Halil İnalcık, Turkish historian, Died at 100


Halil İnalcık was born on May 26, 1916, and died on July 25, 2016.

He was a Turkish historian of the Ottoman Empire.

Halil was highly influential research centred on social and economic approaches to the empire.

Inalcik’s academic career began at Ankara University, where he completed his PhD and worked between 1940 and 1972.

Halil was a teacher of Ottoman history at the University of Chicago, between 1972 and 1986

As of 1994 on he taught at Bilkent University, where he founded the history department.

Inalcik was a founding member of Eurasian Academy.

İnalcık’s work was centred upon a social and economic analysis of the Ottoman Empire.

Aiming at both countering what he saw as the hostile, biased narrative presented by western sources at the onset of his work and what he saw as an exaggerated, romanticised and nationalistic historiography in Turkey itself.

And amplifying the biased western narrative he tried to dispel as Franz Babinger’s depiction of Mehmed the Conqueror as a bloodthirsty, sadistic personality.

İnalcık criticised generalising approaches to Ottoman history as such approaches lacked social or economic insight due to a lack of research according to İnalcık.

Halil was the first historian to study Ottoman judicial records in depth to deduce elements of the socio-economic factors in the Ottoman society.

Initially starting his research in the 1940s, such documents were believed to be useless due in partly to the recent change of alphabet and were being stored at unfavourable conditions or altogether destroyed.

He corrected a number of wrong convictions about Ottoman and Turkish history.

Examples of his discovery that the proposition that the Ottoman dynasty belonged to the Kayı tribe was fabricated in the 15th century.

Apparently, Immanuel Wallerstein thought was that İnalcık shaped the discipline of historical research with his unique methodology and led to many students in his school of thought approaching issues from a number of socio-economic and cultural perspectives.

His was influenced by the works of Fuad Köprülü, Fernand Braudel and Ömer Lütfi Barkan.

Halil İnalcık passed away at 100 years old.