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Yıldız, Aysel - Crisis and rebellion in the Ottoman Empire the downfall of a sultan in the age of revolution (2017, I.B. Tauris)

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Aysel Yıldız (PhD Sabancı University, 2008) is a specialist in late
Ottoman history with a focus on social and political movements. Her first
book was Asiler ve Gaziler: Kabakcı Mustafa Risalesi (2007). She is co-editor
of A Military History of the Mediterranean Sea: Aspects of War, Diplomacy and
Military Elites, with Georgios Theotokis (2017), and War and Conflict in the
Mediterranean: A Collection of Papers, with Raffaele D’Amato, Abdülmennan
Altıntaş and Georgios Theotokis (2017). She has also contributed
numerous articles to various books and journals.
“Terrific . . . This book will become required reading on the deposition of
Selim III. Yıldız has done a fantastic job of considering the event in all of
its possible dimensions and has researched them all meticulously. I was
aware of her previous work which was focused on historiography, but
here she delves deep into archival history and does not leave any leaf
unturned: socio-economic history, political history, diplomatic history,
prosopography and cultural history. I loved this book.”
Baki Tezcan, Associate Professor of History at UC Davis
and author of The Second Ottoman Empire (2012)
CRISIS AND
REBELLION IN
THE OTTOMAN
EMPIRE
The Downfall of a Sultan in the
Age of Revolution
AYSEL YILDIZ
Published in 2017 by
I.B.Tauris & Co. Ltd
London • New York
www.ibtauris.com
Copyright q 2017 Aysel Yıldız
The right of Aysel Yıldız to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted
by the author in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.
All rights reserved. Except for brief quotations in a review, this book, or any part
thereof, may not be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system,
or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying,
recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher.
Every attempt has been made to gain permission for the use of the images in this book.
Any omissions will be rectified in future editions.
References to websites were correct at the time of writing.
Library of Ottoman Studies 58
ISBN: 978 1 78453 510 0
eISBN: 978 1 78672 147 1
ePDF: 978 1 78673 147 0
A full CIP record for this book is available from the British Library
A full CIP record is available from the Library of Congress
Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: available
Typeset in Garamond Three by OKS Prepress Services, Chennai, India
Printed and bound by CPI Group (UK) Ltd, Croydon, CR0 4YY
To my dear professor, Halil Berktay, to whom I kept my promise
CONTENTS
List of Map and Tables
List of Abbreviations
Acknowledgements
Introduction The Ottoman Empire in the Age of Revolutions
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
Rebellious Routines
The Breeding Ground
Does Modernization Breed Revolution?
Great Powers and the Ottoman Empire
Elite Rivalry
When the Feet Become the Head: The Limits of Obedience
ix
xi
xiii
1
17
44
73
102
130
162
Conclusion
Glossary
Appendix
193
201
203
Notes
Select Bibliography
Index
210
275
290
LIST OF MAP AND TABLES
Map
Map 1 A Map of Istanbul
xv
Tables
Table I.1 Uprisings in Istanbul
2
Table A.1 The New Elite: Career and Connections
204
Table A.2 Coalition of Outs: Career and Connections
208
LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS
A. AMD
A. DVN
A. DVN. KLB
A. DVN. SMHM.d
A. E.
BOA
C. AS.
C. DH
C. S.
D. DRB. MH.
FO
HAT
İÜEF
L
M
N
PRO
R
Ra
Ş
Bab-ı Asafi Amedi Kalemi (dos.)
Divan (Beylikc i) Kalemi Defterleri
Bab-ı Asafi Kalebend Defterleri
Bab-ı Asafi Mühimme-i Hümayun Kalemi
Defterleri
Ali Emiri
Başbakanlık Osmanlı Arşivi
Cevdet Askeriye
Cevdet Dahiliyye
Cevdet Saray
Darbhane-i Amire Evrakı Muhasebe Kalemi
(dos.)
Foreign Office
Hattı Hümayun
İstanbul Üniversitesi Edebiyat Fakültesi
Şevval
Muharrem
Ramazan
Public Record Office
Rebiyülahir
Rebiyülevvel
Şaban
xii
S
TOEM
TY
Z
Za
CRISIS
AND REBELLION IN THE
OTTOMAN EMPIRE
Safer
Tarih-i Osmani Encümeni Mecmuası
Tarih Yazmaları
Zilhicce
Zilkade
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
A lifetime could easily be spent in the study of Ottoman uprisings; to
effect a comparison with the uprisings of other regions and other
times would be the work of many generations. After over a decade of
research on the uprising of May 1807 I remain surrounded by
unsolved puzzles, and to the extent that I have made progress I am
indebted to the intellectual community in which I have been
fortunate enough to participate. From among the many people who
have helped me in the preparation of this study, my thanks must go
first to S. Akşin Somel, who supported me while I was writing my
thesis and developed its themes into this book. My dear professors
Tülay Artan, Kemal Beydilli, Edhem Eldem, Halil Berktay and Metin
Kunt also helped me greatly. Special thanks go also to Mehmet Ipşirli,
Addülmennan Altıntas, and Hamza Fırat, who always encouraged me.
My friends Mehmet Savan, Eyüp Şimşek and Zehra Savan provided
excellent translations of poems and certain quotations. Mehmet Mert
Sunar, Sevgi Adak, Serhan Afacan, Merve Çakır, Brigita Kukjalko
and George Theotokis were always available for consultation. Ben
Young of Babel Editing and York-Proofreaders Team were extremely
helpful in the preparation of the manuscript. My special thanks go
to Y. Hakan Erdem, Baki Tezcan and Kahraman Şakul for their
inspiring criticisms and feedback. Above all, I extend my warmest
gratitude to Hocam Hülya Canbakal and my dear friend and colleague
İrfan Kökdaş for patiently encouraging me, reading drafts and
providing valuable feedback. My final thanks go to my dear family,
xiv
CRISIS
AND REBELLION IN THE
OTTOMAN EMPIRE
my sisters, brothers and nephews, to my partner Yaşar, and to my
sweet daughter Elif Mina and son Kemal Çınar; your support while I
have been writing this book has left me with a deep debt of love which
it will be my joy to repay.
Map 1 A Map of Istanbul: Plan de Constantinople. F. Kauffer and I.B. Lechevalier 1807. The Hebrew University of Jerusalem &
The Jewish National & University Library.
INTRODUCTION
THE OTTOMAN EMPIRE IN THE
AGE OF REVOLUTIONS
The Empire is menaced with total dissolution; the finances are
exhausted; and a rebel already threatens to place a stranger
on the throne.1
From the mid-seventeenth to the mid-nineteenth century there were
approximately 19 uprisings in Istanbul, six of which ended with the
sultan being deposed.2 In the first half of the seventeenth century,
rebellious incidents occurred at short intervals (see Table I.1), and three
times the reigning sultan lost his throne. The eighteenth century began
with an uprising (1703), which also brought about a change in the
throne, but in general the sultans of this period seemed better able to
weather the rebellious storms; out of seven uprisings in this century,
only the uprisings of 1703 and 1730 deposed the ruler. After 67 years of
relative stability, the nineteenth century dawned with three serious
waves of unrest (1807, 1808 and 1826), with two claiming the throne.
The abolition of the janissary army in 1826 put an end to this long
tradition of armed dissent in the Ottoman metropole.
All of the aforementioned rebellions are typical early modern Ottoman
uprisings, in the sense that they were Istanbul-based, palace-centred3 and
marked by the dominance of the traditional military corps (janissaries,
armourers, artillerymen and cavalrymen) among the rebels. Early modern
Ottoman revolts were spontaneous, parochial and unfolded in a rather
standard pattern.4 They often involved open attacks on those in authority,
2
CRISIS
AND REBELLION IN THE
OTTOMAN EMPIRE
Table I.1 Uprisings in Istanbul (seventeenth to mid-nineteenth century)
(* ¼ sultan deposed)
17th c. 1622* 1623 1629 1632 1648* 1651 1655 1656 1687*
18th c. 1703* 1717 1718 1719 1730* 1731 1740
19th c. 1807* 1808 1826
who were perceived as culpable for some public wrong, and took place at
specific sites of administrative power. By contrast, modern social protest
generally avoids direct attacks on the state and instead employs the tactics
of group-level persuasion, such as public meetings, barricades, strikes,
electoral rallies or boycotts, while the sites of mass demonstrations are
generally chosen for their national and symbolic characteristics.5 In the
early modern period, however, convincing decision makers through brutal
force was the most effective strategy. Since the sultan had the immediate
authority to rectify grievances and eliminate those responsible, rebellious
incidents took place in the capital, centred on Topkapı Palace, the
administrative centre of the Ottoman Empire. Although civilians
(artisans, religious groups and ordinary urbanites) were active in some of
these uprisings, it was the military groups who were the overwhelming
majority, whether as core revolutionary cadres or ordinary participants.
The military had the necessary organizational and institutional resources,
as well as the high levels of social solidarity and prestige, to execute
rebellions and facilitate wider public participation in them. The military’s
discipline and codes of behaviour became emblematic of Ottoman
uprisings, and gradually became recognized in Ottoman society as
setting the pattern rebellions would take. Similar repertoires of
contention developed across the world in this period, although inflected
by enduring traditions of collective action, which differed according to
time and locale.6
The May 1807 uprising, the topic of this book, was the last of the
typical Ottoman uprisings in which the rebellious forces were victorious
against the decision makers.7 The story is simple, short and dramatic.
It starts on 25 May 1807, with rebellious stirrings among the auxiliary
troops (yamaks) stationed at the Bosporus fortresses, and ends on
29 May – just four days later – with a change in the throne. The
immediate triggering cause was rumours that the sultan intended to
impose the Nizam-ı Cedid (the New Order) army uniforms upon the
THE OTTOMAN EMPIRE IN
THE
AGE OF REVOLUTIONS
3
yamaks. Following the murder of a commander at the fortresses, the
rebellion rapidly grew in size as other military groups, as well as
civilians, joined, and the crowd marched from the Bosporus into the city.
As the crisis escalated, the sultan quickly acceded to the rebels’ demands,
declaring the abolition of his new model army and allowing the rebels to
kill eleven statesmen. Unsatisfied with these concessions, the rebels
demanded that Sultan Selim III’s cousin, Mustafa (IV) (r. 1807–8),
replace him upon the throne.
Within a few days, leading ministers had been annihilated, Selim III
dethroned and Mustafa IV crowned. These events were followed by over
a year of chaos during which the rebels blocked the establishment of
effective and stable government in the capital. Succession problems,
intra-elite rivalry, political purges and executions further paralyzed the
Porte, which was already at war with Russia. Selim lived in confinement
while Mustafa IV reigned over an empire wrecked by turmoil and unrest.
Eventually, Alemdar Mustafa Pasha (d. 1808), an ayan of Rusc uk,
marched on the capital to free Selim from the royal cage and re-install
him on the throne. Before he could secure the palace, however, Selim was
killed by confidants of Mustafa IV; consequently, Mahmud II (r. 1808–
39) was enthroned while Mustafa IV replaced the deceased Selim in
confinement.
The May 1807 rebellion thus prepared the ground for the rise of an
ayan, Alemdar Mustafa Pasha the grand vizierate, to the highest
position. On his own initiative, he prepared the 1808 Sened-i İttifak
(Deed of Alliance), a document that put the Ottoman dynasty at the
mercy of regional magnates. This fundamental restructuring of power
relations within the empire is perhaps the most significant consequence
of the May 1807 rebellion, although it is also important for having
prepared the way for the eventual dissolution of the janissary corps by
Mahmud II in 1826. The rebellion of May 1807 and the subsequent
excesses of the rebels and janissaries were used as a pretext by Mahmud II
for the dissolution of the janissary troops. In short, the traditional
military corps, and particularly the janissaries, won a tactical victory in
1807, but were ultimately defeated in 1826.
The importance of the May uprising does not end there: this uprising is
unique in Ottoman history for having occurred during the reign of a
reforming sultan. Selim III’s Nizam-ı Cedid reforms, implemented from
1792 onwards, were designed principally to reinvigorate the Ottoman
4
CRISIS
AND REBELLION IN THE
OTTOMAN EMPIRE
military, establishing a new corps on a model inspired by the West, and a
new treasury to finance it (the İrad-ı Cedid, New Fund). Since the 1807
uprising terminated the project of reform, it is perhaps understandable that
the historiography of May 1807 has concentrated on the reactionary aspects
of the uprising – to the exclusion of other social and political significance
that this important upheaval might possess. Drawing on the accounts in
the contemporary narratives, late Ottoman and early Republican historians
have tried to fit the rebellion into the broader context of reactions to the
modernization/Westernization process which culminated in Mustafa
Kemal’s declaration of the Turkish Republic in 1923.
The New Order programme occupies a pivotal space within the
framework of this established historiographical discourse, and it has
been adopted as the dominant historical frame through which to
understand the Selimian era. This approach offers scholars a simple
ready-made package with which to describe the events; however, it is
unable to transmit to the reader the complexity of the events that took
place and the patterns of causation which underpinned them. This
complexity cannot comfortably be contained within a simple dyadic
model of modernization versus reaction; or so this book shall argue. The
dominant historiographic approach is especially problematic since we do
not yet possess a well-established factographic or chronological account
of the May uprising, let alone a satisfactory comparative analysis of
rebellions in Ottoman history. In the absence of any systematic study
of Ottoman uprisings, historians have exhibited a tendency to provide
explanations by enumerating the peculiarities of specific incidents and
then cherry-picking features thought to be in common with the rest.8
Students of the Ottoman uprisings thus lack reliable analytic tools to
make sense of their geographical and historical distribution and this,
unfortunately, blocks progress on global and domestic comparisons of
revolutionary traditions. With this wider project in mind, this study
takes particular care to begin by establishing a basic chronology of the
May uprising and, on this basis, seek clues to understand the rebellious
routines and rhetoric which typified Ottoman uprisings.
The contention of this book is that, rather than being driven by
simple class struggle, factional strife, the fractious nature of the
traditional military classes or atavistic anti-modernization tendencies,
the May uprising of 1807 was a popular – military uprising engendered
by the socio-economic and political problems of the late eighteenth
THE OTTOMAN EMPIRE IN
THE
AGE OF REVOLUTIONS
5
and early nineteenth centuries. It properly forms a part of the late
eighteenth-century crisis, and its roots have much in common with
other parts of the world; indeed, the Ottoman Empire’s wider problems
stemmed from the global economic, environmental and political crises
of the period, which were experienced in related ways in many regions.
Climatic shocks and natural disasters during the late eighteenth
century led to bad harvests, malnutrition and epidemics in many areas,
causing decreases in populations and concomitant social unrest, and
threatening the political and financial bases of established regimes
worldwide. Moreover, the generalized upheaval led to a crisis of
legitimacy for rulers in many regions, provoked by their apparent
inability to secure the essentials of life for their increasingly restive
populations. This dynamic is clearly evident in the Ottoman uprisings
of the early nineteenth century.
The same period also corresponds to the Age of Revolutions (1760–
1840), a worldwide series of revolutions and upheavals, including the
devastating French revolutionary wars. Although in this period the
revolutionary ideas of Western Europe had only limited currency in the
Ottoman Empire, the aggressive expansionist policy of Napoleonic
France did involve the region directly, and the Ottomans thus engaged
with France more through war and diplomacy than via the sphere of
ideology. Like Spain and Portugal, the Porte became the focus of
contestation among the Western powers; unable to disentangle itself
from this dynamic, it was forced to adapt,9 which furthered the processes
of decentralization, raised the salience of “the Eastern Question”, and
provoked the rise of nationalist movements in the Empire. This, then,
was the fertile soil on which the seeds of the 1807 uprising were sown.
Although not on the verge of total dissolution, as claimed by Olivier
Guillaume-Antoine, the Ottoman Empire certainly knew hard times in
the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century. This was a period of
fiscal crisis, economic recession, political decentralization and social
discontent, as well as mounting international tension and warfare.
Frequent uprisings in the Balkans, Anatolia and the Arabian provinces
destabilized the empire both politically and economically. Rebellions
occurred in Cairo, Istanbul, Damascus, Macedonia, western Bulgaria and
northern Greece, and between the years 1787 and 1793 there were riots
in Anatolia (Kastamonu, Diyarbakır, Maraş, Adana, Ayntab, Aleppo),
the Balkans (Macedonia) and the Arabian provinces (Damascus and
6
CRISIS
AND REBELLION IN THE
OTTOMAN EMPIRE
Cairo). The same period saw widespread banditry in Rumelia
(perpetrated chiefly by “the Mountaineers”), the revolts of semiindependent local magnates (ayans), initial outbursts of separationist
nationalistic movements (the Serbian uprising in 1804), and millennial
and puritanical religious and other political movements (notably
Wahhabism). Moreover, the aggressive expansionist policies of the Great
Powers directly impinged on the imperial domains, as manifested by the
French occupation of Egypt (1789), the British Naval Expedition
(1807), and frequent wars and shifting alliances between the Great
Powers, all with an eye to drawing advantage from the Ottoman
Empire’s difficulties. These events brought about a period of diplomatic
gamesmanship and intense warfare, which in turn triggered further
instability and fiscal crisis.
Selim III’s military-oriented and piecemeal reforms were indeed
intended as responses to the complicated problems of this period. The
disruption brought about by the late eighteenth-century crisis,
the Ottoman Empire’s fiscal problems and internal disorder, and
the challenges of international conflicts triggered largely by the
Napoleonic Wars, all necessitated the development of a reform policy
designed to strengthen the Empire. Selim III’s intent was to establish a
Western-style military system, increase state intervention and so boost
revenue, and implement a programme of re-centralization. Yet, these
reforms aggravated the problems from which the Empire was already
suffering – the rising social tensions, deepening inequality and
heightening competition over scarce resources, all characteristic of the
“disintegrative period” (discussed below). Similar to the eighteenthcentury French efforts to finance its costly and unsuccessful wars,
which resulted in “risky, but incoherent, programmes of reform, which
gradually undermined the basis of the monarchy itself”,10 the
reforming policy of the Porte changed the redistributive policies of the
centre, creating losers and winners.
In short, it was the crisis of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth
centuries which prepared the ground for the May uprising. This does
not mean that the modernization paradigm has no relevance for the
study of the early nineteenth century; nevertheless, the study of the
uprisings in general, and the May 1807 uprising in particular, requires
closer contextualization and a more sophisticated understanding of
eighteenth-century realities. While Selim III was promulgating the
THE OTTOMAN EMPIRE IN
THE
AGE OF REVOLUTIONS
7
New Order, the Empire had barely recovered from the global crisis of the
seventeenth century, and another powerful wave of complex problems
was gathering force. Jack Goldstone has combined studies on a number
of different dynamics in order to model the multi-layered structures of
causation at work behind the state breakdowns of the seventeenth
century. According to him, since agricultural output had particular
limits in the pre-industrial world, ecological crises and rapid population
growth in a given polity put pressure on agricultural productivity and
this, in turn, had an impact on the economy and state finances, while at
the same time destabilizing social and political structures. Economically,
disequilibrium in population and productivity causes price inflation, a
fall in real wages and exacerbates rural poverty. The effects are observed
in increased poverty, urban migration, a rapid rise in social mobility and
intra-elite competition for scarce resources, as well as increased social
disorder in the cities and countryside. States try to increase taxation to
feed the expanded bureaucracy and army, but face resistance from
different segments of society. The budget deficit persists, and in most
cases leads to state bankruptcy, loss of military control and the
breakdown of central authority.11 Developing Goldstone’s thesis, Peter
Turchin and Sergey A. Nefedov have proposed a model of longer-term
demographic, social and political oscillations, which they refer to as
“secular cycles”.12 The key to these changes is the “alternating increase
and decline phases, each roughly a century long.”13 While Goldstone
restricted himself to examining the seventeenth-century global crisis,
Turchin and Nefedov developed a synthetic model, combining several
interlinked variables, which could be applied to any period in the preindustrial world. They label their two kinds of periods “integrative” and
“disintegrative”.14 The former is generally a more conducive phase for
polities, being characterized by centralizing tendencies, unified elites,
territorial expansion and population increase. The integrative phase is
further divided into stable expansion, and a period of stagnation and high
inflation known as stagflation, followed by general crisis. The
disintegrative phase is marked by decentralizing tendencies, intra-elite
strife, internal instability and external weakness, decreases in population
and civil war.15
Although Turchin and Nefedov frame their theories for the European
experience, they emphasize that their cyclical theory is intended to be
applicable to agrarian societies in general. Hülya Canbakal, an
8
CRISIS
AND REBELLION IN THE
OTTOMAN EMPIRE
Ottomanist, was the first to place a local disturbance in an Ottoman
town, Ayıntab, within the context of the late eighteenth and early
nineteenth-century crisis by combining the models of Goldstone, and
Turchin and Nefedov. Though focusing on the struggles of two status
groups (the janissary– sadat conflict) in the second half of the eighteenth
century, she builds her theory on the fact that, like Russia, China or
France of the same period, the Ottoman Empire was suffering serious
fiscal and economic problems, as well as having to deal with heightened
political activism, all of which were rooted in the global climatic crisis
and revolutionary unrest. The burden of the fiscal crisis and inflation was
not shared equally across society, and inequality also increased, leading
to fierce socio-political competition over scarce resources and heightened
faction formation.16
The years 1770 – 1820 correspond to the disintegrative phase in the
Ottoman Empire. As in much of the world, a period of economic
expansion had faltered by the mid-eighteenth century and a serious
economic recession began in the 1760s. This was followed by rapid
depopulation, migration, inflation and social unrest across the imperial
domains, while the Porte suffered a loss of revenue and was forced to
reconcile itself with decentralization. The reforming policies
implemented, especially by Selim III and his ministers, allowed the
rise of a new state-aligned elite, mostly at the expense of the existing
military and provincial elites. This new elite formed the most powerful
faction in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century, creating a
bureaucratic quasi-oligarchy that bred nepotism. The rise of this
bureaucratic elite, which began to exert control over scarce resources of
wealth, power and prestige, increased competition among the elites
closest to the throne – and in this regard the so-called anti-reformist
group associated with the May uprising can perhaps best be described
as the “faction of outs”, since it comprised a group of Ottoman
statesmen who had become more or less excluded from power and
decision making. Factional and personal rivalry amongst the Selimian
elite further paralyzed central politics, and Istanbul became ripe for an
uprising. On a local level, mass migration to big cities, and especially
to the capital, disturbed the already fragile provisioning policies of the
Porte, increasing popular discontent and causing riots. Growing social
and economic inequalities were marked by an increase in the number of
claimants of askeri status for tax exemption. The late eighteenth and
THE OTTOMAN EMPIRE IN
THE
AGE OF REVOLUTIONS
9
early nineteenth century was thus a period of increased economic
inequality, social unrest and political activism.
Sanjay Subrahmanyam complains that the concerns of people and
religious movements during periods of crisis tend to be neglected in
favour of impersonal political, economic and social data. Such periods
do indeed give rise to millennial or religious movements advocating
the re-ordering of the world via a “renovator”.17 Apart from the
expansion of puritanical Wahhabism, the Selimian era is also
characterized by the rise in importance of the Naqshbandı̂ – Mujaddidı̂
religious order, founded in the sixteenth century by Sirhindı̂, titled
Mujaddid (the renewer). Born out of the crisis of the previous centuries,
the late eighteenth-century crisis fueled the spread of this order and it
now found a large number of advocates/disciples among the Ottoman
dignitaries. The disciples of this order advocated reform of the empire
for the survival of the Islamic umma in the face of internal and external
threats. In addition to contributing to the eighteenth-century Islamic
enlightenment, this religious order also supported the reforming
policies of the Porte.18 Within this context, Selim III was also
considered to be a mujaddid, a renewer of his age and empire – and the
term New Order may indeed suggest a “re-ordering” of the Ottoman
domains, rather than a completely new order as the term is commonly
taken to imply.
Rebellions or revolutions are direct manifestations of a social
psychology, which is not always easy to explain or define. What is
striking about the period preceding an uprising is a kind of
revolutionary mood or “proto-rebelliousness”, without which the
eruption of dissent would be difficult, no matter how serious the
grievances. The 1800s were indeed marked by a revolutionary mood.
A deep sense of betrayal, factionalism and social defeatism, and a level
of conspiracy thinking that verged on neurosis were prevalent across
the different strata of society. This malaise was not unfounded:
resentment over the inability of the Porte to cope with the frequent
foreign incursions had already aggravated popular anxieties; it also
struck at Selim III’s imperial legitimacy and alienated the masses
from his ministers. The sense of proto-rebelliousness eventually
combined with the political activism of the traditional military corps
(janissaries, armourers, and artillerymen), and the May uprising
materialized.
10
CRISIS
AND REBELLION IN THE
OTTOMAN EMPIRE
Sources
The May 1807 rebellion occupied a central position in contemporary
Ottoman writings and later historiography, and its perceived connection
to the New Order still intrigues historians today. In contemporary
records, two different discourses have crystallized concerning the
upheaval. The first can best be described as imperial and dynastic,
advocating the policies of the Porte and taking a stance close to the
factions loyal to Selim III. The alternative views are more difficult to
categorize. Although they are not anti-dynastic, they do not represent
imperial historiography in the sense that they are fiercely opposed to the
ruling elite and generally critical of the reform policies. The first
discourse, sharpened and reformulated, is what emerged victorious in the
later historiography, and it subsequently became the received view
in Republican historiography.19 The most widely held theory of
nineteenth-century history is that it essentially turned around efforts at
modernization/Westernization, and Republican historiography has
embellished this picture by viewing the Selimian elite as a vanguard
of twentieth-century Turkish modernization. Seen against this sweeping
historical background, the Selimian elite appear as patriotic heroes, and
those opposed as representative of all things reactionary. In fact, far less is
certain than this historiography suggests.
Attempts to explain the causes and consequences of the uprising
produced a large number of works already during the early nineteenth
century: a considerable number of monographs are available, as well as
local and foreign reports, and chronicles which devote pages to it. Thirteen
monographs were produced, two of which were compiled by foreign
observers.20 In addition to these, the chronicles by Ahmed Asım,21
Şanı̂zâde Mehmed Ataullah Efendi22 and Câbı̂ Ömer Efendi,23 as well as a
Ruznâme (Daily Routines of the Sultans),24 devote a considerable number of
pages to the rebellion. The number of non-elite sources regarding the
uprising are, however, very limited, comprising little more than a few
janissary ballads and a memoir-like account attributed to a certain Aşık
Razi.25 Unlike the above-mentioned elite sources, these do not attempt to
convey factual information; yet, they do allow us to hear fragments of the
voices of the rebels and the common people themselves.
It is not always easy to categorize the authors of contemporary
narratives in terms of their viewpoints. Contrary to later Ottoman and
THE OTTOMAN EMPIRE IN
THE
AGE OF REVOLUTIONS
11
Republican historians, few of them attempt to set out a well-formulated
discourse about the rebellion. The main problem in this regard stems
from the fact that we have only limited information about the identities
of these historians and chroniclers, and are thus rarely in a good position
to understand the motives that lie behind their comments on a given
issue. It is extremely difficult to discern the nuances of their views on the
rebellion from the scattered clues in their texts; it is therefore better to
differentiate between them according to the simple criterion of whether
or not they approve of the uprising – this yields three groups of
attitudes: those who condemn, those who apologize, and those who
remain ambiguous about the revolt. Kuşmânı̂’s works (especially his
Fezleke),26 Mustafa Necib Efendi’s History,27 the second author of
Neticetü’l-Vekayi,28 the Ruznâme of Selim III29 and Georg Oğulukyan’s
Ruznâme30 fall into the category of those who condemn. We should also
include in this list the accounts of two foreign observers, Juchereau de
Saint-Denys and Ottokar M. von Schlechta-Wssehrd.
It is easier to associate those about whom we have at least some
information with a faction or clique or at least explain why they clung to
a certain view. This is the case with Mustafa Necib Efendi, then a minor
bureaucrat, who felt himself closer to the bureaucratic cadres of the
Selimian era and displayed great respect for the ruling elite.31 Necib
Efendi never accuses or blames the Selimian elite in any respect, and
denies any kind of corruption on their part: according to him they were
not motivated by self-interest; to the contrary, they strove hard for the
well-being of the empire. It seems that he composed his booklet
expressly to explain that the rebellion was not the fault of the ruling
elite, and that the uprising had other causes – which means that he was
aware of the accusations directed towards them. Mustafa Necib Efendi
seems to have had special connections with Ibrahim Nesim Efendi
(d. 1807), one of the most influential figures of the Selimian era, and
always refers to him with great respect. The position of Dihkanı̂zâde
Ubeydullah Kuşmânı̂ is similar to that of Mustafa Necib Efendi: he was
an ardent supporter of the Selimian reforms and a great admirer of the
sultan and his statesmen. Little is known about Kuşmânı̂’s life. His real
name was Said Refet32 and he describes himself as a wandering dervish
travelling to various places for religious concerns; it is known that he was
affiliated with the Behc etiye branch of the Naqshbandı̂-Mujaddidı̂
religious order.33 He was encouraged to write his treatise by Kadı
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Abdurrahman Pasha, the famous commander of the New Order army,
and he dedicated the work to Selim III. In fact, he had intended to
present his treatise to the sultan, but the uprising deprived him of the
opportunity.34 This, therefore, is a self-appointed observer’s account of
the reforms, defending them by using the same arguments as the
imperial centre.35
Among those who approve of the uprising are Lokmacı Matruş
Ebubekir Efendi (the first author of Fezleke), the authors of two
anonymous short chronicles,36 Kethüda Said Efendi’s History37 and the
History of Tüfengc ibaşı Arif Efendi.38 Though it is not always easy to
determine which faction they are associated with, it is clear that most of
the historians in this group favour any kind of reaction to the Selimian
rule and applaud the May uprising for ending his era. Information on
Lokmacı Matruş Ebubekir Efendi, the first author of the Fezleke, is again
limited. Actually, the Fezleke is composed of two different texts authored
by two individuals, namely Ebubekir Efendi and Ubeydulah Kuşmânı̂,
in the same volume. All we know about them is that Ebubekir Efendi
was an intellectual of the period who was able to enter the circles of the
Selimian elite, but became closer to the factions that came to power
following the accession of Mustafa IV. Previously, he had entertained
closer connections with the ruling elite and apparently enjoyed their
patronage and took part in their meetings; however, some time before
the uprising, for an unknown reason, he fell into disgrace and lost his
position to Shaik Selami Efendi, a Naqshbandi shaik.39 Evidently, he was
greatly disappointed, which may have led him to become an enemy not
only of Selami Efendi, but also of the Selimian elite. Apparently an
opportunist, he swung his support behind the opponents of Selimian
rule, both for the sake of his own self-aggrandizement and also to take
revenge for his exclusion. Ebubekir Efendi was in the city during the
outbreak of the rebellion, and he seems to have been at the Meat Square
when the murders of the statesmen took place; he describes the brutal
scenes in contented tones. Would Ebubekir Efendi have rejoiced in the
murders of the ruling elite if he had not lost his privileged position in
that very elite to his rival Shaik Selami Efendi?
Kethüda Said Efendi is another contemporary historian who adopts
an apologetic tone regarding the uprising. As a steward (kapı kethüda) to
Veliefendizâde Mehmed Emin Efendi (d. 1805), a former kadıasker and a
supporter of Selimian policies, one would expect him to reproduce the
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13
imperial historiography. On the contrary, however, he praises the
uprising and defines the rebels as “angels” sent by God to correct the
religion. We do not have sufficient information about his life to allow us
to decipher his unexpected position, yet two important clues might
explain this oddity. Following the death of her husband, the wife of the
deceased Veliefendizâde married Mehmed Said Halet Efendi (d. 1822),
who was closer to Mustafa (IV).40 Kethüda Said was still serving as the
steward of the same family at the time of the rebellion, so he might also
have given his support based on family affiliations. More importantly,
however, Veliefendizâde was in possession of a considerable number of
janissary payroll tickets, as were most of his servants.41 This may have
given Kethüda Said a strong incentive to sympathize with the rebels.
There are also those sources that fall into neither of the above categories,
and it is interesting to note that the account of the official historian Asım
is one of them. The same is also true for Câbı̂ Ömer Efendi, while Yayla
İmamı Risalesi can also be added to the list.
Contemporary authors clearly take the New Order to have been the
cause of the uprising. Most agree that the attempt to change the
uniforms of the yamaks was the trigger, although a few disregard this
claim as gossip (Mustafa Necib from the first, and Lokmacı Matruş
Ebubekir from the second group of historians). The reforms themselves
are widely criticized by those authors who adopt apologetic or
ambivalent tones regarding the uprising. Only once does the author of
Yayla İmamı Risalesi aver that the reforms counted as bid’at (innovation
seen as reprehensible in religious law). The anonymous writer of the
abridged chronicle of the May uprising, on the other hand, considers the
reforms to have been a well-intentioned attempt to defeat the Empire’s
enemies, yet still holds that they were a violation of the spirit of Islam
and is happy that they failed, something which he attributes to divine
intervention.42
Overall, mutual recrimination and a strong polarization of views is
characteristic of the early nineteenth-century sources which address the
uprising.43 Mirroring the deep factionalization observable among the
higher echelons of society, the authors of the Selimian era accuse each
other of corruption, abuse and betraying the interests of the state and
religion (din ü devlet) for their own benefit. Such discourse is clearly
designed to demonize the other side: to represent themselves as good
subjects and cast their opponents as self-seeking conspirators and
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traitors.44 Historians closer to the Selimian policies attack the
janissaries and single out certain “corrupt” dignitaries, such as shaikh
al-Islam Ataullah Efendi and kaimmakam (deputy to the grand vizier)
Musa Pasha, for blame. They lay emphasis on the benefits of the
reforms and name officials who they say conspired against the interests
of the centre. On the other hand, for Asım, Lokmacı Ebubekir Efendi,
the author of Yayla İmamı Risalesi and for an anonymous author, it is
the ruling elite of the Selimian era who became the main target of
criticism. These accounts concentrate on the oppression of the
“corrupt” ruling elite and its repercussions, and tend to praise
the rebels who were instrumental in annihilating this group. It appears
to be not the New Order but rather the elite, who promulgated the
reforms, coming in for attack.
All contemporary accounts place strong emphasis on conspiracy; that
is to say, they interpolate causality into history via the designs of certain
perfidious individuals, an approach which is inherited by later
historians.45 This leaves a rather strange impression that, in the absence
of the conspiracies attributed to whichever group or individual they
single out for criticism, the uprising would not have broken out – or,
that if it had happened anyway, it would have been easily suppressed and
certainly would never have led to the deaths of the dignitaries and the
deposition of Selim III. This conspiracy mode of thinking and
explanation was apparently not unique to the Ottoman authors; similar
discourses are evident in European historiography from around the same
period. Imputations of conspiracy may indeed have seemed like a
plausible explanation at a time when the speed of change of political
conjunctures outstripped contemporaries’ capacity to make sense of
them.46 Finally, the conspiracy-based explanatory model reflected the
authors’ suspicions about the “public’s inability to discern what is true or
false”, an expression widely used in contemporary narratives, meaning
that the authors considered the public open to manipulation by rival
groups.47 Reflection on conspiracy theories is important for understanding the psychology of the contemporary observers, and also for
deciphering the dynamics of discontent and division in a society,
especially the factor of resentment.48 The sources, which refer to plots
and conspiracies, provide clues to the concerns of the opposing parties, a
point that is directly related to factionalism and power groups, and to
which we return in Chapter Five.
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Review of Chapters
The book has six chapters, organized thematically. Chapter One narrates
the chronology and factography of the May uprising, and also provides a
comparative analysis of the flow of events in Ottoman uprisings in
general. Like most rebellions throughout history and across the world,
Ottoman rebellions can be seen as an “extended form of negotiation” in
which both the Porte and the rebels engaged in tense dialogue.
Accordingly, the May uprising will be studied as a continuous exchange
between the two sides, marked by several stages of negotiation and
bargaining. In order to draw out comparisons with examples from other
parts of the world, it is important to sketch the basic patterns of the
Ottoman rebellious tradition. This is also the intent of this chapter.
The next three chapters attempt to describe the domestic and
international context in which the uprising broke out. At the very basic
level, these chapters study the distal causes of the uprising. Chapter Two
is an effort to locate the 1807 uprising within the context of the late
eighteenth-century crisis. The issue of possible connections between
modernization and the uprising is the topic of Chapter Three, in which
the reactions to the Selimian reforms are studied. A survey of the period
and the reactions to the New Order reveals that it was not solely the
reactions to the so-called modernization process which led to social
unrest and instability, but rather intra-elite competition, rivalry over
scarce resources, challenges to the decentralized power structures and
challenges to vested interests. Chapters Two and Three make special
effort to evaluate these issues from the perspective of potential rebels,
rather than imposing our own assumptions about Westernization or
modernization.
The mainstream historiography of the uprising usually dwells on the
internal context, and is marginally concerned with understanding the
international arena as it stood before and after the events of May 1807.
Foreign relations are rarely mentioned and, when they are, it is mostly in
order to furnish background information on how the Ottoman army had
degenerated since the beginning of the eighteenth century. In Chapter
Four, therefore, we focus on the international context not solely for the
sake of background information, but in order to illustrate the role of
foreign affairs at the heart of the internal politics of the Porte. The
purpose is twofold: first, to show that the reforms were abused by the
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foreign powers active in the domestic arena; and second, to show that the
involvement of the Great Powers in the politics of the Porte stoked
resentment in society against a government seen as unable to hold its
own vis-à-vis international competition. The feelings of insecurity and
betrayal which were thereby engendered were crucial for the 1807
outburst. Finally, the chapter also tries to determine whether any foreign
power did indeed have a role to play in the outbreak of the rebellion.
In Chapter Five, we examine the elite rivalry and elite power
structures in the capital, again focusing on the possible connections to
the uprising. The two initial sections are devoted to the identity, views
and networks of each group, with the purpose of describing them
through close reference to archival sources and other contemporary
materials, rather than simply labeling them based on historiographic
prejudice. It will also be argued that attitudes to the Selimian reforms
were not the only denominator in the division between groups, but that
this also turned on factional strife, patron –client ties, attitudes to
foreign policies, personal relationships and religious affiliations – all of
which will illuminate the complexity of political structures during the
Selimian era.
Chapter Six is devoted to an analysis of the rebels in the May uprising,
in terms of their identity, motives and the ways in which they sought to
legitimize their rebellious actions. As in most Ottoman uprisings, the
rebels in this case were drawn mainly from military groups: the rebellion
was instigated by the auxiliaries in the Bosporus forts, but these were
rapidly joined by other military groups (janissaries, artillerymen,
armourers) as well as some urbanites. Establishing the identity of the
sub-groups among the rebels and drawing comparisons with other
Ottoman examples will help us place the May uprising within the wider
context of Ottoman uprisings. The abolition of the New Order and the
elimination of the ruling cadres do not fully explain the rebels’ actions,
for they continued to prosecute their rebellion even after these goals had
been achieved. The causes which lay behind the deposition of Selim III
are, thus, studied from within the theoretical framework of the “right to
rebel” in the Ottoman context, supported by empirical data, in order to
investigate the crisis of legitimacy which struck the Porte in the
Selimian era.
CHAPTER 1
REBELLIOUS ROUTINES
He hath flown off the roof and ended up in hell. That is far enough
to fly for such a scoundrel.1
Introduction
The turbulent years 1807 and 1808 witnessed an uprising (25– 29 May
1807), a counter-revolution (28 July 1808), followed by the so-called
Alemdar Incident (November 1808) and a short period of civil war
(16– 19 November 1808). The first of these incidents, known as the May
uprising, ended with the dethronement of Selim III and the elimination
of the Selimian ministers. The five days of the May uprising were a
period of continuous negotiation between the centre and the rebels.
By contrast, the subsequent incidents saw no such negotiations: the
counter-revolution was a simple coup d’état led by Alemdar Mustafa
Pasha (grand vizier from 28 July 1808 to 16 November 1808; d. 1808),
aiming to reinstate Selim III and eliminate the cadres involved in the
uprising. This precipitated a war between supporters of Alemdar and his
opponents, which wrecked the city for several days.
The speed and impact of the May uprising can hardly be
overestimated: what began with the murder of Mahmud Raif Efendi,
the superintendant of the Bosporus forts on 25 May, ended, in a week,
with a change in the throne. A close study of the course of events over
those five days allows us to situate the uprising within the wider history
of Ottoman rebellions. In particular, it reveals the essential role of
dialogue between the Porte and the rebels: for, as we will see, there were
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several stages of negotiation and bargaining, and at each stage the
dialogue could have turned out differently, leading to a different
outcome. In the end, however, the dialogue was broken off with the
decision by the rebels to dethrone Sultan Selim III. A new process of
bargaining then unfolded with the new Sultan, Mustafa IV, who in the
end issued an amnesty paper, the Hüccet-i Şeriyye, which exempted
the rebels from punishment.
Patterns in the Flow of Events
Although the reasons for rebellion varied, the uprisings of the early
seventeenth to early nineteenth century have a characteristic structure,
which can be summarized as follows:
a. Petition phase: expression of discontent, usually via petitions.
b. Outburst phase: a triggering incident that precipitates the event.
c. Diffusion phase: increase in the number of participants with the
invitation of urbanites and the military corps.
d. Bargaining phase: initial contact between the rebels and the centre.
e. Congregation in meeting places: Et Meydanı (“the Meat Square”),2
the Hippodrome or in some cases in the vicinity of the palace.
f. Legitimation phase: the rebels invite the ulema to participate.
g. Negotiation phase: the rebels demand that the centre abolish a
practice or punish culprits.
h. Revenge phase: the functionaries held responsible for the fault are
murdered.
i. Deposition phase: [in some cases] the throne is claimed.
j. Settlement phase: issue of an amnesty for the rebels.
Ottoman uprisings traditionally follow this pattern, though the precise
sequence and number of steps may change. The May uprising lacks the
petition phase, unlike in 1632, 1651 and 1703, when the insurgents first
presented petitions and requests to the centre. In 1632 and 1651, the
guildsmen and the janissaries both had recourse to petitions, repeatedly
presenting the grand vizier with their complaints. Having been
unsuccessful, they turned to other authorities, such as the shaikh alIslam, the nakib al-eşraf, the head of the descendants of the Prophet
REBELLIOUS ROUTINES
19
(sayyids), and finally to the sultan himself. Their frustrations with the
petition process eventually led them to open revolt. In 1632, unable to
make their voices heard, they began to revolt and in several instances
forced Murad IV to hear their complaints.3 In his description of
rebellious routines in the European context, Sidney Tarrow argues that
the traditional European form of petition, valid since the seventeenth
century, disappears from the routine during the course of the eighteenth
century,4 and the Ottomans seem to be no exception. In the incidents
after 1651, the dissidents take to the streets without first sending
petitions to the relevant authorities.5
Ottoman rebellions usually started with a small group of insurgents
(1651, 1703, 1730, 1807, 1808) initiating the upheaval in response to a
triggering cause, then converging on the Meat Square within the
janissary barracks in Aksaray. In the process, the rebels entered the
bazaars, calling upon Muslims to join their cause and ordering nonMuslims to remain neutral but to close their shops. Before or after arrival
at the square, they also invited other military corps to join them. In most
cases, the Meat Square served as the central meeting place for the
insurgents, although the true focal point was the court at the Topkapı
Palace – the exception being the Edirne Incident of 1703, when Mustafa
II was in residence at the Edirne court.
After reaching the Meat Square, the insurgents would summon the
high-ranking ulema, declare their grievances, and ask them to issue a
fatwa sanctioning their demands – the execution of certain dignitaries
or the deposition of the sultan. Once a rebellion was under way, state
officials were no longer accepted as intermediaries, but became
scapegoats and potential victims, and the bargaining then took place
directly with the sultan. In 1703, a memorandum was prepared on the
square, which demanded that Feyzullah Efendi, the shaikh al-Islam, be
dismissed, and that the sultan return to the capital.6 Delegates were sent
from Istanbul to the rebels and from the rebels to Edirne.7 In a similar
manner, continuous negotiations took place between the ringleaders and
the sultan during the course of the 1730 uprising.8 The rebels usually
prepared a list naming certain people whom they wanted killed. This
initiated a process of bargaining with the central authority, in which the
centre either accepted the execution of the demands or refused to deliver
them to the rebels; this was usually followed by some brutal and
exemplary murders of the functionaries on the list. In some cases, the
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rule of the sultan came under direct challenge: the rebels insisted on
obtaining a fatwa sanctioning his removal and the installation of a new
ruler from the same dynasty, whereupon another bargaining process was
instigated with the new sultan, the rebels demanding an amnesty –
usually in writing – from the sultan, pledging not to punish them for
their actions. In most cases, some time after the end of the crisis, the
rebels would be rewarded with money or appointments. The second
negotiation phase, this time with the new government, revolved around
the efforts by the dissidents to minimize the negative consequences of
their involvement.9 Frequent demands for “amnesty and safe conduct”
suggest that cost benefit considerations were crucial in these conflicts.10
Moreover, each individual step within the overall development of
the rebellion itself displayed distinct dynamics, in which the rebels
frequently faced a dilemma that challenged them to reconsider their
conditions and decisions.
Although the dethronement of the sultan or the elimination of the
chosen ministers ended the dissent, disorder usually continued for
some time afterwards, like the aftershocks of an earthquake. The
duration and character of violence varied according to the power of
the centre and the prestige of the rebels, as well as the persistence
of the cause. Since dynastic authority was relatively weak at the time of
the May 1807 uprising, the turmoil in this case persisted for more than
a year (the reign of Mustafa IV), including the coup d’état by Alemdar
Mustafa Pasha and the ensuing civil war. Viewed from this perspective,
the uprisings of 1808 and even 1826 can indeed be seen as aftershocks
of 1807, rooted in the challenge to the interests of the janissaries by the
establishment of alternative armies by grand vizier Alemdar Mustafa
Pasha (the Sekban-ı Cedid) and later by Mahmud II (r. 1808 – 39) (the
Asakir-i Mansure-i Muhammediye), and the concomitant challenges to
the interests of rival groups.
The May 1807 Uprising as an Extended Form of Negotiation
Griesse remarks that revolts or uprisings can be seen as “moments of
intensified propaganda and ‘dialogue’ between subjects and the
authorities”;11 as Eunjeong Yi notes, their violence notwithstanding,
rebellions can be seen as “an extended form of negotiation”.12 Rebellions
or mutinies, unlike revolutions, are universally designed to force an
REBELLIOUS ROUTINES
21
authority to satisfy certain claims or eliminate certain sources of
discontent. For instance, in the mutiny of the Spanish army of Flanders in
the late sixteenth century, the mutineers entered into negotiations with
the government following the establishment of a political organization
among themselves.13 The May uprising was not an exception to this rule.
The negotiation process greatly determined the policies of the
political establishment towards the rebels, as well as the responses of
the rebellious crowd. While the revolutionary cadres or ringleaders
were emerging, especially during the first few days after the initial
outburst, the rebels would enter a process of negotiation either directly
or via their representatives. Far from being detached or isolated from
the Porte, they would be in constant communication with the
authorities they were challenging. These early stages, therefore, never
led to a denial of the power of the centre or an outright attack on the
palace, although in some cases the palace did come under siege (as in
the Alemdar Incident of November 1808) by the rebellious crowd.
The connection with the palace was never interrupted by any of the
officials (ulema, high-ranking military officers or other administrators)
who were acting as intermediaries, and the scale of the violence usually
depended on the reciprocal attitudes between the representatives of the
centre and the ringleaders. In this respect, there is a similarity
between the traditional uprisings and the acts of rebellious pashas,
where the negotiation process was also crucial. On a more general
level, this fits into the logic of the Ottoman Empire’s “rule by
negotiation”, as described by Karen Barkey in her influential An Empire
of Difference.14
The May Uprising: Outburst Phase (Monday, 25 May 1807)
On Monday, 25 May 1807, the authorities received alarming news from
Hüseyin Agha, the dizdar (commander) of the Yuşa Tabya (or Macar
Tabya) battalion of the Bosporus.15 According to his report, on Sunday
night (24 May), the yamaks (auxiliaries) of the Irva (Revancık), Anadolu
Feneri and Garipc e fortresses had visited their comrades in Anadolu
Kavak and Yuşa Tabya. In their meetings, they had asked whether their
comrades in the battalion had heard that new uniforms had been
dispatched and were being stored at the residence of the commander
(Kavak Agha). According to Hüseyin Agha, there was no consensus
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among the yamaks about how to respond to this, and they gave
contradictory and equivocal answers. It seems that the intention of the
yamaks who visited the other fortresses was to warn their comrades rather
than simply to make inquiries, since if their comrades yielded, the report
suggested, they themselves would also be forced to wear the new Frenchinspired uniforms. Indeed, according to the same document, that night
ended with the yamaks deciding to meet at Hünkar İskelesi (in Beykoz,
Istanbul) the next morning, in order to discuss the matter among
themselves and to expel the Nizam-ı Cedid soldiers present around the
fortresses.
The next morning, the yamaks met at Umur Yeri by Hünkar İskelesi.
After a while, Halil Agha, commander of Macar Tabya, and Hüseyin
Agha, the author of the report, visited the meeting place. Upon their
commanders questioning them about their intentions, the yamaks
declared that they were not willing to wear the new uniforms. In reply,
Halil Agha denied that the palace had any intention to force the yamaks
into wearing them, but he was unable to convince them, and they replied
that if the sultan indeed did not intend to impose new uniforms upon
them, then the Nizam-ı Cedid soldiers would not be stationed at the
Bosporus forts. The yamaks also announced that they would meet again
and would subsequently inform their commanders of their final decision
on the issue. According to the same report, Halil Agha continued to try
to persuade the yamaks, but was shot and killed. Hüseyin Agha was
saved by the yamaks of his own battalion; escaping in a rowboat, he
managed to send the above-mentioned report to the Porte.
In retrospect, the initial outbursts seem rather simple and naive.
Indeed, it is hard to believe that rumours of an attempt by the sultan to
impose new uniforms on the yamaks of the Bosporus could by themselves
have caused a full-fledged uprising in the capital. Yet, these rumours do
seem to have been potent causes of discontent. Indeed, on the margins
of the same report, Selim III notes angrily, “Who fabricates such
unthinkable hearsay? You must for certain ensure that such fabricators
be uncovered and affairs be set in order.” In a previous note, some time
before the uprising, the sultan had accused Russian spies of deceiving the
soldiers and creating disorder among them, implying that he had no
intention of imposing new uniforms.16 If there was no decision by the
sultan, and there was no official edict, what was the real source of this
alarming gossip? It seems likely that it was the initiative of a statesman,
REBELLIOUS ROUTINES
23
Elhac Mehmed Ragıb Pasha (d. 1828), who probably wanted to increase
his favour in the eyes of Selim III.17 In an imperial edict written in the
first days of the rebellion, the sultan rebukes Ragıb Pasha, accusing him
of causing a “revolution” (ihtilal) in the forts of the Black Sea and
holding him responsible for several unacceptable acts. The pasha had
formed a small military unit under his command, but some of these new
recruits were either janissaries or yamaks of the Black Sea fortresses, and
had objected to his statement that “I will make you into common
drilled soldiers [muallem asker] and give you Nizam-ı Cedid uniforms.”
Consequently, the edict declares, more than twenty yamaks of this small
unit had deserted and spread the word among the soldiers of the
fortresses, resulting in the murder of Halil Haseki/Agha. Moreover, it
continues, Mehmed Ragıb Pasha had announced the presence of Nizam-ı
Cedid soldiers among the Ottoman volunteer commando (serdengecti)
recruits from Karaman for the Russo-Ottoman campaign, and had
expressed his determination to distinguish them from the rest by
imposing the new uniforms. After pointing out the danger in such acts,
which could serve as a pretext for disorder and revolt, the sultan rebuked
Mehmed Ragıb Pasha for his “seditious actions and statements”.
It appears that Selim III was taking the utmost precautions to ensure
that his functionaries avoided any actions that would create tension in
his domain. While he states that measures were being taken to calm the
rebellion around the fortresses, he orders Mehmed Ragıb to move
immediately to Karaman.18 Thus, from the documentary evidence it
does seem that there was no official attempt on the part of the sultan to
force the yamaks of the Bosporus to wear the Nizam-ı Cedid uniforms; it
is more likely that the rumours of such a government policy reached
them through Mehmed Ragıb Pasha’s attempt to impose new dress on
his own soldiers.
The power of rumours should not be disregarded, especially in premodern societies where there were limited channels for the
dissemination of accurate information. Rumours and misinformation
played a crucial role in the instigation of many rebellious movements,
and in this respect there are striking similarities between the 1622 and
1807 uprisings. In the case of 1622, there was no proven attempt to
establish a new alternative army to the established corps, yet still
rumours circulated to the effect that the aim of Osman II (r. 1618–22)
was to establish a new army formed of soldiers recruited from Anatolia.
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In the words of Baki Tezcan, “[a]lthough there is a lack of conclusive
evidence, this rumour seems to be true. Moreover, even if it was false,
since the ‘rebels’ deposed Osman II by this rumour [. . .] it is necessary to
understand what it meant to recruit a new army in the context of the
early 17th century.”19
As may be inferred from some of the propaganda texts written before
the 1807 uprising, it seems that the uniforms and musical instruments
of the new army had already become targets for objections on the
grounds that they were counter to Islamic custom. In one of these
imaginary dialogues, the janissaries state that:
For as much as they imitate the dressing of the sinner heathen,
play side drums and continually occupy themselves with the acts
of those wicked [men], there remained no sign of Islam on their
faces and no light of it in their hearts anymore, and they all became
virtually like the Franks of bad character.20
Thus, it is clear that the author wanted to give the message that dressing
in a Frankish manner was symbolically reducing the barriers between the
Muslim and the Christian world. This conceptualization of different
civilizational zones through costumes was not peculiar to the early
nineteenth century but as old as the history of the world. It was an
important component of self-identification through time, and violation
of it would always create dissatisfaction or reaction. As far as the
Ottoman world is concerned, their co-existence and constant contact
with the non-Muslim European countries had contributed to their selfidentification through clothing and appearance. Jackets, headgears
(turban or hat), facial colours and pantaloons had very deep symbolic
meanings signifying self-identity.
In the sixteenth century, the Europeans were defined by the Ottomans
as the people who wore pantaloons and hats.21 The Nizam-ı Cedid
uniforms resembled those of the French, with blue berets, red breeches
and jackets in the Levent Chiftlik regiment, and light blue jackets and
breeches for the Üsküdar regiments. Therefore, changes in the military
uniforms, which represented standardization and centrally imposed
discipline, were considered by the yamaks and the janissaries to be a
challenge to their identity, and it seems that the resemblance to Western
uniforms increased their resistance. Across Europe, the standardization
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of military costumes took place during the nineteenth century and to a
limited extent in the eighteenth, and the Porte was not the first Muslim
government to experiment with military modernization. In the
eighteenth century, Şahin Giray, the Crimean khan, and Hyder Ali
and his son Tipu Sultan of the kingdom of Mysore, had tried to establish
Western-model armies, albeit with little success. It is known that Şahin
Giray imposed Western-inspired uniforms on his new soldiers and it
seems that this, as well as his employment of Russian instructors and
commanders, was one of the causes of his downfall.22 Inspired by the
Selimian military reform, Kavalalı Mehmed Ali Pasha, the governor of
Egypt, had also tried to establish a modernized army in Egypt. Yet, his
Albanian soldiers were not pleased with the drills and the “tight and
disfiguring uniforms”.23 Much later, the attempt by the Ottoman
government to impose new uniforms as part of military reform in
Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1864–5 also met with resistance: the Bosnians
refused to wear the new trousers and hats, and insisted on their
traditional costume.24
The rumours, which on the face of it revolved around uniforms or
disciplinization, point to the changing military substructures in the
capital, notably the assignment of the Nizam-ı Cedid soldiers to the
Bosporus fortresses. According to contemporary writer Ebubekir Efendi,
the real cause of the May uprising was precisely the stationing of the
Nizam-ı Cedid soldiers.25 There were some detachments of the Nizam-ı
Cedid army around the Bosporus at the time of the rebellion,26 and in
accordance with the systematic attempt to station disciplined armies
at the fortresses, at least 600 Nizam-ı Cedid soldiers were moved there a
few months before the rebellion, probably with the intention of
improving the defences of the city against Russian aggression. The
British Naval Incident of 1807 (see pp. 112–21) had also proven how
vulnerable the capital was to foreign attack, and the Porte was
determined to avoid another such embarrassing event. To this end,
Mahmud Raif Efendi was appointed superintendent of the Bosporus
to oversee the fortifications,27 and for the same reason, better-trained
soldiers must have been chosen for the defence of the entrance to
the capital. Anticipating a possible reaction, it seems that the Four
Fortresses assigned to the Bostancı (imperial gardeners) corps were chosen
for this attempt at using new soldiers. Neither the Bostancı corps nor the
yamaks, however, were pleased with the policy of gradually introducing
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Nizam-ı Cedid soldiers: they considered themselves part of the
janissary army, and this heightened the tensions between the old- and
new-style troops.28
The systematic stationing of new soldiers was clearly making the
yamaks suspicious that the sultan was attempting to replace them with
the new model army. This also explains why the rebellion began among
this military group rather than the janissaries, and why 17 years had
passed relatively peacefully in the capital after the initial establishment
of the Nizam-ı Cedid army. The yamaks were the first military group to
face the real and immediate threat of replacement by or conversion to the
new military system by the centre, and this was a direct challenge to
their survival, prestige and identity.
Returning to the sequence of events, the death of Halil Haseki/Agha
was soon followed by that of superintendent Mahmud Raif Efendi. The
latter had tried to escape in a rowboat after the news of Umur Yeri
reached him, but he was pursued by the yamaks, captured around
Büyükdere and killed together with one of his servants. The death of
Halil Haseki/Agha had been a spontaneous violent reaction by the
yamaks during the dispute between them; Raif’s murder was not
accidental, but more deliberate. It changed the tenor of the events. With
his death, the initial threshold of the rebellion was crossed.
Diffusion Phase: Increase in the Number of Participants
(Tuesday –Wednesday, 26– 27 May)
In terms of the success of a collective movement, the diffusion phase is of
crucial importance. No matter the justice of the triggering event, any
collective movement is doomed to failure if it lacks support from
different segments of society, and if it is unable to attract an increasing
numbers of participants. During the first night of the uproar of 1730, for
instance, the ringleaders (around 25 people) were unable to recruit
sufficient supporters, and only the initial cadre remained at the Meat
Square during the night. Even the core cadres wanted to flee, fearing
punishment and losing faith in the success of the rebellion. We should
not forget that whether soldier or civilian, each individual caught up in a
movement of incipient dissent must make rational calculations of the
pros and cons of the various lines of action open to them. In this case, the
rebels remained at the Square only thanks to the exhortations of Patrona
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Halil, the famous chief of the 1730 uprising. We have no idea how he
persuaded his comrades, but it seems that he was convinced of the justice
of their cause. With the increase in their numbers on the following day,
the rebels were successful. By contrast, only a little later in the same year
(6– 9 June 1730), amid a gathering of no more than 17 or 18 people,
someone pulled a green flag from his bosom, fixed it to a staff, and began
to cry out in the marketplace, ordering the people to close their shops.
The janissary agha immediately came to the spot and killed the flagbearer. The rest were either killed or arrested, and general persecution in
the city followed.29 In this case, immediate action by the Porte was
decisive in putting down the rebellion but in 1730 the ministers were
able to achieve this.
The diffusion phase of the May uprising corresponds to the second
day of the rebellion, Tuesday, which was more tranquil in comparison to
Monday: there were no murders and no visible clashes. During that day
the rebels organized themselves and chose their leader at the Büyükdere
Çayırı, near the forts. Up to that point, the events had taken place among
a limited number of yamaks around the Bosporus, but now their
numbers were increasing, making them a power to be negotiated with.
It is difficult to understand why the yamaks gathered at Büyükdere
Çayırı for the whole of Tuesday. It is probable that they were awaiting
delegates from the court with whom to negotiate, but lacking more
evidence this remains speculation. Yet, the crystallization of leadership
among the groups and their increasing numbers proves that they were
determined not to give up until their aims were realized.
There are differences in the contemporary sources as regards the
identity of the other chiefs who now joined the rebels, but there is a
consensus on the rise of Kabakc ı Mustafa as their leader – although the
details of how he was selected are not known.30 Indeed, the aims of the
rebels are never specified unequivocally. A contemporary source claims
that they had promised not to give up their cause until the Nizam-ı
Cedid was abolished.31 According to Oğulukyan, the rebels had decided
to march towards the Meat Square and to solve their problems in
accordance with the sharia.32 Some accounts claim that the crowds at
Büyükdere took certain vows regarding moral conduct, such as not to
damage possessions and not to hurt anyone’s pride, to perform the daily
prayers and to abstain from alcohol. The rebels, it is claimed, observed a
strict code of behaviour and thus maintained discipline throughout the
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rebellion, and after these promises were made, they performed rituals of
kissing the Qur’an and jumping over a sword.33 Such acts were required
for the rebels’ self-legitimation; they were expressions of their own
conviction that their cause was righteous, while also making claims for
legitimacy directed towards the onlookers.
Protests by small numbers of people have limited prospects of success
in the case of rebellions. It is only with the participation of civilian and
military groups that the movement can be transformed into a fullfledged rebellion. Thus, on Wednesday (27 May), the rebellious yamaks
from the fortresses invited the commoners and military groups to join
them in their march from Büyükdere to the city. The first to be invited
were the civilians they encountered en route. The main body of the
rebellious crowd followed the sea route to Ortaköy and then to Beşiktaş;
sources give figures ranging from 300 to 1,500 people.34 Carrying their
flags, the rebels also called out to the criers in the towns through which
they passed, and immediately upon reaching the inner city they invited
the Muslims to join them – the common pattern in early modern
Ottoman uprisings. While the participation of civilians was crucial to
the legitimacy of the rebels’ cause, the backing of military groups was
critical in terms of increasing their power and prestige. The yamaks were
not part of any established military corps in the strict sense, but served as
auxiliary units to the main corps, although they often pretended to be
janissaries. Their units were not greatly prestigious, and they would be
in a weak position in negotiations with the centre, as well as in the eyes
of civilians, if they were unable to extend their basis of support. Aware of
this, they systematically invited other corps to join them. Before
reaching the Meat Square, for instance, they sent delegates to invite the
artillery corps, who joined them due to their own frustrations and sent
their cauldrons to the Square. In convincing one of the most loyal of the
sultan’s troops to join them, the rebels sealed their success. After
meeting with the janissaries, invitations were sent to the armourers,
who also sent their cauldrons to the square, in a sign of joining the
rebellious cause.35
The enlistment of the populace via early modern communication
systems took some time, and the dispatch of criers was essential. The
invitation to commoners and military groups thus continued, as the
rebels moved towards the inner city. On Thursday morning, the rebels
passed through Galata and reached Kalafat Yeri (the Careening Ground).
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Joined by newcomers, they passed on to Unkapanı. Meanwhile, a group
of them went to Uzunc arşı and entered the bazaar, while another group
entered Silah Pazarı to purchase weapons – since the janissaries were
usually disarmed during peacetime – and then passed on to Divanyolu.
It seems that on witnessing their arrival, the shopkeepers closed their
shops in great panic, while others tried to escape. The rebels ordered the
non-Muslims to keep their shops open, while inviting the Muslims to
close their shops and join them – suggesting that they intended the
non-Muslim artisans to maintain the daily routine of the city.
The fear of plunder was the most important factor in preventing
commoners from sympathizing with the rebels. Seemingly aware of this,
the rebels apparently took the utmost care to avoid acts of injustice or
illegal transactions on their part: to be successful, they had to win the
confidence of the Istanbulites. It seems that the rebels were able to pass
this critical test: almost all sources provide examples of punishment
meted out by the rebels to those among them who abused the common
people. It is said that a rebel who tried to take a simit without paying for
it was killed by his companions, while a janissary who stole a basket and
another who illegally took a pair of shoes without payment were put to
death on the spot.36 Kethüda Said and, later, Asım’s descriptions single
out the May uprising as a success in terms of having ended without great
disturbance or bloodshed, except as regards those on the execution list.
It was thus hailed as a “miraculous event” and a “rare incident” in world
history. Although at first they were feared to be bullies (zorba), their
disciplined behaviour, the limited disturbance and the lack of plunder
made the commoners think that “they were not human beings but a
sacred group of angels sent by God to renew the religion.”37 Even the
sources that are unsympathetic to the rebellion mention the smooth
passage of events and underline the lack of plunder, which suggests that
the rebels had indeed passed that test, and so gained the confidence of
the Istanbulites.38
Bargaining Phase: Initial Contacts
(Tuesday –Wednesday, 26– 27 May)
The conceptualization of Ottoman rebellions as an extended form of
negotiation may afford better comprehension of the relations between
the sultan and the rebels during the May uprising. Though it is
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generally attributed to his passive or merciful nature, the reluctance of
Sultan Selim III to employ the Nizam-ı Cedid army to suppress the
disorder at the very outset was apparently due more to his desire to find
out what the demands of the rebels actually were. The sultan and his
ministers adopted a wait-and-see policy, sending delegates to listen to
the demands of the insurgents. Some accounts adopt an apologist’s
approach as regards the sultan’s lack of action, dwelling primarily on
alleged conspiracies by certain corrupt dignitaries: due to their intrigues,
it is said, the sultan was deceived, having been told that the disorder at
the fortresses had subsided, and only becoming aware of the severity of
the situation when it was already too late.39
The archival materials, however, contradict the claim that the sultan
was not informed about the disorder from the very beginning. Indeed, it
is clear that the Porte, Musa Pasha, the kaimmakam, and Selim III were
informed about the disorder in the fortresses very quickly, thanks to the
reports of Hüseyin Agha (the commander of the Yuşa Tabya), a servant of
Mahmud Raif Efendi and then a captain of Halil Agha.40 The first officer
dispatched to the rebels was Bostancıbaşı (Chief Gardener), Şakir Bey
(d. 1807), but it seems that he did not dare to make contact with the
rebels, and turned back either at Bebek or Büyükdere.41 Musa Pasha also
called the ministers of the Porte to an immediate meeting, held at
Çardak Kolluk, an outpost under the control of the 56th Janissary
regiment.42 During the meeting, Musa Pasha questioned Sekbanbaşı
Arif Agha about the disorder. In reply, the Agha remarked that he did
not know the details of the events but was ready to disperse it.
Apparently, they did not consider it a serious event, and believed that it
could be easily resolved with a few subsequent punishments and
concessions. Indeed, during the same meeting, Ibrahim Nesim Efendi,
the former sadaret kethüda, opposed any suppressive measures, arguing
that the rebels were a “crowd of ruffians” (karga derneği) and that the
disorder was not a matter that should bother them: it could easily be
dealt with, he said, and even if it could not, it would yield to more
serious measures.43 Inertia, or the wait-and-see policy of Ibrahim Nesim
Efendi, seems to have been the preference of some of the other ministers
in another meeting, where the main issue was whether to send the
Nizam-ı Cedid soldiers or not. No major decision, however, was taken.44
The Ottoman ministers made a second attempt at communication
with the rebellious crowds at Büyükdere after the unsuccessful
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performance of the Bostancıbaşı. It seems that around 30 to 40 leading
figures of the janissary corps were sent to the rebels with the intention of
convincing them to drop their resistance. The narrative, which mentions
this, claims that the delegates from the janissary army were insincere,
and that although they pretended to be advising the rebels, they secretly
encouraged them not to give up their cause.45 Whatever the main
reason, the first attempts by the centre to disperse the rebels by peaceful
means and negotiation ended in clear failure.
Legitimation Phase: The Rebels’ Invitation to the
Ulema (Thursday, 28 May)
The fourth day of the uprising (Thursday) was the most decisive, with
the crucial meeting taking place at the Meat Square. This was the final
destination of the march of the yamaks: it was the place where the
execution list was announced to the rulers, the point where decisions
were taken among the ringleaders, and where negotiations continued
with the centre. It also witnessed the murders of several statesmen.
On that day, the main body of the crowd unfurled their flags and
assembled at the aforementioned square. The cauldrons were carried
from the barracks to the square, following the established custom in
military protests. The rebels were received by the janissaries at the
square and they took an oath at Tekke Meydanı.
It is quite normal in Ottoman uprisings for the rebels to issue an
invitation to the ulema to support them – just as they solicited the
support of the soldiers and commoners. It was by means of such
invitations that the rebels attempted to legitimize their acts, and it was
the ulema who acted as a channel of communication between them and
the Porte. In the present case, however, the invitation to the ulema
(or their participation) should be treated separately from the invitation
extended to other groups. This is due to the confusion over the nature of
their involvement, especially in the case of the May uprising.
The presence of the ulema at the square or in any phase of the uprising
does not automatically imply their support, whether active or passive.
Rather, it is related to the general pattern of the rebel tradition in
Istanbul. Within the mainstream historiographical tradition, the
presence of a leading ulema within these uprisings often leads students of
Ottoman history to theorize an ulema– janissary coalition. In the cases of
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1622, 1703 and 1807, the nature of their involvement or collaboration is
controversial among both contemporary and modern historians. As the
ulema’s presence served to legitimize the movement in the eyes of the
public, one of the immediate acts of the rebels was to “invite” the ulema
to their congregation place – soliciting their participation either
voluntarily or involuntarily.46 Yi, too, argues that the conscious use of
religious rhetoric and “Islamic human elements” (i.e. the ulema), as well
as the first use of the sacred banner by the rebels in 1651, were intended
to increase the significance of their cause and to address a wider public.47
Since the grievances were framed within religio-legal vocabulary, the
rebels needed the ulema to sanction their cause and, if necessary, to issue a
fatwa mandating the death of certain culprits or the removal of the
sultan. It is evident that the Ottoman rebels knew the rules of the game
well: under pressure, very few of the ulema dared to decline the
invitation, a point which says more about the dedication of the rebels
than about the support they received from the ulema.
As far as the May uprising is concerned, there are conflicting versions
in the contemporary sources regarding the presence of the ulema at the
square on Thursday. Some lay emphasis on the delegation of the ulema
sent by the sultan to convince the rebels to end the disturbances; others,
claim that they were invited by the rebels, while a final group simply
notes the ulema’s presence among the rebels, but is silent on why they
were there.48 The truth seems to have been a combination of the first two
arguments. The ruling elite, including shaikh al-Islam Ataullah Efendi,
the Anadolu and Rumeli kazaskers, the chief judge of Istanbul, and the
fetva emini, were invited to a meeting at the Porte early on Thursday
morning.49 There, with the other participants, they discussed the
measures to be adopted against the uprising. No decision was taken and
the quarrel between Ibrahim Nesim Efendi and Ahmed Şemseddin
Efendi nominally ended the meeting.50 It seems that, following the
meeting, the ulema wished to go to the Palace, and it is very likely that
the sultan refused to receive them, ordering them instead to await his
orders at the Porte. Consequently, the ulema were still at the Porte when
the rebels entered the square.51 In the meantime, some of the janissary
commanders who were at the courtyard of the Süleymaniye Mosque
decided to issue an invitation to the ulema, and upon this invitation the
ulema came either to the Ağa Kapısı (the bureau of the janissary agha) or
the Meat Square.52 Despite conflicting details regarding the arrival
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of the ulema at the square, the crucial point to be underlined here is the
fact that the ulema did not spontaneously rush there, and also that
their presence there does not automatically indicate their approval of
the rebels.
Negotiation Phase: Demands that the Centre Abrogate
Controversial Policies or Punish Culprits (Thursday, 28 May)
It was the participation of the artillerymen in the rebellion that caused
particular anxiety among the ruling elite and the sultan. On
Wednesday, around midnight, Selim III sent orders to the kaimmakam
Musa Pasha to summon several janissary officers to his presence the
next morning. Why did he call the janissaries rather than the rebels
themselves? It is interesting to note here that at the time when the
sultan summoned the janissaries, that unit had not yet joined the
rebels. In all likelihood, he did not want to have direct contact with
the people of “inferior status” who were challenging his power, but it is
plausible that he was aware of the prestige of the janissaries among the
military corps and the rest of society, and that this was a strategy on
his part to pre-empt the rebels’ invitation to them. Of course, he had
first to resolve the problem of discontent, namely the rival Nizam-ı
Cedid army, which the janissary corps considered to be a mortal threat
to their livelihood. In the mind of the sultan, he could both secure the
support of the janissaries and stop the uprising by eliminating this
basic source of discontent.
Plausibly, that is the ultimate reason why the sultan opened the
negotiation phase on his own initiative and why he declared his decision
to abolish the Nizam-ı Cedid army, without any apparent demand to that
effect on the part of the rebels or the janissary elders. After receiving
them, the sultan asked the representatives of the janissary army whether
the real cause of the rebellion was the Nizam-ı Cedid army. We do not
know their reply; probably it was affirmative, since the sultan then
assured them that he would abolish it and that he had already ordered
Sekbanbaşı Arif Ağa to close their barracks.53 This also indicates how
the sultan perceived the rebellion. For him, the dissent was directly and
solely related to the discontent with his new model army but, as we shall
see in what follows, starting the negotiations by declaring the abolition
of the new army was a miscalculation, since he was unaware of the other
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sources of discontent and the other causes of the uprising. Historians
who lay emphasis on the importance of the discontent with the
modernization paradigm have difficulty accommodating this fact
because, in their view, there would have been no reason to continue the
rebellion once the sultan had abolished the basic component of his
reform package.
Like other sultans challenged by rebels, he acceded to certain
conditions; he first abolished the Nizam-ı Cedid army and then agreed
to the execution of the officials as demanded by the rebels at the
square.54 The hidden threat in such negotiations was the possibility of
losing the throne, which obviously put sultans at a disadvantage vis-àvis the rebels. Consequently, they tried to preserve their throne at the
expense of making concessions. To my knowledge, only three sultans
ever resisted the demands of rebels: one losing his life as a consequence,
and the others successfully suppressing the revolt. Osman II,
reminding one of Selim’s abolition of the new army, declared that he
would give up his intention to make pilgrimage as demanded, but
refused to agree to the execution of Süleyman Agha, the chief black
eunuch, and one of the statesmen on the execution list. Consequently,
the negotiation process broke down and the rebels began to cry in
favour of Prince Mustafa.55 The rebellion ended with Mustafa I (r.
1622 – 3) ascending the throne, and Osman losing both his throne and
his life. Murad IV (r. 1623 – 40) was more successful, since he followed
a clever policy of creating problems among the rebels by playing them
off one another, notably the cavalry corps against the janissaries.56
Centuries later, Mahmud II benefited from popular discontent against
the janissaries and abolished the entire corps in 1826. In the case of
Selim III, following the execution of the five officials on Thursday,
criers were sent to every corner of the city to announce the abolition of
the Nizam-ı Cedid army, and later imperial decrees confirming this
were sent to Rumelia and Anatolia.57
The news of the abolition of the new model army was not warmly
received by the rebellious crowds waiting at Ağa Kapısı. They claimed
that they could not trust these words, maintaining that the sultan
would never really abolish the Nizam-ı Cedid – Selim had resisted the
abolition of the army despite the death and devastation of the Edirne
Incident (pp. 86 – 91) – why then would he accede to this demand now?
Note that, in referring to the alleged disloyalty of the sultan as regards a
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former promise, the crowds made it clear that they had lost their faith in
his legitimacy, and the negotiations came to a halt when they declared
their unwillingness to end the rebellion. This phase of negotiation,
therefore, ended without success on the part of the sultan. He had acted
in accordance with the established patterns, but the initial attempt was
unsuccessful.
Revenge Phase: Execution of the Functionaries Held
Responsible (Thursday –Friday, 28 –29 May)
Another round of negotiation, this time on the initiative of the rebels,
began with their request for the execution of certain statesmen. Some
time after the arrival of the leading ulema at the square, the rebels had
given them a list of persons to be delivered to the rebels. There is no
agreement in the contemporary narratives regarding the number of the
statesmen included on the list.58 Oğulukyan provides the highest
number, arguing that these were 19.59 Fortunately, however, we have the
original copy of the list sent to the sultan. On the upper margin of the
document, the names of 11 functionaries are given:
Bostancıbaşı [Hasan Şakir Bey], Sırkatibi [Ahmed Efendi],
İbrahim Kethüda [İbrahim Nesim Efendi], Mabeynci Ahmed Bey,
Tersane Emini Elhac Hacı İbrahim Efendi, Rikab Kethüdası
Memiş Efendi, Rikab Reisi [Safi Efendi], İrad-ı Cedid defterdarı
Ahmed Bey, Kapan Naibi [Abdüllatif Efendi], Darbhane Emini
Bekir Bey, Valide Kethüdası [Yusuf Agha].60
The rebels demanded that the functionaries on the list be delivered
immediately. On the lower part of the document there is a short note,
which provides information on the demands of the rebels. The note
starts by saying that the “janissaries” at the square were pleased with
the sultan’s abolition of the Nizam-ı Cedid army (asakir-i cedid). This
detail confirms that the new model army was abolished prior to the
submission of the execution list. It reads, however, that this was not
enough to persuade the rebels to end the rebellion. Therefore, the
writer of the note states that unless the figures in the list were executed,
the “janissaries” would not disperse. There is no way to identify the
writer of the document, who copied the list of names to be executed
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and informed the sultan of the rebels’ demands. The expression taraf-ı
dâı̂yânemize, however, strongly suggests that it was the shaikh alIslam.61 Though written in a very courteous manner, and not referring
verbatim to a rebellion, it clearly specifies the execution of the
statesmen as a crucial precondition for ending the rebellion. It further
specified that these statesmen had to be executed within two hours.
Like most of the previous sultans whose thrones were challenged, Selim
III yielded to the pressure from the rebels and accepted their
conditions. In a letter to the kaimmakam Musa Pasha he orders the
execution of all the figures on the list, and requests that their severed
heads be dispatched to the eşkiya (rebels). A foreign source comments
that Selim III anticipated that the rebels would calm down once
these officials were dead.62 In great panic, and eager to save his throne,
Selim III wrote to Musa Pasha, “Kaimmakam Pasha, execute them
immediately and send their heads to the rebels, now!”63 This order
initiated the process of capturing and killing the functionaries on
the execution list.64 The purge continued even after the end of the
rebellion and during the reign of Mustafa IV, with the new sultan
pursuing those on the list who remained alive, the only difference
being that the decapitated heads were now sent not to the square but
to the Porte.
One of the basic components of the notion of justice is the natural
desire to punish and avenge wrongdoings.65 In her dissertation Justice
and Revenge in the Ottoman Rebellion of 1703, Annemarike Stremmelaar
dwells on the idea of revenge, using it as a framework to explain the
bloodshed in the rebellion, and basing her arguments on Thompson’s
idea of the moral economy.66 Beik, on the other hand, defines a “culture
of retribution” as one which seeks a “deserved punishment for evil done”,
this being rather different from Thompson’s idea of the moral economy
which aims to restore a violated norm.67 Evidently determined to inflict
exemplary punishment, the 1807 insurgents, too, attached the utmost
importance to punishing the dignitaries on their execution list (for
Ibrahim Nesim murder see pp. 183–6). They demanded that the
functionaries be delivered alive: they were then searched carefully and
dragged to the Meat Square. It is true that we can explain the brutal
murders of the members of the ruling elite within the framework of
“revenge”; but this does not fully explain the next step, namely the
removal of the sultan himself.
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37
Deposition Phase: Claiming the Throne of a
Sultan, 29 May 1807
There are, of course, many different versions and conflicting details
about the historical and chronological steps leading to the deposition of
Selim III. A short note from the Shaikh al-Islam to the sultan, however,
suggests that there was already some talk about the installation of Prince
Mustafa on the throne:
His imperial highness, our munificent prosperous sultan. They
still demand the rest of those wanted and insist on receiving them,
alive and promptly. What is more, they are uttering intimidating
words. I beg you to be so kind as to exert your majestic efforts in
order to find a solution.68
The “intimidating words” most probably referred to the dethronement
of Selim III. Indeed, the final issue to be addressed on Thursday, the
fourth day of the rebellion, concerned the rebels’ insistence on ensuring
the security of the princes at Topkapı. On Thursday, mid-afternoon, the
rebels seem to have begun to worry about the safety of princes Mustafa
(IV) and Mahmud (II), who were being held in custody at the Palace.69
They sent representatives to the Palace to provide for the security of the
princes and to extend protection against possible assassinations on the
part of Selim, who would thereby have become the sole legitimate
claimant to the throne. Note that by this point the negotiations with
Selim III had already ended. The issue of the deposition of Selim III
became the most important event on the following day (Friday).
Two different accounts of the steps leading to the fall of Selim III can
be discerned among the narratives. According to one group of authors,
this had already been decided on Thursday night, and it became evident
during the following day that the opinion at the square was being
manipulated – by the ulema – in favour of the removal of Selim.
Consequently, the Shaikh al-Islam issued the fatwa for the dethronement
of Selim III.70 The second group of narratives, on the other hand,
claims that the deposition of Selim III was not a plot, but rather emerged
spontaneously at the square on Friday. According to this line of
explanation, shaikh al-Islam Ataullah Efendi, Sekbanbaşı Arif Agha,
some senior ulema members and some leading janissaries held a meeting
38
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OTTOMAN EMPIRE
and argued that since there was no further reason to revolt, the rebels
should be dispersed and order re-established. At this point, Ataullah
Efendi seems to have intervened, saying, “Go and ask the chief and gang
leaders whether they have any further wishes, and ascertain whether they
are satisfied.”71 Janissary elders, and then some members of the ulema,
were thus sent to the square for this purpose, and one of the chiefs,
Bayburdı̂ Süleyman, was the first to express the wish for a change on the
throne. Meeting with the support of the rest of the rebel chiefs, the
insistence on the accession of Mustafa became more pronounced.
We cannot be sure what transpired between the representatives sent to
the square and the rebels, but in the end the Shaikh al-Islam sent word to
the Porte. After this, Ataullah Efendi entered the Palace with a certain
number of soldiers, crying: “We do not want the rule of Sultan Selim but
of Sultan Mustafa.”72 Selim III was taken into custody, to be replaced by
his cousin Mustafa, who was brought to the throne. The enthronement
ceremony of Mustafa IV took place on 22 Ra 1222/29 May 1807, and the
official document narrating the details of the ceremony states that Selim
III, under the pressure of the soldiers, abdicated from the throne in
favour of his cousin on his own will.73 The fatwa sanctioning the
deposition of Selim III is not available. Yet, it appears that he had no
option except to abdicate in the face of the consensus (icma) of the Shaikh
al-Islam, three judges and some high-ranking ulema who had decided
against him.74
Obviously something had gone wrong in the negotiations. Like
earlier sultans, Selim III had yielded to pressure from the dissidents; yet,
he was unable to save his throne. It is a central contention of this book
that the removal of Selim III was not simply an extension of the revenge
phase; rather, it was more deeply embedded in socio-political problems,
the alienation of the masses and, finally, the endemic crisis which had
irremediably undermined his legitimacy. This case shall be argued in the
next chapters, especially Chapter Six.
