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The Ottoman Empire A Short History

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Boek van Suraiya Faroqhi, Professor of Ottoman Studies at Ludwig Maximilian University Munich, and Bilgi University in Istanbul was also a visiting scholar at Harvard University, the University of Minnesota and Dartmouth College. She is author of numerous books, many of which have been translated into several languages including “The Ottoman Empire and the Outside World, 1540-to 1774.”
In a concise and colorful style, Suraiya Faroqhi lays out the history of one of the most powerful empires of the Late Middle Ages and the Early Modern era. At its height, the Ottoman Empire spread over three continents and matched the size of the Roman Empire, covering the territories of modern-day Turkey, Iraq, Kuwait, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Palestine, and parts of Greece.
This text traces the political history of the Ottomans from the 14th century to the dissolution of the empire after World War I, and employs a balanced approach that encompasses economic, social, and cultural history. The result is a unique, colorful overview of the Ottoman Empire that depicts soldiers, such as Mehmed II the Conqueror and the janissary corps; the wars with Persia, Russia and Venice; court life in Istanbul, including patronage of the arts; the role of the sultan as defender of Sunni Islam; the tax system; agriculture and trade; life in the cities and the country; the relationship between Europe and the Ottoman Empire; the rise of nationalism; and upheaval during the 19th century.
“Professor Faroqhi’s work offers important insights into the Muslim empire whose history and culture were perhaps most closely linked to those of Europe. She sheds interesting light on the Ottoman Empire’s relations with other players such as Russia – described as their main enemy in the 19lh century. And she focuses usefully on the social and economic aspects of life under Ottoman rule; for example, describing the way that the civil unrest of the early 17th century virtually depopulated the villages of Anatolia, causing the then Sultan to reverse the earlier policy of encouraging migration from those areas to the urban centres of Western Turkey. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Professor Faroqhi’s account gives considerable emphasis to the final period of the Ottoman empire and the factors in its decline. These were, in many cases, mirror images of those behind its earlier success: military prowess leading to difficulties in paying an oversized army, and rebellion in the ranks; territorial expansion causing trouble as nationalist tendencies in outlying provinces grew; and the emergence of ever more ineffectual rulers as a result of the practice of bringing up prospective Sultans in the hothouse atmosphere of the haram. There are also intriguing references to the British role in 19th century Ottoman history, when Britain mostly saw the empire as a useful counterweight to Russian influence – though Disraeli was obliged to disavow the ‘alliance’ after the massacres in 1876 of Bulgarians by Circassians nominally under Ottoman control. The book concludes – in a section rewritten for the English edition -with a warning against too much nostalgia for a supposed belle epoque under Ottoman rule: probably not much needed outside Turkey itself – but interesting that the author feels it necessary to sound it. Recommended reading then in both cases, despite minor shortcomings which may reflect the subjectivity of this reviewer: for example the rather vague maps in Professor Dale’s book of the extent of the respective imperial conquests, and the slight opacity of Professor Faroqhi’s explanation of the complex system of ‘capitulations’, allowing certain privileges and indemnities to various foreign powers in Ottoman territory. Looking at the ongoing debate in Europe itself about the position of its own Muslim communities, it is not difficult to see the present-day relevance of this book with the light that they throw on the history of this still vitally important region. ”
— Asian Affairs
“The author sets the record straight about several longstanding inaccuracies, such as an alleged division of labor between different ethnic and religious groups, and an Ottoman women’s culture, which make the book especially worth reading. The book emphasizes social and economic developments more than political ones, following the methodology of Fernand Braudel.”
— Deutsche Viertelsjahresblätter
“Christianity had the Roman Empire; Islam had the Ottoman Empire. “The Ottoman Empire: A Short History” traces the history of one of the longest standing empires known to man. Chapters cover the post-Crusades period, the Ottoman Empire’s constant conflicts with Europe, Russia, and other neighbors who successfully resisted its rule, and much more. Looking at how the empire managed its own internal affairs and the strong role Islam played, “The Ottoman Empire” serves as a fine introduction to this historical entity, deftly translated from the original German by Shelley Frisch.”
— Midwest Book Review
“Professor Suraiya Faroqhi of the University of Munich has been one of a number of historians who have trans-formed Ottoman studies in the last generation. In a shelf-full of books she has extended our knowledge of the social dynamics of the Empire by exploring economic issues, gender relationships at all economic levels, and the role of the pilgrim age. In this volume she gives us a concise overview of the current state of Ottoman studies. Until 40 years ago outsiders looking at the Ottoman Empire were influenced by the notion of relationships with the West, with the Westernization of the Empire. But Professor Faroqhi and other modern scholars place the Ottomans in a different geographical and cultural context. For centuries in Istanbul, relations with Persia were more contentious and likely to lead to armed conflict. And we must remember that the Black Sea was for centuries an Ottoman lake.
Although the Ottoman Empire was ideologically Muslim, perhaps a majority of its subjects until the early l9th century were Christian. The Balkans were, in terms of recruitment for public and military service in the capital, as much of a heartland as Anatolia. These factors forced on the rulers an openness and even tolerance. Although the rise of Russia in the 18th and 19th centuries challenged Ottoman suzerainty in the Balkans, the lot of the peasants of the villages and craftsmen of the towns in the European territories of the Empire was far better than that of the serfs of the Romanov Empire. “In spite of repeated condemnations by their men of religion,” Professor Faroqhi points out “many Christians and Jews preferred to bring their disputes before the qadis [Muslim judges].”
Modern historiography has moved on from the first generation of Balkan and Arab historians who saw l7th and l8th century revolts and disputes from provincial lands as harbingers of modern nationalism. The power-brokers who resisted control from Istanbul were just that: power-brokers. They had no identity with the people they ruled. Istanbul during the 19th century concentrated power that oscillated between the courts of the Sultans and a new class of bureaucrats whose numbers swelled vastly in the hundred years before the First World War. The bureaucrats built up their own culture, where patronage — and connections with dervish orders — vied with meritocracy. Although the French language was widely known among this new elite, any Western model was not of ‘liberal’ France or Britain, but the more authoritarian (and analogous) multinational Hapsburg Empire.
Professor Faroqhi also places Ottoman history in a wider historical context. Another argument of a generation ago was how far the Ottoman Empire was the successor of the Byzantine, and what the successor Empire inherited from the former. Turkish nationalist historians stressed the uniqueness of the Ottoman Empire. But to some extent both were fashioned by geographic and demographic factors. The same trade routes were important to both. Trade was the basis of the economic prosperity that facilitated military and political power and influence. Constantinople/ Istanbul was never able to control physically the outer-lying areas that were considered part of the Empire. So in both cases there were shades of sovereignty, from direct control to effective independence.
This short history of the Ottoman Empire should not be seen as a one volume introduction to 700 years. Caroline Finkel’s ‘Osman’s Dream’, reviewed in ‘Asian Affairs’ in 2006 and now available in paperback, fills that role. But this volume presents the issues of Ottoman history in an enlightening and most readable way. For the latter quality much credit is also due to the translator, Shelley Frisch.–Oct. 2010″
— Asian Affairs
Hardcover: $86.95
Hardcover ISBN: 1558764488
Hardcover ISBN-13: 9781558764484
Paperback: $26.95
Paperback ISBN: 1558764496
Paperback ISBN-13: 9781558764491
Bron: http://publisher.webfactional.com/detail/?bookid=88


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