The Ottomans elude us, as mysterious now as they have been for four and a half centuries. Were they the bloodthirsty savages of one legend, spitting babies on their swords, and enslaving all who crossed their path? Or were they sybarites, with an eye only for a fine silk robe, a unique black tulip, a beautiful Circassian? The Ottomans were all - ...
The Ottomans elude us, as mysterious now as they have been for four and a half centuries. Were they the bloodthirsty savages of one legend, spitting babies on their swords, and enslaving all who crossed their path? Or were they sybarites, with an eye only for a fine silk robe, a unique black tulip, a beautiful Circassian? The Ottomans were all - and none - of these. In this book the author teases out those qualities which were uniquely Ottoman. Not Turkish, not Middle Eastern, nor even a shadowy echo of the west. For the Ottomans, born warriors from the steppes of Central Asia, became a unique urban culture, the successors of Rome in a political sense but quite unlike any culture before or since. Yet it is wrong to talk of the Ottomans in the past tense, for their legacy is alive in the Middle East and in parts of Europe to this day. And no country has to live in so ambivalent a relationship to its Ottoman past as Turkey itself. The great British, Russian, German and Austro-Hungarian empires are gone - for long they despised the Ottomans, 'The Sick Man of Europe'; and yet the Ottomans outlasted all of them. And today, the pervasive influence of the 'Ottoman style' is still present throughout the Middle East. Four hundred years of a culture cannot be extinguished at the stroke of a pen or some notional redrawing of boundaries on the map. This book focuses on the inner life of the Ottoman world as seen through western eyes. It asks how it was that the 'Ottoman way' flourished and survived over so many centuries, even as the imperial power crumbled, and suggests that being an Ottoman is an attitude of mind. For more than ten years Andrew Wheatcroft has been collecting and interpretingevidence from the old empire. Much of his work has been with the subject peoples of the Ottomans, so he sees less 'The Sick Man of Europe', so prevalent in western accounts, and more 'The Terrible Turk', which was the experience of Muslims and Christians alike. He now seeks to repres
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