When considering the Ottoman Empire, one of the chief ideas to spring to mind is Islam. Certainly it is accepted that the Ottoman empire was traditionally an Islamic empire and remained officially so from its birth to its demise. However, to ascertain whether religion was the most significant motivation for their expansion this empire must be examined in further detail.
The Ottoman Empire sprung from nomadic tribes conquering neighbouring territories in Anatolia. The word Ottoman means literally 'those who are with Osman,' owing to their uniting leader being Osman. The empire began in the early 14th century, reached its apex under Suleyman the Great (1520-1566) and continued until World War 1. Religion seems to be a key factor in the early Ottoman Empire, indeed around the same time as the rise of this Empire was the seperation of the East and West via religious suffusing in Europe. (Fabricating the Ottoman state pp.
"Historical context may help explain the existence, the ideologies, and the idiosyncrasies of these frontier principalities. It does not, however, make clear how a particular one of them transformed itself into a world empire." (Fabricating the Ottoman state pp. 34).
That is to say that it is understandable where the Ottoman's came from, however their transformation from a nomadic peoples to a vast empire and the motivations for this are shrouded.
The first warriors were fighting a gaza which can be roughly interpreted as meaning holy war. The warriors who fought this war were devoted to Islam to the point of fanaticism and were known as gazi. The gazi are believed to have been new converts to Islam, arriving from central Asia. A new reworking of 'the gazi thesis' asserts that new converts are often the most volatile. Although the newly converted may be deticated and...