Who is Ilber Ortayli, the Turkish Historian?

Being a figure that makes many individuals, either young or old, like the history thanks to his intellectual knowledge, colorful and sympathetic personality, Ilber Ortayli makes his mark, in particularly recently, as based on the justified popularity he deserves. Called also as the Living Library, Professor Doctor Ilber Ortayli is also one of the most favorite figures at the discussion programs thanks to his mental agility and distinctive humoristic personality.



Meanwhile, you can find the details you wonder about the life of Professor Celal Sengor, who is one of the first figures coming to mind in respect of the key agenda topics, in our article The Life and Career of Professor Doctor Celal Sengor. Now, let's see the answer to the question "Who is Ilber Ortayli?" in more detail. 




The Life of Ilber Ortayli

Ilber Ortayli, who is one of the honorary members of the Turkish Historical Society, was born on May 21, 1947 in Bregenz, Austria, as the child of a Crimean Tatar family. His mother is Sefika Ortayli, his father is Kemal Ortayli. Having moved to Istanbul in 1949 while he was just 2 years old, Ortayli enrolled in the Etlik Elementary School in Ankara where they moved later. Having enrolled in the St. George's Austrian High School for leaning German, Ortayli completed the preparatory class and secondary school grade one at the said high school, and he, then enrolled in the Ankara Ataturk High School and graduated from that high school in 1965. 



Having learned Russian language and history, as well, thanks to Sefika Ortayli, his mother serving at the Department of Russian Language and Literature at the Faculty of Languages, History and Geography at Ankara University, Ortali graduated from the Department of History at the Faculty of Languages, History and Geography at the Faculty of Political Sciences in 1969. Having studied also at the Slavistic and Orientalistic Department at the University of Vienna as well, Professor Doctor Ilber Ortayli did his master's degree at the University of Chicago together with Professor Doctor Halil Inancik. 



Conducting academic studies, Ilber Ortayli received his "doctor's degree" in 1974 with his thesis "Post-Reforms Local Administrations", and his associate professor" degree in 1979 with his study called "German Influence in the Ottoman Empire". In protest against the academic policies of the government, he resigned from his office in 1982. He lectured as a visiting professor at the distinguished cities of the world such as Berlin, Paris, Viennace, Princeton and Moscow. He delivered many conferences at the universities, namely Cambridge, Oxford, Roma, Sofia and Tunisia. He published articles related to the history of Russia and certain eras of the Ottoman period in various periodicals either domestic or of foreign origin, and he returned to Türkiye in 1989. Ilber Ortayli became a professor within the same year.


Numerous Books and Television Programs

Having also served as the Head of the History of Administration at the Faculty of Political Sciences between 1989 - 2002, Ortayli became the head of the History of Law at the Faculty of Law at Galatasaray University in 2002. 




Having served as a visiting scholar at the Bilkent University in 2004, Professor Doctor Ilber Ortayli hosted the program, called "With Ilber Ortayli" and which has started on TRT 2 in the same year and broadcast on TRT Turk on weekends. Having hosted the programs, namely "History Lessons with Ilber Ortayli"on NTV in 2009 and "No Time is Lost with Ilber Ortayli" on Bloomberg HT in 2011, the well-recognized professor served as the head of the Topkapi Palace Museum between 2005 and 2012.



Holding office as the Head of the National Palaces Science Committee at the present, Professor Doctor Ilber Ortayli has an excellent command of English, French, German, Italian, Russian, and an intermediate-level command of Crimea Tatar, Romanian, Slovak, Serbian, Croatian, Arabic, Bosnian, Persian, Hebrew, Latin, Ancient Greek and Greek. Ilber Ortayli has a daughter, whose name is Tuna, borne from Ayse Ozdolay with whom he stayed married between 1981-1999. The well-recognized professor has written more than 50 books, some of which have been published in 6 languages after having been translated. 



In particular, his book "How to Lead a Life", published in 2019, engaged the attention of book-lovers at the best seller shelves for a long time. Bringing his invaluable fund of knowledge not only in the field of history but also with respect to  social and cultural life together with the readers thanks to his books, Professor Doctor Ilber Ortayli gained a justified reputation and sympathy as well with his distinctive personality. Ilber Ortayli, who dislikes to use computers and the Internet and does not have an account, opened personally by him, on any social media channel, has a collection of miniature automobiles he has been collecting since he was a child.

2 Review
  • 2023-08-12 20:24:46
  • Huxley Nixon
  • Dear Professor Doctor Ortayli: I Just returned from Istanbul on a Viking Tour of the Capital’s of Eastern Europe and Istanbul and was mistaken for you by our guide, The Western Nisantasi Istanbul front desk clerk, several vendors in the Spice Market and the Customs agent leaving the country yesterday (August 11). At first I thought the attention was possibly something nefarious But when shown a photo of you, there is a slight resemblance. Ironically, I was a History major in college, also attended Law School and received a Master’s Degree in Finance. I am somewhat of a history nut but professionally was an investment banker for my business career. I doubt you will respond to this missive but should you desire to do so, my contact information is: Huxley Nixon [email protected] PS: Istanbul was our favorite stop on our three week trip across Eastern Europe and your adopted City.

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  • Stephanie R. McDaniel
  • 24-03-2023

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