A subaltern hero: The 1573 execution of Sheikh Hamza Bali as part of the ‘Sunnitisation’ of the Ottoman Empire

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

Abstract

In 1573, the Istanbul hippodrome was the scene of the dramatic death of Sheikh Hamza Bali, the Bosnian-born leader of an off-shoot of the Melami-Bayrami Sufi order, the Hamzevis: his throat was slit on the way out to the arena where he was to be executed, which was followed by one of the Janissaries leading him out cutting his own throat as a sacrifice for ‘his master’. In the years preceding his execution, this seemingly minor subaltern religious leader quickly gained supporters in Bosnia, the neighbouring countries, and Istanbul itself, as well as the attention of the Ottoman authorities and the ʿulemaʾ.
The present paper considers the persecution of Sheikh Hamza Bali and his followers in the light of the Ottoman-Safavid hostilities at the time and the Ottoman fears of a Shi’a-inspired insurgence. The paper examines three previously unanalysed anti-Hamzevi treatises in order to evaluate what they can tell us about the level of influence of the Hamzevis and other subaltern Shi’a-oriented movements in Ottoman society at that time, and, by extension, their role in the process of the establishment of Sunni ideological hegemony in the Ottoman Empire which was taking place for most of the 16th century.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRecovering ‘Lost Voices’
Subtitle of host publicationThe Role and Depiction of Iranian/Persianate Subalterns from the 13th century to the Modern Period
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 1 Jun 2018
EventRecovering ‘Lost Voices’: The Role and Depiction of Iranian/Persianate Subalterns from the 13th century to the Modern Period - Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Duration: 19 May 201721 May 2017

Workshop

WorkshopRecovering ‘Lost Voices’: The Role and Depiction of Iranian/Persianate Subalterns from the 13th century to the Modern Period
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
CityEdinburgh
Period19/05/1721/05/17

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