An Analysis on Ottoman Trade and Its Effects on the Longevity of the Empire Update 2

As a quick summary for those of you who haven’t read any of my previous posts, my project this summer is to analyze the effects of Ottoman trade on the longevity of the empire, as the title of my post entails.  It has been traditionally assumed that the Ottoman Empire was in a state of decline from roughly the late 16th century all the way through the 20th century.  This is very long state of decline, that can only be understood through relativity.  In other words, the Ottoman Empire was in a state of decline in comparison to Western Europe.  As I am unable to really look at primary sources due to my limited language abilities, my analysis will be more through historiography than anything else.

In my last post,  had mentioned that I had finished most of my reading and had a rough draft of a historiography essay.  I had mentioned that I wanted to look into possible primary sources, but as I kept researching, I decided to stick to secondary sources and take the historiography approach.  This means that rather than looking at Ottoman trade and the decline of the empire, I will be looking at historians views on this topic and how they differ in their approaches.

In my draft and in my previous post, I talked a lot about “big picture” versus “small picture analysis.”  This is just one aspect of what I want to look at.  I want to look more at how views of Ottoman trade and its decline have changed over the years.  One of the shortcomings of my draft was that it only used sources from roughly the same time period.  All of them were published between the 1970s and the 1980s.  Clearly there is not much diversity there.  Since then, I have been searching for more of a variety of sources in regards to their publication, so that I can look at the evolution of ideas.

I have found a source that is very promising and was published just a couple years ago in 2016.  Now I want to find a source that was published much earlier, when Orientalism was more prominent, and historians had simpler views of Ottoman decline.  My draft in still in the works, but is coming together slowly but surely.


  1. Hi Zoe! This work is super interesting. I’m fascinated by the fact that you say most of your sources are from the 1970s and 1980s; do you have any suspicions why there was an increase in interest in Ottoman history during that time period? I’d suspect that perhaps since that era had a few incidents where Turkish nationalism was on display (most notably in the invasion of Cyprus), there might have been a more prevalent intellectual interest in researching Turkey’s historical background in the Ottoman Empire. What do you think?

  2. zsconnell says:

    Hi Ethan! I just saw your comment now, but I think that is a really interesting connection. A lot of big names in Ottoman studies became more popular during that time, and a good number of them were/are Turkish. In light of this, I think your idea makes a lot if sense.