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Turkish Language: History

History Timeline

This brief timeline of Turkey's history is taken from a profile of Turkey by BBC News.

1453 - Sultan Mehmed II captures Constantinople, ending Byzantine Empire and consolidating Ottoman Empire in Asia Minor and Balkans.

15th-16th centuries - Expansion into Asia and Africa.

1683 - Ottoman advance into Europe halted at Battle of Vienna. Long decline begins.

1908 - Young Turk Revolution establishes constitutional rule, but degenerates into military dictatorship during First World War, where Ottoman Empire fights in alliance with Germany and Austria-Hungary.

1918-22 - Partition of defeated Ottoman Empire leads to eventual triumph of Turkish National Movement in war of independence against foreign occupation and rule of Sultan.

1923 - Turkey declared a republic with Kemal Ataturk as president. Soon afterwards it becomes secular.

1952 - Turkey abandons Ataturk's neutralist policy and joins Nato.

1960 - Army coup against ruling Democratic Party.

1974 - Turkish troops occupy northern Cyprus, partitioning the island.

1984 - Kurdish PKK group launches separatists guerrilla campaign which develops into a major civil war that simmers on for decades.

2011 - Syrian civil war breaks out, resulting in tension along the countries' border and a huge influx of refugees into Turkey.

2016 - Attempted coup fails.

2017 - Referendum approves switch to presidential system.


History of Turkey Overview

The Europa World Plus entry for Turkey provides a strong introductory overview to the history of the country, starting in 1995.

Additionally, this Encyclopedia Article provides a thorough history beginning with the ancient history of Anatolia, and continuing through the present. The references informing this article are thoroughly documented, and quite helpful.

BBC News offers a a timeline which outlines the key events throughout Turkish History. Dating back to 1453 and the Ottoman Empire, the timeline covers modern Turkey, military coups, the Kurdish war, the rise of political Islam, Islamist party victory, Istanbul attacks, EU talks, Secularist protests, headscarf disputes, constitutional reform, further protests, the Erdogan presidency, effects of the Syrian conflict, media crackdown in Turkey, and finally the most recent coup attempt. 

H.B. Paksoy's "Turkish History, Leavening of Cultures, Civilization" provides a wonderfully concise introduction to the history of Turkey.

The language reforms initiated by Ataturk between the 1920s and 1930s, introduced a new alphabet and minimized Persian and Arabic loan words in the Turkish language.  With a new set of cultural and governmental institutions, the Modern Turkish Language transformed an entire generation of language learners.    The reformed language replaced Ottoman Turkish, which served as the administrative and literary language of the empire  The Turkish Studies Internet Resources Page at the Unversity of Michigan has compiled short list of Ottoman texts and manuscripts.  You can access this site here



Mustafa Kemal Atatürk was one of the most, if not the most, single influential person on the shaping of Modern Turkish. Attaturk was responsible fro the founding of the Turkish Language Institution (TDK) which is the official authority for the Turkish language. Their website, fully in Turkish, could prove to be a great primary source for learning Turkish.

The University of Illinois has the following bibliographies on Mustafa Kemal Atatürk:

History of the Turkish Language

The Turkish Cultural Foundation provides a brief history of Turkic Languages: The Turkic languages are spoken over a large geographical area in Europe and Asia. It is spoken in the Azeri, the Türkmen, the Tartar, the Uzbek, the Baskurti, the Nogay, the Kyrgyz, the Kazakh, the Yakuti, the Cuvas and other dialects. Turkish belongs to the Altaic branch of the Ural-Altaic family of languages, and thus is closely related to Mongolian, Manchu-Tungus, Korean, and perhaps Japanese. Some scholars have maintained that these resemblances are not fundamental, but rather the result of borrowings, however comparative Altaistic studies in recent years demonstrate that the languages we have listed all go back to a common Ur-Altaic.

For a history of specifically Turkish, see this Encyclopadeia Britannica article.