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Süleyman, Change of Government System, Patronage, Education and 16th Century Ottomans

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 Patronage of Süleyman ‘Kanuni’


Many older historiographies'  of the Ottoman state retell a story of a decline of the state beginning after Süleyman had changed the government system.  The first ten Ottoman Rulers relied on a unique system, albeit brutal in contemporary morality, which explains their warrior type of rise to global dominance. However, as issues of decline, there was plenty of evidence this was not the case. Technology had spurred on the 17th century economy, albeit limited in comparison to Europe’s reliance on the secular methodologies of pragmatic and economic action; some could say Ottoman adoption of science were only some of the factors that described a contention in social issue of the empire. Ottoman invention/innovations in other sectors also told part of the Ottoman Story – the Periphery or certain periods and rulers allowing discovery exemplified a continuance in empire.

by Michael Johnthan McDonald, October 3, 2005  

Patronage is usually described as a basic client-patron relationship, wherein, one person, usually in a powerful position, supports a second person (or a group) in effort to make the former person look important, that is if the supported person succeeds. However, the more eloquent form of the definition describes a type of meaning in a broader, but no less significant, sense of the term– ‘Championing the cause’. In essence the patron is to the client as the client is to the cause -  and in this case ‘the Ottomans’ were the clients as to the cause, and the sultan was the patron.

Some people like to believe that Süleyman I, who was the tenth Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, built his great mosque complex on the Golden Horn for the reasons of showing off how powerful he was, or how wealthy he was, or that he was patronizing the piousness of the Islamic faith; or in fact that he wanted to patronize the building industry, or the many people that would eventually be employed at the mosque.  These point are all true, and are important, however, when one looks closely at the mosque complex and of the significance of  important leaders in the Ottoman lore one can see that his ultimate patronage was too the survival of the state – ‘ the Ottomans.’

Süleyman patronized education and he believed this system was the key to the state’s survival. Toward the end of his life, he loved to write poetry, collect and read other's poems, and study the classics. In addition, Mahmud Pasha, and other important leaders, liked to be referred not just as outstanding generals, but also as scholars too. Furthermore, The Ottoman Diwan, at the Topkapi Palace, received many letters from many foreign dignitaries in different languages during Süleyman’s reign; thus the need for education on the highest level was demanded. By the time Suleyman decided to build his monumental mosque complex, the Ottoman Empire was already dealing continuously in international politics.  Thus, Süleyman understood what it took to run an Ottoman system that relied not on hereditary rights, but on talent and opportunity of its people. There is non better of an example to his understanding of education than the symbol of is ultimate patronage to the state than– the Süleymaniye complex.

On page seventy-nine of the architectural book, Sinan: The Grand Old Master of Ottoman Architecture, by Aptullah Kuran there is a picture of the Süleymaniye complex. So powerful was the Ottoman theme of education that it permeated the entire structure of society. First, and foremost, Ottoman hierarchy was not based on hereditary accession (at first). The Ottoman educational system was therefore, a non-preferential treatment system geared for the survival of the state.  Thus many Ottoman visers, and other important leaders, came from peasant backgrounds with fathers that were farmers and sheepherders.  In fact, Sinan, the mosque’s complex builder  and the  chief court architect, the most respected engineering position of the state, came from the most humble of backgrounds himself. In addition to various academic subjects that were taught at the complex there were the Kadis ( judges), and the Muftis ( jurisconsults). The medreses provided the techniques on how to read and how to write, in general, and also how to employ the the Sharī’a and kanun. Süleyman wanted to be remembered for  patronizing the Holy Law, as well as the various other academic subjects taught at the Süleymaniye complex .

The Süleymaniye was built by Mimar Sinan by the orders from Süleyman himself and completed in 1557. The mosque, and many of its attendant structures, madrasas, arms—houses, infirmaries, caravansarais, a medical school, hamams, schools of tradition (Dar-ül Hadis), a hospital (Dar-üs shifa), cells and shops were begun in 1550 ( some structures afterwards).  Each section of the Süleymaniye had its special purpose.

