İlber Ortaylı

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İlber Ortaylı
Ilber Ortayli retouched.jpg
Born (1947-05-21) 21 May 1947 (age 74)
Alma materAnkara University, University Of Chicago
Known forHistory of the Ottoman Empire
History of Turkey
Seljuk Empire
Scientific career
Doctoral advisorHalil İnalcık
InfluencesHalil İnalcık

İlber Ortaylı (born 21 May 1947) is a Turkish historian and professor of history of Crimean Tatar origin[1][2] at the MEF University, Galatasaray University in Istanbul and at Bilkent University in Ankara. In 2005, he was appointed as the director of the Topkapı Museum in Istanbul, until he retired in 2012.[3]


Family and personal life[edit]

He was born on May 21st, 1947 in a refugee camp in Bregenz, Austria where his parents, Crimean Tatars, had fled to avoid Joseph Stalin's persecution. His family immigrated to Turkey when he was 2 years old. Ortayli is maternally a descendant of Crimean Tatar Mirza nobility.

He grew up trilingual, learning German from his father and Russian from his mother. As a polyglot historian he is proficient in Turkish, Crimean Tatar, Italian, English, French, Arabic, Persian, Ottoman Turkish, Russian and Latin.[4] His published articles are mainly in Turkish, German and French and a variety of them are translated into English.

During his studies in Turkey, he worked as a travel guide, which, according to him, influenced his approach to history. It cultivated his apprehension in practice and gave him an opportunity "to teach history" to different groups of people with various backgrounds.[5] He credits his experiences as a travel guide in his writing of "popular history" books and essays.[6]

He made acquaintance with intellectuals from both Turkey and other countries. Notable are Halil İnalcık, Murat Bardakçı, Irene Melikoff, Bernard Lewis, Andreas Tietze.[7]

His biography Zaman Kaybolmaz: İlber Ortaylı Kitabı (Time Does not Disappear: Book of İlber Ortaylı) was published in 2006. The book includes a long journalistic conversation with Nilgün Uysal, passages from his childhood, student years in Ankara, Vienna and Chicago, his recent reflections on near history events and anecdotes from the years he when he worked as a travel guide all over Turkey.

Academic career[edit]

Ortaylı started elementary school at St. George's Austrian High School in İstanbul and later transferred to Ankara Atatürk High School. He studied Public policy at Ankara University Mekteb-i Mülkiye (School of Political Science) and later left for Vienna to attend University of Vienna where he studied both Slawistik and Orientalistik while working with Andreas Tietze. He received his master's degree under the supervision of professor Halil İnalcık at the University of Chicago and obtained his doctorate at Ankara University in the School of Political Sciences. His doctoral thesis was Local Administration in the Tanzimat Period (1978). After his doctorate, he joined the faculty at the School of Political Sciences of Ankara University. In 1979, he was appointed as associate professor. In 1982, he resigned from his position, protesting the academic policy of the government established after the 1980 Turkish coup d'état. After teaching at several universities in Turkey, Europe and Russia, in 1989 he returned to Ankara University and became professor of history and the head of the department of administrative history.[8]

Public figure[edit]


Ortaylı published numerous articles focused on diplomacy, cultural history and intellectual history. Some examples are:

  • Ottoman History
  • Russian history (e.g. "Romanovs and Constantinople" and "19th century Russian Empire")
  • Ottoman-Habsburg Relations
  • German Influence in the 19th century Ottoman Empire (as his masters degree thesis)
  • Travel writing In the Ottoman Empire
  • History of Turkish Drama

He also published articles on urban history like Latins of the Pera district of the Constantinople for Istanbul and various historical cities which were once under the Ottoman influence; history of provincial administration focusing on the transformation of institutions in the Ottoman Empire from the beginning to the 19th century.[citation needed]


In 2001, he received the Aydın Doğan Foundation Award for his work "Family in the Ottoman History".[9]

In 2007, he received the Medal of Pushkin for his "great contribution to the spread and study of the Russian language, the preservation of cultural heritage and the rapprochement and mutual enrichment of different nations’ and people's cultures" under a decree signed by Vladimir Putin and announced officially by the Kremlin, the ceremony took place at the Russian Consulate in Istanbul.[10][11]

