By Rifa'at Abou-El-Haj
Rifa'at 'Ali Abou-El-Haj reevaluates the confirmed old view of the Ottoman Empire as an japanese despotic countryside in decline and in its place analyzes it as a latest country such as modern states in Europe and Asia.
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Additional resources for Formation of the Modern State: The Ottoman Empire Sixteenth to Eighteenth Centuries
These examples reveal a state unable to fully impose control, one compelled to negotiate and not simply command the loyalty of the local elites. Until the early sixteenth century most newly won revenue sources, especially lands in the Balkans and Anatolia, became timar holdings. But, when the Arab regions fell to the Ottomans in 1516–1517, the central state organized their revenues as tax farms (iltizam), a ﬁscal device which already existed on a small scale elsewhere in the empire. Chronically short of cash because of the difﬁculty of collecting cash taxes directly, premodern states across the globe routinely used tax farms.
Martin Luther, for his part, wrote that the Ottomans were God’s punishment for a corrupt papacy, an instrument of God’s anger. Catholics, from their side, considered these “Turks” divine punishment for allowing Luther and his followers to ﬂourish. The Ottomans similarly are embedded in European popular culture. In the seventeenth century, French imaginative literature frequently focused on the sultans, for example in the story of Sultan Bayezit I (1389–1402) in his cage and his captor, Timur (Tamerlane), which was published in 1648.
But, in the ﬁnal years, there was mounting disharmony and inter-communal strife (see chapter 9). For most of its history, however, the Ottoman Empire offered an effective model of a multi-religious political system to the rest of the world. The Ottoman Empire in European culture Let us begin with a word of caution about the signiﬁcance of the following pages, that outline the place of the Ottoman Empire in the history, imagination, and culture of western Europe. This discussion is not intended to imply that the Ottomans are important only to the extent they contributed to west European development.