ISSN: 0041-4255
e-ISSN: 2791-6472

Süleyman Demi̇rci̇

Keywords: Ottoman, Karaman, 17th century, Avâriz


In Ottoman studies there have been collective biographical studies on the personnel of the imperial palace, the sultan's household, the households of viziers (vezirs) and pashas (paşas), and on the personal backgrounds of the members of certain branches of the central administration[1]. Such studies enable us to follow recruitment patterns, changes in the numbers or educational levels of personnel, length of period in office, etc. Study of more minor groups employed in the Ottoman government, such as avâriz[2] and nüzul[3] collectors, is at a preliminary stage. Fortunately, the avâriz and nüzul Defters[4], and sicils (court records) used for the present study contain sufficient information about such tax collectors to enable us to make a useful comment on their origins and status. This paper focuses on two related aspects: first, it provides a picture of the range of individuals involved in avâriz and nüzul collection, whether from the military class, scholars of the Islamic sciences (ulema) or others; second, it examines the changes during the century in the type of person appointed, and what ranks the collection candidate held before attaining those of avâriz and nüzul collection. It will be interesting to assess at what stage, if at all, the palace officials or the followers of 'great men of state’ became involved in the collection process.

The registers that have been studied name 58 separate individuals as collectors of avâriz/nüzul levies during this period. Their professional status is also frequently given. This information is sufficient to enable us to test whether the theories of Rifaat Abou-el-Haj and Metin Kunt on the gradual replacement during the seventeenth century of military personnel by palace- trained and household retainers at the higher levels of Ottoman provincial administration also holds good for lower level functionaries such as tax collectors. This paper examines the available information to see what, if any, pattern emerges from it. We will first review briefly the findings of Abou-El- Haj and Kunt Kunt's findings show that patronage relations and household affiliations became dominant factors in the appointment of more central government officials to high provincial office in the period up to the midseventeenth century. For example, by the 1630s, 10 out of 17 men were appointed by the central government as sancak beyi (the governor of a sancak) directly from ümera (high-ranking military-administrative officials) households (15.9 percent of all new appointments) ; 8 out of 17 (almost half) were not blood relatives but ümera-household officers. This shows that the service in private households came to be considered a regular alternative to the sendee in the sultan’s household, as a preparation for a further career[5] Abou-El-Haj, in his study of appointments to high office in the central government in Istanbul and to provincial governorships, argues that by the second half of the 17th century almost half of all these appoinunents were of men who had been raised or trained in, or were in some way attached to, the households of vezirs or paşas. Again, these were gradually replacing men trained in the palace or the military section of the sultan's household, which were the traditional sources for the Ottoman ruling class[6].

Abou-El-Haj's conclusions are based on a study of 262 individuals working in the central administration during the period 1683 and 1703, and of 426 appointments to proincial governorships in the 36 eyâlets[7] of the empire during the same twenty years.

These figures indicate that the military had been down-graded as a source for staffing posts in the central government and in the provinces taking a litde over 20% of posts in the central administration and about 16% of the governorates, while the palace household continued to provide a substantial number of men to staff both levels of government. As far as Karaman eyâleti (the Province of Karaman ) is concerned, 17 governors were assigned to the province from 1683 to 1703. Two out of the 17 were beyzade (son of a nobleman) , 6 were from vezir households, 7 were palace trained, and 2 were military. There was no civilian involvement in the governorship of Karaman for this period[8].

Can similar changes be detected at the lower levels of the Ottoman administration? According to Darling, numbers of avâriz/nüzul collectors in the empire generally drawn from the standing cavalry forces increased dramatically in the first two decades of the seventeenth century. For example, the majority of assignments for collection of the piyade and müsellem[9] avâriz of Anadolu was given to men from the standing cavalry, e.g. 9 out of 14 in 1031/1621-22, and 14 out of 15 in 1032/1622-23[10]. However, she then identifies a noticeable decrease from around 1650, with collection appointments being given to a wider range of men. This appears to mirror the findings of Abou-El-Haj and Kunt. However, the findings in this present study for Karaman do not support this empire-wide general pattern.

The following chronological listing of the named avâriz and nüzul collectors allows us to see in more detail their background and the scope of their appointment. In general, most, though not all, were appointed to collect both these levies throughout the whole province of Karaman. The majority were appointed for one year only; their names do not appear Again in further registers in Karaman, although they may have been employed as tax-collectors in other provinces. Most appeared in person to collect the levies, although occasionally an officially appointed collector delegated the task to a subordinate, and this was recorded in the register (defter).

The entries in the avâriz and nüzul registers shown in table 1 reveal that the number of military personnel in the avâriz collection for the first half of the seventeenth century were in the majority, and that they continued to be so after mid-century. In fact, from the 1660s onwards only one person is named each year as avâriz/nüzul collector for the entire province, and in 11 cases out of 18 he is from a military background. Some of the unidentified avâriz-collectors in table 1 may also have been members of military since we cannot determine their background from the brief names given. It should be noted here that several collectors in the later part of the century are identified only as 'ağa' and it is not always possible to say whether they were also connected to the central administration or were local men in the various livas. Unless stated otherwise in the documents, ağa is taken here to refer to men of military background[11]. This gives us a total of 34 out of 58 idenüfiable avâriz/nüzul collectors in Karaman eyâleti who were from a military background.

Also involved as collectors were senior officials from the general administration i.e. gümrük emini (customs controller), başbakikulu (tax inspector) etc. other individuals identified by title are more difficult to place, mainly due to uncertainty about usage of term ağa. Sometimes ağa is used together with some other affiliadon i.e. mirahur-i evvel (master of the imperial horses) Ibrahim Ağa. In this case, Ibrahim Ağa is classified as a palace funcdonary rather than military, as is the kethüda of the mirahur-i evvel. Some cases contain the title solak ağa. Solak in Ottoman usage referred to guards in attendance on the sultan in processions, and hence were palace functionaries, as was the baltaci (halberdier attached to the sultan's palace and kapucı (gatekeeper). The term sipahi is used for cavalrymen whether standing (ulufeli) or enfeoffed (tımarlı sipahiyan) hence military. Similarly, zaim, holder of a zeamet, is classified as military. The term çavuş was used for ranking military officers; bostancı (member of the imperial guard) was also military. Among those classed as retainers of prominent men of state are sadrıazam kapu kethüdası (gatekeeper of the grand vezir) and defterdarpaşa kethüdası (head male servant of minister of finance). Taking all this into consideration we can now build up the following table in order to be able to present these figures in a more intelligible way. Following this we will present the available information on the names and professional status of known avâriz/nüzul collectors.

