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and African Studies, University of London, Vol. 26, No. 1 (1963), pp. 1-28 Published by: Cambridge University Press on behalf of School of Oriental and African Studies Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/611304 Accessed: 06/04/2009 12:52
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AS'AD PASHA AL-'AZM AND OTTOMAN RULE IN DAMASCUS (1743-58)
SHAMIR By SHIMON
HE remarkable of the 'Azms1 froman inconspicuous rise familyof landed 2 that at Ma'arrat al-Nu'man to a dynastyof governors ruled campaigners in Syria for most of the eighteenthcentury owes its originto the processof of disintegration the OttomanEmpireand its institutions. Thisprocess,which at had gainedmomentum the end of the periodof the Kopriiliiviziers,affected the Arabic-speaking provincesin the eighteenthcenturyin many ways: the postedin these provinces decay of the Janissarycorpsturnedtheircontingents into a majorsourceof turbulences; the declineof the feudalSipahi organization was followed by an increasein the power of the local mercenaryand of forces; the introduction fiefs to whoseholderstaxes were farmed irregular insteadof for a periodof oneyear (iltizdm), out forlife (malikdne) gave extensive to officialsin these provinces; the looseningof control allowed the powers elementsin the peripheries, Beduinof the Syriandesert,as wellas othernomadic at the expenseof the settled areas; and, finally, to make considerable gains the decay and corruptionin Istanbul loweredthe standardsof the officials appointed in the provinces; thus adding to the general deteriorationof there.3 administrative, security,and economicconditions A change in the establishedpatterns of Ottoman governmentin these provinces-which was only to be expected in view of this process-actually of of took place in Syriawith the establishment the first walT the 'Azmfamily
1 At that time pronounced, and sometimes written, 'Adm (similarly: Zahir--Pahir). Beside the transliteration system used for Arabic names and terms, this article also uses the modern Turkish spelling for Turkish names and terms. Since the article deals with Arabic-speaking provinces, the Arabic forms of names and terms existing in both languages are usually preferred (thus waldyah is used instead of vilayet). Geographical place-names, titles, and the like which are in common usage in the English language appear in their anglicized forms. 2 The origin of the family is a controversial matter to this day: one view maintains that the 'Azms were originally Beduin of the Banu 'Azim tribe in northern Hijaz who joined the Ottoman service; the other has it that they were the descendants of a Turkish family from the vicinity of Konya. See 'Abd al-Qadir al-'Azm, al-Usrah al-'Azmiyah, Damascus, 1951; Muhammad Kurd 'All, Khitat al-Shdm (6 vols., Damascus, 1925-7), II, 279; Mehmet Siireyya, Sicill-i Osmani (4 vols., Istanbul, A.H. 1038), I, 362. There is no doubt, however, that to eighteenth century local annalists and European observers the 'Azms were known as a family of Arab (= Beduin) origin. Mikha'il Burayk, Ta'rikh al-Shdm, 1720-1782, MS, Tiibingen, Universititsbibliothek, 9786 (the work was published by Qustantin al-Bisha, Harissa, 1930), p. 14a; 'Abd al-Rahman al-Fasi, Ta'rzkh, MS quoted in 'Isa Iskandar al-Ma'lif, ' Qasr As'ad Bishi al-'Azm fi Dimashq', al-Mashriq, xxIv, 1926, 5-6; France, Archives Nationales, Affaires ltrangeres, BI, 1118 (Tripoli), report by Yon dated 10 October 1746; 1032 (Seyde), ' Bulletin' enclosed in a report by Clairambault, dated 16 July 1763. It may very well be that the latter view is a mistaken conclusion based on the family's long residence in the province of Konya. 3 The political history and institutions of the Arabic-speaking provinces of the Ottoman Empire have not yet been sufficiently investigated. For a general background see H. A. R. Gibb and Harold Bowen, Islamic society and the West (Vol. I, 2 parts, London, 1950, 1957), particularly Pt. 1, 200-34; Albert Hourani, 'The changing face of the Fertile Crescent in the xvInth century', Studia Islamica, viii, 1957, 89-122.
