Download Halil Inalcik - Ottoman Methods of Conquest PDF

TitleHalil Inalcik - Ottoman Methods of Conquest
Tags Muslim Empires Former Empires Of Europe
File Size1.0 MB
Total Pages27
Table of Contents
                            p. [103]
	p. 104
	p. 105
	p. 106
	p. 107
	p. 108
	p. 109
	p. 110
	p. 111
	p. 112
	p. 113
	p. 114
	p. 115
	p. 116
	p. 117
	p. 118
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	p. 128
	p. 129
		Front Matter [pp.  3 - 3]
		Le Voile de la Ka'ba [pp.  5 - 21]
		Changements politiques et littérature eschatologique dans le monde musulman [pp.  23 - 43]
		Hermes Trismegistus and Arab Science [pp.  45 - 59]
		Observations sociologiques sur les origines de l'Islam [pp.  61 - 87]
		Un secolo di studi arabo-siculi [pp.  89 - 102]
		Ottoman Methods of Conquest [pp.  103 - 129]
		Un essai d'analyse fonctionnelle. Les tendances mystiques du poète libanais d'Amérique Gabrān Ḫalīl Gabrān (Suite et fin) [pp.  131 - 155]
		Back Matter
Document Text Contents
Page 1


(1) The Method of Gradual Conquest.

It appears that in the Ottoman conquests there were two
distinct stages that were applied almost systematically. The
Ottomans first sought to establish some sort of suzerainty over
the neighbouring states. They then sought direct control over
these countries by the elimination of the native dynasties.
Direct control by the Ottomans meant basically the application
of the timar system which was based upon a methodical recor-
ding of the population and resources of the countries in the
defters (official registers). The establishment of the timar system
did not necessarily mean a revolutionary change in the former
social and economic order. It was in fact a conservative recon-
ciliation of local conditions and classes with Ottoman institu-
tions which aimed at gradual assimilation.

The use of these two stages in the gradual achievement of
the Ottoman conquests can be detected from the beginning
of Ottoman history. For example, the relationship of Osman
Gazi, the founder of the dynasty, with Kose Mihal (Koze Michael)
the local lord of Harmankaya (Chirmenkia), with Samsama
Chawushand other tekviours appears first to have been in the
nature of an alliance, then of a vassalage (1). This was most
probably due to the particular military organization in the

(*) I wish to express my thanks to Mr. D. Sherinian and Mr. Th. Buchanan for the

help they gave me in translating this paper from the Turkish.
(1) See my Stefan Dusandan Osmanli Imparatorluguna, in MElanges Fuad Koprilii,

Istanbul, 1953, pp. 211-212.

Page 2


uc, borderlands in which there were overlords (uc-emiri) and
vassal lords (bey) (1). At any rate, in the 14 th century we
see many small states being incorporated into the Ottoman state
after a more or less long period of vassalage. When BayezidI
(1389-1403) became Sultan on the battlefield of Kossovo there
were many vassal rulers such as the Byzantine Emperor (vassa I
since 1373), the Bulgarian princes (vassals since 1371), the
Serbian princes in Serbia and in Macedonia (vassals since 1372),
and the local lords in Albania (vassals since 1385), in Greece and
in the Aegean islands. In Anatolia, not only the gdzi principalities
in the West but also the Karamanids in Konya were Ottoman

Sultan Bayezid I inaugurated a new policy by establishing
direct control over these vassal countries in a number of swift
military expeditions. He was afforded the opportunity to achieve
this by the revolt of the Anatolian principalities at his accession
to the throne and the cooperation of the vassal Bulgarian king
with the enemy Hungarians. He drove out the local dynasties
and brought these countries under direct rule. It is interesting
to note that at the famous meeting of Serres, when Bayezid ga-
thered together most of the vassal Balkan princes, there were
rumours that for a moment he considered executing them (2).
Bayezid also saw the importance of the imperial city of Cons-
tantinople in building a unified empire from the Danube to the
Euphrates. Thus he erected the Castle of Akcha-hisar (Anadolu-
hisari) on the Bosphorus and attempted a conquest of the city (3).
What is particularly interesting for us is the reaction that showed
itself, not only in the conquered lands but also in the Ottoman
state itself, against this violent and hasty policy of annexation
during and after Bayezid's reign. This policy was consi-
dered as being against the good Ottoman tradition. The two
points of view, that of hasty and that of gradual expansion,
are apparent in Bayezid's time in the differences between Chan-

(1) See F. K6pr'ilu, Les Origines de l'Empire Ottoman, Paris 1935, p. 89.
(2) See Zakythinos, Le despotat grec de More, Paris 1932.
(3) See my Fatih Devri Uzerinde Tedkikler ve Vesikalar, Ankara 1954, p. 122.


Page 13


the sons of former sipdhis (1) they are registered as voynuks
with the properties, vineyards and lands which are now in
their possession. Recorded in Muharrem of the year 858 in
Adrianople" (2).

It should be noted that the incorporation of the Christian
military groups into the Ottoman 'askeri class was facilitated,
no doubt, by their previous experience as auxiliary forces of
the Ottoman army during the vassalage of their countries.
Seeing that their position and lands were effectively guaranteed
by the strong Ottoman administration, the majority of these
Christian soldiers must not have been averse to the change.
No wonder that many Christian garrisons surrendered their
castles without resistance and joined the Ottoman ranks. The
conservative Ottoman policy and promise of timars surely attrac-
ted many of them. This is one explanation of the comparatively
rapid expansion of Ottoman rule in the Balkans.

