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The Ottoman Empire

The Ottoman Empire arose from a Turkish principality founded in Anatolia (Asia Minor) at the end of the 13th century, when the empire of the Seljuk Turks had collapsed and the Byzantine Empire was crumbling. The Ottoman or Osmanli Turks were named after the founder of the royal dynasty, Osman I (Uthman in Arabic), whose descendants reigned for more than 600 years.

In its heyday, the Ottoman Empire included not only Asia Minor, where modern Turkey is located, but also much of southeastern Europe and the Middle East, Egypt, and part of North Africa. The empire began to decline in the 16th century, partly because of the weakness of its sultans, but it remained a world power until the early 20th century.

The Ottomans sided with Germany and the other Central Powers in the First World War, and as a result the empire fell apart. In 1920 the last sultan, Mehmed VI, signed the Treaty of Sevres, which took away Turkey's territories outside Asia Minor. In 1922, Turkish nationalists abolished the sultanate and Mehmed went into exile. His cousin Abdulmecid II was then given the title of caliph.

In 1923 Turkey became a republic, and the following year the Caliphate was also abolished and Abdulmecid too was exiled.

Books About the Ottoman Empire

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Book topics: The Empire, Its Sultans, Mehmed II, Suleiman the Magnificent, Mehmed IV, Rise of the Empire, End of Empire, Harems, Aimee De Rivery, Society, Istanbul, Architecture, Palaces, Money, Ottomans & Europe, War, Miscellaneous, End of Empire, Turkey, Fiction, Children's Books, DVDs, Asia, Anatolia, The Byzantine Empire, Balkans, Africa, Middle East

The Ottoman Empire

Popular History

The Ottoman Centuries: The Rise and Fall of the Turkish Empire by Lord Kinross. An account of one of the greatest imperial powers in history.

Lords of the Horizons: A History of the Ottoman Empire by Jason Goodwin. How the Ottomans rose and how, against all odds, for 600 years they lingered on.

Osman's Dream: The History of the Ottoman Empire by Caroline Finkel. The story of the empire from its origins in the 13th century through its destruction in World War I.

The Ottomans: Khans, Caesars, and Caliphs by Marc David Baer. Reveals the dynasty's full history and its enduring impact on Europe and the world.

Other Books

The Ottoman Empire, 1700-1922 by Donald Qataert. An introduction supported by maps, illustrations, and a chronology. The book pays attention to gender issues and the treatment of minorities.

The Crisis of Kingship in Late Medieval Islam: Persian Emigres and the Making of Ottoman Sovereignty by Christopher Markiewicz. Ottoman survival was, in part, predicated on a new mode of kingship, enabling its transformation to global empire.

History of the Ottoman Empire and Modern Turkey: Volume 1, Empire of the Gazis by Stanford J. Shaw. Explains how the Ottoman Turks, a small band of nomadic soldiers, expanded from a small principality in on the borders of the Byzantine Empire into one of the great empires of Europe and Asia.

History of the Ottoman Empire and Modern Turkey: Volume 2, Reform, Revolution, and Republic by Stanford J. Shaw and Ezel Kural Shaw. The modernization of the empire during the 19th and early 20th centuries, the spread of nationalism, the empire's demise, and the rise of the Republic of Turkey.

The Ottoman Empire and the World Around It by Suraiya Faroqhi. Demonstrates that there was no iron curtain between the Ottoman, the empires of Asia, and the modern states of Europe, but rather a network of connections.

Approaching Ottoman History: An Introduction to the Sources by Suraiya Faroqhi. Explores the documentary sources and explains how to interpret them.

Historical Dictionary of the Ottoman Empire by Selcuk Aksin Somel.

The Second Ottoman Empire: Political and Social Transformation in the Early Modern World by Baki Tezcan. Covers the period roughly from 1580 to 1826 when the empire's medieval, dynastic institution transformed into a limited monarchy.

Ottoman Sultans

The Sultan and His Subjects by Richard Davey. First published in 1897, during the reign of Abdulhamid II, this book describes the Ottoman sultan's court and harem, and his subjects' way of life.

The Sultans: The Rise and Fall of the Ottoman Rulers and Their World, a 600-Year History by Jem Duducu. The epic story of a dynasty that started as a small group of cavalry mercenaries and became absolute rulers of a great empire.

