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© Dimitrie Cantemir, Кніга Сустіма, или Состояніе мухаммеданскія релігіи, St Petersburg 1722. - Wolfenbüttel,
Herzog August Bibliothek (M: Lf 4° 17).
  Courtesy of Herzog August Bibliothek

Historiography in Ottoman Europe

Recently, historians and social scientists have become increasingly aware of the fact that "modern" historiography, as it took shape as "science" in Western Europe in the 19th century and as it has been practiced almost everywhere ever since, does not always acknowledge the existence and richness of other longstanding historiographical traditions. In consequence, efforts were made to understand this “theft of history”, as Jack Goody once labelled it, to see how "universal" histories were written in various times and spaces, and to shed light upon "different historiographies, ancient and new, modern and traditional". Anthony Grafton even asked the fundamental question: "What was history?"

With very few exceptions – and particularly that of Konrad Petrovszky –, the various forms of history writing of Early Modern Ottoman Europe were never the object of a comprehensive or comparative approach. In spite of many remarkable, however individual results, national historiographies (Albanian, Bosnian, Bulgarian, Croatian, Greek, Macedonian, Romanian, Serbian and Turkish) still find it difficult to overcome inherent methodological, linguistic and financial difficulties and to offer proper concise answers to several decisive questions: "How was history written in Ottoman Europe?", "How was the past recorded?", "How was it told and re-told?”, "How did these people build their imaginary worlds, and what kind of boundaries did they raise between them?"

"A Bibliographical Database of Historical Writing in Ottoman Europe (15th-18th Century)". "Bibliographische Datenbank zur Geschichtsschreibung im Osmanischen Europa (15.-18 Jh.)" intends to contribute to the filling of this significant historiographical gap. Its aim is to identify and describe the published and unpublished historical sources relevant to the topic.

The database has two sections: a Main Section consisting of Main Entries, that is, depictions of the historiographical sources composed in the Ottoman Europe between (roughly, as the Ottoman presence in Europe had its fluxes and refluxes)
1400 and 1800; and a Tools Section containing short descriptions of catalogues, bibliographies, repertoires, editions of documents, funds, and collections indirectly connected with the topic of the database but vital for its contextualization.

Additionally, a Historiography of Ottoman Europe (HOE) Working Papers Series intends to stimulate discussion on the
Main Entries.

By "Ottoman Europe", in accordance with both early-modern authors and nowadays historians as Gilles Veinstein, we understand the part of Europe which became part of the Ottoman Empire, from Moldavia to the North to Crete to the South. Our view does not include (at least for the moment) Tatar Crimea, but it does include Ragusa, as this tributary state of the Ottoman Empire offers a fascinating point of comparison.

By "historiography" we do not only mean the works belonging to "traditional" genres, such as the chronicles, but also certain biographies, hagiographies, inscriptions, and maps (seen rather as cultural objects than as travelling tools). We are also taking into consideration the Early Modern copies and translations of classical and medieval historiographical texts, such as the Histories of Herodotus or the Chronicle of Konstantinos Manasses, if these copies and translations can be traced back to Ottoman Europe. We also offer data on the circulation of the Alexander romance. See also our Key Concepts.