In the Süleymaniye there were four courtyard medreses ( the First, Second, third and fourth Medreses), three linear medreses ( the Darü’t-tib, Darü’l-hadîs and the Mülâzims’ Rooms), and the single-domed Darü’l-kurra”( Kuran 81). Although, these were built at different times, they were incorporated into the functionary of the facility as a whole.  There were kitchens to feed the many students, professors, and staff, including state of the art living quarters (for that period).  There were toilet facilities, and new professors’ living quarters. The recreation areas helped in the relaxation of the mind after long hours of intense study. There was the Darü’ş- şifa (a hospital) to help not only when one was sick but where new medical practitioners applied  their trade.  There was a Tabhane (winter hospice). This functioned as a place for the poor to stay when the cold temperatures of winter came. Helping the poor was a very important aspect of patronage by the Sultan Süleyman.

As Ottoman cities grew the need for lodging of the important traders traveling about became necessary.  The old Seljuk caravanseris idea was also employed at the Süleymaniye because it provided protection for the traders. There were shops that supported trade and specialty trades. There was a fountain for ablutions, and also for fresh water. There were hamams ( bath houses)  for hygiene purposes. The Süleymaniye Cemetery also had a türbe (tomb building) which was the final location for Süleyman and his wife Haseki Hürrem, and a few other royals ( later). Sinan was so much loved that he was allowed to build his own türbe and be buried close to the complex, out of respect, as well.  Even though Sinan was paid well he also was remembered for championing the Ottoman cause.

All of these functions were patronized by Süleyman to champion the great Ottoman Empire, including, but not in the least, the mosque itself that embodied the piousness of the Islamic faith and the theme of paradise on Earth.

Work Cited:

Kuran Aptullah. Sinan: The Grand Old Master of Ottoman Architecture. ADA Press Publishers. Istanbul. 1987. ( Photo[s] of the Suleymaniye inside book ( complex 79)

 Rüstem Mosque

Building Mosques displayed one of the ways in which Ottomans showed their patronage to the Sultan and provided for the common good of the people. Mosques were motivated by faith, yet guided by common sense. A mosque represented not only the patron’s ultimate indication of success, but showed a willingness to incorporate a general welfare for the community. Mosques consisted on an open prayer hall, a perfect cubed space with an equally perfect hemisphere-shaped done, a covered portico, and an arcade courtyard. Usually one slender minaret accompanied the mosque. However, as an indication of royalty, a mosque could consist of more than one minaret. Also accompanying the mosque complex was a medrese, a college for religious education, an imaret, a soup kitchen for the preparation and serving of food, a haman for public bathing; and a cesme, a pubic fountain providing fresh drinking water. Hospitals also accompanied the mosques. Apart from the religious functionality of the mosques, they sought to give a temporary refuge from the chaos of the city.

Mosques were a great source of public ingenuity, employing hundreds thousands of works, and generating significant work in the building industries.

The Rüstem Pasha Mosque, located in the Eminönü district by the Golden Horn, Istanbul was no different. Yet, it included symbolism of future political change, together with the displays of newly invented and newly artistic expressions surpassing the ordinary stories.

Rüstem’s Mosque represented cultural and political symbols of change. Not only was Hurran, his mother in law, the first women to break the mold to become an architectural patronage while in the middle of childbearing years, but the Isnik tulip tile panels, which the later Lâle Devri period (1718-1730) , better known in the west as the ‘Tulip Age’ ushered in a new phase of Ottoman diplomacy and cultural symbolism, now appeared in the mosque nearly one-hundred and fifty-years earlier. However, even though tulips appeared on Isnikware earlier than the mosque’s construction, these Arabesque features that covered the walls of the Pasha’s mosque showed a newly “diapered pattern of tulips flanked by serrated saz style leaves,” a symbol of ease and relaxation - a prophetic vision of an empire about to retire from conquering campaigns. This was “ the first datable appearance of this sort of design” and showed a change toward the naturalistic movements that soon would appear (Petsopoulos 134).Later other mosques continued its usage of tulip symbolism. The Blue mosque of Sultan Ahmet Camii (1609 -17), was built about half a century later continuing this trend.

