Bureaucrat and Intellectual in the Ottoman Empire

Bureaucrat and Intellectual in the Ottoman Empire: The Historian Mustafa Ali (1541-1600)

CORNELL H. FLEISCHER
Copyright Date: 1986
Pages: 406
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt7zvjvj
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  • Book Info
    Bureaucrat and Intellectual in the Ottoman Empire
    Book Description:

    Mustafa Ali was the foremost historian of the sixteenth-century Ottoman Empire. Most modern scholars of the Ottoman period have focused on economic and institutional issues, but this study uses Ali and his works as the basis for analyzing the nature of intellectual and social life in a formative period of the Ottoman Empire.

    Originally published in 1986.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-5421-9
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. NOTE ON USAGE
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
  6. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. xvii-2)
  7. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 3-10)

    During the fast month of Ramazan it occurred to Nasreddin Hoca to put a pebble in a jar for each day that passed. This way he would avoid prolonging his suffering and having to rely on the inaccurate and conflicting accounts of his neighbors. After he had done this for a few days his little daughter, who loved to imitate her father, gathered a handful of pebbles and deposited them in the Hoca’s jar as he was performing his prayers. That evening the Hoca invited a number of friends to break the fast, and conversation turned to the number of...

  8. PART I. AN OTTOMAN LIFE
    • ONE THE MAKING OF AN OTTOMAN (1541-63 / 948-70)
      (pp. 13-40)

      These were the lines written in 1593 by Mustafa Âli, son of Ahmed, son of Abdullah, when he returned to the city of his birth for the first time since he had left it as a young student thirty-five years before. To commemorate this return to the capital of the Gallipoli peninsula, Âli composed a work in verse which he titledSadef-i sad güher, The Lustre of a Hundred Jewels.He dedicated it to the glories of his homeland, to recollection of family and friends, and to recapitulation of his own literary career. A few lines from this work constitute...

    • TWO THE POET AT THE GATES (1563-77 / 970-84)
      (pp. 41-69)

      In the spring of 1563 Âli was twenty-two years old. His scholarly promise and ambition had taken him from his provincial home to Istanbul, where he spent four years. His literacy and the poetic skills he had honed in the salons of the capital had further won him three years at the court of the heir to the Ottoman throne, where, however, he found his progress threatened by personal animosities and keen competition. Now he went further afield; in answering Lala Mustafa Paşa’s summons to the “Paşa’s Gate” (paşa kapisi), Âli began a phase of his career that would take...

    • THREE TO THE EAST (1577-82 / 984-90)
      (pp. 70-108)

      Âli was thirty-six years old in the early spring of 1577/late 984. He had spent seven years in Bosnia, where he had risen through the ranks of the provincial military system to gain a sizable income. As his financial position improved, his personal household grew, he married, and, in 1576-77/984,his son Fazlullah was born.¹ Âli’s expectations and optimism must have increased proportionately, particularly after the accession of Murad III, for by early 1577 he had given up hiszeâmet,left Bosnia for good, and come to Istanbul to seek an appointment at court.

      Âli spent the next year trying to...

    • FOUR TOWARD THE MILLENNIUM: WAR, APOCALYPSE, AND HISTORY (1583-92 / 991-1000)
      (pp. 109-142)

      Âli prepared to take action in the early spring of 1583, as soon as travel was possible. He had armed himself with letters of recommendation, signed by Üveys Paşa and other frontier dignitaries and addressed to Sultan Murad, Prince Mehmed, and Hoca Sa’düddin. With these in hand Âli resigned his post, gathered up his illuminatedBook of Victory,and traveled to Istanbul.¹

      Âli traveled in company with the former finance director of Aleppo, Cübni Sinan, and the two reached the capital together in the middle of spring. Cübni Sinan’s efforts were rewarded with a posting as finance director of Erzurum....

    • Illustrations
      (pp. None)
    • FIVE THE FINAL YEARS (1592-1600 / 1000-1008)
      (pp. 143-188)

      At the turn of the millennium Âli’s inner life was dominated by an overwhelming sense of dislocation and social alienation. He voiced this feeling in poetry that decried the times, which allowed him no honorable place in society and subordinated him to lesser folk.¹ This very discontent, however, spurred him to his greatest and most personal creative effort, a monumental history of the world from Creation to his own day. His feverish work on theEssence of Historyenabled him both to escape into the more orderly and happier world of his youth and to document, with the jaundiced eye...