Settlement Phase: The Issuance of the Amnesty
Document (Saturday – Sunday, 30– 31 May 1807)
The final phase of negotiation between the rebels and the new sultan
began after the nominal end of the rebellion, this time over the issuing of
an amnesty from the new sultan. It is symbolized by the promulgation of
REBELLIOUS ROUTINES
39
the document Hüccet-i Şeriyye (the Legal Document), which in essence
was an amnesty issued by the new sultan as a result of negotiation with
the rebels. Signed on 31 May 1807, the document has three parts: the
main body, the signatures of the various officials and the decree of
Mustafa IV annotated at the upper margin of the main text.75 The body
of the text enumerates the causes of the rebellion, the Nizam-ı Cedid
being at the head of the list – thus, it can be read as a general evaluation
of the uprising. The second part of the main body focuses on the reaction
of the janissaries to those problems – mainly their withdrawal of
allegiance to Selim III – and ends with the procedures for the
registration of the document. The signature section consists of the
signatures of 44 of the highest religious and secular authorities,
including the Shaikh al-Islam and the Kaimmakam. Thirty-seven
signatories were members of military groups, the first 30 being leading
janissary officers and the remainder yamaks from the fortresses. The
document ends with the notification that one copy of the document was
to be sent to the janissary army to be kept in their care. Finally, on the
upper margin, Mustafa IV decrees that he has read the text very carefully
and has approved it. The sultan underlines that, from then on, the
“janissaries” should obey the stipulations mentioned in the text and
should abide by their promises: they were not to interfere in any issue,
minor or major, beyond their own responsibilities. In return, the sultan
promises that no one from the ulema, janissaries or the leading elite
would be held responsible for this matter, i.e. the uprising. It seems that
the rebels had taken the initiative to call for a legal and written
guarantee to exempt them from punishment for their involvement in an
uprising. Since the sultan was new to the throne and had not yet
established his power – indeed, he owed his throne precisely to the
rebels – the rebels themselves were the stronger party in the bargaining
process. For his part, Mustafa IV was eager to extract a written promise
from them and restore order.
This fascinating document has been the object of a number of
important modern studies. According to Niyazi Berkes, the Hüccet-i
Şeriyye violated the Ottoman religious and secular laws in the sense that
the law as it stood did not allow for such a pact between the ruler and his
servants – the latter being obliged simply to extend the utmost
obedience to the sovereign. Beydilli, on the other hand, does not
attribute such deep meaning to the Hüccet-i Şeriyye, describing it simply
40
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AND REBELLION IN THE
OTTOMAN EMPIRE
as an amnesty paper exchanged between the concerned parties. Both
authors are right but they emphasize different aspects of the same
document. It was indeed a simple amnesty paper (amanname) in its
essence, but it is not possible to ignore its legal implications as a
pact between the ruler and his servants (kuls). Beydilli goes as far as to
assert that the issuance of an amnesty paper after an uprising was
unprecedented in Ottoman history76 – yet, contrary to what he claims,
this does in fact seem to have been a common practice. Indeed, similar
documents were prepared after the 1632, 1703 and 1730 uprisings. The
historian Abdi confirms that the insurgents of 1730 were able to secure a
legal document (şeri hüccet) on Thursday 12 October 1730, subsequent to
the request of the rebels who feared that they would face punishment at
the hands of Mahmud I. The document was prepared and signed by the
ex-kazaskers and then presented to the sultan. He approved it with the
following words: “Let it be done in accordance with the legal document
delivered to them.” Thereafter, the document was delivered to the rebels,
who promised to capture those who dared to create disorder and deliver
them to their commanders. As in the case of 1807, they also promised
not to interfere in affairs of state.77
The document of 1730 fits better into the category of amanname
(amnesty paper) than does the Hüccet-i Şeriyye of 1807. In the former,
Mahmud I made no direct promises to the rebels: rather, it was the
Shaikh al-Islam and the Chief Judge of Istanbul who promised them
exemption from punishment. Scrutiny of the 1807 document, on the
other hand, reveals that it was more complicated than a simple amnesty
document. First of all, it is an official document that binds the sultan and
his officials, and the rebels with reciprocal promises. The promise was
made by the sultan himself. Thus, the sovereign, who should stand above
any sectional interest, had entered into negotiations and become just
another party in the process that produced the document. This point is
crucial, in the sense that it undermines the legal and executive power of
the centre, especially the monopoly on coercion that was so vital for
political authority.
A later example of a similar document was the Sened-i İttifak (Deed of
Alliance), signed in 1808 during the reign of Mahmud II; a comparison
between the Sened-i İttifak and the Hüccet-i Şeriyye is instructive.78 The
Sened-i İttifak is considered to be the clearest sign of the process of
decentralization in the Ottoman Empire and an attempt by the local
REBELLIOUS ROUTINES
41
magnates to gain the upper hand over the executive powers of the
centre.79 It was concluded between the ayans (local magnates) and grand
vizier Alemdar Mustafa Pasha, the shaikh al-Islam, and some other
leading statesmen and religious elites. The Sened-i İttifak can be seen as
the result of a process of bargaining between the imperial centre and the
local magnates (or between centre and periphery), which recognized
their power and acknowledged them as a group upon whom the future of
the Ottoman dynasty depended.80 The Hüccet-i Şeriyye does not place the
janissary army in such a powerful position, but recognizes it as a pressure
group that had the power to bring down an Ottoman sultan, and thus
tries to curb that power. Another difference lies in the fact that the
Hüccet-i Şeriyye was more short-sighted, since the real motive behind it
was the concerns by the janissaries or rebels to avoid prosecution and the
sultan’s desire to restore order to the Empire as soon as possible.
The Sened-i İttifak, on the other hand, seems to have contained more
detailed and far-sighted stipulations, demanding the participation of the
periphery in issues such as the recruitment of soldiers and taxation,
and placing the sovereign right of the sultan under the protection of
the ayans.
As a final point of comparison, we might draw attention to two
important articles of the Sened-i İttifak. One stipulated that the sultan
and his grand vizier were the ultimate authority in the Empire; the
ayans, therefore, declared that they would oppose anyone or any group
who refused to obey their orders. If the grand vizier became involved in
affairs that were against the law, he too would face the opposition of the
ayans.81 Thus, while in the Hüccet-i Şeriyye it was the ulema that was to
function as a force which could correct abuses and mistakes, in the Senedi İttifak this role seems to have been assumed by the magnates. Even
more interestingly, the Sened-i İttifak places the power of the magnates
above the janissary army, and stipulates that the former is the power
group that would resist the army’s mistakes. Both documents actually
try to put legal limitations to the involvement of military groups in
politics and limit legally their possibility to rebel.
The sixth article of the Sened-i İttifak, meanwhile, seems to have been
inspired by the 1807 uprising. In the case of a janissary revolt in the
capital, it states, the ayans would not only suppress the rebellion but
would also try to abolish the army or regiment that had caused it, and
their revenues (esâme, dirlik) would be taken from them.82 Setting aside
42
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OTTOMAN EMPIRE
the intentions of the ayans to share in the right to exercise coercion, the
document declares its position as regards any possible janissary rebellion
in the future. In that respect, the Hüccet-i Şeriyye was designed to deal
with a past incident, while the Sened-i İttifak was directed against
possible future incidents. The Sened-i İttifak, we may say, signifies the
high point in the imperial decentralization process, while the Hüccet-i
Şeriyye can be seen as a legal document that reveals the weakness of the
central bureaucracy.
Conclusion
Ottoman revolts in general, and the May 1807 rebellion in particular,
can be seen as extended forms of negotiation.83 The process of
negotiation broke off only at the phase of the deposition of the sultan,
which is explicable more by reference to Selim III’s general crisis of
legitimacy than the travails of the Nizam-ı Cedid. In order to secure their
positions within the new regime, the rebels then entered a further phase
of negotiation with the new sultan and achieved the issuing of a
document of amnesty that exempted them from punishment. The
Hüccet-i Şeriyye had also been prepared to prevent any future involvement
of the military classes in the politics of the centre, underlining that the
duty of correcting future mistakes belonged to the religious class.
The subsequent events, the coup d’état by Alemdar Mustafa Pasha84
and the Alemdar Incident,85 do not fit into the above-mentioned pattern
of rebellious routines, and the communicative dynamism within those
events is more limited. Rather than reconcile the expectations of the
protagonists, the purpose here was to reinstate Selim III and eliminate
the rebellious cadres of the May 1807 rebellion, including Mustafa IV
and his ministers. Alemdar Mustafa Pasha partially achieved his goal,
enthroning Mahmud II and having himself appointed as grand vizier.
In the process, he broke Mustafa IV’s promise, punishing Kabakc ı
Mustafa and his comrades. His re-establishment of the Nizam-ı Cedid
army under the title Sekban-ı cedid, and his policies of curbing the
interests of the traditional army, brought him into direct confrontation
with the opposing camps in the capital. In this case, too, the janissaries
were unwilling to negotiate with the Grand Vizier. Motivated by deep
hostility, they sought from the very beginning to eliminate him and his
ministers. After an initial and unsuccessful attempt at assassination, the
REBELLIOUS ROUTINES
43
janissaries stormed the Sublime Porte (Bab-ı Ali, bureau of the
grand viziers) and set fire to it: the elimination of the target, rather than
communication, was the animating motive in both incidents. In the
subsequent civil war, neither the centre nor the opposing group were
open to communication and, as a consequence, death and devastation in
the city was greater than in the May uprising. The communicative and
rather conciliatory attitude of Selim III had been successful in saving the
city from armed clashes between the opponents. It can also be considered
a success in that the turmoil did not spill over into other public places or
districts of the capital. On the contrary, the non-conciliatory policy of
the centre related to the Alemdar Incident caused the clashes to spread to
Üsküdar and Beşiktaş, where the barracks of the Sekban-ı cedid were
sited, and the violence was accompanied by plunder. The uprising, the
coup d’état and the civil war, all within the course of one year, paralyzed
the political apparatus and engendered a breakdown of the state.
CHAPTER 2
THE BREEDING GROUND
[T]he connection of anger with hunger [. . .] made the
[r]evolution possible.1
Introduction
According to the secular cycles model of Turchin and Nefedov, the
period from the 1770s to the 1820s corresponds to the disintegrative
phase, a period of decentralizing tendencies, intra-elite strife, internal
instability and external weakness, decreasing population, and civil war.2
Against a backdrop of popular unrest, a serious economic recession set in
during the 1760s, leading to scarcity, unemployment and a depressed
handicrafts industry. The same period also corresponds to a worldwide
environmental crisis, exemplified in the climate shocks and natural
disasters of the mid-eighteenth century, which triggered bad harvests
and in turn had a role in the decrease in populations – with, of course,
likely further connections to social unrest (it is also instructive to note
that the Age of Revolutions, the 1780s and 1790s, as well as the
revolutions of the 1820s, came after periods of weather conditions,
which saw below-normal temperatures). The result was a serious
financial crisis for the Porte, further aggravated by massive migration
into large cities, which peaked during the rule of Selim III. The mobility
of the populations of the late eighteenth century, both horizontally and
vertically, disrupted the existing social structures, especially in the
centre, creating a large group of urban poor. Significantly, these
conditions also increased the number of social groups – among the
military, bureaucracy and religious classes – who were vulnerable to
THE BREEDING GROUND
45
state policies directed at recovery from the crisis by currency
devaluation, centralization of the provisioning system and efforts to
increase the cash resources of the “underfinanced” empire.
This chapter sets out the socio-economic background to the 1807
uprising and places it within the global context. The first section aims
to explain the causes of the global crisis, and then moves on to
understand its social effects (immigration, banditry, increased social
mobility, rise in the numbers of the urban poor) and economic effects
(poor provisioning of cities, soaring prices, increased discontent, food
riots). The section that follows focuses on the effects of the crisis on the
Ottoman finances (increase in budget deficit) and the governmental
measures designed to mitigate them (devaluation, internal borrowing,
change in the land-tenure system), which were mostly ineffective.
Financial crises, mostly precipitated by agricultural crises, and the
inability of governments to overcome them in a period of warfare,
combined to undermine the legitimacy of the old regimes.3 Indeed, the
French absolutist monarchy faced a similar financial crisis, something
which is usually designated as the immediate cause of the French
Revolution.4 It was hunger, and anger, which prepared the ground for
the uprisings.
The Late Eighteenth-Century Crisis and the
Ottoman Empire
As we have noted, the Age of Revolutions was preceded by extreme
weather events. The year 1791 is known to have been a very strong El
Niño year,5 whereby the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO)
phenomenon created climate anomalies and concomitant health problems
in various parts of the world. This impacted Europe on a number of
occasions, including 1658–88, 1789–93 and 1876–7. Indeed, the
ENSO of 1788–93 had a global impact, causing droughts and producing
famines in Australia, southern Africa, South Asia, China, the Atlantic, the
Caribbean and Mexico.6 The Mediterranean region saw dry winters,
especially between 1780 and 1793. To this, we must add the eruption of
the Icelandic volcano Laki in 1783–4, which killed thousands of people in
the western part of Europe owing to high amounts of sulphur dioxide
released into the atmosphere. Thick clouds of dust affected the climate
both in Europe and Asia, causing exceptionally cold winters in Europe and
46
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OTTOMAN EMPIRE
weakening the monsoon flow in Asia; the dust also caused severe drought
in northern Africa. Further still, the period between 1790 and the 1830s
corresponds to the last phase of the Little Ice Age: reduced sun spot
activity caused harsh winters in various regions, accompanied by greater
inter-annual climatic variability.7 These climate anomalies reduced
standards of living across the globe, radically affecting agricultural
production, causing malnutrition and leaving people more vulnerable to
disease and epidemics. Finally, the population expansion of earlier
centuries had caused deforestation and soil erosion in northern China and
Europe (France and Germany), and had created the European
monsoon (brief periods of violent precipitation followed by long seasons
of drought).8
Few regions were immune to the combination of ecological instability
and the secular cycles. In the Far East, Japan (1780s) and China (1790s)
faced overcrowding, natural disasters, regional famines, disease,
population unrest and revolts.9 Zhili, in northern China, faced a shocking
agricultural crisis: the harvest of 1801 was only 25 per cent of a normal
year’s harvest (the lowest in the past 300 years), a depletion which had
been caused by major flooding in the same year.10 The comparatively
better-developed (yet still dominantly agriculture-based) economies of
western Europe could not escape these cycles, and like the rest of the world
continued to suffer from subsistence crises. Bad harvests were observed in
France (in 1787 and even worse in 1788, with harsh winters followed by
storms and floods, with a severe drought in the early summer of 1788 and
yet another harsh winter in 1788–9), which caused the highest bread
prices in 70 years.11 Precipitation was deficient in France and the weather
was dry in Britain in 1788. Consequently, wheat prices soared in London
in the eighteenth century (surging in 1736, 1740, 1756–8, 1766–8,
1772–3, 1775, 1777 and 1793–9).12 As one author has commented,
“late eighteenth-century England was a thoroughly appropriate country
for the conception of the Malthusian nightmare.”13
In order to emphasize the global connections of environmental
history, Alan Mikhail notes that “[a] volcano erupted in Iceland; people
starved in Ottoman Egypt.”14 Indeed, for the Ottoman Empire, as with
the globe, this was a time of epidemics, climate hardships and
natural disasters. Moreover, this period of climatic instability had been
preceded by a period of rapid population increase, which itself had had
adverse effects on living standards, leading to high mortality,
THE BREEDING GROUND
47
malnutrition, epidemics and an increase in food prices in a period of
declining wages.15 In fact, demographic recovery from the seventeenthcentury crisis was very gradual, and it was an exceptionally long time
before the population reached the pre-crisis level. The 25– 30 million
population of the 1830s was less than that of the 1590s.16 There was,
however, a modest improvement in living conditions in the early
eighteenth century, until a new phase of crisis engulfed the Empire,
which began to repeat the patterns of 1550–1650 after the mideighteenth century.17
William Eton, writing in the late eighteenth century, notes a
“rapid” depopulation under way in the imperial domains, and
mentions epidemics, disorder (especially in Anatolia) and famine as the
root causes. If we follow him, the decline in population seems to have
been severe in the period 1757 – 70. In contrast to a century earlier, the
author notes that “the whole coast of Syria, which a few years ago was
tolerably populous, is now almost a desert.”18 While Pellegrin, writing
in 1715 – 19, mentions the existence of 80 villages in the Morea, an
observer in the early nineteenth century, Chateaubriand, says that there
were scarcely five or six.19 It seems that in this period the natural rate of
population increase was not able to keep pace with high mortality rates
due to disease. An example drawn from Istanbul may be interesting
and helpful here. The author of a ruzname from the reign of Mustafa III
records the birth dates of six infants from 1767 to 1776, either from his
own family or neighbours; only one survived.20 In the late 1790s,
another author notes that it was plague rather than war which was
devastating Istanbul, and that the city was not able to sustain its own
population.21
Most parts of the Empire followed the same trend: economic prosperity
through the first half of the eighteenth century, followed by a period of
economic crisis.22 There were considerable decreases in the industrial
sector: examples are the Trabzon linen production, Danubian wool and
cotton textiles, and dyeing and printing in Seres during the latter part of
the century. In the same period, there was practically total stagnation in
the customs revenues of Trabzon, Tokat and Varna, as well as Kavala,
Istanbul and the Danube. A few locations did grow (like Salonika and
Izmir) thanks to foreign trade,23 but in most of the imperial domains this
too also stagnated, something which was not always necessarily related to
the commercial supremacy of the Western powers.
48
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OTTOMAN EMPIRE
Epidemics, natural disasters and climatic changes struck the Ottoman
Empire heavily. Drought became extreme between 1757 and 1758,
especially in Anatolia and northern Iraq and Syria.24 Drought in Syria
and Palestine (1785) and harsh winters in Iraq and Syria (1778–9)
greatly reduced agricultural production and further created dynamic
instability. Exceptionally cold weather devastated many regions; even
the Tigris River froze in 1757. Locusts, harvest failures, food shortages
and famine (in Crete, Macedonia, Aleppo, Baghdad, Cairo, Tripoli, and
Diyarbakır, Syria) were observed.25 These conditions resulted in price
increases in Diyarbakır, Mosul and Mardin.26 Wheat crises and food
shortages became endemic in Salonika, spurring several bread riots
(in 1720, 1740, 1753 and 1789). Epidemics exacerbated the suffering of
the populace. Plague began to spread across the imperial domains,
arriving in Macedonia, Bulgaria, Serbia, Bosnia, Tunisia, Egypt, Algeria
and Syria in 1784, accelerating in 1785, and spreading to most provinces
of the Empire the following year.27 Salonika fell victim to plague in
several waves between 1679 and 1814, which claimed thousands of lives,
wiping out 16 to 20 per cent of the population.28 Plague visited Aleppo
in 1719 (with four separate attacks between 1719 and 1760), Mosul in
1800, Baghdad in 1833 and 1834, and Damascus and Bosnia in 1847.29
While Salonika lost a considerable portion of its population to the
epidemic, in Alexandria it was an unparalleled demographic
catastrophe.30 In Anatolia, Izmir lost most of its population in the
eighteenth century. In Diyarbakır, famine was followed by epidemics,
resulting in a sharp depopulation during the periods 1756–8, 1762–3
and 1799–1805. The natural disasters of 1712 (including the plague),
1757–62 and 1789– 1800 were severe enough to produce a striking
degree of depopulation in Diyarbakır.31 Elias Habeschi reminds us that
the rich mines of Diyarbakır were yielding only one-sixth of the
production of former years owing to disturbances in the region and
depopulation.32 The plague of 1799– 1800 damaged inter-regional
circulation as well, causing a decrease in revenue from customs duties in
the city.33 The same epidemic visited Istanbul 37 times between 1701
and 1750 and 31 times between 1751 and 1800, the last wave reducing
the urban population by a devastating 20 per cent.34 The epidemic
nearly put an end to economic life in Istanbul in 1778. Apart from the
plague, dysentery, smallpox and rickets were also rife within the
Empire.35
THE BREEDING GROUND
49
At the end of the expansion phase, owing to the over-exploitation of
land, poor harvests, epidemics, famine and disorder, surplus populations
started migrating from rural areas and lost territories into the cities.
By the late eighteenth century, cultivated land had greatly diminished,
with a consequent decrease in population.36 This alone placed strains on
food provision, but it was further aggravated by increasing demands
from the Porte for the provisioning of the army and increases in foreign
exports. Local monopolies and rivalries made the economic situation
even more difficult, which in the long run also triggered decentralized
tendencies.37 In 1757– 8, great poverty caused by epidemics and harvest
failures caused massive migrations in Syria and southeastern Anatolia.
Following the harvest failures, epidemics and the arrival of locusts (and
also because of rising taxation and abuses by officials), many peasants
from Diyarbakır deserted their lands.38 Eton counts plague, disorder,
epidemics and the endemic maladies of Asia, including famine, avarice
of the governors and the sickness that follows famine, among the causes
of depopulation in the Empire in the late eighteenth century.39 In his
report of 1 September 1757, the French consul of Aleppo commented
that the extreme scarcity in Aleppo was observed
also at Mosul, Diyarbakır and Orfa; the vast majority of the
inhabitants of these towns have abandoned them, and have
dispersed to one place or another. A great number of them passed
by here a month ago, the mothers and fathers selling almost all
their children and especially the girls at two, one, and less than
half a piastre per head; such desperation has never before been seen.
aussi à Mossoul, Diarbekir et Orfa, la plus grande partie des
habitants de ces villes les ont abandonnées, et se sont dispersés d’
une côté et d’autre. Il en passa en ic i un grand nombre il y un mois,
les Pères et les Mères vendirent presque tous leurs enfants et
surtout les filles à deux, une, et moins de demi-piastre par tête;
jamais on n’a vu une telle désolation.40
Though it was a crisis for the commoners and central authorities, this
period of stagflation turned out to be a golden age for some elite
groups.41 Evidently, the struggle over the rapidly decreasing surplus (the
difference between total production and what was needed for
subsistence) by the provincial and central elites also disturbed rural
50
CRISIS
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OTTOMAN EMPIRE
life in most regions. Owing to the increasing prices of agricultural
products, as well as the increased value of land in the eighteenth century,
there was a rush for land and a rise in speculative landholdings.42
Malikanization and the rise of large estates (chiftliks) in the eighteenth
century curbed the peasant economy and the classical land tenure
system.43 In both processes, state control over the lands was loosened and
private initiative became more important. The sale of revenues of certain
state lands to private individuals for the span of their lifetime in return
for a cash payment had increased the cash state revenue but at the same
time also increased the individual’s role in the provinces and the
peasantry. Profit-oriented chiftliks, on the other hand, can be considered
as the beginning of a kind of capitalist economy in the Ottoman Empire,
mainly in the sense of a slight shift from a traditional subsistence
economy to profit-oriented production in regions, again through private
initiative. This spread to the Balkans and eastern Anatolia, mostly in
synchrony with the Western economy, and also meant the rise of
“excessive land rents” in the late eighteenth century. In the Balkans, this
led further to the creation of a dependent peasantry – which
immediately became the subject of oppression – if not the development
of serfdom in the full sense of the term, as a response to rising
agricultural prices and demographic fluctuations.44 In Bosnia, the
depopulation motivated the Bosnian landholding groups – sipahis
(cavalrymen), fortress commanders and ayans – to force the peasantry to
cultivate their lands. In Bulgaria, fierce struggles among the ayans, as
well as postwar demobilization, made conditions for the peasantry
unbearable.45 In the 1800s, competition over lands created a wave of
intense land usurpations (either by conversion or displacement) by
landholders, which left the Serbian peasantry landless on the eve of the
Serbian uprising (1804).46 It is argued that 40 per cent of the Bulgarian
peasants were landless at the turn of the nineteenth century.47 In the
Danubian principalities, the same struggle continued over controlling
the peasant surplus, leading to increased corvée and peasant servility.
The boyars of the Principalities were encouraged to initiate a series of
social reforms, especially for the abolition of serfdom (between 1746 and
1749), to mitigate the hardships experienced by the peasantry; yet, the
conditions of the Romanian peasants were not relieved but indeed
hardened in the early years of the nineteenth century.48 On the other
hand, it seems that in order to escape oppression and the predations of
THE BREEDING GROUND
51
banditry, some of the peasantry sought refuge in chiftliks, especially
askeri chiftliks, both in Anatolia and the Balkans, which provided them
shelter from arbitrary taxation and abuses. There was, thus, a close
connection between peasant mobilization and chiftlik formation in the
Ottoman Empire.49
Generally speaking, the presence of sipahis, tax-farmers, bandits and
local administrators, as well as the visiting pashas who billeted troops –
both legally and illegally – created further hardships for the peasantry.50
Illegal acts and increasing taxation by the provincial governors also
contributed to making the countryside unbearable for the peasantry.
Despite frequent adaletnames (justice decrees) issued to the different
authorities in the periphery, the Porte was not able to bring order and
prevent abuses in the provinces.51 A good example may be drawn from
Bolu. Some residents of the city sent petitions to the divan-ı ali,
complaining of the oppressions committed by Hacı Ahmedoğlu
(d. 1808), the voyvoda of Bolu, and asking for his dismissal.52 Unable to
obtain his dismissal, it seems that some then fled to other cities. We will
meet the immigrants from Bolu once again, in Istanbul, at the height of
the May uprising.
Banditry also became widespread in mid-eighteenth and nineteenthcentury Anatolia and Rumelia.53 Bandits had ravaged the Morea,
Macedonia and Bulgaria from the mid-eighteenth century onwards,
disrupting regional trade and local bazaars.54 Bandit chiefs in Serbia,
meanwhile, tried to seize peasants’ lands and enserf them; in the long
run, this disturbance to economic life, together with the excesses of the
Belgrade yamaks and Pazvandoğlu, played an important role in the
Serbian uprising of 1804. The Mountaineers (Dağlı Eşkiyası) also
constituted a serious challenge to the central authority in the Balkans.
This term, first observed in the Kırcali Mountains and used since the
mid-eighteenth century to refer to the common banditry active in
the region, later became a generic name for similar disturbances in the
Balkans. For a long time, the Mountaineers were active around Filibe
(Plovdiv), western Thrace and the northern Balkans, and became a
serious problem for the central regions after 1797 –1807. Numerous
governors and local magnates were delegated to suppress them, but their
efforts were futile. In the 1800s, the bandits began to infiltrate as far as
Edirne and Çatalca. Balkan peasants, already under strain from
overtaxation and banditry, and notwithstanding pressure from the local
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OTTOMAN EMPIRE
ayans, either joined the bandits or fled to the mountains and reverted to
semi-pastoralism.55 The situation was no better in Anatolia. Peasants in
Sivas, a city where migration was frequent, suffered from the raids of the
nomadic Rişvan and Lekvanik tribesmen, and eventually many left their
homes.56 Perhaps climate changes had also eroded the incomes of
nomadic tribes dependent on husbandry, causing them to resort to
banditry. The nomadic raids and oppression by local authorities had
similar effects in Diyarbakır.57 The security of the provinces became a
basic concern of the centre. Despite various measures, such as the
increase in the derbend (rural provisioning and security) system, and the
employment of sekbans, local militia, and Albanians, the lack of security
remained intractable.58
Owing to the disruptions of rural life in the provinces, a second “great
flight” began. Mass emigration from Cyprus occurred in the same
period.59 In the Balkans, the disorder due to wars, invasions and local
oppression, as well as famine and epidemics, caused considerable
numbers to migrate to the Habsburg Empire and Russia, or other
Ottoman cities. The Bulgarians, for instance, fled to the Principalities
and to Russia during the war of 1768– 74, and then to Istanbul in
1797–1800. While some Romanians and Serbs migrated to Habsburg
lands, some Greeks went as far as Italy.60 In his treatise, Süleyman Penah
Efendi (d. 1785), an eighteenth-century bureaucrat, notes that the
Ottoman non-Muslim subjects were migrating to the West, due to
oppression and overtaxation at the hands of local authorities.
He mentions 500,000 of them fleeing to Austria.61 The loss of Crimea,
on the other hand, created mass migration to Dobruca and different parts
of the Empire.62
Within the confines of the Empire, migration was usually to big
cities, especially Istanbul, Izmir and Bursa.63 Migration was particularly
heavy from the 1710s to the 1750s, peaking from the 1740s to the
1760s, but continuing on, with strong waves of migration to the capital,
throughout the reign of Selim III.64 Indeed, a contemporary observer in
the 1770s confirms that there was a rapid increase in the population of
the city due to immigration,65 while another observer, Tatarcık
Abdullah, notes that due to the massive migration there remained no
vacant field in the city, all now being full of houses.66 People moved to
the capital not only from Anatolia, but also from the Balkans; Albanians
and immigrants from the northern Black Sea region formed the
THE BREEDING GROUND
53
majority.67 Even in the early eighteenth century they were one of the
most mobile elements in the Empire. According to one estimate, around
12,000 Albanians were present in Istanbul at the time of the 1730
revolt.68 Newcomers to Istanbul were usually concentrated in the
interior of the city – Galata, Eyüp and Üsküdar – mostly because of
patterns of chain immigration, mainly from the Balkans or Anatolia.69
Nearly half of the workforce in early nineteenth-century Istanbul were
migrants. While only one-third of the masters were local, immigration
accounted for a large per centage of employees and peddlers.70 These
people usually resided in bachelor houses, inns and chambers, which the
central authorities considered suspicious places of ill-repute, probably
also due to increased housing prices. In 1792, there were 50 inns around
the southern Golden Horn, 74 bachelor’s chambers, and 32 rooms.71
On the other hand, the influx of immigrants who began to be involved
in non-structured commercial life, while infiltrating into established
commercial life in the city, also exerted strong pressure on the guild
structure, which became more rigid and exclusive in response.72
Urban centres gave people relative freedom by providing an escape
from rural taxation and oppression. Most early modern cities, however
(and Istanbul was no exception), were limited in their capacity to
provide migrants with job opportunities and food. At the turn of the
century, Istanbul was already a big city by early modern world standards,
with a population of around 500,000.73 The provisioning of the capital
was already a chronic problem for the central authorities, but it had
become more acute in the mid-eighteenth century. The newcomers
meant more mouths to feed, as well as increased pressure on the
traditional economic and social structures of an early modern city ruled
by its networks of provisioning. In the politics of provisions, when
expectations rose, failure to address them triggered social discontent and
food riots.74 The harsh winter in the last year of Abdulhamid I’s reign
had already created serious problems for the city’s grain supplies.75
Baron de Tott, for instance, mentions a bread riot in the capital during
the grand vizierate of Koca Ragıb Pasha (grand vizier: 1757–63). After
examining the provisioning policies of the authorities regarding grain
supply to the capital, de Tott reports that even though the loaves had
diminished in weight, bread prices had soared greatly. Owing to bread
scarcity in the city, bakers were being protected by guards against halffamished commoners; rice was also scarce and eagerly hoarded, which
54
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OTTOMAN EMPIRE
caused a woman leading a group of people towards the shops where rice
was stored to attempt to pillage the supplies. The raiders were dispersed
upon the arrival of the Grand Vizier, and rice was distributed to the
crowd.76 Writing shortly afterwards, Süleyman Penah Efendi also
underlines the problems Istanbul was facing due to excessive migration.
According to the author, it led to irregular urbanization, left the city
vulnerable to fires, and made the feeding of the population very difficult,
increasing urban disorder, while the fields lying vacant in the
countryside exacerbated the situation further.77 Similar observations
were later made by Asım, who stressed the difficulty of providing
livelihoods in the city. The harsh winter of 1788 caused a spike in the
price of foods and led to black-marketeering.78 The problems of
provisioning the city were exacerbated during the reign of Selim III.
In contemplating grain shortages, the sultan once warned his Grand
Vizier: “You know the size of the population in Istanbul. What would
happen if, God forbid, there was no bread for one day? I cannot stop but
think that riots would multiply all over.”79 Indeed, he was unable to
solve the provisioning problem, and bread riots struck in the capital in
1789 and 1790. As noted by a chronicler:
And again on the day in question, due to exorbitant prices, looting
of bread took place in bakery shops, the fierceness of which words
fall short to describe. The common bread baked in shops was not
edible at all and, may God forgive, tasted like mud. So all the
people, men and women, children, Muslims and infidels were
groaning and clamouring in front of bakery shops.80
Bread prices also soared in France, where bread itself was the basic diet
for around three-quarters of the population. A four-pound loaf of bread
increased from eight sous (in the summer of 1787) to 12 sous (by October
1788) and 15 by early February 1788.81 Despite agricultural reform in
1794, revolutionary France was also troubled with the problem of
provisioning; there too, inflation of bread prices caused revolts. Between
1799 and 1801, Britain also faced similar problems of scarcity and high
food prices.82 The Grain Administration (Zahire Nezareti) was founded
in 1793 by Selim III, but this was an ineffective measure in the face of
such severe problems.83 The Administration monopolized the grain
supply to the capital, purchasing at around 60 para per kilo, but
THE BREEDING GROUND
55
consumers had to buy it at no less than 3 or 4.5 guruş. Comparing the
situation before and after Nizam-ı Cedid regulations, one foreign observer
notes that the Porte made a profit of 15,000 guruş from this transaction,
but the poor had no prospect of cheaper bread.84 The shortage was
overcome to a certain extent during the last years of Selim III’s reign, but
the poor quality of bread and its high price relative to weight remained
the main source of complaints from the populace. Long and heavy
winters, in addition to internal disturbances, prevented the smooth
provisioning of cereal to the city and caused prices to soar.85
The final years of Selim III’s reign saw ongoing scarcity, and an
intensification of complaints about poor-quality bread (diluted with
barley and millet) and its price relative to the dirhem, especially between
1805 and 1807; these complaints were frequently accompanied by
public outbursts of anger.86 During one of his incognito trips, the sultan
himself had witnessed people waiting in front of a bakery, complaining
about the scarcity of bread.87 In a council meeting dated 18 December
1783, the possibility of a war with Russia, with the threat of a blockade
of the Straits and a consequent scarcity of basic staples, had made
Süleyman Penah Efendi argue in favour of peace.88 His fears were to
materialize a little over two decades later (1806). The war with Russia,
the occupation of the Principalities, and the British and Russian
blockade (pp. 110– 16) hit the provisioning of the city, both by cutting
supply lines and disrupting agricultural activity, but also by increasing
the need to provision the army through the end of Selim III’s reign. The
British naval blockade and the Russo-Ottoman war, as well as the
revolutionary wars in the continent, increased the prices of basic staples
and also encouraged hoarding.89 The price of grain rose from 0.86 guruş
per Istanbul kile in 1800 to 2.23 guruş in 1806 (then to 3.6 in 1810).90
At the same time, bread weight dropped from 80 dirhem to 60, to 65,
and grain prices rose in Selim III’s final years.91 During the reign of
Mahmud II, and especially in 1809 and 1812, the Russo-Ottoman war
increased the problems in the provisioning of wheat due to the
interruption of transportation from the Black Sea, with similar effects in
the city.92 Even in the process of transportation to the capital, many
“frauds” seem to have been practised – such as wetting with salt water
and adding other substances to increase the quantity.93
As in most regimes, the provisioning of bread, the main diet of the
poor, was among the most important “ideological” requirements of the
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OTTOMAN EMPIRE
Ottoman sultans. Successful and consistent provisioning of edible bread
to the population proved that a sultan was able to feed his subjects,
which symbolized the justice of his rule. When the sultan failed to
deliver, or when there was a decrease in bread quality, his political
legitimacy was quickly undermined and social unrest began to mount.
Some striking examples are illustrative of the importance of bread
during the course of the 1807 uprising. The most important one is a
dialogue between shaikh al-Islam Ataullah Efendi and a chief leader of
the uprising. The chief demanded of the Shaikh al-Islam, “For whom did
God create millet?” The latter replied, “For the birds.” “And the corn?”,
“For the animals.” Finally, the leader asked about wheat. Shaikh al-Islam
Ataullah Efendi answered that wheat was created “for human beings”.
The chief then brandished a meager loaf, and declared that the poor were
forced to consume bread made “of not even corn or barley.” Indicating
the fine white bread consumed by the rich, he complained that the
Muslims were being forced to eat very poor-quality bread.94
The concerns of the rebels with the issue of bread is crucial in
revealing popular sentiment and displaying the positioning of the rebels
as representatives of the urban poor and the lower ranks of the urban
middle class. At the same time, a status value was attached to highquality bread.95 Alongside the above example, the insurgents’ awareness
of this chronic problem is also reflected in their willingness to entrust a
statesman, Mustafa Reşid Efendi (d. 1819), to supervise the kapan (the
official port of grain exchange between merchants and bakeries), and to
distribute flour to the bakeries in order to ensure that no problems
occurred in the provisioning of bread at the peak of the uprising.96 With
the sultan having assumed the paternalistic role of provisioning bread
and maintaining its quality, his ministers were held responsible for
failures. It is relevant to note that Abdüllatif Efendi, the director of the
granaries (kapan naibi), was one of those executed at the demand of
the rebels in 1807. Inflation and popular discontent did not end with the
May uprising, however, but continued in subsequent years. On 19 April
1808, at supper time, a group of Turkish women with sticks and dishes
in their hands descended upon the residence of the judge of Istanbul,
saying: “Priest (Papaz) Efendi, while you are fed with sumptuous repasts,
we are starving, with a liver costing us five paras.” It being a Friday, the
women also presented petitions to the sultan on his procession to the
mosque (selamlık), swaying sticks with candles and livers hanging from
THE BREEDING GROUND
57
their ends and crying: “O Your Excellency, wake up and consider us.
We cannot stand the high prices anymore, we are starving.”97
The late eighteenth and early nineteenth century was a period not only
of the spatial movement of masses (migration), but also of vertical
movement (social mobility). Social mobility during this period was not a
symptom of decay or degeneration, but rather of social change. Indeed,
Nefedov and Turchin consider elite expansion or elite recruitment from
the commoners as one of the characteristics of the stagflation period.98
Acquiring an askeri status (in a military, bureaucratic or religious capacity)
was probably the dream of most commoners, especially during periods of
crisis. Regular cash wages, a rise in status and certain privileges, such as
tax exemption, gave military status an enduring attraction to commoners,
both among the rural population and the newcomers to the cities.
Commoners had already begun to infiltrate the corps during previous
periods of crisis, especially during the seventeenth century, with further
increases in the eighteenth. Requiring less specialized knowledge and
less training in comparison to others made recruitment into military
groups more attractive. It also provided upward mobility, which made
military groups, especially the privileged janissary corps, the most
attractive option for the commoners, especially from the sixteenth
century onwards. This was so evident that almost all of the Ottoman
writers of the sixteen and seventeenth centuries were complaining about
the corruption of the janissary army due to the infiltration of outsiders
(ecnebı̂) to the corps. Recruitment to the janissary corps reached a peak in
the 1580s, followed by a period of decrease, to make a second peak in
1622.99 During the early nineteenth century, the numbers of those
claiming askeri status increased considerably, with 23,000 new recruits
joining the janissaries between 1805 and 1826.100
Together with the infiltrations, a sort of sale of offices was emerging
among the janissaries through the so-called esâme (payroll tickets)
market, whereby people with a certain capital could buy janissary titles
but never attend military campaigns. The marketization of the esâme
actually seems to have been a peculiar mechanism that was not
widespread. The successful establishment of a monetarized economy, the
existence of individuals with capital, and the poor soldiers in need for
cash made the sale of esâme possible. Like the iltizam or malikane system,
this market could also exist in an economy which needed flow of cash
from one group to another.
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There was both a horizontal and vertical expansion of those owning
these tickets. Horizontally, the spectrum of the esâme owners broadened
to include various segments of the lower levels of society. Vertically, it
reached up to dignitaries including the courtiers, the ulema and the
bureaucracy. For the urban poor, being admitted into the janissary cadres
was a coveted job opportunity, while for the higher social echelons it
provided extra income. With their limited incomes, commoners had
little chance to accumulate more than a few pay tickets, but the upper
classes sometimes had immense numbers of them. A salutary example of
how the wealthy were able to accumulate janissary wage tickets is
provided by a contemporary source. Among the probate estate of Ahmed
Nazif Efendi, a former defterdar, and his father Selim Agha, there
appeared the esâmes of 19 soldiers worth a total of 260 akce. The total
may not be very considerable, but suggests that high-ranking
bureaucrats also benefited from the commercialization of the esâmes.101
During his grand vizierate, Alemdar Mustafa Pasha, himself originally a
janissary of the 42th regiment, frequently invited his former janissary
comrades for conversation. During such a meeting, he narrated an
incident that had taken place 13 years ago, while he was stationed in
Istanbul for a period of eight months. Janissary salaries were paid once or
twice during his stay at the barracks, and he noticed that a servant of an
ulema frequented the barracks during these times. The servant received
700 guruş as payment from a certain regiment. After narrating this story,
Alemdar Mustafa Pasha confessed that he later learnt that the attendant
in question was a servant of Veliefendizâde Mehmed Emin Efendi.102
Though it is impossible to know how many esâmes he owned, one may
make an educated guess that Veliefendizâde Mehmed Emin Efendi had
at least 700 and at most 8,400 pay tickets.103 After the liquidation of the
esâme ordered by the centre in 1808, the hoarders of tickets were
revealed. Among them, a professor (müderris) and Sahaflar Şeyhi were
deriving considerable income from pay tickets worth 650 akce daily
salary (yevmiyye). Mehmed Ragıb Efendi, a judge and a former seal-bearer
(mühürdar) of Yusuf Agha (steward to the Valide Sultan, the mother of
the sultan) had accumulated tickets worth 6,000 akce, while Şemseddin
Molla, a powerful ulema member, had tickets worth 1,800 akce daily
salary (yevmiyye). Contemporary narratives mention the names of esâme
owners from among the ulema, though they acknowledge that similar
examples might be drawn from the bureaucracy, courtiers and craftsmen.
THE BREEDING GROUND
59
The spotlighting of the ulema-class might be related to the glaring fact
of the proliferation of esâme-papers among a social class expected to
remain aloof from such discreditable concerns for worldly goods.
It is thus certain that a good number of the ruling class had janissary
pay tickets. How should we explain their motives? We might, perhaps,
account for their interest in accumulating esâme-papers simply by
referring to individual corruption and greed, but this would be
simplistic. It is more illuminating to observe the connection between
the increasing purchase of esâme-papers and the rise in the number of
dignitaries’ households, which were forced to find new sources of income
to maintain their servants during a period of economic crisis. To meet
increasing household expenditures during a period of declining incomes,
the dignitaries might have found it easy, and indeed rational, to avail
themselves of a ready income from state-sponsored pay tickets.104 It was
a good means of investment without any serious obligations and very
little risk. If unnoticed by the state, it would bring a regular flow of
revenue. An order, issued in 1808, that ulema and bureaucrats should
render up to the state treasury the janissary esâme-papers in the
possession of their household members and attendants, confirms this
picture.105 Even at the Bosporus fortresses, the servants and offspring of
some commanders were paid through the pay tickets of the yamaks.106
Baki Tezcan rightly attracts our attention to a less well-known
mechanism of connection between military groups and civilians: the orta
sandıkları (company banks) under the control of their trustees. Each
regiment had an orta sandık, which lent money to military and civilian
groups, including businessmen and established craftsmen. This provided
ready credit for the businessmen.107 These company banks were
controlled mainly by the junior ranks of the janissary corps – a group
which was notably active in the May upheaval.108
Another result of the above-mentioned process was the emergence of a
group who identified themselves with the interests of the janissaries and
were concerned for their welfare. Naturally enough, the owners of
janissary pay tickets had a direct interest in the well-being of the army.
This created a broad social group of people, extending both vertically
and horizontally, who stood to be directly affected by the fate of the
janissaries. In other words, it entailed a huge web of informal networks
that cut across the whole of society, leading to unlikely alliances between
different classes who shared janissary interests. Since we are unable to
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determine the names of esâme holders during the reign of Selim III, it is
difficult to find out whether they really supported the janissaries during
the May uprising. Yet, the above-mentioned Şemseddin Efendi, who
held esâme-papers worth 1,800 akces, was at the Meat Square during the
rebellion and is mentioned as ranking among the supporters of the
rebels. Veliefendizâde Mehmed Emin Efendi had died two years earlier,
but it might be instructive to draw attention to the apologetic tone of
his steward, Kethüda Said Efendi, concerning the uprising.
Like the janissaries, the sadats (the descendants of the Prophet
Muhammad) drastically increased in number from the seventeenth
century onwards. As in the case of the janissaries, gaining membership of
the sadat group brought prestige and various privileges, and although
not always blanket fiscal immunity, at least immunity from some
taxes.109 Due to the loss of revenue caused by the proliferation of false
sadats, from the mid-sixteenth century onwards surveys were carried out
by the Porte aiming to rescind the diplomas of impostors. Claimants to
sadat-status continued to increase in the eighteenth century, and in the
nineteenth century this became more widespread still. According to
Canbakal, by that time the term had begun to lose its meaning, being
transformed into a title of “polite recognition”.110 The janissaries and
the sadats were politically active in Istanbul, as well as in Aleppo and
Ayntab, and in the provinces in the period 1770– 1820, sometimes
coming into conflict with each other over these towns’ economic
resources.111 It was less risky than free enterprise and automatically
afforded members a privileged position in society.
As for the janissaries, admission to the ranks meant not only a ready
salary, but also exemption from some types of fiscal and moral
requirements to which ordinary civilians were subject; moreover, they
had a chance to acquire a good retirement stipend by attaining high
ranks. We still do not have a complete list of the privileges attached to
the corps and it is difficult to know whether these privileges were
automatically bestowed upon new recruits. Apparently, the askeri class
was liable to extraordinary (avarız) taxes,112 but it seems that they were
exempt, for instance, from money levied through commercial
transactions and they were not taxed on imported goods.113 At the
same time, they had immunity from trial and inspection from legal and
market authorities, and guild regulations.114 André Raymond
enumerates the privileges of soldiers in Cairo, which included immunity
THE BREEDING GROUND
61
from the rules of guilds and the government, and also from the
regulations of the muhtesib (market inspectors). For instance, it seems
that some janissary-artisans were able to speculate on food prices, and the
muhtesib had only limited power over them in 1801, which provided
them with good money from speculations.115 Moreover, the estates of
deceased janissaries were to be seized by the corps, and not by any other
authorities.116 Even their executions and punishments differed from
those received by civilians. For both minor and serious crimes, they were
subject to military law in terms of imprisonment and punishment, and
subject only to the authority of their commanders.117 It seems that
special attention was paid to keep their punishments shielded from the
public, which may be the reason why punishments were carried out at
night, in a ceremonial way, within the confines of military barracks.
Janissaries were punished by their own regimental elders in the presence
of their own regiment. For more serious offences, the guilty janissary
would be imprisoned in the Baba Cafer dungeon and then strangled, a
privilege usually reserved for the askeri class.118 In short, entering the
ranks of the janissaries seems to have provided a kind of shelter from
arbitrary punishment, as well as more security in commercial dealings.
Lower-rank urban dwellers and new immigrants to Istanbul sought these
highly privileged positions.
The bureaucratic cadres of the Porte also witnessed similar changes.
There was an increase in the number of scribes in the eighteenth century,
together with increased hierarchization and upward mobility.119 It is to
be expected that, aside from the population increase and rising social
mobility, the expanding bureaucracy and the increased paperwork of the
Selimian era would also have increased the need for new recruits by the
Porte. Yet, at least in the correspondence (mektubı̂) office, the increase in
the number of clerks was greater than the labour that would have been
needed for the increased paperwork. Underlying the drastic increase in
the number of scribes in the nineteenth century, Carter V. Findley
observes the “mounting pressure” on the lines of promotion during the
reign of Selim III. Since most of the newcomers were untrained and
unqualified for membership of the bureaucratic cadres, in a regulation
passed in 1797 it was announced that no new clerks would be accepted in
the Divan Office.120
Christine Philliou draws our attention to another social group, which
witnessed a similar expansion. The Phanariots’ bases of associations
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expanded during this period owing to the arrival of lower social orders in
Istanbul. The Phanariots handed out new titles by recruiting Balkan,
Aegean and Anatolian Christians into the capital, and hellenizing them
through their formal and informal networks. In order to escape the
capitation tax (cizye), and so as to carry out trade with foreigners
unhindered by government regulations and duties, Christian subjects
chose to acquire beratlı protégé status, which granted them
extraterritorial rights, tax immunity and protection against abuses.121
In the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, diplomas (berat) had
become an honorary gift bestowed upon prominent non-Muslims
(zimmis), and were sometimes sold by the consulates for profit or given as
gifts. This practice and the subsequent rise in the number of beratlis in
the empire naturally reached scandalous levels, despite the efforts of the
government to curb their proliferation.122 In Salonika, for instance,
there were similar increases in the number of pseudo- and true
interpreters (tercüman), and a new inspections regime was imposed in
order to distinguish them.123 On 16 January 1806, the Porte sent
memoranda to its embassies stipulating the conditions for the granting
of a berat: henceforth, only non-Muslim subjects in the active service of
the embassies and consulates were allowed to receive one.124 The rise in
the level of inspection of Phanariot functionaries ran parallel to the
inspection of janissary pay-books. To prevent conflicts among Phanariot
families and an increase in the number of beratlıs, in 1819 the Porte
issued an order, which limited the number of families that could serve as
hospodars, or dragomans, to four.
The expansion of the askeri class by inclusion of the non-elite
segments of society no doubt resulted in an increase in the number of
middle-class groups who aligned themselves with the state or who
preferred to be financed directly by the state itself – in other words, were
in government service. At a very practical level, this placed an extra
burden on the treasury, a point which contemporary authors complained
about.125 From another perspective, these factors also resulted in the
creation of a social underclass that became dependent on state resources
and also, therefore, vulnerable to its policies. Such policies, which are too
numerous to recall in full, include the debasement of currency, arrears in
payment, the creation of an alternative army, or state decisions to levy
inspections to expose false sayyids or militarymen. While debasements
are generally detrimental to society at large, they can have grave
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consequences for people on fixed salaries. Throughout the history of the
Ottoman Empire, militarymen have been notably reactive to
debasement, since it struck directly at their economic condition;126
they had, for instance, reacted strongly against the debasement of 1793,
and were instrumental in the dismissal of the director of the imperial
mint.127
The sensitivity of the military as regards shifting state policies is best
exemplified by the relationship between esâme payments and the Nizam-ı
Cedid. The janissaries were paid in cash every three months. The esâme, a
sealed pay certificate, was given exclusively to them, signifying their
right to receive a salary. The commercialization of the janissary pay
certificates had allowed non-military segments of society to infiltrate the
janissary army and receive undeserved salaries. Although the transfer of
esâmes did not require a fee and was not illegal in the late eighteenth
century, the central authorities eventually lost control over the trails of
money, creating dynamics that made the army practically independent of
state control: the state also lost track of the soldiers’ identities and total
numbers. At the same time the Porte was facing the problem of lack of
manpower during military campaigns, since few of the pseudojanissaries (non-janissary esâme-holders) were willing to go to war, it was
also forced to pay the esâme-holding civilians. The vicious cycle of wars
and internal revolts in the Balkans stretched the traditional military
system, and necessitated the recruitment of new soldiers.128 Now, the
Porte was obligated to pay the salaries of the inactive soldiers, as well as
the mercenaries hired to combat the internal and external threats. The
creation of a new army, the Nizam-ı Cedid, during the reign of Selim III,
created a fresh opportunity for the urban poor of the city, and some of
them joined the newly established army, which they saw as a good
alternative to “starvation”.129 Yet, we should not see the Porte as the
ultimate loser in this game: it seems that the Porte issued extra payrolls
to be circulated in the market as a public security, and kept the salaries in
arrears (with a delay sometimes of up to nine months) in order to ease the
financial burdens of war.130
In order to reduce military expenditure and to restrict esâme-grants to
active soldiers, the state enforced stricter surveillance of the esâme market
and made frequent inspections. It was no coincidence that payroll
inspection began during the fiscal crisis of the late eighteenth century.
The inspections implemented by Halil Hamid Pasha, for instance,
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provided a reduction of 1.9 million guruş annual expenditure for the
treasury.131 During the reign of Selim III, these inspections were
continued with the purpose of controlling the esâme market and
preventing abuses, as well as regaining state control over the military
forces. The vertical and horizontal expansion of the esâme system,
however, had already created a vast group of people with a vested interest
in the survival of the old military system, prominent among which were
the members of the ruling class, the ulema and palace officials who held
esâme-papers. The efforts by the central authorities to rein in the military,
the frequent inspections and the attempts to abolish the esâme system,
therefore, provoked discontent and frustration in many layers of society.
One of the basic causes of the 1808 Alemdar Incident, for instance, was
the prohibition of the esâme by the Porte. Up until the destruction of the
janissary army in 1826, the Porte was unable to obtain clear estimates
concerning the number of traditional soldiers; this, again, recalls the
Porte’s ineffectiveness in preventing migration.
The Ottoman rulers were well aware of the close connection between
migration and the increasing number of people being fed from the state
coffers. In response, they tried to control migration and put a check on
newcomers, using mechanisms of social control intended not only to
relieve the burden on the treasury, but also to prevent social disturbances
and, thus, provide stability in urban life. Despite these efforts, migrants
continued to enter the urban market, arriving without any connections,
and threatening the established guilds of the city by trying to infiltrate
the trade markets and guilds. Their arrival, thus, engendered conflict
between guildsmen and the “outsiders”.132 The gedik system, the right of
a craftsman to conduct business in a certain place, became much more
frequent in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century,133 serving
as an institution to protect the rights of established artisans. Despite the
state’s efforts at accommodation, less fortunate newcomers (with fewer
opportunities to enter the established status groups) still had little
chance to be incorporated into the city, and so remained on the fringes of
Ottoman society, forming a disgruntled population always viewed with
suspicion by the central authorities and considered as prone to revolt.
Following the revolts of 1730 and 1740, the central authorities began to
see urban vagrants and bachelors as highly suspicious individuals
predisposed to crime.134 Selim III responded with measures aimed at
increasing social control and discipline in the capital. In addition to
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frequent edicts prohibiting migration to the big cities, especially to
Istanbul,135 he instituted the practice of issuing travel certificates (mürur
tezkeresi). Although this practice was employed in the sixteenth century,
it became more widespread in the eighteenth and nineteenth.136 As
Suraiya Faroqhi observes, measures to prevent immigration were matters
more of “economic and demographic conjuncture, than of principle.”137
The frequency of the orders issued under Selim III’s rule suggests that
the government had indeed failed to control migration or to integrate
newcomers into urban society. Three days after a failed assassination
attempt (15 December 1791), Selim III ordered district inspections that
effectively cleared the city of vagrants. Since the would-be assassin was
an Arab, particular attention was paid to that ethnic group. Expelling
the vagrants, however, was no easy process. One month after the failed
assassination attempt, most of the inns, bathhouses and districts were
cleared of vagrants; yet, they sometimes found ways to return. For
instance, some of those expelled were Algerian, yet many of those in
Galata later found employment through Cezayirli Seydi Ali Pasha
(d. 1820) himself.138 Likewise, the suhtes (medrese students) of Sultan
Ahmed Medrese sought protection from high religious authorities.139
In addition to the mürur tezkeresi, the most effective method employed
by the central authorities to deal with the migrant problem was
premised on the notion of collective responsibility, which prescribed
that certain communities were to be held responsible toward each other
for the prevention of crime. The surety (kefalet) emerged as the most
effective method of ensuring public order, making it obligatory to
have a trustworthy person as a guarantor (kefil).140 These measures,
however, proved unable either to control migration or to rid the city of
immigrants, and so failed to staunch the consequent loss of agricultural
taxes.
In the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, immigrants entered
the scene as new actors of upheaval. Albanians, for instance, were one of
the most important contributors to social unrest in the city. Despite the
central authorities’ efforts to solve the Albanian issue, they remained
active in early nineteenth-century Istanbul, being instrumental, for
instance, in the imperial army mutiny of 1807, and providing manpower
during the Alemdar Incident in 1808.141 Immigrants from Bolu were
also present during the course of the 1807 upheaval: they were at the
Meat Square, where they lynched a steward of Hacı Ahmedoğlu, the
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voyvoda of Bolu. We do not know their exact numbers, but it is evident
that some had fled to the capital owing to the oppressive practices of this
voyvoda. Indeed, they cried out that he was the advisor (akl-i faali) of
Hacı Ahmedoğlu, the driving force behind the establishment of the
Nizam-ı Cedid army, and that he had caused the migration of the poor
from Bolu.142 (Their equation of oppression by a voyvoda and the creation
of the Nizam-ı Cedid army would be worthy of further examination.) It
should be noted, too, that the overwhelming majority of the so-called
yamaks (the instigators of the 1807 incident) were not locals but
immigrants from the Ahıska and Black Sea regions.143
Charles Tilly claims that “rapid rural-to-urban migration has no
particular tendency to excite protest; marginal urban populations are not
the tinder of revolutions”.144 While it could indeed be argued that
migration, overpopulation and the consequent social changes, especially
the emergence of marginal groups, do not provide the direct causes for an
uprising, they do create an atmosphere in which social discontent
increases and provides manpower in case of an upheaval, whether by the
migrant groups or others. It is therefore impossible to study the 1807
uprising without looking at the breeding grounds among the privileged
classes. As Simon Schama remarked with regard to another revolution,
“the connection of anger with hunger made the revolution possible”.145
Financial Crises and Ancien Régimes
As in Europe, from the 1700s to the 1770s the Ottoman Empire had
experienced the expansion phase of Turchin and Nefedov’s secular cycles,
this being an era of improvement and development in all sectors of the
economy. Growth was marked especially by increases in the revenue of
the treasury, boosted by successful wars.146 This expansion phase,
however, was followed in the 1770s by a period characterized by a
combination of stagnation and high inflation (“stagflation”), mainly due
to the inability of agrarian-based polities to cope with the late
eighteenth-century crisis. Although similar problems were faced by
some other European states, the Ottoman Empire, as a fiscally
decentralized empire with low levels of administrative revenue, was less
successful in overcoming this financial crisis.147 Lacking the financial
advantages of some contemporary states and being slower to adjust itself
to shifting economic conditions, it suffered from deteriorating finances.
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The Dutch and the British achieved fiscal centralization earlier than
other nations and, thus, achieved sharp increases in central revenue.148
While the Ottoman central treasury had no budget deficit in the 1760s
(with a revenue of 14,514,000 guruş and an expenditure of 14,064,500
guruş), the deficit increased considerably in 1784 and 1785.149 The net
income of Britain in 1784 was 13,214,053 pounds, while the total
revenue of the Ottoman treasury was 2,500,000 pounds in 1789.150 In
order to cover the expenses, the expenditures of 1786 were made from
the revenues of the budget year of 1789. With eighteenth-century
warfare growing larger in scale and also more expensive, most
governments were challenged by the need to finance military
expenditures. The war expenditures of Britain peaked in the 1760s
and 1780s.151 The disastrous wars of the late eighteenth and early
nineteenth centuries worsened the financial condition of the Ottoman
Empire. The Porte engaged in long years of warfare (1768– 74; 1786–
92; 1798– 1802; 1806– 12), not counting the Serbian uprising of 1804,
the British Expedition in 1807 and continuous spending to suppress
internal disorder. In the 1780s, Ottoman military expenditures
comprised the bulk of the budget (69 per cent in 1784 and 66 per
cent in 1785).
Upon his accession to the throne, Selim III was unable even to pay the
accession largesse, let alone to meet regularly the salaries of the
traditional corps. According to Tomara (the Russian envoy to the Porte
in 1798), by January 1793 the state treasury owed the troops half a year’s
salary, but the coffers were empty.152 During his reign, Selim III was
never able to overcome the boom in wartime spending. The RussoOttoman war of 1806–12 in particular had created an immense budget
deficit. War debts also had disastrous effects on the already strained
economy. For instance, in the post-Kaynarca (1774) period, the Porte
paid 7.5 million guruş (four million roubles) toward the debt within
three years, which comprised half of the cash revenue of the central
treasury itself.153 Selim III had also to contribute a 20,000 purse (kise/
kese) subsidy to Sweden in order to maintain its hostility toward
Russia.154 Meanwhile, Napoleonic France had considerable governmental revenue to overcome its war debt, having obtained 350 million
francs from Austria and 515 million francs from Russia as war
indemnities. In France, the war expenses of 1807 amounted to 340
million francs and the foreign sources provided 600 million francs.155
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For the Ottomans, however, military defeats usually brought economic
losses and concessions. The loss of Crimea after the 1768–74 RussoOttoman war meant the loss of one third of the grain supply for the
Porte. By the treaty of 1783, the Russians had gained considerable
trading rights in the Black Sea region, breaking the trading monopolies
hitherto enjoyed by the Porte.156
Following the standard practice of debasement in times of financial
crisis, the Porte resorted to the devaluation of coinage by decreasing its
silver content by one third in 1789, followed by the great guruş
debasement of 1793.157 Between 1789 and 1844, Ottoman coinage lost
88 per cent of its silver content, a debasement unprecedented in
Ottoman history.158 The content of silver coins was reduced by 30 per
cent in 1799, and since the coins still held their former values, this led to
a rise in speculation and counterfeiting. Inflation exceeded 200 per cent
during the last quarter of the eighteenth century (1760– 1800),
following an annual rise of 5 per cent in the 1800s.159 Between 1808 and
1844, the Ottoman currency lost 83 per cent of its value against
European currencies. Debasements further increased inflationary
tendencies, resulting in currency instability as well as a marked decline
in the value of Ottoman coinage in Europe.160
In revolutionary France, the confiscation of nationalized church lands
had provided relief to state finances.161 In the Ottoman case, the
confiscation (müsadere) of private wealth served a similar purpose.
Although this practice had sometimes been used in the history of the
Empire to build the wealth of state servants, from the 1770s onwards it
became more common to extract capital from the state elite and even
private civilians. There was an immense increase in confiscation,
especially during the war years 1787– 92.162 According to one estimate,
the government gained 1,327 purses (about 40,000,000 pounds
sterling) in the 1790s.163 Revenue from confiscation comprised 8 per
cent of the wartime budget in 1798– 9; the confiscation of the wealth of
Konstantin Hanc erlioğlu (d. 1799), the executed voyvoda of Wallachia,
for example, provided a relief of 500,000 guruş. The empty treasury
created a great obstacle in the preparations for the Russo-Austrian war
in 1788, and the probate estate of recently deceased Esma Sultan
(d. 1788) was eyed up with hopes that it would provide a relief. To the
astonishment of the Palace, however, no cash appeared in her estate.
In the hope of finding the money, a merchant called Sakızlı Dimitri and
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her steward were imprisoned and their properties confiscated.164 In cases
when the state could not or did not intervene and confiscate wealth, it
imposed high taxes on inheritance, which reached the levels of 40 to 70
per cent in 1770– 1810.165 Private wealth was thus channeled to finance
state war expenses, a policy that showed itself to be increasingly hostile
to private property and capital accumulation in the provinces.
Most European states were dependent on three basic sources of
revenue: direct taxation, loans from groups or institutions, and indirect
taxation leased out to private individuals who would pay the central
authorities a lump sum in return for the right of direct taxation.166
Within continental Europe, England and the United Provinces of the
Netherlands shifted their tax-collecting policy by assigning importance
to indirect taxation on sales, levies from exports and imports, excise tax,
and fees for customs duties, rather than reliance on direct land taxation
later practised by other European countries.167 Moreover, the western
European powers, particularly England, had the advantage of wellestablished credit institutions and a banking system, as well as external
borrowing power, whereas the Ottoman Empire did not enjoy such
advantages. In France, for instance, 90 per cent of expenditures between
1793 and 1798 were covered through borrowing; only later did the
French authorities resort to covering most expenses through taxation
(1799– 1812).168 Domestic borrowing also provided some debt relief for
the Ottoman rulers. Abdulhamid I, for example, borrowed approximately 600,000 guruş from grand admiral Cezayirli Gazi Hasan Pasha.
In 1799, leading statesmen contributed 800 purses, including
contributions from the grand vizier, Yusuf Agha (steward of the sultan’s
mother), the defterdar (chief treasurer) and Mustafa Reşid Efendi.169 It
was mostly the money lenders (sarraf) of Istanbul, however, who later
came to be known as Galata bankers, who emerged as the most
important lenders to the Ottoman court. From 1788 onwards, the Porte
began borrowing small amounts of money directly from the money
lenders, a practice that increased over time.170 Selim III had tried to
borrow from Spain and the Netherlands, and some Muslim countries as
well, but his efforts were to no avail.171 Following the example of British
loans gained from the Habsburgs in 1796–7, the sultan applied for a
loan of a million lira in March 1799, but had no positive reply.172 In
order to pay the salaries of his central armies and to ward off financial
crisis, Selim III ordered the surrender of gold and silver goods to the
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central authorities, including those in the palace, which were to be
melted down into coin. Not all segments of society obeyed his call.
Consequently, gold and silver merchandise in the bazaars of Istanbul,
Bursa and Edirne was confiscated, with promises of later
compensation.173
While borrowing and confiscation did not provide an institutionalized and stable stream of revenue for the government, indirect
borrowing through the tax-farming system (iltizam) – and later the
share system (esham) – did. In the esham system, instead of the sale of
whole sources of revenue, only a certain number of the shares of the
expected annual profit was sold by the state, again for life. Although
lifetime tax-farming (malikane) and the tax-farm (mukataa) system had
increased the cash flow into the state budget, these systems of revenue
had gradually begun to lose their importance by the beginning of the
eighteenth century, because the most lucrative farms had already been
sold and most of the mukataas had already been converted to malikanes.
Moreover, during the eighteenth century the tax-farms began to be
frozen, since the central authorities had lost control over the vacant
mukataas and had lost track of their exact production levels and
values.174 Therefore, in order to provide revenue for the burdened state
treasury and pay off the war debt to Russia, the esham (share) system was
put into practice from 1775 until 1860. In 1785, it constituted 50 per
cent of internal borrowing.175 On 30 October 1786, the purchase of
issues of new shares was forbidden, but due to the war expenses incurred
between 1787 and 1791, new eshams were issued. The esham also
facilitated the entry of lesser investors into the market and created cash
income for the central government. Since a state guarantee was required
for esham sales, it became a more secure means of investment compared to
the malikane system and, thus, there was a considerable increase in esham
sales during the early nineteenth century.176 Eshams, however, could be
transferred from hand to hand for a small fee; as such, if the original
owner died, the central authorities could be unable to track the new
owner. Later, the control of the esham was given to the New Fund, which
became the only institution able to oversee their sale and purchase.
Additional war expenses between 1798 and 1801, however, made
the esham a policy of last resort, and esham sales increased immensely in
the 1800s. In 1804, public debt stood at 53,350,000 guruş.177 During
the period of war between 1806 and 1812, income gained from the
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interest paid by the state on these shares comprised approximately 25 per
cent of state revenue.178 Over time, the malikane and esham systems were
combined in such a way that the owner of the malikane shared the
interest ( faiz) with the holders of the esham.179
Economic instability, and especially the frequent debasements,
generated unrest among the different layers of urban society, particularly
the petty bourgeoisie and soldiers with fixed income. Although these
issues were not always specified by insurgents in their lists of grievances,
the arrears, debasements and inflation created a ready atmosphere for
revolt, and general economic concerns were prominent among the
demands of the participants. With Selim III unable to pay his accession
largesse and delaying the payment of salaries, and with high inflation
hitting fixed military incomes, forcing soldiers to find parallel
employment, it seems that the rebels composed “political demands
from an economic one”;180 that is to say, they saw their strained
circumstances as political in origin. With the Porte’s attempted
remedies proving ineffective, it is little wonder that the dissatisfied
urban masses and middle classes were behind the preponderance of
upheavals in the early nineteenth century.
Conclusion
In this chapter we have examined early nineteenth-century Ottoman
history within the framework of the late eighteenth-century social and
economic crises. Disturbances in the countryside caused by disease, bad
harvests, abuses by local administrators and the rise of banditry, caused
people to migrate en masse into the big cities, especially Istanbul, where
the extant socio-economic structures (especially as regards food
provisioning) were incapable of handling them. The “underfinanced”
Ottoman Empire could not overcome these problems and faced also with
a boom in war expenses, the state’s finances further deteriorated.
Although the Porte established a new military system and a new treasury
to pursue power internationally, rapid changes and reforms at home
increased grievances and heightened tensions within many segments of
society, which became instrumental in the eruption of discontent in
subsequent years. What quantum of grievance was required in order to
create the grounds for social revolt? Some conflict analysts, such as Mark
Irving Lichbach, do not believe that such grievances alone were enough
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to foster the rise of a social movement and cause an outburst of collective
dissent.181 As we have already underscored, social and economic
problems and their consequent complaints do not always lead to
collective violence, but such causes do indirectly create the breeding
ground for an uprising or revolt. Anger, discontent and alienation tend
to turn citizens against the central authorities.
CHAPTER 3
DOES MODERNIZATION BREED
REVOLUTION?1
A Professor of Astronomy in London, in a view of the
Constellations, has observed an insurrection among the Janissaries,
and the death of the Sultan.2
Introduction
Commenting on the European shift towards rationalized authority and
mass political participation, Tilly observed that political modernization,
although not automatically conducive of reaction,3 nevertheless produces
anomie and disintegration, and leads in turn to instability. Undeniably,
the Ottomans’ piecemal modernization program, mainly restricted to the
military sphere, differed from full political modernization in the European
sense.4 Apart from the seeds of specialization in the Selimian bureaucracy,
and the experiment with a modern army, none of the steps characteristic of
European modernization was visible during the Selimian era. Yet, despite
the differences, Tilly’s comment on Europe seems true also of later
Ottoman history.
Selim III and his ministers had to develop their policies in the midst
of crisis. The implementation of the Nizam-ı Cedid reform package,
aimed at creating a new and better-trained army able to survive in a
context of intense international rivalry, was met with discontent and
suspicion by diverse segments of the population. Far from enabling the
Porte to ride out the crisis, the reform programme became part of the
crisis itself. The urgent need for modernization underscored the grave
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changes that had been under way in the Empire since the late eighteenth
century, and reinforced the impression of the fragility of the current
regime. The reform programme led to changes in the redistribution of
state resources, heightening elite competition, as well as posing threats
to the decentralized power, and other associated, structures of vested
interest, all of which are problems integral to the disintegration phase.
It was these changes, even more so than the reform programme itself,
which increased unrest and polarization in society and opened the way
for the uprising.
Selimian Reforms
According to Baron de Tott, only one-fifth of Ottoman taxes collected
in the late eighteenth century reached the centre.5 According to one
estimate, 20,000,000 pounds of production passed through the hands of
mediators (collectors) in the 1790s, with only a small portion going to
the Treasury.6 As Salzmann notes, “When the modernizing regime of
Selim III (1789– 1807) began dismantling the old regime, reformers
were not aware of the actual value of tax farms and they were unable to
appreciate the scale and structure of local firms.”7 Indeed, it was the
missing surplus extracted from agricultural production that had
precipitated the emergence of local magnates and other mediators in the
eighteenth century, a problem which became endemic in the early
nineteenth century. A more effective and accountable military system
was needed to repossess the missing surplus in the countryside and,
thus, to ensure the very survival of the Empire. Military reform then was
inaugurated in order to have reliable armies to execute the centralization
policies.8
With these concerns in mind, in 1792 Selim III ordered the
establishment of the Nizam-ı Cedid army. The timing was not ideal, since
the creation of a new army placed an extra burden on a treasury already
strained by the bloated salary numbers of the traditional army, the
payments to mercenaries and the need to finance ongoing wars. As a
solution, the İrad-ı Cedid (the New Fund) was created in 1793 to provision
the army and pay new soldiers. This measure was not an obvious failure;
one observer notes that the New Fund regulation increased state revenues
to a great extent.9 The new treasury derived part of its income from
indirect taxation, namely excise tariffs imposed on cash crops like tobacco,
DOES MODERNIZATION BREED REVOLUTION?
75
wine and liquor, raw materials, and alum and dry goods.10 The revenues of
taxes imposed on alcoholic beverages (wines and spirits) in the market
(zecriye resmi) was converted into a share (esham) and reserved for nonMuslims.11
Apart from these taxes, obsolete feudal fiefs (tımar) were gradually
liquidated with the oversight of the new treasury, which initially
planned to seize the incomes of the vacant tımars and those producing
less than 500 guruş a year. Since it took time to determine the income of
each tımar, it was decided that the tımars of those who were deceased (and
heirless), as well as vacant ones, would be seized by the new treasury.
In addition to vacant tımars, lifetime taxes (malikane), the miri, and
haremeyn revenue sources that exceeded an interest of ten purses annually
were also seized. The number of malikane contracts had already increased
over time, and peaked in 1787. Under the Nizam-ı Cedid regulations,
their numbers began to decrease.12 Those contracts, which had been
revoked and seized by the New Fund, would not be leased again as
malikane. Yavuz Cezar and Ariel Salzmann argue that these economic
steps portended the gradual abolition of the malikane system and
redefined the relationship between the central authorities and the
periphery in favour of the centre.13 While their assessment would
perhaps prove true in the long run, the Selimian government faced more
immediate concerns. The re-contraction of the malikane resulted in more
short-term leases and new fees that became fresh sources of revenue for
the treasury.
It was mainly the central state elite – the bureaucracy, high-ranking
janissaries and political elites – who tried to purchase malikane
contracts, acting as absentee rentiers. Indeed, the majority of the
malikane owners of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century were
drawn from 1,000 to 2,000 central state elites based in Istanbul who
held posts as absentee landlords, ruling their lands through a coalition of
sub-contractors, agents and financiers, including the ayans.14 Between
1793 and 1816, the central state elites almost completely controlled the
malikane market.15 Therefore, among the ruling elite, the chief rivalry
seems to have been over the big malikane and iltizams. The shifting
limits for the malikanes prepared by the New Fund offer proof of the
ongoing disputes over the malikane contracts. In a decree passed in 1793,
malikane shares worth at least 5,000 guruş were to be transferred to the
New Fund following the owner’s death, but later – in 1798 – the
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minimum was increased to 15,000 guruş, before being decreased to 20
purses in 1799. Indeed, by 1806, many officials continued to
recommend additional decreases, but again the mimimum was
established at 30 purses.16 These changing quotas reflected the central
authorities’ efforts to increase income and attract more customers, but
they also fostered dissatisfaction among the central elite concerning the
limits and new regulations. The Istanbul central elite controlled the
malikanes and gained considerable income from them; the high limits on
malikanes, therefore, concerned them more than other groups.
The seizure of the malikanes did not represent the only proposed
change in the new land tenure system. From the eighteenth century
onwards, the conversion of tımar lands into miri lands had accelerated,
alongside surveys that tried to pinpoint which soldiers had skipped
campaigns and were therefore not entitled to hold their tımars. Since
most of the tımars were small portions of land, they were usually sold as
emanet or iltizam. For instance, more than half of the 6,341 tımar and
zeamets were given as iltizam to seven individuals, including four local
magnates (Çapanzâde Süleyman, Kara Osmanzâde Mehmed, Ömer
Agha and Tepedelenli Ali Agha), a governor (Yusuf Ziya Pasha) and a
bureaucrat (Elhac Memiş Efendi). Preliminary research reveals that
around 304 tımars were seized by the New Treasury and farmed out by
central authorities in 1804.17 For example, 284 tımars from Bozok,
Kars-ı Maraş and Maraş (ber vech-i emanet) were sold to Cabbarzâde
Süleyman Bey as a short-term tax (iltizam) in 1804.18 Around the same
time, Tirsiniklioğlu Ismail Agha, a famous local magnate, held around
72 tımar and zeamets in Tırnova, Nicopol and Silistria.19 In 1804, a
total of 3,575 tımar and zeamets were seized, yielding an income of
22,311,035 akce. Cash payments from these iltizam were usually
reserved either for the pensions of new soldiers or war expenses.20 In
the above cases, lands which did not yield income for the state were
sold for cash even if the profit was modest. It seems that even if these
tımar-zeamets possessed no great value, they were still passed on to local
magnates to increase their territories. Usually, local magnates did not
enter the scene as malikane-owners of huge tracts, but only of smaller
ones, likely because they did not prefer to invest huge cash down
payments (muaccele) in relatively risky investments.21 On the other
hand, a local magnate was able to get more land under his dynastic
control to increase his prestige and lands.
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We have limited information as to how urban and rural centres were
affected by the central authorities’ new policies. While no comprehensive
study exists concerning how the central authorities applied their policies
within the imperial domains, the preliminary data is suggestive of how
different groups were influenced by the seizures and new taxes. Overall, of
course, debasement and monetary instability created economic
uncertainty, as people lost faith in the state’s policies. Some of the ayans
were malikane and iltizam holders, paying fixed payments to the state at
certain intervals, so debasement may not have been so disadvantageous to
them. Economic stability, however, was essential to those among them
who were also involved in long-distance trade.22 Interest in government
work seemed to decrease among this group of local magnates, and they
became more interested in money lending, contraband trade, urban real
estate and military contracting.23 Yet, their main source of power and
wealth still depended on the traditional land tenure system. In 1796,
Tirsiniklioğlu controlled the voyvodaship of Ruscuk (Ruse), Tırnova and
Ziştovi, which gave him a chance to accumulate power and prestige in the
region. He then obtained the mukataa of Şah Sultan in Tırnova (1800), one
third of which went to the New Treasury in 1802–3. Tirsiniklioğlu also
obtained the Kıptiyan mukataa (1 May 1805), which was under the
control of the New Fund.24 Another tax-farm which was under the control
of the New Fund and tax-farmed by the same ayan was the tax from
cotton, cotton yarn and cotton textiles of Ruse, which he held from
1802–4.25 It seems that Tirsiniklioğlu İsmail Agha was not initially
against the establishment of the Nizam-ı Cedid army, and saw it as a
helpful solution to the anarchy created by Pazvandoğlu in the region,
conducive to establishing the security necessary for a flourishing of
the economy in the Balkans. The expansion of the new army, however,
seems to have changed his mind.26 Growing control by the central
authority and the direct presence of state power in the provinces were
clearly detrimental to the socio-economic and political influence of these
power holders.
Unfortunately, little is known concerning public opinion regarding
these developments, but the seizure of these lands must have created
resentment among the tımar holders who had once held them. Faced
with these reactions, Mustafa IV later restored the tımar system to its
traditional form. Overall, the burdens brought about by the
New Treasury lie at the heart of popular discontent in the period
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from 1793 to 1805. The public considered these new policies to be
sources of tyranny and oppression (mezâlim-i kesı̂re).27 The tax on wine
and liquor (rüsumat-ı hamr ve arak), in particular, was considered
unacceptable as a source of income for a Muslim state.28 Although that
particular tax was imposed on non-Muslim Ottoman subjects and shares
of it were sold exclusively to non-Muslims, many still considered it a bad
innovation and saw it as a “sin tax.” New taxes on tobacco, wine, coffee
and cotton were among the main items of discontent, especially since the
first three were so important in the social life of cities. The new tariffs
amounted to two paras per oke on wine and four for spirits, and were
levied on all Christian subjects.29 The income from this duty seems to
have been greater than the revenue from the duties on other items of
consumption;30 on one occasion, non-Muslims protested against the
increased customs duties in front of the Sublime Porte.31 It is clear that
it also increased dissatisfaction on Samos, where the alcohol and
capitation tax was taken as a lump sum (maktu) in the late eighteenth
century. In 1800, this lump sum for alcohol tax was increased to 30,000
guruş.32 The Muslim population also seems to have been unhappy with
new taxes; apparently, some raised this indirectly with the sultan via the
favourites, but the sultan dismissed their views, saying that his purpose
was to restrain the excesses of the non-Muslims and there was no reason
for Muslims to complain.33
Under new regulations, the tax on cotton was raised from an asper to
one para for raw material and two paras for threads. Gall-nuts, used in
dying, for instance, were taxed at the rate of one para; currants,
meanwhile, were taxed at two paras an oke.34 In the summer of 1802, the
artisans and ulema in Diyarbakır rioted against the new taxes on
chemicals used in textile production, and also against the newly founded
31st Janissary regiment, stationed in the city, whose salaries they were
forced to pay. They attacked cloth presses that were under the control of
malikane owners, viewing these presses as illicit innovations.35 It seems
that the prices of honey, wood, grain and butter soared following the
establishment of the New Fund, and that later the prices of other goods
also increased.36 In addition to the above-noted problems, new attempts
to monopolize grain and meat production and the mining sector, in
which the janissaries were actively involved, seem to have created a real
threat to the traditional commercial relationship between the central
authorities and the provinces.37 One of those assumed to be a conspirator
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in the May 1807 uprising was Kazgancı Laz Mustafa Agha,38 the trustee
(mütevelli) of the 25th Janissary regiment. As a trustee, he was in charge
of use of the regimental treasury. A coppersmith by trade, he had been
able to accumulate a great deal of wealth through his craft. The
monopolization of the mining sector, however, seems to have
disillusioned him, and the ruling elite’s intervention into mining,
commerce and artisanship caused him to lose money.39 It was probably
for this reason that he sided with the rebels during the rebellion.
Collective Reactions to Reforms
Commenting on the Selimian reform programme, the late Stanford Shaw
states that:
The Janissaries’ reaction was even more violent. They rioted in the
streets whenever any effort was made to reform them, they
continually clashed with the modern Nizam-ı Cedid and the
artillery men in the streets, and they eventually supplied the bulk of
the force which overthrew Selim III and ended the reforms in
1807.40
Unfortunately, Shaw does not provide an exact date for the clashes
between the members of the old and new army, and this extract gives the
impression that there were street fights between these two military
groups from the beginning to the end of the Nizam-ı Cedid reforms. The
document to which he refers to prove his point is dated 1797, and
concerns the expenditures involved in the transfer of cannons from the
fortress of Varna to the imperial army, rather than a state of generalized
or diffuse tension.41 There is no way to determine whether the author
made a mistake in the references or, under the influence of the
modernization theory, he mispresented the evidence to justify his
modernization-resistant understanding of the traditional Ottoman
military system.42 Modernization, or western-style training, does not
always lie at the heart of the reactions. French military consultants, for
instance, had been received warmly by the janissaries in 1794.43 It is true
that some contemporary authors mention the janissaries’ hatred of the
new soldiery, saying that it increased in proportion to the importance
attached by the sultan and his ruling elite to the new army, as well as
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with its military success.44 This may also explain why 12 years had to
pass for collective reactions to materialize against the new military
system (1793–1805).
The period from the initiation of reforms in 1793 up to 1805 was
more or less peaceful in terms of collective reaction. Neither the
chronicles nor archival material cite any kind of collective resistance to
reforms during the period in question. As usual, rumours swirled in
coffeehouses, barbershops and other public places. Though it is difficult
to discern what kind of rumours were in circulation, we can imagine that
the newly established military system was among the fiercely debated
topics and that people were speculating over whether it endangered the
survival of the janissary army. Mehmed Efendi, for instance, a former
resident of Tophane, was banished to the island of Rhodes in 1793, on
the grounds of his offensive (taaruzâne) comments about the Nizam-ı
Cedid. The scene of his comments was the barbershop of Hacı Ismail in
the Çavuşbaşı district of Tophane.45 The Porte tried to silence gossips by
closing down some of these shops and selectively banishing the culprits.
Overall, however, the period until 1805 can be considered as a time of
wait-and-see, in which Istanbulites seem to have made a sincere effort to
understand the meaning of Selim III’s New Order.
In terms of collective reaction prior to 1807, there are one minor and
three serious incidents which are usually associated with the Nizam-ı
Cedid: the Selimiyye Mosque Incident (1805), the revolt of Mahmud
Tayyar Pasha (1805) in Anatolia, the Pazvandoğlu revolt (1793–8) and
the Edirne Incident (1806) in the Balkans. The first event took place in
the capital, while the others occurred in the provinces. All these
incidents, except for the case of Pazvandoğlu, transpired almost a decade
after the initiation of the reforms and a short period before the uprising.
The expansion of the new army in the capital, the increasing favour it
was finding among the ruling elite and the sultan, as well as the
violations of the established privileges of the established corps, created a
sense of frustration among the members of the traditional army.
