Paul Wittek's The Rise of the Ottoman Empire was first published by the Royal Asiatic Society in 1938 and has been out of print for more than a quarter of a century. The present reissue of the text also brings together translations of some of his other studies on Ottoman history; eight closely interconnected writings on the period from the founding of the state to the Fall of Constantinople and the reign of Mehmed II. Most of these pieces reproduces the texts of lectures or conference papers delivered by Wittek between 1936 and 1938 when he was teaching at Universite Libre in Brussels, Belgium. The books or journals in which they were originally published are for the most part inaccessible except in specialist libraries, in a period when Wittek's activities as an Ottoman historian, in particular his formulations regarding the origins and subsequent history of the Ottoman state (the "Ghazi thesis"), are coming under increasing study within the Anglo-Saxon world of scholarship. An introduction by Colin Heywood sets Wittek's work in its historical and historiographical context for the benefit of those students who were not privileged to experience it firsthand.
This reissue and recontextualizing of Wittek's pioneering work on early Ottoman history makes a valuable contribution to the field and to the historiography of Asian and Middle Eastern history generally.
Paul Wittek (1894-1978) was one of the leading Ottoman historians of his generation. He was the first holder of the Chair of Turkish at the University of London, UK. Colin Heywood has taught Middle East history at a number of American universities and at the School of Oriental and African Studies, UK. His current areas of work include the pre-Ottoman history of the Western Black Sea littoral and the intellectual legacy of Wittek's contributions to Ottoman history.