The Birth of the Ottoman Medresse Tradition
Keywords: Ottoman, Medresse, İlmiye Teşkilâtı, İsmail Hakkı Uzunçarşılı, History
The 120-year period (1331-1451) between the foundation of the first Ottoman medresse by Orhan Bey in 1331 in İznik and the enthronement of Sultan Mehmed II the Conqueror, which was the beginning of a totally different phase of the Ottoman Empire, can be seen as the "period of foundation of Ottoınan medresses and of the establishment of their traditions". One can see continuity between Ottoman and pre-Ottoman medresses, thanks to which during early Ottoman times educational and scientific fields developed in accordance to existing traditions and methods. In addition to this, one of the aspects of the history of Ottoman medresses, which have up to now been neglected, has been the study of the place, time and way of the founding of medresses in the territories being conquered by Ottomans. In this study we have analysed the needs that prompted the founding of individual medresses, the medresses' presence or lack of coherent governing policies, and the geographical distribution of medresses in the light of settlement policies during this 120-year period. There have also been instances when medresses were founded by Ottoman dignitaries in territories not yet conquered by the Ottomans. To ensure that such a study considering all these elements should also be based upon a coherent database, all available sources and related studies have been analysed as critically and analytically as possible, with the aim of establishing an inventory of medresses of which the dates of foundation are known. This list has been classified according to the reigns of the various Sultans and it includes 84 medresses. On the basis of this inventory, the information in existing sources and studies has been evaluated once more and an attempt has been made to fix a "conceptual framework" around the foundation and traditions of Ottoman medresses.