's culture and values. In addition, Harl looks at the experiences of ordinary people, exploring their daily lives, their struggles, and their hopes for the future.

One of the most fascinating aspects of The Ottoman Empire is Harl's discussion of the Ottoman military. The Ottomans were renowned for their military prowess, and Harl explores the strategies and tactics that allowed them to dominate the battlefield. He also examines the role of technology in Ottoman warfare, showing how the empire's armies adapted to new advances in weaponry and logistics.

Along the way, Harl explores some of the key turning points in Ottoman history, including the fall of Constantinople in 1453, the Battle of Vienna in 1683, and the gradual decline of Ottoman power in the 18th and 19th centuries. He also looks at the factors that contributed to the empire's ultimate collapse, including economic decline, political instability, and pressures from European powers.

Throughout The Ottoman Empire, Harl brings to life the rich and complex society of this remarkable empire. He tells the stories of the people who lived within its borders, from Sultans and soldiers to merchants and farmers. And he shows how their struggles, triumphs, and failures helped to shape the world we live in today.

For anyone interested in the history of the Ottoman Empire, The Great Courses Signature Collection's The Ottoman Empire, with Kenneth W. Harl, is a must-see. With his deep knowledge of the subject matter and engaging storytelling style, Harl brings this fascinating world to life in a way that is both entertaining and informative. Experience the rise and fall of one of the world's greatest empires, and discover the enduring legacy of the Ottomans.

The Ottoman Empire is a series that is currently running and has 1 seasons (36 episodes). The series first aired on May 26, 2017.

