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Ottoman Politics through British Eyes: Paul Rycaut's "The Present State of the Ottoman Empire" Author(s): Linda

T. Darling Reviewed work(s): Source: Journal of World History, Vol. 5, No. 1 (Spring, 1994), pp. 71-97 Published by: University of Hawai'i Press Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20078582 . Accessed: 01/02/2012 15:42
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Politics through British Eyes: Ottoman Paul Rycaut;s The Present State of the * Ottoman Empire
LINDA T. DARLING University of Arizona

that trend toward history means growing teaching world the non-European classes of students will now encounter peo The on a regular This puts an basis. of the world ples and cultures on teachers enormous in the old ethnocentric trained burden on other to find suitable cul materials who have reading style to their students, not to speak of educating tures to assign them one can find pri selves. Fortunately, for the early modern period mary spot.
intrepid

texts written I refer, ventured

on the in English by people who were actually to the literature of course, of travel produced by
merchants, or ambassadors?

Europeans?explorers,

who

to write to distant lands and returned their about classic have attained there. Some of these accounts experiences them is Paul Rycaut's work of 1665, The Present status; among State of the Ottoman Empire.1 as a means to the The use of this literature of instant access certain problems. world book is not presents Rycaut's premodern
* versions Earlier of this paper were British Studies and the 1991-92 Brownbag I thank dle East Center; the participants to two British historians: cially grateful bibliographic help, the manuscript. 1 Parenthetical State The Present Brome, and to Richard the 1991Western Conference of the University of Arizona's comments. I am their helpful Weil at on Mid espe

given Series for Rachel

Cosgrove

of Georgia), for (University of Arizona), for reading (University edition: Paul Rycaut, Henry 1972).

in the text are references of the Ottoman Empire 1668; rpt., Westmead, England: Gregg

to the following John (London: International

Starkey Publishers,

and

Journal of World History, Vol. 5, No. 1 ? 1994 by University of Hawaii Press

71

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of the Ottoman peo eyewitness just a straightforward description in the seventeenth it reads century, ple and government although as if it were. In the dedication announced that he was pre Rycaut not merely for the purpose of education senting his observations or entertainment or but "as a matter of the consideration, worthy of our Kings or our Governors" (Epistle Dedicatory). a more seems to demand This statement of the complex reading the concerns of English book, one that involves kings and gover nors as well as Ottoman exotica. in 1629, Paul Rycaut was of Huguenot Born the son extraction, concernment His father lost his property merchant.2 of a wealthy immigrant as a consequence the Commonwealth of royalist activities, during so Paul was forced to make in the world. He chose a his own way career in the course of which in diplomacy, he spent some time at II in France. In 1660, after the Res the court of the exiled Charles as private an appointment to he was granted toration, secretary new ambassador to the Ottoman in Istan sultan King Charles's of Winchilsea.3 Earl the royalist bul, Rycaut simultaneously in Istanbul. With the served as the Levant secretary Company's to England's State of of The Present secretary (presented writing state in 1665 though not published himself until 1668), he brought to obtain in an attempt further prefer to the notice of the court ment. in 1667, on Winchilsea's recommenda He was successful: in Izmir, or consul for the Levant Company tion, Rycaut was made a position the he held for eleven years.4 He later sought Smyrna,
2 his name Rye-coat. himself We say Ree-co, but Rycaut pronounced apparently or Ricaut, s.v. Rycaut intro Sir Paul. A short See Dictionary Biography, of National a "Sir Paul Rycaut, is provided to the man and his works duction by C. J. Hey wood, Notes in E State: for a Study," of the Ottoman Observer Seventeenth-Century Views and Continental and C. J. Heywood, Kural Shaw of the Ottoman English Andrews Clark Memorial William 1972) Library, (Los Angeles: Empire, 1500-1800, can also be found Manu in Great Britain, Historical details pp. 31-59. Biographical on the Manuscripts Finch, Esq. of Bur Commission, of Allan George Report scripts 2 vols. Stationer's ?d. S. C. Lomas, Rutland, (London: His Majesty's ley-on-the-Hill, to Turkish Studies British Contributions Bowen, Office, 1913), i:xlv; and Harold Longmans, (London: 1945), p. 20. 3 s.v. Finch, Heneage, 2nd earl of Winchilsea; Biography, Dictionary of National on the Manuscripts and Historical Commission, of Allan Report Manuscripts and the i:v-vii. On the ambassadorial Finch..., procedure appointment George C. Wood, "The and his staff, see Albert of the ambassador duties and remuneration Review Historical at Constantinople, 40 1660-1762," English Embassy English as the English in Izmir is Sonia consul experience study of Rycaut's at Smyrna, Paul in Turkey: An English Consul 1667-1678 Rycaut in review Goffman Clarendon Press, by Daniel 1989); see also a critical (Oxford: on Turkey 4 (1990): 105-10. New Perspectives (1925): 533-61. 4A recent P. Anderson,

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to the Ottoman empire but had to be satisfied post of ambassador to write He nevertheless continued elsewhere. with positions in several later works. about the Ottomans is a book written State Thus, The Present by a young English a government that Jean Bodin about royalist after the Restoration mon as the most of the European absolutist had characterized of monarchy the book to approve then expect archies.5 One might of the Ottoman in all its forms, but it does not. Rycaut's picture even more so than his facts is uncompromisingly sultan negative, or preju view to ignorance this hostile Ascribing and insightful is impossible dice, however, given his accurate in later chapters life and his of the details of Turkish recounting a simple contrast bad between the book present tory. Nor does Contradictions and good English Ottoman monarchy. despotism are matched view of the Ottomans within by equivoca Rycaut's in his praise of English This ambigu tion and hesitancy kingship. can only be resolved position ity in Rycaut's by a more complex as he did. in writing of his purpose understanding seem to warrant. the British the late sixteenth Until century, image of the Otto man Empire was compounded of prejudice Islam, fear of against a powerful of the lure of eastern trade, and a fair amount enemy, were and hearsay.6 After permanent relations estab ignorance merchants, in the 1580s, English and the Ottomans England to visit and diplomats the Ottoman consuls, began were it.7 At first their writings home about and to write Empire or the mar filled with notices and military of commercial import cen vels of an alien culture. By the second half of the seventeenth an Englishman like Rycaut close could become tury, however, lished between
5 English

Jean

Bodin, Translation

Press, 1973). Cambridge University on European of the literature views of the Islamic or Informed to an article in the notes world appears "Bigots by Rhoads Murphey: on the A Periodization Observers? of Pre-Colonial and European English Writing no (1990): 291-303. To his list Middle Journal Oriental East," of the American Society two volumes et de Documenta should be added d'Etudes published by the Centre et Sociale, tion Economique, orient ? Vautre: Les m?tamor Cairo, D'un Juridique 2 vols. et connaissances, successives des perceptions du Cen phoses (Paris: Editions tre National de Recherche 1991). Scientifique, 7 see Susan For the first Englishmen in the Ottoman A. Skilliter, Wil Empire, liam Harborne A Documentary and the Trade with Turkey, of 1578-1582: Study the First Anglo-Ottoman Relations Oxford Press, (London: University 1977); and C. Wood, A History Alfred Oxford of the Levant University Company (London: Press, 1935).

