Ottoman State and Society I

Ottoman State and Society I

The Ottoman Empire sometimes referred to as the Turkish Empire, was contiguous transcontinental empire founded by Turkic tribes under Osman Bey in north- western Anatolia in 1299. With the conquest of Constantinople by Mehmet II in 1453, the Ottoman state was transformed into an empire. During the 16th and 17th centuries, in particular at the height of its power under the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent, the Ottoman Empire was one of the most powerful states in the world – a multinational, multilingual empire, controlling much of Southeast Europe, western Asia and North Africa. At the beginning of the 17th century the empire contained 32 provinces and numerous vassal states, some of which were later absorbed into the empire, while others were granted various types of autonomy during the course of centuries. This topic has three main themes: the socio-economic history of Turkish society in the 17th-18th centuries; the outcome of the Tanzimat (Reforms) in the province of Jerusalem, as an example of the whole phenomenon; and the historical origins of Turkish and Arab identities leading to the modern phenomenon of nationalism.

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Many of the studies are based on archival research, and the documents give a new picture of the issues involved. Thus, women were much more involved in the public arena and in economic life of the city that formerly thought; the urban family at this time was much smaller and nuclear-like, on the whole much more modern looking than anticipated. In the same way, Turkish society was far from being despotically oppressed by the Ottoman centre, with several institutions existing in it that gave substance to the term civil society. In the context of the 19th century it was found that, judging by the case of the province of Jerusalem, the final phase of the Tanzimat really tipped the balance in favour of the success of this whole movement of Reform: Ottoman society and Ottoman state became much more orderly and at ease with themselves than before, or at least than the stormy decades of the early 19th century. The studies show that the Ottoman period and the structure of the Ottoman state, more properly, exerted much influence on the forms of nationalism that developed in the Middle East after the Ottoman downfall.

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