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Journal of the Economic and

Social History of the Orient 54 (2011) 39-61 brill.nl/jesh

Notes on the Ottoman Poll-Tax Reforms of the Late


Seventeenth Century: The Case of Crete

Marinos Sariyannis*

Abstract
In 1691 the Ottoman government abolished the old system of collecting the poll-tax (cizye)
from non-Muslim subjects; instead of imposing a standard rate per household, the tax
would be levied per person according to three classes: rich, middle-class and poor. In 1670,
the same reform had been implemented in Crete and the Aegean. Some observations con-
cerning the distribution of the taxpayers into the three classes raise the question of how
these latter were defined; it seems that no legal definition was used and that taxpayers
declared at will their economic situation. Furthermore, a close study of the implementation
of the reform in Crete shows that the government underwent a long process of negotiation
and compromise, proposing alternative forms of maktuʿ (lump sum) collection and fixed
percentages.

Résumé
En 1691 le gouvernement ottoman remplaça le système de collection de cizye par foyer et
en tarife uniforme, en imposant une catégorisation tripartite des contribuables en riches,
hommes de condition moyenne et pauvres ; la même réforme fut expérimentée en 1670 à
Crète et aux îles de l’Archipel. On observe quelques particularités dans la distribution des
contribuables aux trois classes, ce qui nous fait demander quels étaient les critères de cette
distribution. Or, il paraît qu’il n’y avait pas des tels critères légaux dans les textes concernant
la réforme. En plus, cette dernière ne fut pas appliquée avec rigueur ; l’exemple de Crète
montre un long procès de négociation et de compromis, utilisant soit le système forfaitaire
(maktuʿ), soit des proportions fixées dans la distribution des contribuables.

Keywords
Ottoman Empire, poll-tax, cizye, centre-periphery relations, Crete

*) Marinos Sariyannis, Institute for Mediterranean Studies/FORTH, P.O. Box 119,


74100 Rethymno, Greece, marinos_sar@yahoo.com, sarigiannis@phl.uoc.gr.
I wish to thank: Professor J. C. Alexander; Dr. Elias Kolovos; Dr. Phokion Kotzageorgis;
Dr. Sophia Laiou; Mr. Yiannis Spyropoulos; Mr. Yiorgos Vidras; Mr. Andreas Savvakis of
the Vikelaia Municipal Library, Herakleio, Crete.
© Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2011 DOI: 10.1163/156852011X567391
40 M. Sariyannis / JESHO 54 (2011) 39-61

Ottoman scholarship is now well aware of the reforms in the taxation sys-
tem toward the end of the seventeenth century; namely, the ‘fundamental-
ist’ experiments with landholding and respective taxes in Crete and the
Aegean islands in 1670/71, the three-class categorization of the cizye (poll-
tax) in 1691, and the introduction of the malikâne system (lifelong tax-
farming) in 1695, along with other measures such as an effort to abolish
price controls, again in 1691.1 There has been a lengthy debate concerning
the origin of these reforms, especially the first one; various scholars have
argued that Ottoman administrators were acting under the ideological
influence of the Kadizadeli movement, while others maintain that there
were more practical reasons.2 In my view, the late Köprülü reforms could

1)
On the landholding and cizye reforms, see below, note 2-4; on the malikâne system, see
B. McGowan, “The Age of the Ayans, 1699-1812.” In An Economic and Social History of the
Ottoman Empire, eds Halil İnalcık and Donald Quataert (Cambridge: Cambridge Univer-
sity Press, 1994): 713-4; M. Genç, Osmanlı İmparatorluğu’nda Devlet ve Ekonomi (Istanbul:
Ötüken Neşriyat, 2000), 103ff.; on the price control reform, see A. Özcan, ed., Defterdar
Sarı Mehmed Paşa: Zübde-i vekayiât. Tahlil ve metin (1066-1116/1656-1704) (Ankara:
Türk Tarih Kurumu, 1995): 387-89; A. Refik, ed., Silâhdâr Fındıklılı Mehmed Ağa: Silâh-
dâr Tarihi, vol. 2 (Istanbul: Devlet Matbaası, 1928): 566; Raşid Efendi, Tarih-i Raşid, vol.
2 (İstanbul: Matbaa-i Amire, 1865): 148-49; Ö. L. Barkan, “Caractère religieux et caractère
séculier des institutions ottomanes.” In Contributions à l’histoire économique et sociale de
l’Empire ottoman, eds J.-L. Bacqué-Grammont and P. Dumont (Leuven: Peeters, 1983):
48-51; S. Faroqhi, “Crisis and Change, 1590-1699.” In An Economic and Social History of
the Ottoman Empire, eds H. İnalcık with D. Quataert (Cambridge: Cambridge University
Press, 1994): 546.
2)
On the debate concerning the 1670/1 landholding reforms in the Aegean, see G. Vein-
stein, “On the Çiftlik Debate.” In Landholding and Commercial Agriculture in the Middle
East, eds Ç. Keyder and F. Tabak (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1991):
35-53; ibidem, “Le législateur ottoman face à l’insularité: L’enseignement des Kânûnnâme.”
In Insularités ottomanes, eds N. Vatin and G. Veinstein (Paris: Maisonneuve et Larose,
2004): 91-110; idem, “Les règlements fiscaux ottomans de Crète.” In The Eastern Mediter-
ranean under Ottoman Rule: Crete, 1645-1840 (Halcyon Days in Crete VI, A Symposium Held
in Rethymno, 13-15 January 2006), ed. A. Anastasopoulos (Rethymno: Crete University
Press, 2008): 3-16; M. Greene, “An Islamic Experiment? Ottoman Land Policy on Crete.”
Mediterranean Historical Review 11 (1996): 60-78; eadem, A Shared World: Christians and
Muslims in the Early Modern Mediterranean (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000):
25-29; E. Kermeli, “Caught In Between Faith and Cash: The Ottoman Land System of
Crete, 1645-1670.” In The Eastern Mediterranean, ed. Anastasopoulos: 17-48; E. Kolovos,
“Beyond ‘Classical’ Ottoman Defterology: A Preliminary Assessment of the Tahrir Registers
of 1670/71 Concerning Crete and the Aegean Islands.” In The Ottoman Empire, the Balkans,
the Greek Lands: Toward a Social and Economic History (Studies in Honor of John C. Alexander),
eds E. Kolovos et al. (Istanbul: Isis, 2007): 201-35.
Notes on the Ottoman Poll-Tax Reforms 41

also be viewed in the context of the constant financial (but also administra-
tive and military) experimentations that mark all the rest of the Ottoman
period, throughout the rather neglected eighteenth century: it seems that
the palace bureaucracy took over a new understanding of political reason-
ing, moving away from the conception of the “Golden Era” and the fear of
innovation (bid ʿat), and thus preparing the major reforming efforts of the
Sultans from Selim III onwards. Interestingly, this reformist tendency
started indeed with “fundamentalist” reasonings, a paradox that still has to
be interpreted.
This brief paper, however, will only focus on the poll-tax reform and its
implementation in the provinces, especially Crete. It is noteworthy that
this important reform has drawn remarkably little attention by modern
scholars; furthermore, it has been studied only from a demographic point
of view, namely as far as it implied cizye registers that list individuals (nefer)
instead of hanes.3 As far as I know, the details of the tripartite division of
non-Muslim tax-payers into poor, middle-class and rich have never been
discussed, although this is why cizye registers of this late period can be very
important for social and economic history, apart from demography.