Press, versity Absolutist Theory (Cambridge: 6A recent compendium

Six Bookes of a Commonweale: McRae of 1606, ed. Kenneth Douglas 1962), p. 201. See also Julian H. Franklin, The

A Facsimile (Cambridge: Jean Bodin

Reprint of the Uni Harvard and the Rise of

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to obtain to important officials enough and the inside the Ottoman government an accurate State contains The Present

Ottoman and political, military, been profitably used by scholars. these It is all the more then, that side by side with startling, drew a picture of Ottoman details, Rycaut despot knowledgeable out of the old stock of ignorance and fear. We can dis ism straight miss reasonable the idea that he knew no better. A more hypothe an old stereotype The for new purposes. sis is that he was using a hypothesis. structure such of the book and support style on Ottoman comments life reflect political specific Rycaut's

on detailed information on palace story intrigues. and up-to-date report on that has organization religious

Even the lan and national of his own personal aspects history. court gained its form and he used to report on the Ottoman guage state in the in the political of the English vicissitudes meaning and Restora Civil War, Commonwealth, seventeenth century?the as a State emerges these tion. Read lenses, The Present through on English in Turkish and under commentary guise, politics an exercise in both Ottoman his it becomes and English standing
tory.8

a tradition on of reporting fits within ostensibly This genre of works for defense purposes. Empire were in Renaissance translated Italy, and its products originated were con Such works into all the major European languages.9 it would be to defeat the the question of how difficult cerned with in battle; found a place and morale Ottomans thus, organization conditions. and political in their pages along with military Rycaut on exact figures met of the genre by providing the requirements and so on. But this informa naval strength, enrollment, military less than a tion is tacked onto the end of his book and occupies Rycaut's the Ottoman book

8 on the Ottoman book proved Like other works popu quite Empire, Rycaut's the trea times. Numerous several translated lar and was authorities, including surer of the Levant the secretary of the French tenure, Company Rycaut's during out that the book contained French and the book's translator, pointed embassy, see G. F. Abbot, the Turk in Constantinople Under errors; (London: Macmil many to any of these critics that some of the it did not occur lan, 1920), p. 66. Apparently, "errors" might be deliberate. 9 can of these works Bibliographies in Shaw in the Clarke Turcica Library," Views, pp. 60-66; and Albert Howe Lybyer, in the Time the Magnificent of Suleiman Dana See also Clarence 1913), appendix. and Literature (Paris: (1520-1660) Thought, be found in W. E. Conway, "Checklist of

and Continental English of the Ottoman Empire Harvard Press, University (Cambridge: in French The Turk Rouillard, History, Boirin, 1941). and Heywood, The Government

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is taken up with politi of its pages. The bulk of the work and politics holds pride of place. This matters, religious on politics may in part reflect the lessening of the Otto emphasis man military but it also signals threat in the seventeenth century, was more Distant of the author. the preoccupations England in trade and negotiation than in military interested conquest: his in pursuing his own advancement, besides, Rycaut brought to bear on the most issues crucial for En Turkish experience and politics. reflec Rycaut's political religion gland's monarch: in the first four chapters of his sixty-chap tions are concentrated ter work, which of the first of three constitute the opening portion "Book" it is divided. The first and longest into which "Books" on the governmental structure and prac (twenty-two chapters), is entitled "The Maximes of the Turkish tices of the Ottomans, is entitled "Of The second Politic" "Book" (twenty-six chapters) is "Of the Turk the third (twelve chapters) the Turkish Religion"; Book One, the first ish Militia" forces). Within (that is, military or generalizations are composed three chapters of "maximes" is while the fourth chapter about the nature of the Turkish polity, a narrative, from eyewitness of a specific accounts, compiled event that took place in 1651. political In 1665, when he wrote The Present State, Rycaut had spent five on the state of the Otto in Istanbul. The authors of works years man Empire from diplomats with several years of experi ranged ence to sedentary had never and scholars who visited Turkey drew solely on the writings of others. As a member of the first cat but scorn for those who wrote about had nothing egory, Rycaut or simple on the basis of hearsay tourism the Ottoman Empire to the Reader). His sources State appear for The Present (Epistle more For example, reliable. stated that some of his infor Rycaut came from official Ottoman mation and records registers (Epistle to the Reader). One might the Ottoman wonder whether records were he could read them if they were. open to him,10 or whether were in Otto Affairs" The "Registers of Important handwritten man in a loopy Turkish ten in a script combining secret code.11 However, finance records were writ scribble, while the characteristics of a shorthand and a his informants numbered among Rycaut

10 "Sir Paul Rycaut," As does Heywood, p. 41. 11 see Lajos Fekete, The nearly Die Siy for which siyakat script, indecipherable 2 vols. in die t?rkische Akademiai aqat-Schrift Verwaltungsschreiben, (Budapest: Kiado, 1955).

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at court Defterdar Ibrahim;12 as one of the chief treasurers ?eytan read the government of the empire, he could certainly If registers. to had informants of this caliber, he did not require access Rycaut He also obtained interviews records themselves. the written (pos or dragomans) with of the inhabitants interpreters sibly through soldiers and with Turkish from the wars.13 Chap palace returning ter 4, for instance, is clearly written from eyewitness reports. The sections based on direct form lively and of his account testimony narratives circumstantial detail. replete with interesting Finally, from his own drew conclusions experience, Rycaut weighing and test of reason and virtue" them "to the measure (p. 2); it was at liberty to reflect on the English here that he was most political of his time. on seventeenth-century de rich scholarship England of 1660 not as a simple victory for absolute the Restoration scribes between the forces of royal but rather a compromise monarchy at fore ism and parliamentarianism.14 This compromise aimed to the mon of civil war by restoring the renewal stalling authority at the same time preventing the arch, while tyranny by permitting to that authority. to set limits atmo The political classes upper in 1665 was one of retreat from the republicanism of the sphere realities The The of the reaction Commonwealth years, 1649-60. strength a corresponding fear over the possibility of absolutism. generated or victims to critics rule meant of royal different Absolute things of the king.15 The connotations than it did to supporters policies
12 An English in Turkey, pp. 233-34. Consul Anderson, 13For see Allan Cunningham, The Dra of dragoman, the office "Dragomania: no. 2, ed. in Turkey," in Middle Eastern of the British gomans Affairs, Embassy and Windus, Albert Hourani 1961), pp. 81-100. (London: Chatto 14 to consult I have it a pleasure As a historian of the Ottoman found Empire, on seventeenth-century historians studies the many excellent by British English include for the Restoration works and ideas. Basic period government, politics, II (Oxford: in the Reign Basil K. H. D. Haley, Politics Blackwell, 1985); of Charles Thomas Nelson The Century Hill, of Revolution, 1603-1714 (Edinburgh: 1660-1688 ed., The Restored (London: Mac 1961); J. R. Jones, Monarchy, in the Reign 2nd ed. (Oxford: II, 2 vols., millan, of Charles 1979); David Ogg, England Constitution and the Feudal The Ancient Clarendon Press, 1955); J. G. A. Pocock, in the Seventeenth Law: A Study Historical Century (Cam of English Thought The Restoration, Press, Seaward, 1987); and Paul University bridge: Cambridge 1660-1688 Macmillan, 1991). (Houndmills, England: 15 on seventeenth-century is voluminous, ideas, though political Scholarship as itmight to generalize too broadly: not as useful of scholars' be because attempts . . ,"but who and had that. considered "The early seventeenth considered, century on While for so considering? fined or sent to jail recently he or she been experts Christopher and Sons, the seventeenth century have managed to locate expressions of every possible

