I saw a story on Wikinews today about the death a couple of days ago, at age 97, of Ertuğrul Osman, who, according to the story was the last pretender to the throne of the Ottoman Empire. That lead to some fascinating reading about the Ottoman Dynasty (start here) who ran the Empire for more than 625 years until the Young Turks and the first World War wrapped it up.
There’s lots of fascinating things in the history of the Ottoman Empire, and I could easily get side-tracked into following up on many of them, but I was looking into the pretenders to the throne after 1922. When I looked up the list on Wikipedia, expecting to find our man Ertuğrul as the end of the dynasty, what I actually found is that not only does he have a successor but that the entry had already been updated to reference him. Apparently the “last Ottoman” thing was more a “seen by the people as the last of the OGs” thing than a “end of the family line” thing.
Even more interesting, the current pretender, the current Sultan Of The Ottoman Empire and Caliph Of Islam, was born in exile in Paris, has no heir, lives now in the United States, and has been both an officer in the US Army and a librarian in New York. You couldn’t make that up. And from what I can piece together from a machine translation of a Turkish news story (Google News not currently turning up any stories in English), apparently he’s a very quiet and modest person who’s not too interested in taking up the role.
There’s no larger point here–I just find it all fascinating, and very much in the “there are more things in heaven and earth…” category. I actually think the very notion of pretenders to thrones, especially defunct thrones in countries (or empires, or caliphates, or what have you) that no longer exist, is charming, and have probably thought so since reading a particular Evan Tanner book in my youth. If you want to get lost in that whole world for a while, check out the list of modern pretenders on Wikipedia… but don’t expect it to be short. And to follow some of it, the parts where it gets really crazy, you might need some background in lines of succession.