Front Page Titles (by Subject) 41.: The Ottomans - Judgments on History and Historians
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41.: The Ottomans - Jacob Burckhardt, Judgments on History and Historians 
Judgments on History and Historians, ed. Alberto R. Coll (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1999).
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The difference between them and most other Islamitic peoples and states is that the completely martial period which with the others marks the beginning of their power lasts centuries with them and is perpetuated by the institution of the fief and by the janizaries. In war the Turkish people learns to feel itself ever anew; in peacetime it tolerates an ordinary Islamitic despotism.
All this was in contrast to the West with its state structure of graduated power and bargaining over duties. In addition, there was in the West a multiplicity of centers, smallness of the individual powers, and these remained involved in their quarrels and wars of “succession.” Under such circumstances, all that was possible was done against the Turks, especially if one takes the Franco-Turkish alliance into account.
In the vicinity almost everyone only meditated about the advantage to him if the Turks proved his neighbors’ ruin. And yet there is no lack of vociferous prophets who continually proclaim the general danger. The Turks were very predictable; people knew rather exactly how things were in the lands trampled underfoot by them and that a transition of these countries to Western mores was permanently out of the question.
In addition to their martial predisposition the Turks possessed the thoroughgoing arrogance of an Islamitic community. And yet heresies never amounted to anything here, with one exception under Murad II, and Shiism came to be hated all the more as a Persian faith and was persecuted. The Ottoman world is orthodox and contains its church within itself, while the West went to pieces ecclesiastically and had its universal church outside of the states.
With the Ottomans, all “fanaticism” is immediately active as a political and military force in the service of the whole and does not go off at a tangent. Any war is a religious war. To Islam belongs eo ipso the world.
In government everything, including the greatest horrors, takes place in order to guarantee unity and the maintenance of power. It is only one man’s turn—while in the West power and areas are still divided now and then, so that it may be the turn of several.
The West still knows and at least nominally honors hereditary claims. The Ottomans proceed only according to the naked right of conquest.