The 1691 reform and its experimental precursor in Crete


and the Aegean
What do we really know about this important reform? In 1691, under the
vizierate of Köprülüzâde Mustafa Paşa (1689-91), the government decided
that the old system of collecting a standard rate of poll-tax per household
(hane), usually in the form of maktuʿ (lump sum), was detrimental to the
treasury; following the prescripts of the Holy Law, it was ordered that the
poll-tax would thereafter be collected per person (nefer) and in proportion

3)
B. McGowan, Economic Life in Ottoman Europe. Taxation, Trade and the Struggle for
Land, 1600-1800 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981): 80-2; M. Kiel,
“Remarks on the Administration of the Poll Tax (Cizye) in the Ottoman Balkans and Value
of Poll Tax Registers (Cizye Defterleri) for Demographic Research.” Etudes Balkaniques
70.4 (1990): 70-104; O. Özel, “Avarız ve Cizye Defterleri.” In Osmanlı Devleti’nde Bilgi ve
İstatistik, eds H. İnalcık and Ş. Pamuk (Ankara: Devlet Istatistik Enstitüsü Yayınları, 2000):
35-50; N. Moačanin, Town and Country on the Middle Danube, 1526-1690 (Leiden –
Boston: E. J. Brill, 2006): esp. 204ff.; see also B. Ch. Nedkoff, “Osmanlı İmparatorluğunda
Cizye (Baş vergisi)”, trans. Ş. Altundağ. Belleten 8 (1944): 599-652. The articles of some
Greek scholars cited below (e.g. note. 11, 20, 29-30) have focused on the social distribution
of the tax among taxpayers, mainly based on Greek community registers.
42 M. Sariyannis / JESHO 54 (2011) 39-61

to the taxpayer’s wealth. Accordingly, new registers were compiled, in


which all male non-Muslim adults were registered, with each one bearing
the characterization “high-class” (‘ala), “middle-class” (evsat) or “low-class”
(edna), or rather a shorthand abbreviation (the letters ʿayn, tı and dal
respectively).4 Some contemporary historians describe the decision in more
or less detail. Fındıklılı Silahdar Mehmed Ağa (1658-1726/7), for instance,
is quite concise, giving the rates of the tax for each category and stating
that priests, consuls’ men and European merchants were exempted from
the tax.5 Other historians such as Bakkalzâde Defterdar Sarı Mehmed
Paşa (d. 1717) provide more details;6 however, the most detailed descrip-
tion of the reform is given by an anonymous writer, author of a chronicle
covering the years 1688 to 1704.7 According to this chronicle, the old
system had the disadvantage of dividing the competence for cizye collec-
tion between several financial departments (bir kalemde mazbût olmayup,
ziyâde cizye ve Baş-muhâsebe ve Ma’den kalemlerinde kayd olunmağla), which
used to sell its rights independently from each other, with the result that
individuals benefited instead of the state (sene be-sene kalem kalem füruht
ve niçe kimesneler hâliye edinüp intifâ ederlerdi):

Köprülü-zâde consulted on this matter with the ulema and, according to the jurispru-
dence books, decided to start collecting the tax with the system of the three classes
(esnaf-ı selase); the responsibility was to return under a single office, namely the cizye
office . . . Special seals were made, bearing the sign for high, middle or low class, the
date of which was renewed every year; colored papers were sealed thus, one year white,
the next yellow and the other red, and given to the zimmis. The rate was four şerifi for

4)
See previous note and Barkan, “Caractère religieux”: 22 and note. 6; L. Darling, Reve-
nue-Raising and Legitimacy. Tax Collection and Finance Administration in the Ottoman
Empire 1560-1660 (Leiden: Brill, 1996): 82-83; Faroqhi, “Crisis and Change”: 532;
H. Inalcik, “Djizya”, Encyclopaedia of Islam, 2nd edition, vol. 2 (Leiden: Brill, 1965): 562-
66; S. Asdrachas, Hellenike Oikonomike Historia, IE-ITH aionas, vol. 1 (Athens: Politistiko
Idryma Omilou Peiraios, 2003): 141-42. On the old system see also İnalcık, “Djizya”and
ibidem, “The Ottoman State: Economy and Society, 1300-1600.” In An Economic and
Social History of the Ottoman Empire, eds Halil İnalcık and Donald Quataert (Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 1994): 66-9.
5)
Silahdar, Tarih, vol. 2: 559.
6)
Özcan, ed., Defterdar Sarı Mehmed Paşa, Zübde-i vekayiât: 387; followed by Raşid,
Tarih-i Raşid, vol. 2: 148. An early eighteenth-century Greek source cites the rates 2 ¼, 4
½ and 9 guruş: C. Sathas, Mesaionike Vivliotheke, vol. 3 (Venice: Chronos, 1872): 46.
7)
A. Özcan, ed., Anonim Osmanlı Tarihi (1099-1116/1688-1704) (Ankara: Türk Tarih
Kurumu, 2000): 19-20. On the unification of the financial departments collecting cizye,
see also Kiel, “Poll Tax”: 73.
Notes on the Ottoman Poll-Tax Reforms 43

the rich, two for the middle-class and one for the poor, whereas the state ordered also
a fee for the collector (ten para for the rich, six for the middle-class and four for the
poor). Neither the reaya nor their supervisors (nazırları) were very happy about the
reform, but no one dared to protest since it was a necessity based on the Holy Law.

As we saw, the reasoning under this decision, as happened also with other
financial measures of the same era, was religious and pointed to the proper
foundations of Islamic taxation law. It is important to note that our
source emphasizes also the rationalization of tax-collecting in the central
bureaucracy.
Crete and the Aegean islands, being the field of similar experimentation
in the landholding status, experienced also this reform two decades before
it became an ‘Empire-wide law’. In Crete, whose conquest had recently
been completed after a long war (1645-1669), the kanunname of 1670,
preserved in both the judicial registers of Candia (Kandiye, Herakleion)
and the tahrir defteri of the same year, stated explicitly that

as ordained in the books of canonical jurisprudence, the infidel cizye taxpayers (kefer-
enin rü’us-ı cizyeleri ) are divided into three categories: those who are rich ( ganî ) pay
forty-eight dirhem-i şer’î, the middle-class (mutavassıtü’l-hâl ) twenty-four and the
poor that are able to pay their daily bread (fakîr-i kâsib) twelve.