In addition to new usages of cultural and political symbols of change of the Rüstem Mosque , new technologies included the newly blue and white revetments which recently had recently appeared at Bursa tombs in 1510s , coupled with the first usage of technology of polychrome revetments at the Suleymaniye mosque in 1559 along with the Rüstem Mosque (ca. 1561) . Isnik patronage was preferred because of its cutting edge technology of the time. *(Patronage)* Isnik ( known as the old Nicaea in the west) , throughout the 14th-15th centuries was chiefly known as the hub of progressive Ottoman ceramics. With its nearby deposits of pottery clay, secret high-temperature technology and the Bithynia forest, a prime site of wood for the ceramic kilns, Isnik became the auspicious patronage of the Ottoman court (Denny para mjm write). Mimar Sinan, the former personal architect of Hurran and then the leading Ottoman architect under Sulyman, preferred the high quality of the Isnikware.

Another way to show ones patronage was to hire the most renowned architect of the day and to place one’s mosque in a subordinate local. The octagonal-based single dome employed by Mimar Sinan, for the first time, was unique and became his trademark eventually ending up as his greatest architectural contribution to the Ottoman Empire. Also, the Ottoman symbolism of the subordination to the Sultan was represented in Rüstem’s patronage by placing his mosque in the middle of a marketplace, located in Hasircilar Carsisi, today’s Strawmat Weavers Market, instead of trying to upstage his father in law’s preeminence.

In general, a mosque complex was not only a high official headquarters of the Ottoman elite, it was a symbol of pubic welfare to the social needs of the general populous and the builder’s patronage to the state and the Sultan. The Mosques complex consisted of social welfare facilities including soup kitchens, bath-houses, hospitals and medresses all vital institutions of Ottoman Society. In essence the people who could afford to build a mosque, usualy an amir, showed patronage both to the Sultan and the people.

So many tiles were used that production quotas of Isnik couldn’t fill all the orders and so some production had to be filled by the potteries of Kütahya. This meant that building was expensive. The state funds were illegal to use by law to pay for the construction. Thus, the builder showed patronage to the Sultan as well as the people by paying for the construction out of his own funds. Overall, the Pasha’s allege bribes to fund his mosque and the political intrigue with his mother-in-law cast a shadow on an otherwise historic story of newly invented and newly artistic expressions. The prophetic-like symbolism of future political change was embodied in the waving tulips, [ the political intrigue ] together with the display of newly invented architectural designs and new technological pottery industry all contributed to story the Rüstem Mosque as unique in Ottoman lore.

Petsopoulos, Yanni. Tulips, Arabesques, and Turbans: Decorative Arts from the Ottoman Empire. Abbeville Press . New York NY 1982 .

Denny, Walter B. Isnik the Artistry of Ottoman Ceramics. Thames & Hudson Ltd. 181A High Holborn, London WC1V7QX


In Iran, the Iman can and does interpret the Muslim laws ( State laws) , but the Shāh,  can bee seen as a more secular version ( not always – but seen by some) of authority. The transplant of authority away from the Iman structure to the Shāh has been a major reason of instability in the region for Iran’s history, after Ismā’īl declared the safavids a Shī’ī state.  Ismā’īl, although called himself the equivalent of the Christian messiah, was very practical in understanding how to found a state. Although, he didn’t lay down guidelines for the Shāh ‘s position or for state administration’s laws, he did show how incorporation and tolerance of different people of different religions needed to be achieve to form unity. His grandson, Shāh Abbās (1589-1629), will learn from this and this is one of the main reasons that Abbās’ practicality in conjunction with strictness and fairness he uses pays-off in a strong central, powerful Shī’ī state.

Le Nouveau Chez Café

Coffee Houses were essentially a Muslim institution in birth and development in the 16th century. They were entirely a new phenomenon. Muslims dominated the coffee trade and customers came from every segment of society. Coffee Houses were information portholes of diverse local knowledges where gossip, business negotiations, and discursive knowledges abounded. People began to go out at night in more numbers which meant less people at the mosques, taverns and Sufi gatherings, traditional night-time gathering spots. The religious functionaries described the Coffee Houses as a place of iniquity, where gambling, idealess,  uncouth entertaining,   plotting,  lure and bait traps, substance abuse, order of debauchery, and especially sedition occurred. Coffee houses were not addressed in the Shariah or kanun, so the  Ulema, who felt a sense of social malaise,  had a hard time defending their position. They believed it cut out there business and was non-productive.  Coffee houses also represented a place where one could sit and consume. Overall coffeehouses were congregational centers, positive places to form roots and ties in the local communities in which to conduct positive knowledges.

