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Ottomans History -- 18th Century

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Ottomans 18th Century


One of the longest lasting states ( known in west as an Empire - not in any Ottoman terms) in history. The Second wave in history of a great Islamic Civilization.

Tulip era & 18th Century

Self Assured Attitude

Powers tooling up to hit the ottomans

This had nothing to do with the fact that slave women were bought and sold publicly and daily in Istanbul. (ref. Zilfi 293).

The culture they wanted to conquer now they learned their language and brokered peace while now the haughtiness vanished. – Michael Johnathan McDonald.

1560s Koprülü line of vizierates is established.

18th century

  • No military negotiators anymore.
  • Outside empire Christian and Jews unite with other countries who sympathize of the growing Muslim only policies of the capital and leadership.
  • Pasha houses and kul diminishing.

Crucible of war

Mehmed IV     “ the hunter”               1648-1687 (deposed)

Suleyman II    dies on thrown            1687-1691

Mustapha II                                         1695 1703 (deposed) grand viser lets not fight ‘we fear you’  (give up Hungary, Wallachia). ( nepotism- extreme example)

Ahmed III “ stayed in Istanbul        1703-1730 (deposed)

1716: “ulema dynasty ; oligarchy of Istanbuli 11 ‘ulema organized groups for  control. Start appointing  people to key positions. Sultan is out hunting in Rumelia, where he loves to say and play. Christian Pasha’s say “were out of here. 

Theme of territory: Victory, Losses, Victory, losses. And always decreasing a little.

State strong in a sense.

Sheihk ul- Islam ( Chief Mufti). Now appointed with family of leaders. Kul system declines to extinction.

Everyone wants to become a seyyid/seyyid: bloodline to the prophet Muhammad. They make up genealogies for status.

Many people called for a printing press but one person got the credit.

Ibrhahim Müteferrika establishes Ottoman printing press. However, only religious Islamic books were allowed to be published, this was a control of information, as there was plenty of scientific and secular geographic material banned. Many UC American systems will not touch this subject because it shows a backwardness and they do not want to paint a picture that this period of the Administration did anything wrong because it is incorrect to criticize because this is how they did there system. The significance is that students didn’t have the correct material to compete in education with the west. In reality the result was the Christians, and Orthodox began to ally themselves and identify themselves no longer as Ottomans, although living there with nostalgia, but with European and Russians.

  1. Reis ul-Kutlab, head of the scribes now this institution begins the training of diplomats.
  2. No more military negotiators.
  3. Carlowitz treaties begins this functionary.
  4. Oligarchy of Istanbuli said no non-religious books.
  5. One person had his library planned as an established as vakif with endowment for its upkeep, but the Oligarchy of Istanbuli said no.
  6. No disseminating of knowledge.

Thesis recap: Because the Ottoman components of Islamic law in peacetime Islamic society traditionally viewed the special restrictions of women and the native religious minorities as vital. Because of the implications of Islamic law was one of the pillars of Ottoman legitimacy, women and the religious minorities were a many layered imperial concern. In the course of the eighteenth century, the wealth and the pretensions of the minorities in time came to draw the greater fire from Ottoman regulators. Unlike the contemporaneous Muslim women, minority men came increasingly under the protection of one or another European power, and thus escaped the force of Ottoman law. The growing autonomy of the protected minorities undermined the moral order and dynastic legitimacy. Together with the Ottoman’ inability after the eighteenth century to regain their stature as conquerors, this new state of affairs rendered the government of women all the more critical to Ottoman/Islamic identity. (ref. Zilfi 303).


1683 Second and unsuccessful Siege of Vienna by Grand Vizier Kara Mustafa Pasa of Merzifon. Pays with life.

1686 Ottomans are forced to evacuate Hungary.

1686 Ottomans are forced to evacuate Hungary.

1699 Treaty of Karlowitz (Karlofca | Carlowitz); the first loss of territory by the Ottoman Empire. They now do not feel so good. Remember that prior to period the Sutlan used to boast of how powerful they were and the rulers of the world and foreign dignitaries must kneel and kiss their hands. Now diplomats emerge and go to foreign lands and negotiate for the sultan; also the military, the old negotiating team, no longer can participate because deals must be cut. Before Pasha went and demanded their terms and that-was-that. Now the Ottomans had to send learned advisors to see what ever they could keep when negotiating treaties. This didn’t make them feel too well.

The negations: Russia is involved; so now Ottoman subjects represented now by an Orthodox Russian power.