As can be seen in the table 1, of the 58 collectors found for the period 1628 to 1700, 34 (58.6%) were military men, while 9 (15.5%) were palace functionaries, 3 (5.1%) were retainers of prominent men, 1 (1.7%) was civilian, 1 (1.1%) was a religious man, 1 (1.7%) was a kadi, 2 (3.4%) were officials working in the administrative apparatus. Seven (12%) were unknown by their employment at the time when the collection took place. The majority of tax collectors were therefore from a military background[12]. They remained prominent throughout the century.

All the collectors listed in the 1628 (MM3862) register, the first one used here, came from military backgrounds as members of the standing cavalry. The register also lists Cafer Mustafa of the ebna-i sipahiyan (member of one of the standing cavalry regiment) as a collector of the bedel-i nüzul (cash equivalent for grain levy) for Konya, Aksaray, Niğde and Akşehir livası. An imperial decree in the sicil indicates that he was the same person who had performed the nüzul collection in Niğde livası in 1626: “...ebna-i sipahiyandan iki yüz dokuzuncu (209) bölükte ulufeciyan-i yemin subaşılanndan olan Cafer Mustafa ... kayd fi 9 şehr-i cemaziye'1-evvel sene 1036 (9July 1626)[13]. Mustafa Abdulkerim of the ulufeciyan-i yesar (units of the standing palace cavalry force) collected the bedel-i nüzul for Beyşehir Livası, Veli Selim Oğuz of gureba-i yesar (units of the standing palace cavalry force) for Kırşehir Livası, Ali Musa Báli of ebna-i sipahiyan for Kayseri and Ahmed Abdullah Larende of ulufeciyan-i yesar for İçil. The sums earned by the above mendoned tax collectors ( el-mübaşir) ranged from about 7 to 26 akçe per day, depending on the locadons, and presumably on the status of the collectors[14].

As far as we can tell from the available information in the archival documents used here, the daily payment (mübaşiriye) to collectors during the course of the collection process varied significantly in the first half of the seventeenth century. The mübaşiriye for avâriz akçesi was paid at 17 akçe in the liva of Akşehir in the year 1641, while it was paid at 30 in the liva of Kırşehir. It varied more widely in the following year, 1642: 39 akçe in Konya, and 11 akçebedel-i nüzul. The mübaşiriye, as recorded in the registers of 1628 at the liva level are as follows; 7 akçe in İçil, 10 akçe in Beyşehir, 11 akçe in Kırşehir, and 26 akçe in Kayseri. In contrast to avâriz akçesi, the mübaşiriye was comparatively stable in 1641; 10 akçe in the livas of Konya, Beyşehir, Akşehir, Kayseri, Aksaray, Kırşehir, İçil, and 19 akçe in Niğde. Once the avâriz and nüzul system was firmly established by the middle of the seventeenth century, the mübaşiriye for the avâriz akçesi stabilised at 50 akçe for avâriz from c.l650s[15] and 30 akçe for bedel-i nüzul from c. 1659[16] in the province of Karaman.

In the 1628 register, there is no sign of non-military involvement in the avâriz and nüzul collection in that year. This military dominance may have been influenced by the disturbances connected with the rebel Abaza Mehmed Paşa, the governor-general of Erzurum, in eastern and central Anadolu[17].

Of the 34 recorded avâriz and nüzul collectors who were members of the military in the years between 1628 and 1700, five out of the 34 were involved with avâriz and nüzul collection in 1628, and those remaining were active collectors during tire rest of the century. Darling assumes that a dramatic decrease in assignments to standing cavalrymen began around 1650[18]. The information used in this study does not support her assumption that a decline in the use of military personnel occurred from about the midcentury. Here the military remained the dominant factor in tax collection job in the province throughout the century.

Unfortunately, no registers have been found for tire years 1629 and 1639. We are therefore not in a position to give the name of the collectors and their status on a regular basis for the period before 1640.

Survey of Collectors 1640-1699

This section extracts from each relevant register the information on appointees, their status and their renumerations, and any other significant information to enable us to build up a picture of the type of people appointed as avâriz/nüzul collectors once the regular registers begin. Tire information is presented in tabular form in certain years where this is appropriate. The text includes the rate of pay received by each individual where this is available.

The avâriz register of 1050/1640 lists Hasan Ağa as a collector of the cash avâriz for the eyâlet as a whole[19]. In fact, Hasan Ağa collected the cash avâriz in the livas of Konya, Aksaray, Akşehir, Beyşehir, Kırşehir and İçil, while Solak Ali Ağa, who was an inhabitant of Kayseri, collected the cash avâriz in both Kayseri and Niğde livası. Here, therefore, a local person was involved in the collection[20].

The avârizhâne register dated 1051/1641 tells us that a certain Turalizâde Osman Bey, who was an inhabitant of Amasya, was appointed to collect the cash avâriz at the eyâlet level[21]. The register did not mention Turalizâde Osman Bey's current employment, so it is possible that he was out of office/ mazul at that time and had been assigned to this large collection post. In contrast to Hasan Ağa in the previous year, it seems that Turalizâde Osman Bey himself did not travel around the province in order to perform the collection, but delegated other people to the livas. In Beyşehir Livası Baltacı Mehmed Bey, the 'man'[22] of Bakaci Mahmud Ağa, was assigned to the avâriz collection. The title of baltacı indicates that Mehmed Bey was associated with the palace hence he should be regarded as palace functionary. The avâriz collection in Akşehir Livası was carried our by Mahmud of ulufeciyan-iyemin from the alti bölük regiments. He was paid 17 akçe per day. The avâriz collection in Kayseri Livası was carried out by Solak Ali Ağa (presumably the same person as in 1640) who is idendfied here as an inhabitant of the village of Gesi in the kaza/district of Kayseri at that time. The document did not mention his current employment, so it is Again possible that he was at that time out of office/mazul or a retired palace functionary of military origin. The document gives the name of a certain Ali Bey for the avâriz collection in Aksaray livası. It is clear in the text that he was an inhabitant of the liva. Nothing is known about his current employment. The avâriz of Kırşehir was collected by Ali Bey of the sipahiyan from Bolu livası. He was paid 30 akçe per day. 'The avâriz collection for İçil livası was given to Mustafa çelebi who was a 'man' of Yunus Ağa in Adana[23]. The avâriz for Konya Livası is noted as being collected by Osman Bey (el- mübaşir), who is presumably Turalizâde Osman Bey himself. This is the only liva in which he personally made the collection[24].

