Nasîhatnâme (Ottoman Turkish: نصيحت نامه, Naṣīḥat-nāme) were a type of guidance letter for Ottoman sultans, similar to mirrors for princes.[1] They draw on a variety of historical and religious sources, and were influenced by the governance of previous empires such as the Seljuk Turks or the Mongols, as well as by early Muslim history and by contemporary events.


Nasîhatnâme became common in the sixteenth century[2] but built on earlier works such as the Kutadgu Bilig (Knowledge of Prosperity), written in 1070 by Yusuf Has Hacip. Early influences include the inşa literature of the Abbasid era.[3] Some refer to Alexander the Great.[4]

However, nasîhatnâme are different from Byzantine Chronographia, and were written for a different audience.[5]

Nasîhatnâme were even commissioned by aspirants to Ottoman government - including, in one case, by the Phanariot Alexandros Skarlatou Kallimaki, the probable father of Skarlatos Voyvodas Alexandrou Kallimaki.[6]

By the 17th century, a sense of imperial decline began to affect the content of these texts; more than just advocating a return to some golden age (i.e. Suleyman the Magnificent) they highlighted specific systemic problems in the empire - including nepotism, revolts, military defeat, and corrupt Janissaries.[4]


Nasîhatnâme typically state a clear moral reason for why they are written and presented to leaders; whether piety, or morality, or realpolitik.[7]



Nasîhatnâme texts

  • Tarih-i Ebü’l-Feth (History of the father of conquest), by Tursun Bey[8]
  • Destan ve Tevarih-i Müluk-i Al-i Osman, by Ahmedi[9]
  • The Asafname ("Mirror for Rulers"), by Lütfi Pasha
  • Nushatü’s Selatin (Advice to the sultans), by Gelibolulu Mustafa Ali[4]
  • Ravżatu'l-Ḥüseyn fī ḫulāṣati aḫbāri'l-ḫāfiḳeyn, by Mustafa Naima
  • Hirzü’l-Mülûk (Spells of the sultans), anonymously written
  • Usûlü’l-hikem fi Nizâmi’l-âlem (The principles of wisdom for the order of the world), by Hasan Kâfî el-Akhisarî
  • Habnâme (Book of dreams), by Veysi.[4]
  • Kitâb-i Müstetâb (Beautiful book), anonymous.
  • Risale, Koçi Bey
  • Veliyüddin Telhisleri
  • Kanûnnâme-i sultânî li Aziz Efendi; the identity of the author, Aziz Efendi, is unclear.
  • Kitâbu mesâlihi’l-müslimîn ve menâfi’i’l-müminîn, anonymous.
  • Düsturü’l-Amel li-Islahi’l-Halel, by Katip Çelebi
  • Telhisü’l-beyan fi kavanin-i al-i Osman, by Hezarfan Hüseyin Efendi, who also wrote the history book Tenkîh-i Tevârih-i Mülûk

See also


  1. Third Congress on the Social and Economic History of Turkey. Varia Turcica. 1990. ISBN 9780941469012.
  2. Faroqhi, Suraiya (2011). The Ottoman Empire and the world around it. I. B. Tauris. p. 27. ISBN 978-1-84511-122-9.
  3. Gully, Adrian (2008-02-07). The Culture of Letter-Writing in Pre-Modern Islamic Society. Edinburgh University Press. ISBN 9780748633746.
  4. İnan, Kenan. "Remembering the Good Old Days: the Ottoman Nasihatname [Advice Letters] Literature of the 17th Century". Ideology, Society and Values.
  5. The Ottomans and the Balkans: A Discussion of Historiography. Brill. 2002. p. 199. ISBN 9789004119024.
  6. Philiou (2011). Biography of an Empire: Governing Ottomans in an Age of Revolution. p. 30. ISBN 9780520266339.
  7. "Comité international d'études pré-ottomanes et ottomanes, VIth Symposium". Varia Turcica. 4: 191. 1987.
  8. "Tursun Beg, Historian of Mehmed the Conqueror's Time". Wiener Zeitschrift für die Kunde des Morgenlandes. 69: 55–71. 1977.
  9. Lowry (2003). The Nature of the Early Ottoman State. p. 17. ISBN 9780791456354.
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