Dr Hilmi Kaçar passes PhD defense on State Ideology in the Early Ottoman Chronicles

(13-07-2015)

Many congratulations to Dr Hilmi Kaçar, who successfully defended his doctoral thesis recently (1 July 2015).

In A Mirror for the Sultan: State Ideology in the Early Ottoman Chronicles, 1300-1453 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 texts - 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.

This formed the most important notions in the early Ottoman view of the state and its relation to society. The chroniclers based this view upon the well-known idea of the ‘circle of equity’ or the daîre-i âdliye: The ruler, whose position was at the top of the circle, should 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’, which was a central concept in Ottoman political thought.

Read the summary of Kaçar's thesis

Contact Hilmi Kaçar for more information