The MM4950 register lists Veli Ağa of Manisa as the cash avâriz collector for both Konya and Beyşehir livası for the year 1642. Baltacı Mahmud Ağa acted as a guarantor on behalf of Veli Ağa. There is no indication in the document whether, despite his title, Veli Ağa was an active military man in Manisa. Here we see for the first time, a potential avâriz tax collector producing a guarantor to the central government in order to get emr ü defter for the province of Karaman. İn the iltizam (tax-farming) system, it is not unusual to see such a situation, but as far as our sources are concerned this is the exceptional case, since there is no other example appearing before this register.

Züema Musa Ağa, who was a military man and an inhabitant of Kırşehir, collected the cash avâriz in the Akşehir livası for the year. The avâriz of Niğde, Aksaray, Kırşehir and İçil livası was collected by Çorbacioğlu Seyyid Mehmed Ağa, an inhabitant of Larende[25]. Nothing is known about Çorbacioğlu Seyyid Mehmed Aga's current employment. The avâriz of Kayseri was collected by Mehmed Bey, serdar-i yeniçeriyan-i dergah-i âli cami[26].

In 1053/1643 the avâriz collection in Karaman eyâleti was carried out by Boşnak Mehmed Bey, the 'man' of Kalenderi Mehmed Efendi. Although it is not clear from the text what exactly his position was, one could assume that Kalenderi Mehmed Efendi was a leading figure in the order of the kalenderi dervishes and, therefore a truscwothy person at that time, so it is perhaps for this reason that someone from among his followers was assigned to this post[27]. İn the same register we have some other people whose names were registered in the defter for separate fivas in the province. It is therefore quite likely that these people were acting under Boşnak Mehmed Bey's supervision, although the document does not give clear information to support this. Having said that however, there is not an obvious reason not to do so. The avâriz collection in Konya livası was given to Mehmed Şaban Yeniçeri of the ebna-i sipahiyan. He was paid 39 akçe per day[28]. The avâriz collection in both Niğde and Akşehir livası were carried out by Kalenderi Mehmed Bey himself[29]. Veli Beyzade Mehmed Bey of Doğanhisari town was given permission to collect the avâriz in Beyşehir Livası. However it seems that he did not collect it personally since the document gives Murad Beydin of the ebna-i sipahiyan as an acting collector. It is again the case that he himself was not, it seems, the fully responsible person before the central government, and yet he did the job for a payment of 11 akçe per day[30].

It is seen in the avâriz registers that sometimes the amount of avâriz money was not collected in cash. Instead the avârizhânes of a certain province were asked to provide something else for the central government. For example, in MM2808, dated as 1645, every 7 avârizhânes in Karaman eyâleti provided a kürekci/oarsman for the navy during the Crete campaign (1645-1669). Kapucubaşi Yaya Süleyman Ağa, presumably a highly qualified person, was assigned to oversee this. The main difference between the ordinary collectors mentioned above, and Yaya Süleyman Ağa, was that he was not paid on a daily basis, but according to the number of avârizhânes in the province. It is stated in the text that 15 akçe from each avârizhâne of the province was to be paid to him, as his salary[31].

In the avârizhâne register MM3832, dated 1058/1648, we have for the first time a kadi named Mevlâna Seyyid Ahmed, who was kadi of the kaza of Konya. He is mentioned in the text as an acting collector for the kaza[32]. Darling stated that a number of temessüks (document(s) that could be presented as verification) for avâriz payments, found in the Ali Emiri collection in the archives, list kadis as the persons responsible for payment, and concluded that "the avâriz documents from around the turn of the century show that the avâriz was collected by kadis and therefore was organized and divided by kaza"[33] As far as the archival documents regarding Karaman eyâleti are concerned, there is only one single entry out of the 58 which indicates the kadi as a collector. While kadis were always expected to work closely witii the official collectors, they were, from the evidence here, rarely appointed as collectors themselves.

In register MM2787 dated 1060/1651 the avâriz collection in Karaman eyâleti excluding Niğde and Kayseri livası was given to Başbakikulu Abdullah Aga[34]. After receiving the authority for the collection of the cash avâriz in certain areas, Abdullah Ağa himself did not go to the region, but gave the emr ü defter (an order and a copy of the assessment register) to Süleyman oğlu Mustafa çavuş, an inhabitant of Ilgin, in order to do the job for him[35]. Mustafa was military since the title ‘çavuş’ is evidence of this. There is no information in the text on the amount of money paid for this job to either Abdullah Ağa or Süleyman oğlu Mustafa Çavuş. In the same year the avâriz of Niğde livası was collected by Celâlizade Yusuf Ahmed Beşe, who was an inhabitant of Kayseri, and a retired Janissary. We do not know from the available information how, being a retired soldier in Kayseri, he could manage to get this job. Basing said that, however, it is quite possible that some of his old friends in Istanbul might have played an active role in assisting him[36]. The avâriz collection for the same year in the liva of Kayseri was also carried out by Celâlizade Yusuf Ağa. He may or may not be the same person as Celâlizade Yusuf Ahmed Beşe above. Nothing is known about his current employment or official status. It is possible that Yusuf Ağa might be a retired person from the standing army, although there is no indication apart from the title of ‘ağa’ in the text to support this[37].

Entries in register MM1980, dating from 1061/1651-52, shows that the avâriz collection in Karaman eyâleti was given to Köse Ismail Ağa[38]. Subsequent entries in MM1980 show that avâriz collection in the livas of Konya, Kayseri, Kırşehir, Niğde, Aksaray, Akşehir, Beyşehir and İçil was actually carried out by Mustafa, the 'man' of Yunus Ağa in Adana[39]. It is possible that the same Mustafa and Yunus Ağa of Adana carried out the avâriz collection, bodr in Niğde and İçil livası in 1641[40]. As stated above, Mustafa is the only person mentioned in the text as the avâriz collector for all livas in the entire Karaman eyâleti. We do not know his official status since tire text does not give his full name.

