“The Period of Selim III” in London and Dublin

Prof.Dr. Hakan Erdem from the Department of History at Sabanci University gave two lectures on the Ottoman Empire under the rule of Selim III (1789-1807). The lectures took place at the Yunus Emre Institute in London and Trinity College in Dublin, as part of the Yunus Emre Institute Lectureship in Turkish Cultural History on 20 and 22 November respectively.

The lectures, which looked at the fundamental changes made during the reign of Selim III in 1789-1807, were followed closely by an academic audience.  Dublin Ambassador to Turkey, Levent Murat Burhan and Dublin Ambassador to Portugal, Miguel de Almeida e Sousa were amongst the attendees at the Dublin conference.

At the conferences, Erdem reported that Selim III wanted to go for a breakthrough in the army upon the several defeats in the wars, and when he could not eliminate the old Janissary army. As a result, he established a new army called Nizam-ı Cedid. He also mentioned that the establishment of a new treasury was ordered to finance the new army.

Erdem pointed out that the successive changes in the state during the Selim period led to a dual structure in the state, and this was reflected in the government.

During the period of Selim III, Erdem noted that a certain number of laws that came into effect were prepared by an advisory committee. It was found that the structure was similar to the one in the old Ottoman Empire and worked as a ‘special cabinet’. It was also mentioned that the cabinet was a force factor encouraging Selim III on reforms.

In addition, it was noted that during the 20 year period in which Europe was shaken by revolutions and wars, the committee which he consulted for the establishment of the new order de facto ruled the Ottoman Empire.

In addition, as part of the innovations made during Selim III period, embassies opened in European cities including London, Madrid, Paris, Berlin and Vienna and economic reforms such as local production in textile were also touched upon.

The conference which was moderated by our Ottoman Turkish and History instructor Dr. Cumhur Bekar in London and by Yunus Emre Institute faculty member Dr. Murat R. Şiviloğlu at the Trinity college in Dublin came to a close with a question and answer section.