Why do some believe the Ottomans are a continuation of the Roman Empire?

Plus if some germans who never fully owned rome called themselves the roman empire, the greek and them the Osmanli have the same right with their new rome too

The "Germans" held Rome, followed Roman Christianity, and were anointed Emperor by the Bishop of Rome. Bringing ethnicity into is meaningless in a time when ethnicity didn't matter.
 
Twenty years anarchy. Following it the character of Byzantines under Isaurians definitely changed from the Roman imperial one.
Rome to me died first time with Augustus setting up the empire and second time with the fall of Rome.
How does the twenty years anarchy difer from the year of the 4 emperors or the crisis of the third century? For the later Both of these had userpation and significant changes after it yet it was still the roman empire
 
Orientalism, possession of the Queen of Cities, and Ottoman adoption of some Byzantine customs and practices including the patriarchate, and sultans occasionally styling themselves as Kaysar i Rum.
 
For those who do not think that Byzantium was Rome... at what point did it stop being Roman?

The Ottomans have as about as much claim to being the Roman Empire as the Holy Roman Empire or Tsarist Russia (i.e. none).

I still think the ERE was Rome, but it's radically different from classical Rome. Times change, and so did Rome. In the case of ERE -> Ottoman Empire, this is my train of thought. If the ERE is a direct continuation of Rome, then the state that both conquered the ERE and claims both the title and inherits many of its customs, culture, and geopolitical outlook is the next best thing to an heir.

The idea of the uninterrupted continuity of Rome died in 1453, but in the post-Roman world, the Ottomans make the most convincing heir in that it was the best continuation to Rome's legacy as we knew it as of 1453.
 
It could be argued that the empire died in 1204 and the 1261 state was not truly the same. I don’t know if I would take that view but it’s plausible. The empire never managed to reunite all the successor states after 1204, and Constantinople was not the same after the sack.
 
The Ottomans obviously inherited a lot from the Romans, and were mostly descended from them ethnically. They very much represented a cultural continuity, albeit with a religious change - not the first in Roman history of course. The issue is what does "Roman" mean? In purely political terms, the Roman Empire no longer existed. In cultural terms, while the term "Roman" can be accurately used to describe a range of different ethnicities at different points in history the Ottoman Turks largely eschewed its usage. If "Roman" is meant as an adjective to describe a polity/people with certain characteristics, the Ottomans could be described as Roman... as could a number of their contemporaries.

The easiest solution to all these debates is to simply call people what they and their neighbours called themselves. I am not aware of anyone seriously calling the people who ruled the Ottoman Empire Romans, nor they themselves using this term, so they aren't really "Romans" despite having a range of Roman characteristics.
 
They were descended from them biologically, but not ethnically. Ethnically they were descended from Central Asian Turks.
I think perhaps the term "ethnic" needs to be defined. Biological descent is, IMO, one part of that. Linguistically they were Turkic, obviously, but their lives were far more similar to the Romans than to Central Asians. It's worth noting that the large majority of 'Turks' in coastal Anatolia really were just Romans who started speaking Turkish and practicing Islam. The actual 'Turkic' invaders were a small military/aristocratic class.
 
I think perhaps the term "ethnic" needs to be defined. Biological descent is, IMO, one part of that. Linguistically they were Turkic, obviously, but their lives were far more similar to the Romans than to Central Asians. It's worth noting that the large majority of 'Turks' in coastal Anatolia really were just Romans who started speaking Turkish and practicing Islam. The actual 'Turkic' invaders were a small military/aristocratic class.
Ethnicity is mainly about a myth of shared descent. Ottomans believed they were the descendants of those Central Asians, regardless of what they actually were. It's a bit like most of the white population of Britain believing they are descendants of Angles and Saxons, when in reality Britain had a largely stationary population from neolithic times until the 1940s.
 
To say that Ottomans are not roman because of religion is wrong because Rome has changed religions before and both pagans and christians can count as Romans - so why not muslims?

