Вы находитесь на странице: 1из 9

Emir Yener 2006700837

STEAM, STEEL AND THE FATE OF EMPİRES


Naval Transformation of the Ottoman Empire and Quing China

Introduction

The “long” 19th century is among the most thorough periods of transformation during
whole the world history. The industrial revolution transformed the very nature of societies and
states; either directly or indirectly. Among the most fantastic transformations is the change in
naval warfare. Starting from early 1830’s, steam power was introduced and refined into all of
the first and second rank navies. Then in 1860’s, the ironclad revolution completed the all
round transformation of the naval warfare. This transformation had the most profound effects
in technological, institutional, strategic and human aspects of navies. Perhaps the most visible
effect of the naval revolution is the succesful boom of European imperialism. In previous
centuries, especially in 16th and 17th centuries, the first naval revolution of ocean-going and
cannon armed sailing ships had enabled Europeans to infiltrate and eventually to topple the
hangover stone age cultures of Americas, and to carve out enclaves in Africa and Far East.
However, the civilised societies of the east were by no means defenceless nor vulnerable to
western colonialism, and united with the limitations of nautical technology, the very existence
of european presence in the east hung on a delicate balance of bargain and diplomacy with
regional powers; not to coercive force. In 1800, only some %35 of the global territory
belonged to the western powers but on the eve of the first world war, that percentage had risen
to an astonishing %85. It was the sobering result of the unilateral and overwhelming tip in the
balance of military, above all nautical technology. True, the economic and social leap of the
west was the “deep” factor in the eventual collapse of old order in Africa and East but without
coercive force, it is very doubtful that westerners would have the course of events go as they
wished.
It was all too natural that the victims of this changing world reacted most urgently to the
imminent danger. The only possible way of warding the western interlopers with any chance
of success was to reform the state along the lines of antagonists and thus fight on even terms.
However, that kind of reformation required the same institutional, socio-political and
intellectual framework which spawned the western superiority. In the end, whole human
community transformed as a result of this survivalist desire to change. Against this
background, a study of the attempts to reform in the non-western navies may provide us a
very interesting picture of the degree of success for the overall modernization of these states.
The navies in 19th century became the most complex industrial institutions, uniting the most
sophisticated advances in engineering, metallurgy, propulsion, communications and ballistics.
A modern warship became a true microcosmos of technicians to properly function. In many
states, the “modern” or “technical” man first appeared in the navy. The case of two eastern
empires with their dramatic fates during the course of 19th century provides us a superb
comparative study chance to understand the effectiveness of modernization in non-western
powers. These two empires are those of Ottomans and the Chinese

