Ottoman Dynasty

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The Ottoman Dynasty (or the Imperial House of Osman) ruled the Ottoman Empire from 1281 to 1923, beginning with Osman I (not counting his father, Ertuğrul), though the dynasty was not proclaimed until 1383 when Murad I declared himself sultan. Before that the tribe/dynasty might have been known as Söğüt but was renamed Osmanlı (Ottoman in English) in honour of Osman.

The sultan was the sole and absolute regent, head of state and head of government of the empire, at least officially, though often much power shifted de facto to other officials (in principle all his subservient creatures), especially the Grand Vizier, after whose palace the Ottoman government was known as High Porte, the Sultan's own Topkapi palace being mainly a seraglio, 'harem'.

See the article on state organisation of the Ottoman Empire for further information on the sultan and the structure of power.


[edit] Titles

The Ottoman dynasty is known in Turkish as Osmanlı, meaning "House of Osman". The first rulers of the dynasty never had called themselves sultans, but rather beys, or "chieftain", roughly the Turkic equivalent of Emir, which would itself become a gubernatorial title and even a common military or honorific rank. Thus they still formally acknowledged the sovereignty of the contemporary Seljuk Sultanate of Rum and its successor, the Ilkhanate.

The first Ottoman to actually claim the title of sultân was Murad I, who ruled from 1359 to 1389. The title sultan (سلطان)—in Arabic, was in later Arabic-Islamic dynasties originally the power behind the throne of the Caliph in Bagdad and it was later used for various independent Muslim Monarchs. This title was more prestigious then Emir; it was not comparable to the title of Malik 'king' or the originally Persian title of Shah. With the Conquest of Constantinople in 1453, the road was open for the Ottoman state to become an empire, with Sultan Mehmed II taking the title of pâdişah (پادشاه), an Persian title name, meaning "lord of kings" and roughly equivalent to a Christian emperor as would ultimately be formally established.

In addition to such secular titles, the Ottoman sultans also sporadically were addressed by, or adopted, the title of Caliph of Islam, giving them theoretical leadership over all Muslim rulers around the world. However, the legitimacy this title was called into question and was naturally illegitimate in the eyes of other branches of Islam, especially Shiites. The first Ottoman ruler to be addressed by the title was Abdülhamid I in 1774, though he did not claim the title himself<ref>Alavi, Hamza. "Ironies of History: Contradictions of the Khilafat Movement". Retrieved 6 April 2006.</ref>. The first sultan to actually claim the title of caliph was Abdülaziz, who ruled from 1861 to 1876.

In Europe, Ottoman padishah was often referred to informally by such terms unrelated to the Ottoman protocol as "the Grand Turk".

The sultans further adopted in time many secondary formal titles as well, such as "Sovereign of the House of Osman", "Sultan of Sultans" (roughly King of Kings), and "Khan of Khans".

As the empire grew, sultans adopted secondary titles expressing the empire's claim to be the successor in law of the structures of the absorbed states. Furthermore they tended to enumerate even regular provinces, not unlike the long lists of -mainly inherited- feudal titles in the full style of many Christian European monarch.

Some early Ottoman Sultans even had to accept the vassal status in the eyes of a foreign kingmaker. For example, Tamerlane appointed in 1402 the Ottoman Sultan (deposed in 1410) Sulayman Chelebi Khan, who was styled as-Sultan ul-Azam, Sayyid us-Saladin ul-Arab wal Ajam, Malik ur-Rikaab ul-Umam, Ghiyas ud-Daula wa ud-Dunya, Sultan ul-Islam was ul-Muslimin, as-Sultan ibni us-Sultan, Hasib-i-Nasib-I-Zaman, Amir of Rumelia. Again his brother, who ended the Interregnum after the defeat of Ottomans to Temurlane, Mehmed I also held his post with a fief from Tamerlane. However the next Ottoman ruler (6th Sultan of House of Osman) was Sultan Murad Khan II (1421 - 1451) took the title 'Abu'l Hayrat, Sultan ul-Mujahidin, Khan of Khans, Grand Sultan of Anatolia and Rumelia, and of the Cities of Edirne and Filibe.

When Mehmed II conquered Constantinople on May 29, 1453, he claimed the title Emperor of the Roman Empire and protector of Orthodox Christianity. He appointed the Patriarch of Constantinople Gennadius Scholarius, whom he protected and whose stature he elevated into leader of all the Eastern Orthodox Christians. As emperor of the Romans he laid claim to all Roman territories, which at the time before the Fall of Constantinople, however, extended to little more than the city itself, plus some areas in Morea (Peloponnes) and the Empire of Trebizond.

