Part III: The Old State Society and the New State System
The Ottoman Province of Trabzon
6. A State Society
State Officials and Local Elites
A Tiered State Society
The rise of local elites in the coastal districts of the province of Trabzon came about through the appropriation and adaptation of an imperial tactic of sovereign power. Individuals from the lower ranks of military officers formed interpersonal associations with their lessers, equals, and betters. With this development, the structure of political authority came to feature a distribution of sovereign power with both vertical and horizontal cleavages. State officials no longer enjoyed a monopoly of military force as they once had during the classical Ottoman period. They were everywhere confronted with local elites in the coastal districts who were able to mobilize armed followings.
In this chapter, I shall describe the structure of political authority that emerged in the old province of Trabzon during the period of decentralization. As we shall see, it consisted of a hierarchy of leading individuals representing tiered circles of interpersonal associations. At the top, leading individuals consisted uniquely of state officials who were usually not from Trabzon. At the bottom, leading individuals consisted of local elites from the coastal districts. But the leading individuals in the middle range of this hierarchy held high titles and ranks in the state system precisely because they were eminent figures among the local elites of the countryside.
The two sides of the structure of political authority—official at the top and nonofficial at the bottom—reflect the two "pieces" of sovereign power in the imperial system: the mechanism of bureaucratic centralism and the tactic of disciplinary association. During the period of decentralization, the mechanism of bureaucracy had become less effective even as the tactic of association had become more generalized. Accordingly, the structure of political authority exceeded the state system so that local elites in the old province of Trabzon, together with all their relatives, friend, partners, and allies, comprised a very large fraction of the population. In effect, the dissemination of the imperial tactic of sovereign power during the period of decentralization had transformed the large majority of inhabitants of the coastal region into an ottomanist provincial society.
To analyze this structure of political authority, I shall rely on the reports of French and British consular officials who first began to reside in the town of Trabzon after 1800. Although the quality of their insights is variable, they provide a wealth of information about specific individuals and incidents. Matching this information against other sources, I have been able to reach conclusions about the relationship of state officials and local elites, as well as about the breadth and depth of popular participation in the imperial system.
For the most part, I shall not directly examine the observations of the consuls in this chapter. Instead, I rely on the information in their reports to understand the narrative of a Frenchman who briefly visited the provincial capital a few years before the beginning of the consular era. Citizen Beauchamp was one of the last western European visitors who was able to contemplate the relationship of state officials and local elites from a position of curiosity. A few years later, the consuls who followed him would come to believe that the success of their mission depended on the eradication of the local elites (see chap. 7).
Citizen Beauchamp and the Provincial Capital
In the summer of 1796, a French scientific expedition set out for the province of Trabzon in order to collect specimens of the unique flora of the eastern Pontic Mountains. After arriving in Istanbul, the party duly applied to the central government, requesting permission to proceed. Beauchamp, one of the members of the expedition, explains how they were initially refused. "The first intermediary (drogman) had responded in the name of the Porte [Ottoman government]. The Laz were savages, wild and virtually independent. It [the Porte] did not wish to compromise itself in the eyes of our government should some kind of accident take place." Most likely, the request for permission had been denied without comment; nonetheless, the intermediary had fulfilled his function by explaining official motives otherwise left unstated. Although the explanation is probably accurate, the characterization of the residents of the coastal region is tendentious and misleading.
The so-called Laz were outsiders to the high official circles of Istanbul. They were rough-and-tumble country people who had grown up in mountain villages. Their speech and manners featured all kinds of infelicities. Their costumes and appearance were inappropriate, if not unacceptable. Nonetheless, the Laz were also insiders of the imperial system. They comprised an ottomanist population whose presence and influence were palpable not only in Trabzon, but also in Istanbul. The local elites of this population had contacts and influence in the palace to such an extent that they were able to thwart provincial governors. The local elites had participated in military campaigns as leaders of militias and regiments, most recently in the Crimea and the Caucasus. Its tradesmen and craftsmen were also to be found as residents of the imperial capital, just as its professors and academies represented official Islam in many modest urban and rural quarters. Beauchamp probably never had the slightest inkling that the Laz were such an ottomanist population, rather than a specific people speaking a specific language. But he was fully aware of the difference between what he had been told in Istanbul and what he was soon to observe in Trabzon. This is why he includes this episode in his account, to illustrate the gross inconsistency between official formalities and governing practices.
Persisting with their request, the French are at last granted an imperial decree (ferman) addressed to the governor, but warned that his capital is in a state of insurrection at that very moment. They set sail for Trabzon accompanied by one of the janissaries who had been assigned by the Ottoman government to the French legation. Not far into their voyage, the boatman who was hired to take them begins to insist they bypass the provincial capital and proceed further eastward to the vicinity of Rize (see map 2). The boatman was himself from Rize and enrolled there in a janissary regiment, while the "Laz" in the town of Trabzon were enemies of this regiment, making it impossible for him to land there. The French eventually learn that the objectionsof the boatman are little more than a pretext aimed at diverting the expedition. He wants to take on cargo in his homeland for his return trip to Istanbul, so he tells the French plausible lies.
Although the claims of the boatman are false, they are nonetheless revealing. The rural societies of the coastal districts were affiliated with military formations, militias, and regiments that were linked with the central army (janissaries). These military formations included ordinary traders, craftsmen, and boatmen. They were associated with district alliances and coastal coalitions that spread throughout the old province of Trabzon from Batum to Ordu. As such they functioned as fraternal organizations, providing hospitality to visiting members from other communities. On some occasions, they responded to call-outs for troops by state officials who summoned them to participate in imperial campaigns alongside the central army. On other occasions, they mobilized to challenge state officials and the central army or to confront rival alliances and coalitions. Accordingly, the members of a military formation associated with one social network hesitated to travel to towns and districts that were dominated by a military formation associated with a rival social network.
The French anchor at the provincial capital of Trabzon, learn the town is actually at peace, and forward their imperial decree to the pasha of Trabzon. This document includes a request that they be given assistance to mount an expedition for the purpose of gathering botanical specimens. Beauchamp reports the response as conveyed to their messenger:
Beauchamp has been led to expect insurrection and savagery, but he finds instead a working arrangement among three competing political authorities. Every other visitor who follows him will discover a similar situation until the close of the period of decentralization (1830s). The provincial governor (or a representative in his absence) is consistently matched by two (and more rarely three) leading individuals with followings. The exact relationship of the provincial governor and the chiefs of the town is never exactly the same. The governor does not always defer to the two chiefs. The two chiefs do not always defer to one another.
The governor, after having read the decree, told him that he regretted he was not able to fulfill its requirements as the chiefs of the town [les chefs de la ville] had assumed authority, and so it was for them to receive us. Our janissary then went to find the two ayans [chief notables], Osman Agha and Memiş Agha. The latter, having learned of the orders that were in our possession, arranged for a house to be prepared for us at once and sent two riflemen aboard our boat for our debarkation. For a moment, we thought that we were going to be led away to prison.
The relationship of the three political authorities varies because each is in effect a sovereign power occupying a stronghold and able to mobilize military force. The provincial governor occupies the citadel and commands contingents of janissaries and mercenaries. The two chiefs occupy fortified residences within the city walls and command large numbers of armed followers such that their forces normally outnumber those of the governor. Sometimes the chiefs fill the streets of the town with men in arms, forcing state officials to retreat into their fortress within the city walls. Sometimes they conduct skirmishes with one another from their separate residences or lay protracted sieges around one another's residences. Since the town was at peace during his visit, Beauchamp does not witness any such events, but he sees the clear signs of them in the appearance of the town itself:
The doors of iron are but one feature of the chiefs' fortified residences; they are also equipped with secret underground passages for the purpose of receiving supplies or permitting escape during sieges. The walls of the gardens are so high that it is impossible to see from one street to another. They have been constructed as defenses against the pillaging that occurs during military invasions from the countryside. Strife between the governor and the chiefs, and, more commonly, between the chiefs themselves, periodically reduces the level of commercial activity. This may have been the case during the last few years of the eighteenth century.
The town is built on a rise of a hillside at the coastline in an attractive setting. It forms an imperfect square: Its walls are high, crenellated, and badly maintained. At the center of the town, there are two fortified mansions that are closed each night with double doors of iron. It is there where the two chiefs reside. The narrow streets are paved. Except for one part of the town, near the sea, all the rest is nothing more than large gardens enclosed by walls. The commerce of Trabzon is currently not very active. It consists of linen cloth, copper, hazelnuts, and slaves from Georgia.
Having contacted first the governor and then the two chiefs by messenger, the French are taken to a dilapidated residence, which they are allowed to use as their quarters. They are then separately visited by attendants of all kinds of officials and notables (tant du pacha que des ayans). The next morning they send timepieces in the customary manner (alaturka) to the two chiefs and coffee and sugar to other officials, the pasha, the kadıı, and the janissary agha. After these preliminaries, they proceed to visit the principals (les grands), first the two chiefs in turn and then the pasha. The first chief, Memiş Agha, receives them with gravity, serves them coffee, and offers them pipes. He asks why the French have abolished all the churches in France. When they reply that religion is free in their country, so that he can himself come and pray in a mosque if he likes, he only smiles. After a quarter of an hour, he says there are no wild plants at Trabzon (that is, in the town itself), but he would send them with an escort of horsemen into his own lands at a distance of thirty leagues, that is, about one hundred kilometers. Refusing his offer, saying they fear the Laz, the French take their leave and visit the second chief, Osman Agha. The latter has a more agreeable countenance and makes them more at ease. He recommends they look for plants in his territories at a distance of six leagues, that is, about twenty kilometers, and he offers to take them there himself. Again they refuse his assistance, but they do later make an excursion to his lands (to the south of town along the trade route). Taking their leave, the French next pay a visit to the pasha. They are well received (avec beaucoup d'aménité), but the governor does not offer them a full reception, withholding pipes, since they lack any official diplomatic capacity. Beauchamp here explains they had not requested appointment as official consuls for fear this might infuriate the Laz, so the imperial decree given them describes them only as travelers. Nonetheless, in the evening the pasha sends them musicians who play for them in their lodgings. Beauchamp and his companions do not like the music, but they are reassured by the pasha's attentiveness.
This last section of Beauchamp's observations is rich in clues to the relationship of officials and nonofficials as competing sovereign powers. The French are received by all three principals (les grands) in an almost identical fashion. They are visited by representatives of all three. They are obliged to send presents to all three. They are invited by all three to a social occasion where they meet, share refreshments, and converse with one another. On the other hand, the reception of the governor follows ceremony and protocol, while the receptions of the two chiefs are more informal. For example, the governor is referred to only by his title while the two chiefs are known by their first names. The governor withholds pipes since the French lack diplomatic standing, but the chiefs offer them coffee and pipes. The governor has the means to embellish his reception of official visitors with an elaborate table and skilled musicians in the style of the court. The two chiefs are content to meet their visitors, offer refreshment, and engage in conversation. All three receive the French in accordance with a discipline of an interpersonal association. In the instance of the governor, this discipline has been formalized in accordance with the rules and aesthetics of the imperial court. In the instance of the two chiefs, the discipline is less adorned and more simply expressed. The logic of a sovereign power based on interpersonal association is the same for each, but it is expressed in two different registers.
After their meetings with the two chiefs and the pasha, the French visit the chief judge (kadıı) and the military commander (yeniçeri ağasıı). The military commander has been posted to the town by the central government and has no connection with the two chiefs, even though the latter are associated with janissary-like militias and regiments. He speaks at length about the lack of authority of the pasha and himself in the city. He hopes that one day the pasha of Erzurum might come and take the heads of the two chiefs. The military commander offers the French his house and his garden, but they refuse, even though they are so badly quartered. They fear a close association with him might alienate the "rebels" of whom they believe themselves in need. Nonetheless, the French find the military commander cheerful and engaging, "without any of the Oriental gravity of his nation." Here Beauchamp touches on the tendency of foreigners to miss the principle of sociability underlying official procedures. The military commander has chosen to host the French as his personal guests, rather than to treat them as visiting officials. His behavior therefore illustrates a discipline of interpersonal association in its register of gaiety and warmth, rather than protocol and ceremony.
The Structure of Political Authority in the Capital
In the summer of 1796, Beauchamp had encountered the pattern of divided political authority characteristic of the later period of decentralization. There were two kinds of sovereign power. That of the provincial governor appeared to represent state institutions and organizations. That of local elites appeared to rely on a local base of allies and supporters. But Beauchamp, and the other western Europeans visitors who followed him, could not so easily perceive the basic similarity and close relationship of the two kinds of authority.
On the one hand, the political authority of high state officials was primarily based on their position in the state system. The provincial governor, for example, was the head of a more or less effective centralized bureaucracy composed of military and judicial officials. He had at his command officers and soldiers from the central army and, perhaps as well, some private officers and troops. He had at his disposal funds that were raised by tax collections, not only from the eastern coastal region, but also from farms and estates outside the province of Trabzon. At the same time, his position in the state system had a social component that was just as important, perhaps even more important, than its bureaucratic dimension. But this social component involved the provincial governor's contacts with other state officials in other parts of the Empire, outside the province of Trabzon. His household was organized in accordance with imperial ceremony and protocol. His staff and servants were recruited and trained in accordance with official thinking and practice. Like other members of the official class, he might move his household, his family, servants, and staff, from town to town or from region to region. In this respect, his political authority was not directly dependent on his position and influence in the social networks of the inhabitants of Trabzon (even if some of its local elites were his allies and others were his enemies). Instead, he was more directly dependent on his position and influence among members of the imperial official class, such as other governors and sub-governors in other provinces, or the highest officials of the palace in Istanbul. Accordingly, the souring of his social standing in official circles could lead to his immediate downfall, while a serious revolt of the local elites in the coastal districts could drive him from the capital but not deprive him of the provincial governorship.
On the other hand, the political authority of local elites, such as the two chiefs of the town, was primarily dependent on their local position and influence in some specific territory of the eastern coastal region. The two chiefs lived in large mansions and had large households that were functionally equivalent to those of state officials (see fig. 8). They even had staffs and servants who performed governmental functions, legally or illegally, just like the staffs and servants of state officials. So it was that they had the capacity to displace or replace state officials and govern districts in their stead. But the households of local elites were otherwise not organized in accordance with imperial protocol and ceremony, and their personal dependents and armed supporters were not recruited or trained in accordance with official thinking and practice. Rather, the local elites were creatures of a system of leaders and followers that was based on a discipline of interpersonal association. They were therefore dependent on their social networks among the inhabitants of a particular place somewhere in the eastern coastal region. They were Trabzonlus, not Ottomans, and by that fact they did not move in official circles. Nonetheless, they were able to defy, if not defeat, the provincial governor by mobilizing large numbers of men in arms because of their place in a regional social oligarchy that composed a major fraction of the rural population. When they lost favor with the provincial governor, this might have no effect whatsoever on their position and influence so long as they retained the support of clients, friends, partners, and allies.
Figure 8. A mansion (early to mid-nineteenth century).
For a century, from 1740 to 1840, these two kinds of political authority, one official and the other nonofficial, confronted one another in the town of Trabzon. The relationship of the provincial governor to the two chiefs of the town was not institutionalized but the subject of negotiation and renegotiation. In 1796, the two chiefs of the town had assumed authority ([ils s'étaient] emparé de l'autorité) from the provincial governor, reducing him to a mere symbol of the state system. In 1803, the two chiefs of the town were included in the official receptions of the provincial governor but were not allowed to speak. In 1827, the two chiefs of the town had not been granted any official recognition by the provincial governor and were excluded entirely from his official receptions.
During some periods, either state officials or local elites prevailed over the other for a period of time. When the provincial governor was in a much stronger position than the chiefs were, he was able to force one or both of them to abandon the city altogether, exiling all their dependents and supporters to one of the outlying coastal districts. When the two chiefs were in a much stronger position than the provincial governor was, they might force him to take refuge in the citadel, or even to abandon the capital or province altogether. Still other kinds of alignments occurred when no party was in a dominant position. During periods of political crisis, for example, the relationships of the governor and the two chiefs were entirely fluid, changing from month to month, if not from week to week. Sometimes the governor allied himself with one of the chiefs against the other, and then a short time later allied himself with his former enemy against his former ally. Sometimes the two chiefs joined together and called in reinforcements from their friends and partners in the countryside in order to force concessions from the provincial governor. Sometimes the governor called on allies among the local elites in the outlying coastal districts to force the compliance of one or both of the chiefs.
So the government was divided between state officials and local elites during the later period of decentralization. And yet this division cannot be understood as a centralized "state system" ranged against a localized "social system," since the latter was both structurally and functionally related to the former. All leading individuals with armed followings, whether or not they held official appointments, were essential to the carrying out of the most elementary functions of the provincial government. So state officials were dependent on the regional social oligarchy. On the other hand, local elites were always interested in penetrating the state system in order to consolidate and legitimize their political authority. So the local elites were dependent on the imperial system.
During the later period of decentralization, a few of the local elites of Trabzon gained entry into the circles of state officials, acquiring high titles and offices and cultivating social networks that reached up into the palace. The two chiefs whom Beauchamp accords the title "ayan" appear not to have held high titles and offices at the moment of his visit. The term "notables" (âyan) referred generally to persons of wealth and influence in a town or district, but it also designated a specific, officially recognized, social position. On the other hand, the term also referred to specific leading individuals who had been appointed as chief notable (âyan başıı) by virtue of their capacity to represent all the notables of a village, town, or area. The chief notable was not a state official, but he did assist in the carrying out of certain governmental functions.
The principals among the local elites in the town of Trabzon and in the outlying coastal districts were often so appointed. Otherwise, the two chiefs in the town sometimes acquired titles and offices usually reserved for state officials, such as district governor (mütesellim), military commander (kaymakam), military general (paşa), and provincial governor (paşa, miri mîram). It was also the case that the most prominent of the local elites outside the provincial capital sometimes held such titles and offices, and probably did so on the occasion of the French expedition. The provincial governor, or his superiors in Istanbul, granted such official titles and offices in response to shows of force, as a means of mollifying or manipulating troublemakers. This being the case, it is not surprising that leading individuals with armed followings moved into state offices with greater frequency during periods of political crisis. Correspondingly, they were less successful in retaining such appointments during periods when the provincial governor was in a position to confront them. A strong provincial governor would dismiss those local elites who held state offices and replace them with as many of his own personal associates as possible. Still, even the strongest provincial governors never alienated the local elites entirely from the state system but merely curbed the worst of their illegal practices and scaled back their official titles and offices, usually by relegating them to the position of chief notable.
Citizen Beauchamp and the Coastal Districts
With the benefit of these summary conclusions, I shall now return to Beauchamp's account in order to consider what his observations tell us about the relationship of the provincial government to a regional social oligarchy composed of local elites with armed followings. From his remarks, we can glimpse a pattern of vertical and horizontal alliances and oppositions.
According to Beauchamp, the two chiefs, Memiş Agha and Osman Agha, were not natives of the town. They hailed instead from outlying rural areas of the province of Trabzon. So the provincial capital had been invaded and occupied by leading individuals with armed followings who came from very different parts of the coastal region. This was indeed the "normal" situation. More or less the same pattern appears to have prevailed during the entire period of decentralization.
Why did some of the local elites from distant parts of the province set themselves up in the capital? How were they positioned among the local elites of their homelands? Each of these questions points toward a pattern of alliances among local elites who were sometimes attempting to stabilize and sometimes attempting to destabilize the provincial capital.
From the clues Beauchamp gives us, checked against other sources, we can assess the position of each of the two chiefs in these alliances. Following is my summary of the evidence about each of them.
The chief who was known as Osman Agha most likely came from the rural mountain areas to the south of the provincial capital. Later, the French expedition proceeds in this direction and visits an Orthodox convent that was said to be situated in his territory. This means that the homeland of the chief is in the vicinity of the principal route and pass that link the anchorages of the town with the major trade routes of the interior plateau. Thus we can conclude that Osman Agha was associated with the central areas of the province where a substantial Orthodox population remained in place.
The chief who was known as Memiş Agha most likely came from, or was associated with, the vicinity of Rize. This would fit the distance to his lands, his offer of an escort on horseback to reach them, his interest in questions of church and state, and the association of his homeland with the Laz. If this is correct, Memiş Agha was from the local elites who were associated with the eastern districts, each of which enjoyed its own combination of ports, routes, and passes linking with the major trade routes of the interior plateau.
These inferences are highly probable, even if not completely certain. And in any case, even if not entirely correct, they conform in their pattern to circumstances that prevailed in the town of Trabzon both before and after Beauchamp's visit.
During much of the period of decentralization, one of the factions in the town was more or less consistently linked with the Tuzcuoğlu family line of Rize. The Tuzcuoğlu coalition was largely composed of a coalition of local elites from districts beyond the central district of Trabzon, in particular, the districts of Rize, Of, and Sürmene. This coalition was usually opposed to the pasha of Trabzon. The other faction in the town was more or less linked with a coalition of local elites from the immediate vicinity of Trabzon. Often led by a representative of the Şatııroğlu family line, this coalition was usually allied with the pasha of Trabzon. Given the distribution of sovereign power during the period of decentralization, this pattern makes perfect sense.
If the passage of commerce through the town of Trabzon was disrupted, then the transit trade was diverted to other land and sea routes of the coastal region. This meant that civil disorders in the town of Trabzon could have a direct effect on the balance of power between state officials and local elites, as well as between different coalitions of local elites. For if trade declined in the town of Trabzon, both the pasha of Trabzon and the local elites in the vicinity of the town were weakened by a fall in tax receipts. And when trade declined in Trabzon, the local elites of the outlying coastal districts were strengthened since commerce was diverted to the outlying ports, markets, routes, and passes, resulting in a rise in tax receipts.
In general, it was the local elites of Rize, Of, and Sürmene who had the most to gain from disruption of commerce in the capital, given the proximity of their transit valleys to the land routes of the interior highlands (see map 2). Thus the pasha of Trabzon, as well as the local elites in the vicinity, such as the Şatııroğlu family line, had a common (but not identical) interest in peace in the town. And the local elites of the outlying coastal districts, but especially the Tuzcuoğlu family line and its backers in Rize, Of, and Sürmene, had no compelling interest in peace in the town. That is to say, there was peace in the town of Trabzon only if the provincial governor struck a partnership with the Şatııroğlu family line in central Trabzon and at the same time made concessions to the Tuzcuoğlu family line in Rize, Of, and Sürmene.
Otherwise, civil disorder in the provincial capital increased or declined in accordance with different strategic combinations of officials and nonofficials.33 The provincial governor might ally himself with the local elites of the central districts, a common circumstance that usually kept peace in the town. If the local elites of the central districts became too strong, however, he might ally himself with the local elites of the outlying districts, a less common circumstance. On the other hand, the local elites of both the central and outlying districts sometimes joined together to foment civil disorders in order to weaken a strong provincial governor. And occasionally, the central and outlying elites combined to keep peace in the town of Trabzon for their mutual benefit, holding the provincial governor as their virtual hostage. The provincial governor might also face enemies other than the local elites of the coastal region. For if the provincial governor succeeded in gaining the upper hand over the local elites, usually by bringing in reinforcements from outside the province, the palace might begin to take steps to drive him from office, lest he use his position of strength in the coastal region to force concessions from the central government.
The situation in the provincial capital, as I have described it, can be more or less exactly correlated with the onset of the period of decentralization. The evidence for this appears in Peysonnel's account of commercial conditions along the Black Sea littoral. In a site-by-site description of the commerce of the eastern coastal region, Peysonnel writes:
As we know from other sources, the "janissary regiments" that are mentioned in the quote were associated with the aghas and agha-families of the coastal districts, and their membership consisted of local residents who were associated with the alliances and coalitions of the aghas and agha-families.
The town of Trabzon was once much more flourishing than it is today [text revised and completed in 1762]. Internal warfare caused by the old quarrels of the Twenty-fifth and Sixty-fourth Regiments of Janissaries has reduced this town to the most deplorable condition. In succession Ömer Pasha Üçüncüoğlu [governor of Trabzon 1741–45] and Ali Pasha Hekimoğlu [governor of Trabzon 1751–54] were successively able to pacify these troubles by the most terrifying kind of examples and the severest kind of discipline; but in 1758 and 1759 the disorders began once again worse than ever to the point that the commerce of this place has been completely disrupted. The inhabitants did not dare leave their houses, grass was growing in the streets and markets, and a large number of the inhabitants, especially the reayas [here, the Christian population], were forced to abandon the town, and to go in search of tranquility and security at Jaffa and in other places.
Understood this way, Peysonnel's account links the rise of lower military officers and soldiers in the coastal districts, as established in the previous chapter for the district of Of, with the onset of civil disorders in the provincial capital. Early in the period of decentralization, before local elites and state officials had fully worked out the arrangements of their "ordered anarchy," commercial activity had declined and grass grew in the streets of the provincial capital. Even at this early date, however, the misfortunes of Trabzon were the basis of prosperity in Rize. Peysonnel writes, "All the maritime commerce of the province of Trabzon takes place at Rize when the internal quarrels are ravaging the former principal city. If duty is paid at Rize, it counts at Trabzon, and if it is paid at Trabzon, it counts at Rize." Peysonnel duly informs his merchant audience that their duty would "count" at either Rize or Trabzon, presumably as far as the palace in Istanbul was concerned. Locally, however, it did not "count" for the same individuals and groupings when it was collected at one or the other of the two ports. For during this same period, the local elites of the coastal districts often refused to forward receipts to state officials in the provincial capital.
With this understanding of the background of civil disorders in the provincial capital, we can now piece together a clearer picture of the local elites in the outlying coastal districts.
The Structure of Political Authority in the Coastal Districts
Just how many of the local elites, that is, how many aghas living in mansions, representing family lines, and backed by armed followings, were to be found in the coastal districts of Trabzon? On the occasion of the call-out for troops in 1788/1202, Ottoman officials cited twenty-six personal or family names in sixteen coastal districts, almost all of them in the vicinity of Trabzon and further east to Hopa. On the occasion of the call-out for troops in 1789/1204, the officials cited more than forty personal or family names in the vicinity of Trabzon and further east to Hopa. During a political crisis in the summer of 1807, Dupré despaired that "the government of the province was in the hands of fifty despots . . . who did not even listen to the sovereign." When Osman Pasha had momentarily pacified the local elites in 1831, Fontanier listed seven family names of chiefs as he (erroneously) declared the province of Trabzon "disencumbered of that crowd of little despots.
