Discovering Eurasian History in Müneccimbaşı’s Chronicle
(60th Meeting of the PIAC, Székesfehérvár 2017)
Ahmed Dede b. Lütfullah aka Müneccimbaşı (1631-1702) is one of the most prominent historians and scholars of the Ottoman Empire, but in comparison with the scholarly attention some of his contemporaries, such as Evliya Çelebi (1611-after 1683) and the polymath Katib Çelebi (1609-1657) attracted, he is curiously underresearched to this day. His Jāmiʿ al-duwal (“Compendium of the States”, in Arabic) is a bulky “universal history” (from Adam down to the author’s time), a genre that was much less popular among Ottoman historians than among their earlier Arab and Persian counterparts. 30 years after Müneccimbaşı’s death, an abridged Ottoman Turkish version was produced, entitled Ṣaḥāyifü l-akhbār fi vaqāyiʿ al-aʿṣār (“Pages of information on the events of centuries”, printed in 3 vols in 1868). Different from most of his fellow-historians, Müneccimbaşı mentions the titles of the sources he used. In the introduction of the work Müneccimbaşı elaborates on the meaning of history and the qualities of the historian, demonstrating that he was influenced by Ibn Khaldun’s (1332-1406) theory of history.
This paper gives an impression of the kind of information Müneccimbaşı was able to gather of the dynasties of East and Central Asia (during the Islamic period), and in which fashion he presented this material.