The Ottoman (re-)urbanization of SEE and the role of the March Lords

posted by istanbul on 2009/08/09 10:41

[ Books ]

Cornucopia No. 41 features a summary of Heath Lowry's 2008 book (see posting below) by Caroline Finkel, stressing the importance of March Lord families in not only the conquest but the urbanization of the post-Byzantine Balkans:

"The hero of Lowry’s story is the ucbey (march lord) Haci Gazi Evrenos Bey, who died in 1417 and was associated with almost every conquest between the Meric River in the east and the Adriatic in the west. Although Evrenos’s name has not been erased from history, the part played by him and his family in establishing Ottoman rule in western Thrace and Macedonia, and maintaining it down the centuries, was egregiously downplayed by later chroniclers ... Evrenos was the most prominent of the march lords in the Balkans in the second half of the 14th century, and the now mostly ruined buildings marking their westerly progress provide the evidence that he and his family, the Evrenosogullari, were responsible for pushing back the Ottoman frontier. They settled first in Gumulcine (modern Komotini), then in Siroz (Serres) and finally in Yenice Vardar (Giannitsa). Evrenos endowed these cities, and other sites along his route, with mosques and the infrastructure of urban and commercial life ... Lowry’s findings lead him to the view that the Osmanogullari – the Ottomans – were no more than first among equals at this time. He also rejects the view that their westward push was merely a series of raids for slaves and booty, arguing that they had planned a campaign of conquest from the outset, as the permanence of the monuments they built eloquently testifies."


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