Summary and course objectives

The Ottoman Empire (1299-1923) was one of the longest lasting and most territorially extensive of all empires in history. Yet today few know about its nature, whether in Turkey or abroad. Who were the Ottomans? How did they run their empire? How did they manage diversity? How did their understanding and practice of Islam change over time? What was the secret of their success, and what ultimately caused the empire's fall? How do the Ottomans compare to other contemporary empires? What is the Ottoman legacy, especially in Turkey and Greece? What is the significance of the Ottoman Empire for world history?

In order to answer these questions we will study the following topics: three pillars of Ottoman inheritance: Byzantium, Islam, Mongols; the origins and rise of the Ottoman Empire; the conquest of Constantinople and its significance for world history; Ottoman state institutions in the “classic age;” gendering Ottoman History; the Ottomans and the Renaissance; the Ottomans and the Age of Exploration; the Ottoman-Safavid-Habsburg struggle for supremacy; Ottoman Jews: model minority?; sixteenth- and seventeenth-century transformations; pietism, conversion, and interreligious relations; reform and repression, 1839-1908; Orientalism and the Ottomans; the Young Turks and the revolution of 1908; World War I and the Armenian genocide; Atatürk: the “Father” of Modern Turkey and the new Turkish Republic; Ottoman legacies: Christians and Jews in Greece and Turkey; the legacy of the Ottoman Empire in comparative perspective; and the Ottoman past in Turkish historical fiction.
    Teacher: Picture of Marc Baer