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Year 9 History - The Ottoman Empire


The Ottoman Empire was one of the mightiest and longest-lasting empires in world history. It was an Islamic empire that ruled large areas of the Middle East, Eastern Europe and North Africa for more than 600 years.

The chief leader was known as the Sultan and he had total religious and political authority over his people. Generally, Western Europeans viewed them as a threat but many historians regard the Ottoman Empire as a source of great regional stability and security. They were also the source of great achievements in the arts, science, religion and culture.

The Ottomans and the Byzantine Empire

Osman I, a leader of the Turkish tribes in Anatolia, founded the Ottoman Empire around 1299. The term “Ottoman” is derived from Osman’s name, which means “Uthman” in Arabic.

The Ottoman Turks set up a formal government and expanded their territory under the leadership of Osman I, Orhan, Murad I and Bayezid I.

In 1453, Mehmed II the Conqueror led the Ottoman Turks in seizing the ancient city of Constantinople, the Byzantine Empire’s capital. This put an end to a 1,000-year reign of the Byzantine Empire.

Sultan Mehmed renamed the city Istanbul, meaning “the city of Islam” and made it the new capital of the Ottoman Empire. Istanbul became a dominant international centre of trade and culture. Mehmed died in 1481. His oldest son, Bayezid II, became the new Sultan.

Over the next couple of sessions, you will learn a little more about the Byzantine Empire, the Empire toppled by the Ottomans. Follow this WebQuest, completing the activities as you go along. Take your time, this should take you a few days to complete.

  • Using the resource, describe the splitting of the Roman Empire after the fall of Rome.

  • Read the information and explain why Constantinople was strategically located.

Hagia Sophia

Using the internet do a little research about the Hagai Sophia and write a tourist brochure. Make sure you included:

  • Location

  • Why it was important and why it is still important.

  • What the Imperial Gate was used for.

Emperor Justinian

Here I want you to record a biography of Emperor Justinian. Remember to include important dates, places, people and events. These videos will give you a lot of information. They are only short but there are 12 in the series. When you finish the first one just click through to the next video. You do not have to watch them all in one sitting, take your time and make notes as you through.

For your biography, you can choose an activity from the list below.

  1. Make a short documentary film.

  2. Record a movie trailer for his life.

  3. Record a start-stop animation of his life.

  4. Create a series of artworks to illustrate his life.

  5. Write a more traditional biography.

  6. Write an obituary for him.

  7. Compile a gallery where you collect a range of objects that represent his life and write short descriptions for the objects.

  8. Write a series of social media posts following him through the different periods in his life.

  9. Make a collage to represent his life.

  10. Create a piece of word art to record his life.

Byzantine Report

Next, you are going to round up what you know about the Byzantine Empire. You can read more about the Byzantine Empire here and listen to the audiobook here. Choose one of the options below and feel free to reuse some of the work you have already completed.

  1. Create a slideshow for a year 6 class to introduce them to the Byzantine Empire.

  2. Write a list of interview questions and think about how you would answer them. Ask another person to read the questions to you and you answer them in the style of an interview. Film the interview.

  3. Use the free account on Bookcreator to write a chapter in a history textbook on the Byzantine Empire for year 9. If you prefer a different book creator then use that.

  4. Create an educational comic about the Byzantine Empire using makebeliefscomix or any comic creator you prefer to use.


The Ottoman Empire reached its peak between 1520 and 1566, during the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent. This period was marked by great power, stability and wealth.

Suleiman created a uniform system of law and welcomed different forms of art and literature. Many Muslims considered Suleiman a religious leader as well as a political ruler.

Throughout Sultan Suleiman’s rule, the empire expanded and included areas of Eastern Europe. At its height, the Ottoman Empire included the following regions: Turkey, Greece, Bulgaria, Egypt, Hungary, Macedonia, Romania, Jordan, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria and some of Arabia and a considerable amount of the North African coastal strip.

Print out the map below and colour in all the regions that were part of the Ottoman Empire during Suleiman's reign.

Ottoman Empire
Download PDF • 784KB

Below there is a video all about Suleiman. There are 6 in the series so click through to the next one once you finish. You can watch them to really get to know this leader but do not worry too much about remembering everything! You need to know who Suleiman was but you do not need to know the dates of every war he fought or the names of all the people he spoke with. There is a lot of information in the videos so if you want to you can use a mind map to collect what you learn.

Suleiman Inquiry


How magnificent was Suleiman?

Background - Read

Read this article from The National Geographic from the start to the end of the paragraph that starts 'His proposal to find the lost tomb fired the imagination...'.


You are going to construct an argument as to whether you think Suleiman deserved the title ' The Magnificent' or not using what you have already learned and a number of new sources. You will construct this argument by answering four questions. Take a whole session to answer each question this inquiry should take five one hour sessions to complete.

Use the sources and inquiry kit here to answer the questions.

Question 1

How was Suleiman characterised during his reign?

  1. Looking at the following sources decide which is most reliable and why.

  2. Read each source.

  3. List reasons why Suleimen might be perceived as magnificent.

Question 2

How did Suleiman expand the Ottoman Empire?

