The Second Ottoman Empire: Political and Social Transformation in the Early Modern World

Publication Year



Although scholars have begun to revise the traditional view that the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries marked a decline in the fortunes of the Ottoman Empire, Baki Tezcan’s book proposes a radical new approach to this period. While he concurs that decline did take place in certain areas, he constructs a new framework by foregrounding the proto-democratization of the Ottoman polity in this era. Focusing on the background and the aftermath of the regicide of Osman II, he shows how the empire embarked on a period of seismic change in the political, economic, military, and social spheres. It is this period – from roughly 1580 to 1826 – that the author labels “The Second Empire,” and that he sees as no less than the transformation of the patrimonial, medieval, dynastic institution into a fledgling limited monarchy. The book is essentially a post-revisionist history of the early modern Ottoman Empire that will make a major contribution not only to Ottoman scholarship but also to comparable trends in world history.

  • A new framework for Ottoman history in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries
  • Balances in-depth coverage of the period 1617–22 with comparisons with a longer era (1580–1826)
  • Creates a synthesis between revisionist historiography and earlier, more traditional interpretations

Table of Contents

Introduction: Ottoman political history in the Early Modern period
1. One market, one money, one law: the making of an imperial market society and a law that applies to all
2. The question of succession: bringing the dynasty under legal supervision
3. The court strikes back: the making of Ottoman absolutism
4. A new empire for a second Osman: Osman II in power (1618–22)
5. The absolutist dispensation overturned: a regicide
6. The second empire goes public: the age of the Janissaries
Conclusion: early modernity and the Ottoman decline.

Reviews and Endorsements

This book is one of the most important to be published in Ottoman history for at least a decade, and engagement with its arguments will surely shape the field for many years to come. As with any book that offers such a bold, rich, and thorough reinterpretation, some readers will quibble over particular facets of its argument, and others will mistakenly dismiss the new framework out of hand. All of them, however, will have to contend with the force of its intervention and the elegance of the empirical craftsmanship that built it. –Alan Mikhail (Yale University), Journal of Interdisciplinary History

The Second Ottoman Empire contributes new content to early seventeenth-century Ottoman history, offers a new synthesis of recent analytical scholarship and tells Ottoman history from the seventeenth century in its own terms and as part of early modern global history. As such, it fills a significant void in the field of Ottoman studies. Future Ottoman scholarship will refer again and again to this important study. –Abdurrahman Atçıl (Queens College, CUNY), New Middle Eastern Studies

Tezcan … has drawn on an admirable depth and breadth of original research to present a novel interpretation of Ottoman history in the troubled seventeenth century… [T]he book has posed a serious challenge to currents in early modern global history that celebrate the economic power of China and other Asian empires while deliberately downplaying any discussion of democratic institutions or culture. –Sam White (Oberlin College), Journal of Global History

The work is based on the conviction that integrating economic, military, and social issues, often studied in isolation, would form a viable alternative political narrative of the Ottoman Empire. And, as [Tezcan] skillfully demonstrates, it does. … Tezcan’s … analytically solid argumentation utilizing a wide range of unpublished and published archival, manuscript, and literary sources open up fresh research venues for Ottomanists and are a welcome contribution to the field. –Side Emre (Texas A&M University), Sixteenth Century Journal

Series Title
Cambridge Studies in Islamic Civilization
Cambridge University Press
New York