Mehmet Fuat Köprülü

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Mehmet Fuat Köprülü
Mehmet Fuat Köprülü in the 1930s
Turkish Foreign Minister
In office
22 May 1950 – 15 April 1955
Preceded by Necmettin Sadak
Succeeded by Adnan Menderes
In office
9 December 1955 – 20 June 1956
Preceded by Adnan Menderes
Succeeded by Fatin Rüştü Zorlu
Turkish Deputy Prime Minister
In office
29 July 1955 – 9 December 1955
Preceded by Fatin Rüştü Zorlu
Succeeded by Ahmet Tevfik İleri
Personal details
Born (1890-12-04)December 4, 1890
Istanbul, Ottoman Empire
Died June 28, 1966(1966-06-28) (aged 75)
Istanbul, Turkey

Mehmet Fuat Köprülü (December 5, 1890 – June 28, 1966), also known as Köprülüzade Mehmed Fuad, was a highly influential Turcologist, Professor Ordinarius, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Turkey. A descendent of the illustrious Köprülü family, whose influence in shaping Ottoman history between 1656 and 1683 surpassed even that of the House of Osman, Fuat Köprülü was a key figure in the intersection of scholarship and politics in early 20th century Turkey. As a historian and public intellectual, his books, articles, essays and poems forged a “canon of Turkish culture and national identity” that provided the newly formed Republic of Turkey with scholarly sources of Turkishness.[1]

Biography[edit]

Childhood and Education[edit]

Fuat Köprülü was born in the city of Istanbul in 1890 as Köprülüzade Mehmed Fuad. His paternal grandfather, Ahmet Ziya Bey, was the former ambassador to Bucharest, and Ahmet Ziya Bey was son of the former head of the Imperial Chancery of State (Divan-i Humayun Beylikcisi), Köprülüzade Arif Bey. Köprülüzade Arif Bey descended from the Köprülüs of the 17th century, an exceptional dynasty of Grand Viziers whose reforms and conquests delayed the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. Fuat Köprülü was named after the first Grand Vizier of the Köprülü Era, Köprülü Mehmed Pasha.

Fuat Köprülü received his formal education at Ayasofya Rusdiyesi and Mercan Idadisi, both formed by Ottoman authorities to modernize and reform the Ottoman education system. In 1905, while a student at Mercan Idadisi and only 15 years old, the magazine Musavver Terakki published three poems by Fuat Köprülü. By the time he entered the School of Law of Istanbul University at the age of 17, Fuat Köprülü already had an excellent command of French, Persian and Arabic. His first book, Hayat-i Fikriyye (The Intellectual Life), was published when he was 19 years old. After three years of study, Fuat Köprülü abandoned the School of Law because of the poor quality of instruction, saying that diploma was “not worth the loss of time it would entail.”[2]

The Making of a Nationalist Intellectual[edit]

From 1910 to 1913, Fuat Köprülü taught Turkish language and literature at various high schools in Istanbul, including the prestigious Galatasaray High School. Fuat Köprülü initially opposed the literary movement known as New Language, which sought to simplify the Turkish language, and wrote articles for the Servet-i Funun magazine using a literary style comprehensible only to the most learned of Ottoman intellectuals. Fuat Köprülü changed his writing style and politics during the Balkan Wars. On February 6, 1913, the day after the Bulgarian army attacked the Ottoman lines in the outskirts of Istanbul, Turk Yurdu magazine, a bastion of simplified Turkish prose and Turkish nationalism, published the first of many popular and patriotic essays by the 23-year-old Fuat Köprülü: “Umit ve Azim” (Hope and Determination), “Hicret Matemleri” (Mourning Migration), “Turk’un Duasi” (A Turk’s Prayer), and “Turkluk, Islamlik, Osmanlilik” (Turkishness, Islamness, Ottomanness).[3]

