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A Note on Transliteration and Nomenclature , pp. Abbreviations , pp. I: The Crusade in the Fourteenth Century , pp. II: Byzantium and the Crusades, , pp. III: Byzantium and the Crusades, , pp. IV: The Morea, , pp. V: The Morea, , pp. VI: The Catalans in Greece, , pp. IX: The Hospitallers at Rhodes, , pp. X: The Kingdom of Cyprus, , pp. XI: The Kingdom of Cyprus, , pp. Important Dates and Events , pp. Gazetteer and Note on Maps , pp. Index , pp.

An ephemeral dynastic state transformed into an empire as the Ottomans developed original institutional structures and began recruiting and employing a bureaucracy, the ulema, a core of personal servitors and janissary guards In centralizing state power, Sultans Bayezid I and Mehmed II sought to erode the independence, power and influence of internal challengers, such as the.

Fiscal centralization together with the state-controlled miri land regime and the timar system efficiently extracted available resources, wealth and power needed to meet the challenges of state building In Anatolia, Bayezid replaced the native Turkmen princes with appointed state servants to establish direct control However, the deposed and unhappy Turkmen princes defected to the powerful Inner Asian Muslim ruler Timur, who delivered a fatal blow to the fledgling Ottoman Empire in after the Battle of Ankara When Timur invaded Anatolia, many Turkish beg dynasties regained control over their former territories which had been incorporated into the Ottoman state.

As in Burgundy, the class of state officials proved to be an essential factor in the reproduction of the Ottoman state. The Ottoman state ideology was thus an amalgam of Turkish governmental lore, the Islamic intellectual heritage and the Roman tradition, which directed the legitimizing discourse utilized in historiographical and official narratives, exactly as was the case in the developing European states. Franco-Burgundian Discourses on the Ottomans after Nicopolis. It is a truism that to be effective political ideologies need external enemies.

Western European anti-Muslim polemics emerged during the Early Middle Ages, when European sources depicted the prophet Mohammed as a sectarian. As the textual discourse about Islam became more prominent after the first Crusade, it was coherently formulated for the first time in the influential writings of Peter the Venerable about the Spanish Reconquista The rise of the Ottoman state marked a new stage in this ideological tradition. When European chronicles of the first decades of the fourteenth century dealt with Anatolia, they did not yet distinguish the Ottoman Emirate as a specific military power.

While the ascendancy of the Ottomans had been clear in the Balkans for some time, it was not until the end of the fourteenth century that Western Europeans began to realize that the Ottoman principality was the political entity that would pose the most serious and direct threat to Christianity Apart from the exotic and nonsensical images of the Ottomans and other eastern peoples, at the end of the Middle Ages there was also a growing political realism and even a degree of admiration for Ottoman military, political and cultural achievements.

In early modern France, for example, writers produced a. We argue that the most influential body of writing that initially shaped this discursive tradition originated from the French and Burgundians In our view, even if the battle of has provoked a huge amount of publications by political and military historians, it has not been sufficiently emphasized that the decisive starting point of this discursive shift was exactly this catastrophe at Nicopolis.

The defeat left Christianity in shock and awe and provoked a continual stream of historical and literary writings for over a century Narratives of the battle shaped a major ideological tradition, which focused on reviving crusading ideals and deploring the lack of Christian unity in the face of this new formidable enemy. The court of the dukes of Burgundy was the centre of this ideological production, and crusading ideas became an integral component of the Burgundian state ideology. The young Philip, son of John the Fearless, the former captive, even dressed up as a little Turk as he listened to orientalizing stories.

Interest in the Ottoman empire at the court of the Burgundian dukes steadily developed from a discourse colored by traditional crusader ideas and literary motives borrowed from chivalric epics into one dominated by realistic political and military analysis One colourful literary illustration of this comes from a story in the famous Cent nouvelles nouvelles, a Burgundian imitation of the. Based on a true story, the tale recounted that Nicolas was ransomed and returned home, only to find that his wife, thinking that Nicholas was dead, had married another man Both the actual Burgundian crusading plans and the literary and historiographical tradition surrounding them had in fact originated in France and Cyprus in the second half of the fourteenth century These initial successes in a new crusading movement inspired ideological fervour in France, particularly among the circle surrounding Duke Philip the Bold of Burgundy, who had just assumed power over the duchy in Similarly, Nicopolis inspired the bellicose to deplore the Christian defeat.

