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Between Two Worlds: The Construction of the Ottoman State

Cemal Kafadar
Copyright Date: 1995
Edition: 1
Pages: 205
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  • Book Info
    Between Two Worlds
    Book Description:

    Cemal Kafadar offers a much more subtle and complex interpretation of the early Ottoman period than that provided by other historians. His careful analysis of medieval as well as modern historiography from the perspective of a cultural historian demonstrates how ethnic, tribal, linguistic, religious, and political affiliations were all at play in the struggle for power in Anatolia and the Balkans during the late Middle Ages. This highly original look at the rise of the Ottoman empire—the longest-lived political entity in human history—shows the transformation of a tiny frontier enterprise into a centralized imperial state that saw itself as both leader of the world's Muslims and heir to the Eastern Roman Empire.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-91805-4
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. Preface
    (pp. xi-xvi)
  4. Chronology
    (pp. xvii-xx)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-28)

    Osman is to the Ottomans what Romulus is to the Romans: the eponymous founding figure of a remarkably successful political community in a land where he was not, according to the testimony of family chronides, one of the indigenous people. And if the Roman state evolved from a peripheral area to represent the center of the Graeco-Roman civilization, whose realm it vigorously expanded, so the Ottoman state rose from a small chieftainship at the edges of the abode of Islam eventually to become the supreme power within a much enlarged Islamdom. Once they came to rule, the Ottomans, like the...

  6. CHAPTER I The Moderns
    (pp. 29-59)

    Beginning in the fifteenth century, numerous historical accounts were composed, by Ottomans and others, that relate a series of events delineating the emergence and expansion of Ottoman power, but none of these would have passed Voltaire’s test. From the point of view of modern historiography, they contain no explanation, no analysis of underlying causes or dynamics, and are only narratives of events in succession about successive dynasties and states. Naturally, a reader of Dumezil would be ready to trace implicit explanatory models in these sources, as literary or nonanalytical as they may seem, through an examination of their selection and...

  7. CHAPTER 2 The Sources
    (pp. 60-117)

    There is not one incontrovertibly authentic written document from Osman’s days as a beg.¹ And that is only appropriate for a chief who, when asked by a dervish for a document to confirm the granting of a village as freehold, is reported to have replied: “You ask me for a piece of paper as if I [knew how to] write. Here, I have a sword left from my forefathers. Let me give that to you. And I will also give you a cup. Let them both remain in your hands. And let them [who come after you] preserve these tokens....

  8. CHAPTER 3 The Ottomans: The Construction of the Ottoman State
    (pp. 118-150)

    The poem was recorded by an ethnographer in the earlier part of this century among the seminomads who survived in the hills of the Bithynian Olympus where Osman’s tribe once roamed. Maybe the thirteenth-century tribesfolk did not know this particular quatrain, but its lesson was certainly not lost on them. While they roamed rather than settling down to agriculture, “a day came;” and a certain Osman, who seems to have been a leading member of the tribe’s leading house (or rather, tent), imagined that he could carve a body politic under his leadership, that he could be Osman Beg. He...

  9. Epilogue: The Creation of an Imperial Political Technology and Ideology
    (pp. 151-154)

    They say that Murad had a dream one night, which he then related and all the Turks believed it to be prophetic: he saw a man dressed in white garments, like a prophet, who took the ring that his son was wearing on his middle finger and transferred it to the second finger; then he took it off and put it on the third; after he had passed the ring to all five fingers, he threw it away and he vanished. Murad summoned his hodzas and diviners and asked them to interpret this dream for him. They said: “Undoubtedly, the...

    (pp. 155-156)
  11. Notes
    (pp. 157-192)
  12. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 193-208)
  13. Index
    (pp. 209-221)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 222-223)