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Welcome to the Ottomans

Terms, persons, places, dates to know for the Ottomans

By Michael Johnathan McDonald


caliph              Easy-clear definition: successor to the Prophet Muhammad ; The leader of Islam according to Sunni and Shi’i after the split  (the four right divine caliphs); sunni Islam: four “rightly-guided” caliphs Abu Bakr, `Umar, `Uthman, `Ali then two “dynastic” caliphates: Umayyad to 750, Abbasid to 1258 after 1258 the term became debased/available for appropriation by rulers

dervish            functional equivalent for sufi in some vernaculars.

divan               (imperial council) The Council of State; Usually grand visers and other visers in day-to-day grievance hearings – also the council of foreign relations. In Constantinople while not on campaign the diwan meets at the topaki palace. When on campaign, the divan goes along for the ride.

kul                   slave, servant (of a master/mistress). Theoretically everyone under the Sultan is a slave, and to some extent the Sultan to God as all are too.

kapikulu          "slaves of the Porte"

kadi                 Judge. Laws are binding. Much Information comes from kadis as very littlie first hand information comes from the Ottomans until mid-sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Aintab courts shows Muslims did drink. Moderation seems to be the key. 

hadith              The totality of Muslim way of Life; a report of the sayings and deeds of the Prophet Muhammad transmitted by his companions; collections of al’ hadith are second in authority to the Qur`an as a source of Muslim belief and practice (law).

Iman                a communal prayer leader ( usually with a capital), supreme leader of the Muslim community. Usually recognized by  shi’I community ( Iman Ali, Iman Husayn, etc.) also was more loosely used with  Süleymen I was called an Iman.

faqih                a specialist in Islamic jurisprudence

mufti               Interpreter of the shari’ah, but laws are not binding. Later head Mufti in Istanbul is a powerful appointment by the Sultan.

sipahi              a cavalryman holding a timar in the provinces in return for military service.

sharia              Islamic law comprising the first source Qu’ran and the second source called  the al` hadith ( sayings of the prophet recorded by his companions).

sufi                  A lose rubric for a person ( persons) who seek spiritual closeness with God. A category for placing all non-orthodox Muslims. Spiritual| mortification. Exercise intellectual abilities, also philosophers, and mystics of esoteric knowledge. Too many categories to cite here.

sultan             The leader of the Ottomans                                                      

ulema              (Arabic `ulama) plural of `alim ( knowledge) , a person educated in and authority on Islamic religion.                             

medrese          Islamic school of education      

müderris         a teacher in a medrese, imperial school teachers

tarikat             Sufi orders that arise in 9th-10th century. A particular Sufi order of a path. Pīr worship. Tarikat refers to Zoroastrian religious practices, customs, observances and thus in essence lives through our words, deeds and thoughts. No two human beings are identical and so in spite of shared experiences etc, each will pursue their own individual Tarikat.

timar               a fief with an annual value of less than twenty thousand akçes, whose revenues were held in return for military service.

tuccar              merchants                    

nishanji           (nişancı) head of chancery (issued sultan's kanuns, victory)

Janissary        backbone of the Ottoman army, mostly comprised of Christian slave-soldiers who could advance to high positions in the Ottoman Empire (or be killed if they didn’t like enslavement or Islam)                

ghāzī                Frontier warrior who champions and spreads the religion of Islam.                    

doge                Doge Giovanni Mocenigo of Venice - Emperor Frederick III of the Holy Roman Empire acknowledged Djem as Sultan of the Ottomas. and granted Djem and his descendants Hereditary Knighthood of the Holy Roman Empire.


Terms in central & provincial administration Ottomans

Imperial council (Divan-l hümayun)

grand vezir                  chief delegate of sultanic authority ( 4-7 visers in general; 1 grand viser) other vezirs (4-7 in number) (can include kapudan, "admiral" of navy)

2 kadi -askers            (Rumelia & Anatolia) "military judges", 2nd highest ulema (ulama) rank after chief mufti

nishanji                       head of chancery (issued sultan's kanuns, victory letters) He must be very literate and know many languages

defterdar                     head of finance office or treasure

reis ul-kuttab              head of scribes attached to grand vezirate

Standing army in the capital

Janissaries                 (yeni çeri) infantry – by conscription during mid-period.

sipahis of the 6 regiments      imperial cavalry; well paid guard the Imperial Palace - as opposed to 2.  provincial cavalry ( Not hereditary)

Agha                           of the Janissaries Janissary commander

ojak                             "hearth" (mess), a unit of Janissary organization

Provincial government

sanjak province          unit of provincial administration

sanjakbeyi                  provincial governor (several under a beylerbeyi)

beylerbeyi                   governor-general (originally two -Rumelia & Anatolia)

sipahi                          provincial cavalryman (with rural fief)

lala (also atabeg)        tutor/guard of a prince at his provincial post

timar                           land grant (fief) to provincial sipahi

zeamet                                    larger land grant

hass                             largest   (to beylerbeyi, palace officials, local defterdars)

Types of land-holding

miri                              land belonging to dynasty, everything not mulk or waqf; (peasant/soldier enjoys usufruct (not possession) of miri

mulk                            (milk) private property

waqf                            (vaktf) land endowed in perpetuity to charitable foundation or family foundation.

Memalik                     Countries – plural – in reference to the physical land Ottomans rule over.


Oghuz Khan                Turkish tribes that descended from Central Asia ( Transoxiana region) between 9-12 centuries into Anatolia.  Most came from escaping Genghis Khan’s advances. Oguz were founders of Seljuk, Safavid and Ottoman states. Oghuz is not an ethnic name, and it can be simply translated into "Turkic tribes". The "Oghuz Turk branch" or "western Turk branch" is one of the traditional six branches of the modern Turkic peoples. The "Oghuz branch" is a geographical and historical designation, not a separate ethnic term since the Turkic peoples of the world share the same ethnic roots. The Oghuz Turks have perhaps been the most successful branch of Turkic peoples and families.

Crimean Khanate       The home of the Golden Horde, a branch of Genghis Khan’s war machine; location:  half- circumference of northern Black Sea.

Hurrem Sultan            First concubine to marry a Sultan (Suleyman), and she influenced Ottoman politics immensely. Cited as the reason for the harem system change.

Shah Ismail                 Instituted the Safavid dynasty and claimed 12ver shi’ism as its religious base.

Chandarli family         First ruling family of the Ottoman court.

Molla Feneri              Şeyh Hamit Sacred Spring: Originates beneath the Molla Feneri mosque, next to Şeyh Hamit mosque; supplies water to two houses on Mumcu Bali Street.

Ibn Kemal (Kemalpashazade)          

Historian, poet, and scholar who is considered one of the greatest Ottoman historians. Born into an illustrious military family, as a young man he served in the army of Ibrahim Pasa, vezir (minister) to Sultan Bayezid II.

Busbecq                      Flemish diplomat and man of letters who, as ambassador to Constantinople (now Istanbul), wrote informatively about Turkish life.            

Kritovoulos                 The Greek historian Kritovoulos, who wrote a contemporary history of the deeds of Mehmed II, the Ottoman emperor who led the assault on Constantinople.         

Ibn Battuta                 Ibn Battuta -- A pioneering 14th century geographer who visitied the Ottoman state of one of his many stops of his vast travels. He gives one of the earliest looks into an otherwise mysteries Ottoman state.

Charles V                   Holy Roman Emperor who needed to attend to Ottoman threats constantly.

Mari’fet: gnosis; Esoteric describes the Sufi path. This is what Sufi ( Mystics) try to obtain.

Tarikats: Not a club, just beyond the rules of traditional Islam. The path to God. A thought movement.

 Three large orders in Ottoman but many other ones too.

a)        Mevlevi: Dancing

b)       Bektashi: Chanting

c)        Naksbendi: Silent focusing.

