Early ottoman state ideology and political theory, 1410-1502

Vroeg-osmaanse staatsideologie en politieke theorie, 1410-1502
Start - End 
2010 - 2014 (completed)
Department of History
Research Focus 
Research Period 
Research Region 
Research Language 
Additional tags 
Ottoman Empire
Ottoman historiography
Early Ottoman political theory
Ottoman chronicles
Islamic history
Islamic political theory



In A Mirror for the Sultan: State Ideology in the Early Ottoman Chronicles, 1410-1502, Dr Kaçar studies the earliest Ottoman chronicles, written in the fifteenth century.

The development of Ottoman political thought in the fifteenth century has received little academic attention, but with the help of Critical Discourse Analysis Dr Kaçar unearths ideas and concepts in these texts that played a crucial role in the earliest state ideology and in the development of Ottoman political ideas. He explored the semantic connotations and the historical context of those central concepts in order to shed more light on how they were understood by the Ottomans themselves.

The chronicles and mirrors-for-princes show how the ideal just sultan according to Ottoman state ideology should consult the wise and learned men and viziers. He was expected to redistribute wealth and to be generous in order to reassure that each group in the society prospered. The ruler had to be just by preventing oppression and cruelty, refrain from pride and vanity and to undertake gaza (conquest ideology). He also had to show mercy and most importantly dispense justice to the people.

All these notions formed together the most important ideas of the early Ottoman view of the state and its relation to the society. The chroniclers based this view upon the well-known idea of the ‘circle of equity’ or the daîre-i âdliye. This notion implied that the ruler, whose position was at the top of the circle, was supposed to maintain ‘justice’ (‘adl) through reasonable taxation and protection from oppressive acts of his officials. The peasantry paid taxes for the treasury and the treasury paid for the army. The army completed the circle by securing the sovereignty of the ruler. The maintenance of this circle ensured that the ‘proper meaning of the universe’ (the nizâm-ı âlem) was preserved. The notion of justice emerged as the predominant rhetorical tool for maintaining the nizâm-ı âlem or ‘right order of society to the benefit of the general public’, a central concept in Ottoman political thought.

In deze studie onderneem ik een kritische discoursanalyse (Critical Discourse Analysis of CDA) van de eerste Osmaanse kronieken, geschreven in de vijftiende eeuw. Op die manier probeert de studie een dieper inzicht te krijgen in de ideeën en concepten die een cruciale rol speelden in de vroegste staatsvorming en bij de opbouw van legitimiteit van de Osmaanse staat en dynastie. De vroeg-Osmaanse staatsvorming was een complex proces dat ondersteund werd door de ontwikkeling van een specifieke staatsideologie. Wat voor een staatsideologie vinden we terug in vijftiende-eeuwse Osmaanse historische teksten? Wat waren de centrale ‘betekenaars’? En hoe droegen die bij tot de constructie van de politieke taal? Daarvoor doe ik een beroep op de etymologische en semantische ontwikkeling van die concepten, alsook op de manier waarop deze termen gebruikt en begrepen werden door de Osmaanse kroniekschrijvers.



Phd Student(s)


Suraiya Faroqhi

Istanbul Bilgi University