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Oryentalistlerin Gözüyle
31 Mart Fotoğrafları
Çeşitli Vesikalar
Osmanlı Arşivinden
Kisve Bahası Belge
Mulâj-i Ruznamçe
Gazavat-ı Murad
Ahkâm Defteri
Feth-i Estergom
ingilizce haritalar
Türkçe haritalar
Şeriyye Sicilleri
Ermeni Vahşeti
Topkapı Sarayı
Surnâme-i Vehbi
Osmanlı Kilimleri
Osmanlı Nakışı
Osmanlı Vazoları
Osmanlı'da Bağdad

Ottoman History Writing

Nuruosmaniye Kütüphanesinde Bulunan Bazı Kazasker Ruznamçeleri

Europe''s Muslim Capital

Changing Perceptions of the Ottoman Empire: The Early Centuries

Christians, Jews and Muslims in the OttomanEmpire: Lessons for Contemporary Coexistence

Islamızatıon In The Balkans As An Hıstorıographıcal Problem: The Southeast-European Perspectıve

The Guilds Of Jerusalem in Ottoman Period

  Changing Perceptions of the Ottoman Empire: The Early Centuries

Sayfa: 1/2

This article surveys twentieth-century historical scholarship devoted to
various aspects of the first four centuries of Ottoman history. It opens
with the end-of-the-century 'good news' of an increasing number of
studies accessible to wider audiences. The article then goes on to note
that archivally based social and economic history writing quantitatively
outperformed work on facets of Ottoman cultural history. Religious and
legal studies, art history, and, to a lesser extent, Ottoman historiography
flourished to a greater degree than literary history. The article closes
with some reflections on major preoccupations of the twentieth-century
study of the pre-modern Ottoman Empire, namely, Ottoman origins, the
absence of the empire from comparative studies, and the question of
For most of the twentieth century, historians paid a good deal of attention to
the early centuries of Ottoman history. This attention came at the expense of
the seventeenth and eighteenth although not of the nineteenth and early
twentieth centuries. Towards the end of the twentieth century, however, the
period from 1300 to 1600 became a historiographically endangered species as
a result of a shift in interest to the second half of the long Ottoman life span.
It is perhaps not surprising, then, that the conveners of the conference
generating these essays, working in 2002, shaped the conference from an endof-
the-century perspective and allotted only one paper to discuss the
historiography of four centuries, a period that encompassed two-thirds of the
Ottoman lifespan. Because interest in the early centuries generated a
substantial body of history writing during the 1900s, this essay can only begin
to scratch the surface,'
To treat the period from 1299 (the conventional starting point for the
Ottoman state) to 1700 as an undifferentiated block of 'early centuries' is to
view it merely as a backdrop to a more nuanced recent past. But this was not a
neat 'package of centuries'. One of the dangers in lumping them together is
that it reinforces the notion of a 'classical' empire, with stable and effective
institutions, that gave way in the seventeenth century to a cycle of disorder
Mediterranean Historical Review, Vol.19, No.l, June 2004, pp.6-28
ISSN 0951-8967 prinl/ISSN 1743-940X online
DOI: 10.1080/0951896042000256625 © 2004 Taylor & Francis Ltd.
and recovery lasting 300 years. The fourteenth, fifteenth, and sixteenth
centuries were also marked by conflict, by transformations that were ongoing
and often challenging, and by growth that came at the expense of different
sectors of society. One might in fact argue that the Ottoman enterprise did not
generate a consolidated empire until the mid-sixteenth century, two-thirds of
the way through the period assigned to this essay.
Given the salience of the Middle East and the Balkans in events of the
twentieth century, it is perhaps inevitable that the majority of scholarly
attention to the area these days is devoted to the 'modem' and its 'origins'. The
Middle East is far from the only field shaped by the chronological teleology of
early-modem/modern/post-modern that currently dominates historiographical
epistemology. While the current fascination with the post-modern ought to be
putting paid to these chronological categories, it is perhaps too soon to expect
the dismantling of the mental scaffolding on which our training was built.