According to the introduction of the cizye register, the equivalent of one


dirhem-i şer’î amounted to 14 akça of that time.8 Indeed, cizye tahrirs com-
piled for both Crete and the Aegean islands between 1670 and 1671/2

8)
Başbakanlık Osmanlı Arşivi (henceforth BOA), Tapu Tahrir (henceforth TT) 980: 2-3
and Vikelaia Municipal Library, Turkish Archive of Herakleio (henceforth TAH) 3/102-
103; E. Karantzikou and P. Photeinou, Hierodikeio Herakleiou: Tritos Kodikas (1669/73-
1750/67), ed. E. A. Zachariadou (Herakleio: Vikelaia Demotike Vivliotheke, 2003):
127-28; N. Stavrinidis, Metaphraseis Tourkikon Historikon Eggraphon Aphoronton eis ten
Istorian tes Kretes, vol 1 (Herakleio: Vikelaia Demotike Vivliotheke, 1975-1987): 307-11;
E. Gülsoy, “Osmanlı tahrir geleneğinde bir değişim örneği: Girit Eyâleti’nin 1650 ve 1670
tarihli sayımları.” In Pax Ottomana. Studies in Memoriam Prof. Dr. Nejat Göyünç, ed.
K. Çiçek (Haarlem—Ankara: SOTA—Yeni Türkiye, 2001): 191, 200-1; idem, Girit’in
fethi ve Osmanli idaresinin kurulması (1645-1670) (Istanbul: TATAV, 2004): 284, 318-20;
idem, “The Legal and Economic Status of the Reaya of Crete During Ottoman Rule (1645-
1670).” In The Eastern Mediterranean under Ottoman Rule: Crete, 1645-1840 (Halcyon Days
in Crete VI, A Symposium Held in Rethymno, 13-15 January 2006), ed. A. Anastasopoulos
(Rethymno: Crete University Press, 2008): 49-67.
44 M. Sariyannis / JESHO 54 (2011) 39-61

register the three categories of the population.9 One has to note here,
together with Gilles Veinstein, that earlier kanunnames of some islands,
such as Lemnos or Cyprus, were already mentioning a tripartite or at least
a fluctuating (kudretlerine göre) rate of cizye as early as in the first half of the
sixteenth century, probably due to the practice of istimalet.10
What is really impressive in the case of Crete is the fact that, whereas for
instance in the registers of the smaller Aegean islands most of the inhabit-
ants (almost 90%) are registered as ‘poor’,11 in the Cretan registers the rich
seem to constitute the greatest amount of the population. For instance,
50% of the non-Muslim inhabitants of Chania (Hanya) are registered
as rich; in Rethymno (Retimo, Resmo), the percentage reached 80%.12 As
for the countryside, the ‘rich’ of the sancaks of Candia and Sitia (İstiye)
constituted almost 50% of the population, while in Rethymno they
counted for a 60% of the total. On the island as a whole, out of 27,162
non-Muslims registered, 12,968 or 47.7% were ‘rich’, 9,980 or 36.7%
‘middle-class’ and only 4,214 or 15.5% ‘poor’.13

9)
On Crete, see Gülsoy, “The Legal and Social Status”; and see also Greene, A Shared
World: 52 note 31. On the Aegean islands, see for instance E. Kolovos, “Insularity and
Island Society in the Ottoman Context: The Case of the Aegean Island of Andros (Six-
teenth to Eighteenth Centuries).” Turcica 39 (2007): 63-4; idem, He nesiotike koinonia tes
Androu sto othomaniko plaisio (Andros: Kaireios Vivliotheke, 2006): 70-72; Y. Vidras, “He
agrotike oikonomia kai koinonia tes Syrou mesa apo tis othomanikes phorologikes
katastichoseis tou 1670/71”, unpublished M. A. thesis, University of Crete (Rethymno
2008): 28ff.; B. J. Slot, Archipelagus Turbatus: Les Cyclades entre colonisation latine et occupa-
tion ottomane, c.1500-1718 (Istanbul: Nederlands Historisch-Archaeologisch Instituut te
Istanbul, 1982): 212 and 294-310; E. Balta, Problèmes et approches de l’histoire ottomane. Un
itinéraire scientifique de Kayseri à Eğriboz (Istanbul: Isis, 1997): 98, 135.
10)
Veinstein, “Le législateur ottoman”: 102.
11)
In Andros, about 3% of the taxpayers were described as “rich”, 7% as “middle-class” and
90% as “poor” (Kolovos, He nesiotike koinonia tes Androu: 115-116); in Syros, the percent-
ages were 0.61%, 9% and 89.5% respectively (Vidras, “He agrotike oikonomia”: 89); see
also Balta, Problèmes et approches: 113 on Santorini and eadem, “The Ottoman Surveys of
Siphnos (17th-18th Centuries).” Ankara Üniversitesi Osmanlı Tarihi Araştırma ve Uygulama
Merkezi Dergisi 18 (2005): 51-69 on Siphnos.
12)
Gülsoy, Girit’in fethi: 231, 233. In Candia 54% of the non-Muslim population seemed
to be poor (ibid., 245); however, the town after its conquest was inhabited mainly by Mus-
lim soldiers and the numbers of Christian and Jews were at the time totally insignificant.
13)
Gülsoy, Girit’in fethi: 273, 275, 278, 302; see also idem, “The Legal and Economic
Status”: 63 (with slightly different figures due to not counting city-dwellers). The sancak of
Chania, on the other hand, presents a more balanced distribution of 31% rich, 40% mid-
dle-class and 28% poor (ibid.: 271). The total sums are given here according to Gülsoy’s
Notes on the Ottoman Poll-Tax Reforms 45

However, in some entries of the judicial registers containing a sort of


summary cizye registers for 1690s, one observes that after the 1691 reform,
the distribution of the population became more and more rationalized:
indeed, in two such documents from 1691 and 1694 the number of the
rich is phenomenally reduced, while the ‘middle-class’ population is more
and more increased. This course can be clearly seen in the following table,
which gives only the nahiyes of the sancak of Rethymno (figures for the
other sancaks are quite similar):14

Nahiye 1670 1691 1694

Rich Middle Poor Rich Middle Poor Rich Middle Poor


class class class

Resmo 1,416 875 68 436 965 232 326 981 326


Milapotama 1,371 492 87 332 595 212 227 685 227
Amari 492 301 157 146 236 118 100 300 100
Ayvasil 474 329 104 136 261 218 123 369 123
Total 3,753 1,997 416 1,050 2,057 780 776 2,335 776
Yearly total 6,166 3,887 3,887