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Nation-States, Islam, and the Ottoman Legacy
36. Nation-States, Islam, and the Ottoman Legacy
May 26, 2017
Conclude with an insightful look at how the legacy of the Ottoman Empire still influences the Middle East - and will continue to do so in the future. Each of the empire's successor states, you'll learn, has its own perceptions of this legacy, and its own lessons learned from history.
The Emergence of the Turkish Republic
35. The Emergence of the Turkish Republic
May 26, 2017
Under Mustafa Kemal, Islamic tradition was seen as an obstacle to joining European civilization. How did Kemal and the Turkish Parliament approach the daunting task of transforming the imperial heartland into the Turkish Republic? How are Turks today wrestling with their Ottoman legacy?
Casualties of War and Ethnic Cleansing
34. Casualties of War and Ethnic Cleansing
May 26, 2017
The best estimate is that a total of 800,000 Armenians died between 1915 and 1921. In this powerful lecture, examine why the destruction of the Armenian community has come to be seen as the first in a series of similar events that would wreak havoc on the 20th century.
Mustafa Kemal, Atatürk
33. Mustafa Kemal, Atatürk
May 26, 2017
Meet the "father of the Turks": Mustafa Kemal. By following his life and career, you'll come away from this fascinating lecture with a well-rounded understanding of how he came to play such a decisive role in the modernization of Turkish civilization and the creation of the Turkish Republic.
Ottoman Collapse, 1916-1918
32. Ottoman Collapse, 1916-1918
May 26, 2017
By 1916, the Ottoman Empire was fighting for its very survival. Professor Harl reveals the impact of the Russian Revolution on the war, the steady deterioration of the empire over the course of the fighting, and the army's ultimate collapse, which came suddenly and unexpectedly, in late 1918.
The Empire at Total War, 1914-1916
31. The Empire at Total War, 1914-1916
May 26, 2017
Though it entered the First World War enthusiastically, the Ottoman Empire was not prepared for total war. In this lecture, focus on the empire's offensives against the Russian Caucasus Army and the Suez Canal, as well as its struggle against an impending British invasion in the Dardanelles.
The Road to World War I
30. The Road to World War I
May 26, 2017
Using recent research (based on Russian and Ottoman archives), learn why the Ottoman Empire entered the First World War. What role did the defeats of 1911-1913 play in the road to war? Why did Ottoman ministers negotiate favorable terms with Germany in exchange for entrance into the war?
War in Libya and the Balkans, 1911-1913
29. War in Libya and the Balkans, 1911-1913
May 26, 2017
Discover why the Ottoman government was ill-prepared for both the Italo-Turkish War and the First Balkan War. Experience its stunning defeat by the improbable alliance of Serbia, Greece, and Bulgaria. Learn why the Treaty of Constantinople almost assured the outbreak of another Balkan war.
Constitutional Reform, 1908-1913
28. Constitutional Reform, 1908-1913
May 26, 2017
Turn now to the Second Constitutional Period, which raised hopes for imperial recovery and reform but ended with the domination of power by the Committee of Union and Progress (CUP). Thus emerged a shadow government that became an unintended dress rehearsal for future one-party dictatorships.
The Sultan Returns: Abdül Hamid II, 1876-1908
27. The Sultan Returns: Abdül Hamid II, 1876-1908
May 26, 2017
On December 23, 1876, Sultan Abdül Hamid II proclaimed the first Ottoman constitution. Eleven months later, it was suspended, along with its Parliament. Go inside this period of continued reform, which tied "the Porte" to an alliance with Germany and ultimately led to Sultan Hamid II's downfall.
Defeat and Retreat: The Sick Man of Europe
26. Defeat and Retreat: The Sick Man of Europe
May 26, 2017
How did the Crimean War vindicate the reformers of Tanzimat? Why was the Treaty of Paris a strategic victory for "the Porte" - that came at a high price? What impact did the empire's catastrophic defeat during the Russo-Turkish War have on its future with the Concert of Europe?
Tanzimat and Modernization, 1839-1876
25. Tanzimat and Modernization, 1839-1876
May 26, 2017
First, examine how the reforms of professional ministers led by Mustafa Reşid Paşa ushered in a massive reorganization (Tanzimat) of both the Ottoman State and Ottoman society. Then, consider how Tanzimat widened divisions within Ottoman society and failed to make the empire a member of the Concert of Europe.
Crisis: Muhammad Ali and Balkan Nationalists
24. Crisis: Muhammad Ali and Balkan Nationalists
May 26, 2017
Learn how Muhammad Ali exploited the confusion in Egypt after Napoleon's departure and, in 35 years, became the first successful Muslim ruler to transform Egypt into the literary and intellectual center of the Arabic-speaking world. Also, consider several Serbian and Greek revolts that rocked the Ottoman Empire.
Napoleon Invades Ottoman Egypt
23. Napoleon Invades Ottoman Egypt
May 26, 2017
France's occupation of Egypt from 1798 to 1801 compromised the restoration of Ottoman rule in the country. And, as you'll learn, Napoleon's invasion also marked the first instance of the Muslim Middle East's encounter with modernity and political reforms based on the principles of the French Revolution.
The Empire at Bay, 1699-1798
22. The Empire at Bay, 1699-1798
May 26, 2017
In this lecture, learn why the 1699 Treaty of Karlowitz is a turning point in Ottoman history - another that marked the empire's steady decline into the "Sick Man of Europe." Central to this lecture: the Ottoman military's engagement with a powerful new Christian foe: Catherine the Great.
Köprülü Viziers and Imperial Revival
21. Köprülü Viziers and Imperial Revival
May 26, 2017
Professor Harl reveals how a dynasty of Grand Viziers and bureaucrats rescued the Ottoman Empire from factions and court intrigue, then guided the empire through various crises between 1683 and 1699, helping to end the ruinous war against Venice, as well as end political instability within the House of Osman.
Sultan and Venice: War in the Mediterranean
20. Sultan and Venice: War in the Mediterranean
May 26, 2017
Learn why Ottoman success at sea in the 1500s stemmed from Suleiman's strategic vision and the skills of his admirals. Along the way, you'll investigate Suleiman's war against Venice, the Siege of Malta, the Battle of Lepanto, and battles with another European naval power: Portugal.
Sultan and Emperor: War in the West
19. Sultan and Emperor: War in the West
May 26, 2017
Visit the empire's northern border in Europe to explore its military clashes with the West. Why was fighting in Central Europe so indecisive? Why did the Long-Turkish War prove so embarrassing for three sultans? How did "the Porte" come to ease tensions with the Habsburgs after 1605?
Sultan and Shah: Challenge of Safavid Iran
18. Sultan and Shah: Challenge of Safavid Iran
