Soldiers and Students
Ethnic Diversity and Imperial Homogeneity
In this chapter, I examine the district of Of as a case study in the emergence of an ottomanist state society in the province of Trabzon. Documents transliterated and summarized by Hasan Umur, the local historian of Of, track three different phases of such a process: the Islamization of the district by conversion and immigration, the spread of soldiering and preaching, and the rise to prominence of local elites.
Who are the Oflus? The question has often been posed by outsiders, and their answers are bewildering. The Oflus are Lezghis (Evliya Çelebi, a late-seventeenth-century Ottoman traveler who confused them with a remote Caucasian people). The Oflus appear to be Muslims but secretly subscribe to Christianity (an early-nineteenth-century French consul). The Oflus are not like the Rizelis and Sürmenelis, but have distinct habits and customs (an early-nineteenth-century British consul). The Oflus are a melange of Byzantine peoples like the Rizelis and Sürmenelis (a late-nineteenth-century British consul). The Oflus are of Pontic Greek origin, but became fanatical Muslims (a late-nineteenth-century scholar of Greek dialects). The Oflus are Muslims who keep Bibles, crosses, and other relics and would like to become Christians (a twentieth-century Greek churchman). The Oflus are Çepni Turks who settled in the district sometime after its incorporation by the Ottomans (a twentieth-century Turkish historian). The Oflus are Laz, like all the other inhabitants of the coastal region (the villagers of the interior highlands).
Despite all the confusion of outside observers, most of the Oflus I encountered in the district during the 1960s did not hesitate to say who they were. They were Turkish Muslims. This contemporary self–identification can be dated to the beginning of the nationalist period, but it is consistent with a much longer history of state participation. By the late seventeenth century, the district of Of had become a predominantly Muslim rural society and many, if not most, male Oflus were affiliated with imperial military and religious institutions. The claim to be both Muslims and Turks in the 1960s can therefore be regarded as an updating of this ottomanist legacy. As Muslims and Turks, the Oflus represented a local state society that had come into being through a complex process of conversion, immigration, and transformation. Since the traces of this history had been preserved in local habit and custom, the identity of the Oflus, like that of many other rural peoples in the eastern coastal region, has long been available for all kinds of polemical purposes. In the next section, I shall illustrate all the moving, remaking, and mixing by contrasting the distinctive features of the population in different sectors of the district. In this way, undercurrents of ethnic and linguistic diversity will serve to highlight the homogenizing process of imperial identification and participation.
The district of Of is geographically divided into two systems of valleys, that of the Solaklıı River and that of Baltacıı River (see map 1). The villagers of each system of valleys interact more among themselves than they do with the villagers of the other valley–system. The major market centers of each valley are different, and the routes of seasonal movement up and down the valley are different.
According to local tradition, which is probably correct, the large majority of the population in the district of Of has been Muslim since the mid- to late seventeenth century. Regional historians, westernEuropean travelers, and government records from the mid-nineteenth century all agree that the population was as much as 98 percent Muslim at that time. Government documents from earlier centuries strongly suggest that such a situation came about no later than the close of the seventeenth century. So almost all the inhabitants of the district have been Muslim for some time.
On the other hand, the villagers in different sectors of the district have a mix of ethnic backgrounds. The population in the eastern valley-system is (and, in local memory, has long been) almost exclusively Turkish speaking. The population in the western valley-system recently included a large number of Greek-speakers and was not so long ago largely Greek-speaking. This contrast correlates with the transit systems of the two valleys (see map 1). The eastern valley was open to settlement by peoples of the interior highlands. What was once the principal coastal market for the district, Eskipazar ("old market") was the terminus for a trade route that moved up the eastern valley, across the mountains, to reach the Anatolian town of İİspir, and thence Erzurum. In contrast, the western valley, lacking a natural trade route, was less conveniently connected with the Anatolian town of Bayburt. Its residents engaged in seasonal movements up and down the valley, but the valley was less accessible from the coast and from the interior.
My interlocutors in Of drew conclusions about the social attributes of each valley that are consistent with their contrasting topographies. The villagers of eastern valley are said to be of "diverse" origins by virtue of their physical appearance and social behavior. Many had accents that brought to mind the speech patterns of the people of Erzurum, across the mountains, suggesting that most immigrants had come from that area. In contrast, the villagers of the western valley are said to feature older, non-Turkic customs and practices. Although many spoke Greek as their first language, they also shared dances, stories, and songs from village to village, regardless of their mother tongue. This conservatism suggested that the rural societies in the western valley had been less unsettled by arrivals and departures.
Still, one cannot conclude that the villagers of the eastern valley were essentially of Turkic origin while the villagers of the western valley were essentially of Greek origin. More exactly, Turkish became the local language of assimilation in the eastern valley, while Greek became the local language in the western valley. In general, both Turkish and Greek as spoken in Of obey the rule of ethnic fragmentation and imperial appropriation. They are simultaneously marked by archaic traits and yet responsive to contact with the outside world. Brendemoen has found old Turkish usages in the district of Of that have vanished in most other parts of Asia Minor. Similarly, the Greek spoken in the district of Of is an old Pontic dialect unique to it and yet strongly influenced by Turkic, Arabic, and Persian.
Documenting Immigration and Conversion in Of
The traces of past immigration and conversion in different sectors of the district are consistent with published descriptions of the four Ottoman registers compiled during the first and second century of Ottoman rule. Hasan Umur carried out a study of three of these registers and summarized those portions that specifically referred to the district. Reorganizing his household counts by geographic sectors, one can detect the very beginnings of trends in migration and conversion that eventually led to the contemporary attributes of the population. The results of this reorganization are presented in table 1.[
|11. Number of Christian and Muslim Households, by Quadrant|
|Christian and Muslim Households|
The total Christian population in the district was increasing rather than decreasing during most, if not all, of the sixteenth century. The Muslim population, still quite small in 1515—more than fifty years after the fall of Trabzon—becomes significant only in 1583, that is, well into the second century of Ottoman rule. Thus Ottoman incorporation of the district, which would have included the allotment of tıımars and the assignment of sipahis, was not initially correlated with large numbers of arrivals of Muslims, departures of Christians, or conversions. At the time of the register of 1554, almost a century after the fall of Trabzon, the Christian population had risen slightly even in the lower valleys. On the other hand, there are now indications that the Christian population was beginning to come under some kind of pressure. Since the compilation of the previous register there appear to have been a significant number of Muslim arrivals; moreover, a proportion of the Christian population has begun to resettle in the upper valleys, where new villages are being founded. At the time of the register of 1583, there is a clear indication of the onset of the Islamization of the district population by a combination of immigration and conversion. Since the compilation of the previous register, the Muslim population has significantly risen and the Christian population has significantly declined in the lower eastern valley. This was the sector where Turkish would eventually become the language of assimilation. One might estimate that the Christian population in this part of the district was already headed toward collapse by the close of the sixteenth century. And since the Turkish spoken here now bears traces of an Erzurum dialect, arrivals of Turkic-speaking Muslims, coming directly or indirectly from the interior highlands of Erzurum, were already playing a role in the process of Islamization.
The three sixteenth-century registers give us no exact information about the role of immigration as compared to conversion in bringing about the Islamization of the district. In all likelihood, both were equally important. Some of the new Muslims must have been Turkic-speakers by the evidence of contemporary linguistic studies. Some of the new Muslims must have been converts by the evidence of personal names recorded in the registers. In other words, during the sixteenth century there was a gradual intrusion of Muslims and a gradual conversion of Christians, together resulting in an average increase of about twenty Muslim families a year from the second to the third register.
On the other hand, the registers point to the eventual establishment of Turkish and Greek as the languages of assimilation in the lower eastern and upper western sectors, respectively. In the former sector, the Muslim population was rising and the Christian population was faltering, while in the latter sector the Christian population was rising and the Muslim population remained small in number, although it too was rising. It is only the upper eastern sector that was inconsistent with the contemporary attributes of the population, since the formation of new Christian settlements did not lead to the persistence of Greek-speakers in this area. This inconsi stency reinforces the point that the population of neither valley can be considered to have been exclusively of Turkic or Greek background.
