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Ottoman Empire Revision Notes

History Notes > General History VIII: 1500 - 1618 Notes

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Ottoman Empire Revision Metin Kunt and Christine Woodhead (ed). Suleyman the Magnificent and his Age (Longman, 1995). Chapter One: Metin Kunt 'State and sultan up to the age of Suleyman: frontier principality to world empire'.??What is Suleyman's empire?
Not a coherent geographical region. o There was no word for 'Turkey' in the Ottoman language, this is not a Turkish Empire. o Muslim Ottomans call themselves 'Rumi'. o Devlet-i al-i Osman: 'the domains of the house of Osman': the Osmanli dynasty is the state. Gazi ideology o Fighting not simply as an unprincipled raider, but for the glory of Islam. o Murad I secures for the Ottomans the title of the only true gazis.
? Gaza was the greatest virtues; Ottomans the most virtuous gazis.
? Significance
? Bound the beys of Anatolia and Balkans to the Ottoman empire. Ruler's household o Mamluks
? Foreign servitors captured in battle from the infidels.
? The Ottomans are cleverer
? They take recruits from inside the realms. o Military
? Janissaries
? Household infantry o Most prestigious are the cavalry divisions
? Sipahi, Silahdar, uleficiyan, gureba
? Staffed by palace pages recruited through devsirme How do the Ottomans takeover so easily?
o Social features
? Anatolia Turkmen emirates are similar in character
? Syncretic practice abounds
? Though Islam was perfect, it was not much different from Judaism and Christianity.
? Networks
? Ahi organisations and guilds, of which the sultan was a member. o Religion
? Sufi communities
? These guys reinforce the teachings of the religious elite, the ulema.
? Popular o Non-dogmatic, exuberant brand of Islam mean they connect well with brotherhoods. o Formation of dervish convents and merchant afii lodges. o Taxation
? Yes


Peasant pay the jizye capitation tax, but they don't have to pay any feudal obligatory money anymore.

Mehmed o Establishes an Ottoman imperial tradition
? The Ottoman sultan
? Styled as an Islamic sultan, a great khan of Inner Asia and a Roman Caesar o Updates legal corpus o Expands sultanic power to the civil-religious sphere through taking over of vakif. o Does so through the creation of a prestigious and large imperial household. (II) Towards Suleyman's World Empire Selim's empire o There are people threatening the Ottoman Empire
? The Safavid, Shah Ismail I
? 1514, o Chaldiran, he obliterates the Safavid army and captures Tabriz.
? A victory of janissary muskets and field artillery firepower. o Swerves south
? 1516-17
? Relgious o Seizes Mecca and Medina: makes himself defender of the holy cities and thus the most important ruler in the Islamic world.
? Economic o Suez is the link to the Indian Ocean and Asian spice trade. Suleyman's Empire o Rhodes, Belgrade, Mohacs, o Sea
? Barbarossa destroys a Christian fleet in 1538 and captures Tunis. o 1566
? Final campaign
? Szigetvar. (III) The Ottoman State as a Dynastic Empire Sultan Suleyman o Claim to be the universal defender of Islam, the caliph. Sultan's revenues o Generated from the havass-I humayun
? Revenues from developed towns and lucrative mining nd forestry districts o A stream higher than any Vizier's. Who are the ruling elite?
o These men are Ottomans
? Only first generation Muslims!
o Not in an ethnic sense, but a cultural-political sense. o A few ethnically Turkish
? But not given high office really. Institutions The Divan o Not household but 'state' officers
? Viziers


