Synopses & Reviews
On Tuesday, May 29, 1453, the young Sultan Mehemmed, known to history as and#147;the Conqueror,and#8221; launched the final assault against the walls of Constantinople and added that imperial capital, as coping stone; to the Empire that his fathers had conquered. As the Sultanand#8217;s Imam intoned the Muslim creed within the walls of Hagia Sophia, the Greek cathedral become a Turkish mosque, and the curtain went up on a new era. In this, the ninth volume of The Centers of Civilization Series, Bernard Lewis describes the city and its civilization in the great age of the Ottoman Sultanate, between the fifteenth and seventeenth centuries.
Under the Ottomans, the city once again became the center of a vest empire and of a flourishing civilization. The conquerors did not destroy the captured Christian city, but took care to preserve and embellish; they added four Muslim minarets to Hagia Sophia, built many fine mosques and palaces of their own, and transformed the shrunken remnant of the Byzantine city into a new and splendid imperial capital.
The great new Muslim city of Istanbul which they created became a center of cultural as well we political life. It was the gateway between East and West, the place where Asia and Europe clashed and blended. It was the seat of the Sultans and the Grand Viziers, of the government of the Ottoman Empire. No less interesting than the concepts of government and the Muslim religion practiced by the Ottoman Turks were the imperial place and household and the people of the city.
Mr. Lewis relies upon the first-hand accounts of Turkish historians and poets and European travelers, thus enabling the reader to see the city, its people, and their life through the eyes of contemporary participants and observers.
"This first rate treatment of the subject gives a very good appreciation of the ethnological background of the Turkish or Ottoman Empire and how it arose, as well as of the diverse ethnic elements which it swept up within itself. Professor Lewis is to be congratulated on his excellent and concise exposition." Mankind Quarterly
"Not only the traveller, but also the general reader and the specialist will enjoy Lewis's book....The scholarly qualities of Istanbul make for informative as well as pleasant reading." Middle East Journal
"This work is an outstanding contribution to the history of the fascinating city of Istanbul and of the Islamic era....Highly recommended to all interested in the colorful history of the capital of the once powerful Byzantine Empire." The Catholic Historical Review
About the Author
Bernard Lewis, who was holds degrees from the Universities of London and Paris, is a professor of the History of the Near and Middle East in the School of Oriental and African studies at the University of London. He is the author of book about Turkey, Islamic religion and culture, and the Arab world.