May 26, 2017
The Ottoman Sultan and the Safavid Shah clashed frequently over strategic lands between the two civilizations. First, learn why Safavid Iran was the religious and ideological rival of "the Porte." Then, examine five major wars the Ottomans waged against their rivals between 1514 and 1722.
The Sultan at War: The Ottoman Army
17. The Sultan at War: The Ottoman Army
May 26, 2017
Sultans between the reigns of Murad II and Mehmet IV commanded one of the finest armies in Eurasia. Discover how the Ottoman imperial army matched Europe's best, how money was raised to meet the rising costs of war, why the Ottoman army suffered decisive defeats, and more.
Ottoman Constantinople
16. Ottoman Constantinople
May 26, 2017
What was Constantinople like under Ottoman control? Professor Harl shows how the empire became a veritable paradise among Muslim cities, with markets and mosque complexes, social activities and public spaces, and the grandeur of Topkapı, which you'll see through the eyes of French Ambassadors sent in 1536.
Sunni Islam and Ottoman Civilization
15. Sunni Islam and Ottoman Civilization
May 26, 2017
Go deeper inside the details of Ottoman civilization. Among the topics you'll explore are the transformation of Turkish into a new literary language; the importance of calligraphy and miniaturist painting; intellectual developments in history and geography; and, finally, the cultural influence of the Sufis.
Christians and Jews under the Porte
14. Christians and Jews under the Porte
May 26, 2017
Under the Ottomans, Christian and Jewish subjects were classified as dhimmi ("people of the book") and were afford legal protection and the right to practice their faith. Explore daily life in some of the Christian and Jewish communities (millet) scattered across the empire.
Arabs under the Ottoman Caliph
13. Arabs under the Ottoman Caliph
May 26, 2017
For 300 years, Ottoman Sultans ruled the majority of Arabs. How did "the Porte" successfully administer the diverse Arab provinces under its control? How did "the Porte" respect Islamic traditions? Why were the Arabs so loyal to the empire up until the early 19th century?
Trade, Money, and Cities
12. Trade, Money, and Cities
May 26, 2017
Trade was vital to the Ottoman Empire - as well as a cause for its decline from "Porte" to "Sick Man of Europe." Trace some of the empire's most prominent trade routes, including the iconic Silk Road, as well as the British penetration of Ottoman markets in 1838.
Timariots, Peasants, and Pastoralists
11. Timariots, Peasants, and Pastoralists
May 26, 2017
Between 1500 and 1800, the Ottoman Empire spread across more than 1 million square miles - but economic activity varied from region to region. Discover how groups like pastoralists and the Muslim gentry (timariots) played their own critical roles in the drama and resiliency of the rural Ottoman economy.
The Sultan-Caliph and His Servants
10. The Sultan-Caliph and His Servants
May 26, 2017
Ottoman sultans played two roles: as sultan/warrior and as the caliph of Sunni Islam. Here, unpack the role of the sultan in the Ottoman Empire, including his relationship with the ulema (religious experts), his central administration (called "the Porte"), and with his viziers.
Sultans in Topkapı, 1566-1648
9. Sultans in Topkapı, 1566-1648
May 26, 2017
Turn now to a period of decline, most notable for the emergence of the harem as a powerful political institution. Meet sultans including Murad III, a patron of the arts (especially miniaturist painting) and Ahmet I, an ineffective 13-year-old who presided over the "Sultanate of Women."
Suleiman the Magnificent, 1520-1566
8. Suleiman the Magnificent, 1520-1566
May 26, 2017
Suleiman the Magnificent presided over the zenith of the Ottoman Empire. You'll learn how, during his 46-year reign, he expanded civil bureaucracy, waged a naval war in the Mediterranean against Habsburg Spain, and also altered the imperial succession - sowing what some historians consider the seeds of the empire's downfall.
Selim the Grim and the Conquest of Cairo
7. Selim the Grim and the Conquest of Cairo
May 26, 2017
In 1512, Selim emerged victorious from the ashes of a civil war and executed all challenges to his rule (earning him the sobriquet "the Grim"). Go inside Selim's military campaigns against Iran, Syria, and Egypt, which helped make the Ottoman Empire virtually synonymous with the "house of Islam."
Mehmet the Conqueror, 1451-1481
6. Mehmet the Conqueror, 1451-1481
May 26, 2017
Mehmet the Conqueror made the Ottoman sultanate a leading Muslim power by 1481. In this lecture, investigate his remarkable rule, which included the conquest of Constantinople, the remodeling of the Hagia Sophia as a mosque, and the construction of the grand, walled mini-city of Topkapı.
Defeat and Recovery, 1402-1451
5. Defeat and Recovery, 1402-1451
May 26, 2017
The defeat of Sultan Bayezid by Tamerlane at the Battle of Angora revealed the fragile nature of the nascent Ottoman sultanate. Focus on the empire's recovery under Mehmed I Çelebi and Murad II, who made the empire into a bureaucratic monarchy and defeated the Hungarians at the Battle of Varna.
Ottoman Sultans of Bursa
4. Ottoman Sultans of Bursa
May 26, 2017
Meet the sultans who transformed the Ottoman sultanate into an imperial state. Among these: Orhan, who made Bursa the state's capital; Murad I and Bayezid I, who incorporated Asia Minor into the Ottoman state; and "the Thunderbolt," who forged an empire of tributaries in the Balkans and Anatolia.
The Islamization of Asia Minor
3. The Islamization of Asia Minor
May 26, 2017
First, learn how the Seljuk sultans created an Islamic Turkish Anatolia, which would become the heartland of future Ottoman sultans. Then, explore Seljuk developments in architecture, decorative art, and religion - including domed mosques, medresses (religious schools), and "whirling dervishes."
Seljuk Turks in Asia Minor
2. Seljuk Turks in Asia Minor
May 26, 2017
Ottoman sultans traced their origins to the Oghuz Turks of the Central Eurasian steppes, whose nomadic ways of life were transformed by Islam. Follow along as the subsequent Seljuk Turks evolve from raiders to conquerors - and spark conflict with Western Europe's religious pilgrims.
Sublime Porte: Visions of the Ottoman Empire
1. Sublime Porte: Visions of the Ottoman Empire
May 26, 2017
How should one consider the vast history of the Ottoman Empire? Professor Harl sets the stage for the lectures to come with a consideration of key themes in the empire's journey from "Sublime Porte" to "Sick Man of Europe" - as well as the distorting images of Orientalism. #History
Where to Watch The Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman Empire is available for streaming on the The Great Courses Signature Collection website, both individual episodes and full seasons. You can also watch The Ottoman Empire on demand at Apple TV Channels and Amazon Prime and Amazon.
  • Premiere Date
    May 26, 2017