? Former district governors, governor-generals of provinces
? Given a dirlik, a 'living' to live off
? High-state judges
? One from Rumeli, one from Anatolia
? Jurists
? Interpreters of sultanic kanun law and responsible for edicts, firmans and other documents.
? Kadis
? State judges
? Get their money from legal fees that they hear in court. The umera system and payment o These are the governor-generals and military commanders o Payment
? Timar
? Assignation of annual revenues, in cash, from a particular village or villages to pay for his needs while he campaigns. o Commanders
? Get market or urban revenues. o The more dirliks a commander has, the more men he is expected to field.
? A Vizier might be so lucrative in dirliks he must field thousands of men. This system makes one a participant in the Ottoman state. Household o Reaches 30,000 in the reign of Suleyman.
? Implicit of the extraordinary wealth in the havass-I humayun. The Ottoman State Thus, o The state has the sultan at its apex, is not dominated by one ethnic group, has no geographical barriers and most administrators come from his household itself. Inclusive polity o Sultan's power reached his lowliest subject through his officials, umera and ulema and can provide protection and justice.
? His kanun is sophisticated, open to all subjects and technically, all could appeal to the imperial council. o Justice
? The kanun-I Osmani or 'Ottoman law' is administered throughout the empire A dynastic empire o Virtuous
? Because no-one group is favoured. o Problematic
? Succession
? No principle of primogeniture or consanguinity which they talk about in France.
? 'May the best man win'.
? Irritable princes
? Selim I dethroned his father; Bayezid was rumoured to have overthrown his.
? Suleyman himself
? Intervenes o In 1553, has his own son Mustafa strangled.

Metin Kunt, Introduction??Dirliks o A dirlik-holder, no matter how small, was an independent official.
? The official uses this to maintain his household, pay his wages, officers and retinues. Different sorts of revenue collectors o District governor
? May command the troops throughout the whole sancak, but only directly runs the villages within his hass income.
? If his ambit comes within the hass of a provincial governor, or indeed, the havass-I humayun, than they take precedence. Administrative activity, regularised by the provincial kadi magistrates. Dirliks o Virtues
? Not feudal - dirlik holders don't own the land itself, just the revenues coming from it.
? Non-hereditary.
? Peasants
? Not serfs, they own plots of arable land, of which money is given to the member of the umera. o Larger dirliks
? Commercial revenues of cash
? Thus, the sultan has a direct interest in the free flow of trade ?
important for the realm but also for the sultan and his ruling elite. 'Ottomanisation' o 'core provinces'
? Anatolian and Balkan areas. o Stages
? Suzerainty ? Conquest (Ottomans arrive with regulations and registers) ?
then kadi magistrates arrive ? dirliks appointed. o Not inevitable process
? Many are just made vassals and remain like that. o 'Two-tier' arrangement
? Geza o Autonomy
? Khan of Crimea, Kurdish chiefs in the mountainous border zone between Ottoman and Safavid. o Pragmatism
? The aim is to establish central authority without local intermediaries, but in practice Ottoman statesmen had to be pragmatic. o Saliyane system
? An example of pragmatism to cope with increased revenue.
? Here,
? Provincial governors did not collect their own revenue but were paid in an annual direct cash amount out of taxes raised in that locality by other agents.
? No provincial dirlik-holders
? Soldiers received daily wages.
? Only possible where a high ranking Ottoman official resided and with a high revenue stream with local agents.

???Changes o The 'household' becomes very blurred
? No longer resting at the imperial centre
? For instance, o Detachments of the household retinue would be stationed in imperial provinces (benefitting from havass revenues). Painful change?
o So complex a financial bureaucracy emerges from royal household into an increasingly distinct government department. o Sultan's image
? Becomes distant because all the levels of bureaucracy
? Takes on a more 'imperial posture' as opposed to his old status as 'warrior-king'. Decline Thesis Same features (already prevalent in Suleyman's age) are seen as 'decline' after Suleyman's death!
o Janissaries given provincial duties o Complex financial bureaucracy o Detachment of imperial household o Rise of the tax-farmer and Vizierate agent o Shift to the annual cash payment system of saliyane. What happens though?
o Cash outlay outstrips cash supply o Leads to the debasement of the silver coinage ? causes a great reaction.
? Led to serious provincial disturbances in Anatolia in 1591. Futility of thesis o The features of decline attached to Suleyman's successors were prevalent in his lifetime. o 'Times of trouble'
? More an attempt in a millennial age to confront challenges in a changing and widening world
? Rather,
? An age of transition ? a process which achieves equilibrium in the seventeenth century.

Colin Imber, 'Ideals and legitimation in early Ottoman history'.??

