Crime and punishment in the imperial historiography of Süleyman the magnificent: An evaluation of Nişanci Celālzāde's view
Yılmaz, M. Ş.
427 - 445
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Celālzāde Mustafa Çelebi’s Tabakātu’ l-Memālik ve Derecātu’ l-Mesālik is one of the invaluable primary sources dealing with the reign of Süleyman the Magnificent (1520–1566). Its author, Celālzāde Mustafa (d. 1567), was a distinguished Nişancı (head of the imperial chancery), who is credited with the codification of Ottoman laws under Süleyman the Magnificent. Celālzāde was the main official responsible for the “true” representation of the Ottoman sultan for over 35 years during his long career in the sultan’s service. This paper aims to demonstrate that an official definition of justice was articulated and propagated in the Tabakāt in order to meet the contemporary requirements of the Ottoman administration, i.e. a powerful central authority. With this definition, Celālzāde aimed to demonstrate that the provision of justice could only be ensured by the absolute rule of the sultan. Celālzāde’s formulation differed from the conceptualisation of justice as the observance of traditional laws and social order, which implied limits on sultanic absolutism. Although Celālzāde’s formulation did not exclude the traditional conceptualisation of justice, the observance of laws was regarded as a responsibility of state officials instead of the sultan.
Süleyman the Magnificent