Copyright © 2007 Dorling Kindersley
Around AD 1300, a new Muslim empire ruled by Turkish leaders called sultans was founded. At its largest extent, in 1700, it covered vast areas of Europe, Africa, and Asia. It lasted until the end of World War I (1918). Today’s republic of Turkey was founded in 1923.
The greatest of the Ottoman sultans was Suleiman the Magnificent. During his reign (1520–1566), the Ottoman Empire reached its greatest extent. He was also a poet and a patron of the arts, adorning Istanbul and other Ottoman cities with glittering mosques.
In 1453, after a siege during which its walls were pounded by a battery of cannons, Constantinople was captured by Sultan Muhammad II. Renamed Istanbul, the old capital of the Byzantine Empire then became the new capital of the expanding Ottoman Empire.
Janissaries were elite soldiers who started as non-Turkish Christian boys from the Balkans. They were trained in Istanbul, where they converted to Islam.