The Naval Revolution

At the end of Napoleonic Wars, the main arbiter of the naval might on the high seas was
the ship-of-the-line. Tracing back its origins to the early 17th century, the ship of the line was
the most refined and excelled early modern tool of war. Bristling with 74 to 120 cannons of
heavy caliber (mainly 32 and 24 pounders), the ship of the line possessed a firepower which
far surpassed a 30.000 men army corps (30-50 light calibre field guns). Only the most
elaborate bastions of latest design with thick masonry would stand off to the deadly broadside
of such a battleship. Indeed, the appearance of a small squadron of those floating fortresses
off a trouble point was often enough to compel the assailed side to come to terms. The ships
of the line were constructed of hardwoods resistant to saltwater rot, such as oak, teak and
cedar. The propulsive power was the wind and a 74 gun ship of the line should set up to some
4.500 square meters of canvas in favourable weather. When pitted against each other, ships of
the line would form a single file, called “line ahead” and try to batter their opponent into
submission via sheer weight of fire while sailing on parallel courses. Success thus relied to the
rapidity and accuracy of fire which required a constant drill, discipline and integrity of the
crew.
By 1815, the undisputed command of the seas was at the hands of British. Honed to
perfection by constant warfare on every part of the world oceans from 1793 to 1815; the
Royal Navy was quantitatively and qualicatively the unsurpassed master of naval warfare. It’s
no coincidence that 19th century was called “Pax Brittanica”, guarded by the wooden walls of
the Royal Navy.
Besides the huge battleships, there were frigates, corvettes and sloops; collectively called
“cruisers”. These carried between 28-54 medium calibre cannons and were used to patrol far
flung seas, trade routes and colonies. In 19th century, the last surge of piracy which followed
the Napoleonic Wars was suppressed by ardent patrols of British and American frigates. In
times of war, frigates also proved to be excellent craft to raid and disrupt the opponent’s trade.
Most of the second or third rank navies opted to acquire frigates as the backbone of their
navies instead of costly ships of the line, which would not be versatile either.
By 1820’s and ‘30s first practical naval steamers also start to appear. The steam power
was in succesful use at sea since 1807 (American inventor Robert Fulton’s North River
Steamer in Albany being the first example) but it took nearly two decades to refine the new
technology and adapt it into the open sea. Even then, steamships were not considered
successful first line warships as they were propulsed by large, unwieldy and vulnerable
paddles which occupied the space necessary to carry enough ordinance. Instead, they proved
valuable as tugs to ships of the line, helping to free commanders from vagaries of the wind.
Perhaps their most valuable area of operation was the colonial waters, where their shallow
draught and ability to carry troops proved indispensable for expeditions to areas previously
considered unassailable due to navigational difficulties and inhospitability.
In 1840’s, a new and effective solution to the problem of suitable steam propulsion was
introduced in form of the screw propellor. Situated underwater abaft of the ship, the screw did
not interfere with the space of guns, was incomparably more effective than the paddle in
terms of hydrodynamic aspects and should be detached and hoisted into a well when the ship
was to move by sail. After some experimental small scale craft, leading naval powers started
to fit screws into their existing ships of the line or built them outright from keel up. Britain
and France took the lead, followed by United States, altough the last was focused to large
cruisers rather than battleships. Most of the second rank naval powers (Russia, Austria, Italian
kingdoms and Ottoman Empire) also did acquire at least one steam ship of the line.
During the Crimean War (1854-55), fleets of steam powered ships proved decisive in
paralysing the Russian forces and bringing the allied victory. However, the vulnerability of
wooden ships to fire starting shell guns was demonstrated more than once during that conflict;
the most famous example being that of Ottoman fleet’s destruction at the battle of Sinope by
the Russian Black Sea Fleet. Towards the end of the war, Emperor Napoleon III of France
ordered floating armored batteries to assail the russian fortifications in Crimea. Upon their
successes, master engineer Dupuy de Lôme built an armored steam frigate, La Gloire, in
1858. Perceiving the threat to their naval supremacy and already well worried by the re-
waking ambitions of France, British navy answered la Gloire with the first modern battleship:
