A broad search of the Library of Congress catalog, using “Turkey OR Ottoman AND law” retrieves, as one might imagine, a range of unexpected results. For example, among the documents from about a century ago is a photograph of one of the first American women photographers, Frances Benjamin Johnston, sitting in a carriage in Constantinople (Istanbul). The men are wearing the traditional Turkish fez, which had not yet been banned under the Hat Law of 1925 (Şapka İktisası Hakkında Kanun, Law No. 671 of November 25, 1925). The Hat Law was adopted by the newly established Grand National Assembly of the Republic of Turkey to require all Turkish citizens to wear Western-style hats and to proscribe religious headgear, as part of the efforts of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk to modernize the country.
Turkey has a modern National Library, replete with a website with some English-language features. The sultans of the Ottoman empire also had an elegant library in Topkapi Palace. The Library of Sultan Ahmer III is pictured below in photographs taken from the inside during the Ottoman empire and from the outside in modern-day Turkey:
There is also a library in Topkapı’s Imperial Baghdad Pavilion, built by Sultan Murad IV (ruled 1623-1640) to celebrate his recapture of Baghdad in 1638. He sent “a vaunting, daring, and a menacing letter” to the King of Poland that same year, a letter that was published contemporaneously in London. Murad has been represented in various art forms to this day, including an opera and a TV miniseries.
The Law Library of Congress collection of Turkish law has over 4,000 items in Turkish, English, and other languages. The items in Western languages range from early general monographs, such as
- Sir James Porter, Observations on the Religion, Law, Government, and Manners of the Turks (London, 1771), second edition “to which is added, the state of Turkey trade, from its origin to the present time”;
- M. (Abraham-Hyacinthe) Anquetil-Duperron, Législation orientale… (Amsterdam, 1778); and
- Ignatius Mouradgea d’Ohsson, Oriental Antiquities and General View of the Othoman Customs, Laws, and Ceremonies (Philadelphia, 1788);
to modern general monographs on the Turkish legal system, such as
- Introduction to Turkish Business Law (Tuğrul Ansay & Eric C. Schneider eds., 2001);
- Political Economy of Regulation in Turkey (Tamer Çetin & Fuat Oğuz eds., 2011); and
- Introduction to Turkish Law, now in its sixth edition (Tuğrul Ansay & Don Wallace, Jr. eds., 2011).
The latter encompasses a wide swath of legal material, from Chapter 1 on “Sources of Turkish Law,” to chapters on constitutional law, administrative law, family law, law of succession, criminal law, and law of procedure, among other topics.
Some monographs on specific aspects of Turkish law are:
- Turkey’s Integration into the European Union: Legal Dimension (Belgin Akçay & Sebnem Akipek, 2013);
- Derya Bayır, Minorities and Nationalism in Turkish Law (2013);
- Ergun Özbudun, Constitutional System of Turkey: 1876 to the Present (2011);
- Gülören Tekinalp, Ergin Nomer, & Ayşe Odman Boztosun, Private International Law in Turkey (2012);
- Gürkan Sert, Tolga Güven, & Şefik Görkey, Medical Law in Turkey (2011);
- Emma Sinclair-Webb, Protesting as a Terrorist Offense: The Arbitrary Use of Terrorism Laws to Prosecute and Incarcerate Demonstrators in Turkey (2010);
- Ahmet Başpinar, Tax Law & Turkish Tax System (2009);
- Engin Ural, Handbook of Turkish Law (1997); and
- Domenico Gatteschi, Real Property, Mortgage and Wakf, According to Ottoman Law (1884).
Some of the translations of laws and regulations in the Law Library collection include:
- Turkish Criminal Procedure Code = Ceza Muhakemesi Kanunu (2009);
- Turkish Labor Law (compiled by Michael N. Schmitt and Mehmet Nur Tanisik, 1997);
- Regulations and Communiques Related to Special Finance Houses (1987);
- Petroleum Law of Turkey (1956);
- The Ottoman Code of Civil Procedure with Amending Appendices, the Execution Law and the Law of the Notary Public (Nicosia, Cyprus, 1919);
- Ottoman Commercial Code (1906); and
- Ottoman Land Code (1892) (also, Ottoman Land Laws (1927).
These are complemented by a number of online sources for Turkish laws in English translation, such as Legislationline, the World Bank Doing Business Law Library, the World Intellectual Property Organization website, and the International Labour Organization’s NATLEX database.
The catalog search for Turkish law also incorporates a number of listings in which “Turkey” is covered as a chapter in a work on comparative law, for example:
- Balancing Copyright: A Survey of National Approaches (Reto M. Hilty & Sylvie Nérisson eds., 2012);
- International Competition Litigation: A Multi-Jurisdictional Handbook ( Gordon Blanke & Renato Nazzini eds., 2012);
- The Place of Religion in Family Law: A Comparative Search (Jane Mair & Esin Örücü eds., 2011);
- Policing and Prisons in the Middle East: Formations of Coercion (Laleh Khalili & Jillian Schwedler eds., 2010);
- Intellectual Property, Innovation and Management in Emerging Economies (Ruth Taplin & Alojzy Z. Nowak eds., 2010);
- Sharia Incorporated: A Comparative Overview of the Legal Systems of Twelve Muslim Countries in Past and Present (Jan Michiel Otto ed., 2010); and
- Danny Pieters, The Social Security Systems of the States Applying for Membership of the European Union (2003).
Among the Law Library’s Turkish law journals (53 are listed), there are a few in English, such as the Ankara University Faculty of Law’s Ankara Law Review, which is now available online, and the Digesta Turcica (journal of the Union of Turkish Bar Associations). Argumentum, published by Marmara University Faculty of Law, is mostly in Turkish but has some English articles. Istanbul University’s Hukuk Fakültesi mecmuası (Journal of the Faculty of Law) is mostly in Turkish but has some French and German articles.
After reading all of the books above, it might be a good idea to sit back and relax on a cruise on the Bosporus: