Yusuf Halaçoğlu

Keywords: Ottoman, Archival Documents, Türk, Etrak, Kürd, Ekrad, Tahrir Defters, Kanunnames

The various words and terms used in the Ottoman archival documents most of the times have connotations that differ from their actual meaning. One, therefore, should use such words and terms that are ١٣ital for making research on the social life in the Ottoman Empire carefully. Otherwise grave mistakes can not be avoided in carrying out such researches.

The words of this type such as Türkand its plural Etrak and Kind and its plural Ekrad used in various figurative meanings in the Ottoman documents. One often comes across the words mentioned above in the Ottoman archival documents, in particular in the Tahrir Defters that ha١’e very important statistical information, and in the kanunnames. I hope our evaluation on these words will set an example for researches on other similar terms and words.

We already know that the non-tax-paying subjects of the Ottoman society termed "askerf. The Tahrir Defters fully recorded the most important source of income for the state treasury namely the tax-paying "re'aya", regardless of their belief or ethnic origin. These Defters also recorded the heads of the households as well as the non-married adult males along with their fathers' names, their professions and trades, the names of the city or town, quarter, or village they live in, their products and the taxes they pay on them, their ethnic origin and religion, whether they were nomads or settled. We also find information on the vakifs and the architectural monuments in these Defters. Therefore, it is vital that anyone carrying out research on the social and economic history of the Ottoman Empire should consult these Defters. However, the researcher, for the sake of a sound research, must pay a great attention to the various terms and in particular the local usage's when using these Tahrir Defters that also include local terminology.

The word "Türk"or its plural "Etrak"as mentioned above most of the time used figuratively with connotation that differed from its actual meaning. For instance in the kanunnameof Mehmet, the Conqueror[1], the word "Turk" in the phrase "Eğer biregü hamr içse, Türk veya şehirli olsa ..."means villager or nomad rather than indicating ethnic origin while the word "şehirli"means the local. Otherwise, the phrase should have run as "...Türk veya gayr-i Muslim olsa..."(Turk or non-Muslim) or "...köylü ve şehirli olsa..."(villager or townsman). Likewise when the captives called "Pençik oğlanı'were selected for the Jannissary corps the phrase "Bunları Türk’e virelüm. Hem Müslüman olsunlar, hem Türkçe öğrensinler"was used[2]. The phrase "Türk’e verilmeli..."(to be given to a Turk), used here as well as in the Kavanin-i Yeniçeriyan,likewise mean a villager or a nomad and not a townsman[3]. We also find the term "Türk"used as adjective for some villages. For instance the village of Hacilu of the Kızuçan nahiyerecorded in the 1518 Tahrir Defter of the sancakof Çemişgezek added with the word "Turk". Also the term "İslâmî Türk"used after Kergah, one of the villages of the nahiyeof Keban again in the sancakof Çemişgezek. Likewise the villages of Ribat and Haydi defined with the word "Etrak"[4] (See Appendix 1). Also in these phrases the words Türkand Etrak have no ethnic connotation. We never come across such terms, although there are many Turkish and Turkoman tribes and towns in the region. The Ottoman scribes had never described the Turkish elements with the word "Türk"while they had always referred to the non-Muslims with their ethnic identity such as Ermeni (Armenian), Rum (Greek), Yahudi(Jew), and Süryani(Syriac). Ethnically the word "Türk"included within the phrase "...re’aya ki müslümanlardır...". It is only when the terms "reaya-yi Etrak" and "reaya-yı zimmî " used together, that appear in the sancak kanunnames, the word Etrak may have the ethnic connotation. In fact the the terms "reaya-yi Etrak"and "reaya-yi zimmî"used together in the kanunnameof the sancakof Sis in referring to the collection of "resm-i hane"[5] (See Appendix II). Here the term "reaya-yi Etrak" refers to the Muslims while "reaya-yı zimmî"refers to the non-Muslims includes Greeks, Armenians, Jews and other non-Muslim ethnic groups, likewise such terms used in the kanunnames of the province of Çukurabad[6] and the sancakof özer[7] have exactly the same connotations (See Appendix III).