The Selimiyye Mosque Incident (1805)
The first reaction, the Selimiyye Mosque Incident, should be evaluated
from this perspective. The Selimiyye Mosque was built in Üsküdar by
Selim III. The construction started in 1801 and was completed on
Friday 5 April 1805.46 Asım notes that it was a custom for the Ottoman
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sultans to perform the Friday Prayer (Cuma Selamlığı) in newly opened
mosques they had commissioned, and that Selim III thus planned to
visit the new mosque with his retinue. The janissaries also intended to
come to Üsküdar and take part in the ceremony; however, when they
heard the news that the Nizam-ı Cedid soldiers were to take the
janissaries’ customary places at the Friday Prayer, they armed themselves
and, on reaching Üsküdar, opened fire before the ceremony on the
officials and other people who were present. Following a series of
aggressive acts, they decided to completely annihilate the Nizam-ı Cedid
soldiers who would be present at the ceremony. Some leading officials,
however, divined their intentions and the visit of the sultan was
postponed for two weeks. The janissaries thus ensured that they would
take their accustomed places at the Friday Prayer, and the soldiers of the
new corps were not allowed to leave their barracks on the day of
the ceremony.47
To my knowledge, this incident is the first recorded case of any
collective protest by the janissaries against the newly established corps.
Although Asım sees it as a discreditable act, proving how jealous the
janissaries were of the new military system, there is a crucial point to be
made in defence of the janissaries’ action. Participating in certain
ceremonies, like the Friday Prayer, was a privilege bestowed to this
military class. Though Asım comments that it was just a rumour that
they were going to be replaced, we have good reason to suspect that the
rumour was true. In fact, the Selimiyye Mosque had been built within
the Üsküdar barracks of the new corps, and it would have been natural
for the sultan to wish the new soldiers to be present at the ceremony. The
janissaries must have considered their replacement in the ceremony as a
degrading act. We also have evidence to suggest that they may have
considered this as the manifestation of the centre’s desire to abolish the
janissary army.48
As the Selimiyye Mosque Incident suggests, the reaction of the
janissaries against the Nizam-ı Cedid became more intense once inroads
began to be made on their prestige and privileges. Indeed, prior to
mentioning the incident above, Asım records that the officers and
soldiers of the Üsküdar regiment were entrusted with the duty of
patrolling the vicinity of Üsküdar and the Bosphorous, and the
janissaries were very angry about this.49 The janissaries could well have
harboured feelings of being ignored and neglected. Indeed, there is
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documentary evidence that the Nizam-ı Cedid soldiers were better cared
for by the centre than the janissaries. The barracks of the new corps in
Üsküdar and Levent Chiftlik were frequently visited by either the sultan
or statesmen, and regular reports were sent to the sultan praising the
excellence of the new soldiers in drills and citing their perfect
discipline.50 The janissaries’ discomfort was entirely warranted.
The Revolt of Mahmud Tayyar Pasha
What is widely assumed to be the most powerful collective reaction to
the New Order arose in Anatolia. Mahmud Tayyar Pasha was a local
magnate of Canik (in present-day Samsun, Anatolia), and the last
representative of the Caniklizâde dynasty.51 Both in modern and
contemporary literature he is listed as a fierce enemy of the Selimian
reforms, and his revolt is considered to be the reaction of a local magnate
against the expansion of the Nizam-ı Cedid corps in Anatolia.52 I will
argue, however, that it is more reasonable to see this incident as a
manifestation of traditional rivalries between two local magnates over a
scarce economic resource – land (which, we will recall, is a central driver
of conflict in the disintegrative period), which automatically also
brought prestige. From another perspective, this incident appears as a
case of provincial elite rivalry so prevalent during the disintegrative
period of secular cycles. Threats to Tayyar’s vested interests in the region
threw this provincial elite into an open struggle first against his rival,
and then against the central authority who backed his rival. As we shall
see, the Nizam-ı Cedid reforms only played an ideological or discursive
role in this struggle. It was threat, frustration and the sense of betrayal,
which played a more serious part in his reaction.
The origins of the problems leading to his revolt go back to 1804,
during Mahmud Tayyar’s governorship of Trebizond and Canik. The
same year, the establishment of a Nizam-ı Cedid regiment was decided
upon, and this project was entrusted to Cabbarzâde Süleyman Bey,
another local magnate near Bozok, and the arch-enemy of Tayyar Pasha.
Considering this an injustice, Tayyar intended to attack Amasya and
plunder the regions under the control of the Cabbarzâdes, while
spreading the false news that the sultan had given him the duty of
executing Süleyman Bey. Consequently, Tayyar’s forces attacked several
regions including Amasya, Turhal, Tokat and Merzifon. In order to
bring peace to the region, the Porte dispatched an inspector and decided
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to appoint neither of these magnates as the mütesellim of Amasya. Upon
receiving the reports by the inspector, who emphasized Tayyar’s
unconciliatory attitude, Tayyar was declared a rebel and a fatwa
issued for his execution. In the end, he saved himself by fleeing to the
Crimea (1805).
As we have noted, Tayyar is described as an enemy of the Selimian
reforms. One of the main sources of these assertions is a series of
anonymous notes attributed to him. Although there are some
reservations, it does seem likely that these notes belong to Tayyar
Pasha. Indeed, the anonymous author manifests a very hostile attitude
towards Selim III, Cabbarzâde Süleyman and certain state functionaries,
and prays to God that he should not die in non-Muslim lands.53 Apart
from this, however, there is little documentation to prove the hostility of
the Pasha to the reforms. It is true that there is archival evidence
accusing him of being an enemy of the New Order, but these documents
were in fact produced by his enemies and it is difficult to discern his
actual opinion on the issue. For instance, according to the reports sent to
the Porte, Tayyar Pasha proclaimed to his soldiers that:
I was ordered to join the Üsküdar regiment and enroll soldiers.
However, I do not find it permissible for you to join the Üsküdar
regiment and to wear bad [ fenâ ] clothes, and I did not accept.
Do you want to join the aforementioned corps and to wear bad
clothes?
When the soldiers replied that they would not accept, he decreed
that “from now on, I will not allow anyone to join the Üsküdar
regiment” and he asked the soldiers to join his cause. When they
promised to collaborate with him he said: “With your help I can do
whatever I want.”54 This is contained in a letter from Cabbarzâde
Süleyman to the centre, and the news he reports is based on information
from his spy in Canik. Looking at Tayyar’s own letters, there is
little mention of the Nizam-ı Cedid, and only in one case does he remark
that he was accused by Cabbarzâde of being an enemy of the New
Order.55
Whether Tayyar Pasha was personally against the Nizam-ı Cedid
reforms or not, there is another side to this story. His uprising may be
considered as a final phase of a long-standing provincial rivalry between
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two Anatolian magnates over the control of lands such as Sivas and
Amasya. These regions had passed into the hands of the Canikli family in
the 1770s, against the protests of the Cabbarzâdes.56 Amasya had later
become a malikane of Beyhan Sultan (d. 1821), the sister of Selim III.
One particular purpose of Tayyar Pasha was, thus, to regain the former
territories of his dynasty. Indeed, in 1800– 1, he wrote a petition to the
centre, requesting that Amasya, Canik and Kara Hisar – and if possible
also Kastamonu – be granted to him, and that in return he would send
as many soldiers as demanded by the centre. During his governorship of
Diyarbakır and Erzurum (1801–3), he had been instrumental in the
capture of Gürcü Osman Pasha (d. 1804), the former governor of
Rumelia, who had revolted in Anatolia. While Tayyar, however, was
anticipating the grant of Sivas in return for his services, Mehmed
Celalleddin Pasha, from the Cabbarzâde family, had been appointed as
governor there (1804). The position of mütesellimlik (tax-collector) of
Amasya, which he considered to be part of the domains of his family, was
granted to Süleyman Bey, and this must have increased his frustration
and disappointment. Indeed, in a letter to the centre, he expressed the
importance of Amasya for his dynasty:
Since the sancak [district] of Amasya, for a long time, has been
[governed] by my family, and inherited by me from my ancestors,
the residents of the sancak and the members of the dynasty were
like close relatives. Transfer of it to another individual would be a
severe blow to my prestige.57
For him, it is clear that holding the malikane of the Canik sancak was a
source of prestige and power for his dynasty. Moreover, the family’s
chiftliks also produced considerable income, making this town an
indispensible part of the family’s fortunes.58 In terms of the rivalry,
Tayyar Pasha seems to have been forced to one side in his struggle over
the control of these regions of Anatolia. It also seems that Ibrahim Reşid
Efendi, the director of the New Fund, played a significant role in the
transfer of the Amasya tax-farm to Cabbarzâde Süleyman, which may
also explain Tayyar’s hatred of Selim III and his ruling elite. It also
indicates how the Nizam-ı Cedid rearrangements and the shifting
alliances of the ruling elite challenged the redistributive role of the
centre. Though no detailed studies are available in this regard, similar
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incidents show how the connections of favouritism between the palace
and the bureaucrats allowed certain parties to benefit from the
redistributive role of the Porte in the competition between the centre
and the provinces. Asım, for instance, complains that the mansions of
the courtiers, as well as those of high-ranking bureaucrats, were full of
mültezims, mukataa-owners who wanted a favour from the elite.59
Tepedelenli Ali Pasha, the famous local magnate of Janina, is also known
to have sought the favour of the centre by sending frequent presents to
Queen Mother Mihrişah Sultan and her steward Yusuf Agha.60
Since Cabbarzâde had successfully presented himself as an ardent
advocate of the Nizam-ı Cedid party, Tayyar had no choice but to join the
opposite camp. In the case of Tayyar Pasha, therefore, it is crucial to
underline how different parties used and abused the Nizam-ı Cedid
reforms for their own purposes. Rather than insisting on clear-cut
distinctions and displaying the provincial elite as a single block, it seems
more reasonable to enumerate those who managed to take advantage of
the reforms and benefit from the consequent re-allocation of scarce
resources, during a period in which intra-magnate rivalry was intense.61
The main dynamic of the period was not the modernization process, but
the conflict over land. Arguably, Tayyar Pasha represents the local
magnates who lost out from the centre’s reform policies. His rival, on the
other hand, a voyvoda in origin, was able to retain good relationships with
the high-ranking ruling elite and, thus, benefit from the system.
Cabbarzâde, Kadı Abdurrahman Pasha and Hacı Ahmedzâde represent
members of the provincial elite who had realized what they stood to gain
from the central authority’s reassertion of monopolistic control over war
and finance.62
The Pazvandoğlu Revolt (1793– 8)
The revolt of Tayyar Pasha has a Balkan counterpart, again clouded by
obscurity, and indirectly related to the Nizam-ı Cedid, although more
secessionist in nature. The revolt of Pazvandoğlu of Vidin predates the
events associated with Tayyar Pasha and, unlike Tayyar, he was an outlaw
right from the beginning. His growing control over Vidin had brought
him into direct confrontation with the Porte in the 1790s, and the
Nizam-ı Cedid reforms had a very limited role in the conflict.63 As in the
Anatolian case, it seems that Pazvandoğlu, too, used new government
policies, especially the New Order, as a pretext to win over the janissaries
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and the Muslim population. He represented himself as the champion of
the janissaries and demanded a return to the old military system, as well
as the ending of the New Order.64 The issue at stake was the new
monopolies and the seizure of tımars in the region, which endangered
Pazvandoğlu’s economic and political power. It seems that he was able to
get some of the tax-farm of Vidin before it was opened to auction,
through the mediation of Yusuf Agha. Yet, Pazvandoğlu’s rejection of
the increase in the value of some mukataas, especially the mukataa
of Niğbolu belonging to Reisülküttab Raşid Efendi and the mukataa of
Fethü’l-İslam belonging to Sırkatibi Ahmed Efendi, was one of the core
reasons behind his revolt. According to Câbı̂, when he did not send the
payments to the Fethü’l-İslam he was represented to Selim III as an
“enemy of the sultan”; the sultan then sent an expedition against him.65
He also opposed the payment of an annual amount of 500 purses on the
grounds that the people of Vidin could not afford it.66
Meanwhile, the seizure of the vacant tımars in the Balkans had
turned Vidin into a shelter for those who had lost their livelihoods and
who opposed the policy. In response, Pazvandoğlu became a spokesman
for their complaints, and levied only one tax from the people under his
control, refusing to impose any of the taxes demanded by the New
Fund.67 It is clear that Pazvandoğlu and Tayyar Pasha were trying to
win over public opinion for their own benefits, using similar methods
of emphazing religiosity, representing themselves as champions of the
old order and blaming the sultan – and particularly his ruling elite.
Yet, Pazvandoğlu seems to have been more radical in his claims in
comparison to Tayyar Pasha, since the janissaries in the Balkans lent
him greater support. Pazvandoğlu may even have considered a change
in the ruling dynasty, flirting with the Giray family and the Great
Powers with the purpose of restoring the golden age of Süleyman I or
the Islamic golden age of the Four Caliphs, by eliminating Selim III
and his corrupt elite.68
The Edirne Incident
The real problems in Rumelia, however, were to wait until the summer
of 1806. In the year following Tayyar’s revolt there was major resistance
from the Rumelian magnates and commoners to the expansion of the
New Order corps in Thrace. In fact, the new troops had been sent to
Rumelia even before this famous incident, but tasked only with
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suppressing disorder in the region. Under the command of Kadı
Abdurrahman Pasha, they fought against the Mountaineers, who had
come as far as Edirne and Çatalca in the summer of 1804. During this
expedition, the forces of Kadı Pasha defeated the Mountaineers around
Malkara (in Eastern Thrace). Following an imperial order, the cavalry
forces of the New Order were stationed in Çorlu, while the infantry
remained in Tekfur Dağı (Tekirdağ) as a measure against the bandits.
Kadı Pasha’s second expedition to the region occured in 1806.
He received the order in April 1806 and came to the capital with his
Nizam-ı Cedid soldiers from Anatolia. After being received by the sultan,
he went on to Rumelia with 24,000 soldiers.69
The first recorded reaction occurs in Tekirdağ (1806), in response to
the imperial order sent to local administrators stipulating the
recruitment of young men to the barracks in Yapu Ağac or Karışdıran.
Agents were sent to districts of Tekirdağ to announce that these
measures were only for the sake of the protection of the commoners from
the Mountaineers, and were also a manifest proof of the compassion of
the sultan for his subjects in the region. Apparently, the deputy judge
(naib) of Tekfur Dağı was unhappy with the centre’s instructions and the
possible stationing of “disciplined soldiers” in the vicinity. The Porte
immediately dismissed him and a more loyal judge was appointed
instead. The new deputy judge did read the imperial order but his court
was then stormed, an incident which ended with the murder of the
deputy and his retinue. The reaction of the masses can be seen as a
reaction to the new conscription strategies.70
In Europe, the establishment and subsequent expansion of
domestically recruited soldiery created a great stimulus for direct rule
from the seventeenth century onwards;71 in Ottoman domains, it
produced a similar reaction. According to one account, since the
inhabitants of Rumelia were all janissaries, they were concerned about
the establishment of a new military system in the region.72 It seems that
their anxieties were further aggravated by Dağdevirenoğlu, the local
power holder in Edirne, who was provoking the janissaries and the palace
gardeners by claiming that ‘this Nizam-ı Cedid issue will gradually
convert you into grocer apprentices and reaya.’73 Dağdevirenoğlu was
trying to strengthen his own party by persuading the traditional
military groups that the stationing of the new model military would
mean the end of their privileges, and threaten their very survival
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(note, again, the emphasis on the challenge to vested interests). It does
indeed seem that the people who caused the incident in Tekfurdağı/
Tekirdağ were mostly janissaries, and that they refused the imperial
order by saying that “our fathers and grandfathers were Janissaries and
we are also Janissaries. We do not accept the Nizam-ı Cedid.”74
Following this incident, the local janissary commander asked the
Nizam-ı Cedid soldiers, who were temporarily stationed in the khans, to
leave town in order to prevent further disorder and destruction.75
It appears that the incident in Tekirdağ landed the Porte with a
dilemma: either to give up enrolling soldiers in the region or to employ
military force to break local resistance. The centre announced that the
sultan was intending to establish two barracks between Edirne and
Istanbul, with the purpose of protecting local people from bandits.
Spreading propaganda that the former pashas had been unsuccessful in
imposing order in the region, the centre declared it time to suppress the
bandits with state-paid regular soldiery.76 For the sultan, the best measure
would be to send orders to other locations in Rumelia, disseminating the
aims of the New Order and keeping the local populations calm.77 But
calm was not easy to keep so long as the residents of Tekirdağ continued to
oppose the central authority and refuse to deliver the culprits responsible
for the murder of the deputy judge. Consequently, two corvettes were sent
in July 1806 to blockade the city, and they later bombarded it. A local
magnate, Kara Ahmed, was executed, and the new soldiers were finally
able to enter the city. Meanwhile (May 1806), the janissaries in Edirne
murdered Ahmed Agha, who had been appointed chief gardener of Edirne
and secretly authorized to establish the new military corps in the city.
Silivri was the first town to oppose Kadı Pasha’s forces, but it was easily
pacified and the desired recruitment was implemented. From then on,
however, Kadı Pasha’s forces were not welcomed in the towns through
which they passed. Eschewing direct and open confrontation, the local
people cut off his forces’ provisions (including water), and attacked the
supply caravans; as a result, they were unable to move beyond Havsa. The
sultan ordered them to retreat to Çorlu, but even there they were able to
enter the town only after besieging the city. The retreat sealed the failure
of the expansion of the Nizam-ı Cedid project in the Balkans. The minutes
of a meeting held in the capital sets out other reasons why the centre had
to give up the project: winter was approaching, the capital was
undefended and the Nizam-ı Cedid soldiers were dispirited.78 Rumours
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that the janissaries were plotting an upheaval in the capital might have
played an important role in the decision to cancel the project, which
would have been vulnerable in case of an uprising. Consequently, by an
imperial order dated 19 September 1806, Kadı Pasha and his forces left
Silivri for the capital.79
The Balkan project, formulated by Ibrahim Nesim Efendi sometime
in 1806, was initially envisaged to unfold within a short period of
time, with the help of new soldiers drawn from Anatolia. It was
probably also intended to create a stationary army to counter the
Russian threat and the Serbian uprising, both of which generated an
urgent need for protection on the Balkan frontiers.80 In other words,
rather than being a gradual process, his project smacked more of an
“invasion” by Anatolian soldiers under the command of Kadı
Abdurrahman Pasha, an Anatolian statesman and military contractor.
In contrast to the Rumelian case, the expansion of the new military
system in Anatolia was more gradual, and the reactions more sporadic
and individual. Rather than a process of negotiation and incorporation,
as was the case from the outset in Anatolia, in the Balkans the Porte
resorted to negotiation only after the failure of the project. After that
failure, they needed the collaboration of a local magnate, Serezli/Sirozı̂
Ismail Bey (d. 1813), for mediation, even though they suspected him of
secretly supporting the resistance.81 Indeed, without the support of a
local power holder such as Ismail Bey, the resistance would hardly have
been so effective.
The failure of the project also created a governmental crisis, leading
to a change in the cabinet, from where some high-ranking state elite,
mostly associated with the reforms, were dismissed and more
conciliatory figures appointed. This was clearly intended to mollify
the reactionary group, which had been strengthened by the Edirne
Incident.82 Alongside these political consequences, the Edirne Incident
increased the sense of alienation from the centre among the masses, and
continued to undermine the sultan’s legitimacy. The Edirne Incident
seems to have left a strong imprint on collective memory: at the height
of the May 1807 rebellion, a young rebel rebuked the shaikh al-Islam of
the time, Ataullah Efendi, for having issued a fatwa during the Edirne
Incident.83 The rebels’ view was that innocent Muslims had been killed
unjustly during the incident,84 and they demanded the execution of
those who had been involved.85
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The reaction was not only directed against the conscription strategies,
although this seems to have been the immediate concern of the
commoners from Thrace. Although the role of higher magnates is less
pronounced in the contemporary sources, they seem to have opposed the
stationing of the New Order armies in their areas. According to a report
by a British agent in Bucharest, 186 local power holders and janissary
elders convened and signed a pact to resist the new army. More
importantly, the report declares, they decided to dethrone Selim III and
change the government in Istanbul.86 Were they opposed to
modernization, or were they more concerned about the centralization
policies that were integral to the Porte’s 1806 project? Would they have
voiced opposition if a traditional army detachment had been sent to their
areas? Probably not. In fact, thousands of soldiers had passed through the
region to fight against the Russians and were met with no reaction,
while detachments were sent there frequently under the command of
various governors to combat the bandits in the region, as well as the
Serbian rebels. As we have already remarked, even Nizam-ı Cedid soldiers
had previously been sent there to fight against the Kırcalis.
What was it about the 1806 expedition, then, that made the Balkan
power holders and commoners so reactionary? The answer, perhaps, lies
in the centre’s intention to station the new soldiery permanently in the
region, which in the long run would have serious and detrimental
consequences for the interests of the Balkan power holders. The most
obvious result was a fear of the gradual elimination of the janissary army
or traditional military system, a fear felt deeply in different parts of the
Empire. Yet, for the Balkan ayans the most serious threat seems to have
been the political, military and fiscal re-centralization that would be
brought about with the help of the new soldiery: something which could
ultimately end in the collapse of the system to which the ayans owed
their survival. We should remember that the essence of the Nizam-ı
Cedid reforms was an attempt by the state to re-centralize and re-control
provisioning, recruitment, and the financial and political system, so as to
increase fiscal efficiency and overcome the eighteenth-century crisis.
Indirect rule was a by-product of the seventeenth-century crisis, and in
the crisis of the late eighteenth century the policy was reversed.87 While
for the subjects this meant more taxation, for the power holders it
meant more direct control, something which ran squarely counter to
their interests.
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In this respect, re-centralization started a journey towards a modern
state characterized more by European-style economic, political and
military integration. Contrary to the European case, however, there were
no chartered cities or companies, and the local power holders formed the
main obstacle to change within the imperial domains. The threat to
customary rights, however, was a basic source of discontent everywhere.
As in Anatolia, the Balkan ayans were engaged in constant warfare
among themselves, and sometimes with central authorities, for survival
and the accumulation of wealth and power. For lack of manpower they
were employed by the centre in imperial campaigns, something which
gave them a certain bargaining power. Yet, the Porte was notably
reticent in these bargaining processes, and remained determined to
eliminate them as soon as a suitable opportunity arose. The 1806 project
should be seen from this perspective. The Balkan ayans, some more
powerful even than their Anatolian counterparts, tried to keep the
bargaining process alive. Although they did not desire the collapse of the
imperial centre, they still wanted to preserve their dynasties, and were
prepared to take part in a decision making process initiated by the centre
while still holding out over their taxation and conscription rights. All
this is acknowledged in the Deed of Alliance, a document signed as a
result of an alliance between bureaucrats and the ayans, against the ulema
and janissaries, who gained an upper hand in state politics after the
May uprising.
Social Polarization
Although a very serious failure, the events in Edirne did not escalate into
a revolt against Selim III. What, then, explains the outbreak of the May
upheaval? I think the answer lies in another, rather neglected, aspect of
the Selimian era: social psychology and the general atmosphere prevalent
at the time of the uprising. To respond to the above question, we must
address the escalating levels of social polarization in the period before the
uprising. Polarization can be defined as “the extent to which the
population is clustered around a small number of poles.”88 The available
sources do not always give clear clues about the axes of polarization in
early nineteenth-century Ottoman society, but we may surmise, with
considerable plausibility, that a main source of friction concerned the
policies of the centre, and especially the reforms. Another axis of division
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seems to have been between heterodox and orthodox Islam, or in other
words between membership of the Bektashi sect (attributed to the
janissaries and lower ranks of society) and the orthodox beliefs of the
central ruling elite.
The contemporary sources, particularly those written the year before
the uprising, permit us to follow the processes of polarization through
the eyes of certain authors (as well as through the eyes of the Ottoman
bureaucrats). A deep polarization, or bipolarity, seems to have formed
over the necessity of reforms, fed by vested socio-economic interests, at
least as far as is reflected in the number of treatises, pamphlets or books
aiming at silencing anti-reformist criticism. Unfortunately, we are not
able to hear the voices of the opponents of the reforms directly, but only
as they are represented in certain comments by the apologists of the
Nizam-ı Cedid. It is, therefore, more reasonable to consider these texts as
reflecting the central elite’s visions for solving social problems. Clearly,
they considered the mounting social tension as stemming from the
Nizam-ı Cedid, and their focus on that issue is manifestly intended to
convince the public of the necessity of reform.
The treatises entitled Hülâsatü’l- Kelâm fi Reddi’l-Avam (Koca Sekbanbaşı
Risalesi)89 (A Brief Word on Refuting the Common People, also known as the
Sekbanbaşı Treatise) and Dihkânı̂zâde Ubeydullah Kuşmânı̂’s Zebı̂re-i
Kuşmânı̂ fi Ta’rı̂f-i Nizâm-ı İlhâmı̂ (The Text of Kuşmânı̂ on the Description of
the Selimian Regime)90 were produced in the post-Edirne Incident period.91
The Sekbanbaşı Treatise must have been written around 1807, sometime
before the deposition of Selim III. Possibly, the growing dissatisfaction
with the policies of the centre inspired the sultan to commission a treatise
in favour of his reforms, so as to silence anti-state rumours. The author of
the first text is still unknown, and a separate literature has developed on
his identity.92 Zebı̂re, on the other hand, was written in 1806 by
Ubeydullah Kuşmânı̂ at the time of the declaration of war against the
Russians. Its author, Kuşmânı̂, was a self-appointed propagandist for
Selimian policies. Both, therefore, are state-sponsored treatises,
representing the views of the centre. As emphasized by Beydilli and
Şakul, these treatises represent a new line of thinking on Ottoman reform
history, namely the very urgent need for implementing reforms in order to
revitalize the Empire; hence they are less tolerant of opponents. One of
their concerns is to refute the arguments of those who considered reforms
as against the spirit of Islam.93
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For our concerns, the principal message of both treatises is the
absolute necessity of revitalizing the Empire, which had long been
suffering defeats and territorial losses. This was in fact a universal
concern of imperial elites across the world, where they were forced to
adopt a defensive posture against revolutionary Europe.94 Both authors
insist that Muslims could no longer afford to despise European powers,
since their armies were now superior to the Ottoman military. Therefore,
it was time to borrow their military technology, and defeat them with
their own methods according to the so-called mukabele-i bi’l-misil
(principle of reprisal). Importing foreign military technology had never
been against the spirit of Islam; on the contrary, the Qur’an commanded
the Muslims to fight their enemies on the basis of this principle. Here,
there are no exhortations to revive the glorious Ottoman past or the
imperial Golden Age, as had been prevalent in the advice literature
(nasihatname) of earlier centuries. Rather, the force of necessity was the
basic concern.
The aim now was simply to catch up with the Empire’s European
counterparts, something which remained an enduring concern of
intellectuals and statesmen both of the Ottoman Empire and the nascent
Turkish Republic. The treatises do offer some examples from the past,
especially from the reign of Suleiman I, but there is no explicit
suggestion of a return to the past. As Virginia Aksan observes, this break
occurred during the eighteenth century, with Ibrahim Müteferrika
(d. 1745) and Ahmed Resmi Efendi (d. 1783). In particular, it was
Ahmed Resmi’s Hülasatü’l-İtibar, which manifested a break from the
discourse of previous Ottoman authors who had attributed a pivotal role
to the Ottoman sultan in establishing order and justice. Now,
intellectuals tried to explain the problems inherent in the Ottoman
military system via other means, and expounded the necessity of a
disciplined army.95 As is evident from these sources, the primary concern
was to rationalize the military reforms, where imitation was seen as the
best chance for Ottoman survival.96
Both Kuşmânı̂ and Koca Sekbanbaşı acknowledge the idea of
constant change and the universality of knowledge. It was this constant
change that both rendered the military system outmoded and made it
possible to borrow from the European military sciences ( fünûn-ı
askeriye). One could no longer resist these dynamics, and the attempt to
resist them was the basic mistake they attributed to their opponents;
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the janissaries, they stated, were bankrupt (müflis) as soldiers.97 As
previously remarked, both accounts turn on imaginary dialogues. As far
as is reflected in these dialogues, the antagonists, particularly the
janissaries, are not convinced of the necessity of a new corps. In the texts,
they argue that there was already a standing professional army ready to
serve the state and religion. They, the janissaries, were the ones who had
conquered new territories and glorified Islam, not the New Order
soldiers, and they were still ready to fight for the Empire.98 It is not
possible to determine whether these were real arguments actually
espoused by the opposing party. Most probably they did indeed make
certain similar claims, but these were highly exaggerated or caricatured
by the authors of the two treatises. In response, these authors underline
that despite frequent defeats and territorial losses, the janissaries
remained oblivious to the problems inherent in their corps.99
Alongside this kind of argument, critics also seem to have leveled
certain accusations directly at the new military system. The authors
counter these attacks by setting out to define the Nizam-ı Cedid (ocak-ı
cedid).100 For instance, Koca Sekbanbaşı begins with the question ‘What
is the Nizam-ı Cedid?’ and defines it as a body of troops well trained and
exercised.101 There was clearly a gulf between the notions of war as
defended by the janissaries, and those of the authors of these treatises.
For example, the janissaries were imagined as saying:
Let the enemy present himself, and we will lay our hands on our
sabres, and at a single charge make piece-meal of them. Only let us
see the intentions of our enemy, we will storm their camp, sword
in our hand, upset their Cral from his throne, trample his crown
under our feet, and penetrate even to the most distant of their
countries.102
While the janissaries emphasize their heroic deeds, Koca Sekbanbaşı
tries to establish the utility of drilled soldiers and a disciplined army, in
which collective action and discipline mattered more than numbers and
individual heroism:
Our old forces, when in the presence of the enemy, do not remain
drawn up in a line, but stand confusedly and promiscuously like
a crowd in a place of diversion. Some load their muskets, and fire
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once, some twice or oftener, just as they think proper, whilst
others being at their wits’ end and not knowing what they are
about turn from side to side like fabulous storytellers [. . .] But
the new troops remain drawn up in line as though they were at
prayers, the rear ranks being exactly parallel with the front, and
consisting of the same number of companies, neither more nor
less, when it is necessary, they turn with as much precision as a
watch.103
Such action required constant drills in order to establish standard and
uniform maneuvers. In fact, this new military system based on harsh
and continuous discipline and training had begun to be applied in
Europe only one generation earlier, notably after the victory of Prussia
during the Seven Years’ War (1756 – 63). This new army was described
in the Prussian military codes as an “artificial machine”. Two or three
decades after the war, the new military system had spread all over
Europe, and was developed by the French in 1791. With the
development of the new discipline, armies in the old style began to be
considered as obsolete clusters of vagrant men.104 Machine-like
military discipline and standardization required the mental and
physical obedience of the soldiers, and their submission to the task of
creating a coherent military body.105 Discussing the formation of the
modern army system in Egypt under the rule of Mehmed Ali Pasha in
the 1830s, Fahmy notes that:
The orders were, furthermore, directed at manipulating very
specific movements and gestures of the soldiers. The bravery and
strength of the soldiers are done away with, and instead a minute
and very fine adjustment of the soldiers’ bodies was conducted
aiming at aggregating the isolated movements of soldiers into one,
massive force, that of the battalion.106
Similar points are emphasized by Koca Sekbanbaşı:
The whole body, consisting of many thousand men, observe
attentively the signals given them by the two fuglemen who
explain by signs the commands of the officers, and no one dares so
much as to turn his head.107
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One foreigner, Baron von Brentano, presented a reform proposal to the
Porte, which suggested the need for basic military drills, “turn right,
turn left.”108
As mentioned earlier, these points are set out in the accounts of proNew Order authors, who thereby attempt to give voice to certain ideas
which were supposedly the object of harmful gossip and speculation.
Yet, there is no indication as to whether these authors were sincere in
their explanations of why the janissaries opposed the new army. They
were largely content to state that the janissaries were ignorant and
unconcerned with anything but their own selfish interests. It is
interesting to note that the authors never talk about the low wages paid
to janissaries, which forced them to engage in crafts, diverting their
attention from their real duties. The nearest the treatises get to engaging
with the janissaries’ economic concerns is in one imaginary dialogue,
wherein a janissary confesses:
I receive a salary (ulûfe) of 25 akces in the Janissary corps. Should
the Nizam-ı Cedid soldiers increase in number and prove to be
effective, then Janissaries will fall from grace and I will not be able
to receive my salary. If I were sure that no danger would befall
upon my salary, I would pray God that every living soul shall be
Nizam-ı Cedid soldiers.109
Why were the janissaries made the target of the pamphlet writers,
given that there was a multitude of other potential opponents to the
New Order, ranging from artisans to the tımar-holders whose lands
were seized by the New Treasury, let alone the massive resistance of the
local magnates in the Balkans? The reply turns in part on previous
experiences with janissary political activism, and in part on
contemporary realities. With their privileges and special tax rights,
the janissary army comprised one of the most exclusive status groups
in the Ottoman Empire.110 Due to the processes mentioned in the
previous chapter, however, the social composition of the janissary
corps was undergoing a transformation, and from the seventeenth
century onwards it is difficult to draw strict lines between civilians
and the military corps. The later period thus represented the
transformation of an exclusive military group into a more inclusive
status group. Within four centuries, a purely military corps turned
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into a traditional status group in the Weberian sense, gaining partial
freedom from the sultans’ patrimonial rule.
The direction of intermingling between civilians and the janissaries
was not unilinear. While the janissaries established close ties with the
rest of society, especially through the process of esnaf-ization and esâme
sales, the civilians also entered into the janissary cadres. With the
intrusion of local people, particularly from the middle-rank urbanites,
its social structure changed significantly. The end of the devshirme system
had already given rise to the entry of Muslim commoners into the corps,
which also changed the ethnic structure of the janissary army. Given the
prevailing economic instability, most segments of society were seeking
more secure sources of livelihood, especially the lower classes which were
recruited into the military forces. The increasing need for soldiers in
ongoing campaigns had also necessitated new recruitment. As signalled
by the sixteenth century “decline” literature, the barriers between
commoners and soldiers began to be undermined, and at the turn of the
eighteenth century they had become deeply intermingled with the rest
of society, the corps having transformed into semi-professional
paramilitary groups, with the influx of urbanites from various cities.
While some urbanites became soldiers or pseudo-soldiers, the soldiers
themselves were localized and became guildsmen or craftsmen. Once
they became artisans, André Raymond concludes, the soldier-artisans
became more integrated into society and followed similar economic
behaviour.111 Kafadar argues that, due to the esnaf-ization process, the
janissaries established mutual relations with the established craftsmen of
Istanbul, while they themselves became petty artisans.112 In the late
eighteenth century there was an expansion of soldier-artisans, while the
number of urban consumers declined.113 We need not go into the details
of the mechanism, since during the reign of Selim III the process had
already been completed and was sufficiently mature to reproduce
itself.114 For our concerns, the result of the transformation was the
proletarization of the janissary corps and the militarization of the urban
poor or the middle classes. At the same time, the intermingling of
civilian groups with the soldiers of the capital provided them with an
advantage in their struggle against the demands from above.115
Leaving aside the question of their integration with the
commoners, it seems that janissaries acted both as oppressors and
protectors of the commoners. Baron de Tott, for instance, presents
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them as opponents of ‘despotism’ in Salonika.116 Similar observations
are repeated throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth century
especially by foreigners.117 The janissaries emerged as the main source
of protest whenever there was a crisis in the market, a failure in
harvests or threat of starvation in the city. The commoners, on the
other hand, needed the help of the janissaries to defend their rights
against the oppression and abuses of local power holders and state
elites. At the same time, however, the janissaries also acted as “petty
despots” in the city.118 In that respect, there is a fair resemblance
between the role of the janissaries and the ayans.119
No matter to what degree the janissaries lost their original functions
and turned into an inclusive status group, they preserved their links of
solidarity and tried to retain their privileges. Regardless of the opinions
of the ruling elite and of society in general, they clung to their prestige,
especially in the face of predations by the centre. The Selimiyye Mosque
Incident, mentioned above, may appear to be a minor event, but
provides crucial clues regarding the attitude of the janissaries. It is
obvious that their replacement in the aforementioned ceremony was
viewed as a violation of their privilege and as a serious act of degradation.
In a similar way, the Bosnians resisted the abolition of the janissary corps
in Bosnia after 1826 in order not to lose their own privileges.120 One
striking example in this regard comes from 1808, during the grand
vizierate of Alemdar Mustafa Pasha. After establishing his authority in
the capital following the counter-revolution and coup d’état, he began a
series of political purges and executions. Amid the profuse criticism
directed against his reign of terror, he is censured for not having treated
members of the military with the respect due to their status. The most
striking example in this regard is that he sentenced guilty corps
members to death by decapitation, treating them like commoners, rather
than having them strangled as befitted their social status.121 Even in his
execution orders, Alemdar Mustafa Pasha did not respect the privileges
of military groups and social hierarchies. The most scandalous execution
in this regard was that of Kahvecioğlu Mustafa Agha, an influential figure
from the 25th Janissary regiment. He was executed in front of his
coffeehouse in Galata in order to serve as an example for the rest. The
author of the Yayla İmamı Risalesi sees that murder as an act of overt
brutality, as well as a clear manifestation of Alemdar Mustafa Pasha’s
disrespect for the janissaries, whom he treated as “commoners” (reaya).122
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Although the social structure had changed significantly, the military
ethos of the janissaries and other military groups remained intact, and
this underpinned their basic advantage as a status group. Since it was
privilege which defined status groups in early modern polities, the
rescinding of any kind of such advantage was liable to provoke
discontent and even revolution.123 The janissaries’ reaction was,
therefore, not a case of irrationality; on the contrary, it was a coldly
rational calculation. At the heart of the problem lies the issue of rights
and privileges and membership of a community. Challengers, who are
denied admission to a group, tend to define themselves as being deprived
of rights which are due to them on more general grounds. Members who
are threatened with losing their position tend, in contrast, to lay the
accent on tradition, customary usage and other particular arguments in
defence of their claims. Contenders, whether entering or leaving a
privilege group, have a special propensity to articulate their situations in
strongly moral terms.124
Military strength and the sense of in-group solidarity were the basic
points of attraction for the janissary classes, and it was this, rather than
their collaboration with other groups, which made them powerful. As a
rule, collective action in the early modern world had a communal and
corporational nature. Special manners, costumes and speech peculiar to a
group were generally preserved, but these features did not always derive
from their military origins or military performances; meanwhile,
military groups pauperized their glorious pasts while still boasting of
their military identity, regardless of the change in their social
composition. In terms of religious beliefs, too, they tended to adhere to
popular and mostly unorthodox sects, such as Bektashism, which played
a major part in their new identity formation. Indeed, most contemporary
authors refer to the janissaries as Bektashi groups (taife-i Bektaşiyan), in a
pejorative sense. Since they mainly belonged to the lower segments of
urban society and had heterodox tendencies, they were usually
represented as urban riffraff, rabble or rootless social isolates.
But these points still do not explain fully why the janissaries were
singled out for direct criticism in these propaganda texts, and why the
polarization was particularly intense between the janissaries and groups
affiliated to the state. The answer, in part, lies in the rivalry between the
centre and opposing groups (especially the janissaries and the Bektashis)
over shaping public opinion in the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century
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Ottoman capital. While in Anatolia and the Balkans it was local ayans
and their vassals who formed and shaped public opinion, the janissaries
were influential in Istanbul. The coffeehouses were the main public
places where janissaries and civilians had a chance to meet. In this
period, there were approximately 2,500 coffeehouses in Istanbul, run
mainly by janissaries, and this created a special bond between them and
the immigrant networks. No great capital was needed to establish a
coffeehouse, and the regional migrants made ready customers. For
instance, in 1792, 83 per cent of coffeehouse proprietors had military
affiliations and half were identified with the unit to which they
belonged. The numbers of janissary coffeehouses had been increasing
from the mid-seventeenth century onwards.125 Coffeehouses also meant
social networks and the associated circulation of gossip. They provided a
chance for the military class to meet outside the barracks, and prominent
and influential janissaries were involved in this trade. Civilians also
frequented these coffeehouses, where news was exchanged and anti-state
arguments were discussed and rehearsed; thus, they came under strict
surveillance by the centre.126 As we have seen previously, several shops
were closed due to their circulating anti-state rumours regarding the
Nizam-ı Cedid and the policies of the centre.
The janissaries and Bektashis seem to have been able to form and
mould public opinion, which was not always in compliance with state
interests. On the contrary, as Berkes also states, the janissaries and their
Bektashi-affiliated groups formed a type of “literary underground”
fostering a kind of anti-statist ideology. That is the main reason why the
aforementioned pamphlet writers had first and foremost to undermine
the prestige of the janissaries and their affiliates, in order to reach the
commoners and to disseminate a more state-affiliated public
discourse.127 Winning over the janissaries on the necessity of the
reforms would also have meant winning over most commoners in the
capital. Yet, despite the efforts of the propagandists, the centre was never
able to manipulate public opinion and convince people about the
need for reform. On the contrary, commoners – not to mention the
janissaries – became more and more alienated from the centre and
increasingly suspicious of its intentions. As far as the commoners were
concerned, there was also a kind of “Great Fear”, a sense of betrayal by
the ruling elite, which would become amplified by the international
policies of the centre, the topic of the next chapter.
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Conclusion
Ideological, political or religious conflict not only increases social
tension but also greatly increases the risk of collective violence.128 While
the economic problems had prepared the breeding ground for
discontent, the challenges which the new military system posed to
vested interests increased the general sense of pessimism, and tensions
escalated in the years prior to the uprising. The revolt of Tayyar Pasha
should be considered as a manifestation of provincial elite rivalry, that of
Pazvandoğlu as related to recentralization efforts, as well as the
recessionist movements of the disintegrative phase, while the Edirne
Incident as a reaction to the interventionist fiscal and military policies of
the Porte. The degree of decentralization and the deep vested interests of
the local magnates prevented the expansion of the new military system –
and its possible consequences – in the regions. The Nizam-ı Cedid
reforms were used – or abused – as an ideological or political tool in
these incidents, which in fact had deep roots in the economic and
political structures of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.
The most direct connection of reforms to the uprising was their role in
exacerbating social polarization, especially between the ruling
elite and higher segments of society, and the janissaries and lower
segments of society.
CHAPTER 4
GREAT POWERS AND THE
OTTOMAN EMPIRE
The Turks if necessary should be saved in spite of themselves.1
Introduction
During the disintegrative period, the Ottoman central authorities had to
deal not only with the internal fiscal crisis and rising tendencies towards
decentralization, but also with intense international rivalry and
increasing inter-imperial belligerence. Observing the weakness of the
Porte, rival powers pressed their advantage, leading to a period of raids,
invasions and loss of territory.2 This, in turn, triggered further internal
instability. The problems of the Selimian era, both internal and external,
are thus interlinked with the imperialist policies of the Great Powers:
France, Russia and Britain. Indisputably, the main actor of the period
was Napoleonic France, which was altering the existing political
balance, challenging old alliances and creating new ones, and above all
disseminating revolutionary ideas in different parts of the world.
Although this period sees only a limited impact of revolutionary ideas in
the Ottoman Empire, the aggressive expansionist policy of revolutionary
France directly involved that region.
The Ottoman Empire, thus, engaged with revolutionary France more
through war and diplomacy than in the sphere of ideology. Like Spain
and Portugal, the Porte became the focus of contestation between the
Western powers; unable to detach itself from this dynamic, it was forced
to adapt.3 Unlike earlier periods, however, the political contest no longer
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took place only on the frontier, but had now moved into the Empire’s
heartlands.4 The Ottoman Empire implemented its policy of adaptation
through diplomacy and military reforms, undertaken in an environment
of political polarization and social reaction. It is no coincidence that the
rise of Ottoman diplomacy in the classical sense took place in the
Selimian era;5 alliances shifted rapidly, exposing the Porte to a long war
which heralded the two calamitous final years of the Selimian era – all of
which, I argue, were preconditions of the 1807 uprising.
In previous chapters we have seen how the socio-economic conditions
and rivalry over limited sources of power and income had disadvantaged
certain segments of Ottoman society. This situation was exacerbated by
the Selimian reforms, which increased this rivalry and intensified social
polarization. All the while, like the unceasing rumble of distant artillery,
the international crisis was augmenting local tensions, creating a
miasma of pessimism and paranoia. The period was marked by an intense
fear among the commoners that they would be betrayed by the ruling
elite – this, indeed, was a constant theme, and not one which was related
only to the Selimian reforms. This chapter will argue that popular
anxiety was aggravated not only by the social dislocation and economic
crisis, but also by resentment over the Porte’s inability to cope with the
foreign interventions. When this anxiety and resentment eventually met
with the political activism of the military corps, scaffolded by their
capacity for mass mobilization, the uprising materialized.6
International Crisis and Social Pessimism
It is striking how often uprisings or social movements are prefigured by
a strong sense of betrayal and paranoia, which overwhelms society either
in part or in toto – the “Great Fear” of the French Revolution being the
best example. As James C. Davies rightly notes, “political stability and
instability are ultimately dependent on a state of mind and mood in the
society”, a mood which is not always solely related to status and wealth.
This mood of discontent, which may have either social or natural
reasons, he calls “proto-rebelliousness”.7 The fear of conspiracy which
gripped the Ottoman Empire in the early nineteenth century mounted
to paranoiac levels. The entire society, now firmly on the defensive, felt
itself to be the object of constant foreign plots directed at territorial and
material gain. There were particular suspicions of Russian designs, along
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with fears that the capital could one day be “contaminated by the
presence and polluted by the supremacy of the emperor of Russia”, a fear
which was played up by the propagandist Koca Sekbanbaşı; nor did the
public trust the intentions of its own rulers, including the sultan.
The personnel of the old-style military were alarmed at the prospect of
being abolished through the intrigues of the new Selimian elite, which
was widely believed to be deceiving and manipulating the sultan;
meanwhile, the rulers were suspicious of their rivals and of the ignorant
classes beyond the palace walls. The sultan himself was never
comfortable, being suspicious that his reforming policies were being
undermined by plots of the Russians, his own “corrupt statesmen”, and
by the intransigence of the army and society at large.
Although it is evident in the traditional accounts, modern studies pay
rather little attention to the trauma of the post-Kaynarca period. By the
Treaty of Küc ük Kaynarca (1774), the loss of the Crimea – the first
Muslim land lost to Christian Russia – created a great sense of
helplessness and pessimism within the Ottoman Empire.8 To this, we
should also add public resentment about the centre’s inertia during the
bureaucratic processes surrounding the loss of the territory. Although the
recapture of the Crimea became a dream of Selim III – which the Porte
consistently maintained as policy – the inability to achieve this increased
the sense of frustration among the public.9 In one of his poems, prince
Selim revealed that his mood was as one with the public:
Though the heathen tempt Islam
Behold, we stand with our glory then
While they enslave each and every Tatar
Shalt Crimea still remain in heathen hands
Now then I send the Ottomans to battle
Then I put the ungodly enemy to the cleaver
Let me get to take vengeance on the infidel
Shalt I otherwise pass away with open eyes10
Aksan too draws attention to the psychological impact of the shift from
an ideology of the ever-expanding Islamic frontier to that of an empire
on the defensive, which also struck at the source of imperial
legitimacy.11 Serious military defeats, the loss of Crimea and continuous
wars with the Austrians and Russians had left common people eagerly
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awaiting Selim’s enthronement, hoping that he might overcome the
Empire’s problems and change its fate.12 The events that unfolded after
his enthronement, however, left the subjects disappointed, and the
sultan dead.
As the war with the Russians and the Austrians dragged on, and the
Empire’s problems remained unsolved, it became increasingly clear
that Selim III would be unable to embody the ideal of a cihangir (world
conqueror). He tried to push through an alliance with Prussia and
Britain, which would help him to regain territories lost during the
time of Abdulhamid I. In the meantime, however, military defeats in
October and November 1789, at Galatz, Foskshani, Rimnik, Belgrade
and finally at Bender, created severe political crises in the capital. The
enthusiasm accompanying the accession of Selim III had by now
mostly faded away, and people were looting, protesting and
committing acts of arson in the streets of Istanbul.13 Another
disappointment came as the result of an alliance with the Prussians.
On 26 November 1789, Diez, the Prussian ambassador, offered that the
Prussians would declare war on Russia and fight until the recovery of
the Crimea. In return, the Porte would support Prussian claims to
Danzig and Thorn, and back the return of Galicia to Poland. Some
members of the ulema in the imperial council reacted against the
Prussian alliance, on the grounds that an alliance with an infidel power
was against the sharia. Despite their discontent, the alliance was signed
on 31 January 1790.
Further deepening of the political crisis and mounting social
pessimism came with the French invasion of Egypt (1798– 1801).14
Napoleon had invaded the region with the primary goal of blocking
British access to India, while also coveting control over the resources of
this rich Ottoman province. After the expulsion of the French armies
from Egypt, Selim III added the title of holy warrior, gazi, to his official
titles. His acquisition of this title was announced across the Empire.15 It
is ironic, however, that the sultan had not actually participated in the
Egyptian campaign, and that it would have been impossible to expel the
French forces without the help of the Russians and the British. One
contemporary author attacked Selim III on precisely this point,
declaring that the sultan had delivered Egypt to the “infidels” and that
innocents had suffered due to the misconduct of this “shameless ruler”
( padişah-ı bı̂-âr).16 This outburst might be written off as the opinion of
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an individual who was already hostile to Selim III; yet, the same
sentiment appears in a poem (destan) written after the invasion of Egypt:
Is this a fantasy or is it a dream?
Our reliever never shows up, are the roads snowbound?
Wake up o Sultan Selim! Hast thou a heart of stone?
All Egypt mourns, crying they long after him
[. . .]
March on the infidel, do not neglect thy duty
No virgin bride remaineth neither any wealthy
If Egypt surrendereth to the infidel French
O Sultan! Abdicate thy throne then, swiftly get through here17
The French invasion of Egypt is not only important for its general effects
on social psychology; it also engendered a very specific distrust of
reforms, creating a link in the public mind between reform and
treachery.18
In terms of international politics, the Egyptian adventure created a
serious rupture between the French and the Ottomans, with the Porte
establishing an alliance with Russia on 3 January 1799, and with Britain
two days later. The treaty, designed to guarantee the territorial integrity
of the Ottoman Empire, was to last for eight years. According to its
terms, the Porte granted right of passage for Russian warships through
the Straits to the Russian government during the war. Thus was the
famous Triple Alliance established and, thanks to joint attacks by the
allied forces, Napoleon’s first attempt to gain a stronghold in the Near
East met with failure. The tensions between Russia and the Porte over
their respective rights to Corfu (close to the Albanian coast) were also
settled in the convention of 21 March 1800, according to which the
Ionian Islands were organized as a republic with the title Septinsular
Republic (Cezâir-i Seba-ı Müctemia Cumhuru), under the joint protection
of Russia and the Porte.19
The end of the Second Coalition wars in 1802, and the consequent
general pacification of Europe, provided an opportunity for Napoleon to
turn again to Near Eastern affairs and reverse the setbacks of 1798.
Negotiations with the Porte led to the signing of the Paris Peace Treaty
(26 June 1802), in which each party pledged mutual help and a
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guarantee of territorial integrity. Restoration of peace, renewal of past
treaties, and expansion of French trading rights into the Black Sea and
the Straits were also granted. In this period, the French government was
concerned with re-establishing the prewar relationship with the Porte,
especially regarding commercial relations, with the prospect of rivalling
Russian commerce in the Black Sea.20 During 1804, the Porte preserved
its neutrality, studiously fending off both sides despite the pressure of
the Russian and French ambassadors. The most difficult test in the
relations between the Porte and the French, however, was the crisis over
the formal recognition of the imperial title of Napoleon. In the
diplomatic crisis precipitated by the Porte’s refusal to recognize the title,
relations again deteriorated, ending with General Brune (d. 1815), the
French ambassador, taking his leave of Istanbul (22 December 1804).
This act meant the suspension of diplomatic relations between the two
governments, and was a chance for Russia to increase her influence on the
Porte. On 23 September 1805, a new Russian –Ottoman treaty was
signed in which the Porte agreed to join the anti-French coalition of
Russia and Britain; thus, the Triple Alliance was renewed. This involved
a renewal of the defensive clauses of 1799 for a further nine years; the
secret clauses were directed in particular against Napoleon’s expansionist
policies.21 This alliance signified the success of Russian policy.
Observing the increasing influence of its enemies at the Porte, the
French government began to adopt a more conciliatory attitude. As a
mollifying act, it decided to change its policy in Egypt, which had been
based on playing this province off against the Porte. Talleyrand, the
French minister of foreign affairs, ordered Drovetti, his agent in Egypt,
not to cooperate with Kavalalı Mehmed Ali’s actions against the Porte.
Instead of the recognition of Napoleon’s imperial title, he proposed that
Napoleon be recognized as the sultan’s equal, with the title padişah.
Selim III, largely under external pressure, remained reluctant; yet, he
also saw that a complete break with France would leave him completely
dependent on his allies.22 When the news of Napoleon’s victories at Ulm
(17 October 1805) and Austerlitz (2 December 1805 – the humiliation
of the Habsburgs) reached Istanbul, Selim III felt himself freer to act and
had more courage to ignore the Triple Alliance. Seizing upon the
situation, Pierre Ruffin (d. 1824), France’s chargé d’affaires, promised
the Porte that his government would help them to regain the Crimea
and would never isolate the Empire by making separate treaties counter
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to the interests of the Porte.23 Consequently, Selim III sent Abdürrahim
Muhib Efendi (d. 1821) as extraordinary ambassador to Paris, carrying
the letter of the sultan recognizing the imperial title of Napoleon.
It was the appointment of General Horace Franc ois Bastien Sébastiani
(d. 1815) as the new French ambassador, however, that signalled the
most remarkable shift in Ottoman – French relations and the ascendancy
of French influence at the Porte. Before he left Paris for Istanbul,
Napoleon gave Sébastiani a set of instructions, which reflected the policy
the Emperor wished to promote in the part of the world that came to be
known as the Middle East. His first duty was to gain the confidence of
the sultan and persuade him that Napoleon had no intentions other than
to help create a strong Empire that would remain firm against Russia.
This specific instruction was probably added to assure the Porte that the
French landing in Dalmatia by the Treaty of Campo Formio (18 February
1797) did not constitute a threat to the Empire. The new ambassador
was to ensure that the French presence in the region was to be seen as an
advantage in case of attack, rather than as a threat. In his second
instruction, Napoleon summarized his policy in the Near East: “the
constant purpose of my policy is to make a triple alliance between me,
the Porte and Persia, directly or indirectly against Russia.” In the fourth
article, Napoleon clearly stated that he would not tolerate any kind of
uprising against the Porte, whether in Egypt, Syria or Greece, and he
ordered Sébastiani to conduct an investigation of the Serbian uprising on
his way to Istanbul. Sébastiani was to gain the confidence of the
Ottoman statesmen through diplomatic skill, and not by arrogance,
force or threat.24 As it turned out, Sébastiani would resort more
frequently to the latter than the former in his relations with the Porte.
As far as is reflected in the instructions, the French government was
indeed in favour of strengthening the Ottoman Empire and preserving its
territorial integrity. In this respect, the reforming efforts of the Porte,
notably the establishment of a new army, were admired in Paris, and
France declared itself ready to offer any kind of aid to improve the internal
conditions of the Empire.25 How should we explain this change in policy
by an imperialist government, which had so recently attacked Egypt? The
answer revolves around Russian influence at the Porte, a reality that
endangered French interests in the Near East. An internally strong
Ottoman Empire, dependent on French aid, promised a means to beat
back Russian influence, which in turn would render the Porte more
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confident vis-à-vis Russia and Britain. Napoleon’s primary aim was,
therefore, to establish a coalition (with the Porte and Persia) against Russia
and Britain, with the prospect of creating a barrier against Russian
expansion in both directions. The creation of a buffer state was also a policy
of the British government, and for this purpose negotiations were also
ongoing between Britain and Persia, with the particular aim of ending
conflict between Persia and Russia in order to make Russia stronger
against the French.26 For the Porte, the ultimate prize in this collaboration
was the recovery of the Crimea.27 If Sébastiani was able to convince the
Porte to close the Straits to Russian shipping, Russia would be trapped;
this, at least, seemed to be his immediate plan. The longer term plans of
the French government, however, seemed rather less favourable to the
Porte. For instance, while planning to improve the position of the Porte in
the Principalities, Napoleon also ordered Sébastiani to investigate the
Wahhabi problem with the aim of determining whether they could be
installed as a power between India and Europe.28 Furthermore, relations
with Tepedelenli Ali Pasha (d. 1822) were to be improved so that one day
he might protect French interests in the Adriatic.29
Sébastiani arrived in Istanbul on 9 August 1806 and was well
received. He submitted a letter to Selim III, which summarized the
general policy of the French government. By the application of
considerable cunning, he was quickly able to create a favourable
atmosphere around him, and thereafter he exerted pressure for the
removal of the present hospodars (princes) of Moldavia and Wallachia.
Two weeks after his arrival, Prince Alexander Muruzi (d. 1816) and
Constantine Ipsilanti (d. 1816) were deposed, and Alexander Suzzo
(d. 1821) and Skarlatos Callimaci (d. 1821) appointed in their place.30
There was no doubt that this move would create a diplomatic
crisis between Russia and the Porte, since, according to the RussoOttoman convention of 24 September 1802, these hospodars were to be
kept in place for seven years unless proven guilty of misconduct.
Moreover, the convention stated, the Russians were to be informed
beforehand as regards the grounds for deposition. The Porte had
previously made protestations to Russia about the actions of the
hospodars, but here was a foreign government – France – pressing for
their dismissal, with Sébastiani threatening to create a diplomatic
crisis by leaving the city unless he received a clear and positive reply
from the Porte.31
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The dismissal of the hospodars was a great diplomatic success on the part
of the French government. Sébastiani was not only instrumental in it, but
also ensured the appointment of pro-French figures as replacements. Four
days afterwards, he met with Selim III who explained that he was eager to
improve relations with the French government and to resist Russian
pressure. Yet, he added, he could not depend on his janissaries, and asked
for artillerymen and engineers from France.32 In another instance, this
time in a note, the French ambassador insisted that if the Porte continued
to ally itself with Russia and Britain, this would be taken as a violation of
neutrality. Sébastiani also assured the sultan that his government was
ready to defend the interests of the Porte by means of its forces stationed
in Dalmatia.33
These changes unleashed a series of diplomatic crises, leading finally to
war with Russia. Upon the dismissal of the hospodars, Andrei Yakovlevich
Italinsky (d. 1827), the Russian resident ambassador to the Porte,
demanded an urgent explanation. After some evasive answers, the Porte
finally replied that Ipsilanti had been dismissed for being a traitor, due to
his suspicious relations with Tirsiniklioğlu, as well as for provoking the
Serbian uprising.34 In dispatches, the British and Russian ambassadors
had already insisted that the deposition of the hospodars meant a
declaration of war. It seems that the ambassadors, facing a diplomatic
reversal, were planning to force the Porte to reconsider its actions through
a naval expedition on the part of the British, and military efforts by the
Russians. Under pressure from the allies, Selim III declared in a letter to
Napoleon that he was now intending to restore the dismissed hospodars, on
the pretext that his Empire was not ready for a new war with Russia. Now
it was Sébastiani’s turn to be alarmed, and he tried to convince the sultan
that the Porte would not be alone in case of war with Russia. He remained
sceptical, however, about the Porte’s defensive capacities faced with a
double attack by Russia and Britain. He instructed the commander of the
French troops in Dalmatia to be ready.35 In the meantime, Italinsky was
boarding to leave the city, still insisting on the unconditional restoration
of the hospodars. Finally, on 16 October, a declaration was produced by
the Reisülküttab announcing the reinstatement of Ipsilanti as the hospodar
of Wallachia, and the next day of Muruzi of Moldavia. The Porte had also
secretly agreed to permit the passage of Russian warships through the
Dardanelles and to renew the treaty stipulation concerning Moldavia and
Wallachia.36
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The decree of 16 October did not reach the Russian court until
November. In fact, on the same day, the commander of the Russian army
General Michelson had received orders to occupy the Principalities.37
Without much difficulty, the fortress of Hotin fell to the Russians on
10 November, followed by Bender on 22 November and Kili on
4 December. News came from Moldavia that the Russians were about to
enter the Principality. Meanwhile, Michelson issued a statement that
the Russians had come to the region in order to save the Empire from
French aggression, and he invited the Turkish population of the region
to unite with the Russians to drive the French out. He also recalled
that, as stipulated in the alliance with the Empire, one had to help the
other in expelling its enemies. Aside from its diplomatic consequences,
Michelson’s declaration was important for another reason: according to
the General, Napoleon’s real aim was to destroy the janissary corps and
to consolidate the Nizam-ı Cedid army. With the destruction of the
janissaries, he maintained, the Empire would be more vulnerable to
French aggression and “Napoleon would proclaim himself emperor of
the East and the overlord of the Ottoman Empire.”38 It seems that
Michelson’s real purpose was to create a “schism” between the old – and
new – system armies and, hence, spread disorder and frustration among
the residents (especially among the traditional military corps) in the
region, so as to weaken resistance to the Russian assault.39 A civil war
between the Ottoman armies would be beneficial for Russian purposes.
The same point was emphasized by the British ambassador, Charles
Arbuthnot (d. 1850):
I shall only observe further that the court of Petersburgh has,
I believe, been greatly mistaken in the expectations which seemed
to be formed receiving assistance from the Janissaries. There is a
passage in Michelson’s proclamation which favors the option that
reliance was placed on the effects produced by the schism between
the Janissaries and troops of discipline.40
As noted previously, the Nizam-ı Cedid reforms had created anxiety
within the Empire and aroused suspicion among the commoners,
while various parties had exploited this for their own purposes.
Now, we see a similar dynamic at work in the international arena
as well.
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The Russians entered Bucharest on 13 November and finally
occupied it on 27 December. This development provided Sébastiani with
a chance to convince the Porte about the evil intentions of the Tsar and to
encourage the Ottomans to declare war. Indeed, on 7 November he
received orders from Paris that he had to work “vigorously” to bring
about a war between the two countries. On 23 November 1806, he met
with the Reisülküttab and reminded him of the availability of French
troops in Dalmatia, as well as the benefits of a possible French –
Ottoman– Persian alliance, which would defeat the British. Yet, the
naval supremacy of the British had always left the Porte in a dilemma.41
News of the French victory at Jena reached Selim III in a letter – dated
11 November – from Napoleon. The sultan was advised to gather his
energies and send his troops to recapture Bender and other fortresses lost
to the Russians. In another letter – 1 December – Napoleon maintained
his encouragement and insisted on the deposition of the newly reinstalled hospodars.42 After several imperial councils, two important
letters were written, citing the unjust attacks of Russia and noting the
obligations of all Muslims to be prepared for holy war.43 The second
letter was written by Selim III to Napoleon, announcing the formal
declaration of war. A reply came from Napoleon, congratulating him for
his decision to fight against an enemy who was murdering innocent
Muslims and demolishing their mosques. He also asked the sultan to
send a trustworthy servant to his presence in order to sign the alliance
between his government and the Porte.44 An official manifesto by the
Porte, issued 5 January 1807, was submitted to all embassies, declaring
the war and explaining it to the European audience as an act of selfdefence on the part of the Porte.45 On 22 October, London gave orders
that a squadron be dispatched to the Dardanelles. On 12 November, rear
admiral Thomas Louis anchored in Malta. Leaving two ships there, Louis
reached the Dardanelles on the Canopus. On 27 November, two ships –
Canopus and Endymion – anchored at Istanbul and Canopus took Italinsky
from the city on 25 December 1806.46
From the beginning of the hospodar crisis to the declaration of war,
Arbuthnot, the British ambassador, had played the role of mediator.
In accord with his instructions from London, and consistent with British
interests in the East, he had clearly expressed which side Great Britain
would take if a war broke out between the Porte and Russia. Just as
much as Russia, the British government was worried about Napoleon’s
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secret intentions in the Near East, especially concerning Persia and the
Ottoman Empire. Britain was also worried about France’s nearly
unrivalled influence there, the architect of which was Sébastiani. In case
of aggression against the Ottoman Empire, the British would lose the
security of the route to India, not to mention their other political and
economic interests in the Near East. Arbuthnot noted in one of his
dispatches that “the interest of our own depends much on the
preservation of the Empire”, and concluded that “we should save them in
spite of themselves.” Another dispatch repeats the theme: “the Turks if
necessary should be saved in spite of themselves.”47 The best way to
attain this purpose was to ensure that the Porte kept its neutrality. Yet,
as soon as the crisis broke, Arbuthnot noted that a rupture of relations
was apparent and a war very likely between the former allies. Therefore,
while still overtly playing the role of mediator, he decided to apply
gunboat diplomacy with the purpose of ending hostilities between the
former allies and ending the “fatal” French influence on the Porte.
According to him, war between Russia and the Porte had already been
decided upon by the French, who had only been waiting for the arrival of
Sébastiani in order to set the plan in motion. Arbuthnot asked his
government to send a squadron to the Dardanelles.48
After an unfruitful conference with the Porte on 25 January 1807,
Arbuthnot made up his mind, secretly leaving the capital on the evening
of 29 January with a group of British citizens.49 Facing the difficulty of
making a covert departure in a country where “spies are employed in the
greatest number”, he invited British merchants for dinner on board
the Endymion. There, he explained the motives for his departure. Under
the cover of darkness he left the city behind, passing the Dardanelles
with no obstacle.50 On 31 January, the British ambassador met the
British squadron under the command of rear admiral Louis at the mouth
of the Dardanelles. From there, he maintained communications with the
Porte through Salih Pasha (d. 1824), the Ottoman grand admiral, and
Pizani (d. 1826);51 however, this did not issue in any positive result.
Early in the morning of 19 February, finding a favourable wind, vice
admiral Duckworth ordered the advance of 11 three-deckers, four ships
of the line and four frigates towards the Straits, while the remaining
ships waited off Bozcaada. During their passage, cannons were fired from
the fortress of Çanakkale, but did not cause any serious damage. When
the enemy fleet returned fire, however, great panic prevailed among the
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Ottoman soldiers. The fleet continued without meeting any great
opposition, and the squadron eventually stationed itself off Princes
Islands (Kızıl Adalar) on 20 February 1807.52 The next day, Arbuthnot
sent a dispatch to the Porte insisting on the removal of the French
ambassador, the immediate submission of the Ottoman fleet, stored with
provisions for six months, permission for Russia to occupy the
Principalities until peace was established, and finally the renewal of the
Triple Alliance.53
News of the incident reached the Porte through a captain named
Tönbekzade on the evening of the same day. He informed the director of
the imperial dockyards (tersane emini), who in turn informed the Grand
Vizier. The latter decided to inform the sultan and ministers the next
morning. Since, however, the next day was Friday and the second day
of Kurban Bayram, Selim III, too, decided to postpone announcement of
the issue until the end of Friday prayer.54 Istanbul, a city not accustomed
to foreign invasion, was not well prepared for defence. Although the
sultan had previously ordered Juchereau Saint-Denys to present a report
on the present conditions of the Dardanelles and the defences of Istanbul,
with the aim of protecting the city from a possible Russian attack, the
project had been ignored by the Ottoman dignitaries.55
The sultan and Ottoman ministers had been unsuccessful in their
administration of the crisis. Indeed, in a letter from Sébastiani to
Talleyrand dated 18 February 1807, the French ambassador complained
that the sultan and his ministers were afraid of the expedition and would
accept all of the British demands. According to him, no one was
concerned with improving the city’s defences.56 Other sources confirm
the French ambassador’s complaint, also commenting that under the
immediate threat of bombardment, the sultan was inclined to obey the
demands of the British, and that his ministers were advising the same.57
On the evening of 20 February, Selim III sent Ishak Bey to the French
ambassador to convey the message that it was impossible to protect the
city, that his throne was under immediate threat, and that Sébastiani
should leave the city as soon as possible.58 Sébastiani, however, rejected
the ultimatum, declaring that he would not leave the city without
receiving a formal order from his own government. Thereafter, he began
to encourage the Reisülküttab, pointing out that the limited British force
was not enough to capture the capital, and advising him to erect strong
gun batteries, especially around Topkapı. With only a few other
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measures, he assured them, the expedition could easily be thwarted.
In his meeting with Selim III, the French ambassador repeated the
same points.59
On the urgings of Sébastiani, the sultan finally decided to defend the
city, and asked the ambassador for help. Around 200 French officials
volunteered to join the defensive efforts. It seems that Napoleon had
anticipated such a move by the British fleet, and now offered to send
1,000 artillerymen and soldiers who were ready in Dalmatia. His offer
was rejected by the sultan, with the exception of four engineers and the
same number of artillerymen.60 In defence of the city, 300 cannons were
placed in batteries at different strategic points, the city itself was divided
into defensive regions under the supervision of various high-ranking
officials, and 5,000– 7,500 soldiers were newly recruited to protect it.61
In the meantime, Sébastiani had sent out letters to the Greek Christians,
advising them to be loyal to their sultan. The patriarch too sent
dispatches to all the metropolitans, giving the same advice, and nonMuslims helped in the defence of the city by carrying materials to
batteries and cannons.62 During the project, the sultan himself
personally visited the places where the batteries were being constructed,
encouraging and honouring the soldiers, and watching the enemy.
To buy the time they needed for strengthening the fortifications of
the capital, the Porte adopted a policy of detaining the British by
lengthy procedures and doing everything at a glacial pace. When the
British rear admiral and ambassador realized there was nothing more to
be achieved through their gunboat policy, they decided to retreat.63 On
the morning of 1 March, under a strong northern wind, the fleet began
its return, followed by an Ottoman fleet. Sébastiani was not in favour of
the latter, probably believing that the Ottoman navy would be no match
for the British in battle. Driven on by strong popular opinion, however,
Selim III consented to the departure of a fleet under the command of
Seydi Ali Pasha. The ships embarked under the cheerful cries of crowds
lining the shore. The fortifications that had been completed during the
British fleet’s sojourn off the Princes Islands (Kızıl Adalar) proved to be
fatal during its return. This time none of the Ottoman soldiers fled and a
very effective bombardment was sustained. The ships Windsor Castle,
Royal George and Ajax were damaged, with The Times reporting that 49
soldiers were killed and 137 wounded during the passage.64 On 4 March
1807, the fleet anchored off Bozcaada once more, and then moved
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towards Alexandria (17 March 1807) in a fleet of 17 battleships, carrying
5,100 soldiers, under the command of rear admiral Louis. The British
soldiers captured Alexandria on 22 March 1807. From there, they
reached Reşid within two days with the purpose of capturing Cairo.
Being unsuccessful, however, they prepared to leave Alexandria on 15
September 1807.
Although the British fleet did not stay in Istanbul for long, its
presence had a deep social and psychological impact on the populace.
It caused great unrest in the city, engendering a kind of protonationalism and leading to an increase in the number of people carrying
arms. More importantly, it increased social polarization and furthered
the sense of betrayal among the residents. Even more so than the
commoners, it seems that the members of the palace were anxious about
the arrival of the foreign fleet. The palace women and eunuchs were in
great panic, crying for immediate peace.65 The news of the expedition
spread rapidly across the city and people rushed to the shore to witness
this extraordinary event.66 Rumours swirled around the coffeehouses
that the British would violate Muslim women and loot their shops, and
the Istanbulites were concerned that their wooden houses would burn
down under a bombardment by British guns.67 Perhaps more
importantly, however, the coming of the British navy was considered
as a Portent of the Hour (kıyamet alametleri) and a sign of the coming of
the Mahdi.68 Yet, the initial sense of panic gave way to a popular
determination to save the city. According to Saint-Denys, the
enthusiasm of the people filtered up to the ruling elite, and only a few
hours after the decision to comply with the British demands, Selim III –
aided by Sébastiani – had determined to use this enthusiasm for the
defence of the city. Prévost describes it as an honourable popular
sentiment compared to the passivity of the ruling elite.69 Jorga also
notes that during the initial phase of the expedition, neither the Shaikh
al-Islam nor the Grand Vizier and his ministers were in evidence. Most
seemed to have forgotten their own duties, even while the commoners
were rushing to the shore and throwing up defences.
Thus, it is now possible to substantiate the plausible assertions of
the French diplomat who claims that the ulema and the army
constituted the healthiest elements of the Turkish society during
the period. The Grand Vizier is out of sight; the Grand Admiral is
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oblivious of his duty; the Şeyhülislam never shows up to ignite the
spirits. The Reis Efendi realizes that it is way too late for
negotiations, and Selim III had no choice but to succumb once the
Janissaries and artillerymen of the ancient regime as well as the
people of Istanbul, all of whom he had looked down upon with
much contempt and hate, now went, with weapons in their hands,
down to the seaside with the noble intention of revolting against
the fake friends who have for so long humiliated and caused much
loss to the Ottoman Empire.70
In one of his dispatches, Arbuthnot makes reference to the “fanatic
spirit of the populace” and describes them as “wild” and “frantic”.71
The British fleet did indeed suffer from hostile skirmishes by the
janissaries and the commoners. In one instance, around 50 soldiers,
responsible for the defence of the Fenerbahc e region, passed to
Kınalıada to prevent the British from taking on water and food. They
hunted down and captured five British soldiers and were later
honoured for their acts by Selim III. The following day, around 50
soldiers from the traditional military corps under the command of the
police superintendent (subaşı) of Kartal district, sailing past Kınalıada
for the same purpose, were spotted by the British and the admiral sent
out 500 soldiers after them. In the ensuing fight, the Ottoman soldiers
were overwhelmed and some sought refuge in the convent on
Kınalıada. When the building was surrounded, the monks helped the
Ottomans by securing their escape through a back door. Both soldiers
and monks were honoured by the sultan, who declared the soldiers
eager for holy war (gaza) in an imperial order,72 and issued an edict
that 42 of the Christian residents of the islands of Kınalıada and
Heybeliada were henceforth exempt from the poll tax.73
Yet, alongside these acts of enthusiasm, tension and polarization were
mounting in Istanbul. Although it is difficult to ascertain the motive,
there was a failed assassination attempt on Ibrahim Efendi, the sadaret
kethüda.74 Even as he poured his efforts into the defence of the city,
Sébastiani seems to have taken the opportunity to spread propaganda
against the pro-Russian and pro-British figures among the ruling elite.
According to Asım, he provoked Pehlivan Hüseyin Agha, the famous
agha of the janissaries, claiming that the British fleet had made the
expedition upon the invitation of certain Ottoman ministers. Pehlivan
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Agha, Asım continued, had in turn spread the news in the places he
visited during the expedition: “The British and Russians are among us.
Our honourable padishah has vainly made panic and suffered. Probably
when they deliver the city to the enemy, they will become the kings.”75
Connections between Pehlivan Hüseyin Agha and Sébastiani are also
mentioned in another source. According to Wilkinson, Pehlivan Agha
had served previously as the guard of a French ambassador and was
loyal to the French cause. Wilkinson argues that when Sébastiani noticed
that the Porte and Great Britain were about to reach an agreement,
he sent the agha to encourage the sultan to oppose the British
demands.76 Wilkinson’s perspective is rather different from Asım’s but
the connection between the two figures, and Sébastiani’s persuasive
powers, are noted in both. Again according to Asım, when this gossip
reached the ears of the British ambassador offshore, he responded by
telling the janissaries that:
Indeed, our arrival was due to the invitation. The Russian will
come from the Black Sea. These fights are pre-plots. The ultimate
aim is to meet with the Russians at the capital city, to abolish the
Janissary army and finally to station the Nizam-ı Cedid soldiers in
their place. However, the plan was not achieved due to the efforts
of the Janissaries.77
Although we cannot establish the truth of these tales – and the latter in
particular rings rather false – the historical importance of gossip does
not centre on its veracity but on what it says about the fears of an
illiterate populace. In this case, the intended effect of such tales seems to
have been to feed the antagonism between the Nizam-ı Cedid army and
the janissary corps, and feed the fear that a certain group of
administrators were collaborating with the enemy for their own
interests. Should we disregard these rumours as the symptoms of the
panic, which prevailed in the city during the expedition? Asım does not
reject such tales as mere gossip: to prove his point, he narrates an
exchange between Ibrahim Nesim Efendi and his master (hoca). While
the British fleet still lay off the shore, the tutor sought out Nesim,
finding the latter resting in his residence. Noticing that his master was
upset, Ibrahim Nesim inquired as to the cause. When his master referred
to the British expedition, Nesim gave a very interesting reply:
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O Hoca Efendi, this world is temporal. So do not fall into despair.
Now, if I stuck my leg out towards here, then this fleet shall get
there, and likewise if I stuck it out towards the further side, so will
it head thither. You have understood what I really mean. Now, let
us avert your worldly despair and converse on any other subject.78
Câbı̂ also notes that the commoners were spreading rumours, and that
they suspected the ruling elite of collaborating with the enemy.79
Another author relates that, on the eleventh night after the arrival of the
British fleet, Ibrahim Nesim, Mahmud Raif and Galib Efendi held a
meeting at the residence of Mahmud Raif Efendi, to which they invited
General Smith, asking him that the fleet should depart. The fleet left the
city the next morning.80 It is interesting that Nesim Efendi was said to
be among the participants, and that the enemy subsequently left; yet, if
this meeting did indeed take place, it is difficult to determine whether it
was official and harder still to determine whether there really was a secret
agreement between members of the ruling elite and the British. As we
shall later see, most of the statesmen at this meeting were pro-British or
pro-Russian.
Whatever the purpose of the rumours, such reports certainly
contributed to the animosity and alienation felt on the part of the
residents, and especially on the part of the janissaries, towards the ruling
elite, leading to a dangerous polarization and a widespread sense of
betrayal in the months leading up to the uprising in May. Moreover, in
the eyes of the janissaries and the populace, such rumours must have
intensified their suspicion that they were being betrayed by the ruling
elite for selfish interests – not even for the welfare of the Empire – by
collaborating with the enemy. Needless to say, the arrival of the enemy
fleet at the heart of the Empire not only aroused suspicion regarding the
true intentions of the Great Powers, but must have also cast doubt over
the wisdom of the policies of the Porte. Zinkeisen, for instance,
underscores that there began to emerge a general dislike of the
dominance of France over the Porte, and that the over-confidence of
the infidel Sébastiani irritated the Muslims.81 It seems that even after the
departure of the British fleet, the janissaries and the populace were not
relieved of their suspicions regarding the intentions of the Great Powers.
According to some, the Russians were on the Danube and also at
Bozcaada, while the British could return at any time. The French, in the
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guise of friendship, were involved in intrigues against the Porte. The
Empire was in a vulnerable position and the Ottoman ministers were
doing nothing to save it.82 These issues are important: they reflect public
mentality on the eve of the uprising, and reveal the lethal hatred towards
the ruling elite, which found its expression in May 1807. Moreover, the
arming of commoners and soldiers during the incident, as well as the
stationing of armed forces from different provinces to protect the city,
increased militarization in the capital. In one of his orders, Selim III
expressed his anxiety over this:
I hear that all the people in Istanbul are getting armed and excited
due to the encouragement of the criers. I hope the fight against the
fleet will be again by the fleet and cannons. It is not appropriate for
the commoners to wander the city in arms.83
Similar observations are repeated by a foreign observer, while implying
that this mood could be turned against the government in case of need:
All the Turkish inhabitants of Constantinople are under arms;
companies of armed men arrive daily from the vicinity; every thing
wears the aspect of war and revenge. If the government was
inclined to compound, the people would oppose it, and would
prefer to perish than to yield without resistance.84
It is not difficult to imagine how the armed and angered Istanbulites
came to initiate a rebellion only a few months later.
A War for France?
It is clear that France played a considerable role in bringing about the
Russo-Ottoman war of 1806–12. According to Shupp, “Turkey had
been successfully converted by Napoleon into an instrument of war
against Russia and Britain.”85 The problem remains, however, why the
French emperor encouraged the belligerency of the Porte. Why
encourage an Empire which was in the throes of establishing a new
military system to declare war against a superior military power? The
Nizam-ı Cedid reforms had not yet been able to produce a strong army,
and the soldiers of the old system were “no better than an undisciplined
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rabble”.86 Encouraging the Porte into war during this transitional
period does not seem to be a clever policy to be pursued by an ally of the
Porte. As may be recalled, Napoleon had declared that his primary
concern was to preserve the territorial integrity of the Ottoman Empire,
which he thought would form a bulwark against Russia. Following the
traditional policy of setting a barrier in the East against the progress of
Russia, he had tried to broker an alliance between the Porte, Persia and
France. Weakening the power of the Porte through a war with Russia
would, therefore, also damage the interests of France. Indeed, within a
short period of time and without great difficulty, the Russians took
control of the Principalities, a region where France had no desire to see
Russian influence, let alone outright occupation.
These questions are difficult to answer. In understanding the policies
of Napoleon in the Near East one cannot ignore the French presence in
Dalmatia, as well as the international dynamics of the revolutionary wars
in Europe. The Adriatic frontier had been stabilized in the early
eighteenth century by the Ottoman –Venetian peace treaty of 1716, but
the Treaty of Campo Formio (17 October 1791) had given rise to a
French presence in the region, covering Venetian Dalmatia and the
Ionian Islands.87 After gaining Dalmatia, the French government tried
to convince the Porte that, contrary to Russian claims, the presence of
French troops was beneficial for Ottoman interests, since it would block
the secret designs of the Russians.88 On the other hand, Russia became
an ally to Austria and Great Britain – The Third Coalition – against
France (1805). Therefore, distracting the attention of the Russian
government from European affairs by a war with the Ottoman Empire
was a good policy to weaken this coalition.
Three months before the British expedition, Sébastiani had asked for
permission to send a French force to defend the Bosporus, but had been
rebuffed: the idea of the presence of a foreign army around the capital
had frightened the Porte.89 Russian advances in the Principalities and
the British Expedition thus provided a good opportunity for Sébastiani
not only to increase his own prestige, but also to extend his influence
over the Porte. Following the British Expedition, he was awarded a
decoration and presented with a residence confiscated from the family
possessions of Prince Ipsilanti. He himself states that no other
ambassador in the Empire enjoyed such trust and confidence.90 A few
days after the departure of the British fleet, Selim III declared himself a
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good friend of Napoleon and said he would henceforth collaborate with
him: an alliance was to be signed between the two governments. The
French ambassador was also informed that the possessions of the British
merchants would be confiscated and that the Ottoman Empire would
henceforth use only French textiles, which meant the end of British
commerce and an augmentation of commercial relations with France.
The sultan expressed his pleasure on hearing that six French ships would
join the Ottoman fleet in the Black Sea. Moreover, he requested the
ambassador to write to Paris in order to have artillery officers sent to
train the Ottoman artillerymen. During the same meeting, it was
decided that a joint army of France and the Porte would be sent to the
Crimea to recover it from the Russians.91 The sultan also consented to
Sébastiani’s proposal that a French detachment would join the Ottoman
army at Vidin and that a joint expedition would then be staged to save
the Principalities. Of course, the basic concern was to divert the
attention of Russian forces by attacking on several points.92 In order not
to create unrest among the masses, this final point was to be set down in
a secret convention.
General Marmont, commander of the French troops in Dalmatia,
confirms this information in his memoirs. In a letter from Sébastiani,
he was informed that Selim III was sceptical about his undisciplined
army and, therefore, asked that the auxiliary French troops unite with
the Ottoman forces.93 In a dispatch of 10 March, Sébastiani informed
his government about these points. In a reply on 21 March 1807,
Napoleon said it would be his pleasure to send the French officers
requested by the sultan, and declared his readiness to send soldiers,
money and munitions to his ally. He claimed, however, to be upset that
the sultan had not asked for a few thousand soldiers, rather than several
hundred.94 The French emperor had already gained a stronghold in
Dalmatia and was gathering troops in the region. At the end of May,
there were estimated to be 100,000 soldiers there. It seems that
Napoleon’s purpose was to use Dalmatia as a stronghold for his
expansionist policy in the Balkans. Being convinced that the Porte
could no longer form a strong barrier against Russian expansion in the
region, he would have to create such a barrier himself. Another of
Napoleon’s aims seems to have been to occupy certain strategic
positions in the Balkans, under the guise of offering military assistance
to the Ottomans.