HMS Warrior. Contrary to the Gloire which possessed a wooden hull and relatively limited
endurance, Warrior was built entirely of iron and was fully capable of cruising in high seas.
Soon, a race of armored warships started between the two leading powers. The maritime
world was in the age of ironclad.
Along with those advances in shipbuilding and propulsion, there was an equally
important transformation in artillery. After Napoleonic Wars, the french fully abandoned all
hopes to match the Royal Navy either in numbers of ships or in crew quality. To offset those
two critical deficiencies, they turned to technology. As a result of the advances in metallurgy,
it was now possible to cast long and heavy guns which could resist to heavier charges of
explosives, thus providing a longer range for heavy projectiles. French should have fewer
ships but if they could arm these with improved guns, they would shorten the firepower gap.
In 1822, Colonel Henri Paixhans from artillery produced a new 68 pounder gun which fired
an explosive shell that was able to doom any wooden warship. However, the great hopes tied
to this new weapon were dashed when it was discovered that the gun was slow to load,
inaccurate and possessed only half the range of lighter conventional guns. Nevertheless, the
possibility of a lucky hit which can destroy a battleship in the close range mêlée was attractive
enough to naval staffs and it became customary to load a few of those pieces to battleships,
frigates, and especially to auxiliary paddle warships. Heavy long guns came to their own with
the advent of steel casting and rifling, which put them on a par with conventional guns in both
range and accuracy. The new improvements were introduced in 1850’s and half of Warrior’s
inital 40 guns were such new weapons.
Effectiveness was not without a cost tough. As the calibre and the size of the guns
increased, it was only possible to mount fewer of them in a hull. The problem of how to
mount a limited number of guns most effectively into a hull was solved with the invention of
the turret. Captain Cowper Coles of the Royal Navy and the brilliant Swedish marine architect
John Ericsson designed and introduced the first examples of turrets. Especially during the
American Civil War (1861-65), Union navy demostrated the effectiveness of the turret with
the succes of its armored turreted batteries designed by Ericsson, called “monitors”. The first
high seas turret battleship was built in 1870 for the Royal Navy. The Warrior and most of the
broadside armed early ironclads were still carrying masts and sails but with the introduction
of the turret, the need for all round fire united with the dangerous instability caused by the
weight of masts spelled the end of sail in naval history. By 1900, a typical battleship carried
four 305 mm guns in two turrets along with a dozen smaller calibre secondary guns (generally
105 to 150 mm) and was capable of 16-18 knots.
Along with the battleship, the cruising ship was also transformed. Until 1880’s, cruiser
class was the last remnant of wooden era. Britain and France were building iron hulled but
unarmored frigates along with ironclads but the rest of the world preferred cheaper wooden
ships which were able to sail as well as steam. Then in 1884, the fabled British shipbuilding
company Armstrong of Elswick produced a lightweight steel hulled warship armed with two
heavy calibre guns as well as smaller pieces and furnished with a powerful machinery.
Christened as the protected cruiser, it became the open seas patroller, commerce raider par
excellence and primary naval weapon of weaker nations along with monitors.
Perhaps the most innovative new naval weapons of 19th century were the mine and the
locomotive torpedo, which brought the second dimension (underwater) to naval warfare.
Prototype mines were first used as early as the Crimean war by Russians but they came into
their own in the American Civil War, where dozens of Union warships and transports fell
victim to Confederate mines. In 1869, the British naval engineer Robert Whitehead who
worked for the Austro-Hungarian navy in Pola, invented a new weapon by uniting a mine
with a cigar shaped hull propulsed by compressed air. Called a torpedo, this new weapon
along with the mine, created a revolution in naval tactics. The slow battleships were
extremely vulnerable to flotillas of small but speedy craft launching torpedoes, more so in
night actions. Close blockade of an opponent’s ports, as practiced during past conflicts,
became extremely risky due to the great threat posed by minefields and torpedoboat flotillas
guarding the harbours. The blockade had now to be conducted on the open sea and must
include every merchant proceeding to the enemy ports, be it neutral or not. In a way, it can be
said that mine and torpedo played a most critical role in bringing the concept of total war from
theory to practice.

