İlber Ortaylı

İlber Ortaylı

İlber Ortaylı
Born (1947-05-21) May 21, 1947
Bregenz, Austria
Residence İstanbul
Citizenship Turkish
Fields History
Alma mater Ankara University
Doctoral advisor Halil İnalcık
Known for History of the Ottoman Empire History of Turkey Seljuk Empire
Influences Halil İnalcık

İlber Ortaylı (born 21 May 1947) is a Turkish historian and professor of history at the Galatasaray University, MEF University in Istanbul and at Bilkent University in Ankara. In 2005, he was appointed as the director of the Topkapı Museum in Istanbul, until he retired in 2012.[1]


Family and personal life

As a descendant of a Crimean Tatar Mirza nobility from his mother, İlber Ortaylı's family fled Joseph Stalin's persecution and deportation, and was born in Bregenz, Austria in a refugee camp on 21 May 1947. He came to Turkey when he was 2 years old.

İlber Ortayli is heir to a bilingual Turkish family so that he obtained German from his father and Russian from his mother. As a polyglot historian he has enough competency in Italian, English, French, Persian and also in Ottoman Turkish and Latin in order to fluently employ or maintain historical research with historical documents in the archives.[2] His published articles are mainly in Turkish, German and French and various of them are translated in English.

During his studies in Turkey, he also worked as a travel guide which according to him improved his approach to the history: cultivating his apprehension in practice and gave him an opportunity "to give lecture on history" to different groups of people from different backgrounds.[3] He gives credit to his experiences as travel guide for writing "popular history" books and essays.[4]

He made acquaintance with intellectuals both from Turkey and from other countries. Notable are Halil İnalcık, Murat Bardakçı, Irene Melikoff, Bernard Lewis, Andreas Tietze.[5]

A biographical book Zaman Kaybolmaz: İlber Ortaylı Kitabı (Time doesn't go wasted: A book of İlber Ortaylı), long journalistic conversation with Nilgün Uysal: including passages from his childhood; student years in Ankara, Vienna and Chicago; his recent reflections on near history events and also anecdotes from the years he was working as a travel guide all over Turkey is published in 2006.

Academic career

Ortaylı started elementary school at St. George's Austrian High School in İstanbul and then moved to Ankara Atatürk High School. He studied Public policy at Ankara University Mekteb-i Mülkiye (Faculty of Political Science) and then went to Vienna and attended University of Vienna. There he studied both Slawistik and Orientalistik and worked with Andreas Tietze. For his postgraduate studies, he went to Chicago and made his master's degree under the supervision of professor Halil İnalcık at the University of Chicago. He obtained his doctorate at Ankara University in the Faculty of Political Sciences. His doctoral thesis was Local Administration in the Tanzimat Period (1978). After his doctorate, he attended to the faculty at the School of Political Sciences of Ankara University. In 1979, he was appointed as associate professor. In 1982, he resigned from his position, protesting the academic policy of the government established after the 1980 Turkish coup d'état. After teaching at several universities in Turkey, Europe and Russia, in 1989 he returned to Ankara University and became professor of history and the head of the section of administrative history.


Ortaylı's published articles as diplomatic, cultural and intellectual history are briefly on:

And also urban history like "Latins of the Pera district of the Constantinople" for Istanbul and various historical cities which were once under the Ottoman influence; history of provincial administration focusing on the transformation of institutions in the Ottoman Empire from the beginning to the 19th century.


In 2001, he received the Aydın Doğan Foundation Award for his work "Family in the Ottoman History".[6]

In 2007, Medal of Pushkin given to him for his "great contribution to the spread and study of the Russian language, the preservation of cultural heritage and the rapprochement and mutual enrichment of different nations’ and people's cultures" under a decree signed by Vladimir Putin and announced officially by the Kremlin, the ceremony took place at the Russian Consulate in Istanbul.[7][8]

In 2011, he was chosen as honorary member to the Macedonian Academy of Sciences and Arts.[9]


He is a member of the Foundation for International Studies, the Societas Iranologica Europeae[10] and the Austrian-Turkish Academy of Sciences, Tarih vakfı (Economical and Social History Institute of Turkey)[11]


  • Tanzimat'tan Sonra Mahalli İdareler (Provincial administration after Tanzimat) (1974)
  • Türkiye'de Belediyeciliğin Evrimi (Evolution of municipality in Turkey; with Ilhan Tekeli, 1978)
  • Türkiye İdare Tarihi (Administrative history of Turkey) (1979)
  • Osmanlı İmparatorluğunda Alman Nüfuzu (German influence in the Ottoman Empire) (1980)
  • Gelenekten Geleceğe (From tradition to the future) (1982)
  • İmparatorluğun En Uzun Yüzyılı (The longest century of the Empire) (1983)
  • Tanzimat'tan Cumhuriyet'e Yerel Yönetim Geleneği (Local administration tradition from Tanzimat to the Republic) (1985)
  • İstanbul'dan Sayfalar (Pages from Istanbul) (1986)
  • Studies on Ottoman Transformation (1994)
  • Hukuk ve İdare Adamı Olarak Osmanlı Devletinde Kadı (Kadıs as a legal and administrative figures in the Ottoman State) (1994)
  • Türkiye İdare Tarihine Giriş (Introduction to the history of Turkish administration) (1996)
  • Osmanlı Aile Yapısı (Family structure in the Ottoman Empire) (2000)
  • Osmanlı İmparatorluğu'nda İktisadi ve Sosyal Değişim (Economic and social change in the Ottoman Empire) (2001)
  • Osmanlı Barışı (Ottoman peace) (2004)
  • Osmanlı’yı Yeniden Keşfetmek 1 and 2 (Rediscovering the Ottoman Empire) (2006)
  • Kırk Ambar Sohbetleri (Kırk ambar conversations) (2006)
  • Eski Dünya Seyahatnamesi (Travelogue of the old world) (2007)


  1. İstanbul Bilgi Üniversitesi - İlber Ortaylı (Turkish)
  2. Turkey's Ministry of Culture and Tourism - İlber Ortaylı (English)
  3. Uysal, Nilgün (2006). Zaman Kaybolmaz: Ilber Ortaylı Kitabı. İş Bankası yayınları.
  4. Ortaylı, İlber (12 December 1999). "Interview with İlber Ortaylı in Turkish / Hürriyet Newspaper".
  5. Ortaylı, İlber. "Article on Bernard Lewis in Turkish: Bir bilgi adamı (A man of knowledge)". Milliyet Newspaper. Retrieved 2016-10-30.
  6. "Aydın Doğan Vakfı - Tarih: Prof. Dr. İlber Ortaylı". Retrieved 2016-10-30.
  7. "Указ Президента Российской Федерации от 29.11.2007 г. № 1599". Президент России. Retrieved 2016-10-26.
  8. "President Vladimir Putin signed a decree awarding the Pushkin Medal to a number of foreign citizens". President of Russia. Retrieved 2016-10-26.
  9. "İlber Ortaylı, Makedonya Bilim ve Sanatlar Akademisi'ne onur üyesi seçildi". QHA (in Turkish). Retrieved 2016-10-30.
  10. "Societas Iranologica Europaea". Retrieved 2016-10-30.
  11. Austrian-Turkish Forum of Sciences (OTW) - Prof. Dr. İlber Ortaylı
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