Isma’il Abu Taqiyya was an Ottoman empire, 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.

1.                   Rise of the religious 16th Century

2.                    Sunni Ottomans – vs. Shī’ī Safavīds

3.                   Shāh Ismā’īl

4.                    Declared himself the 12ver shī’īsm. ( Do I need to tell you how important that was?)

5.                     Legitimized Safavīd rule.

6.                    Scared Selim who overthrew Beyezīd II

7.                    Met Selim ‘the grim’ Aug, 23, 1514 at Chaldiran – Selim took his wife, some friends to humiliate him.

8.                    Key: Sunni/Shī’ī break become prominate layer in history – as this is the key point of the 16th century in regards to religion. That is to say, the Protestant/Chatholic split which is significant in itself, is seen here in Islamic splitting creating a  Shī’ī state ( some say Empire) and the contention of the Sunni state that is of Ottoman.

9.                    Turkemen frontier life is changed, and they ally ( incorporated as a general unit[s])  with Ismā’īl and seven Qizilbash tribes and the Shī’ī supporters. (See why they disliked the Ottoman hegemony in eastern Anatolia).

10.                 Strong, powerful

11.                 Reason Safavids get on top of the Qizilbash problem was they created a (devsermi sp.) Slave soldier army. They took Christians from Armenia, the Caucuses, and northern areas in Azarbayjān. 

12.                 Allied with Portugal, then the English ( See trade and hope for military alliance) : “ Lets get the Ottomans from both sides.”

13.                 The termage of internal threat is the religious aspects that create a type of McCarthyism that rises in Anatolia by the Ottomans. \

14.                 Ismā’īl biggest religious rebel against the Ottomans. (See Insurrection.)

15.                 1520 Syleuman indirect, not overt, but quiet persecution of Qizilbash – leads to court cases and expulsions from large cities of Qizilbash/Turkemen sympathizers.

16.                 Rhetoric around the 12ver claim really brought allot of people into the alliance with Ismā’īl – this can be seen in its usage as poems, songs and proselytizing and written under the pen-name Khatā’ī (Type of Chinese); this was propaganda in the form of songs, sang in the open; and under the illusions, when proselytized on the frontiers, that these words came from the Qu’ran themselves. These words were heretical to the utmost degree – however, they had quite an effect to accomplishing their gains – to unite against the Ottomans. ( see common enemy).

17.                 Legality: early on a fetwa is determined and it was declared favorable by the Ottomans, in that the Shī’ī armies were Islam, but were acting in accordance with ‘detriment of (Islamic) proper way.’ The significance is that Islamic states or tribes or whomever, are not  supposed to fight each other, in theory.

18.                 Trade routs are not to be touched, said by Suleyman’s advisors. So trade could operate and keep the lifeblood of both civilizations going.

19.                 Tahmasp I  1524-1576.

20.                 Shāh Abbās 1589-1629.


21.                 The rise of the Safawid sufi order presents problems. First no one knows where they came from or how was that order derived from a Sunni religious mystical order, according to David Morgan, Medieval Persia 1040-1797.


22.                 “How did the Sunni order two centuries later become a militant Shi’i “secular” dynasty?

23.                 Shaykh Safi al-Din ( 650-735/1252-1334), after whom the order was named, was probably of Kurdish ancestry. His ancestors seem to have lived in Azarbayjan since the eleventh Century. He attached himself to Shaykh Zahid Gilani, the head of a Sunni sifi organization in Talish, at the south-western corner of the Caspian Sea. After Shayh Zahid’s death in 700/1301, Shaykh Safi assumed the headship of the organization and moved to Ardabil, between Tabriz and the Caspian, where he lived for the rest of his life and where his shrine is still the town’s architectural centerpiece.


24.                 Shaykh Safi was a late Ilkhanid figure, one of some importance as a religious leader in the Ilkhans’ home province during the period immediately after the Mongols had gone to Islam. He seems to be held in great respect by the Mongols, who like many converts from steppe Shamanism tended to have a marked preference for the popular varieties of Sufism as against the more “ orthodox” Islam of the ‘ulama.’” (Morgan 295).


