Society and Politics in an Ottoman Town: Ayntab in the 17th Century (Ottoman Empire and Its Heritage)

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As I will point out, this does necessitates changing the scales and implicit assumptions, with which we take on the study of both political arenas. Most importantly, it requires the move beyond the state-oriented approach in favor of a focus on practices, cultural transfers and social interactions in a cross-border perspective.

In return, the proposed recalibration of our apparatus can bring us a deeper understanding not only of the political relations between the Porte and its tributaries, but also help us understand seemingly unconnected developments in both the Danubian principalities and the imperial center.

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In short, it can provide us with the new, positive master narrative of the Ottoman-Romanian entanglement of the early modern period. Due to the limited space, the present paper focuses on the programmatic aspect of such a model. At the same time, the comparison between the phenomena occurring in the Ottoman eyalets serve as an object of comparison with the Moldavian and Wallachian developments.

In order to flesh out the idea, in the first section I will discuss the changing perspectives on the Ottoman Empire, which form the backbone of the argument.

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The two next sections will present their possible applicability for the Moldavian-Wallachian context and the possibilities such an enterprise offers us. Due to limited space, I will focus on two major phenomena — the interrelationship between the Ottoman and Moldavian-Wallachian political culture and the rise of the Phanariots. As I have mentioned above, the last three decades have brought an overall re-evaluation of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries in the case of Ottoman Empire.

The Porte suffered a number of upheavals throughout this period, with the weakening position of the sultan, the rise of the political households and the gradual phasing out of the timar system. At the Ottoman capital, the grandee households vied for power and for the positions; in the provincial context, the rise of banditry and the revolts of governors took their toll on the population. However, at no point were these tendencies dangerous to the very existence of the Ottoman state; as Karen Barkey points out, celali rebellions were not directed against the Porte; instead, they constituted 9 Baki Tezcan, The second Ottoman Empire : political and social transformation in the early modern world, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, The flow of economic resources between the center and the periphery — epitomized by the tax-farming arrangements of iltizam and malikane — brought the horizontal integration of the elite, the local notables cooperating with the imperial grandees.

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Tauris, , p. If we look through these lens on the interactions between the Porte and the Danubian principalities, in many respects we find striking similarities, although bearing their own, local imprint. One of such phenomena is rebellion and resistance to the Porte. Throughout the seventeenth century, the celali rebellions and banditry rocked the Ottoman provinces, most importantly in Anatolia; at the same time, we find a number of instances of rebellion against the Porte among the Moldavian and Wallachian voievodes. While both groups of rebellion occupy a central place in respective historical traditions, the divergence between the Romanian and Ottoman scholarship has resulted in the lack of any comparative endeavor.

At the same time, the Ottomanists, while paying attention to explaining the rise of banditry in Anatolia, at the same time, usually relegate the revolts in the Danubian principalities as lying beyond their area of interest. In effect, the celalis and the rebel voievodes seem to have nothing in common.

However, there are striking similarities between the political strategies of applied by the rulers of Moldavia and Wallachia and the governors-turned- rebels. Since I have discussed this matter in a different contribution, I will provide just a small summary here only briefly.

Just as was in the case of the bandit leaders, the rebellion did not necessarily mean a clear break with the Ottoman system, but was one step in the process of bargaining, not precluding the possibility accommodation. Rather, just as in the case of the prominent celalis, they often swiftly reconciled with the Porte, contending themselves with the reconfirmation on the throne.

The conduits between the Ottoman and Moldavian-Wallachian were the patronage ties cultivated between the Porte grandees and the voievodes and boyars alike. As the conflict between Matei Basarab and Vasile Lupu in the s makes clear, there was a clear interconnection between the factionalism in the Danubian principalities and that at the imperial center. However, this relationship between the Ottoman officials and Moldavian- Wallachian elites in the cases of rebellion went further.

The particular consequence and the strategy of rebellion and subsequent accommodation was strikingly similar to that of the celali governors of that time.


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The Ottoman official, arguably the most famous and successful celali leader himself, this time appeared as a patron of the Wallachian voievode, facilitating his communication with the Porte and without doubt largely influencing the strategy of Matei. Thus, in this case, we have a direct link between rebellion, cross-border factionalism and the transfer of political culture between the Ottoman elite and the one of Moldavian-Wallachian political arena.