Ironclads in the East

By the dawn of Ironclad era, apparently there were only two non-western states which
could afford to buy, repair and operate any numbers of modern warships. These two states
were Ottoman and Chinese empires.Both two were among the great powers until recently and
in pre-industrial revolution era, they were technologically self sufficent and equal to the west.
Their natural resources and income seemed to offer great potential for modernization, which
would include a modern and efficient navy. By the end of the 19th century, both two were
considered failed states and a very unexpected eastern country, Japan, took their place as the
exemple of successful transformation. The manifest of Japan’s success was her navy which
single handedly annihilated the third greatest naval power in the globe, Russia, in the most
decisive naval battle of the modern era: Tsushima in 1905. It was certainly not foreseen in
1850s, when Japan was virtually a feudal realm closed to the western eyes.
Both China and the Ottoman Empire had to keep one feet in the sea if they wished to be
safe. It’s undeniable that they were essentially territorial empires, who extracted the bulk of
their state revenues from taxed peasantry and having their most dangereous enemies on their
land frontiers. But the vastness of their realms with huge coastlines imposed a natural
imperative of linking the territories apart together via sea lanes. Palmira Brummet’s
description “swimming elephant” for the Ottoman Empire of 16th century was still valid in
19th century. We can well include China to this category. Indeed, both two empires shared an
interesting geographical position. Ottoman Empire was situated in the Levant, with a coastline
starting from Georgia in the Black Sea and ending in Tripoli, South of Sicily. There was also a
partial coastline in the Adriatic. The imperial capital, Istanbul, was situated at the junction of
all Levantine trade routes and the Straits were the most critical waterways in the western
Eurasia. İstanbul was among the most populous cities in the Mediterranean and its supply was
dependent to grain from Black Sea. The richest provinces, Syria and Egypt sent their annual
tax tally along with great quantities of grain in convoys called Alexandria Caravan. Southern
Balkan Peninsula (Greece), Crete and Cyprus combines to create a virtual narrow sea with
hundreds thousands of coves, inlets and bays. Similarly, China has a coastline of 2.000 miles
from Korea to Vietnam and the Korean peninsula, Japanese Islands, Formosa and Hainan
form a narrow seas from which a critical maritime artery to Beijing passes. Until 1930’s, there
was no railway connection between South and North areas of the Yangtze river and all the
vital rice needed to feed the capital was carried via the sea. Moreover, while the Ottomans had
only the peripheral Danube as a major navigable river (Tigris and Euphrates were marginally
suitable to be effective inland waterways while the Antolian rivers were unnavigable at all),
China had the Yangtze, which was the jugular vein of the empire; providing access into the
deepest westernmost provinces. In short, both empires had to have an adequate navy if they
would not get economically strangled in a war against an opponent of naval might.
Ottoman Empire was naturally the first to react against steamships due to her proximity
to the West and her immediate experiences with steam warships during the Greek War of
Independence. The Greek paddle raider Karteria, commanded by ex-Captain Warren Hastings
of Royal Navy proved to be a formidable opponent when encountered during engagements in
the calm waters of Aegean; setting many immobilised wooden ships afire with red hot solid
shot. After the disaster of Navarino, where the cream of the Ottoman naval power was
destroyed, Sultan’s navy was in shambles. Owing to the bad relations with western powers in
the wake of Navarino, Ottoman Empire hired American shipwrights to rebuild its fleet. The
most influential of them, Foster Rhodes was a proponent of steam power and he had the
support of Kapudan Pasha Çengeloğlu Tahir who had first hand combat experience. The first
Ottoman naval steamer Sür’at was in fact a converted british sailing packet, bought and
presented to Mahmud II as a gift by prominent armenian merchants of İstanbul in 1828. She
was used an imperial yacht and possessed nothing but two salute guns. A more warlike
steamer was Sagir, ex-british packet Hilton Joliffe which was bought by Kapudan Pasha and
used operationally in the war with Russia (1828-29). Sultan Mahmud was at first indifferent
towards the new invention as “he perceived them little more than amusing toys” according to
an observation by Foster Rhodes. However, when in 1837 during a storm, a british and an
austrian steamer took to tow the frigate Feyziye in which the Sultan was returning from Izmit
to İstanbul and thus possibly saved his life, steam power took full sanction from the top of the
state. The first Ottoman built steamers Eser-i Hayır and Eser-i Cedid were designed by
American shipwright Charles Ross and were completed with imported british machinery;
between 1838 and 1840.
Until the end of the Crimean War, Ottoman navy obtained about a dozen paddle
steamers. In 1864, the frigates Ertuğrul and Hüdavendigar along with the battleship Kosova
were converted to screw in Britain. Same year, two more screw ships of the line were laid
down in the imperial navy yard of İstanbul. By that time however, the new ironclad revolution
was in full swing and the navy obsessed Sultan Abdulaziz was eager to obtain the latest
technology for his fleet. In 1866, four large armored frigates of Osmaniye class and three
smaller armored warships were ordered from British yards. By 1870, this roll had arisen to a
respectable fourteen armored ships, ranging from coast defense monitors to the powerful
ironclad Mesudiye, then considered the best battleship of the world. However, this formidable
looking fleet proved to be a financial disaster and an institutional fiasco during the Russian
war of 1877. Having a navy is one thing but being able to support it is another. Along with the
ironclads, the imperial navy yard was also seemingly modernized with most modern machine
