The Problem of Ottoman Decline
Sultan_Mahmud_II_of_the_Ottoman_Empire.jpgThe empire continued vigorous until the late 17th century. By then the empire was too extensive to be maintained from its available resource base and transport system. As a conquest state, the Ottomans began to decline once acquisition of new territory ceased. The bureaucracy became corrupt, and regional officials used revenues for their own purposes. Oppressed peasants and laborers fled the land or rebelled. Problems at the center of the state added to the decline. Sultans and their sons were confined to the palace; they became weak and indolent rulers managed by court factions. Civil strife increased and military efficiency deteriorated. Some of the primary reasons for Ottoman decline were:

safavid_shah.jpgThe Rapid Demise of the Safavid Empire. Abbas I, fearing plots, had removed all suitable heirs. The succession of a weak grandson began a process of dynastic decline. Internal strife and foreign invasions shook the state. In 1772 Isfahan fell to Afghani invaders. An adventurer, Nadir Khan Afshar, emerged from the following turmoil as shah in 1736, but his dynasty and its successors were unable to restore imperial authority.

Aurangzeb and the Fall of the Empire

Aurangzeb was the last great Mughal emperor. Although he brought a larger area under Mughal rule than ever before, his constant wars left the empire dangerously overextended, isolated from its strong Rajput allies, and with a population that was largely opposed to his reign. His last twenty five years were spent fighting in the Deccan in the south, and losing territory to rival states. At his death, the Mughal Empire was a shadow of its former self, having lost most of its northwest lands and being replaced by the Hindu Maratha Empire in large areas of India. His successors had to make do with clinging on to what territories they had left, until the empire finally slid off the map in 1858, a hundred and ninety years after Aurangzeb's death in 1707.