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So What if the Ottomans Shaped the Modern World?
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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (Left) during an April 17, 2017, visit to the tomb of Yavuz Sultan Selim, a sultan of the former Ottoman Empire 1512-1520, in Istanbul, a day after Erdogan’s victory in a national referendum. Photo : AFP / Yasin Bulbul / Turkish Presidential Press Office
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (Left) during an April 17, 2017, visit to the tomb of Yavuz Sultan Selim, a sultan of the former Ottoman Empire 1512-1520, in Istanbul, a day after Erdogan’s victory in a national referendum. Photo : AFP / Yasin Bulbul / Turkish Presidential Press Office

Once upon a time in Anatolia, in the late 13th century a Turkic principality – one of many shaped in the wake of the Mongol invasion of the 1240s – consigned the Seljuk Turks to the past and emerged as the Ottoman emirate. It was named after its founder, Osman I.

By the middle of the 15th century, the time of the game-changing conquest of Constantinople by Sultan Mehmet II, the expanding Ottoman empire had absorbed virtually all its neighboring Turkic emirates.

And by the start of the 16th century, what sprang up was a multi-religious and multi-ethnic empire that – pragmatic and tolerant – ruled for four centuries over the Balkans, Anatolia and Southwest Asia.

Talk about a major historical riddle: How did a small principality in the western fringe of what used to be known as Asia Minor turn into what could arguably be defined as Islam’s most important empire? The key to unlocking the riddle may be offered by Sultan Selim I.

God’s Shadow, which in its original English edition (Faber & Faber) is subtitled The Ottoman Sultan Who Shaped the Modern World, may reveal that author Alan Mikhail, chair of the Department of History at Yale, is uniquely qualified to argue the case.

Mehmet II, who with his endless obsession and cunning extinguished the Byzantine empire on the fateful May 29, 1453, when he was only 21, was a larger-than-life figure for peoples of the Mediterranean, the Balkans and Asia Minor.

He bridged Europe and Asia. He refashioned Constantinople, renamed Istanbul, into the capital of the sprawling empire. He lorded over the silk roads from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean. The Fatih (“Conqueror”) assumed mythical proportions east and west – and even branded himself Caesar, heir to Byzantine emperors.

Christopher Columbus taking leave of Isabella of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon before setting out on his first voyage to the New World, August 8, 1492. Photo: AFP / Ann Ronan Picture Library
Christopher Columbus taking leave of Isabella of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon before setting out on his first voyage to the New World, August 8, 1492. Photo: AFP / Ann Ronan Picture Library

Mehmet II conquered the Balkans in the 1460s, finished off with Genoese trading colonies in Crimea and imposed vassalage over the Crimean Tatar Khanate in 1478. That meant, in practice, turning the Black Sea into a virtual Ottoman lake.

Author Mikhail stresses right at the start that the Ottoman Empire was the most powerful state on earth – more powerful than the Ming dynasty, not to mention the Safavids – for quite some time. It was the largest empire in the Mediterranean since ancient Rome and “the most enduring” in the history of Islam.

Then he sets the crux of the – explosive – thesis he will develop in detail: “It was the Ottoman monopoly of trade routes with the East, combined with their military prowess on land and on sea, that pushed Spain and Portugal out of the Mediterranean, forcing merchants and sailors from these 15th-century kingdoms to become global explorers as they risked treacherous voyages across oceans and around continents – all to avoid the Ottomans.”

This thesis will be extremely unpalatable to a hegemonic (at least for the past 150 years) West, now confronted with its turbulent decline. Mikhail does his best to show how, “from China to Mexico, the Ottoman empire shaped the known world at the turn of the 16th century.”

Obviously ideological, military and economic competition with the Spanish and Italian states – and then Russia, China and other Islamic states – was no holds barred. Still, Mikhail relishes showing how Columbus, Vasco da Gama, Montezuma, Luther, Tamerlan – one and all “calibrated their actions and defined their very existence in reaction to the reach and grasp of Ottoman power.”

Geoeconomic superpower

It takes a lot of balls for a historian employed by an elite American university to offer a self-described “revolutionary” narrative on the role of Islam and the Ottomans in shaping not only the Old World, but also the New World. Mikhail is fully aware of how this will come as “a bitter pill for many in the West.”

Exit Muslims as the “terrorist.” Exit “the rise of the West.” Enter the Ottomans as a civilizing power. Mikhail is adamant: The practice “since the Industrial Revolution and the so-called glories of the 19th century” of stretching European primacy back to Columbus “is a historical absurdity.” The Ottoman empire “struck fear into the world for centuries before it earned its derogatory 19th-century sobriquet, ‘the sick man of Europe.’”

The fact is that, for all its setbacks, the Ottoman Empire – in over 600 years of history – remained the hegemon in the Middle East and one of the most important states in Europe, Africa and Asia until World War I. From 1453 up to the 19th century, the Ottomans remained “at the center of global politics, economics and war.”

Just imagine. Ottoman armies ruled over vast swaths of Europe, Africa and Asia; the most crucial Silk and non-Silk trade corridors; key city hubs along the Mediterranean, the Red Sea, the Black Sea, the Caspian Sea, the Persian Gulf and the Indian Ocean. They ruled over Damascus, Istanbul, Cairo, Jerusalem, Mecca and Medina. That’s a long way from their humble beginnings as sheepherders in desolate trails across Central Asia.

And then there’s the ultimate badass: Sultan Selim.

Mikhail spends a great deal of his narrative carefully setting the stage for the eruption of the quintessentially Machiavellian Selim, even before he became Sultan in 1512. Still in Trabzon, in the Black Sea, as provincial governor, consolidating the imperial forces in the East, by 1492 Selim was fully aware how the alliance between Istanbul and Cairo conditioned European trade in what US neo-cons not long ago called the “Greater Middle East.”

The Ottomans and the Mamluks – whom Selim would later destroy as Sultan – controlled all access to the East from the Mediterranean. This geoeconomic fact by itself destroys the fable of European ascendancy during the Renaissance and the much-lauded “Age of Exploration”; it was all about Ottoman control of trade and commerce.

If anyone in Europe wanted to trade with China and India, they would have to adjust to the Ottoman’s “my way or the highway.” The Venetians tried, and it didn’t work. Genoese Columbus went full highway. Mikhail relishes nothing more than showing how the voyages of Columbus, in so many ways, “were a response to the power of the Ottomans.” They were “the political force that shaped Columbus and his generation more than any other.”

Selim casually hanging out with crocodiles in Egypt. Photo: Miniature included in the book
Selim casually hanging out with crocodiles in Egypt. Photo: Miniature included in the book

Things get positively heavy metal when Columbus is depicted as a Christian jihadi, as “he used the notion of a global civilizational war between Christendom and Islam to push his case for the Atlantic voyage.” Queen Isabella ended up buying it.

And then it all went downhill, in a literally bloody way, as “the vocabulary of war with Islam became the language of the Spanish conquest in the Americas.” The West conveniently forgets that all indigenous peoples were required (Mikhail’s own italics) to acknowledge that the Catholic Church was the universal power and that their own belief systems were absolutely inferior.

From Selim to Erdogan

ORDER IT NOW

Machiavelli was a huge fan of the Ottomans, whom he admired and feared. He was particularly impressed by Selim’s strategic acumen, always prevailing over nearly impossible odds. Machiavelli finished The Prince in the exact same year – 1513 – when Selim eliminated his half-brothers to finally secure the Sultanate, which he had conquered in 1512.

Selim started with a bang – with no less than an economic blockade against the Safavids, outlawing the export of Persian silk from the Ottoman empire. (That trade had been how the Iranians reached the Eastern Mediterranean and the lucrative European markets.)

Selim’s victory over the Safavids in the Battle of Chaldiran was intertwined with something immensely eventful; the Portuguese capture of ultra-strategic Hormuz in 1515. That was the first European possession in the Persian Gulf. And what a prize: The Portuguese would now have control over shipping to and from the Persian Gulf, as well as a key hub linking to their new colonies on India’s west coast.