With a strong moralizing undertone, these texts combine a lament for those dead in battle with a complaint about the lack of virtue in the Christian world. The other principal Franco-Burgundian sources belong to the chronicle tradition begun by Froissart and imitated by chroniclers or. Inspired by the genre of the chanson de geste, these authors described real events using literary tropes. The foundation of the Burgundian crusade rhetoric produced by court chroniclers, poets, playwrights and writers of political and ethical treatises was the chivalric ideology promoted by the Valois Dukes These writers were inspired by classic works in the chivalric epic tradition, most notably the Chanson de Roland, when they formulated their narratives about crusades in chronicles Enguerrand de Monstrelet, Georges Chastelain, Olivier de la Marche, and the other fifteenth-century authors were directly or indirectly connected to Burgundian aristocratic court circles.

Some of them were clerics, such as Froissart; others came from families of lawyers and officials, or from the nobility These chroniclers targeted an audience of nobles and courtiers and shared word forms and expressions largely originating from the immensely popular chronicle of Jean Froissart. On Nicopolis, Froissart opened with the story of the Hungarian king sending a letter to the French court for help. He described the appointment of the young John of Nevers to lead the contingent, the march of the crusader army, their negotiations with the Hungarians, the battle, the capture and killing of the Christians, the taking of hostages and their subsequent release.

As the French and. Burgundian nobles thought the king wanted to hoard the honour of the day for himself, they decided to follow their own tactics. The story probably has little to do with what actually happened on the battlefield and even less with the Ottomans. Its ideological content, however, is revealing. He was inspired by chivalric stories and the rich tradition of orientalizing medieval epics.

Other important narrative sources for this event include the report by the French Marshall Boucicaut written down by his anonymous biographer Chronique du Religieux de Saint-Denis Pintoin wrote that he would have liked to bury the event in eternal silence perpetuo silencio , but then set the defeat into a moralist discourse about the sinfulness of the Christian army The chronicler included a miracle: after the battle, wild animals left the Christian bodies intact while devouring the Turkish ones.

Though as an experienced knight Boucicaut had some firsthand knowledge the clerics Froissart and Pintoin knew little about the situation in the east. While these Western sources used semantic registers belonging to chivalric ideology, their secondary theme was a Christian discourse about political morality.

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War against the Turks was principally a religious duty Narratives of defeats by the Ottomans served as an ethico-political mirror for Christians, especially ruling elites and princes who were the intended audience. This was the foundation of the ideal of crusading: the need for a purifying, unifying struggle against the exterior enemy which would teach the elites to improve their rule over the Christian world by seeking the common good and avoiding internal strife. The producers of this renewed crusade ideology, learned officials, jurists, administrators, both clerics and laymen, formed a state elite which also produced many chroniclers and writers.

They employed ideological discourses to deal with internal and external threats towards the polities they served rather than writing descriptions as a historian or political commentator might. At the same time, French and Burgundian writers also held a degree of respect for and interest in Islamic and Ottoman civilization. As realistic knowledge about the Ottomans increased in the West, the stereotypical images, largely in literary creations, such as the works of Deschamps and Molinet, were gradually replaced by more analytical narratives with less bias.

A History of the Crusades, Volume III: The Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries

Initially, the court chroniclers knew little, even on dynastic issues. For Burgundian princes and their officials, one source of information on the Ottoman Empire were the Venetian and Genovese merchants in Bruges and other cities of their domain. One of the main negotiators for the ransom of John of Nevers was Dino de Rapondi, a Genovese in service to the dukes. As early as , Philip the Good sent the clever diplomat and moralist writer, Ghillebert de Lannoy, to investigate the situation in the Middle East. After his return in , Lannoy included few literary stereotypes about Turks — and most of those about the Mamluks — in his report, assessing the vulnerability of ports and military fortifications to invasion.

In the early modern period, the arguments in this textual tradition became more pragmatic and political and less Christian and chivalric, but they served the same purpose: to legitimize or correct the policies of the Western rulers for whom the chroniclers and scholars wrote.

Ottoman Accounts of the Battle of Nicopolis. So what about the discourses produced by the victors? It is true that in the late fourteenth and early fifteenth century, Europe did not figure clearly in the cosmos of the Ottoman empire-builders, who considered themselves first of all to be part of the rich heritage of the ancient civilizations of the Assyrians, Egyptians, Persians, Greeks, Trojans, Romans, Arabs and Seljuks.


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In this worldview, Europe stood at the periphery and it had merely provoked some aversion because of the crusades. For a long time, the Ottomans did not show much interest in Western politics or culture. Beyond these general considerations, Ottomanists such as Cemal Kafadar, Suraiya Faroqhi and Feridun Emecen have pointed out that there remains much critically evaluative work to be done on the Ottoman narrative sources, especially concerning the Ottoman state-building process Unfortunately, sources for fourteenthcentury Ottoman history are scarce and inadequate, possibly because many of the earliest documents of the Ottoman state may have been lost or destroyed during or after the battle of Ankara While it is hazardous to draw conclusions from the absence of Ottoman accounts on Nicopolis, the early Ottoman state had probably not yet developed a written and learned literary and historiographical tradition of its own.

