Mehmet Beşi̇rli̇

Keywords: Ottoman Empire, 19th century Tokat, fixed prices (narh), sharia court registers, foodstuffs


Price movements in the Ottoman cities became very effective in the formation of the economic structure of the Ottoman State. Prices contributed to the development of the economic structure in terms of especially people's buying power, and determination of supply and demand relations. At the same time, prices appear to have been an important factor, regulating social, administrative, military and cultural relations of the society. Price movements in foodstuffs and other essentials in the Ottoman cities are usually traced through the prices determined by the Fixed Price (Narh) councils. In narhs determined in the Fixed Price council meetings enacted with the participation of all representatives of guilds before the Judge (Kadi) twice a year in general, it is possible to see the prices related to all foodstuffs and other essentials. On the other hand, for more precise results about grain prices one has to consult with the inheritance records (tereke), where prices recorded are usually accepted to represent free market prices. Having been determined by the Fixed Price Council, prices for foodstuffs and other essentials in Tokat would usually be recorded into first or last pages of kadi's court registers in terms of kind, amount and unit price. In addition, apart from court registers, sometimes registers of fixed prices were prepared that contain fixed prices of commodities. In this study, the court registers of Tokat are surveyed and prices of foodstuffs and other essentials are determined according to lists of fixed prices and records of inheritance, and then price movements are evaluated. Thus, we try to assess the price increases seen in foodstuffs and other essentials as well as factors causing them in Tokat in the period under study.