After the battle between Christians and Muslims crossed the Atlantic, the stage was set for the next chapter: Ottomans and Portuguese fighting for global power in the Indian Ocean.

Selim was on a roll. First he took Syria – incorporating legendary Damascus and Aleppo. Then he smashed the Mamluks – and that meant not only Cairo but also Jerusalem, Mecca, Medina and even Yemen, with its strategic access to the Indian Ocean and infinite possibilities for Ottoman commerce, starting with a monopoly on the silk trade.

The Selim Sultanate lasted only 8 years, from 1512 to 1520 – with geopolitical tectonic plates moving non-stop. Luther plunged Christianity into a religious civil war. The Ottomans controlled more territory around the Mediterranean than any other power. The European imperial drive hit the Indian Ocean. And then there was the ultimate theological challenge presented by the ultimate Other: Native Americans, north and south. They could not possibly be part of “God’s creation.”

When he died in 1520, Selim – sultan and also caliph – thought that being the ruler of the world’s largest empire was a given. He was, indeed, “God’s shadow on Earth.”

By the end of the last chapter in the book, “American Selim,” Mikhail again tackles the most burning question: why (his italics) Columbus had to cross the Atlantic. In a nutshell: “Hoping for an alliance with the Grand Khan of the East, he aimed to retake Jerusalem and destroy Islam; more prosaically, his voyages promised an end-run around the trade monopolies of the Ottomans and the Mamluks.”

After Columbus arrived in the Americas, Europeans inevitably filtered their experiences “through the lens of their wars with Muslims” and engaged “in a new version of their very old Crusades, a new kind of Catholic jihad.” Nevertheless, “Islam would continue to forge the histories of both Europe and the New World and the relationship between the two.”

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visits the Tomb of Yavuz Sultan Selim in Istanbul, Turkey, on April 17, 2017. Photo: AFP / Turkish Presidency / Yasin Bulbul / Anadolu Agency
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visits the Tomb of Yavuz Sultan Selim in Istanbul, Turkey, on April 17, 2017. Photo: AFP / Turkish Presidency / Yasin Bulbul / Anadolu Agency

After so much drama, Mikhail and the book’s editors still manage to present an outstanding image in the next before the last page: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan ceremoniously staring at Selim’s tomb in Istanbul in 2017, after winning a constitutional referendum that expanded his powers enormously.

Like Machiavelli, Erdogan is mesmerized by Selim. But, unlike Machiavelli, he does not fear him; he wants to emulate him. What – weaponized – imperial dreams still lurk in the mind of the neo-Ottoman sultan?

(Republished from Asia Times by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: History • Tags: Ottoman Empire, Turkey 
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  1. Svevlad says:

    Seeing that the fall of Constantinople practically led to every single problem we have today – not something to praise.

    The ensuing raise in travelling fees killed overland trade with Asia fully, led to the age of exploration, which led to colonization, which led to the imbecilisms we have today.

    • Agree: TheJamesRocket
    • Replies: @Jake
  2. PJ London says:

    “… The West conveniently forgets that all indigenous peoples were required (Mikhail’s own italics) to acknowledge that the Catholic Church was the universal power and that their own belief systems were absolutely inferior. …”

    “The Requirement”, read by Spaniards (in Latin) to native tribes they encountered in the New World

    “I implore you to recognise the Church as a lady and in the name of the Pope take the King as lord of this land and obey his mandates. If you do not do it, I tell you that with the help of God I will enter powerfully against you all. I will make war everywhere and every way that I can. I will take your women and children and make them slaves…The deaths and injuries you will receive from here on will be your own fault and not that of his majesty nor of the gentlemen that accompany me.” —

    The amazing (to me) thing about the Ottoman Empire is that there was virtually no revolution or uprising for the duration of the 600 years. Their wars were at the edges not the heartland. It was not until the first world war that any real challenge was made (by Britain primarily) to the Ottomans.
    The occupied territories appeared to be quite happy, including millions of christians and buddhists.
    What laws and rules did they have that allowed this contentment?
    What civil organisation kept the money rolling into Istanbul whilst the people still had a ‘happy’ life?
    Rome, Mongol, Chinese, British and now American, all had continuous internal strife, what did they do wrong?

    • Replies: @Rahan
    , @Blade
    , @James J O'Meara
  3. Jake says:
    @Svevlad

    The Turkic problems are, as Pepe knows, the lingering horrors from the Mongol invasions and rule. The Mongol empire in the west was anything but mono-racial; Turkic peoples were indispensable, as leaders and not just hordes of slaughtering horse soldiers.

    So all things Ottoman are part and parcel of nightmares for everybody who did not wish to get pillaged. Ottoman rule featured large scale castration, especially of Christian boys, as well as onerous tribute. And, as more than a few honest Ottomans would express, their rule exemplified the teachings and life of Mohammed better than any people ever, because they were masters of pirating all trade routes, brutalizing any potential opposition to their violent monopolistic controls, and enforcing Islam as the religious justification for rape, murder, and theft on the grandest scale.

    What is important for everyone in the West to discern is that the early Modern people who learned the most from the Ottomans and then began their own form of endless pirating that they called civilization are the English. Of course, pirating as The Way of Life that determines morality is endemic to all Germanic peoples, including Angles and Saxons. But the Ottomans provided the nascent WASPs with all the examples they needed to erect and administer a globalist pirate empire. And as with the Ottomans, Jewish financiers were indispensable.

    Perhaps more than a bit of sentimentality was behind the Victorian WASPs acting to save the Ottoman Empire by warring against Russia.

    • Agree: TheJamesRocket
    • Replies: @hillaire
  4. Jake says:

    Yes, there should be no doubt whatsoever that the Ottomans played a huge role in shaping the Modern world, which is the most bloody period in world history. They did that by keeping almost all the worst atrocities and horrors of the Mongol Hordes and affixing them to more traditionally settled non-European empires, and then threatening to make all of Europe bow and send sons to be castrated in tribute.

    • Agree: RadicalCenter
  5. What a ridiculous thesis! So because the Ottomans forced those who wanted to shape modernity to avoid them and find new routes to the East now they are to be praised for “shaping modernity”.

    • Agree: Brás Cubas
  6. hillaire says:
    @Jake

    Quite obviously you know nothing about european history or the political aims of the 19th century british empire…

    the last time I read such an ignorant incoherent rendering of european history and its brushes with the on the whole tolerated turk dravidian mongerels the architect was an american ‘jew’…

    if such a ‘thing’ as an american ‘jew’ even exists..

    • Replies: @Hans Vogel
  7. dearieme says:

    It takes a lot of balls for a historian employed by an elite American university to offer a self-described “revolutionary” narrative on the role of Islam and the Ottomans in shaping not only the Old World, but also the New World.

    “Revolutionary”? Good God, it was what we were taught in the early years of secondary school, in the days when the purpose of schools was education.

    • Agree: Philip Owen
    • Replies: @Fran800
  8. Steven80 says:

    Turks stopped the Reneissance and the development of the whole South Eastern Europe. All the scholars left – for example, all Bulgarian clerics migrated en masse to Russia, where they created the basis for the unified russian ortodox church (most notably St Kiprian who was very active, but also Grigory Tsamblak, Evtimi etc). All the people with any gold or capital left – mostly to Northern Italy, where thet mixed with the aristocracy. Most of the cities were ruined, and inhabitants sold into slavery in Constantinople.

    Do you know how Selim motivated his army? He was giving them the cattle looted from the Thracian villages, while the villagers were sold at auctions as slaves. Vurtually no one remained in hundreds of villages after his two army groups (called Uddj- meaning the point of a knife in turkish) crossed the land. There was mass starvation.

    For almost 4 hudnred centuries, the official policy, set by Selim’s father, was to get the smartest and tallest christian boys and convert them into janissaries. There were no big riots throughout the empire, because the turks were bleeding the best of the men in battles for the empire. Things started to get better for the christians in the balkans in the mid-18 century, mostly because plagues were taking harder toll at muslims.

