Marc David Baer’s fascinating non-fiction works delve into the unknown characteristics of emperors who navigated the political landscape, just as we see politicians do today. His latest work The Ottomans: Khans, Caesars and Caliphs argues that the 16th century was not, in fact, the pivotal moment of decline for the Ottomans. The author who was at the Jaipur Literature Festival explains how much of the politics among rulers remains the same even today. fragments:
How strong is history as a political instrument?
This is certainly the case in culture wars. It also happens in England, even to this day. There is poverty, the state of education is in trouble. But they don’t talk about that. You see, the left or the liberals can never win the culture wars. The left looks critically at the past. In England it’s Churchill. Churchill was a war hero, yes he was, but he was also a racist. He said terrible things about Indians. Critical historians like me like to talk about that.
Was this something emperors did in their day?
Very. in the 19e century, Abdul Hamid II, the last strong Ottoman sultan, renovated the counts of Osman and Orhan, the first two sultans, to say: ‘Look, I am associated with them’. This was his way of gaining the support of the popular Muslims and gaining allegiance. Various media were at his disposal. He would also use several photos to promote a certain image of himself in the west to show how civilized the Muslims were.
Does the superiority complex come into play here? To see yourself as part of the larger population? We see this over the Pakistan border and the show Dirilis: Ertugrul.
Yes, the Pakistanis love the Turks. If you look at Pakistan and Turkey today, they are medium-sized countries. Those aren’t that important. They are not that powerful. So they like to dream about the day when Muslims ruled East and West. A lot is dreamed about the past. There is an imperial feeling. In England, too, this feeling prevails among the right. England is very small than it was. But they like to think of the realm.
When does the distinction between intruders and influencers come into play as a historian? Especially when we talk about the Mughals in India.
There is history and then there is history writing. The Mughals spread their rule through conquest. Then they integrated all these different groups into the empire. They allowed many Shias and Hindus to remain as they were. The majority of the population they ruled over were Hindus. The same goes for the Ottomans, for centuries the majority of the population they ruled was Christian. By comparison, I’d say the Mughals were even more eclectic than the Ottomans. The Ottomans converted more people than the Mughals.
Read all minute by minute news updates for Uttar Pradesh 2022 Election Results, Punjab 2022 Election Results, Uttarakhand 2022 Election Results, Manipur 2022 Election Results and Goa 2022 Election Results.
Click here for seat-wise LIVE result updates.