Toward the end of 1913, Fuat Köprülü published his seminal and widely lauded academic article, “Turk Edebiyati Tarihinde Usul” (The Method in Turkish Literary History), in Bilgi Mecmuasi. He argued that historians should not only research kings, viziers, commanders and scholars, but ordinary people as well. Fuat Köprülü believed that in addition to public and official records, historians should also study art, archeology, literature, language, folklore and oral traditions. His plea for historians to study social history was so unique and ahead of its time that the Annales School in France, famous for embracing a similar approach in the journal Annales d’histoire economique et sociale, did not emerge until 1929, a full 16 years after the publication of "Turk Edebiyati Tarihinde Usul." One month after the publication of the article, Fuat Köprülü was appointed Professor of the History of Turkish Literature at Istanbul University. He was only 23 years old.[4]

Fuat Köprülü continued his scholarly research and academic publications through the years, eventually culminating in his magnum opus, Turk Edebiyatinda Ilk Mutasavviflar (First Mystics in Turkish Literature), in 1918, a book that focused on two Turkish mystics and folk poets, Ahmet Yesevi and Yunus Emre. His Turk Edebiyati Tarihi (History of Turkish Literature), published in 1920, was another seminal book that traced the history of Turkish literature through millennia. In 1923, at the age of 33, Fuat Köprülü was appointed Dean of the Faculty of Literature at Istanbul University. In a short book entitled Turkiye Tarihi (The History of Turkey) published that same year, he reviewed the history of Turks from ancient Central Asia to the modern Ottoman Empire, continuing the approach he pioneered in his study of Turkish literature.[5]

Relationship with Mustafa Kemal Ataturk[edit]

On December 6, 1923, President Mustafa Kemal Ataturk sent a handwritten letter to Fuat Köprülü to congratulate him on the publication of Turkiye Tarihi, writing: "The works coming from your research will be among the most valuable of contributions toward the nation and the Republic. Together with those who are thirsty for an abundance of knowledge, I will be hoping for further publications, sir."[6] Shortly after receiving the letter of congratulations, Fuat Köprülü was appointed Undersecretary to the Minister of Education at the request of President Ataturk and remained in this post for eight months. In addition, Fuat Köprülü was appointed the Director of the Turcology Institute, established on the orders of President Ataturk, and began publishing Turkiyat Mecmuasi (The Turcology Journal).[7]

International Recognition[edit]

Another image of Mehmet Fuat Köprülü in the 1930s

Fuat Köprülü won numerous international accolades for his scholarship as well. The Soviet Academy of Sciences granted him a corresponding membership in 1925. The University of Heidelberg honored him with an honorary degree in 1927. The University of Athens and the University of Paris (Sorbonne) granted him honorary doctorates in 1937 and 1939, respectively. In fact, most European Oriental societies made him a corresponding or honorary member, as did the American Oriental Society in 1947.[8]

In 1933, Fuat Köprülü became a professor ordinarius, a title denoting a professor of the highest rank in Turkey. In 1935, he delivered a series of influential lectures at the University of Paris (Sorbonne) on the origins of the Ottoman Empire. Fuat Köprülü argued that ethnic Turks formed the Ottoman Empire using Seljuk and Ilhanid administrative traditions, and he discredited the prevailing view among Western scholars that the Ottoman Empire was formed by a race of predominantly Greek and Slavic converts to Islam.

Later Political Life[edit]

In 1935, at the request of President Ataturk, Fuat Köprülü joined the single party regime in the Turkish Parliament as a Kars deputy, and was elected again in 1939 and 1943. In 1945, as calls to establish a multiparty democracy increased after World War II, Fuat Köprülü joined the opposition and was dismissed from the ruling party along with Adnan Menderes and Refik Koraltan. In 1946, Menderes, Koraltan and Köprülü, together with Celal Bayar, formed the Democratic Party. Fuat Köprülü became the Minister of Foreign Affairs when the Democratic Party came to power in the 1950 elections, and he served in this post until 1956. Fuat Köprülü also briefly served as Deputy Prime Minister in 1955. On September 6, 1957, Fuat Köprülü resigned from the Democratic Party after disagreeing with the authoritarian tendencies displayed by the party leadership.

