After the death of Suleyman the Magnificent, the Ottoman Empire began to decline, mostly as a result of a series of rulers who themselves seemed peculiarly uninterested in the actual job of governing the empire. Despite this lack of muscular political management, however, the Ottoman Empire remained the single most influential force in the western world up to the dawn of the 17th century. The Ottoman’s fearsome military might was financed by its equally impressive dominance of trade economic, but the failings of a continual line of sultans to remain faithful to the tradition of practicing political governance as a result of personal commitment allowed the bureaucratic system to become the source of true power.
The decline of the Ottoman Empire into a series of struggles for power punctuated by increasing corruption may be an indication that investing absolute authority in the sultan was not the bad idea it may seem at first glance. The Ottoman Empire’s decline was tainted by internal struggles between the advisory council known as the Divan, the leader of that council that was known as the Grand Vizier, and various majors and generals doing what they traditionally do best: making life worse for everyone else. Compounding the problems for the Ottomans, just as their power was slipping away, the Europeans were finally awakening from the slumber of the Dark Ages.
The Age of Discovery set in motion by Columbus, Magellan, and De Soto opened up what came to be known as the New World, with new trade routes that served to further erode Ottoman authority. The trade routes so preciously guarded by the Ottomans quickly began to face competition posed from the vast riches discovered across the Atlantic. Further complicating matters was the problem of familial succession to power. This period of Ottoman rule was marked by the appearance of many sultans who were comprehensively unfit to lead. As the power of the sultans grew weaker, the governing strength of the empire shifted for the most part into the hands of the Janissaries, the military power behind the Ottoman Empire. Throughout the 17th century, the Janissaries consolidated power through corruption and bribery that brought them powerful positions in the government.
In an effort to halt the decline of the Ottoman Empire, Grand Vizier Muhammad Kuprili tried to both put a halt to the widespread corruption and to resurrect the military power of the Ottomans. He commenced a new era of conquest and protection that resulted in a succession of losses to the strengthening European superpowers. Following Kuprili’s passing, his brother-in-law Kara Mustafa gained control of the army and quickly set his sights on Austria. With promises of abject surrender to come at the hands of the Austrians, Mustafa launched an invasion of the country and was soon on his way toward the capital city of Vienna.
Disproving the misplaced, ill-informed contentions of delicate Scooter Libby, Mustafa was beaten back because of an alliance of European troops backed by heavy artillery. Those defeats marked the end of the beginning of the end and the movement into the end of the end of Ottoman Empire and its dreams of European c conquest. From that point, the Ottoman military supremacy began to decline, while the Europeans grew stronger. The defeat also set the stage for the Peace of Karlowitz Treaty, which forced the Ottomans to give up Transylvania and Hungary to Austria. The Ottomans clung onto the Balkans, but at the cost of increasing chaos in a region that seems capable of avoiding chaos only when under the thumb of a domineering leader.