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The Cambridge History of Turkey
  • Volume 1: Byzantium to Turkey 1071–1453
  • Edited by Kate Fleet

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    The Cambridge History of Turkey
    • Volume 1: Byzantium to Turkey 1071–1453
    • Edited by Kate Fleet
    • Online ISBN: 9781139055963
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Book description

This volume examines the rise of Turkish power in Anatolia from the arrival of the first Turks at the end of the eleventh century to the fall of Constantinople in 1453. Taking the period as a whole, the volume covers the political, economic, social, intellectual and cultural history of the region as the Byzantine empire crumbled and Anatolia passed into Turkish control to become the heartland of the Ottoman empire. In this way, the authors emphasise the continuities of the era rather than its dislocations, situating Anatolia within its geographic context at the crossroads of Central Asia, the Middle East and the Mediterranean. The world which emerges is one of military encounter, but also of cultural cohabitation, intellectual and diplomatic exchange, and political finesse. This is a state-of-the-art work of reference on an understudied period in Turkish history by some of the leading scholars in the field.


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  • 1 - Introduction
    pp 1-5
  • DOI:
  • View abstract
    This chapter presents the key concepts discussed in the various chapters of this volume. The volume considers the transition period from the arrival of the Turks in Anatolia to the collapse of the Byzantine Empire and the creation of an Ottoman Empire with its imperial capital of Istanbul. The intellectual world of medieval Turkey created the bases of the intellectual performance of the Ottoman Empire for centuries to come. Such fusion of diverse elements is reflected also in art and architecture. The rise of Turkish power in Anatolia and the Balkans has been interpreted by many historians in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries under the all-powerful shadow of the nation-state which has so often sought to model history in its own image. The period 1071-1453 is one in which much emerges new from a chrysalis-like fusion of cultures.
  • 2 - The Byzantine Empire from the eleventh to the fifteenth century
    pp 6-50
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    In 1081, Alexios I Komnenos, who found 'an empire surrounded on all sides by barbarians' and a depleted treasury Alexios's immediate concern was the recovery of the territories adjacent to the coast of the Propontis from marauding Turks, who, at the time established in Nicaea, then under Suleyman, raided the countryside of Bithynia as far as Damalis on the Bosphorus. On 13 April 1204, Constantinople fell to the crusaders, who unleashed a massacre, pillage and sheer wanton destruction that lasted for three days. Nicaea was eventually to emerge as the legal and official Byzantine Empire in exile and as such it challenged the authority of the Latin rule in Constantinople. In 1352, the Ottomans took possession of Tzympe near Callipolis, and two years later Orhan's son, Suleyman, occupied Callipolis despite Kantakouzenos's pleas for its return. The pacification of Anatolia took four hundred years, and this was brought about by the ability of the Ottoman Turks to impose their authority.
  • 3 - Anatolia under the Mongols
    pp 51-101
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    The period of Mongol rule in Anatolia, that is, roughly the century between the battle of Kösedağ in 1243 and the collapse of the Ilkhanid regime in the 1340s, is generally treated only as a brief preamble to the rise of the Ottomans. Traditional Ottoman Turkish history arises seamlessly out of the history of the Seljuks of Rum. The affairs of Anatolia underwent various phases of development, which furthermore had similar corollaries in other provinces of the Ilkhanate too, such as Fars and Khurasan. This chapter discusses the successors of Chinggis Han, formation of the Ilkhanate under Hulegu, and the post-Ilkhanid dissolution. It also notes the transformation of the religious landscape of central and eastern Anatolia during the course of this century. The Mongol invasions of Anatolia introduced a period of considerable change. New norms of government, an exploitative attitude to tax-collection, and the rise of independent principalities, all proved to be enduring legacies of Mongol rule.
  • 4 - Anatolia, 1300–1451
    pp 102-137
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    This chapter narrates and discusses some major lines of development in Anatolia between the turn of the fourteenth century and the second accession to power of Mehmed II. It emphasises the early Ottoman enterprise, which became the major power in the peninsula by the end of the 150 years. The chapter discusses the events and processes reign by reign. The Ottoman entry into Balkan history began during Orhan's reign. The early Ottoman chronicles indicate that Osman began to act independently of the Seljuks around 1299. While it is not possible to know the strategic thought behind Bayezid's campaign in western Anatolia, it is possible to see it in part as an attempt to gain full control of outlets to the Aegean as well as a project to protect his right flank. The forefathers of the Ottomans appear to have entered Anatolia either just before, with or immediately after the Mongol incursions of the 1240s and 1250s.
