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]