  1. Russians demand the reconstruction of Christian Orthodox religious trademarks in Jerusalem. Ottomans say ‘nope.’ This will have dire consequences.
  2. No concessions say Ottomans. This set a precedence, which meant were coming back and going to treat you really horrible.
  3. Begins of Orthodox verses Muslim subversive definitional control of their subjects.
  4. One of the reasons the Ottomans signed the treaty was that financial matters came to the fore. Orthodox trade merchants, decided to subvert loyalty now to their supporters which meant less money for the Ottomans. Every little bit helps, as they say.
  5. What was the result of this less money? This meant to enforce a one time tax on Vakifs, which is illegal in Islamic law. Therefore the people were not happy. Also to offset the lash back, high ottoman officials were taxed a special tax now. Still people said “ what’s up?”
  6. wealth tax on Pashas.
  7. Theoretically the rights of the sultan can seize the Pahsa’s estate after death because he is a slave, according to the kul system, even though this system is not fully in place as the original element of its inception.
  8. 1695 Life long tax farms creates a real financial problem later on. In previous two, three, five year plans, the tax farmer could make a profit by razing taxes on his initial investments. Now, the tax farmer could not and must stay with a fix tax. However, this life long journey into local control created roots, something that the Ottomans never wanted because it decentralizes the control of the state. ( i.e. communistic theories). Before after death of tax farmer, or his period is up the state give out the new position. In this type of lifelong term, one could enact great local influence and loyalty. In a sense this was private possession.
  9. How does a tax farm work? The sultan owns 1/3 financial assessment on all provinces. The towns and villages, and hinterland need to pay annual assessment rates to a controller, usually a collector who gives it to a representative of the military. The tax farmer pays the Sultan his 1/3 right away (lump sum) and the town has one year to pay the tax farmer. The town in this instance can play with their money. For example, maybe the rainy season didn’t produce enough crops for the annual payment, so they can make it up next year. After the bidding of tax farming hopefuls, and after a pre-approved period, the tax farmer can raise rates to make up for inflation, and for a profit.  This is the way they make money. However with life long positions they could not raise rates.

1699-1792 Decline of the Ottoman Empire albeit slowly -- Just A Myth? The Empire Lasts till the early twentieth century

Grand vizerate last until the end of the Ottoman empire- so this institution is stable. However, family appointments, and all Muslims, and gone are all other ethnicities or religions, most notably the Christian Pashas.

1703 Edirne uprising. Sedi Efendi. “ulema dynasty in Istanbut. Hold power of position planning in medreses and political power. All Muslim all the time propaganda in the secret meeetings. 


1711 Defeat of Russians on Pruth River ( Crimean tarter role in Victory).

1718-1774 Treaties of Passarowitz (Pasarofca) and Belgrade with Austrians, Kucuk Kaynarca with Russians. Belgrade lost to Hapsburgs. Negotiated by Nevsherhirli Damad Ibrahim Pasha.

1718-1730 Tulip period; Theme French party, party, party. Women more open and free to express themselves. However, many rich can only play at Saadabad, and other golden horn shore playgrounds. The “ Abode of Pleasure” place on the Bosphorus was modeled on the concept of the Palace of Versailles. Here the elite would play and party usually engaged in French games. The Ottomans also began to train scribes and students to learn foreign languages for becoming diplomats, for the first time in their history, which meant that they now sent people to other countries to establish permanent embassies. The first one was in France. First diplomat to France Yirmisekiz Mehmed chelebi  ( from the 28th Janissary regiment) embassy to Paris – exchanged material culture.  He was originally a janissary from the 28th regiment.  Here the diplomat sent back drawings, sketches of French fashion, and information of games and etiquette; so one can see similarities in party garb and functions. We know this because also at this time painting, drawings, and sketches, once banned because of Islamic idolatry,  laws now was sometimes allowed to take place. So we have the figures and functions in the evidence and many similarities like fireworks, elite dining all look somewhat similar. However, this doesn’t have must importance rather than elemental human need to have fun.

Istanbul is decorated with beautiful palaces and gardens; the first printing house in Istanbul and the first paper factory in Yalova are set up.

By 1730 many pleasure palaces are destroyed, however today some still exist.

Later: Sultan Selim III (r. 1789-1807) attempted to reform the Ottoman system by destroying the Janissary corps and replacing it with the Nizam-i Cedit (new order) army modeled after the new military institutions being developed in the West. This attempt so angered the Janissaries and others with a vested interest in the old ways that they overthrew him and massacred most of the reform leaders. Defeats at the hands of Russia and Austria, the success of national revolutions in Serbia and Greece and the rise of the powerful independent Ottoman governor of Egypt, Mohammed Ali, so discredited the Janissaries, however, that Sultan Mahmut II was able to massacre and destroy them in 1826.( turkishodyssey).

