A History of Ottoman Political Thought up to the Early Nineteenth Century


In A History of Ottoman Political Thought up to the Early Nineteenth Century, Marinos Sariyannis offers a survey of Ottoman political texts, examined in a book-length study for the first time. From the last glimpses of gazi ideology and the first instances of Persian political philosophy in the fifteenth century until the apologists of Western-style military reform in the early nineteenth century, the author studies a multitude of theories and views, focusing on an identification of ideological trends rather than a simple enumeration of texts and authors. At the same time, the book offers analytical summaries of texts otherwise difficult to find in English.
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Biographical Note

Marinos Sariyannis, Ph.D. (2005), Aristotelian University of Thessaloniki, is Research Director at the Institute for Mediterranean Studies/FORTH, Rethymno, Greece. He has published several articles on Ottoman history and culture.
E. Ekin Tuşalp Atiyas, Ph.D. (2014), Harvard University, is Assistant Professor of Humanities at Bogazici University, Istanbul. She focuses on seventeenth-century Ottoman social and intellectual history. She is contributing a chapter to this book.

Table of contents

Note on Transliteration and Citations

 1 What Is Ottoman Political Thought?
 2 Scope and Aims: the Quest for Innovation
 3 A Note on “Modernity”—Early or Not
 4 Trends and Currents: for a Thematic Description of Ottoman Political Thought

1 The Empire in the Making: Construction and Early Critiques
 1 Opposition to Imperial Policies as an Indicator of Gazi Political Ideas
 2 The Introduction of Imperial Ideals
 3 Shifting Means of Legitimization

2 “Political Philosophy” and the Moralist Tradition
 1 Works of Ethico-political Philosophy: from Amasi to Kınalızade
 2 Moral Philosophy as Political Theory
 3 The Afterlife of a Genre

3 The Imperial Heyday: the Formation of the Ottoman System and Reactions to It
 1 The Basis of the Ottoman Synthesis: Ebussuud and the Reception of Ibn Taymiyya
 2 A New Legitimacy
 3 Reactions to the Imperial Vision
 4 The Iranian Tradition Continued: Bureaucrats, Sufis, and Scholars
 5 Lütfi Pasha and the Beginning of the Ottoman “Mirror for Princes”
 6 As a Conclusion: the Ideas at Hand, the Forces at Work

4 “Mirrors for Princes”: the Decline Theorists
 1 Ottoman Authors and the “Decline” Paradigm
 2 Mustafa Ali and “the Politics of Cultural Despair”
 3 Ali’s Contemporaries, Facing the Millenium

5 The “Golden Age” as a Political Agenda: the Reform Literature
 1 The Canonization of Decline
 2 The Landmarks of Declinist Literature
 3 Administration Manuals: an Ottoman Genre
 4 The Afterlife of the Genre: Late Seventeenth-Century Manuals

6 The “Sunna-Minded” Trend
 1 The Controversy of the Century? The Kadızadelis
 2 Beyond the Social History of the Controversy
 3 Ottoman Decline à la Sunna
 4 Political Practice and Political Thought
 5 Conclusion

7 Khaldunist Philosophy: Innovation Justified
 1 The Social and Ideological Struggles: between Viziers and Janissaries
 2 Kâtib Çelebi and Ottoman Khaldunism
 3 Kâtib Çelebi’s Immediate Influence: the Conciliation with Change
 4 Na’ima: Stage Theory in the Service of Peace
 5 Peace and Change: Preparing an Ideological Environment

8 The Eighteenth Century: the Traditionalists
 1 The Eighteenth Century and Its Intellectual Climate: on Ottoman “Traditionalism”
 2 Defterdar and His Circle
 3 The Last of the Traditionalists
 4 Traditional Reformers: Rivers in Confluence

9 The Eighteenth Century: the Westernizers
 1 The Precursors of Nizam-i Cedid: İbrahim Müteferrika and the Dialogue with the West
 2 Selim III and the Reform Debate
 3 The Last Round: from Selim III to Mahmud II
 4 The Tanzimat as Epilogue

Conclusion: towards an Ottoman Conceptual History
 1 Politics
 2 State
 3 The Ottoman Political Vocabulary and Its Development
 4 Some General Remarks

Appendix 1: Historical Timeline

Appendix 2: Samples of Translated Texts


Person Names

Place Names, Subjects, Terms

Titles of Works


All interested in the history of Ottoman ideas, as well as the history of Ottoman Empire at large, and scholars concerned with Islamic political thought, comparative history or world history.