Mighty Guests of the Throne: The Ottoman Sultans by Salih Gulen. The 36 Ottoman sultans included great commanders, statesmen, musicians, and poets.

Private and Royal Life in the Ottoman Palace by Ilber Ortayli. Topkapi Palace was the primary residence of the Ottoman sultans for almost four centuries. This illustrated guide explores Ottoman history as it relates to specific sections of the palace.

Inside the Seraglio: Private Lives of the Sultans in Istanbul by John Freely. Explores the decadent world within the palace walls and exposes most of the later sultans as weak, some as insane. Describes the imperial harem, eunuch guards, and the others who served the sultans -- and sometimes imprisoned and murdered them. Illustrated.

Lords of the Golden Horn: From Suleiman the Magnificent to Kamal Ataturk by Noel Barber. Tells the story of the sultans, their harems, and the fall of the Ottoman Empire. Includes illustrations and maps. Published in 1973.

On the Origins of the Ottoman Emperors by Theodore Spandounes, translated by Donald M. Nicol. This account of the origins of the Turkish rulers and their rise to power was written by a Byzantine refugee who settled in Venice after the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople in 1453.

Murad II

The Holy Wars of King Wladislas and Sultan Murad: The Ottoman-Christian Conflict From 1438-1444 by John Jefferson. About the conflict between Wladyslaw III of Poland (Wladyslaw I of Hungary) and Sultan Murad II of the Ottoman Empire.

The Sultan and the Queen: The Untold Story of Elizabeth and Islam by Jerry Brotton. After Queen Elizabeth I was excommunicated in 1570, she entered into an unprecedented alliance with the powerful Ottoman sultan Murad III. This marked the beginning of an alignment with Muslim powers not again experienced until the modern age. (Published in the UK as This Orient Isle.)

Mehmed II and Bayezid II

Mehmed the Conqueror and His Time by Franz Babinger, translated by Ralph Manheim. Biography of the 15th century sultan Mehmed II. One of the most important figures in Ottoman history, Mehmed was the architect of victories that inspired fear throughout Europe.

The Grand Turk: Sultan Mehmet II, Conqueror of Constantinople and Master of an Empire by John Freely. Biography. Mehmet was barely 21 when he conquered Byzantine Constantinople. Three popes called for crusades against him. Revered by the Turks and seen as a tyrant by the West, Mehmet was a brilliant military leader and a renaissance prince.

Great Eagle: Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror by Aytac Ozkan. Biography of the Ottoman sultan that emphasizes his organizational and administrative abilities.

Sultan of Vezirs by Theoharis Stavrides. The life and times of the Mahmud Pasha Angelovic (1453-1474), who served as grand vezir during the reign of Mehmed II.

Struggle for Domination in the Middle East: The Ottoman-Mamluk War, 1485-91 by Shai Har-El. Based largely on Ottoman, Mamluk, and Italian primary sources, this book explains the second and final war between the Ottomans and Mamluks, which resulted in the firm establishment of Ottoman power in the Middle East.

Jem Sultan: The Adventures of a Captive Turkish Prince in Renaissance Europe by John Freely. A son of Mehmet II, Jem was held prisoner in France and the Vatican, and probably poisoned by Pope Alexander VI.

Gentile Bellini's Portrait of Sultan Mehmed II: Lives and Afterlives of an Iconic Image by Elizabeth Rodini. This biography of a picture explores its history and the various meanings imposed on it.

Selim I

God's Shadow: Sultan Selim, His Ottoman Empire, and the Making of the Modern World by Alan Mikhail. Biography. Born to a concubine, Sultan Selim I (1470-1520) was never meant to inherit the throne, but he claimed power and tripled Ottoman territory.

Sultan Selim I: The Conqueror of the East by Fatih Akce. Focuses on the life of Selim I, including his struggle for power, his first and second campaigns to the East, and the period of caliphate.

Suleiman the Magnificent

Books About Suleiman the Magnificent

Mehmed IV

Honored by the Glory of Islam: Conversion and Conquest in Ottoman Europe by Marc David Baer. Focuses on the reign of 17th century sultan Mehmed IV.

The Sultan's Procession: The Swedish Embassy to Sultan Mehmed IV in 1657-1658 and the Ralamb Paintings edited by Karin Adahl. Over 150 color illustrations provide revealing insight into the 17th century court of Sultan Mehmed IV in Ottoman Turkey.