14-16th Century: India 14th - 17th.

Sheikh-pīr ( Pir is old man) 9-10th centuries onward:  Anatolian, Syrian, lower central Asia, Iran, Iraq, and India.

Dede grandfather

Baba (papa)

Keramet: Miraculous deeds, miracles ( K*R*M generosity, nobility)

Dhikr zikr: Focus and the mentioning of God ( Allah ) repeatedly, phrasing. ‘Praise Allah.’

There are no sultans on this list, but for your own edification you should know Osman, Bayezid I “Thunderbolt”, and the four “empire builders” and their approximate dates: Mehmed II (“conqueror”), Bayezid II (“saint”), Selim I (“stern, grim”), Süleyman (“magnificent” “law-giver”)  [see Goffman, xxiii, for sultans and their regnal dates; also note Goffman’s glossary of terms]


Dubrovnik      The city was ruled by aristocracy that formed two city Councils (Vijeće). Semi-autonomous, but paid the Ottomans tax money. They maintained a strict system of social classes, but they also abolished slave trade early in the 15th century and highly valued liberty. The city successfully balanced its sovereignty between the interests of Venice and the Ottoman Empire for centuries.

Aleppo            Trading capital of Middle East and occupied by many ethnicities. Selim ‘the grim’ conquered it kicking out Europeans and built hans and a new mosque.



Capture of Bursa       1226 in a ten year long siege begun by Osman Ghazi and finished by Orhan Ghazi and became their first capital. Inscriptions in archeology of word Ghazi found.

Timur’s victory at the Battle of Ankara,  dates of civil war that followed (“time of troubles”)

Fall of Constantinople            1454 April 29, falls to Mehmed II and solidifies Ottoman legitimacy as a superpower of the age.

Final defeat of Serbs

In-depth and other Ottoman terms and dates

Mahalle, craft association.

Conquest of Syria, Palestine, Egypt

Capture of Baghdad (under Süleyman…it will be lost to Shah Abbas & won again)

Süleyman’s peace treaties with Hapsburgs, Safavids

Ottoman naval defeat at Lepanto

Ottoman-Safavid wars in the Caucasus (Tabriz, Kars, Georgia taken)

"Long war" with Hapsburgs.

Vakif: tax revenues, market transactions, renting o shops and income. ID: The assignment to perpetuity to an institution or a charity, which is an endowment based system. One puts out money to build. Significanec: builds infrastructure, creates employment – outlines financial securities ( salaries for the upkeep

Caliph is the successor to the Prophet Muhammad beginning with the four rightly devine Caliphs, Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman and ‘Ali, with two major caliphates 750 the Umayyad and 1250 the Abbasid. After this time the title becomes loosely used. When Selim ‘ the grim’ c. 1515-1517 took Syria, Palistine, Egypt and parts of Arabia he captured the Arab lands which included the Mecca, and Medina solidifying the claim to represent the leaders of Islam.

Ulema are religious scholars trained in medreses in Islamic sciences and divided into two main branches, the Mufti, who interprets the law, but is not binding, and the Kadi, a judge, whose decisions on matters of the law are binding. The importance of the position of the Ulema is recorded in by ibn Kemel in his reflections of intending important meetings with high Ottoman officials who showed reverence to the position of these Ulema.

Ibn Kemel a late 15th  early 16th century military person who became a scholar the religious figure whose biography is included in the Ulema Encyclopedia by Tast Kopruzade. Why showing the importance of the Ulema in Ottoman society this reflection also shows how inner change is possible and can lead to outer change in the Ottoman society.

Kritovoulos was a fifteenth century, Greek historian who wrote a contemporary history of Mehmed II ( ‘The conqueror’) commenting on the fall of Constantinople to the Ottomans, in which he gives a fair and balanced picture from both sides. Although, he wasn’t at the battle, he was issued into Mehmed’s service, and became an admirer of his, and was given the governorship of his birth home on the Island of Imbrose.

Ibn Battuta was a 14th Century legendary traveler and histographer. He traveled all over the east, from Anatoia to India,  and around 1331 visited many provinces and met many Turkish leaders of Anatolia and he met Orhan Ghazi ( Second leader of the Ottomans) describing the Ottomans as the wealthiest, in riches and land. This was the first glimpse into the Ottomans we have.

Charles V, Hapsburg ruler, then Holy Roman emperor in the sixteenth century who attended the to the Ottoman threat constantly. He was Süleyman’s archrival. One significance that we cannot grasp but we think it applies is that the Protestant revolution was able to deflect direct encroachment from the emperor because of his constant attendance to the Ottoman threat.

Sultan is an old title, and is the title the Ottomans used. Orhan I was the first leader to use this title, along with his other titles, a practice that evolved to almost absurdity later on to show one-upmanship, played out in the Selim ‘ the grim, Ismail (safavid), Ibrahim, Süleyman, Pope, Francis I, and Charles V. episodes and letters. Titles for the Sultan could go on for half of page in letters and led to the infamous four crowned helmet Ibrahim gave as a gift to Süleyman as a one-upmanship against Charles and the Pope ( and Francis I).

Ibrahim Pasha a sixteenth century Greek slave who became the grand vizer under Süleyman and tried to reform the Ottoman image in a European fashion which ultimately cost him his life. He took Süleyman’s place in the siege of Vienna, because Süleyman knew he couldn’t win, and he was put to death two years after he took Baghdad.

Capture of Bursa 1326: Ten year long siege beginning with Osman and completing with Orhan establishing the Ottomans as a power in the north-western Anatolia and making the city their first capital. This is also where the early Ottoman leader were buried. ( they concentrated on Isnik ( old Bysnatine capital of Nicaea) second)

Shah Ishmaīl was the charismatic sixteenth century military Sufi leader that united many eastern Anatolian Turkemen, Qizilbash, Tarikats frontiersmen and began the Safavīd dynasty. He captured Tabriz where he proclaimed the dynasty. He was the one that alarmed Selim in which the future sultan deposed Bayezid II form the thrown in order to focus on the eastern Anatolian threat. They met at the battle of Chaldrin August 23, 1514. After this battle he retired from active solider service and he proclaimed 12ver shi’ism. His son Tasmap I carried on the fight with the Ottomans and his evade pitch battles and scorched earth tactics drove Süleyman nuts.

Crimean Khanate. The remnants of the Golden Horde set up their state encompassing the upper circumference around the Black Sea. They eventually became a vassal to the Ottomans and their main trade is in slaves.

Chandarli family was a line of Noble visers in the early years of the Ottoman, in which Mehmed II dismantled them in the fifteenth century and replaced the visers with the Kul system in part do to concerns of talent and loyalty. The last grand viser of this line,  Halil Chandarli had opposed the conquering of Istanbul ( Constantinople)  and some sources say he plotted against Mehmed.

Doge. Were the elected chief magistrates of Venice ( and Genoa – the rulers). Appointed for life, he couldn’t appoint family members or won property outside of Venice. The Doge of Genoa acknowledged Bayezid’s brother Djem ( Jem) as the Sultan who was exhaled to Europe and fought for the rights of the eastern Anatolian frontiersmen of whom the Ottomans continually tried to control. Djem plans fell through and he was finally imprisoned in Europe, but his constant address kept Beyazīd in check at his palace which in part led to Selim’s decision to depose him.

Shariah is the totality of life, the path of the Muslim and is the sole corpus of Islamic law, i.e. the normative law, and is incorporated in the Ou’ran and al’hadits, and implemented in that order.