tools. Yet there was no organization in this modernization, with many unnecessary or
overcomplex machinery bought for pure enthusiasm. In the two decades folowing the war of
1877, most of that technological accumulation quickly rotted away and those which could not
be turned to the needs of army production were either sold or scrapped. Nevertheless, some
basic infrastructure was kept and this helped to revitalize the naval industry in the last years of
Sultan Abdulhamid II’s reign and beyond. Perhaps the most damaging legacy of Azizian navy
was its financial burden to the empire. In fact, the ironclad fleet was built with borrowed
money of long term interest, obtained in the cheerful aftermath of the victorious Crimean War.
As a result, like an old mammoth which fell because of his overgrown tusks, the antiquated
and clumsy Ottoman revenue system was crushed under the weight of assymetrical naval
spending increase. The contribution of the Azizian naval programme to the great state
bankruptcy of 1876 is undeniable.
Another critical point in the crashdown of this first Ottoman naval programme is
missing the importance of personel. In 1840’s, when the steam power was a relatively new
invention, there were some conscious attempts to send cadets to Britain in order to train
cadres about the new technology. Inexplicably, these first attempts were considered
unsuccesful and instead of training its own cadres, Ottomans turned to european mercenaries
to run their steamships. This trend reached to a peak in the Azizian era, where there even were
some warships fully manned by foreign personel and mercenary officers becoming full offical
commanders of squadrons. The renowned British officer Charles Augustus Hobart became the
first foreigner to hold the rank of müşhir (marshall) when he became commander in chief of
the Ottoman navy in 1869. Naturally enough, such heterogenity, lack of quality and discipline
of crews reduced the actual value of the fleet to nought. After the Crimean War, the peace
treaty of Paris forbid Russia to maintain any warships in the Black Sea. Thus when the war of
1877 did start, Ottoman navy had de-facto command of the sea. By contrast, Russians made a
most bold use of small improvised steamers armed with torpedoes and mines to bottle the
uncoordinated, ill-disciplined and low morale Ottoman navy in its various ports. Such was the
state of unpreparedess that Ottomans did not even tought about threatening the vital danubian
logistic line of the advancing Russian army with the sheer mass of their navy. If they did, the
war would have a very different course.
After this most crushing defeat, the new Sultan, Abdulhamid II, anchored the bulk of
the navy to Golden Horn with minimal crews. Besides the lack of money and resources, the
navy was also politically suspect in the eyes of Sultan, as it played a leading role in the
overthrowing of Sultan Abdulaziz. Yet, the popular mythos about how the fleet rotted away in
its moorings just because Abdulhamid feared from his fleet seems like an overblown
propaganda. To be sure, the navy was not among Abdulhamid’s top priorities during his reign
and it’s well known that he was a pro-railway ruler. Nevertheless, he took care of modernising
the suitable ships of the previous era and built up very effective coast defences; especially
around the straits. Abdulhamid’s naval policy was in good accord with that of the rest of his
contemporaries. 1880’s are called the “era of uncertainity” in the history of naval technology
as the warship designs changed with an astonishing speed. In fact, even the formidable Royal
British Navy was looking like a museum of weird prototypes which quickly became obsolete.
Many second rank navies gave up the idea of having battlefleets; focusing instead to cheaper
and much more versatile cruisers and torpedo craft. Indeed, there was a new school of naval
strategy championed by Admiral Aube of the French navy which caused great sensation. Aube
argued that fast cruisers armed with big calibre guns operating along with squadrons of
torpedoboats should easily overwhelm slow battleships, or could operate in open seas to raid
enemy commerce. Aube’s adversary in his mind was clearly Britain, but he found a
worldwide audience.It looks like this new strategy, called the “Jeune Ecole”, was thoroughly
investigated by the Ottoman navy, and at least the torpedo doctrin seems to be adopted.
Abdulhamid disposed most of the old coast defense ships and replaced them with torpedo
craft; some of which were built in İstanbul navy yard. The most radical elements of his policy
doubtlessly are the early submarines Abdulaziz and Abdulmecid, bought in 1888. However,
the technology was still too inefficient and it was not adopted. The Greek war of 1897
witnessed an attempt of intercepting the Greek navy on open sea but it ended with a fiasco,
which showed the poor state of repair and attack inefficiency of the personnel. In the second
wave of naval modernization which followed the Greek war, the soundest ships of the Azizian
navy were selected and rebuilt to modern standards while two fast and modern cruisers were
bought to bolster the long range operational capability of the navy. One of them, the legendary
Hamidiye, showed the wisdom of this plan during the Balkan war, when she raided Greek
shores and gave serious headaches to the Greek high command.
Perhaps the most important naval activity during the Hamidian era is the revamp of
officer corps. The navy was a popular institution and many scions of important Ottoman
families were volunteering for a career in the navy. Recognizing the mistake of Azizian
asymmetric modernization, Abdulhamid instead chose to invest into the human infrastructure
rather than technology. Selected groups of Ottoman naval cadets were sent to British naval
schools and many gained practical seamanship experience aboard british warships. Technical
instruction schools were opened to train junior engineering officers. A new, confident officer
class slowly emerged. Those men did their utmost during the ten years of disastrous wars
(1912-22) and gained respect of their foes despite being so inferior in material.