  1. Looking at the following sources decide which is most reliable and why.

  2. Read each source.

  3. Write a paragraph describing how Suleiman conquered territories and expanded the empire.

Question 3

What changes did Suleiman make to the way the empire was governed?

  1. Looking at the following sources decide which is most reliable and why.

  2. Read each source.

  3. Write a summary of the laws and reforms that stabalised his control over the Ottoman Empire.

Question 4

To what extent did Suleiman promote tolerance across the empire?

  1. Looking at the following sources decide which is most reliable and why.

  2. Read each source.

  3. Make a claim answering this question using supporting evidence.


Using what you have collected, construct your argument, 'How Magnificent was Suleiman'. Your argument may take the form of an essay, poster, video presentation or slide show. Ensure you state your position clearly, elaborating on specific points using supportive evidence. Try to include an acknowledgement of competing claims and why you do not hold to them. If you need help structuring your argument there is a great round up here.

Decline of the Ottoman Empire

With the dawn of the Renaissance and the Industrial Revolution in Europe, the Ottoman Empire's power and influence began to decline. This was helped by the competition from the Americans and India for trade.

In 1683, the Ottoman Turks were defeated at the Battle of Vienna. This loss added to their already waning status.

Over the next hundred years, the empire began to lose key regions of land. After a revolt, Greece won their independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1830.

In 1878, the Congress of Berlin declared the independence of Romania, Serbia and Bulgaria.

During the Balkan Wars, which took place in 1912 and 1913, the Ottoman Empire lost nearly all their territories in Europe. These events were one of the main causes of World War 1.

In 1914 the Ottoman Turks entered the WW1 on the side of the Central Powers (Incl. Germany) who fought against the allies (Incl. Great Britain) and they were defeated in 1918. Following this war the Ottoman territories were divided between Britain, France, Greece and Russia.

The Ottoman empire officially ended in 1922 when the title of Ottoman Sultan was eliminated. Turkey was declared a republic in 1923.

Using the internet find out what a republic is.


Even today the killing of Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire is an event that stirs up much controversy and disagreement. Generally it is agreed that a very large number of Armenians were murdered in 1915, often in a brutal and calculated way. However, the numbers reported vary from 300,000 (Turkeys lowest figure) to 1.5 million.

Many countries now recognise this massacre as a genocide. That is the deliberate killing of the Armenian people for the purpose of completely eliminating them. Other countries, such as Great Britain, recognise it as a terrible massacre. Turkey views it as a political act against a group of people who allied with Russia against the Ottoman Empire.

You can read more about it here and watch more about the controversy in this KhansAcademy video.

What do you think? Do you think the massacre was a genocide or not? Why? Do you think that Great Britain should acknowledge the event as a massacre? Does it matter what we call the event?

Ottoman Successes

There were many reasons why the Ottoman Empire was so successful:

  • Highly centralised around Istanbul.

  • Power was always transferred to a single person, and not split between rival princes - The Ottoman Empire was successfully ruled by a single family for 7 centuries. Fratricide - the practice of locking up the Sultans brothers and their families until the Sultan had a son - and the killing of the sultan's brothers ensured a smooth succession.

  • State-run education system - ensured education was available and consistent.

  • Religion was incorporated in the state structure, and the Sultan was regarded as "the protector of Islam" - no conflict between state and church.

  • State-run judicial system - reduced the instances of local rulers inflicting harm on their neighbours by making up rules and punishments. You could travel anywhere in the empire and know what the law was.

  • Ruthless in dealing with local leaders - this nipped rebellion in the bud and stopped others thinking about doing the same.

  • Promotion to positions of power largely depended on merit - so people in power knew what they were doing and were aligned with the overall state objectives. This made them more efficient.

  • Created alliances across political and racial groups - they didn't have to spend lots of energy and resources keeping other groups such as Christians, inline or stopping them rebelling as they incorporated them and were very tolerant.

  • United by Islamic ideology - this created a sense of unity across the empire.

  • United by Islamic warrior code with ideal of increasing Muslim territory through Jihad.

  • United by Islamic organisational and administrative structures.

  • Highly pragmatic, taking the best ideas from other cultures and making them their own.

  • Private power and wealth were controlled - so the wealthy did not have as much power over the empire as they had in other empires throughout history.

  • Very strong military

  • Strong slave-based army - slaves were generally treated well and valued.

  • Expert in developing gunpowder as a military tool

  • Military ethos pervaded the whole administration

The mighty empire’s influence is still very much alive in the present-day Turkish Republic, a modern, mostly secular nation thought of by many scholars as a continuation of the Ottoman Empire.

Go here and complete the Globtrotters Turkey lapbook so that you know some of the basic facts about this country.

Ottoman Art

Go here and choose three aspects of Ottoman art to research. Create an infographic or poster to explain each art form, why it was important and any lasting effect it has had on today's culture. Remember to make your work clear, informative, attractive to look at and uncluttered. You really have to think about what to include and what not to!

Some Fun!

Go here to find your way around the Empire.

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