Fatma Acun

Keywords: Ottoman, Anatolia, Urbanization, Karahisar, II. Mehmed


Adopted as a working hypothesis for the present study, it will be assumed that the rise of urbanization in the preindustrial era can be primarily attributed to the intervention, direct or indirect, by the state and, secondly, to the role of commerce. Taking Karahisar as a test-case,an attempt was made to study the process by which this settlement unit, which may be described as a small town with citadel and included a community of nonMuslims at the time it came under Ottoman control, was transformed into a city and to determine the policies employed by the state as part of this process. This decision was, no doubt, influenced by its convenient location and the desire by the government to obtain control over the nearby alum mine. As a result of government policies in the spheres of administrative and socioeconomic considerations, Karahisar became a "small scale" city. In regard to the administrative practices in the region, the service landgrant system (zeamet) under the authority of a military commander was in force in the early period, and, in the first half of the sixteenth century, the classical Ottoman judicial district (kâzâ) system was established. The influx into the area of administrators and formation of professional and service cadres led, over time, to stratification in the local population and the division of labor, which eventually resulted in the social development of Karahisar and the creation of an urban society. It was determined that, economically, the policy adopted by the government of tax-exemption promoted urbanization over the long run and, in consequence, the city's population gradually increased its proportion of tax-exempt residents while the taxation of activities conducted in the city was applied at a relatively lower proportion. It was concluded that, in the case of Karahisar, its original transformation from a town to a city was influenced by state encouragement and state-implemented organization. Study of the process of the urbanization of Karahisar by which it became a typical Anatolian city suggests that other Anatolian towns may have undergone a similar process.