Other laws included the Kanuname, or the Sultan’s laws; and the secular or customary  laws of the various groups in the Ottoman empire. The Shariah is a working modle always updated or in dispute to its updating because of chaining and progression times where new things that are not addressed in the cannon, but need issue. The al’hadiths are contemporary sayings the of Prophet Muhammad. They come from trusted contemporary companions and people he knew. Some have stated that these were like newspaper reports of what the prophet had said about many subjects. These are very important guidelines to be used in Islamic law and are only trumped in importance by the Holy Qu’ran itself.

Background on Mustafa `Ali, author of the "Description of Cairo". Mustafa Ali was a "bureaucrat and historian" (as his biographer Cornell Fleischer describes him) and more...poet, commentator on politics of the times, and social critic. His writing career occupied the last twenty years of the 16th century and early years of the 17th. He is one of the most prolific writers of this period, and author of a long history that exemplifies the decline of "glorification of the Ottomans" genre of history and the arrival of history-writing that was analytical and opinionated.`Ali had a medrese education though he did not become a professional member of the ulema; rather he made his career as bureaucrat (mostly financial bureaucracy, serving in many parts of the empire and also going on military campaign), writer, and wanna-be courtier. Fairly early on, he wrote a "Counsel for Sultans" addressed to Murad III, one of the first examples of "advice literature" that flourished at the turn of the century and up to the 1640s. Much of Mustafa Ali's writing is critical of the state of the dynasty, the ruling class, society, and the ulema. If he seems to be anti-Egyptian (and he did have his prejudices), he also wrote scathing critiques of the corruption of Istanbul society. Fleischer and others have attributed `Ali's frustration to his inability to make it as protege of the palace. Despite (or maybe because of) his crankiness, he provides us with "insider" information and an example of contemporary "attitude". ( Leslie Peirce MA.)

Mahmud Pasha was the longest lasting grand viser under Mehmed II’s reign ( The ‘Conqueror’). He rose from humble beginnings, conscripted, to become a great administrator and trusted confidant of the leader. Through his merits, loyalty, talent and examples of how Ottoman should act he helped change the attitudes of relying on noble family loyalties to the new kul based slave administrators. He is venerated almost to sainthood ( not aloud) after his departure from life.

Hurrem Sultan was the beloved wife of Süleyman the ‘Magnificent’ in which her philanthropic activities, legitimate authority, and climate of popular opinion helped change the role of women in the role household. She was the first concubine to marry a sultan in which the ending of the political marriages had already begun by the Sultans bearing kinds from slaves. She was the first women to patronize builders while still in child bearing years. The very significant role of the sultan mother’s influence of the Harem system began with her.

Tarikat is a path and a sufi order/ brotherhood transmitted by particular schools of Sufis. The Bektasi were a militant order advocating anti-imperialism against the Ottomans. They helped launch the Safavīds.

Molla Feneri was a 14th century Arab linguist, orator, müderris, kadi, composer of many books and became the head mufti under Beyazīd I. He challenged the Sultan to not forsake the community (in which he was doing by staying to himself in the palace and not attending Friday prayers like a leader should) and change school policies making it easier for students to copy texts for studying ( he had Beyazīd free up one day a week for this purpose).

Divan ( literally couch) is The Imperial Council, sometimes called The Council of State, consisting of two kadi-askers, one for Rumelīa and one for Anatolia; 4-7 visers, a defterdar, a treasure, and a nishanji, head of chancery. Divan travels with the Sultan on campaigns until the conquest periods end with Süleyman’s retirement.  Later Divans are found with the rising Pasha households in the mid-16th onward.

Medrese is a college of Islamic knowledge ‘ilm, what an alim learns and posses – is taught.

Kul is a slave system, where everyone under the royal household is a servant to the master Sultan. Technically even the Sultan by Islamic law is a slave to Allah, and acts as his regent here on Earth.

Sülyeman “The Magnificent”

Expanded the Empire to the eastern Europe and the greatest Arab empire after the Umayyad and Abbasid periods.

a)      Ottomans and Turks are full citizens. Sülyman overthrew the intellectual Shiites who were promoting the equality of Jews, Christians and Muslims in adherence to rightly defined ‘shari’ah.’ He issued a stricter adherence to Sunni fundamentalism, that would later backfire, as others followed after him,  as it did in the Abbasid period after Caliph Haran.

Isla’il Abu Taqiyya, late 16th century,  a prominent merchant active in Cairo between 1580 and 1625, and through his analysis it examines the social and economical background of the period;

Egyptian, tajir saffar, then a regional merchant then a shahbandar al-tujjar ( head of Cairo’s merchant guild)  during the end sixteenth century. He was from a third generational merchant family, that became connected to a family of merchants and became wealthy. He learned trade from his father with his brother Yasin, who he later separated from after his father died.  Disputes with his brothers, his sons distractions with the up and coming military life,  and his sisters who took him to court,  led to an end of a  his family merchant dynasty. Taqiyya hired many Syrians, in which he spent much of his childhood around the Syrian trade spots, recorded most of his partnerships in the courts, and saw a trend of indigenous merchants becoming involved in commercial agriculturalism in Egypt. His family was involved in the Red sea trade and his activities at court showed what a vital role the courts played in trade. Taqiyya’s family migration to Cairo, an historic trade nexus, also ,  showed the great fluidity of movement between diverse regions of the Ottoman Empire and his mobility in trade showed a continuity of commercial and economic ties between Egypt and Syria. His life represented three phases of social mobility during the 16th century where Ottomans in law, investment, social mobility all played positive roles in the maintaining strength of the now vast empire. Significance: Providing legal guarantees to the merchants’ deals and ventures, providing them with legal documents they could use in other regions, and sanctioning the various transactions and partnerships they undertook.

Slave: “[ Ottoman] slave was a human chattel whose person, body, and fruits of labor were appropriated by the owner, ” Marc Baer tells us in his work  ‘Gender and History: Islamic Conversion Narrative of Women’. This was no more apropos then for non-Muslim women in the Ottomans society. “Issues of class, gender and religion merged in non-Muslim slave women, who occupied the most disadvantage position in every social interaction and had no control over their sexuality.” Women’s use of shari’ah courts gave them an important leverage in negotiating familial and social relations. Women’s inheritance laws under the Shari’ah favored them compared to their community courts, and the Shari’ah became a haven for women to seek divorce form their husbands through conversion.  Women had more control over their lives in the mid-16th century Ottoman empire, according to Baer. However,  he says converted non-Muslim women to Islam only gained them partial liberation in a shari’ah law that held Muslim men as dominant figures in the Muslim way of life. Finally, women “converted into a religion that upheld the slave system that had originally oppressed them.” If she again has another non satisfactory marriage, the converted women again appeals to the shari’ah court in which Baer doesn’t elaborate any further.


Every Islamic empire had a moral imperative to safeguard Muslim women and make certain they only produced Muslim offspring, since normative law was intended to increase the Muslim community.

Ebu’s-su’ud, whose first teaching appointment, in 1517, was to the 30 akche College at Inegol. By 1525, he was at the Sultaniyye College in Bursa, a foundation of Mehmed I [?] and two years later, at one of the eight colleges. In 1533, Suleyman ‘kanuni’ appointed him judge of Istanbul, effectively the senior judgeship of the empire, and then in 1537, Military Judge of Rumelia. (Zimber 231).

17-18th Century, the judgeships became markedly affiliated with family appointments. This showed a closing of opportunity of people with merit. The élite families taking over showed a lose of control for the sultan, initially, because discursive knowledge would find a way back to him.

The Judges were the most important day-to-day administration figures of the Ottoman Empire. Every city, town, village and settlement within the empire came under the authority of a judge.

Cemel Kafadar


Networks of Companionship.  Seyyid Hasan b. 1620

Topic: Sohbetnāme.  August 27,1661 ( 1072 A.H.) to end of 1075 A.H. ( July 13, 1665.)