The situation in the district of Of during the sixteenth century contrasts with what was taking place in the regional capital. Toward the latter half of the sixteenth century, the Ottomans had begun to move Muslims into and Christians out of the town of Trabzon. Perhaps in response to these measures, large numbers of conversions had begun to take place among the Christians in the town. In any event, the Christians would have been inclined to convert for other reasons as well. The church hierarchy and institutions had declined, and the economic benefits of Muslim status were considerable. By the time of the registers of 1583, more than half of the population in the town of Trabzon had become Muslim, largely as a result of conversion rather than immigration, as evidenced by the fact that most of the citizenry still spoke Greek. Judging from the example of Of, the advantages of both immigration and conversion were less immediate in the outlying districts than in the regional capital itself. Unlike the regional capital, the outlying districts were not the site of major emporia serving sea and overland routes. So the Ottomans were less concerned about the composition of their populations, Muslims were less motivated to immigrate there in the absence of opportunities, and Christians were under less pressure to convert. Later, during the seventeenth century, the situation would change as the inhabitants of the eastern districts began to participate in imperial institutions as soldiers and students. The population of the eastern districts would become almost entirely Muslim, more so than the regional capital.
Christian conversion and Muslim immigration gradually gained ground in the district during the course of the seventeenth century. An official document dated 1615/1024 indicates a substantial Christian presence in the district of Of. Others, however, hint at steadily decreasing numbers of Christian households. One document dated 1631/1040 refers to 441 Christian households in the district of Of, while one dated 1673/1083 refers to only 90. Probably there was no one moment of mass conversion among the Christians, but rather one or more occasions when a large number of people, and perhaps several villages, passed over to Islam en masse. But what did it mean when an individual or a group chose to be registered as Muslim rather than Christian? Does the fact of official registration as Muslim rather than Christian indicate anything about the relationship of an individual or group to the imperial system?
As we saw in the last chapter, the ruling institution of the classical period sponsored and supported the sacred law of Islam. However, this did not mean that ordinary Ottoman subjects, whether Muslim, Christian, or Jewish, were forced or encouraged to conform to official Islam. The sacred law of Islam accords legal standing to local customs and habits (örf veâdet) of Muslims, just as it accords legal standing to the religious leadership and communities of Christians and Jews (ehl-i kitab). So, in terms of legal status and rights, the inhabitants of the eastern coastal districts did not need to become official Muslims, or, for that matter, to become Muslims at all. Nonetheless, those individuals whose family and commercial affairs conformed to official Islam would have enjoyed certain advantages. So at best the imperial regime would have only exerted mild financial and political pressures on Christians and Muslims to move toward official Islam.
In response to such pressures, it is likely that villagers and townsmen in the province of Trabzon presented themselves as official Muslims when it came to their dealings with the state. Otherwise these same villagers and townsmen would have continued to follow religious beliefs and practices that did not conform at all to official Islam. The best example of this situation is those groups of villagers in Trabzon, such as the Kurumlis, who registered themselves as Muslim with the central government but otherwise followed Orthodox beliefs and practices. And judging from the results of my fieldwork, I would expect that groups of heterodox Muslims also followed a similar strategy, presenting themselves as official Muslims before state officials, but then following Shi'i beliefs and practices when among themselves in their villages.
Thus the steady increase in the Muslim population during the seventeenth century is not in itself an indication of the emergence of a state-oriented society in the district of Of. It is possible that the local population featured all kinds of religious orientations even while the Oflus were officially registered as Muslims. But it is highly unlikely that this was in fact the case. The steady increase in the Muslim population was headed toward the disappearance of a Christian population, and this disappearance is associated with traditions of flight and apostasy. This suggests that the Oflus, both Muslim and Christian, were engaged in a transformation of their family and social lives, something far more drastic than adapting themselves to the state system by presenting themselves as official Muslims. The signs of such a transformation are clearly evident by the late seventeenth century. The Christians were converting and the Muslims were reforming, as both groups merged together to form a new kind of state society. The energy and conviction that went into this remaking of family and society was such that it soon became impossible for any of the Oflus to exempt themselves.
Documenting Imperial Participation in Trabzon
Toward the close of the seventeenth century, the Oflus were most surely identifying with and participating in imperial institutions. One of the documents transcribed by Hasan Umur indicates the extent of this change. In the year 1695/1106, the central government called on the people of the southern Black Sea coast to send 7,700 troops to report for an imperial campaign in Hungary. The interesting feature of this call-out is the distribution of troop assignments among the coastal districts. The further eastern districts, whose populations included large numbers of non-Turkic peoples, were expected to send the largest number of troops. In the document, each of fourteen districts, from Arhavi in the east to Şile in the west (beyond Bafra), were assigned a specific quota of recruits as follows (see map 2):
The large majority of the troops were called from the districts that would have had the highest proportion of non-Turkic peoples descended from the Orthodox, Byzantine population, 5,500 of the total of 7,700. So that part of the coastal region, which had so recently had a large Christian population, was to send a much larger contingent than the western coast, which had been predominantly Muslim for centuries.
2,000 persons from the Kaza of Trabzon, 500 from Sürmene, 300 from Giresun, 1,000 from Of, 700 from Rize, 300 from Mapavri, 500 from Atine, 500 from Arhavi with Vetse, 250 from Keşap, 100 from Viçe, 500 from Ünye with Balya, 300 from Şile, 300 from Görele with Tirebolu, 100 from Pazarsuyu, 300 from Sinop, and, besides the total of 7,700 individuals, the resident aghas and sergeants (ağa ve çavuş) and house property owners and men of wealth, whoever they may be, are to unfurl the banners, appoint commanders (üzerine başbuğ nasb), and gather provisions for their appearance in the field at Edirne.
The district of Of was assigned the largest quota of troops (1,000), with the one exception of the district of the provincial capital (2,000). The quota of troops for Of surpasses the total number of Muslim households attributed to the district in the last Ottoman register compiled in 1583. At the same time, the quota of troops also represents a substantial fraction, about 25 percent, of the total number of households, both Christian and Muslim, recorded for the district. So, even taking into account that the population may have increased, the call-out for the imperial campaign indicates a substantial change in the character of the population. By this date, in all probability, the large majority of Oflus had become Muslim by virtue of the combined processes of immigration and conversion. And more than this, the central government clearly expected that these "new" Muslims would respond to the call-out in especially large numbers.
Two other court documents suggest that centers of religious study had also come into existence more or less at the same time as large numbers of soldiers began to be drawn from the district. One of these, dated 1699/1110, records the following circumstances: On the complaint of one İİbrahim of the learned class (ulema), one İİbrahim Beşiroğlu of Paçan [Maraၟlıı] village in the district of Of, did sell property for a sum of money in the year 1689/1100, after which İİbrahim the purchaser went to Istanbul for educational purposes (tahsili ilm için), whereupon İİbrahim the seller did attempt to overturn the sale of the property, driving the wife and household of the purchaser from the premises and reselling it to another. The document indicates that the residents of Paçan were already engaged in religious teaching and learning toward the close of the seventeenth century. The second document, which refers to an incident that occurred in 1737/1150, indicates that a center of religious teaching and learning, with a large library, was in existence in the upper western valley by that date. According to the document, to be discussed later in more detail, an individual had come to the court with a complaint against various persons who are described as brigands. They are accused of exacting retribution on the inhabitants and killing as many as forty teachers and students while stealing seven hundred books or registers.
By the middle of the eighteenth century, if not earlier, the district of Of had become famous for its many specialists in religious teaching and learning, to a degree that was almost unparalleled in any other rural area of Asia Minor. In his study of commercial conditions along the Black Sea littoral, M. de Peysonnel, referring to conditions in 1750, writes that the district of Of was famous for its "infinite number of Men of the Law known for their erudition." Since the reputation presumably followed the fact by some years, the remark indicates that large numbers of religious teachers and students were to be found in the district no later than the early eighteenth century. By later memory and tradition, centers of religious study were distributed all over the district, both in the lower and upper valleys; however, they were especially concentrated in the upper western valley, where Greek was more commonly spoken than Turkish. Sermons were delivered in Turkish, but also commonly in Greek (in each instance with Koranic citations in Arabic). Koranic texts as well were discussed in Turkish, but also commonly in Greek.
