The Ottoman Empire and early modern Europe

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For example, whereas recent studies provide thought provoking insight into elite Ottoman households, our knowledge of gender relations outside of the privileged order remains thin.


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Similarly, we know much more about urban societies and economies in the Ottoman world than we do about their rural counterparts. This volume cannot help but reflect such strengths and weaknesses within the field of Ottoman studies. Indeed, I hope that a sense of these irregularities will help stimulate readers to explore our many empty historical spaces. Perhaps unavoidably, this work also echoes its author's own attraction to certain aspects of Ottoman history, such as the rich and multilayered world of the early modern eastern Mediterranean or the similarities and differences between western European and Ottoman treatment.

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while. No cover image. Read preview. Synopsis Despite the fact that its capital city and over one third of its territory was within the continent of Europe, the Ottoman Empire has consistently been regarded as a place apart, inextricably divided from the West by differences of culture and religion.

Religious Change and the Ottoman Empire, 1450-1750

A perception of its militarism, its barbarism, its tyranny, the sexual appetites of its rulers and its pervasive exoticism has led historians to measure the Ottoman world against a western standard and find it lacking. In recent decades, a dynamic and convincing scholarship has emerged that seeks to comprehend and, in the process, to de-exoticize this enduring realm. Dan Goffman provides a thorough introduction to the history and institutions of the Ottoman Empire from this new standpoint, and presents a claim for its inclusion in Europe. His lucid and engaging book--an important addition to New Approaches in European History--will be essential reading for undergraduates.

Not respect or inclusion but contempt replaced fear in the minds of many Christian Europeans. Nevertheless, the dense reality simply did not fit this simple-minded construct - expressed by contemporaries and twentieth-century histo- rians alike — of a religious animosity that engendered almost complete separation. However reluctantly, the rest of Europe learned to accept its Ottoman slice as a successor to Byzantium. Islam and Judaism were acknowledged if not ac- cepted as part of the re-evaluation of the relationship between religion and society that accompanied the early modern collapse of the Catholic ecumene.

Even ideologically, then, differences receded and the two soci- eties more and more resembled each other. An examination of this state of affairs opens for the historian a new world of research and interpretation.

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Part 1 State and society in the Ottoman world Kubad's formative years Even the infidel comes to the fold of the faithful, but not the heretic dervish; the infidel has receptivity but not him. He is out of the sphere of hope while the infidel is in the circle of fear of God, By God, the infidel is far superior to him.

He had only heard tales and rumors: that she was a prostitute, a gypsy, a Tatar princess, and, most extraordinary of all, that she had been a favorite of Ibrahim Pasha, Sultan Siileyman's powerful if ill-fated grand vizier who led Ottoman armies and conquered Baghdad in , only to be executed two years later by sultanic decree.

Not that it really mattered to Kubad. The only mother he had ever known — his "milk mother" — was the daughter of a venerated Shaykh of the Haydari order of dervishes. One of his earliest memories was of an elder reciting the strange words inscribed on the door of this tekke.

The Ottoman Empire and Early Modern Europe | Armand Sağ

Other than a drooping mustache and a long tuft of hair at their foreheads, the heads of these worshipers were clean shaven. On all their limbs they wore heavy iron rings, and on their heads were towering conical hats. Bells, suspended at their sides, banged away as they danced about, chanting poems and praising God. Only much later did the boy understand how deviating these customs were, that ' Vahidi, Menakib-i Hvoca-i Cihan ve Netice-i Canu, fols. Mentions of this favui on which see "Cha'ush," Encyclopedia of Islam, 2nd edn [Leiden, ], hereafter referred to as EI are scattered through the pages of his Trading nations.

We know nothing of Kubad's youth other than his name, which suggests an association with the Kubad River in Circassia. What follows in this vignette on his early years is pure speculation.

Early modern Europe

At the age of eight or nine, Kubad's life suddenly veered when a troop of Ottoman cavalry swooped into his village and carried him off. Two weeks later, he found himself standing all alone and silent in a three-day vigil construed to initiate him into a refined if isolated existence at the Ottoman sultan's palace school for male pages. After this exercise, the head eunuch declared that the youth had now entered the Ottoman governing elite.

The young boy, still so impressionable and raw, soon had settled in at Topkapi Palace in the heart of the capital of the sultan Siileyman's empire, living a life profoundly more luxurious and also incomparably more restrictive than the one from which he had been torn. There were first of all no dervishes in this tiny world. In fact, Kubad saw no one who even remotely resembled any of the inhabitants of the small village in which he had spent his young boyhood.

Instead, he resided in the third and most interior and opulent courtyard of the Ottoman sultan's palace. Here, he was thrust as a novitiate into a rigidly hierarchal existence in a closely scheduled, spartan, jam-packed, and single-sex dormitory together with some clean-shaven boys. Here, he was expected to uphold a strict code of behavior whose showpiece was absolute public silence. Kubad only later discovered that the boys' strange hand movements constituted a special language that the pages had developed over the years to make up for their compulsory voicelessness.