The common denominator of each of these assessments is an assumption that one, two, or three leading individuals are to be found in each of about sixteen districts; however, these one, two, or three were simply the principals among the local elites whom the central government had appointed as their intermediaries. In other words, they were the "chief notables" among still other "notables" much like them. So provincial state officials and western European consuls recognized only a fraction of the aghas, mansions, family lines, and followings in each of the coastal districts. Nonetheless, provincial state officials, if not the western European consuls, were fully aware that the principals represented social networks that reached out "by twig and branch" into the rural societies of the coastal districts. Taken altogether, some twenty-five to fifty "little despots" represented but the uppermost, visible tier of a regional social oligarchy that included a substantial segment of the population.
The accounts of my interlocutors in the district of Of confirm that a segment of the local elites was more or less invisible to the residents of the provincial capital. Official documents, consular reports, and travel narratives usually don't mention more than two or three family lines in the district, but there were far more than two or three aghas from agha-families in its two valley-systems. As we have seen, my interlocutors were able to list twenty-two aghas and agha-families of the nineteenth century and sort them according to their affiliation with the Five or the Twenty-five Party. Each of the twenty-two aghas and agha-families were also linked by kinship, friendship, and partnership with other lesser and greater individuals from other family lines.
For example, the author of a family memoir ("Fettahoğullarıınıın Tarihi"), probably written in the early twentieth century, begins by listing those family lines that had been comrades of his family line during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. He mentions two patronymic groups that had been the principals of the Twenty-five Party (Muradoğlu and the Cansıızoğlu), but he also mentions six other patronymic groups that my interlocutors did not include among the aghas and agha-families of either party. This implies that each agha and agha-family would have been associated with still other individuals and families. Taking this into account, one reaches the conclusion that social networks in the district of Of alone included thousands of individuals who hailed from scores of families. By analogy, one could also reasonably conclude that social networks in the old province of Trabzon included tens of thousands of individuals and hundreds of families. These conclusions are consistent with the official call-outs that summoned the most prominent of the local elites to assemble from one to two hundred men each. They are consistent as well with consular reports that describe occasions when coalitions of local elites mobilized ten to twenty thousand men in arms in order to set siege to the provincial capital.
The existence of an extensive regional social oligarchy, comprising a major fraction of the population, may not have had its exact counterpart elsewhere in Asia Minor. The dissemination of a tactic of sovereign power had occurred everywhere in the core Ottoman provinces, but it followed a specific course with specific results in the province of Trabzon. First of all, and most importantly, the inhabitants of the coastal region were inclined to become participants in the imperial system by reason of both their ecology and history (see chap. 3). In addition to this, there was a relative absence of towns and estates, and hence wealthy merchants and magnates who might succeed in centralizing political authority. This entailed the proliferation of vertical and horizontal cleavages of political authority, but also, in response to this, the elaboration of district alliances and coastal coalitions. A different leading individual with an armed following was associated with virtually every point in the landscape that was of some strategic importance (anchorages, crossroads, passes). However, no local leading individual with an armed following was able to stand alone by virtue of the importance of transport and commerce for all the local economies. Every local leading individual with an armed following therefore participated in social networks, district alliances, and coastal coalitions. These circumstances explain why French consuls and Ottoman officials could look upon the eastern coastal districts of the period of decentralization with such contradictory expectations. The former could not "imagine a more complete anarchy," but the latter could hope to call out its inhabitants for mass participation in imperial campaigns.
Combining the evidence from consular reports, official documents, and fieldwork, the distribution of sovereign power in the coastal districts can be spelled out in terms of the following patterns:
- Commercial Centers and Leading Individuals. Wherever economic activity was concentrated, there one also found a leading individual with an armed following. An anchorage associated with sea or land routes, a market center in a densely settled patch of a coastal valley, or a choke point through which the movement of people and goods were funneled would all be associated with a kind of local "government," consisting of a leading individual, a large residence, a household organization, a family line, and an associated body of allies and followers. The concentration of trade, manufactures, and farming meant that large numbers of people had a common interest in security. They were inclined, if not obliged, to submit to a leader with a following who collected revenues "off the top" (as some combination of goods, services, and cash) in return for his protection.
- The Hierarchy of Commercial Centers. The centers of economic activity in the province of Trabzon varied widely in their commercial function and position. For example, the more important markets in the coastal valleys were located near transit points where overseas and overland routes intersected, near areas of high population density and more productive agriculture, or near choke points that funneled the movement of people and goods through the precipitous terrain. Some centers of economic activity were therefore "feeders" to others that were "collectors." The feeder markets were always destined to remain byways of regional trade, manufactures, and produce, but some of the collector markets had the potential to emerge as the principal emporia of the coastal region.
- Coordinated Hierarchy of Authority and Commerce. The relative economic importance of commercial centers was correlated with the relative eminence of its associated leading individual with an armed following. For local elites (as opposed to state officials), the function and position of the commercial center may have been more important than the absolute volume of trade. For example, an individual with a following who controlled a major "collector" market in a coastal valley was in a position to dominate other individuals with followings who dominated its "feeder" markets. In this fashion, a hierarchy of leading individuals reflected a hierarchy of collector and feeder markets. However, there was never one perfectly integrated politico-economic hierarchy either at the level of the district valleys or at the level of the provincial region. Rather, the precise character of the politico-economic hierarchies of valleys and regions was the focus of some degree of factional competition, both locally and regionally.
Leading individuals with armed followers arose from within the state system wherever there was commercial activity, compromising centralized government. But this disintegrative principle was countered by an integrative principle. A hierarchy of local elites tended to crystallize around any hierarchy of commercial centers. The interdependency of authority and commerce explains the alignments of local elites in the coastal districts. Each transit valley was potentially a single politico-economic hierarchy. Its villagers followed a transhumant way of life that required the periodic movement of families and herds from the lower coastal foothills to the upper mountain pastures. They also needed to move products and manufactures, both exports and imports, through the valley from coast to mountains. Thus the local elites of a transit valley (who were associated with its anchorages, markets, roads, and passes) all had an interest in the secure movement of both people and goods from the shoreline to the highlands. On the other hand, the local elites of neighboring transit valleys did not necessarily share the same interests and so might be competitors.
The district of Of illustrates such patterns of intravalley organization and intervalley competition. There were two major valley systems in the district of Of. An agha of the Muradoğlu led a "party" that prevailed in the eastern valley, and an agha of the Selimoğlu led another "party" that prevailed in the western valley. While each of the two parties (fıırka) appears to have dominated one of the transit valleys, they were also rivals. Furthermore, the membership of the Five and Twenty-five parties was not completely segregated territorially but interspersed between the two valleys, both in the lowlands and in the highlands. For many decades, the local elites of the district of Of were divided by disputes over the location of the principal market near the shoreline. At the same time, by virtue of their local rivalry, they each allied themselves with differentgroups of local elites in districts to the east and west.
In the instance of some of the principal transit valleys, their anchorages, roads, and passes also constituted an attractive transport system for overseas and overland commerce. This provided yet another incentive for local elites to form district alliances among themselves and cultivate social networks based on hospitality, friendship, partnership, and intermarriage. On the other hand, the diversity of the trade, craft, manufactures, and cash crops did not match up in any one way with the multiplicity of anchorages, markets, routes, and passes in the coastal districts. Different combinations of political authority and commercial activity were always possible at both the district and the regional levels. The bouts of civil disorder, if not civil war, among the local elites of the coastal region were generally struggles to establish one rather than another of these politico-economic hierarchies. If the local elites might squabble among themselves over such issues, so they might also squabble with state officials. As we shall see later, the most serious revolts of coastal coalitions were actually challenges to the politico-economic hierarchy associated with the provincial government.
For the reasons I have just mentioned, state officials were not neutral parties in the rivalries of local elites in the districts. On one occasion they might have an interest in supporting one alliance of local elites at the expense of their competitors, and then on a later occasion supporting the second at the expense of the first. On the other hand, state officials did not invariably adopt a policy of divide and rule. They more typically took steps to consolidate the authority of one particular individual in this or that valley. For example, one of the local elites was usually able to dominate the entry point of the transit valley near the coastline where a major market was typically located. The leading individuals in such strategic locations had a better chance of being appointed chief notable, if not district governor, and thereby becoming preeminent among the local elites of a transit valley. And once having become preeminent, they also had a better chance of perpetuating their family line so that their descendants would also be appointed chief notable. This appears to have been the case in the instance of the aghas of the Selimoğlu family, who were settled at a choke point of the western valley and then later at its coastal entry point.
Alternatively, the provincial governor might attempt to gain control of or manipulate an alliance of local elites by inserting one of his own followers at the entry point of a transit valley and confirming him as chief notable or district governor. The local elites of the transit valley might then be obliged to recognize him as the principal representative of their alliance by virtue of his occupation of an anchorage, market, route, or pass of strategic importance for the transit valley. It is probably by just such an appointment that İİsmail Agha Muradoğlu set down a family line in the district of Of during the second decade of the nineteenth century. He appeared out of nowhere. He was of Kurdish origin and had no family line. But within a few years he had built an immense mansion to rival that of any state official in the most productive agricultural area of the district. It was aghas of the Selimoğlu type and Muradoğlu type whose family names appear in official documents and consular reports. They entered the field of vision of state officials and foreign consuls in different ways, either by cashing in on their local position to enter the state system or by cashing in on the state system to establish a local position.
After the provincial governor had dispatched one of his own personal followers to one of the coastal districts (as perhaps in the case of İİsmail Agha Muradoğlu), he might discover some years later that this person had himself risen to a position among local elites and so refused to submit to the governor's authority and could not be recalled. The former protégé would have built a mansion, enlarged his household, founded a family line, and assembled a following. So the local elites were not a fixed and invariant class. Some had become deeply entrenched in district social networks during several generations of succession. Others coupled their sponsorship from a provincial governor with efforts to establish themselves by building a following and extending their associations within the district. The local elites always included both newcomers and long-time residents since state officials planted their protégés in the coastal districts.
The provincial governor could never know exactly in what measure his appointed clients in the coastal districts, or even his own subordinates in Trabzon itself, had been drawn into the local networks of friendship, marriage, partnership, and alliance in the coastal districts. For example, Fontanier reports that one of the local elites in Sürmene, having declared his support for the provincial governor, secretly dispatched reinforcements to assist an ally who had remained in a state of revolt against the provincial governor. He writes, "They had sent proposals for accommodating the pasha, made magnificent promises of submission to him, and assured him that they would pay their taxes. At the same time, they placed on the very boat that was to carry these dispatches some fifteen men under the command of the nephew of their agha who were intending to go to the assistance of the chief who was in revolt." Then on another occasion, also during the "strong" governorship of Osman Pasha, British consul Guarracino described how government troops, dispatched to suppress rebels in one of the coastal districts, dutifully engaged them in what was merely a mock battle, since they were in fact their friends and allies:
There was an inescapable, decentralizing logic to a tactic of sovereign power based on interpersonal association. The provincial governor had his own circle of dependents and followers in the imperial rather than the local style. He could project his political authority by sending out a close friend or partner into the coastal districts. But once the latter found himself in the milieu of the countryside rather than the capital, he transformed himself from state official into one of the local elites.
Uzunoglu Mehmet Agha, the commander of Osman Pasha's troops, came to Miruvet; it was agreed between Kior Hussein Bey and Uzunoglu that a feigned engagement from the opposite bank of the river should take place, but that neither party should direct their fire on their opponents. The men maintained a constant fire for two days, and of course without a shot taking effect. The troops, who were apparently enemies during the day, crossed the river in boats in the night, and feasted together.
A single Government of State Officials and Local Elites
My analysis has examined the cleavages between state officials and local elites, as well as among the local elites themselves. This puts a spotlight on the instability of the structure of political authority. Similarly, the available sources, consular reports, travel accounts, official documents, and local traditions, all emphasize moments of crisis, since periods of peace were deemed less interesting and significant. So it is necessary to recall that state officials and local elites sometimes, if not usually, worked together for months, if not for years, withoutcoming into conflict. There were two different situations in which state officials and local elites tended to cooperate. A strong provincial governor, one who was able to draw on manpower and resources from outside the eastern coastal region, was able to intimidate the local elites. For example, he might make examples of a few of the aghas and ayans, burning their markets or mansions or even arresting or executing them. The other aghas and ayans would then fall into line, declaring their loyalty and obedience to the governor and taking their places in the provincial government as intermediaries and assistants. Alternatively, a provincial governor who lacked manpower and resources could establish a working relationship with the local elites. For example, he would make concessions to the most powerful of the local elites in order to establish a negotiated peace. Then, relying on the assistance of the latter, he could move against any of the less powerful of the local elites who opposed the terms of the negotiated peace. From the comments of Dupré, it could be inferred that provincial governors sometimes assumed office by the first technique and then gradually shifted to the second technique as they became more experienced.
Given the means by which provincial governors imposed or negotiated peace, it should come as no surprise that the prospect of the dismissal, resignation, disgrace, flight, or death of a provincial governor usually entailed a period of civil disorder at least until the arrival of his successor. On such occasions, the cleavages among state officials and local elites came out into the open. Accordingly, conditions in Trabzon were also directly affected by instability in the central government. For example, a strong provincial governor was in place when Consul Dupré first took up his post, but some years later political crises in Istanbul began to have repercussions in Trabzon. From 1807 to 1811, nine different individuals served as provincial governor, resulting in recurrent episodes of civil disorder in the town. Consul Dupré sometimes wrote with desperation:
The two parties [of derebeys] who were joined in an alliance are again in arms and the city is in a state of civil war. . . . There is veritable anarchy in the city. [The governor] Ahmet Pasha is powerless. The undisciplined troops of [Osman Agha] Şatııroğlu commit disorders, brigandage, thefts, assassinations with impunity. (June 6, 1807)
Even so, one has to recall that civil disorder in Trabzon did not neces-sarily mean that there was also civil disorder in all or even most of the outlying coastal districts. Indeed, trouble in Trabzon was sometimes the sign of peace in the outlying coastal districts, just as peace in Trabzon was sometimes the sign of trouble in the outlying coastal districts. The disintegrative effects of the decentralization of sovereign power were countered by the integrative effects of the existence of a state society counterpoised to the state bureaucracy.
Civil war continues in the country and rekindles daily more and more. It was formerly only in the neighboring villages, but with the arrival of reinforcements for Memiş Agha [Kalcııoğlu] from [Memiş Agha] Tuzcuoğlu [of Rize], it is now occurring in the city itself. (Aug. 20, 1808)
The other factor to bear in mind is the sometimes-gratuitous character of civil disorders. Oftentimes, they were merely a show of force not unlike the marriage celebrations that I witnessed in the district of Of during the 1960s. There was a great deal of gunfire, but it might be no more than a demonstration of numbers and firepower rather than actual combat. Fontanier suggests as much by his description of the town of Trabzon in 1827. At the time, Osman Pasha Hazinedaroğlu had just assumed the provincial governorship only months after the abolition of the old janissary institution:
It is difficult to imagine a more complete anarchy. In the town itself, there are fortresses that belong to private parties who make war on one another. For several days while this is going on, one hears nothing but rifle shots as they fire from one house to the other. It is true that these fights are more noisy than murderous because at the conclusion of a battle it is often the case that no one has been killed or even wounded. A few days after my departure, I was told that the entire population had taken up arms and set siege to the pasha in his fortified mansion. Then, weary of war, they had allowed him to re-assume his position of authority. As a result of this state of affairs—that the inhabitants have always to be in arms—the collection of taxes is difficult, and not in correspondence with the fertility of the soil or the variety of its productions.
This point having been made, it must also be said that there were also episodes of serious destruction and suffering. Such episodes generally occurred when a provincial governor undertook to alter the balance of power between state officials and local elites. There are two late examples. Süleyman Pasha Hazinedaroğlu (1811–18) assumed the provincial governorship with the intention of implementing the so-called "New Order" (Nizam-i Cedid). This measure entailed the organization of a new central army and hence the weakening of the old central army, as represented by the janissary institution. Before he left office, the aghas and ayans of the outlying coastal districts had sacked the suburbs of the capital, and the government had responded by dispatching tens of thousands of troops for the invasion and occupation of the district of Of. Ten years later, Osman Pasha Hazinedaroğlu (1827–42) assumed the provincial governorship just after the abolition of the janissary institution. He then proceeded to carry out a program of pacifying the aghas and ayans, intending to reduce their military capacities. Once again, the aghas and ayans set siege to the capital, and in response, the government flooded the district of Of with tens of thousands of troops.
I shall conclude by comparing and contrasting three prominent individuals as examples of the relationship of state officials and local elites. The three examples will also make it possible to diagram a "tiered" state society consisting of higher and lower state officials merging and combining with greater and lesser local elites.
State Officials and Local Elites
Memiş Agha Tuzcuoğlu of Rize, Osman Agha Şatııroğlu of Trabzon, and Süleyman Pasha Hazinedaroğlu of Canıık were the principal figures in a crisis of political authority in the province of Trabzon (1814–17). Each of these individuals was from a family of provincial state officials. Each of them had a regional base that provided him with resources in the form of cash income and armed followers. Each of them came to serve as a district governor and aspire to powers equivalent to a provincial governor. All three were rivals, and two became bitter enemies.
Memiş Agha Tuzcuoğlu and the Regional Elite
Memiş Agha Tuzcuoğlu is said to have been born in the eastern coastal region sometime during the early eighteenth century, perhaps as early as the year 1715. His father was one of the "notables" (eşraf) of Rize, where he was perhaps engaged in trade. One of his uncles held the rank of pasha and served as provincial governor of Erzurum. By the 1780s, Memiş Agha had risen to prominence in the coastal districts of the eastern province of Trabzon by a combination of government, financial, and commercial activities. He was somehow involved with the manufacturing and shipping of flax and linen, which had become an important industry in the vicinity of Rize. He advanced villagers cash for their future produce so that they might be able to make tax payments. He collected funds to be forwarded as tax receipts to the provincial governor, taking some varying share for himself in proportion to his own position of strength. He was then all at once a social oligarch, an entrepreneur, a moneylender, a tax-collector, and, eventually, a provincial state official.
By no later than 1788, Memiş Agha was regularly serving as chief notable, if not district governor, of Rize. This means he was a principal figure among the local elites of the eastern province of Trabzon by this date. Just a few years later, he held an imperial rank commonly granted to eminent provincial notables, gate-keeper (kapııcııbaşıı). Afterward, he also occasionally served as military commander (kaymakam) of Rize and castle-keeper (muhafaza) of Faş. By the 1800s, if not earlier, he was the leader of a coastal coalition that included aghas and ayans distributed across the eastern coastal districts. The coastal coalition in question consisted of what I have termed a hierarchy of authority and commerce, centered on the districts of Rize, Of, and Sürmene and controlling the transit trade from the coast to the interior.
From 1814 to 1817, he had raised the ayans and aghas of the coastal districts of Rize, Of, and Sürmene in revolt against the provincial governor, Süleyman Pasha Hazinedaroğlu. At the time, his enemies accused him of intending to form a separate state. More probably, he was hoping to maintain, if not enhance, his prerogatives and privileges within the imperial system, perhaps by establishing himself as a provincial governor of a separate "province of Rize."
I shall describe Memiş Agha as one of the "regional elite," thereby distinguishing him from lesser local elites of the coastal districts. I use this term to designate the limited number of local elites who held higher state appointments and imperial ranks. There would probably have been somewhere between twenty and fifty representatives of such a regional elite at any one time.
Süleyman Pasha Hazinedaroğlu and the Imperial Elite
Süleyman Pasha Hazinedaroğlu was not a native of Trabzon, and he did not reside there until later in his career. According to an undocumented tradition, he came from an old family line that had long been associated with the western province of Canıık. However, his position in the western coastal region was not comparable to the regional elite of the province of Trabzon. He was instead the owner of vast estates worked by sharecroppers reduced to the status of serfs. So he was not linked with a coalition of aghas and ayans in any section of the coastal region, and therefore he was not dependent on the support of the population of any particular place. He controlled the lands and peoples in the province of Canıık by the mechanisms of the state system rather than by a coalition of aghas and ayans. Thus, he was able to bring troops and supplies into the "ungovernable" eastern coastal region from the "governable" western coastal region.
When Süleyman Pasha first arrived in the town of Trabzon, he held appointments as military commander of Canıık and district governor of Trabzon, but he expected to be appointed provincial governor of Trabzon. When he rose to that position soon afterward, he did so by bidding for the office and then paying a large fee for his governmental concession. That is to say, he counted on his ability to force the local elites of the coastal region to forward tax receipts to the provincial government. This was consistent with his intention of implementing the so-called "New Order" (Nizam-i Cedid), which would have had the effect of curbing the military strength of the aghas and ayans. So Süleyman Pasha hoped to reinforce the formal state system in the province of Trabzon at the expense of its local elites, and, in particular, the coastal coalition led by Memiş Agha Tuzcuoğlu.
I shall describe Süleyman Pasha as an "imperial elite," thereby distinguishing him from the local elites of the province of Trabzon. As such, he conducted his provincial governorship in accordance with state ceremony and protocol. His various households (he came to have more than one) were composed of numerous dependents, servants, and slaves, many of whom would have been raised and trained in accordance with official conventions and procedures. He had at his side state officials and military officers who were not from Trabzon but were themselves associated with the formal state system. He was associated with still other higher state officials by kinship, friendship, and alliance. He was backed by a certain number of paid regular or irregular soldiers in his capital and was able to raise and transport large numbers of regular and irregular soldiers from the province of Canıık. He joined with other high state officials to launch imperial campaigns in the Caucasus. When faced with revolts in the eastern coastal region, he was able to call on high state officials in neighboring regions, and they supported him by dispatching military reinforcements.
Given his position in the formal state system, Süleyman Pasha was not obliged to consider the tranquillity and prosperity of any particular settled population. He could afford to sacrifice the welfare of the inhabitants of the province of Trabzon in the interest of mobilizing troops and requisitioning supplies for military campaigns. Unlike the local elites, he therefore enjoyed the advantage of a relative freedom from any sympathy for, or loyalty to, a land or a people. At the same time, he appears to have had a money problem, understandably so since his governorship relied on payment for services rather than the support of a circle of aghas and ayans. He had been forced at some time to borrow funds from Memiş Agha Tuzcuoğlu. So he was indebted to a man who should have been his subordinate, and, as well, a subordinate who was asserting his independence by withholding tax receipts.
The Contrast between the Imperial and Regional Elite
When Süleyman Pasha moved decisively to restrict his independence, Memiş Agha responded by raising the ayans and aghas of districts east of Trabzon in revolt (1814–17). The manner in which Süleyman Pasha was at last able to suppress this revolt serves to illustrate the uprooted and mobile character of the imperial elite as opposed to the rooted and immobile character of the regional elite.
Süleyman Pasha had long sought to obtain a warrant for the arrest and execution of his rival, but this had proven a difficult task by reason of the Rizeli's influence in palace circles. When the warrant was issued in 1816, Memiş Agha proceeded to march on Trabzon, occupying its suburbs with thousands of soldiers and forcing Süleyman Pasha to flee his capital. From this position of strength, Memiş Agha initially attracted the allegiance of still more of the ayans and aghas in various parts of the coastal regions.
Süleyman Pasha was later able to return to Trabzon after receiving military support from other members of the imperial elite, that is to say, other high state officials with whom he had contacts. At the time, a combination of forces, supported by ships from the imperial navy, moved on the province of Trabzon from different directions. These included the armies of Ali Pasha of Kastambol [sic], Mehmet Pasha of Erzurum, the pasha of Sivas, and the military commander of Gümüşhane. Like Süleyman Pasha, all of these individuals were uprooted and mobile in that they commanded some considerable number of salaried and conscripted troops. As these different armies moved on the province of Trabzon, many of the ayans and aghas, especially those in the western districts of the province, then reversed themselves, declaring their allegiance to Süleyman Pasha.
Once Süleyman Pasha had reinstalled himself in the provincial capital, he dispatched 2,500 troops to set siege to the residence of Memiş Agha Tuzcuoğlu in Rize. This led the latter to flee to Of, where he was able to find refuge among the local elites of that district. Süleyman Pasha then sent representatives to the district of Of hoping to persuade its ayans and aghas to turn over Memiş Agha. After months of fruitless negotiations, Süleyman Pasha gathered twenty-five to thirty thousand troops from the vicinity of Batum and dispatched them to the district of Of, where they engaged in a two-month battle with the local ayans and aghas. Although no eyewitness accounts of this particular invasion are available, we can reasonably assume that the troops adopted the same measures they followed on earlier and later occasions. They burned and looted mansions, shops, warehouses, and residences. They destroyed or seized crops, stores, and stock. They impressed villagers into military service, and they extorted exceptional taxes from them. In other words, Süleyman Pasha succeeded in forcing the surrender of the population by terrorizing and impoverishing them. Eventually the local elites and their followers submitted, and the soldiers were at last able to capture and execute Memiş Agha Tuzcuoğlu in October 1817.
Less than six months after his victory over Memiş Agha, Süleyman Pasha fell into disgrace and a few days later suddenly died. The provisions of the "New Order" would never be implemented in the province of Trabzon, and his successor would soon face revolts by alliances of local elites in the outlying coastal districts.
By way of contrast with Süleyman Pasha, and the state officials who sent him reinforcements, the aghas and ayans of the province of Trabzon were rooted and immobile. They were obliged to serve the interests of extensive social networks and ensure the security of trade and commerce in the transit valleys. It is true that they favored their dependents and allies at the expense of the general population. It is also true that they were sometimes drawn into protracted and destructive conflicts with one another. Nonetheless, they did not carelessly wreak havoc on the very populations from which they drew their followings.
Memiş Agha Tuzcuoğlu exemplifies how the regional elite were also rooted and immobile since they were leaders of district networks and coastal coalitions of local elites. He had built a large mansion, founded a family line, assembled an armed following, and was able to mobilize a coastal coalition. If his household included many servants and slaves, it was not organized in the imperial manner. Removed from the context of the social networks and commercial interests of Rize, Of, and Sürmene, he would have been reduced to a figure of inconsequence.
Keeping in mind the differences between Süleyman Pasha and Memiş Agha as representatives of the "imperial" and "regional" elite, we can now turn to Osman Agha Şatııroğlu.