    Pepe, wtite about someting you actually have a clue – countless Europeans left their bones to push back the turks in Asia minor at a huge cost, and you seem to be regretting this. Don’t – they were a plague and everyone in the Balkans is more than happy they are gone. This is a chief reason wokeness doenst hold in Eastern Europe – there is common memory what was like to live with turks, tatars from the Crimea and similar folks. The same way Russians don’t regret taking Crimea from the Tatars or Sochi region from the Circassians – the former inhabitants were as decent as your average Baltimore or Chicago citizen.

    • Agree: Escher, Joe Levantine, Aedib
    • Replies: @showmethereal
  9. I am very suspicious of my fellow-Brazilian Pepe, for his glee is a bit over the top as he rubs God’s Shadow in the West’s face, claiming that the Ottoman empire was supposedly more important than the West itself in shaping modernity: “Ha, ha, take that, you nasty West — the Ottomans were better and now you are in decline and they will take over again!”. Is that the message, Pepe? Can’t you at least pretend you’re not a cheerleader for one of the sides here?

    All we need to do to raise the level of suspicion even higher is to go down the rabbit hole where we will find… who else but…. Has anybody else checked out Alan Mikhail’s Yale profile picture? The spitting image of Philip Roth. And he has a bone to pick with Christianity and Western Civilization in general. Really, you don’t say. Surprise, surprise, surprise (chanted in the style of Gomer Pyle).

    Oh, God, this is so tiring, peeling off these onion layers, because… well, because it’s so predictable. Can’t they think of something else to do? Luckily, I’ve learned how to read between the lines with Kevin MacDonald and also Andrew Joyce, amazing academics who are infinitely patient in peeling onion layers and whose arguments and methodology are air-tight — and a breath of fresh air to boot! Finally, in them I’ve found serious scholars searching for the truth, instead of “by deception” warriors blowing air up the sheep’s… well, you know… We are not sheep here at the Unz Review, Pepe! Any minute now your article may appear side by side with the legendary KMAC. So stop trying to pull the Wolfowitz over our eyes. We’re on to you.

    Anyway, let me cite the two authors — Alan Mikhail and then Kevin MacDonald — the first on what the life of Jews was like in the Ottoman Empire and the second on WHY life was so good for them there. First, here is the quote from Alan Mikhail:

    After 1453, Istanbul was unquestionably the best place in the world for Jews to live; nowhere were Jews as prosperous and free as they were in Istanbul. … The Ottoman Empire was, thus, “a paradise for the Jews,” where they could live and trade freely in relative autonomy, with no restrictive sartorial laws and no fear of the regular pogroms that occurred in Europe. / In 1454, Isaac Sarfati, a Jew of French descent born in Germany, wrote a letter from Istanbul to the Jewish communities of the Rhineland, Swabia, Moravia, Styria, and Hungary. Having recently arrived in Istanbul, he contrasted his experiences with his earlier life in Germany, which he called the “great torture chamber,” and encouraged his fellow Jews to abandon Europe for the Ottoman capital. ” Excerpt From: Alan Mikhail. “God’s Shadow.”

    Now, here’s the quote from Kevin MacDonald:

    “Beginning in the 14th century the Jews supported the invasions of the Ottoman Turks—the final entry into Constantinople in 1453 occurring through a Jewish quarter with the assistance of the Jews (Shaw 1991, 26). In gratitude for their support, the sultan imposed Jewish economic domination over his Christian subjects, and Jews immigrated into the area from throughout the diaspora (Shaw 1991, 77).” Excerpt From: Kevin B. MacDonald. “Separation and Its Discontents : Toward an Evolutionary Theory of Anti-Semitism.”

    OK, you get the idea. Such a rosy picture Mikhail paints of the Jew among the Ottomans, conveniently overlooking such small details such as those offered by Kmac of exactly why they were offered such idyllic conditions. Only by reading MacDonald do we get a picture of what the Jews were really up to the Ottoman empire and — lo and behold! — they’re still at it, this time well ensconced within the American empire. Can’t you stop talking about “the West”, Pepe, without at least hinting at the fact that you know full well who is really running this show?

    Mikhail has shown pretty shoddy and partial scholarship, as also noted by the first Amazon reviews of his book. And yet he gets tenure at Yale and his books are published by such a prestigious publishing houses and he gets a lot of exposure in the media. Again, what a surprise! Wouldn’t you know it? But we do know why, don’t we? We know who dominates the Ivy League (7 out of the 8 presidents!!!) and Academia in general. We know who dominates the press. We know who dominates the publishing houses. And yet, there is one thing over which they hold no dominion and never will, because they have a natural aversion to it, because it gives them the willies: the sincere search for the truth (“You are of your father the devil … a liar and the father of lies and half-truths”. John 8:44).

    So go ahead, Pepe, choose your side — actually, it seems you already have. But please be aware that there are some of us — especially here at Unz.com! — who are not so gullible as to swallow your snake oil wholesale without being at least a bit suspicious about (((the narrative))) you’re trying to peddle….

    • Agree: TheJamesRocket
    • Replies: @Franz
    , @showmethereal
  10. Rahan says:
    @PJ London

    The amazing (to me) thing about the Ottoman Empire is that there was virtually no revolution or uprising for the duration of the 600 years. Their wars were at the edges not the heartland. It was not until the first world war that any real challenge was made (by Britain primarily) to the Ottomans.

    This is rather one-sided.

    Just like most westerners view for example “the Vikings” as a force active in the northern and western parts of Europe, completely ignoring the eastern field of the Viking activity, where they established Kievan Rus and fought/worked with the Khazars, so does the western view of the Ottoman Empire concentrate mainly on their Middle Eastern and African possessions, while ignoring South-East Europe.

    Turkey really did reach up to Austria and Poland at one point, which is surprisingly easy for people to forget.

    The Turks spent the last 40 years of the 19th century gradually being squeezed out of Europe and the Caucasus by Russia; in Europe this meant Greece, Serbia, Bulgaria, Romania, Moldova, parts of the Ukraine (the Crimea for example), gradually being lost by the Ottoman Empire.
    https://infogalactic.com/info/History_of_the_Russo-Turkish_wars

    Recommended 2005 film:
    https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0374298/
    https://m.media-amazon.com/images/M/MV5BY2RlNjRmZDQt[email protected]._V1_.jpg

    Thus the first world war challenge by Britain was not the “first such challenge”, but rather the death blow.

  11. Enter the Ottomans as a civilizing power.

    Yes, an empire that practises colonialism and slavery can be a civilizing power – as long as they are not European. Nowadays nobody dares present European imperialism as a civilizing force.

    “Woke” people regard the Turks and Arabs who immigrate to Europe as the moral superiors of the native descendants of colonialists and slavers – although the ancestors of these immigrants practised these vices just as ours did.

    • Agree: Aedib, anonymouseperson
    • Thanks: RadicalCenter
  12. kapoore says:

    This is an important topic. I’m writing a book on the occult that more or less began in the 15th century and the central event was the fall of Constantinople. Leading up to the fall was the Council of Union that brought the texts of the ancient world into Italy fueling the Italian Renaissance. Then Europe turned its back on the eastern Mediterranean and began looking west. But that had already begun with the rise of Islam because classical Islam controlled the Mediterranean during the dark ages–that is why the Latin world moved north and became a river civilization. Basically, the North Atlantic civilization developed from the rise of Islam, too.

    I visited Turkey about seven years ago and I have to say that I was disappointed. I wanted to see this magnificent city of Istanbul that had been so key to East and West. What I saw was a city overrun with war refugees, a city on the edge of chaos, divided between the rich and everyone else. I also sensed that the conquest never resolved itself because tourists go to see the ancient world and the Byzantines. It all ended with the conquest that lives on and on in bitterness between the Greek and Turkish peoples. Our guide said, “They hate us.” Now Hagia Sofia is back to being a mosque and I’m not sure what that means for the name change.

    The question is whether the Mediterranean will ever again be what it was in the Bronze age and the Greco-Roman Empire–one civilization culturally or will remain divided along religious lines.

    • Replies: @Hans Vogel
    , @RadicalCenter
  13. AP says:

    The existence of the Ottoman Empire, like that of Bolshevik Russia, was one of history’s great tragedies.

