Is Ertugrul Ghazi A Fiction Or History?

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Ertugrul Ghazi was a famous historic figure and the father of Osman I, founder of the Ottoman Empire. We can find proof of his existence in the stories of Ibn Arabi and Turkish legends. He passed away at the age of 90 in the late 1290s. His tomb, located in Söğüt, is one of the main tourist attractions in modern-day Turkey. He is buried there with his wife, Halime Sultan, sons, and Alps. In September 2018, Söğüt held a festival to commemorate his 737th death anniversary. The highlight of the celebrations was the appearance of the popular Turkish drama Diliris Ertugrul on stage.

A brave warrior and man of honor, Ertugrul Ghazi was a pious Muslim who championed the cause of Islam. He is best known as the son of Suleyman Shah, leader of the nomadic Kayi tribe who moved from western Central Asia to get away from the Mongols. Ertugrul upheld the virtues of good character and was an excellent war strategist who undertook conquests in the name of Islam. He found himself managing family problems, conflicts within tribes, and the threats presented by the Byzantines, Mongols, and Knights Templar. Ertugrul rose to prominence when he appeared with an army of 400 horsemen to assist the Sultanate of Rum. 

From all this, we can say that Etrugrul was a historic figure and not a man-made character. Even then, the Internet is full of questions about the drama series. Fans want to know if it is based on true events or a work of fiction, and there is no concrete answer to this. Engin Altan Duzyatan, the actor who played the role of Ertrugl, commented that history does not provide much information about Ertugrul. Even the notes about Ertugrul l in Ibn Arabi’s writings suggest that there are limited stories about him. There is always a possibility that the series is based on legends inspired by famous Turkish figures and some unrecorded events may or may not be fictional. What we cannot deny is that Ertugrul was a real historic figure who laid the foundation of the Ottoman dynasty.

f we closely examine the television series based on his character, it dramatizes real events in the past, as most historical television programs tend to. To date, there is no evidence of his entire story in any book. This means that most of the characters and episodes in Dirilis Ertugrul only serve to enrich its plot and overall storytelling.

What we can do is ask if the works on Ertugrul Ghazi support any facts or documentation. For example, while no external source supports Homer’s works, the city of Troy existed due to its discovery, indicating that there was at least one Trojan war. Evidence at its archaeological site suggests that Homer’s contributions are romanticized narratives based upon multiple wars. In the same way, the producers and directors of Dirilis Ertugrul had less historical material to work with. Perhaps, the knowledge that the Ottoman Empire is one of the largest empires in history suffices. 

There are many elements in Dirilis Ertugrul that only make the show more interesting with the intent to boost ratings. High production values add to the realism and the creator perfectly balances history and entertainment to deliver a successful television series. So, although the story is not completely real, it has a historical foundation to support Ertugrul Ghazi’s life. Also, if you watch the show with English subtitles, the same Turkish expression is translated into English differently in a couple of scenes. Many Turkish proverbs, idioms, and expressions are difficult to translate into English, which raises further questions about dialogue authenticity and event representation. In any case, Dirilis Ertugrul is a very successful production and one worth watching.