The Late Medieval Anatolian City: Urban Self-Governance and the Question of Democracy

Alaeddin Mosque

Studying East of Byzantium II

Rachel Goshgarian
Lafayette College


Historians and economists have suggested that capitalist/democratic ideals developed uniquely in medieval European cities. Study of late medieval Anatolian cities shows us that trade and market-oriented individuals from a range of linguistic and ethnic backgrounds came together in cities to compile wealth and create bonds that led to grass roots movements that encouraged urban self-governance. This workshop will consider the following questions: what makes a late medieval city? how can we understand the Byzantine city in the context of the Islamic city? or the late medieval European city? was late medieval Anatolia a home to a unique urban organization because its inhabitants belonged to various religious and political communities? (Is this at all comparable to late medieval Iberian cities?) And the larger question: are democratic ideals only present in late medieval European cities? or not? And how can we talk about this important series of questions in interesting ways?

Rachel Goshgarian is Assistant Professor of History at Lafayette College where she teaches courses on the history of the Middle East. Her research focuses on Middle East history, medieval Anatolia, urban confraternities, the early Ottoman Empire, and Armenians in Byzantium and the Ottoman Empire. Her recent work includes “Inter-faith Interaction in Late Medieval Anatolia: Coexistence and its Discontents,” in The Middle East in the World: An Introductory Guide, ed. Lucia Volk (London: Routledge, 2015) and “Opening and Closing: Associations based on futuwwa in late medieval Anatolian cities,” British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, volume 30, issue 1. (London: Routledge, 2013) and a number of forthcoming publications, among them  “A Stroll through the Quarters of Constantinople: Sketches of the City as Seen through the Eyes of the Great Satirist Hagop Baronian,” in conference proceedings of Istanbul – Kushta – Constantinople: Diversity of Identities (London: Ashgate) and Architecture and Landscape in Medieval Anatolia, 1100-1500, co-edited with Patricia Blessing (Edinburgh University Press). Professor Goshgarian is currently working on a monograph titled The Late Medieval Anatolian City: A History of Social Organization and Urban Self-Governance.


Annette Dubois, Alaaddin Mosque,” June 25, 2012, via Flicker, CC BY-NY 2.o
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