    • Agree: RadicalCenter, Aedib
  14. Only a hopelessly Anglocentric historiography would call that “explosive”.
    Of course the closing of the silk and spice roads drove the Age of exploration.
    Henry the Navigator was afraid of water, but what´s a girl to do?

    – The Selim in question was Selim I. “the Grim”, who forcibly retired his father
    Bayezid II. “the Pious” (contemporary euphemism for “retarded”) then had all his brothers and nephews strangled before conquering Syria and Egypt. Swell.

    – Turkish historians usually regard his successor Süleiman I. “the Law-Giver”
    as the high point (1529 first siege of Vienna), until in a fit of Alzheimer with a Jewish slave he
    begat Selim II. “the Drunkard”, and from then on it was steadily downward
    (1571 Battle of Lepanto).

    – As for the “Sick Man on the Bosporus”, Abdul Hamid II. was competent and enlightened enough by the standards of the day, but it was too late and the Young “Turks” (cough cough) took over.
    The Korean War has shown the Turks still have it in them (the only army whose discipline did not break down in captivity – Americans are wusses).

    So when Reccep I. formally girds himself with the sword of Osman
    (more exactly a tulwar, a more fitting ritual of ascension than donning some silly hat),
    it might be time to start worrying 😀

    • Replies: @Blade
  15. Fin of a cobra’s comment (no. 9) made me realize that Pepe always sidesteps questioning the Chosenites and their actions, always. Never once has he addressed this problem head on.
    C’mon Pepe, you have reach, and can do real damage to these evil zionists , this shadowy clan. We will support you.
    If not, we will start ignoring you.

  16. A very curious aspect of the Ottoman Empire that is often ignored or swept under the carpet is that it was NOT a Turk or Turkish affair, nor was it run by or for Turks. To wit:

    After the unfortunate (for the Turks) consequences of the defeat of Sultan Bayezid I at the battle of Ankara (20 July 1402) at the hands of Tamerlane, it was decided that future Sultans shall never marry, but rather have harems of slave women. This way, if a future Sultan was to have his wife forced to serve naked at the victor’s table, as happened to Bayezid, he could dismiss that as a minor loss of property with no serious implications of personal honour and pride.

    Now Turkish women could not be enslaved, and thus the Sultans’ harem was stocked with Christan girls kidnapped all across the Mediterranean and the Black Sea. As a result, each subsequent Sultan had half the Turkish blood as his father, and Selim I himself was less than 12.5% or Turksh origin. A break to this tradition only happened with Roxelane, who managed to coerce/convince Suleyman “The Magnificent” into marrying her – which incidentally IMHO was the rooth cause for the eventual collapse of the Ottoman Empire, but I digress.

    By the same token, virtually all the top/medium levels of the State administration, from the Vizir down were staffed by ex-Christan slaves, kidnapped as young boys and forcibly converted (and most often castrated). Much the same applied to the army: its spearhead were the Jannisaries, here again ex-Christian boys kidnapped and converted (but not castrated although forced into a strictly monk-like castity at home, so that they had an additional incentive because raping Christian women in the conquered territories was the only way to satisfy their urges). In the Ottoman Empire, Turks were basically good but to works as semi-slave peasants and as cannon fodder for the lower-level army units.

    I wonder if Erdogan realises that…

  17. Pheasant says:

    ‘It takes a lot of balls for a historian employed by an elite American university to offer a self-described “revolutionary” narrative on the role of Islam and the Ottomans in shaping not only the Old World, but also the New World. Mikhail is fully aware of how this will come as “a bitter pill for many in the West.”

    Exit Muslims as the “terrorist.” Exit “the rise of the West.” Enter the Ottomans as a civilizing power. Mikhail is adamant: The practice’

    No it doesnt. You are talking out of your ass. I was taught this stuff in college 15 years ago by a very smug marxist. It was tripe then and it is tripe now. The Ottoman empire became the sick man of Europe just as soon as it could no longer expand.

  18. Verity says:

    I feel somewhat justified. I’ve been teaching this in middle ages history in middle school for the last 20 years. The Ottomans closed off the eastern Med beginning the decline of the Italian city states, Genoa and Venice. They even heavily influenced the N. European cloth trade with their control of alum. Thus Lepanto was extremely important, keeping portions of the Med out of Ottoman hands. Portugal became briefly the richest in Europe by sailing east around Africa to the spice lands.1492 not only sends Spain west to its day in the sun but marks the Islamic final defeat in the Reconquista. I wish I could say it was all my own idea but the Scottish novelist, Dorothy Dunnett, had it all pretty well worked out.

  19. These are not revalations. Surely it is a commonplace that the European navigators set out on what became the Spice Route (Pepe often misnames it the Maritime Silk road) because the Ottomans monopolied the trade, especially after they controlled Egypt. Similarly Colombus and Cabot to the Americas. Maybe it is told differently in the US?

    The Ottomans came to the walls of Vienna before being halted. They did little with their political and economic strength. They used cannon but German engineers built them. They were a slave society based on landholding so made no progress in invention and little in art.

    • Agree: mc23
  20. Franz says:
    @Fin of a cobra

    Mikhail has shown pretty shoddy and partial scholarship, as also noted by the first Amazon reviews of his book. And yet he gets tenure at Yale and his books are published by such a prestigious publishing houses and he gets a lot of exposure in the media. Again, what a surprise! Wouldn’t you know it? But we do know why, don’t we?

    Excellent summing up. Actually, quite a few “scholarly” books are now showing up with not only an anti-West bias but what I can only call “all of part of history” that pleases the gatekeepers in what used to be the Western world.

    Face it, we of the European-derived world, need a thorough housekeeping if only to teach our own history to our young. This includes the Americas (all!) but most importantly the European heartland itself. Some of what passes for French and German “history” has long descended into the fantasy of the European ogre. It’s even worse than the old White Man’s Burden, which at least managed to look authentic part of the time.

  21. Meena says:

    Thanks for the article

  22. There was nothing “tolerant” about the Ottomans.

  23. Blade says:
    @PJ London

    What laws and rules did they have that allowed this contentment?

    It is a question that could be answered in a book. But a major point would be Millet System. Believers of different religions formed “Millets,” which was a religion-based system. In this system, Christians had their own sphere, Jews their own, Muslims their own, and so on. In case of conflict among members of millet, their own courts would resolve the issue. Ottomans didn’t involve. Since people generally lived in their own neighborhoods, with members of their own millet, conflicts between different millets were less common. Muslim court would rule if the case involved two different millets. So, it is a lot of liberty and self-autonomy for these communities. Basically Christians, Jews etc. were all left alone to manage themselves. As long as the economy was good there wasn’t much to complain about. The economy did get bad at times though. For example, when silver from Spanish Americas poured in, it caused discontent and inflation. Because silver was very valuable until then and used for minting money. However, in one sense it is true that no one actually thought of overthrowing the empire for centuries, all the way until the collapse of the empire. Multiple individual Sultans, on the other hand, were replaced by military coups.

  24. Blade says:
    @nokangaroos

    1529 wasn’t that important. The army didn’t bring large cannons and just laid a siege, when the weather got bad the army returned. It was mainly to show Habsburgs who was the boss (Germans were not happy with Hungary being lost to Turks). It achieved its goal. The intention to conquer Vienna was the case in 1683.

    From 1571, it wasn’t steadily downward. The next year Turks conquered Cyprus, and then the rest of North Africa by the end of the century. The issues in the next fifty years or so have more to do with worldwide inflation, and a string of less competent Sultans until Osman II (who was overthrown quickly), and his successor Murad IV. In the second half of 17th-century things were rather orderly and the empire had fixed a lot of its issues. Even as late as 1710, the Turkish army defeated Peter’s Russia, and made a huge mistake by not destroying him and his army. Basically, the defeat in the second Vienna siege caused the empire to close in itself. They wasted decades while Russia was modernizing its army and catching up with developments in West Europe. Some people did notice the need for reforms, unfortunately, the clergy was strong enough that whenever someone wanted to modernize the empire, they’d cause issues. So, the root cause of stagnation and then backwardness was not Lepanto or even Vienna, but rather Selim’s conquest of Egypt. It did bring extra coins to the treasury for a while, but it also brought Arabic theology. Up until Arab scholars showed up and their school of thought became dominant, Turks were very quick to catch up with new developments. After that, all sorts of modernization attempts were delayed or blocked by the clergy. The printing press for example was known in Istanbul in the 15th century (Jews had their printing press), but it wasn’t until 1728 the first printing press was established.