How do Ottomans justify the sultan's rule?
The principle of unity is extremely simple: loyalty to the sultan. Sultan's justifications (I) Gazi o Presentation of Sultan and his followers as gazi warriors: Warrior of the Faith, hailing from the seriat, holy law of Islam. o Finds its way into popular Turkish literature ? gazis played the role of the hero against the infidel Christian.
? Warrior-saint, Sari Saltuk's battles against the infidel. o Shift
? The gazi becomes synonymous with the sultan almost entirely alone. o Holy War (Gaza)
? Justifies Ottoman rule.

?One o Two o

Portrays sultan fulfilling canonical obligation. Gives them a canonical right to rule the territories which they had conquered from the infidel.

? Sultan has conquered Muslim land too. They say he is stopping Muslims oppressing Muslims by taking over. (II) Legal Inheritance o Anatolia
? Sultan's press the claim they are legal inheritors of the Seljuk dynasty. How to cope with the Safavid threat?
o Dynastic hostility
? 1514, 1536, 1548, 1555, 1578-1590. o Portrayed it as a battle against infidels
? Haza Sari Gorez (legal scholar) (III) Sunni Orthodoxy By 16th Century, ulema come to dominate the intellectual life of the empire. Ottoman claims move from fold culture and unlearned Islam, to sophisticated canonical theory. o Ottoman dynastic history
? The story of Osman having a dream where God tells him to conquer the world. Ottoman conquests o Selim
? Medina, Mecca, Cairo, Hijaz ? he has the most extensive realms of any Islamic monarch. (IV) Genealogical claim Spurious claim to be related to Orghuz Khan o A legendary ancestor of the Turks, which 'proved' the superiority of Ottomans over all others. All this is embodied in Lutfi Pasha's Tevarih-I al-I Osman. o Belief that God had ordered a 'renewer of the faith' at the start of each century
? Osman I (after Mongol ravages)
? Mehmed I (after Timur's ravages)
? Selim I (after Shah Ismail's ravages). Sadeddin o For Murad III
? Re-iterates this.
? 'God will bring a people whom He loves and who loves Him'. How to sanctify Ottoman secular law?
o Ebusssuud
? Says that it is through the sultan that God makes known his commands to mankind.
? Disobedience to the sultan is disobedience to God. o Used in a mosque building edict of 1537/38.??????

Peter Burke, 'Concepts of the 'golden age' in the Renaissance'.


Selaniki: 'The raya no longer obeyed the sovereign's commands: the soldiers turned against the sultan...the old order and harmony departed'. Golden Age o Ephemeral
? In the age of Mehmed III, people are looking back to Suleyman, but in the age of Suleyman, they looked back to the age of Mehmed II. 'Age of Gold' o Well-established concept during our period
? Cervantes. Meant different things to different people. o A time in the past, yes. But why?
? Peace
? (Erasmus, Ficino) claimed a golden age would return in the nearfuture.
? Simple, austere life
? Ibn Khaldun ? hard primitivism of the nomadic way of life.
? A time of bountiful plenty.
? Absence of private property, conflict
? An Arcadian society Did people believe in it, or is it literary convention, myth or poetic fiction?
o Believed
? Abraham Ortelius
? The image of the golden age (1596)
? Cervantes
? Don Quixote o 'In that blessed age all things were held in common'. o Didn't believe
? Propaganda
? Erasmus to Pope Leo X says a golden age has returned or will return.
? Due Bellay ? Henri II
? Ronsard ? Charles IX.

Christine Woodhead, Perspectives on Suleyman??

I Suleyman's first acts = acts of justice and equity 'adalat' in contrast to the Yavuz Selim. o Freedom of movement to 600 prominent families that Selim deported from Egypt to Istanbul after conquering Cairo in 1517. o Rescinds ban on silk trade with Iran o Cracks down on Ottoman government official's behaviour Lawgiver o Signifies
? His priority to development and enforcement of kanun administrative law.
? Important o Reflects more (perhaps) the need to develop administrative and bureaucratic structures to cope with the size of the empire. Suleyman o The creator of his own image.

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