Edirne Before Istanbul: Capital City of the Ottoman Empire


Location: 102 DeBartolo

Dr. Amy Singer, Dept. of Middle Eastern & African History, Tel Aviv University will present a public lecture.

The city of Edirne was the official Ottoman capital city for at least half a century after the defeat of Sultan Bayezid II by Timur and before the conquest of Constantinople (by his great grandson Mehmed II). Yet until quite recently, the city received very limited attention from historians. They focused primarily on the date of Edirne’s early conquest by the Ottomans, and on its later conquests by Russian and Bulgarian forces, and reconquests by the Ottomans, in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. This talk will explore Ottoman Edirne with two goals in mind. First, I will consider the question of Edirne’s historiographical status, particularly in contrast to its importance as a former Ottoman capital. Why have historians focused so much more on Bursa, Konya or Amasya, relatively speaking (to say nothing of Istanbul), and not deemed Edirne as attractive a subject of study? Second, I will examine Edirne more closely, as a first step to recovering and perhaps reconceiving the city in its early Ottoman period, using the city as a pilot project in the use of Historical Geographic Information Systems (HGIS) for Ottoman history. How can a contemporary data interpretation system help historians to explore their own evidentiary materials in new and fruitful ways?