General Glossary


Special agreements between the Ottoman Empire and various foreign governments giving those governments and their citizens and subjects specific exemptions from the law of the Empire.

Efendi or Effendi

Originally a Turkish civil servant during late Ottoman and early Republic period, but now generally used as a term of respect to refer to an educated man or woman (hanim efendi).


Designation of the region in the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea, particularly Lebanon and Syria, but also for Greece, Turkey, Israel, and Egypt. The word comes from French "lever" (English: to rise), and is an equivalent of the Arabic Mashriq; "the country where the sun rises". The introduction of the word in world vocabulary came with the French mandate of Syria and Lebanon, which lasted from 1920 until the mid-1940s. Today there are many Levantines living in Turkey, especially in Izmir and Istanbul.

Sublime Gate (or Porte)

Ottoman Empire palace entrance that provided access to the chief minister (see Grand Vizier), who represented the government and the sultan. Term came to mean the Ottoman government.


Reforms adopted by the Ottomans from 1839 to 1880 which promised to guarantee the basic rights of all subjects regardless of their religion. Many intellectuals and novelists were matured during this period but still these reforms did not prevent the break-up of the Ottoman Empire.


Tugra is a monogram which was used as the symbol of sultans during the Ottoman period. This was a calligraphic writing bearing the name of the reigning sultan on his seal. This emblem was stamped on all official documents, orders of the sultan, coins minted during his reign, on the buildings built by him, and so on. Each sultan had his personal Tugra, and they all look a like but they were all different in name. Tugra became a part of the traditional Turkish Islamic art.


Headgear worn by Muslims and some others in the Middle East. The Ottomans became famous for their massive turbans worn by the sultans.

Vizier - Grand vizier

Minister of the sultan and member of the imperial council. Vizier was the highest rank in the military/administrative hierarchy of the Ottoman Empire; the chief minister (like a prime minister of our days) was the Grand Vizier. At various times in history, the Grand (First) Vizier was often given full deputy powers by the sultan over the Empire. And under a weak or incompetent sultan, the Grand Vizier ruled the Empire.