An Early Ottoman History

BookAn Early Ottoman History

An Early Ottoman History

The Oxford Anonymous Chronicle (Bodleian Library, Ms Marsh 313)

Translated Texts for Byzantinists, 5


December 13th, 2017

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The manuscript translated here contains one of the most important texts for understanding the development of early Ottoman historiography in the fifteenth century. The so-called Oxford Anonymous chronicle is a comprehensive history of the Ottoman dynasty in Turkish, compiled from various sources to tell the story of the dynasty from its rise to the year 1484 (AH 889). Like several other histories produced around the same time, some of which it influenced, it presents the Ottomans in the context of wider Islamic history and contains a coherent argument for their superiority over other dynasties. The manuscript had previously belonged to the Dutch orientalist Jacob Golius (d. 1667). Although its history is largely unknown, it was probably a presentation copy made for Sultan Bayezid II (r. 1481–1512). The work itself is a product of Bayezid’s patronage, and shows a strong preoccupation with the perennial Ottoman problem of dynastic succession. Fully one third of the manuscript contains an older text recounting in epic terms the struggles of Mehmed I against his brothers (1402–13). The obvious explanation is that when Oxford Anonymous was compiled, Bayezid II was also facing a rival claimant to the throne, his brother Cem Sultan (d. 1495).

'The utility of Kastritsis’s crisp and eminently readable translation of OA (on the finer points of which both space and time inhibit me from commenting), together with his illuminating and thoughtful introduction, will be of great value not only to specialists in the field but to other late medieval historians who may not be so well acquainted with fifteenth-century Ottoman Turkish. Its appearance, in the series, be it noted, Translated Texts for Byzantinists, is to be greatly welcomed.'
Colin Heywood, Speculum

Author Information

Dr. Dimitri J. Kastritsis is Lecturer in Ottoman History at the University of St Andrews.