Ottoman Women Builders: The Architectural Patronage of Hadice Turhan Sultan by Lucienne Thys-Senocak. Captured in Russia at the age of twelve, Hadice Turhan Sultan became the mother of Sultan Mehmed IV. After she came to power as queen mother in 1648, she expressed her authority and piety through architecture.

Constantinople (Istanbul)

1453: The Holy War for Constantinople and the Clash of Islam and the West by Roger Crowley. Tells the stories of two ambitious battling leaders: Ottoman sultan Mehmed II and Byzantine emperor Constantine XI.

The Fall of Constantinople, 1453 by Steven Runciman explains how the Turks conquered Constantinople (now Istanbul).

Constantinople: City of the World's Desire 1453-1924 by Philip Mansel. Tells the story of the city, and of the impact upon it of the Ottoman sultans and their dynasty.

Istanbul: The Imperial City by John Freely. In more than 26 centuries of existence the city has survived countless catastrophes, conquests, dynastic upheavals, changes in religion, language, political status, and name.

Istanbul: City of Majesty at the Crossroads of the World by Thomas F. Madden. From its ancient past to the present, meet the city through its citizens -- and the rulers who built it up and then destroyed it.

Constantinople: Capital of Byzantium by Jonathan Harris. Offers insight into the spiritual and mythic dimensions of Constantinople.

Constantinople and Istanbul Old and New by H. G. Dwight. Written in 1915 and illustrated with rare period photographs. The author describes everyday life in the city and the traces of Byzantium.

Books About Byzantine Constantinople

Ottoman Architecture

A History of Ottoman Architecture by Godfrey Goodwin. Treats the subject chronologically and within its historical perspective. Buildings are described with a minimum of technical terminology. A glossary of Turkish words is provided, and there is a table of Ottoman rulers and historical events.

Female Architectural Patronage in the Early Modern Ottoman Empire: Hatice Turhan Sultan by Lucienne Thys-Senocak. Hatice Turhan Sultan was wife of 17th century Ottoman ruler Sultan Ibrahim and mother of Sultan Mehmet IV.

The Sultan's Fountain: An Imperial Story of Cairo, Istanbul, and Amsterdam by Agnieszka Dobrowolska and Jaroslaw Dobrowolski. Why did 18th century Ottoman sultan Mustafa III build a sabil-kuttab (public water dispensary with a Quranic school) in Cairo decorated with tiles depicting the Dutch countryside? This illustrated history of the building also describes recent efforts to preserve it.

Books About Sinan
Books About Turkish Palaces
Books About Byzantine Architecture

Rise of the Ottoman Empire

The Ottoman Empire: The Classical Age 1300-1600 by Halil Inalcik. Vividly portrays 300 years of history as the empire grew from a military principality to the world's most powerful Islamic state.

The Origins of the Ottoman Empire by M. Fuad Koprulu, translated by Gary Leiser. The first comprehensive account of the Turkish history of Anatolia in the 13th and 14th centuries. Outlines factors that led to the rise of the Ottomans.

Ottoman Empire 1353-1699 by Stephen Turnbull. Covers the rise of the Ottomans and their early years of fighting for a foothold across the Bosphorous.

Between Two Worlds: The Construction of the Ottoman State by Cemal Kafadar. This subtle and complex interpretation of the early Ottoman period demonstrates how ethnic, tribal, linguistic, religious, and political affiliations were all at play in the struggle for power in Anatolia and the Balkans during the late Middle Ages.

The Ottoman Empire, 1300-1650: The Structure of Power by Colin Imber. Shows how the complex Ottoman state worked in practice. Includes chapters on the Ottoman dynasty, the army, the provinces, and the palace.

The Nature of the Early Ottoman State by Heath W. Lowry. Argues that the empire grew because of the desire for booty and slaves, and the society was open to anyone (Muslim or Christian) who could contribute to this goal.

Books About the Byzantine Empire

Ottoman Women and Harems

Books About Ottoman Harems
Books About Aimee Debucq De Rivery

Ottoman Society

The Ottoman Turks: An Introductory History to 1923 by Justin McCarthy. A history of the empire that concentrates on social life and customs.

Daily Life in the Ottoman Empire by Mehrdad Kia. Includes chapters on the sultan and the palace, governing an empire, popular culture, courtship, and more.

Ottoman Empire and Islamic Tradition by Norman Itzkowitz. Presents the full sweep of Ottoman history from its beginnings in about 1300, through its development as an empire, to its late 18th century confronation with a rapidly modernizing Europe.