25.                 His biography was written by Ibn Bazzaz, after his death; called Safwat al-safa. Note: The above said cannot not be taken as literal truth, but he his mentioned in the biography, many times that he was from Sunni decent.  “ this proved the mopst inconvenient for the Shi’i decedants [sic] after they had  seized the throne of Persia” (Morgan 296). A sixteenth century revised book said their was a more lenient view by Shaykh Safi, but some of the original versions survived. 


26.                 Qizilbash revolts (1511-2) broke out in Anatolia creating immense devastation: reason; economical and social, more than religious. Significance: These helped abdicate Beyezid II ( r.1481-1512)  in favor of Selim ‘ the grim.’


27.                 Shah Ismā’īl (r. 1501- d. 1524) 28.     

            Rise to power at age 14.

29.                 Qizilbash (the red-hats)  called by Ottomans the menace from Persia. Propaganda from both sides shows rhetoric at the point of comparing it to McCarthyism in the US ( like calling a Qizilbash a commy pinko) Extremely vitriolic from both sides.

30.                 Selim sitting near the turkemen tribes up by the black sea – at first champions them, then later see the power of the Safavid/7 Qizilbash tribes/Turkeman alliance. So he unseats Bayezid II to squelch the turkemen allaince.

31.                 Chaldiran August 23, 1514

32.                 Marched Ottoman troops from Anatolia to Azarbayjan in 1541.

33.                 Selim went after Shah Ismā’īl, who made it tough because of a scorched earth policy.

34.                 Ismā’īl finally decided to met Selim at Chaldiran.

35.                 The Ottomans have guns and artillery, and the Safavids, have Mongol-Turkish warrior tactics. It was not only the guns that won the battle for the Ottomans, but the fighting strategies. The Ottomans, to fend off the Mongol-Turkish cavalry tactics had their artillery line, and cavalry form a chain so that the Janissaries (yenī çeri) could have time to reload their muskets. Guns didn’t have automatic triggering systems then. Note: Defeat of Uzan Hasan Aq-Qoyunlu at Bashkent in 878/1473 was completed by Ottoman artillery.


36.                 Significance: The state shaped itself close to the formation of modern Iran today ( it did change in between these periods) . The capital of the Safavids was now a boarder of the Ottoman Empire, although, the army pressed Selim to leave for the winter and they never came back to occupy it - the capital was moved to Qazwan, then onto Isfahan – because Shāh Abbās, loved the greenery of Isfahan and the ancient tradition.

37.                 2. No more Turkish -Turkemen frontier, as it was known before the battle. The War methods of the Mongols and Turkemen using only cavalry to establish , then run sovereignty, didn’t make a lasting impression on the people that chose a sedentary lifestyle. Thus, ruling on horseback was never a long term solution to ruling vast regions. (See Ancient Middle Kingdom  Egypt| See Ottoman History|See Mongol history comparisons)

38.                 3. There is a central eastward shift comprising the Persian and Turkish influences. Anatolia is mostly Ottoman now ( Sunni based in theory, Islam).

39.                 4. Ismā’īl never took to the battlefield again ( the last ten years of his life). Some say he was depressed – there is no definitive proof.

40.                 5. Qizilbash: “the shah’s divinity was damaged.”

41.                6. Safavid state was established by Shāh Ismā’īl.

42.                 7. The first major definite readjustment of the Perso-Turkish frontier.

43.                 8. No more was it the land of the Qura-Qoyunlu and the Aq-Qoyunlu.

44.                 9. Ottomans didn’t have the strength of support or the troop force to occupy Azerbaijan.

45.                 10. after 1520 Suleyman was told when fighting the wars against the Safavids, do not damage trade routs, it will hurt everyone. The Safavids ( created by Is, had used a scorched earth tactic.

46.                 (source: David Morgan Medieval Persia 1040-1797)

47.                The battle of Chaldiran August 23, 1514

48.                 “‘The emperor’, a Chinese bureaucrat is supposed to have said to the Mongol Khan Ogedei, ‘has been conquered on horseback, but it cannot be governed on horseback.’ As all Nomadic and semi-nomadic dynasties had found, this was no less true of Persian then of China. The local bureaucracy, recruited especially from members of the urban population of the cities of central Persia, was an essential part of the machinery of government once the initial period of conquest was over.”

