The Ottoman Empire and Early Modern Europe

By Daniel Goffman | Go to book overview

2
Fabricating the Ottoman state

At that time [the reign of Murad I (1362–89)] the tax was low. Conditions were such that even the unbelievers were not oppressed. It was not the practice to seize their purse [clothes?] or their ox or their son or their daughter and sell them or hold them as pledges. At that time the rulers were not greedy. Whatever came into their hands they gave away again, and they did not know what a treasury was. But when Hayreddin Pasha came to the Gate [of the government] greedy scholars became the companions of the rulers. They began by displaying piety and then went on to issue rulings [fetva]. “He who is ruler must have a treasury, ” they said. At that time they won over the rulers and influenced them. Greed and oppression appeared. Indeed, where there is greed there must also be oppression. In our time it has increased. Whatever oppression and corruption there is in this country is due to scholars.1

We have no real record of the early Ottoman state. Other than a few architectural remains and coins, virtually everything we know about the first overlords (emirs), Osman, Orhan, and Murad, is second-hand. Some of our information derives from Byzantine, Genoese, and other outsider witnesses to the birth of this state; much of it comes from the histories of later Ottomans who reconstructed the past from the jumbled recollections of their elders in order to justify or condemn the Ottoman state as it existed in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Such is certainly the case with the anonymous chronicler quoted at the beginning of this chapter, who used an undocumented tale of life under the emir Murad to critique the reign of Sultan Mehmed II and his band of fraudulent “scholars.” This passage, more revealing about the discontented age in which the author lived than about how the Ottoman state was fashioned, is representative of a whole genre, whose principal concern was to concoct

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1
“Anonymous Ottoman Chronicle, ” pp. 25–26. Quoted in Bernard Lewis (ed. and trans.), Islam from the Prophet Muhammad to the capture of Constantinople, Vol. I: Politics and war (Oxford, 1987), p. 135.

-27-

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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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