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Foreign Consuls    EN

The consulates
The consuls
Selected consuls

*Ph.D. (Research Assistant), Kafkas University, Kars, Turkey

The actual development of consulates, started by overseas initiatives of Italian city-states. From the 16th century, the rise of the bourgeoisie, expansion of geographical explorations and colonial empires diversified the tasks and functions of a consulate. During the 19th century, with the increasing international economic competition, consulates became a part of political expansionism as well as of commercial interests.

Development of consulates in the city of Sinop was directly related with the development of the Black Sea commerce. The Black Sea gained the status of a sea open to international commerce with the Treaty of Küçük Kaynarca in 1774; before that it was an inland sea of the Ottoman Empire. After Russia obtained the right to free trading in the Black Sea with the Treaty of 1774, the commercial and political activities in the region developed. Austria, England, France and Prussia gained similar privileges over a period of 20 years.[1] Thus, in parallel with the increasing commercial activities, consulates, which were protectors of commercial and political interests, began to be organized in the port cities of the Black Sea.

In order to increase its political and commercial activities on the newly gained territories, the Russian Empire, the new northern power, soon established consulates in Trabzon, Samsun and Sinop. The first consulate in Sinop was opened by Russia. We do not exactly know when that consulate started functioning, but there is evidence that a Russian consul resided in the city in 1785.[2] It is not possible to follow the activities of the Russian Consulate after its establishment, due to the four great wars that took place within the next 80 years. It is certain, however, that the relationships between the people of Sinop and the Russian consuls were very poor. Some changes occurred in this situation in the end of the 19th century. The Russian consul, Maltof, and his translator, Yanko Efendi, were rewarded with an Order of the Medjidie by the Ottoman Empire because of the good relationships that they had grown with the community of Sinop.[3] A more interesting event that occurred in the summer of 1889; a meteorological observatory was established by the recommendation and help of the Russian consul. Based on the materials that were supplied for the observatory by the Ottoman Empire, it can be assumed that it was more than a meteorological station.[4] When the First World War broke out, there was a vice consul in Sinop and although he moved to Kastamonu, he was subsequently sent back to his country.[5]

France was the second state after Russia with a strong desire to establish a commercial and political institution in Sinop and in the general region of the Black Sea. The diplomatic relations with France, which applied to open a consulate in Sinop as early as in the first years of the 19th century, was overshadowed by Napoleon’s occupation of Egypt. After the French left Egypt, their first goal was to regain the commercial privileges that they had had with the Ottoman Empire for a long time. Therefore, they began to found consulates in the Ottoman ports that were open to the global trade. The French chose Sinop as the center of their consular and commercial network which they wanted to establish in the Black Sea ports. Pascal Fourcade was assigned as the general commissioner of Sinop in 1802. The French also took initiatives to establish consulates in Ereghli, Trabzon and Kalas.[6] Fourcade was not very well received in Istanbul, and he managed to establish himself in Sinop only in the end of 1803. However, the move of the French diplomacy to establish a network of consuls in the Black Sea failed as the French consular activities in Sinop were abolished in 1812 along with those in the other two port-cities. French commercial and diplomatic relations were solely maintained in Trabzon. [7]

After the middle of the 19th century, commercial activities in the Ottoman Black Sea ports were increased and this also triggered the establishment of consulates in Sinop, which was strategically placed. In 1847, Sweden opened a consulate in Sinop after the fifth article of the Capitulation Agreement of 1737. Charles Bruner, who had been assigned to Sinop, was also to protect the interests of Norway.[8] One year later, Austria sent Monsieur Mersina to Sinop as a consul.[9] The Lloyd company of Austria was carrying out significant trade activities in the route between Batoum and Istanbul through its steamships especially before the Crimean War.

The ports of Samsun and Trabzon were more important than the port of Sinop according to the Englishe who were competing with the Ottoman Empire, Austria, Russia and France in the trade of Black Sea. We know, however, that an English consul was on duty in Sinop in 1855, during the Crimean War. Sinop’s district governor found a suitable place for the English consul who had had difficulty in finding an office.[10] In 1860, Edward Parker was assigned to the consulate of Sinop and he was also to carry out consular activities in connection with Samsun.[11]

Establishing commercial and diplomatic relationships with the Ottoman Empire in the 19th century, the United States of America did not found a consulate in Sinop. But we know that the Russian consul was instructed regarding a lawsuit opened by the US Singer Company in Sinop in 1909 to act on their behalf; the American interests, later on, were fulfilled by the Russian consulate.[12]

Falling behind Samsun and Trabzon in terms of its hinterland and its commercial activities, Sinop's importance grew as a significant transit passage port. Many consulates were founded in the city after the Black Sea was opened to international commerce in the 19th century and foreign missions were carried out through such consulates. The importance of consulates was doubled by the fact that legal conflicts among foreigners were being heard in consular courts based on the capitulations.


[1] Reşat Kasaba, Osmanlı İmparatorluğu ve Dünya Ekonomisi,Belge Yayınları, İstanbul 1993, s. 33.

[2] BOA, (Office of the Prime Minister Ottoman Archives), C. HR, 126/6288, 09.L.1199.

[3] BOA, İ. HR, 290/18231, 21.N.1300.

[4] BOA, İ. MMS, 105/4480, 26.L.1306.

[5] BOA, DH. ŞFR, 455/ 95, 14.Ka.1330.

[6] BOA, HAT, 139/5740. 29.Z.1219.

[7] Özgür Yılmaz, “Victor Fontanier’nin Trabzon Konsolosluğu (1830-1832)”, OTAM, 35, Bahar 2014, s. 157.

[8] BOA, İ. HR, 41/1930, 11.Ş.1263.

[9] BOA, A. AMD, 6/44, 02.M.1264.

[10] BOA, HR. MKT, 126/8, 24.S.1272.

[11] BOA, A. DVN. MHM, 32/84.

[12] BOA, HR. HMŞ. İŞO, 195/3, 22.M.1327 and 195/4.