Famous Turkish historian Halil İnalcık dies aged 100
World-renowned Turkish historian Halil İnalcık died of multiple organ failure in an Ankara hospital on July 25 at the age of 100.
İnalcık was one of the most respected historians in Turkey and the founder of the Department of History at Bilkent University.
Speaking to press members, his daughter Günhan İnalcık said the passing of her father was a big loss not only for the İnalcık family but also for Turkey.
She said that İnalcık had made great efforts for the country and taught many students. “My father made a great service to Turkey and Turkish history. He is the one who will be irreplaceable,” she said.
A ceremony will be held for İnalcık on July 27 at the Ankara University Faculty of Language, History and Geography. After another ceremony at Bilkent’s Doğramacızade Mosque, his body will be transferred to Istanbul.
She said that İnalcık’s funeral ceremony in Istanbul will be held on July 28 and he will be buried in the Karacaahmet Cemetery next to his mother, Bahriye İnalcık.
One of his students, renowned historian İlber Ortaylı, said that when they were together two weeks ago İnalcık made comments about the foundation of Ottoman history thanks to his amazing power of memory.
Ortaylı said İnalcık spent 80 years of his life searching and writing, and despite his old age he did not go into a shell.
Stating that İnalcık was a monument of Ottoman history, Ortaylı said, “He left behind the ones before him and it is doubtful if the ones after him will leave him behind. We hope that God will bless him. Young generations should make use of his heritage. He was a Turkish intellectual. He studied in Turkey and learned foreign languages here, too. He did not study abroad, instead he was a teacher [abroad]. He has students all around the world.”
‘Sheikh of historians’
Speaking about İnalcık, another Turkish historian, Prof. Erhan Afyoncu, said that İnalcık was called “the sheikh of historians” and that he had written on many fields of the 600-year Ottoman history during his century-long life.
He said that İnalcık opened up horizons for many Turkish and foreign historians, and continued:
“Historians in Turkey and the world mapped out their route by examining the works by İnalcık. He proved that world history could not be written without the Ottomans’ history. At the same time, he claimed that history could not be written without documents and persuaded late President Turgut Özal in the 1980s to accelerate the classification of Ottoman history. He had competently written in many fields of Ottoman history. He spent a life of a century very productively.”
Born in Istanbul in 1916, İnalcık graduated from the Department of History in the Faculty of Language, History, and Geography at Ankara University in 1940. He completed his doctoral degree at his alma mater in 1943 and started working as an assistant in the same department before becoming a professor in 1952.
İnalcık lectured at many universities including Princeton (1967) and Harvard (1992) as a visiting professor in the U.S. From 1972 to 1993, he taught Ottoman history at the University of Chicago. He gave various seminars and conferences in Turkey and abroad.
İnalcık published numerous books and articles on Ottoman history. He was a member and president of many international organizations, as well as the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts in the Department of Historical Sciences and the Institute of Turkish Studies. He was also a founding member of the Eurasian Academy. He received many honorary doctorates and awards.