What were the causes of Ottoman decline in the 17th century?

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rrteacher | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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In many ways, it would have been hard for contemporaries, especially in Western Europe, to perceive that the Ottoman Empire was in fact showing signs of decline. The Empire encompassed almost all of the Middle East and extended well into southeastern Europe. The empire had really reached its high point, however, with the reign of Suleyman the Magnificent, whose conquests extended into Hungary. Yet after Suleyman's death, the Empire saw a succession of ineffective rulers and infighting. Many of these problems were related to economic issues, especially rampant inflation that accompanied a dramatic population increase. This increase came mostly due to expansion, which caused another problem.

To administer these territories, Ottoman rulers expanded bureaucratic positions to people outside the traditional slave class drawn from Christian lands in the Balkans. This led to a lack of loyalty among bureaucrats and a series of squabbles and infighting that deteriorated the sense of unity within the ruling class. A faltering economy also led to increased civil disorder and corruption in government. These structural, demographic, economic, and political problems came to a head when Ottoman expansion in Europe was halted at their unsuccessful siege of Vienna in 1683.

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