Parution : Douglas Scott Brookes, Death and Life in the Ottoman Palace. Revelations of the Sultan Abdülhamid I Tomb, Edinburgh University Press, 2023
Revelations of the Sultan Abdülhamid I Tomb
Delves into a royal tomb in order to expand our understanding of Ottoman palace culture
- Presents the first book to explore the Sultan Abdülhamid I Tomb in Istanbul – also known as the Hamidiye Tomb Complex
- Unveils the lives of the 86 men, women and children of the Ottoman palace buried there
- Draws on a range of primary sources translated from Ottoman Turkish for the first time, from archival documents and contemporary chronicles to epitaphs
- Interprets for readers the wide range of Ottoman art, architecture, language, poetry and cultural customs encountered at this tomb complex
- Provides an overview of the Islamic calendar system, the Ottoman culture of death and funerals, the Ottoman attitude toward smallpox vaccination and titles at court
This book reveals multiple aspects of life in the Ottoman palace, in both its public space (the chancery) and private space (the royal household and the harem). It does so by exploring the Sultan Abdülhamid I Tomb in Istanbul, investigating the paths that open to us through the graves of the royalty in the mausoleum and those of the courtiers, eunuchs, concubines and female harem managers in the garden graveyard around it. The treasure of information at this graveyard allows us to piece together a wide spectrum of details that illuminate the court funerary culture of the era, from architecture and calligraphy to funerals and epitaphs to turbans and fezzes and poetry, as we come to an understanding of the role of royal cemeteries in strengthening the bonds between the reigning House and the populace and enhancing the legitimacy of the dynasty’s rule.
The book first introduces the tomb complex to the reader, interpreting its architecture, art and poetry, before exploring the lives and careers of 65 of the 86 people interred here between the first burial, in 1780, and the last, in 1863. Along the way, it reveals intriguing stories – from that of Sultan Abdulhamid’s daughter Zeyneb, born (against the dynasty’s rules) when he was a prince and raised in secrecy outside the palace until he came to the throne, to that of Prince Murad, exhumed and reburied late one night in 1812. By exploring the history revealed through these life stories, the book sheds light on Ottoman palace life and culture in an era that witnessed the most wrenching changes of modern Ottoman history seen until then – the reforms forcibly introduced by Sultan Mahmud II after 1826 – and uncovers manifestations of these changes in this graveyard.
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