The Ottoman Age of Exploration
By Giancarlo Casale
Published in December 2011
Thibault’s Score: 4/5
Did you know that the Ottoman Empire fought several battles against the Spanish in the Philippines? Did you know that a Portuguese-Indian-Omanese-Ethiopian alliance attempted to kick out the Ottomans from the Indian Ocean? Did you know that the Ottomans had trade outposts as far as China in the late 1500s?
This book is guaranteed to make you seriously rethink your understanding of geography and historical economics.
Starting in the early 1500s, Portuguese merchants arrived in the Indian Ocean via South Africa. Immediately, this triggered an arms race between Portugal and the Ottoman Empire. The Ottomans understood the value of the maritime silk road, and began rushing to establish many trading posts across the Indian Ocean.
Like Portugal, Spain, Russia, England, and France, the Ottomans had their own colonial empire. Although Ottoman plans for colonies in the Americas, these were never carried out. Instead, the Ottomans purchased trading posts in the present day countries of Somalia, Kenya, Mozambique, India, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines. They also influenced many states and kingdoms across Asia.
For several decades, wars raged in between Europeans in the Indian Ocean and Ottomans. The Ottomans won many of these wars, and could easily have become the dominant power in the Indian Ocean. Instead, history had other ideas. The Ottoman Empire began suffering from internal conflicts. The Empire refocused inwards, closing itself off to the outside world.
By late early 1600s, the last vestiges of Ottoman soft power in the Indian Ocean faded away, as decline set in. This made way for the Europeans to colonize nearly the entire world.
The writing style of this book is neither good nor bad. It is not overly academic, nor is it overly simplistic.
I recommend this book if you want to learn more about the history of colonialism.
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