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  • Frontiers of the Ottoman Imagination. Studies in Honour of Rhoads Murphey ed. by Marios Hadjianastasis
  • Mark L. Stein
Marios Hadjianastasis, ed. Frontiers of the Ottoman Imagination. Studies in Honour of Rhoads Murphey. Leiden: Brill, 2015. vi + 323 pp. Cloth, $152. ISBN: 978-9004280915.

This volume is a well-deserved honor for Rhoads Murphey, compiled on the occasion of his retirement from the University of Birmingham in 2014. Murphey has had a substantial impact on the field of Ottoman history. His own work is wide-ranging: from studies of Ottoman sovereignty to Ottoman historiography to Ottoman bureaucratic practice to his foundational work on the Ottoman military. His influence extends well beyond his own scholarly production through his work as teacher, mentor, and colleague to several generations of Ottoman historians. The festschrift, by the editor's own admission, has no overarching theme. Rather, the book reflects Murphey's own broad interests, presenting a chronologically organized collection of work by Murphey's students and colleagues.

Even though the volume as a whole has no overall theme one can see threads of similarity—disciplinary or methodological—connecting some of the articles. Two articles focus on geography: Ourania Bessi's "The Topographic Reconstruction of Ottoman Dimetoka" and Katerina Stathi's "The Carta Incognita of Ottoman Athens." Bessi uses the development of Dimetoka to study Ottoman urban development and proposes a new periodization for the urban history of the Ottoman Balkans. The article uses vakıf documents to investigate exactly how and when the city grew. There are also well-made maps and numerous photos that underscore her argument. Stahti, in her piece, analyzes and publishes for the first time the only extant Ottoman map of Athens. The map dates from 1826 and was discovered stuck inside a hatt-i hümayun collection in the Başbakanlık Ottoman Archives. Stathi does a great job describing the map and then providing the historical background and context for it. This article also benefits from its many illustrations.

Two article articles deal with different aspects of Ottoman diplomacy. Naci Yorulmaz uses the 1881 report by the Ottoman special mission to shed light [End Page 196] on Ottoman connections with Germany. Yorulmaz, by analyzing the Ottoman mission's interactions with Bismarck, provides information on how the two states became more closely aligned driven by the Ottomans' desire for military aid and Bismarck's desire for further leverage against his European imperial rivals. Michael Ursinus also looks at nineteenth-century diplomatic activity, but in his article he looks at the career of Charles Blunt as British consul in Salonica. Blunt not only represented the interests of the British in Salonica but he became deeply involved in advancing the reform programs then being implemented by local Ottoman officials. Ursinus shows how deeply engaged in local politics Blunt became, moving beyond just encouraging reform and coming to be a significant local political player.

Two of the strongest pieces in the volume consider how historic figures or events have been reconceived for different uses through time. Clare Norton's contribution looks at the differing ways Tiryaki Hasan Pasha and his 1601 defense of the fortress of Kanije have been portrayed in versions of the gazavatname that commemorates it. Norton shows how changing political views led to Tiryaki Hasan being described as everything from a dervish warrior to an idealized Ottoman statesman. Marios Hadjianastasis' piece looks past the nineteenth-century Greek nationalist imagining of the Orthodox Church as the great protector of Greek identity in Ottoman Cyprus to uncover the much more complex situation on the island in the early modern era. In the nationalist framing, all outside rule—Catholic Venetian or Muslim Ottoman—brutally oppressed the Orthodox Greeks of Cyprus. Hadjianastasis shows that, in fact, the changing social and political situation on the island after Ottoman conquest led many Orthodox leaders to take pro-Catholic positions in order to gain aid from the Spanish Habsburgs. Both of these articles show the value in engaging directly with primary sources as a counterpoint to received wisdoms.

Some technical notes: the book has a number of well-reproduced, clear images that add substantially to the articles they accompany. There are, however, an inordinate number...


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