The Use and Inspection of Foreign Country Flags in the Last Years of the Ottoman Empire
Karadeniz Teknik Üniversitesi, Edebiyat Fakültesi, Tarih Bölümü, Trabzon/ TÜRKİYE
Keywords: Flag, Symbol, Foreigner, Diplomatic Missions, Ottoman Empire.
The presence of foreign flags in the Ottoman Empire became widespread in the last years of the empire. The symbolical values that those flags had and current developments resulted in different evaluations and practices by the individuals with different identities as well as institutions regarding those flags. While the flag referred to a visual symbol of their identity and belonging for individuals, it was an expression of a threat to sovereignty for the rulers if they were used out of official institutions and without permission. The increase of foreign effect on the Ottoman geography in the 19th century in terms of politics and daily life as well as separatist threat caused by independence movements made it a sensitive issue for the state to inspect and prevent the presence of foreign flags. Although the steps taken by the authorities in this respect had an ongoing background, permanent solutions could not be generated.
The archival documents, reflect the rules and inspection procedures determined by officials for the use of foreign flags at public institutions and private properties. Travel books, memoirs and newspaper reports allow examining the values people attribute to flags and producing a special narrative from the perspective of an individual. In the research, it was identified that the policy of the empire for foreign flags changed over time due to legal texts and actual circumstances and as a result of these developments, some practices that were tried to be prevented as violations for a long time were then accepted legitimate.