    I think if it wasn’t for the conquest of Egypt and the Holy Lands, there is a good chance the empire would not have collapsed, and it could’ve gone through the same route as Britain as a parliamentary monarchy.

    • Replies: @nokangaroos
  25. RobinG says:

    Thank you for this! But who is Tamerlan? Do you mean Timur?

  26. Blade says:

    I must also note that it is incredible how several people in this thread pull stuff out of their bottoms, and do it with confidence. They talk as if they know about the topic, and just go on to write pure fiction. From claims like Sultans didn’t marry because of Tamerlane, to Selim massacred and starved Thrace villages and much other bullshit. Ottoman Sultans did marry, they just had their harem as well. And I have no idea why Selim would want to massacre Thracians as by then Thrace was Turkish land for a long time.

    • Agree: JohnPlywood
    • Replies: @Boomthorkell
  27. Scholars go a long way through research creating new concepts like the thesis of Mikhail about the Ottoman Empire. However, it is equally important to delve into historic realities through the lenses of those people who were ruled by the Ottomans and the lore they received from their ancestors. I can hardly think of an ex Ottoman imperial colony where the people view Ottoman rule as benign, from the Balkans to the Middle East to Africa.

    The military assault on Constantinople was a breach of Islamic rule of war engagements is that any besieged city that is willing to negotiate surrender should be spared a military takeover, something that Sultan Mehmet did not honour in his conquest of Constantinople. He opted to savagely subdue the world’s greatest city in the domains of art and philosophy and turning its jewel in the crown Aya Sophia into a mosque.

    The post Ottoman takeover of Constantinople spurred the exodus of scholars from Constantinople to the West which was an important contributing factor to the Renaissance.

    The Janissary army was made up of Christian kids who were forcibly removed from their families to serve into the Sultan’s army, a practice that is not matched by the most feared Mongolian hoards who wreaked havoc in their destructive path.

    The Middle East under Arab rule that lasted no more two centuries after the Islamic invasion, followed by Turkic/ Suljuk dominance at the end of the Abbasid caliphate, was famous for an exceptional vibrancy in arts and sciences that put this area of the world at the vanguard of civilisation and it reached its zenith in the thirteen century with a marked decline from the fifteenth century till today, a period that was dominated by four centuries of Ottoman rule and one century of European colonial rule.

    Columbus’s motivation to find an alternative maritime route to the treacherous and cumbersome old Silk Road would be justified no matter the geopolitical status of the Middle East. That Columbus’s adventure led to the brutal exploitation of of the indigenous people of the Americas is definitely a crooked legacy of European colonialism which hardly burnishes the image of Ottoman colonialism.

  28. @hillaire

    Very few in the “West” have more than the slightest notion of Ottoman or Byzantine history.

    • Replies: @hillaire
  29. @kapoore

    Leading up to the fall was the Council of Union that brought the texts of the ancient world into Italy fueling the Italian Renaissance. Then Europe turned its back on the eastern Mediterranean and began looking west. But that had already begun with the rise of Islam because classical Islam controlled the Mediterranean during the dark ages–that is why the Latin world moved north and became a river civilization.

    I suggest you read the articles by the “First Millennium Revisionist” here at UNZ.

  30. The history of the Ottoman Empire begins with the seizure of power and official apparatus from the Great Byzantine Empire by the Turkic khans.
    The Byzantine Empire had previously been destroyed by the Crusades from Europe to Byzantium.
    When the European religious structures immeasurably enriched themselves on tithes, they decided to seize the primacy in religious power, and began a campaign in Europe to discredit the Byzantine government and organize trips to it to take away religious attributes.
    So, with the help of several campaigns, the troops of the Byzantine Empire were destroyed, and religious attributes were captured, so the Vatican appeared.
    It is a proven fact that European Byzantiology completely falsified the primary sources, since the primary sources from Persia and Russia and others are the same, except for gross forgeries of European primary sources.

    Yandex. translate

  31. This is nonsense. The Ottomans were boy-raping opportunists. Alain Mikhail is a typical self-hating Christian. A Copt writes this nonsense about how great the Ottomans were and how evil the Europeans were. The Ottoman Empire was an Islamic tyranny par excellence. I much prefer the Mamelukes. I long for the day when the Russians will finally liberate Constantinople, and the Turks can go back to Kazakhstan. The difference between the Byzantines and Ottomans? The Byzantines civilized the Slavs who came into their realm and baptized them. The Ottomans? The Ottomans destroyed an ancient Christian civilization while appropriating its science and technology. But “techne” is not genius. Look at Ottoman architecture? A carbon copy of Byzantine architecture. Like the Chinese, the Turks suffered from an endemic lack of creativity. They got their art from the Persians, their religion from the Arabs, and their forms of government from the Greeks. I find this praise of Ottomanism so stupid, especially in light of the attempt to denigrate Columbus and Western Christendom. Thank God Ferdinand and Isabella kicked the Jews and Moors out of Spain and brought Christianity to the demon-worshipping natives of America who practiced human sacrifice and cannibalism. European Christians will stop castrating themselves only when they return to their Christian roots. But Pope Francis and Patriarch Bartholomew ain’t the answer. They’re both eunuchs. What Europe needs is a Vlad Dracula, a Vlad the Impaler 2.0. Vlad was taken by the janissaries as a child and escaped. Vlad Dracula knew how to deal with the Turks, and thanks to his valiant efforts, Wallachia was spared total destruction, though it had to endure vassal status, unlike Serbia, Bulgaria, Bosnia and Croatia, which were utterly decimated by the Turkish heathen hordes.

    • Agree: Aedib
    • Replies: @nokangaroos
  32. @Blade

    Thanks … a new aspect is always welcome 😉

    I´m more familiar with the other end i.e. the Habsburg reconquistà;
    there was no point in “showing them who´s boss” as the Turks routinely looted
    as far as Augsburg – the cloister fortresses (e.g. Melk, Lambach) still bear witness to Turkish cultural influence (heh). I mentioned Vienna I and Lepanto more as reference points; the edge of the precipice, if you will, was Zenta 1697, after which the Turks never got a foot on the ground again –
    but the Empire had already lost its mojo some time before Vienna II.
    Egyptian scholars? Hmmm …

    – Agreed that the millet system worked as well as or better than any other under the circumstances, but it doesn´t follow the dhimmi were contented;
    there was no shortage of uprisings, it´s just that the Turks had … methods
    (pioneered by Hulagu Khan iirc).

    • Replies: @Blade
  33. @kapoore

    Good question. The likelier course is that the Mediterranean countries will be united alright … unfortunately it will be under mandatory Islam.

    Non-Muslims in Italy and Greece don’t bother to have nearly enough children to replace themselves, this has been the case for years, and the trend is not improving. As in other European countries, the nonMuslim population is aging and will be shrinking, while the Muslim population is much younger. And as Muslim fertility rates in Europe decline somewhat towards replacement level, the decline will be easily made up for by yet more (suicidally allowed) Muslim immigration.

  34. anon[194] • Disclaimer says:

    i had an ottoman couch

  35. hillaire says:
    @Hans Vogel

    Very few in the ‘west’ can manage to tie their own shoe-laces….

    Ignorance is to be pitied and remedied, but the current levels of imbecility will prove suicidal for many…

  36. hillaire says:
    @Commentator Mike

    Well that’s the thing ‘mike’, these scribblers are just looking at pushing out the next article, so on the whole they tend to re-write some other imbeciles screed and put their own stamp on it…

    Do you really think ‘peepee’ is an ahem, ‘expert’ on the ottomans ?Or do you think he may have read this ‘theory’ somewhere else and scrawled a-couple-a-thousand words..