Pontic Greek historians of the last century believed that a mass apostasy eventually took place in the district of Of, provoking the flight of those who refused to convert to Islam. They traced the cause for this mass conversion and flight to conditions of insecurity that followed the rise of aghas and agha-families (derebey). There is only a grain of truth in these otherwise erroneous traditions. The process of Islamization by conversion, which had probably begun during the first half of the sixteenth century, was gradual rather than abrupt. Eventually, by incremental processes of both Muslim settlement and Christian conversion, the district of Of became almost completely Muslim by the late seventeenth century. But while no mass conversion and flight ever occurred, the close of the seventeenth century was a turning point in the eastern districts of the old province of Trabzon. Some considerable number of Christians, both Greek-speakers and Armenian-speakers, abandoned the eastern districts at this time in order to seek refuge in the province of Canıık, significantly, that part of the coastal region that had not been part of the Greek Empire of Trebizond.
These departures occur too early to be correlated with the rise of aghas and agha-families. More probably, the remaining Christians were pressured to convert or leave by a heightening of imperial identification and participation. The rural societies of the coastal districts were becoming not just Muslim but, more specifically, imperially Muslim toward the close of the seventeenth century. Large numbers of Oflus were making their way into the ranks of regular troops and irregular militia. A smaller number were locally achieving appointments as janissary officers and soldiers. A few were even able to advance themselves in the imperial military establishment, serving outside the district in various towns or cities. At the very same time, in no less remarkable numbers, other Oflus were becoming religious teachers and students. And of these, some were also using what they had learned locally to propel themselves into the imperial religious establishment, financing their further education, when they could, in more prestigious institutions of the major Ottoman cities.
There was probably some kind of correlation between ethnic background and imperial service. Individuals of Turkic and Kurdish background were probably more typically successful in military careers, while those of Greek background were probably more typically successful in religious careers, in view of the fact that the Greek-speaking villages of the district are so strongly correlated with religious teaching and learning. But given the large numbers of both soldiers and students in Of, and adding in the factor of intermarriage, such a correlation could not have been very significant. Local participation in imperial institutions transcended ethnic identity. With the new avenues of appointment and position that opened up during the later seventeenth century, there were new possibilities for both immigrants and converts. The two could join together in hopes of making a place for themselves in the imperial system, something that had not been previously possible.
Documenting the Origins of Aghas and Konaks in Of
Since imperial participation was such an important factor in the district of Of, social changes in the district should be all the more closely correlated with changes in state policies and structures. In other words, the history of social relations in Of should follow those changes in the central government that everywhere touched the populations of the core Ottoman provinces. Documents summarized or transliterated by Hasan Umur indicate that this was indeed the case. Overall, the two hundred or so court cases and imperial decrees that he summarized are well coordinated with the major trends in the relationship of state and society. At the same time, the documents also point to the distinctive features of local elites in the province of Trabzon. When combined with local tradition, the documents suggest that imperial participation proceeded in a fashion that was not exactly duplicated in other Ottoman provinces, with results that also differed.
My interlocutors in the district of Of generally believed that the individuals who became aghas and established agha-families during the eighteenth century were often newcomers to the district of Of. I do not know of any definitive proof of this, but it is the overall opinion of both district outsiders and insiders. Local tradition also holds that the different aghas and agha-families arose at different times during the period of decentralization, some of them very early and some of them very late. Most of them then endured right down to the present day, some declining and others flourishing. The documents transcribed or summarized by Umur tell us something more than this. Given that some names that appear in the documents are unrecognizable, together with the fact that aghas and agha-families were always emerging, it seems likely that some individuals rose to prominence but then failed to establish family lines. Furthermore, the documents also suggest that the individuals who did rise to prominence, whether or not they did set down a family line, had some kind of connection with the government, but were of no special official eminence. In this respect, they are usually mentioned in terms of personal names supplemented by an "official" patronymic in the "oğlu" or "zade" form.
Of the documents Umur reviews, the earliest mention of a patronymic that is eventually associated with aghas and agha-families appears in three separate documents that address the attack, theft, and pillage of a settlement in 1679/1090. A certain Hacıı Ahmet Ayazoğlu is one of several individuals alleged to have participated in these aggressions. Some of the other accused individuals also have patronymics, but I am unable to link them with contemporary family names. The names include some with various epithets of a military (kanlıı, bey) or religious (hacıı, molla) character, but no titles or ranks. Other epithets added to their personal names indicate that the individuals in the group were of different homelands (Azaklıı) and different ethnicities (Çerkes). So the accused consist of a motley group of individuals of different familial, regional, and ethnic origins who have adopted low-level religious and military epithets. If the three documents are set in the larger context of state and society, they point toward a tentative conclusion.
During the final years of the seventeenth century, irregular troops and religious students without employment were commonly responsible for the kind of incidents described in the documents. For example, the group of individuals accused and convicted of the incidents in Of in 1679 would appear to have been so composed. So it would seem that some of the first aghas and agha-families in the district of Of arose from among individuals who were associated with the very lowest level of official military and religious activities. Alternatively, Hacıı Ahmet Ayazoğlu may have been a black sheep from a more prominent family line. This possibility is unlikely when compared with the same pattern that appears in other documents. About thirty years after the above incidents (1708), Kanlıı Hasan Ayazoğlu, acting together with brothers, a cousin, and associates, is accused and convicted of usurping the authority of the district janissary agha by appointing his son-in-law to that position. Then two years later this same individual, still other brothers, a cousin, and associates are named as well-known brigands who have been attacking marketplaces, committing homicides, and assaulting unmarried women for more than a decade.
A second set of documents describes even more serious incidents occurring in the year 1737/1150. A group of individuals is accused of hundreds of crimes, including assault, homicide, theft, looting, burning, rape, and kidnapping in the course of separate incidents. Among the names of the leaders one finds individuals who bear the patronymics Fettahoğlu, Çap-oğlu, Selimoğlu, Hacııhasanoğlu, and Keleşoğlu, all of which are patronym-ics later associated with aghas and agha-families of the Five and Twenty-five parties. In one of the documents, these individuals are described as brigands who act in concert with other brigands from the Sixty-fourth Regiment of Janissaries (also named) and from the Fifth Regiment of private soldiers (not named). As in the previous documents, the individuals named have adopted various epithets of a military (alemdar, deli, kanlıı) or religious (hacıı, molla) character; however, there is no clear indication of diverse familial, regional, or ethnic origin. So the individuals in question are clearly of the lowest military and religious stations. This is especially significant since the targets of their aggressions are residents of Of bearing titles and ranks of the religious and military branches of government. Moreover, the crimes of which they stand accused are of such a serious character that it would appear they were attempting to annihilate the family lines and household organizations of prominent individuals.
In one incident, the brigands attack a retired janissary officer, Piri Çavuş zade Mustafa, kill him with a bullet not far from his house, then attack the house, seize the house and his wife, and then turn the house and the wife over to other outlaws. They later attack the house of the father of Mustafa, also an individual of some distinction, loot it of cash and valuables, and then burn it down. They track down the father, who has fled to Rize, and they finally kill him as he leaves the mosque after completing his Friday prayers. Then they return to his residence in Rize, where they kill his wives and servants and burn the house. On yet another occasion, the same individuals are said to have caused considerable destruction in and around Paçan village while engaged in a battle with private soldiers. Attacking the village, they burn buildings and steal property, including seven hundred books or registers. After being taken to court and ordered to pay restitution, they refuse to pay and are declared to be in a state of judicial noncompliance. In the document transcribed by Umur, they are accused (but not convicted) of returning to the village, pillaging it once again, carrying off women and children to their "towers," and committing numerous homicides. They are accused, but not convicted, of having killed as many as forty among the religious teachers and students and as many as five hundred altogether.
The last set of documents provides many indications regarding the social origins of the new local elites. First, the documents are a further confirmation that the individuals whose descendants later become aghas and agha-families are drawn from the milieu of irregular troops or local militias (bölük). Second, they indicate these individuals began their rise to prominence by assaulting and threatening individuals with titles and ranks. Third, they show that individuals with different patronymics acted in concert with one another to challenge and intimidate prominent local residents. Fourth, they indicate that professors and academies were in existence in the district during the first half of the eighteenth century. Fifth, they suggest that the aghas and agha-families only arose after the professors and academies had already been established rather than in tandem with them. And sixth, the documents also point to tantalizing links between the regimental affiliations of irregular troops and the later emergence of the Five andTwenty-five parties.
