Legal framework – foundation ordinances of ports and cities
Author: ÖZDIS HAMDI
The port city of Trabzon was made the centre of a sanjak, an administrative unit, in 1462, a year after the Ottoman conquest. [i] Sources confirm that, starting from this date, the administrative structure of the region underwent several changes until it took its final form in the 19th century. [ii] From the 16th century through the 18th, Trabzon appears sometimes as a sanjak under Erzincan or Erzurum and sometimes as a province (beylerbeyilik) on its own right. [iii] Thus, both the geographical boundaries and the administrative structure of Trabzon varied over centuries. [iv] In the 18th century, Trabzon was known as a province in the Ottoman administrative structure and there were sanjaks under it. According to this arrangement, the centre of Trabzon in the 18th century was governed by a pasha and its Gönye and Batum sanjaks constituted the borders of the Trabzon province. One should refer to the decrees rather than the law for the administrative structure before the 19th century. [v] Therefore, the period that enables discussion of the law is the period of modernisation. [vi]
With the Tanzimat reform edict, which was announced in 1839, the initial steps towards comprehensive reforms were taken. One of the central fields of reform was the administrative structure of the empire. The central bureaucracy aimed at a just taxation system and fiscal discipline, and, to this end, also established "administrative councils" [vii] starting from the 1840s (such as Muhassıllık and Vilayet Meclises). The central government, which could not achieve the desired result with such arrangements, introduced the Provincial Administration Act / the Vilayet Law of 1864 (Vilayet Nizamnamesi). [viii] Taking the West as a model, the central government started implementing the new law in selected provinces such as Edirne, Tripoli, Bosnia, Trabzon, Erzurum and Aleppo, and expanded its scale to the whole empire. [ix] The research emphasizing the successful results achieved in the selected regions should be taken with caution.
Two central targets of the Vilayet Law were centralisation and ensuring of the flow tax revenue to the central treasury. It is, however, difficult to say that the aims of the law envisaged and the way they were implemented in practice were compatible. [x] Most of the observers and officials of the period point out that the central government was not sensitive to the demands of the provinces and the local dynamics and conditions were largely ignored. [xi]
[i] It is, however, still uncertain where Trabzon was first attached to when it was conquered by the Ottomans. Heath W.Lowry-Feridun Emecan, “Trabzon”, Türkiye Diyanet Vakfı İslam Ansiklopedisi, C. 41, 2012, 296-301.
[ii] Orhan Kılıç, “XVIII. Yüzyılın İlk Yarısında Trabzon Eyaletinin İdari Taksimatı ve Tevcihatı”, Trabzon Tarihi Sempozyumu, Trabzon, 6-8 Kasım 1998, p. 179; Fahameddin Başar, Osmanlı Eyalet Tevcihatı (1717-1730), Ankara: TTK, 1997.
[iii] Tayyip Gökbilgin mentions that in the end of the 16th century the sanjaks of Batum and Gönye in Trabzon merged into one province. Up until that phase, records show that it was being governed by private administrators appointed by the centre. See M. Tayyib Gökbilgin, “XVI. Yüzyıl Başlarında Trabzon Livası ve Doğu Karadeniz Bölgesi”, Belleten, XXVI, Sayı 102, Ankara, 1962, p. 292-3; Şehabettin Tekindağ, “Trabzon”, İslam Ansiklopedisi, C. 12/1, p. 466.
[iv] For the administrative structure in the 18th century see Başar, Osmanlı Eyalet Tevcihatı ....
[v] On this topic one can consult the Ahkam Defterleri in the Ottoman Archives; they contain the sultan’s orders or decisions. Because of this they have exactly the same characteristics as the fermans (imperial decrees). For examples see Prime-ministerial Ottoman Archive/ Başbakanlık Osmanlı Arşivi (BOA), Trabzon Ahkam Defterleri.
[vi] For a pioneer and analytical study of the local governments in the Ottoman Empire see İlber Ortaylı, Tanzimat’tan Cumhuriyet’e Yerel Yönetim Geleneği, İstanbul: Hil Yayınları, 1985. Additionally, see Musa Çadırcı, Tanzimat Döneminde Anadolu Kentleri’nin Sosyal ve Ekonomik Yapısı, Ankara: TTK, 1997; Hadiye Tuncer (ed.), Osmanlı İmparatorlugu’nda Eyalet Taksimatı, Toprak Dağıtımı ve Bunların Mali Güçleri, Ankara, 1964.
