Academic journal article International Journal of Turkish Studies

The Making of Selim: Succession, Legitimacy and Memory in the Early Modern Ottoman World

Academic journal article International Journal of Turkish Studies

The Making of Selim: Succession, Legitimacy and Memory in the Early Modern Ottoman World

Article excerpt

H. ERDEM ÇIPA, The Making of Selim: Succession, Legitimacy and Memory in the Early Modern Ottoman World (Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 2017), Pp. 424. $ 75.00 Cloth.

This is a book about image making. By the seventeenth century, Ottoman chroniclers, advice writers and others had formed an image of Selim I (1512-1520) as the ideal sultan, whose subjects enjoyed an era of perfect peace and exemplary justice. It was an image that was at odds with perceptions of the sultan during his own lifetime. Selim had come to the throne after deposing his own father, Bayezid II, and established his rule after executing his brothers Ahmed and Korkut and such of their offspring as did not escape to Safavid Iran or Mamluk Egypt. The manner of his succession created, in his own time, an image of Selim as a bloodthirsty tyrant rather than as a just sultan. The theme of this excellent book is to establish, first, the sequence of events that brought Selim to the throne and, second, how his image was subsequently constructed in the historical memory.

Although the events of Selim's succession have been the subject of earlier studies, in his first chapter Professor Çıpa not only adds to what is already known, but also provides a new perspective by emphasizing the role of Selim's supporters in Rumelia before the Janissaries delivered the coup de grace against his father. The use of new archival evidence, skilfully collated with the narrative sources, makes this chapter particularly valuable. I especially enjoyed the petitions, given in a later chapter, which some of Selim's adherents sent to the newly established sultan, begging favors in return for their support of his bid for the throne. Many people, however, did not support Selim. A faction in the government of his father had supported his brother Ahmed and, as passages in popular Ottoman chronicles and exculpatory statements in "official" chronicles attest, fratricide had always provoked popular disgust. How, therefore, succeeding generations of Ottoman writers legitimized Selim's rule in the face of criticism is the subject of the second part of the book.

The process began early in the reign of Selim's son Süleyman (1520-1566). …

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