Useful Notes: Turks with Troops

"Osman saw himself and his host reposing near each other.
From the bosom of Edebali rose the full moon,
and inclining towards the bosom of Osman it sank upon it, and was lost to sight.
After that a goodly tree sprang forth, which grew in beauty and in strength, ever greater and greater.
still did the ambracing verdure of its boughs and branches cast an ampler and an ampler shade,
until they canopied the extreme horizon of the three parts of the world. Under the tree stood
four mountains, which he knew to be Caucasus,
Atlas, Taurus, and Haemus."
Osman's Dream, the traditional epic of the Ottoman Empire

Oghuz Turks have long and not without justice been reputed to be a Proud Warrior Race. The present day nation of Turkey was descended from the Ottoman Empire which was founded by border raiders in Asia Minor. These formed themselves into a conquering Empire which was able to subjugate large parts of the Balkans. At one of its key moments the Ottomans were, in 1453, able to take Constantinople which was the last trace of The Roman Empire. After this they grew to become one of the greatest powers in the world.

The Ottomans were checked by the improvements in military technique and increase in economic production by European powers. They were driven back in a series of wars by Austria and Russia. Subjugated powers began revolting in the nineteenth century, and the Ottoman Empire itself became a Vestigial Empire. So Vestigal in fact that one of the main reasons it survived was that other powers were afraid Russia would conquer it first and upset the Balance of Power.

During World War I the Ottoman Empire fought on the German side. It gave a fairly good account of itself, but in the end lost most of its empire, and upon surrendering, significant chunks of its Anatolian heartland were given—directly or indirectly—to Greece, Italy, and France. However in a curious twist of fate it managed to resurrect itself. The Turkish General Kemal Ataturk, who had distinguished himself at Gallipoli, put himself at the head of a nationalist movement which prevented the total collapse of Turkish independence (ironically, despite being a militant secularist, the mass of peasants who followed him showed up because he managed to convince an assembly of muftis to declare a jihad). Turkey reformed itself from a Vestigial Empire into a nation state under Ataturk who was, for the Turks, sort of a semi-benign cross between a Glorious Leader and a Cincinnatus. During World War II it stayed neutral and was able to do so both because of its formidable if old fashioned army, and because of the geopolitical skills of its leaders. During The Cold War the Turks took the anti-communist side and Turkish troops fought with distinction in The Korean War (amusingly, the Greeks showed up, too; there are no reports on what they thought of one another). Turkey joined NATO in 1952 as part of the first enlargement, at the same time as Greece. Turkey now has the second-largest army in NATO after the Yanks with Tanks.