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of the term

"absolute"

law, enforcing king's making law, raising money through the church, ordering putting And since to sonal whims. contest its meaning for power, were contestants perceived

in regard to the to existing law, granting exceptions the country, taxation, administering or fulfilling down rebellion, his per is to talk about a discuss absolutism

to who also differed the according to be. Historically, the word "abso to the ruler's freedom lute" first referred from any higher author to rule without in particular the pope; the ability of kings ity, natural of birth, was the appointment, by papal merely right essence In that sense, English mon of the divine of kings.16 right archs when at the time of the Reformation, absolute rulers became of the English control church from the pope to the passed set of definitions A second dealt with rule untrammeled king.17 by restraint such from, and in full control over, lesser power groups, as a nobility with an independent like power base, or institutions or the law. This free cities, the church, second meaning of the over the internal powers control at of the realm?lay term?royal

the root of the struggles of the seventeenth century. The political ideas of the seventeenth fall into two century one of ordered basic positions, centeredness and one of commu reason.18 The first position derived from the nity-based kingship divine and natural order and magnified the headship of the king over the body politic, while the second derived the king's power consent from the people's to strengthen and sought the role of at least the uppermost layer of the people in government through

to date in every possible of view little or no point period, they have made on absolutism to relate statements to the particular circumstances people's called the attitudes them forth and of their proponents toward those or toward stances Nor have the specific royal actions. they tried to clarify at any one time. of opinion to Instead, weight they have leaped directly

attempt that circum

meant level?"absolutism this"?and insulted general unhelpfully are James Two exceptions "The Idea of Absolute Daly, disagreeing. 21 (1978): 227-50; and John Miller, Historical Journal Seventeenth-Century England," "The Potential in Later Stuart for 'Absolutism' History 69 (1984): 187-207. England," 16 John Neville The Divine 2nd ed. (Cambridge: Cam Figgis, Right of Kings, Press, bridge 1914). University 17 Brian Manning, "The Nobles, the People, in Crisis in and the Constitution," ed. Trevor Aston Books, Europe, 1550-1650, (New York: Basic 1965), pp. 247-49. 18 Robert in Politics: Order and Reason Theories and Eccleshall, of Absolute in Early Modern Limited Oxford Press, Monarchy England (Oxford: University Comstock Weston and Janelle Renfrow 1978), p. 18; Corrine Greenberg, Subjects over Legal and Sovereigns: The Grand in Stuart Controversy Sovereignty England (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981), pp. 2-3.

relative the most for each other in Monarchy

78 Parliament. Both

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were in English present positions political the ages, but they were in different thought through deployed as circumstances In the first half of the seven ways changed. concern teenth the overwhelming to prop up had been century, social unrest and religious rebellion. Both government against had been used in this cause.19 The idea of order, of argument types to establish by the notion of divine right, was employed supported over religion control and the social body, while the commu royal view emphasized the responsibility of all to contribute nity-based to the health of the whole it did not the "commonweal"; body, to rebel against control. the right of the people imply royal The Civil War and Restoration shifted the conflict from one to an in the society between the state and disruptive elements between The restoration king and Parliament.20 to be intended in 1660 seemed kings by some (includ as a step toward a it was the Stuarts themselves, ing feared) was viewed The French absolutism. the French-style regime by as the ultimate in tyranny, surpassed only by that of English were the Turks. All the seventeenth-century French monarchs of the Stuart to practice to disregard to the estates of the realm, what thought taxation the English was extortionate enforced by military might, to the Protestant and to give increasing cause.21 These difficulty as well.22 Avoiding in Restoration issues were all alive England to hinge on parliamentary control the excesses of France seemed were seen as rivals in the of royal desires; and Parliament king Now task of attaining the welfare of the whole. community-cen were forth to aggrandize the power of tered arguments brought over the king: the subjects' to inform Parliament responsibility into a right to limit his actions and counsel the ruler was enlarged and to make laws for him to carry out. On the other hand, the later to jus Stuarts used order-centered and their supporters language intrastate contest

is in J. P. Sommerville, Politics of these arguments clearest exposition see also in England, 1980), pp. 9-50; (London: 1603-1640 Longman, Ideology in Early Stuart England: and Studies Kevin and Ideas Politics (Lon Essays Sharpe, don: Pinter Publishers, 1989), pp. 9-20. 20 Politics and Ideas, pp. 63-71. Sharpe, 21A was made and France the monarchies of England between by comparison in the Governments J. P. Cooper, and Continental between "Differences English in Britain and Seventeenth and the Netherlands, ed. J. S. Bromley Early Century," E. H. Kossmann, Chatto and Windus, 4 vols. i960), 1:62-90. (London: 22A is Mark between and religion of the relationship politics good discussion Political Studies and Anglican "John Locke Goldie, 31 (1983): 61-95. Royalism," and

19 The

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of Parliament. Political alignments tify royal action independent to the issue of the day, and no one could predict shifted according do.23 In this conflict, what the king would commentary political was a popular in which form of literature, and prolific tyranny, with the absolutist rule were and sultanic associated despotism, Parliament tendencies of the Stuart monarchy. passed censorship but criticism virulent forms of attack, laws to check the most the lightest of veils. on Ottoman in culture political body of research schol the seventeenth does not yet exist.24 Until century recently ars tended to trade to neglect reference the period except with to change.25 and external but that is beginning affairs, Formerly as an unremarkable in the "decline era" of interlude regarded to be seen as is coming Ottoman the seventeenth century history, a centralized a critical "feudal" pol of transition between period under flourished A comparable ity and
23 The

a more

decentralized,

more

commercialized,

and

less

in of the time is emphasized London Crowds uncertainty by Tim Harris, II: Propaganda and Politics the Restoration until the of Charles from Crisis Press, University 1987), p. 61; and Jona (Cambridge: Cambridge Cam than Scott, Algernon and the English Sidney Republic, 1623-1677 (Cambridge: Press, 1988), pp. 165-68. University bridge 24 to Ottoman and civilization is Haul The best introduction history general trans. Norman The Ottoman The Classical Itzko Inalcik, Empire: Age, 1300-1600, not witz and Nicholson, and Colin Imber (London: Weidenfeld 1973), DUt it does can be cover events An outline of seventeenth-century the seventeenth century. the Reign Exclusion to 1730 (Cambridge: in M. A. Cook, found ed., A History Empire of the Ottoman Ann K. S. Lambton, and Bernard Press, 1976); P. M. Holt, Cambridge University 1: The Central Lands The Cambridge vol. Islamic Lewis, eds., History of Islam, J. Shaw and Ezel Press, University 1970); or Stanford (Cambridge: Cambridge and Modern vol. 1:Empire Kural Shaw, History Empire of the Ottoman of Turkey, the Gazis: The Rise 1280-1808 and Decline of the Ottoman Empire, (Cambridge: are rapidly Press, however, 1977). All these interpretations, University Cambridge out of date. becoming 25 See I. Metin Servants: The Sultan's The Transformation Kunt, of Ottoman Provincial Columbia Government, Press, (New York: 1550-1650 University 1983); Rifa'at 'Ali Abou-El-Haj, The 1703 Rebellion and the Structure Politics of Ottoman voor het Nabije Instituut Forma Oosten, (Leiden: Nederlands 1984); Abou-El-Haj, to Eighteenth tion of the Modern State: Centuries The Ottoman Sixteenth Empire, State University of New York Press, Izmir and the Goffman, 1991); Daniel (Albany: Levantine of Washington World, Press, (Seattle: 1990); and Les 1550-1650 University lie A. Pierce, The Imperial Harem: Woman in the Ottoman and Sovereignty Empire the recent doctoral dissertations Press, (Oxford: Oxford 1993). See also University Timar of Douglas "The Ottoman and Its Transformation, Howard, System 1563 in the Seventeenth "Peasant Unrest 1656" (Indiana University, 1987); Karen Barkey, in Comparative The Ottoman of Chi Empire Century: Perspective" (University Finance "The Ottoman Central and cago, 1988); and Linda T. Darling, Department the Assessment and Collection of the Cizye and Avariz Taxes, 1560-1660" (University of Chicago, 1990).

