Illegal Ship-Building in the Cezayir-i Bahr-i Sefid Province in the Second Half of the 19th Century
Keywords: Greece, Shipbuilding, Cezayir-i Bahr-i Sefid, Mediterranean, Islands, Shipyard
The Ottoman State benefi ted from the traditions of the Greek population on the coasts and islands of the Mediterranean Sea in regard of military and security aspects and built or developed some new shipyards in the region. In this process, the state's well-functioning organization provided various business branches and diff erent materials as well as gathering all of these in specifi c centers. Just like major seafaring states of the time, the Ottoman State carried out the naval and maritime activities in one principal shipyard under the state's control (Tersane-i ABSTRACTS 397 Amire in Istanbul), and on the other hand in various small-scale shipyards spread over the coasts and islands where state control was partially weak. The carpenters and drills necessary for the ships for the donanma-i hümayun were provided from the islands such as Chios, Kos, Rhodes, Kaşot and Megisti. However, as a result of the weakening of administrative control due to the Greek war of independence, these shipping centers began to pose a threat to the Ottoman state. This was due to the fact that both raw materials and manpower on the island and in coastal regions under Ottoman rule were transferred to the Greek shipbuilding centers in the Mediterranean, particularly on the island of Syros, and this shift contributed signifi cantly to the development of Greek ship-building. Other problems that arose in this process were to provide security on the islands under Ottoman rule, to prevent smuggling activities between the islands and the mainland, to prevent raiding of state forests for illegal shipbuilding and of course to prevent tax losses. For these reasons, certain measures were taken by the central authority and necessary arrangements were made. In essence, this study focuses on the illegal trade by important Greek shipbuilding centers (the majority of these centers were on Greek-dominated islands), which the Ottoman State never approved. In addition, the reasons and consequences of illegal shipbuilding is evaluated in the context of the political, commercial and technological changes of the 19th century. Furthermore, the focus will be on the arrangements and measures taken by the Ottoman State to prevent illegal construction activities and on how these measures and regulations aff ected the economic and social structures of the islands.