Winner of the 2016 Choice Award for Outstanding Academic Title, sponsored by the American Library Association.
Partners of the Empire offers a radical rethinking of the Ottoman Empire in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Over this unstable period, the Ottoman Empire faced political crises, institutional shakeups, and popular insurrections. It responded through various reform options and settlements. New institutional configurations emerged; constitutional texts were codified—and annulled. The empire became a political theater where different actors struggled, collaborated, and competed on conflicting agendas and opposing interests.
This book takes a holistic look at the era, interested not simply in central reforms or in regional developments, but in their interactions. Drawing on original archival sources, Ali Yaycioglu uncovers the patterns of political action—the making and unmaking of coalitions, forms of building and losing power, and expressions of public opinion. Countering common assumptions, he shows that the Ottoman transformation in the Age of Revolutions was not a linear transition from the old order to the new, from decentralized state to centralized, from Eastern to Western institutions, or from pre-modern to modern. Rather, it was a condensed period of transformation that counted many crossing paths, as well as dead-ends, all of which offered a rich repertoire of governing possibilities to be followed, reinterpreted, or ultimately forgotten.
About the author
Ali Yaycioglu is Assistant Professor of History at Stanford University.
"Ali Yaycioglu's magnificent study provides us with a deeply researched portrait of the relationship between the Ottoman provinces and the imperial capital in the tumultuous years of the late eighteenth and the early nineteenth century when the very future of the Empire was uncertain. Moving beyond generic references to 'the age of the ayan,' Yaycioglu draws compelling portraits of the individuals, and their provincial milieux, who fought both with and against Istanbul to create the Empire anew."
—Molly Greene, Princeton University
"Ali Yaycioglu skillfully weaves a complex narrative of the 18th-century Ottoman political landscape, illuminating the struggles as well as the coalitions between various social groups. His compelling account should be required reading not only for those interested in the history of the Ottoman Empire, the Balkans, and the Middle East, but in global history as well."
—Şevket Pamuk, Boğaziçi University, Istanbul
"This book not only fills the arguably single most important gap in early modern Middle Eastern history by providing a cohesive narrative for the eighteenth century in the Ottoman Empire, but it also teaches a lesson about how to write world history by centering the focus of analysis outside the West. Ali Yaycioglu's work offers the most conclusive corrective to the still often-heard argument that representative institutions are a foreign import to the Middle East."
—Baki Tezcan, University of California, Davis
"In its use of archival sources and its conceptual framework, Partners of the Empire embodies superb scholarship. It speaks to fundamental questions—popular sovereignty and the commensurability of European political developments. The emphasis on the Ottoman figure—the provincial ayan—and his imagined "partnership" in the empire is a significant contribution to our knowledge. At last, we now have a detailed exploration of their world."
—Adam Mestyan, Hungarian Historical Review
"Partners of the Empire is a superb piece of scholarship and its author, Ali Yaycıolu, makes compelling arguments. Not only does he incorporate large amounts of secondary-source literature—including Turkish- language scholarship that is sometimes overlooked by Ottoman historians in the Anglophone world—but also seamlessly integrates his own (massive amount of) primary-source research into the rather vast and disparate literature that deals with the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries."
—Harun Kk, BUSTAN: The Middle East Book Review
"[A]s Yaycioglu has shown, the Ottoman Empire grappled with the very same problems that its European counterparts did and attempted to reform itself accordingly. And like those in the empires of those counterparts, some reforms worked and others did not. If, then, we are to understand the Age of Revolutions as a global phenomenon, which it most certainly was, Yaycioglu's study is an important intervention that compels us to reconsider revolution and reform in the Ottoman Empire as evidence that its crises of empire occurred in lockstep with similar crises that arose contemporaneously in the empires of its rivals and allies."
—Robert John Clines, H-War