    I mean after all, who really cares ? obviously not ‘peepee’..

    • Replies: @anon
  37. @down with Turkey

    As always you can write Ottomania down to suppressed harem fantasies 😛
    never mind the reality was osteomalazia (adult rickets), fat and murderous cabals.

    Vlad Tepes was one of the great … 20 years, with a third-rate people and hostile bojars;
    the Tippu Sahib of the Balkans – small wonder they venerate him
    (though the Turks still candied his head).

  38. anonymous[139] • Disclaimer says:

    When the Turks were finally forced out of the lands they occupied they left nothing behind but centuries worth of stagnation, economically, socially, infrastructure, science, art, culture, everything. They exploited everything to the max but created nothing. Author of article seems to think they were awesome. Non-white colonial empire is a wonder to behold, Western colonialism is bad. Author’s writings predictably range between stories of Chinese triumphalism and anything Western is bad and collapsing, just some form of third-world leftism. You know the formula.

    • Replies: @Francis Miville
  39. Mr. Grey says:
    @Commentator Mike

    Right. Any achievements of the Ottomans were due to the large population of civilized ‘Romans’ they conquered, who we know as the Greeks, Armenians and Jews. Turkey is where it is today because they killed or drove out those people.

  40. @anonymous

    You cannot judge the Ottoman Empire to have been regressive because of Islam because most of its administration was Jewish (non -Jewish vizirs were the exception) and practically all of its middle ranks composed of Europeans sent by Western powers : even the Janissaries who were formerly slaves were actually chosen by Western powers, Italy and Britain among the two most prominent. Most Barbary Pirate entrepreneurs were either South Italian, either British. Ordinary Turks and also Arabs were in a colonial situation. The Ottoman Empire was regressive and exploitative for the very same reason India also was under the East India Company’s regime.

  41. @Commentator Mike

    “So because the Ottomans forced those who wanted to shape modernity to avoid them and find new routes to the East now they are to be praised for “shaping modernity”.”
    It’s not so much that the Ottomans should be praised for shaping modernity, but that (to this extent) the West was forced into modernity rather than as an act of almost magical Western foresight.
    Of course, the next vital questions are — to what extent did the Ottomans “encourage” the West into its supercharged plunge into science, technology & reason generally. Here, at least, the Ottomans played a lesser role, I suspect (not forgeting their earlier important achievements in math, science etc).

  42. @Blade

    I can’t say I know who was talking about Thracians (maybe they meant the early Ottoman invasions that killed people living in the region of Thracia), but there were a string of Sultans who at times did no have an official wife (these being mostly political marriages with various beyliks) and instead, just concubines, like Murad III.

  43. @PJ London

    “Rome, Mongol, Chinese, British and now American, all had continuous internal strife, what did they do wrong?”

    Jake below has the answer:

    “Ottoman rule featured large scale castration.”

  44. Blade says:
    @nokangaroos

    Dhimmis were content for the most part, for most of them. The level of separation between the Dhimmi and Muslims, in practice, was not even on par with segregation in the US. The biggest disadvantage they had was the extra tax, but it is doubtful if that was even a disadvantage since the alternative was going to the army and dying in Medieval wars. I am not claiming no revolts ever happened, of course, they did, however, they were neither national (until the 19th century) nor intended to overthrow the Ottoman government. Most revolts were based on economics or a rebellion against a bad governor or so on. Moreover, Ottomans routinely allowed Christians to rule Christian subjects in the Balkans. This Ottomans oppressed Christians for 500 years is just a myth. Just read about Phanariot Greeks to read just one proof.

    • Replies: @willful knowledge
  45. I thought it was common knowledge that the Spanish and European explorers were attempting to find non-Muslim (read: Ottoman) dominated trade routes to China (primarily) and India. The domination of the Ottomans in the Mediterranean and Black Seas then being a “mixed” blessing as all things are in the world (like Western domination of the New World.)

    Isabella conducted much of her policy to counter the threat of Ottoman Fifth-Columnists in Spain.

  46. Bankotsu says:

    “…Author Mikhail stresses right at the start that the Ottoman Empire was the most powerful state on earth – more powerful than the Ming dynasty, not to mention the Safavids – for quite some time…”

    While the Ottoman empire was certainty a powerful empire, I don’t see how it is more powerful than Ming China.

    Population in 1500 AD:

    Ming China – 103,000,000
    Ottoman – 11,000,000

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_population_in_1500

    GDP (ppp) in 1500 AD:

    Ming China – 61,800 mil (world’s largest)
    Ottoman – ??? no data

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_regions_by_past_GDP_(PPP)

    Territorial size:

    Ming China 1450 – 6,500,000 km2
    Ottoman empire 1683 – 5,200,000 km2

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ming_dynasty
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ottoman_Empire

  47. @Blade

    Content? Hardly. The correct word would be cowed. The Rūm millet were permitted a level of internal autonomy but were restricted to Christian ghettos and any proselytism amongst Muslims was a capital crime.


    The Christians’ legal position, their social and civil status, was no better. This side of their existence had been regulated since the seventh century by an agreement between Caliph Omar and the Christians.[2] The agreement was aimed at demeaning the Christians as much as possible, and consists of a series of astonishing limitations. Christians did not have the right to build new churches or renovate ruined churches, they were obliged to allow Muslims to enter their churches at any time of day or night, to keep the doors of their houses open to passing Muslims, to receive them as guests even in the middle of the night and to feed them, not to harbour spies, not to teach their children the Qu’ran, not to make open spectacle of their religion and not to preach it, not to prevent those wishing to convert to Islam from doing so, to respect Muslims and to offer them their seats, not to dress like Muslims, not to use either expressions or names used by Muslims, not to use Muslim saddles on horses, not to carry weapons, not to engrave anything in Arabic on signet rings, not to openly sell wine, to shave their heads at the front, not to change the manner of their clothing under any circumstances or wear girdles round their waists, not to carry or wear crosses or holy books in public, to sound the bells or simandron in the churches only quietly, not to raise their voices in churches when Muslims are present, not to wail at funerals, not to carry palm fronds or sacred images in public, not to carry fire in Muslim districts, not to bury their dead near Muslims, not to take slaves belonging to Muslims, not to look inside a Muslim home, not to build houses higher than Muslim houses, not to beat Muslims, not to purchase captive Muslims, not to take on Muslim servants or employees, not to criticise the Qu’ran, Muhammad or the Islamic faith, not to marry Muslims, to allow Muslims to settle in Christian areas, not to openly keep pigs, to ride only donkeys and mules, to attach beads to their saddles, to wear a stamp on their necks (proof of payment of taxes), when entering the bath house to wear a bell, to sit side saddle, not to sit in seats reserved for respected persons at meetings, not to initiate greetings when meeting Muslims, to give way to Muslims; finally, any agreement is nullified if a Christian should strike a Muslim. In addition, on the basis that a Christian cannot hold a position of authority over a true believer, Muslim law deprived the Christians of the right to occupy any position that might put a Muslim into a position of legal dependence on them. Thus Christians do not have the right to become secretaries or chief clerks, to be guardians of a Muslim, his judge or administrator. Worse still was the fact that Christian witnesses were not allowed to give testimony against Muslims no matter what the circumstances, the injustice, or the numbers of Christians involved. As for political rights for Christians, there was certainly absolutely no possibility of that.”

    (The Church of Constantinople in the Nineteenth Century, Ivan Sokolov, 1904)

    • Replies: @Blade
  48. The Turks made the Modern World?
    Laughable stuff.
    They slowly picked away at the Byzantines, like the opportunists they are, then took over. They never advanced civilization and are hated everywhere they were kicked out.
    Jews love them because they were welcomed in to run their rackets.
    That didnt work out very well for the Sultans. No, the Doenmeh advanced liberalism, kicked out the Sultan, killed 1.5 million Christians then imposed the latin alphabet and a secular Constitution under Attaturk the secret Doenmeh.
    What a pair, Turks and Jews, they really deserve each other.

