Conquered in 1326, Bursa, known to the Byzantines as Prousa, served as the first capital of the Ottoman Empire. It retained its spiritual and commercial importance even after Edirne (Adrianople) in Thrace, and later Constantinople (Istanbul), functioned as Ottoman capitals. Yet, to date, no comprehensive study has been published on the city’s role as the inaugural center of a great empire. In works by art and architectural historians, the city has often been portrayed as having a small or insignificant pre-Ottoman past, as if the Ottomans created the city from scratch. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. In her “The First Capital of the Ottoman Empire The Religious, Architectural, and Social History of Bursa titled book”, rooted in the author’s archaeological experience, Suna Çağaptay tells the story of the transition from a Byzantine Christian city to an Islamic Ottoman one, positing that Bursa was a multi-faith capital where we can see the religious plurality and modernity of the Ottoman world. The encounter between local and incoming forms created a synthesis filled with nuance, texture, and meaning. Indeed, when one looks more closely and recognizes that the contributions of the past do not threaten the authenticity of the present, a richer and more accurate narrative of the city and its Ottoman accommodation emerges.
Moderated by Oya Pancaroğlu, this online talk will be held in English.
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Oya Pancaroğlu received her PhD in Islamic art and architecture from Harvard University in 2000 and is currently Professor in the Department of History, Boğaziçi University. Her research interests include Islamic architecture in medieval Anatolia, ceramic production in the medieval Persianate world and figural representation in Islamic art. Her recent publications include “İsmail Ağa, Beyşehir and Architectural Patronage in 14th-Century Central Anatolia” (in: Cultural Encounters in Anatolia in the Medieval Period: The Ilkhanids in Anatolia. Ankara: VEKAM, 2019) and “Conditions of Love and Conventions of Representation in the Illustrated Manuscript of Varqa and Gulshah” (in: The Image Debate: Figural Representation in Islam and Across the World. London: Gingko, 2019).