Institute for Mediterranean Studies


History of Ottoman Political Thought

The aim of the project is to study all the known Ottoman texts of political thought and ideology, with the ultimate goal of producing a comprehensive book on Ottoman political ideas before the Tanzimat.

Principal Investigator: Marinos Sariyannis

Collaborating Researchers: Ekin Tuşalp Atiyas, Marina Demetriadou, Michalis Georgellis, Lemonia Argyriou

Mehmet I honoraries miniaturePolitical thought has long been a quite ignored subject in Ottoman studies. However, recent studies have begun to emphasise the importance of Ottoman political thought, both as such, and in relation to key questions and problems of Ottoman history. The project explores the interaction between political thought and practice in the Ottoman Empire, linking them to the imperial model of early modernity. It provides a solid framework for the study of major questions concerning the nature and evolution of the Ottoman state, as in the case of the later 18th and 19th century reforms. Its working hypothesis is that a mere list of writers and treatises in chronological order provides only little insight into the evolution of Ottoman political ideas. Contrary to that, the project uses theories and treatises of Ottoman writers in order to integrate them into wider ideological trends, many of which co-existed simultaneously or even in the same socio-political contexts.
As part of the project, the international symposium "Halcyon Days in Crete IX: Political Thought and Practice in the Ottoman Empire" was held in January 2015, while a monograph has already been published as a product of the project and another one is under publication.
Furthermore, a database was created (, in which a series of Ottoman works, published or unpublished, related to political thought were indexed. The database, containing 65 records so far, includes biographical and editorial information, information on available manuscripts, extensive summary of their content, notes on the sources of each project, bibliography, as well as indexing of the thematic units mentioned, so that the researcher can have access to all the works that contain a certain idea. The option of a chronological search is also available.
Finally, the following articles have been produced:Ottoman miniature painters

  • M. Sariyannis, "Ottoman Critics of Society and State, Fifteenth to Early Eighteenth Centuries: Toward a Corpus for the Study of Ottoman Political Thought", Archivum Ottomanicum 25 (2008), 127-50.
  • M. Sariyannis, "The Princely Virtues as Presented in Ottoman Political and Moral Literature", Turcica 43 (2011), 121-144.
  • M. Sariyannis, "Ruler and State, State and Society in Ottoman Political Thought", Turkish Historical Review 4 (2013), 83-117.
  • M. Sariyannis, "Ottoman Ideas on Monarchy Before the Tanzimat Reforms: Toward a Conceptual History of Ottoman Political Notions", Turcica 47 (2016), 33-72.
  • M. Sariyannis, "Katib Celebi's Position in Early Modern Ottoman Political Thought", Turan Gökçe - Mikail Acıpınar - İrfan Kokdaş - Özer Küpeli (eds), Uluslararası Kâtib Çelebi Sempozyumu Bildirileri, İzmir 2017, 23-33.
  • E. Tuşalp Atiyas, "Eloquence in Context: Şa'bânzâde Mehmed Efendi's (d. 1708-1709) Münâzara-ı Tiğ u Kalem and 'the People of the Pen' in Late Seventeenth Century Ottoman Empire", Turcica 48 (2007), 113-155.

The project was funded by the "Excellence II" action of the NSRF 2007-2013 ("OTTPOL: A History of Early Modern Ottoman Political Thought, 15th to Early 19th Centuries", 18 months, 2014-2015).

Project Team

Marinos Sariyannis

Research Director, Department Coordinator of Ottoman History
Curriculum vitae