Michael’s Significance. Post-Süleyman age with its acute decline-consciousness, its sense of eroding stability, lose of control, and social dislocation. The inward turn into the self is a mirror result of the Sultan(s) turning into a Palace recluse(s), emphasis, and not socializing or campaigning for more territory which made most of the discourse in Ottoman history up until this time. There was a change of discourse and knowledges.

Sum: there is a wide spectrum of unknown or ignored first-person narratives urging us to reconsider the earlier dismal or personal writings as a lacuna among Ottoman historical sources.

We learn of an intricate web of relationships established, on the basis of family ties as well as order of affiliation and mahalle solidarity, between that social world and other sectors of Ottoman society: most notably the shop-owners and mid level members of the askerī ( military administrative)


Ottoman Dervish diaries. 17thCentury Dervish in Istanbul.

418 folios-long.

No-name: refers to himself as fakir ‘ this poor one.’ ( by the same token, his house is often his gamhāne/place of suffering. Following several hints n the diary, however, we can safely identify its author as Seyyid Hasan ibn eş-Şeyh.


Possibly a middle class family in the western sense, but not meaning he benefited from his family in any monetary of emotional way.


Born Seyyid Hasan 1620 to the şeyh of the Kocamustafapaşa.  Father died when he was nine years old.

He had proper education. Forty-five years old when diary stops – he enters a convent in Balat. He served as Sufi-leader in the convent and a preacher ( vā’iz) in the neighborhood mosque for the next twenty five years – an increasingly common combination of functions whereby the state brought the  order under tight administration control, even while it led to resentment among the more orthodox who did not care to see Sufis in the pulpit.


Described Characteristics: Fiery preacher that had knowledges of past and future. ( type of prophetic understandings of perpetual history).


Sohbetnāme: only social life he recorded. No mystical personal feelings or sermons recorded or his passions.


Dinner parties constituted the goods things about life.  Never specifies at whose house these dinners took place.

He imparts the knowledges of the close-knit character of this community of brethren ( ihvān). These may have been poor peoples dinner parties where conversation and affection of brotherly companionship took place. Also, recorded are post-dinner get togethers.


Diligent dietary menus:  This is important. He seemed to enjoy and care for food. When seasonal fruits became available he seems to records these things.


Gratitude seems to be the fastidious recordings of food.


Sleep was of interest: Dreams are a major part of some biographies.


New of the plague, the early part of the book. Author loses his wife, two sones and a daughter to the plague.


People who did not know of the Sohbetnāme  used his pseudonym Nūrī, of some poetry he written.


Various other “ full-time dervishes” and minor religious functionaries ( such as mütevellī, imān, şeyhzāde, dede) make up the most integral part of Seyyid Hasan’s social world.


Two poles of Ottoman traditional framework of telling of history.


Sunni and conformism vs. popular counterpart, characterized as unorthodox or even hetrodox and potentially rebellious.


The Opening of the Turkish archives to the scholarly community.


Old fashion Chronological- ordered narrative modes and the emphasis of political-military studies of history.


New: Long term statistical information and hard data on economics and social life, by opening of the Turkish archives,  leads to a fuller understanding.


“Kemalist positivism” used selective rigidity. 


Joseph von Hammar ‘discovered’ Evliya Celebi’s gargantuan work. (near-myth like work)


Menakibname. Collection of books of Sun’ulla Gaybi. Containing sayings and conversations of Oglanlar Seyhi Ibrahim Efendi, the controversial ‘seyh of the Melami order. Written around the same time as the Seyyid Hasan’s diary, is also titled Sohbetname, but here sohbet is clearly used in the Turkish sense.


Dream Logs: Sancajbeyi notebook  “Dream Book/Düşnāme.


Sultan Murad III recorded his own dream book. This meant there was a heightened form of esoteric knowledges, including dream interpretation.


Things to be read and divulged to give us ideas of the totality of perspective of Ottoman thoughts, and feelings.


Barber shops worked as a knowledge distributor as like the coffee houses.


He writes very little about the outside world. More insular social environment. Good.

There are enslavements of Ottomans captured in war. Kadis ( captive in Rhoads). Citizens, courtiers.

Some captured at Lapanto.


An Egyptian Janissary ( Suleyman)  record of his experience in French captivity in the seventeenth century. A theatrical comparison of morals and politics. Careful when most are attemps ar literary stratagems more than actual recordings of what life really was like.

Mahalle, craft association.

Significance: The proliferation of autobiographical writings represent a formal expression of the emergence of individuality in  post-renaissance European culture.


None of the Sultans left biographical works, like Timer, Babur, Janhagir or Shah Tamasb, ( Indian rulers, some Mughals)


Spinach common soldier food ( Mustapha II ( r. 1695-1703).


Michael’s Significance. Post-Süleyman age with its acute decline-consciousness, its sense of eroding stability, lose of control, and social dislocation. The inward turn into the self is a mirror result of the Sultan(s) turning into a Palace recluse(s), emphasis, and not socializing or campaigning for more territory which made most of the discourse in Ottoman history up until this time. There was a change of discourse and knowledges.


Sum: there is a wide spectrum of unknown or ignored first-person narratives urging us to reconsider the earlier dismal or personal writings as a lacuna among Ottoman historical sources.


The Significance of the Arab Lands


Major theme of the  Decline of Ottoman Patronage – the private citizen picks up the slack.



Patronage is mostly in Istanbul and the private citizens help people to learn to read and write.


Egypt Under the Ottomans.


This is one more perspective other than Istanbul.

The Study of Egypt is very unique in Ottoman History. There are two approaches. First the older approach of study just Egypt during the periods of Ottoman rule, then the later second way of looking at it from the Ottoman perspective


Arabic general name for Cairo is Misr ( Roots older)

Popular name of resident in Cairo:  Misri.

Other name: al-Qahira ( fustat) This was the name for the modern section of Cairo in the 10th century.


Biggest providence under the Ottoman Empire.

Agriculture production mammoth

Cairo is not a port city but is assessable (very well located)  to the Red Sea and the Mediterranean which makes it very important.

Thus military presence is a continues theme in Egypt’s history.


Zelot Arab Mamluks were different then their Turk Ottoman counterparts.

Zelots rounded up Christians and put them segregated into an insular neighborhood by Aleppo.



Egypt had the longest pedigree of all the provinces.

Egyptian pedigree


General outline:

1520s huge revolts by a governor around Aleppo thought to bring Mamlukes back, but couldn’t.

Ahmed Pasha makes a bid for power – he was a trader.

1524 Ibrahīm Pasha, Suleyman’s favorite Pasha,  is given the job to ‘govrule’ – but his title is not beylerbey ( governor of a province), and was paid in salary, not like the rest of the beylerleys who were paid form the provinces revenues.

1525: First great Kanuname issued for this province. Very important in structural control. Significant is that the Ottomans decided not to usurp the vakifs of Egypt, or not the large and important ones. This was a plus to a people who saw a Turkish ruling party come and take over a more Arab populous.

Sources before Ottomans: Mamaluks wrote llot on their society; when the Ottomans took over this drops off because the patronage was not strong as it was in Istanbul for learning and writing. However, patronage took a different form in that private collectors of books opened up their houses for the public to copy manuscripts so they could learn. This was necessary as the Kanuname issued, among other things, a wide system of new courts in which people needed to learn to read the documents. Therefore courts and homes are linked with literacy in this period. Celalzade Mustapha contributed to much of the Kanumane for this province.

Pluses and minuses:

Over all the Ottomans treated their new governance on the people with a laissez –faire attitude.

Ottoman objectives:

What they allowed:

Purpose: Not to have a big reflection on societies changes. This helped achieve definitional and juridical control.

