The Ottoman Empire

The Ottoman Empire

The Ottoman Empire

The Ottoman Empire

Excerpt

This book is intended as an introductory survey of the political history of the Ottoman state from the last decade of the thirteenth century to the proclamation of the Republic of Turkey in 1923. The Ottoman state expanded from its original home in the district of Söğüt in western Anatolia to incorporate vast territories and to rule other peoples. Each territorial acquisition resulted in the absorption and incorporation of native communities who contributed to the empire’s economic power and cultural richness. Indeed, throughout much of its history, the Ottoman Empire remained a mosaic of ethnic, linguistic, and religious groups. Each group possessed its own history, culture, language, religious customs, and traditions. Aside from the Turks, there were Hungarians, Serbs, Bosnians, Montenegrins, Albanians, Greeks, Bulgarians, Romanians, Tatars, Jews, Kurds, Arabs, Armenians, and many others who were allowed to preserve their unique religious beliefs and cultural practices. No account of the Ottoman Empire can, therefore, claim to be comprehensive unless it covers the history of all the peoples and communities, who contributed to the growth and prosperity of this world power and its rich and diverse civilization.

Grasping and appreciating the complexities of this powerful empire also requires looking at the Ottoman world through Ottoman eyes. Such an approach necessitates a careful and in-depth study of Ottoman archives. The Ottomans were diligent record keepers who left a treasure house of documents behind. Non-Ottoman sources also exist, such as diplomatic and consular reports, as well as numerous books, essays, and articles by statesmen, diplomats, travelers, missionaries, and casual observers who wrote in many different languages on various aspects of the Ottoman state and society. These sources are valuable and indeed essential in studying the Ottoman Empire, although they frequently approach their subject with bias and prejudice, trying to denigrate and dismiss the accomplishments of a Muslim enemy . . .

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