Tlie term "Ekrad zuhnii" in "Vilayet-¡ mezburede sabikda Ekrad zulmünden nice reaya perakende olup...", tlie plirase recorded in the 1541 kanunname of Çemişgezek, mean the atrocity of die nomads rather than tliat of the Kurds[8] (See Appendix IV). In fact tlie state considered these atrocious acts committed against the settled people and the harms done to their crops by the nomads due to the lack of central authority in the XVIIth and XVIIIth centuries as a great injustice committed against the settled people. Tlierefore, the Ottoman government imposed on these tribes who were responsible from sucli acts, forced settlements in the areas, outside Anatolia, sucli as in Cyprus, Syria and Rakka[9]. Also the term "Ekradadeti"in "vilayet-¡ mezburede alman Ekradadeti...'', tlie phrase recorded in the 1566 kanunname of Çemişgezek, used in place of "resm-i hane"[10]. This fact is fully clear from tlie plirase "Vilayet-¡ mezburede şimdiye değin alumgelen Ekrad adeti ki resm-ihane deyti...” recorded in the kanunnameof Bitlis province[11]. Likewise die term "Kurdistan hükmünde"in "Ve vilayet-¡ mezbure şimdiye değin Kiirdistan hükmünde olup, defter ahtahn bilmedikleri ecilden..." [12], tlie phrase recorded in Çemişgezek kanunname,refers to geographical location rather than political, and therefore means "mountainous area, an area that the government cannot reacli". We do know that this area formerly was under die administration of Akkoyunlus, descendants of Bayindir line of Oguz. Tlie Ottomans carried out several surveys in tlie region after it liad passed into tlieii' hands. Tur Ali Bey, the Beg of Siverek, first mentioned as "Akkoyunlu" in one of these registei's, recoi'ded several years later as "Tkrad [13]Indeed in the province of Diyarbekir today many people who think of themselves as of Kurdish origin claim that the Akkoyunlu state was a Kurdish one[14].

One of the best examples that the term Ekrad and Kiird do not refer to an ethnic origin is the term "Ekrad-ı Döğerlü" used for a group of people that had lived in the province of Urfa and who were actually the descendant of Döğer, one of the tribes of twenty-four Oğuz clans[15] (See Appendix V). Here the word Ekrad, just like the word Etrak must mean nomads[16]. Döğer tribe together with its marks cited within the list of Oğuz clans by Reşidüddin[17], Kaşgarh Mahmud[18] and Yazıcıoğlu[19]. Likewise it is a fact that d٦e "Kiird Atlu" clan of Bertiz tribe is purely of Turkish origin and has no other ethnic background despite the epithet "Kiird"[20] (See Appendix ٦٩). We do come across the epithet "Kiird" used before or after the names of Turkish tribes, but we have no clear explanation for their usage in such a way. "Kiird Mihmadlu" clan of Dulkadirid Dokuz (= Beşanlu) tribe is one of the good examples for such a usage[21] (See Appendix VII). The same clan had a sub-branch called "Küçük Kiird Mihmadlu". Likewise İzzeddinlü clan[22], so named after their Kethüda İzzeddin Bey, recorded in some documents as "Ekrad-ı İzzeddinlü"despite the fact they mentioned as Bozuluş Turkoman in the sources[23] (See Appendix VIII). The main reason for this is that Izzeddin Bey was the beg of the sancakof Ekrad[24] (See Appendix IX). A group of these people in particular called "Taife-i Ekrad-I Okçu izzeddinlii" for they charged with making arrows, but on the other hand they defined as "Turkmen Ekradi". Likewise die nomadic tribe so called "Kabail-i Rışvan"or "Ekrad-¡ Rışvan", who pass the summer and winter traveling in an area that stretches from Aleppo to Kastamonu, also named "Ttirkmen Ekrad"[25]. Here also the word Ekrad does not have an ethnic connotation for we find in the sources the use of both "Ekrad-I THrkmenan"and "Turkman-¡ Ekrad"[26] (See Appendix X). Literary these two terms would mean Torkoman Kurds or Kurdoman Turks respectively and this would bring to our mind the understanding of Turkocised Kurd or Kurdicised Turks. However, such an interpretation would be a grave mistake, because the use of these two words together in this way is impossible. Therefore, here also the word Ekrad must mean nomad or mountaineer. Even the Bektaşlu tribe of Karaisalu in Çukurova called "Turkman Ekrad'[27]. Here also the word Ekrad must mean nomad or mountaineer. We also come across two clans named Karaca Kiird[28] and Kiird Mehmedlii[29], descendants of Boynu incelu Turkoman tribe, partly living in Kırşehir and partly in Nevşehir and its villages (See Appendix XI). Both of these groups still live in Kırşehir and Nevşehir provinces. Apart from these there were Kiird Hasan-ogullan clan[30] of Bozulus Turkoman settled in Belenli-burun pass (derbend) in the province of Karaman in 1760, and Kurd Tekedu (?) clan of Danişmend Turkoman settled in Kütahya had no other ethnic origin than Turkish despite the fact they had epithet Kurd[31], (See Appendix XII). When the Ottomans defeated before the walls of Vienna in 1683, they started recruiting auxiliary forces from various tribes including the Turkoman tribes of Yeni-il and Aleppo. There were among these Turkoman tribes one clan called "Kılıçlı Kürdü" [32] (See Appendix XIII) and yet another settled in Hama and Homs called "Ekrad-! Kılıçlu"[33] (See Appendix XIV). Likewise there were "Kara Kürd", "Kürd Mehmedlu" and "Şerbedi Kürdü"clans within the Danişmend Turkomans settled around Aydin-Denizli[34], (Se Appendix XV).

