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By Norman Itzkowitz

This skillfully written textual content provides the complete sweep of Ottoman heritage from its beginnings at the Byzantine frontier in approximately 1300, via its improvement as an empire, to its past due eighteenth-century disagreement with a quickly modernizing Europe. Itzkowitz delineates the elemental associations of the Ottoman kingdom, the key divisions in the society, and the elemental principles on executive and social constitution. all through, Itzkowitz emphasizes the Ottomans' personal perception in their old event, and in so doing penetrates the skin view supplied by means of the insights of Western observers of the Ottoman global to the middle of Ottoman existence.

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Although even the earliest Otto­ man rulers had their slaves, the systematic training and employment of ghulams is associated with the development of the janissary corps and the introduction of the devshirme, the well-known levy of Christian youths. The janissaries were the elite, well-trained, Ottoman standing infantry corps. They are said to have been first organized in the reign of Murad I from the one-fifth share of the booty, including prisoners, allotted to the sultan by the religious law of Islam.

S e l im t h e g r im Selim I (1512-1520), a man whose determination and ferocity won for him the sobriquet “the Grim,” had first to render his throne secure before he could launch upon any military ventures. This he did by ordering the death of his nephews and having his older brother done away with. Another brother risked all in an open battle with Selim’s forces, but he was captured and killed during the rout of his army. The way was now clear for the expected confrontation with Shah Ismail.

Military and administrative organizations were -both closely entwined with the timar system. By granting timars to their cavalrymen, the Ottoman sultans solved the prob­ lem of maintaining a large military force without huge outlays of cash. Since their economy suffered a chronic shortage of precious metals, paying their troops with timars rather than with cash relieved the central state treasury of an enormous burden. An added advantage of the timar system was that the timariots, in addition to carrying out their military duties on state campaigns, also performed important functions on the local level in the provincial administration.

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