The Ottoman Empire and its Legacy, 1299-1950

This information is for the 2015/16 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Marc Baer E.307


This course is available on the MSc in Empires, Colonialism and Globalisation. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

Course content

The Ottoman Empire (1299-1923) was one of the longest lasting and most territorially extensive of all empires in history. Yet today few know about its nature, whether in Turkey or abroad. Who were the Ottomans? How did they run their empire? How did they manage diversity? How did their understanding and practice of Islam change over time? What was the secret of their success, and what ultimately caused the empire's fall? How do the Ottomans compare to other contemporary empires? What is the Ottoman legacy, especially in Turkey and Greece? What is the significance of the Ottoman Empire for world history?

In order to answer these questions we will study the following topics: three pillars of Ottoman inheritance: Byzantium, Islam, Mongols; the origins and rise of the Ottoman Empire; the conquest of Constantinople and its significance for world history; Ottoman state institutions in the “classic age;” gendering Ottoman History; the Ottomans and the Renaissance; the Ottomans and the Age of Exploration; the Ottoman-Safavid-Habsburg struggle for supremacy; Ottoman Jews: model minority?; sixteenth- and seventeenth-century transformations; pietism, conversion, and interreligious relations; reform and repression, 1839-1908; Orientalism and the Ottomans; the Young Turks and the revolution of 1908; World War I and the Armenian genocide; Atatürk: the “Father” of Modern Turkey and the new Turkish Republic; Ottoman legacies: Christians and Jews in Greece and Turkey; the legacy of the Ottoman Empire in comparative perspective; and the Ottoman past in Turkish historical fiction.


20 hours of seminars in the MT. 20 hours of seminars in the LT. 2 hours of seminars in the ST.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 1 essay in the MT.

Students are required to post weekly response readings.

Indicative reading

Jane Burbank and Frederick Cooper, Empires in World History: Power and the Politics of Difference (Princeton 2010);

Marshall Hodgson, Rethinking World History: Essays on Europe, Islam, and World History (Cambridge 1993);

Caroline Finkel, Osman’s Dream: The History of the Ottoman Empire (London 2005);

Giancarlo Casale, The Ottoman Age of Exploration (Oxford 2011);

Marc David Baer,  Honored by the Glory of Islam: Conversion and Conquest in Ottoman Europe (Oxford 2008);

Marc David Baer, The Dönme: Jewish Converts, Muslim Revolutionaries, and Secular Turks (Stanford 2010);

Mark Mazower, Salonica City of Ghosts: Christians, Muslims, and Jews 1430-1950 (Vintage 2006).


Exam (100%, duration: 3 hours) in the main exam period.

Key facts

Department: International History

Total students 2014/15: Unavailable

Average class size 2014/15: Unavailable

Controlled access 2014/15: No

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Leadership
  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Specialist skills