The Arab Lands under Ottoman Rule : 1516–1800 book cover
2nd Edition

The Arab Lands under Ottoman Rule

ISBN 9781138643451
Published December 12, 2019 by Routledge
316 Pages 15 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

The Arab Lands under Ottoman Rule assesses the effects of Ottoman rule on the Arab Lands of Egypt, Greater Syria, Iraq, and Yemen between 1516 and 1800.

Drawing attention to the important history of these regions, the book challenges outmoded perceptions of this period as a demoralizing prelude to the rise of Arab nationalism and Arab nation-states in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. As well as exploring political events and developments, it delves into the extensive social, cultural, and economic changes that helped to shape the foundations of today's modern Middle and Near East. In doing so, it provides a detailed view of society, incorporating all socio-economic classes, as well as women, religious minorities, and slaves. This second edition has been significantly revised and updated and reflects the developments in research and scholarship since the publication of the first edition.

Engaging with a wide range of primary sources and enhanced by a variety of maps and images to illustrate the text, The Arab Lands under Ottoman Rule is a unique and essential resource for students of early modern Ottoman history and the early modern Middle East.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Rewriting Arab History, 1516-1800

The Arab Lands

Sources for the study of the Ottoman Arab lands

"Decline" and decentralization

State and society

Local notables and localization


Households and localization


Rural populations

Non-Muslims and non-Sunnis

Underrepresented populations


Chapter 1: Land and Peoples

Regions and nomenclature

Geographical features


Religious minorities


Chapter 2: The Ottoman Conquest of the Arab Lands

The rise of the Ottomans

The Mamluk Sultanate (1250-1517)

The Safavids

The Portuguese

Conquest of the Mamluks

Süleyman I’s conquest of Iraq


North Africa


Chapter 3: The Organization of the Ottoman Provincial Administration

Administrative subdivisions

Land tenure

Early challenges to Ottoman rule

Chapter 4: Crisis and Change in the Seventeenth Century

The "decline" paradigm

The crisis of the seventeenth century

Competing households

Janissary hegemony in the Arab provinces

Jelali governors and their equivalents

The loss of Yemen

The Köprülü reforms

Chapter 5: Provincial Notables in the Eighteenth Century


The ayan household

Georgian mamluks in ayan households



Chapter 6: Religious and Intellectual Life

The religious milieu

Religious institutions and personnel

The ulema


Changes to religious and intellectual life in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries


Chapter 7: Urban Life and Trade

Arab provincial cities

Urban change in the Ottoman era

Government regulation of markets


Long-distance trade

The Red Sea coffee trade and its cultural effects


Chapter 8: Rural Life

Land tenure

Village life

Cash crops

Migration and change



Chapter 9: Non-Normative Populations I: Non-Muslims; the Poor and Disabled

Religious minorities


Syrian Catholics

Jews and Christians in financial service

Twelver Shia

Druze, Alawis (Nusayris), Yazidis

The poor and disabled


Chapter 10: Non-Normative Populations II: Women, Non-Elite Slaves, Eunuchs

Stereotype and reality: veiling and the harem

Women in the household




Non-elite slavery



Chapter 11: Ideological and Political Changes in the Late Eighteenth Century (and


Agricultural crisis

Military challenges and attempted reform under Selim III

Nineteenth-century reforms

European imperial encroachment

Sufism and anti-imperialism

Conclusion: The Ottoman Arab provinces after 1800

Conclusion: Transformations under Ottoman Rule

The effects of Ottoman rule

Turk vs. Arab, Balkan vs. Arab? Persistent scholarly dichotomies

Present-day relevance

Ottoman Sultans

Political Chronology



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Jane Hathaway is Arts and Sciences Distinguished Professor of History at Ohio State University. Her previous publications include The Politics of Households in Ottoman Egypt: The Rise of the Qazdağlis (1997); A Tale of Two Factions: Myth, Memory, and Identity in Ottoman Egypt and Yemen (2003); Beshir Agha, Chief Eunuch of the Ottoman Imperial Harem (2006); and The Chief Eunuch of the Ottoman Harem: From African Slave to Power-Broker (2018).


'I am very pleased to see a new edition of The Arab Lands under Ottoman Rule, 1516-1800, an essential text for courses on the history of the Ottoman Empire and the early modern Middle East. In addition to introducing readers to the political structure and developments in the region, this clearly written and engaging text offers rich descriptions of the social and cultural lives of a wide range of people in the Arab provinces of the Ottoman Empire. ​Hathaway's revisions include the careful incorporation of recent scholarship and restructuring of several chapters; her expansion of the discussion about ​non-normative populations, which is now two chapters, is especially welcome.'

Corinne Blake, Rowan University, USA.