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Between Two Worlds: The Construction of the Ottoman State

Between Two Worlds: The Construction of the Ottoman State

Between Two Worlds: The Construction of the Ottoman State

400 página
7 horas
Lançado em:
May 8, 1995


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.
Lançado em:
May 8, 1995

Sobre o autor

Cemal Kafadar is Associate Professor of History at Harvard University.

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Between Two Worlds - Cemal Kafadar

Between Two Worlds

The Construction of the

Ottoman State

Cemal Kafadar


Berkeley / Los Angeles / London

University of California Press

Berkeley and Los Angeles, California

University of California Press, Ltd.

London, England

First Paperback Printing 1996

© 1995 by

The Regents of the University of California

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Kafadar, Cemal, 1954-

Between two worlds : the construction of the Ottoman state /

Cemal Kafadar.

    p.  cm.

Includes bibliographical references and index.

ISBN 978-0-520-20600-7

I. Turkey—History—Ottoman Empire, 1288–1918. 2. Turkey—

History—Ottoman Empire, 1288-1918—Historiography. I. Title.

DR486.K34  1995



Printed in the United States of America

08  07

10  9  8  7

The paper used in this publication meets the minimum requirements of

ANSI/NISO Z39.48-1992 (R 1997) (Permanence of Paper).

bana okumayi sevdiren, sonra bu i i

abartti imi araya giren gurbete ra men

hi bir zaman yüzüme vurmayan

Annemeve Bahama / To My Parents

Calabim bir r yaratmi

ki cihan resinde

Bakicak d dar görünür

Ol rin ken resinde

N gih n ol re vardim

Ani ben yapilir gördüm

Ben dahi bile yapildim

Ta ü toprak resinde

(d. 1429–30)

My Lord has created a city

In between two worlds.

One sees the beloved if one looks

At the edge of that city.

I came upon that city

And saw it being built.

I too was built with it

Amidst stone and earth.





Background and Overview

Identity and Influence in the History of Nations

1: The Moderns

The Rise of the Ottoman State in Modern Historiography

The Wittek Thesis and Its Critics

2: The Sources

Gaza and Gazis in the Frontier Narratives of Medieval Anatolia

The Chronicles of the House of Osman and Their Flavor: Onion or Garlic?

3: The Ottomans: The Construction of the Ottoman State

Strategizing for Alliances and Conflicts: The Early Beglik

Into the Limelight and the Rise of Tensions

Epilogue: The Creation of an Imperial Political Technology and Ideology






and Paul Wittek.¹

With these works, the gates of independent reasoning were closed, as it were. Wittek's " az thesis and early Ottoman behavior displaying inclusiveness and latitudinarianism. This book grew partly out of the author's joy in seeing a fascinating problem reincluded in the agenda of historians and partly out of his discomfort with some of the directions taken in these new works.

. Although the field of Ottoman studies did not and still is often reluctant to directly engage in a theoretical discourse, the victory of structure over progression of events indirectly made its impact on Ottomanists.²

However, more recent intellectual currents reveal heightened concern with issues like origins, genealogy and sequentiality of events once again, though in a new manner. An example of this new spirit may be the popularity and esteem of Umberto Eco's Name of the Rose in the 1980s. I am not referring to the historical setting and flavor provided by a scholarly concern with authenticity but something more intrinsic to the novel: its plot. After all, had William of Baskerville, the detectivemonk, inquired into the succession of head librarians in the abbey, had he pursued, as a traditional historian would have, the succession of events related to the library in chronological order, he would have discovered much sooner that Jorge of Burgos should have been the prime suspect.³

This trend is accompanied by a renewed interest in narrative sources, which were once seen as inferior to quantifiable records. Turning the tables around, historians now indulge in the application of literary criticism or narcological analysis to archival documents, to even such dry cases as census registers, which have been seen as hardly more than data banks in previous history-writing.

