A Social History of Ottoman Istanbul

A Social History of Ottoman Istanbul

Ebru Boyar

Language: English

Pages: 378

ISBN: 0521136237

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Using a wealth of contemporary Ottoman sources, this book recreates the social history of Istanbul, a huge, cosmopolitan metropolis and imperial capital of the Ottoman Empire. Seat of the Sultan and an opulent international emporium, Istanbul was also a city of violence shaken regularly by natural disasters and by the turmoil of sultanic politics and violent revolt. Its inhabitants, entertained by imperial festivities and cared for by the great pious foundations which touched every aspect of their lives, also amused themselves in the numerous pleasure gardens and the many public baths of the city. While the book is focused on Istanbul, it presents a broad picture of Ottoman society, how it was structured and how it developed and transformed across four centuries. As such, the book offers an exciting alternative to the more traditional histories of the Ottoman Empire.













Peloponnese. In 1396 he smashed an army made up of various European forces under King Sigismund of Hungary. The European troops fled from the battlefield in disarray, many rolling down the banks of the Danube into the water, which turned red with the blood of the dead and dying. Some clung in desperation to the sides of the ships, already overloaded with the fleeing. Those on board slashed at the grasping hands of their fellow soldiers and hacked them off at the wrists.110 By the end of the battle,

to inform him of the initial revolt that led to his downfall.57 After his deposition, he advised his successor, Mustafa IV (1807–08), never to trust his ministers. As sultan Mustafa was coming from the kafes [the secluded quarters of the palace where the princes lived] and as sultan Selim was leaving the throne room, they met each other and embraced and wept. Sultan Selim said ‘my son, go and sit on the throne, may it bring you good luck because this is the fate it brought me’ and kissed him on

tinder box; and the narrow streets made it impossible to fight the fires effectively. Firemen attempted to quench the massive blaze in 1833 with hand pumps, as the streets were too narrow to allow the entry of fire engines.103 Fires could also behave in very unpredictable ways, at least according to one report in a British paper of a fire in 1823, when the Turks beheld With astonishment and consternation … the conflagration confine its devastating fury to the Turkish houses alone, and when it

although there had been a promise, no betrothal had taken place and that they should get out of the arrangement by giving back the ag˘ ırlık. Deli Mehmed, informed of this plan by the girl’s brother, gathered eight or so ruffians and, drunk, proceeded at night to the house of Esad Ag˘ a in Üsküdar. Dragging his prospective father-in-law outside, he beat him up, injuring him in several places, and demanded, ‘why have you not given me my wife yet?’ The wedding was fixed, he had invited men of the

the area was the site of many accidents, especially in winter, with loaded carts and caravans sinking hopelessly into the mud or snow.32 Certain sultans were particularly renowned for their charity. Bayezid II was apparently so given to acts of philanthropy that he emptied his treasury, making ‘the poor of Istanbul rich with his continuous charity’.33 It was calculated that his alms in 1504 came to eighty-six thousand yük (one yük being the equivalent of one hundred thousand akçes). He was even

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