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Title:Were the Ottomans a Roman dynasty?
Duration:11:11
Viewed:399,713
Published:14-11-2022
Source:Youtube

The Ottomans considered themselves a continuation of the Roman empire. In this video I discuss how they could be understood in that way. This video was sparked by a comment thread under https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NVkVG5CL-Go My argument here is based on how the late Byzantines conceived of what it means to be Roman (Romans are people of Greek culture and religion, and the region where they live is the Land of the Romans). But there is one aspect of the Byzantine definition of "Roman" that I left out because it wasn't relevant to the Ottoman self-definition: the Byzantines believed that the Roman empire was first and foremost a Christian empire, and in fact the center and bulwark of the Christian faith in the world. Obviously the Ottomans did not see themselves in that light. In other words, the Byzantines and Ottomans disagreed on whether being Christian is a necessary part of being Roman. =================================== FREQUENT OBJECTIONS IN THE COMMENTS There are a couple remarks that keep showing up in the comments over and over again. Here are my responses. *COMMENT: "Rumi wasn't from Anatolia! He was from Central Asia/Afghanistan!"* In the English language, saying that someone is from a place doesn't always mean they were born there. It can mean a place where they currently live or where they have relocated to. For example, Barack Obama was 24 when he moved to Chicago, but we still say he is from Chicago. Rumi left Balkh at a young age (18 or 20 years old), and then lived in Anatolia for 50 years. According to the rules of English usage, it is correct to say he is from Anatolia. And honestly, why do you think he's called Rumi, anyway? Maybe you should take a time machine back to the 13th century and tell everyone there to stop calling him Rumi, too. What the heck? (By the way, if you want to hear about what Rumi's family was escaping from when they left Balkh, check out this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gGDKO5xuJow.) *COMMENT: "The France analogy is stupid! The French did the French Revolution to themselves! The Ottomans were outsiders who conquered!"* I have three thoughts on this: (1) If you listen to what I say in the video, you'll realize that this is irrelevant to my point. In the video I make the analogy in response to the objection that the Ottomans changed the "political ideology, political legitimacy, the legal system." For example, the Ottomans did not adopt the Roman legal code or carry on Byzantine court ceremonial. The basis of their legitimacy was different because unlike the Byzantine emperors, they were not self-proclaimed defenders of Christianity. Likewise, the basis for the French Republic's legitimacy was different, it changed France's laws and legal system, and it was no longer the defender of Catholicism. I was not saying, and do not now claim, that the Ottoman takeover was like the French Revolution in every respect. (2) Also, many commenters worded their objection in a way that betrayed some basic misunderstandings of the Byzantines and Ottomans themselves. (2a) *"The Ottomans were foreigners! They came from Central Asia!"* The Turks had been in Anatolia for 400 years at that point, the same amount of time that white people have been in North America. (2b) *"The Ottomans weren't ethnically Greek/Roman!"* That would not have mattered to the Byzantines. If the Turks had been Orthodox Christian instead of Muslim, then they would likely be regarded as one more in a long line of Byzantine dynastic usurpers and the 1453 takeover would not be famous today. The Byzantines didn't care about your genetics. They cared about whether you were Orthodox Christian. That said, by the 15th century the Turks and Greeks in Anatolia had mixed genetically. What made someone a "Turk" or "Greek" by that point wasn't their genetics but their lifestyle and family allegiances. (3) *"The French Revolution was an internal development!"* This comment betrays a nationalist's logic. You're categorizing how severe the change is based on whether the people doing it are members or non-members of a given national group. *That is not how premodern people thought.* That is modern thinking which assumes that people naturally sort into "nationalities" and that their "nationalities" (whatever that means) are the ultimate basis for political legitimacy. Under this thinking, a "Turk" (defined nationalistically) can never be a Roman emperor because he belongs to the wrong nationality. That is how people today think, but that is not how people in the 15th century thought. To give just one example of what I mean: In 1714 the British imported a German *who was not fluent in English* to be their king. Why? Because he wasn't Catholic. For the British, it was more important that their king be Protestant than that he be "ethnically" British. In other words, a Catholic Scotsman was for them more of an outsider than a Protestant German.



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