One problem with this chronology is that it gets in the way of acknowledging
the complexity of the pre-1700 period. An important consequence for historians
of later centuries is that they risk mistaking for new much that is not. An
example is the alleged 'rise' of local notables in the eighteenth century. While it
is indisputable that urban notables gained importance in this period, their
dominance was also salient in earlier times - in the later Byzantine period,
for example, and in the fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries, when waning
Mamluk authority had yet to be replaced by Ottoman control. The question
might just as easily be why local notables lost power in certain periods or what
combination of factors shaped access to and control of financial resources and
thus the shifting composition of local elites.
Another problem with treating these centuries as an undifferentiated block
is that important twentieth-century historiographical debates regarding earlier
Ottoman history are unfinished business. They can benefit greatly from
engagement by scholars of the later Middle East and Balkans, and at the same
time they should matter to these scholars because the latter's work is built to
varying degrees on assumptions about the pre-1700 period. At this point, let
me simply name three major twentieth-century debates or trends that are far
from resolved:
• The tenacious preoccupation with the empire's origins and its implications
for (mis)conceiving 'ethnic politics' of the early centuries and, linked to
this, the fixation on 1299 as the Ottoman start-up date and its implications
for (mis)conceptions of continuities with the late medieval history of the
eastern Mediterranean/western Asian region.
• The limited role that Ottoman studies have played in comparative or world
historical studies, an effect of an historiography that has, for most of
the twentieth century, emphasized the uniqueness of the Ottoman Empire.
• The for-now debunked narrative of a 'classical' Ottoman paradigm that
became corrupted around 1600 and launched the empire down the long and
uneven slope of decline into collapse (the more challenging question being
how to frame change following (from) the reign of Suleyman I).
Some caveats: I use the excuse of the territorial/temporal vastness of my
assignment to account for the fact that there are many more contributors of
valuable scholarship than I am able to name; those who are named serve as
illustrations, not necessarily exemplars. Although many authors cited below
have published several works, I generally cite only one or two representative
works for each. My biases here include a greater knowledge of Englishlanguage
scholarship than of work in other languages, a neglect of military
history,- and a weakness in scholarship on the Balkans. Finally, I cannot
overemphasize that this essay is merely one person's perspective on a very
long and complex period in history, a perspective moreover that is confined by
the obvious limits of print space.
A look at the popular press will provide one answer to the topic of my
assignment - whether perceptions of the Ottoman Empire are changing, and
if so, how. Since the publication of Lord Kinross's The Ottoman Centuries:
The Rise and Fall of the Turkish Empire in 1977, popular writing about the
Ottoman Empire has been a growth industry in which the early centuries figure
prominently. The Ottoman Centuries is still selling. Two newer histories of the
empire are Andrew Wheatcroft's quasi-scholarly The Ottomans and Jason
Goodwin's breezy, anecdotal U)rds of the Horizons: A History of the Ottoman
Empire. Other popular works include Philip Mansel's Constantinople: City of
the World's Desire and John Freely's Inside the Seraglio: Private Lives
of the Sultans in Istanbul. Former academic art historian Godfrey Goodwin
(author of a serious survey of Ottoman architecture) now writes popular books
with titles such as The Private World of Ottoman Women.^ All these books
offer the general public accessible and readable narratives. But are views of
the Ottoman Empire changing? Not much, it seems. As in centuries past, it is
still largely the exoticism of the sultan's palace and his capital that attracts
readers. We scholars have disdained such popularizing works; we like to tot up
the errors their authors make and the outmoded interpretations to which they
subscribe. But it has to be conceded that they sometimes see the forest for the
trees when we are still busy discussing the bark.