Osman Agha Şatııroğlu and the Local Elites of the Central Districts
Osman Agha Şatııroğlu represented the local elites in the vicinity of the town of Trabzon, just as Memiş Agha Tuzcuoğlu represented the local elites of Rize, Of, and Sürmene. They were in some respects of similar background and position, and they were even related to one another through the marriage of their children. On the other hand, they can be distinguished by fine differences that point to two different strategies that were adopted by the regional elite. Some (like Memiş Agha) relied on a coastal coalition of ayans and aghas to assert themselves against state officials. Others (like Osman Agha) relied on a narrower base of ayans and aghas to vault themselves into the state system, where they formed close alliances with some but not all higher state officials.
The first members of the Şatııroğlu family line are reputed to have arrived in the coastal region at the time of Ottoman incorporation. Whatever the case, various members of the family line appear as prominent individuals (chief notables) and state officials (district governors) in the province by the later eighteenth century, usually in the vicinity of Trabzon or Gümüşhane. While members of the family line often served as state officials, they were also named as "valley lords" (derebey) and "usurpers" (mütegallibe). In all these respects, Osman Agha Şatııroğlu continued the tradition of his forebears.
Osman Agha Şatııroğlu was probably one of the chiefs of the town when Beauchamp arrived in 1796. He was most certainly among the local elites who served as state officials about a decade later. Dupré initially calls him "Osman Agha" and describes him as a "notable and derebey" who has been appointed district governor of Trabzon (1804). In later consular reports (1804–9), Dupré alternately names him as chief notable or military commander or district governor. The terminology of the French consul probably did not keep pace with his career. After Süleyman Pasha Hazinedaroğlu had assumed the governorship (1810), Osman Agha attained the imperial rank of gate-keeper (kapııcııbaşıı). A few years later, he appeared as one of the principal supporters of Süleyman Pasha during the revolt of Memiş Agha Tuzcuoğlu (1814–17). He eventually acquired other titles and ranks, such as castle-keeper (muhafaza) and finally governor (miri mîram). During the 1820s, he served as sub-governor of Trabzon, ruling the town for four years in the absence of a provincial governor. Then, with the appointment of a new provincial governor (a former ally of Şatııroğlu, now a rival), he left Trabzon to take up residence in Sürmene, where he was accused of fomenting brigandage in the eastern districts, conspiring with the sons of Tuzcuoğlu, and rising in rebellion against the governor.
The composition of Osman Agha Şatııroğlu's household and followers was probably mixed, so that they resembled those of Memiş Agha in some ways and Süleyman Pasha in other ways. He would certainly have around him all kinds of relatives, friends, associates, and dependents, but there are also indications that he also had paid mercenaries and professionals in his service. He was therefore always obliged to gain appointments to state offices, since the form of his political authority required a higher level of cash flow given that his support was not entirely drawn from a coastal coalition. By way of contrast, Memiş Agha Tuzcuoğlu was required to work against the provincial governor to enhance the prerogatives and privileges of dissident elements among the local elites, since otherwise the latter would have no reason to support him.
We can now draw some conclusions from all the details that have been reviewed above. Just as the contrast between Memiş Agha Tuzcuoğlu and Süleyman Pasha Hazinedaroğlu reveals differences in the political authority of the imperial and regional elite, so the contrast between Memiş Agha Tuzcuoğlu and Osman Agha Şatııroğlu reveals two types of political authority among the regional elite. In terms of his social background and personal career, Osman Agha Şatııroğlu was most certainly one of the ayans and aghas of the coastal districts. He was the descendant of an old family line that was linked with a certain area and had large numbers of followers from that area. He participated in district social networks and coastal coalitions, and he occasionally rose in revolt against the provincial government at the head of local elites with armed followings. On the other hand, Osman Agha Şatııroğlu consistently insinuated himself in the formal hierarchy of authority and commerce of the state system. This is why his family line was more or less closely linked with the trade route of Trabzon and the silver mines at Gümüşhane. Both the route and the mines represented aspects of the coastal region that were closely associated with the state system rather than with dissident elements among the local elites.
Osman Agha Şatııroğlu was sometimes without any official appointment and so out of the government. In these circumstances, he sometimes appeared as one of the valley lords, participating in the civil wars of the coastal region or rising in revolt against the provincial governors of Trabzon. Still, his interests and inclinations were close to those of the provincial government that he supported most of the time. Accordingly, he was one of a certain number of the regional elite who enjoyed a degree of uprootedness and mobility, similar to that of the imperial elite. At different times, he lived and ruled in Sürmene, Trabzon, Gümüşhane, and Görele, and on exceptional occasions he briefly held official appointments in Erzurum and Van. In the course of his career, when he was simply one of the local elites, he was addressed as "Agha" and described as an ayan and derebey. Later in his career, when he was one of the regional elite, he was addressed as "Bey" and described as a district governor or military commander. Still later, for a few years in the mid-1820s, he was the de facto provincial governor of Trabzon, after which he was addressed as "Pasha."
The three individuals just reviewed indicate the essential difference between the imperial and regional elites. The former were able to draw on manpower and resources generated by the state system without any dependence on a local following. The latter were also able to draw on the manpower and resources of the state system, but they were more directly dependent on their position in a regional social oligarchy. In this regard the imperial and regional elites represent the top tiers of a state society. The characteristics of individuals in each of these two tiers are represented in columns 1 and 2 of table 2, respectively. Each tier of the state society is differently positioned in the official state system, just as each tier refers to a different level of interpersonal association.
|2. Elites of the Province of Trabzon, Early Nineteenth Century|
|Attributes||Imperial Elite||Regional Elite|
(Type 1 and Type 2)
|Local Elites Attributes |
|State appointments||In and out of higher state offices|
Pasha of Trabzon
|In and out of state offices|
Agha, ayan, mütesellim,
|Agha, ayan, mütesellim||Agha, ayan|
|Household organization||In the imperial style|
Multiple large residences
Large family and/or large following
One or two coffeehouses
Type 1 more mobile, Type 2 less mobile
Large family and/or large following
|Large residenceLarge family and/or large following |
|Social milieu||The imperial elite in other parts of Asia Minor, Caucasus, Crimea, eastern Europe, Middle East||The regional elite, local elites of the coastal districts, and a local social network||Local elites of other districts and a local social network||Local elites of other districts and a local social network|
|Higher social connections||Connections with the palace||Type 1: Connections with the palace and with the pasha|
Connections with with the palace but not with the pasha
|The regional elite and greater aghas of his locale||Greater aghas of his locale|
|Lower social connections||Weak to strong connections with the regional elite||Type 1: Narrower connections with greater aghas|
Type 2: Broader connections with greater aghas
|Lesser aghas, traders, and farmers||Lesser aghas, traders, and farmers|
|Strategy||Dominate the ports and routes of the provincial capital with the support of Type 1 regional elite||Type 1: Allies himself with the pasha in order to control commercial centers|
Type 2: Allies himself with local aghas in order to control commercial centers
|Allies himself with Type 1 or Type 2 regional elite in order to control his locale||Allies himself with a greater agha in order to control his locale|
|Type 1: Osman Ağa|
Type 2: Memiş Ağa Tuzcuoğ
|Fettahoğlu aghas |
As we have also seen, the regional elite were the principals among a much larger number of local elites of varying prominence. In recognition of this, it is necessary to add two more tiers of the state society. Some were usually appointed as chief notables and sometimes appointed as district governors in the outlying coastal districts. Others are seldom mentioned in official documents, although they were sometimes recognized as the aghas or ayans of their respective areas. The characteristics of the leading individuals in each of these two tiers are represented in columns 3 and 4 of table 2.
1. There were French consuls in the coastal region through most of the nineteenth century. Dupré, the first consul in Trabzon, arrived in 1803, and Fourcade, the first consul in Sinop, arrived in 1802. Brant, the first British consul in Trabzon, did not arrive until 1830. [BACK]
2. For another approach, see Aktepe (1951–52), who examines the relationship of state officials and local elites through official correspondence, thereby revealing the web of interpersonal relationships in which both were enmeshed. In contrast, the early French and British consular reports refer directly to civil disorders, and in so doing indicate cleavages of political authority. [BACK]
3. There was already a Russian consul in both Trabzon and Sinop at the time of Beauchamp's visit. From the reports of both Dupré and Fourcade, it would appear that the Russian consuls had extensive contacts and agreements with both state officials and local elites. See MAE CCCT L. 1 and MAE CCCS, passim. [BACK]
4. Whatever the unannounced motives of the expeditions, the French had a long-standing botanical interest in the eastern coastal region. Tournefort (1717, 240–41) had led a scientific expedition to Trabzon almost a century earlier. See his description of the conditions of insecurity in the interior highlands of northeastern Anatolia at this time. [BACK]
5. Beauchamp 1813, 265. [BACK]
6. See Fontanier's (1829, 5; 1834, 286) comments on similar experiences with boatmen who are reluctant to land at ports for fear of rival militias or regiments. [BACK]
7. One of the sailors then tells them that they should not agree to the diversion, since the country of the boatman would not suffer any Christians there, much less Europeans. The warning of the sailor is consistent with the "fanatical" reputation of the eastern coastal districts. It is such warnings that incline almost all the European visitors who follow Beauchamp to avoid the districts of Rize, Of, and Sürmene. [BACK]
8. The number of individuals affiliated with the janissary institution in the eastern coastal districts appears to have been large. Fourcade encountered "Laz" janissaries who had participated in the revolt against Selim III (MAE CCCS folio 191). Fontanier writes:
Consul Brant reports that many janissaries fled to Trabzon after June 1826, and thereafter kept alive the spirit of this party among the people (PRO FO 524/1 p. 23, Aug. 23, 1832). See also Fontanier (1829, 27–28, 29–30) for other interesting observations on janissaries as a civil opposition to the government. [BACK]
When the great lord became determined to annihilate this fearsome corps, he gave the order to forbid the entry or exit of all Turkish vessels from the coast of Anatolia. He was not unaware that it was this part of the empire [the Black Sea region] from which those of his subjects who came to the capital were most prone to insubordination. Almost all of them were affiliated with the janissaries and were found in large numbers among castle guards. The government was afraid that a revolt might ensue in those provinces where they had numerous chiefs if the news of the massacre arrived there before appropriate measures could be taken. As well, the pasha of Trabzon set to sea in the fleet and menaced the coast as the first fugitives began to arrive." (1829, 25-26)
9. This is suggested by a tradition in Of whereby a visitor to a village would first determine if a particular house featured the insignia of his party (Five or Twenty-five) before asking to be received there as a guest (see chap. 1). As was determined in chapter 5, the Five and Twenty-five parties were regiments or militias. [BACK]
10. Beauchamp (1813, 268-69). [BACK]
11. Shortly after his arrival in 1803, Dupré describes the situation as follows: "The town is governed by a mütesellim [district governor] nominated by the pasha, and then there is a kadıı [judge], a janissary agha [district military commander for the central army], and dizdar agha [military commander of the fortress for the central army], and finally three derebeys [commanders of valleys] who have the greatest influence in the countryside, and who are the chiefs of parties during periods of dissension" (MAE CCCT L. 1, No. 11, 2 Nivôse An XII [Dec. 1803]). In later years, Dupré refers to only two chiefs in the town, but others in the near vicinity. "Two derebeys are present with the governor, but not allowed to speak" (MAE CCCT L. 1, No. 15, Floreal An XII [May 1804]); "two derebeys have united with one another in fear of Yusuf Pasha, who had deposed Tayyar Pasha" (No. 37, Brumaire An XIV [Oct. 1805]); "the two derebeys of the city, who are sworn enemies, have taken sides" (No. 65, July 1807); "the chiefs of the factions have agreed to a request for armistice after six months of civil war and the foreigners (outsiders) have retired, but the two principals have made it known that their animosity continues" (No. 78, Aug. 1808); "a rapprochement of the two derebeys has occurred upon the occasion of the marriage of their son and daughters" (No. 81, Oct. 1808). Fontanier (1829, 18, 20) writes of fortresses in the town belonging to private individuals as though there were several such buildings, not just two. [BACK]
12. The chiefs of the town are described by different terms according to context. The Ottomans refer to them as squire (ağa), notable (ayan), lord (derebey), usurper (mütegallibe), or brigand (şaki). The French and British consuls refer to them as chief, agha, ayan, bey, derebey, derebey ayan, and valley lord. When these individuals with followings hold formal appointments, they then may appear in the guise of state officials. [BACK]
13. Beauchamp 1813, 274-75. [BACK]
14. A few years later, Dupré describes the suburbs of the town as follows: "The houses of the suburbs consist of a single story and those of the Christians are enclosed with a wall of around eight to ten feet in height, such that one moves through the streets without being able to see the crossroads, or nearly so. They say it is the internal wars to which this town has always been subject that brought about this manner of building" (MAE CCCT L. 1, No. 11, 2 Nivôse An XII [Dec. 1803]). On the occasion of his visit in 1827, Fontanier comments on the same architectural features of the town: "The citadel is held by a pasha who also occupies a fortress within it. As I have already noted, several lords each dwell in a kind of château-fort. As well the town has a military appearance to it that renders it cheerless. The houses of private parties are built low and in large stones. They are connected with one another by secret passages that are for the purpose of assisting the flight of the owners who might be attacked" (Fontanier 1829, 20). [BACK]
15. When they learn that there is a Russian consul in Trabzon, they realize their mistake. [BACK]
16. Other visitors with diplomatic status provide better accounts of the ceremony and protocol during a reception by the pasha of Trabzon. See Rottiers's (1829, 217–28) description of his elaborate reception at the court in 1818 and his conversation with Hüsrev Pasha, successor to Süleyman Pasha. See Fontanier's (1834, 98–108) description of the court of Osman Pasha Hazinedaroğlu. By way of contrast, see Morier's (1812, 323–24) description of his less elaborate reception and entertainment by Emin Agha, district governor of Erzurum in 1809. [BACK]
17. MAE CCCT L. 1, No. 15, Floreal An XII [May 1804]. [BACK]
18. This appears to have been the case when Fontanier (1834, 96–108) was received at the court of Osman Pasha Hazinedaroğlu during his second visit. [BACK]
19. Aktepe (1951–52, 39–43) and Goloğlu (1975, 154–55), in regard to the exile of Osman Agha Şatııroğlu, circa 1825. [BACK]
20. See the note 33, below, citing eight known occasions between 1758 and 1833. [BACK]
21. Memiş Agha Tuzcuoğlu was repeatedly able to block attempts by provincial governors to restrain him. Later, Tahir Agha, his son and successor, was able to do the same. Bilgin (1990, 311) infers that his son had influence in the palace. Consul Brant confirms that Tahir Agha had "powerful friends at Court" since the "Kapidan Pasha and Kapidan Bey are both Rizeli" and the "Serasker [of Erzurum (?)] likes him" (PRO FO 524/1 p. 29, Jan. 15, 1833). [BACK]
22. Casual foreign visitors like Beauchamp commonly use the term "ayan" but did not always have a good understanding of it. Some years later, however, Dupré confirms Beauchamp's account. As a long-term consular resident, Dupré would have been well acquainted with its meaning. He some times refers to the two chiefs of the town as the "first ayan" and "second ayan," indicating that they are ranked as first and second chief notable (MAE CCCT L. 1, No. 86, Apr. 1809). [BACK]
23. See the Muradoğlu document dated August 14, 1834, for an example of such an appointment in the instance of Memiş Agha Muradoğlu, son of ıısmail Agha, founder of the family line. This late document describes the chief notable as an "official" (memur); nonetheless, I think it best not to regard this position as a state office. [BACK]
24. Sometimes Dupré writes of a certain individual as a valley lord (Dere Bey [sic]) and then later reports that this same man has been appointed as chief notable (Ayant [sic]). Sometimes he describes a valley lord (Dere Bey) as one of the "notables" (Ayant) of a certain place. So he implies that valley lords are a category apart from notables but also that some valley lords are notables and that some of them become chief notables. See MAE CCCT Ls. 1 and 2, passim. [BACK]
25. I have discovered instances in which a man described as a chief, agha, or valley lord is appointed to the following offices or ranks: chief notable (âyan başıı), agent (mübaşir), military commander (kaymakam), district governor (mütesellim), castle keeper (muhafaza), door keeper (kapııcııbaşıı), general (paşa), and governor (miri mîram). [BACK]
26. Sometimes the provincial governor would himself assume the positions of both district governor and military commander in the provincial capital. [BACK]
27. My reading of his account is informed by a review of the consular reports of Dupré and Fontanier. [BACK]
28. Some years later, when Dupré was residing in the provincial capital (1807–9), an Osman Agha and a Memiş Agha were chiefs of the town, enemies of one another, sometimes engaged in hostilities with one another, and now and then appointed as chief notable by the provincial governor, as well as to other offices, such as district governor and military commander (MAE CCCT L. 1, Nos. 22–94, passim). For my estimate that these were the same men that Beauchamp had encountered, see the footnotes that follow. [BACK]
29. This man was almost certainly an individual named Osman Agha Şatııroğlu. A call-out of troops (Cevdet Asker 40224, dated 1789/1204) confirms that Osman Agha Şatııroğlu was a leading individual who commanded a large number of soldiers in the vicinity of Trabzon (nefs-i Trabzon). In 1804, Dupré tells us that Osman Agha Şatııroğlu was a "Dere Bey et Ayant" who replaces Hasan Agha as district governor (MAE CCCT L. 1, No. 22, 4 Vendémiaire An XIII [Sept. 1804]). As we shall see, he remained a leading individual in the vicinity of the provincial capital until the 1830s. If Beauchamp's Osman Agha is this man, then these conclusions would be further reinforced. [BACK]
30. The contemporary roadway connecting the towns of Rize and Trabzon is 75 kilometers, so it would make sense that the distance to the interior of Rize would have approached 100 kilometers in 1796. As I have explained, the population in this part of the old province of Trabzon was oriented toward official Islam, and was therefore sensitive to issues of religion and state. As always, any mention of the Laz should be understood with respect to the situation of the speaker using the term. Although all the peoples of the province were considered Laz in Istanbul, the peoples of the further eastern sectors, Rize, Of, and Sürmene, were considered Laz in Trabzon. The Lazi-speakers of the coastal region inhabited the valleys still further east of Rize. Memiş Agha is most probably not from among the Lazi-speakers, since their homelands would have to be reached by boat, not horseback. [BACK]
31. This Memiş Agha is most likely not Memiş Agha Tuzcuoğlu, a leading individual who commanded a large number of soldiers in the district of Rize. But he is almost certainly one of his allies, since the Rizeli was usually allied with one of the chief notables in the provincial capital, and he sometimes came there himself, as was the case in March of 1807 (MAE CCCT L. 1, No. 58, Mar. 1807). He may rather be Memiş Agha Kalcııoğlu. See Goloğlu (1975, xxxi), who lists this man as a chief notable (ayan) of Trabzon during the year 1807. Bilgin (1990, 282) claims the Kalcııoğlu family line hailed from the western coast. Nonetheless, Memiş Agha Kalcııoğlu was a son-in-law of the Rizeli and a part of his coastal coalition. So he could have had a secondary, or even a primary, mansion and base somewhere in Rize even if his ascendants had been from the western coast. [BACK]
32. The western coastal districts of the province also had their local elites with armed followings, but they did not challenge the provincial government so frequently as the local elites in the eastern coastal districts. This is probably explained by the fact that the ports and valleys of Rize and Trabzon are potentially in direct competition for the transit trade into northeastern Anatolia, especially the market center of Erzurum. [BACK]
33. On at least eight occasions between 1758 and 1833, state officials were forced to close the gates of the city and shut themselves up in the citadel as the walled city was surrounded and the suburbs were sacked. The dates of the invasions are 1758–59 (Peysonnel 1787); 1807 (MAE CCCT L. 1, No. 65, July 1807); summer of 1808 (No. 76, Aug. 1808); fall of 1808 (No. 81, Oct. 1808); 1816 (MAE CCCT L. 2, No. 26, Aug. 1816); 1827 (Fontanier 1829, 19; Bryer 1970, 44); 1830 (Bryer 1970, 44); and 1833 (PRO FO 524/2 p. 25, Feb. 1833). [BACK]
34. Peysonnel 1787, 72. [BACK]
35. See note 8 above citing Fourcade, Fontanier, and Brant on janissaries in Trabzon. [BACK]
36. Peysonnel 1787, 53-54. [BACK]
37. See the official document that calls on certain individuals and families in the coastal district to send troops (Umur 1956, No. 65 1788/1202, pp. 65–67; Sümer 1992, 104-6). [BACK]
38. Cevdet Asker 40224, dated 1789/1204. [BACK]
39. MAE CCCT L. 1, No. 59, June 1807. [BACK]
40. MAE CCCT L. 3, No. 11, Jan. 1831. [BACK]
41. The arboreal metaphor is borrowed from Aktepe (1951–52). See the quote in note 44, below. [BACK]
42. The names of the two principal family lines are not always the same: Garaçoğlu and Selimoğlu in 1788, Cansıızoğlu and Selimoğlu in 1832, Muradoğlu and Selimoğlu after 1834. [BACK]
43. See chap. 1. My interlocutors in Of were also able to describe the places where the mansions of the aghas of each agha-family were located before they were destroyed by Osman Pasha. [BACK]
44. Aktepe (1951–52, 28–29) notes that the Tuzcuoğullarıı, by virtue of their various relationship with other families, "spread by twig and branch over a considerable region." See also Bilgin (1990, 310–11), who gives numerous examples of intermarriage among the agha-families during the late period of decentralization. For example, Memiş Agha Tuzcuoğlu, leader of a coastal coalition that eventually challenges the provincial government, is eventually related to most of the other principal figures of the late period of decentralization. Osman Şatııroğlu of Trabzon and Gümüşhane is his son-in-law (MAE CCCT L. 1, No. 59, June 1807; PRO FO 524/2 p. 39, Jan. 1834, Suter). Memiş Kalcııoğlu of Trabzon and Sürmene is his son-in-law (Bilgin 1990, 282). Memiş Büberoğlu of Of is the father-in-law of his son, Ahmet (Bilgin 1990, 311). Arslan Bey of Batum is his son-in-law (PRO FO 524/1 p. 35, July 1833, Brant). Note that the above-mentioned individuals are sometimes rivals of one another, even though related, some supporting and some opposing the Tuzcuoğlu coastal coalition. [BACK]
45. Without accounting for overlaps among the allies of the principals, the number of family lines in the district social networks of Of can be calculated as follows: 22 agha-families each allied with 6 non-agha-families equals 132 patronymic groups. Estimating 20 households per patronymic group, 132 times 20 equals 2,640 households in the district social network. This is the same order of magnitude of the number of households in the district of Of at this time (estimated at 6,000 in the census of 1869/1286; see Emiroğlu 1993, vol. 1, 141). [BACK]
46. Fontanier 1829, 18. Also see Dupré, MAE CCCT L. 1, June 1807. [BACK]
47. Aktepe (1951–52) has carried out the most systematic study of local elites in Trabzon during the later period of decentralization. Other important works based on Ottoman and Turkish sources are Ahmet Cevdet Paşa (1892/1309), Şakir Şevket (1867/1284), Umur (1951, 1956), Goloğlu (1975), Bilgin (1990), and Sümer (1992). The most important works based on Greek sources are Bryer (1969, 1970) and Bryer and Winfield (1985). There are probably significant Armenian sources that have not yet been addressed by scholars. [BACK]
48. There are always local details that do not exactly fit the models I am using. For example, the eastern valley in Of was primarily a route for reaching the interior highlands, while the western valley was primarily a migration route toward high mountain pastures. There was perhaps a measure of cooperation between the elites of the two valleys for this reason, since the residents of each would want to trade and to migrate in both. [BACK]
49. The date of 1822/1237 is inscribed on one of the hearths in the great mansion. [BACK]
50. Dupré comments that Yusuf Pasha "appears resolved to force a derebey to come back to the town. The latter is his protégé, in possession of various villages, which for some time he has usurped from those who were first to acquire them and who now defend their supposed property with force of arms" (MAE CCCT L. 1, No. 65, July 1807). [BACK]
51. Fontanier 1929, 14. [BACK]
52. Guarracino (1845, 298) heard this story while on a journey that probably took place during the summer of 1841. [BACK]
53. Goloğlu 1975, 304. [BACK]
54. MAE CCCT L. 1. [BACK]
55. Ibid. [BACK]
56. Fontanier 1829, 18-19. [BACK]
57. As we have seen in chap. 5, there was destruction and suffering during the early period of decentralization, when local elites first began to assert themselves against state officials. Canııklıı Ali Pasha (1772–79, 1781–84) sent 10,000 troops to Of, but they had to return without accomplishing anything (Karadenizli 1954, 46; Şakir Şevket 1867/1284, 94). Süleyman Pasha sent 2,500 troops against Memiş Agha Tuzcuoğlu in Rize in 1816 after retaking the capital (Bilgin 1990, 290). Süleyman Pasha sent 25,000 to 30,000 for the invasion of Of in 1816 (ibid.). Tayyar Pasha sent 6,000 troops not far from Trabzon to try to suppress a valley lord (MAE CCCT L. 1, No. 71, Mar. 1808). Süleyman Pasha invested and destroyed Görele in 1811 (Bryer 1969, 191). Süleyman Pasha took a military expedition to Batum (MAE CCCT L. 1 [1801–11], No. 92, Sept. 1809; No. 94, Nov. 1809). [BACK]
58. Dupré wrote that the pasha is once again to attempt to establish the new military organization, having failed previously to do so (MAE CCCT L. 2 BPMT, Dupré, No. 9, Oct. 1812). [BACK]
59. On the sack of the suburbs, see MAE CCCT L. 2, No. 26, Aug. 1816. On the invasion of Rize, Of, and Sürmene, see Aktepe (1951–52, 33) and MAE CCCT L. 2, Nos. 43, 47, 49, and 50. [BACK]
60. Aktepe (1951–52, 20–21) estimates his year of birth as 1715 by the tradition that he was more than 100 years of age at the time of his execution in 1817. Also see Bilgin (1990, 282), who reviews Aktepe (1951–52) and Ahmet Cevdet Paşa (1892/1309). [BACK]
61. The "Fettahoğullarıınıın Tarihi" mentions the connection of local elites with the transport of locally manufactured linen. [BACK]
62. According to tradition, Memiş Agha was a tall and fat man. On the days when he collected taxes, he would ride a great mule, leading a second carrying a small cannon. When the villagers heard the shot of the cannon, they knew he was coming. They would gather around him as he remained seated on his mule, and he would tell them to pay this or that amount in taxes. There are stories that tell of his kindness, but others tell also of his cruelty; both probably contain a grain of truth. Bilgin (1990, 283, n. 2) writes, "An old man complained to Memiş Agha that his son was not behaving properly to him and asked if would he please help to reform him. Memiş Agha thereupon ordered the son to be hanged. The old man pleaded that he did not ask him to kill but to 'reform' (ııslah) his son. 'This is the way I reform people,' he replied and rode away." In contrast, Umur (1949, 20–22) writes that Memiş Agha was close to the people and enjoyed their support. Stories of his mistreatment of the people were slanders spread by Süleyman Pasha and his representatives in their attempt to undermine local confidence in him and also to discredit him with the palace. Favoring the view of Umur, at least in regard to the family line in general, Consul Suter reports that Tahir Tuzcuoğlu, his son and heir, was "loved by his people" by reason of "his influence and wealth" (PRO FO 524/1 p. 40, Mar.–Apr. 1834). [BACK]
