Started in 1488
Six mss., copied in fifteenth c. through Abdulhamid II’s time (1876-1909).
Man has become civilized due to his moral qualities, in order to promote his health and living resources (emr-i inti’âşında ve ahkâm-ı ma’âşında), creating societies (called “according to our customs” town, village and nomad camp: ki ana temeddün dirler ki, örfümüzce ana şehr ve köy ve oba dinilür). Man tends to create societies by nature and for this purpose he tends to associate with other people. However, differences between men make coexistence difficult to achieve; each one has to have his own house, his property, his profession in order to help each other. This kind of arrangement (tedbîr) is called government (siyâset). Now, if this arrangement is made according to necessity and wisdom, it is called divine government (siyâset-i İlâhî), and its moving force (vâzı’) is honour (or, honesty: nâmûs) [these names are used by wise people (ehl-i hikmet), while religious people (ehl-i şer’) call them Holy Law and Prophet respectively]. If the arrangement cannot be that perfect, it must be regulated in the manner of pure reason (mücerred tavr-ı akl üzere) and is called kingly government or kingly law (siyâset-i sultânî ve yasağ-ı pâdişâhî dirler ki, örümüzce ana örf dirler). Although a Prophet is not necessary in every climate, a king is; if the king’s power dies, the order dies too. Gratitude is to be owed to kings from all their subjects (T 12-14). People owe absolute obedience to the Sultan, because he is ordained by God and is His shadow on earth.
The person of the king is entitled to the power in this passing world (müstahıkk-ı devlet-i dünyâ-ı zûd-güzârdur). Here, devlet means clearly “the power of the Sultan”, as it is treated as a synonym of saltanat (T 16; cf. T 198: devleti kapusı, meaning “his powerful court, his government”). This power, which is the philosopher’s stone in the alchemy of happiness (the elixir of happiness), can only be attained by the kindnesses of morality (illâ tahsîl-i mekârim-i ahlâk ile mümkindür). According to Nasîrü’ddîn et-Tûsî, there are three faculties (kuvvet) in the human spirit (nefs-i insânî): (1) the faculty of speech (kuvvet-i nâtıka, nefs-i melekî), leading to the virtue of knowledge and wisdom; (2) the faculty of wrath or passion (kuvvet-i gazabî, nefs-i sebu’î); when moderated by the power of intelligence (nefs-i âkile), it leads to the virtue of patience (or, mildness/clemency: hilm) and of courage (şecâ’at) (3) the faculty of lust or appetite (kuvve-i şehevânî, nefs-i behîmî), which moderated by intelligence gives the virtue of honesty (‘iffet) and thus generosity (sehâvet). Now, the moderation of these three faculties is called justice (adâlet). So the cardinal virtues are four, namely wisdom (hikmet), courage (şecâ’at), honesty (‘iffet) and justice (‘adâlet) (T 16-17)
Justice is necessary for the integrity of the various classes (temâmet-i tavâyif-i muhtelife adle muhtâcdur); e.g. the thieves and robbers must be suppressed. Without justice, balance cannot be attained, the sword cannot be good, the word is not worthy, knowledge gives no results and the ruler cannot be stable (T 17-18).
Mildness, that is forgiveness and not to be taken over by passion, is the second virtue [that is, identical with courage]; it is inseparable from the virtue of courage. Permanence of power (te’bîd-i devlet ü tahlîd-i saltanat) depends on mildness and justice; justice alone can satisfy the upper class only (havâss-ı ibâd), while the lower ones (evsât-ı umûm) want to acquire privileges among their peers (akrân arasında ba’zı ba’zından imtiyâz hâsıl ideler). Mildness preserves the king from errors due to quick temper and anger (T 18-21).
Generosity, connected with honesty, is another virtue demanded by the Sultan. Here special emphasis is given to Bayezid II’s bestowing the vakfs and mülks confiscated by his father back to their previous owners (T 22-23; cf. also T 197-98).
The fourth virtue is wisdom and knowledge, on which nothing special is said except that it characterizes also the present Sultan, Bayezid II (T 23).
Next Tursun Beg starts to describe his patron, Mahmud Pasha; he was firm in his opinions and plans (metânet-i re’y ü tedbîr), intelligent and shrewd, of pleasant nature, with few but essential words, condescending with his servants. When once the question was raised as to how one could express the indefinite gratitude (şükr) owed to Sultan Mehmed II, Mahmud Pasha answered that the Sultan as well owes gratitude to God, as a willing recognition of His grace. The gratitude for the vastness of his lands (füshat-i memleket) would be not to covet the properties of the reaya; the gratitude for his highness (bülendî) would be to be merciful; for his innumerable treasuries, to give charity and make charitable deeds; for his might (kudret), to pity the helpless; for his health (sıhhat), to heal the oppressed with a just law (bîmâr-i zulme kânûn-ı adlden şifâ virmek); for his powerful army, to protect the lands of Islam from the misfortunes; for his court, castles and gardens, to keep the properties of the subjects free from oppression and torment. Apart from the Sultan, all these expressions of gratitude extend to all his subjects as well (T 24-26). Mahmud Pasha spoke also against Mehmed II’s excessive temper, although he noted that mildness has also a limit; the collection of money and treasures is accepted, but always with justice (tarîk-i şer’ ve kânûn-ı örf üzre zabt-ı emvâl ve cem’-i hazâyin pesendîdedür, ammâ hakk ile). The friend of the king is his army, and his enemy his treasures; a sultan has to use his treasures in favour of his soldiers (T 26-27). Forgiveness (afv) is desirable, but not to a degree that would increase disorder and criminality. Everything must be practiced with measure, as for instance hunting and games. The best quality of a Sultan is to welcome and to be surrounded by ulema and sheikhs, because he has to seek the heavenly kingdom as well (T 27-30).
As İnalcık and Murphey note, Tursun Beg often makes allusion to the conquest as a process by which state revenues could be expanded (IM 17, 24).
(See Kenan İnan, “On the Sources of Tursun Bey’s Târih-i Ebü’l-Feth”, in E. Kermeli – O. Özel eds, The Ottoman Empire: Myths, Realities and ‘Black Holes’. Contributions in Honour of Colin Imber, Istanbul 2006, 75-109)