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autocratic The standard view of Ottoman held regime. history rise from an obscure that the Ottomans' to the border principality status of a world to power between 1300 and 1566 was attributable a long series of strong and able sultans, an efficient bureaucratic in the hands of slave officials to devoted organization completely the ruler, and a large cavalry force reimbursed of land by grants revenues. the decline of the empire after the death of Conversely, seen as the result of a long in 1566 was the Magnificent S?leyman series of incapable to stink at the head"), sultans fish begins ("the the abandonment of the land-based excessive bureau cavalry, fiscal exploitation, and the unruliness of the slaves. cratization, The in the of this explanation became apparent inadequacy course of research to events into the relationship of these changes in the world. elsewhere occurring to investigate have only begun in the Scholars the effects Ottoman of the sixteenth-century the revolution, price Empire and the military crisis, revolution, seventeenth-century general as yet on the economy no information and we have virtually of seventeenth that by the eigh century.26 We do know certain teenth century and local strong governments provincial men had emerged as regional centers in the local involved power a fair amount of wealth and military economies, controlling into commercial and entering relations with Europe resources, the later
ans. Over the same period the sultan, once an autocrat, became

and later the head of a faction factions of his among route to state power shifted ranks to from the cavalry service the palace and bureaucracy, and then to the retinues of the great men of state. Historical documents reveal that during in a complex the seventeenth the empire was century, engaged series of transformations that the notion of "decline" does little to help us comprehend. the process is still of change Although to discuss it is no longer possible the inter understood, poorly of the period affairs using without critical Rycaut analysis.
26

an arbiter own. The

nal

the

judgments

of Europeans

like

to the price related revolution of the sixteenth century questions in numerous social have been addressed articles by changes in the and in Halil and Fiscal Transformation Inalcik, Suraiya Faroqhi "Military DUt for the 6 (1980): 283-337, Ottoman Ottomanicum Archivum 1600-1700," Empire, last several decades the most influential that of Bernard has been Lewis, analysis "Some Observations of the Decline of the Ottoman Isl?mica Studia 9 Empire," Specific and accompanying (1958): 111-27.

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was writing, the Ottoman 1660s when Rycaut early was in the process of recovery from a like England, in the leadership the 1640s and 1650s. of turmoil during period We are not well informed about argu contemporary political outline Sultan the basic of events. but we do have mentation, his nick Ibrahim I, who had ruled between 1640 and i648,earned name "Mad Ibrahim" other the walls by, among things, covering fur. He was of govern and ceilings of the palace with incapable of his mother and his tutor. fell into the hands ing, and power in His son and successor, Sultan Mehmed IV, came to the throne rel 1648 as a child of seven. For the next several years, his female empire, exercised from the harem, their eunuch power guards The military of the Janissaries. the commanders forces by were and out of control. officials factionalized High at a rapid rate, preventing and dismissed the forma appointed was tion of a coherent Inflation the treasury rampant, policy. was bare, War over Crete was going badly, and the the Venetian suffered from Venetian naval successes food distribution system and aided were in the Dardanelles. in In desperation, the sultan's mother agreed as grand vizier of the elderly to the appointment and experi 1656 the first of a powerful enced Mehmed of grand K?pr?l?, dynasty on condition viziers. office that he would be K?pr?l? accepted a free hand and would not be undermined allowed the sultan, by to the Ottoman and he soon restored order government. By 1665 the empire had seen nine years of stable with Ahmed leadership, now at the helm, and was soon to complete the taking of K?pr?l? to hunting, Crete from the Venetians. The young sultan, devoted to his viziers. When left political and military decisions Rycaut to in the empire, arrived the palace staff must have been trying them. It is understandable that put the tumultuous past behind in their discussions with a foreigner the need for a they stressed even was not central the sultan himself power, strong though we can approach in mind, Rycaut's 1 of Book One, In chapter understanding. "The Maximes of the Turkish defined the Otto Politie," Rycaut man as a tyranny sense of govern in the classical government ment ruler who was above the law. The by a severe and absolute contains that follows the main of his elements long quotation description. that power. exercising With this background observations with better atives

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But when

I have considered
the absoluteness speeches whose actions

seriously
of may and the an

the contexture
Emperour irrational, examples; be yet

of the Turkish
reason, be yet must sentence whose and are most

government, without virtue, laws; and whose judgement, little

without

irregular, if in matters of

Imperial

concernment, no

commonly
what profitable noble

corrupt,
rewards and thriving or

and yet decrees


there vice; are how for men

irresistible: When
vertue, are and raised

I consider
for adula

punishment at once by

tion, chance,
blood,

and the sole favor of the Prince, without


the motives of previous deserts,...

any title of
to the

weightiest,
Empire, Patron cruelty and tomed, the and are

the
. .. what Master.... natural

richest,
they to In

and most
labour this for

honourable
is but as slaves

charges
for their

of

the
great

Government, it were as great first

it, and

and violence, severity, an errour to begin to

loose the reins, and ease the people of that oppression


their as fore-fathers it would be have since their free-born, the clemency power in a nation and a original and used of

towhich
been to live

they
accus under and

of protection Christian Prince,

laws, good to exercise

a virtuous their

Tyrannical

over

estates

and

lives, and (PP. 2-3)

change

their

liberty

into servitude

and

slavery.

an axiom of Euro reflected as a description of the Otto pean man most in such extremism; of about the Turks have displayed those who have written "passion ate feelings," Five centuries of expe and negative.27 both positive des rience have still not been able to dispel the image of oriental over the Turks. In reality, however, Ottoman that hangs potism on the sultan's behavior. checks political acknowledged thought Islamic The Ottoman ruler was bound social, law?covering by in God and unalter and religious questions, originating political, as by past customs and prior rulers?as able by human well The fact that this horrid picture it credible rendered tradition was not alone Rycaut polity. in the Near East In addition, the ruler's decrees.28 legitimacy even of justice and order, and any subject, rested on the provision the right of this legitimacy the poorest, could challenge through to the sultan himself.29 direct petition Further, by the seventeenth
27 to Turkish emotional Contributions British Studies, Bowen, p. 8. For Locke's see John Locke, ed. Two Treatises of the Turks, characterization of Government, Peter Laslett 1963), pp. 182-83. (New York: New American Library, 28 The Ottoman Inalcik, pp. 65-71. Empire, 29 and the Prob Ottoman "Political among Activity Taxpayers Faroqhi, Suraiya and Social Journal lem of Sultanic History of the Legitimation," of the Economic see Faroqhi, "Politi Orient of the petition process, 35 (1992): 1-39. For a description

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of government, the sultan was removed from the business century in the hands of officials which was and the great men of state.30 The sultan was not free to act on his every whim, and an Ottoman as the product scholar would dismiss rhetoric of igno Rycaut's rance and prejudice. in the Otto By virtue of his long residence man the Ottoman have understood realm, however, Rycaut must in this passage than the language better would system political Internal evidence that he may have had another suggest. suggests reason for employing the terminology In England of tyranny. the to characterize of tyrant was used by critics of royal policy epithet a king who tried to act independently of his counselors.31 Rycaut's to the English if applied raised the situation, description, political more extreme of an absolutism than any English specter king or queen had yet been able to wield. Even time the idea was widespread that though by Rycaut's in accord with should be exercised law and tempered royal power consultation with the English still had difficulty Parliament, by a political to any that gave final sovereignty theory formulating one but the king.32 New parliaments not convened the monarch by but elected the Commonwealth had been seen as illegiti during so much so that they were to obtain unable mate, enough legiti to vote sufficient taxes for the Commonwealth macy government to run properly.33 On the other hand, because of the monarchy's small fiscal base, lack of a standing military force, and weakness to the nobility, a with few rulers were ever able to exercise regard that could be called absolute. Charles power II, when he came to lacked army, courts, or treasury, the throne, and the royal domain lands were reduced due to sales during the Com considerably monwealth. the Throughout ment for his income and was 1660s Charles thus unable on Parlia depended to rule independently,

cal Initiatives 'From in the Sixteenththe Bottom and Seventeenth-Century Up' Ottoman Some Evidence for Their in Osmanistische Studien Existence," Empire: zur Wirtschaftsin Memoriam und Sozialgeschichte Vaneo Boskov, ed. Hans Georg Otto Harrassowitz, Majer (Wiesbaden: 1986), pp. 24-33. 30 T. Darling, Linda "The Finance Scribes and Ottoman in Decision Politics," and Change in the Ottoman ed. Caesar Farah Mo.: Making Empire, (Kirksville, Thomas was Jefferson The sultan's isolation Press, University 1993), pp. 89-100. in court see G?lr? enacted ceremonial and architecture; graphically Necipoglu, Ceremonial and Power: The Topkapi Palace in the Fifteenth and Six Architecture, teenth Centuries Mass.: MIT Press, 1991). (Cambridge, 31 Politics and Ideas in Early Stuart England, Sharpe, pp. 16-17. 32 London Harris, Crowds, p. 46; Hill, The Century p. 63. of Revolution, 33 The Century Hill, pp. 115-18. of Revolution,

