Constructing Ottoman Beneficence: An Imperial Soup Kitchen by Amy Singer

By Amy Singer

The political. social, and cultural context in the back of Ottoman charity.

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The territorial gains, annual levies, and booty continued to fund large endowments supporting public benefit and social welfare, in addition to the principal expenditures on campaigns and the court. Süleyman’s forty-six year rule (1520–1566) was also the period in which the huge territorial gains of his father, Selim I (1512–1520), were consolidated. Selim had added much of eastern Anatolia, western Iran, and all of the Arabic-speaking provinces comprising the former Mamluk empire to the Ottoman domains.

Endowments served as DEVOTE THE FRUITS TO PIOUS PURPOSES 27 vehicles for political legitimation, social status, and patronage of all types, from the level of the personal to the imperial. 44 Concomitant to a fragmentation of political authority in the central Islamic lands was the rise of an international order of scholars (¿ulam«) educated in the growing number of madrasas. The foreign-born amirs who ruled various principalities became patrons of the scholars, endowing madrasas for them and in return gaining support in their own political contests.

337). 31 New formulations of charitable assistance emerged as a recognizable and particular aspect of Byzantine society between the fourth and sixth centuries. By the seventh century, Byzantine society had evolved a highly articulate spectrum of charitable institutions for the separate care of orphans, widows, travelers, lepers, the hungry, the aged, and the sick. These were in addition to or integrated with the numerous monasteries found in both towns and isolated wildernesses all over the empire.

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