The sharp decrease in absolute numbers of the total Christian population


between 1670 and 1691, a phenomenon that has also been observed in
various other regions of the Empire, should probably be attributed to mass
islamization rather than to some major demographic crisis.15 The same
table presenting percentages (rounded to the nearest integer) gives perhaps
a clearer image of the problem discussed:

counting; the Ottoman registrar counted 12,743 rich, 9,850 middle-class and 4,170 poor
(TT 980: 2). Gülsoy seems to take these figures at face value as wealth indicators.
14)
Sources: TT 980; Stavrinidis, Metaphraseis: 3: 104 and 106; N. Stavrinides, “Apographikoi
pinakes tes Kretes.” Kretika Chronika 22 (1970): 119-32; A. N. Adıyeke, N. Adıyeke and
E. Balta, “The Poll Tax in the Years of the Cretan War: Symbol of Submission and Mecha-
nisms of Avoidance.” Thesaurismata 31 (2001): 323-59.
15)
In Thrace, the early 1690s registers show also clearly lower numbers than the previous
ones, as Dr. Phokion Kotzageorgis informed me. Suggested explanations include the
creation of vakf villages and the use of large cizye tax units: see Moačanin, Town and Coun-
try: 204ff. Things are further complicated by the possibility that there was a change from
hane to nefer, as it is not quite clear whether the 1670 kanunname speaks of individual
taxation.
46 M. Sariyannis / JESHO 54 (2011) 39-61

Nahiye 1670 1691 1694

Rich Middle Poor Rich Middle Poor Rich Middle Poor


class class class

Resmo 60 % 37 % 3% 27 % 59 % 14 % 20 % 60 % 20 %
Milapotama 70 % 25 % 4% 29 % 52 % 19 % 20 % 60 % 20 %
Amari 52 % 32 % 17 % 29 % 47 % 24 % 20 % 60 % 20 %
Ayvasil 52 % 36 % 11 % 22 % 42 % 35 % 20 % 60 % 20 %

It is obvious that the internal distribution of the three classes in 1694 is


totally artificial, and we will discuss later why; nevertheless, the rational-
izing process between the first two registers is evident and phenomenal.

Some remarks on the definition of the three categories


More than one interpretation can be put forward and discussed to explain
this change. Some abrupt and great-scale deterioration of the peasant
economy in Crete during the 1670s and 1680s is probably out of the ques-
tion, since conditions were generally stabilized after the end of the war.16
Some rich Christians might have decided to conceal their real economic
situation in order to save taxes; this complies with other scholars’ observa-
tions about the reliability of such registers.17 On the other hand, it is highly
probable that many rich Christians decided to abandon their religion for
the same reasons, so as to keep their economically and socially influential
status, and at the same time escape totally the burden of the poll-tax. How-
ever, I think that both these explanations are not enough for so impressive
a change, and they certainly do not explain the high percentages of
the “rich” in areas like Western Crete, where Ottoman rule counted already
a quarter of a century. One could find more plausible the suggestion
that Ottoman registrars redefined the ‘thresholds’ between the three cate-
gories, in order to make the distribution more ‘rationalized’. And here,
the question arises: Do we know anything about how this division was

16)
Greene, A Shared World: 45-54.
17)
See for example Kiel, “Poll Tax”; Özel, “Avarız ve Cizye Defterleri”; and more generally
H. W. Lowry, Studies in Defterology. Ottoman Society in the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centu-
ries (Istanbul: Isis, 1992): 10-11; J. C. Alexander, “Counting the Grains: Conceptual and
Methodological Issues in Reading the Ottoman Mufassal Tahrir Defters.” Arab Historical
Review for Ottoman Studies 19-20 [Mélanges Prof. Machiel Kiel] (1999): 55-70.
Notes on the Ottoman Poll-Tax Reforms 47

implemented? Were there any strictly defined criteria of income, according


to which a person would be registered as ‘rich’, ‘middle-class’ or ‘poor’?
The answer seems to be a negative one. There is no clue as to who would
be considered rich or middle-class, neither in the historians’ accounts of
the reform nor in the Cretan kanunname. We only know that in Hungar-
ian kanunnames a total movable property of under 300 akçes (“in property
within [one’s] house, in wine in his casks and in animals . . . in addition to
his house, vineyard and field”) constituted the threshold, under which a
person would pay absolutely no poll-tax at all;18 so we know that a ‘poor’
(edna) would have a property more than 300 akçes worth, but this is all we
can deduce. Of course, the tripartite categorization in Ottoman adminis-
trative texts does not apply only in the poll-tax reform; it can be seen as
early as in the first legal codes of the Ottoman sultans, defining the fines to
be paid for various crimes and misdemeanors.19 In this case too, the defini-
tions provided by the kanunnames seem highly unrealistic; however, one
can suppose that the judge decided in every case whether a person was rich
or poor. Who made this decision while compiling the cizye registers, how-
ever, is not so clear. Scholars who studied Aegean registers of the 1670s
together with contemporaneous tapu tahrirs (registering land-owners
instead of hane-production) have reached some conclusions as to the aver-
age landed property of ‘rich’, ‘middle-class’ and ‘poor’ cizye-payers. For our
purpose, the results of these studies are rather disappointing, since it seems
that in these small islands landed property did not correspond to actual
wealth.20 Furthermore, these studies do not address the problem of the ad

18)
J. Káldy-Nagy, “The Administration of the Sanjaq Registrations in Hungary.” Acta Ori-
entalia Academiae Scientiarium Hungaricae 21 (1968): 194-96; see also Moačanin, Town
and Country: 222-23.
19)
See for example U. Heyd, Studies in Old Ottoman Criminal Law, ed. V. L. Ménage
(Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1973): 56 [=95] and see his observations in ibid.: 283-4;
G. Veinstein, “Pauvres et riches sous le regard du sultan ottoman”. In Pauvreté et richesse
dans le monde musulman méditerranéen, ed. J.-P. Pascual (Paris: Maisonneuve et Larose,
2003): 204ff.
20)
Balta, Problèmes et approches: 135-36; Vidras, “He agrotike oikonomia”: 110-21. Speak-
ing of a 1693/94 cizye register of Trikala (Tırhala), which presents a fairly rational distri-
bution of the three classes, Sophia Laiou concludes that “the criterion was the size of the
land [zimmis] cultivated along with the possession or not of the agricultural tools and—
especially—of animals”: S. Laiou, “Some Considerations Regarding Çiftlik Formation in
the Western Thessaly, Sixteenth-Nineteenth Centuries.” In The Ottoman Empire, the Bal-
kans, the Greek Lands: Toward a Social and Economic History (Studies in Honor of John C.
Alexander), eds E. Kolovos et al. (Istanbul: Isis, 2007): 265.
48 M. Sariyannis / JESHO 54 (2011) 39-61

hoc definition of the three categories. One has to revert again to the narra-
tive sources, largely neglected by economic historians, to find some clues
on this problem. In his 1675/6 description of the imperial laws and regula-
tions, Hüseyin Hezarfenn (1600-1678/79), who seems to have been
present during the last years of the Cretan War in the service of the yeniçeri
ağası Uzun İbrahim Paşa, includes a description of the new cizye system,
giving the tax rates of 48 dirhem-i şer’î annually (“which corresponds
to four dirhem a month”) for the rich, 24 dirhem for the middle-class (cor-
responding to two dirhem a month) and 12 dirhem for the poor (that is,
one per month).21 He is the only late seventeenth-century author, as far as
I know, who gives an (albeit inadequate) definition of the three classes:

One is considered rich if his wealth is evident, that is, as it is explained, if he owns
10,000 akça (ol şol ganiye vaz’ olunur ki, gınâsı zâhır ola. Ol mikdârı on bin akçaya
mâlik olmak ile tefsîr itmişlerdir) . . . A middle-class person is he who owns some prop-
erty, but with this wealth still needs to work . . . Poor is he who has absolutely no pos-
sessions, so that he needs to work for his daily expenses.