Part of the problem, in other words, is of our own making. Few Middle East
scholars have bothered to write for a public audience. When they have, it is clear
that there is a ready audience. Bernard Lewis's The Muslim Discovery of Europe,
a fairly dense work, still sells well. Clearly name-recognition is at work here:
Lewis has become a public intellectual in the United States. However, writing for
the public is becoming an easier prospect these days because the level and quality
of interest in the Middle East and its history are rising. The reasons are obvious
and numerous; they include recent global events, greater awareness of the extent
of Muslim populations in Europe and North America, growing recognition that
the history of Europe is not merely the history of France and England, and cultural
events such as museum exhibitions and foreign-film festivals."*
The good news is that some historians of the Middle East have moved into
the breach by providing accessible narratives of our period. French scholars are
ahead of English-language scholars: take, for example, Histoire de I'empire
ottoman, a single-volume history edited by Robert Mantran, with leading
scholars (including Nicolas Vatin, Jean-Louis Bacque-Grammont, and Gilles
Veinstein) contributing the pre-1700 chapters. Is this in part the product of a
larger reading public for history than the English-speaking world is used to?
The same could be said regarding the greater appetite for history among the
reading public of Turkey, where publications on the Ottoman past and on Islam
have simply exploded in number in recent years, and quasi-popular journals and
encyclopedias such as Tiirkiye Diyanet Vakfi Islam Ansiklopedisi and Istanbul
Ansiklopedisi have flourished. Fortunately, academically 'responsible'
English-language works designed to be accessible to non-specialist audiences
are either recently out or in the pipeline: Daniel Goffman's The Ottoman
Empire and Early Modern Europe and Colin Imber's The Ottoman Empire,
1300-1650: The Structure of Power appeared in 2002 (both reviewed in this
issue), and Caroline Finkel's comprehensive treatment of the whole Ottoman
period is expected shortly.'
Such works are critical not only for a general public but also for the history
academy, with its increasing commitment to world history and comparative
history. In North America, comparative conferences and panel sessions abound:
for example, the 2002 annual meeting of the American Historical Association,
whose theme was 'frontiers'. The comparative Journal of Early Modern History
has featured articles aimed at a broad audience by a number of Ottomanists, for
example, Rhoads Murphey's provocative account of Ottoman-European
relations in the sixteenth century. Right now Europe and the Mediterranean are
the regions on which Ottomanists most often engage in comparative comment,
although in recent years Asian contacts and comparisons have been drawing more
interest. What is still missing is the inclusion of the Middle East and the eastern
Mediterranean as foils in challenging the Eurocentric narrative of post-medieval
history. Challenges are coming from scholars studying China, for example,
Kenneth Pomeranz and R. Bin Wong.'
To sum up, the Ottoman Empire is gradually emerging as more than an
exotic and inscrutable player on the world stage. The fact that researchers at
the start of the twenty-first century are reasonably prepared to meet audience
interest is in no small part the result of the accomplishments of the twentieth.
Let us turn now to some of those accomplishments.
The archival turn was arguably the twentieth-century methodological shift that
was most significant for the pre-1700 period. (By 'methodological shift' I mean
a shift in the kinds of sources we read and what we take to be a text.)
The opening of the Prime Ministry Archives after World War II coincided with
the wider vogue for quantitative studies in the more socially and locally
conscious historiographical world of the postwar era. Simultaneously, Fernand
Braudel's epic La Mediterranee et le monde mediterraneen a I'epoque de
Philippe II (1949) was an invitation for students of the eastern Mediterranean
to bring the Ottoman case into dialogue with other histories. Because of the
new archival option, that opportunity was embraced by such scholcirs as Ismail
Hakb Uzungargili, Omer Lutfi Barkan, Halil Inalcik, Bernard Lewis, and
Stanford Shaw. Many of us are their students, either directly or indirectly.
That archival research was once novel is hard to remember, but it was as late as
1966 that an article by Jon Mandaville brought archival holdings in Syria and
Jordan to the attention of English-speaking scholars.'
