The Ottoman Empire and Early Modern Europe

By Daniel Goffman | Go to book overview

8
Conclusion. The Greater Western World

It is never easy to explain the genesis of a state. Why did one people succeed over another? How did a particular family fashion a monarchy? What factors allowed one army to defeat another? Why did one ethnic, linguistic, or cultural group learn to dominate another? In fact, there is never a single or even a best explanation for state building, the details of which, always deemed critical, differ according to individual and group identity and prejudices. For example, the rich and sophisticated ancient Persian Empire represented barbaric despotism to Herodotus and other historians of ancient Greece, and the “manifest destiny” of Americans or the “white man's burden” of Englishmen were mere brutality and bad luck to the native American or the Irish. Indeed, the histories of state formation, while always having some basis in fact, often are constructed according to later desires and constitute the very core of state or national identity.

The story of the foundation of the Ottoman polity is no exception. There is little evidence to back the accepted versions of the lineage of the House of Osman as ancient and highborn or the reputations of Osman, Orhan, and Murad as astute politicians and fierce warriors. Indeed, in terms of concrete documentation, there is no certainty that the dynasty was even ethnically Turkish. It could as easily have been of Arab, Persian, or even French as of Turkoman extraction (although common sense and circumstantial evidence do bespeak a central-Asian origin). Since identities are historical and social constructs, however, one can argue that what is historically most significant in this case, as in others, is not whether Osman actually swept out of Central Asia, or whether his first language was Turkic, Indo-European, or Semitic, but that those who came later understood him to have done certain things and acted in certain ways. In other words, a central tenet of Ottoman identity was that the dynasty came out of Central Asia, an essential aspect of identity in the Republic of Turkey is that Osman was Turkish, and an imperative in other Ottoman successor states' perceptions of self is that Ottoman rulers were Turkish – as they emphatically are not.

-227-

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The Ottoman Empire and Early Modern Europe
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations ix
  • Maps xii
  • Preface xiii
  • Acknowledgments xvi
  • Note on Usage xix
  • Chronological Table of Events xx
  • The Ottoman House Through 1687 (Dates Are Regnant) xxiii
  • 1 - Introduction: Ottomancentrism and the West 1
  • Part 1 - State and Society in the Ottoman World 21
  • Kubad's Formative Years 23
  • 2 - Fabricating the Ottoman State 27
  • Kubad in Istanbul 55
  • 3 - Aseasoned Polity 59
  • Kubad at the Sublime Porte 93
  • 4 - Factionalism and Insurrection 98
  • Part 2 - The Ottoman Empire in the Mediterranean and European Worlds 129
  • Kubad in Venice 131
  • 5 - The Ottoman—venetian Association 137
  • Kubad Between Worlds 165
  • 6 - Commerce and Diasporas 169
  • Kubad Ransomed 189
  • 7 - Achang Ing Station in Europe 192
  • 8 - Conclusion. the Greater Western World 227
  • Glossary 235
  • Suggestions for Further Reading 240
  • Index 252
  • New Approaches to European History *
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