63. See Bilgin 1990, 285. [BACK]
64. For an indication that Memiş Agha Tuzcuoğlu was the leader of such a coalition no later than 1788, see the official documents that call on certain individuals and families in the coastal district to send troops (Umur 1956, No. 65 1788/1202; Cevdet Asker 40224, dated 1789/1204). [BACK]
65. This does not mean that all the ayans and aghas of Rize, Of, and Sürmene were followers of Memiş Agha. For example, Dupré reports that the Rizeli was unable to respond to a call for troops by the provincial governor in 1808 because he had already sent six thousand men to set siege to a valley lord occupying a fortified castle among the Laz to the northeast of Rize (MAE CCCT L. 1, No. 71, Mar. 1808; No. 72, Mar. 1808; No. 73, June 1808). [BACK]
66. Perhaps a third hierarchy of authority and commerce existed among the local elites of the western coastal districts, where the rural economy was based on a different combination of ports, routes, products, and manufacturers. According to Bryer (1969, 197), Süleyman Pasha called on eastern local elites to make war on the western local elites in the first year of his appointment to the governorship (1811). [BACK]
67. Goloğlu (1975, xxix) describes the Hazinedaroğlu family as a well-known and very old family of the coastal region. [BACK]
68. The western coastal region could be economically exploited as large estates farmed by life tenants. By this fact, it was a potential reservoir of cash and men that could be used to gain control of the sometimes-lucrative trade route at Trabzon. The provincial governors who were able to import manpower and resources into Trabzon from the western coastal region (Canıık) were in a good position to intimidate local elites. At least four such provincial governors can be cited: Canııklıı Hacıı Ali Pasha (1772–78, 1781–84), Canııklıı Tayyar Mahmut Pasha (1801–5), Süleyman Pasha (1811–18), and Osman Pasha (1827-42). [BACK]
69. During his tenure as governor, Süleyman Pasha repeatedly brought troops from Canıık to deal with uprisings of the local elites. See, for example, MAE CCCT L. 2, No. 25, July 1816; No. 32, Nov. 1816. He also sometimes used his mansions and estates in the province of Canıık as a kind of refuge, especially during the bouts of plague or rebellion in the capital (MAE CCCT L. 1 BPMT, No. 3, Nov. 1811; L. 2, No. 125, Jan. 1812; BPMT, No. 23, Feb. 1814; No. 27, Sept. 1816; No. 54, Nov. 1817). Hüsrev Pasha, successor to Süleyman Pasha, also went to Canıık to raise troops to deal with a rebellion in Sürmene (MAE CCCT L. 2, No. 75, June 1818). He, too, transported his household to Canıık as a precaution in the face of an imminent rebellion in Trabzon (MAE CCCT L. 1, No. 82, Aug. 1819). [BACK]
70. See MAE CCCT L. 1, No. 110, Nov. 1810. [BACK]
71. Reports on the household of Süleyman Pasha are meager, but see Hamilton's (1842, 282–92) remarkable description of his son's mansion and household at Çarşamba. Hamilton meets Osman Pasha late in his tenure as governor of Trabzon. He describes him as a man of impressive wealth who had adopted European dress and lived in greater state than anyone he had ever encountered in Turkey. He described his house as "a gay straggling building" with a large harem, many wives, ladies, and slaves, and a household staff that included European experts and doctors. [BACK]
72. During the Tuzcuoğlu rebellions of the 1810s and 1830s, for example, first Süleyman Pasha and then Osman Pasha depended on officials in Adjaria, Bayburt, Canıık, Erzurum, Gümüşhane, Kars, and Sivas for the invasion and occupation of Rize, Of, and Sürmene, as well as for the arrest and execution of members of the Tuzcuoğlu family. For the Tuzcuoğlu rebellion of 1814–17, see MAE CCCT L. 2, Dupré, No. 32, Nov. 1816; No. 33, Jan. 1817; No. 41, Feb. 1817; No. 43, June 1817; No. 47, July 1817; No. 49, July 1817. For the Sürmene revolts of 1831–32, see PRO FO 524/1, Brant, p. 23, Aug. 1832. For the Tuzcuoğlu revolt of 1832–34, see PRO FO 524/1, Brant, p. 29, Jan. 1833; p. 35, July 1833; Suter, p. 42, Oct. 1833; p. 43, Mar. 1834; PRO FO 524/2, Brant, p. 24, Dec. 1832; Suter, p. 56, p. 41, Apr. 1834; p. 46, Apr. 1834; p. 46, May 1834; p. 56, Aug. 1834. [BACK]
73. In 1815 Süleyman Pasha was also appointed provincial governor of Canıık, so that he was the putative ruler of the entire northern coast of Asia Minor (MAE CCCT L. 2, No. 12, Apr. 1815). [BACK]
74. Süleyman Pasha had a direct interest in the town of Trabzon as the means for dominating and controlling the regional overseas and overland trade routes. Still, he was willing to let its residents suffer in order to address a larger problem of the state system. For example, he disrupted the commerce of Trabzon for months on end in the course of assembling a large body of troops for the purpose of carrying out an invasion of the Caucasus (MAE CCCT L. 1, No. 117, May 1811, Dupré). [BACK]
75. Turkish local historians usually mention the tradition that Süleyman Pasha and Memiş Agha had long been personal rivals and had quarreled over a large debt that the former owed the latter. Nevertheless, the historians have also recognized that the personal animosity of the two was fueled by their leadership of two competing hierarchies of authority and commerce. See Aktepe (1951–52, 23), Goloğlu (1975, 143–45), and Bilgin (1990, 287) on this point. [BACK]
76. The revolt of Memiş Agha Tuzcuoğlu was the forerunner of other revolts by his sons, Ahmet Agha (1818–21) and Tahir Agha (1832–34). In each instance, the same conflict between hierarchies of authority and commerce is evident, one centered on Rize and the other centered on Trabzon. [BACK]
77. See Aktepe (1951–52), Goloğlu (1975), and Bilgin (1990, 287). [BACK]
78. MAE CCCT L. 1, No. 32, Nov. 22, 1816; No. 33, Jan. 10, 1817; No. 41, Feb. 18, 1817; No. 43, June 12, 1843; No. 47, July 21, 1817; No. 49, July 30, 1817, Dupré. [BACK]
79. The governor dispatches warships and troops to Rize (MAE CCCT L. 1, No. 32, Nov. 1816). State officials seize goods without payment (No. 33, Jan. 10, 1817). State officials raise new taxes, terrorize the population, place hundreds of men in chains (No. 41, Feb. 1817). Rize is occupied by government troops for five months (No. 47, July 1817). The forces of Süleyman Pasha enter Of by sea (No. 49, July 1817). Bilgin (1990, 287 ff.) and Goloğlu (1975, 148) report that tens of thousands of troops invaded the district of Of on this last occasion and battled with its residents for two months. [BACK]
80. See Aktepe 1951–52, 33. [BACK]
81. Aktepe 1951–52, 33–39. Hüsrev Pasha, successor to Süleyman Pasha, was rumored to have poisoned him on orders of the palace (Fontanier 1834, 98–99). A "slave official" (kul) of the palace, this man became the guardian of his predecessor's three sons, sending them to Istanbul after the death of their father. The oldest son, Osman, became a page of the sultan (Fontanier 1834, 98), and then later returned to Trabzon to serve as provincial governor. The middle son, Abdullah, served his older brother as a state official once he had become provincial governor, then later succeeded him as provincial governor. It is also interesting that Süleyman Pasha may have himself taken extreme measures to bring about a succession in the Tuzcuoğlu family line. When Fontanier visited Rize circa 1833, ıızzet Agha Tuzcuoğlu was serving as the military commander of that district. Then about thirty years old, he had "at sixteen years of age, on orders of the pasha, killed his uncle with two shots of a pistol" (ibid., 298). The shooting would have taken place sometime around 1817, that is, during the revolt of Memiş Agha Tuzcuoğlu. [BACK]
82. In 1807 a dispute between Memiş Agha and Osman Agha had been settled when the former gave his daughter in marriage to the son of the latter (MAE CCCT L. 1, No. 58, Mar. 1807). [BACK]
83. Bilgin 1990, 294; Goloğlu 1975, 153. [BACK]
84. Mehmet Şatııroğlu was appointed as Trabzon chief notable in 1768, and in the 1780s was a noted "valley lord" against whom Abdülhamit I issued a ferman condemning him for brigandage (Bilgin 1990, 294). ııbrahim and Ömer Şatııroğlu were associated with the government of Canııklıı Hacıı Ali Pasha, serving as tax collectors in the vicinity of the town of Trabzon in 1777, in the vicinity of Gümüşhane in 1778, and in Trabzon in 1782–83 (ibid.). [BACK]
85. Dupré reports that Osman Agha Şatııroğlu, "Dere Bey et Ayant," has been appointed "commandant" of the town (MAE CCCT L. 1, No. 22, 4 Vendémiaire 13 [Sept. 1804]). Dupré reports that Osman Agha, "Dere Bey et Ayant," is appointed as military commander (kumandan) of the town by Yusuf Pasha at the time of a revolt in Canıık (MAE CCCT L. 1, No. 48, Aug. 1806). Dupré reports that he is the enemy of Yusuf Pasha in 1807 (MAE CCCT L. 1, No. 53, Jan. 1807; No. 55, Feb. 3, 1807; No. 68, Apr. 15, 1808; No. 69, Apr. 15, 1808; No. 75, Aug. 1809; No. 92, Sept. 30, 1809). Dupré reports that Osman Agha has been appointed military commander and district governor of Trabzon (MAE CCCT L. 1, No. 98, Mar. 1810). From 1807 to 1810, Dupré reports that Osman Agha is repeatedly at odds with a certain Memiş Agha, who is sometimes military commander or district governor in his place. Their rivalry includes land and naval warfare. Described as the two derebeys of the town, they attempt to settle their differences on one occasion by arranging the marriage of their son and daughter, but to no avail since they are soon once again at loggerheads (MAE CCCT L. 1, No. 81, Oct. 1808). This Memiş Agha, who is otherwise unnamed (see note 31, above), is also an ally of Memiş Tuzcuoğlu (MAE CCCT L. 1, No. 73, June 31, 1808; No. 86, Apr. 1809). [BACK]
86. Goloğlu 1975, xxxiii, 153–58; Bilgin 1990, 294-95. [BACK]
87. Osman Agha was mobile like the imperial elite but normally only within the confines of the province of Trabzon. He was appointed to state offices outside the province of Trabzon, but only briefly, probably at the instigation of provincial governors who hoped to remove him from the coastal region for a time. [BACK]
88. Sometime around 1832, Fontanier met with Osman Agha, who was then an aged man, living in the coastal town of Araklıı, not far from Sürmene. He describes him as the "lieutenant of the provincial governor," having recently acquired the title "Pasha" and the rank of "Mirimiran" all for his services in putting down the Sürmenelis. Nonetheless, Fontanier spoke with him more or less freely and openly, as though without ceremony. At the time, Osman Agha maintained a large household and enjoyed a handsome income, but only a small fraction of that of the then prospering provincial governor, Osman Pasha Hazinedaroğlu. Nonetheless, the latter was obliged to rise in order to salute him (Fontanier 1834, 288–90). Interestingly, Consul Brant refers to Osman Agha as "Osman Pasha, an ayan of the town [of Trabzon]" (PRO FO 524/2 p. 25, Feb. 21, 1833; p. 39, Jan. 22, 1834). [BACK]
A Feudal Past Without a Modern Future
Consuls Theorize the State Society of Trabzon
In 1796 Citizen Beauchamp had noticed that the Muslims of Trabzon were "different" from the Muslims of Istanbul:
The inhabitants have a wild look about them at first appearance. Their dress consists of pants and coat of Capuchin cloth. They all walk about armed with pistols and a rifle, even within the town itself. They are not as fanatic as the Muslims of Constantinople. During the three hundred years the [latter] have encountered Europeans, they have always preserved the custom of insulting them and mistreating them as unbelievers. During our stay at Trabzon, we didn't hear a single bad word; we were not even an object of curiosity for children.
Beauchamp's comparison of the citizens of the imperial and provincial capitals is an exceptional one. Other French and British visitors usually found the Muslims of Trabzon to be more fanatical and less polite than the Muslims of Istanbul. Nonetheless, Beauchamp accurately points to a characteristic for which the Laz are still famous. They can be exceedingly grim on first encounter, so it is surprising that they later prove to be remarkably polite. What Beauchamp noticed was a sharp contrast between an "outside" countenance that was intentionally intimidating and "inside" countenance that was no less intentionally sociable. These two contrasting demeanors of the Laz bring to mind the middle gate of the Ottoman palace. From without, its twin towers and fortress wall symbolized invincible sovereign power. From within, its painted portico and garden vista symbolized harmonious fellowship. The analogy is not coincidental. The Muslims of Trabzon were the creatures of imperial undertakings and accomplishments, not a marginal people at the fringe of the Ottoman Empire. The character of the Laz is then the product of the palace machine.
Beauchamp was not in a position to see how this was so. During his brief visit he had not had sufficient opportunity to learn how the Muslim population had come to compose a state society through participation in imperial military and religious institutions. More interestingly, however, the first French consuls, who resided in the coastal region for many years, also failed to understand the place of its Muslim population in the imperial system. In their very first reports, Consul Fourcade in Sinop and Consul Dupré in Trabzon addressed the relationship of state officials and local elites, and each of them reached the same mistaken conclusion: There were two different kinds of authorities in the coastal districts, and they represented two different kinds of government, one based on bureaucratic centralism and the other on interpersonal associations. Fourcade and Dupré had dissected the imperial system, then reconstituted it as two pieces, each with a separate and independent entity. A formal system of state officials representing bureaucratic regulations and procedures was the basis of one government. An informal system of leading individuals with armed followings was the basis of another government.
It is altogether possible that Fourcade and Dupré were simply repeating what was already the fixed opinion of other western European officials in the Ottoman Empire. But whatever the case, they never qualify their initial impressions in order to develop a more nuanced understanding of the relationship of officials and elites. On the contrary, they and their successors come to insist ever more categorically that the coastal districts were subject to two alternative governmental systems. But neither the initial misperception nor the later exaggeration is especially surprising. As I have already suggested in the last chapter, the French consuls were not in a good position to understand the place of the state society of Trabzon in the imperial system due to their official standing, their personal background, and their diplomatic interests.
The consuls were themselves French officials, and, as such, the counterparts of Ottoman officials. They therefore had contacts with the upper tier of the state society of Trabzon, where procedures were more visibly bureaucratic and less visibly interpersonal. The consuls represented a country where the state system had been used as a weapon to defeat inherited privilege and wealth, even if the Jacobinic revolution had recently come to an end. They would have naturally assumed that state officials of Trabzon were distinct from and opposed to its local elites. The consuls were assigned the task of implementing the terms of commercial treaties and agreements that had been negotiated between higher state officials of the two centralized governments. This task became meaningless, however, insofar as political authority worked through interpersonal association rather than through rules and procedures.
But these were not the only reasons the first consuls drew a contrast between state officials and local elites. Unlike the French scientific expedition that preceded them, they had arrived in Trabzon after the Napoleonic invasion of Egypt, and with diplomatic credentials. For the Muslims of Trabzon, the first consuls therefore represented a foreign power with a record of intervention. Moreover, shortly after their arrival, a series of political crises unsettled the agreements between state officials and local elites in the coastal region. From the third or fourth year of their residences, the first consuls began to witness civil disorders in the town, skirmishes in the countryside, sieges of strongholds, and naval gun battles during the course of which they were sometimes subject to reprisals.
In reaction to these harrowing experiences, it would seem, they came to adhere ever more rigidly to the theory of two "alternative" governments, passing along their convictions to their successors. As we shall see, neither the French nor the British consuls were able to recognize the existence, let alone analyze the structure, of the state society in the coastal region by the close of the period of decentralization.
Fourcade's Theory of Two Governmental Systems
In 1802 Consul Fourcade had been pleased to encounter and cultivate the agha of Sinop even before leaving the imperial capital to take up his post in that town. Congratulating himself on his good fortune, he had patiently explained to his superior the principle of two separate governmental systems, one prevailing in Istanbul, another in the eastern Ottoman provinces. He wrote, "These Asiatic provinces are governed as were those of France during the period of high feudalism. Their customs, their lands, their manufactures, their money, are all in the hands of these aghas whose enmity or friendship can either bring ruin to our commerce or cause it to flourish." By these remarks, Fourcade was repeating, if not inventing, what was to become the dominant "consular theory" of the period of decentralization. The aghas were feudal lords as formerly existed in France. As such, they were sometimes a mere nuisance and sometimes a real danger, but one could understand how to manage them by recognizing them for what they were.
Two years later, Fourcade's enthusiasm for working through local elites had dimmed as a consequence of their unpredictability. Once again ahead of his time, he articulated what was to be the dominant "consular practice," writing "One cannot say it often enough. The regime of little aghas here is not suited for commerce. . . . [We] the French are therefore interested only in what might increase rather than decrease the power of the pasha and will assist him with all [our] means and all [our] influence. But we should also expect reciprocity, and this leads us to speak of England and Russia." Fourcade follows these remarks with complaints about his Russian counterpart, whom he suspected of conniving with the agha of Sinop against him. To remedy such ills, he called for an explicit diplomatic policy whereby the representatives of foreign powers would work together. They would prop up the central government so that state officials might prevail over local elites. A coherent theory had matured into coherent practice.
But Fourcade had miscalculated. Consular theory and practice were contingent on the assumption of two governments, one a decentralized feudalism and the other a centralized bureaucracy. But no such division existed, so there was no possibility of lending support to the latter without in some way also lending support to the former. Fourcade had first met the agha of Sinop in Istanbul. The latter had been obliged to travel there in order to address the court intrigues by his rival and neighbor. So at the time of this very first encounter, the agha of Sinop was as much enmeshed in a politics of laws and courts at the level of centralized government as in a politics of local rivalries and alliances among provincial leaders and groupings. Similarly, two years after writing the above assessment, Fourcade would discover that French policies with regard to the Ottomans would be noticed by provincial leaders and groupings, precisely because their political fortunes were directly dependent on the structure and processes of the centralized government.
In 1807 a revolt of janissaries in the imperial capital brought the reign of Sultan Selim to an end. Soon afterward, the revolt had reverberations in the town of Sinop:
By his stylization of them, Fourcade clearly did not know what to make of these "barbarians known as the Laz." He consequently stumbled whenever he attempted to name them, describing them at one point as "drunken fanatics," and then at another point as "foreign rabble" (canaille étrangère). But if Fourcade did not understand the Laz, they understood him perfectly. It was as though they had been reading over his shoulder when he composed the consular report recommending a conspiracy of the French, British, and Russians on behalf of the sultan. A few days after their arrival, a group of them expressed their displeasure with the French directly, attacking and beating one of the consular staff in the street before Fourcade's house. When the latter bravely attempted to intervene, he was himself assaulted, receiving serious injuries that left him partially paralyzed. Having a keen sense of justice, Fourcade thereupon lodged a complaint against specific individuals among the Laz who were subsequently arrested and held. In reprisal, their companions united to lay siege and set fire to the consul's house, a technique strangely reminiscent of the attack on Paçan village in 1737/1150. Fearing further attacks, the consul was forced to intercede on behalf of those he had accused and withdraw his complaint. The Laz whom he had charged were then released on the condition that they and their companions set sail for the east the following morning.
Because of unfavorable winds, several ships from Trabzon, Rize, and Phasis have been obliged to anchor at Sinop. The ships were coming from Constantinople. They were stuffed with these barbarians known as the Laz, driven out of the capital by reason of their insolent behavior and drenched in the blood of the ministers of the unfortunate Sultan Selim. Dispersed in the coffeehouses of Sinop, these miserable characters constantly abused the French, whom they accused of having subjugated their [Ottoman] government and sold out Rumelia to the Muscovites. The district governor [of Sinop] manifested the greatest indifference to all this, and his behavior has encouraged this foreign rabble.
Fourcade's concept of two governments, a decentralized feudalism in the provinces and a centralized bureaucracy in the capital, had been overtaken by events. A motley group of men from a variety of coastal districts could somehow identify their interests in terms of bringing down a sultan, then later come together to challenge the representatives of a foreign power who had sought to manipulate the imperial regime. So there was something broader and deeper than a collection of aghas in some of the Asiatic provinces, and certainly in the eastern coastal districts of the province of Trabzon. But the consul lacked the stamina to decipher the meaning of his experiences. Unable to make a full recovery from his wounds, he soon retired from the consular service.
During the years that followed, as other French and British consuls took up residence and learned more about the coastal region, it became harder for them to see what Beauchamp had just barely noticed. As the later consuls became more engaged in manipulating the balance of power in the imperial regime, so they were more inclined to see "grimness" rather than "politeness" in the countenance of the Laz. Their disability would prove to be more than a failure to appreciate the civilized conventions of otherwise uncivilized ruffians. It was also the basis for a misevaluation of what could be accomplished by governmental reforms relying on western European methods and technologies.
Fontanier provides a striking example of this misevaluation. He was perhaps the most experienced and intelligent of all the foreigners who described one of the core Ottoman provinces during the period of decentralization. His two books on his travels in the Empire contain remarkable insights and rare information. And yet, as we shall see, he too came under the spell of consular theory and practice. In the instance of Fontanier, we can see more clearly how consular contacts with local elites raised existential questions. What is the character of the moment in which we live? The answer turns upon what we can say has come before us and so what can be expected to come after us. But what if we should have an experience that shuffles our notions of before and after? What if the elements of the past should suddenly acquire a vitality that suggests they might hold the power to shape the future?
Consular contacts with the rural societies of the coastal districts provoked this kind of disorientation. For all the consuls, sovereign power through interpersonal association was a thing of the past, not the future. When they misidentified it with the feudal regime of thirteenth-century France, they were not simply drawing an analogy. They were also making an existential assertion. They assumed that reform of the state system would inevitably lead to the demise of the local elites. Fontanier was no different than the other consuls in this regard, but he was exceptionally informed and intelligent. This means he was intellectually vulnerable to experiences that would have upset his consular colleagues, but otherwise left their thinking unaffected. Being a writer, that is, someone with a taste for reflection and representation, Fontanier reveals that the consuls were obliged to misunderstand the imperial system if they were retain a clear sense of who they were.
Fontanier Experiences An Unacceptable Sociability
In 1827, the sixth year of his residence in the Ottoman Empire as an attaché of the French legation in Istanbul, Fontanier and a companion sailed from Redut-Kaleh to Trabzon on a boat with a cargo of Indian corn. The "Turkish" captain (un batelier turc)and five crew members all hailed from the district of Sürmene. Fontanier recounts the story of their setting sail, voyaging across the southeast bight of the Black Sea, and finally reaching the port of Trabzon. But what he recalls and relates was determined by only one of the voyage's episodes, an occasion when he found himself fearing for his liberty, if not his life, in the marketplace of Sürmene. He begins, "Before the anchor was raised, all of them performed their prayers [ablutions, recitations, exercises], and we crossed the depths at the mouth of the Copi River to the cries of 'Yallah! Yallah!'" Fontanier describes the departure by referring to the ritualized acts and words of the Sürmenelis, which they performed in unison as Muslims. As he begins his tale, Fontanier recalls the captain and crew as "Turks," just as he was himself something else, that is, not Turkish. Confined to close quarters with the crew on the boat, Fontanier could not but notice the otherness of the sociability of the Sürmenelis; however, it was his later experiences in Sürmene that led him to condemn and ridicule it.
As the boat approaches the coast of Lazistan, Fontanier is anxious to go ashore to find relief from his cramped quarters, and perhaps also relief from the captain and crew. To his annoyance, he learns that they are unable to disembark at Batum because the Sürmenelis are in a state of war with its inhabitants. A little further on in their journey, they encounter a storm that halts their progress for two days. Still, he is advised that they cannot leave the boat for fear of whom they might encounter on shore: "Such is the state of these miserable lands that the four or five districts of which they are composed, from Batum to Trabzon, are most of the time in a state of hostility such that the nationals themselves cannot approach without danger." Fontanier, trapped in the hold of a ship filled with corn, blames his predicament on the defective sociability of all the natives of the coastal region in general. At long last, the crew is finally forced to go ashore in order to repair the broken mast, but only after a careful reconnoitering. Fontanier is not permitted to accompany them. He is told that he would almost certainly be taken prisoner and held for ransom.
Afterward, they continue on their way toward Trabzon, passing one of the most beautiful coastal landscapes one might observe anywhere in the world. Fontanier is struck by the houses perched on hilltops and surrounded by thick vegetation, but he discounts their welcoming appearance, writing "A group of country houses well situated on the slope of a hill gives the landscape a cheerful appearance, but this would no doubt vanish as soon as one put one's foot on the land." He is anticipating the moment when he will be able to leave the boat in order to visit the marketplace in Sürmene. He is recalling how he at last escaped his shipboard prison, only to find he could not bear what he found ashore.
Concluding the paragraph that summarizes the voyage across the coastline, he sees before him a landscape of great wealth spoiled by the anarchic tendencies of its inhabitants. "No country could be more productive than these shores of the Black Sea, if only they were not the scene of utter barbarism and ceaseless war." And just at this moment (in the text, but not in the voyage), the coastal district of Sürmene, cherished by the Turkish captain and crew, incongruously comes into view. He writes, "Sürmene, which came into view after Rize, was the country of our captain and his crew. It was for them the promised land." The story of Fontanier's visit to Sürmene follows. It will include references to destruction, murder, kidnapping, pillage, and enslavement.