Only during the second half of the.


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Moreover, much about the earliest Ottoman chronicle tradition is still unknown. The principal challenge is to disentangle the various strands in the chronicles compiled in the late fifteenth century from older sources. For example, the anonymous chronicle of the Ottoman civil war of was contemporary to the events it described but only survives in the much later chronicle of Ne ri Thus, the tradition of Ottoman chronicle writing developed when the Ottoman state ideology was mature.

The earliest Ottoman historical accounts were in popular tales and calendars In epic and lyrical poems, legend, tradition and chronicles were interwoven. In various stages between and , a period in which the Ottoman state experienced upsets and rapid changes, he composed his Iskendername Tale of Alexander , the oldest written account of the Alexander romance in Ottoman Turkish literature. The text wove around the Alexander legend discourses on theology, philosophy, medicine, history, geography and astronomy. The Alexander romance was familiar in the Islamic literary tradition, as Muslim writers gave the classical hero a distinguished role as a figure linking worldly and theological history.

He was rather unique as a pre-Islamic hero who stood outside the canonical lineage of prophets. Muslim scholars were interested in Alexander, as his political influence was strongest in regions which, over a millennium later, became part of the Islamic heartland, particularly Egypt and Persia, but also Anatolia, Central Asia and northern India Thus, the Alexander legend was a convenient precedent for the Ottomans, who aspired to a leading role in the Muslim community and the establishment of a universal empire Early chroniclers like Ahmedi signaled an ideological concern to establish Ottoman Turkish sovereignty on the world stage by claiming a model revered in the literatures of the Eastern Roman, Persian and Mongol empires Relying on the Persian literary classics and practical science, the.

Iskendername elevated Ottoman court literature to an institutionalized and centralized level. To achieve their goal of a universal empire under Islamic leadership, the Ottomans deployed this type of narrative to shape a historical consciousness which supported their empire building.

During the fourteenth century the Anatolian Turks also produced another literary culture dominated by oral traditions, telling historical narratives woven around legendary gazi. Written in different circumstances, not all of these narratives were dedicated to the Ottomans, for other Turkish begs also commissioned such works to acquire prestige through courtly patronage He was first attached to the House of Germiyan. During the following reigns of Murad I and Bayezid I, the alum trade 94 and territorial expansion brought increased wealth. Or perhaps he may have written his chronicle before the battle.

Written in and dedicated to Mahmud Pa a, the grand. His description of the crusade of Nicopolis was probably based on oral accounts, and he mentioned the battle only in passing However, although the works of Ahmedi and Enveri on Ottoman history can be read as epic stories which glorify the sacrifice made by Ottoman warriors on the path of God, these writers primarily constructed a narrative in line with the established discourses of their time.

The contemporary usage of the term gaza already existed when these early Ottoman chroniclers began to write. At most, they elaborated on an established theme from the canonical Islamic literature to validate the predominant discourse in their cultural and literary milieu. In doing so, Ahmedi and Enveri wanted to win the hearts and minds of their public by.

Moreover, Heath Lowry argued that the use of the title of gazi by Ottoman rulers was not incompatible with the employment of Christians and their descendants in the bureaucracy and army.

History: The fourteenth and fifteenth centuries (volume, III): Contents

In the early Ottoman context, gaza must have also just meant raiding in the enemy territory and not simply holy war Gaza could thus serve as a foundational concept in Ottoman discourse of legitimation, appealing to a wide variety of people. This did not necessarily imply that holy war was the main engine of Ottoman state building. In fact, the tensions between the different groups who struggled for power and rewrote their history were also reflected in the contradictions in the sources.

The Crusades

In the Ottoman pragmatic practice of the concept, fighting for Islam interacted with an inclusive and accommodating relationship between Muslims and their Christian neighbours In this new phase in Ottoman historiography, most of the historians were now religious scholars or bureaucrats. The language of the accounts was Ottoman Turkish, as it had developed at the court. An Ottoman chronicle conventionally began with the praise of God and the Prophet and concluded its introduction with a paean to the reigning sultan.

“Speech of Urban II at the Council of Claremont, November 26, 1095”

In the same manner as the composers of the Burgundian discourses stressing chivalric and Christian moral ideologies, these Ottoman chroniclers worked for internal consumption. Most importantly, the confrontational ideology of gaza appeared mainly on the popular level, especially among the converts, rather than coming from the Ottoman rulers, who always seemed less enthusiastic than the army The first Ottoman chronicle to describe the Battle of Nicopolis was the. A historian from the second half of the fifteenth century, he wrote the annals of the Ottoman dynasty from its beginning to the reign of Bayazid II.