Today in Middle Eastern history: the Battle of Ankara (1402)

The Ottoman Empire was around for an impressive 624 years, from its (murky but generally accepted) beginnings in 1299 with the reign of Osman I (the guy who put the “Ottoman” in “Ottoman Empire”), to its official downfall in 1923. But historians have this irritating need to periodize everything, especially something that goes on for… Continue reading Today in Middle Eastern history: the Battle of Ankara (1402)

Today in Middle Eastern history: the Battle of Ankara (1402)

The Ottoman Empire was around for an impressive 624 years, from its (murky but generally accepted) beginnings in 1299 with the reign of Osman I (the guy who put the “Ottoman” in “Ottoman Empire”), to its official downfall in 1923. But historians have this irritating need to periodize everything, especially something that goes on for… Continue reading Today in Middle Eastern history: the Battle of Ankara (1402)

The story of Timur and the ant

Part of the reason I have a soft spot for Timur, the late-14th century Mongolian/Turkic warlord who tried to rebuild the Mongolian Empire and didn’t care how many people he had to slaughter to do it, is because he was incredibly tenacious. This guy was committed, if not to conquering the entire world like the… Continue reading The story of Timur and the ant

What’s in a name?

On Friday, The Daily Beast, or Newsweek, or The Daily News Beast, or whatever they call themselves, assigned a reporter to write about Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s namesake. I can only assume that the same high quality journalistic enterprise that keeps trolling America by publishing nonsense from Sad British Imperialist Niall Ferguson (see Noah Smith for some… Continue reading What’s in a name?

Abdicated and it feels so good (Ottoman edition)

Harrison Ford once said “I think retirement’s for old people.” Well, 85 is old, so if he were in any other job but the Papacy, Benedict XVI’s announced resignation would be the furthest thing from surprising. But the fact is that popes don’t resign; the last one to resign the office was Gregory XII in… Continue reading Abdicated and it feels so good (Ottoman edition)

I’m just a poor boy, I need no sympathy

One of the interesting though not highly emphasized political stories this weekend was the revelation in the LA Times that Young Paul Ryan’s rise to Great Intellectual Titan wasn’t so bootstrapy as he likes to let on. I didn’t realize this was even in question, because one of the first things I heard about the… Continue reading I’m just a poor boy, I need no sympathy