84 he clearly wanted although the propertied representing to keep chants), struggled control of the purse strings. liament without the king had

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to do so. The Restoration Parliament, classes landowners and mer (both in check absolutism royal through In the eyes of many Par Englishmen, the Inter proven illegitimate during was viewed as danger but the king without Parliament regnum, ous. The Ottoman served as a living example of the threat empire The impulsive unrestrained. and irrationality posed by monarchy con to the Ottoman sultan attributed Rycaut despotic cruelty of a virtuous and Christian Prince" trasted with "the clemency of his who abided by "good laws." Was this only Rycaut's flattery Was it not also a broad hint to the restored mon patron's patron? a subject with that En credentials, proven royalist a king who not tolerate tried "to classes would gland's propertied a Tyrannical exercise and lives"? power over their estates 2 Rycaut In chapter his discussion of "the absolute expanded ness of the Emperour" worried and explained why Englishmen over The first their estates. about power topic he tyrannical was in the Ottoman addressed the system of land tenure empire. land tenure the crucial element To understand why he considered we need to look at the seventeenth-century under in absolutism The between and property. of the relationship liberty standing to refer not to term liberty was used in the seventeenth century to do whatever in the abstract, but to the concrete freedom ability arch, from and your property.34 with Servants, appren you wanted yourself were not "free" therefore and women salaried tices, workers, of the head of the household the control because they were under were not "free" because or enterprise. Tenants and paupers they do as they liked. with which did not own property they could an Englishman his own property. free was What made owning for mem and voted "free" had the "franchise" Those who were Parliament of Parliament. and was the property owners, liberties."35 people's in the Ottoman By contrast, bers therefore considered empire the "free," represented of "the the preserver the ownership of all prop

34C. B. Hobbes Individualism: The Political MacPherson, of Possessive Theory is well to Locke Press, aspect by explained 1962). The property (Oxford: Clarendon in A in English Revolution of the Seventeenth-Century "The Place History," Hill, in Seven and Literature Radical Nation and Novelty: Politics, Religion of Change teenth-Century 35 Seaward, (London: England The Restoration, Routledge, pp. 14-17. 1990), p. 23.

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Ac in the sultan vested property excepted). (religious that all the wealth of the empire to Rycaut, that meant cording em it was went of one single person"; the appetite "to satisfy of their Great Master," "whose will "to the use and benefit ployed terms for rhe and lusts they served" (p. 4). He used such repulsive true. torical effect, but he knew that what he said was not literally in which he explained is clear from the very next sentence, This on the of distributing the Ottoman system usufructory rights to the military forces as a reward lands of the empire for valor in the English of and in lieu of salary, system just as was done between The essential difference the two systems knight-service. was he retained the that the sultan's grants were not permanent; was revoca of the land itself, and the grant of usufruct ownership Ottoman nobles were not "free" in the ble at his pleasure.36 Thus, sense: free to dispose of their own property however they English if they could get away Nor were free to refuse willed. service, they in England it (even common soldiers considered themselves with a 1673 complaint "free" in this sense, as witnessed from a sol by to swear a "horrid oath" to obey the orders dier about having of as Rycaut In the Ottoman his officers).37 had already system, out in the first chapter, there was no privileged noble pointed Nor did the Ottoman class with "title of blood" (p. 2). ruling class have the secure power base provided control of by independent to check the power of the ruler. In lands and revenues from which at pains in the early period the sultans had been of the to eliminate such independent bases.38 This left the power empire on the will of the Ottoman and high officials nobility dependent ruler for the continuation of their position and also of their social and even life itself. status, livelihood, was What made this particularly for the English portentous as well as their goods their lives and liberties and that, legally, All of these, at the time Rycaut wrote, lands were their property.39 fact,

36

For

a fuller

see Inalcik, system, 37 Ogg, England could not be forced ville,

of description The Ottoman in the Reign to pay taxes

the Ottoman Empire, pp.

landholding 104-18.

system,

called

the

timar

Politics and Ideology 38 The Ottoman "Ottoman of Methods Inalcik, Inalcik, pp. 109-10; Halil Empire, 2 (1954): 103-29. Studia Isl?mica Conquest," 39Tim in the Reign and Estates': Rhetorics of Liberty Harris, '"Lives, Liberties of Charles in Restoration ed. Tim Harris, II," in The Politics of Religion England, Mark Goldie, and Paul Seaward (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1990), pp. 219-20.

owners II, 2:505. Property of Charles on their property without their consent: in England, pp. 147-48.

in England Sommer

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were men under threat from religious and persecution. English women not considered the established outside church were full was not invio and so their property citizens, (goods, liberty, life) late. If the king became such might be the fate of all absolute, In fact, many members of the established church, Englishmen. on this ac suffered them, had recently among Rycaut's family had the Civil War and Commonwealth. Ottoman officials during no security was since their property likewise of property, lia lives and liberties, ble to be taken away at any time. Their their were status and livelihood, insecure. How social could equally for the ruler or fit gover these men be considered fit counselors nors not full citizens? for a realm of which they were Rycaut that "what they labour for is but as slaves for could only conclude of irrational (p. 2). To the rhetoric not of slavery. No Englishman, could miss the point: absolutism advisers, form of rule in England. A supporting in Rycaut's condemnation abso of sultanic point ruler was above the law. Although lutism was that the Ottoman true only in a limited the sultan, unlike this was the king sense, war could make of England, unilateral decisions about and the rhetoric Master" count

their great Patron and ity and vice he added even Charles and his was not an acceptable

finance.40 As a contrasting cited Germany, where Rycaut example the Diet had to be ponderously consulted before Germany could to war against its Ottoman invaders there were occasions go (and to grant the funds). when it refused In England it was a disputed or law (embodied was in Parliament) whether question king The issue at stake was whether the king could unilater supreme. an army.41 An army to support ally levy funds from his subjects was seen as both an unnecessary out of the sub expense coming instrument and a potential for the enforcement of jects' pockets to religious with rule, especially respect uniformity. law prescribed and guaranteed the freedom of the subjects II had quieted this and other unpopular demands.42 Charles to not resolved in 1660 by a written the dispute agreement within the law and not to go to war; by 1665 it was clear he was to keep the agreement.43 An Ottoman-style absolutism willing absolute
40 For

The from but rule not was

limitations

on

the

sultan's

power,

see

Inalcik,

The Ottoman

Empire,

pp.