During the 1980s, historiography based on archival research began to be
affected by new questions that were being posed in a number of scholarly fields,
including our own: for example, how the agency of ordinary people is realized,
how marginal populations affect majoritarian cultures, how gender and
sexuality are constructed in different contexts, how law and similar discourses
reflect social and political contestation. Moreover, in the 1990s, advanees in
textual studies outside our field suggested that documentary materials could not
be read as culturally unencumbered 'data'. This is particularly true when it
comes to representing 'ordinary people', whose voices were almost always
archived through institutional translation. Given that we are overwhelmed with
state-generated documentation in the Ottoman field, this is an important
caution. Amy Singer's study of Palestinian peasants and Ottoman officials
noted that using tahrir data together with court records could partially
compensate for the limitations of state-generated 'data'. Huri Islamoglu has
used an archival base to engage in theoretical debates regarding economic
dynamics and sociopolitical relations. It is likely that we will become
increasingly sophisticated in our use of the archival option. Indeed, we must."
An enormous amount of arehivally based work has been accomplished,
especially for the sixteenth century. The list of scholars who have used
archival data productively is so long that only a few representative examples
will be given here. Many of us were weaned on Ismail Hakki Uzungarsili's
multivolume history of the empire and on his special studies of the navy, the
religious establishment, and so on, which made extensive use of archival
resources. There is simply no way to acknowledge the myriad contributions of
Halil inalcik, whose catholic use of a large variety of sources accounts for his
dominance of the field until recent years. Two landmark contributions for the
period covered in this essay are Inalcik's publication of the very early (835 H.)
cadastral survey of Albania and 'Military and Fiscal Transformation in the
Ottoman Empire, 1600-1700'. Omer Llitfi Barkan's study of the construction
of the Suleymaniye mosque complex is a foundational work in the economics
and management aspects of monumental building by the Ottomans. Beginning
in the 1960s, Nicoara Beldiceanu and Irene Beldiceanu-Steinherr made signal
contributions to early Ottoman documentary history. In his comprehensive
study of early-modern Egypt under Ottoman administration, Stanford Sbaw
was one of the first Americans to use the Ottoman archives productively.
The cities of Rumelia were comprehensively treated by Nikolai Todorov in his
The Balkan City. The archives themselves have been an object of study by
Mubahat Kutukoglu, whose exquisitely illustrated volume on diplomacy is
mainly devoted to a comprehensive typology of documents ranging from
international treaties to personal copies of court decisions.'
A good deal of archival work, especially in Turkey, has taken the form of
published transcriptions. For example, we now have a legion of local
economic/demographic data compilations based on the cadastral survey (tapu
tafirir) registers so numerous in the sixteenth century. With caution, these can
contribute to the writing of local history. In various publications. Heath Lowry
has considered some of the problems in using these registers (defters). The
ongoing publication by the Prime Ministry Archives of the miihimme registers
(of orders dispatched by central government authorities to local authorities in
Istanbul and the provinces) renders another kind of archival data available for
scholarly consultation. Journals such as Vakiflar Dergisi and Belgeler are
invaluable for this period.'"
The list of studies that make notable use of archival documents to probe
larger processes and more specific concerns is also notable. A relatively
early example was Michael Cook's Population Pressure in Rural Anatolia,
1450-1600. In The Sultan's Servants: The Transformation of Ottoman
Provincial Government, Metin Kunt problematized military administration by
examining its reorganization during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.
Linda DsxXing' s Revenue-Raising and Legitimacy: Tax Collection and Finance
Administration in the Ottoman Empire, 1560-1660, is a later example of
creative use of archival data. Another recent work is §evket Pamuk's masterful
A Monetary History of the Ottoman Empire. Among her numerous works on
Ottoman Cairo is Nelly Hanna's Making Big Money in 1600, a study of a
seventeenth-century businessman. Scholars like Gilles Veinstein and Suraiya
Faroqhi have created a veritable treasury of riches from archival sources.
Veinstein has written about Rumelian soldiers on campaign, Greek landed
magnates, and the Jewish community in Avlonya, and Faroqhi about dervishes
and sainthood, markets and merchants, criminals and outlaws, and political
confiict and negotiation. Andre Raymond's peerless studies of Arab cities in the
Ottoman period are models for the combined use of archival sources, including
wa^deeds, and chronicles. Archives have been combined with chronicles in
Doris Behrens-Abouseifs Egypt's Adjustment to Ottoman Rule: Institutions,
Waqf, and Architecture in Cairo, Jane Hathaway's The Politics of Households
in Ottoman Egypt: The Rise of the Qazdaglis, and my own The Imperial Harem:
Women and Sovereignty in the Ottoman Empire."