An Introduction to Religious Foundations in the Ottoman Empire by John Robert Barnes.


The Sons of Bayezid by Dimitris J. Kastritsis. After Timur defeated the Ottomans at the Battle of Ankara, the sons of Bayezid the Thunderbolt fought bloody battles for his throne.

The Album of the World Emperor: Cross-Cultural Collecting and the Art of Album-Making in Seventeenth-Century Istanbul by Emine Fetvaci. This illustrated book examines an album of paintings, drawings, calligraphy, and European prints compiled for the Ottoman sultan Ahmed I.

Portraits and Caftans of the Ottoman Sultans by Nurhan Atasoy. Portraits and lavishly decorated caftans display the magnificence of the Ottoman Empire's sultans. If you're feeling rich, there's also a deluxe edition.

Ottoman Silk Textiles of the Royal Museum of Art And History in Brussels by Daniel De Jonghe.

Ottoman Economy, Trade, & Money

An Economic and Social History of the Ottoman Empire, 1300-1914 by Halil Inalcik, Suraiya Faroqhi, Bruce McGowan, Donald Quataert, Sevket Pamuk. A two-volume set.

A Monetary History of the Ottoman Empire by Sevket Pamuk. Covers all regions of the empire from the Balkans through Anatolia, Syria, Egypt and the Gulf to the Maghrib.

The Ottoman Empire and the World-Economy edited by Huri Islamogu-Inan. Collection of essays.

Gold for the Sultan: Western Bankers and Ottoman Finance, 1856-1881 by Christopher S. Clay. The financial collapse of the Ottoman government in 1875 was a pivotal event in the history of the Middle East. This economic history of Ottoman finances explains the reasons for the bankruptcy.

The Ottoman Empire and Europe

The Last Muslim Conquest: The Ottoman Empire and Its Wars in Europe by Gábor Ágoston. Examines Ottoman wars of conquest, dynastic marriages, and more, arguing that the empire was in many ways European.

Southeastern Europe Under Ottoman Rule, 1354-1804 by Peter F. Sugar. An overview of the Ottoman period. The appendixes include lists of dynasties and rulers with whom the Ottamans dealt, and more.

Crisis and Rebellion in the Ottoman Empire: The Downfall of a Sultan in the Age of Revolution by Aysel Yildiz. Evaluates the 1907 overthrow of Sultan Selim III in a wider European context.

The Ottoman Empire and Early Modern Europe by Daniel Goffman. An introduction to the Ottoman Empire and its role in European history.

The Sultan's Court by Alain Grosrichard, translated by Liz Heron. A survey of Western accounts of "Oriental despotism" in the 17th and 18th centuries, focusing on the Ottoman court.

Ottomans, Hungarians, and Habsburgs in Central Europe: The Military Confines in the Era of Ottoman Conquest edited by Pal Fodor and Geza David. Examines Hungarian and Habsburg defense systems, and the Ottoman military establishment in Hungary.

The Singing Turk by Larry Wolff. Ottoman power and operatic emotions on the European stage from the Siege of Vienna to the age of Napoleon.

Books About the Crusades
Books About Balkan History
Books About European Royal History

Ottoman Wars & Military

Ottoman Warfare 1500-1700 by Rhoads Murphey. Focuses on the evolution of the Ottoman military and its impact on Ottoman society, and evokes the physical and psychological realities of war as experienced by Ottoman soldiers.

Armies of the Ottoman Turks, 1300-1774 by David Nicolle. Short, illustrated guide from the "Men at Arms" series.

The Janissaries by David Nicolle, illustrated by Christa Hook. Describes and analyzes the history, uniforms, weaponry, and military practices of the elite military force and Sultanate guard of the Ottoman Empire from the 14th to 19th centuries.

The Janissaries by Godfrey Goodwin. The Janissaries set up semi-independent states along the North African coast and even fought at sea. Their political power was such that even sultans trembled. Who were they? Why did they decline?

Innovation and Empire in Turkey: Sultan Selim III and the Modernisation of the Ottoman Navy by Tuncay Zorlu. Argues that although the Ottoman Empire was a major power, some technological dependence on Europe remained.