For Fontanier, the coastal region is a scene of utter barbarism and ceaseless war, in other words, a kind of hell. For the captain and the crew, it is the promised land. How is it possible that the visitor and the natives should have such opposed perceptions of the same place? What could the Sürmenelis find at all rewarding and enjoyable about their homelands? Fontanier will actually give us an answer to this question in the very terms that one might already predict. That which makes Sürmene a promised land for its inhabitants, their experience of sociability, is exactly what makes Sürmene a hell for the outsider. He begins to focus on their sociability, but only to belittle and discount it, consistently and systematically. As they reached the wide bay of the district of Sürmene, a small boat with a welcoming party aboard is launched from the coast to meet them. The leader of their hosts "had a rifle on his shoulder, pistols, a dagger, and an enormous powder horn suspended from his belt." This man is a friend of the captain of the boat. Fontanier composes a parody of their exchange of greetings, using the familiar form of address (tutoiement):
While ridiculing theSürmenelis, Fontanier nonetheless describes a discipline of interpersonal association. They boisterously hail one another, but by customary phrases and formulas (greeting/response: selamün aleyküm / aleyküm selam, hoş geldiniz / hoş bulduk, merhaba / merhaba). The welcoming party learns the infidels have the status of guests (misafir) and so extend their greetings to them. The captain and the crew are eager to rejoin friends and associates whom they have not seen for so very long (two weeks? a month?).
Oh, Ali Reis [the captain], welcome! Mahmut, Selim [the crew], welcome! Who are these infidels [Fontanier and his companion]?—They are sons of Frankish lords who are our guests and whom we are taking to Trabzon.—Welcome! [addressed to the infidels]. —What is new in the countryside? —Nothing at all. The son of the agha of Rize [Tuzcuoğlu] has killed his cousin out of jealousy and is in hiding with us. He's a nice kid. Ah! I forgot to mention that Hussein put gunpowder under the house of his neighbor and blew it up. Five people were killed. —That's astonishing! But what can one do? They are just children.
The captain and crew prepare themselves to accompany the welcoming party and go ashore. Fontanier introduces the theme of anarchy once more, but now the weapons and explosions are unmistakably the expression of an enthusiastic and vigorous sociability. He writes, "During this exchange, others were preparing the little boat, our captain and crew armed themselves, and all took themselves to the shore, as though at the conquest of an enemy country. Soon we heard a lively round of gunfire that, however, was not at all threatening. It was the greetings to which our people were responding." Even though the captain and crew have gone ashore, Fontanier is obliged to remain on the boat waiting for the return of the captain and crew. They do not soon reappear. Despite his desire to "get out of this hole in which I had been living for four days," he is obliged to spend another night on board. He does so in a state of fright and confusion, thinking "I simply could not easily understand how, in such a wild country, the captain could dare to leave his boat and cargo in the charge of no one but two foreigners who in the event of a robbery could not make any resistance." When he later mentions this, the captain is astonished at his concern. No such robbery would ever occur, he is told. The boat and cargo were under the protection of the local inhabitants the moment the anchor was dropped, so that no surveillance of any kind was necessary. Fontanier adds the remark, "What a singular mixture of honesty and barbarism!" Where, according to Fontanier, all manner of violations are endemic, there is nonetheless an entire range of violations that are not permitted.
The next day Fontanier and his companion are abruptly awakened by the crew, who have returned with a large number of their compatriots who are interested in buying some portion of the cargo of corn:
Again the description is a parody of the event itself, but it is nonetheless indirectly revealing. The dyer is intrigued by the Frenchman's eyeglasses, a technical instrument for the observation of others. The eyeglasses appear to the dyer as something strange, comical but also perhaps invasive. They reveal that the Frenchman is inspecting and analyzing, that is to say, mentally "depicting" the Sürmenelis. In response, the dyer "depicts" Fontanier by daubing his face with the blue dye on his fingers. If the Frenchman is to characterize him by means of an instrument of observation, so he will characterize the Frenchman as a Christian, that is, as morally deficient and hence socially contemptible.
As soon as [the Sürmenelis] saw us, they came to us and began to examine the different pieces of our dress. One of them, who had just come from his work as a dyer, took hold of my eyeglasses and, seeing my cheeks displayed the imprints of his fingers, found it amusing to continue the operation he had accidentally begun, and so set himself to daub my face in blue. He was more than a little surprised when I dared to push him away, and more especially when the captain intervened to side with me against him. "Isn't this fellow an infidel?" he said. "And do I not have the right to paint him, to do him harm?" These justifications appeared self-evident to him, so that the captain was obliged to plead with him at length in order to convince him of the difference between a Frank and a reaya.
But the eyeglasses have a different meaning for Fontanier. By his own account, he has just despaired for lack of a framework for understanding what he was seeing, that is, a mixture of honesty and barbarism among the Sürmenelis. Now, his eyeglasses are the instrument by which he is able to see, and therefore to describe, but also to judge. And so for Fontanier, the dyer's ignorance and effrontery are reassuring, at least in retrospect. Fontanier feels himself to be in possession of instruments that enable him to perceive and portray the "Turks," even as they are unable to perceive and portray themselves. He, by his own self-perception, represents a scientific and technological future. They represent a past condemned to anarchy by their ignorance. And so accordingly, just a few pages later, he will repeat the dictum of Fourcade, affirming that the "Turks" represent the feudalism of thirteenth-century Europe.
But on the occasion itself, when actually faced with the dyer, Fontanier is disturbed and confused. The dyer, by his own self-perception, also feels himself to represent the future, one based on an ethical rather than an instrumental relationship of self and other. He is a believer whose own social thinking and practice are in accordance with a divine truth and law. By this universal and transcendent standard, he is able to recognize Fontanier, the observer, as an unbeliever who espouses a corrupt, hence inferior, version of that divine truth and law. He therefore makes fun of Fontanier, removing his eyeglasses and daubing his face with dye, portraying him as he sees him, as an unbeliever deserving humiliation. So, then, Fontanier has found himself in a land and among a people who associate with one another on terms that confirm he is both different and inferior. This would hardly be troubling in itself, save that the Sürmenelis exclude and diminish Fontanier by principles so closely resembling those by which he would affirm they are different and inferior to him. Fontanier is shaken by the question of who it is that holds the future. It is perhaps the memory of this existential question that so terrifies him. As if to confirm that this is so, the story of his encounter with the dyer is followed by another encounter during which he feared for his personal safety.
Later that same day, the agha of the coastal settlement comes aboard. He is in the company of the young man who is the son of the agha of Rize (Tahir Agha Tuzcuoğlu) and who had assassinated his cousin two days before, thereby meriting a place among the bodyguards of the agha of the coastal settlement. The latter lectures Fontanier about the "indisputable superiority of Turkey over all other sovereign powers, not failing to indulge in abuses of the Russians." He receives a lesson and an example of how the form of sociability of the Sürmenelis, which is also that of all the Trabzonlus, is the basis of an indomitable sovereign power. He has been told exactly where the local elites and their social formations fit in the Ottoman Empire, but Fontanier does not register this information. He tells his story of course as a joke. The "Turks" are so badly informed, so seriously overestimating their world position. But the joke is also a kind of self-reassurance provoked by a moment of powerlessness.
Following their meeting, the agha gives Fontanier and his companion permission to enter his territories. They leave the boat and visit the marketplace of Sürmene. During his tour, he repeatedly mentions the signs of underlying civil disorder and social injustice. The traders keep guns at their side in anticipation of an alert. The thick walls of the houses serve the purpose of defense. Toward the end of his tour of the market, he witnesses a scene that once again unsettles him. The Christian shopkeepers, unlike the Muslim shopkeepers, are not permitted to carry arms. Unable to defend or assert themselves, they must submit to forced labor in the fields of the agha. Fontanier next describes an "observation" that instills terror: the arrest of one of the Greeks who has failed to report for such duties. Identifying for a moment with his co-religionist, he fears he too might be seized and impressed. Immediately following this statement, he returns to the subject he can neither comprehend nor forget:
He is surrounded by males who congregate in the bazaar. But he and his companion are not one of the group. They do not subscribe to the right beliefs. They do not dress the right way, and so they have become a spectacle. Fontanier and his companion feel themselves alone and isolated in a crowded marketplace. This moment of exclusion is coupled with one of abandonment:
I was able to observe [faculté de remarquer] the order with which this operation [of forced labor in the fields] was carried out, not without fearing, however, that I too might be required to take part.
None of the Turks [sic] who dwelled in this country resided during the daytime in their houses; all were in the bazaar where they smoked and conversed with one another. They joined their families only during the evening.
Fontanier now complains of desertion by the captain and crew, whose company seemed so oppressive only the day before. Seeking relief from a sociability that excludes and diminishes him, he and his companion return to their lodgings in the hold of the boat. He prefers bobbing up and down in the bay of Sürmene to the stares of the crowd in the market.
Our captain, so as not to seem too much in a hurry to see his wife, had his children sent to him the day of his arrival. Then he spent the night with one of his friends. It was the following day before he took himself to his family and house. He did not invite us to accompany him there, even though he should have considered that it was not very agreeable for us to traipse about in this kind of forum where all the male population had come together and where our foreign dress attracted an excessive amount of public curiosity. We resigned ourselves to returning to the boat, where at least we were left in peace.
What was heaven for the Sürmenelis, to associate with others, had for a moment been the hell of Fontanier. Confronted with the threat of another kind of future, he had for a moment lost confidence in his own faculties that positioned him in relationship to the future. After two more days in the hold of the boat, about which we learn nothing, he leaves for Trabzon. When he arrives, the first thing he will seek is an antidote to the alien sociability of the Sürmenelis. He concludes the chapter, "I took myself to the consulate over which floated the French flag, and I found there M. Beuscher, whom I had come to know at Constantinople, and in whose company I could forget the exhaustion and dangers of my trip." Fontanier instinctively knows the remedy for his experiences in Sürmene, even as he cannot exactly name or recognize that other kind of sociability that had so disturbed him.
The End of the Period of Decentralization
Fontanier's account of his visit to Sürmene in 1827 casts light on an otherwise puzzling report he wrote some years later, after he had returned to Trabzon to serve as a consular official (see chap. 1). On January 27, 1831, more than three years before any such event could have plausibly taken place, he declared the triumph of Osman Pasha Hazinedaroğlu, writing to his superior in Istanbul:
In these countries, which of all were the most difficult to bring to submission, even the chiefs [in the coastal districts] that I have cited for Your Excellency no longer exist. The most terrible of all, Fatzanoğlu, has been beheaded. The others have been either dispersed or employed by diverse pashas; resistance has vanished, and the country, now rid of this crowd of minor despots, enjoys a perfect tranquility. [Italics mine]
The "chiefs" would have been astonished to learn that they no longer existed, and perhaps amused by the qualifying euphemism, "dispersed or employed by diverse pashas." Almost all the local elites of the coastal districts still held the positions to which Osman Pasha had himself appointed them when he first assumed the governorship of Trabzon. And soon enough, they would find cause to assert themselves once again, eventually rising in full revolt against the provincial government. Before exploring the reason for Fontanier's misassessment, and how it might be linked with his visit to Sürmene, I shall summarize the series of events that prove how seriously he had been mistaken.
When Fontanier was writing his report, the political situation in the province of Trabzon was not that much different from what it had been before the abolition of the janissary institution five years earlier. Indeed, it was as though the clock had been turned even further back. The very same triangle of leading individuals and coastal coalitions that had led to the revolts of 1814–17 was in place, save that two sons were now standing in for two fathers. Osman Pasha Hazinedaroğlu, like his father Süleyman Pasha before him, had assumed the provincial governorship in the conventional manner, re-appointing many of the local elites to their former positions as district governors and chief notables in the coastal districts. Osman Agha Şatııroğlu, formerly the ally of Süleyman Pasha, now the ally of Osman Pasha, led a coalition of local elites in the central districts. Tahir Agha Tuzcuoğlu, like his father Memiş Agha before him, was district governor of Rize, where he led a coalition of local elites in the districts of Rize, Of, and Sürmene. Moreover, the same bitter quarrel that divided the two fathers—the degree to which the eastern coastal districts would be obliged to submit to the provincial government at Trabzon—now divided the two sons. In this respect, the revolts of 1831–34 would be re-enactments of the revolts of 1814-17.
Just a few months after Fontanier submitted his report, there were fresh disturbances in the eastern coastal districts. The Oflus and the Sürmenelis, still suffering from the combined effects of poor harvests and the Russo-Ottoman War of 1828, balked when called upon to pay higher taxes and send more troops to the central government. Then, toward winter, news came of the rebellion of Mehmet Ali Pasha in Egypt, and sporadic civil disorder in the eastern coastal districts blossomed into full-scale revolt. By the summer of 1832, the Oflus and Sürmenelis were categorically refusing to accede to the new tax and troop levies. Meanwhile, the residents of the provincial capital slipped into panic with the spread of alarming rumors. There was one report that the aghas of Of and Sürmene had received letters from Mehmet Ali Pasha promising his support. There was another that the janissary institution had been revived among the villages of Of and Sürmene. At this point, Osman Pasha adopted harsh military measures in order to force the local elites of these districts into submission. His brother led seven thousand troops in an attack on Sürmene from the west. The governor of Adjaria led another seven thousand troops in an attack on Of from the east. A third force was dispatched from Bayburt to attack these same districts from the south. The result was massive destruction of houses, shops, crops, and flocks in the two districts.
The military invasion during the summer of 1832 inflicted a terrible devastation on the districts of Of and Sürmene. And yet, the crisis of political authority remained unresolved. Tahir Agha Tuzcuoğlu, assisted by three brothers, was still the district governor of Rize, and he was more than ever intent on defying Osman Pasha in Trabzon. Toward the fall of that year, there was a report that the forces of Mehmet Ali Pasha, then occupying parts of Anatolia, had made contact with the Tuzcuoğlu brothers. Using the report as an excuse, Osman Pasha charged Tahir Agha with conspiracy and obtained a writ for his execution. Thereupon Tahir Agha rose in full revolt, bringing two of his three brothers with him. By January 1833, the Tuzcuoğlu had assembled an army of twelve thousand men from Rize, Of, and Sürmene and defeated a military force that had been led against them. By February 1833, they were advancing on the town of Trabzon, sending word to its minorities and consuls that they had nothing to fear. Osman Pasha first moved his furniture into the citadel as a precaution, then chose to leave his capital and province altogether.
Having mounted a convincing show of force, Tahir Agha contacted the palace to declare himself a faithful servant of the sultan, but demanding the rank of pasha and the office of governor, that is, the independence of Rize, Of, and Sürmene. The palace acceded to these conditions at the urging of Tuzcuoğlu's friends in court (the high admiralty was said to be a Rizeli), but with the requirement that he send a brother and three hundred followers to Istanbul for service in the arsenal. Thus Tahir Agha had reconstituted the hierarchy of authority and commerce first put into place by his father in the second half of the eighteenth century. The eastern districts from Sürmene to Batum were to become a separate province. Its governors would be appointed from the Tuzcuoğlu family line. Its capital would be the town of Rize.
Later during the year of 1833, however, Osman Pasha returned to his provincial capital, then appointed Osman Agha Şatııroğlu as district governor of Sürmene, intending to deprive the Tuzcuoğlu of that district. By the spring of 1834, the Sürmenelis, fearing the burden of Osman Agha's occupation, demanded the right to appoint their own governors, "as in other districts under Tusgioglu [sic]." But now the crisis involving Mehmet Ali Pasha was concluded, and the palace was no longer inclined to accommodate Tahir Agha. Toward summer, Osman Pasha declared Tahir Agha and two of his brothers to be fugitives, and both sides began a series of troop movements along the coast from Atine [Pazar] to Sürmene. The brother who had been sent to Istanbul, but had returned to participate in the revolt, was apprehended and executed. Tahir Agha and another brother took refuge in the district of Of, after which that district was subject to yet another invasion by fifteen thousand troops. Tahir Agha and his brother finally surrendered, and were later exiled to Varna (on the Black Sea coast of Rumania). The inhabitants of the district of Of, who had given them sanctuary, were subjected to a punitive level of taxation for an indefinite period.
Osman Pasha had much in common with other strong provincial governors of the period of decentralization. He had a good knowledge of the local elites of Trabzon since he was the son of a previous provincial governor. He was supported by two brothers who were willing to do his bidding and served him well as subordinate officials. He had a good knowledge of palace circles, having been sent to Istanbul to become a page to the sultan after the death of his father. He had great wealth since he had managed to recover the land holdings that had been confiscated from his father, and by this great wealth, he had the ability to bring both manpower and resources into Trabzon from the western province of Canıık.
From all that can be gleaned from the consular reports, Osman Pasha used these advantages to deal with the local elites of Trabzon in much the same manner as other strong provincial governors during the period of decentralization. Both before and after 1834, he never attempted to suppress all the local elites in all the coastal districts, and it seems likely that he never even considered such a possibility. During his entire tenure in office, from 1827 to 1842, he moved to "rectify" and "improve" (ııslah) those local elites that resisted the provincial government, in accordance with standing official procedures. He appointed as many new district and provincial officials as possible from a narrow circle of his supporters, sometimes dismissing or demoting local elites. He made examples of the most troublesome of the local elites, dispatching forces to take them prisoner and disperse their followers. But even in these instances, he sometimes re-appointed other members of their family lines to succeed them.
During the revolts of 1831–34, moreover, Osman Pasha had used the "classic" methods of the period of decentralization in putting down the revolt of the Tuzcuoğlu. He cannonaded and demolished many of the mansions of the aghas of Of and Sürmene. He burned and relocated many of the markets they had dominated. He executed one of the three brothers who had led the revolt, and he exiled the other two along with many of their followers. But while other provincial governors before him had applied the very same measures, he had done so with more consistency and severity, thereby confirming a decisive shift in the balance of power. The local elites of the eastern coastal districts would never again rise in revolt against the provincial government. Osman Pasha had indeed brought about a divide in the political history of the province of Trabzon by 1834. In retrospect, this divide can be described as the end of the period of decentralization all along the coastal region. However, he did not restore centralized government, and he did not abolish the local elites. After the end of the period of decentralization, the local elites of the eastern coastal districts—if not they themselves, then their descendants—continued to serve as appointed government intermediaries. The inhabitants of the coastal districts had not been disarmed, and most of the men continued to move about with their rifles. They still served as soldiers in the central army, perhaps in larger numbers than ever before. Likewise, the local elites continued to play a role in gathering and dispatching recruits to the central government. So the local elites must also have retained the capacity to mobilize armed followings against rivals. Henceforth, the responsibilities of local elites were more minutely defined than they had previously been, but these definitions were not necessarily respected. The readiness of local elites to challenge district officials, hold back tax collections, and interfere in the courts was most certainly diminished, but not eliminated.
Consul Fontanier Anticipates the Future Imperfectly
We can now address the question of Fontanier's erroneous report of the extinction of the local elites in the coastal districts. Upon his return to the town of Trabzon, probably sometime in 1830, Fontanier had been impressed by the change in the political situation. Osman Pasha had been able to consolidate his provincial government since his last visit, especially his hold on the provincial capital. There were no longer two "chiefs" who resided in fortress mansions within the city walls, set siege to one another's residences, and forced the governor to appoint them to state offices. The "complete anarchy" that he had described on his first visit was no more, such that the transit trade that passed through Trabzon was already increasing. By his western European background and experience, Fontanier could read this situation and look clearly into the future. He understood that the balance of power would inevitably shift to the advantage of the central government and to the disadvantage of the local elites. And by this understanding, he correctly anticipated the end of the period of decentralization. At the same time, he incorrectly expected that the end of the period of decentralization would also lead to the abolition of the local elites. That is to say, his knowledge of what was possible in terms of the technology of bureaucratic centralism was matched by his refusal to think through the relationship of society and state in the province of Trabzon. Fontanier believed that the aghas, mansions, family lines, and parties represented a feudal system, and by that assumption, no feudal system could continue to exist alongside centralized government. In effect, he viewed society and state in Trabzon through a lens of past, present, and future that could not bring into clear focus the political situation in Trabzon.
Let us now read the passages that follow and conclude his declaration that the local elites no longer existed. Immediately, we seem to hear echoes of his sojourn in the marketplace of Sürmene. The topic is the "imagination" of the residents of the province of Trabzon:
The Muslims of Trabzon are beset by an imaginative deficiency. They are imprisoned within the rigid existential frames of Islamic belief and practice. Fontanier seems to recall a moment when he glimpsed the rigidity of his own imaginative capacities, precisely because he became aware that others thought and acted altogether differently. His response is characteristic of someone who has been thrown off-balance by such an encounter. Unable to compose the experience of difference, Fontanier moves to suppress his failure. It is not myself but these others who are hopelessly imprisoned within the existential frames of their perceptions.
It would appear, Monsieur le Comte, that a people who pass so quickly from arrogance in the extreme to intimidation in the extreme, such that a pasha with practically no means at all might subdue them, must be endowed with a great mobility of imagination, thereby making them fit more than others for becoming civilized. I do not think that one should sustain such a hope in the case of the Turks. Although it is the case that one finds a natural happiness among them [the captain and crew who saw Sürmene as the promised land], religion is an invincible obstacle such that civilization will never make any progress. Perhaps its forms might be acquired, but it will never exist in itself. It is impossible that the religion of Muhammad should be in accordance with any other, it is impossible that those who follow it should adopt the customs and habits compatible with those of other people [the experience of an another threatening sociability in the marketplace of Sürmene].
When Fontanier defensively observes that the Muslims have an imaginative deficiency, he disjoins Islamic belief and practice from aghas, mansions, family lines, and parties. Islam, the locus of a disturbing sociability, is deemed irrepressible but ineffective. The aghas, mansions, family lines, and parties were deemed effective but evanescent. He thereby splits the state-oriented social formations of Trabzon into a political anarchy that cannot endure and a social nullity that cannot change. As his report continues, however, Fontanier draws the logical conclusion of this illogical analysis:
Fontanier refused to consider how local society and the state system were fused together. This allowed him to imagine the state system as a bureaucratic centralism unconstrained in any way by society, hence entirely autocratic and monopolistic.
All the appearances of civilization will take the form of an autocratic and monopolistic government (se tourneront en monopole); the sultan, following the example of Mehmet Ali Pasha, will make himself master of the fortunes of his subjects, that will be the limit of his innovations. Without doubt this state of affairs gives an advantage to foreigners; without doubt nothing is better for trade than a country that provides raw materials and consumes manufactured products. For security is a necessary condition for trade, and I believe that it now exists in Turkey more than ever, and that the time has come to engage in speculation in these countries. These speculations will be favorable, Monsieur le Comte, insofar as the most absurd despotism does not manage to strip its inhabitants of all their resources.
But society and state were, for better or worse, inseparable in the province of Trabzon. So the autocracy and monopoly of centralized government would never come about. Leading individuals with large followings still inhabited the new state system, just as they had inhabited the old state system. Through the later nineteenth century, right down to the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, they continued to participate in the most elementary functions of government. But they did so through adapting themselves to the mechanisms of the new technology of bureaucratic centralism.
If Fontanier had failed to understand the future of Trabzon, he was clairvoyant in another sense of that term. Three years before the end of the period of decentralization, he had formulated what would become a general dictum among consular officials. Osman Pasha had restored the authority of the centralized government (a feat he never exactly accomplished), and in doing so, Osman Pasha had suppressed the aghas, mansions, family lines, and parties (a feat he never even attempted to accomplish). Like Fontanier, the later consuls would also reach these conclusions through the lens of a past, present, and future. Unlike him, they would do so by simple inattention, rather than in reaction to their encounters with another kind of sociability.
After the end of the period of decentralization, British and French consuls would no longer be obliged to curry the favor of local elites, fret about their rivalries, or fear their challenges to the provincial government. Instead, the consuls were able to devote themselves to the speculative opportunities that accompanied the new technology of bureaucratic centralism. Accordingly, their consular reports address customs regulations, port facilities, import and export tonnages, overland and oversea haulage fees, wage levels, official regulations, court procedures, and so on. Incidents of civil disorder are still occasionally mentioned, but only if linked with major market centers or trade routes. For the consuls, the regime of aghas, mansions, family lines, and parties was henceforth entirely a matter of history.
By the 1860s, the western European diplomats, soldiers, and explorers who pass through the coastal region sometimes mention the local elites, but only as a thing of the distant past. As such, they were said to be exactly what the first French consuls had declared them to be. They were the "lords of the valleys," the representatives of a "feudal system," much like that of Europe during the high medieval period. Some travelers occasionally encounter some of the old "valley lords," describing them as reduced to penury but still holding out in their decaying mansions. But the same travelers never mention the existence of local elites, large followings, or a regional oligarchy. It was as though the aghas, mansions, family lines, and parties had vanished into thin air.
Consul Palgrave (1868–73) was to travel all over the coastal region by horseback, risking his life by encamping near malaria-infested marshes. Nonetheless, he somehow never noticed the local elites who were still very much in place. Thus, Palgrave was able to reminisce in later years, "Beys and Aghas, good masters in their days, spending in the land what they took from it, not like the Osmanlee leeches." In this fashion, he commemorated the valley lords who had been so bitterly denounced by Dupré and Fourcade for the purpose of delegitimizing the imperial government. The "Beys and Aghas" possessed all the virtues that bureaucratic centralism lacked. They had been benevolent rulers, close to their peoples, sponsors of public works, and protectors of local interest.
The local elites of coastal districts, who had taken their proper place in the imperial government, had become virtually invisible. As we shall see, however, they would reappear toward the 1880s, suddenly and unexpectedly, as an inexplicable phenomenon.
