chapter  1
The authority of eyewitness accounts reconsidered
Pages 14

For political or military historians wishing to provide a definitive, accurate description of particular early modern Ottoman events, be they political incidents, revolutions or military campaigns, the accounts of eyewitness administrator-historians in combination with documentary sources, that is official state-produced texts play a fundamental role. This chapter considers the account of the siege provided in the telhis written by the grand vizier Yemis¸ ci Hasan Pasha, which was intended to communicate events that occurred during the autumn and winter of 1601 on the Ottoman-Habsburg marches, particularly the defence of Nagykanizsa castle. It argues that despite being an official state report by an eyewitness in the area, the apparently transparent language and objective facts in the grand vizier's letter are instead complex rhetorical strategies intended to fulfil a specific politico-textual function and encourage a particular understanding of events.