  1. Pasha in Egypt is never called a beylerbeyi.
  2. Ottomans keep a close eye from Istanbul on Pasha.
  3. Rotate Pashas every 2-3 years. Moving them allows them knowledge that no Pasha’s are fixing  roots (or local ties) of autonomy in a Provinces. Keeps them loyal.  Istanbul pays the Pasha directly. Not like normal beylerbeyi that get their funds from the province.
  4. Pashas have a huge Divan.
  5. No need to build military building, already citadels built prior.
  6. They didn’t introduce the Timar system, so no local provincial Calvary to collect taxes and run things. Forge relationships with leaders for new tax collection. Later tax-farming bidding spurs investment. People get rich.
  7. Left most of the people in place to run Egypt because they knew the Nile and lands better for governing.

Pilgrimages return in vast success:

Worked woth Bedouin tribes to clean up pilgrimage routs. Both to Jerusalem and the Hijaz routs ( two holy sanctuaries) . Refurbished drinking fountains, cleaned paths, and people started to enjoy going on the pilgrimages.

What happened to Mamluks?

They went underground.  Other people say they were absorbed into the Ottoman system. Possible a little of both. They did however run a more stricter Sunni Islam than the Ottomans. Ottomans transformed the Mamluks systems until 1789 and Napoleon came in to Egypt for his short stay.

Mamluke Ruling System

Military Rule

Garrisons ( Barrack houses – Military------Rule kul but no Sultan ------- Garrisons ( Barrack houses – Military.

Face of for rulership and the winner is the ruler. This is a slave system like the Ottoman system.  It is used to get the most talented ruler onto the thrown ( in theory).

It turned out allot of good military leaders in which this system was like the Ottomans.  It was an effective system to get good rulers. Barrack mentality.

Bottom line: Military groupings, factions are a part of the Egyptian story. Later we see this in the 17th Century with the outside recruitments and the janissary movements.

Sometimes the Pasha said: “ get me out of here.”

Some periods of troubles as these are centuries and much happens in between. However, on the whole the Ottomans rule saw no significant threat form anther empire so relative peace is one plus factory for the people.

Late 16th and onto the 17th century. Pasha’s break the kul system and become autonomous rulers, as the center weakens in Istanbul. Janiisary and Mamluk military factions have some conflict. However, both didn’t destroy, or want to destroy the economic foundations. These remain in good. The state contiues to produce.

Military culture didn’t place too much emphasis on soldiers or populous to learn advanced reading and writing. Ulema and rulers did place emphasis.

Main Theme of Ottoman 16th century – European Significance during the Reformation was Charles was pre-occupied with Süleyman/ Hapsburg rivalry (wars for domination) that he couldn’t focus on crushing Calvin and the Early Protestants. This is one of many oddities, but significances in history. If the Ottomans were not there, and then would Calvin and Protestants be there - have survived as a movement?

Why didn’t the Ottomans forge a vast shipping and navy and colonize the world – they had the money?


  1. ¾ is of Egypt in the Ottoman studies. General synopsis is that things worked out well.
  2. Local people invested in trade , some getting rich.
  3. Defenses of the Red Sea by Yemen brought allot of jobs.
  4. Investment policies arose.
  5. Tax collection: Military always oversaw the tax collection. As factions broke off they collected taxes separately which meant tax-farming came into vogue again, and this time bidding and investing saw some people do well in business. Also these T-farms gave citizens the right to a bid and or investment opportunities.

  6. Religions of groups and higher learning:

  7. Tarikats leaders, sufi leaders whom were not heterodox live in Egypt.

  8. Tarikats are more see both Sunni and Shi’i policies (sides) and pick the best out from the two. Tarikats follow normative laws.

  9. Some Sufis ( people tend to clump anyone not a orthodox person into this group) have some paganistic pre-Islamic ways.

  10. Long standing Ulema revered and respected.

  11. Ulema scholarship is revered in history at Cairo. Al- Asher mammoth school institution  , begun as a shi’i and was transformed into a Sunni school by Salal Al- Din.

  12. Vibrating culture of Mamluks.: even after the Ottomans take over they flourish.

  13. Coffee houses.

  14. Shadow puppets are a cultural phenomenon. Ottoman puppets had black eyes. Not politically correct. Ethnic stereotyping general norm. People liked it.

  15. Skits had repertoire of repeating characters…Arabs, Turks, Jews, Christians, many other groups. They had stock stories.

Cairo had a library, stocked with secular books that people loved to copy then  read ( see court systems of Ottomans led to literacy and well as private individuals who let public come into their homes and copy manuscripts and books. This was impart by the Ulema who had lost power and were replaced by Ottoman courts created movements to learn to read the court documents, and that fact that Ottomans central was far away the control on literacy was weaker. Thus private patrimony was private people getting the public to read, the public to understand the new Ottoman court laws, and the Muslims didn’t have printing presses at this moment in Cairo.

Did everyone always get along?

Ottoman times – Coptic Jews lived in the rural areas

Ottoman times – Jews lived in the city.

17th Century

1.Palace Rulers: chief black eunuchs become big political players.

2. Movers and shakers Osman II 1618-40, Murad IV 1623-40, drank himself to death.

3. Queen mother becomes dominate political figure because many sultans are children.

4. To major military victories: Caucuses & taking back Baghdad were major victories.

5.End of 16th Century rulers in power of position: Sultan, grand viser, Queen mother, black eunuchs.

6. Rise of Harems in size and influence.

7. Sultan’s private tutor both is spiritual training and as well as academic.

8. Sultan stays home and people get used to it.

9. 1595 Why?

10. 1580-1590 – formal; English embassies.

11. Questions: “What must we stay on top of?”

12  Etiquette breakdown describes ruler has less power.

13. Must open communication with people

14. Pashas & Visers in control of state politics, more in control and running the Diwan.

15. Pashas & Visers houses grow in influence.

16 Visers are revered but Pasha’s get more power eventually.

17. devsirme is dropping off but a new system takes over – adhoc, peasants recruited at first for numerical needs, later take part in military campaigns – once they are over they do not want to return to village life, after seeing the outside world.

18. Educated people going for the power position of Pasha – they now rule. Shifting loyalty was the way for a Pasha to move up the latter of influence.

19. Prices controlled, most young, by Pashas.

20. 18th one person said Oligarchy of Pashas who rotate power, not seen in the 17th century. However, this rotation is part of the Ottoman system and connected to the Islamic processes of no loyalty thought.

General 17th

  1. No excitement of conquests
  2. Boring but stable
  3. “ we are responsible to ask questions”

Geography: Lithuania/Poland activity at north of Black Sea.

Russia in the world of Ottomans –

 1622 Regicide of Osman II

  1. One story is wanted reforms
  2. Overthrown by Janissaries and Pasha coalition.
  3. Sig: the country split.
  4. Two sides faught over revenge: One side “ we want revenge” the other side said “He broke the honor rule.”
  5. Result of split was not civil war, but factions of debating Pashas Sig: Political intensity.
  6. Evliya Chelebi An intimate life of an Ottoman Statesman: Courtier, traveler, attaches himself to a Pasha’s household.  Tells of rebel Pashas. Ibshir, led a revolt to Istanbul. Instead of killing the sultan kissed his hand and was executed the next day. No political options for Pashas. Sig: No one could unseat the traditional power.
  7. 1665 Koprulu Mehmed
  8. no one investigated what he did.
  9. Sig: Instatuted the second line of noble visers: Koprululu


1.             Tripoli the Janissaries revolted and set up an intern government.

2.             Set up commercial shipping

3.             Tunis, Janissaries revolted and set up an intern government ending Ottoman rule.

4.             Safavids of Iran want now to encroach upon Anatolia. They are Shiite, and the Ottomans are strict Sunni.

5.             Russia looks for eyeing the Black Sea area.

6.             Catholic powers in the west view western Mediterranean struggle for dominance ( Short lived as Spain then focused on the new world).

