The Ottomans in 1830

Discussion Topic 7



During the first three decades of the 19th century, the Ottoman Empire began its decline that lead to its dissolution in 1922. Both political and military issues affected the country. A failing economy caused uprisings throughout the empire. The Russian expansions and growing nationalism also inspired the decline.

The rise of nationalism in France and the rest of Europe was felt strongly in the Ottoman empire. This national conscience, along with a new ethnic nationalism, became one of the most important and wildly felt ideas of Western thought. The number of political parties rose also, and as it did, the number of revolts and rebellions grew significantly.

These uprisings made many people doubt the government. Some, however, still felt that the troubles were external. More division resulted. In 1821, the Greeks began their fight for independence. On Romanian ground, both Moldavia and Muntenia supported them. The Greeks were victorious seven years later in 1829, and Greece claimed its independence. Yet this and new reforms did not halt the ever-rising nationalistic thought in Serbia and the Danurbian Principalities.

That year was also the year of the Russio-Turkish war. Sultan Mahmud II faced an intervention by the Great Powers in the Battle of Navarino (1827). Russian expansion was impairing the empire, and politics turned its eye towards constant economic problems that were the result of national uprisings.

By 1830, the Serbs had won freedom through autonomy. A Greco-Turkish settlement was made official by the European powers at a conference in London. Greece was declared an independent state under their protection.


Architecture during the mid 19th century developed parallel to the Western world( but overall, the war-torn country lost its greatness in art. The Ehli Hiref organization in the palace gradually weakened. Gold, silver, and copper were taken and melted down. The Ottoman tradition of reusing metals flourished, but it destroyed much of the information scholars would otherwise have today. Only those donated to tombs and mosques remain untouched. The major architects of the time were the Balyan family.

Ottoman metalworking

Gold jewelry from reused gold


The Rose a flame
Rosebush a flame
      Garden a flame
           Stream a flame
For lovers made of salamander-stuff
The tulip-bed aflame
Should be enough
Even now, oh Saki,
Ignite a cup with flames of wine
For the hand of her who holds my heart;
She came in rage to the party
And flames here still
Like the candle of the gathering
The sweet breeze has blown up flames
From my eye's bud of hope
The lightning-bolt of spring
Has set afire
The rose-bed of my expectations
As your lovers sigh,
Imagining what it might be
To long for your dark mole
In the black night of separation
The heart-aflame casts out
The burning stars as alms
When you are gone, oh moon,
Even the flower-beds
Speak to me of Hell
      The tree's a flame
           Sapling's a flame
                Leaf and fruit a flame
                     She who is the lantern
That lights the feast of my exile
Is dressed in fascination
For the moth of my heart
      Union with her a flame
           To wait a flame
Galib! As your pen runs hotly,
Swiftly turning about the page
      The earth's a flame
           Time's a flame
      All that's drawn
           Or designed
                A flame
Translated by Walter G. Andrews

You are my lord. If I have some credit in the world, it comes from you.
If I have some fame among lovers, it comes from you.
You are the plenitude of my life, my soul and my spirit
If there is some gain on the capital of my life, it comes from you.
The color of your beauty gives reality to this imagined form
If there is spring in the rose garden of my dream, it comes from you.
I have suffered no atom of pain at the hands of fate
O bright sun, if I moan and weep, it comes from you.
You are the candle of union, I the moth of your flame
If I yearn every night to kiss and embrace, it comes from you.
I have become a martyr of your low, my breast is a tulip bed of wounds
If there is a lamp on my grave, a candle in my tomb, it comes from you.
One who sees my aimless turning might take me for the desert whirlwind
I am nothing within nothing, if I have any being, it comes from you.
While I was your rolling pearl, why did you let me go astray?
If my dust is on the mirror of life, it comes from you.
Cupbearer, you gave my cup a dawn glow of blood and tears
If I am languorous the morrow of a night of revels, it comes from you.
It is with you that Galib takes refuge, great Mevlana,
The cap I wear with pride, it comes from you.
Translated by Bernard Lewis

If I say that the skies have opened, the spring has come,
I mean that my beloved has shown me some affection.
If I say that the meadow is adorned with blossoms,
It conveys that my sweetheart spoke to me with a smile.


In the Early 19th century, four great romantics of Ottoman music emerged. Two adopted the neo-classical style, and the other two a revolutionary style: Zekaī Dede and Tanbūrī Ali Efendi as the classists, and Hac? Arif Bey and Tanbūrī Cemil Bey as the innovators. The peak of the classical Ottoman music was such composers as Haf?z Post, Itrī, Zaharya, Osman Dede, Ebübekir Ag(a, Abdülhalīm Ag(a and Tab'ī who composed the gazels, poems of love, written by such great classical Ottoman poets like Fuzulī, Bakī, Nabī, Nefī, Nedīm, Nev'ī, Fasīh, Fazl, Ftnat and Vasf. Composers of vocal pieces in classical forms did not only rely on the meaning of the poetry, but quite to the contrary, they would add terennüm (the vocal refrain) after each line of the poem they composed. As a result of the changes in living conditions and the notion of time, the terennüms which were the main pattern of large scale pieces were thought to be stretching the piece too much, making it much more complex both to perform and listen. So the composers started to search for shorter, more substantial and lyric forms.

Press play to hear a modern rendition of traditional Arabic music.