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These manoeuvres were also causing anxiety for Great Britain. The
attempts of France to create disorder in the Empire by instigating revolts
in Serbia and the Principalities were discussed in the British Parliament,
steeped in suspicions that Napoleon’s real intention was to create a small
state between Russia and the Ottoman Empire.95 In the words of the
British ambassador, the French presence in Dalmatia purportedly offered
“for the defence of the Porte, may at any time be used for its
destruction.”96 Of course, with only several hundred soldiers dispatched
to the sultan, these plans could now not be realized. There was then
another proposal to send the French army from Dalmatia to the Danube,
with associated pressure on the Porte to allow the passage of French
troops through the Balkans; yet, the Porte remained reluctant to
countenance the passage of the troops or even their presence in the
Ottoman Balkans. Actually, this was a fear which had encouraged the
Porte to make a coalition with the Russian government in 1799.97 The
Ottoman ministers were particularly worried about Bosnia. One gets the
sense that Selim III was also reluctant, advising his kaimmakam to detain
Sébastiani as much as possible, even if the Bosnians themselves accepted
the troops’ passage. It appears that the sultan was afraid that it would not
be possible to control the French troops in the imperial domains, or that
once they entered the region it would not be possible to be rid of them.
He emphasized that the entry of French troops would be acceptable only
if there was a great threat to the Empire.98 While the sultan and the
Porte were hesitant to receive French troops, the Rumelian ayans and
governors, including Alemdar Mustafa Pasha, the governor of Ibrail
(modern day Braila) and Tepedelenli Ali Pasha were very reluctant to
permit the passage of French troops. Alemdar had even rejected a French
artilleryman sent to him by Marmont. Upon hearing the news that the
French troops were to pass the Danube, the same pasha had become so
angry that Lamarre, a French agent in the region, had no option but to
leave Ruscuk (modern day Ruse).
Napoleon and Sébastiani were well aware that the Porte did not wish
to receive military help, even while belabouring the fact that the
Serbians, with the aid of the Russians and Prince Ipsilanti, had captured
Belgrade, and that there was a plan for the unification of the
Principalities. Viewing the reluctance of the Porte as a sign of mistrust,
Sébastiani became furious, and in a meeting with the Ottoman ministers
(14 April 1807) he claimed that this was contrary to the good relations
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between the two governments. He also emphasized that where there was
an alliance, the passage of troops into another’s territory should not be a
grave problem.99
In the meantime, reports were received from French agents in
Ruscuk, Vidin and Travnik of opposition to the passage of the French
detachment in Dalmatia. At one point, Sébastiani notes that this was
probably due to the fear of a possible reaction by the Bosnians, “a wild
people”. Indeed, news of the approach of French artillerymen from
Dalmatia seems to have caused great unrest in the region.100 Sébastiani
advised his government to give up the project, and to send only a few
French officers and 600 artillerymen to Istanbul. The rest, he advised,
should be decided in a special treaty. In a reply from Finkenstein (21
May), Talleyrand informed the French ambassador that no troops except
for several engineers and artillerymen would be dispatched. Although
the Porte asked for 300 French soldiers in Turkish attire, Marmont
announced that he was preparing to send 500 French soldiers in French
uniforms (29 April 1807). Accepting that this alteration was beyond the
authority of Hüsrev Pasha, the governor of Bosnia, the parties therefore
waited for a reply from the centre. The Porte permitted the entrance of
the artillerymen without further conditions. The French detachment
passed through Travnik on 12 June, the same day that the news of the
change in the throne reached the region; and Mustafa IV, the new sultan,
ordered that the troops should return, proof of the general discontent
regarding the French force.101
Great Powers and the May Uprising
İlhan Bardakc ı, a Turkish journalist, has published a translation of a
letter in French by Franc ois Gellehi, counsellor to the French embassy,
dated 16 June 1835. In the passage translated by Bardakc ı, Gellehi notes
that the Greeks in Morea would certainly revolt, demanding their
independence, and that the French government had made some promises
in this regard. He argues that the fortifications in Çanakkale and
measures taken in Limni would have to be rendered ineffective, which in
return required the elimination of the supporters of Rauf Pasha. The
instigation of an uprising among the soldiers of the fortresses was being
proposed by Gellehi as a plan with a view to achieve the above aims.
For our purposes, the crucial part of the letter comes after this
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explanation: Gellehi informs his correspondent that the same method
had previously been applied by Sébastiani as regards the janissary army.
He notes, however, the difficulty of carrying out the same plan a second
time, since there was a lack of the kind of trustworthy and powerful
mediators who had brought success previously.102 It is clear that the
reference is to the 1807 uprising. Bardakc ı does not provide the reader
with the information on how he received the report and accessed the
original. He only states that it was not found in the archives. Despite
prolonged research, it was not possible for me to reach the original
document. Therefore, this document cannot be evaluated as historical
evidence. Moreover, how could someone talk of a potential revolt of the
Greeks in the Morea in 1835 when Greece was already independent for
years by then?
According to this letter, it was the French ambassador who provoked
the janissaries, or better to say the yamaks of the Bosporus, with the help
of certain mediators. If we take the above suggestion seriously, we need
to answer some important questions. Why should Sébastiani have played
a role in instigating a rebellion during a period in which he had managed
to eliminate rival influences over the Porte? A more logical candidate in
this regard would be Russia, already at war with the Porte, and standing
to benefit more than France from chaos in the Empire. Since we do not
have any original evidence for the involvement of Sébastiani, we must be
cautious regarding the arguments in the letter in question. Yet, the
involvement of Sébastiani is not something to be easily disregarded.
Seeking clarification, it is helpful to turn once again to the question of
Dalmatia. France needed a pretext to enter the Ottoman territories.
Without friction in the Triple Alliance, and indeed without the
possibility of war between Russia and Britain, France would face a strong
reaction from these Great Powers and there would emerge no pretext for
easy entry under the guise of military aid to the Porte. Indeed, Cevdet
Pasha also comments that Sébastiani was involved in fomenting
rebellion, with the aim of putting the Porte in a position which would
force it to accept military help from France.103 Puryear argues that the
rebellion and the change in the throne presented France with two
advantages: it was used as an excuse to abandon the Porte, and it was
also an excuse to force Russia to wait for the news before entering into
debates with France on the partition of the imperial domains. According
to Puryear, both at Tilsit (1808) and afterwards, Napoleon gave
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Alexander I (r. 1801– 25), the Russian tsar, considerable reason to hope
that a partition of the Ottoman Empire in the Balkans could be
arranged.104 Indeed, the negotiations between Russia and France were
indicators of a change in the policy of Napoleon concerning the
territorial integrity of the Empire. It seems that when Napoleon heard of
the rebellion, he was relieved and stated that he had once hoped that the
Empire could be saved. In a published letter on 24 June from Napoleon
to general Lemarois, the governor of Warsaw, it is stated that:
A revolution took place in Constantinople. The Sultan Selim
(sic) and twelve personalities of the Porte were strangled by the
Janissaries. Sultan Mustafa was enthroned. The cause of this
insurrection is related to the Serbians’ progress and the lack of
energy for which the Janissaries reproach the government. They
accused the ministers of collaborating with the Serbians and the
Russians. The new sultan proclaimed that he would not conclude
peace with the Russians until the old borders are re-established
and the Crimea re-conquered.105
The dissatisfaction of the janissaries with the Porte’s foreign and internal
policies, as well as the distrust of the Ottoman ministers, are enumerated
as the main causes of the uprising. These points also support our claims
that the masses, represented by the janissaries, were alienated from their
own government, increasing the tensions on the eve of the uprising.
Initially, the Serbians had revolted because of corrupt local
administrators and agrarian problems, but this later turned into a
national uprising, especially after 1805.
The Serbian uprising had two distinct phases. During the early phase
(1804– 6), the main purpose of the revolutionaries was the restoration of
their own privileges and limited autonomy under the protection of
Austria and Russia. Their demands during the second phase (late 1806–
early 1807) mounted to full independence, encouraged by the presence
of the Russian troops around the Danube during the course of the 1806–
12 war. Limited support from the Russians, Austrians and the French
left the Serbian insurgents isolated, and the uprising was crushed by the
Ottomans in 1813.106 In 1806, Peter Itchko was sent by Kara George,
the Serbian leader, to the capital in order to reach an understanding with
the Porte. He was instructed to make an agreement on the conditions
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that the Serbians were to pay only fixed taxes, that a muhassıl would be
sent by the Porte to the region only to collect taxes, and finally that the
janissaries and local bandits (kırjalis) would be dismissed from the area.
Itchko and other delegates arrived in the capital in early August and
were summoned to the Porte on 10 September 1806. They were
informed that their demands were accepted in principle. The Serbian
delegate left the city towards the end of the same month.107 It is
interesting to note that Memiş Efendi, murdered during the rebellion
for serving the interests of the Serbians, was the official who conducted
the negotiations with the representatives of the Serbian rebels.
Returning to the possible connections between the French and the
May uprising, we have already mentioned Sébastiani’s connections with
Pehlivan Hüseyin Agha, the commander of the janissary corps (p. 118).
Asım mentions an alternative means that he says was used by
Sébastiani to provoke the janissaries, namely via the personal guards of
the embassy (yasakcı). If we are to believe Asım, the ambassador
conversed with these soldiers and offered them presents, while at the
same time trying in secret conversations to convince them that the
Nizam-ı Cedid had been established in order to abolish the janissary army
and to appropriate the janissaries’ salaries for themselves. He also
claimed that:
Our emperor knows the matter and he is so sorry for you, since he
would never wish for the abolishment of the old military system of
the Empire. Our soldiers are very close to the Empire, therefore
they can be immediately called to Istanbul, in case of need.108
Again, we cannot be sure of the historical reality of these talks, but it is
important to underline once again that the issue at stake here was
providing a reason for the passage of the French troops. Indeed, Asım
states that the French ambassador was consciously provoking the
janissaries and struggling to deepen their hatred towards the new
military system. The implications regarding the French ambassador do
not end here: there is also evidence that Sébastiani had secret connections
with Kabakc ı Mustafa, the famous ringleader of the uprising.109
Unfortunately, we cannot prove that their acquaintance dated to before
the uprising, but their connection is documented in a spy report dated
some time after the rebellion. It seems that the writer of the report had
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been delegated the duty of finding out the details of a meeting between
the two, and it is stated that they met three times, first upon the
initiative of the ambassador and then at his seashore residence. Sébastiani
sent his interpreter to Kabakc ı three times and the final meeting was at a
dinner party in Sébastiani’s residence. It is clear that a close relationship
flourished between the two figures following an initiative by Sébastiani.
Unfortunately, the writer of the report confesses that he was not able to
find out what was discussed during these meetings.110
Conclusion
In this chapter we have focused on the international context, not merely
for the sake of background information, but to illustrate how foreign
affairs lie at the heart of the internal politics of early nineteenth-century
Ottoman history. We have tried to situate the uprising within the wider
international context, and we have observed that increased international
rivalry and warfare had struck the Ottoman Empire just as they had the
rest of Europe. The decline of Ottoman power had made it a battleground
for the Great Powers. With its own scope for agency declining, it was
becoming Europe’s Eastern Question.
Alongside these themes, our purpose was to show how the foreign
powers capitalized on the unrest in Ottoman society, playing especially
upon the discontent of certain military groups regarding the Nizam-ı
Cedid army. It is clear that the reforms were abused both by domestic
and foreign players. The heavy involvement of the Great Powers
increased tension and furthered popular dissatisfaction with a
government that was unable to cope in a situation of international
crisis. Here, we may again note the prevalence of the conception of the
idea of “rebellious crowds” among students of Ottoman history.
Reminiscent of the contemporary statist and centralist outlook,
historians still have a tendency to consider Ottoman citizens as a
vagrant people with no concern for the realities of their own state. Yet,
to the contrary, the evidence strongly suggests the existence of strong
public opinions in the eighteenth century, and that these were greatly
influenced by internal and foreign developments.111 The idea of being
surrounded by enemies on all sides created anxiety and fear among the
commoners and spread distrust for a government seen as unable to
protect its own lands.
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Amid all these problems, it was the wider events of 1806– 7, which
created the revolutionary atmosphere. The British Naval Expedition, the
Russo-Ottoman war of 1806– 12 and the Russian blockade struck deep
into the popular psyche. Social pessimism, intensified by insecurity and a
sense of betrayal, was reflected in a deep hatred of the ruling elite, which
flowered in the outburst of 1807.
CHAPTER 5
ELITE RIVALRY
The Porte is governed by gold and terror1
Introduction
The disintegrative period is characterized by intense elite rivalry, both
in the centre and the provinces, over limited sources of status, power
and wealth.2 Lachmann defines an elite as a group of rulers who
“control a distinct organizational apparatus and who can appropriate
resources from non-elites.”3 We have already seen some aspects of elite
competition within the provinces; in this chapter, we turn to elite
rivalry and power structures in the capital. The beginning of the late
eighteenth century and early nineteenth century saw the rise of a new,
state-aligned elite, largely at the expense of the military and provincial
elites. This new group formed the most powerful faction in the period,
creating a bureaucratic oligarchy characterized by nepotism. Their
rivals, the so-called anti-reformist group, can best be described as a
“faction of outs”, since they comprised a motley group of statesmen
who were more or less estranged from the sources of power and the
centres of decision making. Here, we will study both groups’ identity
in terms of career, patronage ties, views, religious affiliation and
foreign policies. Neither of these elite camps was monolithic: within
each, there was fierce strife and tension, and especially so for the new
Selimian reforming elite. Factional and personal rivalry among the
Selimian elite paralyzed central politics and fertilized the ground for
the uprising.
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The conventional historiography makes frequent reference to a group
of reformists seen as active at the time of Selim III. The appearance of an
idealized reforming group on the eve of Ottoman modernization has
exerted great fascination over certain authors, to the extent that rather
little effort has been made to think in detail about their identity and
views. The reality of intra-elite strife during the early nineteenth century
was, of course, more complex than can be captured in a simple
formulation. The identity of each group and the fault lines of intra-elite
strife are not solely functions of the Selimian reforms. Limited attempts
have been made to go beyond the received views and to offer a structural
analysis of the ruling elite of the period by reference to the sources.
The two initial sections of this chapter are devoted to the identity,
views and networks of the new Selimian elite, with the purpose of
describing rather than labelling them, and always by reference to
archival sources and other contemporary materials. Eschewing
idealization, the chapter attempts to illuminate their identity, views
and affiliations, and to test the accuracy of the way these groups are
represented in the conventional historiography.
The Selimian Elite under Scrunity
At the time of the uprising, the political scene was divided into two
opposing camps: the pro-Selimian group, which was invested in the reform
policies, and the “coalition of outsiders”, who were more distant from the
Selimian programme. As we will see below, neither camp was unified; their
members combined and recombined in a complicated shifting web of
patron–client relationships and changing factional alliances. The axes of
tension included the new elite versus old elites, religious affiliation and
political views. The reforming elite, which can also be labelled the “new
elite”, had come to power due to the policies of the sultan, thereby gaining
immense prestige and power, and, at the same time, limiting the access of
the rest to already restricted resources – they therefore engendered a kind
of “dissident elite” as a function of their own centrality.4 Elite rivalry, thus,
revolved mainly around the struggle for power between “ins” and “outs”,5
or between the dissident and the new elite.
As shown in Table A.1 (pp. 204–7), the new elite comprised
approximately 26 statesmen. In the mainstream historiography, their
names are usually borrowed from the execution list submitted to the
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Porte by the rebels (p. 35), but that list does not include all the
advocates of the reform programme. The best way to assemble a roster
of the new elite is to review the names provided by contemporary
historians.6 The group that emerges does not form a homogeneous
body in terms of profession. As Table A.1 shows, out of 26 statesmen,
14 were career bureaucrats, constituting slightly more than half of the
total. The remainder was composed of courtiers, five ulema and those
who had a mixed career. Bureaucrats dominate, but there is also
substantial representation by the ulema.
Among the bureaucrats, there is a significant presence of servants of
the correspondence office of the grand vizier (mektubı̂-i sadr-i ali),
headed by the mektupcu. The holders of this position served as assistants
to the grand vizier in scribal affairs, but seem also to have been
connected with the Reisülküttab. In the eighteenth century at least, this
post offered the best chance of being promoted to Reisülküttab;7 indeed,
four graduates of this bureau who are present in the list did become
Reisülküttab.8 Another bureau which became important in the
eighteenth century was the amedı̂ department. This had a similar
function to the mektubı̂, preparing the final drafts of the reports of the
Reisülküttab and the steward to the grand vizier, and also the final
copies of the telhis (official memoranda) sent by the grand vizier to the
sultan. The amedı̂ department gradually gained in prestige during the
reigns of Abdulhamid I and Selim III, eventually becoming the office
from which the Reisülküttabs were most commonly recruited.
Knowledge of foreign affairs opened the way for the servants of this
office to be promoted to Reisülküttab: Ebubekir Ratıb Efendi (d. 1799),
who served as Reisülküttab from 1795 to 1796, was employed in the
amedı̂ department. During the reign of Selim III, however, it seems that
the mektubı̂ department retained its importance as regards promotion to
the post of Reisülküttab.
The dominance of bureaucrats with a specialization in foreign affairs
is no coincidence, given that foreign relations were becoming more
complex than ever. This is, as we have noted, the period in which
bilateral diplomacy rose to prominence in Ottoman politics.9 Foreign
relations needed specialists to sustain complicated relations with other
great powers in the Age of Revolutions. Mehmed Raşid Efendi, one of
the most famous Reisülküttabs of the period, was a specialist in
foreign affairs, while Mahmud Raif Efendi was employed as the
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confidential secretary of Yusuf Agha Efendi (d. 1824), envoy to London.
Ebubekir Ratıb Efendi was sent as an envoy to the court of Vienna, both
for diplomatic purposes and to observe the military and other
institutions there.10 Ibrahim Ismet Beyefendi (d. 1806) participated in
the peace negotiations of Svishtov (Ziştovi). As holders of positions
directly related to foreign affairs, they had a better chance to perceive the
problems of the Empire and compare its traditions with the superior
institutions of the foreign powers. It affords little surprise, therefore,
that they number among the advocates of reform.
A survey of the biographies of the new elite also suggests a high degree
of social mobility and underscores the importance of patronage ties in
promotion patterns. Most of the functionaries in this group were the sons
of minor figures or people from obscure origins. Küc ük Hüseyin Pasha
was a former Circassian slave. Ebubekir Ratıb and Ibrahim Nesim Efendi
were the sons of minor ilmiye members, while Elhac Ibrahim, Mahmud
Raif and Mustafa Reşid were descendants of minor bureaucrats. Yet,
Ebubekir Bey, the director of the imperial mint, and Yusuf Agha were the
most obscure, the former being the son of a farmer and the latter the son of
a poor craftsman from Crete. Only Ibrahim Ismet, Bostancıbaşı Şakir and
Mabeynci Ahmed Efendi’s fathers had held the rank of pasha.11
Family origins and skills cannot account for the rise of this group to the
highest positions; rather, existing family ties and patronage networks were
the decisive factors for promotion. The intisab, or patron–client
relationship – “the voluntary vertical alliances between two persons
who are unequal in status” – is clearly a significant factor in promotion
patterns.12 Indeed, most members of the group owed their rise either to
marriage alliances or the patronage system. Ebubekir Efendi, the director
of the imperial mint, secured his gradual promotion from the position of a
porter to that of director not only due to his talents, but also thanks to his
good relations with former directors. Elhac Ibrahim Reşid Efendi’s entry
into the bureaucracy was secured by his father; still, however, as the son of
a minor bureaucrat he did not have great chances of a rapid promotion.
During his employment in the mektubı̂ department, he established a
familial relationship with Imamı̂zâde Elhac Mustafa Efendi (d. 1784),
Reisülküttab from 1783 to 1784, through marriage to his daughter.
He was also the brother-in-law of Esseyid Abdullah Birrı̂ Efendi (d. 1798),
head of the mektubı̂-i sadr-ı ali bureau of the time, whom he later replaced
in the same position. These two connections explain his rapid rise.13 In a
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similar fashion, Mustafa Reşid Efendi married the sister of Yağlıkc ızâde
Emin Mehmed Pasha (d. 1769), a former grand vizier, and this family tie
was instrumental in his survival and promotion during and after the 1807
uprising. Elhac Ibrahim Efendi’s daughter married Mehmed Sadık Efendi,
son of Yusuf Agha, establishing a marital alliance between two powerful
families of the Selimian era. These examples strongly suggest the
importance of informal relations and networks under conditions in which
there were many candidates for the same offices, and only a few had any
real prospect of advancing further. Under such circumstances, family ties
and patronage networks were the decisive factors for promotion.
Some of the bureaucrats also enjoyed the patronage of the faction of
Halil Hamid Pasha (d. 1785), either directly or indirectly, through other
followers of his faction. The key figure in this regard is Mehmed Raşid
Efendi. Raşid’s rise starts during Ismail Raif Pasha’s (d. 1785)
employment as the deputy to Reisülküttab (1768–9), Raif being an
influential member of the Halil Hamid faction. After serving as the pursebearer of the chancery office (1774) and then president of the chancery,
Raşid became corresponding secretary (1784) during the grand vizierate of
Halil Hamid, but was dismissed after the execution of the pasha. Ismail
Raif Pasha, meanwhile, secured the appointment of Ebubekir Ratıb
Efendi to the post of scribe in the amedı̂ bureau. Mehmed Raşid Efendi, in
turn, acted as patron for Ibrahim Nesim Efendi and Mahmud Raif Efendi.
Halil Hamid Pasha’s faction is known for its commitment to the
rejuvenation of the Empire, particularly in the military sphere. There is
little mystery, therefore, that reformist bureaucrats found strong
patronage from either Halil Hamid Pasha or his followers (something
which also promoted continuity with the policies of earlier periods), nor,
however, was the reformist bent of the Hamidian era exclusive to the
bureaucratic cadres. Thanks to Ismail Raif Pasha, during the reign of
Selim III this policy was also adopted within the religious class. Raif’s
son, Ibrahim Ismet Beyefendi, became one of the strongest proponents of
the Selimian reforms and is usually considered an exemplary figure of the
reformist ulema. Other religious figures within the Selimian camp
included Kapan Naibi Abdüllatif Efendi, shaikh al-Islam Salihzâde Esad
Efendi (d. 1815), shaikh al-Islam Ömer Hulusi Efendi (d. 1812) and
Veliefendizâde Mehmed Emin Efendi (d. 1805).
The new elite was not composed only of bureaucrats and members of
the ulema: there were important courtiers in the same category, though
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some later went on to pursue a different career. Although he later became
a grand admiral, Küc ük Hüseyin Pasha (d. 1803) owed his rise to his
connections within the imperial court. Initially, he was a boon
companion of prince Selim, and climbed the ranks after the latter’s
enthronement. His prestige and power further increased following his
marriage to Esma Sultan, and until his death he played a crucial role in
the politics of the Empire. Evidently, the bureaucracy was not the only
source of power during this period. As an early-modern polity the
Ottoman court was still a powerful dispenser of power, wealth and
prestige, and many influential figures of the period were courtiers.
In fact, the most successful elite members of the period were those who
were able to maintain connections, in one way or another, both with the
bureaucracy and the palace. Ibrahim Nesim Efendi and Yusuf Agha are the
most striking examples of that double connection. Yusuf Agha was already
an influential and wealthy figure, serving as the director of the imperial
mint and as a steward to Esma Sultan, but it was his appointment as the
steward to the Queen Mother which proved the turning point in his
career. He secured the appointment of his brother, Ömer Agha, as the new
steward to Esma Sultan. His political power inflated to an extent that one
contemporary observer commented that he had almost gained “the control
of the state”.14 Ibrahim Nesim Efendi was another powerful figure, who
enjoyed both the patronage of the court and the bureaucracy. In 1803, he
was appointed as the steward to the grand vizier (sadaret kethüda), followed
by employment as the steward to Beyhan Sultan. His power and prestige
increased considerably after the death of the Queen Mother, Mihrişah
Valide Sultan (d. 1805), since Selim III transferred his affiliation and trust
directly to his sister and so, indirectly, to Nesim Efendi. The sultan’s
confidence in him was the most significant factor in his having retained
power even after his dismissal from the position of sadaret kethüda
following the Edirne Incident.
Islamic Renewal and Reform: Islamic Enlightenment
or Western Influence?
So far, we have studied the identity of the pro-Selimian group based on
clues found in contemporary accounts and by reference to the later
historiography. It is now time to pose the question of which criteria we
may use in order to determine whether someone is to be considered a
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reformist. The difficulty arises primarily due to the fact that there is
scant evidence regarding the worldviews of the elite we are studying.
If we look only at figures whose reforming views are known to us, our list
becomes narrower. Fortunately, however, in 1792 some statesmen from
among this group submitted a reform proposal upon the order of the
sultan.15 As with all the other authors of reformist treatises, their
starting point is the general decay of the state. Following an
enumeration of problems, they move on to offer some solutions. These,
as in other such documents, are fragmented and do not constitute a
grand solution to “save” the Empire. The solutions offered by Mehmed
Raşid, Salihzâde, Veliefendizâde, and Elhac Ibrahim Efendi are
conventional and would mostly be ineffective. The proposals put
forward by Mustafa Reşid Efendi, however, stand out from the others,
since he is the only one to acknowledge explicitly that a new order
(nizam-ı cedid) was needed for the revitalization of the Empire. After
arguing that it was impossible to reform the existing military system,
notably because of the corruption of the janissary corps, he proposes that
a new army be established on Western models and a new fund be created
to finance it. The transformation should be slow, he says, and the new
army should be established at some distance from the city.16
Irrespective of the solutions they put forward, the authors of reform
proposals acknowledge the superiority of the Western armies and
underline the urgent need to adopt their superior military technology.
Armitage and Subrahmanyam argue that the most important effect of
the American and French Revolutions was the creation of a sentiment
among the elites in different periods of a feeling of backwardness and
inferiority, as well as of degeneration within their own society.17 Most of
them consider the failure of the Ottoman military system to be the fault
of the janissaries; only Mustafa Reşid Efendi and Tatarcık Abdullah
Molla seem to have grasped the systemic nature of the problem and the
concomitant need for real transformation. Both acknowledge the
changes that had taken place internationally, and see the diffusion of
military technology as core to the task of transforming themselves,
particularly in the military sphere. Tatarcık Abdullah Molla does not
propose the creation of an alternative force but advocates the
establishment of a standing army, which would be a select body of
janissaries, strictly educated under the guidance of foreign scholars.
Though he is not mentioned in the reformist camp, it was Koca Yusuf
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Pasha who suggested an alternative military system based on a
nationwide recruitment system. It is important to remember that he was
the first to create a miniature army on Western lines and have it parade
in front of the sultan. Ebubekir Ratıb Efendi and Mahmud Raif Efendi
did not present reform proposals, but they left accounts in which they
supported the Porte’s reforms. Mahmud Raif Efendi, nicknamed İngiliz
Mahmud, visited London as the secretary to Yusuf Agha Efendi and
wrote a pamphlet addressing the European audience advocating the
Nizam-ı Cedid reforms (p. 245n91).
These statesmen were not alone in their efforts to solve the problems
of the age. Ubeydullah Kuşmânı̂, the author of aforementioned
propaganda texts (pp. 11, 92– 5), holds a unique place among the
thinkers of his time, since his reformist views direct us towards an inner
source of revival for the Empire, which also influenced the Selimian new
elite. Kuşmânı̂’s treatises provide a systematic account of the reforms
from the perspective of the Naqshbandı̂-Mujaddidı̂18 religious order, and
it is helpful to study his views more closely. He seems to have forged a
synthesis between the spirit of Islam (or at least one conception of it) and
the drive towards modernization and the borrowing of superior
technology, a point which would be the object of fierce debates during
the late Ottoman and Republican eras. In subsequent periods, the
modernization process would become equated with Westernization.
Kuşmânı̂’s source of inspiration for reforms, however, was Islamic
tradition itself, a kind of Islamic Enlightenment, as he perceived a
modernizing spirit in Islam. In this respect, there seems to be a basic
difference between the accounts of Koca Sekbanbaşı and Kuşmânı̂.
While the former can be considered to continue the discourse of
Ibrahim Müteferrika and Ahmed Resmi Efendi, the latter was inspired
by a different source, namely the Islamic revivalist movements of
the period.
Kuşmânı̂ was a disciple of the Naqshbandı̂-Mujaddidi religious order.
This sub-order had in a sense assumed the mission of restoring the
supremacy of Islam within society and bringing religious and political
regeneration to the Muslim umma. Unlike other religious orders, this
particular order was activist and revivalist.19 This message is also evident
in Kuşmânı̂’s account. Even his definition of “dervish” implies that he
was a revivalist and activist.20 Şakul, indeed, rightly underlines that the
affiliates of the Naqshandı̂-Mujaddidı̂ order were political-religious
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missionaries, who contributed to the politicization of Islam in the long
run.21 The religious element is so evident in Kuşmânı̂’s debates that he
even introduces Selim III as a müceddid (innovator), Mehdi or Mesih
(Messiah). In one of his poems, he describes the sultan as follows:
His Majesty Selim Khan, master of customary grace
Men of talent know him that he is Mahdi of the age
He has so truly put the matters right
He added the domain its strength, devising so many a craft
Framing skies with his soldiers countless as stars
He established drill-barracks for the purpose of wars
The people had forgotten the science of war as a duty
Which he taught, guiding the competent men duly22
The late eighteenth and early nineteenth century were periods of
emotionalism, defeatism and an increase in mystical spiritualism – such
movements or sentiments commonly manifesting an abrupt increase in
times of crisis. The Western colonial threat and the long wars with the
European powers prefigured the need for reform and a strengthening of
the Islamic world, particularly in North Africa and India, as well as in
the Middle East where the threat was most imminent. In the same
manner, the socio-economic and consequent political crisis of the late
eighteenth century caused state breakdowns in the great Islamic powers
(Mughal Empire and the Ottomans), which in turn called for renewal
and reform attempts in these regions. Especially in places where the
political structure was weaker or absent, it seems that there were more
radical movements (Wahhabism in Najd under Ottoman rule) or a surge
towards state formation (the Sokoto caliphate in Nigeria). The most
important revivalist movements of that period occurred in Saudi Arabia
(Wahhabism), West Africa (Usman dan Fodio in Nigeria and Amir Abd
al-Qadir in Algeria) and in Sumatra, Indonesia. Movements in response
to Western conquests and the disruptions they brought with them
occurred in south Asia, north Africa and adjacent African lands, and the
Caucasus (Shaikh Shamil).23 In regions where there were relatively
stronger polities (the Ottoman Empire), the revivalist movements were
inclined to ally with the central authority and make it stronger through
supporting reforms.24 From Algeria to the Caucasus and South East
Asia, the Sufi religious orders provided a fount of religious and political
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activism in opposition to European imperialist ambitions.25 Especially
in the Middle East and Africa, the decline of the Ottomans had a great
influence on the rise of such revivalist movements. For the mystical
orders, the umma was in a state of decay, and the weakening of the Islamic
world in the face of Western aggression was an integral part of this.26 In
the Ottoman case, millennialist visions seem to have been limited,
though not entirely non-existent. During the French occupation of
Egypt, for instance, a mahdi emerged in Egypt in order to instigate a
peasant revolt in the region.27 Among the commoners of the Empire,
there also seems to have been a general expectation that a mahdi would
come, who would save them from the crisis.28
Increases in religiosity, religious activism and attempts to put
Muslims on the right path were characteristic of the late eighteenth and
early nineteenth-century period of crisis. It is difficult, of course, to
discern whether the revivalist or millennial movements of the period
were simply a response to the increased contacts with and threat from the
West. Although the idea that they were a response to the challenges of
the West is widely accepted, Reinhardt Schulze has argued that the
eighteenth-century Islamic world had in fact experienced an “enlightenment” of its own, especially thanks to the mystical traditions of this
period.29 His theory was not well received in academic circles, and many
authors denied that such a process could have taken place in the Islamic
world;30 nevertheless, the significance of the transformation of certain
religious orders from preaching a retreat from worldly affairs to being
more concerned with a kind of Sufi activism should be underlined.
Among their various important characteristics is their will to take the
necessary measures (both military and political) to defend Islam.
It seems that the external threat was seen as a punishment of the
degenerate Muslims; therefore, they first tried to correct the Islamic
community, so that it could be stronger in the face of the enemy. These
movements can, perhaps, be summarized as moral responses to foreign
oppression.31 Whatever the reasons, messianic (or mahdist) and
revivalist religious movements became important vehicles for reform
under both internal and external pressure.32
As far as the Ottoman Empire is concerned, the reformist spirit of the
Selimian era is not only Western-inspired, but had close connections
with contemporary revivalist religious orders. Kahraman Şakul was the
first historian who discussed this aspect of Ottoman modernization for
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the late eighteenth and early nineteenth-century Ottoman Empire.
He rightly underlined a rise of Islamic Orthodoxy during this period and
asserted that it was a response to the Russian advances and pressure from
the European powers.33 The most important proof of an “inner” source of
nourishment for the so-called reformists from the Islamic revivalist
camp is their connection with the Naqshbandı̂-Mujaddidı̂ religious
order.34 Abu-Manneh, on the other hand, was the first to draw our
attention to the close connection between the Naqshbandı̂-Mujaddidı̂s
and the Ottoman ruling elite, arguing that during the eighteenth
century, and particularly after the accession of Selim III, there was a
growing tendency towards the strengthening of Orthodox Sunni Islam
in Istanbul.35 There are indeed three important signs of the rise of the
Naqshbandı̂-Mujaddidı̂ order in Istanbul at the end of the eighteenth
century: the first is the growing number of functionaries of various ranks
affiliated to it; the second is the rate of establishment of tekkes in the
period under study; to these two, both mentioned by Abu-Manneh, we
must also add a third, the existence of treatises on the political issues of
the Empire written from the perspective of the teachings of that order.
Kuşmânı̂, whose views are summarized above, is a case in point. Though
Abu-Manneh never made a detailed study of the Selimian era, our
findings support his suggestions. There was indeed a rise in the number
of tekkes established by the Naqshbandı̂-Mujaddidı̂, and particularly by
members of the Selimian new elite,36 during the reign of Selim III, and a
striking number of the Selimian new elite were affiliated with this order
(see the fifth column of Table A.1, where some names within this
category were Naqshbandı̂-Mujaddidı̂ disciples).37
The affiliation of the ruling elite to the Naqshbandı̂-Mujaddidı̂
movement cannot be easily discarded as a matter of personal choice.
Although there may indeed be a personal dimension to their affiliations,
just as with any other organization, membership brought with it access
to certain networks and alliances. This was an urban order and drew
disciples especially from among the educated classes. Unlike many other
mystical religious orders, its teachings did not despise political influence
or connections with the ruling elite. As a policy, they approved
affiliations with the rulers, because they held the rulers responsible for
the degeneration of the umma, and saw them as the first to be in need of
correction: “the virtuousness of kings is the virtuousness of the subjects,
their corruption is the corruption of all the subjects.”38 In this regard,
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they resemble the other intellectual movements of the period which
assumed the role of “reformers of tradition”, as well as of teachers
“guiding an Islamic community”,39 and like them took particular care to
establish connections with the rulers, encouraging them to follow sharia.
The shaikhs and their deputies supported the reforms undertaken by
their states. For shaikh Khalid (d. 1827), for instance, the survival of
Islam depended on the survival of the Ottoman Empire and he advised
his followers to struggle for the survival of the Empire.40 In India, Shah
Veli Allah Dihlawi (d. 1763) wrote letters to rulers and government
officials encouraging them in their political and financial reforms.41 The
primary mission for these figures was to initiate dignitaries and urban
administrators, rather than ordinary people. While in Damascus, for
instance, Shaik Khalid, the founder of the Naqshbandı̂-Khaliddiyya suborder, had gained followers especially among the upper layers of the city.
He had ordered one of his deputies not to initiate into the order any
other but distinguished ulema.42 This initiation of people with political
power was no doubt intended to give these Sufis greater opportunity to
influence their decisions. Conversely, their support must have been
attractive for an elite seeking to rejuvenate their “degenerate” empire
through packages of reform.
Shaik Burusevı̂/Kerkükı̂ Mehmed Emin Efendi (d. 1813) had great
influence over the ruling elite in Istanbul during the reign of Selim III.
He was a deputy of Shaik Khalid and represented the third wave of
Khalidi influence in Istanbul.43 A former scribe, he was also a teacher of
Mesnevı̂ and Persian and was thus able to reach wider elite circles. His
combination of the Mevlevi and Naqshbandı̂ traditions provided him
with an advantage in being accepted among the bureaucracy. Following
the Naqshbandı̂-Mujaddidı̂ tradition of seeking influence with rulers, he
gained a considerable number of followers among the upper echelons of
Istanbul. On his return to Bursa from Istanbul, he was invited to the
capital by the city’s ulema and dignitaries. It seems that the Shaik sought
to make direct contact with Selim III; on one occasion, Emin Efendi
asked his elite affiliates to introduce him to the sultan in person, but it
seems that Selim III rebuffed him. Although the sultan did not have a
direct connection with the Naqshbandı̂-Mujaddidı̂s, he was surrounded
by the disciples/functionaries of the order. Apart from the abovementioned figures, Lala Mahmud, his first tutor and also the first steward
of the Queen Mother, Mihrişah Valide Sultan, was affiliated with the
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group. Sırkatibi Ahmed Efendi, Mabeynci Ahmed Efendi and probably
Yusuf Agha were also disciples. The palace connections with the order
seem to have continued even after the deposition of Selim III. For
instance, the fourth wife (dördüncü kadın) of Selim III visited the
Naqshbandı̂ tekke in Eyüp and revealed to the mother of the Shaikh her
intention to re-enthrone the deposed sultan.44
Our discussion so far has been concerned with reviewing the factors
that contributed to the formation of a group identity among the
Selimian reforming elite. In summary, most members of this camp were
recruited from the bureaucratic cadres, and some enjoyed the patronage
of Halil Hamid Pasha and his followers. In terms of views, they
advocated a reformist policy, partly under the influence of Naqshbandı̂Mujaddidı̂ teachings, and also acknowledged at least the need for
military reform in order to overcome the threat from the Great Powers.
Yet, it would be a mistake to imagine that the group under study formed
a homogeneous body in terms of the strategies they favoured. This is best
shown through surveying their views on foreign policies, to which we
now turn.
Rivalry over Foreign Policies
The formation of factions was not simply a function of individuals’
attitudes to the reformist policies of the state. As shall be demonstrated
hereinafter, the Selimian new elite competed with each other for personal
aggrandizement, and broke into sub-factions. Divided against each other
in terms of their views on foreign policies and personal interests, the new
elite appears as a faction-ridden and heterogeneous group, locked in
battle with rivals throughout the reign of Selim III. Indeed, some
sources lay emphasis on this disunity as one of the main hindrances to
the success of the reforms.45 This section underlines the close and twoway relationship between foreign policy choices and the formation of
internal factions in the Ottoman capital during the late eighteenth and
early nineteenth century. Our review will put us in a stronger position to
ask whether conflict over attitudes to reform was the sole dynamic of
internal politics in the period under scrutiny. It is important to
underline that, though the conflict between the “reformist” and “antireformist” elites is widely seen as the main reason for the failure of the
Selimian reforms, we aim here to show that the intense inter-elite rivalry
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among the new elite was at least equally important in paralyzing
imperial governance and opening the way to revolt.
In his study of patron –client ties, Scott underlines the long-standing
vitality of clientele relations in traditional and modern South Asia. The
more-or-less legitimate inequalities in power, wealth and status,
the absence of impersonal guarantees of one’s physical safety, and the
inability of kinship units to provide such a guarantee, all contributed to
the emergence of patron– client relations as a principle for social
organization. In the absence of institutionalized guarantees, the
insecurity of life, wealth and position was thus mitigated by personal
ties. Such conditions favoured personal connections, which in turn
created clusters of patron– client relations – in other words, factions.
Thus, patron –client politics becomes a characteristic of the “factionridden central institutions”.46 Ottoman society seems to be similar: here
again, we see inequalities and the absence of impersonal guarantees of
security, particularly for state servants.
Rivalry among the new elite was already visible in the 1790s. Three
important factions dominated the scene. Yusuf Agha was the leader of
the first, dominating the palace cliques, as well as the officials remaining
from the reign of Abdulhamid I. The second, under the leadership of
Küc ük Hüseyin Pasha, represented the courtiers who had risen to power
after the rise of Selim III. Although he is usually praised as a good grand
admiral, Küc ük Hüseyin’s main source of power originated from Selim
III’s favour, as we have noted. Thanks to his friendship and loyal service
to prince Selim during his years in royal confinement, he had become a
favourite, and this conferred immense political power upon him in
subsequent years. As in most of the early modern monarchies, the sultan
was still the ultimate patron and dispenser of power, careers and wealth.
Yusuf Agha’s prestige and power came not directly from the sultan but
via the Queen Mother, another important source of power and prestige
for the court factions. It is not surprising that Ebubekir Ratıb Efendi and
Ishak Bey, also companions of Selim III while he was in confinement,
belonged to the clique of Küc ük Hüseyin Pasha. Both figures were
significant in terms of establishing contact with Halil Hamid Pasha,
while Ishak is also famous for being the messenger of prince Selim to
Louis XVI (r. 1774–92).47 Ebubekir Ratıb, tutor to prince Selim, and
Tatarcık Abdullah Molla, a famous alim, were also members of the same
clique. The heads of the two rival factions tried to eliminate the power
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bases of their rivals. Küc ük Hüseyin Pasha’s promotion to the grand
admiralship, for example, was a manoeuvre by the Queen Mother and
Yusuf Agha to keep him away from the palace and the capital.48 Yusuf
Agha’s faction remained pro-Russian until its demise, while Küc ük
Hüseyin Pasha’s faction was pro-French.
Mehmed Raşid Efendi was the leader of the third faction. Unlike the
others, his clique was recruited mainly from the bureaucratic cadres, and
was in a way a continuation of the Halil Hamid Pasha faction. Though he
lost some power following the execution of his patron during the last years
of the Hamidian era, Mehmed Raşid regained his influence during the
reign of Selim III and benefited from the rivalry between the other
factions. By collaborating with Yusuf Agha, for instance, he was able to
establish unrivaled influence over the Porte from 1792 to 1794.49 His
faction remained pro-British. Manipulation by Selim III destroyed the
balance of power between these factions. As may be recalled, Yusuf Agha
was temporarily disgraced, and Izzet Mehmed Pasha, the newly appointed
grand vizier, was closer to Küc ük Hüseyin Pasha; meanwhile, the leader of
the other faction, Reisülküttab Mehmed Raşid Efendi, was replaced by
Dürri Mehmed Efendi (1794). It seems that Selim III encouraged Izzet
Mehmed Pasha, together with Tatarcık Abdullah and Constantin
Ipsilanti, to check Küc ük Hüseyin’s growing power.50
It was not only internal strife and imperial manipulation that impacted
upon the balance between the rival factions; relations with foreign powers
also had a powerful effect, as was clear in the events of the late 1790s. The
sudden French attack on Egypt worked in favour of pro-Russian and proBritish figures. With their pro-Russian or pro-British stances, the factions
under the leadership of Yusuf Agha and Mehmed Raşid Efendi increased
their prestige and power.51 In an effort to respond to the Egyptian crisis,
Selim III dismissed neutral Izzet Mehmed Pasha, as well as shaikh al-Islam
Dürrizâde, who were reluctant to declare war against the French, and
appointed Yusuf Ziya Pasha as the new grand vizier (30 August 1798).52
While Naff considers this dismissal to be a victory for Mehmed Raşid
Efendi, Shaw argues that the deposition of Izzet Mehmed Pasha was
intended to appease “conservatist” groups, especially the janissaries and
ulema. Shaw also argues that the appointment of Yusuf Ziya Pasha was
meant to secure the support of conservative elements, especially by
curbing the rate of reform through restricting the operations of the Nizamı Cedid.53 These scholars may be pinpointing different aspects of the
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promotion of Yusuf Ziya Pasha, but it seems that the ongoing power
struggle was a more determining factor than the conservatism of the
janissaries or the ulema. As we have said, the French invasion of Egypt was
a blow to the pro-French factions. Apparently, Yusuf Ziya was inclined
towards a pro-Russian foreign policy54 and the appointment of such a
figure, rather than a neutral grand vizier, was quite reasonable given the
French attack. Aside from the deteriorating relations with the French after
the invasion of Egypt, the death of Küc ük Hüseyin Pasha in 1803 was
another blow to the pro-French faction. In a letter to Selim III, Napoleon
Bonaparte himself laments the death of Hüseyin Pasha.55 Ibrahim Nesim
Efendi assumed the leadership of the late Hüseyin’s clique.56 It is useful to
recall that Shaw generally presents the power struggles and tensions of the
period in terms of strife between conservatives and reformists, as in the
case of the appointment of Yusuf Ziya Pasha.57 Yet, evaluating the power
struggles of the period through the wider framework of factions and the
international conjunctures offers a better and more realistic picture of the
period, which has greater explanatory power and is closer to the evidence
in the sources, than the reformist vs conservatist schema.
As may well be noticed, the reign of Selim III did not signify the
complete dominance of pro-French factions in the Empire. There was a
strong pro-Russian party under the leadership of Yusuf Agha and
Mahmud Raif Efendi, which apparently included Mihrişah Sultan
herself.58 The demise of the pro-Russian faction began only in the
summer of 1805, signalled by the replacement of Mahmud Raif Efendi
by Ahmed Vasıf Efendi for the office of Reisülküttab (4 August 1805).
Cevdet Pasha claims that Mahmud Raif Efendi, known for his
reformist attitude, was dismissed for placating the janissaries and their
supporters. Yet, there seem to be more serious causes for his dismissal
than his relationship with the janissaries or his attitude to reform.
Of more direct concern were the problems faced by the Porte during
the negotiations with Russia (May – September 1805) for the renewal
of the Triple Alliance (pp. 106 – 7). The proposals as tabled contained
some deeply troubling clauses, and it seems that the other Ottoman
ministers feared that Mahmud Efendi would consent to them – being a
pro-Russian minister – if he were not dismissed in time. The Russians
indeed considered his removal as proof of growing French influence
at the Porte. Despite the efforts of the Russian ambassador and Yusuf
Agha, Mahmud Raif Efendi was not reappointed as Reisülküttab.59
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Since Mahmud Raif Efendi was under strict surveillance, it was
impossible for him to establish contacts with the Russian ambassador
Italinsky, who in turn tried to gain the favour of the new Reisülküttab.
Vasıf Efendi, the new Reisülküttab, followed a pro-French policy thanks
to the efforts of Sébastiani. The Russians distributed money and gifts to
certain functionaries, encouraging them to block the further promotion
of French interests. Not surprisingly, the primary figures here were
Mahmud Raif Efendi and Yusuf Agha, and a secret pension was allocated
for Mahmud Raif Efendi by the Russians for services rendered.60
Another blow to the pro-Russian faction came with the Edirne Incident
(pp. 86– 91). Most of the newly appointed figures favoured a pro-French
policy, which was indeed interpreted by the French ambassador as a
victory for France.61
As we draw closer to the rebellious years, most of the earlier factions
in the political arena are eradicated, particularly the figures affiliated
with Russia. The real weakening of the pro-Russian faction came with
the fall from grace of Yusuf Agha. Pressure from the French ambassador,
and the death of the Queen Mother, left Yusuf Agha’s position
vulnerable, with deleterious consequences for his faction. “As long as
Valide Sultan lived, he governed the Empire”, commented the British
ambassador.62 Yusuf Agha went on a pilgrimage some time after the
death of his patron. Though his departure is usually considered as a
pilgrimage for religious purposes, it was perhaps in fact a sort of
“banishment” rooted in elite rivalry. It seems that Ibrahim Nesim
Efendi, instrumental in the dismissal of Mahmud Raif Efendi, was the
principal rival of Mustafa Reşid Efendi in 1805. Despite the
collaboration of Mustafa Reşid and Yusuf Agha, Ibrahim Nesim Efendi
acted alongside grand vizier Hafız Ismail Pasha and managed to have
Yusuf Agha sent away from the capital.63 The pro-French faction under
the leadership of Ibrahim Nesim Efendi still had great influence; despite
his deposition after the Edirne Incident, he managed to appoint one of
his protégés, Mustafa Refik Efendi, to his former post of sadaret kethüda.
An additional factor was Nesim’s partisanship for France and his
friendship with Sébastiani, which also helped him to preserve his power.
Despite having been demoted, both Mustafa Reşid and Ibrahim Nesim
Efendi continued to participate in councils, and Nesim Efendi was
particularly instrumental in bringing an end to the hospodar crisis in the
manner favoured by France.
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At the time of the rebellion, the balance between factions had been
broken in a manner that ran parallel to the developments on the
international scene. The outbreak of war with Russia, the termination of
the Triple Alliance and the British Naval Expedition, all weakened the
pro-Russian and pro-British factions, while the pro-French faction
gained in power as the influence of France upon the Empire waxed.64
The Coalition of Outs
Despite their divisions and internal strife, the Selimian new elite is easier
to define than the more amorphous group of outsiders. As in the case of the
Selimian new elite, it is difficult to give an exact roster of the faction of
“outs.” As may be observed in Table A.2 (pp. 208–9), the most famous
examples are Şerifzâde Mehmed Ataullah Efendi, the shaikh al-Islam, and
Köse Musa Pasha, the kaimmakam of the time. Apart from these famous
figures, the conventional historiography assumes collaboration between
the rebels and certain members of the ilmiye, such as Mehmed Münib
Efendi (d. 1823), Muradzâde Mehmed Murad Efendi (d. 1808), Aşir
Efendizâde Mehmed Hafid Efendi (d. 1811), Çavuşzâde Ahmed
Şemseddin Efendi (d. 1809), Alizâde Esseyyid Mehmed Efendi
(d. 1815), Ahmed Muhtar Efendi (d. 1811) and Derviş Mehmed Efendi
(d. 1816). Therefore, they are included in our list. Among the military
cadres, Pehlivan Agha and Sekbanbaşı Arif Agha are also enumerated
within this group. While bureaucrats constitute a little over half of the
new elite camp, the ulema members comprise the bulk of the rival group
(eight out of 14). A contemporary historian labels these high-ranking
ulema as Meydan-ı Lahm efendileri (the masters of the Meat Square), since
they were present at the square during the peak of the uprising, implying
that there was collaboration between the ulema and the rebels.65
As with the other camp, some members of the faction of “outs” were
connected to each other either by personal or marriage ties. There are
frequent references to a collaboration between Ataullah Efendi and Musa
Pasha during the rebellion. Although it is always very difficult to
document such secret connections, there is a document that strongly
implies a possible connection between them. Some time after the
uprising, as stated in the document, Musa Pasha asked permission for the
marriage of his son to the daughter of Ataullah Efendi. The request was
gladly approved by the sultan.66 Ataullah Efendi descended from a great
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molla family, called the Şerifzâdes or the Ishakzâdes.67 His family was
one of the most important ulema families of the eighteenth and
nineteenth century, and dominated the posts of şeyhülislamate and
kazasker, closing their ranks to outsiders. Together with the Dürrizâdes
and Feyzullahzâdes, the family produced 13 of the shaikh al-Islams of the
period, three belonging to the Ishakzâdes.68 The great molla families
seldom contracted marriages with non-ulema elites. A marriage between
the children of Musa Pasha and Ataullah Efendi, therefore, stands out as
uncommon. It may have been planned as a marriage alliance. Münib
Efendi, on the other hand, was connected to Ataullah Efendi as his tutor;
Halet Efendi was also closely connected to Ataullah Efendi, his father
having been Ataullah’s tutor, and the two having been friends since
childhood. Ataullah’s affection for Halet Efendi is revealed in a
document written after the latter’s exile to Kütahya (1808). In the letter,
it is commented that Halet was unjustly banished, and the writer tried
to console the Shaikh al-Islam by assuring him that Halet Efendi would
return and again be promoted to official positions.69
Unfortunately, there is no reliable information concerning most of the
above-mentioned figures’ views on foreign and domestic policies.
According to Wilkinson, Şerifzâde Ataullah Efendi and Pehlivan Agha
were devoted to the French party, and stood ready to break the Triple
Alliance.70 If we rely on him, then, both figures were pro-French. When
we recall that Sébastiani considered the Edirne Incident to have been a
victory for France, there might be truth in Wilkinson’s claim. Further
evidence, though, is needed to reach firm conclusions on this point.
Halet Efendi, for instance, though in the same camp, was not a proFrench figure; on the contrary, he came into conflict with Sébastiani and
as a consequence was banished to Kütahya. Moreover, his journal of his
time in the Paris embassy does not suggest that he was an admirer of
France and, in fact, reveals his distance from the West. Further evidence
is needed, however, to make more confident claims regarding the foreign
affiliations of the individuals of this group.71
Possessing very limited information concerning their views and their
roles in the May outburst, it is difficult to determine whether the
conspiracies attributed to them by contemporary historians are facts or
defamation. We do not have convincing historical evidence proving their
involvement in the uprising, and the conflicting details in the
contemporary sources prevent us from drawing conclusions with any
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confidence. Yet, there is an interesting suggestion of a kind of secret
agreement between Ataullah Efendi, Musa Pasha and Prince Mustafa,
then still in custody. This letter, written by Mustafa IV a short time after
his accession to the throne, requests help from shaikh al-Islam Ataullah
Efendi to overcome a certain problem he was facing.72 Apart from
evidencing the anxiety and isolation of Mustafa IV during his early days
on the throne, his astonishment at the complexity of the events
unfolding in the Empire and his dismay at the breakdown of the state,
the letter reveals his great confidence in shaikh al-Islam Şerifzâde
Mehmed Ataullah Efendi and kaimmakam Musa Pasha, two figures who
are claimed to be behind the May uprising, and who are widely described
as clandestine and secretive. Kaimmakam Musa Pasha is usually described
as a cunning, masked, conspiratorial figure, full of hatred for the reforms
and the Nizam-ı Cedid ruling elite. It seems that he was particularly
hostile to Hacı Ibrahim Efendi and Ibrahim Nesim Efendi; therefore, a
source remarks, he was ready to use all means to eliminate them,
including rebellion.73 For our purposes, however, the suggestion that
high-ranking ulema and functionaries were involved in the rebellion
seems rather peculiar. Şerifzâde Ataullah Efendi was a shaikh al-Islam,
the highest rank that the ulema could attain; Musa Pasha, the
kaimmakam, did not hold the highest title, but occupied one of the most
important administrative positions in the absence of the grand vizier
from the capital. They stood only to lose from a change in the throne.
The contemporary accounts do not provide a satisfactory explanation for
their alleged involvement in the uprising, apart from personal greed and
self-aggrandizement. Fortunately, however, there are other clues, which
direct our attention to their being excluded from sources of power and
key decision making processes, an issue which again relates to the
political structure of the final years of the Selimian era.
One of the most striking aspects of the Selimian era is the virtual
absence of a strong grand vizier, and a related tendency towards sharing
political power. Traditionally, the office of the grand vizier signified the
“absolute delegate” (vekil-i mutlak), and enjoyed a degree of authority
comparable to that of the sultan. During the early nineteenth century,
however, the grand vizier was primarily the head of the scribal service, as
well as the military establishment with the title of commander-in-chief
(serdar-ı ekrem). Cevdet Pasha comments that the post of the grand vizier
was thus reduced to a mere title. A foreign observer, on the other hand,
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observes a correlation between the existence of a powerful grand vizier
and the achievement of reform policies.74 During the reign of Selim III,
there was a tendency to share political power among the members of the
bureaucracy, the palace, the ilmiye class and even with the sultan himself,
rather than securing the rise of a strong grand vizier. According to
Liston, the only points on which the rival factions could agree was the
rejection of the arbitrary orders of the sultan, the need for restrictions of
the functions of the grand vizier, and the growing tendency for the
administration of the Empire to be overseen by a council of privileged
people. Another observer makes similar comments, saying that a new
council was established through which all projects and policies were to
be discussed and decided; accordingly, there was a reduction in the
political power of the grand vizier.75 Hobhouse too makes a similar
observation, saying that “the great cabinet, or great council of state, was
more frequently assembled than in former reigns, and diminished the
labours as well as the importance of the Grand Vizier.”76 It seems that
Selim III also favoured this development, and ordered that discussion of
governmental affairs take place in councils (divan) rather than delegating
absolute authority to the kaimmakam and the viziers.77
The decrease in the power of the grand viziers was balanced by the
increase in the importance of the consultative assemblies (meşveret). This
assembly was not an innovation of the period, but a continuation of an
established practice. Previously, important issues had been discussed in
the imperial council (divan-ı hümayun), but in the course of the
eighteenth century this council began to lose its importance, becoming a
council principally in which decisions over peace and war were to be
taken, whilst consultative assemblies began to be held more frequently.
These were presided over by the grand vizier, and they were intended
particularly to address extraordinary crises, both external and internal.
Selim III made it a permanent part of the legislative and executive
process.78 The most influential members of these meetings were the
civilian bureaucrats, while the influence of the ulema was weakened and
military officials were not allowed to interfere in the decisions.79 During
the reign of Mustafa IV, the consultative assemblies preserved their
importance in the decision making process.80
In the contemporary accounts there is frequent mention of an inner
cabinet established during the reign of Selim III. In July 1792, for
instance, the French newspaper Moniteur Universal relates that an “inner
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committee” consisting of 24 members had been established and that
even the executive powers of the grand vizier were delegated to it.81
According to The Times, 12 people were chosen by the sultan to form a
council under the presidency of Yusuf Agha.82 At first glance, the
committee mentioned by the two newspapers seems to have been a
meşveret. If, however, we combine these suggestions with information
provided by other contemporary narratives, a more interesting picture
emerges. In the chronicle Yayla İmamı Risalesi there is a reference to an
inner committee under the leadership of Ismail Raif Paşazâde Ismet
Beyefendi in the year 1792. Unfortunately, the author does not give any
further reference regarding the nature of the decisions remitted to it or
the identity of the participants. Fortunately, though, another local
chronicle mentions their names for the year 1792: Yusuf Agha, steward
of the Queen Mother; Tatarcık Abdullah Molla, an ex-sadr-ı Rum
(Rumeli kazasker); Çelebi Mustafa Reşid Efendi; Elhac Ibrahim Efendi;
Ibrahim Nesim Efendi; defterdar Feyzi Efendi; Süleyman Penahzâde
Moravı̂ Osman Efendi; kethüda-yı sadr-ı ali, Atıf Efendi; Mahmud Raif
Efendi, the Reisülküttab; Ibrahim Ismet Beyefendi; Münib Efendi; and,
finally, the avuş
c
agha.83 Zinkeisen also makes reference to the presence of
an “inner party” (die partei des Innern). According to him, this party was
composed of the mufti, Ibrahim Nesim Efendi and Hacı Ibrahim Efendi,
Sırkatibi Ahmed Bey and Çelebi Mustafa Reşid Efendi. He also adds the
names of Alemdar Mustafa Pasha and Kadı Abdurrahman Pasha into his
list.84 The above-mentioned committee does not seem to have
comprised the usual members of the meşveret, but seems rather to have
been restricted to a smaller circle. Seven names, however, overlap with
those of the reformists.
According to the author of Yayla İmamı Risalesi, in the same year
(1792), the ulema and the ruling elite took certain decisions regarding
the reforms to be implemented, and later declared their intention to the
sultan. Following the sultan’s approval, the reform package was
implemented.85 This suggests that although not all of the reformists
were included in the committee, an inner group among them acted as
the “brain team” and as executives of the reforms. Yayla İmamı notes that
Ibrahim Ismet Beyefendi, the president of this council, entered the
presence of the sultan to remind him that the reform programme would
require a great degree of bravery, resolution, balance and good
judgement. Otherwise, he warned, both the Empire and his throne
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would tumble down. The most important part comes after these initial
warnings:
When we discuss the memorandum among ourselves and then
submit its précis to his majesty the Sultan, His Highness should
display no opposition to its content and he should issue the imperial
edict in accordance. Furthermore, His Highness had better not
confide in his grand vizier, who is His absolute representative. The
grant of His Majestic authorization is naturally a prerequisite for the
fundamentals of the order.86
Indicative of the decrease in the executive power of the grand vizier, he is
not mentioned as a member of the committee, and the sultan is even
requested to keep the correspondence from the inner committee secret
from him! It seems that this committee tried to accumulate a great
degree of decision making and executive power in order to conduct the
reform programme, and requested the unconditional approval of the
sultan in all matters. The committee also had a markedly secret nature.
As Ibrahim Ismet stated to Selim III, its members promised to conduct
their affairs in ultimate secrecy and never to reveal their secrets to others.
If one member of the committee died, a new member would be chosen
either from the ulema or the elite by the consent of all. If such an inner
committee was really established, it seems very likely that its members
sought to conduct their affairs in private.
Yayla İmamı is not the only source which alludes to the existence of
such an inner cabinet during the reign of Selim III. Relying on the
correspondence of Sir Liston, Alan Cunningham describes the
committee as a “kitchen cabinet” established for the purpose of
modernization. The author comments, however, that only six or seven
among them were ready to take the risks of modernization. Stanford
Shaw also uses the term “kitchen cabinet” to refer to those who
“influenced events from behind the scenes and were noticed neither by
Ottoman nor by foreign observers.”87 Recalling the information
provided by Yayla İmamı, he also argues that they were able to
administer the Empire independently of decisions taken by the grand
viziers and the imperial councils. They met informally with the sultan,
and formulated the laws and regulations which were “the driving force
behind the New Order”. Indeed, Olivier notes, the sultan did not give
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any orders without the consent of the committee.88 Even among the
inner group, called the poletika, not all had equal access to certain
decisions or information.89 One contemporary observer provides us
with a concrete example, which might give us some idea about the
structure of the committee. He claims that the French Egyptian
expedition was known in detail by only four members of the
committee, while the rest had little information on the matter.
It seems, therefore, that the committee did not confine itself to matters
related to the reform programme, but was also involved in wider
governmental affairs.90
As might be noted, neither the shaikh al-Islam not the grand vizier of
the period are mentioned as members of the inner committee. According
to contemporary accounts, those two figures were rarely informed about
certain matters, and the remainder of the ruling elite had limited
opportunity to learn about state affairs. It seems that Ataullah Efendi did
not enjoy the rights and responsibilities required by his position. One
source claims that he was despised and ignored by the ruling elite to
such an extent that he enjoyed less esteem than a mahalle imam. He was
never informed or consulted about any matter, and usually got his news
from visitors.91 According to one source, the excluded ulema were
resentful that they had no access to imperial councils, and this was a
matter of public shame for them.92 Findley confirms the arguments of
these contemporaries in his observations that the growing importance of
diplomacy in the politics of the Empire, as well as the ongoing reform
programme, had marginalized the ulema in the councils of state.93 This
does not mean that the ulema played no role at all in the reforms or
decision making process; on the contrary, some were very active
participants in these processes, Ibrahim Ismet Beyefendi being the leader
of the inner committee. On the whole, however, the role of the ulema in
the councils did diminish during the reign of Selim III.
There are similar complaints from other members of the faction of
“outs.” Despite holding the post of grand vizier, Hafız Ismail Pasha was
not informed properly and could take no decision before consulting
Ibrahim Nesim Efendi, who seems to have criticized Hafız Ismail Pasha
on several occasions.94 It seems that weaker and more malleable figures
were chosen, such who could be easily controlled or removed. Musa
Pasha also seems not to have enjoyed the privileges of his post, and was
particularly hostile to Hacı Ibrahim and Ibrahim Nesim Efendi due to
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the overwhelming power they enjoyed in governmental affairs.95
According to a chronicle, the promotion of Musa Pasha to the post of
kaimmakam was thanks to his outward gentleness, which may have given
an impression that he would be obedient.96 The tendency to appoint
figures who were easier to manipulate and remove was also one of the
basic reasons behind the appointment of Galib Efendi to the position of
Reisülküttab (2 October 1806). Ibrahim Nesim Efendi himself had
wished to be appointed as Reisülküttab following Vasıf and, therefore,
sought the promotion of an individual who would be easy to remove
from office. In the end, however, Galib proved to be a strong figure,
rather difficult to manipulate and hard to remove.97
Another striking feature is the lack of mention of the military elite,
either among the “kitchen cabinet” or even within the reformist
camp. No one from a military background submitted reform proposals
in 1792, nor are they cited as members of the inner committee.
The janissary elders had complained about this monopoly on state
affairs by a handful of people; one stated that “a few youngsters have
become the confidants of the state” (birkac oğlan makulesi devlet-i aliyyenin
mahremi ola).98
Most of the figures who are attributed a role in the rebellion can, thus,
be categorized as devlet küskünleri (disgruntled statesmen): they seem to
have had a shared hatred of the dominant ruling elite, and considered
them to be the primary cause of their exclusion from state affairs.
Discussing factionalism in Stuart England, Robert Shephard observes
that there is a correlation between exclusion and revolt:
Those who lacked or lost personal access were cut off from the
mainsprings of power and had to operate through intermediaries
or use means outside the Court – perhaps trying to apply pressure
through Parliament [. . .] or, in more extreme cases, resorting to
plotting or outright rebellion.99
When no chance of influence was in prospect, the discontented and
excluded individuals or groups would become eager for a change in the
throne which would furnish them with new opportunities for
advance.100 It was exactly such an exclusion that played a crucial role
in the involvement – whether direct or indirect – of Ataullah Efendi
and certain so-called anti-reformists in the May uprising. The members
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of the so-called conservative camp in 1807 were reactive, in the sense
that they were frustrated with the hegemony of the new elite, and felt
excluded from enjoying effective power within the offices that they held.
In a way, then, they were opposed to oligarchic nepotism: that is why I
call them the “coalition of outs.” Further clues prove our point. Shaikh
al-Islam Ataullah Efendi, for instance, manifested hostility towards sons
and relatives of the opposing cadres who were following careers in the
ilmiye. Once, while he was shaikh al-Islam, he ordered the dismissal of
19 müderris. Ataullah Efendi was from an established ulema family, and
one might think that he was trying zealously to preserve his privileges.
Indeed, he is said to have had a particular dislike for members of the
ulema from outside the capital, a process which is referred to as the
Istanbulization of the ilmiye class. The ilmiye reforms of Ahmed III had
initiated a process of exclusion of rival education centres, such as Bursa
and Edirne, thus sealing the rise of Istanbul. According to Zilfi, an ulema
aristocracy had succeeded in transforming what had been a professional
status into a system of patrimony. Except for the son of Cabbarzâde
Süleyman Bey and Kadı Abdurahman Pasha, however, most of the
19 names on his list were from Istanbul,101 and almost all of them were
relatives of the new elite, including the son of Mahmud Raif Efendi,
Ibrahim Nesim Efendi, and two sons of Yusuf Agha. It is again difficult
to verify whether the dismissals were based on the principle of merit or
had political motivations. The high number of relatives of the proSelimian elite, however, seems more than a coincidence.102 Apparently,
their aim was to transmit their wealth by acquiring ulema status and,
thus, immunity from confiscation, for their sons. This example also
suggests that the provincial elite and the central elite were trying to find
alternative routes for elite recruitment during the disintegrative period,
in the face of limited or saturated cadres in the centre.103
Uriel Heyd, drawing on the Hüccet-i Şeriyye, argues that the
“reactionary elements in the ulema leadership succeeded temporarily in
stopping these reforms by force.”104 With our very limited information
regarding the worldviews and policies of the statesmen cited as antireformists, it is not possible to decide whether they opposed these
reforms through ideological conviction or simply due to the fact that
their rivals were in favour. We face the same difficulty when looking at
the ulema since, contrary to supposition, the ulema did not act as a unified
body as regards the reformist policies of the centre, nor did they always
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react against change in the Empire. When a political issue is bilateral,
someone has to take up an opposing position.105 It is true that increasing
state control over pious endowments, leading to closer inspection of the
salaries the ulema were receiving from these institutions, may have
increased dissatisfaction with the new order.106 Yet, at least some
individuals enumerated as among this group do not seem to have
rejected the reforms altogether: Mehmed Münib Efendi, for instance,
wrote a pamphlet arguing that playing drums was not against
established religious practices.107 In fact most of the high-ranking ulema
had interests which coincided with the interests of the state and, as such,
they usually collaborated on reformist policies. Even if the ilmiye
members in this group were conservatives who rejected the reforms,
we should be wary of assuming that they were motivated solely by
religious concerns.
During the reign of Selim III, there are some minor but telling
examples which suggest that the conflict between the factions of Halil
Hamid Pasha and Cezayirli Gazi Hasan Pasha continued into the
Selimian era. As we have seen, some of those seen as members of the new
elite enjoyed the patronage of Halil Hamid Pasha, the arch-enemy of
Cezayirli Gazi Hasan Pasha. The central purpose of the Halil Hamid
faction was to ensure the accession of prince Selim to his uncle’s throne.
Meanwhile, Cezayirli Hasan Pasha and his protégés, such as Koca Yusuf
Pasha, were closer to Abdulhamid I.108 Traces of this rivalry were still
observable during the early nineteenth century. For instance, there was
deep enmity between Elhac Ibrahim Efendi and Gazi Hasan Pasha.109
Another example concerns Musa Pasha. In an undated document it is
noted that he is married to an ex-wife of Hasan Pasha, a former grand
vizier.110 No further detail is provided on the latter’s identity, and there
are three people named Hasan Pasha in the reign of Selim III who
occupied the post of grand vizier. Yet, if the Hasan Pasha in question is
Cezayirli, it may indicate that this factional strife did indeed continue
into the reign of Selim III. One final example is related to Mustafa Reşid
Efendi, who enjoyed the patronage of Koca Yusuf Pasha. It is interesting
to note that he was one of the reformists who was able to escape death
during the uprising. Therefore, the tension between the two factions
may well have carried into the Selimian era and, thus, may have played a
role in identity formation and the tension between the new elite and the
coalition elite.
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The affiliation of the reformists to the Naqshbandı̂-Mujaddidı̂
religious order may be another cause of tension between the camps. This
order had undeniable influence in the period, and most of the reformists
were affiliated with it. Conversely, in the other group, only Hafız Ismail
Pasha and Halet Efendi were disciples of the Naqshbandı̂-Mujaddidı̂
order. For the rest, it seems that the order held little appeal. Indeed,
following the uprising, some of the Mujaddidı̂ shaiks were banished, and
the influence of the order diminished to a great extent during the reign
of Mustafa IV, with most of its bureaucrat disciples murdered during the
course of the rebellion. Therefore, it is reasonable to think that
the Naqshbandı̂ affiliations of the reformist camp were another source
of conflict between the two groups.
Overall, however, the distribution of resources by the state, including
the above-mentioned cases of access to wealth and power, was the most
important source of conflict between the members of both camps, either as
groups or individually. Unfortunately, due to a dearth of sources and the
lack of any really systematic study, it remains difficult to perceive
the economic dimensions of the struggle; yet, there are some clues. The
central bureaucracy, which was mostly recruited from the bureaucratic
cadres, carried out the reforms but at the same time monopolized the
resources of economic and political power. Elites connected to the Nizam-ı
Cedid elite are usually blamed for establishing the Nizam-ı Cedid and the
New Fund solely for their own financial advantage. Although one cannot
reduce the complexities of the reform project simply to that purpose, some
examples suggest that members of the new elite abused their positions.
Feyzullah Efendi, the director of the New Treasury, was dismissed after
embezzling 1,000 purses of akce from the mukataas of the Treasury.111 In
an edict addressed to the Grand Vizier, Selim III addressed such abuses,
complaining pointedly about Elhac Ibrahim Reşid Efendi, who directed
the New Treasury from 1799 until 1805; yet, it remains difficult to
ascertain whether Ibrahim Efendi himself was involved in such abuses.
After emphasizing that Ibrahim Efendi had failed to heed the stipulations
of the Treasury, Selim III noted that commoners were making great
fortunes from the already farmed-out mukataas:
For such lands, the already-issued imperial fermans are now
circulating in the hands of moneylenders; therefore, each person
making use of those fermans usurps a certain amount of akces,
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which in turn creates an annual loss of 1,000 purses in the treasury
of İrad-ı Cedid. Is this a fair and equitable practice? What is worse
is that we harm the people and oppress the poor on the pretext that
we collect taxes as revenue. The people are now getting through on
the fortune of the state. From now on, do not allow even a single
akce of İrad-ı Cedid to be usurped by anyone. In accordance with
the laws, you shall inform me about which land will be leased to
which mültezim, together with the amount of tax-farm. In sum, the
mültezims will neither usurp even one akce themselves nor allow
anyone else to do so with the argument that “this is a notable
person” and so on, to benefit the tax-farms. I assigned one hundred
purses of allowance for Irad-ı Cedid, provided that it would be
thoroughly preserved. In case of such an usurpation, let me know
everything in detail; otherwise, you shall be subject to
punishment.112
In all probability, the related edicts concerning the mukataas had been
issued one or two years before, and had been circulating between the
moneylenders and pashas. Such and similar abuses created resentment
among the public, but also bred frustration among the elite who were
denied entry to state circles and complained of unjust competition.
Prince Mustafa and the Struggle for the Throne
If there was a faction in the Ottoman court, which had a programme
altogether directed against Selim III, we should certainly include
Prince Mustafa and his supporters within it. During their confinement
in the palace, the royal princes certainly engaged in political intrigue,
and virtually the only chance for an impatient prince, who was eager to
usurp the throne, was to be installed by an uprising. The basic
difference between provincial military revolts and those in the capital
was that the latter could easily bring down the government and
dethrone the sultan. Since the alternative rulers were confined to the
palace, it was not so difficult to find a replacement; this is one of the
primary reasons why so many pre-1826 uprisings were palacecentred. At the time of the rebellion there were two heirs to the throne,
Prince Mustafa and his brother prince Mahmud, both cousins of
Selim III.
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Prince Mahmud is usually considered to have had good relations with
the sultan. Selim acted as a friend and guide to Mahmud, it is argued,
thanks to which Selim III was able to transmit his reformist mindset to
his cousin. Mustafa, on the other hand, is presented as a rival of Selim
and as always ready to usurp the throne. He was “darkness” and
“ignorance”, “greediness” and “conservatism”, while Selim was “light”,
“progress”, “erudition” and “noble”.113 On this view, the May uprising
was a conflict between these two camps and ended with victory for the
“backward” rule of Mustafa IV, at least for a year,114 before the accession
of Mahmud II. It is difficult to find a satisfactory answer as to why they
are represented in this opposing manner, and so to a certain extent we are
required to speculate. The explanation might relate to the personalities
of Mahmud and Mustafa, and be linked in particular to the fact that
Prince Mustafa was the imminent heir, unlike his younger brother. Yet,
on the other hand, Mustafa might have seen no possibility that he would
rule in the near future and, accordingly, confessed that he would not wait
until the death of his cousin.115
Eager to usurp the throne, it is clear that Mustafa used every
opportunity to bring down his cousin. He seems to have supported any
kind of dissatisfaction with the Nizam-ı Cedid reforms, and to have
collaborated with the disgruntled statesmen. There is no clear evidence
as to what Mustafa really thought about the reforms. In some of his
letters, it is clear that he was aware of the existence of a group which he
calls “New Orderists”, and it appears that he did not feel close to this
group, being particularly hostile to Ibrahim Nesim Efendi. Whatever
his personal opinion of the reforms, he was cunning enough to benefit
from the strife it engendered, and for that purpose he supported
Mahmud Tayyar Pasha and tried to present himself as the ally of the
disaffected janissaries, a strategy familiar from both domestic and
international examples. His pragmatic attitude towards the dissatisfaction with the Nizam-ı Cedid is another example of the abuse of the
Selimian reforms, in addition to the examples we have cited of Mahmud
Tayyar Pasha and the Russians (pp. 83 – 5, 111), who also tried to benefit
from the tension for their own purposes. Aside from his servants, one of
the most important members of the Prince Mustafa faction was his
sister Esma Sultan. While Beyhan Sultan, Selim’s sister, took sides
with her brother, Esma Sultan favoured Mustafa (IV), her brother.
Indeed, Esma’s steward, also acting as the rikab kethüda, was banished
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after the dethronement of Mustafa IV (1808) on the grounds that Osman
Efendi had close connections with the clique of Mustafa IV. It seems that
Mustafa’s mother and other sister, Hibetullah, as well as the concubines,
played an important role in the May uprising and the Alemdar
Incident.116 Apart from the members of the imperial family, Pehlivan
Hüseyin Agha, the janissary agha of the time, is also mentioned as
belonging to the Prince Mustafa faction.
Conclusion
In this chapter we have tried to provide a detailed examination of the
identity of the factions of “ins” and “outs”, and the possible reasons for
their involvement in the May uprising. All of these factors contributed,
either directly or indirectly, to increasing the tension and shaping the
patterns of identity formation among the Selimian elite. Picking out one
factor – such as the reforms – and presenting it as the cause of intra-elite
struggle, offers convenience in explanation at the expense of realism.
Such simplification does not reflect the complex nature of intra-elite
relations in the early nineteenth century, and can only illuminate one
mode of connection with the May uprising. Indeed, if we explain the
power struggles in terms of the actors’ diverging views on a certain
reform or innovation, it becomes difficult to explain political games in
periods when there was no reform or innovation in prospect at all.
Selimian policy does seem to have been marked by bipolar
factionalism between the so-called reformist and anti-reformist camps,
and the group labelled as anti-reformists in the conventional literature
does seem to have been the faction of “outs”. They do seem to have been
reactionary and opposed to the hegemony of those in power; yet, they
constituted a temporary coalition rather than a well-established faction.
Two important developments may be observed during the period under
scrutiny. The first is the increasing importance of the consultative
assemblies and the corresponding decrease in the power of the grand
viziers. More importantly, there seems to have been an inner cabinet that
enjoyed a kind of monopoly on the decision making process and, of
course, on access to power. Despite its internal divisions, the new
Selimian elite envisaged that it could overcome the problems of the
Empire by revivifying it through a series of reforms, especially in the
military sphere. With the information available to us, though, it is
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difficult to decide whether the opposing group completely denied the
need for reform, or rather objected to certain aspects of it. Indeed,
Mustafa IV carried out most of the reform projects of the Selimian
period and there was no clear policy of curbing them.117 What seems
obvious is that he disliked the cadres that were carrying out the reforms.
The bipolar nature of this struggle caused the opponents to move to
one extreme and adopt an anti-reformist policy; in this, it recalls
the dynamic of two-party political systems familiar to us from
modern politics.
CHAPTER 6
WHEN THE FEET BECOME THE
HEAD:THE LIMITS OF
OBEDIENCE
Introduction
Public disturbances express “dialogues about power, how it was held,
how it could be challenged and how it ought to be used.”1 As a form
of dialogue between rulers and subjects, social upheavals pose
stark questions about patterns of legitimacy and social hierarchy.2 By
exposing the reciprocal relationship between ruler and ruled, uprisings
offer excellent opportunities to probe how rulership was conceived by
each side: the cracks opened by disorder allow us to glimpse the
realities that underlie abstract and idealized formulations. Since
revolutionaries seek to challenge established legitimacy, an understanding of what is at stake in such upheavals requires a comprehensive
study of the identity of the revolutionary actors themselves, including
what they expected from the rulers and how they legitimated their
movement. The Ottoman Empire had adopted the traditional sources
of legitimation and preserved the limited and conditional right
to rebel of the Islamic Sunnite tradition. In an accommodationist
tradition such as this, the key questions revolve around two important
themes: how do rebels justify their uprisings and, more importantly,
how does the newcomer to the throne convince both himself and his
subjects that he possesses a legitimate right to rule, rather than being
seen as an usurper, arrived at the throne through his supporters’ illegal
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deeds. This chapter seeks to answer these questions, and offers an
analysis of the May uprising in terms of the identity of the rebels, their
motives and the manner in which, in their own eyes, they legitimated
the rebellion.
Although both contemporary and later historiography on the
uprising has clung to the bipolar discourse of traditionalism and
reaction to reform, our study has revealed that there were in reality
four fields of tension which were instrumental in the emergence of the
upheaval: changes in the redistributive role of the Porte, socioeconomic tensions, the alienation of the commoners from the ruling
elite, and religious tensions centred on the Naqshbandı̂-Mujaddidı̂s.
All of these factors paved the way for a legitimacy crisis, which was
the primary factor behind the fall of Selim III. The first section of
this chapter is devoted to an examination of the deposition of
Selim III, which can be best understood within the theoretical
framework of the right to rebel in an Ottoman context, supported
with empirical data pertaining to the Selimian crisis of legitimacy.
As reflected in some contemporary accounts, in the eyes of the public
he was seen as an unsuccessful ruler, incapable of fulfilling the
expectations of his subjects or providing security in his domains,
while presiding over deep social and economic inequalities, his rule
marked by the oppression and abuses of his ministers. He presided
over a failing empire, and was unable to preserve the traditional
rights of certain status groups, both of which greatly damaged
his legitimacy.
The section that follows is an attempt to sketch the identities of the
revolutionaries. As in most Ottoman uprisings, the rebels of 1807 were
recruited mainly from the military corps. The rebellion was instigated
by the auxiliaries of the Bosporus forts, but grew in number as other
military groups lent their support (janissaries, artillerymen,
armourers), soon to be joined also by civilians and a mixed group of
janissary – artisans and janissary-affiliated urbanites. The discussion,
thus, concentrates on the motives of this heterogeneous group of rebels.
In passing, we also challenge the conventional representations of the
insurgents as irrational, corrupt and bloodthirsty. On the contrary, it
appears that they carefully selected their victims, calculated the costs
and benefits of their actions, and negotiated with the centre to achieve
their goals.
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The Right to Rebel in the Ottoman Context
Max Weber coined the term “sultanism” to describe the Ottoman
polity: an extreme case of patrimonial rule in which the entirety of the
political system is organized as an extension of the sultan’s personal
power. In the early period, the mutual dependency between the sultan
and his janissaries had created a pre-eminent war machine. The
janissaries, however, had gradually become a status group in their own
right, slipping out of the sultan’s control, and frequently challenging
the authority to which they were formerly expected to show
unconditional obedience. For Weber, this was the natural consequence
of sultanism.3 According to Ottoman intellectuals and historians,
however, it was an anomaly, due not to the excessive power of the
janissaries but caused rather by a weakness in the system. For them, the
involvement of military groups in the frequent uprisings was related to
two crucial issues: the malfunctioning of the circle of justice, and
sickness in the body politic.
Like many other medieval and early modern polities, Islamic
tradition relied heavily on a conception of the “body politic”, and had a
correlative obsession with maintaining order in society. The idea of the
“body politic” depends on an analogy between the human body and the
state. The subjects, the lower parts of the body, were to pay utmost
obedience4 and respect to the absolute power radiating from either the
head or the heart. The unilateral activity of the king and the constant
passivity of his subjects characterized the relationship between the ruler
and the ruled. The circle of justice, on the other hand, represented a type
of hierarchical interdependence between the rulers and the ruled, within
which justice played an essential role. Disturbance of the social hierarchy
meant injustice, and there was a very close connection between religion
and justice, and between irreligion and injustice.5 According to the
Qur’anic ideal, the Islamic community should represent the principle of
divine justice. The darü’l-Islam (land of Islam) was the darü’l-adl (land of
justice), a territory governed in accordance with the prescriptions of
Islam and ruled by a legitimate ruler; otherwise, it would be a territory
of injustice. Justice, as reflected in the circle of justice, did not mean
equality before law, but had to include peace, protection, good
organization and a functional infrastructure, and above all stability and
order. This was a Middle Eastern expression of the moral economy.6
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The basic tenet of the system was the maintenance of social order and
stability by keeping every individual, order or estate to its prescribed
place and proper function. The Ottoman rulers and thinkers apparently
perceived epicycles within the broad circle of justice, each surrounding a
particular social group, such as the peasantry, the military and others.
