The Making of Ottoman Kingship at the Dawn of Empire

Dr Christopher Markiewicz, University of Birmingham

Ottoman conceptions of rule in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries have most frequently been cast in relation to the Ottoman sultans’ roles as warriors of the faith (gazis). This focus is justified and, no doubt, expansion of the domains of Islam constituted an important aspect of Ottoman ideology in this period. And yet, in the sixteenth century, an alternative conception concurrently emerged that emphasized the cosmically ordained status of sultans as universal sovereigns. Significantly, this new vocabulary of sovereignty was shared by all of the major Muslim empires of the sixteenth century. This seminar will examine the reasons why the Ottomans adopted this new vocabulary in the sixteenth century and what broader processes facilitated its adaptation from a wider cultural context that stretched between the Balkans and India.

Dr Christopher Markiewicz is a lecturer in Ottoman and Islamic history at the University of Birmingham. Between 2015 and 2017, he was a junior research fellow at Exeter College. This paper presents aspects of his book, The Crisis of Kingship in Late Medieval Islam: Persian Emigres and the Making of Ottoman Sovereignty, forthcoming with Cambridge University Press in 2019.