1714–1718 Lost what was gained.

The Treaty of Passarowitz was the peace treaty signed in Požarevac, Serbia (German: Passarowitz, Turkish Pasarofça, Hungarian: Pozsarevác) on July 21, 1718 between the Ottoman Empire on one side and the Habsburg Monarchy of Austria and the Republic of Venice on the other.

During the years 1714–1718, the Turks had been successful against Venice in Greece and Crete, but had been defeated at Petrovaradin (1716) by the Austrian troops of Prince Eugene of Savoy.

The treaty reflected the military situation. The Ottoman Empire lost the Banat of Temesvár, northern Serbia (including Belgrade), northern Bosnia and Lesser Walachia (Oltenia) to Austria. Venice lost its possessions on the Peloponnesus peninsula and on Crete, gained by the Treaty of Carlowitz, retaining only the Ionian Islands and Dalmatia. Belgrade and Lesser Walachia were regained by Turkey in 1739 by the Treaty of Belgrade. (wikipedia).

1739 gained back what was lost.

The Treaty of Belgrade was the peace treaty signed on September 18, 1739 in Belgrade, Serbia by the Ottoman Empire on one side and Austria on the other. This ended the hostilities of the two-year Austrian-Ottoman war, in which Austria joined Russia in its fight against the Ottoman Empire.

With the Treaty of Belgrade, Austria ceded Northern Serbia with Belgrade and Lesser Wallachia, gained by the Treaty of Passarowitz in 1718 to Turkey and set the demarcation line to the rivers Sava and Danube.

The Austrian withdrawal forced Russia also to accept peace with Treaty of Nissa, by which Russia gave up the Crimea and Moldavia, but was still allowed to build a port at Azov, again gaining a foothold on the Black Sea. (wikipedia).

Nev şehirli Ibrahim Pasha served law, the Ottoman sultan Ahmed III ( 1703-1730), from 1718 to 1730, the period that had come to be called ‘ the Tulip Era” (Zilfi 290).

  1. Ibrahim Pasha criticized, some say criminally negligent.
  2. Argued for women’s abstinence, while he amused himself with the ladies.
  3. Relationship between the west and Islam was the key issue. Insteaad of concentrating on entertainment, the Ottoman’s should have been concentrating on the Russians and Europe.
  4. The tulip era mourned the lost opportunity. (291).
  5. Sultan Ahmed was deposed in favor of Mahmud I ( 1730-1754) and Ibrahim and his closest associates were executed.
  6. Ramadan lights and fireworks, birth, circumcision, and marriage holidays were very common to many reigns, but Tulip Era entertainments were more frequent, especially from the 1720s on, and they were spread across the city rather then remaining within the monumental central quarters. Moreover, they were often intended for a wider public, with carnivals and amusements parks especially favored. (292).
  7. During this period in time Ottoman trade with Europe increased.
  8. Later: Wars and territories were lost, to Austria and Russia. Areas of the empire such as Egypt, became independent in all but name only. During this time, beginning with Selim III, there were efforts to modernize the system. Many of the reforms the sultans tried to impose to revitalise the Empire, were reverted by conservative forces within the Empire, either by the religious cadre, or by the now-corrupt Janissaries, even after the Janissaries were disbanded in 1826.?

Tulip was preferred motif and cultivar in the period, and as a short seasoned flower it aptly symbolized the era known for its extravagance and swift passing.

The Treaty of Passarowitz produced a short, peaceful era between 1718–1730. The change in Ottoman policies toward Europe already had given its signals. The Empire began to improve the cities along the Balkans, which would become their defense against the expansionist movements of the Europeans. More public policies were sought, such as drops in the taxation rates; public relations improvements, such as the institution of consulates, and the first civilian industrial investments all fall into this period. It was called the "Tulip Era" as this motif was extensively used. However, the scientific advantage the Ottomans had over the European countries decreased. While the Ottomans were stagnating in a stalemate with their European and Asian neighboring countries, the European development sped up. The Ottoman Empire did not keep up technologically with its European rivals, especially Russia ( wikipedia). [ I think stagnation was from non literacy from the beginning]. This was only a period of peace that was exploited because of general wealth in the empire].