61, 70-75 41 The Divine of Kings, Right Figgis, 42 The Ancient Constitution Pocock, 43The of Breda: Declaration Jones,

p. 225. and the Feudal Law, p. 189. p. 12. The Restored

Monarchy,

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or making to raising money it came when effective undoubtedly war. "But," hinted Rycaut, in case King Charles was attracted by and wonderful "I confess it is a blessing this effectiveness, happi ness of a people, to be Subjects of a gracious Prince, who hath pre ac of wholesom the compass scribed his power within Laws, as well a right of possession and propriety of Estate knowledge as himself, the innocent with who doth not punish in his Subjects nor act the part of that the guilty, nor oppress without distinction, in his wrath God gives (p. 8)." A person who had been King whom not have realized the 1660 might how close out of England since come to abrogating but Rycaut was fully his agreement, king had aware of the issues As a royalist, he the question. surrounding to endorse could not be expected government, parliamentary rule was plain. of arbitrary his disapproval on the image of the Ottoman 3 expanded ruling Chapter but

class as slaves, emphasizing status in terms of of that the implications out all his owed to the sultan. Here Rycaut the obedience pulled as known on stereotypes to the of slavery rhetorical stops, playing to reinforce absolutism he in order the negative image of English was trying to convey. Later passages, show he knew that however, the nature.44 He began Ottoman slavery was of a quite different the education of an Ottoman kul, or slave, chapter by describing so an obedience to the sultan and devotion which ingrained of the ruler was con that to die by the hand or command to Para and led directly sidered the highest form of martyrdom he of the Turkish dise Court," (p. 8). "The whole composition was "a Prison from of Slaves, and Banniard declared, differing are immured, that where the Galley-slaves only by the ornaments extreme the Ottoman and glittering outside" government (p. 9). He found "a wonder if any amongst "such a fabrick of slavery" that it was them should be born of a free ingenuous spirit" (p. 9). Such a nega to an absolute tive picture the degra of service monarch, evoking to even dation and danger of the galleys, would surely give pause the most ardent royalist of England. a hundred Bodin had already however, years before, Nearly explained to Europeans that the sultan ruled his slaves "much

man

44 Ottoman from chattel of the Roman slavery was distinct type. Otto slavery the highest in the realm under slaves were held offices the sul legal persons, For a fuller discussion and accumulated of how the institu tanate, great wealth. see Inalcik, tion operated, The Ottoman Inalcik, pp. 76-88; Halil Empire, "Capital in the Ottoman Formation Journal 19 (1969): 97-140. History of Economic Empire,"

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and freely, then doth a good householder his courteously . . . servants to instruct, whom the prince useth no otherwise then out that any if they were his children."45 himself Rycaut pointed one who received wages from the government bore (proudly) the kul (p. 8). By Rycaut's time very few of these title of the sultan's were slaves or members of the child levy (dev purchased actually to "ser and the term kul had become shirme), nearly equivalent vant" or "employee." The palace educational he described system reserved for candidates destined for top governmental offices most in that fashion. In any case, kul were not indoctrinated (p. 8); or the retinue in either service the sultan's household of palace one of the great men of state was to the quickest and surest way climb A similar the ladder of political success.46 of situation, in Stuart England, where offices were filled by course, prevailed the retinues and favorites of the king and the great men. In early

was

modern

as in the Ottoman men successful Empire, England, on the king's; members modeled of these retained households to which often did the work of the posts households such men were most the seventeenth offices were century, By appointed.47 and favorites than filled by newly made rather courtiers, nobles, as the sultan, would If the king were as absolute the old nobility.48 these men be as abject as slaves? out a In connection with could point Rycaut officeholding, to the Stuart kings' penchant Ottoman for lis parallel dangerous in the Seraglio "the flattery used tening only to their favorites:

45 slave The Six Books Bodin, p. 201. The Turkish of a Commonweale, palace seen terms as an educational in Dewey-like has also been system system designed to merit: The to aptitudes and promotion for training according Lybyer, according Government pp. 71-73. Empire, of the Ottoman 46 on the sultan The Ottoman elite's and lack of a landed power dependency and decline; base are often cited as a reason for Ottoman see, for exam corruption moiti? si?cle du XVIIe Istanbul dans le seconde Mantran, (Paris: ple, Robert note salaried that modem Adrien Maisonneuve, should Librairie 1962), p. 102. One are in very much as the Ottoman the same position bureaucrats kul, with political can now to life itself. Of course, of the threat the idea of "employee" the exception For of "wage and "white-collar be qualified proletariat." slavery" by the concepts see Kunt, in the Ottoman The Sul service the political role of household Empire, Vezir and Pa?a House "The Ottoman tan's Servants; and Rifa'at 'Ali Abou-El-Haj, Oriental 94 (1947): 438-47. Society of the American and Develop John Craig, A History of the Origin of Red Tape: An Account See also ment and Evans, 1955), pp. 50-63. (London: Macdonald of the Civil Service The 1703 Rebellion, p. 9 and n. 25. Abou-El-Haj, 48Lawrence Clarendon The Crisis Stone, (Oxford: of the Aristocracy, 1558-1641 Press, 500. 1965), pp. 468-69, holds," 47 Journal Sir

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and the that are near his person," the Prince towards by those to all the lusts and evil inclinations of abroad "condescension to the ruler was "to seek other His advice their Master" (p. 9). to inform himself of the true state of his own counsel and means from men unex then such as proceed and other Kings Dominions, in any other Court or Country then that they live in." An perienced see a personal astute in such courtier could application surely
advice.

to explain to pass, "how it comes that then attempted as are seen and known so many mutinies and rebellions was so care to authority if abject submission the Turks," amongst use of "Brave and wise Emperours," he said, made instilled. fully Rycaut there are for "the advancement of noble subjection" while under and enlargement of their Empire," "Effemi exploits, nate Princes" it became dis "the cause of the decay of the Turkish His explanation harks back once again to the situa cipline" (p. 9). two powerful "when tion in England: rebellions parties happen to allure both to greatness and authority, the Souldiers aspiring their respective and engage them in a civil war amongst factions, this "immoderate of Empires, and hence proceed destruction themselves; seditions, and the violent death of great the overthrow of Common-wealths, Ministers of State" (p. 10). an actual event In chapter historical related that 4, Rycaut in an absolutist the process the "pas illustrated state, by which, in high position could generate and factional war.49 He narrated, from disturbances military from members of the palace information staff, the story of gained the rivalry for power between the mother and the grandmother of the sultan. He told how they drew the great men of state and the sions and animosities" of those into their rivalry, and how the rivalry turned into corps military an armed uprising that permitted the members of the mother's to proscribe had control of the sultan, and execute faction, which the leaders of the grandmother's faction with the grand along were mother The ill effects herself. of "the decay of discipline" thus made perfectly clear. as follows. The episode may be summarized The previous sul had Ibrahim, had passed power tan,
49 constant of

been mentally into the hands

unfit

to rule

of his mother,

the empire, first K?sem,

and lady

This

kind

of

problem the Aristocracy,

factionalism in sixteenthp. 481.

and and

the resulting seventeenth-century

possibility England;

of

explosion see Stone,

was Crisis

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son and successor, of the harem. When Ibrahim died, his eldest seven Mehmed and his grandmother IV, was old, years only to function as the power K?sem continued behind the throne. Mehmed's that she should be wielding mother, Turhan, thought on this power and that K?sem should have gone into retirement the death of Ibrahim. Turhan was also aware that K?sem was ulti mately responsible her son as well, for Ibrahim's for the life of death, and fearing to wrest she determined from K?sem. power K?sem her power exercised the Janissary corps, through military so Turhan or Cavalry the Sipahis allied herself with of the Porte, who were rivals of the Janissaries. she suc longtime Eventually as a group in instigating to rise against ceeded the Sipahis the Janissaries. The great statesmen of the empire took sides with one or the other faction, and the two military in corps took to fighting in this state of anarchy, end to the impasse by his half brother, whose dominated. This easily her chief the grand vizier, who alienated supporter, suggestion informed Turhan and her allies, as well as the sultan, of K?sem's armed the palace and wrote supporters guards plan. The sultan's to death for the young K?sem decrees sultan to sign. condemning

time passed the streets of the city. Some an to bring and finally K?sem proposed Mehmed and replacing him with deposing naive and pious, could be more mother,