The individuals with the aforementioned patronymics are described as brigands residing in Of who combine with brigands from the Sixty-fourth Regiment of Janissaries to act together with other known individuals of the Fifth Regiment of Soldiers. By a report of Peysonnel, the province of Trabzon was troubled for many years by the rivalry of the Twenty-fifth and Sixty-fourth regiments of janissaries. By combining the Umur documents and the Peysonnel report, one discovers an indication of the origins of the Five and Twenty-five parties in the district of Of: Members of the Fifth and Sixty-fourth regiments join in an attack in Of, while other members of the Sixty-fourth and Twenty-fifth regiments are bitter rivals in the province of Trabzon. The patronymics attributed to the individuals who collaborated in the attacks in 1737/1150 eventually appear among the Five and Twenty-five parties. The Selimoğlu have become the leading agha-family in the Five Party just as their name is associated with the Fifth Regiment of Soldiers in 1737. However, the Fettahoğlu and Çapoğlu are later associated with the Twenty-five rather than the Five Party. This change is consistent with a tradition that tells how the Fettahoğlu and Çapoğlu fell out with the Selimoğlu in the early nineteenth century and joined the Muradoğlu, who assumed the leadership of the Twenty-five Party. So then, by a web of interrelated factual and hypothetical linkages, the regimental affiliations of the individuals involved in the attacks on prominent local residents point directly to the early origins of leading individuals, large residences, family lines, and district social formations.
Altogether eight patronymics that are eventually associated with aghas and agha-families during the period of decentralization are mentioned in the documents. These are Ayazoğlu, Bektaşoğlu, Çapoğlu, Fettahoğlu, Hacııhasanoğlu, Keleşoğlu, Nuhoğlu, and Selimoğlu. All of these names are consistently associated with regiments or janissaries, but in a way that confirms that they were individuals of the outer and lower fringes of the military establishment. The individuals with known patronyms are sometimes described as members of regiments, but only those composed of irregular soldiers or local militias (bölük). They are sometimes accused and convicted of attacking local janissary officers, but they never appear in the capacity of true janissary officers themselves. This pattern is supported by other incidents in which individuals accused of wrongdoing seem to be attempting to worm their way into the position of official janissaries. For example, individuals might carry out aggressions while falsely claiming to be acting as official janissaries. Or contrariwise, they are the victims of aggressions carried out by others who falsely claim to be acting as official janissaries.
So far the documents I have cited strongly suggest that the aghas who founded agha-families arose for the most part from lower-level regiments and militias. Some of them may have held janissary titles and ranks, since it became common for all kinds of individuals to do so. More typically, they belonged to regiments and militias that imitated and emulated the janissaries by their tattoos, insignia, and banners. Other documents offer further support for this same conclusion in a negative way by excluding the possibility that the aghas and agha-families were of other social origins.
One document, for example, describes how high state officials without appointments assembled groups of armed men from Of and then went about raiding and looting the villages of the district. During the year 1711/1123, the head steward (kethüda) of the former governor of Trabzon, in the com pany of close associates, is accused of raiding and looting villages in the district of Of. The head steward, leading a band of brigands recruited from various villages in the western valley-system, conducted a massive assault on fifteen villages (unnamed and unlocated). They burned and looted two hundred houses and warehouses. They destroyed seven mosques and raped eighteen girls. They shaved the heads of eight women and paraded them about, tied some of them to horses and dragged them, tracked down others and raped them. Fleeing in terror, many of the villagers subsequently died of exposure and starvation.
The document illustrates how higher state officials, temporarily without positions or appointments, mustered a large band of brigands by recruiting soldiers in nine separate villages in Of. It gives the names, patronyms, and villages of more than a score of Oflus who took part in the raiding and looting. On the other hand, among the accused Oflus there is not a single mention of a patronym that later emerges as an agha-family. If this and three other documents transcribed by Umur are representative, these kinds of incidents do not appear to have played a role in the origins of aghas and agha-families in the district of Of. The individuals who are the ascendants of aghas and agha-families are not higher state officials without appointments, nor do they appear to have been followers of such higher state officials.
Another set of documents diminishes the possibility of a very different kind of social origin for aghas and agha-families. There are other individuals who organize the raiding and looting of villages but have no detectable connection at all with imperial institutions. They are not drawn from either high or low-level positions in the military or religious establishment. They are instead "tribesmen." The documents describe the following circumstances. During the year 1709/1121, the residents of seven villages in the upper western valley-system are accused of all sorts of crimes: They combined with the Ayaslo and Kolotlo tribes (kabîle), who came from outside the district and settled among the villagers. Acting in concert, tribesmen and villagers disturbed the peace of the main market in the district of Of. They attacked this market, making it necessary to move it to another place. They attacked houses, kidnapped women and girls, held them prisoner, sold them to one another, and married them as they wished. They attacked the house of the judge of Of and threatened him with death. They attacked individuals with knives. They did not pay dues to the fief-holders (tıımar and zeamat) of their villages. They held the judge of Of in contempt, saying they had given him documents when he attempted to make a case against them. In punishment for all these violations, the order was given for the pasha of Trabzon to undertake the mass deportation of the two tribes and seven villages. They were to be rounded up and transported to Anakra Castle, where they would be settled at the Ottoman frontier with Georgia.
The tribesmen organizing villagers are not named as individuals who bear patronymics. The names of their tribes do not appear among the patronymics of aghas and agha-families. The tribesmen are not associated with official titles and ranks, either truly or falsely. The tribesmen directly attack state officials and subvert the normal operations of the central government. Most telling of all, state officials are now capable of making a vigorous and ruthless response. Soldiers are sent to the seven villages, where they surround the villagers and descend on them like a flood. Both the tribesmen and the villagers charged in these incidents are rounded up and deported to the frontier. The tribesmen, being from outside the state system altogether, were perhaps less able to retard or block the overzealous but effective response of state officials. In contrast, the cases lodged against the janissaries and soldiers who attacked prominent individuals in Of dragged on for three decades in the courts.
Of all the documents that Umur has assembled and discussed, about forty refer to incidents that can be plausibly linked with the emergence of local elites who challenged existing military, administrative, and judicial hierarchies. All of the documents date to the final decades of the seventeenth century or the first decades of the eighteenth century. Usurpers or brigands are accused of having assaulted, robbed, intimidated, or assassinated individuals with military or religious titles. Military officials appointed by the central government are unable to exercise the authority vested in them by their office. Men in arms who are "from among the usurpers and evildoers" (mütegallibeden ve eşirrâdan) and pretend to be janissaries descend on the market and battle one another with sword and shield, pistol and rifle. Committing many wrongs, they seize goods and attack the court. They extort taxes from villagers, intimidate state officials, raid and loot village populations, seize the lands of non-Muslim subjects, and illegally arrest and punish people. The documents that describe challenges to the authority of military officials occur in tandem with other documents that describe the subversion of judicial procedures. One individual with the title of molla, who acts in concert with another from Paçan village, is accused of improperly assuming the duties of court officials (naip and kâtib). Other individuals who style themselves as notables (âyan), but are said to be "from among the usurpers" (mütegallibeden), are accused of putting pressure on the district judge (kadıı), or his representative (naip), by receiving them in their houses and requiring they hear cases there. Men in arms appear in the court carrying their weapons and disrupt the proceedings. Men are accused of descending on the court while it is in session and freeing their confederates who are standing trial.
Documenting the Aghas and Family lines in Trabzon
From the middle of the eighteenth century, Umur's collection of documents begins to change in character. The signs of conflict between new social elements and religious and military officials at the local level are no longer apparent. There are no reports of incidents involving attacks on state officials and brigands falsely claiming to be janissaries, and there are fewer cases that mention brigands and outlaws with the patronymics of agha-families. There are no further cases of mass assaults on villages, deportations of village populations, illegal land seizures, or the failure to pay taxes. All kinds of social disorders may have been occurring in the districts, but if so, they were infrequently brought to the attention of higher military and judicial officials. The local elites were perhaps usurping offices, interfering with the courts, improperly imposing taxes, refusing to forward revenues to the capital, and illegally confiscating property. But if they were, they were able to prevent the lodging of complaints against them.