7.             Russia, now taking the Orthodox role wants to be the new Byzantine of the east. 

8.             Industrial revolution is paramount.

9.             The Ottomans made a mistake by not changing with the current (adapting) with the industrial revolution. Much of the old Military men who were replaced by ‘ulema and other higher clergy who enforced stricter laws on the Arabs ( this meant that they were to distain advanced technology and live like the days of the Hegira ( this is an extreme outlook, but was part of the problem that they fell) .

10. British East India Company, formed in 1600s, although in direct competition with French and Dutch interests until 1763, extended its control over almost the whole subcontinent of India.

11. Rise of Pasha households in ruling and factionalism, some intolerance.


Converting for dignity and Freedom


Marc Baer’s opening graph relates how women in the mid-17th century appeared to use Shair’ah courts to get out of a bad marriage rather than convert to Islam because the Islam religion appealed to them more. Social change the general topic of Baer’s chapter points out how Muslim debated this issue and other issues of non-Muslims converts. Many converts didn’t change religions out of a new found piousness, but for a myriad of social reasons. One of the main reasons, apart from the marriage theme, seems to be social mobility. One could associate in new circles, wear identifiable social class clothing, and win some basic freedoms. One of the causes for the conversion trend as stated, from the Christian side: The Sultan stopped recruiting them for higher administration and recruited other non-Muslims. This was, in part, the influx of Eastern Europe and Mediterranean slaves which began to be sold to the Ottomans by way of the slave trade of the Caucuses flooding the market for competition, according to Baer.  The “[…] conversion caused inter-religious disputes between non-Muslims owners and new converted Muslims” which ultimately led to an overflow in the shari’ah courts.  Converted women still with the converted social label and ownership constraints appeared bound to unrewarding marriages. So again women had to turn to the magistrate if they wanted to divorce from Muslim husbands or be freed from Muslim owners.


Prophecies and Messianic events In the Ottoman Empire

Shabbatay Sebi and a Mulsim mystic who lived at the same time, Muhammad an- Niyāzī.

Effendi, alias, Shabbatay Sebi.

Court of Adrianople was Sultan Muhammad IV’s favorite residence.

Significance lf the Dönmeh oral tradition.

Niyāzī tekke ( Dervish monistary) in Solonica. Relationship  between its devotees and members of the Dönmeh sect.

Niyāzī: born 1617 in Aspuzi in central turkey (Anatolia) where his father was a Naqshabandi Sūfi.

Niyāzī hung around Bektāshis when he was young. They adhear to a suncretistic system of religious beliefs composed of Jewish, Christian, Gnostic and Shi’ite elements. Among the beliefs are reincarnation and divine manifestation in human form.

Niyāzī came to Constantinople ( Istanbul) about the same time as Sebi.

Both Niyāzī and Sebi were expelled from other cities. This is harmonistic in how they met.

Niyāzī fell out of favor with the ‘Ulema, was banished twice before the Sultan recalled him to reassure a worried Sultan about the Ottomans plans to attack the Polish.

Effendi, alias, Shabbatay Sebi resided in Adrianople subsequent to his conversion.  

From a letter to Samuel Primo , one of the most important members of Shabbatay’s inner circle and subsequently his secretary, who hailed from Bursa where Niyāzī had resided, it is known that Shabbatay Sebi enjoyed privileged relations with the ruling classes of Anrainople. He would banquet at the residence of ‘Ali Pahsa, a high official with whom he seems to have had friendly connection and would stay at the Seray throughout the three days of the Muslim festival ( Īd al-kabīr) in the company of Mullah Mustaphā.

Vizer Ahmed Koprülü imprisoned Shabbatay Sebi.

Niyāzī also reserves a satanic role in this eschatological vision for Vāni Effendi, whose downfall he predicts. The Sultan’s foremost preacher, Muhammad Vāni Effendi was a very prominent personality at court who, as a fervent Sunnite, and his influence over thee extremely religious Sultan Muhammad IV, to wage an unrelenting war against the Dervish brotherhoods, especially the Bektāshis. Of even more particular significance is the eschatological dimension Niyāzī lends to the military campaigns against Poland in the year 1672 which leads to taking of Komeniec in Podolia on the 28th of August of that year.

Aintab elite

Seydi Ahmed, local notable, a Turkish scion, shop owner, manager and owner of Aril who was an a’yan ( provincial noble) meaning he was a leading figure in economic and civil matters in the city. A businessman (Profiteer).  Tax-collector, and tradesman of textiles.

Social significance of Seydi was a common variant of seyyid used with proper names that in 17th century the social value of the claim to religious status increased so that there became o number of seyyid who appeared in the court records and in Aintab, as well as Aleppo saw an increase in fabricated genealogies.


Witness legal proceedings  for correct legal procedures. ‘ pillars of the community.’


What: One sketch of a Aintab elite. c.1540s


Where: Capital/Village city of Aintab, a minor provincial capital ( actually it will remain a village). Northern Syrian region. Textile and dying manufactures ( dyehouses)  were common among its productions around Aintab.


Why: Ottomans needed recruitments of local partners in administration, the Ottomans can be said to practice a domesticated imperialism that created provincial zones of opportunity. 1481  the Ottoman conquest


When: Time: A generation after the Ottoman conquest in 1516.  c.1540s.


Who: Family name “ Boyaci”, meaning dyer, suggests that Seydi Ahmed’s ancestry made their mark in the textile industry that flourished in Aintab.


“ Boyaci” a Turkish rather than Arabic name. This suggests a multi-ethnic and linguist province.


Sançak bey (bey old name for local leader chief) exposed tax-jobs to citizens not a part of the administration. For example, If a good warrior contributes on a field of battle, the government may give him a timar to run as a symbol of a gift ( saber Robe) . Thus taxes were sometimes local and not involved in the administration; but this was always liked from locals to administrations. Sometimes, for example, in the Balkans, timar as gifts operated because of the local knowledge a local may poses, meaning they could run a timar with better knowledge of that area.


No ownership: Sipahi, Beyleyber, or a Pasha do not own anything. They are donated land and are not paid by the administration. Only the Janissaries are paid directly, in cash, by the administration. These are never local lords; their loyalty is directly connected to the administration that deals out these positions.


2. Vakif (a. Pios trusts) ( b. Family trusts).

Vakif means ‘ to stop.’

This is referred to as an income system.

Vakif are trusts for various things like up-keep of infrastructures. For endowment s for philanthropic ways, and are incorporated in the ‘shari’ah. All Muslims must contribute to the welfare of mankind, usually we see this as charity, but this is kinda mandatory – if not, at end of life the state takes 2/3 par shairah’s notations. A Muslim could make out his trust while alive and theoretically the Sultan could never touch this or take it away. However, under Selim ‘ the grim’, especially in Egypt, and Syria many became enraged because he illegally took some Vakif lands away, but were letter returned by Bayezid III.


Thus Sultans found ways of undermining shari’ah law.


General ownership:

Thus, in reality only one-third is privately owned in theory. In shariah, upon death 2/3 is divided up, how an authority figure sees it, of the total assets. Usually, to avoid this, the specific naming of the benefactors are recorded in the trust (-fund).


Vakif can be for funding mosques and all other infrastructure of the state. This was how things were built. 



Groups stayed within themselves.



Local Identity: People are attached to their towns. People had powerful local identities to their homes, villages, towns and cities. They didn’t feel as nationalists and think of themselves as members of this province or that province. They tried or always discovered their roots (or made them up) as an identity signature for individual worth as well as status or price. It was where you were from and not where you lived that the people thought was important.


Think of it this way. What is an empire? One way to say it is it is a collection of local places ( i.e. local peoples and local knowledges).