We already know that the best organized group in Anatolia as a tribe (il veya ulus) was Kara koyunlu ulusu, Bozulus and Kara ulus. Of these Kara ulus described in a different way in the kanunnameof Bozulus and as it is clear from the phrase: "Kara ulus taifesi Ekradve müteferrik taife olup koyunlarI sayjlmalu oldukda..." [35]given the connotation Ekrad. No doubt the term Ekrad here also used to mean mountaineer or nomad. The Lek clan[36] recorded within the Bozulus Turkoman tribe in the Tahrir Defter number 200 carried out during the reign of Sultan Suleyman, the Legislator, and referred to as of Turkoman tribe in the phrase "Havass-! hümayunumdan Lek-Vanik nam Tiirkmantaifesi arzuhal sunup askeri-islam İçin, bunlardan he? katar deve ve beşyüzre's koyun Sl'irsat ferman olunmağla..."recorded in a Muhimme document dated 30 July 1610[37]. However, the same tribe referred to as "Ekradve Yürük taifesinden Lekcemaati..."in another Muhimme document dated 19 March 1611[38]. Also the term "Lekvanik Tkradr'[39] used in anotlrer document dated January 1713. We find name of the begs such as Malko؟ Bey, Denizoglu, and Krzil Koyunlu Halil Kethrrda among the names of the tribalchiefs of the same clan recorded in a Mfihimme document dated 1690[40] Likewise the term "Tiirkman ve Ekraddan Receblü Afşarı cemaati..."used for the clan Recebi Afşar which there is no doubt is a Turkoman trite[41]. Also during the process of recruiting soldiers for the army in 1690 a side note "VesairRum'dan olan Ekrad taifeleri ve Çorum kürdü ihtiyarlan"was recorded for the Badilli (=Beydili) tribal-chiefs of Turkomans of Yeni-il and Aleppo. The word Ekrad and Kürdused together here shows the similarity with the phrase "Türk veya şehirli olsa"as pointed out at the outset of this article[42]. In fact it is very clear that from these last examples that the term Ekrad used to mean nomad and tliat in particular the words Turkmen, Kind and Ekrad have no ethnic connotation whatsoever.

