chapter  7
16 Pages

The Ottoman Empire’s absent nineteenth century: Autonomous subjects


The Ottoman Empire was in many ways a victim of its own political longevity. One reflection of this is an underlying paradox in the meta-narrative of Ottoman history: despite over six centuries of dynastic and political continuity, we tell two distinct stories of Ottoman sovereignty. On the one hand, Ottoman historians have, over the past generation, revealed fascinating aspects of the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, going far beyond the Decline paradigm of the past to explore both the tectonic shifts and the microchanges in sovereignty. When sketching out the context for studies on these middle centuries our points of departure go back to the murky fourteenth-century foundations of the Ottoman state, and tend to revolve around the era of Süleyman (1520-66) in the mid-sixteenth century.