Toward the close of the eighteenth century, a new order of aghas, mansions, family lines, and regimental parties was in place. This is indicated by three documents that call on local elites to muster troops. The earliest of the three, dated 1774/1188, was written by a military commander representing the palace. He calls on "the judges, religious officials, the righteous, officers, commanders, craftsmen, and community leaders" (kadıılarıına, ûlema, sûleha, zabitan, serdarlar, iş erleri, söz sahiblerine) of nine districts of the province to assemble and dispatch troops for participation in imperial military campaigns against the armies of Moscow. However, in doing so, he reveals that the central government is unable to compel them to furnish troops, but entirely dependent on their willingness to do so. He chastises his correspondents for having failed to respond to previous orders to assemble troops for imperial campaigns. They have said they were ready to come and have unfurled their banners, but then, offering various excuses, have failed to mobilize. They have engaged in quarrels among themselves, a kind of behavior that cannot be called anything other than disobedience to the sultan. Begging them to mend their ways, the military commander exhorts his correspondents to assemble for liberating the Crimea from Moscow. Their previous faults will be forgiven. Their military service is a religious duty.
The other two documents, dated 1788/1202 and 1789/1204, provide more direct evidence that aghas from agha-families governed their districts more or less independently of the central government at this time. The earlier is written by a palace official. It addresses the notables (âyan), officials (mütesellim), judges (kadıı), and officers (yeni çeri) of the districts in the province of Trabzon, from Görele in the west to Hopa in the east. It calls on them to assemble troops and report for a campaign on the northeastern shores of the Black Sea (Anapa, Soğucak). The document lists 26 names of individuals or families in 16 districts, referring to them as "aghas" (ağavat). They are required to contribute either 100, 150, or 200 troops. About two-thirds of these names specify a patronymic, each in the "son of" (oğlu) format. Some of these add a personal name to the patronymic, as in "Tuzcuoğlu Hüseyin at Rize" and "Kuğuoğlu Süleyman at Görele." Others merely list the patronymic alone without specifying an individual, as in "Bahadıır oğlu at Büyük Liman" or "Hacıı Hasan oğlu at Pulathane." In a number of instances, the patronymics listed in the document correspond with the patronymics of aghas who held official appointments and positions fifty years later, when European consuls began to report on the coastal region at the close of the period of decentralization. In other instances, the patronymics correspond with local traditions of aghas and agha-families during the nineteenth century. The number of troops required from three families at Of are 150, 200, and 200, respectively. The total for the district of Of, 550, is larger than for any other district in the province. The total number for the three eastern districts of Rize, Of, and Sürmene is almost 40 percent of the total for the entire eastern coastal region.
The later document, dated 1789/1204, is a call-out for troops for a military expedition to the northeastern shores of the Black Sea (Anapa). The troops are to be assembled in various ports of the Black Sea coast, including Samsun, Trabzon, Sürmene, Rize and others. The government will pay merchant ships to transport these troops, and these ships will be accompanied by galleons of the Imperial Navy. The document is divided into five sections, which refer in turn to the vicinity of Trabzon, the district of Of, the district of Rize, the aghas of the Laz, and the western districts. In the first four sections, there are lists of individuals and families, each of which is called upon to contribute a certain number of troops. The names are usually the same as those in the earlier document, but there are now more than forty names for the four mentioned areas. The total call-out for each of these areas is roughly 5,200 for the vicinity of Trabzon, 1,800 for Of, 2,300 for Rize, and 1,800 for the aghas of the Laz. The individuals are usually labeled in accordance with their regimental affiliations, including the Sixty-fourth, Twenty-fifth, and Fifth. The document therefore confirms that the parties in Of were associated with janissary regiments, just as it also confirms the depth and breadth of local military affiliations.
Taken together, the three documents indicate that the social changes taking place in the district of Of during the period of decentralization were consistent with social changes taking place in all the core provinces of the Ottoman provinces. By the late seventeenth century, large numbers of Oflus were serving as irregular soldiers or studying as religious students. Occasionally, some of these elements joined up with imperial elites who, while out of office or back from campaigns, extorted money from villagers and looted their farms. By the fourth decade of the eighteenth century, individuals with low-level military appointments were asserting themselves, sometimes by banding together to usurp the authority of local officials or to intimidate local villagers. At the same time, individuals with low-level religious qualifications had organized religious academies and were recruiting and training considerable numbers of religious students. But these teachers and students were eventually confronted with the emergent aghas and agha-families. Just as the palace had captured the mosque in Istanbul during the classical period, so too would aghas and agha-families capture the religious teachers and students during the period of decentralization, neutralizing them as alternative local sources of political legitimacy or social organization.
Aghas and mansions together with hodjas and academies were to be found in virtually every segment of the eastern coastal region. Coalitions of local elites constituting regional social oligarchies comprised the entirety of the province of Trabzon. However, some coastal districts of the province of Trabzon featured a broader and deeper participation in imperial institutions than others. In general, those coastal districts that had large Christian majorities and little Turkic settlement during the sixteenth century, such as Rize, Of, and Sürmene, are associated with broad and deep participation in imperial institutions. By contrast, coastal districts that had a sizable Muslim population and considerable Turkic settlement by the sixteenth century, such as Tirebolu, Giresun, and Ordu, were associated with narrower and shallower participation. It was then those populations that had a background in market and state participation that became part of the imperial system. To some degree, a legacy of participation in Byzantine institutions had helped their otherwise mixed populations to recognize and to exploit the opportunity for becoming part of the Ottoman state system and state society.
Two exceptions to the preceding pattern prove the rule. First, the hierarchy and institutions of the Orthodox Church had survived Ottoman incorporation precisely in that part of the coastal region where the Byzantine state system had been centered and developed, that is to say, the central districts around the town of Trabzon. According to Bryer and Lowry, the survival of these pieces of the older state system had been the basis for the survival of a large Greek Orthodox population in this same area. So an alternative to the imperial system had retarded conversion and immigration, and hence imperial participation, in this section of the province of Trabzon. Second, one of the coastal districts in the west bears some resemblance to the district of Of in the east. The population in the district of Tonya included a large number of Muslim Greek-speakers, as well as broad and deep participation in imperial institutions (military rather than religious). But Tonya also stands as an exception among the western coastal districts. By its more isolated location, it did not receive as many Turkic settlers as other western coastal districts. So it is an example of a coastal district in the west that fits the pattern of the coastal districts in the east.
The Ottoman Empire is usually conceived in terms of a strict division between rulers and ruled. The rulers consisted of an official (askeri) class composed of military, administrative, judicial, and religious specialists. The ruled consisted of a diverse population of tribes, peasants, and townsmen. The rulers accorded legal status and rights to the ruled in various ways, one of the important ways being recognition of their religious leadership and communities.
The district of Of, as an example of the rural societies of the old province of Trabzon, is not consistent with such an analysis. The Oflus, those of Muslim as well as those of Christian background, set aside their attachments to standing beliefs and practices as they oriented themselves toward an imperial project that claimed universal import. In doing so, they sought to organize everyday life in accordance with a system of ethical thought and practice as represented by authoritative texts and learned experts. What had always been said and done was discounted as degenerate and corrupt. What should be said and done was accessible only through literacy, teaching, learning, argument, and consensus. This reorientation of family life and social relations can be described as an effort to become good and proper Muslims, rather than remain ignorant and impoverished villagers. But it included a political dimension that exceeded piety and spirituality. The Oflus had set about to remake themselves in order to remake the world. They claimed a place in the state society of the imperial system, challenging the distinction between officials (askeri) and nonofficials (reaya). To do so, they acquired all kinds of military weapons, and they organized themselves in military formations. The idea of an empire of the future was perhaps more alive in the mansions and academies of Trabzon than in the great monumental centers of Istanbul.
