Through a study of a variety of Ottoman and modern Turkish accounts of the Ottoman-Habsburg sieges of Nagykanizsa Castle (1600-01) including official documents, correspondence, histories, and more literary genres such as gazavatnames [campaign narratives], Plural Pasts explores Ottoman literacy practices. By considering the diverse roles that the various accounts served – construction of identities, forging of diplomatic alliances and legitimization of political ideologies and geo-political imaginations – it explores the cultural and socio-political significance the various accounts had for different audiences. In addition, it interweaves theoretical reflection with textual analysis. Using the sieges of Nagykanizsa as a case study, it offers a sophisticated contribution to ongoing historiographical arguments: namely, how historians construct hierarchies of primary sources and judge some to be more truthful, or more valuable, than others; how texts are assigned to particular genres based on perceived epistemological status – as story or history, fact or fiction; and the circular role that historians and their histories play in constructing, reflecting and reinforcing cultural and political imaginaries.
Table of Contents
1. The Authority of Eyewitness Accounts Reconsidered
2. Fethnames: Not Just Literary Bombast
3. The Gazavatnames: Erasing Oral Residue and Correcting Scribal Error
4. The Gazavatnames: Re-Writing the Exemplar - Individual Scripta
5. Writers Reading: Reading the Gazavat-i Tiryaki Hasan Paşa with Katib Çelebi and Naima
6. Nationalism and the Re-Invention of Early Modern Identities
Conclusion: Making the Sieges of Nagykanizsa Morally Defensible
Claire Norton is Reader in History at St Mary’s University.