[vii] For the foundation and works of the administrative councils see Musa Çadırcı, Osmanlı İmparatorlugu’nda Eyalet ve Sancaklarda Meclislerin Oluşturulması (1840-1864), Ankara: TTK. 1985, Yusuf Hikmet Bayur Armağanı 1985, offprint.
[viii] It is noted by almost all researchers that the Law was clearly influenced by the French land organization and even imitated the French departments themselves. See Mümtaz Talât Yaman, “Osmanlı İmparatorlugu Mülki İdaresinde Avrupalılaşma” İdare Dergisi, Sayı 142, 1940, p. 1510; Ortaylı, ibid, p.54. ; Roderic H. Davison, Osmanlı İmparatorluğu’nda Reform, İstanbul, 1997, p.168.; Bernard Lewis, Modern Türkiye’nin Doğuşu, transl. Metin Kıratlı, Ankara, TTK, 1998, p.385. However, in one of the most recent studies, Nuray Ertürk Keskin stressed in a symposium that the influence of the French department in the administrative structure was only witnessed in the Republican Era, that is in 1920-21, and suggested a re-evaluation of this issue. It should be mentioned that many other researchers share Nuray E. Keskin’s views. See Nuray Ertürk Keskin“Vilayet Nizamnamesi’nden Cumhuriyet’e Yönetsel Ölçek Tartışması” Vilayet Nizamnamesinin 150.Yıldönümü Uluslararası Sempozyumu, 6-7 Kasım,2014, Ankara; Nuray E. Keskin, “II. Meşrutiyet’te Yeni Düzen Arayışı. Mülkiye Mecmuası Üzerine Bir İnceleme (1909-1911)” TODAİE, Ankara, 2009, p. 6. As opposed to these, Musa Çadırcı despite accepting the French effect, he rejects that “the French country administration system was taken as a model” Musa Çadırcı, Tanzimat Döneminde Anadolu Kentleri’nin ... . p. 251.
[ix] For the information that Palgrave, the English consul at the time, gives about the application of the Vilayet Law in the administrative structure of Trabzon, see Report on the Provinces of Trebizond, Sivas, Kastemouni, and part of Angora, by Mr. Consul Wgifford Palgrave, January, 1868 FO 881/1592, p.1, 3. For some decisions regarding the application of the Vilayet law see Prime-ministerial Ottoman Archive/Başbakanlık Osmanlı Arşivi (BOA), DH.TMIK.S 5/4 ve DH.TMIK.S. 2/124. For the Vilayet Law see Düstur Tertip I, İstanbul, 1289/1872.
[x] There are some studies in the Turkish literature in this direction. See Mutullah Sungur , “XIX. Yüzyıl Osmanlı Devleti’nde Tasra İdaresi ve Vilayet Yönetimi”, Türkler, C. 13, Ankara: Yeni Türkiye Yay., 2002 ; Ömer Toraman, “Osmanlı Taşra Teşkilatında Yenilikler” Unpublished master thesis, Dicle Ünv. Sos. Bil. Ens. Diyarbakır, 2002.
[xi] The National Archives, Foreign Office (FO), FO 524, 1885-1906, H.Z. Longworth, Trebizond, January, 15th. 1891; additionally, the English consul in Erzurum Mc Gregor also mentions that Istanbul was deaf to the claims that came from the countryside. FO 195-2347, P.G.C. Mc Gregor, 26 April, 1910. Moreover, for debates, arguments in the Ottoman Parliament and analyses concerning the administrative structure see Hamdi Özdiş, “Power Struggle in the Province of Trabzon under Abdulhamid II: Notables, Politics and State (1876- 1909)”, PhD Dissertation, Ankara, 2008. Hacettepe Ünv. p. 31 vd.
The National Archives, Foreign Office (FO)
FO 524/24, 195/2347
1868 FO 881/1592.Wgifford Palgrave, Report on the Provinces of Trebizond, Sivas, Kastemouni, and part of Angora, by Mr. Consul Wgifford Palgrave, January,
Başbakanlık Osmanlı Arşivi (BOA) Prime-Ministerial Ottoman Archive
Dahiliye Teşr-i Muamelat ve Islahat Komisyonu Islahat (DH.TMIK. S)
DH.TMIK.S, 5/4 ve DH.TMIK.S. 2/124.