    • Replies: @nokangaroos
  49. @steinbergfeldwitzcohen

    We hear Reccep I. just formally cursed Austria (for flying the Israeli flag over the chancellor´s office).
    This once, I agree with him 😀

  50. Blade says:
    @willful knowledge

    How were Muslims in Europe doing around the same time? I know, there wasn’t any. Because they were slaughtered or forced to convert. How about you do apples-to-apples comparisons and tell us how non-Christians fared in Christian countries?

    • Replies: @anon
  51. anon[182] • Disclaimer says:
    @hillaire

    Do you really think ‘peepee’ is an ahem, ‘expert’ on the ottomans ?Or do you think he may have read this ‘theory’ somewhere else and scrawled a-couple-a-thousand words..

    I mean after all, who really cares ? obviously not ‘peepee’..

    PeePee is an affirmative action scribbler

    he doesnt much like white folks and he’s an “expert” on every subject under the sun

  52. anon[240] • Disclaimer says:
    @Blade

    How were Muslims in Europe doing around the same time? I know, there wasn’t any. Because they were slaughtered or forced to convert.

    poor mooslims – who invaded who?

  53. The author is so pro-Ottoman it’s laughable. Compared to the British Empire, (which spanned the whole world) and made English the world’s most used language, the Ottoman Empire was small and insignificant in comparison. Other than foot stools (Ottomans), Shriners hats and Turkish Delight, what international legacy have they left? As for the author’s implying that the west is dead or dying, I would like to emphasize that it’s the United States that’s dying, not the western culture which is still vibrant in Europe, and especially Eastern Europe and Russia.

    • Replies: @Blade
  54. @Steven80

    Wait so are you denying that the Renaissance in Europe didn’t gleam much from the Islamic Golden Age? Or are you just saying the Turks themselves?

    • Replies: @Steven80
  55. @Fin of a cobra

    “And he has a bone to pick with Christianity and Western Civilization in general”

    Well first thing is that real christianity is not western… it’s eastern… The whole idea of a “Christian Empire” like the Byzantines or others is complete folly as it is in direct opposition to the words of He who they claim to follow – who told the Roman official that His followers won’t fight because His kingdom doesn’t belong to this worldly system. So to say “in this symbol go forth and conquer” was a a folly. False prophets they are.

    “Ha, ha, take that, you nasty West — the Ottomans were better and now you are in decline and they will take over again!”. Is that the message, Pepe?”

    No – I didn’t get that at all… But I do know Pepe has the motivation – which is to contrast that Europeans always dominated the globe and were always the most advanced societies. That’s a fact… Unless someone has a chip on their shoulder – or truly believes a fake version of history. You must be one of the Bolsonaro Brazilians…

  56. Steven80 says:
    @showmethereal

    No, I’m not denying that. I’m saying that the savage Oghuz tribes devastated the Balkans and stopped the development of the whole region for centuries.

    Islamic (Iranian, Iraq Jewish and Levantine, to be more precise, the pinheads from the Arabian penincula had and have no culture) culture in architecture, arts, medicine and maths were absorbed by the Turks and W. Europeans during the Reneissance, but have in mind that the 13 and 14 century turks were mostly savage illiterates. Their spiritual leaders are with no exceptions from the Levant, from what is now Iran and the cultural oasis cities of the central Asia – no turks there. This ruling class even invented the “Ottoman” name to contrast itself with the regular turk, who was considered illiterate peasnt/soldier.

    Anyway, the point is turks are largely responsible for a lot of misery in Europe, and all the people living in their empire were more than happy to leave it when the turks were weak. Historical evidence and records are overwhelmingly negative about the turks, in every aspect of life. This attempt to whitewash islam or this old empire of evil are madness – people should always remember this and not repeat the mistakes of the past.

    • Replies: @showmethereal
    , @Malla
  57. Fran800 says:
    @dearieme

    My response to this article was the same as Deariene’s. We were taught in Grade 9 (or was it Grade 8) that Columbus set out to find China by sailing West precisely because the trade routes to the China were blocked by the Muslims. Before that, the Portuguese explorers sailed round the south of Africa for the same reason. Why is this news to anyone? Moreover, the Belgian writer Henri Pirenne’s book “Mohammed and Charlemagne”, published in 1039, posited the theory that the rise of Charlemagne as “Holy Roman Emperor” in the West was largely a response to the fact that Muslims had captured the south coast of the Mediterranean, which was about half of the Old Roman Empire.

  58. Blade says:
    @Joe Paluka

    Most of the British expansion took place in areas where people were still living in the stone age. Beating Native Americans, Aborigines, Africans, or India isn’t really a huge achievement. Also, exactly what is there to be proud of about eradicating native languages all around the world? If Ottomans did the same, there would be no Greeks or Arabs, or Hungarians left today. Then you’d claim Turks are such barbarians they wiped out native European cultures of course.

    • Replies: @Malla
    , @Malla
    , @anon
  59. @Steven80

    Ok… Well I would agree with everything you wrote up until you got to: “Historical evidence and records are overwhelmingly negative about the turks, in every aspect of life”.

    When something is written in history – the question is “who wrote – who is their audience – and who is their motivation”. The European perspective is always negative. The same thing is said of the Mongols “all they did was destroy”… But that’s not actually true. In Central Asia and China – when the Mongols ruled – they were brutal – but things still advanced. There are may examples. The world didn’t stagnate under the Turks. You can say Europe did – but again – Europe is not the whole world.

    It’s just the use of “the Dark Ages”… That was a European thing. Innovations and progress still happened elsewhere. Everywhere goes through a “dark age” at some time. It doesn’t stop the rest of the world.

    • Replies: @Malla
  60. Malla says:
    @Blade

    India was stone age huh? Buddy when the Turks and Arabs were nomads living in Central Asia and Arabia, Indian Subcontinent had one of the oldest civilization sites in the World, the Indus Valley Civilization.
    So “stone age” Indians were building forts and palaces like this?
    And “Stone age” Indian Kings dressed like this?

    That is Maharaja (Emperor) Ranjit Singh of the powerful Sikh Empire. BTW, the British Empire defeated the Sikh Empire and absorbed it after two Anglo-Sikh wars in which the Afghan army came in support of the Sikhs against the British, only for the combined Afghan-Sikh force being routed by the British Empire forces in fierce bloody battles involving huge numbers of cannons and close ferocious bloody hand to hand fights in between Britishers + Gurkhas on one hand and Sikhs + Pathans on the other. So much for stone age people.
    Check out the Battle of Diu in between the Portuguese Empire on one hand and the joint forces of the Sultan of Gujarat, the Mamlûk Burji Sultanate of Egypt, and the Zamorin of Calicut with support of the Ottoman Empire. The Portuguese Navy decimated the Islamic naval coalition and from that time since the Indian Ocean was under the power of some European naval power for the next 500 years first the Portuguese then the Dutch VOC Navy followed by the French Navy and finally the British Navy. Only during WW2 when Imperial Japanese Navy Submarines took control of the Indian Ocean for two years, it was for the first time that an Asian power had taken control of the Indian Ocean after 500 years from European powers. And the same Portuguese who decimated the Islamic naval coalition, could only manage to conquer a small part of India while the British conquered the whole huge subcontinent defeating powerful powers like the Mughals, Maratha Empire (largest cavalry force in the world), Sikh Empire, Gurkha Kingdom, Tipoo Sultan etc….. All of them had huge armies with cavalry, guns, cannons, huge fortresses etc….

  61. Malla says:
    @Blade

    Also, exactly what is there to be proud of about eradicating native languages all around the world?

