Ottoman Empire

By the 16th century, the vast empire of the Ottomans had reached the top of its power. The lands under Ottoman rule stretched from the heart of Central Europe to the deserts of Arabia. In nearly every respect, the Ottoman Empire was strong and well organized. As such, it comes as no surprise that the people under Ottoman rule were organized in a neat power stricter as well. From the royal Sultan, to the villagers in the Rayyah class, the people of the Empire each had a unique position in Ottoman society.

At the very top of the pyramidal societal structure were the Sultan, absolute commander of all, and executor of decisions concerning politics and state wealth. A step below the Sultan were a small group of wealthy, higher leaders, who were given a special status because they were basically 1` the Sultan’s “slaves”.

While the Sultan invested wealth and the leaders protected it, the majority of commoner, the rayyhs, had the task of actually producing the wealth. The Rayyah had to pay part of their profits from industry, commerce, and farming to the state in the form of taxes.

Social mobility mainly occurred by way of machinery. In the earlier years, until the mid 17th century, the expansion of the Empire had offered big opportunities for advancement. The devsirme, with its administrator and janissary graduates, had meant that thousands of Christian peasants’ sons rose to high positions of military and political power. The primary objective of the devsirme system was to select and train then skilled children for leadership positions, either as military leaders or as high administrators to serve the Empire. The ideal age of a recruit was between 10 and 20 years of age.

Class structure

The class structure of the Ottoman Empire had levels that were in order; first, the men of the pen, that is, judges, imams (prayer leaders), and other intellectuals. Two, the men of the sword, meaning the military. Three, the men of negotiations, such as merchants and Four, the men of husbanary, meaning farmers and livestock raisers.

Hierarchy of Government

The Ottoman Empire developed a highly advanced organization of state over the centuries. Even though it had a very stable government with the Sultan as the supreme ruler, it had an effective control of its provinces and the population, as well as its officials. Wealth and rank wasn’t necessarily something that won the population , rather it had to be earned. Positions were looked at as titles such as viziers and agas. Military service was a key to advancement in the hierarchy. With expansion of the empire, the need for more administrative organization (Provincial System) developed a kind of separation of powers with higher executive functions carried out by the military authorities.

The state organization of the Ottoman Empire was a very simple system that had two main dimensions, the military administration and the civil administration. The Sultan was the highest position in the system. The civil system was based on local administrative units based on the region's characteristics. The Ottomans practiced a system in which the state (as in the Byzantine Empire) had control over the clergy. Certain pre-Islamic Turkish traditions that had survived the adoption of administrative and legal practices from Islamic Iran remained important in Ottoman administrative circles.

The highest position in Islam, caliphate, was claimed by the sultan, which was established as Ottoman Caliphate. The Ottoman sultan or "lord of kings” served as the Empire's sole regent and was considered to be the idea of its government, though he did not always exercise complete control. The Imperial Harem was one of the most important powers of the Ottoman court. It was ruled by the Valide Sultan. On occasion, the Valide Sultan would become involved in state politics. For a time, the women of the Harem effectively controlled the state in what was termed the "Sultanate of Women".

SocietyRole of Slavery

In the Ottoman Empire, many members of the ruling elite were legally slaves of the sultan and therefore could, technically, be ordered to surrender their labor, their property, or their lives at any moment. Slavery provided a means of social mobility, conferring status and political power within the military, the bureaucracy, or the domestic household and formed an important part of patronage networks. Ehud r. Toledano’s exploration of slavery from the Ottoman viewpoint is based on extensive research in British, French, and Turkish archives and offers rich, original, and important insights into Ottoman life and thought.

By the 16th century, the vast empire of the Ottomans had reached the top of its power. The lands under Ottoman rule stretched from the heart of Central Europe to the deserts of Arabia. In nearly every respect, the Ottoman Empire was strong and well organized. As such, it comes as no surprise that the people under Ottoman rule were organized in a neat power stricter as well. From the royal Sultan, to the villagers in the Rayyah class, the people of the Empire each had a unique position in Ottoman society.

At the very top of the pyramidal societal structure were theRole of Slavery

In the Ottoman Empire, many members of the ruling elite were legally slaves of the sultan and therefore could, technically, be ordered to surrender their labor, their property, or their lives at any moment. Slavery provided a means of social mobility, conferring status and political power within the military, the bureaucracy, or the domestic household and formed an important part of patronage networks. Ehud r. Toledano’s exploration of slavery from the Ottoman viewpoint is based on extensive research in British, French, and Turkish archives and offers rich, original, and important insights into Ottoman life and thought.

Sultan, absolute commander of all, and executor of decisions concerning politics and state wealth. A step below the Sultan were a small group of wealthy, esteemed leaders, who were ascribed special status because they were essentially the Sultan’s “slaves”.

While the Sultan invested wealth and the leaders protected it, the majority of commoner, the rayyhs, had the task of actually producing the wealth. The Rayyah had to pay part of their profits from industry, commerce, and farming to the state in the form of taxes.

Social mobility mainly occurred by way of apparatus. In the earlier years, until the mid 17th century, the expansion of the Empire had offered tremendous opportunities for advancement. The devsirme, with its administrator and janissary graduates, had meant that thousands of Christian peasants’ sons rose to high positions of military and political power. The primary objRole of Slavery

In the Ottoman Empire, many members of the ruling elite were legally slaves of the sultan and therefore could, technically, are ordered to surrender their labor, their property, or their lives at any moment. Slavery provided a means of social mobility, conferring status and political power within the military, the bureaucracy, or the domestic household and formed an important part of patronage networks. Ehud r. Toledano’s exploration of slavery from the Ottoman viewpoint is based on extensive research in British, French, and Turkish archives and offers rich, original, and important insights into Ottoman life and thought.

ective of the devsirme system was to select and train the ablest children for leadership positions, either as military leaders or as high administrators to serve the Empire. The ideal age of a recruit was between 10 and 20 years of age.

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