Ebubekir b. Abdullah
(b. 2nd half of 16th c., d. 1st half of 17th c.)
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E.A.’s mediocre military career and the popular language in which he wrote probably account for the paucity of information offered on him and his works by Ottoman biographical dictionaries. E.A.’s date and place of birth are unknown, although he was probably born in the second half of the 16th century. His father’s name was Abdullah, and the fact that E.A. served in the cavalry force of the Porte as a solaq implies that his father was also of military background. When the Ottomans went to war with the Safavids in 986/1578, E.A. participated in the military expedition as a cavalier of the Porte. Captured by the Safavids during the raid of Gence in Ramadan 987/November 1579, he was taken first to Tabriz and then to Qazvin. In Ta’rih-i Osman Paşa, E.A. states that during his stay in İran he was asked about the general situation in Istanbul, about Özdemiroglu Osman Paşa (d. 993/1585), and about the Tatars. E.A. asserts that he suffered greatly in captivity and that he and his friends escaped death when a certain Molla Mehdi set them free. After two years in captivity, E.A. travelled in İran for a year with three fellow travelers. He then left Diyar-ı Acem in disguise, arrived at Qars after twelve days, and returned to Istanbul with Sinan Paşa (d. 1004/1596) in 990/1582. There is no information about E.A.’s life after this date.

Ta’rih-i Osman Paşa (Şarq seferlerinde surhser ile vaqi olan ahvalleri ve Şirvan’da Osman Paşa ile surhserin mücadelelerini beyan eder)

In this work, E.A. provides a detailed account of the Eastern expedition in which he participated and the events that transpired in Caucasia between 987-990/1579-1582. A note in the conclusion of the Millet Kütüphanesi manuscript indicates that it was completed in 990/1582. E.A. refers to his work once as risale and four times as gazavatname. Later manuscripts are also labeled inconsistently. While the manuscript at the National Library in Vienna is entitled Ta’rih-i Osman Paşa, the Millet Kütüphanesi copy is described as Şarq seferlerinde surhser ile vaqi olan ahvalleri ve Şirvan’da Osman Paşa ile surhserin mücadelelerini beyan eder. The author does not mention his name in the Vienna manuscript, but in the other copy he calls himself Ebubekir b. Abdullah.

In his introduction, E.A. relates briefly the events that occurred during the Eastern expedition and Osman Paşa’s battles against the Safavids in Şirvan and Demirqapu (Darband), asks for his readers’ forgiveness for his mistakes and deficiencies, and states that he composed this risale not only to narrate the events that transpired during the campaign but also in the hopes that it will earn him prayers. E.A. is the only contemporary source which mentions the reason for Lala Mustafa Paşa’s (d. 988/1580) departure from Şirvan. According to E.A., Mustafa Paşa left Şirvan because Mahmud Paşa, the governor-general of Sivas, was left alone in defending Erzurum. The Safavids would therefore have had the opportunity to plunder Erzurum and its environs if Mustafa Paşa had not left. E.A. relates the events that he witnessed in a simple, candid, and smooth popular language. The fact that he does not describe his protagonists as superhuman, the interesting information he provides on various Caucasian peoples, and his language and style make E.A.’s history a work of interest.

Contents: Introduction: Prayer (dua), supplication (halat) and reason for composition (2b-3b); the march of the army from Istanbul to Erzurum (3b-6b); the march from Ardahan to Şirvan and the battles of Çıldır and Qoyun Geçidi during this march (6b-16b); the arrival of the Tatar Khan Adil Giray at Şirvan (16b-18b); the position of the Safavids (18b-22a); Osman Paşa’s retreat to Demirqapu (22a-29a); and peoples of northern Caucasia (22a-36b).

There are two extant manuscripts of the work. In addition to the activities of Osman Paşa, the Vienna manuscript includes a letter sent by the commander-in-chief to İvaz Efendi (d. 994/1586) from Demirqapu (57a-61a) and a risale by Rahimizade İbrahim Çavuş (d. > 998/1590) on the Tabriz expedition (62b-68b). Later records indicate that this manuscript was copied after 993/1585. As the name of the author is omitted, the risale at the end of the manuscript led Hammer to conclude that Rahmizade İbrahim Çavuş penned this manuscript. Both F. Babinger and Yunus Zeyrek state that Hammer was wrong, but they do not provide an alternative. Apart from some minor omissions and additions, however, the Millet Kütüphanesi manuscript entitled Şarq Seferleri, which also includes the name of the author, is the same work as the Vienna manuscript entitled Ta’rih-i Osman Paşa. The fact that the two copies include different additions indicates that they were copied from different manuscripts. Mention of the execution of Abaza Mehmed Paşa and the recording of the date of 1045/1634 at the end of the Millet Kütüphanesi manuscript indicate that the work was copied after that date.


(1) Ta’rih-i Osman Paşa

Manuscripts: (1) Istanbul, Millet Kütüphanesi, Ali Emiri Tarih Kitapları 366; 27+4 fols., 14-23 lines, nesih (İstanbul Kütüphaneleri Tarih-Coğrafya Yazmaları Katalogları (Istanbul, 1943), 143). (2) Vienna, Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, no. H.O. 68; 36 fols., 23 lines, nesih. (Gustav Flügel, Die arabischen, persischen und türkischen Handschriften, vol. 2 (Vienna, 1865), 237)

Edition: Yunus Zeyrek. Tarih-i Osman Paşa (Ankara, 2001).

General bibliography

Joseph v. Hammer-Purgstall. Osmanlı Devleti Tarihi, trans. M. Ata, vol. 7 (Istanbul, 1985 [1827-35]), 2000. Franz Babinger. Osmanlı Tarih Yazarları ve Eserleri, trans. C. Üçok (Ankara, 1982 [1927]), 122, 131. Bekir Kütükoğlu. Osmanlı İran Siyasi Münasebetleri (Istanbul, 1993), 55. Fahrettin Kırzıoğlu. Kafkasellerinin Fethi (Ankara, 1993), 283. Halil İnalcık. The Ottoman Empire: The Classical Age, 1300-1600 (London, 1995), 84-86. H. Mustafa Eravcı. Gelibolulu Mustafa Âli’s Nusret-nâme. PhD Dissertation (Edinburgh University, 1998), 134-176. Yusuf Oğuzoğlu. “Osmanlı Kuruluş Dönemi Müesseselerindeki Sivil Karakter ve Devletin Gelişmesi Üzerindeki Etkisi (1299-1402).” Türkler, vol. 10 (Ankara, 2000), 22.

[Translated into English by Historians of the Ottoman Empire.
English version posted September 2008]

Mustafa Eravcı
August 2005