It is not merely in the context of developments in world historiography that we should situate trends in Ottoman studies. For one thing, the two are hardly ever synchronized, since Ottomanists are often in the role of belated followers rather than innovators or immediate participants. Besides, history-writing, like any other kind of writing, needs to be viewed through its entanglements in the sociocultural and ideological context of its time and stands at a particular moment of an evolved intellectual/scholarly tradition. As the late classicist Sir Moses Finley has demonstrated in his Ancient Slavery and Modern Ideology, the temporal distance of the period under investigation does not necessarily provide it with immunity against the influence of present-day concerns.

thesis can be seen as part of the same historiographic stocktaking.

This book itself is partly an extended historiographic essay on the rise of the Ottoman state and on the treatment of this theme in historical scholarship. It is also an attempt to develop, through this dialogue with Ottomanist scholarship, a new appraisal of the medieval Anatolian frontier setting, with its peculiar social and cultural dynamics, which enabled the emergence of Ottoman power and thus played a major role in shaping the destinies of southwestern Asia and southeastern Europe from the fourteenth to the twentieth century.

Transliteration is the perennial problem of historical scholarship in different branches of Islamic studies. Materials in pre-modern Turkish rendered in the Arabic script, as in almost all the sources used in this study, are particularly difficult to standardize, and any transliteration system is bound to be esthetically displeasing. But the shortcut of using modern spelling throughout feels anachronistic and thus even more displeasing to this author.

Still, I have decided to give place names (e.g., Konya) as well as the names of principalities (e.g., Karaman) and states (e.g., Abbasid) in their modern forms since that might make it easier to look them up in geographical and historical atlases or reference works. Words that appear in English dictionaries (such as sultan, kadi) are not transliterated unless they appear as part of an individual's name.

Otherwise, all individual names and technical vocabulary are transliterated according to a slightly modified version of the system used in the Encyclopedia of Islam. n.

senbike Togan, and Elizabeth Zachariadou. I am particularly grateful to Cornell Fleischer, whose thorough reading of and thoughtful commentary on the manuscript were of immense help in giving the book its final shape. They are probably unaware how much they contributed to the development of this book through not only intentional interventions but also casual remarks or general observations that I appropriated, and possibly twisted, to my own ends. Plunder, as I hope the readers of this book will come to agree, can coexist in harmony with the assumption, or presumption, of serving some good cause in the end.

The critical tone of my historiographic evaluations should not obliterate the profound indebtedness I feel toward all those scholars whose works on the rise of the Ottoman state are surveyed here. Their findings and ideas, even when I disagreed with them, opened many pleasant vistas and doors for me.

I also appreciate having had the chance to try out some earlier and partial versions of my arguments on audiences whose responses enabled me to focus on formulations that needed to be refined and paths that needed to be abandoned. Such opportunities were provided at the Brown Bag Lunch series of Princeton University's Near Eastern Studies Department, at Washington University in Saint Louis, at the Istanbul center of the American Research Institute in Turkey, and at the Murat Sanca Library workshop series in Istanbul.


Regnal Years of Ottoman Begs and Sultans


Background and Overview

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 chronicles, 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 Romans, gained a reputation as better administrators and warriors, even if less subtle minds, than the former representatives of their civilizations; they possessed less taste for philosophical finesse perhaps but had greater success in creating and deploying technologies of power. The Romanesque quality of the Ottoman political traltion has been noted before and was expressed recently by an eminent scholar of the Islamic Middle East: The Ottoman empire…was a new and unique creation, but in a sense it also marked the culmination of the whole history of Muslim political societies. The Ottoman Turks may be called the Romans of the Muslim world.¹

, that is, those of the lands of (Eastern) Rome.Turk also implied belonging to a newly emerging regional configuration of Islamic civilization that was on the one hand developing its own habitus in a new land and on the other engaged in a competition to establish its political hegemony over a rival religio-civilizational orientation. The proto-Ottomans, of whom we know nothing with certainty before the turn of the fourteenth century, were a tiny and insignificant part of this new configuration at first but their descendants and followers eventually came to dominate it and to shape it toward the creation of a new imperial order under their rule.

uz dialect, most but not all of them Muslim, and even then divided into communities that understood different things about being Muslim—living in a complex ethnoreligious mosaic that included Christian and non-Turkish-speaking Muslim communities (especially Arab, Kurdish, and Persian).