On the other side of the world, China also built a steam navy and for a short time,
became a force to be reckoned with. Yet the story of the Chinese steam navy looks more
straightforward than the Ottoman experience. The apparence of the modern navy is directly
related to the apparence of the modern centralist state, as only such a polity can afford the
most complex, costly and professional institution of all. Chinese empire of 19th century
however, was, in terms of military institutions, like a mirror of old steppe empires. According
to the eight banner system of the Quing dynasty, China was divided into tribal territories upon
each a semi-autonomous manchu lord sat, each being independent in dealing with the details
of gathering a military force. This was the description of feudalistic decentralisation. What is
remarkable is that China was able to build up a respectable navy and two well furnished naval
bases despite the archaic nature of its state apparatus, between 1885 and 1894. This is no
doubt a testimony to the talents of Quing court in controlling and co-ordinating its vassal
bannermen as well as the statesmanship ethic of chinese mandarins.
China’s first test of fire with the western naval technology came during the First
Opium War, when the steam gunboats of Royal Navy severed Yangtze traffic and the ships of
the line bombarded the city ports to submission up to Nanjing, one by one. The first of the
unequal treaties signed at the end of the conflict sent shockwaves throughout the empire. One
of the clauses of the treaty was the founding of a customs office under british supervision to
regulate China’s trade with Europe. It was for that customs office that the first modern
Chinese warships were bought, from Britain. The responsible official for the customs office
was the formidable Governor of Shanghai Li Hung-Chang. Chang was to prove to be a major
figure in the modernization movement of China. The catastrophical Tai-Ping rebellion which
endured for almost 20 years (1850-1867) ruled out any possibility to follow a coherent naval
policy until the empire should be pacified once more. When the Quing court re-established
some sort of order, the southern port of Foochow (Fuzhou), Shanghai and Wei-Hai-Wei in the
North (Yellow Sea) were started to be modernized. Foreign reports about the degree of
success vary but almost all praise it. Indeed, the shipyard at Foochow proved to be capable of
building even small ironclad gunboats as well as larger wooden frigates and corvettes.
Meanwhile, cruisers are ordered from British yards and the only battleships ever possessed by
a non-Japanese east asian country, Ting-Yuen and Chen-Yuan, are ordered from Germany. By
1885, China had 11 armored gunboats, 4 cruisers and 2 battleships; along with wooden
auxiliaries.
In 1884-85, a war with France erupted because of the question of dominance over
Vietnam. A powerful French squadron advanced up the river Min and reached Foochow. The
shipyard and all the warships stationed there (all wooden) were destroyed. French did not
suffer a single casuality. Only pressure from Britain stopped them from entering Yantgtze and
cutting off the rice traffic. The northern fleet, prepared by Li Hung-Chang chose to remain in
its base of Wei-Hai-Wei rather than confronting the French. That short war showed all the
deficiencies of the new Chinese navy. There were ships but practically no crew with enough
knowledge to run them. After an armistice was signed with the French, Chang recruited
foreign mercenaries to train the Chinese navy. The course of events is a good and sad picture
of failed institutionalisation’s effects. Under Chang’s close supervision, Captain Lang from
Royal Navy had increased the training of Chinese navy, gaining very favourable reports of
foreign observers. However, when Chang was dead, the navy lost its patron and most of the
the foreign instructors lost their jobs, taking the efficiency of the navy away with them.
Corruption and nepotism was also eating away the little remaining professional fabric of the
navy. True, the same problems did also plague the Ottoman navy, but the Ottomans possessed
an institutional backbone which was able to conserve the professional ethic of the navy. Thus,
when China confronted the young nation of reformed Japan and her numerically mediocre
navy in the struggle for Korea in 1894, her navy went to war under the command of a cavalry
general and with shells filled with sawdust or even concrete instead of explosives. The result
was the total annihilation of a fleet carefully built in three decades. The economic collapse as
a result of the huge indemnity paid to Japan, closely followed by internal turmoil, revolution
and political division of the realm decisively ruled out the possibility of rebuilding a credible
fleet in a foreseeable future. It had to pass nearly a century for China should once again set
out to build herself a navy.

