Pluralism in a Patrimonial Bureaucracy: The Ottoman Empire

R. D. Grillo

in Pluralism and the Politics of Difference

Published in print July 1998 | ISBN: 9780198294269
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191599378 | DOI:
 Pluralism in a Patrimonial Bureaucracy: The Ottoman Empire

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Some of the most horrifying episodes of ethnic violence of the twentieth century occurred in a territory originally part of the Ottoman Empire. Although for later generations the Empire was a byword for ramshackle, corrupt organization, and by the nineteenth century this was probably correct, in its heyday, in the 150 years or so from the fall of Constantinople in 1453, many regarded it as a symbol of harmony, and indeed for Jews fleeing persecution in Spain it offered a safe haven. During that period the Empire incorporated ethnic and religious differences into its system of rule in ways that gave formally subordinate groups relative autonomy in their cultural, religious, economic, and political affairs (the millet system), and allowed some of their members to rise to positions of great power and eminence, e.g. the slave elite created by the devshirme.

Keywords: autonomy; Constantinople; devshirme; ethnic violence; Islam; Jews; millet system; Ottoman Empire; religious difference; slave elite

Chapter.  11399 words. 

Subjects: Political Theory

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