The avâriz collection for Karaman eyâleti was carried out by a certain Birader Ahmed Ağa for the year 1062/1652-53[41]. His collection area consisted of Konya, Akşehir, Beyşehir, Kırşehir, Aksaray and İçil livası,[42] but Niğde livası is not included. Nothing is known about Birader Ahmed Ağa's employment. However, one could believe that he was, or used to be a member of the standing cavalry regiment either in Istanbul or in the region. The avâriz collection of Niğde livası was given to the Kapuci Mehmed Çelebi[43]. Unlike Birader Ahmed Ağa, Kapuci Mehmed çelebi was probably officially holding a 'doorkeeper' position, most likely in Istanbul, before getting this job since the initial title kapuci in front of his name, is evidence of this.

The avârizhâne register MM2989, dated 1064/1654, lists Mimar Ağa (chief architect) as the only collector. The emr ü defter for the avâriz collection in Karaman eyâleti were given to Mimar Ağa himself, according to the register[44]. Nothing is known about his actual name, except that of Mimar Ağa. He may be of military origin with a strong link with the palace funtionaries, hence he could be regarded as a palace functionary rather than military. This is the first instance in these records where a single collector was responsible for avâriz/nüzul levies in the province. The case of Yaya Süleyman Ağa in 1645 differs because he was recruiting oarsmen for the navy not cash payment. It also differs from that of 1648 where the only named collector Mevlâna Seyyid Ahmed was appointed to collect from the single kaza of Konya only.

The following year, according to the register KK2623, dated 1065/1655, the cash avâriz collection in Karaman eyâleti was given to Defterdar Paşa Kethüdası (head male servant of minister of finance) Ahmed Ağa[45]. Later on for some unknown reason, the avâriz collection of Beyşehir livası was separated and given to Mehmed çelebi in 1065/1655, who himself was an inhabitant of Konya at that time. Another entry in the same document shows that the avâriz collection in Beyşehir livası was then taken away from Mehmed çelebi and given back to Ahmed Ağa[46]. The avâriz collection of Kirşehir livası was carried out by Veled Ağa, an inhabitant of Kırşehir[47]. Although the document does not give us a clear indication about Veled Ağa's employment or official satatus, he may be someone with a military background. The same register shows that Mustafa Bey, an inhabitant of Kayseri, collected avâriz in Akşehir livası[48]. His official status is not mentioned in the document.

From around 1658, the information on avâriz and nüzul collectors tends mainly to give only one individual as the main collector, and only a very few others in restricted areas. This may mark the beginning of a transition from an appointment procedure to one of tax-farming, iltizam. The personnel details are as follows.

In the avârizhane register for 1070/1660 we have the name of a certain Gümrük emini (customs controller) Siyavuş Ağa, as the collector of the avâriz and nüzul taxes in the province of Karaman for the year 1068/1658[49]. Siyavuş Ağa was working in the administradve apparatus, as 'gümrük emini' in front of his name is evidence of this.

The avârizhane register of 1073/74-1663/64 lists Gümüşi Mehmed Ağa as avâriz collector for the livas in province of Karaman excluding the liva of Beyşehir[50]. We do not know Gümüşi Mehmed Ağa's current employment or official status, since the document does not provide this information. However, it is likely that he could be a man widi military background as the title of 'ağa' is indicative of this. We do not know the actual name of the collector for the liva of Beyşehir. Widiin the register it inendones that he was subaşi of a certain Ibrahim Canzade Mehmed Bey[51]. In MM3354 register, dated 1074/75-1665, in which an imperial degree was given to the Bostancilar odabaşisi Mehmed Ağa (the person in charge of the imperial guards) in order to collect the bedel-i nüzul in the province. From the information given in the text it seems that he, himself, did not perform the job personally, but rather had assigned Küçük Hasan Ağa as an acting bedel- i nüzul collector for the livas in the province of Karaman. He would give the emr ü defter to him, providing that Küçük Hasan Ağa paid the full amount of money by the 15th of the month of şaban in 1074/1665. The bedel-i nüzul collection of the liva of Beyşehir for the same year was separated from the main task, and given to someone else. The document does not provide the collector's name, their employment, or their official status[52].

In some cases the avâriz and bedel-i nüzul collection was carried out by the same person, as is the case in MM3003 register, dated 1081/1671, list Hasodabaşi (a head in the royal ward of the Sultan’s palace) Ağa as the collector of both the avâriz and bedel-i nüzul for the province of Karaman for the year 1076/ 1666[53]. An entry in MM3836 register, dated 1078/1668, indicates that Hasodabaşi Ağa did receive emr ü defter for the avâriz collection in the kazas of the livas within the entire province of Karaman[54]. The Hasodabaşi Ağa must be someone among the palace functionaries. The avârizhâne register KK2651 register dated 1080/1670 lists Kapu Kethüdası (official representative of a provisional governor in Istanbul) Ali Ağa as avâriz collector for the province of Karaman in 1079/1669[55].

An entry in KK2653 register, dated 1080/1670,[56] indicates that Defterdar Paşa Ağalarından (head male servant in the minister of finance’s household) Osman Paşazade Ahmed Bey received the avâriz collection certificate for the province of Karaman, for the given year. Later on his collection certificate was taken away from him for some unknown reason, and Sadriazain Kapu Kethüdası (gatekeeper of the grand vezir) Ali Ağa was assigned to undertake the avâriz collection of the province[57]. Ali Ağa, as sadriazam kapu kethüdâsi, was a retainer of the grand vezir. He may be the same Ali Ağa who collected the avâriz in the province of Karaman in 1669.

The register MM2790, dated 1082/1672, lists Ali Ağa from the liva of Kayseri as the collector of the avâriz for the province of Karaman for the year 1081/1671. The document tells us that Ali Ağa was Başbakikulu (tax inspector/chief of collectors arrears) Hasan Ağa's uncle but it docs not tell us about his employment or official status. It is possible that he was a man with military connections since the title of 'ağa' indicates. It also mentions in the text that his collection was guaranteed by a certain Ismail Ağa, an inhabitant of the liva of Kayseri. This is the second case where the potential avâriz tax collector had produced a guarantor to the central government in order to get emr ü defter for the province of Karaman. Although the collector was a close family relative of Başbakikulu Hasan Ağa, he still had to prove his ability to meet the central government’s requirement by producing a guarantor[58].