Despite the richness of these works, the archives have only begun to
answer the basic questions posed by Braudel and others and to offer up new
questions. Even published archival studies are waiting to be further mined.
An example is Barkan's publication of local law codes (kanun), which is ripe
for (re)contemplation in the context of present interest in legal history;
moreover, these codes can yield important insights into Ottoman ideology as
well as into variations in regional conditions.'^
An important element in the archival turn that developed later in the
century is the explosion of people working with Ottoman-period court records
(now housed in the archives of various successor states to the empire).
One reason for the popularity of court records, as well as of fatwa collections,
is that they are amenable to the sort of questions enumerated above. Ronald
Jennings' pioneering publications in the 1970s, based primarily on
seventeenth-century Kayseri, demonstrated that court records could support
a striking variety of historiographical approaches - for example, social,
demographic, gender, and local political history as well as legal history based
on state-produced (as opposed to ulema-produced) texts. Ozer Ergen? used
court records innovatively to study processes rather than institutions in his
comparative work on urban elites and urban economic and political life in
Anatolia. Amnon Cohen's work on Jerusalem creatively used court records to
depict the dynamics of a particular place and a particular community, as
did Haim Gerber's study of Bursa. Judith Tucker was also a pioneer in
using court records: her work on women in nineteenth-century Egypt
(while beyond the scope of this essay) demonstrated how court records could
help to recast the narrative of an amply narrated century."
In recent years, court records have figured in a wide range of work on the
pre-1700 period. One quite productive area is the local social and legal history
of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. A short list includes Dror Ze'evi's
study of seventeenth-century Jerusalem, Rossitsa Gradeva's several articles on
sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Rumelia, Yvonne Seng's work on Istanbul,
and I§ik Tamdogan-Abel's on Adana. The 1990s collections edited by
Madeline Zilfi, Amira Sonbol, and Gavin Hambly are testimony to the boon that
court records have proven to the study of women, gender, family, and slavery.
To a lesser degree, the same is true of studies of non-Muslim communities,
whose use of the courts turns out to be more intimate and creative than our
stereotypes have depicted (the work of Najwa Al-Qattan on Damascus, while
outside the chronological scope of this essay, must be cited here).'"
Once again, however, our use of court records has not been as critically
aware as it ought to be in acknowledging that these documents are not
transparent. My own reservations include the caution that we have not
sufficiently interrogated the circumstances surrounding the production of
these documents or examined the dissymmetries of power inherent in legal
negotiations. Others, including Dror Ze'evi, have questioned the extent to
which we can trust the voices ostensibly 'quoted' in the records."
Has the archival orientation of the second half of the twentieth century
changed the image of the Ottoriian Empire? For the public at large, no; as we
have seen, exoticism continues to be the narrative imperative. For the
academic community outside the Middle East field, yes. Certainly our
enhanced ability to talk about a range of questions has permitted us to engage
in dialogue with colleagues studying other societies in other parts of world.
The Ottomans, in other words, have been humanized through their
comparative availability. For our own academic community, a qualified yes
- qualified because we have not subordinated all this new knowledge to larger
questions about the nature of the whole Ottoman experience. To use the
language of the sufi, we are stuck in the exoteric and have not progressed to the
more subtle interpretive realm of the esoteric. For example, we have yet to ask
the big question of what the very existence of all this archival documentation
can tell us. It also seems likely that our substantial investment in stateproduced
documentation has reinforced a prejudice that the sixteenth century
in particular was 'well run', thus preventing us from problematizing it as we
have problematized the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. In sum, a lot of
work has been accomplished; now it needs to be assimilated.
