ISSN: 0041-4255
e-ISSN: 2791-6472

Zeki Arıkan

Keywords: Ottoman, History, Historian, Early Ottoman Historians


The early Ottoman historians made their first appearance a century after the principality had become independent. The oldest known Ottoman history is the work by Ahmedi titled "Dasitan-ı Tevarih-i Müluk-i Ali Osman." As for the Court calendars, which are asserted to constitute the fundamental source of Ottoman historiography, only a few copies have survived. By the second half of the 15th century, Oruç Bey, Aşıkpaşa-zâde, and Neşri had attained a maturity in Ottoman historiography. The question remains, however, as to what sources were utilized by these early Ottoman historians. This is a knotty question. Aşıkpaşa-zâde clearly states that he drew on the "Menâkıbnâme" by Yahşi Fakih. Nonetheless, these same historians, undoubtedly, drew on written sources that no longer survive or whose whereabouts are unknown. Yet, it should be noted that the evidence of both oral informants and/or narratives and personal observations were included among their primary sources. One point that must be emphasized is the fact that the early Ottoman historians make reference to architectural remains, written works, and structures that are part of their contemporary experience but to which cling traces of a long past. For instance, the discussion of the 15th-century condition of one structure dating to the reign of Orhan Gazi introduces a subject that needs to be stressed. Details concerning the reason for a certain placename and the fact that it persisted in the historian's lifetime occupy a prominent place in these works. The present text furnishes a number of examples in this regard. In recent years, Prof. Halil İnalcık has conducted some oral history field study in the area where the Ottoman polity was founded and spoken with the local residents. He has determined that the information he was furnished accords closely with the statements made by Aşıkpaşa-zâde. The persistence of all these details demonstrates that the early Ottoman chronicles-despite the fact that they were written down much later-possess a coherent consistency.