Mirrors for Princes & Historiography

Philip Bockholt is examining translations of advice literature, especially mirrors for princes and historiographies that were translated from Arabic and Persian into Ottoman Turkish. Both genres were important to the shaping of the Ottoman Empire. Among the mirrors for princes, the Anatolian-Turkish versions of the widespread anonymous fable Kalīla wa-Dimna, ʿAlī Çelebi’s Hümāyūnnāme from the 16th century in particular, and translations of the Qābūsnāma (an 11th-century text originally from Northeast Iran) are the focus of his analysis. Both works are available in several textual witnesses and translations, whose time span ranges from the 14th to the 18th century and includes Anatolian princely courts, such as those of the Aydınids and Germiyanids, in addition to the Ottoman court. Including these texts enables the actor-centred study of diachronic tendencies in the adaptation of norms of didactic literature.

As historiographical works, he uses Ibn Kathīr’s al-Bidāya wa-l-Nihāya, al-ʿAynī’s ʿIqd al-Jumān fī Tārīkh Ahl al-Zamān, and Mīrḫvānd’s Rawżat al-Ṣafā Arabic and Persian world histories of the 14th and 15th centuries. These were significant for the normative orientation of Ottoman historiography and were translated into Turkish between the reign of Sultan Murād II in the early 15th century and the so-called Tulip period under Sultan Aḥmed III and his Grand Vizier Nevşehirli Dāmād İbrāhīm Paşa in the early 18th century. The project's comparative approach makes it possible to identify genre-specific and cross-genre tendencies with a focus on underlying patronage relations as well as the content and structure of translations in a larger geographical area.