Arming the Sultan: German Arms Trade and Diplomacy in the Ottoman Empire Before World War I by Naci Yorulmaz. Concentrates on the personal relationships which shaped the development of the arms trade, including the private relationships between Kaiser Wilhelm I, Otto von Bismarck and the Sultan.

Defeat in Detail by Edward J. Erickson. Ottoman army operations in the Balkan Wars, 1912-1913.

Ordered to Die: A History of the Ottoman Army in the First World War by Edward J. Erickson and Huseyin Kivrikoglu. Based on Turkish archival and official sources. Outnumbered and outgunned, the Ottoman army performed astonishingly well and kept fighting long after many other armies had quit the field.

The End of the Ottoman Empire

On the Sultan's Service: Halid Ziya Usakligil's Memoir of the Ottoman Palace, 1909-1912 translated and edited by Douglas Scott Brookes. Written by Sultan Mehmed V's secretary, this memoir provides first-hand insight into the personalities and intrigues of the Ottoman palace in its final decades.

The Ottoman Peoples and the End of Empire by Justin McCarthy. By the 19th century, the Ottoman empire had become known as the "sick man of Europe." This book considers the validity of this nickname, and examines what successor states owe to the empire.

The Fall of the Dynasties: The Collapse of the Old Order, 1905-1922 by Edmond Taylor. About the fall of the Habsburg, Hohenzollern, Ottoman, and Romanov dynasties.

Shadow of the Sultan's Realm by Daniel Allen Butler. The destruction of the Ottoman empire and the creation of the modern Middle East.

The Fall of the Ottomans: The Great War in the Middle East by Eugene Rogan. This book brings to life the often-ignored story of the Middle East's crucial role in the First World War, and its immediate aftermath.

To Kill a Sultan: A Transnational History of the Attempt on Abdülhamid II edited by Houssine Alloul, Edhem Eldem, and Henk de Smaele. In 1905, a car bomb in Istanbul left 26 dead but its target, Ottoman sultan Abdulhamid II, was unscathed. The arrest of a Belgian anarchist for participating in the plot sparked international reaction.

Neslishah, The Last Ottoman Princess: A Life of Palaces and Exile From Istanbul to Cairo by Murat Bardakçi, translated by Meyzi Baran. Biography of Fatma Neslisah Sultan, a granddaughter of the last Ottoman sultan, Mehmed VI. Her husband was regent for the last Egyptian king, Fuad II.

A Peace to End All Peace by David Fromkin is about the fall of the Ottoman Empire and the creation of the modern Middle East, 1914-1922.

Istanbul Under Allied Occupation, 1918-1923 by Bilge Criss. The socio-political, intellectual, and institutional dynamics of underground resistance to the Allied occupation in Istanbul.

From the Sultan to Ataturk: Turkey: The Peace Conferences of 1919-23 and Their Aftermath by Andrew Mango. Defeat in WWI saw the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire and marked the beginning of a prolonged and bloody transition to an independent Turkey.

The Republic of Turkey

Turkey, From Empire to Revolutionary Republic by Sina Aksin. The emergence of the Turkish nation from 1789 to present.

Books About Pre-Ottoman Turkey
Books About Ancient Antaolia

Novels About the Ottoman Empire

The Sultan's Seal: A Novel by Jenny White. The body of an English governess from the sultan's harem washes up in 19th century Istanbul. Was it a political murder involving the palace, or a crime of personal passion?

A Gift for the Sultan by Geoffrey Fox. In 1402, the Christian city of Constantinople is under attack by a Muslim army. The spoils are to be the key to the city and a 14-year-old princess.

The Oracle of Stamboul: A Novel by Michael David Lukas. In 19th century Turkey, a girl named Eleanora Cohen becomes an advisor to Ottoman sultan Abdulhamid II.

Regards From the Dead Princess by Kenize Mourad. Epic novel based on the life of the author's mother, an Ottoman princess named Selma who was the granddaughter of Sultan Murad V. After an arranged marriage to an Indian rajah, Selma died in German-occupied Paris soon after the birth of her daughter. (Also sometimes called Memories of an Ottoman Princess, Death of a Princess, or Farewell, Princess.)

Novels About Suleiman the Magnificent
Novels About Aimee Debucq De Rivery
Other Novels About Ottoman Harems

Children's Books About Turkey

The Ottoman Empire by Lucile Davis. For children age 9 to 12.

Children's Books About Suleiman the Magnificent

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Ottoman DVDs

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Suleiman the Magnificent
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