The Ottoman Army Through the Eyes of a Non-Muslim Subject: Muradgea d’Ohsson and His Tableau Général de L’empire Othoman Cover Image

Слика османске војске у делу једног немуслиманског поданика - Мурадџа Д’Осон и његов Tableau général de l’empire Othoman
The Ottoman Army Through the Eyes of a Non-Muslim Subject: Muradgea d’Ohsson and His Tableau Général de L’empire Othoman

Author(s): Bojana Jovanović
Subject(s): Military history, 18th Century, The Ottoman Empire
Published by: Institut za strategijska istraživanja
Keywords: Muradgea D’Ohsson; Tableau Général; Ottoman army; Janissaries; reformes; Nizâmı Cedîd

Summary/Abstract: Ignacius Muradgea d’Ohsson (1740-1807) was a little-known non-Muslim Ottoman historian and the author of one of the most significant works about Turkish history, the Tableau Général de l’Empire Othoman. This book was written and published during his sojourn in Paris in three luxurious in folio volumes, designed for Western European Christian aristocrats. Muradgea claimed that, unlike the writings of previous historians, his opus was based on Ottoman sources. In addition, he insisted that everything that had previously been written about the Ottomans was false. Tableau Généralis no ordinary history, but an overview of the Turkish government institutions, ceremonies, and customs. Muradgea wrote about the Ottoman Army in a section that describes contemporary Ottoman institutions in the second half of the 18th century. All corps of the continental troops, including naval forces, were exhaustively listed. On the one hand, Tableau gives considerable information on the origins of the military units, particularly the Janissaries. The author considered them one of the most important factors of the former Ottoman power, but also a threat to state stability and the security of its subjects. Also, he emphasized obsolete Turkish military technology and the poor education of the officer corps. The only way to restore Ottoman military forces, according to the author, was the reform that could be carried out by an enlightened sultan. That sultan was in fact Selim III (1789-1807), a founder of the New Army (Nizâmi Cedîd), in whose activities d’Ohsson had been included as a consultant for his knowledge of the western military model. Despite Muradgea has rarely impersonated historical events, he devoted a lot of space to the 1774 terms of peace in Kucukkajnardja between the Ottoman Empire and Russia, subtly underlining the danger of Russia. On the other hand, his descriptions are often full of completely irrelevant details, while the basic information on the issue is missing. Frequently, his information about the troop numbers is incomplete or inaccurate. Although he had insisted on army reform, he mentioned military changes in the time of Selim III (Nizâmı Cedîd, for example) only a few times or he did not mention it at all (e.g., in the case of the establishment of the Imperial military engineering school in 1795, in which he had participated). However, with all these imperfections, Tableau Général is a unique work in the historiography of the Ottoman Empire, providing a positive view of the Turks, which was a rarity in Christian Europe. In sum, this study provides insight into all the corps of the Ottoman Army and indicates its problems and struggles in the 18th century.

  • Issue Year: 2017
  • Issue No: 1
  • Page Range: 9-27
  • Page Count: 19
  • Language: Serbian