The conqueror of Constantinople was Sultan Mehmed II Fatih Ghazi 'Abu'l Fath (1451 - 1481, 7th Sovereign of the House of Osman), was still 'simply' styled Kaysar-i-Rum (=Emperor of [Byzantium = the second] Rome), Khan of Khans, Grand Sultan of Anatolia and Rumelia, Emperor of the three Cities of Constantinople, Edirne and Bursa, Lord of the two lands and the two seas and the first to adopt the 'imperial' style Padishah.

Around 1500 the full style of naming of the ruling Sultan had become practically stabilised, e.g. in 1601 Sultan Mehmed III was called:

Sultan Hân N.N.,
Hakan ül-Berreyn vel-Bahreyn;
Sovereign of the House of Osman, Sultan of Sultans,
Khan of Khans,
Commander (caliph) of the Faithful and Successor of the Prophet of the Lord of the Universe
Protector of the Holy Cities of Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem
Emperor of The Three Cities of Constantinople, Adrianople and Bursa, and of the Cities of Damascus and Cairo, of all Azerbaijan, of the Magris, of Barka, of Kairouan, of Aleppo, of Arabic Iraq and of Acem, of Basra, of Al-Hasa, of Dilen, of Ar Raqqah, of Mosul, of Parthia, of Diyarbakir, of Cilicia, of the Vilayets of Erzurum, of Sivas, of Adana, of Karaman, Van, of Barbary, of Abyssinia, of Tunisia, of Tripoli, of Damascus, of Cyprus, of Rhodes, of Candia, of the Vilayet of the Morea, of the Marmara Sea, the Black Sea and also its coasts, of Anatolia, of Rumelia, Baghdad, Kurdistan, Greece, Turkistan, Tartary, Circassia, of the two regions of Kabarda, of Georgia, of the plain of Kypchak, of the whole country of the Tartars, of Kefe and of all the neighboring countries, of Bosnia and its dependencies, of the City and Fort of Belgrade, of the Vilayet of Serbia, with all the castles, forts and cities, of all Albania, of all Eflak and Bogdania, as well as all the dependencies and borders, and many others countries and cities.

[edit] Succession

In the early period, the Ottomans practiced open succession. During their father's lifetime, all of the adult sons of the reigning sultan would hold provincial governorships. Accompanied and mentored by their mothers, they would gather supporters while ostensibly following a Ghazw ethos. Upon the death of their father, the sons would fight among themselves until one emerged triumphant. Bayezid II, for instance had to fight his brother Cem in the 1480s for the right to rule. Occasionally, the half-brothers would even begin the struggle before the death of their father. During the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent (1520-1566), strife among his sons Selim and Bayezid caused enough internal turmoil that Suleiman ordered the death of Bayezid, leaving Selim II the sole heir.

With Suleiman and Selim, the favorite concubine (haseki) of the Sultan achieved new prominence. Gaining power within the harem, the favorite was able to maneuver to ensure the succession for one of her sons. This led to a short period of effective primogeniture. However, unlike the earlier period, when the sultan had already defeated his brothers (and potential rivals for the throne) in battle, these sultans had the problem of many half-brothers who could act as the focus for factions that could threaten the sultan. Thus, to prevent attempts upon his throne, the sultan practiced fratricide upon ascending the throne. Both Murad III and his son Mehmed III had their half brothers murdered.

Mehmet, however, was the last sultan to have previously held a provincial governorship. Sons now remained within the imperial harem until the death of their father. This denied them not only the ability to form powerful factions capable of usurping their father, but also denied them the opportunity to have children while their father remained alive. Thus when Mehmet's son came to the throne as Ahmed I, he had no children of his own. Moreover, as a minor, there was no evidence he could have children. This had the potential to create a crisis of succession and led to a gradual end to fratricide. Ahmed had some of his brothers killed, but not Mustafa (later Mustafa I). Similarly, Osman II allowed his half-brothers Murad and Ibrahim to live. This led to a shift in the 17th century from a system of primogeniture to one of seniority, in which the eldest male within the dynasty succeeded. Thus, Mustafa succeeded his brother Ahmed; Suleiman II and Ahmed II succeeded their brother Mehmed IV before being succeeded in turn by Mehmed's son Mustafa II. Although occasionally a son did succeed his father, just as often, the new sultan was a brother. This continued until the end of the Ottoman Empire in the early 20th century.<ref>Leslie P. Peirce, The Imperial Harem (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993)</ref>