In 2011, he was chosen as honorary member to the Macedonian Academy of Sciences and Arts.[12]


He is a member of the Foundation for International Studies, the Societas Iranologica Europeae[13] and the Austrian-Turkish Academy of Sciences, Tarih vakfı (Economical and Social History Institute of Turkey)[14]


  • Tanzimat'tan Sonra Mahalli İdareler (Provincial administration after Tanzimat) (1974)
  • Türkiye'de Belediyeciliğin Evrimi (Evolution of municipality in Turkey; with İlhan Tekeli, 1978)
  • Türkiye İdare Tarihi (Administrative history of Turkey) (1979)
  • Osmanlı İmparatorluğunda Alman Nüfuzu (German influence in the Ottoman Empire) (1980)
  • Gelenekten Geleceğe (From tradition to the future) (1982)
  • İmparatorluğun En Uzun Yüzyılı (The longest century of the Empire) (1983)
  • Tanzimat'tan Cumhuriyet'e Yerel Yönetim Geleneği (Local administration tradition from Tanzimat to the Republic) (1985)
  • İstanbul'dan Sayfalar (Pages from Istanbul) (1986)
  • Studies on Ottoman Transformation (1994)
  • Hukuk ve İdare Adamı Olarak Osmanlı Devletinde Kadı (Kadıs as a legal and administrative figures in the Ottoman State) (1994)
  • Türkiye İdare Tarihine Giriş (Introduction to the history of Turkish administration) (1996)
  • Osmanlı Aile Yapısı (Family structure in the Ottoman Empire) (2000)
  • Osmanlı İmparatorluğu'nda İktisadi ve Sosyal Değişim (Economic and social change in the Ottoman Empire) (2001)
  • Osmanlı Barışı (Ottoman peace) (2004)
  • Osmanlı’yı Yeniden Keşfetmek 1 and 2 (Rediscovering the Ottoman Empire) (2006)
  • Kırk Ambar Sohbetleri (Kırk ambar conversations) (2006)
  • Eski Dünya Seyahatnamesi (Travelogue of the old world) (2007)


  1. ^ "İlber Ortaylı: Kırım Türkleri Osmanlı'dır". T24 (in Turkish). Retrieved 2021-01-07.
  2. ^ "Kırım Tatar diasporasının önemli ve tanınmış isimlerinden Şefika Ortaylı hayatını kaybetti". Qırım Haber Ajansı (in Turkish). 2020-07-11. Retrieved 2021-01-07.
  3. ^ İlber Ortaylı (in Turkish) Archived 2012-02-20 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ Turkey's Ministry of Culture and Tourism - İlber Ortaylı
  5. ^ Uysal, Nilgün (2006). Zaman Kaybolmaz: Ilber Ortaylı Kitabı. İş Bankası yayınları.
  6. ^ Ortaylı, İlber (12 December 1999). "Interview with İlber Ortaylı in Turkish / Hürriyet Newspaper".
  7. ^ Ortaylı, İlber. "Article on Bernard Lewis in Turkish: Bir bilgi adamı (A man of knowledge)". Milliyet Newspaper. Retrieved 2016-10-30.
  8. ^ "İlber Ortaylı kimdir".
  9. ^ "Aydın Doğan Vakfı - Tarih: Prof. Dr. İlber Ortaylı". Retrieved 2016-10-30.
  10. ^ "Указ Президента Российской Федерации от 29.11.2007 г. № 1599". Президент России. Retrieved 2016-10-26.
  11. ^ "President Vladimir Putin signed a decree awarding the Pushkin Medal to a number of foreign citizens". President of Russia. Retrieved 2016-10-26.
  12. ^ "İlber Ortaylı, Makedonya Bilim ve Sanatlar Akademisi'ne onur üyesi seçildi". QHA (in Turkish). Retrieved 2016-10-30.
  13. ^ "Societas Iranologica Europaea". Retrieved 2016-10-30.
  14. ^ Austrian-Turkish Forum of Sciences (OTW) - Prof. Dr. İlber Ortaylı

External links[edit]

Media related to İlber Ortaylı at Wikimedia Commons