Insofar as they did not stray beyond prescribed limits, each group had
well-established rights and privileges; moving out of their sub-circles
and engaging in wider issues, and especially in state affairs, was not to
be tolerated. Indeed, the early nineteenth-century historian Asım
argued that the state is composed of an ideal balance between the four
components of society (anasır), namely the men of the pen (kalemiye), the
men of the sword, craftsmen and the peasantry (ehl-i ziraat), with the
sultan acting as a spirit that connects them. For Asım, disproportionate
growth of one of these groups created imbalance in the whole system,
and he concluded that this was the main source of disorder in his own
period. More interestingly, it was, for him, an over-dominance of the
men of the pen which threatened the established system.7 In the case of
Ottoman rebellions, the problem was the subjects’ moving out of their
sub-spheres, thus creating malfunction in the whole system. This
conception of politics assigns very limited agency or rights to independent
action to the Ottoman subjects, who, should they venture to take such
action, can only become an “irrational destructive force comparable to
children, with a propensity heedlessly to follow any demagogue, a pure
force of mindless transgression, a manifestation of disorderly nature
resistant to the orderly culture of kingship.”8 Consequently, rebels were
considered as pathological deviants and mindless people.9 In revolution,
the feet become the head (ayaklar baş oldu) – the world is turned upside
down, and the spectacle is ridiculous.
Weber was certainly right in emphasizing the limits to independent
action in an autocratic system. The Ottoman Empire had restricted the
traditional sources of legitimation, and in preserving the limited and
conditional right to rebel admitted by Islamic tradition, it certainly gave
scant approval to actual cases in which injustice was resolved through
rebellion. The Sunni tradition was especially accommodationist and
quietist, with a conservative view of the costs and benefits of rebellion,
although some sects occasionally endorsed radical solutions for unjust
rulers.10 The Ottomans had inherited the accommodationist Sunni
tradition of the Hanafis, which remained intolerant of disobedience and
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encouraged harsh treatment for dissidents.11 It recognized the right to
rebel only against irreligious governments or mentally defective rulers;
otherwise, rebellion was unforgivable. Consequently, in order to
legitimate their acts, rebels had to declare that they were acting against
an unjust and oppressive government, which was breaking the sharia.
Except for such grave cases as these, subjects were expected to be
obedient to the authorities.
The employment of religious rhetoric and Islamic formulae can be
observed in most Ottoman uprisings, which seem to have increased
around the mid-seventeenth century.12 While the colour and organization
of Ottoman rebellions was militaristic, thanks to the massive participation
of the corps, the vocabulary of rebellion was highly religious. Haim
Gerber argues that Ottoman uprisings do not usually invoke Islamic
forms of legitimation, but mainly reflect secular grievances.13 Of course
the rebels had many secular grievances (see below, pp. 183–8), but they
rarely refer to them specifically, preferring to emphasize how the reigning
sultan or his ruling elite were working against the sharia, with particular
emphasis on irreligious innovations. No matter how secular the rebels’
grievances actually were, the formulation was Islamic. Secular grievances
were no grounds for a revolt, but religious issues certainly were. The
Hüccet-i Şeriyye provides a good example in this regard (pp. 38 –41).
In this text, the formal statement concerning the uprising is presented in
religious terms. It presents the Nizam-ı Cedid reforms as a bad
innovation (bid’at) and celebrates the janissaries for putting an end to it
with the help of the ulema and some functionaries. Nothing, in fact, in
the establishment of a new army seems to have been anti-religious, but it
must be formulated in religio-legal terms in order to constitute a
legitimate cause for dissent. The invocation of bid’at masks distinctively
secular grievances, such as the oppression of the people and the
humiliation of the established corps. If the actions of the sultan or his
ruling elite, and particularly their innovations, are presented as against
the sharia, a challenge to the sovereign seems to have been more
thinkable and possible. Where this is combined with the rhetoric of
oppression and injustice radiating from an incompetent ruler who was
not able to restrain the venal desires of his ruling elite, it may
provide excellent grounds for a legitimate uprising.14 This is why
overtly Islamic rhetoric was employed in most uprisings. The Ottoman
sources of legitimation were not always Islamic but they were
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expressed in religious vocabulary and substantiated by reference to
Islamic tradition.15
Being an official contract, the Hüccet-i Şeriyye provides only limited
insight into how the rebels’ cause was legitimized in their own eyes and
in those of the commoners. It may, however, illuminate well the limits of
disobedience of the rebels, as well as how the new sultan legitimated
his enthronement. At a very basic level, the document justifies the power
of the newly enthroned sultan, Mustafa IV, by explaining that this
was not a case of usurpation, but rather of enthronement following
legitimate rebellion, itself designed to eliminate an innovation which
was causing oppression and injustice. Niyazi Berkes argues that the
Hüccet-i Şeriyye was designed to secure for the janissaries a guarantee
that, henceforth, they would devote themselves to forbidding wrong
and commanding right – thus conferring upon the army the right to
oppose illegality.16 At the same time, however, the same document
declared the involvement of the janissaries in the rebellion to have been a
malfunctioning of the corps, and accused them of transgressing the
limits of their responsibility. Contrary to Berkes’ suggestion, therefore,
it seems most likely that the Hüccet-i Şeriyye was in fact prepared in order
to eliminate the possibility of future involvement by the military classes
in political matters. It is evident that the text seeks to brand the
involvement of janissaries in non-military affairs as anomalous. Indeed,
the document denies the military corps the right to fight against
innovation, and underlines that such action had been acceptable only
once. Note that the document does not deny the necessity of fighting
against bid’at, but it restricts itself to criticizing the involvement of the
military corps in such fights independent of the sultan’s orders, this
being beyond their responsibilities. Who, then, was to fight against and
correct mistakes if new innovations should emerge in the future?
Though the Hüccet-i Şeriyye leaves this question open, another
document provides a clear answer. The document in question makes it
clear that such problems are to be dealt with by the ulema rather than
the military: the ulema are the main group tasked with forbidding
the wrong and commanding the right.17 Although this document, the
Deed of Alliance of 1808, is usually studied independently from the
Hüccet-i Şeriyye, it was in fact prepared as a reply to it. This time it was
the local notables, represented by Alemdar Mustafa Pasha, then the
grand vizier, who were trying to eliminate political error in the capital.
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It is, therefore, not surprising that the Deed also makes reference to the
very same issue. The role of commanding the right, according to this
document, belonged to the grand vizier rather than the ulema. The
Deed thus apparently seeks to curb the power of the ulema. It confirms
the hierarchical system of obedience and declares that state servants
(especially the janissaries), who dealt with issues beyond their
responsibility, would be punished and dismissed.18
In fact, as far as the Qur’an is concerned the principle of commanding
good and forbidding evil is a joint duty of the whole Islamic community
(umma) or the collectivity of the believers.19 Although it is usually held
to be a collective duty, the responsibility falls principally on the rulers
and officers, then upon the scholars, and finally upon the commoners.20
There does not seem to have been a consensus among Muslim scholars
regarding how to correct the mistakes of the sovereigns themselves.
In such cases, the Sunni tradition in particular advised a rebellion of the
heart, rather than rebellious acts (fi’l), and rejected taking up
arms against the ruler.21 Even scholars were for the most part advised
to talk boldly to unjust rulers and remind them of their mistakes,
rather than engage in outright opposition. Rebuke was considered to be
better than rebellion, and there was no flirting with the idea of taking
up arms against the rulers (thus, this tradition is quietist).22 It seems,
then, that in the Ottoman Empire, this principle of commanding right
and forbidding wrong was to be the principal responsibility of learned
people and the ruling elite. Learned people, stemming mostly from
the bureaucratized ulema, were expected to check the ruler’s political
mistakes. The religious authorities were also given this right due to their
knowledge of law and history, which made them apt judges of whether
justice had been properly rendered.23
In the case of 1807, the Hüccet-i Şeriyye’s preference for the
bureaucratized ulema reflected the centre’s reluctance to allow the
participation of wider society in the affairs of state. At first glance, this
general ordinance as regards correcting the sultan’s mistakes might be
thought to be addressed specifically to the military corps but when we
take into consideration the latter’s mixed composition, we see that it is
addressed to commoners as well. Overall, however, there seems to have
been strong pressure from segments outside the decision making
process, probably from the middle classes, to have more of a role in state
matters, or at least to make their voices heard, even if by rebellion.
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The rebels themselves were more concerned with making the centre take
their own interests into consideration than with challenging dynastic
rule. Later – after 1807 – they would gain such a right, albeit only
temporarily. The junior officers, representing the interests of the rankand-file soldiers and most commoners, were now admitted to the state
councils together with the high-ranking janissary commanders. Despite
the initial reluctance of Mahmud II, they gained a temporary right in the
early 1820s. In 1822, faced with the emergency of a possible war with
Russia, Mahmud II created a kind of popular government by calling
together junior-ranking officers of the corps, as well as a large body of
urban residents.24 This, however, did not turn out to be a long-lasting
example, since the new governance partners were to be “annihilated (just
like the ayan who, too, had recently signed a contract), not because of
some abstract opposition or ideological allergy to reforms or to
Westernization, but because of centralization efforts of Mahmud II.”25
Were the initiatives voiced by rebels of the early nineteenth century
part of a proto-democratization process, as has been suggested by Baki
Tezcan? And should we see the late eighteenth and early nineteenthcentury uprisings as a confrontation between royal absolutism
and constitutionalist soldiers/rebels? The author labels the period
from the sixteenth to the early nineteenth century the “Second
Empire”, seeing it as bearing the main characteristics of an early
modern European state. In essence, his argument tries to place the
Ottoman Empire on the same line of development as the early modern
European states, which had successfully made the transition from
feudalism to capitalism. The Empire in this period was politically a
limited monarchy, culturally more open to “early modern sensibilities”, economically had a more unified currency, and was run as a
market economy.26 Tezcan challenges the views of traditional
historians that the Ottoman Empire in this period already showed
symptoms of decline, manifested particularly in the deterioration of
the janissary corps, and argues that in fact it was undergoing the
beginnings of a process of democratization due to janissary activism.27
It is true that some military groups opposed the absolutist tendencies
of the imperial court, but this does not yet reveal the unfolding of a
process of “proto-democratization.” For our purposes, however, the
more important issue is his emphasis on the conceptualization of this
relationship within a legal framework. According to the author, the
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janissaries were evaluating the authority of the sultan from this
perspective and like constitutionalists they were aware of the legal
limitations of sultanic authority. Actually, Hüccet-i Şeriyye supports this
claim by emphasizing that the sultans could also be corrupt and that
they could not enjoy endless powers during their rule. Otherwise, the
janissaries would enter the scene to correct it.28
Regarding the right to rebel, Barrington Moore remarks upon the
existence in all traditional societies of an implicit social contract, albeit
manifested in different ways in different times and places. In return
for their provision of basic needs such as protection from foreign attacks,
the maintenance of peace and order, and a guarantee of material
security, rulers are conferred legitimacy. When a ruler violates these
minimal common expectations it creates a sense to the subjects of being
treated unfairly, which can lead to moral anger. The primary purpose of
negotiations in dissent – a purpose shared by both leader and rebels –
is therefore to re-establish the status quo, and the outcomes of
rebellion may be an adjustment to the political system or, failing that, a
breakdown of the political order. It is a tradition of collectivism to carry
out an organized struggle against injustice.29 At first sight, Moore’s view
seems contradicted by the utmost loyalty and obedience to a ruler
required by Islamic law; yet, there does seem to be a tacit contractual
element even in the sharia, which may thus echo Moore’s idea of a
universal and implicit social contract. For instance, according to
Senhûrı̂, the practice of the ceremony of allegiance (biat) had
implemented a de facto social contract long before Rousseau wrote
about it.30 For an earlier Muslim intellectual and poet, Muslih al-Din
Sa’di (1209– 91), a king was an “employee hired by the people to protect
their welfare and safety”, rather than an owner of people. Using the
famous king/shepherd metaphor, he presents the shepherd as serving
the sheep. In his idea of an implicit social contract sanctioned by God,
the ruler is not bestowed absolute authority – this runs contrary, for
example, to the account in Hobbes’s Leviathian, where there was no right
to rebel. The people have the right to withhold allegiance.31
Among Turkish scholars, Şerif Mardin was the first to suggest that
there was a “tacit contract” between Ottoman rulers and the ruled.
According to him, a new kind of estrangement of the urban masses from
the rulers started with the 1730 rebellion. In his view, the masses
representing the periphery frequently came into conflict with the official
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elite, who embarked upon military and administrative reforms but also
became alienated from the rest of society due to their affinity for Western
values.32 In this struggle between the centre and the urban periphery,
the janissaries transformed into a power group in virtue of which the
periphery could resist some of the demands by the centre.33 Mardin also
invites us to look at the uprisings not as sheer acts of violence, but rather
as a crisis in the “tacit” social contract between rulers and ruled, wherein
popular revolts served as warnings for the rulers.34
Beyat/biat or the oath of allegiance was a political act of accepting the
political authority of the newly enthroned sovereign, and was a
precondition for his legitimacy in accordance to Sunni law. Yet, this
same practice of a promise of loyalty and obedience had central Asian
roots;35 in Islamic tradition, its roots go back to the time of the Prophet
Muhammad.36 During the period of the four Caliphs, biat became the
practice of recognizing the political authority of the caliph and
promising utmost obedience to him. Initially, it required the shaking of
hands, but later a verbal oath of allegiance became more widespread.37
Though initially it meant promising loyalty and obedience to a newly
elected caliph, in the subsequent Muslim states, and especially with the
Umayyads, it began to acquire the symbolic meaning of declaring
obedience to the ruler. During the Umayyad period, commoners did not
directly take an oath of allegiance to the caliph; rather, this was
established indirectly via the religious or secular authorities.38 Though
not very frequent, the withdrawal of the oath of allegiance was
sometimes possible, and there are indeed some historical examples
of this, pertaining especially to cases in which the ruler/caliph was
considered to be a sinner, his commands contrary to divine command or
his acts unjust. For instance, the people of Hejaz withdrew their oath of
allegiance from Yezı̂d, while the people from Iraq shifted their
allegiance from Abdülmelik b. Mervân to Abdurrahman b. el-Eş’as.39 In
the Hüccet-i Şeriyye it is explicitly stated that the servants (kul) had
withdrawn their allegiance (kat-i rişte-yi tabiyyet) from Selim III and
paid homage (biat) to Mustafa IV. This may be a verbal formulation of
the Hüccet-i Şeriyye designed to legitimate the rule of the new sultan, but
it is still important. Of course, a single document does not entitle us to
make bold generalizations; yet, it is still important in terms of
suggesting how in practice biat was interpreted by the centre, and to
some extent by the rebels.
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It would be wrong to think that people in the early nineteenth
century considered sultanic authority to be monolithic. There were
extremists who thought that rebelling against the quasi-sacred sultan
was tantamount to becoming an infidel – for instance, a spy report
labelled Kavalalı Mehmed Ali Pasha an infidel, following the logic that
“if somebody rebels against a sultan, he becomes an infidel; he rebels
against God too.”40 A similar attitude is displayed in certain anecdotes.
During one of his incognito excursions to the city, Mahmud II
reportedly came across a woman who cursed the sultan, wishing
blindness upon him (gözü kör olsun), because of a long queue in front of a
bakery. The sword-bearer of the sultan rounded upon her, saying that
there was nothing that the padishah could do, since he was not a peasant
charged with producing grain for the people, implying that the bread
shortage was due to divine providence (Bunu siz Hakk’dan bilin). The
author who narrates the incident says that the woman was then struck
blind, and that Mahmud II was moved by the misery of his subjects, and
sent a certain sum of money both to the bakery and the woman.41 This
tale contains the motif of a divinely sanctioned sovereign who is not able
to provide the basic staple of the commoners, which was his most
important duty, yet still remains above any kind of criticism. Ironically,
while it is he who is not able to feed the populace, it is the woman who
receives divine punishment for her ignorance of the grace of the sultan.
While such examples underline the obligation to obey the divinely
sanctioned sovereign, not all people seem to have accepted this kind of
reasoning. Following the Alemdar Incident, Mahmud II executed his
dethroned brother, Mustafa IV, with the purpose of securing his own rule
by remaining sole heir to the throne. The rebels, who had surrounded the
palace, demanded the reinstatement of Mustafa, and on hearing of his
death, suggested Esma Sultan, the Crimean Khan or the Mevlevi shaik in
Konya as rulers instead, remarking that the Ottoman sultans were just
“human beings”.42 Such a case does seem to reveal the weakened
legitimacy of the Ottoman dynasty.
Selim III and his Imperial Legitimacy
How it is possible that even though a sultan had yielded to all the
demands of the rebellious crowds, and obeyed all the rules of
negotiation, still he could not save his throne or power? Selim III is a
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good case in this respect, since he never dared to oppose the rebels’
demands, and even took pre-emptive action to abolish the Nizam-ı Cedid
army, instead of employing them to disperse the rebellion. Why, then,
did he lose his throne even after the elimination of the grievances? Why
did Selim III’s kul turn so strongly against him, and how did his rule
come to inspire such hatred and distrust? Though there is no simple
answer to this question, it seems that a profound failure of sultanic
legitimacy was what caused the downfall of Selim III, rather than his
modernization efforts. The Selimian reforms were just one of the factors
(admittedly not the least important) that undermined his royal authority
in the eyes of the public. He himself may have been no worse than his
predecessors, but the rapid social and political changes which marked his
period on the throne, as well as the specific failures of his rule, triggered a
catastrophic erosion of his legitimacy.
During the rebels’ debates on whether Selim III should be dethroned,
Bayburdı̂ Süleyman, one of the ringleaders, argued that Selim could rule
over them no more, since “[n]ow seeds of enmity have been sown
between the Sultan and his kul.”43 The rebel in question was a yamak and
belonged to the askeri class, describing himself as a soldier (kul). The
loyalty of a soldier to his sovereign is an acquired loyalty, closer to a
patron–client relationship than to a slave– master one. The patron–
client relationship depends more on benefits, rights and the observing of
obligations, and is primarily contractual in nature.44 It seems that
Bayburdı̂ meant that the traditional relationship of loyalty and
submission between the sultan and his servants had given way to mutual
distrust, as well as to a conflict of interests which worked against the
traditional relationship. This comment by Bayburdı̂ also suggests that
the members of the traditional corps thought of their relationship with
the imperial authority in a contractual manner, as one of allegiances and
benefits (hizmet ve nimet).45 This is contrary to the idealized
representation of the relationship between a sultan and his military
servants, which, in official discourse, is a one-sided “love” relationship in
which the sultan is the “uninterested beloved”, while the servants are
“self-sacrificing lovers”. Affection and loyalty is expected of them
regardless of what the sultan may do, with any favour radiating from him
perceived as a grace rather than an act of justice.46 Apparently, the 1807
insurgents saw the relation between the sultan and themselves as rather
different, notably as being more contractual and mutualist.
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Hakan Karateke argues that the Ottoman Empire, like many other
dynastic states, embodied “habitual legitimation”, where obedience to a
sovereign or dynasty had become a generational habit. Yet, the people
still had to be convinced about the legitimacy of a sovereign, especially
during times of crisis and warfare.47 Indeed, dynastic and Islamic sources
of legitimation did not automatically provide unlimited legitimacy to a
newcomer on the throne. Each sultan had to renew his legitimacy and
develop his own specific form for himself, his servants and his subjects.
Legitimation is a self-referential or self-justifying act on the part of a
ruler; it is not something frozen, a unilinear imposed ideology, but
rather a negotiated and more meaningful discourse in which both rulers
and subjects participate.48 As Weber noted, the actions of a ruler were
not enough to make a sovereign legitimate. This also required the
subjects’ acknowledgement of the ruler’s right to rule, and a willingness
on their part to obey rather than challenge his authority.49
Selim’s loss of legitimacy was gradual, and proceeded in close step
with the late eighteenth and early nineteenth-century socio-economic
and international crises. Providing internal order and security, feeding
the populace, remaining accessible by means of petitions, redressing
grievances, dispensing justice, preventing abuses by the central and
provincial elites, and, finally, observing ancient customs and traditions
were the key factors for the legitimation of a sultan.50 The most
important duties of a Muslim ruler were to observe and enforce sharia,
administer the state and, most importantly, to provide for justice in his
domains.51 Justice was one of the most important princely virtues, and
Selim III is never praised as a just ruler.52 Another important task for a
sultan was to protect the Muslim domains (darü’l-Islam) and to be
victorious against the infidels. Above all, the extreme importance
attached to the ideal of a victorious, world-conquering sultan evoked a
powerful backlash at this time of defeats and territorial losses, calling
into question first the sultan’s power, and then the legitimacy of the
dynasty.53 Initially, Selim III tried to position himself as a warrior sultan
destined to save his fragmenting empire; subsequently, he was forced to
content himself with being the supreme head of the bureaucracy. Yet, in
neither of these roles was he successful, and he remained unable to satisfy
the expectations of his public.54
No exact dates can be given for the deterioration of his legitimacy,
but the process can perhaps be traced from the invasion of Egypt by the
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“infidel” French in 1798 and the subsequent alliance with the Russians
and the British against the French, via the Wahhabi sacking of the
Holy Lands in 1803 and the consequent prevention of the haj, to the
military defeats at the hands of the Russians (1806– 7), the British
fleet anchoring off the shores of Princes’ Islands (1807), the sultan’s
apparent inability to solve the empire’s pressing economic problems, his
failure to establish stability in external and internal affairs, and finally
his failure to produce an offspring. Another pillar of the Ottoman
legitimation mechanism concerned the positioning of the rulers as the
“servants of the Holy Lands”. In this respect, the loss of Mecca and
Medina to a “heretical” sect and the disruption of the pilgrimage were
particularly severe blows to his status. On the whole, however, it was the
Edirne Incident (1806) which seems to have had the greatest impact on
public opinion, leading to widespread popular resentment towards his
rule. The blow to his legitimacy was so severe that, according to Asım,
the sultan’s name was not mentioned in the mosques of the Rumelian
towns during Friday prayers – a potent symbol of the rejection of
his rule. The rebels even wanted to march on the capital.55 During the
course of the May uprising, the insurgents asserted that they no longer
trusted Selim III, since he had not kept his earlier promise to abolish the
Nizam-ı Cedid.56 Indeed, the process of the deposition of the sultan was
really unleashed after the question began to be asked: “Can we
henceforth really rely on this person as our sultan?”57 The answer was
negative. This recalls Barker’s argument that it is rulers, rather than
regimes, which need to be legitimized. When confidence is lost, the
subjects withdraw their allegiance from the representative of the regime,
but rarely from the regime itself.58
Some time before his accession to the throne, Selim III had been
warned by a follower/servant to take utmost care not to alienate his
subjects, since it was crucial for a ruler to have the consent of the
population for his policies. The most important thing for a ruler was to
behave in accordance with and to take into consideration the mood and
sensibilities of his own subjects. Otherwise, he would lose his throne.59
Selim III was unable to follow this advice. Far from confidence, it was
mutual fear and talk of conspiracy that shaped his relations with most
segments of society, particularly the military groups. According to a
contemporary observer, a sovereign was to be omnipotent, charismatic
and able to use coercive power to punish or threaten punishment; yet,
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Selim lacked this ability to enforce siyaset. A weak ruler would not bring
order to his state and society, and injustice would prevail in the imperial
domains. This observer singles out the sultan for having been
insufficiently despotic or powerful in his dealings with his subjects and
administrators. Selim III had undermined the authority of the state and
the public had ceased to fear him; meanwhile, brazen state servants
considered the weakened imperial authority as an opportunity to oppress
the people.60
As we have already remarked, it would be wrong to focus solely
on Selim III’s character and charisma without taking heed of the
context. The crisis of legitimacy was not unique to the Ottoman
Empire. As Bayly notes, rulers around the world were facing crises,
similar to the Ottoman uprisings of the early nineteenth century,
characterized by financial and military difficulties and a rise in revivalist
movements.61
On the Identity of the Rebels
Catching this man, who was in the wine bar at the basement and
under disguise with an Ahmediyye turban on his head and olive
drab-colored, worn-out galleon sailor’s baggy pants (şalvar) on his
legs, they took him out, barefooted and bareheaded, with his head
busted open and bloodied up. In the afternoon of the very same day
they brought him to the square, and within the great gate tore him
into thousands of pieces together with his chief military
bandsman, then hanging their swords upon the sky. Bursting
with rage and grudge, they licked the blood on their swords and
blades. There were countless others who, unable to batter and
wound him due to overcrowding, cried “O brother, please let me
lick a drop of blood on your sword.” Furthermore, some others
who, with greatest difficulty, were able to obtain a few dirhems of
his wicked flesh, even plucked his flesh with their mouths like
hounds pulling at goatskin stuffed with cheese. What is more, just
then, I myself, along with many of those present at the Meat
Square, even eyewitnessed that one of the warriors dug a piece of
oak into his buttocks and made its edge turn ghastly yellow due to
the color of faeces.62
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This is a vivid description of the murder of Ibrahim Nesim Efendi, the
ex-sadaret kethüda, during the May uprising. The hatred is evident –
hatred both of him, as an individual, and of the ruling elite which he
symbolized. Neither the audience nor the perpetrators of the lynching
and dismemberment of Ibrahim Nesim Efendi, however, are specified by
the author. The impression is of general confusion, amid which the
murder was carried out by the entire crowd.
Gustave Le Bon classes rebellious crowds as either homogeneous
(crowds consisting of political and religious sects, military and working
castes, and social classes) or heterogeneous (anonymous crowds composed
of different social groups).63 In this case, it was a heterogeneous crowd
consisting of Istanbul-based military corps – namely the yamaks,
janissaries, armourers and artillerymen – as well as some urbanites.
The soldiers were the most active, acting as ringleaders or activists
throughout the rebellion and serving as the spokesmen of the urban
masses and the carriers of their voice.64 Yet, on the whole, the rebellious
crowd seems to have been heterogeneous. In 1807, the anonymous
crowd in our case included some late-arriving participants, as well as
bystanders. The former (latecomers) were mainly sympathizers who
rushed to the square in search of support, adventure or plunder. These
groups belonged mainly to the urban poor and were the most difficult
group to keep under control. The bystanders included both sympathizers
and curious Istanbulites. Military groups are well organized and have a
strong sense of solidarity; thus, they are quicker to mobilize than “lowsolidarity” groups.65
Specifically, they are better able to overcome collective action
problems and indeed to facilitate greater recruitment. Given that the
distinction between the military classes and the civilians had become
blurred in the period in question, it is risky to insist on a clear-cut
distinction between the military and civilian groups in general; but this
very blurring may have contributed to the speed and scale of
mobilization among the general public.
The paramilitary and semi-civilian groups are a good starting point
for probing into the identities of the 1807 participants. Actually, it was
these groups which provided the ringleaders throughout the uprising.
The term yamaks refers to locally recruited garrison troops, and in the
eighteenth century they were more commonly employed as auxiliaries.
In our case, the yamaks were stationed in various forts on either side of
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the Bosporus and there is scanty evidence on their socio-economic
identity. It seems that, at least during the early nineteenth-century, they
were mostly from the southern Caucasus (especially from Ahıska/
Akhaltshike), and the Black Sea and Marmara regions. It is clear that this
group was fed by migrations to Istanbul, due to the reasons we have
discussed in previous chapters. The migrants from Ahıska also bring
into light another issue that we have so far not touched upon: migration
due to territorial losses. The Russian advance in the southern Caucasus
and the annexation of the Georgian kingdom in 1801, followed by
attacks on Ahıska (especially in 1807), caused waves of migrations until
its capture in 1828 by the Russians. Therefore, the younger of these
migrants must have sheltered in the capital and become soldiers in the
fortresses. Whatever their causes for migration were, it is clear that they
were not integrated into urban society in the capital. It seems that most
of them were extremely poor, their salaries were very low and that some
of them were even unable to cover the burial expenses of deceased
friends. Upon the initiative of Selim III, a cash waqf was founded in
1793–4 for this purpose. Like the fortresses they were stationed in, they
lived in the outskirts of Ottoman society and were considered to be
untrustworthy, troublesome, tough and mostly aggressive.66 They were
a marginal group to the Istanbulites and resentful of the policies of the
centre, which endangered their identity and threatened the existence of
the janissary army they associated themselves with.
Another group that participated in the uprising is the janissaries. Yet,
the crucial issue is the undue emphasis placed upon the janissaries in
Ottoman uprisings in general and in the May upheaval in particular. The
role of the janissaries is clearly overemphasized in the available literature,
and they were used as a generic instigator for almost all uprisings
from the seventeenth to the mid-nineteenth century. A survey of the
revolutionaries and the military groups involved, however, suggests
that other military groups were also active and that the revolutionary
cadres were not exclusively constituted by janissaries. The cavalrymen
(sipahis), for instance, were as active as the janissary dissidents of the
seventeenth century. Cavalry troops were the independent instigators of
two uprisings (1623, 1629), joint instigators (with the acemis) in 1648,
and acted in unison with the janissaries in 1622 and 1655. The
janissaries did not join the rebellions of 1623 and 1632, and in that of
1632 they supported the Porte, sometimes even clashing with the
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cavalrymen. The janissaries emerged victorious in their rivalry with the
cavalrymen in 1648, and the rulers lost further chances to play these
groups off against each other.67 Precisely due to that rivalry, the
janissaries and the cavalrymen no longer acted jointly. Apart from the
joint rebellions (1622, 1655), the janissaries were the independent
instigators of those in 1656 and 1687. In the eighteenth and early
nineteenth-century rebellions, the janissaries were still instrumental
and present in most incidents, but they were usually latecomers, as in
1703, 1730 and 1807. In the dissent of 1740, the janissaries declared
their loyalty to the sultan and did not become involved in the
rebellion. The janissaries were the instigators of the 1808 Alemdar
Incident, as well as that of 1826. The revolutionary cadres were usually
recruited from non-janissary military groups (1730, 1807), such as the
armourers (1703) or the yamaks (1807). The most outstanding example
in terms of the participation of the military corps in a rebellion is that
of 1703. Apart from the janissaries, it also attracted the participation of
the armourers, imperial gardeners, cavalrymen, artillerymen, wagoners
and cannon-wagon carriers (top arabacı). Unrest broke out among the
armourers due to arrears in their wages, but there was no such problem
for the rest.68 Apart from the armourers, also active during 1807, it
was the participation of the artillerymen, rather than the janissaries or
other military groups, that was decisive in the May uprising, and
which most alarmed the Porte.
The janissaries of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century
were not in fact a homogeneous body, but rather an amalgam of soldiers
of different income groups and backgrounds. A recent study of wealth
distributions in Ottoman cities reveals a tendency among the military
groups towards polarization in terms of wealth.69 It appears that the
lower ranks of the military class formed an important component of
the labour force of Istanbul at the turn of the nineteenth century. While
the junior ranks constituted the economic middle class, making them
more vulnerable to the policies of the centre, the senior officers were
engaged in more lucrative activities. For instance, some of them
travelled in south Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and obligated the
peasants to accept loans, while they also acquired numerous peasant
property leases in the Balkans.70 They counted among them very
wealthy figures, such as Kazgancı Mustafa Agha, the trustee (mütevelli) of
the 25th Janissary regiment who was involved in the coppersmith
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business and was later appointed as the director of the Keban imperial
mines. Though not “pure” janissaries, the case of the yamaks of the
Bosporus is also instructive for our understanding of the economic
conditions of the military groups in the capital. Some of them “extracted
root-woods and burnt coal in the pasturage of the Fener village”, while
most of them were involved in pottery and jar-making. Some of the
yamaks did not leave enough money to cover their burial expenses. Some
worked as seasonal labourers in the vineyards, while other militarymen
earned their livelihoods as enfranchised artisans or itinerants.71
It seems that the lower ranks of the janissaries were more activist in
comparison to their commanders. They generally joined with the rebels,
with the junior ranks either supporting or being sympathetic to the
rebellious cause and the higher ranks acting mostly as state-aligned
elites. For instance, in 1622 the janissary agha was wounded, while in
1632, 1703 and 1808 high-ranking janissaries were murdered by the
rebels due to their reluctance to lend them their support. In 1703, highranking janissaries preferred to stay out of the revolt, while some
commanders seem to have worked against it.72 Meanwhile, the junior
rank-and-file officers often played a major role in the uprisings. In 1651
and 1688, for instance, the lower ranks of the janissary corps joined the
urbanites, guildsmen, some seyyids, ulema and statesmen to fight against
their commanders, i.e. the janissary officers.73
Apart from the members of the military corps, some civilian elements
also joined the uprisings. The civilians can be categorized under three
headings: men of religion, guildsmen and residents of the city. The first
group is most frequently mentioned as a collaborator with the rebels,
and their frequent appearance in connection with these uprisings has led
students of Ottoman history to posit a long-standing ulema– janissary
coalition.74 With the introduction of Western ideas in some sections of
society, the ulema and janissaries are thought to have been recruited to
the anti-Westernization forces in 1730 and 1807. As in the case of the
military groups, the lower ranks of the religious groups evidently
were relatively quick to join the dissidents, with the higher ranks
being more conservative.75 The available literature indicates that lowranking ulema joined the revolutionaries of 1622, while the rebellious
guildsmen of 1688 were helped by religious figures (seyyids, suhtes), with
the exception of the established religious bureaucracy.76 In 1703, too,
there is strong indication of support by the lower ulema for the rebellious
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cadres. In this incident, the seyyids and some medrese students were also
active participants in the rebellion.77 There is no mention of the
participation of seyyids or suhtes in the May 1807 uprising, an astonishing
fact in an uprising presented as being a reaction to the modernization/
Westernization reforms of Selim III.
The rest of the civilian participants were usually recruited from the
established or enfranchised artisans or guildsmen of the city. In the
cases of 1651, 1656 and 1688, the initiative came from the guildsmen
who acted independently, while at other times they collaborated with
the military groups. The rebellion of 1651 is credited as being the first
major guildsmen uprising, presaging future involvements by this
group;78 it was triggered by excessive levies on the marketplace,
imposed primarily to finance the Cretan campaign.79 Guildsmen were
also present in the turmoil of 1622.80 Artisans and merchants of
Ottoman Cairo seem to have been less active in the popular uprisings of
the eighteenth century.81 The uprisings of 1703 and 1730 incorporated
wider segments of the civilian population, including some craftsmen
and guildsmen of the city, but in the incident of 1731 they paid greater
allegiance to the reigning sultan. Indeed, collaboration between the
established artisans and the rebels (i.e. military groups) seems to have
ended abruptly following the 1730 rebellion. Before 1730, the artisans
(petty bourgeoisie) and merchants were among the opponents of the
policies of Mahmud I, but the post-uprising instability and disorder
caused them to shift their allegiance to the sultan in 1731.82 In the
May uprising, the participation of the established craftsmen is almost
non-existent compared to cases from the seventeenth and eighteenth
centuries. Indeed, no support from this group is mentioned in the
incidents either of 1807 or 1808, and they finally came to collaborate
with the Porte, something which would also be instrumental in the
destruction of the janissaries in 1826. This change in allegiance was
probably due to the developments of the post-1730 era, in which
collaboration between the established artisans of Istanbul and the
rebels ended rather abruptly.
The excesses of the rebels and the frequent plundering during the
1730 uprising evidently played a role in the alienation of society from
the rebels.83 The memory of 1730 was still alive among the populace
early in the new century. Indeed, the Istanbulites were very frightened
by the outburst of the May uprising, thinking that it would follow the
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same course as 1730.84 It was clearly in order not to alienate the
urbanites further that the rebels of 1807 took the utmost care to
prevent plunder by the rebellious crowd. During the 1808 Alemdar
Incident, the revolutionaries’ great concern to win over the public had
the same root.85 The presence of the rank-and-file soldiers allowed both
for more disciplined action during the rebellion and more access to
essential military resources. Keeping order and preventing pillage
remained one of the rebellious cadres’ major concerns. The military
hierarchy was preserved to a certain extent during May 1807 precisely
in order to enforce this. In view of the continuous flow of membership
between civilians and military forces, and especially from and to the
janissary corps, it is not surprising to find a transfer of habits and
attitudes from one to the other, which can be regarded as an inherited
pattern of actions.86 More effective control of the military corps meant
more recruitment into the revolutionary cadres not only from militias
but from laymen too.
In 1807, the third group of participants was the residents of the city,
who can be labelled as bystanders. Rather than being active and willing
to pay the costs of a potential failed challenge, this group preferred to
act the part of free-rider. Apart from vague references in some
contemporary narratives, this group remains completely anonymous.
The only group identifiable within the crowd are the immigrants from
Bolu, who egregiously lynched a certain figure on the pretext that he
was steward to Hacı Ahmedoğlu, the magnate of Bolu (p. 66).
The attitude of the remaining bystanders is ambiguous. It is highly
probable that individuals with lower thresholds to taking action joined
the uprising at some stage, while the rest preferred to remain inactive.
With the exception of the curious and adventurous, they seemed
initially to have been afraid of the disturbances, and most
likely withheld their support until it was clear that the rebel company
was going to be victorious. Particularly after the joining of the
artillerymen, “porters, Albanians, youngsters, vagrants and riff-raff”
rushed from Galata and Üsküdar to the Meat Square;87 the rest of the
city went to the square to witness this extraordinary incident. The
sight of a group challenging the invincible power of the state was
attractive to commoners, even if they were indifferent to the rebellious
cause. Such people remained spectators in the Meat Square, as if at a
“promenade in Kağıdhane”.88 The impression is that the only
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difference between an uprising and a festival was the spectacles which
would unfold in the meeting place.89 Consequently, the square became
crowded not only with men, but also with women, children and
prostitutes. Itinerant traders were also present, never willing to lose an
opportunity to sell their products.90
Aims and Targets of the Rebels
Reviewing a variety of cases of disorder in seventeenth-century France,
Beik notes that “the most obvious indicator of a crowd’s intentions was
its choice of targets.”91 As exemplified by the aforementioned murder of
Ibrahim Nesim Efendi, the crowd during the May rebellion was clearly
animated by a profound hatred of the ruling elite and its courtiers.
Following the gathering at the Meat Square, the centre of the uprising,
the rebels prepared an execution list and demanded that the Porte deliver
the dignitaries listed therein (see list on p. 35). With only three
exceptions, these people were captured, dragged to the square and
lynched by the crowd. The selective nature of these murders runs
strongly counter to any effort to portray the rebels as bloodthirsty people
randomly killing the innocent.92
A conventional narrative of the May uprising assumes the existence of
a determinate reformist group locked in hostilities with anti-reformist
factions, with the rivalry simultaneously played out among the elites and
the lower classes. Yet, reprisals against the Nizam-ı Cedid reforms were
not the only concern evident in the composition of the execution list.
Although most of the names on the list were indeed generally associated
with reform, only Elhac Ibrahim Reşid Efendi was entrusted with duties
directly connected with the Nizam-ı Cedid programme. Indeed, one
contemporary source claims that he was included in the execution list
exactly for that reason.93 Apart from Elhac Ibrahim Efendi, the victims’
connections to the Nizam-ı Cedid are more indirect or unclear.
Bostancıbaşı Hasan Şakir, for instance, is said to have been executed due
to his promise to make the janissaries wear hats, though no reliable
evidence proves the claim.94 Sources are divided as to the role of
Yusuf Agha. According to Shaw, he was neutral towards reform, though
Cevdet Pasha lists him as among its advocates.95 In one copy of the note
(yafte) attached to the corpse of Yusuf Agha, he is indeed accused
of implementing the programme.96 Another source asserts that he was a
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figure open to “improvements” and, encouraged by the Queen Mother,
proposed the establishment of new troops that would oppose the
janissaries. Thereafter, the source continues, Selim III appointed him as
the president of the Imperial Council.97
A more common accusation levelled at the condemned, however,
seems to be their responsibility for the death of innocents during
the Edirne Incident of 1806.98 Interestingly enough, some of those
murdered during the course of the uprising were not employed in any
capacity in posts connected to the Nizam-ı Cedid. Conversely, two
directors of the İrad-ı Cedid not only survived the rebellion but
continued their careers under Mustafa IV.99 Mustafa Reşid Efendi and
Ahmed Bey had been employed as the directors of the İrad-ı Cedid, with
the latter still holding this position at the time of the rebellion.
Significantly, Mustafa Reşid was entrusted with new duties even before
the rebellion had come to an end. The ringleaders of the uprising
sent him to open the kapan (grain) and distribute flour to the bakeries;
on 30 May he was appointed as tersane emini (director of the naval
arsenal), and he was favoured by the janissaries as a candidate for this
directorship. Mustafa IV does not seem to have been hostile to him
either. On the contrary, evidence suggests that he trusted him so much as
to suggest that he was suitable for the post of sultan kethüda (probably
meaning steward to the Queen Mother). Ahmed Bey, the İrad-ı Cedid
defterdar, was captured and then released by the janissaries during the
course of the uprising. One would expect that such a figure, though
saved from execution, would either be exiled or demoted. In fact,
Mustafa IV later appointed him as nüzül emini (commissary officer) of the
Rumelian side of the Straits, though he was unable to perform the
associated duties due to poor health. Reaction to Nizam-ı Cedid reforms,
therefore, does not fully explain why certain statesmen became the
targets of the revolutionaries.
A more plausible explanation is related to the alienation of the
commoners and military corps from the ruling elite, and in this
process the Nizam-ı Cedid was only one factor. The Selimian new elite
is usually perceived as having close relations with “infidels”, and as
being oppressive, arrogant and superstitious. Asım even criticizes them
for considering the Qur’an and sunnah as the products of reason.100
According to him, the elites attached great importance to renovation
(teceddüd) and followed the “politika-yı Efrenciye”, imitating Western
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models in politics, attitudes, residences and modes of dress. Indeed, one
foreign source reports that during the murder of Mahmud Raif Efendi
one of the rebels exclaimed: “‘In the name of God and through God, I do
not kill a Musulman, but Mahmud the Englishman’ and immediately
fired at his feet.”101
Unfortunately, the scanty evidence available to us is not sufficient to
hear the voices of the rebellious crowd; at best, we can discern that their
grievances reflected economic hardships which can be traced to the late
eighteenth-century crisis. For instance, while Ibrahim Efendi was being
dragged to the square, he was mocked by people who cried “Stand up,
Hacı Ibrahim Efendi is passing”; they then gave him a piece of paper,
saying “I beg you Sire! Please display your grace and take my petition
into consideration.” Both instances can be taken as an allusion to the
inaccessibility of the ruling elite. The rebels accompanying Ibrahim
Efendi cut off one of his fingers, saying “with this finger of his, he had
destroyed the homes of the poor”, and threw it into the janissary
cauldron.102 Following his death, an onlooker cut out his liver, saying
that “he destroyed my family and made my liver suffer anguish. So I
shall bake and eat his liver!”103 Ibrahim Nesim Efendi is also criticized
for ruining the poor and harming innocent people with the help of his
servants. One author rejoices, depicting his brutal death as a consequence
of the curses which the poor had heaped upon him; for this author,
the rebels’ victims were meeting divine punishment.104 The murdered
officials were also accused of neglecting state affairs and indulging in
luxuries of dress and retinue.105 Socio-economic oppression from above
had fostered hatred towards the ruling elite.
Across the world, the latter part of the eighteenth century is one of
the two most “inegalitarian eras” of the early modern period, marked
also by the rise of collective violence and political turmoil.106 Increased
economic inequality became observable at each layer of society, in
peasants and middle-class groups as well as magnates, leading not only
to rising social mobility but also social discontent.107 Some recent
studies on wealth inequalities in the Ottoman Empire suggest that it fits
into the same pattern.108 Overall, standards of living seem to have
lagged behind those of earlier centuries. Around 1800, the urban wages
were 10 to 20 per cent lower than the wages of the 1500s.109 Food prices
rose fourfold between 1808 and 1844, and tenfold from 1789 to
1844;110 in a similar period, 1795– 6, France also suffered from
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hyperinflation.111 This inflation fell most heavily on the segments of
society with a limited income, a fact acknowledged by the sultan
himself. In a decree, he notes angrily that the prices of basic goods had
reached a level at which it was impossible for commoners to subsist. The
merchants were hoarding their goods – even during Ramadan – to sell
at much higher prices later.112 Only a short time before the uprising, the
Istanbulites were under great strain: inflation had created a black market
in grain, honey, oil and wood, using as a pretext the Nizam-ı Cedid which
had further increased the prices.113 Based on a detailed analysis of
probate estates, Hülya Canbakal suggests that the economic burden was
not shared equally, and that in Ayıntab, in the period 1780– 1800, the
burden fell particularly on the janissaries and sadat. The introduction of
debased coinage into the market created further inflation, which hit the
purchasing power of many low-income groups.114
Suraiya Faroqhi makes a comparison between the accounts of
Ubeydullah Kuşmânı̂ and Lokmacı Matruş Ebubekir Efendi, remarking
that even the alternative contemporary historians do not deal with the
social and economic problems of the period, but focus almost exclusively
on the Nizam-ı Cedid – and this despite the fact that the economic
problems of the period are well known. She goes on to say that “at first
glance Ebubekir’s emphasis on well-deserved punishment meted out to
worthless officials seems to have contradicted my emphasis on food crisis
and low real wages.”115 She then argues, however, that the ruling
elite were considered scapegoats at a time of general economic crisis, and
that the crowd was seeking revenge for the ruling elite’s failure to solve
their problems.116 Indeed, as many early modern examples indicate,
in times of crisis the populace scapegoated the individuals whom
they held guilty for their suffering, and whose actions were directly
related to their economic grievances.117 As for Faroqhi’s assertion, it
is true that economic inequalities are not always spelled out in the
Ottoman chronicles; yet, there remains some scanty evidence of them.
Câbı̂, for instance, provides some striking examples. In order to explain
the resentment towards the ruling elite, the author says that a janissary,
promoted as chief master of the barracks (odabaşı), automatically
incurred a debt of 250 akces to pay his fee (caize). Yet, a janissary’s 25
akces salary was not sufficient for the basic needs of livelihood, let alone
paying his debts. Therefore, the author notes, they resorted to other
occupations such as itinerant jobs (tablekarlık) or selling beverages like
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boza or salep.118 To capture the attention of his readers, Câbı̂ compares
this economic situation with that of the members of the Selimian new
elite. While a janissary was not able to buy a house, rent a room or
find the means to execute repairs, the Queen Mother’s Steward Yusuf
Agha had a huge and magnificent residence built in İstinye, and, finding
it not to his taste, had it demolished. Much the same held true for
Ibrahim Nesim Efendi. He owned more than 60 horses, yet considered
his stables so small that he would not loan or give a horse to any
person.119 From the probate estate of Yusuf Agha, who was among the
richest of the ruling elite, there emerged 60,000 purses of cash.
Mabeynci Ahmed, Sırkatibi Ahmed and Ebubekir Bey, the director of
the mint, were also famously rich. The extravagant expenses of the
ruling elite seem to have elicited the animosity of the public, especially
in 1730 and 1807, which is suggestive of a kind of “class” conflict
further aggravated by nepotism.
Alongside increased awareness of social problems, inequality also
boosts the probability of the rise of social movements. Câbı̂ argues
that the rebels referred to socio-economic inequalities as a way of
convincing the shaikh al-Islam to issue a fatwa for the punishment of
the state functionaries they held responsible.120 In an exchange,
previously mentioned, between the shaikh al-Islam and an insurgent
regarding the low quality of bread (p. 56), the insurgent blames the
shaikh al-Islam and the ulema for not protecting the rights of the poor,
and instead issuing fatwas in compliance with the rulers’ instructions,
“because they are the efendis.” He concludes by exclaiming that the
“poor people were dying.”121 There are some hints in the chronicles
that the masses considered the May actions to be a justified revolt,
since the corrupt statesmen were oppressing the poor and attacking
the privileges of groups such as the janissaries. It would have been seen
as the duty of the rebels (or military groups) to correct this mistake
and restore the order, and the latter, thus, considered themselves to be
representatives of the commoners, protecting them from oppression
from above.122 Indeed, a foreign observer claimed that the janissary
army was the heart of the Ottoman people and the nationalmiliz.123 On
one occasion, Kabakc ı Mustafa took out a watch and said that “[o]ur
sultan is like this watch. Once its mainspring turned properly;
but dirt and grit from outside have penetrated in, thus obstructing
its function.” According to Cevdet Pasha, Kabakc ı may have been
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implying that it was not the sultan but rather his statesmen who
were guilty, and that the purpose of the rebels was to eliminate them
– the dirt and grit in a well-crafted mechanism. According to
this view, the rebels were trying to mend the system rather than
overturn it.124
The theatre of rebellion is lit not only by the hatred stemming from
inequality, but also by competing religious discourses. Abu-Manneh
offers an alternative model for the May uprising in which the struggle
was not between reformists and conservatives, but was rather a socioreligious conflict between the upholders of Islamic orthodoxy and
heteredoxy. The plausibility of this claim rests on the fact that, besides
the factor of the Nizam-ı Cedid reforms curbing the interests of the
traditional military forces, the conflict was intensified by rivalry
between the Bektashis and the Naqshbandı̂-Mujaddidı̂s, representing
the spiritual guidance of the janissaries and the reformists respectively.
It, therefore, turned into a conflict between the higher echelons of
society who had Naqshbandı̂ affiliations, and the lower classes who were
Bektashi. For Abu-Manneh, the main targets of the rebels were the
disciples of shaikh Mehmed Emin Efendi (pp. 141 – 2), and indeed nine
of them were killed during the course of the uprising and many of the
shaikhs later banished. According to Abu-Manneh this fact also
explains why the uprising continued after the abolition of the Nizam-ı
Cedid army: the rebellion did not end, because the ultimate goal
of the Bektashis was the elimination of the Mujaddı̂dı̂-affiliated
Selimian elite.125
The Naqshbandı̂-Mujaddidı̂ shaikhs and their disciples had a negative
image. They were accused of irrationality, having power over the sultan,
and engaging in occult practices. On the Thursday of the rebellion, the
rebels brought a strange object to shaikh al-Islam Ataullah Efendi at
the Square, saying that it was a Christian object. The rebels had found it
around the neck of Ibrahim Nesim Efendi. It was a pure gold charm
(tılsım) in the shape of scissors (mıkras) with the names “Selim” and
“Ibrahim” carved over the two wings, together with other “magical”
words and figures. Ataullah Efendi took great pains to convince the
rebels that it was not a cross.126 The discovery of such strange objects
was the cause of gossip during the rebellion. Interestingly, there were
also rumours of occult practices among some of the Selimian elite.
Following the murder of Yusuf Agha, it is said that three chests were
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discovered among his possessions: one contained a copper ball engraved
with the Arabic letter vav; another was full of grave sand; and there was a
copper box in which a picture of a girl was placed. It was believed that
Yusuf Agha had murdered a fourteen-year-old girl, burned her corpse,
and so cast a charm on Selim III. Moreover, Emin Efendi had given
out talismans for protection against blades (mutalsam kılıc kesmez nüshası)
and bullets (kurşun gecmez vefki), which were found on some of the
victims.127 Similar accusations were directed towards shaikh Selami
Efendi, another Naqshbandı̂ shaikh. According to Ebubekir Efendi, it was
shaikh Selami Efendi who had prepared the idols (heyakil) found on
Ibrahim Kethüda after his murder.128 The fact that such rumours were
circulating illustrates the emotional state of the populace, the alienation
of the commoners from the ruling elite, and the deep mistrust of the
Naqshbandı̂ shaikhs.
Conversely, the Naqshbandı̂-Mujaddidı̂s’ view of the commoners and
the military was not positive either. The lower classes, especially the
janissaries and Bektashi-affiliates, were considered to be ignorant
marginals. According to the Naqshbandı̂-Mujaddidı̂s, the ignorant
masses had to be educated and converted to the right belief. Especially
during times of crisis, the principle of emr-i maruf nehy-i ani’l-münkir
(commanding right and forbidding wrong) seems to have been
accentuated, along with ideas of social engineering. Birgivı̂ Mehmed
Efendi (d. 1572) and his followers, with imperial support, considered
the duty of forbidding wrong as tantamount to holy war and were
even from time to time involved in armed clashes with their
opponents. Ubeydullah Kuşmânı̂, for instance, clearly says that he was
also motivated by the principle of emr-i maruf and his several sermons
at the mosques on this theme greatly annoyed the janissaries.129
Siding with the Ottoman ruling elite, Kuşmânı̂ averred that the
janissaries were ignorant people affiliated with heteredox Bektashi
beliefs, who intermingled with the ignorant commoners and were
unconcerned about the welfare of the Empire. Yet, the principle of
correcting mistakes seems to have become so firmly connected with the
bureaucratized ulema that even Kuşmânı̂’s friends were surprised at his
zeal in this respect, reminding him that he was a simple dervish rather
than a member of the ruling elite. In reply, Kuşmânı̂ remarked that the
duty of commanding right and forbidding wrong fell upon all believers
and, again like the Kadızadelis, he equated this principle with holy
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war.130 Contrary to the Kadızadelis, however, he was concerned with
correcting the mistakes of the janissaries, rather than those of the
mystical religious orders. This concern is also evident in the efforts of
the centre (especially by Selim III and Mahmud II), probably with the
encouragement of the Naqshbandı̂s, to teach the treatise Birgivı̂ Risale
to the imperial corps.131 This initiative did not please the janissaries,
and they seem to have been annoyed that the Porte should have been
so concerned with teaching them the right religion, as if they were
infidels. Esad Efendi gives a very interesting early example in this
regard. According to this author, the rebels of 1703 – whom he refers
to as Yezidı̂s – had criticized Feyzullah Efendi for dispatching copies of
the Birgivı̂ Risale to their barracks. When Feyzullah asked whether it
was a sin (küfr) to send them the Risale, the rebels replied that sending
it implied that the janissaries did not know Islam.132 Şakul provides a
very reasonable explanation for the negative perceptions on both sides.
According to the author, as exemplified in the treatise of Kuşmânı̂, the
ideal society and absolute state model in the minds of the Naqshbandı̂
order did not match the expectations of society and actually it
further alienated them.133 If we follow his logic, the top-down social
engineering on the part of the Naqshandı̂s – and the new ruling elite –
was not well-received by the commoners.
With the knowledge available to us we must be cautious about
asserting that there was a direct connection between these facts and
the May uprising, but it is clear that the highly elitist nature of the
Naqshbandı̂-Mujaddidı̂ order had increased the alienation between
the disciples among the ruling elite and the rest of society. The records of
the uprising also contain some clues concerning Abu-Manneh and
Şakul’s proposal that the conflict was essentially one of socio-religious
rivalry between the upper and lower layers of society. The first clue is the
story of a certain Haydar Baba, belonging to the Rufais/Rıfais of
Persia.134 He was in Istanbul during the May uprising, residing at the
barracks of the 99th regiment, but later was banished to his home
country, dying on the way. The documentary evidence does not contain
claims that he incited the janissaries to rebel against the sultan or his
elite, yet his presence at the barracks is underscored by the opponents of
the janissaries, and presented as legitimizing the destruction of the
janissary army and the associated persecution of the Bektashis.135 One
should be hesitant about taking these claims on trust; yet, even though
WHEN THE FEET BECOME
THE HEAD
191
there is no explicit anti-Mujaddidı̂ mood reflected among the
revolutionaries, the janissary ballads of the period do contain some
general indications of the Bektashis’ motives during the uprising. For
instance, the poet Nigarı̂ expresses his wish that Kabakc ı Mustafa should
be in heaven, and says that the janissary army “unfolded the green
standards of the invisible world” during the course of the uprising:
With the battle cry “Allah Allah”; so marched the soldiery
Thus hath ordained the Greatest Majesty
Then arrived thither the Three and Seven Saints
And so joined too the Forty saints of delivery136
It was thus a holy war ordained by God and sanctioned by Hacı Bektash,
the founder of the order. Apart from these clues, there is unfortunately
no evidence to establish that the May uprising was a socio-economic
struggle between the upper and lower classes. Future studies, however,
might offer fascinating results in this regard.
Conclusion
Although other groups such as the ulema, guildsmen or urbanites were
variously present in the rebellions from the seventeenth to the early
nineteenth century, the involvement of one or more military groups
remained a constant theme.137 As in most uprisings, that of 1807 saw
the rebels being recruited mainly from military groups, while the
established craftsmen remained neutral. The seyyids and suhtes and lowerrank ulema are never mentioned, while the role of the high-ranking ulema
is more controversial. The backbone of the uprisings was the military
groups. As high-solidarity groups with a hierarchical structure, the
military units had a better chance to activate the rest of the population
and ensure the smooth running of the uprising. They were usually
reacting to a feeling of frustration with the policies of the existing sultan
and his ministers, as well as socio-economic inequalities. Some clues in
the chronicles suggest that the insurgents considered the May rebellion
to have been a justified revolt, since the corrupt statesmen were
oppressing the poor and attacking the privileges of certain groups,
including the janissaries. Under such circumstances, it was the duty of
the rebels (or the military groups) to correct this mistake and restore
192
CRISIS
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OTTOMAN EMPIRE
the order. They considered themselves as the representatives of the
commoners and as their protectors from top-down oppression. Such
uprisings also call into question the legitimacy of the sultan, in the case
where he is unable to safeguard the conditions for security and piety.
The religio-legal discourse in which secular grievances were
wrapped reflected the accommodationist and quietist teachings of
Sunni Islam. The limitations of the accommodationist Sunni tradition
regarding the right to rebel are evident in the May uprising. Thus, we
should accept that the Hüccet-i Şeriyye is designed to provide official
recognition of the rectification of bid‘at; however, we must also note
that the same document claims that the rebellion of 1807 was an
extraordinary case, and prohibits similar uprisings in future, especially
such initiated by the military class. The limited right to rebel does not
at all mean that both rulers and subjects in a patrimonial Islamic state
were not deeply concerned with legitimacy. On the contrary, the most
important component of legitimacy for a ruler, imam, caliph or sultan
was that he should be a just ruler.138 It is clear in 1807 that a gap had
emerged between the expectations of the populace and the scope of the
rule of the sultan. By exactly the same token, there is a discrepancy
between the claims made by the Ottoman rulers that they exercised
“uncontested sovereignty”, and the practical reality of frequent
rebellions and depositions.
CONCLUSION
David Armitage and Sanjay Subrahmanyam, celebrated historians of
connected histories, make only brief reference to the Ottoman Empire in
their discussion of the world crisis in the Age of Revolutions. Although
acknowledging certain internal and external problems which the Empire
faced, they nevertheless see it as curiously insulated from the global crisis of
the period: “how did the Ottomans as a dynasty and a broad political
regime survive the difficult years [. . .] which laid low so many of their
contemporary dynasties and ruling dispensations?”1 The authors, indeed,
make a special effort to challenge Eurocentric definitions of the Age of
Revolutions, and try to broaden our understanding of that period by taking
note of regional divergences – notably, they expand it by including not
only the democratic political revolutions (the French Revolution of 1789)
and secessionist independence revolutions (the American Revolution of
1775–83), but also anti-slavery movements (the Haitian Revolution of
1804), as well as the upsurge of nationalist tendencies. They strive
admirably to reveal the heterogeneous nature of the world crisis in this
period; yet, they exclude the Ottoman Empire from this picture, treating it
as an exceptional case of stability in a period of turmoil. C.A. Bayly, another
world historian, argues that the destruction of the janissary army by
Mahmud II in 1826 was revolutionary in nature, but makes no allusions to
the earlier disorders in the Empire.2 In a rather similar manner, his idea of
“converging revolutions” ignores the early nineteenth-century uprisings in
the Ottoman Empire, though it makes limited reference to certain
economic and political problems as well as some secessionist revolutions,
Wahhabism and the Serbian Revolution included.3
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CRISIS
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Armitage and Subrahmanyam argue that Ottoman dynastic rule
survived into the twentieth century thanks to the flexibility of the
Ottoman Empire;4 and it is true that the Empire experienced neither an
existential change of regime nor total collapse during the Age of
Revolutions. For the Ottomans, in fact, the Age of Revolutions and the
late eighteenth-century crisis strengthened their efforts to ensure that
the Empire survived. Such a reaction was not uncommon. As Adelman
remarks, revolution did not always bring about immediate change in
regime, and in some cases it revitalized the idea of empire while in the
long run opening the path towards modern state formation within an
imperial context.5 Indeed, the late eighteenth-century crisis forced the
Porte to strengthen its position through centralization, more state
intervention and social engineering, all the while laying plans for the
revitalization of the Empire.6 The period of state breakdown due to
the May uprising was followed by a period of consolidation of power
under Mahmud II, marked by loss of local autonomy, increasing
efficiency on the part of the central authorities, and a rise in government
and economic regulation. This also fits the world pattern.7 The May
uprising was also caused by imperial transformation, albeit indirectly,
but it was precisely because of the lessons drawn from the experience
of that rebellion that the Empire eventually moved into a phase of rapid
centralization, institutionalization, and constitutionalization. It was
this, which provided for its survival in later periods, and made possible
the rise of a republican regime and nation state in 1923.
When did the crisis of the Age of Revolutions – the disintegrative
phase of the secular cycles – come to an end for the Ottoman Empire?
The answer depends upon the perspective we adopt. From a military,
economic and political perspective, it seems never to have ended.
Mahmud II was able to establish more effective control, but never
solved the deep-rooted problems of the Empire: the fiscal crisis,
secessionist agitation and the increasingly urgent Eastern Question.
Although he was able to centralize power and modernize the army, by
the time of his death the Ottoman armies had been defeated by the
forces of governor Kavalalı Mehmed Ali Pasha, first in Konya (1832)
and then in Nizip (1839). The financial problems of his reign retained
the contours of the disintegrative period. An underfinanced empire,
struggling with reforms and embroiled in wars, became the model
for subsequent years. As we have observed, following the currency
CONCLUSION
195
debasements of 1789 and 1793, the trade deficit peaked in the 1820s
and 1830s due to ongoing wars and the concurrent reforms in various
spheres, including experiments with the new military system. The
silver currency became stabilized in 1844 and remained unchanged
until World War I; indeed, following the 1840s there was a relative
improvement in the monetary value of the Ottoman currency.8 The
Tanzimat and the Constitutional eras continued the policies of
Mahmud II but were unable to solve the Empire’s chronic problems.
The first external borrowing started in 1856 and then increased due
to wars and loss of population and land. After the declaration of a
moratorium in 1876, the Ottoman Public Debt Administration
(Duyun-ı Umumiye) was established in 1881, not unrelated to the world
economic depression of 1873 – 96.9
The complex domestic and international problems of the period, as
well as the Selimian and Mahmudian reforms aimed at overcoming
them, had lifted to power a group of reformist bureaucrats, who were
striving to ensure the survival of the Empire. This group would grow in
strength under the reforms of Mahmud II, and come to dominate during
the Tanzimat Era (1839– 76), a period of intense bureaucratic reform and
serious efforts at modern state-formation, characterized by professionalization, standardization, growing centralization and codification. In an
exchange with Mustafa Reşid Efendi, an influential bureaucrat under
Selim III, Mahmud II asked him how he had managed to survive the
May uprising. Mustafa Reşid replied: “Sir, they left me as a seed to
breed servants (kul) that would befit your imperial reign.”10 His brief
remark encapsulates the most important legacy of the Selimian era.
As exemplified by the case of Mustafa Reşid Efendi, a new generation of
bureaucrats emerged in the late eighteenth century, bringing with
them new visions for the survival of the Empire. Stabilizing themselves
under the rule of Selim III, with his support they began to colonize the
bureaucratic departments which needed to be convinced to adopt
the military technology of the Great Powers, in order to defeat the
Empire’s enemies with their own weapons. Intellectually, this ruling
elite gradually became more open to Western influence or reformist ideas
and readier to make concessions to the foreign powers. As Salzmann
rightly puts it, the Ottoman bureaucrats shared a “disdain for past
practices [and] a determination to build up centralized administrative
capacity”, like their counterparts elsewhere in the world.11
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OTTOMAN EMPIRE
“Pragmatism, flexibility and negotiation enabled the central
bureaucracy to co-opt and incorporate into the state the social groups
that rebelled against it”, argues Şevket Pamuk.12 Although the picture
is not always so clear as the author maintains, it is true that some
politically active groups (the ulema, for instance, and for a while the
military class) were either pacified or shunted aside in later periods.
Despite the serious setback in May 1807, in subsequent years the new
elite was able to reconsolidate its former power, and it forged alliances
with Mahmud II at the expense of the military elite and the ulema.13 The
new elite now undertook projects of centralization, professionalization
and institutionalization, replacing the military and bureaucratic cadres
both in the metropole and in the provinces.14 In all this, however, we
cannot easily pass over the curious silence on the part of the military
elite. The late eighteenth and early nineteenth century was a period of
intense warfare for the Empire, which at the same time was wrestling
with the problems of military reforms; yet, it was the bureaucracy which
undertook the reforms in the military sphere, and there is little evidence
that military commanders were even consulted. During the eighteenth
century, the bureaucratic cadres emerged as victorious over the military
cadres and, thus, the bureaucrats came to dominate the structures of
governance at the expense of the military aristocracy. This is what Baki
Tezcan characterizes as the demilitarization of the upper classes,15 and it
is consistent with the pacification of the warrior class manifest in other
early modern absolutist states, such as France.16
As may be recalled, the rebels of 1807 successfully negotiated the
publication of the Hüccet-i Şeriyye, an official document promulgated by
the new Sultan, Mustafa IV, which, apart from its function as an amnesty
paper, was intended to block any future involvement by the military
classes – and the urban masses – in political affairs. It underscored that,
in future, the duty of correcting mistakes would pertain solely to the
religious class. In the Deed of Alliance (1808), the surviving Selimian
bureaucrats, in alliance with local magnates, gained the ascendancy and
denied that right both to the military corps and the religious class.
Mahmud II, in his turn, put an end to both the local magnates and the
janissary corps in the 1820s, while further limiting the role of the ulema
in politics. The military classes would not become involved in politics
and revolution for an entire century after the May uprising;17 and the
Young Turk Revolution of 1908 has little in common with the early
CONCLUSION
197
modern uprisings – no direct attacks, no summary punishments and no
Istanbul-based uprising. This was a real revolution, a constitutional one,
and now it was the military elite from the periphery who forced
Abdulhamid II (r. 1876–1908) to reinstate the constitutional regime
which had been in suspension since 1877. The revolutionaries sought
constitutional change and, in response to their protests in Macedonia,
the sultan conceded. The army had been modernized by the reforms
carried out especially between 1826 and 1908, and was now both
more accepting of new regimes and more opposed to patrimonial/
traditional bureaucratic rule. Under these circumstances, it was open to
collaboration with certain discontented bureaucrats.18 In a manner
reminiscent of the coalition between local magnates and the surviving
members of the Selimian elite in 1808 (the Comrades of Ruse), in 1908
the Action Army from Salonika (Hareket Ordusu) marched to the capital,
this time to save the regime after the counter-revolution known as the
31 March Incident. It was, thus, only from the early twentieth century
onwards that the military elite – now modernized thanks to the latenineteenth-century reforms – became again an important actor within
the political dynamic of the Empire. It would carry this reinvigorated
stance on into the Republican period. The ulema, on the other hand,
never regained its former power. Indeed, the late-Ottoman alim Mustafa
Sabri Efendi (d. 1954) lamented that even though it was the duty of
the ulema to oppose the wrong perpetrated during the despotism of
Abdulhamid II, the duty had in fact been usurped by the military classes
and the ruling elite.19 Indeed, the establishment of a centralized and
secular Republican regime eliminated the role of the religious classes in
formal politics, while the secular bureaucracy and the state-founding
military class distanced themselves completely from the Ottoman past
while striving to stabilize the regime.
The destruction of the janissaries ended not only the tradition of
typical early modern uprisings, but also the immense role they played in
shaping public opinion. The May uprising had already revealed the
importance of public opinion and the rising power of the urban middle
and lower classes. The Bektashi and janissary-affiliated groups seem to
have been especially important in shaping public opinion in opposition
to the projects of social engineering and social disciplining conducted
by the Porte in alliance with the Naqshbandı̂-Mujaddidı̂s. In the absence
of mass media, public spaces (especially coffeehouses, bathhouses,
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CRISIS
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OTTOMAN EMPIRE
mosques20 and also military barracks) served as the centres of political
debate and as hubs for the exchange of information. The fact that a
considerable number of coffeehouses were run by janissaries suggests an
explanation for why this group was so influential in shaping public
opinion; and it may also explain why the members of the traditional
corps came under such attack in the state-sponsored books and
pamphlets which defended the policies of the centre, the numbers of
which increased immensely after the Edirne Incident. In later periods,
mass media would become the most important determinant of public
opinion and opposition.
In an accommodationist political tradition such as Sunni Islam, in
which there is only a very limited and conditional right to rebel, it can
be exceedingly difficult to evaluate the course of events through the eyes
of the rebels themselves. In studying the May 1807 incident, there is an
overwhelming dominance of voices from the ruling elite, whether
directly from their own pens, or as transmitted by their supporters.
These voices are mainly of bureaucrats who were hostile a priori to any
kind of disobedience and had a definite bias against the janissaries and
rebels, denouncing them as riff-raff, ignorant bloodthirsty types who
were unable to differentiate right from wrong. No doubt, such language
reflects the views of learned men as regards the urban masses. The scarce
clues available to us, however, do suggest that the rebels were aware of
the social, economic and political problems of the age, as well as the
necessity of legitimizing their dissent in the eyes of the masses.
Strategically, the rebels employed religio-legal vocabulary and religious
symbols (green flags, taking oaths), and made good use of religious
scholars (invitations to the ulema, obtaining a fatwa) in order to render
their cause more acceptable to the public. In this, they were successful.
The grievances of the rebels may have been entirely secular but they were
formulated in Islamic terms, framed in religious vocabulary, and adorned
with symbols that had currency in their specific cultural context. This
exercise in legitimation was crucial also for the new sultan, since the
legitimacy of his rise was inextricable from that of the rebellion which
elevated him. We have reason to believe that the rebels of 1807
considered their acts to have been a justified revolt against corrupt state
functionaries, who were oppressing the poor and infringing upon the
privileges of established groups, including the janissaries. As far as the
rebels were concerned, they were indeed correcting a mistake and
CONCLUSION
199
restoring the order. They considered themselves representatives of the
commoners, protecting them from state oppression. In the absence of an
institutionalized platform to make their voices heard, rebellious acts
were the sole alternative available to them.
Şerif Mardin evaluates the Patrona Halil rebellion of 1730 as an
“urban form of a new kind of estrangement of the Ottoman periphery
from the center”, which continued in subsequent years.21 In his view,
the 1730 rebellion was a symptom of the cultural alienation of the
urban masses from the rulers. The peripheral masses frequently came
into conflict with the official elite, who embarked upon military and
administrative reforms while also becoming alienated from the rest of
society due to their affinity for the West. In this struggle, the janissaries
emerged as a power group thanks to which the periphery could resist
some of the demands from the centre. And so it was in 1807.
In terms of conflict between rulers and ruled, May 1807 was clearly
a revolt by the “urban” periphery against the centre, and posed an
obstacle to the Selimian absolutist, reforming and centralizing policies.
The Edirne Incident, the prelude to the May rebellion, provides a clear
example of conflict between the centre and the rural periphery, and was a
manifest setback to the plans for centralization. The struggle between
the Balkan magnates and the centre, exacerbated by the Selimian
reforms, was mainly over the control of provincial lands. Once we take
into consideration the issue of the alienation of the urban masses from
the ruling elite, discussed by Mardin, then May 1807 may also be seen as
a manifestation of the decentralizing trend and as an open conflict
between the urban periphery and the Porte. The military nature of the
rebellion does not mean that it had no social aspects. In fact, as we have
observed, the janissaries of the period intermingled with the commoners
and formed a paramilitary urban population, which likely had interests
and concerns similar to those of the other residents of the city. From this
perspective, the rebellion can be seen as a reaction by the urban masses
to top-down efforts at social engineering prosecuted by a small ruling
elite which desired to transform society in spite of the people – a
motivation which would be characteristic of late Ottoman and Turkish
modernization, particularly from the reign of Mahmud II onwards.
This attitude intensified in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries,
during which popular demands were often disregarded. The May
uprising ended with a victory of the urban periphery, but it was short-
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OTTOMAN EMPIRE
lived. Ironically, it was a strong figure from the rural periphery, Alemdar
Mustafa Pasha, who ended this period, and was murdered in turn by the
peripheral forces of the capital. The reign of Mahmud II then signified a
struggle both against the urban and the rural periphery. He not only
undermined the local magnates but also destroyed the backbone of the
urban periphery along with the janissary army. The swinging of the
pendulum between centre and periphery, however, did not end with
the Auspicious Incident. The late Ottoman rulers continued where
Mahmud II had left off, incorporating the rural periphery through
administrative and fiscal reform. All the reform and modernizing
attempts, however, from the late eighteenth century to the dissolution
of the Empire, never achieved the primary purpose of providing survival
for the Ottomans. In terms of reforming policies, the legacy of the
Selimian era continued, namely the conflictual and top-down nature of
late Ottoman and Republican modernization. In neither period did
modernization depend on consensus, although in later times it was
framed through appeal to nationalist ideology proclaiming the need to
catch up with the West and strengthen the state. In order to achieve their
goals, elites in both periods were ready to ignore individual or social
concerns and sacrifice citizens for the benefit of the state, an approach
well exemplified by the motto of the Turkish Republican Party (CHP):
“for the people in spite of the people”.
GLOSSARY
Akce
Ayan
Baş defterdar
Berat
Bidat/Bida
Boğaz nazırı
Cebeci
Cebehane
Cizye
Darbhane-i Amire
Defter
Defterdar
Dizdar
Esâme
Ferman
Guruş
Hububat nezareti
Ilmiye
İrad-ı Cedid defterdarı
Janissary ağa
Kadı
Kahya Bey
asper, Ottoman silver coin
local magnates, notables
chief financial officer, chief treasurer
an official diploma or certificate, letter of patent
innovations viewed reprehensive in religious law
Bosporous superintendent
armourer
armoury
poll tax
the imperial mint
register of accounts, logbook
finance director, head of the finance department
commander, warden of a castle, fortress
pay tickets
imperial order, edict
large silver coins
grain ministry
religious learned establishment, the educational
and judicial organization of ulema
director of İrad-ı Cedid
general of the janissary corps
judge
originally domestic servant of the grand vizier’s
household but later the agent of the grand vizier
in military and political issues
202
CRISIS
AND REBELLION IN THE
Kapan naibi
Kapdan-ı derya
Kapı ukadarı
c
Kapı kethüda
Kapıcıbaşı
Kazasker
Kese
Kethüda
Mektubı̂/Mektupcu/
Mektubi-i sadr-ı ali
Mukataa
Nakib al-eşraf
Nizam-ı Cedid
Odabaşı
Reisülküttab/
Reis efendi
Rikab-ı hümayun Reisi/
Reis vekili
Ruzname-i evvel
Sekbanbaşı
Valide Sultan
Valide Sultan kethüdası
Yevmiyye
Yoklama
Zahire nazırı
Zahire Nezareti
OTTOMAN EMPIRE
grain superintendent’s assistant
grand admiral
chief orderly
official representative of a governor in Istanbul
a high palace official
one of the chief judges in Anatolia or Rumelia
purse containing approximately 500 guruş
warden with various functions, a man dealing
with the affairs of a high dignitary
correspondence secretary of the grand vizier
a source of state revenue farmed out to individuals
for a specified number of years
the chief of the Descendants of the Prophet
Muhammad
New Order, the new army established during
the reign of Selim III
chief master of the barracks
chief of the clerks and head of the Ottoman
chancery. From the eighteenth century onwards
they were responsible for foreign affairs
deputy to Reisülküttab
the clerk in charge of financial affairs
the highest military officer at the disposal of the
janissary ağa for a campaign
mother of a reigning sultan, queen mother
steward to the queen mother
daily wage or stipend
review of the soldiers
grain superintendent
Grain Administration
APPENDIX
Table A.1
The New Elite: Career and Connections
Name
Career
Position1
Foreign Policy
MEHMED RAŞID
EFENDI
IBRAHIM REŞID
EFENDI
IBRAHIM NESIM
EFENDI
MUSTAFA REŞID
EFENDI
AHMET SAFI BEY
Bureaucrat
Mektubı̂;
Reisülküttab
Mektubı̂; Minister
of navy
Mektubı̂; deputy
to grand vizier.
hacegan; director
of naval arsenal
Beylikc i; deputy
to Reisülküttab
Mektubı̂,
Reisülküttab
Amedı̂,
Reisülküttab
Mektubı̂,
Reisülküttab
Pro-British
MEHMED GALIB
EFENDI (PASHA)
EBUBEKIR
RATIB EFENDI
MAHMUT RAIF
EFENDI
Bureaucrat
Bureaucrat
Bureaucrat
Bureaucrat
Bureaucrat
Bureaucrat
Bureaucrat
Pro-British
Pro-French
Religious
Affiliation
Naqsbandı̂Mujaddidı̂?
Naqshandı̂Mujaddidı̂
Pro-British?
Pro-British and
Russian
Pro-French
Pro-Russian
Naqshandı̂Mujaddidı̂5
Naqshandı̂Mujaddidı̂
Faction/patron
Halil Hamid Pasha,
Ismail Raif Pasha
Halil Hamid Pasha2
Küc ük Hüseyin
Pasha3
Mehmed Raşid
Efendi 4
Mehmed Raşid
Efendi;
Ibrahim Nesim
Efendi
AHMED BEY
Bureaucrat
MUSTAFA REFIK
EFENDI
MEHMET TAHSIN
EFENDI
MEHMED EMIN
BEHIÇ EFENDI
HASAN ŞAKIR BEY
Bureaucrat
MEHMED MEMIŞ
EFENDI
YUSUF AĞA
EBUBEKIR EFENDI
Bureaucrat
Bureaucrat
Courtiermilitary
officer
Bureaucrat
Courtierbureaucrat
Bureaucrat
SIRKATIBI AHMED Courtier
EFENDI
MABEYNCI AHMED Courtier
BEY
Master of
ceremonies,
director of the
New Fund
Mektubı̂
Reisülküttab
cavuşbaşı
Defterdar-ı
şıkk-ı evvel
Naqshandı̂Mujaddidı̂
Naqshandı̂Mujaddidı̂
Hacegan; armysupply master
Bostancıbaşı
Hacegan; kethüda
rikab hümayun
Steward to queen
mother; director
of imperial mint
Director of
imperial
mint
Court historian
Court chamberlain
Pro-Russian
Naqshbandı̂Mujaddidı̂?
Queen mother,
faction leader
Protegé of Hafız
Efendi, director
of imperial mint
Naqshandı̂Mujaddidı̂
Naqshandı̂Mujaddidı̂
Table A.1
Continued
Name
Career
Position1
Foreign Policy
KÜÇÜK HÜSEYİN
PASHA
VELIEFENDIZADE
MEHMED EMIN
EFENDI
IBRAHIM ISMET
BEYEFENDI
TATARCIK
ABDULLAH
MOLLA
SAMANIZADE
ÖMER
HULUSI EFENDI
AHMED ESAD
EFENDİ
ABDULLAH RAMIZ
EFENDI (PASHA)
Courtierbureaucrat
Ulema
Baş cukadar;
Grand admiral
Kazasker
Pro-French
Ulema
Kazasker;
nakibü’l-eşraf
Kazasker
Pro-French
Ulema
Ulema
Kazasker;
şeyhülislam
Ulema
Kazasker; shaik
al-Islam
Chief-treasurer;
Grand admiral
Ulemabureaucrat
Religious
Affiliation
Faction/patron
Faction leader
Naqshandı̂Mujaddidı̂6
Küc ük Hüseyin
Pasha
Pro-French
Naqshandı̂Mujaddidı̂
ABDULLATIF
EFENDI
Ulemabureaucrat
Müderris;
Superintendent
of grain and
provision
Protegé of
Kec ecizâde
Salih Efendi7
Sources: B.O.A. HAT 53675 (undated); Asım, Tarih; Cevdet Paşa, Tarih; Ahmed Rıfat, Devhatü’n-Nükaba: Osmanlı Toplumunda
Sadat-ı Kiram ve Nakibü’l-Eşraflar, Hasan Yüksel and Fatih Köksal (eds.), (Sivas: 1998), Yeşil, Ratıb Efendi, Asiler ve Gaziler; Yayla
İmamı Risalesi, p. 259; Uzunc arşılı, “Kadı Abdurrahman Paşa”; M. Y. Hür, Osmanlı Toplumunda Tasavvuf (19. Yüzyıl), (İstanbul:
İnsan Yayınları, 2004).
Table A.2
Coalition of Outs: Career and Connections
Name
Career
Position
Şerifzâde Mehmed
Ataullah Efendi
Mehmed Münib Efendi
Ulema
Kazasker; shaik
al-Islam
Kazasker of
Anatolia
Muradzâde Mehmed
Murad Efendi
Aşir Efendizâde
Mehmed Hafid Efendi
Çavuşzâde Ahmed
Şemseddin Efendi
Alizâde Mehmed Efendi
Ulema
Judge
Ulema
Kazasker
Ulema
Kazasker
Ulema
Ahmed Muhtar Efendi
Derviş Mehmed Efendi
Ulema
Ulema
Musa Pasha
Bureaucrat
Müderris;
Kazasker
Kazasker
Preacher;
Kazasker
Governor;
kaimmakam
Ulema
Foreign
Policy
Religious
Affiliation
Patron
Pro-French?
Shaik al-Islam
Mehmed Ataullah
Efendi
Hafız Ismail Pasha
Prince Mustafa
Pehlivan Ağa
Sekbanbaşı Arif Ağa
Mehmed Said Halet
Efendi
Courtier;
administrator
Royal prince
Military
Military
Bureaucrat
Bostancıbaşı
grand vizier
Janissary ağa
Sekbanbaşı
Beylikc i; rikab-ı
hümayun kethüda
Pro-French?
Naqsbandı̂Mujaddidı̂/
mevlevi
Shaik-al Islam
Ataullah Efendi
Sources: B.O.A. HAT 53675 (undated); Asım, Tarih; Cevdet Paşa, Tarih; Ahmed Rıfat, Devhatü’n-Nükaba: Osmanlı Toplumunda
Sadat-ı Kiram ve Nakibü’l-Eşraflar, Hasan Yüksel and Fatih Köksal (eds.), (Sivas: 1998), Yeşil, Ratıb Efendi, Asiler ve Gaziler; Yayla
İmamı Risalesi, p. 259; Uzunc arşılı, “Kadı Abdurrahman Paşa”; M. Y. Hür, Osmanlı Toplumunda Tasavvuf (19. Yüzyıl), (İstanbul:
İnsan Yayınları, 2004).
NOTES
Introduction The Ottoman Empire in the
Age of Revolutions
1. Guillaume A. Olivier, Travels in the Ottoman Empire, Egypt and Persia Undertaken
by Order of the Government of France during the First Six Years of the Republic, 2 vols
(London: Longman, 1801), I, p. 210.
2. The 1622 uprising culminated in the dethronement of Osman II, followed by
a regicide. The 1632 uprising took place during the reign of Murad IV (r.
1623– 40). It was suppressed, but the grand vizier Hafız Ahmed Pasha was
murdered by the rebels. The 1648 uprising was caused by the janissary officers
and ended with the deposition of Ibrahim (r. 1640– 8) and the accession of
Mehmed IV (r. 1648– 87). The case of 1651 was a rebellion against the agha of
the janissaries, and that of 1655 against the grand vizier Ipşir Mustafa Pasha
(d. 1655). In 1648, Ibrahim was dethroned. Another uprising took place in
1687 and caused the fall of Mehmed IV. In the eighteenth century, there were
two major janissary uprisings, the so-called Edirne Incident (1703), which
resulted in the end of the rule of Mustafa II (r. 1695 –1703) and the murder of
shaik al-Islam Feyzullah Efendi. The second was the so-called Patrona Halil
Rebellion (1730), which resulted in the deposition of Ahmed III (r. 1703– 30)
and the murder of the grand vizier Nevşehirli Damad Ibrahim Pasha. The last
major uprising took place in 1807, and ended with the deposition of Selim III.