On the other side of the balance from these accomplishments is a striking - and
lamentable - paucity of intellectual and literary history in the later twentieth
century. This absence is obviously linked in part to the transfer of energy to
archival studies. As a result, our grasp of Ottoman civilization will at best
remain partial so long as the immense resources of Ottoman libraries remain
underutilized. One obvious reason for this decline in intellectual and literary
history is its linguistic requirements; many academics today lack the language
qualifications (Arabic and Persian alongside Turkish) to work efficiently in
literary Ottoman. For this reason, Cornell Fleischer's fascinating study of the
late-sixteenth-century historian and intellectual Mustafa Ali is particularly
impressive in that it is based on a reading of Ali's sizeable corpus of writings.
Critical intellectual figures such as Kemalpa§azade (d. 1534), historian, poet,
philosopher, and chief mufti, and the polymath Katip ^elebi (d. 1657) await
their own Fleischers. The writing of biographical studies has not been popular in
our field, and Franz Babinger's monumental Mehmed der Eroberer und seine
Zeit stands nearly alone as a political-cum-eultural biography."*
As for literary history, E.J.W. Gibb's six-volume study and translation of
Ottoman poetry is now awkwardly Victorian but still an indispensable
catalogue of Ottoman literary tastes and influences. One can only be grateful
to scholars such as Walter Andrews, Victoria Holbrooke, and Kemal Silay for
both their interpretations and their translations of Ottoman poetry. Andrews'
Poetry's Voice, Society's Song is a marvellous reading of Ottoman
sensibility in this period, an important work that is perhaps not sufficiently
acknowledged among historians. Turkish oral literature and folklore have
been captured for us in studies by Pertev Naili Boratav, Wolfram Eberhard,
and ilhan Ba§goz. Among Andreas Tietze's several contributions to the social
history of the Turkish language are his publications on riddles and nautical
vocabulary and his studies of influences among Turkish and the languages of
various subject populations."
In contrast to Ottoman literature, the study of Ottoman historiography is one
aspect of intellectual and cultural history that has kept a respectable pace over
the course of the twentieth century. Initially a good deal of attention was paid to
Ottoman histories of the fifteenth century and the critical historiographical
questions they raised. German scholars such as Friedrich Giese, Franz
Babinger, and Franz Taeschner provided critical editions of early Ottoman
chronicles, thereby opening up (and also writing about) a number of important
social phenomena, for example, the akhi confraternities. The probing work of
Victor Menage, focusing primarily on the historian Ne§ri, examined
relationships among historians and the sources they drew on. More recently,
Cemal Kafadar's Between Two Worlds: The Construction of the Ottoman State
has revisited these chronicles and provided perceptive commentary on the
historiographical debate of the 1930s concerning Ottoman origins. These early
histories have maintained a hold on scholars' interest in part because of their
commentary on Ottoman origins, a vexed historiographical issue.'"
A different kind of history writing - that by official court historiographers -
has been illuminated by Christine Woodhull. Bringing literary theory to bear on
the seventeenth-century historiography around the regicide of Osman II in
1622, Gabi Piterberg has raised questions about the role of Ottoman historians
in mapping political ideologies. However, much work remains to be done, and
major figures and historiographical movements await study. Lewis V. Thomas'
brief Study of Mustafa Naima is a handy introduction, but Naima is certainly
worthy of the kind of treatment that Heischer afforded Mustafa Ali."
The study of religion is another domain that has kept pace over the course
of the century, despite the secularist bias of the academy during much of the
past 100 years. Indeed, religious practices, religious organization, and
religiously-cast expressions of sentiment and identity currently seem to be
the topics of greatest attraction for younger scholars in the field, especially,
it seems, for the seventeenth century. (It is hard to refrain from mentioning all
the exciting work in progress in this area.)
