By Carter Vaughn Findley
From the author’s preface: chic Porte--there needs to be few phrases extra redolent, even this present day, of the fascination that the Islamic heart East has lengthy exercised over Western imaginations. but there should also be few Western minds that now recognize what this time period refers to, or why it has any declare to cognizance. One present-day center East professional admits to having lengthy interpreted the expression as a connection with Istambul’s most suitable typical harbor. This person may not be targeted and will possibly declare to be rather good proficient. whilst the chic Porte nonetheless existed, Westerners who hung out in Istanbul knew the time period as a designation for the Ottoman govt, yet few knew why the identify was once used, or what point of the Ottoman govt it safely distinct. What used to be the true elegant Porte? was once it a company? A development? not more, actually, than a door or gateway? What approximately it used to be very important sufficient to reason the identify to be remembered? in a single experience, the aim of this publication is to respond to those questions. after all, it is going to additionally do even more and should, within the approach, flow speedy onto a aircraft relatively diversified from the exoticism simply invoked. For to check the bureaucratic advanced thoroughly often called the chic Porte, and to research its evolution and that of the physique of guys who staffed it, is to discover an issue of great value for the improvement of the executive associations of the Ottoman Empire, the Islamic lands commonly, and in a few senses the full non-Westerrn global.
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Extra info for Bureaucratic Reform in the Ottoman Empire: The Sublime Porte, 1789-1922
In societies typically dominated by what were, or were perceived to be, establishments of "elders" (shaykh), the fact that the members of these "clubs" often identified the spirit that united them with young manhood is probably, as Goitein indicates, chiefly emblematic of their anti-establishment orientation. 44 Their other names convey a similar emphasis. At any rate, the "clubs" tended to draw their members from the less favored elements of society. Such men banded together for the sake of comradeship and for the added conviviality made possible by the sharing of their resources.
The Ottoman Empire, like other sultanates, existed in a permanent state of tension in relation to the Islamic heritage. Shaped by an Iranian tradition of absolute kingship and a Turkic ideal of quasi-divine monarchy, both rooted deep in the pre-Islanlic past, the very concept of sultan was at odds with the Islamic ideal of rule by a caliph in whom religious leaders acknowledged the legitimate successor (khalifa) of the Prophet in his capacity as head of the Muslim community. Exercising a power based on little but military force, no sultan could gain the acceptance of the pious except as he, in the absence or weakness of a legitimate caliph, devoted himself to the achievement of religiously valued goals.
As in so many other cases, however, the reforms could not entirely sweep away the preexisting patterns. For a variety of reasons, the system of autonomous confessional communities was not abolished, but rather retained and reformed. 40 This was, in fact, when the term millet began to be applied officially to the non-Muslim communities. Thus began a period in which the pattern of autonomous confessional communities coexisted with the official policy of egalitarian Ottomanism, and both were challenged in turn by the separatist nationalisms that threatened the integrity, not just of the empire, but also, in some cases, of the religiously defined communities.