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The Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman Empire was created by a branch of the Turkish peoples who first organized themselves as a military-religious group in 1290 in the northwest area of Anatolia in Turkey. In the late 13th Century the Byzantine Empire had become weakened and the Ottoman Turks were able to get their first foothold in Europe at Gallipoli in 1354 and twelve years later they captured nearby Adrianople and made it their capital. They then focused their expansionist attentions on the Balkans and in 1389 were able to defeat a serious European opponent, the Serbian empire, which they did in the Battle of Kosovo. Christians, under the leadership of the Hungarians, attempted crusades to take back the lost territory but were defeated. After this loss, the Serbian people were deprived of their independence for almost 500 years. By 1400 mainland Greece and Bulgaria also fell under Ottoman rule and in 1453 Constantinople itself fell to the Turks, ending the thousand year history of the Byzantine Empire. The fall of Constantinople is considered as the greatest victory of the Moslem world over the Christian one.
In the early 16th Century the Ottomans began to expand eastward. They had defeated Tamerlane in Angora in 1402 and over a hundred years later under the sultan Selim I they defeated the Persians in 1514 and then later also conquered Armenia and Kurdistan(1515) before moving on to the Middle East and seizing control of the Holy Lands and Syria. The Ottomans soon after set their sights on Africa and the Arabian Peninsula taking Egypt and Mecca in 1517 and afterwards going west along North Africa conquering Algeria in 1519. In this way the Ottomans had control of the religious centres of the Judaic, Christian and Moslem worlds.
The Ottoman Empire reached the height of its power with the rule of its greatest sultan, Suleiman the Magnificent. He began his rule in 1520 and set out to take more of Europe. This army captured Belgrade in 1521, the island of Rhodes a year later and in 1526 defeated the Hungarians at the battle of Mohacs. Following this victory, the Ottomans sieged Vienna however, were unsuccessful in taking the city. The Ottomans, however, remained a major factor in the balance of power in Europe for a long time, for example, allying with the French King Francis I against their common enemy Charles V, the king of Spain and Holy Roman Emperor.