Death[edit]

Fuat Köprülü died June 28, 1966.

Works[edit]

A prolific scholar and public intellectual, Fuat Köprülü wrote over 1500 poems, essays, articles and books. A Mehmet Fuat Koprulu Scholarship Programme was recently established to provide funds for Turkish students to undertake PhD study at the University of Cambridge. His works include the following:

  • Yeni Osmanlı Tarih-i Edebiyatı (1916)
  • Türk Edebiyatında İlk Mutasavvıflar (1918)
  • Nasrettin Hoca (1918)
  • Türk Edebiyatı Tarihi (1920)
  • Türkiye Tarihi (1923)
  • Bugünkü Edebiyat (1924)
  • Azeri Edebiyatına Ait Tetkikler (1926)
  • Milli Edebiyat Cereyanının İlk Mübeşşirleri ve Divan-ı Türk-i Basit (1928)
  • Türk Saz Şairleri Antolojisi (1930–1940, üç cilt)
  • Türk Dili ve Edebiyatı Hakkında Araştırmalar (1934)
  • Anadolu’da Türk Dili ve Edebiyatı’nın Tekamülüne Bir Bakış (1934)
  • Osmanlı Devleti’nin Kuruluşu (1959)
  • Edebiyat Araştırmaları Külliyatı (1966)
  • İslam ve Türk Hukuk Tarihi Araştırmaları ve Vakıf Müessesesi (1983)

Translations[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Basaran, Alpasan. Fuat Koprulu: The Historian and Modern National Identity in Late Ottoman and Early Republican Turkey, 1905-1924. Nashville: Vanderbilt University, unpublished thesis, May 2004.
  2. ^ Basaran, Alpasan. Fuat Koprulu: The Historian and Modern National Identity in Late Ottoman and Early Republican Turkey, 1905-1924. Nashville: Vanderbilt University, unpublished thesis, May 2004.
  3. ^ Basaran, Alpasan. Fuat Koprulu: The Historian and Modern National Identity in Late Ottoman and Early Republican Turkey, 1905-1924. Nashville: Vanderbilt University, unpublished thesis, May 2004.
  4. ^ Basaran, Alpasan. Fuat Koprulu: The Historian and Modern National Identity in Late Ottoman and Early Republican Turkey, 1905-1924. Nashville: Vanderbilt University, unpublished thesis, May 2004.
  5. ^ Basaran, Alpasan. Fuat Koprulu: The Historian and Modern National Identity in Late Ottoman and Early Republican Turkey, 1905-1924. Nashville: Vanderbilt University, unpublished thesis, May 2004.
  6. ^ Translated by Basaran, Alpaslan. Fuat Koprulu: The Historian and Modern National Identity in Late Ottoman and Early Republican Turkey, 1905-1924. Nashville: Vanderbilt University, unpublished thesis, May 2004. Original text from Kopruluzade Mehmed Fuad, “Bir Hatira,” [A Memory] Belleten, vol. 3, No. 10 (April 1, 1939), 277.
  7. ^ Basaran, Alpasan. Fuat Koprulu: The Historian and Modern National Identity in Late Ottoman and Early Republican Turkey, 1905-1924. Nashville: Vanderbilt University, unpublished thesis, May 2004.
  8. ^ Basaran, Alpasan. Fuat Koprulu: The Historian and Modern National Identity in Late Ottoman and Early Republican Turkey, 1905-1924. Nashville: Vanderbilt University, unpublished thesis, May 2004.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Fethi Çelikbaş
Samet Ağaoğlu
Deputy Prime Minister of Turkey
May 17, 1954–Dec 9, 1955
Succeeded by
Medeni Berk
Ahmet Tevfik İleri
Preceded by
Necmettin Sadak
Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkey
1950–1955
Succeeded by
Adnan Menderes
Preceded by
Ethem Menderes
Minister of National Defence of Turkey (acting)
Sep 15, 1955–Dec 9, 1955
Succeeded by
Adnan Menderes