How people influenced other people?  Still very little is known. “ I want to find people I can identify with,” possibly was the most pertinent response.

early leaders ( expansionist period):

Osman ? – 1324

Orhān 1324 -1362

Murād I 1362-1389

Bāyezīd I 1389-1402

Mehmed I (Çelebi)  1413-1421

Murād II 1421-44 and 1446-51

Mehmet II (Muhammad the Conqueror), b.1429–81d., Ottoman sultan (1444-1446 and 1451–1481).

Bāyezīd II 1389-1402


1071 The Battle of Mantzikert: Seljuks fight the Byzantium over the turkish immigration. The Seljuks defeat Byzantine army; the first great wave of Turkish migrations into Asia Minor.

1176 The Battle battle of Myroikephalon: Seljuks of Rūm defeat Byzantine army.

1177 Dānismendids subdued by the Seljuks of Rūm

1204 the fourth Crusade: Latins occupy Constantinople; Lascarids start to rule in Nicea; Comeneni start to rule in Trebizong.

1220-37 The reign of Alā’ üddīn Keykūbād, peak of Seljuk control in Asia Minor

1221 Shihāb ad-dīn ‘Umar al- Suhrawardī brings insignia of futuwwa, sent by the caliph, from Baghdad to Konya.

1220s-30s Migrations from central Asia and Iran to Asia Minor due to Chingisid conquests; the ancestors of “ Osmān arrive in Anatolia according to some Ottoman sources.

1239-41 The baba’ī Revolt of the Türkmen, led by Baba illyãs and followers, crushed by the Konya government.

1243 [ wave one] The Battle of Kösedag: Mongol Armies defeat Seljuks of Rūm and render them into vassals.

1258 A flood of people come rushing into and away from Anatolia. Some see opportunity to start a dynasty or rulership and others just want to get out of harms way. The ones just leaving just want to get back to Constantinople for safty reasons. Some flee to the Aeagen Sea coast to get back to Constantinople.

1261 Byzantine capital moves from Nicaea back to Constantinople.

1276-77 Baybars leads Mamluk forces into Asia Minor.

1277 [ wave two] Mongols ( Illkhanids) take direct control of Asia Minor [ Iran/Iraq/Kill Caliph]. The Illkhal didn’t last long, approximately 30-40 years, as they assimilated and many became good Muslims while in Iran ( a phenomena with most cultures there). The Rūm Turks were now finished as well. They disappear.

1298 The revolt of Sülemish against Mongol administration in Anatolia; seems to have allowed frontier lords to undertake independent action.

*1298-1301 Likely dates of earliest conquests ( Bilecik, Yarhisar, etc.) by Oşmān ( founder of the Ottoman Empire - or at least how the story goes ? ).

1301 The battle of Bapheus; Oşmān defeats a Byzantine contingent.

1304 Catalan mercenaries deployed by the byzantine Empire against Turks ( Including the Ottomans) in Asia Minor.

1312 Ulu Cami built in Birgi by Aydinoglu Mehmed.

1324 The date of the earliest extent Ottoman Document accepted as genuine: Orhān is referred to as Şücāَüddīn, “Champion of the faith.”

*1326 Bursa conquered. The first Ottoman Capital is besieged.

1331 Isnilk ( Nicaea) conquered.

1331? The First Ottoman medrese ( College) established ( in Iznik).

ca. 1332 Ibn Baţţūţa travels in Anatolia.

1337 Izmit (Nicomedia) conquered.

1337 The date on the inscription in Bursa that refers to Orhān as gazi [ghazi: a person that successfully fought against the infidels| Often used as a title for warriors] authenticity and meaning controversial.

1341 The Death of the Emperor Andronikos III; beginning of the civil war in Byzantine.

3144-46 Help sought by different factions form the Ottoman, Karasi, and Aydınoglu principalities; Orhān marries the daughter of John Kantaouzenos; Karasioglu Sülymān marries the daughter of Batatzes, Karasi principality subdued and annexed.

1347 Kantakouzenos enters Constantinople and declares himseld (co-) emperor.

1348, 1350, 1352 Kantakouzenos calls on Ottoman forces to be deployed in Thrace on his behalf.

*1352 First Ottoman Acquisition in Thrace: Tzympe. The beginning of the Rumelia invasion.

1354 Kalllipolis (Gelibolu) falls to the Ottomans following an earthquake.

*1357 Prince Sülymān,  Orhān son and commander of Thracian conquests according to Ottoman traditions, dies in accident.

1459 or 1361 Dhidhimoteichon (Dimetoka) conquered (by Hācī İIbegi).

1362 Orhān dies, and Murād I succeeds him.

1366 Gelibolu, a strategic point in the defense of Istanbul (Constantinople) and has numerous historic remains, lost to the Ottomans.

1361 or 1369 Dates suggested for the conquest of Edirne.

1371 The (Sırpsındıgi) Battle by the River Maritsa; Serbian forces ambushed ( by Murād’s forces in one tradition, single handedly by Hācī İIbegi in another).

1376 or 1377 Gelibolu recaptured.

1383-87 Suggested as the latest date by which point the imposition of devshirme had been initiated. [Employment of slaves: it is commonly concluded in modern historiography that what differentiated the Ottoman military-governmental slave system from its Muslim predecessors was the introduction of the child-levy, the Devshirme. Many Muslim states imported slaves from outside their domains and employee them as soldiers, officials and administrators, whereas the Devshirme had its sources of supply within the Ottoman Empire]Erdem1,2,.

1389 The Battle of Kosovo; Ottoman victory over the Serbs, but with many losses; Murād I dies and is succeeded by Bāyezīd I.

1395? Sermon by the Archbishop of Thessaloniki that included the earliest known reference to the devshirme ( Which indicated that it had benn in practice for some time)[ Thessaloniki founded about 315 B.C., on a site of old prehistoric settlements going back to 2300 B.C., by Cassander, King of Macedonia] Saint Paul preached in this city the new Christian religion.

1396 The Battle of Nicopolis (Nigbolu), in which Bāyezīd I defeats crusading army.

*1402 The Battle of Ankara; Timur defeats Bāyezīd I.

*1402-13 The interregnum: Ottoman throne contested among brothers who rule over different parts of the realm.

1403 Süleyman Çelebi, Bāyezīd’s eldest son, signs treaty with Byzantine Emperor ceding land.

1413 Mehmed Çelebi ends up the winner of internecine strife; Ottoman realm reunited.

1416 Civil war due to uprising led by Prince Muşţafā, a surviving son of Bāyezīd’ ( or a pretender).

1416 The revolt of Sheikh Bedreddīn’s followers crushed and Bedreddīn executed.

1421-22 The ascension of Murād II, followed by rebellions of an uncle and a brother.

1430 Thessaloniki (selnak) conquered.

1443 Army led by Janos Hunyadi descends deep into the Ottoman realm in autumn, is forced to return after the battle by the Zlatistsa Pass, where both sides suffer great losses.

1444 Murād II abdicates in favor of his son Mehmād II; crusading army arrives in the Balkans; Murād, asked to lead the Ottoman forces again, triumphs in the Battle of Varna, returns to self retirement.