1. Here Beauchamp is in disagreement with most other western European visitors to Trabzon, who remark on the mistreatment of Christians in the town (but see the following note). In MAE CCCT L. 1, No. 12, Nivôse An XII [Dec. 1803], Dupré writes that he is threatened and insulted in public. The Muslims cannot tolerate the way he dresses. The pasha issues an order that anyone who insults a Christian will have his nose and ears cut off. Later, Dupré complains about mistreatment on the part of the followers of Osman Agha Şatııroğlu; see No. 75, Aug. 1809, No. 86, Aug. 1809. Fontanier describes aggressive attitudes toward Christians and their subjection to forced labor in Sürmene (Fontanier 1829, 9–10). He also comments that Christians are treated worse in the town of Trabzon than in other parts of the Empire (ibid., 22). [BACK]
2. Beauchamp 1813, 276–77. One might also wonder if the botanists weresimply more circumspect in their dress and manners than the consuls who follow them. [BACK]
3. See, for example, Veinstein's (1975) analysis of the reports of Peysonnel père and fils, consuls in Izmir during the middle of the eighteenth century. [BACK]
4. In an earlier period and in a different province, however, Peysonnel père and fils preferred to reach agreements with local elites whom they found more reliable than representatives of the palace (Veinstein 1975). [BACK]
5. The invasion had been noticed both by the Muslim majority and the Christian minority. Rottiers (1829, 179–80) reports in 1818 that the career of Napoleon had also provoked a lively and keen interest on the part of the Lazi of Arhavi, who were militantly anti-Russian. In MAE CCCT L. 2, circa Feb. 1814, Dupré reports that the Christian minority anticipated a great reconquest by a Christian king. [BACK]
6. The arrival of the scientific expedition in the town of Trabzon had actually caused a stir in all the cafés. It was said that the French had been sent as an advance party to scout the coastal region in preparation for an invasion. Nonetheless, their hosts had chosen to set aside their suspicions and receive them correctly. The French learned of these rumors through their barber, the only Christian with whom they were allowed to have contact. [BACK]
7. MAE CCCS No. 3, Brumaire An XI [Nov. 1802]. [BACK]
8. MAE CCCS No. 16, Prairial An XIII [June 1805]. This conclusion stands in sharp contrast to the approach of both Peysonnel père and fils (Veinstein 1975). [BACK]
9. MAE CCCS folio 186, Oct. 1807. Sultan Selim III was deposed by a revolt of janissary auxiliaries (yamaks) on May 29, 1807 (Shaw 1976, 273-74). [BACK]
10. Redut-Kaleh was to the north of Poti, in what is now Georgia. [BACK]
11. Fontanier 1829, 3. The citations that follow in this section appear in the same place between pages 5 and 16. All italics are my own. [BACK]
12. The first French and British consuls use the term "Lazistan" to refer to all the eastern coastal segment of the old province of Trabzon, roughly comprising Batum, Gönye, Arhavi, Atine, Rize, Of, and Sürmene. [BACK]
13. Fontanier (1829, 12) describes a marketplace that is part of a wider state and market system of the Black Sea (see chap. 3). There are local cash crops, fruits, olives, and nuts, some of them exported "to a great distance," while other items are imported from elsewhere, including rye from Bayburt and lemons from Rize. The inhabitants praise their local cornbread, but the corn to make it must sometimes be imported from Redut-Kaleh. [BACK]
14. MAE CCCT L. 3 (1825–35), No. 11, Jan. 27, 1831. [BACK]
15. British consul Brant had also reported the end of the feudal order just a day earlier but in more cautious terms, writing "[Osman Pasha has] induced most of their beys [of the eastern coastal districts] to put themselves in his power [although the agha of Atine still had three thousand men in arms]. . . . The people of Surmeneh and Ophis have agreed to build barracks and furnish their Contingent of regular troops required. Lazistan [the coast from Batum to Sürmene] never before was in so perfect a state of submission and so tranquil" (PRO FO 524/1, Jan. 26, 1831). [BACK]
16. See Goloğlu (1975, 159–60); Aktepe (1951–52, 21–22, 44–45); MAE CCCT L. 1, No. 58, Mar. 1807; No. 71, Mar. 1808. [BACK]
17. See PRO FO 524/1 p. 14, Sept. 1831, on lack of grain, continuing plague, and the disruption of caravan trade; and p. 18, Feb. 2, 1832, on general dissatisfaction with higher tax and troop levies, and how the district governor had been driven away from Sürmene. [BACK]
18. Fontanier 1834, 320. [BACK]
19. MAE CCCT L. 3, No. 21, June 1832. The French consul reported that the news of the rebellion of Mehmet Ali Pasha in Egypt had created a panic in Trabzon, giving the provincial governor an opportunity to crush his opponents. [BACK]
20. Bilgin (1990, 300) cites an official document. The aghas are said to have received letters from Mehmet Ali Pasha in which he assured them his armies would support them when they invaded Anatolia. [BACK]
21. In MAE CCCT L. 3, No. 21, June 1832, the consul reports a general sentiment among the Muslims for restoring the "old order." He believes the reports of the revolt by the Sürmenelis and Oflus, as well as the restoration of the janissariat there, are pretexts for sending a large force there. [BACK]
22. Fontanier (1834, chap. 23) believed that Osman Pasha had invaded Of and Sürmene in order to avoid having to confront the armies of Mehmet Ali Pasha, which eventually invaded Anatolia. [BACK]
23. In PRO FO 524/2 p. 19, May 1832, Brant anticipates invasion of Sürmene and Of; in PRO FO 524/1 p. 23, Aug. 1832, Brant reports:
Also see Bilgin (1990, 299; n.d. b, 9) and Bryer (1969). [BACK]
it is stated that about three thousand houses have been burnt and destroyed, as many cows and oxen captured, as well as everything the Surmenehs could not carry away—There was no fighting of any consequence. The people had transported their flocks, moveables and families to the mountains. They refused to give up the leaders of the Revolt or to make their submission and nothing seems to have been gained by the Expedition. On the other hand, it has distressed the inhabitants of this place by the Contributions required to pay the Expenses—it has caused a great destruction of property and incalculable misery to the Revolted without either inducing them to order or rendering them obedient and useful subjects and it is most probable they will become Robbers and dangerous neighbors.
24. In the paragraphs that follow, I summarize the events that led to the end of the period of decentralization, as they were reported by Brant and Suter. The circumstances themselves, involving a group of men caught up in a web of friendship and enmity, were of course far more complicated than such a summary suggests. Cf. the accounts of Aktepe (1951–52), Goloğlu (1975), and Bilgin (1990), who rely on official documents (Ahmet Cevdet PaŞa 1892/1309; Şakir Şevket 1877/1294). [BACK]
25. PRO FO 524/2 p. 24, Dec. 1832. [BACK]
26. PRO FO 524/1 p. 29, Jan. 15, 1833, Brant. [BACK]
27. In PRO FO 524/2 p. 25, Feb. 21, 1833, Brant discounted the number of troops as an exaggeration, estimating no more than six thousand men. [BACK]
28. PRO FO 524/2 p. 25, Feb. 21, 1833. Osman Pasha had taken up residence in Tokat but was later driven from there by an army of "Kurds" led by Seyyid Agha, "governor of Sivas" (PRO FO 524/1 p. 32, Apr. 5, 1833; p. 32, May 15, 1833). [BACK]
29. PRO FO 524/1 p. 29, Jan. 1833, Brant, to the end of the paragraph. [BACK]
30. PRO FO 524/2, p. 40, Mar. 1834, Brant, to the next note. [BACK]
31. Aktepe 1951–52, 47, 50. [BACK]
32. Aktepe 1951–52, 49; Bilgin 1990, 303; Goloğlu 1975, 162; PRO FO 524/2 p. 41, Apr. 1834, Suter. [BACK]
33. Goloğlu 1975, 163. PRO FO 524/2 p. 46, Apr. 1834, Suter. Other followers of Tuzcuoğlu later appear in Egypt as bodyguards of the Mehmet Ali Pasha family (personal communication of descendants in Istanbul and demonstrated by court documents concerning land claims). [BACK]
34. Fontanier 1834, 98–99. Hamilton (1842, vol. 1, 270, 282) reports that Osman Pasha owned three hundred farms in Canıık. He observes three hundred men engaged in constructing a boat at the site of Osman Pasha's mansion in Fatsa. In PRO FO 195/1329 No. 38, Aug. 1880, Biliotti reports that many of the native settlers east of Samsun had become landowners by "getting title from sipahis but 50 years ago they were reduced to serfage by Osman Pasha." [BACK]
35. Fontanier did not have the opportunity to re-declare the suppression of the old feudal system in 1834, since he left Trabzon in the midst of diplomatic and financial difficulties (Hoefer 1856 , vol. 17, 118). However, Brant (1836) erroneously declared in 1835 what Fontanier had erroneously declared in 1831: "Oph and Lazistan were formerly governed by Dere Beys, or feudal chiefs who exercised absolute authority in their own districts, carried on petty warfare with each other, did not owe allegiance to a superior and never paid contributions to the sultan. This state of insubordination has been put an end to by Osman Pasha." [BACK]
36. Osman Pasha, through the intercession of Osman Agha Şatııroğlu, a relative even if also a rival of the Tuzcuoğlu, accepted the exile of Tahir Agha and Abdülaziz Agha. The execution of Abdülkadir Tuzcuoğlu was carried out by the governor of Erzurum (PRO FO 524/2 p. 46, Apr. 1834, Suter). A fourth brother, Reşit Agha, was somehow not implicated in the revolt, and so remained in favor (PRO FO 524/2, p. 41, Apr. 1834, Suter). [BACK]
37. By the 1840s, the town of Trabzon was reached by regular steamboat service with connections to the major ports of the Black Sea and Mediterranean (Hamilton 1842, 158). By 1864 the town of Trabzon, as well as several of its coastal districts, was linked by telegraph line to Istanbul (MAE CPCT L. 3, No. 24, Feb. 1864). [BACK]
38. More or less minor incidents occurred in the years to follow. Cafer Agha Cansıız went into hiding after the collapse of the Tuzcuoğlu revolt in 1834. On the occasion when the aghas of Of were planning to refuse to forward the taxes in 1837, he informed Osman Pasha of the conspiracy in hopes of regaining his good graces (PRO FO 195/101 Sept. 12, 1837, Suter). In the district of Of, a minirevolt occurred in 1842 when a local group lay siege to the residence of the district governor. The incident took place upon the arrival of the news of the death of Osman Pasha. So it could be considered a test of his brother, Abdullah Pasha, who succeeded him (PRO FO 195/173, June 17, 1842, Stevens). [BACK]
39. In the district of Of, Osman Pasha recognized an agha from the Muradoğlu and an agha from the Selimoğlu as the chief notables of the eastern and western valleys of the district, respectively, from 1834 until about 1847. For the Muradoğlu, see the "Muradoğlu documents," which confirm that Memiş Agha Muradoğlu, son of ıısmail Agha, founder of the family line, had emerged from the last Tuzcuoğlu revolt as the principal agha and ayan of the eastern valley of the district of Of. For the Selimoğlu, see the local traditions cited by Bilgin (1990, 303) and Goloğlu (1975, 163), which report that Ömer Agha Selimoğlu went over to the side of Osman Pasha after his mansion was surrounded by government troops. He is said to have been rewarded by appointment as a government intermediary of a number of villages. Also see the "Fettahoğullarıınıın Tarihi," which indicates that members of this family were accorded the title ağa and granted ağalıık through the nineteenth century, except during the governorship of Kadri Bey (1893-1903). [BACK]
40. PRO FO 195/101, July 7, 1835, the pasha sends eight hundred recruits from Trabzon and Lazistan and eight hundred from Canıık to Istanbul, Suter; June 12, 1838, the pasha to send three thousand men to the Arsenal in Istanbul, Suter; June 5, 1839, a levy of twelve thousand men imposed on Lazistan and Canıık for service in Malatya will "create great distress and misery throughout the pashalik"; June 19, 1839, the preceding levy has proceeded, and four hundred men are to be taken from the capital and the same number from each of the districts of Sürmene, Of, Rize, and Lazistan (here meaning the vicinity of Batum). The levy is in anticipation of a war with Egypt. [BACK]
41. This would apply to those local elites who held district state offices, but also to the aghas who were appointed to non-official government positions (ağalıık). See the Muradoğlu documents dated September 24, 1846 and April 21, 1847. For an indication of the character of the role of nonofficial government intermediates, see the reference to the position of ağalıık in the Muradoğlu documents dated August 14, 1834, March 16, 1847, and April 15, 1847. [BACK]
42. During the Russian invasion of the coast during 1916, the aghas of Of apparently played a role in mobilizing armed forces and setting up a front to resist the Russian advance (Yiğit 1950). [BACK]
43. I have drawn this conclusion from the Muradoğlu documents. [BACK]
44. Fontanier's misunderstandings of the imperial system appear as inconsistencies. Writing as a consular official, he applauds the abolition of the janissary institution as a necessary step in the abolition of the local elites. In his first book (1829, 25–31), however, he describes the janissary institution with some admiration as a civil opposition to the government and expresses guarded optimism about its abolition. In his second book (1834, iv, 35), he complains that the abolition of the janissary institution failed to improve the position of the people in general, and he deplores its absence as a check on the arbitrary power of the sultan and high state officials. [BACK]
45. MAE CCCT L. 3 (1825–35), No. 11, Jan. 27, 1831. [BACK]
46. Ibid. Note that Fontanier is able to promote the idea of absolute governmental centralism for Turkey even while acknowledging the absurdity of such a proposal. [BACK]
47. Hamilton (1842, vol. 1, 253) and Koch (1855) perceive the descendants of the old valley lords as the remnants of a feudal order that had been suppressed by the central government. Still later, Palgrave (1887, 12; PRO 195/812, No. 19, Mar. 1868), Decourdemanche (1874, 363), and Biliotti (PRO 195/1329, No. 32, Aug. 1880) refer to the "old system" of the valley lords as a suppressed feudal order that was no more. [BACK]
48. Palgrave 1887, 17. Idealizations of the valley lords on the part of the British and French begin to appear almost from the moment of their suppression. See, for example, Slade (1833), whose views on valley lords are in my opinion far too one-sided, but compare the assessment by Lewis (1968). [BACK]
Aghas and Hodjas
Citizens, Newspapers, and Misgovernment
The first constitution of the Ottoman Empire was promulgated toward the close of 1876, the same year in which Sultan Abdülhamit II began a thirty-three-year reign. The constitution had been prepared and adopted under the auspices of Mithat Pasha, one of the most prominent of the Ottoman reformers. It provided for the selection of representatives who would assemble as a legislative body. The spring of the following year, the deputies of the new parliament took their seats and began their deliberations. Not quite one year later, Abdülhamit II dissolved the parliament, but claimed to preserve the constitution. The election of deputies and the convening of another parliament would not occur again until the Young Turk revolution of 1908.
During its brief life, the parliament accomplished very little as a legislative body, but it did play an important role in shaping public opinion. In the course of their deliberations, the deputies soon became aware that their own personal experiences of misgovernment were not singular, but a general condition of the Ottoman Empire. The shock of this discovery was then transmitted in turn to a new audience of newspaper readers in the capital. However, the scandal of misgovernment that came to light in 1877 was not entirely contingent on the existence of these new channels of communication.
The government of the core Ottoman provinces had almost certainly improved since the end of the period of decentralization. It seems almost certain, then, that the scandal of misgovernment was as much a matter of perception as of information. A new kind of public life was taking shape in the towns and cities of the Ottoman Empire. Those who were part of it had outlooks and interests that led them to expect a different kind of governing institution. For an emergent Ottoman citizenry—including both Muslims and Christians—what had once been entirely normal now appeared as grotesque and outrageous.
At the time of the first constitutional period, such an emergent Ottoman citizenry was only somewhat less developed in the province of Trabzon than in the imperial capital. A new military and bureaucratic infrastructure had put an end to the unstable political conditions that had prevailed during the period of decentralization. If some of the eastern coastal districts remained unsafe for foreigners, the trade route from Trabzon to Erzurum had been made secure and the transit trade to Persia had greatly increased. As the volume of trade reached its height during the late 1860s, further administrative and judicial reforms extended the scope of centralized government. Just three decades earlier, higher state officials in the province of Trabzon had been tax-farmers backed by private armies. But gradually the provincial governors, and some limited number of their staff, had become instead professional bureaucrats, fluent in French and trained as public administrators. For the first time in almost three hundred years, the eastern coastal districts were subject to systematic administrative surveillance by the central government. More or less reliable censuses were being taken, including counts of shops, mosques, professors, academies, students, houses, cows, sheep, and goats. The centers of each of the coastal districts were incorporated as municipalities with mayors and councils chosen from among the local residents.
By chance, I came across a reverberation of the scandal of misgovernment in the province of Trabzon, in the course of reading reports of one of the British consuls. Alfred P. Biliotti was the son of a family of Italian origin linked to the island of Rhodes, apparently his birthplace. He first entered the British consular service in 1856, at the age of twenty-three, on the island of Rhodes, his residence at that time. He was assigned to Trabzon in 1873, where he remained as a consul until 1885. By his Levantine background, he could himself be described as a member of the new Ottoman citizenry, and so entirely familiar with its multiethnic and multireligious societies, despite his affiliation with the British.
During the first seven years of his residence in Trabzon, Biliotti dedicated most of his attention to questions of commerce. But then in 1880 his reports suddenly turn to the scandal of misgovernment. Once they did so, he would discover, to his astonishment, what he later professes to have always known. The province of Trabzon was burdened by conditions of injustice and oppression as a consequence of the collusion of local elites and state officials, at all levels of government.
Biliotti first mentions this kind of misgovernment as he was addressing another more specific policy issue. In the spring of 1880, he was writing a report that approved of recent proposals of the central government to regulate the distribution of firearms. However, in the course of referring to local elites with armed followings in the district of Ordu, he was carried away by this larger problem. With a degree of moral passion uncharacteristic of consular reports, he declares that district officials systematically colluded with local elites to exploit the population, both the Muslims and the Christians. However, his remarks feature a certain inconsistency, if not a blatant contradiction:
In this passage Biliotti describes how local elites ("Beys and Aghas") combined with district officials to subvert the administration of justice. However, he appears to be confused about the exact relationship of the former to the latter. Have the aghas and beys only now oppressed the population that they formerly protected? Or have they always oppressed the population? Do the aghas and beys oppress the population only because they have now become instruments of district officials? Or do they strive to oppress the population independently of district officials as they have always done? The passage reveals that the source of Biliotti's confusion lies in a certain assumption.
The measure [regulating the carrying of firearms] would be a great comfort to the Muslim and Christian population which seems to be cowed down, and to have lost all characteristics of honorable manhood under the terrorism which has oppressed them, and still continues to oppress them, and which the local Beys can ill conceal behind the Mashattas and Shahadnames [judicial dispositions] which they exact from time to time from interested Tsorbadjis [toughs] and corrupted priests who bear false witness [in their favor] [and] are certainly more to blame than those feudal chiefs [Aghas and Beys], who have inherited these abuses from their forefathers. The oppression is now felt incomparably more than former ages, for not only the contact with the outside world through traveling, commerce and the wars, has made it manifest to both Moslem and Christian that their condition is abnormal, but the Beys themselves are not Beys of old of whom one heard and read, those rich magnanimous, hospitable Lords, whose patriarchal government was naturally and thoroughly submitted to; with few exceptions the Beys and Aghas of the present day are abject instruments in the hands of a corrupt Government for oppressing a population which tyranny has rendered vicious and submissive. The Beys would fain be independent and exercise all those inequities to their own advantage, but they are obliged to council with officials trained to duplicity and cunning. Some of them [local elites (?) or district officials (?)] are accused of tolerating, if not authorizing brigandage in their domains and as to their morals, it is useless to say anything. They [local elites (?) or district officials (?)] are certainly the lowest dissolute beggars. [Italics mine]
Although the evidence is all to the contrary, Biliotti is inclined to believe that the problem is essentially one of misgovernment. That is to say, if district officials were to behave correctly, in accordance with administrative and judicial law, all would be well. This is why he attempts to make the district officials, not the aghas and the beys, the culprits. At the same time, Biliotti is well enough informed to know that there was a larger problem of local elites that exceeded the question of official misbehavior. This is why he keeps contradicting himself in his remarks about the aghas and the beys. But being well informed about specific incidents and being able to theorize and analyze a general problem are two entirely different matters.
In the spring of 1880, Biliotti holds fast to the idea that state officials were primarily responsible for general conditions of injustice and oppression in the province of Trabzon. He never considers the possibility that the local elites and district officials might be intimately linked (as they were), or might even in some instances be one and the same (as they were). His stubborn conviction is a direct reflection of the scandal of misgovernment that had come to light during the first constitutional period. If there were local elites in provincial society who mistreated the population, this was only because a bad government had allowed or encouraged them to come into existence. If, then, a good government were put in place to regulate provincial society, these local elites would not be able to oppress the population. The ponderable problem for Biliotti was how to replace bad government with good government. The imponderable problem was a relationship of state and society that underlay a certain kind of governmental structure.
Biliotti was thinking in the same terms as the emergent Ottoman citizenry, as he indirectly reveals in the passage above. Both Muslims and Christians, he tells us, now saw conditions of injustice and oppression as "abnormal" by virtue of two kinds of comparison. First, the general population in Trabzon now felt abused as never before by virtue of their "contact with the outside world." That is to say, they had come to assess political conditions in terms of new concepts of government. Second, the general population in Trabzon had "heard and read [of] those rich magnanimous, hospitable Lords" of the old feudal system. That is to say, they were no longer able to recognize existing political conditions as the legacy of old concepts of government. The collusion of local elites and district officials was both unacceptable and incomprehensible. An underlying principle of the imperial regime since the beginning of the decentralization, even the beginningof the classical period, could no longer be understood as a normal feature of the governmental structure.
The spread of new concepts of government, hence also misgovernment, had transformed long-standing practices into a scandal. The amnesia of the general population was now coordinate with and parallel to the ignorance of the foreign consuls, not to mention the ignorance of their superiors in London and Paris. A tactic of sovereign power based on interpersonal association had continually reproduced the collusion of local elites and district officials generation after generation. An ottomanist state society had come to occupy a place and play a role in the governmental structure of the westernized imperial system. Local elites and district officials were not representatives of two different political systems, but rather still part of a single governmental structure.
Biliotti's Reports on the Western Coastal Districts
In the summer of 1880, some months after writing the passage cited above, Biliotti set out by horseback from Samsun intending to reach Trabzon several months later. As he slowly worked his way back toward the capital over the course of several months, he carried out inspections of each of the coastal districts, pausing for weeks at a time to gather information and conduct interviews. Judging from the consular reports that he wrote during his travels, he had undertaken the expedition for the express purpose of gathering evidence of misgovernment. The reports include case study after case study of local political and social conditions, often mentioning individuals and villages of no special commercial importance or diplomatic significance. Sometimes illegible, packed with details, and occasionally rambling, his consular reports are more like "field notes" than official communiqués. As such, they provide a mass of details from which it is possible to glimpse the patterns of government or misgovernment that prevailed in different sections of the coastal region.
During his travels, Biliotti discovered that local elites and district officials were almost everywhere linked by ties of kinship, friendship, and partnership. Usually they worked together for exploitative, if not criminal, purposes, but this was not always the case. Here and there, competent officials administrated certain districts in accordance with the new regulations of the central government.Here and there, benevolent local elites took a genuine interest in the welfare of the population and the maintenance of public order. However, such circumstances were exceptional. More typically, local elites and district officials manipulated the new government regulations for the benefit of their relatives or friends. In some instances, local elites exerted pressure on district officials who were unable to resist them. In other instances local elites had managed to have themselves appointed as district officials. In still other instances, district officials used the local elites rather than the other way around. And there are indications that it was still possible to begin as a district official as a first step toward becoming a local elite. Whatever the exact pattern in any district, local elites and district officials commonly combined to defeat any administrative or judicial reforms undertaken by the central government. The individuals in question were sometimes descendants of the old family lines that had been prominent throughout the later period of decentralization. But they were sometimes the descendants of new family lines that had displaced older local elites after the period of decentralization.
Taken together, Biliotti's reports reveal that the political situation in some places resembled that of the period of decentralization. The local elites were leading individuals with armed followings. They collected illegal taxes, extorted state funds, imposed forced labor, confiscated land and goods, forced women into marriage, exacted fees for marriages, subverted the court, suborned officials, and intimidated opponents. In some places the local elites represented large family lines and large followings, engaged in all kinds of illegal agreements with district officials, and joined in alliances with their counterparts in neighboring districts. In other places the town or the district was divided into two camps of local elites in competition with one another, each side striving to suborn district officials and subjugate the population. So to some considerable degree, the practices of the period of decentralization had continued, years after the reforms of the Reordering (Tanzimat) had been applied to the province of Trabzon. The local elites no longer dared to challenge the government militarily with thousands of men in arms, but otherwise little else seems to have changed.
But indeed there had been changes. The relationship of the state system and the state society was not the same as it had been at the beginning of the nineteenth century. The new, westernized system of centralized government had eased some of the harshest of the old official exactions, but it had also introduced all kinds of new bureaucratic regulations. If a trader, craftsman, or laborer wished to travel, then he needed a passport. If a young man wished to postpone military service, pay another to serve in his place, or claim an exemption by virtue of his religious training, then he needed a government certification of such a privilege. If a man or woman wished to register some piece of property, a house, a mill, a garden, or a farm, then it was necessary to acquire a deed. If two fathers wished to marry their children, then they needed a license. If a man with religious training wished to lead the mosque prayer, deliver a sermon, or perform a circumcision, marriage, or burial, then papers bearing the correct seals and signatures were necessary. If an individual wished to construct a warehouse in a marketplace or if a group wished to build a village mosque, then this or that approval was necessary, from municipal, district, or provincial officials. Biliotti informs us that local elites were almost everywhere the key to obtaining such official certifications and instruments. They performed such services for a fee that had no basis in law whatsoever, and the fees they charged could be exorbitant.
Biliotti was not the only one to be surprised by his discoveries. In the course of his journey eastward toward Trabzon, he happened to encounter Yusuf Pasha, who had served as provincial governor of Trabzon in 1878 and had briefly held that office again in 1880. Biliotti considered him one of three recent provincial governors who were men of exceptional probity, training, and ability. He therefore hoped that Yusuf Pasha would be able to address the problems that he had been encountering and deal with them effectively. Biliotti writes, "Yussuf Pacha unites in his person all the qualities required for the efficient fulfillment of this special duty. He is an incorruptible upright functionary, he is known as such to the populations of the province, he has a rank which while overawing the oppressors, will inspire confidence to the oppressed, and he is fresh from his recent experience in Armenia in dealing with similar questions." Biliotti immediately informed Yusuf Pasha of the conditions of misgovernment, only to find that he had not the slightest inkling of the problems of injustice and oppression that Biliotti had been encountering during his travels:
Official and consular ignorance of political and social conditions in the outlying coastal districts was nothing new. I have already given many examples dating from the period of decentralization. The Porte (central government) was always kept in the dark about certain matters by provincial governors. Provincial governors were always kept in the dark about certain matters by chief notables and district governors. No doubt the chief notables and district governors were also kept in the dark by the greater and lesser aghas of the outlying villages. All centralized bureaucracies work by filtering out information as it passes upward. Still, a centralized bureaucracy vertically segmented by tiered circles of interpersonal association could be expected to filter out information even more reliably and consistently.