It is noteworthy that by the Sultan's decrees the Christian
timariots and voynuks often maintained a position in the Otto-
man state commensurate with their former social status. The
Ottomans preserved to a great extent the land-holding rights
of these people in the form of timar or bashtina. Thus, the
great families (seigneurs, voyvods) frequently retained the grea-
ter part of their patrimonies as great Ottoman timar-holders,
and when they adopted Islam they took the title of bey and
were eligible for attaining the highest administrative posts. In
a record book of about 1448 I came across one instance of a
Christian, named Gergi Istepan, who had attained the position
of subashi (the military and administrative head of a county) (3).
Although there were no Christian sancak-beyis (governors of
provinces), we find many sancak-beyis from local Christian great
families who were converts to Islam, such as Yakub Bey and
Hamza Bey, governors of Albania in the time of Murad II

(1) This term should be translated here as military rather than as cavalryman.
(2) BavekAlet Archives, Mallye deft. No 303, Kircheva Defteri.
(3) All subashis bore the title of bey in the 15th century. As a rule, timar-holders below

the rank of subashi were not allowed to use this title.


Page 14


(1421-1451). Hamza Bey and Yakub Bey descended from the
famous Albanian dynasties of Castriota and Muzaki respecti-
vely (1). Christian timar-holders and their islamized descen-
dants, although generally left on their inherited lands, were
obliged to abandon part of their lands and their special feudal
rights under the new Ottoman timar regime, the greatest fami-
lies sustaining the greatest loss. These losses promoted some local
resistance. It is apparent that the prolonged opposition of the
Albanian chiefs led by Iskender Bey (Scanderbeg) was princi-
pally due to this (2).

The noble families in the Balkan countries were assimilated
to the mass of Ottoman timariots and became Muslim. Isla-
mization was actually a psycho-social phenomenon among the
Christian sipdhis, who were definitely the first converts in the
Empire (3). The state did not as a rule seek their conversion
to Islam as a necessary prerequisite to enrolment in the
Ottoman 'askeri class, and it did not even attempt to achieve
such conversion by indirect methods. Thus, we find timar assign-
ments to Christian soldiers even in the time of Bayezid II (1481-
1512). But in the 16th century Christian timariots were rarely
found in the same areas; what is more, in this century the
existence of Christian timariots shocked the people and caused
a special inquiry into their origin (4). The previous Christian
timariots had gradually adopted Islam and disappeared by
the 16th century. In fact, the Christian origin of some of the
timariots is only revealed by their rarely used family names such
as Kurtik Mustafa in Albania, who was undoubtedly a descen-
dant of the famous Slavo-Albanian lord, Pavlo Kurtik (Kurti6)(5).

Bosnia presents a special case. The Ottomans maintained the
old Bosnian nobility on their hereditary lands (bashtina), confir-
ming their property rights which had been previously granted

(1) See my Arnavudluk'ta Osmanli Hakimiyetinin Yerlesmesi, in Istanbul ve Fatih, II

(2) Ibid.
(3) See Stefan Du{andan..., pp. 231-233.; P. Wittek, Yazijioghlu.., BSOAS, XIV-3.
(4) Stefan.., p. 247, note 190.
(5) Ibid., p. 226.


Page 26


confirmed to some extent by the records on deportees which I
have mentioned. But the extensive Turkish colonization in
Thrace and the Maritza valley can be explained only by a spon-
taneous emigration from Anatolia and not by a mass deporta-
tion. The oldest Ottoman tradition records (1) that Timur's
invasion of Anatolia in 1402 caused a new influx of Turkish
population into the Balkans; it states explicitly : "Then a
great number of people belonging to the Arabs, Kurds and Turk-
men (nomads), and from (the settled population of) Anatolia
spread over Rum-ili... it is true that the (Muslim) population
of Rum-ili came originally from Anatolia".

In the first decades of their conquests the Ottomans undoubt-
edly encouraged voluntary emigration into the Balkans of
the people who were daily coming in increasing numbers into
their territories from all parts of Anatolia and the rest of the
Islamic world. Military and financial considerations (2) as well
as the obligation of settling surplus population made necessary
a policy of colonization. In this connection emphasis must be
put on the military importance of the Turkish population in
that first period of the Ottoman state when a great part of
the army was recruited among the Turks in towns as well as
villages under the names of 'azab and yaya, respectively. These
Turkish soldiers continued to play an important part in the Otto-
man army until the 16th century. The documents from the Otto-
man archives show that only in the areas ruled by the Otto-
mans in the 14th Century was the yaya military organization
extensively established, and the most important area was
Eastern Thrace and the Maritza Valley where in Chirmen (Cher-

(1) Tevdrih-i Al-i Osmdn, ed. Fr. Giese (Breslau 1922), text, pp. 45-46 ; another version,
edited by I. H. Ertaylan (Istanbul 1946), p. 70.

(2) The Ottoman government was most concerned with the extension of cultivated
lands and the establishing of new villages in order to increase the state revenues and thus
be able to create new timars. (See my Stefan Du andan..., p. 239, note 121). The essential
duty of the tahrir emini was to find or to create such sources of revenue (ifrdzdt and pen-
letme). The emins of Mehmed II and Sleyman the Magnificent were particularly active
in increasing this type of additional revenue which corresponded to the great extension of
the timariot army in the provinces.


Page 27


manon) a commander-in-chief of these Turkish yaya was pos-
ted (1).

It is also interesting to note that this spontaneous emigration
of Turkish masses into the Balkans slackened toward the middle
of the 15th century, and Turkish colonization beyond the Rho-
dope and Balkan ranges was confined to some military centres of
the uc and composed mostly of populations deported by the



(1) See my Arvanid Defieri, p. vi.



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