49.                 9. Ismail created a strong administration contact between his men and the Turkish predecessors. He takes in Shams al-Din Zakariya Kujuji, a Persian, who was a wazir (viser) to the Aq-Qoyunlu.

50.                 10. Significant change is that the Safavids (Ismā’īl declared legitimate)  rule by a theocracy, in which the Shah was also head of the Sufi order and his military followers were his disciples.

51.                 11. Now there was a creation of a position called the ‘Wakil’, deputy of the shaw (shah). He was deputy of the head of government. He also in some instances succeeded as head and commander-in-chief of the armed forces. This is most likely when the Shah was not at an immediate location where emergency powers created a need for a snap decision by the Wakil. However, in history, sometimes one wants to show power, and thus the wakil Yar Ahmad Khuzani led the Safavids army to a defeat which resulted in his own death at the battle of Ghujduwan in 918/1521.

52.                 1540 One author says that Ottoman commons are very unhappy.

53.                 Note the Circumcision Festival  (50 + day carnival celebration) 1582, to officially celebrate the ‘domination of the world’, but in fact was to relieve the stress [ ‘It was a time of crisis’- Thesis, Derin Trezioğlu]  of the society, from unemployment, and devaluation of the currency ( Not all there fault – see earlier economic reasons)

54.                 In Iran, the Iman can and does interpret the Muslim laws ( State laws) , but the Shāh,  can bee seen as a more secular version ( not always – but seen by some) of authority. His transplant of authority away from the Iman structure has been a major reason of instability in the region for Iran’s history after Ismā’īl declared the safavids a Shī’ī state .  Ismā’īl, although called himself the equivalent of the Christian messiah, was very practical in understanding how to found a state. Although, he didn’t lay down guidelines for the Shāh ‘s position or for state administration’s laws, he did show how incorporation and tolerance of different people of different religions needed to be achieve to form unity. His grandson, Shāh Abbās (1589-1629), will learn from this and this is one of the main reasons that Abbās’ practicality in conjunction with strictness and fairness he uses pays-off in a strong central, powerful Shī’ī state.

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 Englyt 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.

  1. Biggest providence under the Ottoman Empire.

  2. Agriculture production mammoth

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

  4. 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:

·                                 Egyptian Kingdoms: ‘ kings (old kingdom) then pharaohs’ Three kingdoms: BC.

·                                 Persian Empire called Achaemenid c. 530s BC. To c. 323. ( many call this the first world empire, but they never got Greece).

·                                 Alexander the Great.

·                                 Ptolemy line of rulers.

·                                 Romans

·                                 Arab conquests ( Umayyad). (lands now remains in Arab hands onward)

·                                 Crusades: Salah ad-Din, Sultan of Egypt.

·                                 Fatīmīds. 969 -1171.   Shi’i dynasty -  rule but they don’t make people convert to shi’i. They make Egypt powerful place. They build much of Egypt. Egypt becomes a flourishing state.

·                                 Mamluks 1250 – 1517 very strict Sunni and incorporate the fourth main law schools.

·                                 Ottomans 1516-17. Take Aleppo first, then Damascus, the struggle to get Cairo in 1517.

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 a lot 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:

·                                 Strong defense

·                                 Money riches- revenue

·                                 Local order

·                                 Fitting into the kind of system already in place 9 integration of courts.

What they allowed:

·                                 Do not impose Sunni Islam

·                                 Leave things alone

·                                 Rhetoric- just get us the money.

·                                 The keeping of the major vakifs ( endowments)

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 beylerbey.

2.                                Ottomans keep a close eye from Istanbul on Pasha.

3.                                Rotate Pashas every 2-3 years. Moving them allows then knowledge that no Pasha’s are taking up roots (or local ties) of autonomy in a Province. 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 Century and into 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.


Tax collection: Military always oversaw the tax collection. As factions broke off they collected taxes separtly 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.

Religions of groups and higher learning:

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

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

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

Long standing Ulema revered and respected.

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.

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

Coffee houses.