The period of decentralization was the direct result of crises of state stability and competition. But the latter had been indirectly provoked by technological inventions and institutional disciplines occurring in the Euro-American sphere. Print, school, steam, factory, rifles, and barracks had led to new, more efficient forms of state power which lowered, rather than raised, the need for manpower and resources. In response, the Ottomans were pressed to respond to new rounds of imperial competition by expanding, rather than contracting, their ability to mobilize manpower and resources. The dissemination of the imperial project in the eighteenth century therefore anticipated the emergence of nationalism in the Euro-American sphere. Local consciousness in the province of Trabzon had become linked with state identification and participation at an earlier phase of the global modernizing process. This means that the period of decentralization was a preparation, and hence set the conditions, for the reception of national democracy.
1. Hasan Umur described about 230 Ottoman documents, of which about 150 are dated tothe period of decentralization (roughly from 1688/1100 to 1834/1250). His first book (1951) is the result of research in the Başbakanlıık Arşiv Dairesi in Istanbul. It transliterates or describes 129 imperial edicts (ferman) that he located in the Trabzon complaints (şikâyat) and judgments (ahkâm) registers, dating from 1575/983 to 1875/1292. He culled these particular documents in the course of a search through hundreds of volumes for any material that related to the district of Of. Umur notes that he chose not to discuss twenty such documents because he felt it inappropriate to publish them. He also set aside many more documents relating to Of because they did not mention village or family names or they seemed uninteresting and uncharacteristic. His second book (1956) describes 100 documents from the Trabzon Şer'i ءcourt registers, which he located in the Topkapıı Saray Museum. Of these, he examined Nos. 1815 to 2024, which covered the years from 1557/965 to 1880/1297. He reports that he examined 209 separate registers comprising about 30,000 pages, culling 100 documents from more than 500 relating to Of. [BACK]
2. Fontanier 1834, 292–94. When travelers report groups of crypto-Christians in Of, they are usually referring to the Kurumlis or other groups who were not resident in Of. Defner, whose assistant visited the district in 1876, does not refer to any crypto-Christians in Of. Among the Oflus, the residents of Ogene [Köknar, Karaçam], located in the upper section of the western valley of the district, have the reputation of having been stubborn holdouts against conversion. However, the Trabzon yearbook (salname) for 1888/1305 locates an official religious academy in this very village, and it is attributed with one of the highest enrollments of religious students in the entire district of Of. [BACK]
3. Brant 1836, 191. The Rizelis and Sürmenelis have themselves been alternatively called Laz, Lazi, Greeks, Byzantines, Armenians (Bijişkyan 1969 [1817–19], 60–64), Çepni Turks (Şakir Şevket 1877/1294, 95–96; Sümer 1992, 83ff.), and Akkoyunlu Turks. [BACK]
4. PRO 526/8 "On the Lazistan Coast . . . ," Jan. 29, 1873, Palgrave. [BACK]
5. Defner 1877. [BACK]
6. Poutouridou (1997–98) cites a passage from the memoirs of Chrysanthos of Trebizond. Also see Asan's translation (1996, 44, 46) of the memoirs of an Oflu Orthodox priest. [BACK]
7. Sümer 1992, 83ff. [BACK]
8. Here the present tense refers to the period before the acceleration of rural to urban migration during the 1960s. [BACK]
9. The Trabzon yearbook (salname) for 1869/1286 records 98 percent of the total population as Muslim (Emiroğlu 1993, 1: 141). Palgrave reports 5,300 Muslim and 83 Orthodox household in Of (PRO 526/8, "On the Lazistan Coast . . . ," Jan 29, 1873, Palgrave). Defner (1877) counts 10,000 to 20,000 Muslim and 150 Christian households. [BACK]
10. Şakir Şevket (1867/1284, 98) dates the conversion of the district to two hundred years after Ottoman incorporation, that is, to about 1655/1065. He mentions that most of the priests accepted Islam. Defner (1877) dates the conversion of the Greeks to 180 years preceding the visit of his assistant, that is, the close of the seventeenth century. [BACK]
11. This situation, the east being Turkish-speaking and the west being Greek-speaking, prevailed during the visit of Defner's assistant in 1876 (Defner 1877). [BACK]
12. Günay (1978, 28–29) describes ııkizdere, adjacent to the eastern valley-system of Of, as the focus of the dominant Turkic dialect in the province and proposes that this was an area of early Turkic settlement. Otherwise, the eastern valley-system may have consistently received settlers from Anatolia since ancient times (Bryer and Winfield 1985, 11, 54-55). [BACK]
13. Bryer and Winfield (1985, 11, 55) do not believe that the contemporary road that connects Of with Bayburt, which was constructed during the Russian occupation (1916–18), was previously a trade route of any importance. In Of and Sürmene, it is asserted that it was previously a trade route. [BACK]
14. When I asked individuals from leading families about their family history, they commonly told me stories of a migration from the interior highlands, or even from as far away as Iraq or Syria. For example, one of the Muradoğlu said the founder of his family came from Van during the time of Mahmut II, while his two brothers settled in Hopa and Vakfııkebir. One of the Tellioğlu said his ascendants came from Baghdad out of Arabistan, one branch settling in Of and another branch settling in Giresun. A Selimoğlu says that the family came from Tercan (about halfway between Erzincan and Erzurum). [BACK]
15. Brendemoen (1987, 1990) has not discovered traces of a Çepni influence on coastal speech patterns east of Trabzon, although such an influence is clearly apparent west of Trabzon. However, like Günay (1978, 26), he says that the Turkish dialect in Rize is similar to the Turkish dialect in Erzurum. My Oflu contacts are also in agreement with this opinion. They say that the Turkish spoken in the eastern half of their district (which borders on Rize) is similar to the Turkish spoken in Erzurum. [BACK]
16. See, for example, the comments of Umur (1949, 89–90). The dialect of Pontic Greek spoken by the Oflus is apparently indigenous to the valley (Defner 1877). [BACK]
17. Some well-known families in both valleys are said to be of Turkic origin, but others of Kurdish origin, for example, the Muradoğlu, the Tellioğlu, and the Nuhoğlu. All the latter are located in the eastern valley, but there are also some families that are said to be of Kurdish or Turkic origin in the western valley-system as well. These new arrivals would have intermarried with the Greek-speakers, of course, and there are traditions of their having done so ("Fettahoğullarıınıın Tarihi"). [BACK]
18. Brendemoen (1990, 49, 57) also notes that the same archaic Turkish usages are also found in the district of Tonya, another area where Muslim Greek-speakers were common. [BACK]
19. Asan 1996 and Poutouridou 1997-98. [BACK]
20. The three registers have not yet been exhaustively studied. See Gökbilgin (1962) for some general conclusions about the registers, Lowry (1977) for a study of that portion relating to the town of Trabzon, Umur (1951) for some of the details regarding the district of Of, and Bilgin (1990) for some of the details regarding the district of Sürmene. [BACK]
21. Umur (1951) records the total number of households for each village locale and the number of households that were recorded as Muslim rather than non-Muslim. I have grouped the villages according to their location in a particular sector of the district. In those instances where I was unable to determine the location of a village, the household total is listed under "unlocated." These tabulations of Umur's data were first published in Meeker 1971. [BACK]
22. The increase is about 15 percent from register to register. [BACK]
23. Umur (1951, 20) reached a similar conclusion. The registers demonstrated to him that the lower reaches of the Baltacıı and Solaklıı rivers were being Turkicized and Islamized during the sixteenth century. He also acknowledged that Orthodox Greeks would have been converting to Islam and therefore joining the new Turkic settlers. In mentioning this he asked his readers to understand that no nation is completely pure but all are composed of a mixture of peoples. [BACK]
24. Günay 1978, 26. [BACK]