For a general study of these uprisings, see Cemal Kafadar, “Yenic eri-Esnaf
Relations: Solidarity and Conflict”, unpublished M.A. thesis (McGill
University, 1981) and Cemal Kafadar, “Janissaries and other riffraff of
Ottoman Istanbul: rebels without a cause”, International Journal of Turkish
Studies, 13/1– 2 (2007), pp. 113– 34. For 1622, see Baki Tezcan, The Second
Ottoman Empire: Political and Social Transformation in the Early Modern World
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010); Baki Tezcan, “The 1622
military rebellion in Istanbul: a historiographical journey”, International
NOTES
3.
4.
5.
6.
TO PAGES
1–2
211
Journal of Turkish Studies, 8/1 – 2 (Spring 2002), pp. 25 –43; Gabriel
Pieterberg, An Ottoman Tragedy: History and Historiography at Play (Berkeley:
University of California Press, 2003). For 1632, see İsmail Gül, “Osmanlı
Devletinde Sultan IV. Murad Dönemi Yenic eri İsyanları, 1623– 1640”,
unpublished M.A. thesis (Sakarya University, 2006). For the case of 1651, see
Eunjeong Yi, Guild Dynamics in Seventeenth-Century Istanbul: Fluidity and
Leverage (Leiden: Brill, 2004), pp. 213–35. For 1688, see Eunjeong Yi,
“Artisans’ networks and revolt in late seventeenth-century Istanbul: an
examination of the Istanbul artisans’ rebellion of 1688”, in E. Gara, M.E.
Kabadayı and C. Neumann (eds), Popular Protests and Political Participation in
the Ottoman Empire: Studies in Honor of Suraiya Faroqhi (Istanbul: Bilgi
Üniversitesi Yayınları, 2011), pp. 105 – 26. A general evaluation of
seventeenth-century Istanbul-based uprisings is provided by Gülay Yılmaz,
“The Economic and Social Roles of Janissaries in a 17th Century Ottoman
City: The Case of Istanbul”, unpublished Ph.D. thesis (McGill University, 2011), pp. 148– 74 and also Tezcan, The Second Ottoman Empire, pp. 214–
22. For the 1703 incident, see Rıfat Ali Abou-el-Haj, The 1703 Rebellion and
the Structure of Ottoman Politics (Istanbul: Nederlands Historisch – Archaeologisch Institute, 1984), Annemarike Stremmelaar, “Justice and Revenge in
the Ottoman Rebellion of 1703”, unpublished Ph.D. thesis (Leiden, 2007).
For 1730, see Münir Aktepe, Patrona İsyanı (1730) (Istanbul: Edebiyat
Fakültesi Basımevi, 1958); Robert W. Olson, “The esnaf and Patrona Halil
rebellion of 1730: a realignment in Ottoman politics?”, Journal of the Economic
and Social History of the Orient, 17 (September 1974), pp. 329– 44. For 1740,
see Robert W. Olson, “Jews, janissaries, esnaf and the revolt of 1740 in
Istanbul: social upheaval and political realignment in the Ottoman Empire”,
Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient, 20/2 (May 1977),
pp. 185– 207. For the 1808 Alemdar Incident, see Aysel Yıldız, “A city under
fire: urban violence in Istanbul during the Alemdar Incident”, in U. Freitag
and N. Nafi (eds), Urban Governance under the Ottomans: Cosmopolitanism and
Conflict (London: Routledge, 2013), pp. 37 – 57.
In his thesis, Onaran labels the pre-1826 rebellions as “palace revolutions”
and I borrowed the term from his thesis. Burak Onaran, “Á Bas le Sultan: La
Conjuration de Kuleli (1859) et l’organisation de Meslek (1867): Les
Premiérés Tentatives de détrônement après l’abolition des janissaries”,
unpublished Ph.D. thesis (École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales,
2009), p. 71.
Charles Tilly, Regimes and Repertoires (Chicago: University of Chicago Press,
2006), pp. 51 – 2; Sidney Tarrow, Power in Movement: Social Movements and
Contentious Politics, updated and revised 3rd edn (Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 2011), pp. 41 – 7.
Tarrow, Power in Movement, pp. 37 – 53; Mark Traugott (ed.), Repertoires and
Cycles of Collective Action (Durham: Duke University Press, 1995), p. 45.
Ibid.
212
NOTES
TO PAGES
2 –8
7. The 1808 Alemdar Incident was not a typical uprising in the sense that it was
intended to remove the grand vizier, Alemdar Mustafa Pasha, and later turned
into a kind of civil war between the rebel forces and the royalists. The 1826
revolt also started as a traditional uprising but soon turned into a lynching of
the rebels – especially the janissaries – by a coalition comprising Mahmud II,
the religious class, artisans and the urban masses.
8. The principal exception is Kafadar’s M.A. thesis, “Yenic eri-Esnaf Relations”,
which both in terms of methodology and arguments, still serves as the best
source. We should also include the aforementioned Ph.D. thesis by Onaran, in
which he compares the pre- and post-1826 forms of social conflicts. Sunar, on
the other hand, tries to reach a general explanation for janissary uprisings in
the Selimian and Mahmudian era. M. Mert Sunar, “Cauldron of Dissent:
A Study of the Janissary Corps, 1807– 1826”, unpublished Ph.D. thesis
(Binghamton University, 2006).
9. For a study of the Iberian countries during the Age of Revolutions, see Jeremy
Adelman, “Iberian passages: continuity and change in the South Atlantic”, in
D. Armitage and S. Subrahmanyam (eds), The Age of Revolutions in Global
Context c.1760– 1840 (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010), pp. 59 – 83.
10. Christopher A. Bayly, The Birth of the Modern World, 1780– 1914: Global
Connections and Comparisons (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2004), p. 95, also
cited in Lynn Hunt, “The French Revolution in global context”, in
D. Armitage and S. Subrahmanyam (eds) The Age of Revolutions in Global
Context c.1760– 1840 (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010), p. 30.
11. Jack Goldstone, “East and West in the seventeenth century: political crises in
Stuart England, Ottoman Turkey and Ming China”, Comparative Studies in
Society and History, 30/1 (January 1988), pp. 108– 10.
12. Peter Turchin and Sergey A. Nefedov, Secular Cycles (Princeton: Princeton
University Press, 2009), p. 5. See also Leonid Grinin, “State and socio-political
crises in the process of modernization”, Cliodynamics: The Journal of Theoretical
and Mathematical History, 3 (2012), pp. 124– 57, especially pp. 127– 34.
13. Peter Turchin, “Long-term population cycles in human societies”, in R.S.
Ostfeld and W.H. Schlesinger (eds), The Year in Ecology and Conservation
Biology, 1162 (2009), p. 13.
14. The same period is coined as “B phase” in the Kondratieff model, which
corresponds to the years 1762– 90 again marked as a period of economic crisis
and recession.
15. Turchin and Nefedov, Secular Cycles, pp. 19 – 20.
16. Hülya Canbakal, “Preliminary observations on political unrest in eighteenth
century Ayntab: popular protest and faction”, in A. Anastasopoulos (ed.),
Political Initiatives “From the Bottom Up” in the Ottoman Empire (Rethymno: Crete
University Press, 2012), p. 48. See also her “The Age of Revolutions in the
Ottoman Empire: a provincial perspective”, in Well-Connected Domains:
Intersections of Asia and Europe in the Ottoman Empire, conference at the
Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg, 2011.
NOTES
TO PAGES
9 –10
213
17. Sanjay Subrahmanyam, “Connected histories: towards a reconfiguration of
early modern Eurasia”, Modern Asian Studies, Special Issue: The Eurasian
Context of the Early Modern History of Mainland South East Asia, 1400–
1800, 31/3 (1997), pp. 747– 8.
18. Butrus Abu-Manneh, “Introduction: the Ottoman upper classes and Islam: the
nineteenth century”, Studies on Islam and the Ottoman Empire in the 19th Century
(1826 – 1876) (Istanbul: ISIS, 2001), p. 8.
19. For more details on the approaches of the late Ottoman and Republican
historians on the May 1807 uprising, see Aysel Yıldız, “Vaka-yı Selimiyye or
the Selimiyye Incident: A Study of the May 1807 Uprising”, Ph.D. thesis
(Sabancı University, 2008), pp. 60 – 108. For a critical reading of late Ottoman
and early Republican historiography, see Christoph Neumann, Arac Tarih
Amac Tanzimat: Tarih-i Cevdet’in Siyasal Anlamı (Istanbul: Tarih Vakfı Yurt
Yayınları, 2000; Baki Tezcan, “The New Order and the fate of the Old: the
historiographical construction of an Ottoman Ancien Régime in the
nineteenth century”, in P.F. Bang and C.A. Bayly (eds), Tributary Empires in
Global History (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011), pp. 74 – 95; Baki
Tezcan, “Lost in historiography: an essay on the reasons for the absence of a
limited government in the early modern Ottoman Empire”, Middle Eastern
Studies, 45/3 (2009), pp. 477– 505.
20. The native monographs are: Mustafa Necib Efendi, Sultan Selim-i Salis Asrı
Vekayine ve Müteferriatına Dair Mezkur Ricalden ve Ashab-I Dikkatden Mustafa
Necib Efendi’nin Kaleme Almış Olduğu Tarihdir (Istanbul: Matbaa-yı Amire,
1280/1863); Georg Oğulukyan, Georg Oğulukyan’ın Ruznamesi 1806– 1810
İsyanları: III. Selim, IV. Mustafa, II. Mahmud ve Alemdar Mustafa Paşa,
translated from Armenian by H.D. Andreasyan (Istanbul: Edebiyat Fakültesi
Basımevi, 1972); Fahri Çetin Derin (ed.), “Kabakc ı Mustafa Ayaklanmasına
Dair Bir Tarihc e”, Tarih Dergisi, 27 (1973), pp. 99 – 110; İsmail
H. Uzunc arşılı (ed.), “Kabakc ı İsyanına Dair Yazılmış Bir Tarihc e”, Belleten,
VI/23 – 24 (1942), pp. 253– 61; Fahri Çetin Derin (ed.), “Tüfengc ibaşı Arif
Efendi Tarihc esi”, Belleten, XXXVIII/151 (1974), pp. 379– 443; Kethüda Said
Efendi, Tarih-i Vaka-yı Selim-i Salis, Bayezid Devlet Kütüphanesi, Veliyüddin
Efendi koleksiyonu, 3367 (hereafter cited as Kethüda Said, Tarih); Kethüda
Said Efendi, “A short history of the secret motives which induced the deceased
Alemdar Mustafa Pasha and the leaders of the imperial camp, to march from
the city of Adrianople to Constantinople, with the stratagems they employed
in order to depose Sultan Mustafa, and restore to the throne sultan Selim the
Martyr, in the year of the Hijra 1222” (AD 1807), translated from Turkish by
T. Gordon, Miscellaneous Translations from the Oriental Languages, vol. I (London:
J.L. Cox & Son, 1831). [British Library, no. 14003.d.5]; Neticetü’l-Vekayi,
İstanbul Üniversitesi Yazma Eserler, no. 2785; Ebubekir Efendi, Vaka-yı Cedid
(Istanbul: Kader Matbaası, 1330/1914); two additional accounts include one
by Ubeydullah Kuşmânı̂ and the other by Lokmacı Matruş Ebubekir Efendi,
Asiler ve Gaziler: Kabakcı Mustafa Risalesi, Aysel Danacı Yıldız (ed.) (Istanbul:
214
21.
22.
23.
24.
25.
26.
NOTES
TO PAGES
10 –11
Kitapyayınevi, 2007); Fahri Çetin Derin (ed.), “Yayla İmamı Risalesi”, Tarih
Enstitüsü Dergisi, 3 (1973), pp. 213– 72. The foreign monographs include
Antoine de Juchereau de Saint-Denys, Révolutions de Constantinople en 1807 et
1808, 2 vols (Paris: Brissot-Thivars, 1819). This work is the main account of a
foreign scholar writing on the revolt. The other one is Ottokar M. von
Schlechta-Wssehrd’s Die Revolutionen in Konstantinopel in den Jahren 1807 und
1808 (Vienna: Gerold in Komm., 1882).
Ahmed Asım Efendi, Asım Tarihi, 2 vols (Istanbul: Ceride-i Havadis Matbaası,
1867). Asım (d. 1819) was appointed as the official historian in 1807 and later
he was employed as the müderris of Süleymaniye mosque.
Şânı̂zâde Mehmed Atâ’ullah Efendi, Şânı̂zâde Târı̂hi [Osmanlı Tarihi (1223 –
1237/1808 – 1821)], Ziya Yılmazer (ed.), 2 vols (Istanbul: Çamlıca, 2008).
Şânı̂zâde (d. 1826) is one of the most important intellectuals of the early
nineteenth century. He followed a religious career and was also educated in
medical sciences. After serving as the judge of Eyüp and inspector of pious
endownments, he was appointed as official historian (1819). He was later
granted the rank of Mecca. He was also a member of Beşiktaş İlmiye Cemiyeti,
an intellectual club trying to create a synthesis of Islam and Western culture,
favouring the importation of Western technology.
Câbı̂ Ömer Efendi, Câbı̂ Târihi (Târı̂h-i Sultân Selı̂m-i Sâlis ve Mahmûd-ı Sâni):
Tahlı̂l ve Tenkidli Metin, Mehmet Ali Beyhan (ed.), 2 vols (Ankara: TTK,
2003). The author is known to have served as the tax collector (câbı̂) of
Ayasofya-ı Kebir Mosque. He was exiled to Chios for an unknown reason in
1810 and returned to the capital within the same year.
Mehmet A. Beyhan (ed.), Saray Günlüğü (Istanbul: Doğu Kütüphanesi, 2007).
Ruznâmes are the records of the deeds and daily routines of the Ottoman
sultans, kept by confidential scribes. The ruznâmes edited by Beyhan include
the reign of Selim III, kept by Sırkatibi Ahmed Efendi, and covers the years
1802– 6, the ruznâme (1808) kept by Arif Muhit Efendi, and the final one
related to the reign of Mahmud II, covering the years 1808– 9, is authored by
Feyzullah Efendi.
Unfortunately, no copies of this account are available, but it is mentioned by
Reşad Ekrem Koc u in his monograph on the May uprising: Reşat Ekrem
Koc u, Kabakcı Mustafa: Bir Serserinin Romanlaştırılmış Hayatı, 2nd edn
(Istanbul: Doğan Kitapc ılık, 2001), pp. 57, 173. The janissary ballads are
compiled by Cahit Öztelli, Uyan Padişahım (Istanbul: Milliyet Yayınları,
1976).
Even though the manuscript is catalogued under the title Fezleke-i Kuşmânı̂, it
is a collection of two essays rather than an independent book. It contains two
different approaches to the rebellion. There are no reliable clues as to why and
by whom they were compiled together. The original manuscript is available in
the Bayezid State Library, Veliyüddin Efendi catalogue no. 3372– 5. The seal
over the book signifies that it was endowed by shaik al-Islam Arif Hikmet Bey
b. İsmetullah el-Hüseynı̂ to a library in the city of Medina. Throughout the
NOTES
27.
28.
29.
30.
31.
32.
33.
34.
35.
36.
37.
38.
39.
40.
TO PAGES
11 –13
215
book, in order to differentiate between the sections written by Ubeydullah
Kuşmânı̂ and Ebubekir Efendi, those written by Kuşmânı̂ will be hereinafter
referred to as Kuşmânı̂, Asiler ve Gaziler, while those written by the second
author will be referred to as Ebubekir Efendi, Asiler ve Gaziler. For more
information about the work and the authors, see Ubeydullah Kuşmânı̂ and
Ebubekir Efendi, Asiler ve Gaziler: Kabakcı Mustafa Risalesi, Aysel Danacı
Yıldız (ed.) (Istanbul: Kitapyayınevi, 2007).
Mustafa Necib Efendi, Sultan Selim-i Salis Asrı Vekayi (Istanbul: Matbaa-yı
Amire, 1280/1863).
Neticetü’l-Vekayi, İstanbul Üniversitesi Yazma Eserler, 2785. This work also
has two authors and is again a collection of essays.
Beyhan, Saray Günlüğü.
Oğulukyan, Georg Oğulukyan’ın Ruznamesi. George Oğulukyan was an
Armenian Orthodox Christian Ottoman subject who served as the secretary
to the Düzoğlu family in the imperial mint. His account covers the years
1806–10 and concentrates particularly on the May uprising.
Mustafa Necib (d. 1831– 2) was a bureaucrat serving as a clerk in the office of
the corresponding secretary (mektubı̂ sadaret halifesi). He became a chief scribe
(baş halife) and, in 1805, he was appointed as the purchasing agent of Ruscuk
(Ruse, modern Bulgaria). He then served as the controller of the stores and
payments bureau (mevkufatı̂), tax-farmer of state bonds (esham mukataacı) and
chief accountant. His final post was the ruzname-i evvel (the clerk in charge of
financial affairs).
Kemal Beydilli, “Joseph von Hammer-Purgstall (1774–1856) ve Fundgruben
des Orients (Şark’ın Hazineleri) Dergisi”, Kitaplara Vakfedilen Bir Ömre Tuhfe:
İsmail Erünsal’a Armağan, vol. I (Istanbul: Ülke Armağan, 2014), p. 183n31.
Asiler ve Gaziler, pp. 16, 20; Yıldız, The Selimiyye Incident, p. 18.
Ubeydullah Kuşmânı̂, Nizam-ı Cedid’e Dair Bir Risale: Zebı̂re-i Kuşmânı̂ Fi
Tarif-i Nizam-ı İlhami, Ömer İşbilir (ed.) (Ankara: TTK, 2006), p. xviii.
He authored two other books/treatises: Mevaiz (Sermons) and the
aforementioned Fezleke-i Kuşmânı̂.
Fahri Çetin Derin (ed.), “Kabakc ı Mustafa Ayaklanmasına Dair Bir Tarihc e”,
Tarih Dergisi 27 (1973), pp. 99–110; İsmail Hakkı Uzunc arşılı (ed.), “Kabakc ı
İsyanına Dair Yazılmış Bir Tarihc e”, Belleten, VI/23–24 (1942), pp. 253–61.
Kethüda Said Efendi, Tarih-i Vaka-yı Selim-i Salis, Bayezid Devlet Kütüphanesi,
Veliyüddin Efendi koleksiyonu, 3367.
He is moderate compared to the others. Fahri Çetin Derin (ed.), “Tüfengc ibaşı
Arif Efendi Tarihc esi”, Belleten, XXXVIII/151 (1974), pp. 379–443.
Asiler ve Gaziler, p. 20.
Câbı̂, I, p. 553. Halet Efendi initially followed a religious career but later
pursued a bureaucratic one. He served as an ambassador to Paris (1802 –6), and
then deputy to the minister of foreign affairs (reis vekili) in 1807. He became a
very influential statesman in the reign of Mahmud II until his execution in
1822.
216
NOTES TO PAGES 13 –18
41. Yıldız, The Selimiyye Incident, p. 188. Janissaries were paid their salaries on a
90-day basis and they had tickets certifying their right to get the salary of an
active soldier.
42. Derin, “Kabakc ı Mustafa”, p. 109.
43. Mutually exclusive discourses are not unique to the Ottoman/Turkish history.
For an example during the reign of Elizabeth I (r. 1741– 62), see Peter Lake,
“The monarchical republic of Elizabeth I revisited (by its victims) as a
conspiracy”, in B. Coward and J. Swann (eds), Conspiracies and Conspiracy
Theory in the Early Modern World: From the Waldensians to the French Revolution
(Farnham: Ashgate, 2004), pp. 88 – 102. The reforms of Peter I also seem to
have divided society into hostile camps in a period of rapid change. For more
details, see Vasily O. Klyuchevsky, A History of Russia, 4 vols (London: J.M.
Dent, 1911), p. 224.
44. Lake, “The monarchical republic of Elizabeth”, p. 104.
45. For conspiracy mentality and models of explanation in history, see Serge
Moscovici, “The conspiracy mentality”, in C.F. Graumann and S. Moscovici (eds),
Changing Conceptions of Mentality (New York: Springer, 1987), pp. 151–69.
In the same volume, the role of conspiracy in escalating conflict is discussed by
Dean F. Pruitt, “Conspiracy theory in conflict escalation”, pp. 191–202. For its
rise and importance in the eighteenth century, see Gordon S. Wood, “Conspiracy
and the paranoid style: causality and deceit in the eighteenth century”, The
William and Mary Quarterly, Third Series 39/3 (July 1982), pp. 401–41.
46. Mark Knights, “Faults on both sides: conspiracies of party politics in the later
Stuarts”, in B. Coward and J. Swann (eds), Conspiracies and Conspiracy Theory in
the Early Modern World: From the Waldensians to the French Revolution (Farnham:
Ashgate, 2004), p. 154.
47. Knights, “Faults on both sides”, p. 156.
48. Moscovici, “Conspiracy”, pp. 160– 5.
Chapter 1 Rebellious Routines
1. “Uc du damdan etdi tâmûyu makarr; Bu köpeğe bu kadar uc mak yeter.”
Recited for the death of Sırkatibi Ahmed Efendi. Kethüda Said, Tarih, fl. 103;
Neticetü’l-Vekayi, fl.16.
2. Et Meydanı is often confused with At Meydanı (The Hippodrome or Square of
Horses), though both served as congregation places in some instances (1622).
Et Meydanı is a square in Aksaray where the janissary barracks were situated.
After the conquest of Istanbul, the janissary barracks were built in the area that
is now across from the Şehzade Mosque; later, new ones were built in Aksaray.
The older barracks were called Eski Odalar and the new ones, Yeni Odalar.
In the new barracks, there were seven Gates and at the centre was a square
called the Tekke Meydanı and the Orta Cami. As it was the centre of
distribution for meat for the consumption of the janissaries, the square was
NOTES
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
9.
10.
11.
12.
13.
14.
TO PAGES
18 –21
217
called Meat Square. See İsmail H. Uzunc arşılı, Osmanlı Devlet Teşkilatından
Kapikulu Ocakları I: Acemi Ocağı ve Yeniceriler (Ankara: TTK, 1988), pp. 238–
41, 248– 9; M. Mert Sunar, “XVIII. ve XIX. Yüzyıl Başları Yenic eri Kışlaları
Üzerine Bir Değerlendirme”, in K. Şakul (ed.), Yeni Bir Askeri Tarih Özlemi:
Savaş, Teknoloji ve Deneysel Çalışmalar (Istanbul: Tarih Vakfı Yurt Yayınları,
2013), pp. 252– 76.
Naima, Tarih-i Na’ı̂mâ, Mehmet İpşirli (ed.) (Ankara TTK, 2007), 4 vols, II,
pp. 480, 699– 709. Although some ulema were used for mediation, direct
negotiation with Murad IV is a unique aspect of the 1632 uprising.
Sidney Tarrow, “Modular collective action and the rise of the social movement:
why the French Revolution was not enough”, Politics and Society, 21/69 (1993),
p. 79.
Yi, Guild Dynamics, pp. 225, 231.
Even though Stremmelaar describes the note as a petition, I believe that it was
not an ordinary petition, but rather the demands of a negotiator that were to
be fulfilled before ending a revolt. It was signed by members of the ulema,
preachers, military officers and guild wardens. Stremmelaar, Rebellion of 1703,
pp. 58 – 60. For a similar confusion in the cases of 1622 and 1632, see Yılmaz,
Janissaries, p. 159; Tezcan, The Second Ottoman Empire, pp. 167– 9.
Stremmelaar, Rebellion of 1703, pp. 60 – 6.
The negotiation phase is very evident for 1730. Robert W. Olson, The Siege of
Mosul and Ottoman – Persian Relations, 1718– 1743 (Bloomington: Indiana
University Press, 1975), p. 77: “The rebels were not in the least intimidated
by the sultan’s threats and they, in turn, submitted their demands to him.”
For a good, though complicated, study of cost-maximization and -minimization
in collective action from a conflict analysis perspective, see Mark Irving
Lichbach, The Rebel’s Dilemma (Ann Arbor: Michigan University Press, 1998),
pp. 35–50.
Anthony Oberschall, “Theories of social conflict”, Annual Review of Sociology,
4 (1978), p. 314.
Malte Griesse, “Revolts as communicative events in early-modern Europe:
circulation of knowledge and the development of political grammars” (MS,
University of Konstanz), 5. Available at: https://exzellenzcluster.uni-konstanz.
de/fileadmin/all/downloads/stellen-stipendien/Circulation-of-KnowledgeEarly-Modern-Revolts.pdf
Yi, Guild Dynamics, p. 213.
The elector and his advisors conducted the negotiation for payment of services
rendered, food at a reasonable price, basic medical treatment and no
punishment without trial. For further details, see Geoffrey Parker, “Mutiny
and discontent in the Spanish army of Flanders, 1572 –1607”, Past and Present,
58 (February 1973), pp. 41 – 4.
According to Barkey, flexibility, pragmatism and openness to negotiation was
the key to the longevity of the Ottoman Empire. Karen Barkey, An Empire of
Difference: The Ottomans in a Comparative Perspective (Cambridge: Cambridge
218
15.
16.
17.
18.
19.
20.
21.
22.
23.
24.
NOTES
TO PAGES
21 – 25
University Press, 2008). For a similar argument in the financial system, see
Şevket Pamuk, “Institutional change and the longevity of the Ottoman
Empire, 1500– 1800”, The Journal of Interdisciplinary History, 35/2 (Autumn
2004), pp. 225– 47.
BOA, HAT 123/5064 (17 Ra 1222/25 May 1807). A report from Hüseyin
Agha to Kaimmakam Musa Pasha. Hüseyin Agha was later appointed as the
commander of Anadolu and Rumeli Kavak, Yuşa,Telli Tabya and Kirec burnu,
upon the request of the officers and yamaks of these fortresses. He later retired
[BOA, HAT 53271 (15 Ca 1222/21 July 1807)].
BOA, HAT 7522 (undated).
Elhac Mehmed Ragıb Pasha served as the rikab kethüda/kethüda-yı rikab-ı
hümayun (minister of internal affairs, literally translated as the steward of the
imperial court). He was appointed to this post on 28 March 1807 and
dismissed on 24 April 1807 to be appointed governor of Karaman.
BOA, A. DVN. MHM.d, 225, fls. 38 – 9, order no. 95 (evasıt-ı Ra 1222/19 –
28 May 1807). The role of Ragıb Pasha is also mentioned by Necib, Sultan
Selim, p. 29.
Baki Tezcan, “Searching For Osman: A Reassessment of the Deposition of the
Ottoman Sultan Osman II (1618– 1622)”, Ph.D. thesis (Princeton University,
2001), p. 204. See also Tezcan, The Second Ottoman Empire, pp. 141, 157, 174,
204; for rumours and unrest in Istanbul immediately before the uprising, see
especially pp. 159, 164, and for a rumour costing Osman’s life, see p. 171.
Kuşmânı̂, Zebı̂re, p. 24.
For interesting and recent papers on costumes and identity, see Virginia
H. Aksan, “Who was an Ottoman? Reflections on ‘Wearing Hats’ and
‘Turning Turk’”, in B. Schmidt-Haberkamp (ed.), Europa und die Türkei im 18.
Jahrhundert/Europe and Turkey in the 18th Century (Bonn: Bonn University
Press, 2011), pp. 305– 18; Baki Tezcan, “The ‘Frank’ in the Ottoman eye of
1583”, in J.G. Harper (ed.), The Turk and Islam in the Western Eye, 1450– 1750:
Visual Imagery Before Orientalism (Burlington: Ashgate, 2011), pp. 272– 86.
Şahin Giray had been criticized by Abdülhamid I for wearing infidel costumes.
Kahraman Şakul, “Ottoman perceptions of the military reforms of Tipu Sultan
and Şahin Giray”, in M. Sariyannis et al., New Trends in Ottoman Studies, papers
presented at the 20th CIÉPO Symposium, 27 June – 1 July 2012 (Rethymno:
Institute for Mediterranean Studies, 2014), pp. 655– 62. Feridun Emecen,
“Son Kırım Hanı Şahin Giray’ın İdamı Meselesi ve Buna Dair Vesikalar”,
Tarih Dergisi, XXXIV (1984), p. 325.
Abd al-Rahman Al-Jabarti, Abd al-Rahman al-Jabarti’s History of Egypt, T. Philip
(ed.) and M. Perlman (trans.), vol. 6 (Stutgart: Franz Steiner Verlag, 1994),
p. 311 as cited in John P. Dunn, “Clothes to kill for: uniforms and politics in
Ottoman armies”, Journal of the Middle East and Africa, 2 (2011), p. 89.
Odile Mourau, “Bosnian resistance against conscription in the nineteenth
century”, in E.J. Zürcher (ed.), Arming the State: Military Consciption in the
Middle East and Central Asia, 1775– 1925 (London: I.B.Tauris, 1999), p. 131.
NOTES TO PAGES 25 –30
219
25. Ebubekir Efendi, Asiler ve Gaziler, p. 112.
26. BOA, HAT 123/5064 (17 Ra 1222/25 May 1807); HAT 211/48419
(undated); HAT 121/4901 (undated); from Isaac Morier, Malta, 18 July 1807
(PRO, FO, 78 – 61). For more details on the presence of the Nizam-ı Cedid
soldiers, see Yıldız, The Selimiyye Incident, pp. 348– 51.
27. Despite some confusion in some of the contemporary narratives, Mahmud Raif
Efendi was appointed as the Bosporus superintendent (Nazır-ı Boğaz) in
February 1807, a few months before the Rebellion. See BOA, C. AS. 5927 (5 S
1222/13 April 1807). No doubt, the appointment of a leading figure of the
Nizam-ı Cedid had increased the anxiety of the yamaks.
28. Ebubekir Efendi, Asiler ve Gaziler, p. 112.
29. Olson, “Jews, janissaries”, pp. 204– 7.
30. For the election of a leader and a council within a strict military hierarchy, and
discipline among the mutineers of the Spanish army, see Parker, “Mutiny and
discontent”, p. 40.
31. Derin, “Tüfengc ibaşı”, p. 389. Cf. Ahmed Cevdet Paşa, Tarih-i Cevdet, 12 vols
(Dersaadet: Matbaa-ı Osmaniye, 1309/1891), VIII, p. 157.
32. Oğulukyan, Ruznâme, p. 3.
33. Ebubekir Efendi, Asiler ve Gaziler, p. 114. Oğulukyan argues that similar oaths
of moral conduct were also exchanged at Tophane; Oğulukyan, Ruznâme, p. 3.
The rebels of 1703 took a similar oath on bread, salt, sword and the Qur’an;
Stremmelaar, Rebellion of 1703, p. 61.
34. Aysel Yıldız, “Anatomy of a rebellious social group: the yamaks of the
Bosporus at the margins of the Ottoman society”, in A. Anastasopoulos (ed.),
Political Initiatives “From the Bottom Up” in the Ottoman Empire (Rethymno:
Crete University Press, 2012), p. 297n31.
35. Derin, “Tüfengc ibaşı”, p. 393; Necib, Sultan Selim, p. 34.
36. Oğulukyan, Ruznâme, p. 5; The Times, Monday, 3 August 1808 (issue 7115).
37. Kethüda Said, Tarih, fl. 107 and Neticetü’l-Vekayi, fl. 20a. Cf. Asım, II, p. 60.
38. Oğulukyan, Ruznâme, p. 14: “kimsenin burnu bile kanamadı ve bir pul bile
ziyan olmadı. Olur şey değil.” For similar observations regarding the Spanish
mutineers of the late sixteenth century, see Parker, “Mutiny and discontent”,
pp. 44 – 5. Despite some specific differences, such a strict code of behaviour
and high degree of self-control seem to have characterized many civilian and
military uprisings in seventeenth-century England, France and Italy (p. 51).
39. Necib, Sultan Selim, p. 33; Ebubekir Efendi, Vaka-yı Cedid, p. 21; Saint-Denys,
Révolutions de Constantinople, II, pp. 111, 113– 14.
40. The first report briefly mentions how the events began and then informs of the
murder of Halil Agha. The second one informs that the Nizam-ı Cedid soldiers
on the Rumelian side of the Bosporus were immediately sent to Sarıyer, while
those on the Anatolian side were sent to Beykoz. The final report, written by
the captain, states that the disorder in the fortresses had calmed down, and that
the soldiers of the fortresses under the supervision of İnce Mehmed Pasha,
commander of the forts, were on their way there. Unfortunately, except for the
220
41.
42.
43.
44.
45.
46.
47.
48.
49.
50.
NOTES
TO PAGES
30 –32
report of Hüseyin Agha, these reports were summarized by Musa Pasha, the
official who is represented as misinforming the sultan. The original reports
sent to the Porte by these functionaries are not available for examination.
Under these circumstances, it is extremely difficult to conclude whether the
reports really existed or whether they were distorted by Musa Pasha. Contrary
to expectation, however, Musa Pasha was apparently not satisfied with reports
of the rebellious soldiers” return to the fortresses, and he asserted to the sultan
that he had immediately dispatched an order to the Bostancıbaşı (Gardener-inChief) to supress the gathering of the haşerat (ruffians) and to investigate the
incident as soon as possible. If he was not deceiving the sultan, he seems to
have paid much more attention to the disorder in the fortresses than claimed in
contemporary accounts. TSMA, E. 8704 (undated); BOA, HAT 123/5064 (17
Ra 1222/25 May 1807). Their reports were sent to the Porte before the murder
of Mahmud Raif Efendi by the rebellious yamaks.
The Bostancıbaşı’s delegation and return is also mentioned in Derin,
“Tüfengc ibaşı”, p. 387; Oğulukyan, Ruznâme, p. 3; Ebubekir Efendi, Vaka-yı
Cedid, p. 21; Derin, “Yayla İmamı Risalesi”, p. 223; Saint-Denys, Révolutions de
Constantinople, II, p. 112.
Çardak Kolluk is the name of the police station at Çardak, the shore extending
from Yemiş İskelesi to Keresteciler.
Asım, II, p. 22; Uzunc arşılı, “Kabakc ı İsyanı”, p. 255.
Derin, “Tüfengc ibaşı”, p. 387. See also, Yıldız, The Selimiyye Incident, pp. 366–7.
Some participants had suggested the strenghtening of the city.
Derin, “Tüfengc ibaşı”, p. 388. These included the elders, presiders over the
treasury of the regiments (orta mütevellileri), the cooks and scribes. For further
details and different versions, see Yıldız, The Selimiyye Incident, pp. 368– 71.
Yi, Guild Dynamics, p. 228. In 1703, the rebellious armourer Seyyid Mahmud
Efendi was brought to the Et Meydanı (The Meat Square). Stremmelaar,
Rebellion of 1703, pp. 55, 137– 9. For 1622, see Tezcan, The Second Ottoman
Empire, p. 167. For a similar observation on the role of the ulema during the
eighteenth-century uprisings in Cairo, see Gabriel Baer, “Popular revolt in
Ottoman Cairo”, Der Islam 2/54 (1977), pp. 228– 42.
Yi, “Rebellion of 1688”, p. 105. The employment of the sacred banner as a
religious symbol used in a political context is also observable in the cases of
1651, 1688 and 1703.
For a survey of contemporary sources in this regard, see Yıldız, The Selimiyye
Incident, pp. 386–92.
The fetva emini is the chief of the office dealing with the issuance of fatwas. For
the details and organization of the meeting, see Derin, “Tüfengc ibaşı”, p. 391,
Kethüda Said, Tarih, fls. 100a –100, Neticetü’l-Vekayi, fl. 14a; Ebubekir Efendi,
Asiler ve Gaziler, p. 116; Asım, II, p. 27. For a list of all participants in the
meeting, see Derin, “Kabakc ı Mustafa”, p. 103.
As usual, conflicting details do not allow us to discern what actually transpired
during the meeting and why it was so ineffective. It seems that upon Ibrahim
NOTES
51.
52.
53.
54.
55.
56.
57.
58.
59.
TO PAGES
32 –35
221
Nesim Efendi’s harsh words calling on military force to disperse the rebels –
“I’ve heard the news that a few Laz scoundrels from the fortresses have arrived.
Let us send word to our imperial troops, so that they will get to crush them like
dogs” – Şemseddin exploded with fury: “You pig, bitch!! So you create this
conspiracy and then escalate it so as to wash your white beards in blood? You
infidel dog.” For further details, see Yıldız, The Selimiyye Incident, pp. 382–4.
Kethüda Said, Tarih, fl. 100a; Neticetü’l-Vekayi, fl. 14a, Ebubekir Efendi, Asiler
ve Gaziler, p. 116.
Unfortunately, the available sources do not allow further clarification as to
whether they went to the Square or to Ağa Kapısı. Yıldız, The Selimiyye
Incident, pp. 385–90.
Derin, “Tüfengc ibaşı”, pp. 390, 393. Kethüda Said Efendi also confirms that
the Nizam-ı Cedid army was abolished on Thursday morning. Kethüda Said,
Tarih, fl. 100a; Neticetü’l-Vekayi, fls. 14a – 14.
In 1703, Mustafa II conceded to demands concerning the dismissal of
Feyzullah Efendi, but contrary to the expectations of the rebels he exiled him
instead of sending him to Istanbul. Moreover, despite his promises to pay their
salaries, the sultan’s reluctance to return to the capital caused the rebels to
continue the revolt; thereafter, they armed themselves and marched to Edirne.
Stremmelaar, Rebellion of 1703, pp. 68 – 9, 72.
Tezcan, “1622 military rebellion”, p. 27; Tezcan, The Second Ottoman Empire,
pp. 167, 170. The rebels initially demanded the execution of Dilaver Pasha,
the grand vizier, yet instead of having him killed, the sultan dismissed him.
It was only after the crowd signalled their intentions to enthrone Mustafa I
that Osman II delivered Süleyman Agha and Dilaver Pasha to the rebels to be
killed.
Kafadar, Yeniceri-Esnaf Relations, p. 62; Kafadar, “Rebels without a cause”,
p. 125. For an earlier but unsuccessful tactic of Osman II, see Tezcan, The
Second Ottoman Empire, p. 172.
The official decree announcing the abolition of the Nizam-ı Cedid military
system in different parts of the Empire is from the time of Mustafa IV. For a
copy of this document, see BOA, A. DVN. SMHM.d 225, fl. 51, order no. 187
(19 B 1222/22 September 1807).
For further details, see Yıldız, The Selimiyye Incident, pp. 394–5.
Oğulukyan provides the highest number, arguing for nineteen. This is not the
end of his list. He claims that while the list was being prepared, some of the
rebels suggested the inclusion of four non-Muslim Ottoman subjects, namely
Şapc ı Musi, Çelebi Todoraki, Nizam ustası Ekmekc i Artin and Düzoğlu
Ohannes Çelebi. As we learn from his account, their execution was demanded
on the grounds of serving the interests of the centre and abusing their
positions for their own interests. One of the ringleaders, however, rejected
their inclusion on the execution list, saying that the murder of these reaya
(non-Muslims) would not be appopriate since they were innocent, in the sense
that they had no other choice but to serve their masters, namely the ruling
222
60.
61.
62.
63.
64.
65.
66.
67.
68.
NOTES
TO PAGES
35 –37
elite. Oğulukyan, Ruznâme, pp. 7– 8. As for the historical accuracy of the
assertion of Oğulukyan on the issue of non-Muslims, it is not possible to find
any documentary evidence. Yet, a supporting detail is provided by
Tüfengc ibaşı. The author narrates a scene similar to that of Oğulukyan.
A man whose head was covered with a shawl brings a list to the ringleaders.
It includes the names of ten money changers (sarraf), including Şamanto,
Güllabioğlu, Şabcı. After submitting the list to Kabakc ı Mustafa, the
mysterious figure asks him to bring these people to the Square for execution.
Kabakc ı gives the paper to Ali Efendi, the scribe of the 72nd regiment, and
asks his opinion. The latter objects to their execution on similar grounds to
those mentioned by Oğulukyan, but with the added detail that Ali Efendi
advises the mysterious man to solve his problem with the sarrafs by applying
to the judicial courts, rather than demanding their murder. After these
exclamations, he tears up the list and sends the mysterious man away (p. 412).
BOA, HAT 7537 (undated). For another copy, see Hatt-ı Hümayun ve
Tahrirat Suretleri, İstanbul Universitesi Tarih Yazmaları TY 6975, fl. 37a.
Only the official titles or posts of these people are recorded. For instance, the
bostancıbaşı of the period was Hasan Şakir Bey, the sırkatibi was Ahmed Bey,
rikab reisi (the reisülküttab’s deputy) was one Ahmed Safi Bey; kapan naibi (the
director of grains) was Abdüllatif Efendi and valide sultan kethüdas (steward of
the Queen Mother) was Yusuf Agha. Seyyid Ahmed Bey (d. 1811) became the
master of ceremonies (teşrifatcı) in 1795– 6.
Some clues in the same document suggest that Ataullah Efendi was not
present at Et Meydanı while the list was being prepared. It seems more likely
that he learned about the demands of the rebels via sekbanbaşı, the fetva emini
and the official who kept the records of the events (vekayi katibi). These three
functionaries were sent to the Square to inform the rebels of the abolition of
the Nizam-ı Cedid army; thereafter, they learned the conditions of the rebels for
ending the rebellion.
From Hubsch, 3 June 1807 (PRO, FO, 78– 58).
This also challenges the claims of some contemporary authors who state that
the sultan tried to save some of these people.
For further details of the murder and later purges, see Yıldız, The Selimiyye
Incident, pp. 429–50.
John Stuart Mill, “On the connection between justice and utility”, in A. Ryan
(ed.), Justice: Oxford Readings in Politics and Government (Oxford: Oxford
University Press), p. 61.
Stremmelaar, Rebellion of 1703, pp. 146– 51.
William Beik, Urban Protest in Seventeenth-Century France: The Culture of
Retribution (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), p. 51.
BOA, HAT 174/7533 (undated): “Atıfetlü sultanım hazretleri, matlubların
bakiyye kalanlarını yine hayyen talebde ısrar edüp azim tacil ediyorlar.
Ve muvahhiş kelimat tahaddüs ediyor. Lütf edüp caresine ikdam ve gayret
buyurasız.” The italics are mine.
NOTES
TO PAGES
37 –41
223
69. The rebels of 1632 had a similar demand from Murad IV. The rebels also
demanded a surety (kefil) for their survival.
70. Unfortunately, no copy of the fatwa leading to the deposition of Selim III is
available. For a copy of a fatwa issued in 1703, see Stremmelaar, Rebellion of
1703, pp. 132– 3. The emphasis is on injustice.
71. Derin, “Tüfengc ibaşı”, p. 400.
72. Kethüda Said, Tarih, fl. 102; Asım, II, p. 37.
73. For the details of the ceremony, see BOA, Sadaret Defterleri, no. 350, fls. 61a –
60: “ber-muktezâ-ı vakt ü hâl Sultan Selim zuhûr eden asâkirin iltimâs u
ittifâkları ve kendü hüsn-i rızâsıyla câlis olduğu tahttan ammizâdesi olub
saray-ı amirede olan Şehzâde Mustafa’ya kifâyed o da tahta cülus.”
74. TSMA, E. 12028 – 2 (undated). The document makes a comparison of the case
of Caliph Osman with the case of Selim III, emphasizing that, unlike the
former, the sultan had no option other than leaving the throne following the
above-mentioned consensus of the ulema.
75. For the original copies of the document, see BOA, HAT 19418 (23 Ra
1222/31 May 1807) and BOA, HAT 53323 (23 Ra 1222/31 May 1807). For a
transcribed version, see Kemal Beydilli, “Kabakc ı İsyanı Akabinde Hazırlanan
Hüccet-i Şeriyye”, Türk Kültür İncelemeleri Dergisi, 4 (2001), pp. 42 – 8.
76. Beydilli, “Hüccet-i Şeriyye”, p. 36.
77. Abdi, Faik R. Unat (ed.), Abdi Tarihi: 1730 Patrona İhtilali Hakkında Bir Eser
(Ankara: TTK, 1943), p. 48; Aktepe, Patrona İsyanı, pp. 169– 81. There is a
document prepared following the 1632 incident. Yet, in the document signed
between the bureaucrats and the representatives of the rebels, the
representatives promised not to protect but to punish the culprits among
their comrades. Naima, Tarih, I, pp. 722– 3.
78. The Sened-i İttifak was produced after a meeting of the ayans of Anatolia and
Rumelia under the initiative of Alemdar Mustafa Pasha and signed on 7
October 1808. For a copy of the Sened-i İttifak, see Şânizâde, I, pp. 75 – 82;
Cevdet Paşa, Tarih, IX, pp. 282– 7. For an evaluation of the Sened-i İttifak, see
Halil İnalcık, “Sened-i İttifak ve Gülhane Hatt-ı Hümayunu”, Halil İnalcık,
Osmanlı İmparatorluğu: Toplum ve Ekonomi (Istanbul: Eren, 1993), pp. 343– 59;
Ali Akyıldız, “Sened-i İttifak’ın İlk Tam Metni”, İslam Araştırmaları Dergisi, 2
(1998), pp. 209– 22; Ali Yaycıoğlu, Partners of the Empire: The Crisis of the
Ottoman Order in the Age of Revolutions (Stanford: California: Stanford University
Press, 2016), pp. 203– 39; Ali Yaycıoğlu, “Sened-i İttifak (1808): Bir
Entegrasyon Denemesi”, in S. Kenan (ed.), Nizam-ı Kadimden Nizam-ı Cedid’e
III. Selim ve Dönemi (Istanbul: İSAM, 2010), pp. 667– 711.
79. İnalcık, “Sened-i İttifak”, p. 343.
80. Barkey, rightly, considers it a “negotiated pact”. Barkey, An Empire of
Difference, p. 205.
81. See articles nos I, II and IV.
82. The sixth article is as follows: “Âsitâne’de ocaklardan ve sâireden bir gûne fitne
ve fesâd hâdis olur ise bilâ-istizân cümle hânedânlar Âsitâne’ye vurûda şitâb
224
NOTES
TO PAGES
41 – 45
edüp mütecâsir olanların ve ol ocakın kaldırılmasına ya‘ni o makule fitne ve
fesâda bâdı̂ olan sınıf veyahud şahıs tahkı̂k olunub eğer sınıf ise bu def‘a bâ‘is-i
fiten olan Boğaz Kal‘ası neferâtının kaldırıldığı misüllü kendüleri kahr ve
tenkı̂l ve dirlik ve esâmileri ref‘ olunmak ve eşhâsdan ise her ne tabakadan olur
ise olsun bi’t-tahkı̂k i‘dâm olunmak hususuna cümle hanedânân ve vücûh-i
memâlik müte‘ahhid olup ve cümle[si] Âsitâne’nin emniyetine ve istihsâl-i
âsâyişine kefı̂l olmağla bu rabıtâ-i kaviyye ne makule esbâba tevakkuf eyler ise
istihsâline bi’l-ittifâk ve ale’d-devâm ikdâm ve gayret oluna.” See Akyıldız,
“Sened-i İttifak”, pp. 219– 20.
83. In 1688, for instance, Atpazarı̂ Seyyid Osman Efendi, a preacher of Sultan
Selim Mosque and a Celvetı̂ Sufi, served this function upon the request of the
rebels. Yi, “Rebellion of 1688”, pp. 121– 2.
84. The coup d’état of Alemdar Mustafa Pasha refers to a series of events leading to
the installation of Mahmud II to the Ottoman throne with the help of
Alemdar Mustafa Pasha. The latter, then the serasker of the Danubian frontier
and the ayan of Ruscuk, in collaboration with several pro-Selimian
bureaucrats, marched to the capital with the purpose of re-installing Selim
III to the Ottoman throne. Yet, while he was trying to reach the inner parts of
the Topkapı Palace, Mustafa IV ordered the murder of Selim III and Prince
Mahmud (II) in order to eliminate alternative candidates. Alemdar Mustafa
Pasha saved Mahmud and installed him to the throne, while Mustafa IV was
placed under surveillance in the palace. For further details, see Aysel Yıldız,
“III. Selim’in Katilleri”, Osmanlı Araştırmaları, XXXI (2008), pp. 55 – 92.
85. During his grand vizierate, Alemdar Mustafa had started a policy of purging
the advocates of Mustafa IV and executing the culprits involved in the
deposition and death of Selim III. He also tried to curb the economic power
and social prestige of the janissaries. A complicated series of tensions led to a
janissary upheaval in the capital (15 November 1808), ending with the death
of the Grand Vizier and his supporters. For further details, see Yildiz, “A city
under fire”.
Chapter 2
The Breeding Ground
1. Simon Schama, The Citizens: A Chronicle of the French Revolution (New York:
Random House, 1989), p. 307.
2. Turchin and Nefedov, Secular Cycles, p. 20.
3. Bayly, The Birth of the Modern World, pp. 86 – 7.
4. Thomas J. Sargent and Franc ois R. Velde, “Macroeconomic features of the French
Revolution”, Journal of Political Economy, 103/3 (1995), pp. 474–518; David
R. Weir, “Les Crises économiques et les origines de la Révolution franc aise”,
Annales, Économies, Sociétés, Civilisations, 46/4 (1991), pp. 917–47; E. Nelson
White, “Was there a solution to the Ancien Régime’s financial dilemma?”, The
Journal of Economic History, 49/3 (September 1989), pp. 545–68.
NOTES
TO PAGES
45 – 47
225
5. Michael E. Mann, R.S. Bradley and M.K. Hughes, “Global scale temperature
patterns and climate forcing over the past six centuries”, Nature, 392 (1998),
pp. 779 –87.
6. Richard Grove, Ecology, Climate and Empire: Colonialism and Global
Environmentalism (Cambridge: The White Horse Press, 1997), pp. 124, 126,
133, 142; Richard Grove, “Global impact of the 1789–93 El Niño”, Nature,
393 (1998), pp. 318– 19; XiuQi Fang, L. Xiao and Z. Wei, “Social impacts of
the climatic shift around the turn of the 19th century on the North China
Plain”, Science China Earth Sciences, 6/56 (2013), pp. 1044– 58.
7. The years between 1805 and 1826 were the coldest of the Little Ice Age for
Europeans. For China, especially in the north, the cold 1780s – 1810s
corresponded to a period of generally rapid cooling. Fang et al., “Social
impacts”, pp. 1050 – 2. For an excellent study on the Laki eruption, its global
effects, as well as its special impact on Ottoman Egypt, see Alan Mikhail,
“Ottoman Iceland: a climate history”, Environmental History, 20 (2015),
pp. 262 – 84.
8. Kenneth Pomeranz, The Great Divergence: China, Europe and the Making of the
Modern World Economy (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000),
pp. 56 – 7, 224– 34. According to Pomeranz, it was potato cultivation,
increased ecological knowledge and coal that helped to overcome the crisis
(pp. 57 – 68). China was better off with regard to ecological pressures and the
agricultural crisis (p. 241).
9. Leonard Blussé, Visible Cities: Canton, Nagasaki and Batavia and the Coming of
the Americans (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2008), p. 6; Philip
A. Kuhn, Origins of the Modern Chinese State (Stanford: Stanford University
Press, 2002), pp. 4– 7.
10. Fang et al., “Social impacts”, p. 1051.
11. A hailstorm and a severe drought succeeded by a harsh winter, followed by
floods in the same year (1788), resulted in a dearth of bread the following year.
Schama, The Citizens, pp. 303– 4.
12. George Rudé, “The London mob of the eighteenth century”, The Historical
Journal, 2/1 (1959), pp. 12, 16 – 17.
13. Roger Wells, Wretched Faces: Famine in Wartime England 1793– 1801 (London:
Breviary Stuff Publications, 2011), p. 12.
14. Mikhail, “Ottoman Iceland”, p. 262.
15. For further details, see Turchin and Nefedov, Secular Cycles, p. 7.
16. For the gradual repopulation of Ottoman Balkans in 1595– 1718, see Traian
Stoianovich, “The conquering Balkan Orthodox merchant”, The Journal of
Economic History, 20/2 (1960), pp. 249– 51; Traian Stoianovich, “Land tenure
and related sectors of the Balkan economy, 1600– 1800”, The Journal of
Economic History, 13/4 (1953), p. 399. The author enumerates that long wars,
diseases and the sexual practices of the Muslim population were important
factors in declining reproductive powers, while the Orthodox subjects enjoyed
a slight recovery in 1700– 1800.
226
NOTES
TO PAGES
47 –48
17. Jack A. Goldstone, “Cultural orthodoxy, risk and innovation: the divergence of
East and West in the early modern world”, Sociological Theory, 5/2 (1987),
p. 125.
18. William Eton, A Survey of the Turkish Empire (London: T. Cadell and W. Davies,
1798), pp. 263, 276.
19. Franc ois A. de Chateaubriand, Travels in Greece, Palestine, Egypt and Barbary
during the Years 1806 and 1807, 2 vols, translated from French by F. Shoberi
(London: Henry Colburn, 1812), I, p. 105.
20. As the cause, he states only petite vérole for one of the deaths, while others are
not specified. Osmanlı-Harbi Esnasında Bir Şahidin Kaleminden İstanbul, 1769–
1774, Süleyman Göksu (ed.) (Istanbul: Çamlıca, 2007), pp. 86 – 7.
21. Olivier, Travels, I, p. 157.
22. For similar trends, as well as the negative impact of European expansion in
Egypt, see Daniel Crecelius, “Egypt in the eighteenth century”, in M.W. Daly
(ed.), The Cambridge History of Egypt, II, pp. 60 – 82.
23. Daniel Panzac, “International and domestic trade in the Ottoman Empire
during the 18th century”, International Journal of Middle East Studies, 24/2
(May 1992), p. 192; Mehmet Genc , “A study of the feasability of using
eighteenth-century Ottoman financial records as an indicator of economic
activity”, in H. İslamoğlu-İnan (ed.), The Ottoman Empire and the WorldEconomy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), pp. 345– 73;
Mehmet Genc , “18. Yüzyılda Savaş ve Ekonomi”, Osmanlı İmparatorluğu’da
Devlet ve Ekonomi (Istanbul: Ötüken, 2000), p. 212; Mehmet Genc , “17 – 19.
Yüzyıllarda Sanayi ve Ticaret Merkezi Olarak Tokat”, Devlet ve Ekonomi,
pp. 272–92. Salonika is marked by an increase in population and expanding
trade even in the 1810s. The main problem in Salonika seems to have been
related to overtaxation, the provisioning of the army and speculation on grain.
Mark Mazower, Salonika: City of Ghosts: Christians, Muslims and Jews 1430–
1950 (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2005), pp. 114– 15. For the internal and
external dynamics of change in Salonika, see İrfan Kökdaş, “When The
Countryside is Free: Urban Politics, Local Autonomy and the Changing
Internal Social Structure in Ottoman Salonica, 1740– 1820”, unpublished
Ph.D. thesis (State University of New York at Binghamton, 2013). For
international trade in Izmir, see Elena Frangakis-Syrett, “The economic
activities of Ottoman and Western communities in eighteenth century Izmir”,
Oriento Moderno, Nuova Serie, 18, 79/1 (1999), pp. 11 – 22.
24. Daniel Panzac, La Peste dans l’empire ottoman (1700– 1850) (Leuven: E. Peeters,
1985), pp. 41 – 3. All were accompanied by diseases and migrations from the
region.
25. Canbakal, “Political unrest in the 18th century”, p. 48. A total of 35 waves of
plague were identified in Izmir. For different waves of droughts and locusts in
different cities of the Empire during the nineteenth century in Ottoman
Anatolia, see Mehmet Yavuz Erler, Osmanlı Devleti’nde Kuraklık ve Kıtlık
Olayları (1800 – 1880) (Istanbul: Libra, 2010), pp. 89 – 92.
NOTES
TO PAGES
48 – 49
227
26. Guillaume A. Olivier, Voyage dans l’empire othoman, L’Égypte et la Perse (Paris:
Agasse, 1807), vol. 4, pp. 436– 7, as cited in Charles Issawi, The Fertile Crescent
1800– 1914: A Documentary Economic History (Oxford: Oxford University
Press, 1988), p. 96. Panzac adds to these disasters the earthquake of 1759 and
the plague of 1760– 2 (La Peste, p. 43); Mesut Aydıner, “Küresel Isınma
Tartışmalarına Tarihten Bir Katkı: Arşiv Belgeleri Işığında XVIII. Yüzyılın
İkinci Yarısında Diyarbakır ve Çevresinde Meydana Gelen Büyük Kıtlık ve
Tedbirler/Diyarbakır as reflected in archival documents in the latter half of the
18th century: the case of the Great Famine”, Ankara Üniversitesi Osmanlı Tarihi
Araştırmaları Merkezi, 19 (2007), pp. 123– 38.
27. Panzac, La Peste, pp. 66 – 77.
28. Mazower, City of Ghosts, pp. 108–10. See also Panzac, La Peste, p. 359.
29. Issawi, The Fertile Crescent, p. 99; Roger Owen, The Middle East in the World
Economy 1800– 1914 (London: I.B.Tauris, 2002), p. 7.
30. Daniel Panzac, Population et santé dans l’empire ottoman (XVIIIe – XXe siècles)
(Istanbul: ISIS, 1996), p. 35: “L’ensemble des pertes en vies humaines de
Smyrne au XVIIIe siècle dues à la surmortalité causée par la peste équivaut au
moins à la population de la ville tout entière.” See also p. 54.
31. Ariel Salzmann, “Measures of Empire: Tax-Farmers and the Ottoman Ancien
Régime, 1695– 1807”, unpublished Ph.D. thesis (Columbia University,
1995), pp. 294, 306; Issawi, The Fertile Crescent, p. 99. In the case of 1712,
since most of the guardians of the fortress had died, the governor of the city
asked for new soldiers. It seems that around 50,000 people died in the second
wave of the plague. Hüseyin Yılmazc elik, XIX. Yüzyılın İlk Yarısında
Diyarbakır (1790 – 1840) (Ankara: TTK, 1995), p. 110.
32. Elias Habesci, The Present State of the Ottoman Empire (London: R. Baldwin,
1774), pp. 215– 16.
33. Yılmazc elik, Diyarbakır, p. 110; Salzmann, Measures of Empire, p. 307.
34. Panzac, La Peste, pp. 198, 359. Baron de Tott remarks that, following a famine,
the re-use of clothing in the Bit Bazarı (flea market) accelerated the spread of
the disease and caused the deaths of 150,000 people. Franc ois de Tott, Memoirs
of Baron de Tott, Containing the State of the Turkish Empire and the Crimea During
the Late War with Russia, 2 vols, 2nd edn (London: G.G.J. & J. Robinson,
1786), I, pp. 36 – 44.
35. For detailed descriptions of these diseases around 1800, see William Wittman,
Travels in Turkey, Asia Minor, Syria and Across the Desert into Egypt During the
Years 1799, 1800 and 1801 (London: Richard Philips, 1803).
36. Charles Issawi (ed.), The Economic History of the Middle East 1800– 1914: A Book
of Readings (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1966), p. 3.
37. Basil C. Gounaris, “Reassessing wheat crises in eighteenth-century
Thessaloniki”, The Historical Review, 5 (2008), pp. 41 – 65; Mazower, City of
Ghosts, pp. 96 – 100. For the excessive demands of a vizier in Diyarbakır and
the prevalent imperial order, see BOA, MD, Order no. 159, 303/2, as cited in
Aydıner, “Büyük Kıtlık”, p. 132. Mikhail also notes that the rivalry over
228
38.
39.
40.
41.
42.
43.
44.
45.
46.
47.
48.
49.
50.
NOTES
TO PAGES
49 –51
scarce resources led the local elite to seize and consolidate their power over the
rural lands in mid-1789 in the midst of social confusion and disorder, Mikhail,
“Ottoman Iceland”, pp. 273– 5.
For further details, see Salzmann, Measures of Empire, pp. 293– 303. Petitions
sent to Istanbul by some of the peasants complained of overtaxation and
disputes, unwarranted demands for avarız (extraordinary levies) over malikane
(lifetime leases), contracts and salyane (upkeep payments). For how the Porte
attempted to overcome problems in the region, see Aydıner, “Büyük Kıtlık”,
pp. 127 –37.
Eton, A Survey of the Turkish Empire, pp. 263 – 4. For his estimates of
depopulation in Cairo, Mosul, Diyarbakır, Mardin, Baghdad, Ankara,
Smyrna and Istanbul, see pp. 275 – 92. For the effect of diseases on
depopulation and migration, and their effects on the economy, see Panzac,
La Peste, pp. 380 – 407.
Panzac, La Peste, p. 43.
Turchin and Nefedov, Secular Cycles, p. 10.
Kenneth M. Cuno, “The origins of private ownership of land in Egypt:
a reappraisal”, International Journal of Middle East Studies, 12 (1980), pp. 248–9.
Sam White, The Climate of Rebellion in the Early Modern Ottoman Empire
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011), p. 280.
Stoianovich, “Land tenure”, pp. 402, 407, 410.
Bruce McGowan, “The age of the ayans”, in S. Faroqhi, B. McGowan,
D. Quataert and Ş. Pamuk (eds), An Economic and Social History of the Ottoman
Empire 1300 – 1914 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994), II,
pp. 665 – 6.
Bruce McGowan, Economic Life in Ottoman Europe: Taxation, Trade and the
Struggle for Land, 1600 –1800 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,
1981), p. 61. For general details of the techniques of land usurpation, see
pp. 60 – 6. For the connection between chiftlik formation and the conditions of
the peasantry in Manastır, see pp. 135– 41.
B’lgarska Akademia na Naukite, Istoria na B’lgaria, 2 vols (Sofia: Izdatelstvo
na B’lgarska Akademia na Naukite, 1954– 5), I, p. 362, as cited in McGowan,
Economic Life, p. 72.
Panayotis A. Papachristou, “The Three Faces of the Phanariots: An Inquiry
into the Role and Motivations of the Greek Nobility under Ottoman Rule
1683– 1821”, unpublished M.A. thesis (Simon Fraser University, 1992),
pp. 16 – 17. In 1805, the peasants again found themselves under oppression
(Papachristou, p. 28). McGowan, Economic Life, p. 73. See also Stoianovich,
“Land tenure”, p. 407.
Kökdaş, Salonica, pp. 83 – 90.
Yücel Özkaya, “XVIII. Yüzyılda Çıkarılan Adaletnamelere Göre Türkiye’nin
İc Durumu”, Belleten, 38/149–152 (1974), pp. 446–92; Cengiz Şeker, “İstanbul
Ahkam ve Atik Şikayet Defterlerine Göre 18. Yüzyılda İstanbul’a Yönelik
Göc lerin Tasvir ve Tahlili”, unpublished Ph.D. thesis (Marmara University,
NOTES
51.
52.
53.
54.
55.
56.
57.
58.
59.
60.
TO PAGES
51 –52
229
2007), pp. 61–70; Cengiz Şeker, “The causes of rural migrations in 18th century
Ottoman society”, Osmanlı Araştırmaları, XLII (2013), pp. 207–33. For the
abuses of local power holders and officials, and the consequent migration in
Trabzon, see Abdullah Bay, “XVIII: ve XIX. Yüzyıllarda Trabzon Eyaletinde
Tımar ve Zeametlerin Durumu”, Karadeniz Araştırmaları, 18 (2008), pp. 46–
53; A. Osman Çınar, “Mehmed Emin Edib Efendi’nin Hayatı ve Tarihi”, Ph.D.
thesis (Marmara University, 1999), pp. 135–8.
Yücel Özkaya, “Osmanlığı İmparatorluğunda XVIII. Yüzyılda Göc Sorunu”,
Tarih Araştırmaları Dergisi, 14/25 (1982), pp. 171– 203.
BOA, HAT 189/9015 (undated). Hacı Ahmedzade was not dismissed from the
voyvodalık at that time, but rather immediately after the rise of Mustafa IV to
power. In the relevant document, it is noted that “due to the complaints of the
people during the accession to the throne, Hacı Ahmedzâde Seyyid İbrahim
Ağa has been dismissed.” BOA, HAT 1355/52963 (undated).
Melek Öksüz, “XVIII. Yüzyılın İkinci Yarısında Trabzon’da Ayan, Eşkıya ve
Göc Sorunu”, Ana Sayfa, 5/1 (2005). Available at e-dergi.atauni.edu.tr; Şeker,
Ahkam, pp. 69 – 70; Yücel Özkaya, Osmanlı İmparatorluğu’nda Dağlı Eşkiyaları:
1791– 1808 (Ankara: DTCF, 1983); Vera Moutafchiéva, L’Anarchie dans les
Balkans à la fin du XVIIIe siècle (Istanbul: ISIS, 2005). For an excellent study of
banditry in the Balkans and the figure of Kara Feyzi, see Tolga Esmer, “A
Culture of Rebellion: Networks of Violence and Competing Discourses of
Justice in the Ottoman Empire, 1790– 1808”, unpublished Ph.D. thesis
(University of Chicago, 2009); Tolga Esmer, “Economies of violence, banditry
and governance in the Ottoman Empire around 1800”, Past and Present, 224
(2014), pp. 163– 99.
Stoianovich, “The Balkan Orthodox merchant”, p. 253.
Deena R. Sadat, “Rumeli Ayanları: the eighteenth century”, The Journal of
Modern History, 44/3 (September 1972), p. 354; Michael R. Palairet, The
Balkan Economies c.1800– 1914: Evolution without Development (Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 1997), pp. 37 – 9; Stoianovich, “The Balkan
Orthodox merchant”, p. 253.
While no comprehensive study of eighteenth-century banditry exists, some
regional studies are as follows: Faruk Söylemez, “XVIII. Yüzyıl Başlarından
XIX. Yüzyıl Ortalarına kadar Maraş ve Çevresinde Eşkiyalık Hareketleri”, Sosyal
Bilimler Enstitüsü Dergisi, 22 (2007), pp. 69–85; Şeker, Ahkam, pp. 70–2; Şeker,
“Causes of migration”, pp. 223–6; Çağatay Uluc ay, 18. ve 19. Yüzyıllarda
Saruhan’da Eskiyalık ve Halk Hareketleri (Istanbul: Berksoy Basimevi, 1955).
Yılmazc elik, Diyarbakır, pp. 112– 13.
For the problem of insecurity and measures in Salonika, see Kökdaş, Salonica,
especially Chapter III.
Halil İnalcık, “A note on the population of Cyprus”, Kıbrıs Araştırmaları
Dergisi, 3/1 (1997), p. 4.
McGowan, “The age of the ayans”, pp. 649– 50. In his reform proposal,
Tatarcık Abdullah Molla also complains that the Ottoman reaya were
230
61.
62.
63.
64.
65.
66.
67.
68.
69.
70.
71.
NOTES
TO PAGES
52 –53
migrating to Christian countries or at least were becoming sympathetic to the
Russians due to oppression at home. Tatarcık Abdullah Molla “Sultan III.
Selim-i Salis Devrinde Nizam-ı Devlet Hakkında Mütalaat”, Tarih-i Osmani
Encümeni Mecmuası, VII/41 (1332/1913– 14) p. 20, VII/42, p. 322.
Yavuz Cezar, “Osmanlı Aydını Süleyman Penah Efendi’nin Sosyal, Ekonomik
ve Mali Konularla İlgili Görüş ve Önerileri”, Toplum ve Bilim, 42 (1988),
pp. 117, 122. For the solutions he offers, see pp. 122– 6.
McGowan, “The age of the ayans”, pp. 649– 50.
The Great Flight (Büyük Kacgun) is a name derived to explain the mass
migration of Anatolian peasants during the course of the seventeenth-century
crisis. William J. Griswold, The Great Anatolian Rebellion 1000– 1020/1591 –
1611 (Berlin: Klaus Schwarz Veralg, 1983); Mustafa Akdağ, “Celali
İsyanlarından Büyük Kac gunluk”, Istanbul Üniveristesi Enstitüsü Dergisi,
11/2 – 3 (1964), pp. 1– 50.
Tatarcık Abdullah Molla also observes that peasants were migrating to the
capital to seek shelter from oppression in the countryside, “Nizam-ı Devlet
Hakkında Mütalaat”, p. 322. For the wave between 1683 and 1718, see Olson,
The Siege of Mosul, p. 66. For later waves, see Şeker, Ahkam, pp. 33–4.
As reflected in the eighteenth-century Ahkam and Şikayet registers, almost half
of the migrants were from central Anatolia; others were from regions closer to
Istanbul, while still others were from Rumelia. Şeker, Ahkam, pp. 48–60.
Cezar, “Süleyman Penah”, p. 119.
“Nizam-ı Devlet Hakkında Mütalaat”, p. 322.
The Albanians, in fact, had migrated to the capital during the early eighteenth
century and were very instrumental in the revolts of this period. Migrating to
the capital in the eighteenth century, it seems that they were involved in the
lime-burning trade. For a study of the link between migrants and their place
in Istanbul’s public baths, see Nina Ergin, “The Albanian Tellâk connection:
labor migration to the hamams of eighteenth-century Istanbul, based on the
1752 İstanbul Hamâmları Defteri”, Turcica, 43 (2011), pp. 231– 56.
Aktepe, Patrona, p. 170.
Cengiz Kırlı, “The Struggle Over Space: Coffeehouses of Ottoman Istanbul,
1780– 1845”, unpublished Ph.D. thesis (State University of New York at
Binghamton, 2000), pp. 103– 5; Cengiz Kırlı, “A profile of the labor force in
early nineteenth-century Istanbul”, International Labor and Working-Class
History, 60 (Fall 2001), pp. 135– 8; Cengiz Kırlı, “Devlet ve İstatistik: Esnaf
Kefalet Defterleri Işığında III. Selim İktidarı”, in S. Kenan (ed.), Nizam-ı
Kadim’den Nizam-ı Cedid’e III. Selim ve Dönemi (Istanbul: İSAM, 2010),
pp. 203 –4.
Kırlı, “Labor force”, p. 134; Kırlı, “Kefalet Defterleri”, pp. 205–12.
There was a total of 872 rooms in these inns but 129 of them were vacant.
BOA, A. DVN. 899-L; Betül Başaran, Selim III, Social Control and Policing in
Istanbul at the End of the Eighteenth Century: Between Crisis and Order (Leiden:
Brill, 2014), p. 137.
NOTES
TO PAGES
53 –54
231
72. For similar conditions in Salonika, the placement of restrictions on
membership and occupational mobility, and the movement of crafts into the
countryside, see Kökdaş, Salonica, pp. 50 – 2.
73. 300,000 (Kırlı, “Labor force”, p. 125; 426,000 (Kemal H. Karpat, Ottoman
Population (1830 – 1914): Demographic and Social Characteristics (Madison:
Wisconsin University Press, 1985). According to Dallaway, it was around
400,000 in the 1790s. James Dallaway, Constantinople Ancient and Modern: with
Excursions to the Shores and Islands of the Archipelago and to the Troad (London:
T. Bensley, 1797), p. 15.
74. Food and bread riots, a complex form of popular reaction to soaring prices,
abuses and hunger, were a common phenomenon in Europe of the seventeenth
and eighteenth centuries. While this issue is well covered in studies of early
modern Europe, it is less so in the Ottoman context. It is usually studied within
the framework of a state’s inability to offer sufficient provisions at fixed prices,
and also through the wider context of the rise of absolutist states and capitalism.
For the connection between increases in food prices and urban unrest in
eighteenth century Cairo, as intensified by heavy taxation on imports, see Baer,
“Popular protest”, pp. 220–4. For an analysis of riots in Damascus, especially on
local judges becoming scapegoats of street violence in the eighteenth century, see
James Grehan, “Street violence and social imagination in late-Mamluk and
Ottoman Damascus (ca. 1500–1800)”, International Journal of Middle East
Studies, 35/2 (May 2003), pp. 215–36. For a general literature review, consult
Edward P. Thompson, “The moral economy of the English crowd in the
eighteenth century”, Past and Present, 50 (1972), pp. 76–132; Louis A. Tilly,
“The food riot as a form of political conflict in France”, The Journal of
Interdisciplinary History, 2/1 (1971), pp. 23–57; George Rudé, “The London
mob of the eighteenth century”, The Historical Journal, 2/1 (1959), 1–18; John
Bohstedt, The Politics of Provisions: Food Riots, Moral Economy and Market in
Transition in England (c.1550–1850) (Farnham: Ashgate, 2010).
75. Lynne M. Thornton Şaşmazer, “Provisioning Istanbul: Bread Production, Power,
and Political Ideology in the Ottoman Empire, 1789–1807”, unpublished
Ph.D. thesis (Indiana University, 2000), pp. 99–100. Therefore, the central
authorities had diluted the bread with barley, millet and other kinds of grain, a
practice that continued in the 1790s because of bad harvests and the
provisioning to the army (pp. 115–16). For similar observations and further
details, see “Nizam-ı Devlet Hakkında Mütalaat”, p. 323.
76. Baron de Tott, Memoirs, I, pp. 33 – 6. For the role of women in the late
seventeenth-century London riots, see Robert B. Shoemaker, “The London
‘Mob’ in the early eighteenth century”, Journal of British Studies, 3 (November
1973), p. 285.
77. As a solution to frequent fires, the author offers a better supervisioning of
construction in the city and limits to regions open to new buildings. Under
such restrictions, fewer people would prefer to come to the city and, thus, the
producers would be relieved from monopolies on grain. Cezar, “Süleyman
232
78.
79.
80.
81.
82.
83.
84.
85.
86.
87.
88.
89.
NOTES
TO PAGES
54 –55
Penah Efendi”, pp. 119–20. For similar observations by Tatarcık Abdullah,
see “Nizam-ı Devlet Hakkında Mütalaat”, p. 322.
Edib Efendi notes that both the quality and quantity of bread dropped while
prices remained the same. At the same time the price of the chickpea doubled
from five akce to ten para and that of cowpea (börülce) from 3 para to 12 para.
Following the classical method of scapegoating, the kapan naibi and chief baker
(ekmekcibaşı) were dismissed and exiled. Edib Tarihi, p. 91. The difficulties
suffered by the imperial army on campaign around Mehadiye due to the harsh
winter and the lack of sufficient provisioning are also mentioned, pp. 93–4.
BOA, HAT 54451 (undated). Italics are mine. On the Porte’s concern to
prevent hoarding and price increases in 1742, see Olson, “Jews, janissaries”,
pp. 198– 9. For the functions of millers and bakers from the mid-eighteenth to
the mid-nineteenth century, see Salih Aynural, “The millers and bakers of
Istanbul, 1750– 1840”, in S. Faroqhi and R. Deguilhem (eds), Crafts and
Craftsmen of the Middle East: Fashioning the Individual in the Muslim
Mediterranean (London: I.B.Tauris, 2005), pp. 153–95.
Taylesanizâde Hafız Abdullah Efendi, Taylesanizâde Hafız Abdullah Efendi
Tarihi: İstanbul’un Uzun Dört Yılı (1785 – 1789), F. Emecen (ed.) (Istanbul:
Tarih ve Tabiat Vakfı, 2003), p. 408: “ve yine yevm-i mezburda gala sebebiyle
bir mertebe fırında ekmek yağması olub vasfa gelmez ve tabh olunan nan-ı aziz
mekul olmayup, mazallahu Teala balc ık gibi cümle fırınlarda rical ve nisa,
sıbyan ve kefere ve reaya ve beraya feryad ü figan üzere olub.” For the looting
event in 1790, which originally started among the Albanian bakers over poor
bread quality, see ibid. p. 408. Başaran, Policing Istanbul, p. 102; Şaşmazer,
Provisioning Istanbul, p. 91. Interestingly enough, many of these bakers were
later discovered to have been recruited as janissaries.
Schama, Citizens, p. 305.
Wells, Wretched Faces, p. 5.
Fatih Yeşil, “İstanbul’un İaşesinde Nizam-ı Cedid: Zahire Nezareti’nin
Kuruluşu ve İşleyişi (1793 – 1839)”, Türklük Araştırmaları Dergisi, 15 (2004),
pp. 113 –42.
Robert Walpole, Travels in Various Countries of the East, Being a Continuation of
Memoirs Relating to European and Asiatic Turkey (London: Longman, 1820),
p. 152.
BOA, HAT 115/4646 (1218/1803 –1804). This document provides a table of
increases in the price of wheat per dirhem.
For more details, see Şaşmazer, Provisioning Istanbul, pp. 192– 3.
BOA, HAT 174/7558 (29 Z 1215/13 May 1801).
Ahmed Vasıf Efendi, Mehâsinü’l-Âsâr ve Hakāikü’l-Ahbâr, Mücteba İlgürel
(ed.) (Ankara: TTK, 1994), p. 92.
For comments of Selim III on the poverty of people, his complaints regarding
hoarding and the punishment of hoarding shopkeepers, see BOA, HAT
174/7554 (29 Z 1215/13 May 1801). The sultan advises instant and heavy
punishments to set an example against such illicit practices.
NOTES
TO PAGES
55 –60
233
90. Salzmann, Measures of Empire, p. 433.
91. Salih Aynural, “Selim III Döneminde İstanbul’da İktisadi Hayat 1789–
1807”, unpublished Ph.D. thesis (Istanbul University, 1989), pp. 140– 6.
Between 1777 and 1846, wheat prices increased by 96 per cent, while those of
barley increased by 81.76 per cent.
92. Mehmet Ali Beyhan, “Some records on price controls in Istanbul at the
beginning of the 19th century”, in V. Constantini and M. Koller (eds), Living
in the Ottoman Ecumenical Community (Leiden: Brill, 2008), pp. 134– 5. For the
shortage of fruit and firewood, and the scarcity in meat due to the loss of
livestock because of harsh winters, see ibid. pp. 138– 40, 142– 3.
93. Walpole, Travels, p. 152.
94. Oğulukyan, Ruznâme, p. 7; Şaşmazer, Provisioning Istanbul, p. 193.
95. Thompson, “Moral economy”, p. 80.
96. Yıldız, The Selimiyye Incident, p. 637.
97. Oğulukyan, Ruznâme, p. 22.
98. Turchin and Nefedov, Secular Cycles, p. 10.
99. Tezcan, The Second Ottoman Empire, pp. 201– 4. The related increase in the
numbers was in parallel with the increased importance of the infantries in the
seventeenth-century wars.
100. By 1805, 112,000 janissaries were receiving salary, and the number increased
to around 135,000 in the esame (payroll registers). Howard Reed, “The
Destruction of the Janissaries by Mahmud II in June, 1826”, unpublished
Ph.D. thesis (Princeton University, 1951), p. 183.
101. Mustafa Kesbi, İbretnüma-yı Devlet: Tahlil ve Tenkitli Metin, Ahmet Öğreten
(ed.) (Ankara: TTK, 2002), pp. 207– 8. It is also interesting that his
confiscated estate was sold and sent to the imperial army for urgent payments,
BOA, HAT 1779/7990 (undated).
102. Câbı̂, I, pp. 21 – 42, 221.
103. The salary of a dalkılıc was around 10 akces, while that of a retired janissary was
120 akces (1 guruş ¼ 120 akces).
104. For similar observations, see M. Mert Sunar, “Ocak-ı Amire’den Ocak-ı
Mülgâ’ya Doğru: Nizâm-ı Cedid Reformları Karşısında Yenic eriler”, in
S. Kenan (ed.), Nizam-ı Kadim’den Nizam-ı Cedid’e III. Selim ve Dönemi (Istanbul:
İSAM, 2010), pp. 508–10.
105. Câbı̂, I, p. 230.
106. Yıldız, “Anatomy of a rebellious social group”, p. 304.
107. Tezcan, The Second Ottoman Empire, p. 206. See also Uzunc arşılı, Kapıkulu
Ocakları, pp. 311– 12.
108. Sunar, “Nizam-ı Cedid Reformları Karşısında Yenic eriler”, pp. 519– 21.
109. Hülya Canbakal, Society and Politics in an Ottoman Town: Ayntab in the
17th Century (Leiden: Brill, 2007), p. 67; Charles L. Wilkins, Forging
Urban Solidarities: Ottoman Aleppo, 1640 – 1700 (Leiden: Brill, 2010),
pp. 83 – 90.
110. Canbakal, Ayntab, pp. 77 –9.
234
NOTES
TO PAGES
60 – 61
111. For a useful study on the sadats of the seventeenth century, see Hülya
Canbakal, “The Ottoman state and descendants of the Prophet in Anatolia and
the Balkans”, Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient, 52 (2009),
pp. 542 –78.
112. Wilkins, Forging Urban Solidarities, pp. 30 –1, 70 – 84.
113. James Porter, Turkey: Its History and Progress, from the Journals and Correspondence
of Sir James Porter, Fifteen Years Ambassador at Constantinople, 2 vols (London:
Hurst and Blackett, 1854), I, p. 337. The author asserts that they were granted
this privilege during the reign of Mahmud I (r. 1730 –54), and that most
janissaries were involved in trade along the shores of Egypt and Syria. He also
remarks that this group began to preserve peace and was less concerned with
revolts. See also, Johann Wilhem Zinkeisen, Osmanlı İmparatorluğu Tarihi,
translated into Turkish by N. Epc eli, 7 vols (Istanbul: Yeditepe, 2011), V,
p. 591.
114. Tezcan, The Second Ottoman Empire, pp. 207– 9.
115. André Raymond, “Soldiers in trade: the case of Ottoman Cairo”, British
Journal of Middle Eastern Societies, 18/1 (1991), p. 29.
116. This rule is clearly specified in a dispute over the estate of deceased Mehmed
Efendi, a janissary from the 71st regiment, between a trustee of a vakıf and a
trustee belonging to the same regiment. It is stated that if the person is a “real”
janissary, his goods cannot be seized by the branch of the mukataa; if not, they
can be. BOA, HAT 35/1765 (undated).
117. BOA, C. AS 1518 (24 Ca 1210/6 December 1797).
118. Upon the writ of the relevant odabaşı (lieutenant) to the orbacı
c
(colonel), the
culprit would be allowed to be punished, and particular attention would be
given for the punishment to occur at night and away from the eyes of the
public. After dinner, janissaries would be called to the Square and the guilty
would be beaten in a ceremonial and hierarchical way. No punishment would be
carried out on religious days or Fridays. For further details, see Eyyubı̂ Efendi
Kanunnâmesi, A. Özcan (ed.) (Istanbul: Eren, 1994), pp. 47 – 8; Uzunc arşılı,
Kapıkulu Ocakları, pp. 355– 62.
119. Carter V. Findley, “Political culture and the great households”, in S. Faroqhi
(ed.), The Cambridge History of Turkey, v. III: The Latter Ottoman Empire 1603–
1839 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), pp. 71 –4; Özkaya,
“Adaletnameler”, p. 446.
120. Carter V. Findley, “The foundation of the Ottoman foreign ministry: the
beginnings of bureaucratic reform under Selim III and Mahmud II”,
International Journal of Middle East Studies, 3 (1972), pp. 389– 92; Carter
V. Findley, Bureaucratic Reform in the Ottoman Empire: The Sublime Porte, 1789–
1922 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1980), pp. 65 – 8. See also
Christine M. Philliou, Biography of an Empire: Governing the Ottomans in an Age
of Revolution (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2011), p. 34. For the
overstaffing of the bureucracy, see Findley, Bureaucratic Reform, p. 121 and
Christine M. Philliou, “Breaking the tetrarchia and saving the kaymakam: to
NOTES
121.
122.
123.
124.
125.
126.
TO PAGES
61 – 63
235
be an ambitious Ottoman Christian in 1821”, in A. Anastasopoulos and
E. Kolovos (eds), Ottoman Rule and the Balkans, 1760– 1850 (Rethymno: Crete
University Press, 2007), p. 190, especially the quotation from Dionysios
Photeinos.
The berats of protection removed the non-Muslim subjects from the
jurisdiction of the Ottoman laws. By the establishment of regular diplomatic
representation in the Empire, the Porte began to allow protection to nonMuslim subjects. Through the articles of various treaties, the protégé system
became very widespread and also open to abuse.
