Using the reigns of the first ten Ottoman sultans as its structural/chronological basis, this course will trace the history of the Ottoman Empire from its humble beginnings to its grandeur under Suleyman the Magnificent, touching upon different themes such as:
- • history of the Turks before the foundation of the Ottoman State;
- • history of Asia Minor before the arrival of the Turks;
- • state-building practices of the Ottomans;
- • early Ottomans & rival principalities;
- • processes of imperial centralization;
- • fall of Constantinople & the conquest of Istanbul;
- • consolidation of Ottoman power in the Middle East;
- • Ottoman economy and society;
- • religion, law, and learning;
- • ethnic and cultural diversity, etc.
Other themes will be discussed within the context of each sultan’s reign. For example, in the section on Osman Beg, the eponymous founder of the Empire, themes such as the foundation myths of different empires, the conflict between (and coexistence of) semi-nomadic and settled societies, etc. will be compared. The reign of Mehmed II will be used to compare different processes of centralization and decentralization within the context of medieval/early- modern western European societies. The issue of gender within the Ottoman context (from the political power exerted by some female members of the royal household to the socioeconomic role Ottoman women played in general), will be discussed with specific reference to the reign of Suleyman the Magnificent. A discussion of what happened during and after the so-called “Classical Age” will also be used to illuminate the appropriateness of usage of such general descriptive terms.