Geographically Ottomans occupied territories owned by the Byzantine empire which styled itself as a successor to the roman empire.

I could give other justifications like how ottomans are partly descended from the greeks who made up the roman empire and so on. But most of all, might makes right - as long as ottomans had the power to call themselves the roman empire they were the roman empire.
 
To say that Ottomans are not roman because of religion is wrong because Rome has changed religions before and both pagans and christians can count as Romans - so why not muslims?

Geographically Ottomans occupied territories owned by the Byzantine empire which styled itself as a successor to the roman empire.

I could give other justifications like how ottomans are partly descended from the greeks who made up the roman empire and so on. But most of all, might makes right - as long as ottomans had the power to call themselves the roman empire they were the roman empire.
The Byzantine Empire was not a "successor" of the Roman Empire as much as its continuation. It was basically an administrative division of the Roman Empire in the east, which survived while the west fell.

Also, the Ottomans calling themselves Romans was bound to be just a propaganda move, one which neither they, nor anyone else took seriously for that matter. They were an external conquering polity, not an internal force (or simply a replacing dynasty) that took over the ERE. After all, it would not be wise to say that the Golden Horde was a claimant to the legacy of the Kievan Rus, just by virtue of them conquering the lands it once occupied.

Citing geographic occupancy as a basis for legitimacy is a weak reason. By that logic, the Papal states ought to be the true successors of Rome by virtue of their occupation of Rome itself. But we all know that is not the case.

By logic of descent from Greeks, the Russian Empire's claims of being the Third Rome ought to be weighed equally, by virtue of their marriages into the ERE's imperial family, thus by blood, making them claimants to the ERE throne. But that is not taken seriously either. The basis you cite, does not thus, give sufficient reasons to entertain Ottoman claims of being Rome.
 
Last edited:
The Byzantine Empire was not a "successor" of the Roman Empire as much as its continuation. It was basically an administrative division of the Roman Empire in the east, which survived while the west fell.

Also, the Ottomans calling themselves Romans was bound to be just a propaganda move, one which neither they, nor anyone else took seriously for that matter. They were an external conquering polity, not an internal force (or simply a replacing dynasty) that took over the ERE. After all, it would not be wise to say that the Golden Horde was a claimant to the legacy of the Kievan Rus, just by virtue of them conquering the lands it once occupied.

Citing geographic occupancy as a basis for legitimacy is a weak reason. By that logic, the Papal states ought to be the true successors of Rome by virtue of their occupation of Rome itself. But we all know that is not the case.

By logic of descent from Greeks, the Russian Empire's claims of being the Third Rome ought to be weighed equally, by virtue of their marriages into the ERE's imperial family, thus by blood, making them claimants to the ERE throne. But that is not taken seriously either. The basis you cite, does not thus, give sufficient reasons to entertain Ottoman claims of being Rome.
The Ottomans adapted parts of Byzantine administration as well. Doesn't that mean they were an administrative part of the empire? Just the dynasty and state religion changed - rest of it was similar to what it was for years before. Whether it was a propaganda move or not doesn't matter. All the sultans called themselves Caesar-e-Rum.

Ottomans and Golden Horde isn't exactly a just comparison - Ottomans got their legitimacy from gaining control of Constantinople/Istanbul while Golden Horde got their legitimacy from being descended from Genghis Khan. They didn't need to settle in Kievan Rus to rule it since they were fine with Kievan Rus being a tributary - while Ottomans had to settle in Anatolia and eventually Greece.

Also, as an aside, Russian claims to Rome are taken seriously in Russia. I guess it depends on what you personally think implies legitimacy. For me, it's more open to interpretation with regards to who has the power to press their claims at the time - Ottomans eventually lost their hold on Roman/Byzantine territories while Russia gained control over these territories (even if in terms of vassal states/client states). So in a way, Russia became powerful enough to gain legitimacy re - their claim to be third rome.
 