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

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 a reaction against the Ulema who had lost power and were replaced by Ottoman courts, created movements to learn to read these court documents, and that fact that Ottomans central authority was far away and the control on literacy was weaker on the peripheries of the empire. Thus private patrimony was the method of individual and local agency, the 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?

·                                 Some Mamluks disliked Christians for the Crusades ( See Zealot Mamluk placing in Aleppo of a  Christian neighborhood).

·                                 Some Ottomans seen a little bit of disturbances with Jews in Egypt. ( see Janissary anti-Jewish raids ( little looting) when Pasha and was away: Nelly Hanna).

Ottoman times – Coptic Jews lived in the rural areas

Ottoman times – Jews lived in the city.

Maghāzī, which literally means "campaigns", is typically used within Islamic literature to signify the military campaigns conducted by the Prophet Muhammed during the post-Hijra phase of his career.


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.

Science or Economy 16th Century

You might be aware that the adoption of science and technology was severely restricted and debated in the Ottoman Empire, mainly by the kadizadelis, many were spiritual advisers to the Sultan (imam-i sultani).

It would be incorrect to claim that Europeans and far easterners who set up merchant outposts in Allepo ( an ottoman stronghold by the beginning of the 16th cent.)  refused to transfer scientific technology to Ottoman officials. It can be stated as the other way around. You may want to consult Cemel Kafadar” The Question of the Ottomans Decline.”(Harvard), Katib Çelebi,” the closing of the Ottoman mind” was an observation and, “As a result of falling standards of higher education and public letters and lack of curiosity in the outside world,” if you have not already.


By the 1700s, this is the century that discourse of adoption of science and technology really heated up in the intellectual/political circles of the Empire. I best describe the 16th century as the era of a spending economy. However, the issue lay in what was actually purchased. Besides purchasing shipping technology, much of the ‘state’ economy relied on exporting raw materials and importing luxury items.


Unfortunately, the “un” adoption of technologies in the Ottoman Empire is directly related to government policy.  Every citizen theoretically and pragmatically under the Sultan in the Ottoman Empire was a slave. And ultimately the Sultan was a slave to Allah. This created a surveillance society – always more structured toward Istanbul – going out in circles to the vast territories.  This doesn’t appear to be toward your aim of natural lower forces in society working independently and acquiring or adopting technology in the Ottoman Empire in the 16th century.  Yet, this is what the 17th century sources tell us. Patronage filtered down from the top to every corner of the empire. The Patron could only adopt the government policies of the Sultan and his divan. 


Further away from the center such as Cairo and Aleppo, independent Ottoman citizens did begin to integrate foreign technology, and some became rich. However, this was toward the end of the 16th century, and continued into the 17th respectively. However, Istanbul makes numerous attempts and somewhat succeeded in establishing strict controls on habit in law – directly affecting the acquisition and use of foreign technology.


Iberian and North Africa’s ship building business (14th-15th cc., later the Dutch 17th) and compare them with the Ottoman ship building business (14th-15th cc.). It is fascinating to understand these types of wood, the elongation of maritime sustainability, and the over all consequences or results in these cases. A question would be: how did this affect their economy? First, a question of military arises.  To understand theses types of knowledge’s each state possessed on what types of wood was preferred, or available, this ultimately led to military success. Military success ultimately led the Ottomans to economic success. This was their bread and butter, so to speak. This could be one example. We already know where Portugal then Spain got its wood, which made them a viable world power and contributed to the economy of Europe, but also so to an economic destabilization of the Ottoman Empire. How did the comparison of availability of wood, and the knowledge to use it, for the Ottomans affect these economies?


I would be wary of placing a modern Marxist model over the pre-modern Ottoman Empire. The citizens did not control the government by any of the Marxist theories. The Sultanate, to control the population, did allow certain banned technology into society; however restrictions on others’ took place in parallel.


The Ottoman and Iranians, and India in the 1500s were probably more economically advanced than Europe. Economically speaking, they were much richer. I'm not sure if this bodes well with your evidence, but this seems to be the case in the studies here at UCB. Albeit, Spain does take over Portugal about this time and will quickly rise up to be the economic power of the next century. The letters to the Sultans of written prostrations by England, France, and other European states in the 16th century recognized the economic power of a now Muslim superpower. 


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