O is for Ottoman Warfare

Obviously this is a rather specific choice for the letter ‘O’ but I only have one book on the Ottoman Empire (so far) even though it plays a large role in much of my writing. Every fantasy writer I think has a go-to civilization, country or people when in need of a bit of cultural inspiration. As much as we all like to think of ourselves as special, creative snowflakes, the truth is that ideas don’t pop out of nowhere. They have to be seeded, and from the seed they must be cultivated, added to, given nutrients from outside the writer’s head as much as from inside. Living in Japan gives me a great deal of inspiration, but beyond that, I pull a lot from the Turkish as well, from clothing to language to whole sections of history.

The only historical fiction I ever wrote was set within the Ottoman Empire, specifically in the last days that it held Athens. I knew nothing about this time period, the history or the people, and Ottoman Warfare in particular was a bit of a blank (thanks Wikipedia). Wasn’t it my lucky day, then, when I happened to find this book? It remains one of my favorite little research treasures for all sorts of fiction writing, long and short.

Do you have a favorite place to pick from when researching? Let me know!

ottoman warfare

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12 thoughts on “O is for Ottoman Warfare

  1. Medici Florence is my go-to place. I read the Machiavelli — not only The Prince but The Discourses, about every 18 months. Have an early 20th-Century history of the Medici with photos, and it is fascinating.

    Ottomans are a good, good choice. For a setting, though. That was a ponderous and fascinating culture.

    • Ooo~ That’s a good one. I’ve read The Prince and loved it. I’ve used it as a reference text for fiction and non-ficiton writing lots of times.

      Yeah, the more I read of the Ottomans the more I want to use it in writing. It’s a great start off point.

      • There is a book. The Fall of the Dynasties: The Collapse of the Old Order: 1905-1922. It’s a bit historiographical and focuses on Great Men a bit. It starts in Sarajevo and backtracks a little in places to capture the 1905-1914 years. Devotes at least one chapter to each of the empires and what was going on in them during those years. There’s a whole chapter on the end of the Ottomans there that I find useful. They lasted a long time.

      • Thank you for this! I’m always looking for good history books to add to the collection. And yes, the Ottomans did hang on for a long time, huh?

  2. Since I found my dad’s letters to my mum from 1944 to 1948, a large chunk of which comprise his time in Palestine as part of the British Protectorate prior to the original Partition n 1948, I’ve been fascinated how the merry hell we arrived at the mess we did and, naturally one traces back to the last days of the Ottoman empire and the British confusion that stemmed from trying to end it, and in so doing take out a German ally. The British wanted the support of both the indigenous Arab population as well a the aspirational Zionists, promised the earth to both at a tie when they couldn’t deliver on either promise and then found themselves in charge (and so able to fulfil the promises, which of course were mutually incompatible). Great choice of a source.

    • I had heard about that. But not that it’s surprising. When it comes to the division of other people’s land. Britain has a history of throwing down the cards and running away. 😛

      • there is always a consequence when power changes abruptly and usually it’s the people who aren’t in power who suffer. Given the Imperial spread at the end of the nineteenth and into the 20th century, it is inevitable that Britain was involved in a greater proportion than any other former colonial power. While Palestine is different in that it was never a colony and so control wasn’t entirely in British hands, the fact is it was a political football

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