The register MM2412, dated 1083/1673, lists Abdulmuin Ağa as the collector of the avâriz for the province of Karaman for the year 1082/1672,[59] stating that he was a member of the standing army (ulufeli) in the liva of İçil. There is no mention of whether he would collect both avâriz and bedel-i nüzul for the province. We could assume that his collection would include the bedel-i nüzul since there is no other person specifically mentioned in the text on this tax[60]. The register KK2659 dated 1084/1674 lists Mahmud Ağa, son of Silahdar (member of the sword bearers' regiment) Burunsuz Mustafa Ağa, as the avâriz and bedel-i nüzul collector for the province of Karaman for the year 1083/1673[61]. The document states that the amount of money collected for this pardcular year was more than expected. So, the excess in the amount of collected money was given to Silahdar Burunsuz Mustafa Ağa as a gift/in'am olunmak by the Sultan[62]. This is a very unusual case. It may have been the case that the previous collections had not met the central government's expectation and therefore Silahdar Ağa was given the money as a reward. The question to be considered here is that, if Mahmud Ağa did collect the avâriz and bedel-i nüzul for the given year on his own, why was his father the person who was awarded the money from the central government? The only explanation we can suspect, is that he was probably acting under his father's supervision, and was not the person widi prime responsibility towards the government.

MM2505 register, dated 1085/1675, lists Mahmud Ağa, Kethüda of the mirahur-i evvel (the master of the Sultan’s horse) Ibrahim Ağa, as the avâriz and bedel-i nüzul collector for the province of Karaman, for the year 1084/1674[63]. KK2665 register dated 1086/1676 lists mirahur-i evvel İbrahim Ağa himself as collector of the avâriz and bedel-i nüzul for the province of Karaman for the year 1085/1675. There is no mention in the text whether or not a second person was involved in the actual collection. Thus, it was perhaps İbrahim Ağa himself who made the collection for the province[64].

The avârizhâne register of MM3830, dated 1091/1680, lists Mustafa Ağa as the avâriz and bedel-i nüzul collector for the year 1086/1676, in the province of Karaman. It is mentioned in the text that Hamza Ağa, who was a man' of mirahur-i ewe/ Ibrahim Ağa, acted as a guarantor on behalf of Mustafa Ağa before the central government. There İs no indication of Mustafa Ağa's current employment in the document[65]. His bacground is assumed to be military. The avârizhâne register of MM3841, dated 1088/1678, lists Mehmed Ağa, a 'man’ of Altuniçok Ali Ağa and settled in Ilgin, as the avâriz and bedel-i nüzul collector for the province of Karaman, for the year 1087/1677. It is mentioned in the text that a person called Hayrullah Ağa was the guarantor for Mehmed Ağa’s collection before the central government. There is no indication concerning either of these men in the document in reference to their current employment, or official status[66]. MM3909 register, dated 1089/1679, lists Ömer Ağa, an inhabitant of Niğde, as the collector for the province of Karaman, for the year 1088/1678. It is clear from the text that Ömer Ağa did not collect bedel-i nüzul for the year in question, and that the former mütesellim/deputy lieutenant- governor and local collector of taxes and tithes in the province of Saruhan, acted as Ömer Ağa's guarantor. It is not possible for us to identify Ömer Ağa's employment at the given time[67]. Again, it is possible that he was or used to be a military personnel in the region before being assigned to this job.

The MM2805 register lists Halil Ağa as the avâriz collecter for the province in the year 1097/1687. There is no clear indication in the document on Halil Ağa's employment at the time. Bezzasitani Mustafa Ağa, who was a resident of Hocapaşa in Istanbul, acted as a guarantor for him[68]. MM2789 register, dated 1098/1688, lists Sari Osman Ağa as the avâriz and bedel-i nüzul collector for the province, in the given year[69]. MM9480 register lists el-hac Halil Ağa as the avâriz collector for the province in the year 1100/1689[70]. MM2793 register lists Mustafa Ağa as the avâriz and bedel-i nüzul collector for province in the year 1103/1691. Two individuals, namely Osman Ağa and Hüseyin Ağa, were registered in the document as his guarantors. There is no information concerning the employment of either of them[71]. In MM3807 register, dated 1108/1696, lists Kara Şaban Ağa, an inhabitant of Kayseri, as the avâriz and bedel-i nüzul collector in the province of Karaman for 1107/1695. Abdulkerim Ağa, treasurer of Köprülüzade Mustafa Paşa, and [illegible] Ağa were his guarantors. There is no indication of Kara Şaban Ağa's employment[72]. MM3820 register, dated 1111/1699, lists el-hac Mehmed Efendi as the avâriz and bedel-i nüzul collector in the province of Karaman, for the year 1110/1698[73].


The systematic examinadon of the avâriz and nüzul registers shows that the majority of the 58 named avâriz and bedel-i nüzul collectors for the province of Karaman between 1628 and 1699 were from a military background. Such men appear to have remained significant in tax collection in the province diroughout the century. However, it should be kept in mind that this assumpdon, at least in part, is based on our understanding of the title ağa as indicating mainly men of military affiliation.

The tendency from about 1665 onwards to appoint only one man to collect the levies from the entire province, coupled with the increasing appearances of guarantors for these collectors together suggest a movement towards a system of iltizam (tax-farming). However, there are insufficient details in the registers studied so far to enable much to be said about iltizam in the avâriz system at this stage. It could be a fruitful topic for further research drawing upon material from other provinces.

The present study also shows that yhere was no non-Muslim involvement recorded in the registers as the collector for the avâriz and nüzul levies in Karaman eyâleti in the seventeenth century, though non-Muslims may have been involved in this job in some other parts of the empire, during the same period. There was, however, a degree of local involvement in avâriz/nüzul collection at the official level. 13 (22.4%) out of the 58 avâriz and nüzul collectors came from local areas within the province i.e. 1 in 1643, 1648 and 1695, 2 in 1641, 1651 and 1655, 3 in 1642; 4 (6.8%) out of the 58 came from other areas i.e. 1 from Amasya recorded in 1641 and 1 from liva of Bolu, 1 in 1642 from Manisa, and 1 from Adana in 1652. The remaining 43 (74.1%) out of the 58 collectors were based in Istanbul. Interestingly enough, of the 13 local collectors, almost all of them (i.e. 11) are recorded for the period leading up to 1655, and only two thereafter, in 1673 and 1695. This may- have been determined by the introduction of an iltizam system[74].

