Honestly, there is no single parameter here that one can criticize the history or Empires in our case. And again honestly, history in such topics is highly subjective. I briefly skimmed through some of the answers and everybody has a different idea of how a great empire should be.
some criteria mentioned by some authors of the topic are :
- cultural effects
Some criticized the Mongols were immense yet lasted 507 years, some criticized Ottomans essentially took over Byzantine’s land and left nothing of themselves (which shows that the critic has no or little knowledge of Ottoman’s cultural and social structure).
I haven’t read any of these histories in detail. Barely remember my own, i.e. Ottoman. And honestly, I don’t think anybody has that kind of vast knowledge to judge all the empires in history.
Being somewhat offended about what was said of Ottomans, I will tell few things about it, for the curious obviously:
- During Ottoman’s silk road became highly popular. Cause Ottomans built what you would call checkpoints along the road. You would set out for the destination by the sunrise and you would reach another hotel by the sunset. Your merchandise along with your passengers would have a safe passage till you get out of the Ottoman Land. And these hotels are one of the historical architectures you can find throughout the Ottoman Land. In fact, I remember reading that the USA or NASA was looking into this checkpoint mechanism for space travel plans. ( sorry I can’t remember the source, and I hadn’t verified this from another source. So if you want you to need to search for yourself. But this is beside the point anyway).
- Hagia Sofia is not considered to be the best architectural structure in Ottoman Empire. Hagia Sofia was famous because till one point in history, it had the biggest dome that was put on top of a building. That changed when “Koca Mimar Sinan” “Architect Sinan the Great” put a bigger dome on top of another building which is a mosque “Selimiye Mosque” in Edirne. Probably to your surprise, is that architecture students from all over the world (and obviously who can afford to come) are coming to see this building. I graduated from the university in Edirne so I know this one from the experience. My friend too, once told me that they had welcomed a Japanese Architecture student who had come to see the Mosque, in their house. This mosque is not famous just because of its biggest dome but also the acoustics and the planning of some other features such as ventilation of candle soot etc. For the curious architecture student, it would be a nice topic to analyze.
- I searched for the Taj Mahal and 3 architects were mentioned in different sources. One is Persian the other one is Ottoman and the last one doesn’t talk about the architect’s name but claims the Taj Mahal was essentially an Indian Temple. So for this topic, you might omit this item. Though I wouldn’t rule out Ottoman architects before perusing Ottoman archives which unfortunately is not done by foreign historians. I am keeping this item as a reference] Again probably to your surprise Taj Mahal in India was also build by 3 Ottoman main-architects. The king of the time asked from Ottoman Sultan to send him architects to build something special for his lover. So the Ottoman Sultan sent 3 main architects for the project. So the building you all admire is actually Ottoman Made (by design and planning obviously). An Indian friend of mine told me that after the completion of the building, the Indian king had the hands of the 3 architects cut so that they won’t be able to do another building of the same calibre. (again, this is sth I heard from an Indian friend’s himself)
- Fatih Sultan Mehmet is also one of the greatest personalities in Ottoman history. He was able to speak 4–5 languages and he was one of the few people who were able to understand Latin at his age. He himself had designed the artillery/cannon which he used to take over Constantinople i.e. today İstanbul. İstanbul was hard to conquer cause one had to cover the land and the sea at the same time to block the incoming help. So one night Fatih had his soldiers pull the ships over the hills into the place called Halic. (the significance of this event is actually long to explain and I already wrote too much) When we talk about this event we use the phrase “he made the ships walk over the land”. I don’t know about your tendencies against empires of the Ottoman empire in this case, but you got to admit it was out of the ordinary. And there are even fewer Kings/Leaders in history who actually designed their own weapons.
- I believe you have heard about Fatih Sultan Mehmet before even for a little bit (4th item in the writing as well). But his grandson Kanuni Sultan Suleyman is more known in the western world. They call him “Suleyman the Magnificent”. There are history books that were written about him by European historians. So if u r curious enough you can find one and read it.
- Ottomans probably were the first civilization that tried to cure mental patients by music. It is also known that some mentally ill patients were cured by this treatment. Here I want to remind you that, when Ottomans were trying to cure psychological patients by such “gentle” means, European countries were burning them, claiming that they were possessed by the Devil.
- Even in one of its hardest time Ottoman’s built the Dolmabahçe Palace. Some think that it was a huge waste of money, i.e. it was a mistake at the time. But as for today’s world, it is a magnificent architectural structure. Around 20 years ago I visited this palace. There were 3 giant chandeliers in a different place within. And the tour guide said no insurance company in the world was able to insure them due to their high value at that time. I think the smallest one weighed 1.5 tons.
- And finally an opinion of an outsider. When I was following my master’s in the USA, I met this guy who was also a university student in the same university. He was on the wheelchair and asked for my help. Then noticing my accent asked where I was from. I said from Turkey. He said “oh Ottomans. Last week we covered Ottomans in our class. You have an amazing culture, I am amazed about what you did as Ottomans. etc.” So as you can see, they had covered how good Ottoman culture was in their class that week.
Having said the last item you probably understand why I won’t be making any judgements about Empires. The ones you think were great, maybe also made great mistakes or vice versa. It’s history now, no point in smearing it by such accusations.