Trabzon Ahkam Defterleri
Başar, Fahameddin. Osmanlı Eyalet Tevcihatı (1717-1730) [Ottoman Provincial Appointments (1717-1730)], Ankara: TTK, 1997.
Çadırcı, Musa. Tanzimat Döneminde Anadolu Kentleri’nin Sosyal ve Ekonomik Yapısı [The Social and Economic Structure of Anatolian Cities in the Period of Tanzimat], Ankara: TTK, 1997
------------------. Osmanlı İmparatorlugu’nda Eyalet ve Sancaklarda Meclislerin Olusturulması (1840-1864) [The Creation of Councils in the Provinces and Sanjaks of the Ottoman Empire (1840-1864)], Ankara: TTK. 1985, Yusuf Hikmet Bayur Armağanı 1985, Offprint
Düstur Tertip I
Gökbilgin, M. Tayyib. “XVI. Yüzyıl Başlarında Trabzon Livası ve Doğu Karadenzi Bölgesi [The Province of Trabzon and the Region of Eastern Black Sea at the beginning of the 16th century]”, Belleten, XXVI, Sayı 102, Ankara, 1962, p. 292-3; Şehabettin Tekindağ, “Trabzon”, İslam Ansiklopedisi, C. 12/1.
Keskin, Nuray Ertürk. “Vilayet Nizamnamesi’nden Cumhuriyet’e Yönetsel Ölçek Tartışması [The Managerial Scale Debate from the Vilayet Law to the Republic]” Vilayet Nizamnamesinin 150.Yıldönümü Uluslararası Sempozyumu, 6-7 Kasım,2014, Ankara.
Keskin, Nuray E. II. Meşrutiyet’te Yeni Düzen Arayışı” Mülkiye Mecmuası Üzerine Bir İnceleme (1909-1911)” TODAİE, Ankara, 2009.
Kılıç, Orhan. “XVIII. Yüzyılın İlk Yarısında Trabzon Eyaletinin İdari Taksimatı ve Tevcihatı [The Administrative Divisions and Appointments of the Province of Trabzon in the first half of the 18th c]”, Trabzon Tarihi Sempozyumu, Trabzon, 6-8 Kasım 1998.
Lewis, Bernard, Modern Türkiye’nin Doğuşu [The Birth of Modern Turkey], transl. Metin Kıratlı, Ankara, TTK, 1998,.
W.Lowry, Heath-Feridun Emecan. “Trabzon”, Türkiye Diyanet Vakfı İslam Ansiklopedisi, C. 41, 2012, pp. 296-301.
Ortaylı, İlber. Tanzimat’tan Cumhuriyet’e Yerel Yönetim Geleneği [The Tradition of the Local Government from the Tanzimat to the Republic], İstanbul: Hil Yayınları, 1985.
Özdiş, Hamdi. “Power Struggle in the Province of Trabzon under Abdulhamid II: Notables, Politics and State (1876- 1909)”, PhD Dissertation, Ankara, Hacettepe Üniversitesi, 2008.
Sungur. Mutullah “XIX. Yüzyıl Osmanlı Devleti’nde Taşra İdaresi ve Vilayet Yönetimi [Land Administration and Province Management in the 19th century Ottoman State]”, Türkler, C. 13, Ankara: Yeni Türkiye Yay., 2002.
Toraman, Ömer. “Osmanlı Taşra Teşkilatında Yenilikler [Innovations in the Ottoman Land Organization]” Unpublished master theses, Dicle Ünv. Sos. Bil. Ens. Diyarbakır, 2002.
Tuncer, Hadiye. (ed) Osmanlı İmparatorlugu’nda Eyalet Taksimatı, Toprak Dağıtımı ve Bunların Mali Güçleri [The Division, Land Distribution and Economic Power of the Provinces in the Ottoman Empire], Ankara, 1964.
Yaman, Mümtaz Talât “Osmanlı İmparatorlugu Mülki İdaresinde Avrupalılaşma [The Europeanization in the Property Administration of the Ottoman Empire]” İdare Dergisi, Sayı 142, 1940.
Roderic H. Davison, Osmanlı İmparatorluğu’nda Reform [Reform in the Ottoman Empire], İstanbul, 1997,