The Ottoman Empire Gains Ground
In 1296, Osman declared himself the independent Sultan of the region of Söğüt near Bursa he had hitherto held in fief, and founded the
Ottoman State. During the rule of his son Orhan, Bursa and Iznik were captured and soon the whole south-eastern coast of Marmara was under Ottoman control. The many conquests and diplomatic successes of Orhan were not the only achievements of his reign. He had encouraged and promoted art, literature, science and commerce. He also established a regular standing army, known as the Janissaries. Well paid and disciplined, the Janissaries provided the new Ottoman state with a patriotic force of trained soldiers.
Built upon such solid foundations, the Ottoman Empire spread apace. In the reign of Murat, this expansion was still in a westerly direction and it was not until the frontiers were extended to the Adriatic, the Danube and Thessaly, that the Sultan turned his attention towards Eastern Anatolia Now that his rule was established in Europe and Asia, Beyazit turned towards Constantinople in 1402. The city was almost within Iris grasp when he was called to meet me westward march of Timurlane which delayed the conquest of Istanbul for several decades.
In 1453, under Mehmet the Conqueror, the Ottomans took Constantinople, a momentous event for the whole world and a great feat of arms. But the banner of Ottoman success was to be raised much higher and by the late l6th century the Ottomans were deep into Europe. In the following centuries, however, the Ottoman Empire lost its momentum, entered a period of stagnation and then gradually a period of decline.