Thomas Naff, “Ottoman Diplomacy and the Great European Powers, 1797–
1802”, unpublished Ph.D. thesis (University of London, 1960), p. 68.
Christine M. Philliou, “Mischief in the Old Regime: provincial dragomans
and social change at the turn of the nineteenth century”, New Perspectives on
Turkey, 25 (Fall 2001), pp. 107, 111, 115–20.
Kökdaş, Salonica, p. 38 notes that most of the pseudo-interpreters rushed to
the city and participated in flourishing trade networks and money lending, not
to mention the fierce struggle among the non-Muslim Salonican traders to
obtain the title.
Salahi R. Sonyel, “The protégé system in the Ottoman Empire”, Journal of
Islamic Studies, 2/1 (1991), pp. 56 – 66.
Neticetü’l-Vekayi, fls. 42b– 43. The authors of reform proposals also concentrate
on this issue and try to offer measures to curb the number of the askerı̂ class.
Engin Çağman (ed.), III. Selim’e Sunulan Islahat Layihaları (Istanbul:
Kitabevi, 2010); Ahmet Öğreten (ed.), Nizam-ı Cedid’e Dair Askeri Layihalar
(Istanbul: TTK, 2014).
Tugı̂, writing on the 1622 uprising, states that the heads of six men were
demanded, and at least two of them were included into the execution list due
to problems in the payment of janissary salaries. Tezcan, The Second Ottoman
Empire, pp. 167– 9. For instance, the execution of the chief treasurer (defterdar)
was demanded by the rebels of 1622, for the payment of salaries in debased
coinage and the arrears in the payment of retired soldiers. Arrears in payments
and debased coinage caused further uprisings in 1623 and 1629. The
debasement of coinage alone caused another rebellion in 1655. Abdi, Tarih,
p. 87. Arrears were the cause for yet another uprising in 1657 again by the
cavalrymen. The rebellion of 1687, which ended with the deposition of
Mehmed IV, was a mutiny by the soldiers due to the delay in promised
payment and the dismissal of some active soldiers from the payrolls. The delay
in the payment of three cavalrymen’s salaries was the excuse for their revolt.
Further, the guildsmen revolted in 1651 insisting that they would not disperse
until the excessive taxes were cancelled. Yi, Guild Dynamics, pp. 213, 216.
Minor rebellions in 1717, 1718 and 1719 were also due to arrears in salaries.
Olson, “Jews, janissaries”, p. 187. Economic issues also lie at the heart of the
1730 uprising. For the 1730 arrears, see Olson, The Siege of Mosul, p. 67. For
the connection between military revolts and debasements, see Cemal Kafadar,
236
127.
128.
129.
130.
131.
132.
133.
134.
135.
136.
137.
NOTES
TO PAGES
63 –65
“When Coins Turned into Drops of Dew and Bankers Became Robbers of
Shadows: The Boundaries of Ottoman Economic Imagination at the End of the
Sixteenth Century”, unpublished Ph.D. thesis (McGill University, 1986);
Baki Tezcan, “The monetary crisis of 1585 revisited”, Journal of the Economic
and Social History of the Orient, 52 (2009), esp. pp. 497– 8.
İsmail H. Uzunc arşılı, “III. Sultan Selim Zamanında Yazılmış Dış
Ruzname’sinden 1206/1791 ve 1207/1792 Senelerine Ait Vekayi”, Belleten,
148/XXXVIII (1973), p. 656.
For an overview of Ottoman recruitment strategies, see Virginia H. Aksan,
“Ottoman military recruitment strategies in the late eighteenth century”, in
E.J Zürcher, Arming the State: Military Conscription in the Middle East and
Central Asia (London: I.B.Tauris, 1999), pp. 21 – 39.
Stanford J. Shaw, Between Old and New: The Ottoman Empire Under Sultan Selim
III, 1789– 1807 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1971), p. 133;
Fatih Yeşil, İhtilaller Çağında Osmanlı Ordusu: Osmanlı İmparatorluğu’nda
Sosyoekonomik ve Sosyopolitik Değişim Üzerine Bir İnceleme (1793 – 1826)
(Istanbul: Tarih Vakfı Yurt Yayınları, 2016), pp. 87 – 94. For an illustrative
and enjoyable story of Ibrahim, a migrant from Tosya, see ibid. pp. 7 – 10.
McGowan, “The age of the ayans”, p. 716.
Yavuz Cezar, Osmanlı Maliyesinde Bunalım ve Değişim Dönemi (XVIII. Yüzyıldan
Tanzimat’a Mali Tarih) (Istanbul: Alan Yayıncılık, 1986), pp. 78–9. For further
details on the inspections, see Vasıf, Mehasinü’l-Ahbar, pp. 155–60. Further
inspections were prevented because of the reaction of the janissaries. Naff frames
the consequent dismissal of Halil Hamid Pasha as Abdulhamid I’s effort to
appease the janissaries, but the Grand Vizier’s dismissal was apparently related
to the plot of the Pasha to dethrone the sultan in favour of prince Selim. Naff,
Ottoman Diplomacy, p. 25; Uzunc arşılı, Kapıkulu Ocakları, pp. 494–5.
Olson, “Jews, janissaries”, p. 188. For an examination of such cases in judicial
courts, see Başaran, Policing Istanbul, pp. 145–8.
Suraiya Faroqhi, “Ottoman craftsmen: problematic and sources with special
emphasis on the eighteenth century”, in S. Faroqhi and R. Deguilhem (eds),
Crafts and Craftsmen of the Middle East: Fashioning the Individual in the Muslim
Mediterranean (London: I.B.Tauris, 2005), p. 87.
Fariba Zarinebaf, Crime and Punishment in Istanbul 1700– 1800 (Berkeley:
University of California Press, 2010), p. 48; Başaran, Policing Istanbul, p. 23.
Özkaya, “Göc Sorunu”, pp. 174– 8, 185– 93. On the central authorities’
efforts to prevent migration to Izmir, see Vehbi Günay, “Yerel Kayıtların
Işığında XVIII. Yüzyıl Sonlarında İzmir”, Tarih İncemeleri Dergisi, XXV/1
(July 2010), p. 263.
Başaran, Policing Istanbul, p. 38.
Suraiya Faroqhi, “Migration into eighteenth-century ‘Greater Istanbul’ as
reflected in the Kadı registers of Eyüp”, Turcica, 30 (1998), p. 165. This source
is also very important for its inclusion of a case study of migration and migrant
profiles around eighteenth-century Eyüp.
NOTES TO PAGES 65 –68
237
138. Cezayirli Seydi Ali Pasha served as grand admiral from 24 February 1807 until
23 August 1808, and from 22 November 1808 until 21 March 1809.
139. Uzunc arşılı, “Dış Ruzname”, p. 618.
140. For more on this system, see Başaran, Policing Istanbul, pp. 106– 17. For earlier
examples, see Zarinebaf, Crime and Punishment, pp. 49, 128– 40.
141. For their role during the Alemdar Incident, see Yildiz “A city under fire”.
On the role of Albanians as bayrak askerleri (company forces) mercenaries in the
mutiny of 18 July 1807 (which ended with the death of Pehlivan Agha, the
janissary Agha), see Yildiz, The Selimiyye Incident, pp. 487– 8. In the Balkans,
such company forces usually comprised Albanians and Bosnians. See Aksan,
“Ottoman military recruitment strategies”, pp. 21 – 39.
142. Ebubekir Efendi, Asiler ve Gaziler, p. 117.
143. Yıldız, “Anatomy of a rebellious social group”, pp. 291– 327.
144. Charles Tilly, “Does modernization breed revolution?”, Comparative Politics,
Special Issue on Revolution and Social Change, 5/3 (1973), p. 433.
145. Schama, Citizens, p. 307.
146. Genc , “Osmanlı Ekonomisi ve Savaş”, p. 211.
147. Pamuk, “Ottoman state finances”, p. 608.
148. See the table in Pamuk, “Ottoman state finances”, p. 606.
149. The approximately one million deficit of 1784 increased fourfold only a year
later. Genc , “Osmanlı Ekonomisi ve Savaş”, p. 222; Cezar, Osmanlı Maliyesi,
p. 78.
150. Allan Cunningham, “The sick men and the British physician”, in E. Ingram
(ed.) Eastern Questions in the 19th Century: Collected Essays, 2 vols (Portland:
Frank Cass, 1993), I, p. 104n37.
151. For a very comprehensive account on this regard, see John Brewer, The Sinews of
Power: War, Money, and the English State, 1688– 1783 (London: Unwin Hyman,
1989), especially pp. 30 – 51.
152. Valeriy Morkva, “Russia’s Policy of Rapprochement with the Ottoman Empire
in the Era of the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars 1792– 1806”,
unpublished Ph.D. thesis (Bilkent University, 2010), p. 263.
153. Cezar, Osmanlı Maliyesi, p. 76; Mehmet Genc , “Esham: İc Borc lanma”, Devlet ve
Ekonomi, p. 188.
154. Cezar, Osmanlı Maliyesi, p. 127. Between 1793 and 1815, Britain paid
10 per cent (65.8 million pounds sterling) of its total revenue to its allies.
Kahraman Şakul, “An Ottoman Global Moment: War of Second Coalition in
the Levant”, unpublished Ph.D. thesis (Georgetown University, 2009), p. 213.
One purse contained 500 guruş, but by the end of the eighteenth century it
contained 416 guruş.
155. E. Nelson White, “The French Revolution and the politics of government
finance, 1770 – 1815”, The Journal of Economic History, 55/2 (June 1995),
p. 251.
156. By the treaty, the Russians gained rights to sell their goods to the Ottomans,
to buy silk, rice, coffee and olive oil, except from Istanbul. They were no
238
157.
158.
159.
160.
161.
162.
163.
164.
165.
166.
167.
168.
169.
170.
NOTES
TO PAGES
68 – 69
longer subject to transit duties, while export duties were lowered. They were
also freed from any exceptional import and export duties. Similar rights were
granted to Austria (1784), Britain (1799), France (1802) and Prussia (1806).
While the treaty was detrimental to the interests of the Porte, the Ottoman
Greek merhants benefited from it as carrying/producing merchants.
Stoianovich, “The Balkan Orthodox merchant”, pp. 288– 9.
Şevket Pamuk, A Monetary History of the Ottoman Empire (Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 2000), p. 171. From 1789 until 1808, the
standard guruş contained 5.90 grams of silver. Şevket Pamuk, “The recovery of
the Ottoman monetary system in the eighteenth century”, in K. Karpat (ed.),
Ottoman Past and Today’s Turkey (Leiden: Brill, 2000), pp. 196– 7.
Pamuk, Monetary History, p. 193.
Genc , “Osmanlı Ekonomisi ve Savaş”, p. 215. The author notes that the cost of
war provisioning increased by 200 per cent.
Reşat Kasaba, The Ottoman Empire and the World Economy: The Nineteenth Century
(Albany: State University of New York Press, 1988), p. 23; Genc , “Osmanlı
Ekonomisi ve Savaş”, p. 220.
White, “The French Revolution”, p. 240.
Cezar, Osmanlı Maliyesi, p. 135; Genc , “Osmanlı Ekonomisi ve Savaş”, p. 220;
Nilüfer Alkan Günay, “Müsaderenin Sosyal ve Ekonomik Bir Analizi:
Onsekizinci Yüzyıl Sonunda Bursa’da Yapılan Müsadereler”, Belleten, 277/
LXXVI (2012), pp. 793– 815.
Thomas Thornton, The Present State of Turkey, 2 vols (London: Joseph Mawman,
1809), II, p. 11.
Edib Tarihi, pp. 51 – 3.
Mehmet Genc , “18. Yüzyılda Osmanlı Sanayisinde Değişmeler ve Devletin
Rolü”, Devlet ve Ekonomi, p. 263.
Schama, The Citizens, p. 70.
James B. Collins and Karen L. Taylor (eds), Early Modern Europe: Issues and
Interpretations (Oxford: Blackwell, 2006), p. 301; Brewer, The Sinews of Power,
pp. 76 – 82.
Michael D. Bordo and Eugene N. White, “A tale of two currencies: British and
French finance during the Napoleonic Wars”, The Journal of Economic History,
51/2 (1991), pp. 310, 314– 15.
The Grand Vizier and Yusuf Agha each lent 250 purses, while the defterlar and
Mustafa Reşid lent 150. Morkva, Russia, p. 263.
In 1800, 67,000 guruş were borrowed to meet expenses in Salonika (with an
interest rate of 20 per cent); in 1804 and 1805, 500 purses were borrowed to
cover the expenses associated to uprisings in Rumelia with a rate of 12 per cent.
From 1807 to 1812, certain expenditures related to the military arsenal
were covered by loans from money lenders. In the year 1807, two sarrafs (Şapc ı
and Konurto) lent 75,000 guruş and 54,000 guruş respectively. Araks Şahiner,
“The Sarrafs of Istanbul: The Financiers of the Empire”, unpublished M.A.
thesis (Boğazic i University, 1995), pp. 42–3.
NOTES
TO PAGES
69 –74
239
171. In September 1784, a general meeting was held during which the budget
deficit and the delicate conditions of the economy were discussed and it was
decided that the statesmen should write reports concerning solutions to the
economic problems, which had proven insufficient even to pay the salaries of
the soldiers. Among these reports, Süleyman Fevzi’s solution on external
borrowing from Muslim countries, such as Morocco, was the most important
one. Vasıf, Mehasinü’l-Asar, pp. 188– 93. See also Cevdet Paşa, Tarih, III,
pp. 99 – 103; Cezar, Osmanlı Maliyesi, pp. 137– 8.
172. Şakul, Global Moment, pp. 211– 13.
173. BOA, HAT 1411/57448 (1203/1789).
174. Cezar, Osmanlı Maliyesi, pp. 104– 5; Mehmet Genc , “Osmanlı Maliyesinde
Malikane Sistemi”, Devlet ve Ekonomi, pp. 118– 19. According to Cezar, the
malikane system accelerated the pace of change in eighteenth-century Ottoman
finance structures. Yavuz Cezar, “From financial crisis to the structural change:
the case of the Ottoman Empire in the eighteenth century”, Oriento Moderno,
Nuova Serie 18/79 – 1 (1999), p. 49.
175. Genc , “Esham”, p. 190.
176. Ibid., p. 191.
177. Peuchet, Campaigns, III, p. 101.
178. Genc , “Esham”, pp. 191 –3.
179. Cezar, Osmanlı Maliyesi, p. 106. For a list of the esham-mukataa from 1775 until
1793, see ibid. p. 109.
180. Yi, Guild Dynamics, p. 226.
181. Lichbach, The Rebel’s Dilemma, p. 283.
Chapter 3 Does Modernization Breed Revolution?
1. I adapted the expression from Charles Tilly’s famous article, “Does
modernization breed revolution?”, Comparative Politics, 5/3, Special Issue on
Revolution and Social Change (1973), pp. 425– 47.
2. The Times, 7115, col. C, Monday 3 August 1807, p. 3 (from The Hamburg
Papers, Milan, 24 July 1807).
3. Tilly, “Does modernization breed revolution?”, p. 447.
4. Samuel Huntington, Political Order in Changing Societies (New Haven: Yale
University Press, 2006), pp. 34, 40 – 6.
5. Baron de Tott, as cited in McGowan, “The age of the ayans”, p. 714.
6. Owen, The Middle East, p. 60.
7. Salzmann, Measures of Empire, p. 65.
8. I borrowed the idea of military reform as a tool of centralization from Tezcan,
“The New Order and the fate of the Old”, p. 78.
9. The author says that before the Nizam-ı Cedid, the total revenue of the Porte
was 46,000,000 guruş, which increased to 90,000,000 guruş after the
regulations. Walpole, Travels, p. 152.
240
NOTES
TO PAGES
75 –76
10. Zecriye Resmi, pamuk (penbe) resmi, yapağı resmi, istefidye resmi, kökboya, mazı ve
tiftik resmi.
11. For example, 30 esham revenue of the zecriye with a six years’ income (229,000
guruş) was sold to a certain Jewish community. An Armenian community
bought an esham worth 150,000 guruş, while the children of Hanc erlioğlu
bought a single share (sehm) at a price of 16,000 guruş in 1799. Şakul, Global
Moment, p. 216.
12. Salzmann, Measures of Empire, p. 287.
13. Cezar, Osmanlı Maliyesi, pp. 165– 6. See also Ariel Salzmann, “An Ancien
Régime revisited: ‘privatization’ and political economy in the eighteenthcentury Ottoman Empire”, Politics and Society, 21 (1993), p. 407. Central
authorities were never able to abolish the esham system even after the New
Treasury gained oversight of it. In 1213 (1798/1799) and 1215 (1800 – 1), the
trade of eshams was prohibited. Owing to the financial crisis, however, the New
Treasury had to open new malikane/mukataa as esham. Cezar, Osmanlı Maliyesi,
p. 173.
14. Mehmet Genc , “Osmanlı Maliyesinde Malikane Sistemi”, Devlet ve Ekonomi,
pp. 111, 119. Over 65 per cent of malikanes were controlled by the elite in
1734; this number increased to 87 per cent in 1789. Pamuk, “Longevity of the
Ottoman Empire”, p. 241.
15. Salzmann, “Ancien Régime revisited”, pp. 409– 10; Salzmann, Measures of
Empire, pp. 176–85.
16. Cezar, Osmanlı Maliyesi, p. 168.
17. It included 37 tımars from Bozok (present-day Yozgat), 13 from Üsküb and
Salonika, 273 from Hüdavendigar and 81 from Kars-ı Maraş. BOA, A. E. (III.
Selim) 19114 (7 M 1218/29 April 1803). Thirty of these were reserved as a
pension for the Levent Chiftlik, 18 had no owners, and the tımars of the 39
tımar-holders who did not attend the Anapa campaign as soldiers were also
seized. Twenty-seven were not present in the Üsküdar yoklama, and five from
the office handling the affairs of the province of Archipelago (derya kalemi)
were transfered to the İrad-ı Cedid and given to Elhac Ali Agha for one year,
with a down payment of 9,000 guruş.
18. Hacı Emin (the voyvoda of Diyarbakır), Kadı Abdurrahman Pasha and
Cabbarzâde’s rival Tayyar bought 1,233 tımars at the nominal cost of
7,512,045 akces in 1804. The following year, 2,935 tımars were seized. Véra
P. Moutafchiéva and Str. A. Dimitrov, Sur l’État du système des tımars des XVIIe –
XVIIIe SS (Sofia: Éditions de l’Académie Bulgare des Sciences, 1968), pp. 49 –
53. See also Yaycıoğlu, Partners of the Empire, pp. 53 – 4.
19. Moutafchiéva and Dimitrov, “Système des tımars”, p. 38.
20. BOA, A. E. (III. Selim) 19119 (11 Za 1805), nine vacant tımars from Salonika
were sold to Numan Agha along with 1,310 muaccele, the income of which was
spent for the pensions of soldiers of the Levent Chiftlik. For further details, see
Yıldız, The Selimiyye Incident, p. 198.
21. Genc , “Malikane”, p. 133.
NOTES
TO PAGES
77 – 78
241
22. Şevket Pamuk, “The great Ottoman debasement: a political economy
framework”, in I. Gershoni, H. Erdem and U. Wokök (eds), Histories of the
Modern Middle East: New Dimensions (Colorado: Lynne Rienner Publishers,
2002), p. 24.
23. Salzmann, “Ancien Régime”, p. 406; Yeşil, İhtilaller Çağında Osmanlı Ordusu,
pp. 20 – 8.
24. M. Kac an Erdoğan, M. Bayrak Ferlibaş and K. Çolak, Tirsiniklizâde İsmail
Ağa ve Dönemi (1796 – 1806): Ruscuk Ayanı (Istanbul: Yeditepe, 2009),
pp. 153 – 4.
25. Tax-farms of cotton mukataa were also under the control of the New Treasury.
According to an imperial edict, dated 2 February 1803, fees specified for one
kilogram of cotton amounted to 1 para, for cotton yarn 2 paras, for raw cotton
1 para, for cotton-silk mixtures 2 akce and for cotton loincloth 1 akce. Ruscuk
Ayanı, p. 154.
26. Anatolii F. Miller, Mustapha Pacha Bairaktar (Bucharest: Association
Internationale d’Études du Sud-Est Européen, 1975), p. 105. He is considered
to be the leading figure behind the Edirne Incident, even though he had sent his
steward, Köse Ahmed Efendi, to supress the uprising. İsmail H. Uzunc arşılı,
Meşhur Rumeli Ayanlarından Tirsinikli İsmail, Yılık Oğlu Süleyman Ağalar ve
Alemdar Mustafa Paşa, (Ankara: TTK, 1942), pp. 26–9. Ironically, the Porte
still needed the military help and prestige of these local magnates to deal with a
local problem.
27. BOA, HAT 19418 (23 Ra 1223/31 May 1807).
28. Necib Asım, “Üc üncü Selim Devrine Aid Vesikalar”, p. 399. This issue was
in fact hotly debated among the religious authorities, and that is why this tax
was not imposed on a regular basis. According to the Hanefite school, taxes
from hamr were sanctioned. For more details, see Fethi Gedikli, “Osmanlı
Devletinde Şaraptan Alınan Vergiler”, Türk Hukuk Tarihi Araştırmaları, 7
(2009), pp. 7 – 21.
29. John R. Hobhouse, A Journey Through Albania and Other Provinces of Turkey in
Europe and Asia to Constantinople, During the Years of 1809 and 1810, 2 vols
(Philadelphia: M. Carey & Son, 1817), II, p. 387.
30. Walpole, Travels, p. 152. The author states that in 1801 the duty was 4 paras
per oke.
31. Yeşil, İhtilaller Çağında Osmanlı Ordusu, pp. 224– 5.
32. Sophia Laiou, “Political processes on the island of Samos prior to the Greek War
of Independence and the reaction of the Sublime Porte: The Karmanioloi–
Kallikantzaroi conflict”, in A. Anastasopoulos (ed.), Political Initiatives “From
Bottom Up” in the Ottoman Empire (Rethymno: Crete University Press, 2012),
p. 96. It is also important to note that the residents of the same island were
expected, in 1806, to send sailors to the imperial navy to be employed in the
Russo-Ottoman war.
33. Dallaway, Constantinople Ancient and Modern, p. 41.
34. Hobhouse, Journey, II, p. 387.
242
NOTES
TO PAGES
78 – 81
35. Because of the riot, the 31st regiment was abolished in the city in 1803.
Salzmann, Measures of Empire, pp. 435– 8; Hüseyin Yılmazc elik, XIX. Yüzyılın
İlk Yarısında Diyarbakır, 1790– 1840 (Ankara: TTK, 1995), p. 289.
36. Asım, II, p. 15.
37. Yeşil, İhtilaller Çağında Osmanlı Ordusu, pp. 226– 7.
38. He was promoted to the rank of kapıcıbaşı and appointed as the director of the
Gümüşhane Mines. On 3 Z 1222/1 February 1808, Kazgancı Mustafa Agha
was appointed as the director of the Gümüşhane Mines. (BOA, Sadaret
Defterleri, no. 357, fl. 85 (3 Z 1222/1 February 1808). During the grand
vizierate of Alemdar Mustafa Pasha, he was dismissed from his position around
10 B 1223/1 September 1808. (Câbı̂, I, p. 217).
39. Mustafa Agha was from the Black Sea region and seems to have carried great
influence there. Asım, II, p. 24. Unfortunately, Asım does not provide any
further details.
40. Stanford J. Shaw, “The established Ottoman army corps under Selim III
(1789 – 1807)”, Der Islam, 40 (1965), p. 153. cf. Asım, I, pp. 359– 60; Derin,
“Tüfengc ibaşı”, p. 381.
41. BOA, C. AS. 17908 (26 C 1212/15 December 1797).
42. For a critical analysis of Shaw’s works, see Sunar, Cauldron of Dissent,
pp. 12 – 13.
43. Tezcan, “The New Order and the fate of the Old”, p. 79.
44. Asım, I, pp. 359– 60; Derin, “Tüfengc ibaşı”, p. 381.
45. BOA, C. DH. 7763 (22 L 1207/2 June 1793).
46. Hafız Hüseyin Ayvansarayı̂, Hadı̂katü’l-Cevâmi, 2 vols (Istanbul: Matbaa-yı
Amire, 1281/1864), II, p. 189; Beyhan Kıran, “1220 Senesi Vekayi Adlı
Eserin Transkripsiyonu ve Değerlendirilmesi”, unpublished M.A. thesis
(Marmara Üniversitesi, 1993), p. 1. The latter is a chronicle written by an
anonymous author and narrates the events of 1220/1805. Hereafter it is cited
as “1220 Senesi Vekayi”.
47. Asım, I, pp. 360 – 1. Cevdet Paşa explains the same event with almost the
same words. See Cevdet Paşa, Tarih, VIII, pp. 68 – 9. The author of Ceride
also confirms that the ceremony was delayed for one week due to tension
(niza) between the janissaries and the Nizam-ı Cedid soldiers, but does not
give further details. Kemal Beydilli, Osmanlı Döneminde İmamlar ve Bir
İmamın Günlüğü (Istanbul: Tarih ve Tabiat Vakfı, 2001), p. 211. According
to the author, Selim III visited the Mosque on 15 M 1220/15 April 1805.
Another contemporary author mentions the delay in the visit of the sultan,
but claims that it was postponed due to unfavourable weather conditions.
“1220 Senesi Vekayi”, p. 7. According to the author, the sultan went to the
Friday prayer on 15 S 1220/14 May 1805, which means a delay of more than
one month.
48. Veli Şirin, Asakir-i Mansure ve Seraskerlik (Istanbul: Tarih ve Tabiat Vakfı,
2002), p. 36.
49. Asım, I, p. 360.
NOTES
TO PAGES
82 –85
243
50. For some examples, see TSMA, E. 3759– 3 (undated); TSMA. E. 3759 –2
(undated); TSMA. E. 2757 (undated); TSMA. E. 3786 (undated); BOA, HAT
13403 (undated); BOA, HAT 14762 (undated); BOA, HAT 56924 (undated);
BOA, HAT 55034 (undated); BOA, HAT 4830 (undated).
51. On this local family, see Canay Şahin, “The economic power of the Anatolian
Ayans in the late 18th century: the case of the Caniklizâdes”, International
Journal of Turkish Studies, 11 (2005), pp. 29–48; Canay Şahin, “The Rise and
Fall of an Ayân Family in Eighteenth Century Anatolia: The Caniklizâdes
(1737–1808)”, unpublished Ph.D. thesis (Bilkent University, 2003). For more
details of his revolt, see İbrahim Serbestoğlu, “Trabzon Valisi Canikli Tayyar
Paşa İsyanı”, unpublished M.A. thesis (Ondokuz Mayıs University, 2003),
İbrahim Serbestoğlu, “Trabzon Valisi Canikli Tayyar Mahmud Paşa İsyanı ve
Caniklizâdelerin Sonu (1805–1808)”, Uluslararası Karadeniz İncelemeleri Dergisi,
1 (2006), pp. 89–105; Yıldız, The Selimiyye Incident, pp. 123–36.
52. Enver Z. Karal, Osmanlı Tarihi, vol. V: Nizam-ı Cedid ve Tanzimat Devirleri
(Ankara: TTK, 1999), p. 79; Enver Z. Karal, Selim III’ün Hatt-ı Hümayunları:
Nizam-ı Cedit (1789 – 1807), 2nd edn (Ankara: TTK, 1998), p. 55; Şahin,
Caniklizâdes, p. 72; Adil Şen, Osmanlı’da Dönüm Noktası: III. Selim’in Hayatı ve
Islahatları (Ankara: Fecr, 2003), p. 87; Shaw, Between Old and New, p. 284;
Yücel Özkaya, “Nizam-ı Cedid’in Anadolu’da Karşılaştığı Güc lükler”, Tarih
Araştırmaları Dergisi, I/1 (1963), p. 147; Serbestoğlu “Caniklizâdelerin Sonu”,
pp. 92 – 3.
53. Necib Asım, “Üc üncü Selim Devrine Aid Vesikalar”, Tarih-i Osmani Encümeni
Mecmuası, 11/88 (Eylül 1341/September 1912), pp. 395– 401. See also, Karal,
Osmanlı Tarihi, V, p. 79; Cevdet Paşa, Tarih, VIII, pp. 30 – 1.
54. BOA, HAT 4048.G (3 R 1220/30 June 1805).
55. BOA, HAT 4051 (undated).
56. For this local dynasty, see Özcan Mert, XVIII. ve XIX. Yüzyıllarda
Çapanoğulları (Ankara: Kültür Bakanlığı, 1980).
57. BOA, HAT 3100– K (9 L 1215/23 February 1801).
58. Şahin, “The Caniklizâdes”, p. 42.
59. Asım, II, pp. 5 – 6.
60. William Martin Leake, Travels in Northern Greece, 4 vols (London: J. Rodwell,
1835), I, p. 40.
61. In Egypt too, intra-Mamluk rivalries became intense during the eighteenth
century, Owen, The Middle East, p. 15.
62. Cabbarzâde, for instance, was able to cover the expenses of his military forces
from the İrad-ı Cedid treasury. Yeşil, İhtilaller Çağında Osmanlı Ordusu, p. 83;
Salzmann, Measures of Empire, p. 363.
63. Robert Zens, “Pazvantoğlu Osman Pasha and the Pashalık of Belgrade 1791–
1807”, International Journal of Turkish Studies, 8/1– 2 (Spring 2002), pp. 89 –
105; Rossitsa Gradeva, “Pazvantoğlu of Vidin between old and new”, in
F. Anscombe (ed.) The Ottoman Balkans (Princeton: Princeton University Press,
2006), pp. 129– 31.
244
NOTES
TO PAGES
86 –89
64. Gradeva, “Pazvantoğlu of Vidin between old and new”, pp. 129– 31.
65. Câbı̂, I, pp. 55 –6. Niyazi Berkes, Türkiye’de Çağdaşlaşma (Istanbul: DoğuBatı, 1978), p. 571n31 and 35.
66. Cevdet Paşa, Tarih, VI, p. 244.
67. Yeşil, İhtilaller Çağında Osmanlı Ordusu, pp. 210– 11.
68. For an analysis of various diplomatic reports concerning Pazvandoğlu’s
opposition to the New Order, presenting himself as the champion of the old
militia and the religiosity of his arguments, see Gradeva, “Pazvantoğlu of
Vidin between old and new”, pp. 128– 32. As for a possible connection
between the two figures, see Rossitsa Gradeva, “Secession and revolution in the
Ottoman Empire at the end of the eighteenth century: Osman Pazvantoğlu
and Rhigas Velestinlis”, in A. Anastasopoulos and E. Kolovos (eds), Ottoman
Rule and the Balkans (Rethymno: Crete University Press, 2007), pp. 73 –94.
69. BOA, HAT 77/3181 (undated); BOA, HAT 119/4812 (undated); BOA,
Sadaret Defterleri, no. 357, fl. 3; İsmail H. Uzunc arşılı, “Nizam-ı Cedid
Ricalinden Kadı Abdurrahman Paşa”, Belleten, 138– 139/XXV (1971), p. 263;
Saray Günlüğü, p. 199.
70. For a comparative analysis of conscription and conscription strategies, see Eric
J. Zürcher (ed.), Arming the State: Military Conscription in the Middle East and
Central Asia 1775 –1925 (London: I.B.Tauris, 1999).
71. Tilly considers the Ottoman presence in the Balkans as a classic example of
indirect rule. Charles Tilly, Coercion, Capital and European States, AD 900–
1992 (Cambridge: Blackwell, 1992), p. 105.
72. Derin, “Yayla İmamı Risalesi”, p. 217.
73. Câbı̂, I, p. 62. For Dağdevirenoğlu, see Cemal Gökc e, “Edirne Ayanı
Dağdevirenoğlu Mehmed Ağa”, İstanbul Üniversitesi Edebiyat Fakültesi Tarih
Dergisi, XVII/22 (1968), pp. 97 – 110.
74. BOA, HAT 77/3181 (undated); Derin, “Yayla İmamı Risalesi”, pp. 217– 18.
75. BOA, HAT 77/3181 (undated).
76. Ibid.
77. Ibid.; Uzunc arşılı, “Kadı Abdurrahman Paşa”, p. 280.
78. BOA, A. AMD 53/38 (undated).
79. BOA, HAT 77/3176– A, B (undated).
80. Indeed, some contemporary narratives underline this aspect: Asım and the
author of Neticetü’l-Vekayi present the project to create a ready force in the
Balkans against potential agression from Russia, Austria and France.
81. BOA, A. AMD. 53/38 (undated): “İsmail Bey’in fesâdı olsa olsa zı̂r-i perde-i
hüfâdandır. Yoksa atına binüb ol dahi şekâvet ile meydana cıkmaz. Binaenaleyh esdikâ-yı devlet-i aliyyeden gibi tutmak usûl-ı haliyadandır. Kezâllik
Tirsiniklizâde dahi böyledir.”
82. Salihzâde Ahmed Esad Efendi, the shaikh al-Islam, had been replaced by
Şerifzâde Mehmed Ataullah Efendi (14 September 1806). Replacement of the
grand vizier Hafız Ismail Pasha by Ibrahim Hilmi Pasha, a janissary in origin,
was also a gesture to appease the janissaries, who were a part of the reactionary
NOTES
83.
84.
85.
86.
87.
88.
89.
90.
91.
92.
TO PAGES
89 –92
245
elements in Edirne, and in preparation of a revolt in the capital. In the
mainstream historiography, the cabinet change a short time after the incident
is usually connected with the failure of the Edirne project, and in order to
appease the reactionary groups.
Derin, “Tüfengcibaşı”, p. 395. Unfortunately, I was not able to determine the
nature of the fatwa.
Derin, “Kabakc ı Mustafa”, p. 104; Derin, “Tüfengcibaşı”, p. 395.
Derin, “Kabakc ı Mustafa”, p. 104.
Yaycıoğlu, Partners of the Empire, pp. 163– 4; PRO (FO 78/50) fl. 239, as cited
in Fatih Yeşil, “İstanbul Önlerinde Bir İngiliz Filosu: Uluslararası Bir Krizin
Siyasi ve Askeri Anatomisi”, in S. Kenan (ed.), Nizam-ı Kadim’den Nizam-ı
Cedid’e III. Selim ve Dönemi (Istanbul: İSAM, 2010), p. 395.
Salzmann, “Ancien Régime”, pp. 399– 408.
Joan Esteban and Gerald Schneider, “Polarization and conflict: theoretical and
empirical issues”, Journal of Peace Research, 45/2, Special Issue on Polarization
and Conflict (2008), p. 133.
Koca Sekbanbaşı Risalesi, Abdullah Uc man (ed.) (Istanbul: Tercüman, 1976).
For an English translation, see William Wilkinson, An Account of the
Principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia: Including Various Political Observations
Relating to Them (London: Longman & Co., 1820), pp. 216– 94.
Nizâm-ı Cedı̂d’e Dâir Bir Risâle: Zebı̂re-i Kuşmânı̂ fi Ta’rı̂f-i Nizâm-ı İlhâmı̂,
Ömer İşbilir (ed.) (Ankara: TTK, 2006).
Since the above sources deal with the controversial issues, I preferred to
concentrate particularly on them. There were other treatises written during the
reign of Selim III: for the introduction of the reforms to the European audiences,
see Kemal Beydilli and İlhan Şahin, Mahmud Raif Efendi ve Nizam-ı Cedid’e Dair
Eseri (TTK: Ankara, 2001). It was first published in 1798 or 1799. Also, Kemal
Beydilli, “Seyyid Mustafa, İlk Mühendislerimizden Seyyid Mustafa ve Nizam-ı
Cedid’e Dair Risalesi”, Tarih Enstitüsü Dergisi, XIII, (1983–7). It was first
published in 1803. For comments on the problems encountered during the
implementation of the reforms, see Ömer Faik Efendi, Nizâm-ı Atik fi Bahr-i
Amı̂k; Ahmed Sarıkaya, “Ömer Faik Efendi, Nizamü’l-Atik”, unpublished M.A.
thesis (Istanbul University, 1979). For a discussion of what should be done
regarding the reforms, see Mehmed Emin Behic Efendi, Sevânihü’l-Levayih; Ali
Osman Çınar, “Es-Seyyid Mehmed Emin Behic Efendi’nin Sevanihü’l-Levayih’i
ve Değerlendirmesi”, unpublished M.A. thesis (Marmara University, 1992). For
a general evaluation of these treatises, see Kemal Beydilli, “Küc ük Kaynarca’dan
Tanzimat’a Islahat Düşünceleri”, İlmi Araştırmalar Dergisi, 8 (1999), pp. 25–64;
and Kahraman Şakul “Nizam-ı Cedid Düşüncesinde Batılılaşma ve İslami
Modernleşme”, Dı̂vân: İlmı̂ Araştırmalar, 19/2 (2005), pp. 117–50. See also
Yıldız, The Selimiyye Incident, pp. 164–81.
Y. Hakan Erdem asserts that it is Mustafa Reşid Efendi, “The wise old man,
propagandist and ideologist: Koca Sekbanbaşı on the janissaries, 1807”, in
K. Virtanen (ed.), Individual, Ideologies and Society: Tracing the Mosaic of
246
93.
94.
95.
96.
97.
98.
99.
100.
101.
102.
103.
104.
105.
106.
107.
108.
NOTES
TO PAGES
92 –96
Mediterranean History (Tampere: Tampere Peace Research Institute, 2001),
pp. 154– 77. Ali Birinci holds that the author is Tokadlı Mustafa Agha; Ali
Birinci, “Koca Sekbanbaşı Risalesinin Müellifi Tokadlı Mustafa Ağa (1131 –
1239)” (İzmir: İsmail Aka Armağanı, 1999), pp. 105– 20. On the other hand,
Kemal Beydilli claims that Koca Sekbanbaşı was Vasıf, an official historian and
statesman; Kemal Beydilli, “Evreka, Evreka ve Errate Humanum Est”, İlmı̂
Araştırmalar, 9 (2000), pp. 45 – 66; ibid. “Sekbanbaşı Risalesinin Müellifi
Hakkında”, Türk Kültürü İncelemeleri Dergisi, 12 (2005), pp. 221– 4. For a good
summary of the debate, see Ethan L. Menchinger, “An Ottoman Historian in
an Age of Reform: Ahmed Vâsıf Efendi (ca. 1730– 1806)”, unpublished Ph.D.
thesis (Michigan University, 2014), pp. 96 – 100.
Beydilli, “Küc ük Kaynarca’dan Tanzimat’a”, pp. 29 – 30, 35 – 6; Şakul,
“Batılılaşma ve İslami Modernleşme”, pp. 131– 40.
Adelman, “Iberian passages”, pp. 59 – 100, esp. 71 – 2.
Virginia H. Aksan, An Ottoman Statesman in War and Peace: Ahmed Resmi Efendi,
1700– 1783 (Leiden: Brill, 1995), p. 195; Beydilli, “Küc ük Kaynarca’dan
Tanzimat’a”, pp. 29 –30.
For a comprehensive analysis of the rationale of the Ottoman military reforms,
see Christopher Tuck, “All innovation leads to hellfire: military reform and the
Ottoman Empire in the eighteenth century”, The Journal of Strategic Studies,
31/3 (2008), pp. 467– 502.
Zebı̂re, p. 46
Koca Sekbanbaşı, p. 44.
Zebı̂re, p. 46.
Ibid., pp. 31, 34; Koca Sekbanbaşı, pp. 48, 66 –70.
Wilkinson, Wallachia and Moldavia, p. 222; Koca Sekbanbaşı, p. 33.
Wilkinson, Wallachia and Moldavia, p. 238, Koca Sekbanbaşı, p. 44.
Koca Sekbanbaşı, p. 67; Wilkinson, Wallachia and Moldavia, pp. 267– 8.
Timothy Mitchell, Colonising Egypt (Berkeley: University of California Press,
1991), pp. 37 – 8.
Ulrich Bröckling, Disiplin: Askeri İtaat Üretiminin Sosyolojisi ve Tarihi,
translated from German by V. Atayman (Istanbul: Ayrıntı, 2001), p. 96. See
also Khaled Fahmy, All the Pasha’s Men: Mehmed Ali, his Army and the Making of
Modern Egypt (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), p. 153; and
David Fahri, “Nizam-ı Cedid: military reform in Egypt under Mehmed Ali”,
Asian and African Studies, 8/2 (1972), pp. 151– 83.
Fahmy, All the Pasha’s Men, p. 153.
Wilkinson, Wallachia and Moldavia, p. 268.
Beydilli, “Küc ük Kaynarca’dan Tanzimat’a”, p. 33. For a copy of Brentano’s
treatise, see Öğreten, Islahat Layihaları, pp. 95 – 9. For more information on
George Joseph Friedrich Baron von Brentano (1746 – 98), see Kemal Beydilli,
“İgnatius Mouradgea D’Ohsson (Muradcan Tosunyan) Ailesi Hakkında
Kayıtlar, Nizam-ı Cedid’e Dair Layihası ve Osmanlı İmparatorluğu’ndaki
Siyasi Hayatı”, İ.Ü.E.F. Tarih Dergisi, 34 (1984), pp. 264–5.
NOTES
TO PAGES
96 –100
247
109. Koca Sekbanbaşı, p. 52.
110. For a definition of a traditional status-group, see Max Weber, Economy and
Society: An Outline of Interpretative Sociology, G. Roth and C. Wittich (eds)
(Berkeley: University of California Press, 1978), pp. 306– 7. See also Halil
İnalcık, “Comments on ‘Sultanism’: Max Weber’s typification of the Ottoman
polity”, Princeton Papers in Near Eastern Studies, I, pp. 50, 52.
111. Raymond, “Soldiers in trade”, p. 26. Some guild masters of Cairo were also
janissaries, mostly odabaşısı.
112. Kafadar, “Rebels without a cause”, pp. 118–22.
113. Staionovich, “Land tenure”, p. 400.
114. Various aspects of the transformation have been studied previously. For a
revisionist study of the myth of non-engagement (thus, purity) of the
janissaries, see Cemal Kafadar, “On the purity and corruption of the
janissaries”, Turkish Studies Association Bulletin, 15 (1991), pp. 273– 9.
115. According to Lichbach, the formal pre-existing organizations – the church
and the army – were the most important sources of collective dissent. The
army had several advantages, such as solidarity, esprit de corps, hierarchy and
discipline, communication networks and self-sufficiency. Lichbach, The Rebel’s
Dilemma, p. 145.
116. Baron de Tott, Memoirs, II, p. 147.
117. Tezcan, “The New Order and the fate of the Old”, pp. 74 – 6.
118. Mazower, City of Ghosts, pp. 96 – 9. In the late eighteenth century, janissaries
and their families constituted almost half (28,000– 30,000 individuals) of the
total population of the city. Staionovich, “Land tenure”, p. 400.
119. The ayans seem to have protected the peasantry from the abuses of the centre,
denounced unpopular appointments and protected their rights in judicial
courts and money lending in times of need. For the relations between ayans
and the commoners, see Robert Zens, “Provincial powers: the rise of Ottoman
local notables (ayans)”, History Studies, 3/3 (2011), pp. 445– 6.
120. Mourau, “Bosnian Resistance”, pp. 129– 37.
121. “[S]trangle any corps members (ocaklı) whether be janissaries or naval soldiers
(kalyoncu), but instead executed them before the eyes of all, as was done to
simple bakers.” (“Gerek yenic eri ve gerek kalyoncu hangi ocaklı olsa boğmak
bilmeyüb hemen ekmekc i gibi ala-melain-nas katl ederdi.”) Derin, “Yayla
İmamı Risalesi”, p. 253.
122. Derin, “Yayla İmamı Risalesi”, p. 253. See also Câbı̂, I, pp. 249– 50; Kıran,
“1220 Senesi”, p. 16.
123. Yves-Marie Bercé, Revolt and Revolution in Early Modern Europe: An Essay on the
History of Political Violence, translated from French by J. Bergin (Manchester:
Manchester University Press, 1987), p. 127. For a good summary of deprivation
theory in conflict analysis, see Lichbach, The Rebel’s Dilemma, pp. 4–5.
124. Tilly, “Does modernization breed revolution?”, p. 438.
125. Başaran, Policing Istanbul, p. 215. Coffeehouse owners with military affiliations
formed 83 per cent of the total.
248
NOTES
TO PAGES
100 –104
126. For various functions of the janissary coffeehouses, see Ali Çaksu, “Janissary
coffee houses in late eighteenth century Istanbul”, in D. Sajdi (ed.), Ottoman
Tulips, Ottoman Coffee: Leisure and Lifestyle in the Eighteenth Century (London: I.B.
Tauris, 2007), pp. 117– 32; Cengiz Kırlı, “Coffeehouses: public opinion in the
nineteenth century Ottoman Empire”, in A. Salvatore and D.F. Eickelman
(eds), Public Islam and the Common Good (Leiden: Brill, 2004), pp. 75 – 97.
127. Niyazi Berkes, The Development of Secularism in Turkey (London: Hurst &
Company, 1998), p. 62.
128. Esteban and Schneider, “Polarization and conflict”, p. 131. See also Delia
Baldassarri and Peter Bearman, “Dynamics of political polarization”, American
Sociological Review, 72/5 (October 2007), pp. 784– 811.
Chapter 4 Great Powers and the Ottoman Empire
1. Arbuthnot to rear admiral Louis, Pera, 25 November 1806 (PRO, FO 78 – 55,
doc. no. 5).
2. Turchin and Nefedov, Secular Cycles, p. 20.
3. For a study of the Iberian countries during the Age of Revolutions, see
Adelman, “Iberian passages”, pp. 59 – 100.
4. Carter V. Findley, Turkey, Islam, Nationalism and Modernity: A History, 1789–
2007 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2010), p. 23.
5. For more comprehensive studies on the changes of imperial diplomacy during
the reign of Selim III, see Thomas Naff, “Reform and the conduct of Ottoman
diplomacy in the reign of Selim III, 1789 –1807”, Journal of the American
Oriental Society, 83/3 (1963), pp. 295– 315; Nuri Yurdusev (ed.), Ottoman
Diplomacy: Conventional or Unconventional (New York: Palgrave Macmillan,
2004), pp. 5 – 36.
6. In discussing the Iranian Revolution of 1979, Bayat considers the link
between social mobilization and revolution as the key factor. Asef Bayat,
“Revolution without movement, movement without revolution: comparing
Islamic activism in Iran and Egypt”, Comparative Studies in Society and History,
40/1 (1998), p. 138.
7. James C. Davies, “Toward a theory of revolution”, American Sociological Review,
27/1 (1962), p. 7.
8. A similar public mood in the 1830s is detected by Cengiz Kırlı in his study of
spy reports, regarding the manifest weakness of the Ottomans against Kavalalı
Mehmed Ali Pasha. Kırlı, “Coffeehouses”, pp. 80 – 1.
9. Even among the reform proposals presented to Selim III, it is possible to see
the economic and physcological benefits of the recapture of the Crimea by the
contemporary statesmen. Tatarcık Abdullah Efendi, “Sultan III. Selim-i Salis
Devrinde Nizam-ı Devlet Hakkında Mütalaat” (the proposal of Defterdar
Mehmed Efendi), Tarih-i Osmani Encümeni Mecmuası, VII/38 (H. 1332), p. 75.
10. Karal, Selim III’ün Hatt-ı Hümayunları, p. 24. Translation by Mehmet Savan, a
friend of mine.
NOTES TO PAGES 104 –108
249
11. Virginia H. Aksan, “Locating the Ottomans among the early modern
empires”, Journal of Early Modern History, 3/3 (1999), pp. 110– 11.
12. Necib Asım, “III. Selim Devrine Ait Vesikalar”, p. 397.
13. Shaw, Between Old and New, p. 42. Even though the author argues that “the
anger of the crowd focused on the ministers rather than on the Sultan himself”,
we should not forget that it was customary for the public to direct their
discontent not directly to the sultan.
14. Peter Gran draws attention to the connection between the failure of French
agriculture to feed the rising population, especially in the South (making her
dependent on food imports) and the invasion of this rich Ottoman province to
break the Mamluk monopoly held on grain trade. Peter Gran, Islamic Roots of
Capitalism: Egypt: 1760– 1840 (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1998),
pp. 7 – 11, see also pp. 28 – 32.
15. BOA, C. S. 3886 (5 M 1217/7 May 1802); BOA, C. S. 5675 (4 Za 1216/9
March 1802). The documents are about the reception of the order in various
districts (kaza) in Rumelia. Forty eight judges of the kazas informed the centre
that the order was received.
16. Necib Asım, “III. Selim Devrine Ait Vesikalar”, p. 397. The date of the entry
is 1221/1806. These are the notes attributed to Mahmud Tayyar Pasha.
17. Öztelli, Uyan Padişahım, pp. 519– 37. Translation by Mehmet Savan, a friend
of mine.
18. Berkes, Development of Secularism, p. 85.
19. For a detailed account of the Russo-Ottoman Expedition in Corfu and the
establishment of the Republic through Russian and Ottoman intervention, see
Kahraman Şakul, “Ottoman attempts to control the Adriatic frontier in the
Napoleonic Wars”, in A. Peacock (ed.), The Frontiers of the Ottoman World: The
Proceedings of the British Academy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009),
pp. 253– 71; Şakul, Global Moment. The new status of the islands was
recognized by the Amiens Treaty (27 March 1802). Ibid. ch. 2 for an inspiring
analysis of international diplomacy in the same period. See also Shaw, Between
Old and New, p. 280.
20. Şakul, A Global Moment, pp. 456– 60. Vernon J. Puryear, Napoleon and the
Dardanelles (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1951), pp. 10– 13.
21. For more details on the articles of the Treaty, see Armand Goşu, “The Third
Anti-Napoleonic Coalition and the Sublime Porte”, International Journal of
Turkish Studies, 1 – 2/9 (Summer 2003), pp. 199 – 200; Boris Mouravieff,
L’Alliance Russo-Turque au milieu des guerres Napoléoniennes (Neuchatel:
Éditions de la Baconnière, 1954), pp. 197 – 9; Puryear, Napoleon and the
Dardanelles, p. 65.
22. BOA, HAT 1417/57933 (undated).
23. Shaw, Between Old and New, p. 335.
24. Pierre Coquelle, “Sébastiani: ambassadeur à Constantinople 1806– 1808,
d’après des documents inédits”, Revue d’Histoire Diplomatique, XVII (1904),
pp. 576– 7; Jean T. de Mesmay, Horace Sébastiani: soldat, diplomate, home d’état,
250
25.
26.
27.
28.
29.
30.
31.
32.
33.
34.
35.
NOTES
TO PAGES
108 –110
maréchal de France, 1772– 1851 (Paris: H. Champion, 1948), p. 54; Édouard
Driault, Napolyon’un Şark Siyaseti, Selim-i Salis ve Napolyon, Sébastiani ve
Gardan, translated by Köprülüzade Mehmed Fuad (Ankara: Kanaat
Kitabhanesi, 1329/1911), pp. 67 – 8. Turkish translation of some parts of
the instruction is available in BOA, HAT 5737 (undated). For a general
evaluation of the issue, see Yıldız, The Selimiyye Incident, pp. 239–43.
Puryear, Napoleon and the Dardanelles, p. 81. In BOA, HAT 5737, it is also
stated that the modernizing ideas of Selim III were well known by Napoleon
and, thus, the Porte deserves to be considered as a part of Europe.
Edward Ingram, “An aspiring buffer state: Anglo– Persian relations in the
Third Coalition, 1804– 1807”, The Historical Journal, XVI, 3 (1973),
pp. 510– 11. Of course, another purpose was to prevent Persia to ally with
France (pp. 515– 16).
The Porte never gave up on the idea of regaining this region. BOA, HAT
149/6256 (undated); from Arbuthnot to Howick, Pera, 1 December 1806
(PRO, FO 78 – 52, doc. 85).
I am currently working on this important report of the French ambassador on
Wahhabism.
Paul F. Shupp, The European Powers and The Near Eastern Question (1806 – 1807)
(New York: Columbia University Press, 1931), p. 75.
From Hammer to Stadion, Iassy (3 October 1806), doc. no. 96 (from Austrian
Consular Reports); Nicolae Jorga, Documentele Familiei Callimachi (Bucharest:
Minerva, 1902). For a general policy and the activities of the French agents in
the Principalities from 1789 to 1815, see Demétre J. Ghika, “La France et les
principautés danubiennes de 1789 à 1815”, Annales de l’École Libre des Sciences
Politiques, 11 (1896), pp. 208– 29. In reference to the Danubian region
Stefania Costache rightly states that between the 1750s and 1850s, the
Principalities became “the setting where local officials and representatives of
rival empires tested various imperial projects, creating precedents for
irreversible European intervention in the Ottoman Empire”. Stefania
Costache, “At the End of Empire: Imperial Governance, Inter-Imperial
Rivalry and “Autonomy” in Wallachia and Moldavia, 1780s – 1850s”,
unpublished Ph.D. thesis (University of Illinois, 2013), p. 3.
BOA, HAT 34/1743 (undated). For minutes of the debates in the imperial
council on the issue see, BOA, HAT 166/6956 (undated).
Shupp, European Powers, p. 150.
From Sébastiani to the Sublime Porte, 18 September 1806, in Baron Ignace de
Testa, Recueil des traités de la Porte Ottomane avec les puissances étrangères, 11 vols
(Paris: Amyot, Éditeur des Archives Diplomatiques, 1864– 1911), II,
pp. 280–97; BOA, HAT 32/1506 (undated). For the difficulties faced by the
Porte regarding the closure of the Straits to the Russian ships and the pressure
by both sides, see BOA, HAT 32/1505 (undated).
Shupp, European Powers, p. 146.
Ibid., p. 162.
NOTES
TO PAGES
110 –113
251
36. Muruzi was not very willing to be reinstated, upon the pretext that he had
been unjustly deposed and now reappointed under Russian pressure. For
further details, see BOA, HAT 1742 (undated), BOA, HAT 1757 (undated).
37. Coquelle, “Sébastiani”, p. 584; Shupp, European Powers, p. 203.
38. From Arbuthnot to Howick, Pera, 22 December 1806 (FO 78 – 52, doc. 53).
For a French copy of the proclamation, see Franc ois C.H. la Pouqueville,
Histoire de la régénération de la Grèce comprenant le précis des événements depuis 1740
jusqu’en 1824, 4 vols (Bruxelles: Nabu Press, 1843), II, pp. 175–6.
39. Asım, I, p. 204.
40. Arbuthnot to Howick, Pera, 15 January 1808 (PRO, FO, 78 – 55).
41. BOA, HAT 166/6956 (undated).
42. Napoleon to Selim III, Berlin, 11 November 1806, in Testa, Recueil des traités,
II, pp. 281– 2, 284– 5.
43. BOA, A. AMD. 51/18 (25 L 1221/14 January 1806); BOA, A. AMD. 52/17
(undated). For a summary of the debates passed during the war council
whereby a fatwa was received, see BOA, HAT 91/3715 (undated).
44. BOA, HAT 6090 (undated); Testa, Recueil des traités, II, pp. 289– 90 (French
copy).
45. BOA, A. AMD. 51/18 (25 L 1221/4 January 1806); BOA, A. AMD. 52/17
(undated).
46. Arbuthnot to Howick, Pera, 26 December 1806 (PRO, FO 78 – 52, doc.
no. 85).
47. Arbuthnot to rear admiral Louis, Pera, 26 November 1806 (PRO, FO, 78 – 52,
doc. no. 52); Arbuthnot to Howick, Pera, 26 December 1806 (PRO, FO, 78 –
52, doc. no. 95).
48. Arbuthnot to a senior officer of His Majesty’s ships of war at the Dardanelles,
Büyükdere, 20 October 1806 (PRO, FO, 78 – 52).
49. For requests of the ambassador from the Porte and some further details, see
Arbuthnot to Howick, Pera, 27 January 1807 (PRO, FO, 78 – 52, doc. no. 3);
Arbuthnot to Galib Efendi, 26 January 1807 (PRO, FO, 78 – 55); BOA, HAT
166/6971 (16 Za 1221/25 January 1807); BOA, HAT 177/7754 (undated).
50. Driault, Selim-i Salis ve Napolyon, p. 94. For a discussion of motives for secretly
leaving the city, see Yıldız, The Selimiyye Incident, pp. 273– 5.
51. Bartholomew Pizani was the second in rank of Great Britain’s dragomans. The
Pizani family served 11 British ambassadors without a break. Alexander H. de
Groot, “‘Dragomans’ careers: change of status in some families connected with
British and Dutch embassies at Istanbul, 1785–1829”, in A. Hamilton, A.H.
de Groot and M.H. van den Boogert (eds), Friends and Rivals in the East: Studies
in Anglo–Dutch Relations in the Levant from the Seventeenth to the Early Nineteenth
Century (Leiden: Brill, 2000), pp. 223–46. Pizani had accompanied the British
ambassador in his flight, but returned from the Dardanelles in order to inform
the Ottoman grand admiral that the ambassador had escaped due to his fear of
being imprisoned in Yedi Kule (Seven Towers) dungeons. BOA, HAT 168/7094
(23 Za 1221/1 February 1807); Ebubekir Efendi, Asiler ve Gaziler, p. 99.
252
NOTES
TO PAGES
114 –116
52. For details of the passage, see Yıldız, The Selimiyye Incident, pp. 279– 81.
53. The Times, Saturday, 18 April 1807, 7925, p. 2, col. A; Shupp, The European
Powers, p. 382; Michel Prévost, “Constantinople en 1806 et 1807”, Revue
Contemporaine, XIV (1854), p. 172; William James, The Naval History of Great
Britain: From the Declaration of War by France in February 1793, to the Accession of
George IV in January 1820, 6 vols (London: Baldwin, Cradock & Joy, 1826), IV,
p. 437.
54. Translation of the note from the French consular at Çanakkale (Dardanelles) to
Sébastiani. BOA, HAT 159/6639 (undated).
55. Saint-Denys, Révolutions de Constantinople, II, pp. 57, 64.
56. Driault, Selim-i Salis ve Napolyon, p. 103.
57. The Times, Wednesday, 25 March 1807, 7006, p. 2, col. F; Saint-Denys,
Révolutions de Constantinople, II, p. 71; Cevdet Paşa, Tarih, VIII, p. 113.
58. Prévost, “Constantinople en 1806”, pp. 172–3; Saint-Denys, Révolutions de
Constantinople, II, p. 72; Armand Lefebvre, Histoire des cabinets de l’Europe, pendant
le Consulat et l’Empire, écrite avec les documents réunis aux archives des affaires
Étrangères, 1800–1845 (Bruxelles: Meline, Cans et Compaigne, 1847), p. 58.
59. BOA, HAT 169/7178 (undated). See also Lefebvre, Histoire des cabinets de
l’Europe, p. 59.
60. The Times, Saturday, 18 April 1807, 7025, p. 2, col. A. Jacques Peuchet,
Campaigns of the Armies of France in Prussia, Saxony and Poland under the
Command of the Emperor and King in MDCCVI and VII, 4 vols, translated from
French into English by S. Mackay (Boston: Farrand, Mallory and Co., 1808),
IV, p. 227. According to Sébastiani, three officers sent by Marmont arrived at
the capital on 22 February. Édouard Driault, “Correspondance du général
Sébastiani, ambassadeur à Constantinople, du 24 décembre 1806 au 10 mars
1807, Revue des Études Napoléoniennes, 2/4 (1913), p. 413.
61. Asım, I, pp. 232– 3; Necib, Sultan Selim, pp. 18 – 20. For a list of batteries, see
Saint-Denys, Révolutions de Constantinople, II, pp. 261– 2; Peuchet, Campaigns,
III, pp. 232– 3. For the defensive regions, see Yıldız, The Selimiyye Incident,
pp. 86 – 7.
62. Driault, “Correspondance du général Sébastiani”, p. 422; Driault, Selim-i Salis
ve Napolyon, p. 108.
63. From Arbuthnot to Howick, Royal George off the Dardannelles, 6 March
1807 (PRO, FO 78 – 55, doc. no. 16).
64. The Times, Friday, 17 April 1807, 7024, p. 4, col. C. Driault, depending on the
data from Le Moniteur Universel, states that 137 British soldiers were killed and
416 wounded. The actual number may be somewhere in between. Driault,
Selim-i Salis ve Napolyon, p. 114.
65. Driault, “Correspondance du général Sébastiani’, p. 413; Driault, Selim-i Salis
ve Napolyon, p. 103; Lefebvre, Histoire des cabinets de l’Europe, p. 58.
66. Asım, I, pp. 225– 7; Beydilli, Bir İmamın Günlüğü, p. 103. Since it was a
religious festival, the number of people gathering should have increased
considerably.
NOTES
TO PAGES
116 –121
253
67. Edward Raczynski, 1814’te İstanbul ve Çanakkale’ye Seyahat, translated into
Turkish by Kemal Turan (Istanbul: Tercüman, 1980), p. 58.
68. Yeşil, “İngiliz Filosu”, p. 462.
69. Saint-Denys, Révolutions du Constantinople, II, p. 87; Prevost, “Constantinople
en 1806”, p. 175; Driault, “Correspondance du général Sébastiani”, p. 403.
70. Nicolae Jorga, Osmanlı İmparatorluğu Tarihi, 5 vols, V, translated into Turkish
by Nilüfer Epc eli (Istanbul: Yeditepe, 2009), p. 149.
71. From Arbuthnot to Howick, Royal George off the Dardanelles, 6 March 1807
(PRO, FO, 78 – 55, doc. no. 16).
72. HHSA Türkei VI/1 as cited in Yeşil, “İngiliz Filosu”, 460n216.
73. BOA, C. AS. 8490 (22 Z 1224/28 January 1810). The record is an imperial
edict confirming the tax exemption of a certain Yorgi, son of Yani, who was
among the 42 Christians granted the above-mentioned exemption.
74. Ebubekir Efendi, Asiler ve Gaziler, pp. 103– 4. Ebubekir Efendi does not
provide the name of the assassin but praises/describes him as “diyanet
ashabından bir kavı̂-himmet sıdk-ı inayetin.”
75. Asım, I, p. 236, II, p. 18: “İngilizlü ve Moskovlu bizim ic imizde imiş.
Şevketlü padişahımız beyhude telaş u ıztırâba düştü. Acaba bunlar İstanbul’u
düşmana verdikde zâhir kendüleri kral olacaklardır.”
76. Wilkinson, Wallachia and Moldavia, pp. 107– 8.
77. Asım, I, pp. 236– 7. Italics are mine. The British were also expecting an
upheaval in the city, especially by bombarding the state buildings. Yeşil,
“İngiliz Filosu”, p. 481.
78. Asım, I, p. 237.
79. Câbı̂, I, p. 110: “İngilize gel dediler geldi ve git dediler gitti bunda bir mâdde
vardır.”
80. Ebubekir Efendi, Vaka-yı Cedid, p. 16.
81. Zinkeisen, Osmanlı, VII, p. 322.
82. The same mood finds echoes in a document dating from the reign of Mahmud
II. BOA, HAT 17078 (undated). Immediately after its departure from
Istanbul, the British fleet met a Russian fleet off Bozca Ada under the
command of Admiral Seniavin. The admiral had suggested that they should
stage a joint expedition against the Ottoman capital. Duckworth, however,
refrained from a second attempt. The Russian admiral attempted to capture
the Fortress of Bozca Ada with seven or eight ships. On 15 May, he demanded
the commander of the fortress to surrender. Upon being refused, he attacked
and gained the control of the fortress. After that, the Russian general
transported the Turkish families and soldiers to the Asian coast. The ultimate
aim of Seniavin was to march directly against Istanbul, but he lacked the
means to achieve this goal.
83. BOA, HAT 1437, as cited in Yeşil, “İngiliz Filosu”, p. 465.
84. Peuchet, Campaigns, IV, p. 228.
85. Shupp, European Powers, p. 537.
86. From Arbuthnot to Howick, Pera, 26 December 1806 (PRO, FO, 78 – 52).
254
NOTES
TO PAGES
121 –126
87. Şakul, A Global Moment, p. 51.
88. BOA, HAT 5737 (undated); BOA, HAT 166/6956 (undated); from Napoleon
to Selim III, cited in Testa, Recueil des traités, II, pp. 277– 8.
89. Peuchet, Campaigns, IV, p. 228.
90. Driault, “Correspondance du général Sébastiani”, p. 419. For the discontent
among the public not only for his immense prestige but also for a grant of
decoration to a non-Muslim, see Bielfeld, letter dated 24 March 1807, as cited
in Zinkeisen, Osmanlı, VII, p. 322.
91. Lefebvre, Histoire des cabinets de l’Europe, p. 68; Driault, Selim-i Salis ve
Napolyon, pp. 115–16.
92. Lefebvre, Histoire des cabinets de l’Europe, p. 68.
93. Driault, Selim-i Salis ve Napolyon, pp. 115– 16.
94. BOA, HAT 139/5734.A (11 M 1222/21 March 1807): “Birkac Fransa
ofc iyalleri taleb buyurmuş olmalarıyla taraf-ı hümâyûnlarına irsâl ederim.
Birkac bin nefer talep buyurmadıklarına teessüf ve tahazzün etdim. Yalnız 500
nefer taleb buyurdukları anda hareket etmeleri üzere tenbı̂h ederim.” In the
same letter, it is also stated that a certain amount of artillery and artillerymen
were already sent.
95. BOA, A. AMD. 53/3 (17 M 1222/27 March 1807). A translation of the
minutes of a debate in the British parliament.
96. From Arbuthnot to Spencer, 30 October 1806 (PRO, FO, 78 – 52, doc.
no. 72).
97. Şakul, A Global Moment, p. 94.
98. BOA, 131/5426.A (undated).
99. BOA, HAT 6101 (Minutes of the council held on 6 S 1222/14 April 1807):
“Bir devlet bir devlet ile ittifâk eyledikde asker imrâr eylemek muktezâ-ı
ittifâkdandır. İrâe eyledim. Asker kabul olunmamakla bu ittifâkdan ne semer
hasıl olur?”
100. BOA, HAT 131/5426 (undated); BOA, HAT 6101 (Minutes of the council
held on 6 S 1222/14 April 1807); BOA, HAT 143/5929 (undated); Cevdet
Paşa, Tarih, VIII, pp. 138– 9.
101. Lefebvre, Histoire des cabinets de l’Europe, p. 112; Shupp, European Powers,
pp. 476 –7.
102. İlhan Bardakc ı, “Buna ne Buyrulur”, İmparatorluğa Veda, 4th edn (Istanbul:
Alioğlou, 2002), pp. 219 – 20: “İki önceki hükümdar Selim’n devrilmesinde
büyük payı olan Yenic eri ocağı üzerinde o zamanki selefimiz Sébastiani’nin
kullandığı usul, şimdi bu günlerde ne derece uygulanabilir? Ancak
Sébastiani Horacel’in c ok muhkem ve emin aracılarla kendisini hissettiren
başarı kazandığı günlerin şansına bugün pek sahib değiliz. Mora’daki isyan
İstanbul’da Sébastiani’nin ordu merkezindeki faydalı c alışmaları gibi
sonuc lanabilirse, müteveffa Napolyon tarafından düşünülen Akdeniz
hakimiyetindeki yerimizi almamız bakımından bize sadece sevinmek düşer.”
103. Cevdet Paşa, Tarih, VIII, p. 151.
104. Puryear, Napoleon and the Dardannelles, pp. 189– 90.
NOTES
TO PAGES
126 –130
255
105. “Une révolution a eu lieu à Constantinople. Le sultan Sélim et douze des
principaux de la Porte ont été égorgés par les janissaries. Le sultan Moustafa a
été mise sur le trône. La cause de cette insurrection du peuple vient du progrès
des Serviens et du peu d’énergie dont les janissaries se plaignent de la part du
gouvernement. Ils accusaient les ministers de s’entendre avec les Serviens et les
Russes. La nouveau sultan a proclamé qu’il ne ferait point la paix avec les
Russes que les anciennes frontières ne soient rétablies et la Crimée reconquise.”
Édouard Driault, Napoléon et l’Europe: Tilsit, France et Russie sous le premier empire:
la question de Pologne, 1806– 1809 (Paris: Félix Alcan, 1917), p. 168.
106. Dusan T. Batakovich, “A Balkan style French Revolution: the 1804 Serbian
uprising in a European perspective”, Balcanica, XXXVI (2006), pp. 123– 5.
107. Çetin Börekc i, Osmanlı İmparatorluğu’nda Sırp Meselesi (Istanbul: Kutup
Yıldızı, 2001), p. 80. See also Shupp, European Powers, pp. 177–82; Shaw,
Between Old and New, pp. 343, 350; Stanford J. Shaw, “The Ottoman Empire
and the Serbian uprising”, Studies in Ottoman and Turkish History: Life with the
Ottomans (Istanbul: ISIS, 2000), p. 85.
108. Asım, II, pp. 16 – 17. For a chain of borrowings, see Cevdet Paşa, Tarih, VIII,
p. 152.
109. “References” in PRO, FO, 78 – 60; Saint-Denys, Révolutions de Constantinople,
II, pp. 149– 50. Both sources argue that Sébastiani met with the chief after
noticing his influence in the aftermath of the uprising and to exert pressure on
the Porte through this friendship. Miller notes that it was Alexander Sutzo
who provided the connection. Miller, Mustapha Pacha Bairakdar, p. 204.
110. TSMA, E. 1756 (undated). The document seems to have belonged to the reign
of Mustafa IV, since it is declared that Kabakc ı Mustafa IV granted 1,000 guruş
sign-up bonus (bahşiş) to the retinue of the ambassador during the dinner
party. Spending such amounts of money would have been a luxury for a rebel
chief before the uprising.
111. In a similar manner, Yi also comments for the rebellious guildsmen of 1651:
“Given that their political opinion already formed before the rebellion, one
cannot assume that guildsmens” daily lives were devoid of politics. While this
is a little known aspect of their lives, they must have observed with keen eyes
the tumultuous political developments in the first half of the seventeenth
century. Though it remains questionable whether guildsmen could acquire
correct and detailed information about current political events, they were by
no means isolated from the rest of the society.” Yi, Guild Dynamics, p. 227.
Chapter 5
Elite Rivalry
1. A comment by Sébastiani, as cited in Shupp, European Powers, p. 234.
2. Nefedov and Turchin, Secular Cycles, p. 10; Goldstone, “East and West”, p. 120.
3. For his model of elite conflict, see his “Greed and contingency: state fiscal
crises and imperial failure in early modern Europe”, American Journal of
Sociology, 115/1 (July 2009), p. 56.
256
NOTES TO PAGES 131 –133
4. Turchin and Nefedov, Secular Cycles, p. 13.
5. For a suggestive reading of the French Revolution from this perspective, see
John R. Gillis, “Political decay and the European Revolutions, 1789– 1848”,
World Politics, 22/3 (1970), pp. 344– 70.
6. A tentative list, drawing on some contemporary sources and modern studies,
includes: Ibrahim Reşid Efendi, Ibrahim Nesim Efendi, Mustafa Reşid Efendi,
Sırkatibi Ahmed Efendi, Mehmed Raşid Efendi, Tatarcık Abdullah Efendi,
Mabeynci Ahmed Bey, Ebubekir Ratıb Efendi, Küc ük Hüseyin Pasha,
Ibrahim Ismet Beyefendi, Mahmud Raif Efendi. Though less mentioned, our
list may be extented to include: Abdüllatif Efendi (Pasha), Kadı Abdurrahman
Pasha, Abdullah Ramiz Efendi (Pasha); Ahmed Esad Efendi, Ahmed Safi
Efendi, Darbhane Emini Ebubekir Bey, Mehmed Said Galib Efendi, Hasan
Şakir Bey, Veliefendizâde Mehmed Emin Efendi, Mehmed Emin Behic Efendi,
Mehmed Memiş Efendi, Mustafa Refik Efendi, Mehmed Tahsin Efendi,
Samanı̂zâde Ömer Hulusi Efendi, Yusuf Agha, Cabbarzâde Süleyman Bey and
Mustafa Rasih Efendi.
7. Norman Itzkowitz, “Eighteenth century Ottoman realities,” Studia Islamica,
16 (1962), pp. 88 – 9.
8. Mehmed Raşid Efendi (reisülküttab 1792– 4; 1797– 8); Mehmed Galib Efendi
(Pasha) (reisülküttab: 1806–7; 1808– 11; 1812); Mahmud Raif Efendi
(reisülküttab: 1800– 5); Mustafa Refik Efendi (1807– 8).
9. For the diplomatic history of the period, see Naff, “Reform and the conduct of
Ottoman diplomacy”; Jacob C. Hurewitz, “The europeanization of Ottoman
diplomacy: the conversion from unilateralism to reciprocity in the nineteenth
century”, Belleten, XXV (1961), pp. 455–66; Mehmet A. Yalc ınkaya, “Mahmud
Raif Efendi as the Chief Secretary to Yusuf Agha Efendi, the First Permanent
Ottoman–Turkish Ambassador to London (1793–1797)”, Journal of the Center
for Ottoman Studies (OTAM), 5 (1994), pp. 385–434; Faik R. Unat, Osmanlı
Sefirleri ve Sefaretnameleri, Bekir S. Baykal (ed.) (Ankara: Türk Tarih Kurumu
Basimevi, 1987); Ercümend Kuran, Avrupa’da Osmanlı İkamet Elcilerinin
Kuruluşu İlk Elcilerin Siyasi Faaliyetleri (Ankara: TAEK Yayınları, 1968);
A. Nuri Yurdusev (ed.), Ottoman Diplomacy: Conventional or Unconventional?
(Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004). For a general list of the literature on
the diplomatic history of the Porte, see Mehmet A. Yalc ınkaya, “Kuruluştan
Tanzimat’a Osmanlı Diplomasi Tarihi Literatürü”, Türkiye İlmi Araştırmaları
Literatür Dergisi, I/2 (2003), pp. 423–89.
10. For his life and works, see İsmail H. Uzunc arşılı, “Tosyalı Ebubekir Ratıb
Efendi”, Belleten, XXXIX/153 (1975), pp. 49– 76; Fatih Yeşil, Aydınlanma
Çağında Bir Osmanlı Katibi: Ebubekir Ratıb Efendi (1750 – 1799) (Istanbul:
Tarih Vakfı Yurt Yayınları, 2011); Fatih Bayram, “Ebubekir Ratıb Efendi as an
Envoy of Knowledge Between East and West”, unpublished M.A. thesis
(Bilkent University, 2000); Sema Arıkan, “Ebubekir Ratıb Efendi”, DİA
(Istanbul: İSAM, 1994), Sema Arıkan, “Nizam-ı Cedit’in Kaynaklarından
Ebubekir Ratıb Efendi’nin Büyük Layihası”, unpublished Ph.D. thesis
NOTES
11.
12.
13.
14.
15.
16.
TO PAGES
133 –136
257
(Istanbul University, 1996); Aysel Yıldız, “Şehzade’ye Öğütler: Ebubekir
Ratıb Efendi’nin Şehzade Selim’e (III) Bir Mektubu”, Osmanlı Araştırmaları,
XLII (2013), pp. 233– 74.
Es-seyyid Ibrahim Ismet Beyefendi’s father was Raif Ismail Pasha.
Bostancıbaşı Şakir Bey was the son of Ahmed Pasha, and Mabeynci Ahmed
Bey was son of Halil Pasha.
Sharon Kettering, “Clientage during the French wars of religion”, The Sixteenth
Century Journal, 20/2 (Summer, 1989), p. 223. For some works on political
clientelism, see Samuel N. Eisenstadt and Louis Roniger, “Patron-client
relations as a model of structuring social exchanges”, Comparative Studies in
Society and History, XXII (1980), pp. 42 – 78; Steffen Schmidt, James
C. Sharon Kettering, “Clientage during the French wars of religion”, The
Sixteenth Century Journal, 20/2 (Summer, 1989), p. 223. For some works on
political clientelism, see Samuel N. Eisenstadt and Louis Roniger, “Patronclient relations as a model of structuring social exchanges”, Comparative Studies in
Society and History, XXII (1980), pp. 42–78; Steffen Schmidt, James C. Scott,
Carl Lande and Laura Guasti (eds), Friends, Followers and Factions: A Reader in
Political Clientelism (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1977); Sharon,
Kettering, “The historical development of political clientelism”, Journal of
Interdisciplinary History, 18/3 (Winter 1988), pp. 419–47; Ernest Gellner and
John Waterbury (eds), Patrons and Clients in Mediterranean Societies (London:
Duckworth, 1977); René Lemarchand and Keith Legg, “Political clientelism
and development: a preliminary analysis”, Comparative Politics, IV (1972),
pp. 149–78; Sharon Kettering, “Patronage in early modern France”, French
Historical Studies, 17/4 (Autumn, 1992), pp. 839–62, Carl Lande and Laura
Guasti (eds), Friends, Followers and Factions: A Reader in Political Clientelism
(Berkeley: University of California Press, 1977); Sharon, Kettering, “The
historical development of political clientelism”, Journal of Interdisciplinary
History, 18/3 (Winter 1988), pp. 419–47; Ernest Gellner and John Waterbury
(eds), Patrons and Clients in Mediterranean Societies (London: Duckworth, 1977);
René Lemarchand and Keith Legg, “Political clientelism and development:
a preliminary analysis”, Comparative Politics, IV (1972), pp. 149–78; Sharon
Kettering, “Patronage in early modern France”, French Historical Studies, 17/4
(Autumn, 1992), pp. 839–62.
He rapidly rose in this department, and became serhalife, mektubcu, silahdar
katibi and again mektubcu. On 4 B 1201/22 April 1787, he was appointed as
the mektubi-i sadr-ali in the army, together with the serdar-ı ekrem at Mehadiye.
Necib, Sultan Selim, p. 66. His other brother, Mustafa Agha, was employed as
the steward to Yusuf Ziya Pasha.
Namely Elhac Ibrahim Efendi, Mustafa Reşid Efendi, Tatarcık Abdullah
Molla, Mehmed Raşid Efendi, Veliefendizâde Mehmed Emin Efendi and
Salihzâde Ahmed Esad Efendi.
For further details on reform proposals, see Enver Z. Karal, “Nizam-ı Cedid’e
Dair Layihalar, 1792”, Tarih Vesikaları, I/6 (1942), pp. 414– 25, II/8 (1942),
258
17.
18.
19.
20.
21.
22.
23.
24.
25.
26.
NOTES
TO PAGES
136 –139
pp. 104– 11, II/11 (1943), pp. 342– 51, II/12 (1943), pp. 424– 33; Ergin
Çağman, III. Selim’e Sunulan Islahat Lâyihaları (Istanbul: Kitabevi, 2010);
Ahmet Öğreten, Nizam-ı Cedid’e Dair Islahat Layihaları (Ankara: TTK, 2014).
For the general place of these proposals in the tradition of Ottoman reforms,
see Beydilli, “Küc ük Kaynarca’dan Tanzimat’a”, pp. 30 – 4, Şakul,
“Batılılaşma ve İslami Modernleşme”, pp. 121– 4.
Armitage and Subrahmanyam, “Introduction”, The Age of Revolutions, p. xxiii.
The eponym “mujaddid” (renewer) comes from the identification of Ahmad
Sirhindı̂ (d. 1624), the founder of the branch, as the “renewer of the Second
Millenium”. His strong emphasis on sunna and sharia and concern with
avoiding innovation (bid’ad) are well known. Itzchak Weismann, The
Naqshbandiyya: Orthodoxy and Activism in a Worldwide Sufi Tradition (London,
New York: Routledge, 2007), pp. 49 – 50, 56 – 61.
Butrus Abu-Manneh, “Introduction: the Ottoman upper classes and Islam: the
nineteenth century”, Studies on Islam and the Ottoman Empire in the 19th Century
(1826 – 1876) (Istanbul: ISIS, 2001), p. 8. For a study of early Ottoman
Naqshbandı̂s (fifteenth to eighteenth century), see Dina LeGall “Forgotten
Naqshbandı̂s and the culture of pre-modern Sufi brotherhoods”, Studia
Islamica, 97 (2003), pp. 87 –119.
Zebı̂re, pp. 14 – 15.
Şakul, “Batılılaşma ve İslami Modernleşme”, pp. 139–40.
Zebı̂re, p. 5. Shaikh Galib (d. 1799), the famous Mawlawi mystic, also
presented Selim III as a renovator of the Empire through his military reforms,
as well as the Mahdi of the age: “It is that Padişah who gives the goodness of
order to important matters of state / Just like the Mehdi who is the Possessor of
the Appointed Time (sahib-i zaman).” As cited in George W. Gawrych, “Şeyh
Galib and Selim III: Mevlevism and the Nizam-ı Cedid”, International Journal
of Turkish Studies, 4/1 (Summer 1987), pp. 107– 8.
Nikki R. Keddie, “The revolt of Islam, 1700 to 1993: comparative
considerations and relations to imperialism”, Comparative Studies in History and
Society, 36/3 (July 1994), pp. 468– 9.
Keddie, “The revolt of Islam”, pp. 469– 70. Nehemia Levtzion and John
O. Voll, Eighteenth-Century Renewal and Reform in Islam (Syracuse: Syracuse
University Press, 1987); Levtzion and Voll, “Introduction”, pp. 5 – 6.
Neo-sufism, as defined by Voll, is a term used by scholars, including Nehemia
Levtzion, to describe “a set of movements of Islamic revival”. For debates on
neo-sufism, see O’Fahey and Radtke, “Neo-Sufism reconsidered”, pp. 56 – 61;
John O. Voll, “Neo-Sufism: reconsidered again”, Canadian Journal of African
Studies, 42/2 – 3 (2008), pp. 314– 30. Alexander Kynsh, “Sufism as an
explanatory paradigm: the issue of the motivations of Sufi resistance
movements in Western and Russian scholarship”, Die Welt des Islams, New
Series 42/2 (2002), pp. 139– 73.
Peter Gran, while not outrightly rejecting the socio-economic influence of
Europe, connects the religious revival in Egyptian society to the commercial
NOTES
27.
28.
29.
30.
31.
32.
33.
34.
TO PAGES
139 –140
259
revolution in Egypt in the mid-eighteenth century, which in turn stimulated
an intellectual revival, and finds that modern Egyptian society is a product of
indigenous developments of this period. The increased interest in the hadith
tradition and the rise of a critical consciousness among scholars were among
the most important symptoms of this revival (1760 –90), alongside a revival
in literature, history and the language sciences. Hadith studies were later
replaced by kelam and fıqh. Gran, Islamic Roots of Capitalism, chapters three and
four.
Juan Cole, “Playing the Muslim: Bonaparte’s army of the Orient and Euro –
Muslim creolization”, in D. Armitage and S. Subrahmanyam (eds), The Age of
Revolutions, pp. 137– 8.
Özhan Kapıcı, “Bir Osmanlı Mollasının Fikir Dünyasından Fragmanlar:
Kec ecizâde İzzet Molla ve II. Mahmud Dönemi Osmanlı Siyaset Düşüncesi”,
Osmanlı Araştırmaları, XLII (2013), p. 286.
For Schulze, the rise of subjectivity and self-consciousness, anthropocentrism
rather than theocentrism, originality and the emancipation of the social
middle class from those who ruled the state, were the main features. Reinhard
Schulze, “Das islamische achtzehnte Jahrhundert: Versuch einer historiographischen Kritik”, Die Welt des Islams, 30 (1990), pp. 140– 59.
