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Middle East History

Innovation and Empire in Turkey: Sultan Selim III and the Modernisation of the Ottoman Navy

Innovation and Empire in Turkey: Sultan Selim III and the Modernisation of the Ottoman Navy
Tuncay Zorlu

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Ottoman naval technology underwent a transformation under the rule of Sultan Selim III. New types of sailing warships such as two- and three-decked galleons, frigates and corvettes began to dominate the Ottoman fleet, rendering the galley-type oared ships obsolete. This period saw technological innovations such as the adoption of the systematic copper sheathing of the hulls and bottoms of Ottoman warships from 1792-93 onwards and the construction of the first dry dock in the Golden Horn. The changing face of the Ottoman Navy was facilitated by the influence of the British, Swedish and French in modernising both the shipbuilding sector and the conduct of naval warfare. Through such measures as training Ottoman shipbuilders, heavy reliance on help from foreign powers gave way to a new trajectory of modernization. Using this evidence Zorlu argues that although the Ottoman Empire was a major and modern independent power in this period, some technological dependence on Europe remained.

Table of Contents

List of Tables
Chapter 1: Evolution of the Ottoman naval technology up to the reign of Selim III
Chapter 2: Developments in Ottoman shipbuilding technology in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries
Chapter 3: The role of foreign missions in the Ottoman naval transformation
Chapter 4: The naval ships operating during the reign of Selim III
Chapter 5: Conclusion

Author Info

Tuncay Zorlu is Associate Professor at the Istanbul Technical University where he teaches Ottoman History and History of Science and Technology. He completed his PhD at Bogaziçi University in 2004 and is a member of the executive board of the Turkish Society for History of Science.


A valuable and well researched study… Zorlu ably surveys and analyses the developments which took place in Ottoman shipbuilding technology in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.
– Colin Heywood, University of Hull

The reign of Selim III is a key point for the Ottoman Empire and the Navy is certainly the most prominent part of his work for modernizing the State and its Institutions. Thanks to Tuncay Zorlu, we are now well informed of this aspect.
– Daniel Panzac, Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CRNS)

This book greatly enhances our understanding of Ottoman shipbuilding technology and the administrative structures that supported it, and how these changed at a critical period as a result of the transfer of European know-how.
– Avigdor Levy, Brandeis University

Bibliographic Info

Imprint: I.B.Tauris
Publisher: I.B.Tauris & Co Ltd
Series: Library of Ottoman Studies

ISBN: 9781848857827
Publication Date: 30 Apr 2011
Number of Pages: 272
Height: 213
Width: 137

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