Tropes include

  • Ambadassador - Turkish Sultans, Grand Viziers and other political officials often also took part in military battles. Authority most definitely equaled ass kicking, especially in the early days of the empire when it was still expanding.
    • A lot of the reasons that Authority Equals Asskicking in the early Ottoman Empire was the curious law of fratricide which declared that There Can Be Only One and all other claimants to the throne must die. In other words Authority Equals Asskicking because Asskicking Equals Authority.
      • Later Sultans were more careful of their lives and / or more respectful of the lives of their siblings.
    • Eventually, this tradition was replaced with "the Cage", where claimants to the throne were kept locked in a harem and pulled out upon the death of the Sultan. This backfired, however, as most of the claimants had long gone insane due to the conditions they were kept in, giving the Ottoman Empire a string of bad Sultans.
  • Arch-Enemy - Greece, Russia for many centuries (though things have calmed down between them in recent decades), Armenia, and, in the days of the Ottoman Empire, the Habsburgs and the Venetian Republic.
  • Badass Army - When they were winning they were fearsome. When they were losing they were determined. And they are descended from steppe nomads which is really badass.
  • Badass Beard: Any Ottoman who is significant either militarily or bureaucratically will likely have a beard. Unsurprisingly so, given that Islam states that keeping a beard is praiseworthy, thus encouraging this trope
    • Abdülmecid II, the last Ottoman Caliph, was famous for having a truly magnificent beard. It was often said he was rather proud of it.
  • Crowning Music of Awesome - According to tales the Ottoman Army had the oldest variety of marching bands in the world.
  • Determinator - Turkish soldiers have a reputation for this.
  • Evil Army - Most descriptions of the Turkish army are from the point of view of it's enemies or their descendants.
  • Fighting for a Homeland - The original raiders who founded the Ottoman Empire. Also the foundation of the modern state of Turkey.
  • Grim Up North: To the Byzantines anyway. Whenthey saw the flood of Turkic warriors coming into Anatolia (many as a result of fleeing from brutal Mongol invasions, mind you), all they saw were a bunch of hairy brute savages from the northeast who followed a heathenish religion (Islam, in this case), and who were really, really good at fighting.
  • Happiness in Slavery: As mentioned below, Janissaries were technically a slave caste, albeit one with great benefits and status. As such, did not react well to the efforts of later Sultans to abolish or modernise them. The struggle to get rid of Janissaries took decades and cost the lives of numerous Sultans, depriving the empire of leadership and military force during a critical period of European expansion. By the time they were replaced, it was too little too late.
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: The Ottoman Empire was descended primarily from Osman I and his fellow Kayi tribesmen, as well as from the Seljuk emirates that he united in Antaolia after the breakup of the Seljuk Sultanate of Rum. Consider alongside this that Turks fulfilled the same basic cultural niche in medieval Eastern Europe and Asia, as the Vikings did for medieval Western Europe.
    • One of Osman I's titles was "Bone-Breaker". A society that gives these sorts of epithets out can never not be this trope.
  • Punch Clock Villain: Many Turks, rightly or not, saw the Anzacs as victims who ended up fighting a war that was not theirs. This, combined with the Worthy Opponent effect described below is probably the reason why Gallipolli is not seen as It's Personal, despite the sheer brutality of that particular conflict.
    • Which is especially ironic, given that if anything working for The Three Pashas probably means that the inverse was closer to being true.
  • The Siege - Though this tended to backfire on them a lot during World War One when the Christian townspeople decided to Take A level In Badass rather than be deported and hold them back for weeks on end before being rescued by allied forces.
    • More blatantly, the Siege of Constantinople, which firmly established Ottoman power and brought an end to the Eastern Roman Empire, and the last Siege of Vienna, a close-run thing that ended in Turkish defeat and marked the beginning of the decline of the empire.
  • Real Men Love Allah: Osman I was a very religious man. He was also a Khan of the Oghuz Turks and therefore a complete badass. In fact, many, many, many Ottoman sultans and beys were complete badasses in addition to being pious Muslims.
    • Most of the Turks who ended up coming south and west into Anatolia and became part of Osman's army were Ghazis, essentially the Islamic equivalent to Warrior Monks.
  • Slave Mooks - The Janissaries who were originally "taxed" children of conquered countries. But eventually they became so politically influential that they didn't want to stop being slaves, as being "freed" would greatly reduce their power.
    • The Kurds were this at one point, though obviously not these days.
  • Worthy Opponent - After Gallipoli, the Anzacs admired the Turks' grit and called them "Johnny Turk".
    • The Turks reciprocated the feelings, as evidenced by the memorial at the Anzac Cove:
    Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives¦ you are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore rest in peace. There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets where they lie side by side here in this country of ours¦ You the mothers who sent their sons from far away countries, wipe away your tears. Your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace. Having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well.

Appearances in fiction

  • Gallipoli.
  • Lawrence of Arabia.
  • Kurtlar Vadisi (English title Valley of The Wolves note )
  • Ararat
  • In Axis Powers Hetalia, the Moe Anthropomorphism of Turkey and the former Ottoman Empire (Sadiq Annan) appears once or twice with his troops around.
  • Mash shows the Turks as part of the Korean War fighting force, and as such visiting the 4077th every so often. One scene had a Turk/Greek fight broken up by a pissed-off Father Mulcahy.
  • O Şimdi Asker (He is a Soldier Now): Chronicles the experiences of a group of soldiers scheduled for short-term conscrption but ended up getting stuck in the military when a crisis with Greece breaks out. Somewhat critical of the army but ultimately focusing on the True Companions that grow between the diverse range of characters.
  • The Lark Farm (La Masseria Delle Allodole), an Italian-made film about the World War One-era deportations of Armenians by the Turkish military.
    • Skylark Farm by Antonia Arslan, the novel which the above film was based on.
  • The Turkish Gambit novel from Erast Fandorin series (also the movie).
  • The Total War series features the Ottoman Empire as a playable faction in the original Medieval, Medieval II, Empire, and Napoleon.
  • Emilio Salgari (better known for his Sandokan novels wrote two novels, Capitan Tempesta e Il Leone di Damasco, centered around the war between Venice and the Ottoman Empire for control of Cyprus and the Battle of Lepanto.
  • Rampage, aka. Turkish Rambo.

Alternative Title(s):

Turks With Troops, Ottoman Empire