As will be seen from these conclusions, much more work remains to be done on avâriz taxation generally. There is considerable scope within this topic for significant development of our understanding of seventeenth century Ottoman socio-economic history. This study is, to a large extent, merely the first of what could potentially be a lifetime study. It is to be hoped that the above findings will provide a solid basis for more future work.

Author's note: I would like to thank Professor Christine Woodhead of Durham University and the anonymous referees of this Journal for their encouraging comments and suggestions on various points throughout the process of this paper.


  • Devlet Arşivleri Genel Müdürlüğü, Osmanlı Arşivi, (The Ottoman Archive of General Directorate of State Archives: formerly “Başbakanlık Arşivi-Prime Ministry Archive”), Istanbul, (DAGM)
  • A. Archival documents
  • Avârizhâne Registers in Kamil Kepeci Classification [KK]
  • 1050/1640, 2604-1053/1643, 2623-1065/1655, 2625-1067/1657, 3810-1070/1660, 3354-1074-75/1665, 2651-1080/1670, 2790-1082/1672, 2659-1084/1674, 2665-1086/1676, 3809-1089/1679.
  • Avârizhâne Registers in Mâliyeden Müdewer Classifications[MM]
  • 1030/1621, 3862-1038/1628, 3382-1050/1640, 3845-1051/1641, 3074-1051-52/1642, 2808-1055/1645, 3832-1058/1648, 3835-1057-59/1649, 4950-1060/1650, 2780-1061/1651, 1980-1061/1651, 3844-1062/1652, 2989-1064/1654, 3847-1066/1656, 3850-1067-68/1658, 2998-1068/1658, 2749-1068/1658, 2653-1080/1670, 7857-1080/1670, 3067-1073-74/1664, 2783-1075/1665, 3836-1078/1668, 3003-1081/1671, 3834-1081/1671, 2412-1083/1673, 2505-1085/1675, 3841-1088/1678, 3837-1090/1680, 3830-1091/1681, 9480-1096/1686, 2805-1097/1687, 2800-1098/1688, 3839- 1098/1688, 2793-1103/1691, 2471-1104/1692, 2987-1106/1694, 3807- 1108/1696, 3820-1111 /1699, 3826-1112/1700
  • B. Studies
  • A Abou-el-haj, Rifaat; “The Ottoman Vezir and Pasa Households, 1683-1703: A preliminary Report", Journal of the American Oriental Society, XCIV (1974): 438-447.
  • Darling, Linda; Revenue-Raising and Legitimacy: Tax Collection and Finance Administration in the Ottoman Empire 1560-1660, New York 1996.
  • Demirci, Süleyman; The Functioning of Ottoman avâriz taxation: an aspect of the relationship between centre and periphery: A case study of the province of Karaman, 1621-1700, unpublished Ph.D Thesis, University of Durham, Durham/England, 2001.
  • ------."Collectors of avâriz and nüzul levies in the Ottoman Empire. A Case Study of the Province of Karaman, 1621-1700" delivered at CIEPO-15, International Committee of Pre-Ottoman and Ottoman Studies 15th Symposium, 8-12 July 2002, The London School of Economics and Political Science, (London 2002).
  • ------, “İltizam (tax-farming) in the A varız-tax System: A Case Study of the Ottoman Province of Karaman, c.l650s-1700", Erciyes University Journal of Social Sciences, 12/2003: 159-172.
  • ------, “Collection of avâriz and nüzul levies in the Ottoman Empire: A Case Study of the Province of Karaman, 1620-1700” to be published in BELLETEN forthcoming.
  • G.S.P Freeman-Grenville; The Islamic and Christian Calendars AD 622-2222 (AU 1-1650). A complete guide for converting Christian and Islamic dates and dates of festivals, Garnet Publishing, (Reading, UK, 1995).
  • Gündüz, Ahmet; 27 Numarali Kayseri şer’iyye Sicili H. 1035/36-M. 1625/26, Metin Transkripsiyonu ve Değerlendirme, Unpublished MA Thesis, Erciyes University, Institute of Social Science, (Kayseri, 1995).
  • İnalcık, Halil; “Military and Fiscal Transformation in the Ottoman Empire, 1600-1700”, AO, VI (1980): 283-337.
  • Itskowitz, Norman; “Eighteenth century Ottoman Realities”, Studia Islamica 16 (1962): 73-94
  • Kunt, Ibrahim Metin; “Ethnic-Regional (Cins) Solidarit in the Seventeenth- Century Ottoman Establisment”, International Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, 5 (1974): 233-39
  • ------, "Kulların Kulları" Boğaziçi üniversitesi Dergisi-Hümaniter Bilimler, 3 (1975); 27-42
  • ------, "Deniş Mehmet Paşa, Vezir and Entrepreneur: A Study in Ottoman Political-Economic Theory and Practice", Turcica, 9/1 (1977): 197-214
  • ------, The Sultans Senants; The Transformation of the Ottoman Provincial Government, 1550-1650, New York, 1983
  • Pakalin, Mehmed Zeki Osmanlı Tarih Terimleri vc Deyimleri Sözlüğü, vol.l, İstanbul 1946.
  • Uzunçarşılı, İ. Hakkı; Osmanlı Devletinin Saray Teşkilatı, Ankara, 1945
  • ------, Kapıkulu Ocakları, 2 vols. Ankara, 1943-44