1446 A Janissary revolt culminates in Murād II’s return to the throne.

1451 Murād II dies; Mehmed II’s (second) reign begins.

1453 Constantinople ( Istanbul) conquered.

1456 Unsuccessful siege of Belgrade.

1461 Tresbizond (Trabzon) conquered; end of Comneni rule.


Images and qualities projected by the Ottoman dynasty


1         religious     

crusader vs. infidel christians    ghazi

sunni orthodox vs. shi`ite “heresy”

personal piety   (Murad II, Bayezid II, older Süleyman)


1         military

      frontier raiders    alp

      “heroic” champions     bahadır,  pehlevan    

      conquerors in historic mode     Alexander, Caesar  (not Chingis Khan, Timur)

      victors   “muzaffer daima”


2         dynastic

      mandate of God/Heaven to dynasty  (Osman & descendents  Osmanoğulları)

      genealogic connections  (Turkish) to Oghuz Khan late 15th c.

      genealogic connections (Muslim) to Prophet 17th c.

      by @ 1600, venerability (“history” argues legitimacy of , danger of change)


3         imperial

                  universal sovereign     jihangir/suz        

      multiple titles: sultan, khan, shah

                      “master of the planetary conjunction”   sahib kıran

                      Roman legacy --- especially in territorial naming


4         sovereign attributes            

      generosity & beneficence

      forebearance  (NOT mercy, but more like forgiveness)

      justice     `adalet  

                enforcer of sharia

                protector of Christians & Jews

                enforcer of social order  (“balance”)

                protection of “reaya” vs. officials

                punitive justice



Who are named models?   as in “X-like”

Alexander, pre-Islamic Persian kings, Muslim rulers (Mahmud of Ghazna, Salah al-Din),

                   Timurid princes (Husayn-i Baykara)

women: wives of the Prophet, wives of Abbasid caliphs, Helena (mother of Constantine)

The Ottoman Empire: Wars, gains, losses 1301 to 160

[1280] - 1326  Emergence of the Ottoman beylik .Osman & Orhan

   [1301       Bapheon

   1326        Bursa   CAPITAL

1326 - 1402    Consolidating a regional sultanate

   1352        Crossing the Dardanelles to “Europe”

   1354        Ankara


   1361        Edirne [Adrianople]    CAPITAL   Murad I

   1385        Sofia

   1387        Salonica

   1389        Battle of Kosovo, defeat of Serbs & Bulgarian allies

   1389+       Bayezid I "the Thunderbolt"'s campaigns in Rumelia & Anatolia     Bayezid I

   1394        Unsuccessful siege of Constantinople

   1395        Hungarian campaign, Wallachia becomes vassal

   1396        Battle of Nicopolis, defeat of "crusader" Venice, Hungary, Byzantium

   1397        Annexation of Karaman beylik


1402 - 1412    Timur's invasion, lossof territory, civil war among princes

1413 - 1453    Recovery under Mehmed I and Advance

   1430        Salonica again [frm Venice].  Murad II

   1440        Failure to take Belgrade, peace with Hungarian hero Hunyadi

   1444        Peace with Karaman

   1444        Battle of Varna, defeat of Hungarians

   1448        2nd Battle of Kosovo, defeat of Hunyadi & Hungarians

1453           Conquest of Constantinople       CAPITAL           Mehmed II

1453 - 1514    Consolidation of Rumelia-Anatolia

   1455        Moldavia becomes vassal

   1456        Failure to take Belgrade

   1459        Final defeat of Serbs

   1460        Morea (Greece)

   1461        Trebizond (Trabzon)

   1464        Bosnia

   1463-1479   Ottoman-Venetian war

   1466-1470   Ottoman-Mamluk war

   1468        Karaman

   1473        Defeat of Akkoyunlu  (A. unsuccessful alliance with Venice)

   1475        Genoese colonies in Crimea, suzerainty over Crimean Khanate

   1484        Herzegovina  .Bayezid II

   1499        Lepanto, war with Venice    RISE OF OTTOMAN NAVY

   [1504       Safavid Shah Ismail takes Baghdad]

   1514        Battle of Chaldiran, defeat of Safavids  .Selim I

1514 - 1517    Conquest of southeastern/eastern Anatolia, Greater Syria, Egypt

1516                    Defeat of Mamluk army at battle of Marj Dabik

1517                    Fall of Cairo and the Mamluks

1520 - 1555    Expansion of empire .Süleyman

   1521        Belgrade

   1522        Rhodes

   1526        Battle of Mohacs, defeat of Hungarians

   1528        Buda

   1529        Unsuccessful siege of Vienna

   1533        Armistice between Suleyman & Hapsburg Ferdinand

   1534-1536   War with Safavids, capture of [Tabriz] & Baghdad

   1535        Ottoman-French alliance

   1537-1540   Ottoman-Venetian war

   1538        Annexation of Hungary, 3rd capture of Buda

   1538        Preveza (Greece), E. Mediterranean naval supremacy

   1547        Ottoman-Hapsburg peace

   1548        Ottoman-Safavid war

   1551        Tripoli

   1553-1555   Ottoman-Safavid war -- Caucasus

1555-1606      Limits of empire

   1555        Ottoman-Safavid Peace Treaty of Amasya  [Tabriz to Safavids]

   1565        Unsuccessful campaign to take Malta                 . Selim II

1570                    Tunis

1571        Defeat of Ottoman navy by Holy League at Lepanto

   1571        Cyprus

   1580        Peace with Spain, acknowledging Ottoman client in Morocco . Murad III

   Eastern front

   1578-1590   Ottoman-Safavid wars in the Caucasus (Tabriz, Kars, Georgia taken)

   1603        Tabriz retaken by Shah Abbas I. Mehmed III

   1618        Treaty based on 1555 Peace of Amasya (favorable to Safavids)

   European front

   1593-1606   "Long war" with Hapsburgs (Austria),

   1606        Peace of Zsitva-Torok, war ends in stalemate

               Ottomans recognize Hapsburg emperor as equal, but retain Hungary

   Chart of evolutionary stages of Ottoman royal household and ruling class

                  Ottoman royal household                                                   Ruling class (military/administrative)

 Osman            family                                                                                   not much  --  other fighting lords                       

 Orhan                 wives=mothers



 Murat 1     kills brothers                                                                               vezir (Chandarli family—Muslim)

1361-1389             slaves                                                                            yeni çeri (Janissaries) 

                       concubines;  wives?                                                                        akıncı (frontier raiders)

        marcher lords (Turkish, some Greek)



 Mehmed II         household slaves  (kul)          *                 vezirs are now “kul” (new type career)

1451-1481                  palace “training school                                    troops: Janissaries, imperial/provincial cavalry (sipah)i^

              white eunuch corps                                                           some vezirs are Balkan princes

                         satellite princely households in provinces                       akincis, christian sipahis

                           concubines, wives w/ no children



BayezidII princesses marry vezirs                    **                    vezirs become royal sons-in-law (damad)

Selim I                     no more wives, just concubines                                           rise of navy:  kapudan (vezir)




Süleyman          concubine favorite (Hurrem)       ***                                # of vezirs grows

1520-1566                                                                                                    no more Balkan princes, no more Christian sipahis (?}

                                                                                                                                              pasha  households are large



Selim II      royal household grows:                ***          Janissary #s growing, alternate employment

Murad III           sultans rarely campaign                                                  Janissary uprisings over salaries  

1566-1595               only eldest prince to provincial post

                                    black eunuch corps

                                    rise of queen mother (valide sultan)




Mehmed III                     more growth:                           * **  long wars: ad hoc recruitment of Muslim peasants

& Ahmed I                   all princes in palace                                   pasha households get stronger as sultan stays in palace

1595-1617               (everyone is in palace!)                                                            Janissaries getting less effective

                                                                                                                                provincial cavalry getting militarily obsolete



Osman II                          Exposes a changed Ottoman royal household and ruling elite

1618-1622                                 Ends in first popular overthrow of a sultan and first regicide in 1622



     *[**]  represents linkages between dynasty & non-dynasty members of ruling class


      *   vezirs are [mostly] products of training in interior of  royal palace


      **   another linkage: princesses are married to leading kul, vezirs (some) are royal “sons-in-law”


      ***  and one more linkage:  potential triangle of power among princess, her vezir husband, and her mother

(who is a concubine as with Hurrem or a queen mother)          


       ^   we haven’t talked about provincial sipahis yet (formally, at least)


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