At any rate, although Hezarfenn might have consulted with the very
authors of the new Cretan cizye law, his reference to 10,000 akça does not
appear, as we saw, in any legal code. We can ultimately trace his source to
some fetvas of Ebussu’ud Efendi ( şeyhülislam from 1545 until his death in
1574), dated about one century and a half earlier and apparently never
implemented, at least in a large scale. Ebussu’ud defined the three classes
in similar words, explaining that those who cannot claim a property (kâdir
olmaya) more than 200 dirhem-i şer’î constitute the poor, those who can
claim more than 200 and less than 10,000 dirhem the middle class, and
those who own (mâlik olan) more than 10,000 dirhem the rich. He also
converts these sums to the akça values of his era, showing thus that there
was a serious attempt to implement the şeri’at-based system already in the

21)
S. İlgürel, ed., Hezârfen Hüseyin Efendi: Telhîsü’l-beyân fî kavânîn-i âl-i Osmân (Ankara:
Türk Tarih Kurumu, 1998): 112. On Hezarfenn and his presence in Crete see ibid., 5-6;
H. Wurm, Der osmanische Historiker Hüseyn b. Ğa‘fer, genannt Hezârfenn, und die Istanbuler
Gesellschaft in der zweiten Hälfte des 17. Jahrhunderts (Freiburg im Breisgau: Klaus Schwarz
Verlag, 1971): 93 ff.; V. L. Ménage, “Husayn (Huseyn) Efendi, known as Hezârfenn”,
Encyclopaedia of Islam, 2nd edition, vol. 3 (Leiden: Brill, 1971): 623-24. One has to note
that the exact dating of this text is not certain, since various suggestions have been made
varying from H. 1080 (1669/70) up to H. 1086 (1675); see İlgürel, Telhîsü’l-beyân: 13
note 47.
Notes on the Ottoman Poll-Tax Reforms 49

mid-sixteenth century.22 Considering that according to the Cretan kanun-


name of 1670 a dirhem-i şer’î corresponded to 14 akça,23 the ‘poor’ would
have a property less than 2,800 akça, the ‘middle-class’ between 2,800 and
140,000 and the ‘rich’ more than 140,000. These sums seem highly over-
estimated, and it may not have been a coincidence that Hezarfenn ‘cor-
rects’ his source by converting Ebussu’ud’s dirhem-i şer’î straight to akça.
One should note the difference between the movable property of 300
akça as the lowest threshold of tax paying (see above) and the numbers
cited by Ebussu’ud, who probably meant landed property. As for Hezarfenn’s
mentioning of a per month rate of the tax, it might imply that he was
speaking of income, not property. Nenad Moačanin suggests that the three
classes defined in the 1691 reform referred also to movable property and
notes that “[a]fter all, the legal model must have used the concept of
movable property, because the land belonged to the state. Still, private
property and usufruct of miri land were not always mutually exclusive
principles”. He suggests that landed property was also taken under consi-
deration, notably in cases of peasants who did not own animals.24 For the
sake of comparison, we could observe that in the judicial registers of Can-
dia of the same period, for instance, a modest town house could be sold for
15-100 esedî guruş (with one esedî guruş corresponding to about 120 akça),
whereas fields (considered in Crete as private property, mülk) were sold at
one or more esedî guruş per dönüm (appr. 940 sq.m.).25 A close study of
tereke documents (which are very frequent in the Candia registers) could
be even more illuminating in this respect. Perhaps taking into account

22)
M. E. Düzdağ, Şeyhülislâm Ebussuud Efendi fetvaları ışığında 16. asır Türk hayatı,
2nd edition (Istanbul: Enderun, 1983): 97 (nos 414-16); see also Veinstein, “Pauvres et
riches”: 210-211; S. Laiou, He Samos kata ten othomanike periodo. Ptyches tou koinonikou
kai oikonomikou viou, 16os-18os ai. (Thessaloniki: University Studio Press, 2002): 115.
These numbers come from the pre-Ottoman Islamic legal thought: see Nedkoff, “Osmanlı
İmparatorluğunda cizye”: 610. One has to note that in theory, even before the tripartite
reform, shari’a-based system had always been prevalent in the minds of the ulema, although
various uniform-rate or maktuʿ methods actually prevailed; see also Inalcik, “Djizya”:
563-5. In Mevkufatî’s translation of the Mültaka al-abhur, for instance, we read the same
month-based tax rate mentioned by Hezarfenn, but again without a strict definition of the
three classes. See Mehmed Mevkufatî, trans., Al-Mawqufât = Mülteka al-abhur tercümesi
(İstanbul: Matbaa-ı Amire, 1891): 1: 352.
23)
See note. 8.
24)
Moačanin, Town and Country: 223; see also S. Laiou’s observations cited above,
note 20.
25)
Karantzikou-Photeinou, Tritos Kodikas: ma-mv.
50 M. Sariyannis / JESHO 54 (2011) 39-61