[edit] Heads of the House

Pre-imperial heads of the House
Süleyman Shah (-1227) (bey)
Ertugrul (1227-1281) (bey)
Imperial heads of the House
Osman I (12811326) (bey)
Orhan I (13261359; bey) Ibrahim I (16401648)
Murad I (13591389; Sultan from 1383) Mehmed IV (16481687)
Bayezid I (13891402) Suleiman II (16871691)
Interregnum (14021413) Ahmed II (16911695)
Mehmed I (14131421) Mustafa II (16951703)
Murad II (14211444) (14451451) Ahmed III (17031730)
Mehmed II (the Conqueror) (14441445, 14511481) Mahmud I (17301754)
Bayezid II (14811512) Osman III (17541757)
Selim I (15121520; Caliph from 1517) Mustafa III (17571774)
Suleyman I (the Lawgiver (Kanuni)) (15201566) Abd-ul-Hamid I (17741789)
Selim II (15661574) Selim III (17891807)
Murad III (15741595) Mustafa IV (18071808)
Mehmed III (15951603) Mahmud II (18081839)
Ahmed I (16031617) Abdülmecid I (18391861)
Mustafa I (16171618) Abd-ul-Aziz (18611876)
Osman II (16181622) Murad V (1876)
Mustafa I (16221623) Abd-ul-Hamid II (18761909)
Murad IV (16231640) Mehmed V (Reşad) (19091918)
Continued on the right Mehmed VI (Vahideddin) (19181922)
Post-imperial heads of the House
Abdul Mejid II (1922-1944)
Ahmed IV Nihad (1944-1954)
Osman IV Fu'ad (1954-1973)
Mehmed Abd-ul-Aziz II (1973-1977)
Ali Vâsib (1977-1983)
Mehmed VII Orhan (1983-1994)
Ertuğrul Osman V (1994-)

Note: Although Abdul Mejid II was chosen as caliph in 1922, he was no longer Sultan, as the National Assembly had abolished the sultanate to turn Turkey into a republic. The caliphate was abolished in turn in 1924.

It was from the Treaty of Küçük Kaynarca (1774) onwards that the Ottoman Sultans decided to lay claim to the Universal Caliphate. For that to be credible, they needed to establish an acceptable source of legitimacy in the eyes of the world. For that purpose, Turkish propaganda, (which was greatly to influence Urdu journalism and Indian Muslim thought) dredged up the mythical story of transfer of the Caliphate to Selim, by al-Mutawakkil in 1517. It was necessary to take resort to that mythical origin of the Ottoman Caliphate which, it was hoped, would reinforce their claim for legitimacy of their Caliphate. If they could show that it had been formally transferred to them by a member of the House of Abbas who was supposed to be the custodian-in-exile of the Abbasid Caliphate and held that legacy until he could transfer it to a Muslim Sultan who possessed secular power that could do justice to that awesome office, their claim, they hoped, would thereby be unchallengeable. The Ottomans resurrected al-Mutawakkil from the grave to prove their Caliphal credentials. The claim is that from 1517 onwards, the Ottoman Sultan was also Caliph (i.e. successor to the Prophet), which theoretically gave him overlordship over all Muslim rulers in the world. And it is claimed, for example, among the Mughal Emperors of India, only Aurangzeb had the Khutba read in his own name. However, there is evidence that contradicts this.

[edit] See also

[edit] Note


[edit] Sources and external links

cs:Osmani de:Liste der Sultane des Osmanischen Reichs el:Οθωμανική δυναστεία es:Osmanlíes eo:Osmanidoj fr:Dynastie ottomane it:Dinastia ottomana he:שליטי האימפריה העות'מאנית la:Ottomannidae hu:Oszmán szultánok listája nl:Lijst van Ottomaanse sultans ja:オスマン家 no:Liste over osmanske herskere nn:Det osmanske dynastiet pl:Władcy Turcji pt:Dinastia Otomana ru:Османские султаны sr:Списак султана Османлијског Царства fi:Luettelo osmanien sulttaaneista sv:Osmanska dynastin tr:Osmanlı Hanedanı zh:奥斯曼帝国苏丹列表

Ottoman Dynasty

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