To employ an admittedly dubious distinction between sufism and the
ulema establishment, I would say that the former flourished to a greater
extent in twentieth-century academic study - perhaps because of its appeal,
perhaps in part because of the greater accessibility of its texts. Rumi is
reportedly the best-selling poet in the United States these days, and, while it
is more because of Coleman Barks' 'translations' than because of the solid
academic work of scholars such as William Chittick, translations and studies
of sufi poets and thinkers are reasonably accessible. The study of sufism in the
Ottoman world got an early start in the twentieth century with Mehmet Fuat
Koprulli's magisterial Turk Edebiyatinda Ilk Mutasavviflar. Koprulu's study
was followed by the copious works of Abdulbaki Golpmarli on sufi orders and
the poetic literature of sufis. In English, the study of sufism and of heterodox
renderings of the Islamic faith also began early, with F.W. Hasluck's
Christianity and Islam under the Sultans and J.K. Birge's Bektashi Order of
Dervishes. For other sufi studies (using the term 'sufi' loosely) in the Ottoman
domain, one must name Irene Melikoff, Michael Winter, Ahmet Ya§ar Ocak,
and Ahmet Karamustafa, among others.™
As for the ilmiye, apart from the work of scholars such as Ismail Hakki
Uzungarjili, Hans Georg Majer, Richard Repp, and Madeline Zilfi, it awaits
systematic exploration. Repp's valuable study of the chief muftiship.
The Mufti of Istanbul: A Study in the Development of the Ottoman Learned
Hierarchy, has not achieved the recognition it deserves, perhaps because of its
philological bias in an age that embraces religion as sociocultural practice.
The great and sometimes controversial figures of the early centuries - Molla
Feneri and Sheikh Bedrettin come to mind - and their intellectual, spiritual,
and political preoccupations await serious investigation. There is scandalously
little on the Safavid/Ottoman religious encounter of the 1500s, arguably
the most signal development of that century.^' It is puzzling that these gaps
should persist, and I can adduce as explanations only the relatively thin
population of our field in general and the drift of 'early modernists' to the
seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. In short, in comparison with the richness
of Mamluk and Timurid religious studies, the early Ottoman field is far behind.
When we get to the seventeenth century, however, the picture improves
dramatically. Hans Georg Majer used a variety of sources to tease out
links among seventeenth-century ulema families. Madeline Zilfi's
studies on seventeenth- and eighteenth-century religious groups, radical and
conservative alike, have contributed to the growing interest in religious politics
and debates of the period.^^
If legal studies can be said to form a kind of sociopolitical branch of religious
studies, then this area too is taking off, and Ottoman-period articles in journals
such as Islamic Law and Society are starting to accumulate in near-respectable
numbers. For the pre-1700 period, the work of four scholars requires mention.
On the theoretical side, Baber Johansen's Islamic Law of Tax and Rent drew
attention to Mamluk and Ottoman manipulations of earlier legal interpretations
regarding land tenure and imperial claims. This question was one of the issues
taken up in Colin Imber's study of the jurist and chief mufti Ebu Su'ud Efendi
(d. 1574), who has often been hailed as the reconciler of shari^a and kanun
(imperial law): Ebu's-Su'ud: The Islamic Legal Tradition questions the extent
to which this is a correct assertion. Uriel Heyd's Studies in Old Ottoman
Criminal Law has been a veritable bible for those interested in kanun. Various
historians (including Cornell Fleischer) have engaged in the debate over
shari'^a versus kanun, but the most sustained consideration yet has been
undertaken by Haim Gerber. In State, Society, and Law in Islam: Ottoman
Law in Comparative Perspective, Gerber's methodological concerns focused
on (neo-)Weberian mischaracterizations of Islamic law and on testing the
approaches and arguments of legal anthropology against a complex historical
entity, the Ottoman legal system. However, it can only be said that study of the
critical relationship between kanun and shari '^a is still in its beginning stages.^'
Another relatively vibrant area, at least from the 1970s on, is art history.
