Feryal Tansuğ

Keywords: Kocabaşı, Imvros, Lemnos, Aegean, central government

Abstract

The communal dynamics of the Aegean islands and the relationship of the islanders with their civil and religious leaders and the relationship between communal leaders and local and central authorities have yet to be told. Studies in the Ottoman-Turkish historiography, generally following a monolithic approach, focused on primarily on Muslim ayans, whereas ignored their non-Muslim counterparts (kocabaşı). In the present literature, kocabaşıs were regarded as equals of ayans and as intermediaries between local people and central government and other Ottoman authorities. However, the economic, political and social conditions under which the non-Muslim counterparts of ayans -kocabaşıs- gained influence and power over local people in different regions of the Empire are not explored well yet. This paper, focuses on the role of the kocabaşıs in the island society and the relationship between kocabaşıs and islanders, and central government. Understanding the relationship among civil, religious local leaders and the Ottoman central authority will provide a better understanding of dynamics of power in the Aegean islands and help to answer the question how the local people were treated by their coreligionist local leaders and Muslim Ottoman authorities, both local and central.