From Greco-Pers​ian Wars, Alexander the Great, Enderun Ottoman Islamic Empire School for the Janissarie​s Christian Children How to Get a Glimpse at a Western Civilizati​on Future Extrapolat​ion — Written 05/14/2012

“Before adopting Islam—a process that was greatly facilitated by the Abbasid victory at the 751 Battle of Talas, which ensured Abbasid influence in Central Asia—the Turkic peoples practiced a variety of shamanism. After this battle, many of the various Turkic tribes—including the Oghuz Turks, who were the ancestors of both the Seljuks and the Ottomans—gradually converted to Islam, and brought the religion with them to Anatolia beginning in the 11th century.

In the Ottoman Empire, in accordance with the Muslim dhimmi system, Christians were guaranteed limited freedoms (such as the right to worship), but were treated as second-class citizens. Christians and Jews were not considered equals to Muslims: testimony against Muslims by Christians and Jews was inadmissible in courts of law. They were forbidden to carry weapons or ride atop horses, their houses could not overlook those of Muslims, and their religious practices would have to defer to those of Muslims, in addition to various other legal limitations. The system commonly known as devşirme (“blood tax”) was effectively used in the Ottoman Empire for centuries: in this system a certain number Christian boys, mainly from the Balkans and Anatolia, were periodically conscripted before they reached adolescence and were brought up as Muslims. These selected boys were trained either in the arts of statecraft or in the military to form the ruling class and the elite fighting force, Janissaries, of the empire.

The Ottoman Empire was, in principle, tolerant towards Christians and Jews (the “Ahl Al-Kitab”, or “People of the Book”, according to the Qur’an) but not towards the polytheists, according to the Sharia law. Such tolerance was subject to a non-Muslim tax, the Jizya.”

 

“Under the millet system, non-Muslim people were considered subjects of the Empire, but were not subject to the Muslim faith or Muslim law. The Orthodox millet, for instance, was still officially legally subject to Justinian’s Code, which had been in effect in the Byzantine Empire for 900 years. Also, as the largest group of non-Muslim subjects (or zimmi) of the Islamic Ottoman state, the Orthodox millet was granted a number of special privileges in the fields of politics and commerce, and had to pay higher taxes than Muslim subjects.

The Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II allowed the local Christians to stay in Constantinople after conquering the city in 1453, and to retain their institutions such as the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate.

In 1461 Sultan Mehmed II established the Armenian Patriarchate of Constantinople. Previously, the Byzantines considered the Armenian Church as heretical and thus did not allow them to build churches inside the walls of Constantinople. In 1492, when the Muslims and Sephardic Jews were expelled from Spain during the Spanish Inquisition, the Ottoman Sultan Bayezid II sent his fleet under Kemal Reis to save them and granted the refugees the right to settle in the Ottoman Empire.

The state’s relationship with the Greek Orthodox Church was largely peaceful, and recurrent oppressive measures taken against the Greek church were a deviation from generally established practice. The church’s structure was kept intact and largely left alone but under close control and scrutiny until the Greek War of Independence of 1821–1829 and, later in the 19th century, the rise of the Ottoman constitutional monarchy, which was driven to some extent by nationalistic currents, tried to be balanced with Ottomanism. Other Orthodox churches, like the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, were dissolved and placed under the jurisdiction of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate, until Sultan Abdülaziz established the Bulgarian Exarchate in 1870 and reinstated the autonomy of the Bulgarian Church.

Similar millets were established for the Ottoman Jewish community, who were under the authority of the Haham Başı or Ottoman Chief Rabbi; the Armenian Orthodox community, who were under the authority of a head bishop; and a number of other religious communities as well.

In 1514, Sultan Selim I, nicknamed “the Grim” because of his cruelty, ordered the massacre of 40,000 Anatolian Shi’ites, whom he considered heretics,[149] reportedly proclaiming that “the killing of one Shiite had as much otherworldly reward as killing 70 Christians.”[

 

“In the Ancient Near East along the Tigris and Euphrates rivers there were many shrines and temples or “houses of heaven” dedicated to various deities documented by the Ancient Greek historian Herodotus in The Histories where sacred prostitution was a common practice. It came to an end when the emperor Constantine in the fourth century AD destroyed the goddess temples and replaced them with Christianity.

