Q5. What was the ‘Millet System’ established by the Ottoman Turks?
Turkish Ottoman Empire engulfed wide geographic area having diverse religious and ethnic populations. To manage such huge diversity Sultan Mehmed II established the millet system which gave religious freedom to minorities like different sects of Christianity, Jews, and Persians etc. in the Ottoman Empire
According to the millet system, different religions were allowed to have freedom in religious affairs, choosing leaders, taxation as well as linguistic freedom. Even in terms of laws they could have independent courts according to their religious laws. This system was revolutionary at that time in Europe, whereas in Christian-dominated areas, there was no concept of religious freedom or minority rights. Even the later concept of Nationalism in Europe was based on ethnicity of similar people.
During the reign of Mehmed II’s son, Bayezid II, thousands of Jews who were experiencing religious persecution at the hands of Spain’s Catholics were welcomed into the Ottoman Empire where they were given much more religious freedom than anywhere else in the world at that time. With the millet system, different nationalities, ethnicities, cultures, and religions were allowed to thrive. Many of the sultan’s wazirs (ministers) came from Greek, Bosnian, Arab, or Persian backgrounds.