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By Richard Stoneman

From Herodotus to Freya Stark, writers were encouraged through Turkey, a assorted kingdom on the crossroads of heritage, for millennia. right here, Richard Stoneman describes in vigorous aspect the striking literature they produced. At a time whilst Turkey’s place at the fringe could be set to alter to a deeper involvement in Europe, the necessity to comprehend the rustic is much more compelling. the diversity of shuttle writing represented during this e-book exhibits how, whereas political conditions may perhaps switch, the entice of Turkey is still constant.

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The account of Ottoman politics of reproduction that follows is possible because in recent decades researchers in Ottoman archives (notably İ. H. Uzunçarşılı) have turned up records of royal concubine mothers. These rec­ ords allow us to attempt a reconstruction of their careers and to compare them to the careers of legal wives. Nevertheless, the conclusions reached in this book, particularly with regard to the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, will necessarily remain tentative unless and until the documentary record becomes more nearly complete.

11 Maria, the Serbian bride of Bayezid I and the only foreign wife, Muslim or Christian, who appears in Ottoman histories, figures only as a force corrupt­ ing her husband and thus functions to absorb blame for the temporary col­ lapse of the nascent empire at the feet of the Central Asian conqueror Timur (Tamerlane) in 1402 (see map on page xviii). In all fairness , we should not look to Ottoman chronicles for the dynasty’s matrimonial and reproductive record. Their goal was not historical accuracy regarding the origins and genealogy of the Ottoman house but rather its glorification.

30 12 INTRODUCTION One’s status was marked by the extent to which one could penetrate the interior of another’s household, most of all that of the sultan. A dramatic example of the desirability of proximity to the ultimate source of power is that of Gazanfer Agha, who had himself castrated so that he might remain close to the sultan, his patron. Gazanfer was a Hungarian renegade who, converted to Islam and assimilated into the Ottoman ruling class, had risen high in the service of the prince Selim, son of Süleyman the Magnificent.

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