Rudolp Peters, “Reinhard Schulze’s quest for an Islamic Enlightentment”, Die
Welt des Islams, 30 (1990), pp. 160– 2; Bern Radtke, “Sufism in the eighteenth
century: an attempt at a provisional appraisal”, Die Welt des Islams, New Series
36/3, Islamic Enlightenment in the Eighteenth Century? (November 1996),
pp. 326 – 64. O’Fahey and Radtke reject a reformed neo-sufism by
emphasizing the continuities in the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century
mystical movements. O’Fahey and Radtke, “Neo-Sufism reconsidered”, Der
Islam, 70/1 (1993), pp. 52 – 87. According to Voll, the Islamic Enlightenment
was a long process which had deeper roots in the earlier centuries, and the
eighteenth century is marked by a fundamentalist spirit. See also Basheer
M. Nafi, “Tasawwuf and reform in pre-Islamic culture”, Die Welt des Islams,
42/3 (2002), pp. 307– 35. Some authors also argue that the origins of today’s
Islamic fundamentalism are rooted in eighteenth-century revivalist movements, such as Wahhabism. For a criticism of the continuity of a single
“fundamentalist mode of Islam”, see Ahmad Dallal, “The origins and
objectives of Islamic revivalist thought, 1750– 1850”, Journal of the American
Society, 113/3 (1993), pp. 341– 59.
Enver F. Kisriev and Robert Bruce Ware, “Political hegemony and Islamic
resistance: ideology and political organization in Dagestan 1800– 1930”,
Middle Eastern Studies, 42/3 (2006), pp. 493– 504.
Levtzion and Voll, “Introduction”, pp. 10 – 11.
Şakul, “Batılılaşma ve İslami Modernleşme”, pp. 140, 149.
The history of the Naqshbandı̂ religious order goes back to fourteenth-century
Buhara. It played a considerable role in the conversion of Central Asia, and
spread into Anatolia and India around the seventeenth century. The Mujaddidı̂
260
35.
36.
37.
38.
39.
40.
NOTES
TO PAGES
140 –141
branch developed in India and the Khalidiyya branch in Syria. Both branches
were local revivalist – and puritanist – Islamic religious orders, which held
the ideals of the improvement of the umma and the revival of Islam from
degeneration.
Manneh, “Introduction: the Ottoman upper classes and Islam”, pp. 7 – 8.
The first was built by grand vizier Izzet Mehmed Pasha in November 1795 for
Ömer Rızaı̂ Darendevı̂ (d. 1824), a deputy of shaikh Bursavı̂ Mehmed Emin
Efendi. Izzet Mehmed Pasha and Darendevı̂ were close and the former had also
married off one of his concubines to the latter. Another Naqshbandı̂ tekke was
built by Samanı̂zâde Ömer Hulusi Efendi – a former shaikh al-Islam and a
name mentioned among the reformist camp – in 1800 at Fatih Otlukc ular
Yokuşu. Ibrahim Nesim Efendi also built a tekke for shaikh Selami Efendi,
from Izmir. Selami Efendi’s father belonged to the Kadiriye religious order and
he himself had travelled to a variety of places and countries, such as Persia,
Buhara, Belh, India, Egypt and Baghdad. He arrived in Istanbul after eight or
ten years of travel. His arch enemy, Ebubekir Efendi, argues that during his
long journey, Selami Efendi learnt only “tricks” and “devices” and “tough
talks” sufficient to deceive ignorant people. Yet, it seems that his travels were
for more serious religious purposes, because these places were important
centres of the Naqshbandı̂ circles. Indeed, Selami Efendi got a Naqshbandı̂
diploma (icazet) in Buhara. In Istanbul, he was fortunate enough to enter the
upper echelons of urban society and enjoy the patronage of Ibrahim Nesim
Efendi, who built him a tekke in Eyüp in 1798. This is exactly the reason why
Ebubekir Efendi, the second author of Fezleke, blames Nesim Efendi for
believing in serving such ignorant shaikhs.
Among the bureaucrats, Ebubekir Ratıb Efendi (a disciple of shaikh
Ataullah Efendi), Ibrahim Nesim Efendi, Mehmed Tahsin Efendi, Mustafa
Refik Efendi, Mahmud Raif Efendi and Raşidzâde Cafer Bey were all
members of the same order. Among the ilmiye members of the reformists,
Ibrahim Ismet Beyefendi had affiliations with the order and was a disciple of
Nimetullah Efendi, one of the shaikhs of the Selimiyye Naqshbandı̂ tekke.
Kadı Abdurrahman Pasha, one of the powerful magnates of Anatolia, who
also acted as commander of the Nizam-ı Cedid army, had some type of
connections with this order. As stated previously, he had encouraged the
Naqshbandı̂ dervish Ubeydullah Kuşmânı̂ to write a treatise propagating the
Nizam-ı Cedid reforms.
A saying by Sirhindı̂, as cited in Abu-Manneh, “The rise and expansion of the
Naqshbandi-Khalidi suborder in early 19th century”, Studies on Islam, p. 24.
Ahmad S. Dallal, “The origins and early development of Islamic reform”, in
R.W. Hefner (ed.) The New Cambridge History of Islam – Muslims and Modernity:
Culture and Society since 1800, vol. 6 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,
2011), p. 110. Dallal does not specifically talk about the Naqshbandı̂, but I
think this observation is also relevant to this religious order.
Abu-Manneh, “The rise and expansion”, p. 14.
NOTES
TO PAGES
141 –145
261
41. O’Fahey and Radtke, “Neo-Sufism reconsidered”, pp. 53 –87.
42. Abu-Manneh, “Introduction”, Studies on Islam, p. 7.
43. The first was represented by Muhammed Masum, Sihrindi’s son, in the
seventeenth century, and the second by Ahmed Joryani Yekdest (d. 1707– 8)
in the eighteenth century. Mehmed Emin Efendi was a continuation of the
Yekdest chain. Some deputies of this chain kept ties with the Mevlevi order,
and Emin Efendi also followed the same tradition. For more details, see AbuManneh, “The rise and expansion”, p. 18.
44. TSMA, E. 4227– 48 (undated). Unfortunately, the name of the shaikh is not
mentioned in the relevant document. Apparently, there were four Naqshbandı̂Mujaddidı̂ tekkes around Eyüp during this period: Eyüp Murad Buharı̂ (Şeyh
Murad) tekke, Kaşgarı̂ tekke, Olukbayır tekke and Şeyh Selami Efendi tekke.
45. Olivier, Travels, I, p. 210 notes that: “This council, unfortunately composed of
members enemies among themselves, jealous of each other, more taken up
with themselves than with the happiness of the State, is far from having
accomplished the intentions of Selim.” See also Mehmet A. Yalc ınkaya, “Sir
Robert Liston’un İstanbul Büyükelc iliği (1794– 1795) ve Osmanlı Devleti
Hakkında Düşünceleri”, Osmanlı Araştırmaları, VIII (1998), p. 203.
46. James C. Scott, “Patron-client politics and political change in Southeast Asia”,
The American Political Science Review, 66/1 (March 1972), pp. 101, 103.
47. Kemal Beydilli, “Şehzâde Elc isi Safiyesultanzâde İshak Bey”, İslam
Araştırmaları Dergisi, 3 (1999), pp. 73 – 81.
48. Shaw, Between Old and New, pp. 369– 70; Uzunc arşılı, “Dış Ruzname”, p. 656.
49. Asım, I, p. 256; Vasıf, Mehâsinü’l-Âsâr, XXXI, XXXII. Available clues
suggest that he was especially hostile to Tatarcık Abdullah Molla and Ahmed
Vasıf Efendi, causing their banishment by presenting a visit of theirs to
Şemseddin Molla, the judge of Istanbul, as a plot against the sultan – to be
released after the dismissal of Mehmed Raşid. According to Naff, the basic
problem with Tatarcık Abdullah and Mehmed Raşid was that the latter
received a considerable bribe from a foreign power (probably the French) and
the former’s criticism of this corrupt practice. For more details, see Naff,
Ottoman Diplomacy, pp. 48 – 52.
50. Shaw, Between Old and New, p. 371.
51. Mehmet A. Yalc ınkaya, “Türk Diplomasisinin Modernleşmesinde Reisülküttab Mehmed Raşid Efendi’nin Rolü”, Osmanlı Araştırmaları, XXI (2001),
p. 132.
52. Shaw, Between Old and New, p. 372. Dürrizâde, who under the influence of Izzet
Mehmed Pasha was reluctant to issue a fatwa sanctioning war against the
French, was also dismissed.
53. Ibid.
54. The foreign policy of Yusuf Ziya Pasha is not so clear. Yet, in a conversation,
Rackzynski observed that the Pasha was praising the Russian victories against
the French. Rackzynski, 1814”te İstanbul, p. 155. Goşu confirms this, La
Troisième Coalition, p. 76.
262
NOTES TO PAGES 145 –149
55. BOA, HAT 5425.A (undated). In the same letter, he complained of proRussian Mahmud Raif Efendi and accused him of treason. See also Goşu, La
Troisième Coalition, p. 96.
56. Shaw, Between Old and New, p. 373. For reflections of struggle between proRussian and pro-French figures on a local level, on the island of Samos, and the
imperial policy to curb the protection system in 1805– 8, see Laiou, “Political
processes on the island of Samos”, pp. 100– 3.
57. Shaw, Between Old and New, p. 372.
58. http://www.sovsekretno.ru/articles/id/3331.
59. Goşu, La Troisième Coalition, pp. 79 – 81. Mahmud Raif Efendi seems to have
been under the influence of pro-Russian Dimitrius Muruzi. Morkva, Russia,
p. 323.
60. Goşu, La Troisième Coalition, pp. 84 – 5; Goşu, “The third anti-Napoleonic
coalition”, p. 228.
61. Shupp, European Powers, p. 155.
62. From Arbuthnot to Spencer (PRO, FO, 78 – 52, doc. no. 77).
63. Shaw, Between Old and New, pp. 374– 5.
64. Lefebvre, Histoire des cabinets de l’Europe, p. 67.
65. Asım, II, pp. 199.
66. BOA, HAT 53341 (undated). See also Necib, Sultan Selim, p. 118.
67. For a biography of Şerifzâde and his connection to the uprising, see Aysel
Yıldız, “Şeyhülislam Şerifzâde Mehmed Ataullah Efendi, III. Selim ve Vaka-yı
Selimiyye”, in S. Kenan (ed.), Nizam-ı Kadim’den Nizam-ı Cedid’e III. Selim ve
Dönemi (Istanbul: İSAM, 2010), pp. 529– 65.
68. Madeline Zilfi, “Elite circulation in the Ottoman Empire: great mollas of the
eighteenth century”, Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient,
XXVI/III (1983), p. 320.
69. BOA, Kamil Kepeci Sadaret Mektupc uluğu Defterleri, no. 18, fl. 1010 (21 M
1223/19 March 1808).
70. Wilkinson, Wallachia and Moldavia, p. 107.
71. Halet Efendi served as Ottoman ambassador to Paris (1802 –6) and left an
account of it. Enver Z. Karal (ed.), Halet Efendi’nin Paris Büyükelciliği (Ankara:
TTK, 1940).
72. TSMA, E. 3446/26 (undated): “Munificent shaik al-Islam efendi, the reason for
my present imperial rescript is that you have longstandingly been my wellwisher and my loyal subject, of whom loyalty of all sorts is expected. Since my
imperial accession, I have never been at ease any single moment. You have not
been assisting me in certain matters and have left me all alone. You are supposed
to caution me at certain points. I am like a bird that has just got out of the cage,
and I strive as far as my capacity allows. However, you have not been helping me
at all. Even Gabriel taught amen to the Prophet. Yet, I have been completely
isolated. I do not have [. . .] for anything. There are so many false rumors and
news circulating around. Whatever their source, it is incumbent upon you and
the kaimmakam pasha to [. . .] I have already credited you with all sorts of
NOTES
73.
74.
75.
76.
77.
78.
79.
80.
81.
82.
83.
84.
85.
86.
87.
88.
89.
90.
91.
92.
93.
94.
95.
TO PAGES
149 –154
263
powers. So, do what is favorable to my state and religion as well as my greatness
and glory. Do prohibit what is evil. May Allah succeed you in your task.”
Saint-Denys, Révolutions, II, pp. 107– 8.
Cevdet Paşa, Tarih, VIII, pp. 62, 114; Olivier; Travels, I, p. 211.
Yalc ınkaya, “Sir Robert Liston’un İstanbul Büyükelc iliği”, p. 199.
Hobhouse, Journey, II, pp. 377– 8.
Saint-Denys, Révolutions, II, p. 107. The author also argues that Selim III
ordered the discussion of governmental affairs in the councils, rather than
delegating absolute authority to the kaimmakams or viziers.
Fehmi Ismail, “The Diplomatic Relations of the Ottoman Empire and the
Great Powers from 1806 to 1821”, unpublished Ph.D. thesis (University of
London, 1975), pp. 29 – 35. Miller, relying on the observations of Tamara
and Hanc erlioğlu, also argues that the sultan revived the old institution of
consultative assemblies and made it perpetual. Miller, Mustapha Pacha
Bairakdar, p. 105.
Sadaret kethüda, the avuşbaşı,
c
reisülküttab and the defterdar.
Shaw, Between Old and New, pp. 72 – 3; Ali Akyıldız, Osmanlı Bürokrasisi ve
Modernleşme (Istanbul: İletişim, 2004), p. 32; Muzaffer Doğan, “Sadaret
Kethüdalığı (1730 – 1836)”, unpublished Ph.D. thesis (Marmara Üniversitesi,
1995), p. 128; Findley, Bureaucratic Reform, pp. 72– 88.
Taner Timur, “Moniteur Universel, III. Selim ve İhtilal Fransası”, Osmanlı
Çalışmaları: İlkel Feodalizmden Yarı Sömürge Ekonomisine (Ankara: Verso, 1989),
p. 107.
The Times, 3 August 1807, issue: 7115, p. 3
Câbı̂, I, p. 50.
Zinkeisen, Osmanlı, VII, p. 323.
Derin, “Yayla İmamı Risalesi”, p. 216.
Ibid.
Shaw, Between Old and New, p. 87.
Olivier, Travels, p. 210.
Câbı̂, I, p. 42.
Ibid.
Asım, I, p. 337.
Câbı̂, I, pp. 127– 8
Findley, “Great Households”, p. 70.
This point is underlined by both Mustafa Necib, advocating the cause of the
reformists, and Asım, more tolerant of the anti-reformists. Both authors leave
no doubt that Ibrahim Nesim Efendi was dominant, but while Mustafa Necib
attributes the tension to the envy of Hafız Ismail Pasha for Nesim Efendi,
Asım argues that Hafız Ismail Pasha turned against the other because he was
deprived of power, Asım, I, p. 123; Necib, Sultan Selim, p. 43.
Saint-Denys, Révolutions, II, p. 107. See also Zinkeisen, Osmanlı, VII, p. 324.
According to Saint-Denys, this situation annoyed the Pasha, since he was not
able to enjoy the power of the former kaimmakams.
264
NOTES
TO PAGES
154 –159
96. Asım, I, p. 260.
97. From Arbuthnot to Spencer, Büyükdere, 30 October 1806 (PRO, FO, 78 – 52,
doc. no. 77). There were additional – but related – reasons for hostility
between these two functionaries. Galib favoured the British, criticized the
overwelming French influence at the Porte, and accused Sébastiani as “being
the minister of the Sultan”. The tension was aggravated since Galib was
suspecting that Sébastiani would replace him with Ibrahim Nesim Efendi.
98. Tezcan, The Second Ottoman Empire, p. 197.
99. Robert Shephard, “Court Factions in Early Modern England”, The Journal of
Modern History, 64/4 (December 1992), p. 723.
100. Kevin Sharpe, “Faction at the Early Stuart Court”, History Today (October
1983), p. 40.
101. Madelin Zilfi, The Politics of Piety: The Ottoman Ulema in the Postclassical Age
(1600 – 1800) (Minneapolis: Bibliotheca Islamica, 1988), pp. 46, 48.
Talking about the 1770s, Zinkeisen argues that the purpose of the ulema was
to create an ulema aristocracy, Osmanlı, VI, p. 14. For a similar development
in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, see Baki Tezcan, “The
Ottoman mevali as the ‘Lords of Law’”, Journal of Islamic Studies, 20/3 (2009),
pp. 383 – 407.
102. Yıldız, “Şerifzâde Mehmed Ataullah Efendi”, pp. 551–4.
103. Goldstone, “East and West”, p. 120.
104. Uriel Heyd, “The Ottoman ulema and Westernization in the time of Selim III
and Mahmud II”, in U. Heyd (ed.), Studies in Islamic History and Civilization
(Jerusalem: The Hebrew University, 1961), p. 69.
105. Shephard, “Court Faction”, p. 736.
106. Yeşil, İhtilaller Çağında Osmanlı Kara Ordusu, p. 231.
107. A copy of Münib Efendi’s treatise, known as tranpete risalesi, is available in
Ahmet Vasıf Efendi, Tarih-i Sultan Selim (Istanbul: Istanbul Archaeological
Museum, 1219/1804), pp. 82 – 7.
108. For further details, see İsmail H. Uzunc arşılı, “Sadrazam Halil Hamid
Paşa”, Türkiyat Mecmuası, V (1935 – 6), pp. 213 – 64; İsmail H. Uzunc arşılı,
“Cezayirli Gazi Hasan Paşa’ya Dair,” Türkiyat Mecmuası, V – VII (1940 – 2),
pp. 17 – 41; Christoph Neumann, “Decision-making without decisionmakers: Ottoman foreign policy circa 1790”, in C.E. Farah (ed.) Decision
Making and Change in the Ottoman Empire (Missouri: Thomas Jefferson
University Press, 1993), pp. 29 – 34; Yıldız, The Selimiyye Incident,
pp. 618 – 20.
109. Necib, Sultan Selim, p. 57; Cevdet Paşa, Tarih, VIII, p. 176.
110. BOA, D. DRB. MH. 63/62 (4 M 1224/14 February 1809).
111. Ebubekir Efendi, Asiler ve Gaziler, p. 98.
112. BOA, HAT 7532 (undated).
113. For a comparison of the images of Selim III and Mustafa IV in the available
literature, see Yıldız, The Selimiyye Incident, pp. 83 – 4.
114. For further details, see Yıldız, The Selimiyye Incident, pp. 71– 2, 84.
NOTES
TO PAGES
159 –165
265
115. TSMA, E. 2650 (undated).
116. Uluc ay, Padişahın Anaları ve Kızları (Ankara: TTK, 1992), p. 119.
117. Kemal Beydilli, Türk Bilim ve Matbaacılık Tarihinde Mühendishane (Istanbul:
Eren, 1995), pp. 82 – 2.
Chapter 6
When the Feet Become the Head:
The Limits of Obedience
1. Beik, Urban Protest, p. 1.
2. Malte Griesse, “Revolts as communicative events in early-modern Europe:
circulation of knowledge and the development of political grammars” (MS,
University of Konstanz), 5. Available at: https://exzellenzcluster.uni-konstanz.
de/fileadmin/all/downloads/stellen-stipendien/Circulation-of-KnowledgeEarly-Modern-Revolts.pdf
3. Weber, Economy and Society, pp. 231– 2, 1020; İnalcık, “Comments on
Sultanism”, pp. 48 – 72.
4. In Islamic tradition, the religious and Qur’anic roots of obedience can never be
disregarded. The utmost obedience was to God, then his Prophet and, finally,
to ulu’l-emr (those in authority), and the limits of disobedience depended on
whether it was against God, the Prophet or the ulu’l-emr. For a good study of
obedience and disobedience in Islamic tradition, see Nevin A. Mustafa, İslam
Siyasi Düşüncesinde Muhalefet, translated from Arabic into Turkish by V. Akyüz
(Istanbul: Iz Yayıncılık, 1990).
5. Aziz al-Azmeh, Muslim Kingship: Power and the Sacred in Muslim, Christian and
Pagan Polities (New York: I.B.Tauris, 2001), p. 129; Ann K. Lambton,
“Changing concepts of justice and injustice from the 5th/11th century to the
8th/14th century in Persia: The Saljuq Empire and the Ilkhanate”, Studia
Islamica, 68 (1988), pp. 31, 34.
6. Linda T. Darling, “Medieval Egyptian society and justice”, Mamluk Studies
Review, 10/2 (2006), p. 1; “Social cohesion (‘Asabiyya’) and justice in the late
medieval Middle East,” Comparative Studies in Society and History, 49/2 (April
2007), p. 331. See also, Linda T. Darling, “Political change and political
discourse in the early modern Mediterranean world”, Journal of Interdisciplinary
History, 38/4 (2008), pp. 505– 31; Hüseyin Gündoğdu, The Circle of Justice:
Theory and Practice in the Ottoman Politics (Saarbrücken: Lambert Academic
Publishing, 2011).
7. Asım, II, pp. 8 – 9.
8. al-Azmeh, Muslim Kingship, p. 121.
9. Ibid.
10. In comparison to the Hanafis, other schools such as the Shafis, and more
activist Kharijites, Zaydis and Ibadis were radical in fighting the unjust rulers.
Michael Cook, Commanding Right and Forbidding Wrong in Islamic Thought
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), pp. 477– 8; Michael Cook,
266
11.
12.
13.
14.
15.
16.
17.
18.
19.
20.
21.
22.
23.
24.
25.
26.
27.
NOTES
TO PAGES
165 –169
Forbidding Wrong in Islam: An Introduction (Cambridge: Cambridge University
Press, 2003), p. 80.
Cook, Commanding and Forbidding, pp. 316– 39. Even Muhammed Ibn Abd-al
Wahhab, the founder of Wahhabism, preached according to an accommodationist line. Dallal, “Islamic revivalist thought,” p. 349.
For the use of Islamic rhetoric in the case of 1651 and the idea of injustice in
the case of 1651, see Yi, Guild Dynamics, pp. 228–9.
Haim Gerber, “The public sphere and civil society in the Ottoman Empire”, in
M. Hoexter, S.N. Eisenstadt and N. Levtzion (eds), The Public Sphere in Muslim
Societies (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2002), p. 78.
Unfortunately, most of the fatwas approving the dethronement of the reigning
sultans are missing. Yet, the available scanty ones confirm our observation. For
three fatwas dating from the 1703 uprising, see Stremmelaar, The Rebellion of
1703, pp. 132– 3.
Carter V. Findley, “The advent of ideology in the Islamic Middle East (Part I)”,
Studia Islamica, 56 (1982), pp. 152– 3.
Berkes, Türkiye’de Çağdaşlaşma, p. 129.
TSMA, E. 9198 (17 Ca 1222/23 July 1807).
Akyıldız, “Sened-i İttifak”, p. 218.
The principle of forbidding the wrong does not cover only the stately issues,
but almost every kind of fault, both in the public and private spheres of
Muslims. Both rulers and ruled were held responsible for commanding right
and forbidding wrong. Cook, Commanding and Forbidding, pp. 17 – 22.
Ali b. Muhammad bin Walid, a Yemeni missionary of the Ismailite tradition,
explicitly states that it was only the duty of the ulema. Similarly, Abu
Abdullah al-Halim al-Jurjani (d. 1012), a Shafite scholar and diplomat,
accords the duty to the righteous community of scholars. Cook, Commanding
and Forbidding, pp. 304, 341
Even the Zaydı̂s, who gave more right to take arms against unjust rulers
became more traditionalist with the penetration of Sunni tradition. Cook,
Commanding and Forbidding, pp. 248– 50.
Cook, Commanding and Forbidding, especially pp. 470– 500; Cook, Forbidding
Wrong, pp. 13 – 21, 74 – 9.
Hagen, “World order”, p. 82.
Sunar, Cauldron of Dissent, p. 112; Sunar, “Nizam-ı Cedid Reformları Karşısında
Yenic eriler”, pp. 519–20; Kafadar, “Rebels without a cause”, p. 131.
Kafadar, “Rebels without a cause”, p. 131.
Tezcan, The Second Ottoman Empire, p. 10.
By “proto-democratization”, he means “the process through which a much
larger segment of the imperial administration came to consist of men whose
social origins were among the commoners, the very people who used to be
known as outsiders to the previous ruling elite whose leadership was
dominated by the slaves of the emperor.” Tezcan, The Second Ottoman Empire,
pp. 9 – 10. See also ibid., “The New Order and the fate of the Old”, pp. 74 – 95.
NOTES
TO PAGES
170 –171
267
28. Baldwin rightly asserts that this kind of relationship is also reflected in the
relationship between the janissaries and the agents of the sultans. Through the
case of the conflict between Defterdar Ahmed Pasha, the governor of Egypt
(1675 – 6) and the janissaries, the author argues that, rather, the janissaries
believed that the governor exceeded his legal limits of authority. James
E. Baldwin, “The deposition of defterdar Ahmed Paşa and the rule of law in
seventeenth-century Egypt”, Osmanlı Araştırmaları, 46 (2015), pp. 135– 61.
29. Moore defines implicit social contract as “an unverbalized set of mutual
understandings”, Barrington Moore, Injustice: The Social Bases of Obedience and
Revolt (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 1978), pp. 10, 18 – 30, 36. See also,
Reginald E. Zelnik, “Passivity and protest in Germany and Russia: Barrington
Moore’s conception of working-class responses to injustice”, Journal of Social
History, (1982), p. 482; Gerber, “The public sphere”, p. 79.
30. Başoğlu, “Hilafet”, p. 103.
31. Alireza Shomali and Mehrzad Boroujerdi, “On Sa’di’s treatise on advice to the
kings”, in M. Boroujerdi (ed.), Mirror for the Muslim Prince: Islam and the Theory
of Statecraft (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2013), pp. 47, 50 – 2, 55.
As the authors themselves claim, he did not develop a systematic and
consistent analysis of political theory.
32. Şerif Mardin, “Türk Siyasasını Ac ıklayabilecek Bir Anahtar: Merkez-Çevre
İlişkileri”, Türkiye’de Toplum ve Siyaset: Makaleler, 1, p. 39.
33. Şerif Mardin, “Freedom in Ottoman perspective”, in M. Heper and A. Evin
(eds), State, Democracy and the Military: Turkey in the 1980s (Berlin: Walter de
Gruyter, 1988), pp. 23 –35.
34. Mardin, “Freedom in an Ottoman perspective”, pp. 26 –30.
35. Biat or beyat comes from the Arabic word, bay’a (oath of allegiance). Its Arabic
root be’y means “sale” and, hence, commercial contract. In political language
it refers to a contract or covenant between rulers and the ruled, both parties
accepting responsibilities and rights. Bernard Lewis, The Political Language of
Islam (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1988), p. 58; Cengiz Kallek,
“Biat”, DİA, pp. 120– 4; Tuncay Başoğlu, “Hilafetin Sübut Şartı Olarak
Bey’at”, İLAM Araştırma Dergisi, I/1 (1996), p. 101; Roy, P. Mottahedeh,
Loyalty and Leadeship in an Early Islamic Society (Princeton: Princeton
University Press, 1980), pp. 42 – 72; Ella Landau-Tasseron, The Religious
Foundations of Political Allegiance: A Study of Bay’a in Pre-Modern Islam
(Washington DC: Hudson Institute, 2010). For Turkic tradition, see Joseph
Fletcher, “Turco– Mongolian monarchic tradition in the Ottoman Empire”,
Harvard Ukranian Studies, 34 (1979 –80), p. 239.
36. Hakan Karateke, Padişahım Çok Yaşa: Osmanlı Devletinin Son Yüzyılında
Merasimler (Istanbul: Kitap Yayınevi, 2004), pp. 28 – 9.
37. For the practice, significance and history of biat, see Kallek, “‘Biat’, Başoğlu,
‘Bey’at’”, pp. 81 – 111; Mehmet A. Kapar, “İslam’da Bey’at Sec im Usulü”,
Selcuk Üniversitesi İlahiyat Fakültesi Dergisi, 4 (1991), pp. 73 – 83; Mustafa
Özkan, “Emevi İktidarının İşleyişinde Biat Kavramına Yüklenen Anlam ve
268
38.
39.
40.
41.
42.
43.
44.
45.
46.
47.
48.
49.
50.
51.
52.
53.
NOTES
TO PAGES
171 –174
Biatın Fonksiyonu”, Hitit Üniversitesi İlahiyat Fakültesi Dergisi, 7/13 (2008/1),
pp. 113 –28.
Özkan, “Emevi”, p. 120.
Ibid., pp. 125– 6; Başoğlu, “Hilafet”, p. 99.
BOA; ID 1210 (13 November 1840) as cited in Kırlı, “Coffeehouses”, p. 81,
see also p. 85.
Câbı̂, I, pp. 604– 5.
Feridun Emecen, “Osmanlı Hanedanına Alternatif Arayışlar Üzerine Bazı
Örnekler ve Mülahazalar”, İslam Araştırmaları Dergisi, 6 (2001), pp. 63 – 76.
Derin, “Tüfengc ibaşı”, p. 400: “gelsinler, maslahat kalmadı, hi’latlarını
telebbüs eylesinler, cemiyyeti bertaraf edelim, dahi bir sözleri ve söyleyecekleri
var mıdır?”; “şimden sonra padişah ile kul beynine nefsâniyyet girdi.”
Mottahedeh, Loyalty and Leadeship, pp. 40 – 96.
Kafadar, “Rebels without a cause”, pp. 117, 130.
This metaphor is employed by Walter Andrews, Poetry’s Voice, Society’s Song:
Ottoman Lyric Poetry (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1985), as cited
in Ergene, “On Ottoman Justice”, pp. 64– 5.
Hakan T. Karateke, “Legitimizing the Ottoman Sultanate: a framework for
historical analysis”, in H.T. Karateke and M. Reinkowski (eds), Legitimizing the
Order, The Ottoman Rhetoric of State Power (Leiden: Brill, 2005), pp. 17 – 18.
Rıfa’at Abou-el-Haj, “Aspects of the legitimation of Ottoman rule as reflected
in the preambles of two early Liva Kanunnameleri”, Turcica, 21 – 23 (1991),
pp. 373 –84; Hagen, “World order”, p. 56.
Weber, Society and Economy, as cited in Barkey, Empire of Difference, p. 98.
Suraiya Faroqhi, “Political activity among Ottoman taxpayers and the
problem of sultanic legitimation, 1570– 1650”, Journal of Social and Economic
History of the Orient, 35/1 (1992), pp. 2– 5; Lewis, The Political Language of
Islam, pp. 68 –70. The inaccessibility of the rulers is diagnosed as a symptom
of decline by the Ottoman intellectuals from the sixteenth century onwards.
It sometimes seems to have been more important than religious performances.
In order to convince Osman II to give up his intention of pilgrimage, the
Shaikh al-Islam argued that it was better for the sultan to rule his empire with
justice than going on a pilgrimage. Naima, Tarih, II, p. 476.
Marios Sariyannis, in his survey of the princely virtues of Ottoman rulers in
the narratives, observes a shift in the emphasis of earlier Ottoman writers from
princely to more ministerial virtues, starting in the sixteenth century, by Lütfi
Pasha (grand vizier 1539– 41). This shift indeed corresponds to the
bureaucratization of the Ottoman Empire. Marios Sariyannis, “The princely
virtues as presented in Ottoman political and moral literature”, Turcica, 43
(2011), pp. 121– 44. This meant a shift from a legitimacy of personal traits to
collective rule. Tülay Artan, “From charismatic rulership to collective rule”,
Dünü ve Bugünüyle Toplum ve Tarih, 4 (Nisan 1993), pp. 53 – 95.
Karateke, “Legitimizing the Ottoman Sultanate”, p. 43; Marlene Kurz,
“Gracious Sultan, grateful subjects: spreading imperial ideology throughout
NOTES
54.
55.
56.
57.
58.
59.
60.
61.
62.
63.
64.
65.
66.
67.
68.
TO PAGES
174 –179
269
the Empire”, Studia Islamica, New Series, 3 (2012), p. 126. For the methods of
the Ottomans to overcome this problem, see Colin Imber, “Frozen
legitimacy”, in H.T. Karateke and M. Reinowski (eds), Legitimizing the
Order: Ottoman Rhetoric of State Power (Leiden: Brill, 2005), pp. 99 – 111;
Emecen, “Osmanlı Hanedanına Alternatif Arayışlar”, pp. 63 – 76.
For a more detailed analysis of the imperial images of Selim III, see Aysel
Yıldız, “The ‘Louis XVI of the Turks’: the character of an Ottoman sultan”,
Middle Eastern Studies, 50/2 (2014), pp. 272– 90.
Asım, I, p. 110.
Cyril E. Black, “Sorbier’s mission to Constantinople”, The Journal of Modern
History, 16/1 (March 1944), p. 24; The Times, Wednesday, 23 September 1807,
7160, p. 2, col. A; Jorga, Documentele, II, pp. 423– 4.
Asım, II, p. 36: “min ba’ad bu padişahın tarafından emniyet mutassavver
midir?” The question was posed by Münib Efendi. After talking with the
leaders for a while, he returned to the place of the ulema, followed by the
leaders in the room. The leaders came to shaikh al-Islam Ataullah Efendi and
informed him about their decision on the dethronement of the sultan and
exerted pressure on Ataullah Efendi to accept that Selim III’s rule was not
appropriate any longer. Ataullah Efendi and the ulema, seeing that they had no
other choice, informed the Porte about the demand of the rebels. Then, all
members of the ulema, together with the Sekbanbaşı, were called to the Square,
and then marched towards the Palace behind the two flags of the rebels.
Rodney Barker, Legitimating Identities: Self-Representations of Rulers and Subjects
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), pp. 34, 67 – 8.
A letter from Ebubekir Ratıb Efendi to prince Selim. TSMA, E. 2031– 16
(undated). See also Yıldız, “Şehzade’ye Öğütler”, pp. 233– 74.
Asım, II, p. 209.
Bayly, The Birth of the Modern World, p. 87
Ebubekir Efendi, Asiler ve Gaziler, p. 117. Another contemporary narrative
that depicts his murder in great detail is Oğulukyan. See Oğulukyan,
Ruznâme, p. 9.
Gustave Le Bon, The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind (New York:
Macmillan, 1896), pp. 165– 71. See also Mark Harrison, Crowds and History:
Mass Phenomena in English Towns, 1790– 1835 (Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 1988), p. 7. For the participants of the eighteenth-century
London riots, see Shoemaker, “The London ‘mob’”, pp. 281– 2, 284 and Rudé,
“The London ‘mob’”, pp. 5 – 6.
For further details on the ringleaders of 1807, especially the yamaks, see
Yıldız, “Anatomy of a rebellious social group”, pp. 314– 18.
Oberschall, “Theories of social conflict”, p. 309.
Yıldız, “Anatomy of a rebellious social group”, pp. 291– 327.
Kafadar, Esnaf-Yeniceri Relations, p. 95.
For an analysis of the participants of 1703, see Stremmelaar, Rebellion of 1703,
pp. 90 – 114.
270
NOTES
TO PAGES
179 –183
69. Hülya Canbakal, “The Age of Revolutions in an Ottoman town: Ayntab 178893”, paper presented at Sabancı University, 3 May 2011.
70. Stoianovich, “Land tenure”, p. 400.
71. Yıldız, “Anatomy of a rebellious social group”, pp. 303– 10.
72. Stremmelaar, Rebellion of 1703, pp. 93 – 7.
73. The janissary officers were powerful and influential during this period, and
they were considering themselves as king makers. Yi, Guild Dynamics, pp. 216,
224; Yi, “Rebellion of 1688”, p. 123.
74. Heyd, “The Ottoman ulema”, pp. 70 – 1; Shaw, Between Old and New,
pp. 71 – 2. For a more general evaluation of ulema opposition in late Ottoman
history, see İsmail Kara, “Ulema-Siyaset İlişkilerine Dair Önemli Bir Metin:
Muhalefet Yapmak/Muhalefete Katılmak”, Divan, I (1998), pp. 1 – 25.
75. For an analysis of treshold models in collective actions, see Mark
Granovetter, “Treshold models of collective behavior”, American Journal of
Sociology, 83/6 (March 1978), pp. 1420 – 43; Michael S.Y. Chwe, “Structure
and strategy in collective action”, American Journal of Sociology, 105/1 (July
1999), pp. 128 – 56.
76. Yi, “Rebellion of 1688”, p. 120.
77. Tezcan, The Second Ottoman Empire, p. 166.
78. Yi, Guild Dynamics, pp. 213–14. She notes that there was another one in 1688,
whereby guildsmen opposed pillaging by the kapıkulu corps, pp. 230–1.
79. Yi, Guild Dynamics, pp. 216– 18.
80. Ibid., p. 215.
81. Baer, “Popular revolt”, pp. 218– 19. The al-Azhar students were also active
but the most active ones were the urban poor.
82. Olson, “Patrona Halil rebellion”, pp. 329– 44; Olson, “Jews, janissaries”,
p. 192.
83. For a comparison of excesses during 1730 and 1807, see Yıldız, The Selimiyye
Incident, pp. 734– 6. For plunder during the course of 1703, see Stremmelaar,
Rebellion of 1703, pp. 78 – 9.
84. Derin, “Kabakc ı Mustafa”, p. 102: “ahali-i Âsitâne’ye öyle bir gulgûle düşdü
ki dekâkı̂nler sedd ü bend, kac an kac ana olup mukaddemâ vuku‘ bulan Kırk
Üc Vakası zannıyla cümle ahâlı̂ lerzeyâb ve her birleri kendi ahvâli netı̂cesine
meşgûl oldular.”
85. Yıldız, “A city under fire”, pp. 44 – 6.
86. Parker, “Mutiny and discontent”, pp. 51 – 2.
87. Asım, II, p. 28.
88. Ibid.
89. For similiarities between a festival and an uprising, see Beik, Urban Protest,
p. 159.
90. Câbı̂, I, p. 130; Derin, “Tüfengc ibaşı”, p. 396.
91. Beik, Urban Protest, p. 51
92. Selected targets were also a common feature of the eighteenth-century London
riots. George Rudé, “The London ‘mob’”, pp. 1 – 18.
NOTES
TO PAGES
183 –186
271
93. He served as the director of the New Fund from 13 April 1799 to 11 June
1805. At the time of the uprising he was employed as the minister of the navy.
According to Ebubekir Efendi, he was executed as being the founder of the
New Fund. Ebubekir Efendi, Asiler ve Gaziler, p. 113.
94. Derin, “Kabakc ı Mustafa”, p. 104.
95. Shaw, Between Old and New, p. 88; Cevdet Paşa, Tarih, VIII, p. 31.
96. Ebubekir Efendi, Asiler ve Gaziler, p. 129.
97. The Times, Monday, August 3 1807, 7115, p. 3, col. C (from the Hamburg
Papers, Milan, 8 July).
98. Derin, “Kabakc ı Mustafa”, p. 104.
99. For further details on their survival and later career, see Yıldız, The Selimiyye
Incident, pp. 634–40.
100. Asım, II, p. 9: “kitab ve sünnetde mansûs ve müsbet olan evâmir ve nevâhi-i
ilahi hâşâ nizâm-ı aklı̂den ibâret yahud efsane-i İsrailiyât kabı̂linden emr ve
vahiy”.
101. The Times, Monday, 3 August 1808, 7115, p. 3 (from the Hamburg Papers,
Milan, 8 July).
102. Oğulukyan, Ruznâme, p. 13. This is strikingly similar to the tyranny of the
pen mentioned by Tarih-i Şahi. He complains that “the evil, corruption,
tyranny and injustice which flow towards the people of Kirman from the pens
of evil scribes in Kirman at this time are worse than the swords of the Mongols
which have made the earth a sea of blood.” Cited in Lambton, “Changing
concepts of justice”, p. 56.
103. Derin, “Yayla İmamı Risalesi”, p. 228.
104. Derin, “Kabakc ı Mustafa”, p. 109.
105. Ebubekir Efendi, Asiler ve Gaziler, pp. 97– 8; Asım, II, pp. 8 – 10. I am
currently studying the wealth of the Selimian elite according to their probate
estates.
106. Hülya Canbakal, “The Age of Revolutions in the Ottoman Empire:
a provincial perspective”, Well-Protected Domains: Intersections of Asia and Europe
in the Ottoman Empire, conference at the Ruprecht-Karls-Universität
Heidelberg, 10 – 12 November 2011.
107. Turchin and Nefedov, Secular Cycles, p. 11.
108. Canbakal’s study, for instance, on wealth distribution data for Manisa, Kayseri
and Manastır proves that these cities were following the same trend with
Europe. Canbakal, “The Age of Revolutions in the Ottoman Empire”.
109. Pamuk, “Longevity of the Ottoman Empire”, p. 244. See also Pamuk,
“Ottoman State Finances”, pp. 606– 9. For a comparison of the annual revenue
per capita daily wages, see ibid. Fig. 6, p. 615 and Fig. 9 (annual revenue per
capita) from the 1780s to 1914, p. 623.
110. Pamuk, “The great Ottoman debasement”, p. 26.
111. Sargent and Velde, “French Revolution”, pp. 507– 8.
112. BOA, HAT 174/7554 (1797 –8).
113. Asım, II, p. 15.
272
NOTES
TO PAGES
186 –190
114. Canbakal, “The Age of Revolutions in an Ottoman town”.
115. Suraiya Faroqhi, “In quest of their daily bread: artisans of Istanbul under Selim
III”, in S. Kenan (ed.) Nizam-ı Kadim’den Nizam-ı Cedid’e III. Selim ve Dönemi,
(Istanbul: ISAM, 2010), p. 181.
116. Faroqhi, “Daily bread”, p. 181.
117. Tarrow, “Modular collective action”, pp. 76 – 7.
118. Câbı̂, I, pp. 72, 131.
119. For more examples, see Câbı̂, I, p. 72.
120. Yet, this time he also adds the disparity and unjustice between the salaries and
the great attention paid by the ruling elite to the Nizam-ı Cedid soldiers. Câbı̂,
I, pp. 130– 1.
121. Oğulukyan, Ruznâme, p. 7.
122. For a similar interpretation of mutual expectations between ruler and ruled in
Ottoman Bosnia, see Michael R. Hickok, “Homicide in Ottoman Bosnia”, in
F. Anscombe, The Ottoman Balkans (Princeton: Markus Weiner Publishers,
2006), p. 40. In this case, the state’s inability to prevent disorder in the region
provides impetus for disorder.
123. Yaycıoğlu, Partners of the Empire, p. 200.
124. Yıldız, “Anatomy of a rebellious social group”, pp. 319– 20.
125. Abu-Manneh, “Introduction”, Studies on Islam, p. 9.
126. Ebubekir Efendi, Asiler ve Gaziler, pp. 133–4; Oğulukyan, Ruznâme, p. 9.
127. Şânizâde, I, p. 41. Similar details are repeated by Cevdet Paşa, Tarih, VIII,
p. 201.
128. Ebubekir Efendi, Asiler ve Gaziler, pp. 133–4.
129. Kethüda Said, Tarih, fls. 133a – 134a.
130. Zebı̂re, 14–16: “sultânım sizler “askeri değil ve hızâne-i şâhâneden râtıfa-hâr
değil, heman bir dervı̂ş-i reh-güzar iken bu misüllü vazı̂feniz ve lâzime-i
zimmetiniz olmayan mübâhase-i pür ekdar sizin nenize der-kâr?”; “ve cihâd
emr-i ma’rûf ve nehy-i münkirden ibaret olmağla”. According to him, the main
reason why the “ulema ve fudala” did not involve the correction of mistakes, but
the fact that they were not behaving in accordance with the religious sciences
they were acquainted with, and accuses them of divine punishment since they
did not enlighten the commoners with their knowledge, pp. 16–18.
131. Heyd, “The Ottoman Ulema”, pp. 93 – 4.
132. ”hây hây o risâleyi göndermek, siz şerâ’it-i islâmiyeyi bilmez kafirsiniz
demektir.” Esad Efendi, Üss-i Zafer (Yeniceriliğin Kaldırılmasına Dair),
Mehmet Arslan (ed.) (Istanbul: Kitabevi, 2005), p. 129.
133. Şakul, “Batılılaşma ve İslami Modernleşme”, p. 139.
134. It is a Muslim religious order founded by Ahmed al-Rıfai (d. 1182) in the 12th
century. The Rıfai order had established branches in different parts of the
Middle East and southeastern Europe becoming one of the most widespread
orders of the fifteenth century.
135. BOA, HAT 17078 (1230/1814– 15). See also, Yıldız, The Selimiyye Incident,
pp. 715 –17.
NOTES
TO PAGES
191 –196
273
136. Öztelli, Uyan Padişahım, pp. 100– 3. Translation by Mehmet Savan, a friend of
mine.
137. The only exceptions are 1651, 1688, and 1730, 1740 where the guildsmen or
the Albanians were more active.
138. el-Fadl, Rebellion and Violence, p. 12.
Conclusion
1. David Armitage and Sanjay Subrahmanyam, “Introduction”, in D. Armitage
and S. Subrahmanyam (eds), The Age of Revolutions, p. xxxviii.
2. Christopher A. Bayly, “The Age of Revolutions in Global Context: An
Afterword”, in D. Armitage and S. Subrahmanyam (eds), The Age of
Revolutions, p. 211.
3. Bayly, The Birth of the Modern World, pp. 86 – 120.
4. Armitage and Subrahmanyam, “Introduction”, p. xxxvii.
5. For the problematics of imperial revolutions, the demise of empires and the
nation state formation, see Jeremy Adelman, “An Age of Imperial
Revolutions”, The American Historical Review, 113/2 (2008), pp. 319– 40.
6. Kadir Üstün defines the struggle of the period as part of the crisis of modern
state formation, expressed through fiscal rationalization, the creation of a
Western-type army and regaining the monopoly of violence, as well as the
consequent break of the traditional ancién régime. Yet, I think the pragmatic
Ottomans did not in fact mind the creation of a modern state, and the points
specified by the author are mostly the side-effects of the military reforms.
Kadir Üstün, “The New Order and Its Enemies: Opposition to Military
Reform in the Ottoman Empire, 1789– 1807”, unpublished Ph.D. thesis
(University of Columbia, 2013).
7. Bayly, Birth of the Modern World, p. 89. Among the rest, the Javanese Empire of
Mataram, the Mughal, Ottoman and Safavid Empires, and Russia can be
counted.
8. Pamuk, Monetary History, pp. 188, 193– 202. See in particular the table on
p. 181.
9. For the impact of the Great Depression on Ottoman foreign trade and the
economy, see Şevket Pamuk, “The Ottoman Empire in the Great Depression of
1873– 1896”, The Journal of Economic History, 44/1 (1984), pp. 107– 18.
10. “Efendim, asrı hümayununuza layık bende yetiştirmek ic in beni kulunuzu
damızlık olarak bıraktılar.” Balıkhane Nazırı Ali Rıza Bey, Eski Zamanlarda
İstanbul Hayatı (Istanbul: Kitabevi, 2001), p. 380.
11. Salzmann, Measures of Empire, p. 364.
12. Pamuk, “Institutional Change”, p. 228.
13. For similar observations, see Tezcan, “The New Order and the Fate of the Old”,
pp. 79 – 81.
14. Findley, Turkey, Islam, Nationalism, p. 42.
15. Tezcan, The Second Ottoman Empire, p. 197.
274
NOTES
TO PAGES
196 –207
16. Alan Marshall, The Age of Faction: Court Politics 1660– 1702 (Manchester:
Manchester University Press, 1999), p. 8.
17. For the list of Istanbul-based incidents related to the Palace, see Onaran, Á Bas
le Sultan, p. 2.
18. Nadir Sohrabi, “Historicizing Revolutions: Constitutional Revolutions in the
Ottoman Empire, Iran and Russia, 1905– 1908”, American Journal of Sociology,
100/6 (1995), pp. 1391– 2.
19. Rıdvan Özdinc , “II. Meşrutiyet’in İlanında Hürriyet ile Dini Münabatsızlık
Arasında Osmanlı Uleması: ‘Birader! Biz ne Ebussuud Efendi’yiz ne de
Birgivi’”, Uluslararası Sosyal Araştırmalar Dergisi, 5/22 (Summer 2012),
p. 293.
20. As far as the role of mosques is concerned, there is a very illuminating example
narrated in Kethüda Said’s History. According to the story, in one of
Ubeydullah Kuşmânı̂’s sermons at the Fatih mosque during the Ramazan of
1808, he encouraged people to enlist in the newly established Sekban-ı Cedid
corps and never hesitated to criticize and insult the janissaries. An odabaşı of
the 7th regiment felt himself outraged and pulled him down. Kethüda Said,
Tarih, fls. 133b– 134a.
21. Mardin, “Merkez-Çevre İlişkileri”, p. 39; Mardin, “Freedom in an Ottoman
Perspective”, pp. 25 – 35.
Appendix
1. First one is initial position and the last one is the final position in their life.
2. Reşid Efendi enjoyed the patronage of Imamizâde Mustafa Efendi, the
reisülküttab from 1783 to 1784. He was son-in-law of brother-in-law of
Esseyid Abdullah Birrı̂ Efendi.
3. Ibrahim Nesim Efendi also enjoyed the patronage of Mehmed Raşid Efendi
and Izzet Mehmed Pasha as well as Beyhan Sultan.
4. Son-in-law of Yağlıkc ızâde Mehmed Emin Pasha who also acted as his
protector.
5. A disciple of Sheik Ataullah Efendi, one of the infuential Naqshandı̂Mujaddidı̂ sheiks. Yeşil, Ratıb Efendi, pp. 4, 28 – 9.
6. A disciple of Nimetullah Efendi, one of the shaiks of the Selimiyye tekke.
Asım, Tarih, I, 291; Cevdet Paşa, Tarih, VIII, 134; Ahmed Rıfat, Devhatü’nNükaba: Osmanlı Toplumunda Sadat-ı Kiram ve Nakibü’l-Eşraflar, Hasan Yüksel
and Fatih Köksal (eds.), (Sivas, 1998), 110.
7. He is son of of Kec ecizâde Salih Efendi.
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INDEX
Abdi, historian, 40
Abdulhamid I, Sultan, 143, 156
Abdulhamid II, Sultan, 197
Abdullah Molla, Tatarcık, 52, 136,
143– 4, 151, 206, 261n49
Abdullatif Efendi, kapan naibi, 35, 56,
207, 222n609
Abdurrahim Muhib Efendi, 108
Abdurrahman Pasha, Kadı (Kadı Pasha),
12, 85, 87–9, 151, 155, 240n18,
260n37
Abu-Manneh, Butrus, 140, 188, 190
Ağa Kapısı (bureau of the janissary
agha), 32, 34, 221n52
agriculture, 46, 249n14
Ahmed Asım (historian), 10, 13 –14,
29, 54, 80 – 1, 85, 117– 18, 127,
165, 175, 184, 214n21
Ahmed Bey, director of İrad-ı Cedid,
35, 184
Ahmed Bey, Mabeynci, 35, 133, 142,
187, 205, 257n11
Ahmed Cevdet Pasha, 125, 145, 149,
183, 187– 8
Ahmed Efendi, Sırkatibi, 35, 86, 142,
151, 187, 205, 214n24
Ahmed Nazif Efendi, former defterdar, 58
Ahmed Resmi Efendi (statesman,
intellectual), 93, 137
Ahmed Safi Bey, rikab reisi, 35, 204
Ahmed Şemseddin Efendi, Çavuşzâde,
32, 60, 147
Ahmed Vasıf Efendi (historian), 145– 6,
154, 246n92, 261n49
Aksan, Virginia, 93, 104
Aksaray, 19, 216n2
Alemdar Incident, 21, 42 –3, 64, 66,
160, 172, 179, 182
Aleppo, 5, 48 – 9, 60
Ali Pasha, Cezayirli Seydi, 65, 115
Ali Pasha, Tepedelenli, 85, 109, 123
alliances
Deed of Alliance (Sened-i İttifak), 3,
40, 91, 167, 196
French – Ottoman – Persian alliance,
112
Prussian alliance, 105
Triple Alliance, 106– 7, 108, 114,
125, 145, 147 –8
Amasya, 82 – 4
amedı̂, 132, 134, 204
amnesty, 18, 20, 38 – 9, 42
paper (amanname), 18, 40, 42, 196
Anatolia, 5, 23, 34, 47 – 8, 51 – 3, 80,
82, 87, 89, 91, 100, 202, 230n64,
234n111, 259n34
ayans of, 223n78
kazasker of, 208
INDEX
magnates of, 260n37
Ottoman, 226n25
Arbuthnot, Charles, 111– 14, 117
Arif Agha, Sekbanbaşı, 30, 33, 37,
147, 209
Arif Efendi, Tüfengc ibaşı, 12
Armenian
community, 240n11
language, 213n20
Orthodox Christian, 215n30
Armitage, David, 136, 193– 4
armourers, 1, 9, 16, 28, 163, 177,
179, 220n46
army
Asakir-i Mansure-i Muhammediye, 20
imperial, 65, 79, 232n78,
233n101
janissary, 1, 26, 31, 33, 39, 41, 57,
63 –4, 80– 1, 90, 96 – 7, 118,
125, 127, 178, 187, 190– 1,
193, 200
Nizam-ı Cedid (New Order, new
model), 2 – 3, 12, 24 – 6, 30, 33 –5,
42, 63, 66, 74, 77, 79 – 80, 84,
87 –8, 90, 95 –6, 108, 111, 118,
128, 136, 157, 166, 173, 188,
221n53, 222n61, 260n37
Ottoman, 15, 122
Sekban-ı cedid, 20, 42 – 3
Spanish, 21, 219n30
artillerymen, 1, 9, 16, 33, 110, 115,
117, 122, 124, 163, 177, 179,
182, 254n94
Aşık Razi (poet), 10
askeri status (askeri class), 8, 57, 60 – 2,
173, 235n125
At Meydanı (The Hippodrome or
Square of Horses), 18, 216n2
Austria, 52, 67, 121, 126, 238n156,
244n80
Austrian Consular Reports, 250n30
Austrians, 104– 5, 126
ayans see magnates
Ayıntab, 8, 186
291
Balkans, 5, 50 – 3, 63, 77, 80, 86,
88– 9, 96, 100, 122– 3, 126, 179,
229n53, 237n141, 244n71,
244n80
northern, 51
Ottoman, 123, 225n16
banditry, 6, 45, 51 – 2, 71, 229n53,
229n56
Bardakc ı, İlhan (journalist), 124– 5
Barkey, Karen, 21
Baron de Tott, 53, 74, 97
Bayburdı̂ Süleyman, rebel chief, 38, 173
Bayly, C.A., 176, 193
Beik, William 36, 183
Bekir Bey (Ebubekir Bey), Darbhane
Emini, 35, 133, 187, 205,
256n6
Bektashi, 99, 100, 188, 190–1
Bektashi-affiliated groups
(Bektashi-affiliates), 100, 189, 197
beliefs, 189
groups, 99
sect (Bektashism), 92, 99
beratlı protégé status, 62
Berkes, Niyazi, 39, 100, 167
Beşiktaş, 28, 43
Beydilli, Kemal, 39 – 40, 92, 246n92,
252n66, 258n16
Beyhan Sultan, sister of Selim III, 84,
135, 159
bid’at, 13, 166– 7
Birgivı̂ Risale, 190
blockade, 55, 88, 129
Bolu, city, 51, 66
immigrants from, 51, 65, 182
magnate of, 182
voyvoda of, 51, 66
Bosnia, 48, 50, 98, 123 –4, 179,
272n122
Bosnia-Herzegovina, 25
Bosporus, 3, 21, 25, 27, 121, 178
fortresses see fortresses (forts)
superintendent of, 25, 219n27
yamaks of, 22 – 3, 125, 180, 219n34
292
CRISIS
AND REBELLION IN THE
British Naval Expedition (Incident of
1807), 6, 25, 67, 118, 121,
129, 147
Brune, General, French ambassador,
107
bureaucracy, 7, 42, 44, 58, 61, 73, 75,
133, 135, 141, 150, 157, 174,
180, 196– 7
Büyükdere, 26 – 8, 30, 251n48
Cairo, 5– 6, 48, 60, 116, 220n46,
228n39, 231n74, 247n111
Ottoman, 181
Canbakal, Hülya, 7, 60, 186, 271n108
Çardak Kolluk, 30, 220n42
Çatalca, 51, 87
cavalrymen (sipahis), 1, 50 –1, 178– 9,
235n126
Cezâir-i Seba-ı Müctemia Cumhuru see
Septinsular Republic
Cezar, Yavuz, 75, 239n174
chiftliks see large estates (chiftliks)
Christians, 62, 105, 253n73
circle of justice, 164– 5
civilians, 2 – 3, 28, 59 – 61, 63, 68,
96 – 7, 100, 163, 177, 180, 182
climate (climatic), 5, 8, 45 – 6
coffeehouses, 80, 98, 100, 116,
197– 8
company banks (orta sandıkları), 59
confiscation (müsadere), 68 – 70, 121– 2,
155, 233n101
consultative assemblies (meşveret),
150– 1, 160, 263n78
Çorlu, 87 – 8
corps
artillery, 28
Bostancı, 25
cavalry, 34
imperial, 190
Istanbul-based military, 177
janissary, 3, 31, 33, 57, 59, 96 – 8,
111, 118, 127, 136, 169, 180,
182, 196
OTTOMAN EMPIRE
Nizam-ı Cedid (New Order corps),
4, 81 – 2, 86, 88, 94, 95, 184
Sekban-ı Cedid, 274n20
traditional military, 1, 3, 9, 18 – 19,
28, 33, 96, 103, 111, 117, 163,
167– 8, 177, 179, 180, 182,
184, 196
correspondence office of the grand vizier
(mektubı̂-i sadr-i ali), 132– 3,
257n13
coup d’état, 17, 20, 42 – 3, 98,
224n84
Crimea, 52, 68, 83, 104– 5, 107, 109,
122, 126, 248n9
currency, 5, 45, 62, 68, 169, 194–5,
198
European, 68
Ottoman, 68, 195
Dağdevirenoğlu, local power holder in
Edirne, 87
Dağlı Eşkiyası see Mountaineers
Davies, James C., 103
debasements, 62 –3, 68, 71, 77, 195,
235n126
Diez, Prussian ambassador, 105
Dihkanı̂zâde Ubeydullah Kuşmânı̂,
11– 12, 92 – 3, 137– 8, 140, 186,
189–90, 213n20, 215n26,
260n37, 274n20
Diyarbakır, 5, 48 –9, 52, 78, 84
Ebubekir Efendi, Lokmacı Matruş,
12– 14, 25, 186, 189,
214–15n26
Ebubekir Ratıb Efendi, 132 –4, 137,
143, 204
Edirne, 19, 51, 70
court, 19
Incident of 1703, 19, 210n2
Incident of 1806, 34, 80, 89, 101,
135, 146, 148, 175, 184, 198– 9,
241n26
post-Edirne Incident period, 92
INDEX
Egypt, 25, 48, 95, 105– 6, 139,
144, 226n22, 234n113,
243n61, 258– 9n26, 260n36,
267n28
French invasion of Egypt
(1789– 1801), 6, 105– 8, 145,
174– 5
French occupation of Egypt (1789),
6, 105– 8, 139, 145, 174– 5
Ottoman, 46, 225n7
esham see share system
esnaf-ization, 97
Et Meydanı see Meat Square, The
Eton, William, 47, 49
Europe, 24, 45 – 6, 66, 68 – 9, 73, 87,
95, 106, 109, 121, 128
revolutionary, 93
Western, 5, 46
Europeans, 24, 225n7
expeditions
1806 expedition, 90
British Naval Expedition (1807), 6,
67, 118, 121, 129, 147
French Egyptian, 153
Russo-Ottoman, 249n19
factions
anti-reformist, 183
of Cezayirli Gazi Hasan Pasha, 156
of Halil Hamid Pasha, 134, 156
of “ins” and “outs”, 160
of Küc ük Hüseyin Pasha, 144
of outs, 8, 130, 147, 153, 160
of Prince Mustafa, 159– 60
pro-British, 147
pro-French, 145– 7
pro-Russian, 145– 6
of Yusuf Agha, 144
Faroqhi, Suraiya, 65, 186
Feyzullah Efendi, Director of New
Treasury, 157
Feyzullah Efendi, shaikh al-Islam, 19,
190, 221n54
Feyzullahzâdes, ulema family, 148
293
Fezleke (Ebubekir and Kuşmânı̂),
11– 12, 214– 15n26
fiefs (tımar), 75 – 7, 86, 96, 240n17 –18
204n20
Findley, Carter V., 61, 153
fortresses (forts)
Anadolu Feneri and Garipc e, 21
Black Sea, 23
Bosporus, 2, 16 – 17, 22, 25, 59, 163
Bozca Ada, 253n82
Çanakkale, 113
commander at, 3, 50
Four, the, 25
Hotin, 111
Varna, 79
France, 5, 8, 46, 54, 67, 69, 102,
107–10, 113, 119– 23, 125– 6,
146–8, 183, 185, 219n38,
237–8n156, 244n80, 250n26
Napoleonic, 5, 67, 102
Frankish manner, 24
Franks, 24
French consul of Aleppo, 49
French detachment, 122, 124
Galata, 28, 53, 65, 69, 98, 182
Golden Horn, 53
Goldstone, Jack, 7 – 8
Grain Administration see Zahire Nezareti
Griesse, Malte, 20
Guillaume-Antoine, Olivier, 5, 152
Habeschi, Elias, 48
Hacı Ahmedoğlu, the voyvoda of Bolu,
51, 65, 85, 182
Hacı Bektash, 191
Halet Efendi, Mehmed Said, 13, 148,
157, 209, 215n40
Halil Agha (Halil Haseki), commander,
22– 3, 26, 30
Halil Hamid Pasha, 63, 134, 142–4,
156, 204
Hasan Pasha, Cezayirli Gazi, 69, 156
Heyd, Uriel, 155
294
CRISIS
AND REBELLION IN THE
hospodars (princes), 62, 109– 10, 112
crisis, 112, 146
Moldavia and Wallachia, 109
Wallachia, 110
Hüccet-i Şeriyye (Legal Document,
1807), 18, 39 – 42, 155, 166– 71,
192, 196
Hünkar İskelesi, 22
Hüseyin Agha, Pehlivan (Ağa Pasha),
117– 18, 147– 8, 160
Hüseyin Pasha, Küc ük, 133, 135,
143– 5, 206
Ibrahim Ismet Beyefendi (İsmail Raif
Paşazâde), 133– 4, 151– 3, 206
Ibrahim Müteferrika, 93, 137
Ibrahim Nesim Efendi (Ibrahim
Kethüda), 11, 30, 32, 89,
117– 19, 133– 5, 145– 6, 149,
151, 153– 5, 159, 177, 183, 185,
187– 9, 204
Ibrahim Reşid Efendi, Hacı (Elhac
Ibrahim Efendi), 84, 133– 4, 136,
149, 153, 156– 7, 183, 185, 206
iltizam see tax (overtaxation)
insurgents
1730, 40
1807, 36, 173
group of (1651, 1703, 1730, 1807,
1808), 19
Serbian, 126
intisab (patron – client relationship), 133
Islam, 13, 24, 93 – 4, 104, 137– 9, 141,
164, 190, 214n22, 259– 60n34
orthodox (Islamic Orthodoxy),
92, 140
Orthodox Sunni, 140, 192, 198
Islamic enlightenment, 9, 137, 259n30
Islamic forms of legitimation, 166
Ismail Agha, Tirsiniklioğlu, 76 – 7, 110
Ismail Bey, Serezli (Sirozı̂), 89
Ismail Pasha, Hafız, 146, 153, 157,
209, 263n94
Ismail Raif Pasha, 134, 151, 204
OTTOMAN EMPIRE
Istanbul (Ottoman capital), 1– 3, 5, 8,
16, 19, 22, 25 – 6, 31 – 2, 40– 3,
47– 8, 51 – 8, 60 – 2, 64 – 6,
68– 70, 71, 75– 6, 80, 87– 90,
97– 8, 100, 104–5, 107– 9,
112–18, 120, 122, 124, 126– 7,
130, 140– 2, 144, 146, 149,
155, 158, 167, 175, 178-80, 190,
197, 200, 214n23, 218n19,
221n54, 224n84, 228n38– 9,
230n64, 230n67, 237– 8n156,
253n82, 260n36, 274n17
artisans of, 181
conquest of, 216– 17n2
craftsmen of, 97
judge of see judge
Ottoman, 210–11n2
Istanbulites, 29, 80, 116, 120, 177– 8,
181, 186
Istanbulization, 155
Italinsky, Andrei Yakovlevich,
110, 146
Izzet Mehmed Pasha, grand vizier, 144,
260n36, 261n52, 274n3
janissary
agha, 27, 32
army see army
barracks, 81 – 2, 87
commander, 32, 88
corps see corps
elders, 33, 38, 90
officers, 33, 39
pay tickets (esâme), 13, 57 – 9,
62 – 3, 216n41, 233n100,
235n126
prestige of, 33, 100, 224n85
revolt (rebellion), 41 – 2
troops, 3
judge, 38, 58, 87, 168, 208, 231n74,
249n15
deputy (naib), 87 – 8
of Eyüp, 214n22
of Istanbul, 32, 40, 56, 261n49
INDEX
Kabakc ı Mustafa, 27, 127, 187, 191,
222n59, 255n110
kadıasker see kazaskers
Kadızadeli, 189– 90
Kafadar, Cemal, 97, 212n8
kaimmakam (deputy to the grand vizier),
14, 30, 33, 36, 39, 123, 147,
149– 50, 154, 208, 262n72,
263n77
Karışdıran, 87
kazaskers (kadıasker), 12, 32, 208
ex-kazaskers, 40
Kethüda Said Efendi (Said Efendi)
(historian), 12 – 13, 29, 60,
213n20
History, 12, 274n20
steward to Veliefendizâde, 60
Koca Sekbanbaşı (author), 93 – 5, 104,
137, 245n92
kul, 171, 195
Risalesi (Sekbanbaşı Treatise), 92
large estates (chiftliks), 50 – 1, 84,
228n46
askeri chiftliks, 51
Levent, 24, 240n17
legal document (şeri hüccet), 40
Levent Chiftlik, 82, 240n17, 240n20
Little Ice Age, 46, 225n7
magnates (ayans), 3, 6, 41, 51 – 2, 74,
76 – 7, 83 – 6, 88 – 91, 96, 101,
185, 196– 7, 199, 241n26,
260n37
mahdi (mehdi), 116, 138– 9, 258n22
mahdist, 139
Mahmud I, Sultan, 40, 181
Mahmud II, Sultan, 3, 20, 34, 42, 55,
159, 169, 172, 190, 193– 6,
199– 200, 212n7
Prince, 37, 159
Mahmud Raif Efendi, 17, 25– 6, 30,
119, 132– 4, 137, 145– 6, 151,
185, 204
295
Mahmud Tayyar Pasha, Caniklizâde,
82– 6, 159, 240n18
malikane see tax (overtaxation)
malikane-owners, 75 – 6, 78
malikanization, 50
Mardin, Şerif, 170, 199
Marmont, French General, 122– 4
Meat Square, The (Et Meydanı), 12,
18– 19, 26 – 8, 31 – 2, 36, 60, 65,
176, 182– 3, 216–17n2, 220n46,
222n61
masters of (Meydan-ı Lahm Efendileri),
147
Mehmed Ali Pasha, Kavalalı, 25, 95,
107, 172, 194
Mehmed Ataullah Efendi, Es-Seyyid,
Şerifzâde, the shaik al-Islam, 14, 32,
37–8, 56, 89, 147–9, 153–5, 188,
208, 222n61, 244n82, 269n57
Mehmed Ataullah Efendi, Şânı̂zâde, 10,
214n22
Mehmed Efendi, Birgivı̂, 189
Mehmed Emin Efendi, Shaik Burusevı̂
(Kerkükı̂), 141, 188, 260n36
Mehmed Emin Efendi, Veliefendizâde,
12, 58, 60, 134, 136, 206, 256n6,
257n15
Mehmed, Kara Osmanzâde, 76
Mehmed Memiş Efendi, rikab kethüda,
35, 127, 205, 256n6
Mehmed Münib Efendi, 147– 8, 151,
156, 208, 264n107, 269n57
Mehmed Ragıb Efendi, Judge, 58
Mehmed Ragıb Pasha, Elhac (Ragıb
Pasha, Mehmed Ragıb), 23,
218n17– 18
Mehmed Raşid Efendi,
Reisülküttab, 86, 132,
134, 144 – 5, 204
mektubı̂-i sadr-i ali see correspondence
office of the grand vizier
Memiş Efendi, Elhac, 76
meşveret see consultative assemblies
Michelson, General, 111
296
CRISIS
AND REBELLION IN THE
migration, 7, 44, 49, 52, 54, 57, 64 –6,
178, 226n24, 228n39, 229n50,
230n63, 230n67, 236n135,
236n137
Mihrişah, Valide Sultan (Queen
Mother), 85, 135, 141, 143– 6,
151, 187, 205
Mikhail, Alan, 46
modernization (Westernization), 4, 10,
15, 25, 73, 79, 85, 90, 137, 152,
173, 181, 200
Ottoman and Republican, 200
Ottoman and Turkish, 131,
139, 199
paradigm, 6, 34
Turkish, 10, 199
moral economy, 36, 164
Mountaineers, 6, 51, 87
mukabele-i bi’l-misil (principle of
reprisal), 93
mukataa see tax (overtaxation)
mukataa-owners, 85
mültezims see tax (overtaxation)
Murad IV, Sultan, 19, 34, 210n2,
217n3, 223n69
mürur tezkeresi see travel certificates
Musa Pasha, Köse, kaimmakam, 14, 30,
33, 36, 147– 9, 153– 4, 156, 208,
220n40
Muslims, 19, 28 – 9, 54, 56, 78, 89, 93,
112, 119, 139, 266n19
Mustafa I, Sultan, 34
Mustafa II, Sultan, 210n2, 221n54
Mustafa III, Sultan, 47
Mustafa IV, Sultan, 3, 12 – 13, 20,
18 – 19, 36, 38 – 9, 42, 77, 124,
126, 149– 50, 157– 61, 167,
171– 2, 184, 196
Prince, 34, 37, 149, 209
Mustafa Agha, Kahvecioğlu, 98
Mustafa Agha, Kazgancı Laz, 79, 179,
242n38– 9
Mustafa Necib Efendi, 11, 13, 215n31,
263n94
OTTOMAN EMPIRE
Mustafa Pasha, Alemdar, 3, 41 – 2, 58,
98, 123, 151, 167, 200, 212n7,
224n84– 5
Mustafa Refik Efendi, 146, 205, 256n8,
260n37
Mustafa Reşid Efendi, 56, 69, 133– 4,
136, 146, 151, 156, 184, 195,
204, 257n15, 238n169, 245n92
mütesellim see tax (overtaxation)
mutiny
Spanish army of Flanders, 21
Nakib al-eşraf, 18, 206
Napoleon, 105– 12, 115, 120– 3,
125–6, 145
Naqshbandı̂, a religious order, 141,
188–90, 197, 259n34
Naqshbandı̂ tekkes, 142, 260n36– 7,
261n44
Naqshbandı̂-Khallidiya, 141, 259–60n34
Naqshbandı̂-Mujaddidı̂, 9, 11, 137,
140–2, 157, 163, 188– 9, 190,
197, 204– 6, 209
disciples, 140
shaiks, 12, 188– 9
teachings, 142
nepotism, 8, 130, 155
Neticetü’l-Vekayi, 11
New Fund (İrad-ı Cedid, New Treasury),
4, 70, 74 –8, 86, 96, 157– 8,
240n13, 241n25
director of (İrad-ı Cedid defterdarı),
35, 84, 157, 184, 205, 271n93
establishment of, 78
“New Orderists”, 159
Nizam-ı Cedid (New Order), 6 – 7,
9– 10, 13 – 15, 16, 26 – 7, 34, 39,
42, 55, 63, 71, 75, 79, 80 – 3,
85– 8, 89, 92, 94 –5, 96, 100–1,
120, 127, 136, 152, 156– 7, 159,
175, 195, 183– 4, 186, 219n27,
221n57, 244n68, 239n9
army see army
cavalry forces of, 87
INDEX
corps see corps
elite (new Selimian reforming elite),
8, 104, 130– 4, 137, 140, 142–3,
147, 155, 156– 7, 160, 184, 187,
190, 196
pro-New Order authors, 96
reforms, 3 – 4, 73, 79, 82 – 3, 85, 90,
101, 111, 120, 137, 159, 166,
183– 4, 188, 260n37
uniforms, 2, 23– 4
non-Muslims, 19, 29, 62, 75, 78, 115,
221– 2n59
Oğulukyan, Georg, 11, 27, 35, 215n30,
222n59
Ruznâme, 11
Ömer Agha (steward to Esma Sultan,
brother of Yusuf Aga), 76, 135
Ömer Efendi, Câbı̂, 10, 13, 86, 119,
186– 7, 214n23
Ömer Hulusi Efendi, shaikh al-Islam,
134, 206, 260n36
orta sandıkları (company banks), 59
Ortaköy, 28
Osman II, Sultan, 23 – 4, 34, 210n2
Osman Pasha, Gürcü, 84
Ottoman volunteer commando
(serdengecti), 23
Pamuk, Şevket, 196
Patrona Halil, chief of the 1730
uprising, 26 –7, 199
Pazvandoğlu, 51, 77, 80, 86
Phanariots, 61 – 2
Philliou, Christine, 61
Pizani, Bartholomew, 113, 251n51
plague, 47–9, 226n25, 227n26,
227n31
propaganda texts, 24, 99, 137
Raymond, André, 60, 97
Rebellion
of 1623 and 1632, 178
of 1651, 181
297
of 1655, 235n126
of 1687, 235n126
of 1688, 210– 11n2
of 1717, 1718 and 1719, 235n126
janissary, 42
joint rebellions (1622, 1655), 179
of May 1807, 3, 10, 42, 89, 183,
191– 2, 199
Ottoman, 15, 17, 19, 29, 36,
165– 6
of Patrona Halil 1730, 170, 181,
199, 210– 11n2
rebels
of 1622, 235n126
of 1632, 223n69
in 1651, 32
of 1703, 190, 219n33
of 1807, 163, 182, 196, 198
Ottoman, 32
self-legitimation, 28
Serbian, 90, 127
regiment
Levent Chiftlik, 24
Nizam-ı Cedid, 82
Üsküdar, 24, 81, 83
revenge, 12, 18, 36, 38, 120, 186
idea of, 36
revolts, 11, 19 – 20, 23, 34, 38, 46,
54, 63 –4, 71 – 2, 82, 84, 86,
123–5, 154, 158, 166, 171,
180, 187, 191, 198– 9,
213–14n20, 217n6, 221n54,
230n67, 234n113, 235n126,
243n51, 244– 5n82
of 1730 and 1740, 64
1730, 53
1826, 212n7
against Selim III, 91
janissary, 41
of Mahmud Tayyar Pasha (1805), 80,
85 – 6, 101
Ottoman, 1, 42
of Pazvandoğlu, 80, 85
peasant, 139
298
CRISIS
AND REBELLION IN THE
of semi-independent local magnates
(ayans), 6
revolutions (ihtilal)
Age of Revolutions (1760 –1840),
5, 44 – 5, 132, 193– 4, 212n9,
248n3
American Revolution (1775–83),
193
counter-revolution (31 March
Incident), 197
counter-revolution (28 July 1808),
17, 98
French Revolution (1789), 45, 103,
136, 193, 256n5
Haitian Revolution (1804), 193
Iranian Revolution (1979), 248n6
Serbian Revolution (1804), 193
Young Turk Revolution (1908), 196
ringleaders, 19, 21, 26, 31, 173, 177,
184, 221– 2n59
of 1807, 269n64
riots, 5, 8, 54, 231n74, 242n35,
269n63, 270n92
in Anatolia, 5
bread, 48, 53 – 4
food, 45, 53
risale see treatise
Ruscuk, 77, 123– 4, 215n31, 224n84
Russia, 8, 22, 52, 55, 67, 70, 102,
104– 10, 112, 114, 120– 3,
125– 6, 145– 7, 244n80
Russians, 68, 90, 92, 104– 5, 109– 12,
118– 19, 121– 3, 126, 145– 6,
159, 175, 178, 229–30n60
237n156
ruzname (belonging to the reign of
Mustafa III), 47
Ruznâme (Daily Routines of the Sultans),
10 – 11, 214n24
sadats (descendants of the Prophet
Muhammad), 8, 60, 186
Şahin Giray, the Crimean khan, 25,
218n22
OTTOMAN EMPIRE
Saint-Denys, Juchereau de, 11, 114, 116
Şakir Bey (Hasan Şakir Bey), bostancıbaşı,
35, 183, 205, 222n60, 256n6
Şakul, Kahraman, 92, 137, 139, 190
Salonika, 47 –8, 62, 98, 197, 226n23,
235n123, 240n20
Salzmann, Ariel, 74, 75, 195
Schama, Simon, 66
Schlechta-Wssehrd Ottokar M. von, 11
Schulze, Reinhardt, 139, 259n29
Sébastiani, Horace F. B., 108– 10,
112–19, 121 –5, 127– 8, 146,
148, 254n102, 255n109, 264n97
Sekban-ı cedid see army
sekbans (local militia), 52
Selami Efendi, Naqshbandi shaik, 12,
189, 260n36
tekke, 261n44
Selim III, Sultan, 2–3, 6, 9, 10, 12, 16,
18, 22–3, 30, 33–4, 36, 37–9,
42–3, 52, 54–5, 58, 60–1, 63–5,
67, 69, 71, 73–4, 79–84, 86,
90–2, 97, 103–10, 112, 114–17,
120–3, 126, 131–2, 134–5, 138,
140–2, 143–5, 150, 152–3,
156–9, 163, 171, 173–4, 175–6,
178, 181, 184, 187, 189–90, 195
prince, 104, 135
Selimiyye Mosque, 80 – 1
Incident, 80 – 1, 98
Selimiyye Naqshbandı̂ tekke, 260n37
Sened-i İttifak see alliances: Deed of
Alliance
Septinsular Republic (Cezâir-i Seba-ı
Müctemia Cumhuru), 106
Serbia, 48, 51, 123, 179
Serbians, 123, 126– 7
Sergey, A. Nefedov, 7 – 8, 44, 57, 66
şeri hüccet see legal document
Sened-i İttifak see alliances
shaikh al-Islam, 14, 18 – 19, 32, 36 – 41,
56, 89, 116, 134, 144, 147– 9,
153, 155, 187– 8, 244– 5n82,
260n36, 268n51, 269n57
INDEX
share system (esham), 70 – 1, 75,
240n11, 240n13
Shaw, Stanford, 79, 144– 5, 152, 183
Shupp, P.F., 120
sipahis see cavalrymen
Stremmelaar, Annemarike, 36, 217n6
Subrahmanyam, Sanjay, 9, 136, 193
Süleyman Agha, the chief black eunuch,
34, 221n55
Süleyman Bey, Çapanzâde,Cabbarzâde,
76, 82 – 4, 240n18, 243n62
Süleyman Penah Efendi, 52, 54 – 5
sultanism, 164
Sunni tradition (Islamic Sunnite tradition), 162, 165, 168, 192,
266n21
Tarrow, Sidney, 19
tax (overtaxation)
on alcoholic beverages (zecriye resmi),
75, 240n10
capitation (cizye), 62, 78, 117
lifetime tax-farming (malikane), 57,
70 –1, 75– 8, 84, 228n38,
239n174, 240n13– 14
tax-collector (mütesellim), 69, 83 – 4,
214n23
tax-farm (mukataa, tax-farm system),
70, 77, 84, 86, 157– 8, 215n31,
241n25, 234n116, 240n13,
241n25
tax-farmers (mültezims), 51, 85, 158
tax-farming system (iltizam,
short-term tax), 57, 70, 75 – 7
on wine and liquor (rüsumat-ı hamr ve
arak), 78
Tekfur Dağı (Tekirdağ), 87 – 8
Tezcan, Baki, 24, 59, 169, 196
Thompson, Edward P., 36
Thrace, 51, 86 – 7, 90
Tilly, Charles, 66, 73, 244n71
tımar see fiefs
Topkapı Palace, 2, 19, 224n84
tranpete risalesi, 264n107
299
travel certificates (mürur tezkeresi), 65
treatise, 11 – 12, 52, 92 – 3, 94, 96,
136–7, 140, 245n91
treaty
of 1783, 68
Amiens Treaty (27 March 1802),
249n19
of Campo Formio (17 October 1791),
121
of Campo Formio (18 February
1797), 108
of Küc ük Kaynarca (1774), 104
Ottoman – Venetian peace treaty
(1716), 121
Paris Peace Treaty, 106
Russian – Ottoman, 107
Triple Alliance, 106– 8
renewal of the, 114, 145
Turchin, Peter, 7, 44, 57, 66
ulema, 18 – 19, 21, 31 – 3, 35, 37 – 9, 41,
58– 9, 64, 78, 91, 105, 116, 132,
134, 141, 144– 5, 147– 53,
155–6, 166– 8, 180, 187, 189,
191, 196– 8, 217n3, 220n46,
223n74, 264n101, 266n20,
269n57, 270n74
umma (Islamic community), 9, 137,
139–40, 168, 259– 60n34
uprisings
1622, 23, 210 –11n2, 235n126
1623 and 1629, 179, 235n126
1632, 40, 217n3
1648, 210– 11n2
1657, 235n126
1703, 1, 40, 181, 266n14
1808 and 1826, 20
in the Balkans, 5
in Cairo, 220n46
in Istanbul (Istanbul-based), 1 – 2,
197, 210– 11n2
janissary, 210– 11n2, 212n8
May 1807 (25– 29 May), 2 –6, 8– 9,
12 – 13, 15 – 18, 20 – 1, 23 – 5, 27,
300
CRISIS
AND REBELLION IN THE
29, 31 – 2, 41, 43, 45, 51, 56, 60,
66, 79, 91, 103, 119, 125, 127,
134, 149, 154, 159– 60, 163, 175,
177, 179, 181, 183, 188, 190–2,
194– 7, 199, 213n19, 214n25,
215n30
Ottoman, 1 – 2, 4 – 5, 15 – 16, 18, 28,
31, 163, 166, 176, 178
pre-1826, 158
Serbian uprising of 1804, 50 – 1,
67, 89, 108, 110, 126,
255n106
uproar of 1730, 1, 20, 26– 7, 40,
181, 235– 6n126
Üsküdar and Levent, 82
Wahhabism, 6, 9, 138, 193, 250n28,
259n30, 266n11
wars, 5–7, 17, 20, 43–4, 47, 52, 55, 63,
66–7, 69–71, 74, 76, 85, 94–5,
102–6, 110–13, 117, 120–1,
138, 150, 164, 169, 189–91, 195,
212n7, 225n16, 233n99,
238n159, 251n43, 251n48,
against the French, 144, 261n52
against Russia and Britain, 120
against the Russians, 3, 55, 68, 92,
105, 110, 113, 121– 2, 147, 169,
241n32, 267n29
Napoleonic, 6
Russo-Austrian war (1788), 68
Russo-Ottoman war (1768 – 74),
52, 68
OTTOMAN EMPIRE
Russo-Ottoman war (1806 –12), 67,
120, 126, 129
Seven Years’ War (1756 – 63), 95
World War I, 195
Weber, Max, 164–5, 174
West, 4, 52, 139, 148, 199, 200
Western-model armies, 25
Westernization see modernization
Wilkinson, William, 118, 148
world
Christian, 24
Islamic, 138– 9
Ottoman, 24
yamaks (auxiliary troops), 13, 22 –3,
51, 180
Yayla İmamı Risalesi (Yayla İmamı),
13– 14, 98, 151–2
Yi, Eunjeong, 20, 32
Yusuf Agha Efendi, 133
Yusuf Agha, Valide Sultan kethüdası,
35, 58, 69, 85 – 6, 133,
134–5, 142– 4, 146, 151, 155,
183, 187– 9, 205, 238n169,
257n14
Yusuf Pasha, Koca, 136, 156
Yusuf Ziya Pasha, Grand Vizier, 76,
144–5, 261n54
Zahire Nezareti, 54, 202 see also Grain
Administration
Zebı̂re, Zebı̂re-i Kuşmânı̂, 92
zecriye resmi see tax
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