Ahmet Kılınç

Keywords: discretionary corrective punishment, galley, oar, Ottoman, penal servitude on the galleys, punishment

Abstract

Penal servitude on the galleys (kürek), easily can be found in Official Registers (Mühimme Defterleri), is a kind of discretionary, corrective (ta'zîr) punishment.Under this study it is asserted that this punishment is also a featured imprisonment (hapis). Penal servitude on the galleys was imposed in principle as a substantive penal (asli ceza) and rarely as a complementary (tekmilî) and substitute (bedelî) one. This punishment was both a corporal penalty and restrictive of freedom. Aforementioned punishment was more severe than most of others. Even it was the most severe one, with the exception of death penalty. In principle, this punishment was legal and applied to everyone regardless of the religion and administrative function with the exception of women and slaves. In old Ottoman, persons were sentenced to penal servitude on the galleys in accordance with the principle of individual responsibility. On the other hand some decrees show that personal surety (kefil) could be sent to a galley instead of the convict when the guilty could not have been arrested. Kürek punishment was carried out in accordance with the utilitarian theory. The second aim of this punishment was to warn the others. Due to the severity level of this penalty, it was sentenced by only the order of Sultan (Padishah) (emr-i şerîf) or Imperial Divan (Divân-ı Hümayûn). Padishah was the only one with the authority to release the convict.The attained experience from the kürek punishment in Old Ottoman was that the governments could force the convicts to work in a public service.