Asian Empires of the 19th Centurys

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Rebecca Ducharme
Professor Estey
World History-HIS 271 A
22 February 2012
Asian Empires of the 19th Century
During the rise of European Powers, in the times of the Industrial Revolution, the Asian Empires were quickly falling behind. Each nation in the Asian Empire had a strong and rigid internal focus and due to their refusal to adapt to the changing times each empire was lead to its decline. By the start of the nineteenth century the technological gap was increasingly clear. It was not until the rise of imperialism that this gap became an issue. As European Powers began to intrude on the boundaries of the Asian Empires they could not compete with the advanced weaponry and complex strategies of European military and naval forces. The intrusions weakened the empires and pushed them further down the slippery slope of decline. It is evident that the Asian Nations of the nineteenth century did everything in their power to keep hold of their declining empires however, the actions taken were not effective or successful enough to revitalize the nations to the great powers they once were. Three of the major Asian Empires analyzed will be the Ottoman, Russian and finally, the Chinese. Each of these nations faced similar struggles in some respects, but also quite different.

The Ottoman Empire spanned over much desirable land, during these imperialistic times many empires coveted the numerous nations under Ottoman rule. The empire was already in decline, and they were certain they could not compete with the ways of advanced European military warfare. The Janissaries, the major force behind the Ottoman military power was beginning to break down. They opted out of training and refused to take on advanced weaponry. Governmental power diminished because of the loss of military force. Meanwhile, the empire was becoming smaller and smaller. Austrian and Russian forces took over the territories that the Ottomans failed to defend. Nationalist uprisings also swept the empire. In 1830, the Balkan provinces became an independent nation, followed by Serbia in 1867. The Ottomans then suffered the loss of Egypt, first invaded by Napoleon, however he was not successful. Local elites battled for the rule of territory, until the success of General Muhammad Ali who ruled Egypt from 1805 to 1848. Ali threatened to seize Constantinople which could have potentially destroyed the empire. As trade shifted to the Atlantic, the Ottomans no longer had presence, most of the profits recognized in previous decades came from the collection of tariffs and other taxes on goods that passed through their lands. The loss of this income led to economic distress. Foreign loans were procured to aid this distress but by 1882, the empire could no longer afford the accumulating interest. Foreign administration to rectify these debts was soon to follow. The Capitulations were agreements put in place in the sixteenth century to free European citizens from Ottoman rule while in their lands. During that time, the goal of this agreement was to rid the government of responsibility for merchant communities. In the seventeenth century, the Europeans took advantage of these rulings by establishing tax free banks and other economically penetrating establishments. Soon enough the government could no longer afford to pay the salaries of its employees. To remedy this situation, taxes were raised w leading to the exploitation of the peasants and the decline of agricultural production. In the eighteenth century a reform was put in place by Sultan Selim III to revive the military. The Janissaries saw this reform as a threat to their role in the forces, they killed the new troops and captured the sultan. When the sultan’s successor continued with the reform the Janissaries retaliated by killing every male member of the dynasty but one. Sultan Selim III’s cousin, Mahmud II continued the reform as well, however, he illustrated these reforms to the people as the first steps towards...
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