On the strength the palace of these decrees, entered the guards in search of K?sem. in a clothes harem her hidden Discovering some quilts, chest under her out and executed her. they dragged To regain the allegiance of the Janissaries, the grand vizier dis were to which the Banner of Muhammad, all Muslims played was to rally. This reinforced obliged religious appeal by the as well as by a written of the Sipahi corps, approach fully armed, the sultan, and the Janissaries Their lead yielded. and "for a long time after they kept themselves executed, within of humility the bounds and obedience" (p. 23). on this event was comment that although absolute Rycaut's on military to main like the Ottomans, rulers power dependent command ers were from to the dangers of military their control, were fully exposed or "Rebellious at the same time no usurper slave" could revolt, command the loyalty of the military forces as could a member of to England the royal line. This time he made the parallel explicit: "None can more this Doctrine [of devotion preach experimentally to the royal line] to the World than England, who no sooner threw . . she was to her Prince, and Religion off her Obedience but. tain deprived of all her other Ecclesiastical and Civil Rights, and in all

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and relations deflowred and prophaned by impious and hands" Civil war, sedition, "overthrow of Com (p. 24). and the violent death of great Ministers of State"? mon-wealths, not to mention in 1649?followed in due that of the ruler himself
course.

in connection comments in with England, Considered Rycaut's these four chapters sultanic disre about noble tyranny, slavery, the monar gard of law, and factional war, reveal that he supported and disapproved of rebellion but feared the possibil it, chy against about the status of English and worried property ity of absolutism in this ambivalent in and law. He was by no means alone position; the 1660s a majority of his countrymen shared his atti probably to an England in the tude. In this book Rycaut that was appealed for a way of inventing constitutional process monarchy, searching the majesty of kingship while limiting royal sovereignty. a monarch same unsure he addressed who was time, to accept such a compromise of his position whether he was willing a of the Ottoman and power. Rycaut's system conveyed description double warning, the adverse of both effects cautioning against excessive and the dangers absolutism of rebellion against legiti mate authority. His work cannot be read as straightforward repor scene. A of an observer of the Ottoman tage, the naive reflection At the of observable and conveyed description reality that both concealed a standard in the lit other ideas was feature political) (usually erature on any subject written A book of the period.50 by an in 1665 that on the first page mentioned "intestine and Englishman civil revolutions" and commonwealths with Reason "supported was undoubtedly and with Religion" about English what politics, ever its ostensible as work must be understood subject. Rycaut's veiled advice to the English monarch.51 to make to depict The tactic Rycaut his point was employed an extreme Ottoman rule as the negative form of absolut ideal, ism that England should strive not to emulate. The attributes of
50 was or science, not a work Since book of history, it Rycaut's religion, the censor's three fields were in the 1660s; under eye. Those escaped censorship see Hill, The Century criticism p. 248. As a consequence, of Revolution, political was often written or the history in the form of allegory of foreign lands; see Chris Discourse in Early "Political in A Hill, topher Seventeenth-Century England," Nation and Novelty, pp. 42-44. of Change 51 in 1972 mentioned in his work his feeling that Rycaut had Hey wood always in mind: "Sir Paul Rycaut," said as much but nei himself, p. 54. Rycaut England nor anyone on Rycaut ther Heywood else who has written has paid sufficient to his own statements attention about the political import of his observations.

to retain

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the Ottoman that he emphasized?the of sul system dependence on the absence tanic absolutism of a nobility private prop holding those erty and the slave status of the Ottomans' high officials?were most to establish that contrasted with England's efforts effectively a monarchical values of commonwealth and liberty within system. true or not?the Other aspects of his description, whether absolute ness of the Turkish sultan's edicts, his arbitrary bestowal of lands and goods, the violence and cruelty of the Turkish and the system, sultan's above the law?represented for Rycaut being just those traits that the English should not possess. sovereign The Ottoman the most nega appropriate empire was perhaps tive could have For image Rycaut employed. early modern "the central instance the Islamic world was of cultural Europe, Travelers' of the time emphasized literature the the fact that they lived by other standards "strangeness," than those of Christian The Ottoman system was con Europe.53 while sidered abhorrent any admirable qualities by definition, to Euro in it were held up as a reproach discovered customarily and commer these virtues.54 peans lacking England's diplomatic cial dealings with the Ottomans after the late sixteenth century with construction of Islam as the enemy of conflicted the age-old in every respect. Christendom and its opposite Rycaut's critique to good effect, depicting used this tradition the of English politics on the part of as viciousness horrors of a fully absolutist system otherness."52 Turks' for everyone the ruler, abject else, and the threat of rape slavery "natu if the system were overthrown. Such a system, and murder never work to the Turks, would in "a ral" as it may have been
nation free-born."

52 as Traveler: is from The Humanist This Jonathan lovely phrase Haynes, An. Dom. 1610 (Rutherford, N.J.: Fair Relation Begun of a Journey Sandy's George Press, 1986), p. 13. leigh Dickinson University 53 as Reflected in Turkey in the Lit of the English "The Interest Orhan Burian, erature Oriens of the Renaissance," 5 (1952): 209-29. 54For see Daniel of the European the construction Norman, image of Islam, The Making Islam and the West: of an Image (Edinburgh: University Edinburgh The Renais The Shadow S. Schwoebel, Press, of the Crescent: i960); and Robert sance Press, 1967). For studies (New York: St. Martin's of the Turk (1453-1517) Image see Samuel C. Chew, and view of Islam and the Turks, The Crescent of the English the Renaissance the Rose: Islam and England (New York: Oxford University during From H. Beck, the Rising Press, Images of of the Sun: English 1937); and Brandon to 1715 (New York: Peter Lang, for the Ottoman 1987). Use of this tradition Empires was a commonplace. Browne of Lepanto used the Battle Thomas other purposes as a metaphor inner battles for his own the Ottomans between and Europe or "faith reason Politics the Devil" and between and passion (Sharpe, against Ideas, p. 21).

Darling: Ottoman But Rycaut's

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His vivid depiction politics. English 4 exposed, unintentionally, perhaps "maximes" idealized empire whose saw. As already he actually empire Ottoman sultan's

a negative than provide ideal for events in chapter of political the the vast distance between he expounded and the real knew that the noted, Rycaut

its benefits far beyond the system spread landholding In the episode he rebellion of the Janissary pocket. but a "Tyrannical revealed that the sultan was anything power": child who was led around the he was really only a twelve-year-old sobbed with the rebellion fear when palace by the hand and who as the real holders out. His "slaves" of power, broke appeared

to sign and deciding for the sultan who would decrees writing re and who executed. These "slaves" were be promoted scarcely to their station. The to the martyrdom proper supposedly signed in disguise fled Istanbul and officers after their defeat, Janissary at her execution to die K?sem's her reluctance betrayed struggles at the command to Paradise. and go directly All of the sultan to the contrary, did not actually "maximes" the Ottoman Empire as the theories it did. function proclaimed not noticed modern has generally Unfortunately, scholarship or taken advantage of Rycaut's this discrepancy inside knowledge as a maxims of the system. Authorities have used Rycaut's of Ottoman realities while governmental dismissing description as an aberration a his account of real Ottoman or, worse, politics on sultanic is this comment of reality. One example corruption to have some ini "If some Grand Vezirs seemed patrimonialism: and was due to the passivity this was a de facto situation, tiative, in chapter is the use of the "maximes" of some sultans."55 Another in the Ottoman of slavery" the "central 3 to support importance in chapter the information the actual 4 about system, ignoring role of slavery.56 called 4 has even been Chapter "digressive," included merely "for the record," while the first three chapters were labeled detail True, the lively air and intimate "impartial."57 with in chapter which related the events detailed 4 Rycaut a descent tone of the first marked from the lofty and judgmental but the chapter was no digression, since it served three chapters,

55 Metin and African 56 Paul

Heper, Studies

"Patrimonialism 13 (1979): 8.

in the Ottoman

Turkish

Bureaucracy,"