  1. İ. Hakkı Uzunçarşılı, Osmanlı Devletinin Saray Teşkilatı, (Ankara, 1945); Kapıkulu Ocakları, 2 vols. (Ankara. 1943-44); Rifaat A Abou-El-Haj. The Ottoman Vezir and Pasa Households, 1683-1703: A preliminary Report.’, Journal of the American Oriental Society. XCIV (1974): 438-447; İ. Metin Kunt, “Ethnic-Regional (Cins) Solidarit in the SeventeenthCentury Ottoman Establisment’, International Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, 5 (1974): 23339; "Kulların Kulları." Boğaziçi Üniversilesi Dergisi-Hümaniter Bilimler, 3 (1975): 27-42; "Derviş Mehmet Paşa, Vezir and Entrepreneur: A Study in Ottoman Political-Economic Theory and Practice". Turcica. 9/1 (1977): 197-214; The Sultans Servants: The Transformation of the Ottoman Provincial Government. 1550-1650, (New York, 1983); Norman Itskowitz, “Eighteenth Century Ottoman Realities”, Studia Islamica 16 (1962): 73-94.
  2. The term a vâriz as used by the Ottoman administration originally denoted various types of levy set by the central government in the sultan's name, and are therefore referred to, in full, as avâriz-i divaniye. See Süleyman Demirci, The Functioning of Ottoman avâriz taxation: an aspect of the relationship between centre and periphery: A case study of the prorince of Karaman, 1621-1700. Unpublished Ph.D Thesis, University of Durham, Durham/England, 2001:33-40.
  3. Nüzul was a levy of provisions, such as barley and flour. The nüzul defters list only the amounts of flour and barley to be paid per avânzhâne in each kaza. Nüzul registers list the amounts of provisions or their equivalents in cash to be paid on the basis of avârizhânes in each kaza in the livas within the province.
  4. The most useful source of information concerning the avâriz levies in the province of Karaman is the series of unpublished avâriz and nüzul defterleri in the collections of Mâliyeden Mudevver and Kamil Kepeci of the Başbakanlık Arşivi in İstanbul, cited here as MM and KK. The Mâliyeden Mudevver and Kamil Kepeci classifications are contained in over 200 volumes, dating from the early 1600s to the 1830s. Several volumes are used in this study, dating particularly from 1620 to 1700. Avâriz and nüzul registers were kept by the Mevkufat kalemi (Finance bureau that recorded income from properties temporarily in the possession of the treasury; in charge of the avâriz levies.), which organized its records by the principal administrative divisions of vilayet, liva and kaza.
  5. On this see Metin Kunt, The Sultan’s Servants: 57-66.
  6. Rifaat Ali Abou-El-Haj, “The Ottoman Vezir and Paşa Households, 1683-1703: A preliminary Report", Journal of the American Oriental Society, (XCIV, 1974): 438, 441.
  7. E yâlet: a province in Ottoman administrative practice; from the late sixteenth century this term was used for a beylerbeylik.
  8. Abou-El-Haj, “ The Ottoman Vezir and Pasa Households": 442.
  9. Piyade ve müsellem: Auxiliary footsoldiers, exempt from avâriz taxation, discontinued by the end of the sixteenth century. See Linda Darling, Revenue-Raising and Legitimacy: Tax Collection and Finance Administration in the Ottoman Empire 1560-1660, (New York 1996): 318-19.
  10. Darling, Revenue-Raising: 174.
  11. “Yeniçeri ocağı zaditlerine umumiyetle 'ağa' denilirdi.", Mehmed Zeki Pakalin, Osmanlı Tarih Terimleri ve Deyimleri Sözlüğü, vol.l, (İstanbul 1946): 21.
  12. Cf. Süleyman Demirci, "Collectors of avariz and nüzul levies in the Ottoman Empire. A case study of the province of Karaman, 1621-1700", paper delivered at CIEPO-15, International Committee of Pre-Otloman and Ottoman Studies 15th Symposium. 8-12July 2002, The London School of Economics and Political Science. (London 2002).
  13. Ahmet Gündüz, 27 Numarali Kayseri şer'iyye Sicili H.1035/36-M.1625/26, Metin Transkripsiyonu ve Değerlendirme, Unpublished MA Thesis, Erciyes University, Institute of Social Sciences, (Kayseri, 1995): 811-812.
  14. Der liva-i Konya, Be-marifet-i Cafer Mustafa bölük 209 an-ebna-i sipahiyan zaim-i ulufeciyan-i yemin." " Der Liva-i Niğde, Be-marifel-i müşarünileyh" " Der Liva-i Akşehir Be- marifet-i müşarünileyh." Der Liva-i Beyşehri Be-marifet-i Mustafa Abdulkerim an-ulufeciyan-i yesar bölük 38 fı yevm 10 el-mübaşir." "Der liva-i Kirsehri, Be-marifet-i Veli Selim Oğuz an- gureba-i yesar bölük 14 fi yevm 11 el-mübaşir." "Der liva-i Aksaray, Be-marifet-i Cafer Ağa el-mübaşir. " "Der liva-i Kayseriye, Be-marifet-i Ali Musa Bali an ebna-i Sipahiyan bölük 22 fı yevm 26 el-mübaşir. " “Der liva-i İçil. Be-marifet-i Ahmet Abdullah Larende an-ulufeciyan-i yesar bölük 47 fi yevm 7 el-mübaşir." MM3862.
  15. See Demirci, The Functioning of the Ottoman Avâriz taxation: 149 (table 3.1).
  16. Ibid: 167 (table 3.3).
  17. The first revolt of Abaza Mehmed Paşa took place between 1623-24, and the second revolt took place in the course of 1627 and 1628.
  18. Darling, Revenue-Raising: 174.
  19. "Der Vilâyet-i Karaman an tahsil-i Hasan Ağa telhis-i ser-bevveban-i hazret-i sadr-i azam..." MM3382.