Another topic that cries for such a perspective is the rise of the Phanariots, of crucial significance for our understanding of the eighteenth century for both political arenas. Xenopol" 44, , p. As was the case with the Muslim elites of the empire, the cultural pull of the imperial center occurred, following the increasing entanglement of familial, economic and political ties between the center and the periphery.

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According to Ehud Toledano, the Ottoman imperial culture was not an ethnic one, but rather a 'highly articulated culture, which distinguished them from anyone who did not belong to the imperial elite. As Victor Roudometof and Christine Philliou point out, the spread of Grecophone culture throughout the Balkans in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries was not an ethnic or national phenomenon, but formed a part of elite cultural capital, which allowed for upward mobility. Just as Ottomanization was an unintended consequence of new patterns of governance and revenue-extraction, so the integration of the Phanariot and local elites would seem as a result on the levels of social practice rather than a conscious policy.

Philliou, Biography of an empire: governing Ottomans in an age of revolution, Berkeley: Berkeley University Press In his discussion of the changing markers of difference and the rise of the Muslim political nation, the scholar implicitly assumes that Phanariots were rather a relic of the old system than the part of the new one. The narrative of the growing integration of the center and the periphery and the rise of the Phanariots in the Danubian principalities provide a way to explain this phenomenon within the model of Tezcan.

The process of Phanariotization and the growing integration between peripheral and Istanbul-based elites brought the emergence of a Greek Orthodox imperial shadow nation, which — officially separated from the top positions of governance — nonetheless found its niche within the Ottoman system of governance. While the Christian-Ottoman nation was barred from acceding the top positions of power, they nonetheless played a significant role in managing the fortunes of the empire — both in the center as dragomans and in the periphery as the voievodes of Moldavia and Wallachia — in this respect it was a shadow nation.

It was imperial in the respect that its fortunes and very existence were closely tied to the fortunes of the Ottoman Empire itself and its history was rejected by the future national historiographies from the nineteenth century onwards and is only recoverable by thinking out of a national box. By looking at the empire through state-centered and often broken lens, many Romanian scholars fail to explain adequately not only the dynamics of relations between the Porte and the Danubian principalities, but also the internal developments of seemingly unconnected aspects of the respective internal arenas.

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The same applies to Ottoman studies, where interest in the internal workings of Moldavia and Wallachia and their place within the wider imperial context can provide significant correctives to the new master narrative of the empire as a whole. In this respect, both scholarly communities can draw inspiration from the fountains near Sf. The founder of the fountains, voievode Grigore Ghica III, placed three inscriptions commemorating his contribution to the urban landscape of Moldavian capital: in Romanian, Greek and Arabic. All of them were coexistent within one individual, and to present him as a fully-fledged person, and without any of them his picture would be incomplete.

The same can be said about the entangled history of both the Danubian principalities and the Ottoman Empire — without serious engagement between the two fields something always will be lacking. Bibliography Barkey, Karen. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, Community Reviews.

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Canbakal looks at the startlingly unremarkabale town of 'Ayntab, now in southeastern Turkey to show how detached urban centers were from Istanbul. Against conceptions of post-Republic Anatolian urban history, Canbakal simultaneously shows 'Ayntab on its own terms, as an autonomous, elite-controlled small town with little-to-no impact from the imperial center; and 'Ayntab as part of a larger, eastern-geared Ottoman town with more in common, perhaps, with its Arab sister cities to the south and ea Canbakal looks at the startlingly unremarkabale town of 'Ayntab, now in southeastern Turkey to show how detached urban centers were from Istanbul.

Against conceptions of post-Republic Anatolian urban history, Canbakal simultaneously shows 'Ayntab on its own terms, as an autonomous, elite-controlled small town with little-to-no impact from the imperial center; and 'Ayntab as part of a larger, eastern-geared Ottoman town with more in common, perhaps, with its Arab sister cities to the south and east, than western Anatolia. Peripheral elites in towns like this don't indicate decline, though, says Canbakal, but rather shows the vitality of the politics of everyday life in a town of relative insignificance and with little to offer.

That's the rub, though. The pettiness of 'Ayntab might reflect only its own mediocrity in the grander, Ottoman scheme of things. Ercan Akyol rated it liked it Aug 31, Elcin Arabaci rated it it was amazing Oct 24, Zvr added it May 16, David Calderwood marked it as to-read Jul 20, Rizwan Raiyan added it Mar 28, There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Trivia About Society and Polit No trivia or quizzes yet. Welcome back. Just a moment while we sign you in to your Goodreads account.

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