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Date Posted: 20:59:12 04/29/16 Fri
Author: Albert Parker
Subject: Re: New Info on Ottomans
In reply to: John Tredrea 's message, "Re: New Info on Ottomans" on 17:12:01 04/29/16 Fri

I have to think that, at least in the 20th century, there was more to the lack of Ottoman sail-era naval history than Ottoman uninterest in documentation. In the 1980's I was looking for more information about Ottoman fleets in the 1787–92 war than I could find in Anderson or anywhere else, including Russian works, so I requested and looked at every book at the Library of Congress with a Roman alphabet catalog card and the subject heading "Ottoman Empire—History, Naval" or "Ottoman Empire—Navy—History." These were all works published since 1923, of course. I could not read Turkish (and still can't), but I was hoping to find fleet lists with gun ratings, which would be easy to recognize; that would at least give me an order of battle and ship names. From dates and place names it was clear that every book in the subject categories—perhaps half a dozen—either ended at the battle of Lepanto in AD 1571 (AH ~993*) or skipped from that to the Crimean War, which began in AD 1853 (AH ~1275*). Either there was positive government censorship prohibiting any discussion of Turkish naval history between 993 and 1275, or there was a long-standing agreement by Turkish historians, or Turkish naval historians, not to examine, discuss, or even describe it, perhaps enforced by the closing of the archives. There were obviously sources of some kind for the period before 993 and after 1275. From the work now being done, we know that there were government records for the period between Lepanto and the Crimean War. I don't know whether there was a comparable gap in Ottoman military history in, at least, the middle half of the 20th century. The Turkish army won some wars between 993 and 1275, but the navy did well enough in that period to support the reconquest of Morea from Venice, too, so the reason for the gap can't be that there were no successes to describe.

I am glad that we are finally going to be able to complement Venetian and Russian naval history with the Ottoman side of the story.

*Anno Hegiræ, the numbering system for the Moslem calendar; like Ramadan, the beginning of the year jumps around in relation to the Gregorian calendar, so the conversion is not exact.

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