  20. "Der liva-i Kayseriye Solak Bey sakin-i Kayseriye" "Der liva-i Niğde Der uhde-i Ali Ağa Solak eş-şehir be-babanzade an-sakinan-i Kayseriye tabii hazret-i Sadr-ıazaın ber-muceb-i arz-i hal-i hod ba-ferman-i şerif emr ü defter dade fi 16 safer sene 1050." KK2587; "Der liva-i Kayseriye an tahsil-i Solak Ağa el -mezbur." " Der liva-i Niğde an tahsil-i solak Ali Ağa eş-şehir be- baba şa banzade an sakinan-i Kayseriye" MM3382.
  21. "Der Vilâyet-i Karaman Amasya sakinlerinden Turalizade Osman Bey nam-i diğer Taşcizade cem' ider." MM3845.
  22. 'Man' could be explained as the person being a protégé, agent, associate, or simply a follower of a prominent person.
  23. MM3845.
  24. "Der liva-i Konya Der uhde-i Osman Bey el-mûbaşir." MM3845.
  25. MM4950.
  26. MM4950.
  27. KK2604.
  28. KK2604.
  29. "Der liva-i Niğde. Der liva-i Akşehir, Kalenderi Mehmed Efendiye verilub teslimati Konya mahallinde mukayyetidir”.KK2604.
  30. "Der liva-i Beyşehri, Doğanhisari kasabasinda sakin Veli Beyzade Mehmed Bey cem' ider kendu yediyle kayd olmuşdur fi 6 muharrem sene 1053. Der uhde-i Murad Beydin eş-şehir an ebna-i sipahiyan bölük 25 fı yevm 11 emin-i kayid şod fi 6 Muharrem sene 1053. Amed fi 24 Receb sene 1053." KK2604.
  31. MM2808
  32. "Der liva-i Konya Kaza-i Konya be-marifet-i Mevlana Seyyid Ahmed kadi-i kaza-i mezbure" MM3832.
  33. Darling, Revenue-Raising-. 165
  34. "Der Eyâlet-i Karaman Niğde ve Kayseriye sancaklarindan gayrisi Başbakikulu Abdullah Ağa’ya verilmişdir." MM2787.
  35. "... tarafından ilgin sakinlerinden Süleyman oğlu Mustafa çavuş'a emr ü defteri verilmişdir fi 13 Zilkade sene 1059." MM2787.
  36. MM2787.
  37. MM2787.
  38. "Der eyâlet-i Karaman zaman-i hulul eyledikde cem' olmak üzere emri verilmişdir fi 5 Cemaziyelahir sene 1060 be-dest-i Köse İsmail Ağa ser bevvaban-i Hazret-i sadriazanı der zaman-i Defterdar İbrahim Paşa." MM1980: 41.
  39. "Der liva-i Konya Adana sakinlerinden Yunus Ağa Merkum Mustafasi cem' ider" "Der liva-i Niğde liva-i Konya ile verilnıişdir." "Liva-i Beyşehri bu dahi Liva-i Konya ile verilmişdir." " Liva-i Akşehir bu dahi Liva-i Konya ile verilmişdir." " Liva-i İçil bu dahi liva-i Konya ile verilnıişdir." " Liva-i Kayseri bu dahi liva-i Konya ile verilmişdir." Liva-i Aksaray bu dahi liva-i Konya ile verilmişdir." "Liva-i Kırşehri bu dahi Liva-i Konya ile verilmişdir." MM 1980: 41-46.
  40. See Süleyman Demirci, The Functioning of Ottoman Avâriz Taxation: An Aspect of the Relationship Between Centre and Periphery: A Case Study of the Province of Karaman, 1621- 1700, Unpublished Ph.D Thesis, University of Durham. (Durham/England, 2001): 210 (table. 4.5).
  41. "Der-liva-i Konya Birader Ahmed Ağaya verilub emr ü defteri kendüye verilmişdir fi 8 Safer sene 1061." MM3844: 40.
  42. MM3844: 40-44.
  43. "Der-liva-i Niğde Kapucı Mehmed Çelebiye verilmişdir fi 8 Safer sene 1061. " MM3844: 41.
  44. “Der Eyâlet-i Karaman emr ü defteri Mi'mar Ağa'ya verilmişdir fi 28 Muharrem sene 1063." Cf. MM2989: 42-46.
  45. Defterdar Paşa Kethüdası Ahmed Ağa'ya eyâletiyle verilmişdır fi 1 Ramazan 1064“ KK2623.
  46. "Der liva-i Beyşehri orduyu hümayun tarafından Konya sakinlerinden Mehmed çelebi'ye tevcih re emr-i şerif verilmekle mücebince süret-i defter verile deyu ferman olmuştur fi 2 Cemaziyelevvel sene 1065 be-iltimas-i Mehmed efendi kadı-i Diyarbekr ve imam – sahib-i devlet. Eski sahibi Ahmed kethüdaya mukarrer olmuşdur fi 17 Receb sene 1065“ KK2623: 37.
  47. "Der liva-i Kirşehri Kirşehri sakinlerinden Veled Ağa'ya orduyu hümayun tarafından deruhde olunmuşdur ba-defter-i muhasebe-i evvel fi 18 Cemaziyelevvel sene 1065." KK2623: 38.
  48. "Derliva-i .Hşehir badehu Kayseriye sakinlerinden Mustafa Bey’e cem' ve tahsili için emr-i şerif verilmişdir fi 10 Cemaziyelahir sene 1065." KK2623: 37.
  49. MM3810: 44.
  50. MM3067:17.
  51. MM3067: 18
  52. MM3354: 15.
  53. "Der Eyâlet-i Karaman bedel-i nûzulu avâriziyla maan hasodabaşi Ağa hazretlerine verilmişdir fi 10 Ramazan sene 1076 " MM3003: 34.
  54. MM3836: 37.
  55. KK2651:19.
  56. This defter has mistakenly been dated as 1073 in the catalogue. In fact it should be 1080.
  57. "Der Eyâlet-i Karaman Saadetin defterdar paşa Ağalarından Osman Paşazade .Ahmed Bey'e 5 yük akçe peşin ile emr ü defteri verilmişdir fi 3 Şaban sene 1080. Badehu mezbur Ahmed Bey ref’ olunub sadriazam kapu kethüdâsi Ali Ağa'ya derııhde olunub peşini rikab-I hûmavun hâzinesine teslim olunmak üzere emr ü defterleri verilmişdir be dest-i hazret-i defterdar paşa fi 26 Şevval sene 1080. " KK2653: 47.
  58. "Der Eyâlet-i Karaman Kayseriye sakinlerinden başbakikulu Hasan Ağa'nin emmisi Ali Ağa'ya virilub mezbur Kayseriyeli İsmail Ağa kefaletiyle emr ü defteri verile deyu ferman olmağla mahallinde mukayyeddir Hasan Ağa ser gulam-i baki fi 8 Şevval sene 1081." MM2790.
  59. MM2412: 39.
  60. MM2412: 39-42.
  61. KK2659: 38.
  62. KK2659.
  63. MM2505: 42.
  64. KK2665.
  65. MM3830: 40-43.
  66. MM3841:45-47.
  67. MM3809: 36-38.
  68. MM2805: 37-40.
  69. MM2789.
  70. MM9480: 68.
  71. MM2793: 47-49.
  72. MM3807: 33-34.
  73. MM3820: 29-31.
  74. On this see Süleyman Demirci, “İltizam (tax-farming) in the Avàriz-tax System: A Case Study of the Ottoman Province of Karaman, c. 1650s-1700", Erciyes University Journal of Social Sciences, 12/2003: 159-172.

Şekil ve Tablolar