Ottoman Decline

The Ottoman Decline Thesis refers to a now-obsolete historical narrative which had once been used to explain the history of the Ottoman Empire. According to the Decline Thesis, following a golden age associated with the reign of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent (r. 1520-1566), the empire gradually entered into a period of all-encompassing stagnation and decline from which it was never able to recover, lasting until the empire's dissolution in 1923. This thesis was used throughout most of the twentieth century as the basis of both Western and Republican Turkish understanding of Ottoman history. However, by 1978, historians had begun to reexamine the fundamental assumptions of the Decline Thesis. After the publication of numerous new studies throughout the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s, and the reexamination of Ottoman history through the use of previously untapped sources and methodologies, academic historians of the Ottoman Empire achieved a consensus that the entire notion of Ottoman decline was a myth - that in fact, the Ottoman Empire did not stagnate or decline at all, but rather continued to be a vigorous and dynamic state long after the death of Suleiman the Magnificent. The Decline Thesis has been criticized as "teleological," "regressive," "Orientalist," "simplistic," and "one-dimensional," and described as "a concept which has no place in historical analysis."

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