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In: Treasures of Knowledge: An Inventory of the Ottoman Palace Library (1502/3-1503/4) (2 vols)


This article traces the intertwining of contemporaneous Muslim and Christian millenarian beliefs and excitation from the early fifteenth to late sixteenth centuries, specifically as crystalized by the rise of the Ottoman power, the Muslim conquest of “Rome” (Constantinople) in 1453, and the sixteenth century Ottoman-Habsburg rivalry for recognition as legitimate claimants to the world empire of the last age of history. The most influential formulator of the Ottoman eschatological identity was the mystic and lettrist ʿAbd al-Raḥmān al-Bisṭāmī, whose works underlie the fully articulated royal messianism of Sultan Süleymān (r. 1520-1566). At Süleymān’s court the French orientalist and apocalyptic enthusiast Guillaume Postel, a proponent of French Valois universal end-time monarchy, saw al-Bisṭāmī’s work brandished in 1535. Following the trajectory of the production, consumption, and deployment of these texts in the context of revolutionary changes across the Mediterranean—not least of all in understandings of religions and their relationship to historical empire—makes clear the centrality of apocalyptic to contemporary understandings of history and the significance (and legitimacy) of the new imperial formations, and to new understandings of the interrelationship between cognate, if sometimes hostile, monotheisms.

In: Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient
In: Treasures of Knowledge: An Inventory of the Ottoman Palace Library (1502/3-1503/4) (2 vols)
Volume I: Essays / Volume II: Transliteration and Facsimile "Register of Books" (Kitāb al-kutub), MS Török F. 59; Magyar Tudományos Akadémia Könyvtára Keleti Gyűjtemény (Oriental Collection of the Library of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences)
The subject of this two-volume publication is an inventory of manuscripts in the book treasury of the Topkapı Palace in Istanbul, commissioned by the Ottoman sultan Bayezid II from his royal librarian ʿAtufi in the year 908 (1502–3) and transcribed in a clean copy in 909 (1503–4). This unicum inventory preserved in the Oriental Collection of the Library of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (Magyar Tudományos Akadémia Könyvtára Keleti Gyűjtemény, MS Török F. 59) records over 5,000 volumes, and more than 7,000 titles, on virtually every branch of human erudition at the time. The Ottoman palace library housed an unmatched encyclopedic collection of learning and literature; hence, the publication of this unique inventory opens a larger conversation about Ottoman and Islamic intellectual/cultural history. The very creation of such a systematically ordered inventory of books raises broad questions about knowledge production and practices of collecting, readership, librarianship, and the arts of the book at the dawn of the sixteenth century.
The first volume contains twenty-eight interpretative essays on this fascinating document, authored by a team of scholars from diverse disciplines, including Islamic and Ottoman history, history of science, arts of the book and codicology, agriculture, medicine, astrology, astronomy, occultism, mathematics, philosophy, theology, law, mysticism, political thought, ethics, literature (Arabic, Persian, Turkish/Turkic), philology, and epistolary. Following the first three essays by the editors on implications of the library inventory as a whole, the other essays focus on particular fields of knowledge under which books are catalogued in MS Török F. 59, each accompanied by annotated lists of entries. The second volume presents a transliteration of the Arabic manuscript, which also features an Ottoman Turkish preface on method, together with a reduced-scale facsimile.
In: Treasures of Knowledge: An Inventory of the Ottoman Palace Library (1502/3-1503/4) (2 vols)
In: Treasures of Knowledge: An Inventory of the Ottoman Palace Library (1502/3-1503/4) (2 vols)