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.