The explanations given above are not only applicable to the words Türk- Etrak, Kürd-Ekradbut also some other words recorded in the Ottoman documents. For instance we find the ever often used Turkish names such as Durak, Evran, Küçük, Hızır, Aşık, Uğurlu, Emir, Ball, ؟oban. Umur, Ko؟!, Sefer, Selman and Arslan among the Gebran (Cliristian) names recorded under Kazabad nahiyeof Tokat province in the Tahrir Defter dated 961 A.H./ 1554/ A.D. and numbered 287[43]. These most probably were the Christian Turks brought from Rumelia during the era of Byzantine Empire (See Appendix XVII). Likewise the Christian groups such as Greeks, Syriac, and Nastorians living in South-Eastern Anatolia and Eastern Anatolia all recorded as "cema'at-¡ Eramine"[44]. Simeon, the Polish in his book of travels also points out that all the non-Muslims recorded as eramine although they were not all Armeniars[45].

In conclusion, it is incumbent on the researches of history to interpret carefily. the terms and words -similar to the few examples given above- that had stemmed from the state's administrative system and understanding, as well as the local terminology in the Ottoman State. The Ottoman State founded a society fit to its system and administrative understanding without giring any damage to its structure. It is clear, therefore, from what has been written above, that the word Ekrad does not mean Kurds whatsoever and that such a consideration would be a grave mistake. We can only reach the true science of histoiy and philosophy of histoity through considering such matters. We also believe that the social, ethnic and cultural structure of Anatolia can only be determined and solved in this way.