The Ottomans adopted some Roman elements indeed.

But they were not a continuation of Rome because they valued their Muslim-Ottoman identity over anything else, simple as that.

Not to mention they were viewed as foreign conquerors from most of the subjects of their own Empire.
 
And? And that certainly does not dissuade the point. Charles V, Ferdinand I, Francis I, Manuel I, all the strongest monarchs of Europe wrote to the Ottoman Sultan, Selim I and later Suleiman I as Caesar of Rome, not Rumelia as you call.
That is not what I said. What I meant was that the Ottoman idea of Rome was very much different than the modern one - Rome was not identified (solely) with Italy, and was primarily identified with the Roman clime, where the Ottomans originated and built their Empire in. The Perso-Islamic view of Rome was defined by what is now called the Byzantine Empire; this is why the Seljuqs referred to Anatolia as "Land of the Rum," and indeed the Seljuqs themselves were called the Sultanate of Rum because they were based in Roman lands. I am not saying that the Ottomans did not identify with Rome; but when they identified with it, they primarily identified with Roman lands more than they did with the Romans culturally.

The headspace for identifying with Rome culturally was also very limited, given that Ottoman Christians were all considered to be Rumi. An Empire that viewed itself as a bastion of Sunni Islam -- at least from the 16th c. onwards -- would have had difficulty identifying with the living Romans of the time culturally.
 
Why isn't the Latin Empire seen as a continuation of the Roman Empire?
Probably because Latin Emperors' title to be the Emperor of Rhomania was always contested, and their empire was too quickly reduced to irrelevancy. Had they managed to rule over larger area while being widely accepted as emperors at least for quite a while, they would probably have a better claim. As they actually were, the Latin Emperors were merely ones of several competing contemporary claimants.
 
Last edited:
Geopolitical succession is entirely based on international recognition at the time of transition. Mehmed held Roman lands, ruled over Roman people, and most importantly publicly claimed succession to the title of the Roman Emperor. He and his successors were acknowledged as such too by their contemporaries.
This issue of culture and religious descent has unnecessarily been conflated with legal succession (probably by Western European scholars wishing to promote their own claim to the roman legacy).

The legal transition is simple-
Upon receiving the Western imperial Regalia, the Eastern emperor succeeded to the office and the resultant responsibilities of the unified Roman imperium. The fact that the emperor no longer exerts influence over the western half means little to his right to this office; he is the emperor over the whole empire however limited its territory may be. To look at it from another angle, whatever the eastern empire claims/holds is the whole Roman Empire.

Cut to 1453, where we see this office abolished, its administrative apparatus absorbed and its title, rights and claims assumed by a new office. These claims and rights are acknowledged by the international community, and so are valid legally, as is evidenced by the use of the title Caeser of Rome on binding international treaties.
Also, the fact that the later sultans didn't really press this doesn't matter. For example, Russia doesn't need to keep saying it's the successor of the USSR to hold its Security council seat. It only needed to do so at the time of transition.

Legal succession, in general, is a matter of international and internal recognition. The factors that this recognition is contingent upon can differ from case to case, but the supremacy of the recognition itself as the decisive criteria remains paramount.

Cultural-religious descent can be debated of course, but regardless of who claims it to what degree, that descent would be from the Roman people, not the Roman state.
 
The legal transition is simple-
Upon receiving the Western imperial Regalia, the Eastern emperor succeeded to the office and the resultant responsibilities of the unified Roman imperium. The fact that the emperor no longer exerts influence over the western half means little to his right to this office; he is the emperor over the whole empire however limited its territory may be. To look at it from another angle, whatever the eastern empire claims/holds is the whole Roman Empire.
They tried...we know hot that ended up
 
From what I have read the idea of Ottoman - Rome had more to do with Ottoman expansion into Europe and the competition with Charles V for the title of universal monarch.

But this was very much in the realm of scholars. The majority of Ottomans did not consider themselves a continuation of Rome
 
Top