The latter wondered at the many abuses which I summarily related to him, and of which he had heard nothing while he was Vali [governor] in this Province. I had no more heard myself of these before I went on the spot. The populations fear to speak and the Kaimakams [district governors] and Mudurs [district administrators] consider useless to report thereon. However the facts are undeniable, but the Porte is in complete darkness on the subject, and in the meantime abuses continue to the detriment of the population.
Biliotti's Awareness of a Structure of Misgovernment
Shortly after his encounter with Yusuf Pasha, Biliotti found himself back in his consular residence in the town of Trabzon. It was now time for him to write a summary report for his superiors, one that would set out general conclusions and recommendations instead of dwelling on specific instances of injustice and corruption. Before he undertook this task, however, he would be able to reconsider the coastal region in the light of all that he had learned about the prevailing social and political conditions. Strangely, facts he had always known about the provincial capital itself now acquired a new significance. He now realized that the problem of misgovernment involved something far more serious than collusion between district officials and local elites.
As he began to write the last of his reports, Biliotti understood that the best representatives of the reformed state system were powerless. A new governor, Sıırrıı Pasha, had just replaced the old governor, Yusuf Pasha. Biliotti admired the capability and integrity of the former no less than the latter. Nonetheless, he now saw both as victims of a governmental structure that they were unable to control or to change in any way:
The same collusion of local elites and district officials that existed in the coastal districts also prevailed in the provincial capital. But now in the town of Trabzon, where he had been a resident for more than seven years, this problem appeared in a new light. Local elites and state officials were one and the same. It was not that the latter had succeeded in corrupting the former; rather, it was that the two were one within a structure of misgovernment.
The same spirit [of defiance of the provincial governor by subordinate state officials] prevails down to the native official of the lowest rank. There are families that monopolize Government employments at Trebizond; the same thing happens in the districts. These families are connected to each other by blood or interest, but even when they are not, there is a kind of solidarity between native officials, who whatever the personal spites between them may be, unite to fight the power of the Vali, whom they consider an intruder.
To demonstrate the full extent of the problem, Biliotti described how a single family had penetrated the provincial government. He listed fifteen individuals from this family holding fifteen different governmental positions: five members of various courts, four chief administrators of provincial bureaucracies, three clerks to chief administrators, and three members of various councils. In addition to holding these offices in the provincial capital, other members of this same family held the position of government secretary in Gümüşhane and government treasurer in Rize.
Biliotti now understood that a regional social oligarchy of families and friends spread by "twig and branch" outward and downward into the coastal districts, but then also upward and inward into the highest circles of imperial officials. This regional social oligarchy had a kind of sovereign power of its own, apart from that of the westernized, that is, rationalized and institutionalized, state system:
He concludes that the governor had almost no control over major segments of the coastal region. His subordinates, the sub-governor of Rize in the east and the sub-governor of Samsun in the west, were virtually independent, regularly disregarding his orders. Furthermore, it was reported that the sub-governor of Rize was attempting to have his sub-province separated from Trabzon so that he might be appointed governor of this new province. This was exactly the situation that divided Memiş Agha of Rize from Osman Pasha of Trabzon in 1814–17, and then later divided Tahir Agha of Rize from Süleyman Pasha of Trabzon in 1832-34!
It is easy to comprehend that with the influence that all these officials, severally and collectively, can command in the Capital of the Province, and with the support which they give or receive from their relatives or friends in the districts, the power of the Vali is more nominal than real. . . . Not only this, but several natives of this Province holding important appointments in the Capital [of the Empire] they naturally always enlist their influence in favor of their countrymen, friends, or relatives.
Provincial governors were oftentimes upstanding, well-educated, and capable administrators, that is to say, accomplished representatives of the new westernized state system. But there was nothing they could do about misgovernment, even though they had good intentions and were determined to make a difference. Biliotti writes, "Sirri Pacha who has worked very hard since his appointment here 20 months ago, will, I expect, soon break down, as broke down before him, Ahmet Rassim Pacha and Yusuf Pacha, also two first rate Valis, and as will break down all those that may succeed him." Eventually the new professional bureaucrats would be defeated by a government subverted by a regional social oligarchy whose leading individuals used the law to favor their own interests.
Biliotti's new awareness of the subversion of the westernized state system by local elites had led him toward a moral judgment of conditions in the coastal region. Good government was dependent on good character. The province of Trabzon seemed to him to be awash with bad characters, and for that reason its provincial government was corrupt and abusive. His new perception was, however, incomplete. He was still unaware that another kind of morality, different from the morality of professional bureaucrats, underpinned what appeared to him as misgovernment.
Here I must comment further on Biliotti's perception of both ordinary and elite Muslims in the province of Trabzon. His consular reports always include assessments of the general condition of both the Muslim and Christian populations. He remarks again and again that local elites and district officials treated ordinary Muslims even worse than they treated ordinary Christians. He repeatedly cites instances in which leading individuals among the Christian minorities participated in the exploitation of both ordinary Muslims and Christians. Still, he knew more about the Christians than the Muslims, and he assesses the circumstances of the former in more detail than the latter. In all probability he always resided with Greeks and Armenians during his travels, and his hosts were most probably the chief sources of the information he gathered.
In mentioning these features of Biliotti's consular reports, I do not wish to cast any suspicion on the accuracy of the information he provides, or even to suggest that it was one-sided. He was perhaps the most open-minded of all the British and French consuls. Nonetheless, his consular reports are in a certain sense unreflective. Unlike other exceptional and accomplished consuls, Biliotti never pauses to theorize or analyze the character of the ottomanist state society of the province of Trabzon. This is partly because he was personally inclined to cite facts and incidents rather than offer generalizations. Still, his consular reports are curiously skewed. They include an impressive body of ethnographic details, more than are found in the reports of any other British or French consul. And yet he never attempted to describe in structural terms the local elites from family lines or the social formations that backed them.
Biliotti's Reports on the Eastern Districts
Biliotti's failure to theorize and analyze is perhaps linked to his Levantine background. Unlike some of the other British and French consuls, he never writes as though he feels uncomfortable or threatened by Muslims. Having perhaps been born and raised among Muslims, he was able to take them for granted rather than search for some way to interpret them. As an "Oriental," he found it impossible to be an "Orientalist." So Biliotti consistently perceives the collusion of local elites and state officials as misgovernment and therefore never as a structural legacy of an ottomanist state society. He consistently assesses social and political conditions as a consequence of corrupt and abusive practices and therefore never as an alternative governmental morality. We can see how this is so by considering how he addresses the differences between the western and eastern coastal districts.
Biliotti had chosen to carry out an inspection of western rather than eastern Trabzon for several reasons. The commercial interests of the British were more important in the western than the eastern coastal districts. The reforms of the state system had been applied earlier in the west than the east. There were large, concentrated populations of Christians in the western districts, but not in the eastern. And then, perhaps most importantly, the eastern segment of the province of Trabzon had once again become a dangerous place for state officials let alone foreign consuls. This was a direct result of Russo-Ottoman War (1877–78), which had seriously disrupted the political and economic arrangements that had linked the rural societies of eastern Trabzon with Anatolia and the Caucasus. So for all these reasons, Biliotti did not have the opportunity to observe that segment of the province of Trabzon. When his attention was drawn to the coastal districts to the east, however, we find he was entirely aware of their peculiar features that set them apart from the coastal districts to the west.
In the year following his trip by horseback from Samsun to Trabzon (1881), Biliotti wrote at some length about an incident in the district of Sürmene, still famous for its civil disorders. Writing with the benefit of his fieldwork in the western coastal districts, he was now able to understand the larger implications of the fragmentary pieces of information that arrived in the provincial capital. A state official, Hüseyin Bey, had set out for Sürmene with "a score of zaptiyes [policemen]" in order to investigate an attack by brigands on villagers that had occurred during the annual return from the high summer pastures. Having arrived in the district center, Hüseyin Bey had immediately sent back an urgent request for reinforcements, saying that even ten score men would not be sufficient. Biliotti pauses in his account of the incident to provide his superior with background information, writing "The district of Surmeneh and indeed the whole country between Trebizond and the Russian frontier [which had newly become the Çoruh River after the loss of Batum] is in a state of anarchy and insecurity beyond description. No traveller is safe on the roads, and I have from time to time reported cases of plunder and murder in villages." The "state of anarchy," to which Biliotti refers using the standard consular phrasing, was directly related to the recent loss of territories to the Russians. The outbreak of brigandage was the predictable result of the weakening of the centralized government, the westward flight of large numbers of Muslim refugees, the breakdown of customary trade across the Çoruh River, and the return of demobilized soldiers.
Having oriented his correspondent, Biliotti returned to the incident in question, explaining why Hüseyin Bey required a force of hundreds of men just to apprehend a few outlaws who had robbed some villagers:
By this account, we can be sure that Biliotti understood that the "Beys and Aghas" in the east were not exactly like the majority of the townsmen and landlords he had described in the western districts. Although he does not closely compare the two, he refers to the features of the local elites in the eastern districts that distinguish them from those in the western districts: (1) They had armed followings ("brigands"). (2) They provided essential assistance to state officials ("capturing criminals"). (3) Their assistance to the government was directly related to their local rivalry ("moved by a feeling of jealousy"). (4) They were the representatives of large family groupings ("clans"). (5) They were positioned in broad and deep social networks ("relatives or friends"). (6) The extent of these social networks reached impressive levels, that is, thousands of men in arms. The situation in the district of Sürmene differed from that in the western districts by the greater breadth and depth of the structure of misgovernment.
[In these eastern districts where a state of anarchy reigns] there are Beys or Aghas who command influence and are the abettors of brigands. Sometimes moved by a feeling of jealousy against each other they assist the Police in capturing criminals. . . . But if there is no feud between the brigands the police are quite powerless. Hussein Bey . . . reckons that there are only at Surmeneh [alone] about 5,000 Martini rifles with plenty of ammunition in the hands of the population, which is very warlike, and considers that nothing can be done without the assistance of some local Bey. He states that a certain Bazoglou Djafer Aga is all powerful, and that through him the culprits may be apprehended. It may be so, if they do not belong to his clan, but I doubt that he will ever give up relatives or friends.
Biliotti knew that the "Beys and Aghas" in the eastern districts were of a special character in that they enjoyed a more substantial backing of the local populations. Still, he could not identify their significance as the representatives of an alternative governmental morality. For Biliotti, collusion of state officials and local elites was everywhere a manifestation of the same scandal of misgovernment, even if it took a somewhat different form in the east and the west. And it is his knowledge of another, seemingly unrelated, scandal that confirms this prejudice.
The Scandal of Christians who were Muslims
The proliferation of country hodjas and medreses was another peculiar feature of the eastern districts. So the excess of hodjas and medreses was a characteristic of precisely those districts where collusion between local elites and state officials was backed by a substantial cross-section of the population. But Biliotti felt no compulsion to ponder this correlation. It was just another isolated fact rather than a piece of a puzzle that might be deciphered. He never considered a possible connection between aghas and agha-families, who appeared to subvert the centralized government, and the hodjas and medreses, who represented the official Islam of the centralized government.
Biliotti had occasion to mention the hodjas and medreses in 1885 in a study of the system of education in the province of Trabzon. The following excerpt is given without lacunae:
These are indeed remarkable facts, for the account seems almost to explode from the tension of contrary tendencies. According to Biliotti, the populations in the eastern districts were almost all Muslim, in contrast to other parts of the coastal region. On the other hand, this had not always been the case, since they still spoke older Byzantine languages among themselves and still preserved Christian scriptures, vestments, and relics. And yet, at the same time, they were now among the most "fanatical" of the Muslims in all the province, having come to know Turkish thoroughly and to specialize in Islamic teaching and learning. On the other hand, these accomplishments notwithstanding, the many hodjas and medreses that existed in the eastern districts had no apparent effect on morals whatsoever, since the peoples of the eastern districts specialized in robbery and homicide. All told, these signs of having used their former accomplishments as Byzantines for the purpose of new accomplishments as Ottomans were to no avail. For one could not say what the function of hodjas and medreses should have been, save to enable the residents of the eastern districts to avoid conscription (in that part of the province, which had always provided large numbers of soldiers for the Porte) and to encourage hostility toward Christians (which, however, were virtually nonexistent in their district). If Biliotti's superiors believed this section of his consular report, they would believe anything.
The number of medressés [higher religious academies] is especially great eastward of Trebizond.
The majority of the inhabitants of these districts are the descendants of Byzantines who began to embrace Islamism about 150 years since [1885 - 150 = 1735]. Numerous medressés may have been necessary at that period for the purpose of instructing proselytes, but their usefulness is no longer apparent. One of the present undeniable results of these institutions is to enable the youths attending them to evade conscription. Another probable result is to entertain a feeling of hostility toward Christians at large, for hardly any live in these districts. Furthermore no progress seems to be made in good moral[s], as the native population eastward of Trebizond is more addicted to brigandage and murder than in any other part of the Vilayet. Not withstanding their so thoroughly learning the Turkish language, they continue to use in familiar intercourse, a corrupt Greek dialect called Lazico, of which I shall speak later. Another remarkable fact is that with all their fanaticism they still stick to Christian Customs and traditions, and that the families that furnished Christian priests in bygone time, are those in which the greater number of mollahs [hodjas] are to be found.
They preserve with reverence their sacred books, the sacerdotal vestments and emblems of their forefathers and put the greatest faith in their healing power. They impose the former on sick persons and to drink in a communion cup is reserved as the last hope of recovery in desperate cases of disease. Pilgrimages with offerings in a renowned Byzantine monastery, that of Soumela, at 8 hours distance from Trebizond, dedicated to the Virgin, are not unknown occurrences. But in spite, or perhaps, because of all this, the Mussulmans Eastward of Trebizond, especially those of Off, are the most fanatical in this vilayet. [Italics mine]
At the time he was writing, Biliotti was completing the final year of a long tenure of service in the Trabzon. So he was as fully informed and experienced as he ever would be during his residence there. The incoherence of his remarks can therefore be taken as a measure of how little he had reflected on the character of society and state in the province of Trabzon. In this respect, he was no different from other British and French consuls of the later nineteenth century. The local elites of the outlying coastal districts had not posed a serious military threat to the central government for decades. Consular officials therefore had no reason to pay attention to either the aghas or to the hodjas. Accordingly, with the passage of time, they understood less and less, rather than more and more, about the ottomanist provincial society of Trabzon.
On the other hand, Biliotti was not an ordinary consul, and he was not submitting a routine report. He was exceptionally well informed about the coastal districts, and he was writing a lengthy treatise on the system of education in the province. Even if he was never inclined to analyze the general character of Ottoman society, he usually gave examples of incidents or individuals to illustrate specific points. So the incoherence of his account of the eastern districts deserves closer attention; for, despite its internal contradictions, the cited passage does feature a certain consistency. Biliotti pretends to be reporting on all the eastern districts, but he is actually passing along a collection of rumors and slanders regarding the district of Of alone. Moreover, these rumors and slanders would have been most current among the Christian minorities, and especially the Greek Orthodox minority. The clearest indication of this is his reference to a mass conversion that resulted in Greeks becoming Muslims. This clue requires that I qualify my preceding remarks.
While the consuls had ignored the rural societies of the province of Trabzon for decades, the eastern coastal districts had recently captured public attention once again. I have noted that new concepts of government were spreading among an emergent Ottoman citizenry during the last decades of the nineteenth century. Among the Christian minorities, and especially among the Greek Orthodox minority, these new concepts included nationalist ideologies. From the mid-nineteenth century, the Orthodox Greek population in the old province of Trabzon had prospered and expanded, partly as the result of immigration into the coastal region from the Aegean. And given the existence of an independent Greece, nationalist sympathies and movements had naturally gained ground in Trabzon, stirring memories of the Ottoman conquest of the Greek Empire of Trebizond. Inevitably, the existence of Greek-speaking Muslims in the district of Of became a subject of nationalist reflection.
How could a Christian majority ever come to abandon their religion and become a Muslim majority? The question had always bothered the Christians in Trabzon. For a very long time, perhaps for centuries, they had explained every instance of a large Muslim population of Byzantine background by a specific mythic formula. Some eminent leader in this or that district must have turned away from Christianity, and led his unfortunate followers into Islam, for the sole purpose of enjoying a personal advantage, that is, to gain official Ottoman favor. In the instance of the Lazis between Atine and Hopa, it had been "Prince Lazerew." In the instance of the Greeks of Of, it had been "Bishop İİskender." So a concept of high apostasy and perfidy, referring back perhaps to the traumatic surrender of the Byzantines of Trebizond to Mehmet II, had also required a thesis of mass conversion. But now in the later nineteenth century, when Biliotti was writing, the question of how Christians had become Muslims had begun to disturb the minorities in a different way. How could peoples who were not really "Turks," but rather Greeks or Armenians or Georgians, become Muslims? Such questions were provoked by a nationalist rather than a religious anxiety. For the minorities, this was also a scandal, no less than government corruption.
From the later 1860s, western European observers, and more notably their informants from the Greek Orthodox minority, attempted to minimize or controvert the relationship of the district of Of to the Ottoman system, especially in regard to the matter of Islam. They did so at the very moment when information about the extent of religious teaching and learning in the district was newly available as a matter of public record. According to the Trabzon yearbook (salname) for 1869/1286, there were 82 professors (müderris) and 2,364 students (talebe) in the district of Of. These numbers are completely out of proportion to its relative population. The district is recorded as having about five percent of the Muslim population (six thousand households) living in all the villages and towns of the entire coastal region from Batum to Bafra, that is, the combined sub-provinces (sancak) of Trabzon, Canıık, Lazistan, and Gümüşhane. Nonetheless, more than half of all the religious academies, more than a quarter of all the religious teachers, and more than a third of all the religious students of the entire region are officially attributed to this single district.
By the logic of the new nationalist ideologies among the Greek Orthodox minority, all these professors, academies, and students became evidence of alienation from, not connection with, imperial institutions (see fig. 9). In 1885, Biliotti referred to the two most popular interpretations of this alienation, both of which had been current among the minorities for years: (1) The hodjas and medreses of Of were evidence of a past Byzantinism, not a present ottomanism, since they were to be found among families that had once produced Orthodox priests and still preserved Christian sacred books and sacerdotal instruments. By this interpretation, the hodjas and medreses, which were so strongly associated with a strict and literal version of official Islam, are transformed into evidence of the vitality of an underlying Christianity. (2) The extraordinary number of hodjas and medreses in the district of Of were evidence of the evasion of military service, hence a sign of the lack of commitment to the Ottoman system on the part of the population. By this interpretation, the hodjas and medreses, which were predominant in those districts known for contributing large numbers of troops to imperial campaigns, became evidence of disaffection from imperial military projects and ideals.
Figure 9. One of several imperial mosques decorating a village mosque.
Of the two ways of distancing the Oflus from the Empire, the charge that hodjas and medreses were merely devices to avoid conscription has to be taken seriously. Toward the close of the seventeenth century, large numbers of Oflus had become either irregular soldiers or religious students, and, probably in many instances, both at the same time. So from an early date there was always a connection and coordination between the military and religious engagements of the populations in the eastern coastal districts. The intimate and necessary connection between aghas and hodjas, however, was not without tension and conflict. The relationship of the officials of the imperial military and religious establishments was institutionally regulated. The relationship of the aghas and hodjas in the coastal districts, both of them interlopers in the imperial military and religious establishments, was less regulated and more competitive. In other words, the colonization of the military and religious establishments worked by a logic entirely different from the institutional integration of the two establishments within the imperial system.
For example, the Oflus who identified themselves with the imperial military establishment were different from the Oflus who identified themselves primarily with the imperial religious establishment. Those villagers who became irregular soldiers participated in the social networks and coastal coalitions of the aghas and agha-families. Those villagers who were engaged in religious teaching and learning were potential migrants interested in escaping the aghas and agha-families. So the relationship of aghas and hodjas was always variable, and, in some respects, always troubled. As the documents transcribed by Umur demonstrate, a newly emergent complex of aghas and mansions came into direct and tragic conflict with an already existing complex of hodjas and medreses, most dramatically in Paçan village during the year 1737/1150. This was the occasion when irregular soldiers, led by individuals who would eventually establish family lines, were accused of murdering forty religious professors and students and destroying large numbers of books and registers. From this date, it would seem almost certain that the system of aghas and mansions had dominated and subjugated the hodjas and medreses in all the eastern districts.
But this situation began to shift in 1826 with the abolition of the janissary institution. According to Hasan Umur, official registers show an immediate change in the district of Of that is directly correlated with the abolition of the janissary institution. During the course of two decades (1826/1240–1844/1260), prayer-leaders and sermon-givers are granted appointments (berat) to serve in mosques in virtually every village in the district. Umur interprets the flurry of permits as a sign of increased security brought about by the central government's Reordering (Tanzimat) of 1839–76. Although his information seems significant, his conclusion does not necessarily follow. It is doubtful that there was much change in security within the district of Of itself. After all, the Reordering was not applied to Trabzon until 1846 or 1847, that is, after the flurry of permits.39 The aghas would continue to give patronage to armed followings, and the villages would continue to bristle with Martini rifles throughout the nineteenth century. Thus, it would seem that the flurry of permits is a harbinger of the reorientation of the population away from military and toward religious occupations. Probably from the time of the abolition of the janissary institution, imaming had begun to take the place of soldiering as the principal mode of imperial involvement and participation in the district of Of.
After Sultan Abdülhamit II ascended the throne, an imperial policy of pan-Islamism further served to stimulate religious teaching and learning in the district of Of. By the report of British consul Palgrave, resident of Trabzon during the 1870s, the hodjas and medreses in the district of Of, like the sultan himself, had come under the influence of the Wahhâbî movement in Arabia. And by a contemporary tradition in the district itself, the Oflus were first contacted by representatives of the Nakşibendi and Kaderi religious orders sometime during the Hamidian period. This was the period when the Oflus turned to religious teaching and learning by the thousands. They did so not only to exempt themselves from military service, but also to take advantage of new career prospects. The Oflus had less to gain from a military profession or hobby and so, evading conscription, directed their attention toward a religious profession or hobby.
The Learned Class from the Eastern Districts
A recent study indirectly tells us something more about the distinctive orientation of the Oflus toward religious teaching and learning during the late nineteenth century. Sadıık Albayrak, an independent scholar from the district of Çaykara, published a four-volume work consisting of transcriptions of the official biographies of the Ottoman learned class during the final years of the Empire. Using his index, which lists the birthplace of each individual, I was able to arrive at a count of the number of individuals who were listed among the Ottoman learned class for particular locations. Table 3 presents the counts for the principal coastal districts of Trabzon, for two mountain districts of Antalya (Akseki and Ibradıı), and for Istanbul. The counts provide a rough indication of how many individuals from each location had become officially recognized as members of the Ottoman learned class. The locations are grouped in order to illustrate how the counts vary in different regions: eastern Black Sea, western Black Sea, Mediterranean Sea, and the capital.
|3. Individuals Listed among Ottoman Learned Class, by District and Region|
|Eastern Black Sea||Western Black Sea||Mediterranean Sea||Capital|
By the counts, the number of individuals born in the district of Of who appear among the learned class is relatively high, but not as high as for other eastern Black Sea coastal districts. Since the numbers of religious professors, academies, and students in Of would have surpassed all the other districts cited by far (save for the imperial capital itself), this means that a relatively small number of those Oflus who took up religious studies were able to rise into the Ottoman learned class.
The contrast between the districts of Arhavi and Of illustrates how the inhabitants of coastal districts with fewer religious professors, students, and academies than Of produced more members of the learned class. From Albayrak's study, we discover that some fraction of the learned class born in Arhavi did receive their early education in its local centers of religious studies. On the other hand, many others did not begin their early education until after they left Arhavi to reside in Istanbul. In effect, the Arhavilis were more successful than the Oflus in leaving their mountain homelands and seeking their fortune in the capital.
Comparing the eastern and western districts of the Black Sea coast, we see that the inhabitants of the former were far more successful than the latter in rising into the Ottoman learned class. This is consistent with the relative differences in the relationship of society and state in these two regions. To the east, the Muslims consisted more nearly of a melange of peoples of Turkic, Lazi, Kurdish, Greek, and Armenian background. Although their districts had been almost entirely rural in character until the late nineteenth century, a more continuous history of local participation in the imperial system resulted in large numbers of individuals among the ranks of the Ottoman learned class. To the west, the Muslims consisted of a larger proportion of Turkic peoples of pastoral background. Even though there were a number of sizable towns, the Muslims in these districts did not have the same history of local participation in the imperial system and so they were less prominent among the Ottoman learned class.
A further comparison casts still a different light on this matter. Akseki and Ibradıı are districts nestled in the upper valleys of the Toros Mountains, which run along the southern tier of Asia Minor. The landscape in which the villages are located is hilly and forested, and historically there were no farming estates or land magnates in this area. The district centers were stops on the caravan routes running from the shoreline through the mountain passes to the important provincial center of Konya. Many of the inhabitants of these districts became migrant traders and craftsmen, leaving their villages seasonally to work in towns and cities. In other words, Akseki and Ibradıı were much like Of, save that they were located in the Mediterranean province of Antalya rather than the Black Sea province of Trabzon. Like their eastern Black Sea cousins, the residents of Ibradıı and Akseki were propelled by circumstances to seek their fortunes beyond their rural homelands. As in the eastern Black Sea districts, these two Mediterranean districts once produced large numbers of professors, academies, and students.
And yet, there is a striking difference between the Mediterranean and Black Sea districts in this regard. The number of the Ottoman learned class who declare Akseki and Ibradıı as their birthplace or homeland is very high. The numbers involved are comparable to all the learned class of all the eastern Black Sea coastal districts taken together, or even to all the learned class of Istanbul. Ibradıı and Akseki are then two striking additional examples of provincial participation in the state society and system, only by a different path and in a different way. There were large numbers of professors, academies, and students in Akseki and Ibradıı during the late nineteenth century, to a degree that was comparable to Of. Still, the Aksekilis and Ibradıılııs were far more successful in entering the ranks of Ottoman religious, military, and administrative officials. The reason for this appears to lie in their very early contacts with the imperial center, a fact Evliya Çelebi took the trouble to point out. From a very early date, no later than the classical Ottoman period, the inhabitants of these two small Mediterranean districts were unusually well connected in the ranks of Ottoman officialdom, despite their remoteness. Over time, moreover, they were able to preserve and cultivate these connections so that the two towns, even though agriculturally impoverished, were recognized as centers of both learning and wealth by state authorities during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. These long-standing connections with individuals in high imperial positions were probably essential for maintaining the quality, if not the quantity, of local educational activities. And, of course, they must have also played an important role in providing access into high imperial circles as one generation of successful Ibradıılııs and Aksekilis gave assistance to the next.