  • 5 - The incorporation of the Balkans into the Ottoman Empire, 1353–1453
    pp 138-191
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    This chapter pieces together the pieces of scattered information that is available concerning these groups. Contacts between the Balkans and Turks coming from Asia Minor date from the mid-thirteenth century. The first half of the fourteenth century was filled with military contacts between various Turkish groups from western Asia Minor and the eastern Balkans, which prepared the way for the final take-over after 1354. The soil of Byzantine Thrace was carefully prepared for the Ottoman conquest and subsequent resettling. The large size of the Christian settlements reflects the concentrations of population in the troubled time before and after the conquest. The majority of the Turkish colonists must have settled down and turned to agriculture in the seventy-eight years between the conquest and the 1452-55 register. The needs of the early conquerors and settlers for places of prayer must at first have been satisfied by confiscating Christian churches, which at the same time became the symbols of the victory of Islam.
  • 6 - Ottoman warfare, 1300–1453
    pp 192-226
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    In the 1360s-70s, the Ottoman military underwent fundamental changes. These, and the following decades witnessed the emergence and consolidation of the troops and structures that determined Ottoman warfare until the middle or end of the sixteenth century. By the last two decades of the fourteenth century, the timar-holding sipahi had become the backbone of the provincial army and of the whole Ottoman military organisation. From the latter half of the fourteenth century, the Ottoman standing army was supplemented by a whole range of paramilitary units and peasant militias. By the end of the fourteenth century, the Ottomans had developed a special Ottoman manière de combattre based on the co-operation of the light-armoured cavalry using the traditional nomadic tactic. In 1380s, the Ottomans became acquainted with gunpowder technology and guns and began to adopt and integrate them into their own warfare. During 1394-1402 period, they used firearms in the warfare.
  • 7 - The Turkish economy, 1071–1453
    pp 227-265
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    For many historians of the nineteenth century, the imprint of the Turkish horse left eternal destruction and economic ruin. This chapter proceeds to consider the economy of the period 1071 to 1453, from the battle of Manzikert which removed effective Byzantine ability to stem the flow of the Turks into Anatolia, to the fall of the Byzantine capital to Mehmed II and the end of the Byzantine Empire. It acknowledges two major problems: sources and the considerable length of the period examined. Initially very much a nomad economy, the economy of Anatolia under the Turks developed a strong rural and urban base and an important international trade sector. The economy which emerged under the Turks in the four centuries after the battle of Manzikert was one grounded on the land with significant urban economic activity and a highly active international commercial sphere.
  • 8 - Art and architecture, 1300–1453
    pp 266-352
  • DOI:
  • View abstract
    The century and a half between the disappearance of the Seljuk dynasty in Anatolia at the beginning of the fourteenth century and the conquest of Constantinople by the Ottomans in 1453, is a period in which Turkish art and architecture underwent a significant transformation. The architecture of the beylik and early Ottoman periods has been the subject of attention by architectural historians. Beylik and early Ottoman mosque architecture is characterised by a striking diversity of form and planning that often defies arrangement in neat and simple typologies. Medreses of the beylik and early Ottoman periods continue the two types of Seljuk medreses of the thirteenth century. The so-called Konya-type carpets are widely accepted as being of thirteenth and early fourteenth-century date. The common ware glazed pottery types associated with the Seljuk period in Anatolia continued to be produced into the fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries. Woodcarving occupies an important place among the Turkish arts of Anatolia.
  • 9 - Social, cultural and intellectual life, 1071–1453
    pp 353-422
  • DOI:
  • View abstract
    This chapter examines the social, cultural and intellectual life of Turkey between 1071 and 1453. Anatolia was known as Asia in the Roman and the first Christian periods, and then as Asia Minor. The intellectual life of Turkey in the twelfth to fifteenth centuries, various aspects of knowledge, thought, literature and, partly, Sufism are constitutes an important aspect of the history of Turkey. The first Ottoman rulers adopted a tolerant stance towards the Kalenderis, Hayders, Vefais, the Bektas, and other Sufi circles which did not fit well with Sunnism, granting them many vakifs and benefiting greatly from their support. The poetic arts of Turkey in the thirteenth to fifteen centuries were strongly supported by the spiritual and material encouragement of the sultans and high-level men of state. Products of rich and prolific political and intellectual culture was created from a synthesis of elements drawn from Central Asia and from every part of the Muslim Middle East.

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