  9. PART II. OTTOMAN LAW, OTTOMAN CAREER
    • SIX KANUN-CONSCIOUSNESS IN THE SIXTEENTH CENTURY
      (pp. 191-200)

      Mustafa Âli’s life and times have occupied us for many pages. His education, professional advancements and trials, and the evolution of his literary interests and production have provided a focus for the study of a major Ottoman intellectual. Âli’s biography has also furnished us a window on his society and a means to examine the transformations it underwent in the second half of the sixteenth century. Now it is only fitting that this focus itself be examined, that we study Âli from within as well as without. Âli’s own perception and representation of Ottoman history, carefully analyzed, can tell us...

    • SEVEN ÂLI ON THE OTTOMAN CAREER PATHS
      (pp. 201-213)

      Writing about the year 1581, Âli opened the second chapter of hisCounsel for Sultanswith a capsule description of its contents. It deals with “the pervasive decline that has appeared in our time, [due to] contravention of customary laws.” He elaborates that each functionary covets the position of those above him; judges seek to become district governors, the latter long to become governors-general, and the great governors fight for vezirate.

      If they are not told, “This is not your career path,” but rather, “It has been given, therefore it has become your [professional] path,” and these officials are deemed...

    • EIGHT BUREAUCRACY AND BUREAUCRATIC CONSCIOUSNESS
      (pp. 214-232)

      In the time of Sultan Süleyman Kanuni (The Lawgiver), the central bureaucracy of the Ottoman Empire had none of the institutional complexity it developed in the seventeenth century. Rather, it was a loose structure dominated by the personal offices of its two premier officeholders: the chancellor, who oversaw chancery affairs, and the treasurer, who managed the Empire’s finances.¹ The secretary-in-chief assisted the chancellor in his chancery duties and in the meetings of the Imperial Council, but was of much lower rank than his superior. These three officials, together with the Council secretary (tezkereci) and registrar (defter emini), were the most...

  10. PART III. THE MAKING OF OTTOMAN HISTORY
    • NINE OTTOMAN HISTORICAL WRITING IN THE SIXTEENTH CENTURY
      (pp. 235-252)

      Mustafa Âli achieved posthumous fame largely by virtue of his tremendous historiographical output and his outspoken social and political critiques. To these works Âli brought great learning and an acute critical intelligence, as well as a strong sense of personal grievance that is never far beneath the surface of his prose. The analytical account of Âli’s career, intellectual development, and social milieu embarked on here must take some account of this prominent facet of his life and work. Certain aspects of Âli’s historical orientation have been discussed, and his veracity examined, in the preceding chapters where they were chronologically or...

    • TEN MUSLIM AND OTTOMAN
      (pp. 253-272)

      Mustafa Âli’s perception of history was oriented by the two cultural traditions of which he was a product. As a Rumi, one born and raised in the Ottoman domains, he identified with the distinctive regional culture that had developed in Anatolia and Rumeli. As a graduate of theilmiyeeducational system, he also identified with the universalist religious tradition of themedreseand the cosmopolitan Arabo-Persianate high culture to which the Ottoman Empire was heir. The two orientations were not absolutely distinct from one another; but certainly, important facets of the Ottoman experiment made the Empire a unique, if not...

    • ELEVEN THE TURKIC AND MONGOL HERITAGE
      (pp. 273-292)

      Prior to the Mongol invasions of the thirteenth century, the political life of the Islamic world was dominated by the theory, if only rarely the reality, of the universal Muslim caliphate. The caliphal institution represented the sole legitimate locus of political authority in the Islamic domains; it symbolized the moral unity of the community of believers and the integral universality of theşeri’at.Regional dynasties and institutions like the Selcuk sultanate ultimately derived such legitimacy as they possessed from caliphal dispensation, and from recognition of the ultimate paramountcy of theşeri’atand its protector, the caliph. When the non-Muslim Mongols...

    • TWELVE THE REIGN OF MURAD III
      (pp. 293-308)

      Ali was not a theoretical historian in the sense that he began from explicit principles or models of historical development. His expressed methodology, in those sections of his work in which he generalizes, is presented as inductive rather than deductive. To be sure, certain assumptions about the nature of authority and structure of society do inform Âli’s evaluation of events. These premises are primarily implicit, and are articulated only in the context of observation of historical events and patterns. In terms of presentation, Âli derives his general principles from analysis of history before applying those principles to interpretation of his...

  11. APPENDIX A. THE STRUCTURE OF THE OTTOMAN FINANCIAL ESTABLISHMENT IN THE SIXTEENTH CENTURY
    (pp. 311-314)
  12. APPENDIX B. CHRONOLOGY
    (pp. 315-318)
  13. GLOSSARY
    (pp. 319-332)
  14. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 333-344)
  15. INDEX
    (pp. 345-363)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 364-364)