Several Turkish art historians - Oktay Aslanapa, Nurhan Atasoy, and Esin Atil
- put the history of artistic production squarely on the map with their
comprehensive studies of architecture, book illustration, and the decorative arts
and their publications of exhibition catalogues. In the study of Ottoman
architectural history, the end of the century saw a shift of emphasis from formal
questions of aesthetics and construction to cultural questions of power,
patronage, and representation. AptuUah Kuran and Godfrey Goodwin's
in-depth surveys of Ottoman architecture exemplify the older approach, while
the work of Gulru Necipoglu provides an example of the latter. Necipoglu's
interpretive treatment of palaces, crowns, and scrolls locates Ottoman artistic
production in a broader Mediterranean and European context, demonstrating its
connections to Italian artists and Renaissance influences as well as to Persian
themes and influences. Lucienne Thys-§enocak's study of the seventeenthcentury
Yeni Valide mosque and Tulay Artan's of eighteenth-century
Bosphorus palaces, of interest for the objects of their inquiry, also use
questions of gender to illuminate women's patronage.^'*
Other aspects of art history have had equally valuable scholarly
representation. The Ottoman contribution to the rich miniature tradition in
Islamic societies has been brought to public attention by the work of Nurhan
Atasoy and Filiz gagman. The decorative arts have been extensively studied
by Walter Denny, perhaps best known for his work on Anatolian carpets. The
Ottomans' own writings about their architectural accomplishments have been
made accessible by Howard Crane. Andre Raymond's and Doris Behrens-
Abouseifs studies of Arab cities, mentioned above, have bridged fields by
combining urban history, archival documentation, and architectural history. In
sum, later twentieth-century modes of studying art history have made it more
accessible to ordinary historians - but this is, of course, a self-interested
What does all this mean for changing views of the Ottoman Empire in this
period? I would sum up by saying that political and social history dominated the
twentieth century. Historiographical, religious, literary, and art-historical studies
were located in a second, though amply visible, tier. Obviously these categories
overlap: study of elite production of artistic culture implies patronage, which
implies political power relations and access to resources; the ubiquity of the
wa^system links social, political, and religious history; and so on. But despite
the changes in emphasis in the century's last decades, our view of the 'early'
empire is still dominated by processes of state-building. Perhaps the absence of
regional or provincial studies for these centuries contributes to this bias.
In this section, I outline a few dominant preoccupations of twentieth-century
historiography, focusing more on older trends than on newer ones - for
example, the interest in households as critical nodes of political and cultural
dynamics - because the latter have not yet produced counter-reactions that
move them into the realm of debate. The interrelatedness of the concerns
outlined below will, I hope, be obvious, as well as their impact on changing
images of the Ottoman Empire.
Ottoman Origins
The origins of the Ottoman dynastic state are only somewhat less elusive than
the origins of Islam and the Muslim state in the seventh century, and the neverceasing
preoccupation with Ottoman origins bears a resemblance to twentiethcentury
debates over the emergence of Islam. The good news is that
the competing mythologies and ideologies that have characterized discussion
of the early Ottoman enterprise and the milieu out of which it emerged are now
being balanced with empirical studies.
Probably every reader of this essay is familiar with the still-infiuential
views of two historians who truly dominated the twentieth century, Mehmet
Fuat Koprulu and Paul Wittek. In different ways, each reacted to the racist
views of H.A. Gibbons, who argued in The Foundations of the Ottoman
Empire - the opening historiographical salvo of the twentieth century - that it
was Byzantine Christian recruits and converts to the Ottoman cause and not
'an Asiatic people' who provided its brains and its future success. In 1935,
Koprulu, in Les origines de Vempire ottoman, put forth a variety of social and
cultural considerations to argue that the Ottoman state drew its creative energy
from the Turks and that it was largely the continuation of the Anatolian Seljuk
polity. Shortly thereafter, in 1938, appeared Wittek's The Rise of the Ottoman
Empire, known primarily for its argument - the 'ghazi thesis' - that the
dynamic milieu of frontier fighters for Islam was the motor of Ottoman
expansion. In 1983, Rudi Paul Lindner revived the debate with his Nomads
and Ottomans in Medieval Anatolia, arguing against Wittek that religious zeal
played little part in Ottoman expansion; he also stressed the Ottomans' early
abandonment of pastoralism, thereby questioning the idea of a tribal frontier

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