Skip Discover Education Main Navigation
Skip Discover Education Main Navigation

Home> Teachers> Free Lesson Plans> The Ottoman Empire

The Ottoman EmpireThe-Ottoman-Empire

  • Subject: World History
  • |
  • Grade(s): 9-12
  • |
  • Duration: Two class periods

Lesson Plan Sections


Students will understand the following:
1. The Ottoman Empire was at its grandest during the reign of Suleyman the Magnificent.
2. The Ottoman Empire was a crossroads of trade and culture between Europe and Asia.


For this lesson, you will need:
Outline maps of the Ottoman Empire
Markers and/or colored pencils


1. After a general introduction to the Ottoman Empire, give students a single outline map of Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Mediterranean Sea. Direct them to draw in the extent of and the details of the Ottoman Empire at the apex of Suleyman the Magnificent's reign.
2. Tell students to use symbols or colors on the map to represent geographic features such as mountains and bodies of water.
3. Have students research the resources and products of the different parts of the empire and keep lists.
4. Students should then draw on the map the trade routes between parts of the Ottoman Empire and between the Ottoman Empire and lands outside the empire. The map should illustrate which resources and products from a given location were shipped to another location.
5. Students must include a legend that explains the symbols on the map.
6. Students should then tell in writing how their maps prove the statement "The Ottoman Empire was a crossroads of trade and culture between Europe and Asia."

Back to Top


Let students work in small groups rather than individually on this activity.

Back to Top

Discussion Questions

1. Hypothesize about how Suleyman, who was reputed to be wise, religious, and gentle, could have had two people he loved, Ibrahim and Mustafa, killed?
2. In what ways was Suleyman like his namesake Solomon and in what ways was he different?
3. Discuss the role of women in the culture of the Ottoman Empire. How has Roxellana been portrayed? What else would you like to know about her? What is meant by the observation that "Mustafa had the wrong mother"?
4. Considering the vastness and diversity of Suleyman's domain, evaluate the quality of the laws and the system he developed for its government.
5. Suppose your family lived in a region conquered by Suleyman. Would you have wanted to be a janissary? Why or why not?
6. It's not often that a ruler is called "the Magnificent." Why do you think Suleyman got this honor in history? List several reasons and compare him to other rulers you've studied.

Back to Top


You can evaluate your students' work using the following three-point rubric:
Three points: significant amount of information shown clearly by symbols and labels positioned correctly; coherent and unified written passage; error-free grammar, usage, and mechanics
Two points: adequate amount of information shown by symbols and labels positioned mostly correctly; coherent and unified written passage; some errors in grammar, usage, and mechanics
One point: inadequate amount of information and some symbols and labels not positioned correctly; passage needs coherence and unity; many errors in grammar, usage, and mechanics
You can ask students to contribute to the assessment rubric by determining a minimum number of symbols and labels.

Back to Top


Commemorating the Reign of Suleyman
In the year 2020, we will observe the 500th anniversary of the beginning of Suleyman's reign. Encourage your students to start preparing for the celebration now by designing commemorative coins, bills, postage stamps, costumes, a monument, and a convention center. Working in groups, students should research art and design during Suleyman's reign so that the commemorative materials will pay tribute to the period in which he lived.

Suleyman and Poetry
Suleyman was a student of poetry and a poet himself. Assign students the task of locating 16th-century Turkish poems to present and comment on to the class. Then consider extending this activity to include contemporary Turkish poems. How has the literature changed, or has it continued to deal with the same themes as the earlier poems?

Back to Top

Suggested Readings

Suleyman the Magnificent and His Age: The Ottoman Empire in the Early Modern World
Metin Kunt and Christine Woodhead, editors. Addison-Wesley, 1995.
As leader of the Turks, Suleyman's rule extended over what is now central and southern Europe and northern Africa.

Suleiman the Magnificent
Andre Clot, translated by John Howe. New Amsterdam Books, 1993.
He reigned at the height of Ottoman power and prosperity. Learn about this remarkable emperor's world.

Back to Top


The Republic of Turkey
The official Web site of the Republic of Turkey. Includes links to all things Turkish.

Turkish Odyssey: History
This Turkish tourism guide provides a complete guide to Turkish history, including the Ottoman Turks.

The Ottoman Khilafa
A colorful examination of the Ottoman Empire, including a link to informationa about Suleyman.

S?leyman the Magnificent
Part of the Web site of the Office of the Prime Minister of Turkey, this site contains a complete bio of Suleyman on one page.

Back to Top


Click on any of the vocabulary words below to hear them pronounced and used in a sentence.

speaker    accession
Definition: The act of coming to high office or a position of honor or power.
Context: The world held its breath at Suleyman's accession to the throne.

speaker    flogging
Definition: Whipping or beating with a rod.
Context: A dishonest shopkeeper risked public flogging.

speaker    harem
Definition: A usually secluded house or part of a house allotted to women in a Muslim household or the wives, concubines, female relatives, and servants occupying a harem.
Context: Roxellana was a slave in Suleyman's harem.

speaker    janissary
Definition: A soldier of an elite corps of Turkish troops organized in the 14th century and abolished in 1826.
Context: Janissaries were Christian boys who learned to be soldiers.

speaker    paradox
Definition: A statement that is seemingly contradictory or opposed to common sense and yet is perhaps true.
Context: It was a paradox that would confound the world: most of those who wielded power in the sultan's name were slaves.

speaker    rituals
Definition: The established forms for ceremonies.
Context: Suleyman abandoned the trappings of court for the rituals of Islam.

speaker    sultan
Definition: A king or sovereign, especially of a Muslim state.
Context: The conscience belonged not to a mere king but to the great Ottoman sultan, Suleyman the Magnificent.

speaker    vizier
Definition: A high executive officer of the Ottoman Empire.
Context: Ibrahim became Suleyman's grand vizier or prime minister.

Back to Top


This lesson plan may be used to address the academic standards listed below. These standards are drawn from Content Knowledge: A Compendium of Standards and Benchmarks for K-12 Education: 2nd Edition and have been provided courtesy of theMid-continent Research for Education and Learningin Aurora, Colorado.
Grade level: 9-12
Subject area: world history
Understands how large, territorial empires dominated much of Eurasia between the 16th and 18th centuries.
Understands the social, economic, and cultural features of the Ottoman Empire (e.g., how Muslim, Orthodox, Catholic, and Jewish peoples interacted in southeastern Europe under Ottoman rule, the role and legal status of women within the Ottoman Empire, sources of revenue and patterns in state spending in the Ottoman Empire).

Grade level: 9-12
Subject area: geography
Understands the forces of cooperation and conflict that shape the divisions of Earth's surface.
Understands the changes that occur in the extent and organization of social, political, and economic entities on Earth's surface (e.g., imperial powers such as the Ottoman Empire, Roman Empire, Han dynasty, Carolingian Empire, British Empire).

Grade level: 9-12
Subject area: historical understanding
Understands the historical perspective.
Benchmark 1: Analyzes the influences specific ideas and beliefs had on a period of history and specifies how events might have been different in the absence of those ideas and beliefs.

Benchmark 2: Analyzes the effects that specific "chance events" had on history and specifies how things might have been different in the absence of those events.

Benchmark 3: Analyzes the effects specific decisions had on history and studies how things might have been different in the absence of those decisions.

Benchmark 4: Analyzes the values held by specific people who influenced history and the role their values played in influencing history.

Back to Top


Bonny Cochran, world history teacher, French International School, Bethesda, Maryland.

Back to Top