25. The name ııskender, indicating a convert or a child of a convert (Lowry 1977), commonly occurs in the lists of Muslim residents of the villages of Of in each of the three registers, increasingly in the second and third. Since Umur gives only a few examples of the names for each village, the frequency of the name ııskender cannot be determined from his study. [BACK]
26. Lowry 1977. [BACK]
27. Lowry (1977, 243–44) found that the population of the town of Trabzon, still largely Christian at the time of the Ottoman register of 1554/961, was more than 50 percent Muslim by 1583/991, and yet it remained about 70 percent Greek-speaking. [BACK]
28. Since Rize was more like Trabzon than Of in this respect, it is possible that immigration and conversion were also already important there during the sixteenth century. [BACK]
29. Poutouridou (1997–98, 57) has concluded that church organization in the district of Of probably collapsed sometime during the second century of Ottoman rule. Citing Vryonis and Bryer, she notes that the bishopric of Of was one of three remaining in Anatolia during the late fifteenth century, but had disappeared from the episcopal lists of the Patriarchate of Constantinople by 1645. [BACK]
30. Umur 1951, No. 3 1615/1024. This document describes the desperate situation of the villagers in the district who may be forced by famine to abandon their villages. The writer observes that the Christian villagers were suffering even more because they were obliged to pay the special tax on non-Muslims, the haraç. Citing this document, Umur (1951, 20–24) concluded that the district would have been entirely Islamized and Turkicized at this date as a consequence of conversion or desertion of Christian villagers. However, the document only indicates the existence of hardship rather than actual desertions or conversions. [BACK]
31. Umur 1956, No. 8 1631/1040 refers to 441 cizye-paying households of zimmis in Of; No. 25 1673/1083 refers to 90 such households. The cizye was a head tax on non-Muslims. The term zimmi refers to a non-Muslim subject. Since it is possible that the counts are partial rather than total, they can only be taken as the minimum number of Christian households remaining. [BACK]
32. Bryer 1988. Cf. Janin 1912. [BACK]
33. Umur 1956, No. 38 1695/1106. The numbers for the districts add up to 7,650, not 7,700. [BACK]
34. According to Uğur (1986, lx, lxxvi), the Ottoman religious academies were already in decline by the seventeenth century, troubled by "nepotism, simony, and favoritism." [BACK]
35. Umur 1951, No. 20 1699/1110. [BACK]
36. The relevant passage (1787, 70–71) is as follows: "il y a sur-tout un nombre infini de Gens de Loi renommés pour leur érudition." Peysonnel (fils) did not publish his treatise on commerce in the Black Sea until the year 1787; however, he explains in his preface that his information was based largely on material collected from Turkish, Armenian, and Greek businessmen in Izmir during 1750, supplemented by more information gathered when he served as a consul in the Crimea after 1753, then finally completed in 1762 while a resident of the kingdom of Candie. Acknowledging that the situation in the Black Sea had changed, he affirms that he has presented his information exactly as he gathered it years before. For more on the Peysonnels, père and fils, both of whom served as consul in Izmir, see Veinstein 1975. [BACK]
37. Other, more indirect evidence is consistent with the existence of a learned tradition in the district of Of from the early eighteenth century. Oflu Bilal Efendi of Paçan [Maraşlıı] village is known as the "first poet of Of." Although his precise birth and death dates are unknown, he is thought to have lived in the first half of the eighteenth century, and one of his works is published in 1764. Hasan Umur (1951) transliterated a number of eighteenth-century court documents referring to disputes over the right to act as an official imam (imam, hatip) in this or that village in the district of Of (No. 22 1702/1114, No. 44 1719/1131, No. 73 1733/1146, No. 93 1770/1184, No. 94 1770/1184, No. 101 1780/1194, No. 109 1789/1203). Architectural evidence of religious buildings is fragmentary, since they were built of wood, and so most would have been reconstructed over the years. When a state offi-cial organized local brigands to raid the western valley of Of in 1711/1123, they are also said to have burned seven mosques in fifteen villages (Umur 1951, No. 35). A wooden mosque in Sürmene has the date 1785/1200 on its door (Bilgin 1990, 673). According to Umur (1956, 16–17), the death of the first preacher (hatip) in Yiğa [Yarlıı] village is dated to 1798/1212, as deduced from a document dated in 1836/1251. Umur estimates from this (by the average life of a man) that the mosque was built 45 years before, that is, in 1737/1150. According to Karpuz (1989), there is a date of 1767/1181 on the door of the mosque in Alanomakot [Ağaçlıı] village in the district of Of. He also mentions an eighteenth-century mosque in Çaykara, rebuilt in 1809. [BACK]
38. The descendants of Greek-speaking Christians appear to have made an important contribution to the tradition of religious study in these villages. The Trabzon yearbook (salname) for 1888/1305 (pp. 127–30, 313–16) states that lessons in the religious academies of Of were sometimes given in Greek, although most of the population in the district was Turkish-speaking. In the 1960s, by the reports of my interlocutors, much of the population in the district of Çaykara still spoke Pontic Greek in their families and villages. Although the male population always spoke Turkish (many of the women did not), mosque sermons and religious instruction were said to be sometimes conducted in Pontic Greek. Also see Asan (1996, 121) and Poutouridou (1997–98, 62) for further documentation of the use of Pontic Greek by Muslim teachers and preachers. Paçan [Maraşlıı] village, one of the most famous centers of religious study in the district and the site of the attack on teachers and students in 1737/1150, was among the Greek-speaking villages. [BACK]
39. Orthodox Greek writers of the nineteenth century date this event to the mid- or late seventeenth century (Poutouridou 1997-98). [BACK]
40. Umur (1951, 21-22), who knew the Ottoman documents relating to this question better than anyone, reaches this conclusion. So far as I am aware, there is no mention of mass conversion in any source earlier than the nineteenth century. Some such sources are of Muslim and some are of Christian origin (see chap. 8). [BACK]
41. There is convincing evidence of a flight of Christians from Trabzon to Canıık during the late seventeenth century. Biliotti encountered groups of Christian Armenians and Greeks in the latter province who had migrated there from Hemşin and Gümüşhane during the first part of the eighteenth century (PRO FO 195/1329, at Fatsa, No. 30, Aug. 1880; at Ünye, No. 32 and No. 33, Aug. 1880; at Çarşamba, No. 38 and No. 45, Oct. 1880; at Görele, No. 48, Oct. 1880). Janin (1912, 497–98) writes, without attribution, that the Christians of Rize and Of either fled to the Crimea and Moldavia or converted sometime around 1665. Also see Bryer (1970). [BACK]
42. Reporting on his travels during the spring of 1835, James Brant (1836, 192) wrote of the district of Of: "The people are a hardy laborious and bold race, they are skilled in the use of a short rifle, which every man carries slung at his back wherever and on whatever occasion he moves, and they enjoy a high reputation as Soldiers. A demand is always made on this country by the Porte, to supply a certain number of men for the Arsenal at Constantinople." [BACK]
43. More and more janissary appointments were improperly granted by bribes during the eighteenth century (Özkaya 1977, 52–53). Janissary appointments were bought and sold like mortgage contracts (Bilgin 1990, 277). [BACK]
44. For an early example, see Umur 1951, No. 79 1740/1153 and No. 81 1745/1158, which reports on a charge of murder where the victim is named as "dergâhıı muallâm yeniçerileri serdengeçti ağaleri emektarlerinden Piri Çavuş zade Mustafa nam ihtiyar kendi halinde iken Of kazasıı sakinlerinden." For a late example, see Umur 1956, No. 75 1843/1259, which reports on a charge of land theft where the plaintiff is named as "Of kazasıında Baltacıı deresinde vaki Konu karyesinden Tophane-i amire çavuşlarıından Ömer Çavuş bin Mehmed." [BACK]
45. Umur 1951, No. 20 1699/1110. Also see the analysis of the learned class (ulema) in the district of Of in chap. 8. [BACK]
46. At the time of my fieldwork, I had considered Umur's studies to be useless because it was impossible to establish his criteria for selecting documents. When reconsidering his books in the 1980s, I was surprised to discover that his documents regarding Of referred to events that correlated closely with the latest studies of provincial social history in the core Ottoman provinces. This is evidence of the reliability of his survey of documents since he would have been unaware of the results of the later studies. [BACK]
