In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Ottoman Empire

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Reference Works
  • Collections of Papers
  • Journals
  • Art and Architecture
  • Economy
  • Gender
  • International Relations
  • Law and Legal Institutions
  • Literature and History
  • Military and Warfare
  • Political Structures and Ruling Class
  • Religion
  • Society

Renaissance and Reformation Ottoman Empire
Eric R Dursteler
  • LAST REVIEWED: 10 May 2010
  • LAST MODIFIED: 10 May 2010
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195399301-0021


The field of Ottoman history has experienced dramatic growth since the 1980s. The traditional politically centered narrative inherited from 19th-century scholars, which emphasized Ottoman origins in the 14th century, the golden age of Suleiman, and decline beginning in the 17th century, has been supplanted by a picture that underlines Ottoman adaptation and ongoing viability well beyond 1600 in political, economic, military, and institutional arenas. Additionally, scholars have increasingly engaged a wide range of questions related to the social structures and functioning of the empire, the connection of art and architecture to imperial power, the standing of religious minorities in an Islamic state, and the status (including the roles, rights, and influence) of both women and men in Ottoman society.

General Overviews

There are now numerous surveys of Ottoman history, though no single one provides comprehensive coverage of the empire’s long, rich history. Uzunçarşılı 1947–1962 is the essential Turkish survey of Ottoman history, from its beginning to the reign of Selim III. Imber 2002 focuses on law and bureaucracy, to the exclusion of society, economy, and religion, while İnalcık and Quataert 1994 gives particular attention to social and economic history. Finkel 2006 is more narrative in its treatment, as is the now dated Hammer-Purgstall 1835–1843, which goes into fascinating, exhaustive detail, primarily on the empire’s political and military history. Peirce 2004 provides a nice summary of recent Ottoman historiography, and Faroqhi 1999 is an essential introduction for researchers.

  • Faroqhi, Suraiya N. Approaching Ottoman History: An Introduction to the Sources. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1999.

    An essential introduction to the study of Ottoman history by a premier scholar in the field. Examines primary and secondary sources, general histories, and Ottoman historical works, and addresses the most important historiographical debates and questions.

  • Finkel, Caroline. Osman’s Dream: The Story of the Ottoman Empire, 1300–1923. New York: Basic Books, 2006.

    An accessible, well-researched introduction to and overview of Ottoman history from its beginnings to the creation of the Turkish Republic. More narrative in character than İnalcık and Quataert 1994, it focuses on high political history and traces a somewhat traditional rise-and-decline trajectory.

  • Hammer-Purgstall, Joseph von. Histoire de l’empire ottoman depuis son origine jusqu’à nos jours. 18 vols. Translated by J. J. Hellert. Paris: Bellizard, Barthès, Dufour, and Lowell, 1835–1843.

    Though clearly dated, this work is still unsurpassed for its detailed narrative account of Ottoman history. Originally published in German in 1827–1835, the French edition was revised by the author and is to be preferred.

  • Imber, Colin. The Ottoman Empire, 1300–1650: The Structures of Power. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2002.

    Surveys the first centuries of the Ottoman Empire, focusing mostly on the institutions of power (the palace, the military, the law), with little attention to society, culture, religion, gender, or commerce. Begins with a detailed chronological overview of Ottoman history from 1300 to 1650.

  • İnalcık, Halil. The Ottoman Empire: The Classical Age, 1300–1600. Translated by Norman Itzkowitz and Colin Imber. London: Weidenfeld and Nicholson, 1973.

    A pioneering work, translated from Turkish, this book remains a valuable survey of early modern Ottoman history. It examines the state’s institutions, religion, and economic and social life, as well as providing an outline of Ottoman history from 1300 to 1600. The idea of an Ottoman classic age, followed by decline, has now been laid to rest, and this book has been in part supplanted by subsequent works.

  • İnalcık, Halil, and Donald Quataert. An Economic and Social History of the Ottoman Empire. Cambridge, UK: University of Cambridge Press, 1994.

    This monumental synthetic overview of the Ottoman Empire, from its founding to its fall, brings together a “who’s who” of Ottoman studies. The authors focus on Ottoman society and economy, areas that have produced much useful recent scholarship.

  • Peirce, Leslie. “Changing Perceptions of the Ottoman Empire: The Early Centuries.” Mediterranean Historical Review 19.1 (2004): 6–28.

    DOI: 10.1080/0951896042000256625

    Examines developments in Ottoman historical scholarship during the 20th century. Special attention is given to important debates in Ottoman studies on origins and decline.

  • Uzunçarşılı, İsmail Hakki. Osmanlı Tarihi. 4 vols. Ankara, Turkey: Türk Tarih Kurumu, 1947–1962.

    An exhaustive treatment of Ottoman history through the 18th century. Heavily political, the series is organized according to the reigns of sultans, with a rather static view of Ottoman history throughout this period.

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