    Eradicating native languages? Not in India. Most Indian languages survived and thrived in British Empire. Bengal was one of the richest province in the world, under British rule, Bengali literature flourished. A Bengali, Rabindranath Tagore was the first non White and Asian to win the noble prize (in literature). A new Anglified Bengali elite class was born in Colonial Bengal who took native literature to high levels.
    The British rediscovered ancient Indian history, they are the ones who researched coins, excavated sites, used scientific techniques and told Indians about their ancient glorious history like that of Indian Buddhist Emperor Ashoka who reigned before Christ with a huge Empire. Officers of the British East India Company (James Princep) deciphered the ancient Brahmi script of India and Kharosti script of Afghanistan. They were long forgotten and no one could understand them for millennia. The British built the largest and oldest museum in Asia in Calcutta in the 1700s to preserve Indian artefacts. The British created colleges to preserve ancient Sanskrit, Prakrit and Pali writings.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Sanskrit_College_and_University
    Sanskrit College and University (erstwhile Sanskrit College) is a specialized state-government administered Liberal Arts University offering an undergraduate degree in Sanskrit language, Pali language, Linguistics and ancient Indian and world history.[1][2] It is one of the affiliated colleges of the University of Calcutta. Founded on 1 January 1824, Sanskrit College, is one of the oldest educational institutions in the subcontinent.[3] It is a traditional college that specializes in the scholarship of Indian tradition, philosophy and religion. It is located on College Street in central Kolkata. Its centrality is heightened by its proximity to Hindu School, Presidency College, Kolkata, the University of Calcutta, and the Indian Coffee House. It was established during the Governor-Generalship of Lord Amherst, based on a recommendation by James Prinsep and Thomas Babington Macaulay among others.

    The British were connoisseurs of classical Indian music and created institutions for their preservation. When King Emperor of India, George V came to India for the Imperial Durbar (court) of 1911 great Indian classical singers and dancers like Gauhar Jan of Calcutta and Janki Bai of Allahabad performed in front of the Indian King Emperor and were handsomely rewarded and honoured with titles. Eminent Indian classical Musician M Lakshmana Suri of Madras composed a set of 100 verses in ancient Sanskrit on the King Emperor. It was titled ‘George Deva Shatakam’. He was awarded the title of Mahamahopadhyaya by Indian King Emperor George V for his art.

    The British linguists (like John Gilcrist) were also responsible for the creation of Urdu and Hindi (national languages of Pakistan and India respectively) from medieval Khariboli which has become the unifying language of about 1 billion North Indians and Pakistanis today. English does not mean native languages were destroyed but a new unifying language of literature, philosophy and science was gifted to the Empire. In India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, African countries, English has become a language of communication among intelligent natives from diverse cultural backgrounds in ideas and science. In other words English is playing the same role after the fall of the British Empire that Latin played after the fall of the Roman Empire. A language of higher learning and exchange of ideas among people of diverse cultures of the earlier Empire.

  62. Malla says:
    @showmethereal

    It’s just the use of “the Dark Ages”… That was a European thing.

    The “dark ages” was a myth created by later Europeans themselves. The truth is that the late Mediaeval period saw huge innovations. That is why Ibn Khaldun the great Andalus/Iberia-Tunsisian-Arab scholar, called England of the 12th century a magnificent realm full of prosperous towns. Even during the crusades, Europe was ahead of the Islamic world in castle and siege technology and naval technology.

    Wait so are you denying that the Renaissance in Europe didn’t gleam much from the Islamic Golden Age? Or are you just saying the Turks themselves?

    The Ottoman Empire might have reached its height in glory but I do not see any indication that the Ottoman Empire would lead us to the modern world. Indeed the Ottoman Empire modernized only after observing the rise of European Modern science and societies to the West culminating in Kemal’s reforms.
    Ibrahim Muteferrika, the Turk who introduced the printing press in the Ottoman Empire, in his book Rational Bases for the Politics of Nations (1731) remarked , “Why do Christian Nations which were so weak in the past compared with Muslim Nations begin to dominate so many lands in modern times and even defeat the once victorious Ottoman armies? Because they have laws and rules invented by reason

    Anyways I personally admire many aspects of Ottoman and Turkish culture especially their music.

    Üsküdara Giderken
    Here we have the great Dutch violinist and conductor André Rieu and his band, playing the music of the beautiful Turkish song Hatırla Sevgili in Istanbul.

    Original Turkish song

    Eylem Aktaş – Hatırla Sevgili
    Turkish music is beautiful.

    • Thanks: BlackFlag
    • Replies: @showmethereal
  63. Malla says:
    @Steven80

    from what is now Iran and the cultural oasis cities of the central Asia

    While it is true that the Turks were Persianised, the Persians were heavily Turkified too. Cuisine from Iran to Afghanistan to Central Asia to Xinjiang have remarkable similarities.

    Anyway, the point is turks are largely responsible for a lot of misery in Europe,

    The Turkic Islamic Delhi Sultanate of India was a terrifying experience for India too. Even though they introduced some new ideas, Hindu kaffirs faced ruthless brutality, mass killing, rape, mass enslavement, where entire Indian villagers were emptied as slaves (Ibn Batutta, the Arab traveler, writes about this). Such was the situation in India at that time, India being a huge population, any Turk or Arab in India in those days could own loads of Hindu slaves for cheap. So terrifying was the experience that warrior Hindu Rajput women would jump into fire with their children to prevent abduction and rape and thus loss of honour. Whatever it was, it was a terrifying experience for India. Maybe it was karma for what brutality Hindus committed on Buddhists and Jains. According to Indian Noble Laureate, V.S. Naipaul, the Islamic invasions of India wounded Indian civilization permanently even though the Islamic period did see interesting developments of syncretic Hindu-Islamic or Indo-Turko-Persian-Arab-Uyghur-Uzbek combo, music, art and architecture. He called India, “a wounded civilization”.

  64. So now Pepe Escobar has lowered himself to slobbering over the Ottoman Empire? This article is vomit inducing.

    And by the start of the 16th century, what sprang up was a multi-religious and multi-ethnic empire that – pragmatic and tolerant – ruled for four centuries over the Balkans, Anatolia and Southwest Asia.

    The Ottomans were one of the worst muslim tyrannies to ever arise on the earth. They imposed sharia law in the lands they ruled, and forced christians to pay the jizya tax or be conscripted into military service. They ruthlessly exploited the populations they ruled over and used them for forced labour. The Ottomans committed atrocitys and massacres everywhere they went, wiping out entire villages as a show of force. They ran one of the largest slave trades in the world, trading tens of thousands of slaves every year. They invaded all of their neighbors and were a constant threat to the existence of all sovereign states; even other muslims were not safe. The Ottomans were the scourge of humanity. No one should ever praise these barbaric muslim savages.

    Then he sets the crux of the – explosive – thesis he will develop in detail: “It was the Ottoman monopoly of trade routes with the East, combined with their military prowess on land and on sea, that pushed Spain and Portugal out of the Mediterranean, forcing merchants and sailors from these 15th-century kingdoms to become global explorers as they risked treacherous voyages across oceans and around continents – all to avoid the Ottomans.”

    Theres nothing new or explosive about this thesis. Its been historical orthodoxy for over two centuries. Everyone who studied history in this timeframe knew and accepted this reality.

    Exit Muslims as the “terrorist.” Exit “the rise of the West.” Enter the Ottomans as a civilizing power. Mikhail is adamant: The practice “since the Industrial Revolution and the so-called glories of the 19th century” of stretching European primacy back to Columbus “is a historical absurdity.” The Ottoman empire “struck fear into the world for centuries before it earned its derogatory 19th-century sobriquet, ‘the sick man of Europe.’”

    Civilising power? The hell they were. The Ottomans were barbarians who were only skilled at raping, killing and destroying. Most of their economy was run by Jews, especially after 1492 (when they were expelled from Spain). Jews filled most of the merchant positions, and nearly all of the finance positions. Turks were useless at anything that didn’t involve fighting. The Ottomans were a culturally, scientifically, and technologically stagnant empire. They created nothing of value to humanity, nothing that benefited mankind, not in their entire 500 year existence.

  65. anon[357] • Disclaimer says:
    @Blade

    If Ottomans did the same, there would be no Greeks or Arabs, or Hungarians left today.

    they tried for centuries but they failed

  66. @Malla

    “The Ottoman Empire might have reached its height in glory but I do not see any indication that the Ottoman Empire would lead us to the modern world”

    No – to clarify – I wasn’t saying the Ottomans were responsible for the Islamic Golden Age. I compared them to the Mongols. My point being innovation on the planet didn’t stop under either. The person I was responding to was only basing it on a European perspective of the time.

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