‘Moedige krijgers’ of het zwaard van God? - Een conceptuele herevaluatie van Paul Wittek’s gaza-thesis over de Osmaanse staatsvorming | Amsterdam University Press Journals Online
Volume 127, Issue 2
  • ISSN: 0040-7518
  • E-ISSN: 2352-1163


This article re-evaluates Paul Wittek's famous thesis, which until the 1980s was the dominant explanation of the Ottoman state and remains influential. It situates Wittek within the intellectual genealogy of Ottoman Studies, which exhibits two major lines: the Ottomans were either barbarians without an understanding of state-building, or fanatical Muslims who were engaged in continuous holy war. Since Wittek, many scholars have believed that holy war was central to the Ottoman state and ideology. Wittek wrongly interpreted the concept as equivalent to the western term ‘holy war’, seeing the terms , , and holy war as synonyms. In fact each of these concepts has a different semantic and historical context. Although the ideology was relevant to Ottoman expansion and dynastic legitimacy, it was not the all-defining ideological motif.


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