Tulip era

  1. A new phase.
  2. Changed the whole nation’s psychology
  3. State was free spending.
  4. party, party, party, theme.
  5. Pasha sponsored innovations.
  6. Women to women relation literature becomes a theme. Before only men-to-men.
  7. Time of non-Ottoman, non-Islamic sources of inspiration.
  8. time of artistic experimentation.
  9. Ottoman printing press ( 1720s).
  10. training of Ottoman ambassadors ( for the first time).
  11. Embassies widened relations.
  12. Ibrahim Pasha opened medrese for instruction in Persian language and Sufi.
  13. Ibrahim Pasha’s viserate as first episode of enduring debate between the ‘ west’ and Islam.
  14. squandering energy and resources.
  15. 1730s violent uprising sparked by regime’s paralysis ion the Persian campaigns.
  16. Charge of gross sexual improprieties against the regime.
  17. questions of social change arise.
  18. Harshest critiques charge Ibrahim Pasha with calling for Ottoman women’s abasement.
  19. Ibrahim is also accused of building [developed Sa’dabad]  ‘where felicity abounds’ on the Golden Horn. A string of entertainment venues. (ref. 293).
  20. Building new pleasure and comfort buildings arose, and were criticized.
  21. 1718 private enterprise brought in new found wealth. But the decisions to kill off the progenitors stopped this before it could take root and spread across the empire.
  22. Spending wildly.
  23. The court became visible, and wanted to be seen. Something that was not the norm as the secretive walls of the Topkapi and pleasure palaces were always highly guarded for their secrecy of pleasure.
  24. Prepare for western and Russian encroachment.
  25. New entertainment and a notion of leisure (295).
  26. Tulip Era created new secular holidays (295).
  27. New late hour festivities more abundant and street lighting so people can see and play at night. Not seen before except on Muslim holiday’s at mosques a century before ( ref. 294-5).
  28. introverted; (only dealt with domestic politics and did not care about what’s happening outside) and tried to forget past bad experiences by spending too much time on entertainment.
  29. This had nothing to do with the fact that slave women were bought and sold publicly and daily in Istanbul. (293).
  30. The Russian expensionism was a series of ten wars, fought between the Russian Empire and the Ottoman Empire during the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries.
  31. Imperial clock: usually the Ottomans had a custom of shutting things down at nighttime, but new street lamps were aloud to able lit and people to go out.
  32. French influence from the ambassadors created an influx of material cross-relations between the Ottomans and France.  
  33. The next fascination is with Russia.

Domestic policies of Ottoman Morality

Women had to wear color according to their religious affiliation.

“Women wore “ regulation streetware” to ensure an appearance that was unsuggestive and anonymous. In the eighteenth century, an opaque veil ( yaşmak) and collared long coat ( ferace) of a single muted color helped keep the womanliness of the Muslim woman’s body indeterminate and identity unknown. There was a number of outerware between muslim women and women oof various non-muslim communities; each group was assigned particular colors, headgear, and overgarment; and muslim women were entitled to wear finer cloths. In general, the law didn’t mandate clear class distinctions for the outdoor clothing worn by women within the same religious community, although there were differences ( often indiscernible) in the quality of cloths used” (Zilfi 299)”

Clothing required monitoring for moral and definitional control.

Ibrahim was also blamed for women wanting to divorce their husbands that couldn’t make enough money to buy the finer cloths so they could be more distinct then the poorer or different religious women.

Also, as a defiance, some women dressed whorish, according to prudish sources of complaints and this caused allot of heartache for the establishment after certains complained.

Mehmed IV     “ the hunter”               1648-1687 ( deposed)

Suleyman II    dies on thrown            1687-1691

Mustapha II                                         1695 1703 ( deposed) grand viser lets not fight ‘we fear you’  ( give up Hungary, Wallachia).

Ahmed III “ stayed in Istanbul        1703-1730 (deposed).

  1. 30 daughter.
  2. 17 are politically married off  to high ranking visers and other high officials. This not the traditional Ottoman system begun under Mehmed II ‘ The conqueror.”
  3. Nevsherhirli Damad Ibrahim Pasha, is a diplomat turned grand viser. He negotiates 1718.
  4. Projects reinstate the passion of the visers, this was a good tactic.
  5. Ahmed III did a great circumcision festival and illustrations show that it was fun. see Levni.

Kadiaskers can appoint province judges and with the decentralization (albeit slowly) they appoint their men.

1730s end of the era. A new ear beings and this time the powers that be are tooling up to hit the Ottomans. However, the state stays strong with some minor adjustments.

  1. Janissaries hook up with the common and poor and have bregiences, and complain of lavishing style of the leaders.
  2. Poor verses rich in discourse.
  3. Big taxes
  4. Worrying where the state is going.

Work cited

Zilfi, c. Madeline. Women and Society in the Tulip Era 1718-1730.

Turkish Period Part 3 . Last updated February 02, 2000

<> 2005


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