property first (in 1670; note that, in Crete, land was considered private
property according to the 1670 kanunname) and then income (in 1691),
and thus a significant modification of the tax-category threshold, would
explain the massive difference in the number of “rich” in the two cases.
On the other hand, in his description of the 1691 reform mentioned
above, Silahdar notes (not without a certain sense of humor) that some
taxpayers “denied, out of vanity, the title of middle-class or even poor, and
asked instead for ‘rich’ certificates; thus, the public treasure benefited
greatly” (ba’z-ı ahmakları gayrete düşüb biz evsat ve ednalığı kabul etmeziz
deyü ekseri a’la kâğıdı almağla beynlerinde iftihar-ı kesb edüb hazineye külli
fa’ideler oldı).26 This implies that taxpayers chose by themselves which cat-
egory they would be registered in, and (projecting Silahdar’s observation
some twenty years earlier) might offer another explanation for the extraor-
dinary number of ‘rich’ peasants in the Cretan villages, where social status
would undoubtedly play a major role. From a practical point of view, fur-
thermore, this would make the registrar’s job much easier; after all, one
cannot imagine easily how he could actually evaluate every peasant’s real
property. One would suppose that when the system was generalized all
over the Empire in 1691, Cretan peasants, having already tried it twenty
years ago, would now be wiser than their counterparts in other provinces
and preferred pragmatism to ‘vanity’; this would explain the rationaliza-
tion of the Cretan registers in 1691 and 1694. Of course, we are still at a
loss to explain the totally different registration in the smaller islands of the
Aegean, where as we saw the poor seemed to constitute almost the totality
of the population. Are we to attribute this difference to the comparatively
late conquest of Crete (with the exception of the city of Candia, the island
had been dominated by the Ottomans for about twenty-five years, whereas
Andros, for instance, came under Ottoman rule in the late 1530s), or were
the tahrirs compiled under stricter rules in the much smaller Aegean
islands? To this question we probably have no answer until some new
material is discovered and studied.
Another source already mentioned, the anonymous author of the 1688-
1704 chronicle, says something similar on the 1691 reform. “The first year
the measure was implemented”, he notes, “disputes arose among the reaya
concerning their distribution to the three classes”; as a result, it was decided
that for the second year all taxpayers would be considered ‘middle-class’
(bir senede esnâf-ı selâsede re’aya beynlerinde nizâ vaki’ oldu deyü cümleye

26)
Silahdar, Tarih, vol. 2: 559.
Notes on the Ottoman Poll-Tax Reforms 51

evsat verdiler).27 As we shall see below, this decision is corroborated by the


judicial archives, at least for Crete; moreover, it seems that it was imple-
mented in other areas and groups as well.28 How are we to interpret these
“disputes”? Should we combine them with the same author’s statement
(see above) that “the reaya were not happy about the reform” but only had
to comply? A possible answer lies on the widespread practice of paying the
cizye, maybe more than other taxes, in lump sums (maktuʿ). Whereas this
practice suited the village communities, which could afterwards distribute
the sum between the villagers through their self-appointed authorities, the
reform meant, in theory at least, a re-counting of the inhabitants and prob-
ably a heavier tax burden. Even though the maktuʿ system reappeared after
the reform, an effort for fair distribution of the cizye receipts could raise
some problems and “disputes” in the community.29 The examples I am
going to cite may illustrate this interpretation. We will see below, for
instance, a ferman dated 1696 which clearly states that, whereas all certifi-
cates should be middle-class, the community would attribute individual
payments according to wealth by its own judgment. Spyros Asdrachas
showed that in the island of Patmos, for instance, the community used an
elaborate system of seven, instead of three, classes in order to distribute
internally the cizye burden, while there is also a distinct tax called tansa

27)
Özcan, Anonim Osmanlı Tarihi: 19.
28)
In 1695 Gypsies were included in the cizye system, paying a standard rate of five guruş
for the müsellem and six for the zimmis, while in 1697, when the new şerifî altun was coined
(corresponding to 300 akçe), the poll-tax rate was defined to two şerifî altun per taxpayer
(i.e. the ‘middle-class’ rate). See Özcan, ed., Defterdar Sarı Mehmed Paşa, Zübde-i vekayiât:
548, 608 and Ş. Pamuk, A Monetary History of the Ottoman Empire (Cambridge: Cam-
bridge University Press, 2000): 174. In Trikala (Tırhala), a register dated 1692/3 ignores
the tripartite division, whereas another one dated 1693/4 follows it: see S. Laiou, “Ta
Trikala sta tele tou 17ou aiona me vase dyo katasticha kefalikou forou.” Mnemon 28 (2006-
2007): 13 and see above note 20. The opposite happens with a contemporaneous couple of
registers for the district of Yenice Karasu in Western Thrace; in this case, the 1692 register
followed the new system, while the 1693 one ignored it. In Didymoteicho (Dimetoka), on
the other hand, both registers follow the tripartite division. See Ph. Kotzageorgis, Mikres
poleis tes hellenikes chersonesou kata ten proime neotere epoche: He periptose tes Xanthes (15os-
17os ai.) (Xanthe: Hiera Metropolis Xanthes kai Peritheoriou, 2009): 71-73.
29)
On the way local communities tried to distribute such burdens see Balta, Problèmes et
approches: 97-109; Vidras, “He agrotike oikonomia”: 40; Asdrachas, Hellenike Oikonomike
Historia, 264ff. According to Asdrachas’ analysis, the numbers in the Ottoman cizye regis-
ters seem to be significantly lower than the actual taxpayers’ population: ibid., 142 and
ibid., “Nesiotikes koinotetes: hoi forologikes leitourgies (I)”, Ta Historica 5.8 (1988):
3-36.
52 M. Sariyannis / JESHO 54 (2011) 39-61

which corresponds to the total income of taxpayers. It seems that in this


internal distribution, the main burden of the maktuʿ tax was to fall on the
wealthiest members of the community, which reminds us of the Cretan
case.30 In Crete, at least, it seems that the reaction of the taxpayers led to a
long process of negotiation and compromise with the central authorities,
which resulted in the reform being postponed or altered for several years.
One might think that similar processes throughout the Empire made the
government alter its plans in a more general level, the way narrative sources
seem to inform us.

Were reforms really implemented?


The documents I am going to discuss are registered in the judicial registers
of Candia and show in detail how the reform was perceived, implemented
and finally partly cancelled in a large yet important province. In the begin-
ning, the sultanic authorities promptly ordered the implementation of the
reform. A ferman dated January 1691 (and another dated June of the same
year) describes in detail the new system of the three-class certificates and
the rates of 2, 4 and 8 esedî guruş (corresponding to one, two and four
altun şerifi ) for poor, middle-class and rich taxpayers respectively; a con-
temporary order of the governor of the island corroborates the reform.31 In
January 1692 the kethüdas and notables of the Christian population of the
island complained to the governor that, due to the plague, the tax burdens
had become intolerable. They offered to pay a uniform rate of 625 akça for
each Christian household, corresponding roughly to 2.31 altun şerifi or
5.20 esedî guruş. The petition was recorded in the judicial register in the