The peoples of the district of Of, like those in the districts of Akseki and Ibradıı, were also obliged by their circumstances to seek their fortune through participation in a state society and system. On the other hand, their situation was very different from their Mediterranean cousins. The district of Of had remained outside the realm of the Turco-Islamic dynasties of Asia Minor for a much longer time. Its inhabitants included many newly converted peoples during the seventeenth century. As newcomers, they were at a disadvantage. They would not have had contacts among circles of higher imperial officials. They therefore would have had more difficulty working their way into circles of higher imperial officials. So they did not have what the Aksekilis and Ibradıılııs had: representatives among higher imperial officials who endowed local religious establishments and sponsored local youths of promise. What the Oflus had instead was collective experience in penetrating a state system from its margins.
During the post-classical period, the Oflus set about colonizing imperial institutions wherever and whenever they could do so. As a consequence of this mode of entry, the Oflus were remarkably successful on the ground floor of imperial institutions, so to speak, in the same measure that the Aksekilis and Ibradıılııs were successful at the top floor. In the district of Of, one discovers all the ways in which people at the margins of the Empire could better themselves through a strategy of identifying with a state society and system rather than resting content with purely local communal identities and occupations. Religious teaching and learning were therefore popular activities in the district of Of precisely in the measure that involvement in the outside world was the local way of life. Religious teaching and learning were fused with the practice of trades and crafts precisely because acquisition of the former was the precondition for the exercise of the latter in the towns and villages of a state society and system.
Through the nineteenth century and beyond, the local elites of the eastern coastal districts adapted themselves to the westernizing state system. The aghas and agha-families remained essential to the state system since they were still necessary for carrying out the most elementary governmental functions at the local level. The hodjas and medreses remained essential to the state system given the policy of building an Islamist population for the support of the imperial regime. By this combination, the military and religious foundations of an ottomanist rural society remained in place until the very end of the imperial regime. Again, it is the district of Of, homeland of so many soldiers and students, that provides one of the best examples of how this was so.
Memoirs of Günday
The problem of misgovernment by local elites and district officials was probably especially severe in the early 1880s, as a consequence of the recent Russo-Ottoman War. A little more than a decade later, when Biliotti had left Trabzon for an assignment in Crete, a new provincial governor appears to have reigned in the regional social oligarchy. Kadri Bey (1893–1903) did not bring about a definitive change in the structure of political authority. Rather, by the classic measures of a strong provincial governor—reprisal and intimidation, combined with appointments and concessions—he "rectified" and "improved" (ııslah) the local elites and district officials. But then, upon his sudden death in office, there was a deterioration of governmental authority, just as there had been upon the death of Süleyman Pasha (1818) and Osman Pasha (1842).
At the time, British consul Longworth described conditions in the town of Trabzon in terms that bring to mind the consular reports of Fourcade and Dupré a century earlier. The town of Trabzon, he tells us, is divided into factions led by two family lines, the Kahyaoğlu and Hacııoğlu, such that "lawlessness has become rampant." There are "rowdies in the streets" who "fight wherever they meet." They use "their firearms freely to the danger of those around." A young Kahyaoğlu who had shot a policeman was "freed by the gendarmes," and "no one will bear witness" against the troublemakers. These civil disorders were not entirely restricted to the province of Trabzon. The Ottoman Empire was drifting toward the Young Turk revolution of 1908. The repeated failure to address the problem of misgovernment was leading Ottoman officials and citizens to draw more radical conclusions about the steps necessary for governmental reform. One such Ottoman official and citizen would eventually cite the district of Of as a case in point.
When the revolution of the Young Turks occurred in 1908, it was accompanied in the province of Trabzon by demonstrations against governmental corruption and incompetence. Large crowds assembled before government buildings in each of the coastal districts to express their outrage. Fearing for their personal safety, district officials deserted their posts, leaving much of the province of Trabzon without any kind of governmental authority. Faik Hurşid Günday was an advisor to the governor and resident of the capital at the time. As he recalled years later in his memoirs, he was asked to investigate and resolve an especially serious incident in the district of Of, where two local parties were on the brink of armed conflict.
According to reports, the district officer (kaymakam) of Of was supported by one group of local aghas, while the municipal mayor of Of, Hasan Efendi Selimoğlu, was supported by another group of local aghas. Each of the two opposed parties had called on their followers to assemble in the district center (kasaba), and some seven or eight hundred men in arms from the villages had responded.
Günday had been asked by the governor to mediate between the two parties and restore the peace, just as countless other state officials had been obliged to mediate among the competing local elites during the period of decentralization. In his memoirs, he describes how, in the company of just two gendarmes, he set out from the capital by horseback and reached the district after a half-day's ride:
Günday had come to the district of Of to "rectify" or "improve" (ııslah) the aghas, that is, to put them back in their proper places, not to suppress or disperse them. He lectures them specifically on the point of having taken up arms against one another and orders them to "put their affairs in order in accordance with their position" as local elites who represent the peoples of the district. There will be no mention of criminal charges or proceedings during his visit, most assuredly not by an official who had but two gendarmes at his side in a district that had only recently mobilized as many as eight hundred men.
I went to the government building and entered the office of the district officer. The government building was a rented house in a state of ruin with stairs that were broken down, dirty, and disgusting. Afterward I received the aghas from the two sides. I told them I had no idea that there were armed characters such as they in the district of Of and that they should put their affairs in order in accordance with their position. When the news of my arrival and the resignation of the district officer spread, the two opposed sides sent all their men back to the villages. [Italics mine]
Günday provides a sketch of the district such as he came to know it during two and a half months residence as acting district officer. The following citation is given without lacunae:
The conditions Günday was describing were a more or less corrupted version of the form of local government officially instituted by Osman Pasha. The illegal practices of the aghas of Of were not really that far from legal practices in force from 1834 to 1847.
I saw that the dominion of "agha-ness" (ağalıık) was everywhere in existence in Of, in a stronger and more powerful form [than elsewhere].
Of these, the Solaklıı Valley aghas were from the Selimoğlu, the most powerful family in Of. In the second place, there were the Baltacıı Valley aghas from the so-called Muradoğlu, as well as other aghas like Osman Vehbioğlu and Tellioğlu. The villages of these aghas were in places distant from the district center (kasaba), but all of them had salons (oda) in the district center, and all of them resided in these salons.
In these salons they were all as it were in the position of being like a [nonofficial] government (hükümet) for each of their separate areas (mııntııka). The aghas served as intermediaries between the official government and the villagers who belonged to them, such as in the instance of the marrying of boys and girls. The aghas exacted charges and bribes in accordance with the means of each man or the task in hand. I also established that they collected an "agha-ness" contribution (ağalıık aidatıı) each year in their villages.
Günday next mentions the existence of seventy medreses in the district of Of, adding that almost everyone was a student. He then goes on to describe the collusion between the local aghas and almost all the district officials, including the head of the accounting office, the head of the census office, and the judge's representative, in the following terms:
Günday gives specific examples of the way that an "embezzlement commission" (irtikap komisyonu) extracted money in the instance of fees paid for exemption from military service, the registration of deeds, and so on. We can assume that the "embezzlement commission" was probably standard practice both before and after the period of decentralization. It was one more way in which practices of the central government had been locally appropriated and adapted.
In Of, with the intervention of these aghas, and including almost all the civil servants, there was a battle over these bribes. The two-headed revolt that had broken out in the affair involving district officer Celal Bey was precisely because of these bribes.
I also learned other things. Except for the mayor of the municipality, Hasan Efendi Selimoğlu, and his supporters . . . , a very sizable association collected money from every businessman who came to the government. This association included . . . the district officer Celal Bey, the administrative assembly members, Ferhat Selimoğlu, and Hasan Efendi Muradoğlu, along with a number of civil servants like the census official. Acting together in this matter, they then divided the money among themselves.
Hoping to abolish these practices, Günday ordered the salons of some of the aghas to be closed and the bribery to cease. In response to these measures, one of the aghas told him he was going to the British consul for assistance. Another agha told him that the bribes were the "bread" of the aghas, and he was taking their "bread" from them. Eventually the mayor, Hasan Efendi Selimoğlu, showed Günday an order sent down by a previous provincial governor (Kadri Bey) calling for the salons of the aghas to be shut and the aghas themselves banished to their respective villages (that is, removed at a safe distance from the government but otherwise not punished). So Günday was doing in Of what Kadri Bey had done in Of just a few years before. And Kadri Bey had done in all of Trabzon more or less what Osman Pasha had done in all of Trabzon before him. Get the aghas out of the district government. Destroy their mansions or close down their salons. Send them back to their villages. Require them to serve the government as they should: "Put your affairs in order in accordance with your position."
Günday concludes his remarks with a negative assessment of what he or anyone else could have accomplished under the imperial regime. After the declaration of the Constitution of 1908, he tells us, there were no real changes, either in Of or in any other of the coastal districts of the province of Trabzon. All along the coastal region the old local elites (eşraf) and usurpers (mütegallibe), such as he had encountered in the district of Of, stayed in place by registering themselves as members of the new dominant party of the new constitutional revolution, the Union and Progress Committee. In other words, his mission to the district of Of was inevitably a failure. He had temporarily "rectified" or "improved" (ııslah) the aghas of Of, but no real structural change had taken place.
Some years later, Günday would participate in the nationalist movement. He served as the governor of the province of Sivas. He represented the army in the National Assembly. His memoirs were written still later, sometime during his retirement in the 1950s. His account of the aghas and agha-families of Of should therefore be read as a retrospective account. When Günday points to what could not be accomplished in the district of Of in 1908, he is almost certainly thinking of what he felt had been accomplished later during the first decades of the Turkish Republic. He insisted on the failure of an imperial policy of reform, for which he himself had worked, because he was convinced of the success of the nationalist movement and revolution in which he had become so deeply involved some years later. By the later prescriptions of Kemalism, which Günday would have most certainly espoused, it would not be enough to westernize the state system while hoping that social thinking and practice would follow along. It would be necessary to reinvent both the state and social systems at the same time.
1. My account of the first constitutional period follows Lewis (1961, 160-64). [BACK]
2. See Lewis's (1961, 164–65) quotation of the Istanbul correspondent of the Daily News. [BACK]
3. Cf. Hourani 1974, 73-74. [BACK]
4. The first printing press in Trabzon was established by the provincial government in 1869. The government printing house published official y earbooks (salname) and an official newspaper from that date. The first private newspaper did not appear in Trabzon until 1908 (Odabaşııoğlu 1987; Birinci 1989). [BACK]
5. See Issawi 1970. The transit trade at Trabzon begins to decline after the opening of the Suez Canal (1869) and the completion of the railroad from Tiblis to Teheran (circa 1870). [BACK]
6. In PRO FO 195/261, Jan. 1846, Fr. Stevens anticipates application of the Reordering (Tanzimat) in Trabzon. Bilgin (1990, 164) dates the application of the Tanzimat in the province of Trabzon to 1847. [BACK]
7. Beginning with the first in 1869 and continuing into the 1900s, Ottoman yearbooks regularly described an array of public representatives and institutions that reached out from the provincial capital into these district towns. [BACK]
8. See the Ottoman yearbook of 1869/1286 (Emiroğlu 1993, vol. 1). [BACK]
9. Biliotti would have almost certainly known Italian, French, and Greek as well as English. He should have known Turkish, too, but I am less certain of his fluency. He also served as a consular official in Crete from 1885 to 1899 and in Salonica until his retirement to Rhodes in 1903. David Barchard tells me that Wyndham Graves, Biliotti's consular successor in Crete, considered him to be a native of Rhodes. [BACK]
10. The British government favored institutional change as a means for protecting the interests of the Christian minorities as well as for insuring the stability of the Ottoman Empire. The Foreign Office had been displeased when Sultan Abdülhamit II exiled Mithat Pasha and dissolved the parliament. Subsequently, the Foreign Office had probably instructed its representatives to gather information about injustices so that a case for reform might be pressed upon the Hamidian regime. [BACK]
11. Biliotti initially attributes the problems in the district of Ordu to a specific cause, the Laz immigrants who had been newly settled there after the conclusion of the recent war with the Russians. But then he goes on to broaden his remarks to apply to all the "Beys and Aghas" of Ordu (PRO FO 195/1329, May 12, 1880). [BACK]
12. Ibid. Biliotti also discusses abuses at Pir Aziz in this same report, and abuses at Giresun and its sub-district, Bulancak, in a subsequent report (PRO FO 195/1329, May 14, 1880). [BACK]
13. The later British and French consuls did not normally undertake such expeditions. They had little interest in the coastal districts after the "pacification" of the local elites during the 1830s. As the treatment of the minorities became a diplomatic issue, they began to think once again of the coastal districts, but very few consuls submitted themselves to the ordeal of visiting the more remote rural areas by horseback. William Gifford Palgrave, Biliotti's predecessor, was, however, another exception among the later consuls. He also left the provincial capital, traveled extensively throughout the coastal region, and submitted lengthy, heavily documented descriptions of the coastal region (PRO FO 195/812, Jan. 1868, "General Report"; No. 19, Mar. 20, 1868; PRO FO 526/8, Jan. 29, 1873, "On the Lazistan Coast . . ."; Palgrave 1887). Palgrave's consular reports include a wealth of statistical information, gleaned from official Ottoman documents, but very little reliable information about political and social conditions in the coastal districts. They are marred by prejudice against both the Muslims and Christians. For doubts about Palgrave's accounts of Trabzon, see Bryer 1969, 193, and especially Bryer 1988. [BACK]
14. However, Biliotti eventually writes a report that presents an overview of the province of Trabzon in which he reaches general conclusions about its social conditions (PRO FO 195/1329, No. 64, Dec. 1880). [BACK]
15. Biliotti's consular reports, written from 1880 forward, are consistent with three major sociological patterns in different parts of the coastal region. The patterns and their sources follow: 1) Along the coast to the west of Ordu toward Samsun (the old province of Canıık) he found vast farming estates, some of them spin-offs of the lands of the Hazinedaroğlu. Here the local elites were often large landowners who formed a kind of government by themselves. Their sharecroppers were often "life tenants," little more than serfs who were bought and sold with the land. See PRO FO 195/1329, No. 38, Aug. 1880 at Çarşamba, describing eastern Çarşamba; No. 30, Aug. 1880 at Fatsa, describing the coast from Fatsa to Ordu; No. 32, Aug. 1880 at Ünye, describing Fatsa; No. 33, Aug. 1880 at Ünye, describing Ünye. 2) Along the coast east of Trabzon toward Hopa, which Biliotti knew about only indirectly, his reports indicate that local elites were members of large family groupings who were positioned in district social networks. State officials were often more or less completely dependent on such individuals, even for carrying out the most elementary tasks of government. See PRO FO 195/1238, Jan. 23, 1879; 195/1381, No. 54, Sept. 1881; 195/1381, No. 33, Nov. 1881; 195/1420, No. 27, June 1882. 3) Along the intermediary coast, from Trabzon to Ordu, the local elites were more variable in their character. In those places where there were plains along the coastline, local elites resembled the landowners of the western coast, while the conditions of their sharecroppers were sometimes better and sometimes worse. In other places, the local elites were from large family groupings that combined to dominate rural areas as along the eastern coast. In still other places, local elites were prominent townsmen who had been able to permeate district governments with their friends and relatives. See PRO FO 195/1329, No. 34, Aug. 1880 at Çarşamba, describing Terme; No. 30, Aug. 1880 at Fatsa, describing Ordu; No. 45, Oct. 1880 at Çarşamba, describing Pir Aziz, sub-district of Giresun; No. 45, Oct. 1880 at Çarşamba, describing Bulancak, sub-district of Giresun; No. 48, Oct. 1880 at Görele, describing Tirebolu; No. 49, Oct. 1880 at Vakfııkebir, describing Görele. [BACK]
16. Also see his comment on the district officer (kaymakam) at Ünye (PRO FO 195/1329, No. 33, Aug. 1880 at Ünye, describing Ünye, and PRO FO 195/1329, No. 48, Oct. 1880 at Görele, describing Tirebolu). [BACK]
17. See Biliotti's comments on Mithat Bey at Sürmene (PRO FO 195/1238, Jan. 23, 1879). [BACK]
18. The other two governors he mentions are Ahmet Rasim Pasha and Giritli Sıırrıı Pasha. See Deringil (1998) for an in-depth study of the political outlook of high Ottoman officials during this period. [BACK]
19. PRO FO 195/1329, No. 50, Oct. 1880. [BACK]
20. Ibid. [BACK]
21. PRO FO 195/1329, No. 64, Dec. 1880. [BACK]
22. Ibid. [BACK]
23. Ibid. [BACK]
24. Ibid. [BACK]
25. David Barchard, quoting the memoirs of Wyndham Graves, has recently given me evidence of Biliotti's close contacts with Christians during that later period. [BACK]
26. The consular report cited above, in which Biliotti expresses his confusion about the role of the feudal lords in old Trabzon, indicates how little attention he had given to provincial Muslim society during seven years of residence in the coastal region. [BACK]
27. PRO FO 195/1381, No. 54, Dec. [or possibly Sept.] 1881. [BACK]
28. Ibid. [BACK]
29. See note 15, above, summarizing the sociological patterns of local elites, which can be inferred from Biliotti's consular reports. [BACK]
30. PRO FO 195/1521, "Report on the Schools in the Vilayet of Trebizond," May 1885. [BACK]
31. Another indication is Biliotti's reference to brigandage and murder, charges that were usually leveled against the Oflus. In MAE CCCT L.2 (1812–24), No. 74, Feb. 1819, "Off, the refuge of brigands"; Fontanier (1834, 293–94) writes, "its inhabitants as well as those of Sürmene are reputed to be great robbers, but have the advantage over the latter of being fearless pirates as well." Koch (1855: 110–11) writes, "In all the mountains, the land of Off is the most feared and avoided because of brigandage." [BACK]
32. Fontanier (1834, 299) mentions the tradition of Prince Lazerew for Mapavria. [BACK]
33. Fontanier (1834, 299) mentions the tradition of Bishop ııskender for Of but does not give his name. [BACK]
34. For the first attestations of many professors, academies, and students in the district of Of, see chap. 5. Attestations from the nineteenth century are abundant. Şakir Şevket (1877/1294, 98) notes that the district of Of was known for having produced many men of the learned class (ulema). See Karadenizli (1954, 45), more readily available, for a translation of Şakir Şevket's passage on the district of Of. British consul in Trabzon W. G. Palgrave writes, "It is curious that no district of Anatolia furnishes so large a number of Mollas and Muftees that is of Professors and Legists as Of, nor I must add such ignorant and narrow mindedness" (PRO FO 526/8, Jan. 29, 1873, "On the Lazistan Coast. . . ."). Trabzon yearbooks, including the first published in 1869/1286, state that the district of Of was famous for its many professors, academies, and students. [BACK]
35. The Trabzon yearbook for 1869/1286 (Emiroğlu 1993, 1: 150–51) lists the total number of students (miktar-i talebe-i ulum), academies (medâris-i ilmiye), prayer-leaders (eimme), sermon-givers (huteba), and professors (müderrisîn) for each district of the province of Trabzon. For the district of Of, these numbers are 2,364, 350 [?], 98, 137, and 82, respectively. By way of comparison, the corresponding numbers for the sancak of Trabzon (coastal districts from Rize to Giresun) were 4654, 435, 576, 946, and 170, so that Of made up more than half of the total number of students. The number of academies listed for Of is presumably a clerical error since it exceeds the total number of villages by severalfold. The number 35, rather than 350, would be in line with the other figures given in this and later Trabzon yearbooks. This would mean there were 35 academies in Of out of a total of 85 in the sancak of Trabzon, again roughly half. [BACK]
36. The Trabzon yearbook for 1888/1305 also lists the numbers of students, the official academies, and the names of the professors in each of the districts of Trabzon. On pages 127–31, the thirty-nine academies in the old district of Of are listed in order of their official number, from No. 134 to No. 172. Of these, eleven were in villages in what is now the district of Of, twenty-three were in villages in what is now the district of Çaykara, three were in the "Holo" villages that are now attached to Sürmene, and two are of unknown location. The total enrollment in the academies was given as 2,800. Umur (1949: 25–33) writes that there were probably about three to four thousand students in the academies of the old district of Of during the late Ottoman period. He lists nineteen villages with academies in the valley of the Baltacıı River alone (most now in Hayrat sub-district), only five of which appear on the official lists in the Trabzon yearbook for 1888/1305. He also names a professor who was associated with each of these academies and provides a short biographical sketch. [BACK]
37. The nineteenth-century reports of crypto-Christians generally refer to the Kurumlis—Christians officially registered as Muslims—who were settled in the upper districts of Sürmene and Trabzon rather than in Of (see chap. 5). The contemporary Oflus, like other Trabzonlus, believe in the curative powers of Christian priests and preserve Christian relics that they used as charms for cures. In the 1960s, during my residence in Of, I met observant and knowledgeable Muslims who showed me small interlocking silver ornaments, said to be useful as prophylactic devices, that they had purchased from Christian priests. [BACK]
38. Umur (1956, 16–17) fixes the period when many new permits were granted from 1825/1240 to 1844/1260. [BACK]
39. See note 6, above, referring to the application of the Reordering (Tanzimat) to Trabzon. [BACK]
40. My interlocutors in Of knew that registration as a religious teacher or student was a tactic for avoiding conscription, but they insisted that the main motive for such activities was social prestige and economic advantage rather than evasion of military service. However, Umur (1949, 28) mentions that the abolition of examinations during the later Ottoman period turned the religious academies into asylums for military deserters. [BACK]
41. Palgrave (1872, 130) writes, "Not the common people only, but many of the highest and best educated classes, even the Sultan himself among the number, are distinctly inclined toward the stricter school, and so are the principal doctors and teachers throughout the Ottoman East, as he will find who visits the 'Medresehs' at Of, Koniah, Damascus, Gaza, and even Mosool." [BACK]
42. See Cansıız (1948, 13) who also states that there were never any meeting places for religious brotherhoods (tekke) in Of; however, one such a meeting place is officially recorded in the Trabzon yearbook for 1869/1286. The number of meeting places for religious brotherhoods is unusually low in all the coastal districts east of Trabzon. The Trabzon yearbook for 1869/1286 lists none for Lazistan (Batum to Arhavi), twenty-six for Trabzon (from Rize to Bucak), and forty-eight for Canıık (Ünye to Bafra). Of the twenty-six in Trabzon, there were only three in the district of Rize, one in Of, and none in Sürmene. Cuinet (1890–95: vol. 1, 55, 64) counted only two tekke for all of the sancak of Trabzon, one each in Giresun and Tirebolu. Noting the low number of tekke in the coastal region, Bryer (1975: 141) concluded that the energies of the early missionary dervishes of Anatolia had been spent by the time that Trabzon was incorporated by the Ottomans. Alternatively, the low number of tekke might be interpreted as a sign of the preference for "official" as opposed to "charismatic" Islam by all the population of the coastal region. [BACK]
43. The title of his study can be translated as "The Last Period of the Ottoman Learned Class" (1980–81). It is based on the biographies of hundreds of officials whose birth dates usually occur sometime during the nineteenth century. The biographies themselves sometimes add further details about educational background. Albayrak notes that he was unable to consult all the biographies since many had been destroyed or were in poor condition. Thus, the counts in table 3 are only a rough indication and cannot be considered definitive. [BACK]
44. The counts might conceivably underestimate the extent to which centers of religious study in Of contributed to the religious education of members of the Ottoman learned class, wherever they may have b een born. Some of the learned class may have in fact received some of their religious education in its centers of religious study even though they were not born there. This would probably not have been a significant number, however, since the Oflus themselves were not able to rise into the learned class in large numbers. [BACK]
45. Some went to Sürmene, where the teacher in the local religious academy would probably have been an Oflu. Some of those who went to Istanbul may have also received lessons from an Oflu teaching in one of the great mosques. [BACK]
46. These two districts have usually been part of a coastal Mediterranean province, such as Alanya or Antalya. Ibradıı is now a sub-district (nahiye) of the district (kaza) of Akseki in the province (vilayet) of Antalya. [BACK]
47. So far as I can determine, Ibradıı and Akseki were never known as recruiting grounds for irregular soldiers as were Rize, Of, and Sürmene. [BACK]
48. I was able to visit the town of Akseki very briefly during 1967 and 1968. Although it was a remote mountain district, I was particularly impressed with the gracious appearance of its houses and streets. In fact, I chose not to use this town as a site for a second study because its residents seemed so educated and sophisticated. This was a mistake that I have since sorely regretted. The comparison of Of and Akseki would have been a fascinating exercise. [BACK]
49. In the census of 1878/1295 there were fifty religious academies attributed to the district of Akseki, which included the sub-district of Ibradıı (Özkaynak 1954, 43). [BACK]
50. Özkaynak (1954, 123–79) mentions that they were as successful in becoming military and administrative officials as religious officials. [BACK]
51. Evliya Çelebi refers to a connection between Ibradıı and one or more Şeyh- ül-ııslâm in Istanbul during the later seventeenth century (Özkaynak 1954, 10, 100; Selekler 1960, 82). There is also a tradition that the Şeyh-ül-ııslâm Minqârî-zâde Yahya Efendi was associated with Akseki. Uğur's (1986, xliv, 450–52) summary of the official biography of this man includes no mention of this; however, he does note that he sponsored many individuals wishing to enter the upper ranks of the ulema. [BACK]
52. Özkaynak 1954, 100–101. A number of large mansions were built in the town by individuals with official connections at this time. [BACK]
53. See my summary of Osman Pasha's reforms (ııslah) of the local elites during the early years of his governorship (chap. 7). [BACK]
54. PRO FO 195/2136, Apr. 1, 1903. [BACK]
55. Odabaşııoğlu 1990, 4-13. [BACK]
56. In the 1960s, the Vehbioğlu and the Tellioğlu families were considered allies of the Selimoğlu. [BACK]
57. See the Muradoğlu documents. [BACK]
58. During the later nineteenth century, it became common for British, French, and Russian consular officials to act as the protectors of the Christian minorities. When the agha proposed seeking the help of the British, he was seeking to emulate this practice, seeing himself as an abused minority. [BACK]
59. See my comments on the strong governorship of Kadri Bey (1893–1903) in chap. 7. [BACK]
60. Odabaşııoğlu 1990, 13. [BACK]