Conclusion

The “long” 19th century witnessed an unprecedented change of the globe. Politically,
empire building and national competitions made their mark to the century. Some of the older
empires lagged behind while new ones arose. The most notable examples of the former are
Ottoman Empire and Quing China.These two great powers of past ages fell victim to the
predatory imperalistic attacks of the western powers. Perhaps the key tool, or machine of that
imperalist surge was the naval power. Benefiting from the frogleap of Industrial Revolution,
naval powers of the west built up navies composed from iron and steel warships, possessing
unseen potential for destruction and range of power projection. The only way to counter them
effectively was building ironclad navies of their own but without major socio-political and
economic reforms to create an effective centralist modern state,indispensable for an efficient
armed force, it would not be possible to imitate them. Ottoman Empire was more successful
in quelling the internal decentralist powers and creating a modern institutional network which
could at least support, conserve and re-create the know-how to run a modern navy. There
would or would not be enough material avaliable, but as an institution, Ottoman Navy
succeeded in transforming itself into one which could make effective use of avaliable
equipment. Chinese, on the other hand, failed to develop necessary institutional framework to
support a modern navy and as a result, they lost the fine fleet they built up with so much effort
without being able to exploit its potential.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

General Naval History

Ed. Gardiner, Robert; “Steam, Steel and Shellfire: The Steam Warship 1816-1905”, London
1992
Sondhaus, Lawrence; “Naval Warfare 1815-1914”, London 2001
Wilson, Herbert Wrigley; “Battleships in Action vol I 1850-1914”, London 1997

Ottoman and Chinese Histories

Georgeon, François; “Sultan II. Abdülhamid”, İstanbul 2006


Langensiepen, Bernd & Güleryüz, Ahmet; “Ottoman Steam Navy 1828-1922” ,
London 1995
Wright, Richard N.J.;”The Chinese Steam Navy 1862-1945”,London 2000