Asian

on Europe The Ottoman Thames Coles, Impact (London: 1968), pp. 162-63. 57 An English in Turkey, Consul Anderson, p. 239. For Anderson's see pages view of Ottoman 243-44. Rycaut's politics,

and Hudson, evaluation of

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to support in the first three?far im from argument Rycaut's about the dangers of both absolutism and partial?chapters rebellion. in chapter life is vivid 4 of Ottoman picture Rycaut's political us to use his work to permit in revising the stereotype. If enough ever the Ottoman had matched the theoretical model, government it is clear from Rycaut's that a change had information taken a devolution in certain of power from the ruler similar place, to what was at the same time in England. The ways occurring is still to be explored, mechanism of this process but its outlines seem clear. At the beginning of the seventeenth the Otto century man a crisis had undergone it had emerged from which empire its old self."58 Population "no longer economic inflation, growth, a "time of troubles," while and internal rebellion created distress, in military and practice advances put technology simultaneously on the treasury unbearable demands and on military discipline. in this crisis, When female members faltered sultanic leadership commanders of the royal family, palace personnel, and Janissary of government. The bureaucracy and took over the responsibility the households the palace), the avenues of recruitment (including in importance the old and training for those positions, supplanted to power of advancement the landholding cavalry path through to master ranks. The new the troubles leadership finally began of that beset the empire with Mehmed centralization K?pr?l?'s in the office of grand vizier. This was no restoration but a power the center of government shifted from the revolution": "glorious to the grand vizier's and the grand sultan's residence, palace vizier acted no longer as the sultan's right arm but as the real not quite a figurehead, the sultan was maker. decision Although no longer an autocrat. In the following the empire was century run by coalitions no military and of officials with background, factional England. The politics became the order of the day, as in contemporary

in these shifts institutional accompanying developments of the Ottoman became relations features gov power permanent ernment. Ottoman incident late in In a study of another political one historian to how has called attention the seventeenth century, as in England?political "substructures ?in the Ottoman Empire
58 "The Heyday Halil Inalcik, The and Lewis, eds., Lambton, Islamic Lands, p. 342.

and

Decline

of History

the Ottoman of Islam,

Cambridge

Empire," i: The vol.

in Holt, Central

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over the years came to supplement rule the personal that evolved and the ministries, Parliament of the sultans."59 Like the English and the the bureaucracy these Ottoman substructures?notably continu of the great men of state?provided households personal to control the ruler's exercise of rule and worked ity over changes in Ottoman in the seventeenth-century of power.60 But Empire, not to England, maxims contrast the idealized of state were replaced differently. absolutism even was the government though to talk and Ottomans continued were still in place. No Turkish the new political that was system now quite operating as if sultanic ever arose to Locke write

taking shape around legitimize the grand vizier. Behind the facade of contrasting rhetoric, however, political in the direction of development of certain there were similarities unno and England that have gone almost the Ottoman Empire Otto ticed through the centuries. Rycaut's images of loathsome an orientalism man from and reinforced both stemmed tyranny even of a vast distinction, the contrary assumption East and West.61 The use he made of these between alienation, the opposition between the two. But the oppo images highlighted own observa sition was at least in part a false one; out of Rycaut's new images of likeness. a In both countries tions we can fashion founded on vacuum in the strengthening in the monarchy resulted leadership structures In both, and processes. of a lower tier of governmental was to his subordinates the transfer of power from the ruler and the patronage of the great men of state became the routinized increased while normal means of advancement, the bureaucracy in independence and importance. The orientalism that still imbues modern would scholarship as sheer coincidence. of these similarities the dismissal suggest even the possibil to the Ottomans The theory of "decline" denies But in the organiza if every alteration of structural ity change.

59 The 1703 Rebellion, p. 12. Abou-El-Haj, 60 It is true that the Ottoman substructures did not have an independent power in landownership. But it has been base it was that in the Ottoman system argued not ownership over distribution of the means of production but control of its reve nues that conferred "The Dissolution of the Asiatic Mode of power: ?aglar Keyder, Production," 61 The Economy standard and Society 5 (1976): 178-96. text on orientalism is Edward W. Said, Orientalism (New York: use that was stresses the political and is made of cul 1979). Said is the suppression the corollary of similari from consciousness

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of Ottoman after the mid-sixteenth power expression as decline, is to be characterized then we must century explain in seventeenth-century how what we call progressive trends Eng in the Ottoman land were manifestations of decline Empire. We occurrence should take the simultaneous of these trends in such as the starting countries different of a new agenda for point It is possible in that events reconceptualization. were not just superficially the Ottoman sim Empire England ilar but structurally linked. Economic and social historians between 1955 and 1975 estab lished that across the whole Eurasian continent in the sixteenth states were undergoing and seventeenth similar crises centuries, or political set of eco to a common connected transformations research and and nomic over The debate difficulties.62 the nature of the crisis? or political in origin?together economic with nearly essentially on the problem all scholarship halted without resolution after the of a synthesis that two decades of publication concluding bluntly

had not demonstrated research the correctness of either posi tion.63 Recently, the debate was with the the however, reopened cen in the first half of the seventeenth ory that "state breakdown" in England, the Ottoman and Ming China France, tury Empire, was the result of a conjuncture of fiscal distress, elite fragmenta In and popular discontent all driven by population tion, growth.64 were most economic dislocation and state breakdown fol cases,

62 on the general crisis The debate of the seventeenth in 1954 in century began Past and Present the journal and in the following voluminous research inspired were two and a half decades. in Trevor contributions collected Aston, Important in Europe, Parker ed., Crisis Books, 1560-1660 (New York: Basic 1965); and Geoffrey and Lesley M. Smith, Crisis eds., The General of the Seventeenth Century (London: see S. A. M. in non-Western and Kegan Paul, lands, 1978). On the crisis Routledge in China," Crisis "The Seventeenth-Century General France/Asie 24 (1970): S. Atwell, Some Views of Ming Decline: Chinese 251-65; William "Ming Observers on the 'Seventeenth-Century in Comparative Crisis' Journal Perspective," of the Asiatic in the "East and West Royal Society (1988): 316-48; and Jack A. Goldstone, in Stuart Crises Seventeenth Political Ottoman and Century: Turkey, England, Adshead, in Society and History Studies China," 31 (1988): 103-42. A differ Comparative Ming across ent explanation for the connectedness of economic and political changes the globe was The Modern Wallerstein, 3 vols. by Immanuel World-System, given Press, (New York: Academic 1974-89). 63 in Early Modern Theodore The Struggle Rabb, (New for Stability Europe York: Oxford Press, University 1975). 64 and Rebellion in the Early Modern Revolution Jack Goldstone, World (Berke on a can be faulted of California his analysis Press, 1991). Although ley: University a structure number of counts, he is to be commended for creating that draws together so much disparate information and makes itmeaningful.

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and the danger of absolutism. lowed by reconsolidation, reform, were in factors differences Cultural and ideological significant outcome. of the the direction determining an argument the would observations support Rycaut's along In both England and the Ottoman the lines of this model. Empire new the development of and resolution of crisis encouraged the Those who had wielded controls. power when tighter political was weak or absent to retain it in some form sought monarchy was restored. And as the increasing when the monarchy scope and and fiscal administration enhanced of bureaucratic penetration and of government the importance of the bureaucracy functiona to that of subordi ries generally, the ruler's authority gave way accounts nate The model for the institutions. governmental tra reform and Ottoman between divergence ideology England's in the two countries' views of ditionalism differences by cultural The validity of the model itself must still be tested and history. reconstruc and there are problems with the historical examined, tions ability mans, on it. Its value, based to explain Rycaut's to raise new questions is already in its however, apparent accounts of the Otto contradictory for research, and to stimulate the of the links between cultures. apparently disparate work is useful it feeds a comfort today not because our it sharpens of Western but because uniqueness,

investigation Rycaut's able sense awareness of the complexity that lies beneath the rhetoric people have used to label and categorize each other. Perhaps there actu a series of developmental that ally is a world history, rhythms But uncovering cultural it transcend and civilizational divisions. demands that we read the European lands with reports on distant a careful and critical eye.