The Ottoman Empire and Early Modern Europe: Daniel Goffman

Incorruptibly ruling over these boys were five imperial eunuchs, whose castration physically symbolized their distinct condition and their absolute devotion to and dependency upon the sultan and his household. Kubad, in short, had become an imperial page, who was being trained to assume high position in the Ottoman administration. He settled into a routine of schooling that rigorously taught him the Ottoman language of the ruling class — so utterly richer and more refined than the Turkish vernacular with which he had grown up — and the urbane etiquette of the court, and instructed him along with the other boys in the ins and outs of Islamic doctrine.

He also trained in the sports and crafts that distinguished the Ottoman elite, and learned absolute obedience to his master, the sultan. Kubad entered puberty in this world, and gradually moved up through the hierarchy until he attained the rare honor of attending — silently, unobtrusively, and with constant vigil — upon Sultan Siileyman himself.

Throughout, the royal eunuchs observed him closely, assessed his talents, and judged how this gifted youth best could serve the Ottoman state. The young man saw his older companions graduate from this "inner service" into the imperial "outer service" askapiciSj hoitancK, janissaries, and other sorts of servants of the sultan. Kubad's formative years 25 B IT. T -Trij-wursei]. The figure on the upper left is a pursuivant of the Imperial Divan; the one on the upper right is a serjeant-of-arms in imperial processions. One of the bottom two officials carried the im- perial footstool; the other assured that the sultan's thirst was promptly quenched.

D'Ohsson, Tableau general de I'Empire othoman, vol.

Kubad's own graduation ceremony occurred in his eighteenth year. He along with several other pages stood before the sultan and one by one kissed his hand before receiving vestments, a turban, and some money. The young page overnight was reborn as an imperial pursuivant, and even his physical appearance soon had utterly altered as he donned the turban and allowed his facial hair to grow out into a full and impressive beard.

His principal charge was to carry the Sublime Porte's decrees into the city of Istanbul as well as the farflung Ottoman provinces. He also was issued specific verbal instructions and granted the authority to make sure that these imperial commands were obeyed, and years of training and close observation guaranteed that his edu- cation and personality fitted him for the job. Kubad and his colleagues formed the principal means of communications between the Ottoman government and its subjects.

They also constituted the closest organization the Ottomans had to a diplomatic corps. Fabricating the Ottoman state At that time [the reign of Murad I ] the tax was low. Conditions were such that even the unbelievers were not oppressed. It was not the practice to seize their purse [clothes?

At that time the rulers were not greedy. Whatever came into their hands they gave away again, and they did not know what a treasury was. But when Hayreddin Pasha came to the Gate [of the government] greedy scholars became the companions of the rulers. At that time they won over the rulers and influenced them. Greed and oppression appeared.

Indeed, where there is greed there must also be oppression. In our time it has increased. Whatever oppression and corruption there is in this country is due to scholars. Other than a few architectural remains and coins, virtually everything we know about the first overlords emirs , Osman, Orhan, and Murad, is second-hand. Some of our information derives from Byzantine, Genoese, and other outsider witnesses to the birth of this state; much of it comes from the histories of later Ottomans who reconstructed the past from the jumbled recollec- tions of their elders in order to justify or condemn the Ottoman state as it existed in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.

Such is certainly the case with the anonymous chronicler quoted at the beginning of this chapter, who used an undocumented tale of life under the emir Murad to critique the reign of Sultan Mehmed II and his band of fraudulent "scholars. Quoted in Bernard Lewis ed. I: Politics and war Oxford, , p. Some deem the undertaking quixotic and foolhardy, arguing that our sources are so politicized and their creators so intent on legitimizing the Ottoman dynasty that they are of use only in ascertaining what the Ottomans and their enemies wanted its foundation to have been, rather than what it actually was.

The intent of one of the earliest such accounts, written by Gibbons, an American resident in Istanbul, and published during the First World War, certainly aimed to explain the origins of an empire tottering on the edge of demise. This thesis stimulated a historiographical debate that threads its way through and beyond the twentieth century.

Its principal argument con- cerns the roots of the Ottoman genius: was the Ottoman Empire a legacy of the Byzantines, the Arabs, or the Central Asians? Menage, ed. Colin Heywood and Colin Imber Istanbul, , pp. For an incisive discussion of this tradition and its uses, see Kafadar, Between two worlds, pp.

Kafadar's book should be the starting point for any examination of the early Ottoman world. Gibbons, Foundation. Fabricating the Ottoman state 29 would have been almost meaningless to the Ottomans themselves, has raged in the twentieth century in part because the ideology of imperial- ism has justified itself by claiming that the West brings civilization to the Orient.

Equally important is that the ideologies of the nationalisms of Ottoman successor states have demanded imagined pasts that centered the identities of their own nations at the expense of rival identities such as the Ottoman one. Imagined beginnings Religion permeated the Mediterranean world during the age of the Cru- sades - c. It helped produce the separation between West and East, and it justified and excused war, massacre, and murder. Both Catholicism and Sunni Islam jealously guarded their orthodoxies.