As early as the 18th century B.C., the ancient society of Mesopotamia recognized the need to protect women’s property rights. In the Code of Hammurabi, provisions were found that addressed inheritance rights of women, including female prostitutes.”

“The Greco-Persian Wars (also often called the Persian Wars) were a series of conflicts between the Achaemenid Empire of Persia and city-states of the Hellenic world that started in 499 BC and lasted until 449 BC. The collision between the fractious political world of the Greeks and the enormous empire of the Persians began when Cyrus the Great conquered Ionia in 547 BC. By Greek accounts, enmity between Greek and Persia continued for more than two centuries, culminating in the dissolution of the Persian Empire by Alexander the Great; the principal events of the wars, however, unfolded during the two failed Persian expeditions against Greece, in 490 and in 480/479 BC.

The Greeks themselves referred to those wars as the “Median affair” (Μηδικά, Mĕdiká). Although they were perfectly aware that the Achaemenid Empire, their enemy, was ruled by a Persian dynasty, they retained for this empire the name under which they had known it first, that of the Medes.”

 

“Some of Alexander’s strongest personality traits formed in response to his parents. His mother had huge ambitions, and encouraged him to believe it was his destiny to conquer the Persian Empire. Olympias’ influence instilled a sense of destiny in him, and Plutarch tells us that his ambition “kept his spirit serious and lofty in advance of his years”. However, his father Philip was Alexander’s most immediate and influential role model, as the young Alexander watched him campaign practically every year, winning victory after victory while ignoring severe wounds. Alexander’s relationship with his father forged the competitive side of his personality; he had a need to out-do his father, illustrated by his reckless behavior in battle. While Alexander worried that his father would leave him “no great or brilliant achievement to be displayed to the world”, he also downplayed his father’s achievements to his companions.

According to Plutarch, among Alexander’s traits were a violent temper and rash, impulsive nature, which undoubtedly contributed to some of his decisions. Although Alexander was stubborn and did not respond well to orders from his father, he was open to reasoned debate. He had a calmer side—perceptive, logical, and calculating. He had a great desire for knowledge, a love for philosophy, and was an avid reader. This was no doubt in part due to Aristotle’s tutelage; Alexander was intelligent and quick to learn. His intelligent and rational side was amply demonstrated by his ability and success as a general. He had great self-restraint in “pleasures of the body”, in contrast with his lack of self control with alcohol.

Alexander was erudite and patronized both arts and sciences. However, he had little interest in sports or the Olympic games (unlike his father), seeking only the Homeric ideals of honor (timê) and glory (kudos). He had great charisma and force of personality, characteristics which made him a great leader. His unique abilities were further demonstrated by the inability of any of his generals to unite Macedonia and retain the Empire after his death – only Alexander had the ability to do so.

During his final years, and especially after the death of Hephaestion, Alexander began to exhibit signs of megalomania and paranoia. His extraordinary achievements, coupled with his own ineffable sense of destiny and the flattery of his companions, may have combined to produce this effect. His delusions of grandeur are readily visible in his testament and in his desire to conquer the world.

He appears to have believed himself a deity, or at least sought to deify himself. Olympias always insisted to him that he was the son of Zeus, a theory apparently confirmed to him by the oracle of Amun at Siwa. He began to identify himself as the son of Zeus-Ammon. Alexander adopted elements of Persian dress and customs at court, notably proskynesis, a practice that Macedonians disapproved, and were loath to perform. This behavior cost him the sympathies of many of his countrymen. However, Alexander also was a pragmatic ruler who understood the difficulties of ruling culturally disparate peoples, many of whom lived in kingdoms where the king was divine. Thus, rather than megalomania, his behavior may simply have been a practical attempt at strengthening his rule and keeping his empire together.”

Resources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shamanism

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ottoman_Empire

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Millet_(Ottoman_Empire)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slavery

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arab_slave_trade

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islam_and_Slavery

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slavery_(Ottoman_Empire)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Devshirme

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Janissary

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enderun_School

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Devshirme_in_the_Ottoman_Palace_School

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sipahi

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Akinci

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bashi-bazouk

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ottoman_military_band

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prostitution

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sacred_prostitution

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Histories_(Herodotus)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herodotus

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greco-Persian_Wars

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_the_Great

 

 

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