  1. See Ğ.L. Barkan, XV ve XW. Asırlarda Osmanh İmparatorlugu'nda Zirai Ekonominin Hukuki ve Mali Fçadan, İstanbul 1943, p. 387.
  2. See Nevi, Kitâb-ı Cihan-mimâ, ed. F. Reşit Unat-M. A. Köymen, Ankara 1987, pp. 198- 199.
  3. See Süleymaniye Esad Efendi Library, nu. 2068, 5b.
  4. See BA, TD. nu. 64, p. 783.
  5. See BA, Tahrir Defteri (TD), nu. 69, p. 664; TD, nu. 450, p. 838; TD, nu. 178, p. 3.
  6. BA, TD, nu. 998, p. 302.
  7. BA, TD, nu. 1023, p. 1.
  8. BA, TD, nu. 213, pp. 17-18.
  9. For further details see Cengiz Orhonlu, Osmanlı İmparatorluğu'nda Aşiretleri iskan Teşebbüsü, İstanbul 1963; Yusuf Halaçoğlu, XVIII. Yüzyılda Osmanlı İmpaı torluğu'nda iskan Siyaseti ve Asiretkrin Yerlesmesi, Ankara 1991.
  10. See Tapu-Kadastro Kuybsd-ı Kadime Archive, TD, nu. 106, pp. 2-3.
  11. See Tapu-Kadastro Kuyeld-ı Kadime Archive, TD, nu. 109, p. 1; also see Ö.L.Barkan, Kanunlar, p. 192.
  12. Tapu-Kadastro Kuyud-i Kadime Archive, TD, nu. 164, p. 2.
  13. See Nejat Göyünç, XVL Yüzyılda Mardin Sancağı, Ankara 1991, p. 41, 80; Nejat Göyünç, "Türk-Kürd ilişkileri Hakkında", Türk Kültürü, nu. 346, Ankara 1992, p. 66.
  14. See Nejat Göyünç, "Türk-Kürd ilişkileri Hakkında", p. 66.
  15. Tapu-Kadastro Kuyıki-i Kactime Archive, TD, nu. 965, p. 165a; also see, Mühimme Defteri, nu. 99, p. 54, decree 186.
  16. For further details on this subject see Nejat Göyünç, "XVI. Yüzyılda Doğu ve Güney- Doğu Anadolu'da Yönetim ve Nüfus", Türk Kültürü Dergisi, nu. 370, Ankara 1994, pp. 85-86.
  17. Cânı fü't-teıw'rih, ed. Berezin, Petersburg 1858, pp. 32-38.
  18. Divânu Lugâti't-Türk, trs. Besim Atalay, İstanbul 1936, I, pp. 58-59.
  19. Târih-i Al-i Selçuk, Topkapı Palace Library, Revan nu. 1390, pp. 21-24.
  20. BA, TD, nu. 402, p. 321.
  21. BA, TD, nu. 402, pp. 219-220, 274.
  22. The inhabitants of Halife village of Kızılağaç town in the province of Edirne - when they were asked to pay taxes as the descendents of İzzeddinlü clan of Bozulus Turkoman from Karaman- they declared that their forefathers were from Bozulus Turkoman and that they had been residing in this place for eighty year and had paid their taxes (BA, Cevdet catalogue, Dahiliye section, nu. 6425).
  23. See Ruznamçe, p. 27. Also it was recorded as "Cemaat-i Hâlidlü, tâbi-i Gerger. an Ekrâd-ı İzzeddin Bey' in the Tahrir Defter (See BA, TD, nu. 123, p. 442).
  24. In the sources with regard to this usage we come across the following phrase: Rışvan,Tabi-i Kalıta an rea.-yı İzzeddin Bey. Mirliva-i Ekrcf' (BA, TD, nu. 123, p. 441).
  25. See BA, TD, nu. 71, p. 252-253; TD, nu. 123, p. 428.
  26. Tapu-Kadastro Kuyiid-iKadime Archive, TD, nu. 997, p. 344.
  27. Tapu-Kadastro Kuyild-ı Kadime Archive, TD, nu. 114, p. 171a (1572).
  28. See BA, Maliyeden Miidevver Defters (MAD), nu. 8458, p. 306, year 1126; also see Yusuf Halaçoğlu, XVIII. Yüzyılda Osmanlı İmparatorluku'nun iskan Siyaseti ye Aşiretlerin Yerleştirilmesi, Ankara 1991, pp. 74-76.
  29. Yusuf Halaçoğlu, idem, p. 76; also see Ahmed Refik, Anadolu'da Türk Aşiretleri, İstanbul 1930, p. 77.
  30. See MAD, nu. 9956, p. 33.
  31. MAD, nu. 8458, p. 248.
  32. See BA, Mühimme Defter (MD), nu. 99, p. 50-52, decree 186; also see Ahmed Refik, idem, p. 86.
  33. See BA, MD, nu. 104, p. 112, decree 521; also see Ahmed Refik, idem, p. 107.
  34. See BA, MD, nu. 102, p. 208, decree 803; also see Ahmed Refik, idem, p. 104.
  35. See Ömer L. Barkan, XV. ve XVI. Asırlarda Osmanlı imparatorluğu'nda Zirai Ekonominin Hukuki ve Mali Esasları, Kanunlar, İstanbul 1943, p. 140.
  36. See BA, TD, nu. 200, p. 958.
  37. See Ahmed Refik, idem, p. 64.
  38. On being recorded as an Ekrad tribes that were part of the Kilis mukata'a see BA, MD, nu. 99, p. 48, decree 186; also see Ahmed Refik, idem, pp. 64-65.
  39. Ahmed Refik, idem, pp. 145-146.
  40. MD, nu. 99, p. 54, decree 186.
  41. Ahmed Refik, idem, p. 145.
  42. MD, nu. 99, p. 56, decree 186.
  43. See BA, TD, nu. 287, p. 317-318.
  44. See Nejat Göyünç, "XVI. Yüzyılda Doğu ve Güney-Doğu Anadolu'da Yönetim ve Nüfus", Türk Kültürü Dergisi, nu. 370, Ankara 1994, p. 84; also see Mehmet Ali Unal, XVI. Yüzyılda HarputSancagn (151E3-1566), Ankara 1989, p. 63.
  45. Polonyalı Siemon, Polonyalı Simeon'un Seyahatnamesi, 1608-1619, ed. Hrand Andreasyan, İstanbul 1964, p. 89.

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