Heşt Behişt of Idris Bidlisi : the reign of Bayezid II (1481-1512)
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Idris Bidlisi's Heşt Behişt is a history of the Ottoman empire written in Persian at the beginning of the sixteenth century. Although considered one of the most important historical works of its time, the work remains to date unedited and scarcely studied. The present work aims to make at least a part of Heşt Behişt available to modern scholarship, with particular focus on the times of the author's patron, the Ottoman sultan Bayezid II (1481-1512). The summarised translation (chapter Vll) of the eighth 'Book' of Heşt Behişt, devoted to Bayezid II's reign, provides the basis for further discussions on several issues relating to the period, including an investigation of the author's personal approach to his subject. The thesis begins with an outline of the historical background of the reign of Bayezid II (chapter I), followed by a brief account of the development of Ottoman historiography up to the appearance of Heşt Behişt (chapter II). The author, Idris Bidlisi, and Heşt Behişt itself are then introduced (chapters Ill and IV). The focus is subsequently turned to the reign of Bayezid II, with particular attention to two major issues of the period. The first relates to the civil strife between the new sultan and his brother Cem over succession to the throne, a series of events which marked the first two years of Bayezid II's reign and had a significant effect on the Ottoman empire's domestic and international politics for the next thirteen years until Cem's death in 1495 (chapter V). The second analytical chapter investigates the phenomenon of the Ottoman navy in the times of Bayezid II, under whose care the empire's naval forces were significantly expanded and upgraded, for the first time in Ottoman history achieving predominance in sea over their Christian counterparts (chapter VI). In the study of both these themes information and the results of modern scholarship are juxtaposed to the material found in Heşt Behişt, in an attempt to look into the historical knowledge of the period and disclose the chronicle's usefulness and contribution to modem research.