The earlier wave, the tail end of the V lkerwanderungen uzid idiom of Inner Asian political discourse, crossed the Oxus and moved toward western Asia. While the Seljuk family from among these tribes soon became involved in politics at the highest levels in Baghdad and ended up as a dynasty that held the sultanate, many tribes moved further west and piled along the eastern borders of the Byzantine Empire. Their incursions into Asia Minor were independent of and at least occasionally contradictory to the will of the Seljuk sultanate.

The Byzantine Empire had faced a similar and at first more threatening pressure from a more southerly direction in the seventh century with the appearance of Arab-Muslim armies. While raids and counterraids continued to rage in the next few centuries, however, these were relatively localized in a fluid frontier zone that developed in southeastern Anatolia with its own borderland institutions, heroes, traditions, and lore. The Turkish-speaking settlers and conquerors of the later medieval era were to inherit a good deal of those traditions from both the Muslim and the Christian sides.

rkmen tribes into Asia Minor. The political landscape of the peninsula started to change immediately and was not to fully stabilize for four centuries, until the Ottomans established unitary rule over it in the latter part of the fifteenth century.m for the empire (1097).

m, both of whom sought the alliance of the Byzantine emperor or local Christian or Muslim powers when it seemed expedient, was ultimately resolved in 1177 in favor of the latter, who captured their rivals' last major holding, Malatya, and decisively reduced them to vassalage.

This feat was accomplished only one year after another Seljuk victory, this one over Byzantine imperial armies in Myriokephalon (1176). This was, in the words of one of the most prominent scholars of medieval Anatolia, after an interval of a century, a replica of Mantzikert, which showed that henceforward there existed a Turkey which could never be further assimilated.m, and its people were divided into different communities of religious, linguistic, or political affiliation. The Ottoman ruling class eventually emerged as a combination of Muslims (some by conversion) who spoke Turkish (though not necessarily as a native tongue), affiliated (some voluntarily and some involuntarily) with the dynastic state under the rule of the House of Osman. And Turk was only one, and not necessarily a favored one, of the ethnicities ruled by that class.

With their victories in Myriokephalon and Malatya behind them, the Seljuks looked like they had accomplished, from the Byzantine territories in the West almost to the further limits of the East, the political unity of Asia Minor.rkmen tribes or warrior bands, and rival foci of power emerged. As we shall discuss in later chapters, the Ottomans, as if or perhaps because they were good students of history, and under different conditions no doubt, proved themselves much more successful in confronting these fault lines and eventually steering their course clear of them on the way to creating one of the most durable states in history.

rkmen tribes was due, among other things, to the squeeze for land that arose with the second big wave of migrations, which is said, as was mentioned above, in most sources to have brought the tribe of Osman's grandparents into Anatolia.(central Anatolia) in 1243, the tension-ridden pendulum of centripetal and centrifugal tendencies started to swing once again in favor of the latter. The political landscape was eventually, especially after the Mongols sent soldiers and horses to be fed in the name of establishing direct control over Anatolia (1277), nus Emre, the classical poet of the newly forged Anatolian Turkish dialect, emerged in that context and produced a corpus of poems that are distinguished by the profundity with which they looked death right in the eye. In any case, continued political disarray and demographic pressure pushed many Turkish tribes and warriors further into western Anatolia, especially since the Byzantine capital was moved back to Constantinople in 1261 after having been seated in Nicaea since 1204 (the Fourth Crusade) and having brought heightened security and prosperity to the area for half a century or so. Before the end of the thirteenth century, endemic political fragmentation had led to the emergence of numerous small chiefdoms and relatively autonomous tribal domains in various parts of Anatolia.

The political turbulences and human catastrophes of the thirteenth century should not prevent us from observing

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