Differences Between West and East Europe
The Ottomans inherited a rich mixture of political traditions from vastly disparate ethnic groups: Turks, Persians, Mongols, Mesopotamian and, of course, Islam. The Ottoman state, like the Turkish, Mongol, and Mesopotamian states rested on a principle of absolute authority in the monarch. The nature of Ottoman autocracy, however, is greatly misunderstood and misinterpreted in the West, particularly in world history textbooks.
The central function of the ruler or Sultan in Ottoman political theory was to guarantee justice (Adalet in Turkish) in the land. All authority hinges on the ruler's personal commitment to justice. This idea has both Turco - Persian and Islamic aspects. In Islamic political theory, the model of the just ruler was
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While this may be physically true, it was not ideologically true. In fact, in the Ottoman state, public opinion was regarded as the only true foundation on which state authority rested. If the people ceased to support their rulers, it was argued, then the rulers would soon fall from power. The Sultanic government, then, assiduously cultivated public opinion, for it was recognized that the enemies of the Sultan were also cultivating adverse public opinion. The government did this not only through propaganda, but through policy as well. In addition to prosecuting corrupt government officials and publicly declaring taxes and laws, the Ottoman government also cultivated public opinion in its wars of conquests.
Soldiers were not allowed to mistreat peasants nor take anything from them without their permission or reimbursement. All the Ottoman wars of the conquest in the sixteenth century were assiduously planned years in advance. The government would lay up stores of supplies all along the campaign route so that the armies could feed themselves without taking anything from the general population. The Ottoman conquerors believed that no conquest could stand without the goodwill of the general population of the conquered, so military campaigns were remarkably fair and easy on the average person.
The Ottomans also paid attention to an early form of public opinion polling and were probably the first government to