30)
S. Asdrachas, “Forologikes kai perioristikes leitourgies ton koinoteton sten Tourkokra-
tia”, Ta Historika 3.5 (1986): 45-62 and esp. 54-55; idem, “Nesiotikes koinotetes (I)”, 9-10
and 26-33. On the 1696 ferman, see below, note 39. Another decree dated 1703 claims that
the tax payers used this method of distribution in order to deceive the authorities and have
part of the tax returned back (allegedly, they gave certificates to adolescents and claimed
afterwards that the local tax collectors distributed more certificates than they ought to). See
TAH 12/287; Stavrinidis, Metaphraseis, vol. 3: 290-91 and TAH 2/243; ibidem: 384-87;
see also S. Asdrachas, “Nesiotikes koinotetes: hoi forologikes leitourgies (II)”, Ta Historika
5/9: 229-258 and esp. 235-238, on the degree tax-payers avoided payment of their full
burden.
31)
TAH 7/21, 29, 173-74; Stavrinidis, Metaphraseis, vol. 2: 365, 389-91, 421. See also
the slightly different rates given by a later Greek chronicle (2 ¼, 4 ½ and 9 guruş): above,
note 6.
Notes on the Ottoman Poll-Tax Reforms 53

presence of major officials of Candia, including the müfti.32 However, in


respond to this demand, an imperial decree of March 1692 insisted in the
three-class certificates (kâğıd ile), although conceding to some other
demands concerning land taxes.33 Few months later, in August 1692,
another imperial decree ordered that, for this year, only middle and low
class certificates were to be distributed in Crete (cizye kâğıdları evsat ile
edna verilüp ba’d el-yevm ancak bu seneye a’la kâğıdları verilmeyüp).34 Finally,
in March 1693 the defterdar of Crete informed the judge of Candia that
the tax collectors were to collect a standard amount of 5 guruş (which cor-
responded to 600 akça) from each household (be-her ru’us-i hane). The
document gives no explanation as to why the reform would be neglected,
at least for the current year.35 Had we not seen that the reform was not
wholly implemented throughout the Empire, we could suggest that these
drawbacks were limited to Crete; under the light of the information cited
above, on the other hand, one can discern some of the “disputes” men-
tioned by the Istanbul sources.
Finally, an imperial decree of February 1694 shows the degree these
compromises and “disputes” led to alterations in the system.36 According
to the decree, the tax collectors had “arbitrarily” collected only middle-
class cizye of two şerifi per taxpayer (although, as we have seen, the order of
March 1692 was to give middle-class and low certificates). Lower-class
subjects in Rumili and the Danube areas, working as servants (ter oğlan-
ları) with a salary of only 400-500 akça, warned the government that they
would not be able to pay again a middle-class cizye. Under the circum-
stances, the central authorities sent to Crete (and, presumably, to all
Rumili) sealed certificates for the year 1105 (1693/4), which were to be
distributed to the taxpayers as follows: for each 100 taxpayers, 20 high-
class, 60 middle-class and 20 lower-class certificates were to be given, the
latter ones exclusively to the above-mentioned “servants”. Moreover, the
tax collectors should register again all Christian inhabitants and their

32)
TAH 7/68; Stavrinidis, Metaphraseis, vol. 2: 404-406.
33)
TAH 7/89; Stavrinidis, Metaphraseis, vol. 2: 415-17.
34)
TAH 7/133; Stavrinidis, Metaphraseis, vol. 2: 424. Stavrinidis explains the latter order
by the state of war on the island in this period (in 1692 the Venetians had tried to recapture
Hanya). Two registers compiled in September 1692 follow the tripartite system: BOA,
Maliyeden Müdevver (henceforth MAD) 4892 (cizye defteri for Crete) and 7070 (tevzi
defteri for various regions, including parts of Crete).
35)
TAH 7/26-27; Stavrinidis, Metaphraseis, vol. 2: 429-30. See also note 28 above.
36)
TAH 8/5; Stavrinidis, Metaphraseis, vol. 2: 447-49.
54 M. Sariyannis / JESHO 54 (2011) 39-61

economic situation. Furthermore, the decree states explicitly that, “con-


trary to what is generally believed”, priests, monks, Patriarchs and drago-
mans should not be excluded from the tax, since they are capable of work
and can gain their daily bread.37 What is interesting from our point of view
here is the maktuʿ-like standard distribution of the certificates according to
a fixed percentage, rather than the actual cizye registers. Indeed, the register
citing the distributed certificates for the year 1106 (1694/5) shows clearly
this fixed distribution, as seen above, according to the proportion 20:60:20
all throughout Crete (with the exception of the towns of Candia and Cha-
nia [Hanya] proper); it seems that this practice was followed in other prov-
inces as well.38
In March 1696, however, another imperial decree, although starting
with the classical description of the reform in terms of religious reasoning,
concludes that the system was malfunctioning, since the tax collectors were
oppressing the reaya with the excuse that they could not define exactly the
wealth of each taxpayer. Thus, all certificates would again be ‘middle-class’
ones; nevertheless, the reaya of each town or village had to distribute the
lump sum among them according to their wealth and the respective tax
rates. This time, moreover, priests, monks, dragomans and so forth would
be excluded from tax paying.39
This pendulum-like movement between a strict implementation of the
1691 reform and a more ‘community-based’, maktuʿ-like alteration con-
tinued for a long time. In 1703/4, for instance, the fixed percentage distri-
bution was again ordained, although with a slightly different proportion:

37)
On the issue of the tax exemption of the clergy, see Mevkufatî, Al-Mawqufât, vol. 1:
353; İnalcık, “Djizya”: 563; Káldy-Nagy, “The Administration of the Sanjaq Registrations”:
194 note. 60; E. A. Zachariadou, Deka tourkika eggrapha gia ten Megale Ekklesia (1483-
1567) (Athens: Ethniko Idryma Ereunon, 1996): 80ff. An early eighteenth-century Greek
chronicle states that the reform abolished the tax exemption already in its beginnings, con-
trary to Silahdar’s claim: Sathas, Mesaionike Vivliotheke, vol. 3: 46.
38)
TAH 8/95, 105; Stavrinidis, Metaphraseis, vol. 3: 103-4, 115-16. Indeed, the two almost
identical cizye registers of Crete for 1694 and 1695 (MAD 745 and 5384, respectively)
count individuals (nefer) per village, but follow the tripartite system in the overall counting,
using the rate 20:60:20. The rate 20:60:20 was also apparent in the 1693/4 register of
Dimetoka (Didymoteichon) as Dr. Phokion Kotzageorgis kindly informed me.
39)
TAH 11/20; Stavrinidis, Metaphraseis, vol. 3: 158-59. A report by the representatives of
the Christian population of Crete, dated June 1696, shows in detail how both the authori-
ties and the local communities were at pains to match the number of certificates distrib-
uted, on the one hand, and the actual taxpayers, on the other (TAH 11/94; Stavrinidis,
Metaphraseis, vol. 3: 189-91; Asdrachas, Hellenike Oikonomike Historia, 142).
Notes on the Ottoman Poll-Tax Reforms 55

thus, the certificates were to be distributed with a proportion of 10:80:10;


in addition, priests and monks were not to be excluded from the poll-tax.40
Ten years later, in 1714, a decree orders again that the Holy Law restric-
tions should be strictly followed, whereas the clergy would not be exempted.
According to this decree, “some notables (kocabaşı) of several villages and
districts, wishing to lower their own tax burden, had been receiving them-
selves all the certificates and then distributing the sum equally to all
villagers”.41
The following table tries to present these alterations and concessions in
a more concise form:

Date Kind of document Content Exemption of the


clergy

1691, January Ferman Tripartite collection Yes (according to


and June the chronicler
Silahdar)
1692, January Arzuhal of the Asking for maktuʿ —
Christian inhabit- payment
ants
1692, March Ferman Tripartite collection —
1692, August Ferman Only middle- and —
low-class certificates to be
distributed
1693, March Tezkere of the Uniform rate per —
defterdar of Crete household
1694, February Ferman Tripartite collection with No.
fixed percentage
(20:60:20)

40)
TAH 12/282; Stavrinidis, Metaphraseis, vol. 3: 283. It might not be a coincidence that
in about the same year (1704/5) a new register was compiled for Crete (Tapu ve Kadastro
Genel Müdürlügü, Ankara: Defter 1, Eski 489). I had not the opportunity to examine it,
but it seems it registers all taxes including cizye. See Price et al., “Sphakia in Ottoman Cen-
sus Records: A Vakıf and Its Agricultural Production.” In The Eastern Mediterranean under
Ottoman Rule: Crete, 1645-1840 (Halcyon Days in Crete VI, A Symposium Held in Rethymno,
13-15 January 2006), ed. A. Anastasopoulos (Rethymno: Crete University Press, 2008):
73; Greene, A Shared World: 53 note 35.
41)
TAH 2/243; Stavrinidis, Metaphraseis, vol. 3: 384-87. See also an order from 1716
about the sending of cizye receipts according to the tripartite system: BOA, Cevdet Maliye
226/9450.
56 M. Sariyannis / JESHO 54 (2011) 39-61

(cont.)
Date Kind of document Content Exemption of the
clergy

1696, March Ferman Only middle-class Yes.


certificates; the
communities to allocate
internally the tax
according to wealth
1703/4 Ferman Tripartite collection with No.
fixed percentage
(10:80:10)
1714, July Ferman Tripartite collection No.

As we can see, both systems had their shortcomings, and the central gov-
ernment seemed to be quite unsure as to which system served better both
the fiscal needs and the taxpayers’ interests. For one thing, the poorer a
region the more disadvantageous for the taxpayers the uniform rate was,
and vice versa.42 On the other hand, the maktuʿ system presented also some
advantages for the public treasury under the seventeenth-century circum-
stances.43 Another observation concerns the role of the local notables in
the distribution of the tax burden; inversely, moreover, I am not the first to
note that such a distribution of the lump sum among the members of the
community would almost inevitably contribute to the rise of the powerful
local elites, which dominated Ottoman provinces throughout the eight-
eenth and nineteenth centuries.44
It is highly interesting that similar drawbacks had happened in the
1670s, after the experimental registration of ‘rich’, ‘middle-class’ and ‘poor’
taxpayers only some months or one year earlier: again, already in Decem-
ber 1671 and June 1672, the governor of Crete maintained that the naibs
should collect 400 akça from each hane—note that the 1671 order follows
a copy of the register for the nahiye of Milopotamos, compiled according

42)
Vidras, “He agrotike oikonomia”: 90.
43)
Greene, “An Islamic Experiment?”: 71-72; N. Vatin, “Les Patmiotes, contribuables
ottomans (XVe-XVIIe siècles).” Turcica 38 (2006): 123-53.
44)
See e.g. H. İnalcık, “Military and Fiscal Transformation in the Ottoman Empire, 1600-
1700”, Archivum Ottomanicum 6 (1980): 333 ff.; McGowan, “The Age of the Ayans”:
714-6; the studies collected in A. Anastasopoulos, ed., Provincial Elites in the Ottoman
Empire (Halcyon Days in Crete V, A Symposium Held in Rethymno, 10-12 January 2003)
(Rethymno: Crete University Press, 2005).
Notes on the Ottoman Poll-Tax Reforms 57

to the three-class system.45 Another order of the governor dated 1685 and
mentioning a uniform rate of 699 akça (plus the remuneration of the tax
collectors) shows that the three-class system was abandoned until its rein-
stitution with the 1691 reform.46 The same happened in the Aegean islands,
where already in May 1671 the poll-tax was set to a uniform rate of three
guruş per hane and was probably paid according to the maktuʿ system.47
Should we attribute this process to the same reasons postponing the later
reform, or to some kind of ‘administrative inertia’ from the part of the tax-
collecting authorities, being unfamiliar with the new system?
At any rate, to return to the 1690s, the tripartite collection of cizye was
centrally reinstated soon afterwards; according to the same anonymous
chronicler already cited, it was considered obligatory as conforming to the
Holy Law. The chronicler asserts that “now” the new system was still used,
and gives for the year 1702/3 the number of 8,074 kise akçe as the total
amount of cizye to be collected, of which 366 were to be given to vakfs.
As he observes, “in the old days” less than 4,000 kise were collected annu-
ally, while after the Köprülü reform the amount reached immediately
3,808 kise.48 However, we know that, at least in some areas such as the
Aegean islands, the reform was still not fully implemented as late as 1734,
when imperial decrees ordered that every taxpayer should be considered
as ‘poor’, with the rationale that islands had a very low agricultural pro-
duction and income. A year later the islands seem to have returned to the
old maktuʿ system.49 On the other hand, the fixed percentage method
was not a practice exclusively applied in Crete. We know, for instance,
that the 20:60:20 rate was imposed in Vidin in 1693 and 1694 (same as
in Crete), whereas it changed to 10:70:20 in 1695. In Chios, on the other
hand, it was imposed as 10:80:10.50 Such experiments seem to have been

45)
TAH 4/9-10; Stavrinidis, Metaphraseis, vol. 2: 67.
46)
TAH 3/250-251 and 4/445, 448; Karantzikou-Photeinou, Tritos Kodikas: 335-337;
Stavrinidis, Metaphraseis, vol. 1: 329-332 and 2: 252-255, respectively. In 1673, the cizye
rate (again uniform) had been lowered to 502 akça per hane: TAH 4/443, 6/10; Stavrinidis,
Metaphraseis, vol. 2: 272, 275.
47)
Kolovos, He nesiotike koinonia tes Androu: 72; ibidem, “Insularity and Island Society”:
64; C. Küçük, ed., Ege adaları’nın egemenlik devri tarihçesi (Ankara: Stratejik Araştırma ve
Etüdler Milli Komitesi, 2001): 102-3; Vatin, “Les Patmiotes”: 132-33.
48)
Özcan, Anonim Osmanlı Tarihi: 19-20; see also Özcan, ed., Defterdar Sarı Mehmed Paşa,
Zübde-i vekayiât : 387; Raşid Efendi, Tarih, vol. 2: 148.
49)
Kolovos, He nesiotike koinonia tes Androu: 80-82; Küçük (ed.), Ege adaları: 147-56.
50)
Nedkoff, “Osmanlı İmparatorluğunda cizye”: 622-23; cf. also fn. 38 above.
58 M. Sariyannis / JESHO 54 (2011) 39-61

going on for a considerable time period. A close and systematic inspection


of cizye registers compiled in the 1690s would surely give a more com-
plete picture.

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