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Writing History at the Ottoman Court

Editing the Past, Fashioning the Future

Edited by H. Erdem Cipa and Emine Fetvaci

Publication Year: 2013

Ottoman historical writing of the 15th and 16th centuries played a significant role in fashioning Ottoman identity and institutionalizing the dynastic state structure during this period of rapid imperial expansion. This volume shows how the writing of history achieved these effects by examining the implicit messages conveyed by the texts and illustrations of key manuscripts. It answers such questions as how the Ottomans understood themselves within their court and in relation to non-Ottoman others; how they visualized the ideal ruler; how they defined their culture and place in the world; and what the significance of Islam was in their self-definition.

Published by: Indiana University Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-5


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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-xii

Ottoman scholars of the early modern era produced an unprecedented number of works with historical subject matter. Beginning in the fifteenth century, authors of various backgrounds composed chronicles; biographical dictionaries; hagiographies; local, dynastic, or universal histories; campaign accounts; compilations of letters; and other literary texts with historical content. Th e Ottoman historical record consisted...

Note on Transliteration

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pp. xiii-xiv


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pp. xv-xviii

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1. The Historical Epic Aḥvāl-i Sulṭan Meḥemmed (The Tales of Sultan Mehmed) in the Context of Early Ottoman Historiography

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pp. 1-22

Discussions of the birth of Ottoman historiography oft en state that the Ottomans only began writing their history in earnest at the end of the fifteenth century. Indeed, a significant number of manuscripts from that time are extant, many bearing the simple title...

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2. The Memory of the Mongols in Early Ottoman Historiography

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pp. 23-38

This essay explores the ways in which fourteenth-century historiography reflects the Ottomans’ relationship with their ultimate overlords, the Mongols. When Osman, the founder of the Ottoman dynasty, started his military operations in Byzantine Bithynia (in northwestern Anatolia, to the east of the Marmara Sea) around 1300, most of Anatolia was under the direct rule of the Ilkhans, a dynasty that was established...

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3. Imperialism, Bureaucratic Consciousness, and the Historian’s Craft

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pp. 39-57

Celālzāde Muṣṭafā’s (d. 1567) Ṭabaḳātüʾl-Memālik ve Derecātüʾl-Mesālik (Echelons of the Dominions and Hierarchies of the Professions), hereaft er Ṭabaḳāt, continues to surprise readers with its large volume and ambitious scope.1 It begins with a concise treatment of Selim I’s rule (1512–1520) and then focuses on the events of Süleyman’s reign (1520–1566) from the enthronement of the sultan to the opening of the Süleymaniye...

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4. Conversion and Converts to Islam in Ottoman Historiography of the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries

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pp. 58-79

Although the issue of conversion to Islam was at the core of one of the earliest historiographical debates on the origins of the Ottoman state, it subsequently became a subject that is almost universally treated in the context of Muslim–non-Muslim relations in the Ottoman Empire.1 As a consequence, in current historiography conversion to Islam is framed as an issue that mattered primarily to non-Muslims, while the...

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5. Seeing the Past

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pp. 80-99

The world map commonly known as the “Mappamundi of Tunuslu Hajji Ahmed” easily ranks among the most significant achievements of early modern cartography. Created as a woodcut in an unknown Venetian workshop in 1559, it is the earliest known Turkish-language work of any kind to be designed for publication and sale in the Ottoman market. With the exception of two earlier charts by the famous...

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6. From Adam to Süleyman

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pp. 100-128

In the spring of 1558, the court eulogist ʿĀrif was ready to present the first complete volume of his dynastic literary project Shāhnāma-yi  Āl-i ʿOsmān (The Shāhnāma of the House of ʿOsmān) to his patron and king Süleyman (r. 1520–1566), the tenth sultan in the dynastic line of Osman.1 ʿĀrif’s was a universal history project consisting of five volumes.2 Th e first volume, entitled Anbiyānāma (The Book of Prophets),

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7. The Challenge of Periodization

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pp. 129-154

Ottoman historical consciousness and historiographical practices simultaneously underwent significant changes in the nineteenth century. Th is essay, conceived as the first in a series on new developments in Ottoman historiography during that century, concentrates on changes to Ottoman models of periodization for world history and aims to demonstrate that Ottoman historical consciousness entered a novel...


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pp. 155-170


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pp. 171-172


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pp. 173-181

E-ISBN-13: 9780253008749
Print-ISBN-13: 9780253008572

Page Count: 200
Illustrations: 9 b&w illus.
Publication Year: 2013