47. Şakir Şevket (1877/1294, p. 249ff.) comments that the ascendants of the Şatııroğlu family of Trabzon (prominent during the period of decentralization) first came to Trabzon at the time of the Ottoman conquest. Goloğlu (1975, xxxxi [sic]) writes that the ascendant of the Selimoğlu family of Of is believed to have come to Trabzon as an akııncıı (light cavalry raider) during the second half of the sixteenth century. According to Bryer (1970, 45), the names of the district and provincial lords (derebey) in the coastal region cannot be traced earlier than the seventeenth century. However, this may not be significant since it would not be possible to trace names until a family line had been established, that is, after the period of decentralization had already begun. [BACK]
48. The Çapoğlu and the Ayazoğlu are said to have set down family lines very early. The Muradoğlu most certainly set down a family line very late. [BACK]
49. Umur 1951, No. 9 1689/1100, No. 10 1689/1100, and No. 12 1689/1100. The documents all address the same incidents, which occurred in 1679/1090. [BACK]
50. One of my interlocutors, familiar with Umur's work, claimed that the Çap-oğlu were the first aghas and agha-families in the district of Of, the Ayazoğlu the second. [BACK]
51. Umur 1951, No. 29 1708/1120 and No. 32 1710/1122. [BACK]
52. Umur 1951, No. 81 1745/1158, No. 85 1752/1165, No. 86 1753/1166, No. 87 1763/1176, and No. 88 1764/1178 refers to the assaults on members of the Piri Çavuşoğlu family. Umur 1951, No. 83 1748/1161 refers to the assaults on the religious teachers and students (ulema ve talebe) in Paçan village. All six documents refer to events that took place in 1737/1150. [BACK]
53. Other patronymics listed in the documents are identical to family lines that were closely allied with the aghas and agha-families (e.g., Kalyoncu). Also see Umur 1951, No. 70 1732/1144 and No. 74 1735/1147, where incidents of brigandage are attributed to individuals with other patronymics, such as Ayazoğlu, Nuhoğlu, and Bektaşoğlu, patronyms associated with the Five and Twenty-five parties in the contemporary period. [BACK]
54. The individuals with patronymics are among those accused as principals during the incidents. Given the character of the crimes of which they are accused, the combination of patronymics, and the composition of their followers, it is unlikely that they were renegades of their family lines. One of the accused, Hasan Agha Fettahoğlu, is also mentioned in the "Fettahoğullarıınıın Tarihi." The writer of that document accepts that this man was a prominent ascendant and situates him in the family genealogy. However, see the following note. [BACK]
55. The author of the "Fettahoğullarıınıın Tarihi" claims that an enemy of his family, whom he names as "a hodja from the Kaltabanoğullarıı," assembled a group of false witnesses to bring trumped up charges against his ascendant. [BACK]
56. Umur 1951, No. 85. [BACK]
57. Peysonnel 1787, 73. [BACK]
58. Bryer (1970, 44) observes that the Twenty-fifth Regiment of Janissaries was headquartered in Trabzon. So it is possible that the Twenty-five Party was actually close to the level of a janissary regiment, while the Five Party was a regiment of private soldiers. Bilgin (1990, 312) associates the Five Party with the "Cemaat-iBeşluyan," janissaries appointed to the castle force or town police of Trabzon, and the Twenty-five Party with the "Yermibeşli," janissaries who were granted a tıımar and assigned to the Twenty-fifth Regiment. Also see the discussion of the troop call-outs later in the text. [BACK]
59. The Hacııhasanoğlu and the Keleşoğlu are associated with the Fifth Regiment of Janissaries and then later, consistent with this, the Five Party. [BACK]
60. See chaps. 6 and 7 for further discussion of this issue. [BACK]
61. Umur 1951, No. 35 1711/1123. The villages from which the brigands were recruited are located all along the lower and higher reaches of the western valley-system, that is, the Greek-speaking areas. [BACK]
62. Barkey (1994) has recently called attention to these kinds of incidents, which were especially common during the seventeenth century. At that time, they were a direct result of the need for a large reservoir of officers and troops on the occasion of imperial campaigns. With demobilization, officers who had no appointments and troops without employment were obliged to extract their living by raiding and looting villages. When their activities became intolerable, state officials would take steps to suppress them, providing they had the necessary troops and resources for doing so. [BACK]
63. The other three documents involve the following incidents: A man who had served as the district governor of Of (mütesellim) two years previously is accused of making war on the people of Of with the excuse that he holds an imperial decree (ferman) permitting him to do so (Umur 1951, No. 7 1689/1100). A man who had served as the district governor of Of is trying to recover a debt from certain Oflus (ibid., No. 6 1688/1099). A janissary and his associates are accused of attacking villages and committing all kinds of injustices (Umur 1951, No. 4 1665/1076). [BACK]
64. Umur 1951, No. 43 1709/1121 [date corrected in Umur 1956, 13, n. 1]; Umur 1956, No. 45 1709/1121, No. 46 1710/1121, andNo. 47 1710/1122. The seven villages are located in the western valley-system. They include some of the same villages from which the head steward had recruited soldiers for raiding villages in Of; see Umur 1951, No. 35 1711/1123. The deportation did not alter the prevalence of Greek as the language spoken in this part of the district. It is possible that not all the villagers were taken and removed, that some eventually returned from exile as was common in such cases, or that these seven villages were resettled by people from neighboring villages. [BACK]
65. Umur 1956, 57. [BACK]
66. Of 120 documents relating to incidents occurring between 1666/1076 and 1748/1161, about 40 refer to various kinds of social disorders that involve a challenge to the authority of district state officials (Umur 1951, 1955). About a third of the 40 cite individuals bearing patronyms that are the same as some of the agha-families that came to make up the Five and Twenty-five parties during the early nineteenth century. The 40 do not include about a dozen other documents that refer to "simple" incidents of brigandage involving various acts of destruction or spoliation. It should be remembered, however, that Umur specifically transliterated documents that mentioned well-known families in Of. [BACK]
67. Umur 1951, No. 26 1705/1117, No. 29 1708/1120, No. 30 1708/1120, No. 65 1730/1142, No. 72 1732/1144, No. 78 1740/1153, No. 79 1740/1153, No. 81 1745/1158, No. 85 1752/1165, No. 86 1753/1166, No. 87 1762/1176, and No. 88 1764/1178. [BACK]
68. Ibid., No. 52 1724/1136. [BACK]
69. Ibid., No. 21 1701/1113, No. 29 1708/1120, No. 30 1708/1120, No. 39 1716/1128, No. 42 1717/1129, and No. 56 1726/1138. [BACK]
70. Ibid., No. 55 1725/1137. [BACK]
71. Ibid., No. 54 1725/1137. [BACK]
72. Umur 1956, No. 48 1723/1135. [BACK]
73. Umur 1951, No. 72 1732/1144. [BACK]
74. Umur 1956, No. 71 1774/1188. The nine districts are Trabzon, Rize, Of, Sürmene, Pulathane, Vakfııkebir, Tirebolu, Keşap, and Giresun. [BACK]
75. Ibid., No. 65. Also see Sümer (1992, 104–5). See Aksan (1999a, 1999b) for a general study of military recruitment in the Ottoman Empire at this time. [BACK]
76. Two are personal names without patronymics, as in "Mehmet Bey of Viçe [Fıındııklıı]" and "Mamoli Mustafa of Hopa." [BACK]
77. Some of these correspondences that are known to me are as follows: Hacıı Salihoğlu at Tonya, Kalcııoğlu at Trabzon, Hacııhasanoğlu at Pulathane, Eyyuboğlu at Maçka, Tuzcuoğlu at Rize, Ekşioğlu at Rize, Canoğlu at Of, Kııraçoğlu at Of, and Selimoğlu at Of. [BACK]
78. Cevdet Asker 40224, dated 1789/1204. I am grateful to Mehmet Bilgin for providing me with a photocopy of this document. [BACK]
79. The fifth section, devoted to the western districts, does not give the names of individuals. The places and quotas listed in the fifth section are as follows: Amasya (1,500), Ünye and Niksar (500), Tirebolu (500), Giresun (200), Karahisar Şarkıı (3,000), and Canıık (5,000). [BACK]
80. The document mentions "Hüseyin Agha Selimoğlu of the 5th aghas." It does not mention an agha from the Muradoğlu in agreement with the family tradition that its founder arrived in Of sometime after 1800. [BACK]
81. Bryer 1975 and Lowry 1977. Also cf. Poutouridou 1997–98 and Vryonis 1968. [BACK]