An International Organization in the Balkans: İslimye Fair
Meryem Kaçan Erdoğan
Keywords: Ottoman State, İslimye, fair, commerce, security, tax
İslimye Fair was established in the Balkan lands of the Ottoman State and turned into an international organization in which many local and foreign merchants participated. The fair of which the activities can be traced as of the beginning of the 18th century was organized generally in summer or spring months and stayed open for a period between 4 to 31 days. Goods of foreign origin as well as products and raw materials brought from four corners of the empire, close and distant, were marketed. Moreover, purchase of sikke and bullion which were among raw materials of the mint were transacted in the fair and also slaves were traded. Taxes collected due to goods exchanged in the fair became a major source of income for the central and local economy. Security was the main problem in the fair which had to cease its activities at intervals because of war, coups and riots. Banditry was seen frequently in the fair, which had a huge volume of trade and brought thousands of merchants together. In this situation, the central administration took a range of measures so as to maintain the order and safety on the roads to the fair during the period when the fair was open. In this respect, effort was given to ensure merchants' security of life and property by means of military troops sent to the region and with the contributions of local governors. Besides security, another matter merchants complained about was illegal and unjust tax demands of the officers. This problem expressed by local and foreign merchants was solved within the framework of laws and contractual articles. As in other international fairs, İslimye Fair too had a socio-cultural function also beside its commercial function of gathering thousands of people together in the same place.