Aşıkpaşazade is said to have died in 1481, so this must be the date of completion by the latest. Additions up to 1502 may have been made by a copyist belonging to the circle of Korkud, Bayezid II’s son.
Aşıkpaşazade's Tevârîh-i Âl-i Osman (“Stories of the House of Osman”) incorporated Yahşi Fakih’s chronicle (he had been a guest in his house in Geyve during an illness in 1413) and supplemented it with a continuation up to 1485. Yahşi Fakih’s chronicle contains some interesting insights on early Ottoman political practice and the way gazi milieus conceived it. An interesting feature is the constant use of the third plural to denote collective decisions. When his father Ertoğrul passed away, “they deemed Osman suitable” for his place (A94: atasınun yerine lâyık gördiler); and upon Murad I’s death in the battlefield of Kossovo, “they” killed one of his sons, Yakub, and “they accepted Sultan Bayezid [II]” (A134: Bayazıd Hanı kabul etdiler). In a similar vein, after Osman’s death his two sons discuss quietly the question of who must be his successor, with Alaeddin insisting that Orhan should become the shepherd and that this territory belongs rightfully to him (A115: bu vilâyet hakkundur... çobanlık dahı senündür).
There are instances in which one cannot be sure whether a story or a judgment belongs to Yahşi Fakih or to Aşıkpaşazade. For instance, the famous passage relating the installation of a judge and the organization of the market in the newly conquered Karaca Hisar contains a story on the man from Germiyan who asked to buy the market toll; Osman finds this absurd, since the gain of one person cannot belong (even partially) to another (A104: bir kişi kim kazana, gayrınun mı olur? Kendünün mülki olur. Ben anun malında ne kodum ki bana akça ver deyem). When the community (bu kavım) insists, on the grounds that market tolls are an old and established custom, the Sultan condescends, but stresses that whenever a person is given a timar, this cannot be taken from him without a good reason, and that upon this person’s death the timar must be given to his son. Even if the story as a whole belongs to Yahşi Fakih, the reference to the inalienable of timars must be Aşıkpaşazade’s addition, as it is an almost direct critique of Mehmed II’s confiscating policies. The same goes for the description of Osman’s meager property as registered upon his death (A115). On the contrary, the account of Orhan’s dialogue with a dervish, who claims that God entrusted “the property of the world” to kings (A122: Hak... dünya mülkini sizün gibi hanlara ısmarladı), seems to be Yahşi Fakih’s own, as it is in contrast with the references mentioned above.
Bayezid II’s defeat in Ankara, the one and only major defeat Ottoman chroniclers had to account for in this period, is the locus par excellence of the political critique they express. Thus, we may attribute to Yahşi Fakih (his chronicle reaches Bayezid’s reign, but we cannot be sure at which point it stopped) the justification of Bayezid’s conquest of the Aydın, Saruhan and Menteşe emirates as something done not with oppression but with justice (A135-36). On the contrary, the libel against ulema (A138-39), beginning with Çandarlı Halil and Türk Rüstem (who previously, in Yahşi Fakih’s chronicle, were held responsible for the institution of the janissaries: A128), must belong to Aşıkpaşazade: allegedly, in Bayezid’s time the judges began to be corrupted; the Sultan wanted to burn them all together alive, but they were saved due to the cunning intervention of Çandarlı Ali Paşa, who was “the one that made the house of Osman succumb to sin” by bringing many Persian scholars to the Ottoman lands. The typical criticism to Bayezid, however, focuses in his alleged greediness: i.e., an attitude similar to that attributed to Mehmed II by his critics, namely the allocation of revenues to the state rather than to the old military aristocracy. Thus, the description of the disastrous battle of Ankara in Aşıkpaşazade ends with a faithful servant accusing the Sultan of “putting money to his treasury as trust for his children, rather than spending it [for the army]” (A144: akçayı harc etmedün. Hazineye koydun. Oğlancuklarum rızkıdur dedün).
Indeed, one may say that the core of Aşıkpaşazade’s political advice lies in the refutation of Mehmed II’s imperial policy. His side is clearly that of the old military aristocracy, of the free gazi warriors who found themselves marginalized by the imperial policies and the growing role of the janissary standing army. He clearly tries to underestimate the janissaries’ alleged relationship with the revered Hacı Bektaş (A238). Aşıkpaşazade puts the usual stress on the importance of justice, but again justice is meant in relation with generosity versus greed; for instance he observes that “the wishes and traditions of the House of Osman are founded on justice”, noticing that upon his invasion in Karaman Murad II did not extract the slightest trifle from any subject of the emirate (A175). In the final part of his work, a list of the virtues of the Ottoman sultans emphasizes their generosity, both to the poor and to dervishes, as well as their activity in charitable works and vakfs (A230-33). Particularly, a Persian vizier of Murad II, Fazlullah Paşa, advised him to collect obligatory alms (zekat), i.e. taxes, from his subjects in order to feed the army and fill the treasury; the just Sultan replied that in his realm there are only three licit ways of collecting money, namely silver mines, the poll-tax from the infidels and the booty from the Holy War. “If the army is fed from sinful sources (haram lokma), it becomes sinful itself”. This advice is followed by a special chapter entitled “what was the end of Sultans who gathered wealth” (A233-34), with Bayezid I as the first example: the only real wealth is that spent in charity, and the real treasury of a ruler is the blessings by his subjects.
More direct criticism to Mehmed’s policies can also be found, although always with a careful allotment of the responsibility to bad counselors: for instance, he accuses Hakîm Ya’kub Pasha of initiating “unprecedented innovations” (işidilmedük ve görülmedük bid’atları), and in particularly of bringing Jews into the Sultan’s company (A244). More important, the letting of the houses of the newly conquered Istanbul to Muslims upon rent instead of granting them as full property is severely condemned; Aşıkpaşazade attributes this measure to Rum Mehmed Paşa, allegedly a friend of the infidels who hoped thus to regain their city some day (A193; cf. A216). Equally vehement is his attack to Nişancı (Karamanî) Mehmed Paşa and the confiscations of private property and vakfs he instigated (A244-45), which he describes as opposed to both the Sharia and the old practice.
Speaking of public kitchens and other charitable works, Aşıkpaşazade observes that the purpose of such works is a benefit for the world after (ahret), not this one (vilayet); in this respect, the intent of viziers follows that of the Sultan (niyyetleri padişah niyyetine tâbi olur). He explains that viziers must follow ulema and dervishes (vezirler ülemâya ve fukarâya tâbilerdür), because the Sultan’s purpose is manifest through his viziers; in their turn, viziers depend on their stewards (kethüda), who are acquainted with some of the ulema, the poor, the common and the ignorant (i.e., the people) and may know who is in need. Thus, all difficulties in such matters, and more generally problems in the order of the world, come from the intervention of the viziers’ stewards or of unsuitable trustees who refuse to feed and shelter every poor, as they ought to. Sultans send special investigators to the vakf, who cut off expenditures and impose more burdens to the subjects, in order to increase the wealth in the sultan’s treasury (A246-47).