The Russian-Ottoman War of 1877-78 further weakened the Empire and led to further internal conflict and wars of independence. The Congress of Berlin, 1878, was meant to provide more stability for the Porte but only succeeded in further destabilising it, particularly in the Balkans.
The widespread perception of the Porte as the sick man of Europe led the Allies to underestimate the Ottoman forces and this led to the disastrous Gallipoli campaign during World War I. But the Arab Revolt and subsequent Allied successes brought the Ottoman Empire to a state of collapse by 1918.
A Turkish national resistance movement emerged which was led by Mustafa Kemal (Atatürk). Its military successes enabled Kemal and other nationalist supporters to establish a provisional government in Ankara in 1921 and the process of creating the Republic of Turkey began.
Mustafa Kemal was born on 19 May 1881 in Salonika (present day Thessaloniki) in the Ottoman Empire. He graduated from the Ottoman Military College in Constantinople in 1905 and was assigned to the 5th Army. He served in the Balkan Wars and World War I and in July 1917 he took command of the 7th army. During the Turkish War of Independence (1919-22) he was promoted to Commander-in-Chief of the Turkish forces under the Grand National Assembly, and was given the rank of Marshal after the defeat of the Greek army at the Battle of Sakanya in September 1921. He served as the 1st President of Turkey from 29 October 1923 until his death on 10 November 1938.
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By the 17th century the Ottoman Empire controlled much of the eastern Mediterranean, central and eastern Europe, North Africa and south west Asia. A long period of expansion in Europe came to an end with the siege of Vienna in 1683 where a large Ottoman army was defeated by an Alliance of German, Habsburg and Polish forces led by Jan Sobieski, the King of Poland. Defeat was followed by 16 years of intermittent warfare culminating in the Treaty of Karlowitz (1699) through which the Ottoman Empire lost control of some of its European territories.
The end of the expansionist era was followed by a period of stagnation where a number of attempts to introduce modernization and administrative reforms failed and conservative forces held sway in the Caliphate. A number of wars between the Ottoman Empire and Tsarist Russia further weakened the capacity of the Caliphate to control its European territories. By the early 19th century a number of nationalist movements were emerging within the Ottoman European lands, particularly in the Balkans. The prolonged Serbian revolution (1804 – 1833) and the Greek War of Independence (1821) served to further fuel the flames of nationalism across the whole south-eastern region of Europe.
During the 19th century a number of reforms were introduced including a reorganisation of the army, a new legal system along French lines and reforms in administration and education. Railways were constructed, the telegraph was introduced and other elements of modernization. Reformists pressed for a constitutional monarchy and the first Ottoman Parliament met in 1876. It sat for two years until the Sultan suspended it indefinitely.
The decisive victory of the Russian forces in the Russian-Ottoman War further weakened the Ottoman Empire led to the independence of Bulgaria, Wallachia and Moldavia and confirmed the independence of Serbia and Montenegro. Fearing further destabilization in the region, the Great Powers convened the Congress of Berlin in the summer of 1878 and took steps to restores some of the territory which the Porte had lost as a result of the war. On the other hand the Congress also created resentment in the region which ultimately de-stabilized the region even more and led to the First World War.
The Congress of Berlin succeeded in temporarily shoring up the weakened Ottoman Empire but Imperial Russia, the victors of the Russian-Ottoman War in 1878, felt that they had been treated as if they were the losers by the other Great Powers. The nationalist movements in the Balkans continued to grow and become increasingly active. Austria unilaterally occupied Bosnia Herzegovina and Novi Pazar in 1878 although Ottoman troops also continued to be stationed in both provinces for the next 30 years and both powers continued to contest each other’s occupation of these territories. Through the Congress of Berlin, Britain took control of Cyprus in 1878 and gradually took control over Egypt, while France occupied Tunisia.
The old regime in the Ottoman empire was further weakened by the Young Turk Revolution of 1908, organised by a coalition of army officers, liberal reformists, nationalists and secular modernists was triggered by discontent within the 3rd Army garrisoned in Macedonia. Rebellion spread rapidly and on July 24 1908 Sultan Abdülhamid II restored the Constitution and the Parliament. A year later he was deposed in favour of his brother, Mehmed V, although power lay with the Government.
In 1914 the Empire entered the First World War on the side of Germany and the Central Powers. After some early successes the tide began to turn against the empire in 1916 with the Arab Revolt. Following the armistice in 1918 and the Treaty of Sèvres, French and British troops occupied Constantinople and the Black Sea ports, Italian forces landed in Antalya and Greek forces occupied Smyrna/Izmir.
The initial goal of the Turkish national resistance movement which emerged after World War I, and was led by Mustafa Kemal (Atatürk), was to oppose the Greek-British occupation of Izmir and its hinterland. Victory enabled the nationalists to demand a revision of the peace treaty through the new Treaty of Lausanne. In 1921 Kemal established a provisional government in Ankara, a year later the Sultanate was abolished and in 1923 Turkey became a secular republic with Mustafa Kemal as its first president.