Partners of 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.
"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