VOL. XXVI. PART 1 1
This development was a threefold departure: the 'Azms were a local family. Ibrihim (1725-30). at the beginning of 1725. longer than any other wali in these provinces before or after him. As'ad b. but also for the most important annual caravan to the Hijaz-the pilgrims' convoy from Syria (. and European sources. an integral part of the historical study of the inhitdt. while until then walis had usually been transferred from one part of the Empire to another in order to prevent the origination of local and dynastic loyalties. The reconstruction of the historical events was made in that study on the basis of contemporary Arabic. As'ad is remembered by the historiographers of Syria as one of the most successful walis in Damascus itself. Princeton. therefore.D. although evidently not a deliberate reform. AS'AD'S RISE TO POWER: THE MAKING OF A SYRIAN WALl The story of As'ad's step-by-step rise to the highest office in Syria illustrates some of the fundamental aspects of Ottoman rule of these provinces. Of the many members of the 'Azm family who served as governors in Syria. and Mutawalis of the Lebanese mountains and by serving under the wali of Damascus as his Cerde Basbugus. and members of the 'Azm family were also often appointed to the adjacent waldyahs of Sidon and Tripoli. The examination of the various phases and aspects of the period of the 'Azms 1 is. Muhammad b. Members of the 'Azm family play a leading role in Syrian politics to this day. a practice that had rendered them unwilling or unable to devote themselves to the welfare of their provinces. thesis. Although he failed to establish his control over the whole waldyah of Damascus.2As'ad Pasha managed to hold the Damascus office for the longest period. and 'Abdullah b. 2 The most prominent were Isma'il b. Hebrew. The 1 See Shimon Shamir. 1773-83). This support was of great importance. constituted one of the most important attempts made in Syria before the penetration of Western influences to regenerate the decaying Ottoman administration and regain complete control over these territories. Sulayman b. It is. .2 SHIMON SHAMIR in Damascus. or commanders of the Jardah detachments which supplied and defended the Hajj along the second half of its way back to Damascus. to As'ad's rule in Damascus that one must turn in order to discover the basic features of Ottoman government in Syria during the period of the 'Azms. therefore. Maronites. The walis of Sidon and Tripoli shared these responsibilities by controlling the Druze. 1724-1785 (unpublished Ph. Ibrahim (1734-8. the general decline of the Arabic-speaking countries under the Mamluks and the Ottomans. thus reducing the pressure of local rivalries on the wali of Damascus and providing him with loyal support. Mustafa (1771-2. the 'Azms were allowed long tenures of office while formerly wdlis had generally been replaced every year. I. 1960). 1741-3). for in his capacity as governor of Damascus the wdalwas responsible not only for maintaining order in a province extending from al-'Arish to the outskirts of Aleppo and inhabited by a heterogeneous and insubordinate population.Hajj al-ShdmT). Muhammad (intermittently up to 1807). The 'Azm walis of Syria. Ottoman. Thus the consolidation of the three walayahs under the loyal 'Azms. Isma'il (1743-57).
having procured the patronage of the powerful vizier Bekir Pasha.Hajj. 1 See Aff. 1116 (Tripoli). contributed further to As'ad's advancement. he called As'ad from Hama to serve as mutasallim. after considerable efforts a on his part. As'ad rose to the rank of beylerbeyi. were particularly noted. in. and began to take him along on the annual . it appears that As'ad was born about 1705 in Ma'arrat al-Nu'man and that he was probably the oldest of Isma'il Pasha's four sons. . gtr.both granted to him as malikdne. From contemporary Syrian and Ottoman chronicles. directly or indirectly. His actions against the Turkoman and Beduin bands which regularly raided this area. enclosed in a report by Martin dated 9 March 1732.. or command of the Holy Pilgrimage. 'Relation de la punition des rebelles de Tripoli de Syrie arriv6e la nuit des 28 au 29 f6vrier 1732 '.Hajj. the former wali of Jidda . As'ad's paternal uncle and the second of the 'Azms to become wdal of Damascus. the extent of its decay in the eighteenth century. Sulayman. BI. . in the circumstances of As'ad's success as well as in those of his ultimate fall. . then wall of Tripoli. and Imdrat al-Hajj. he spent a fortune to make it [Hama] his malikdne. As'ad was thus acquainted with the complex problems involved in the performance of the two main tasks of the government of Damascus: the Wildyah.AS'AD PASHA AL-'AZM AND OTTOMAN RULE IN DAMASCUS (1743-58) 3 central government's concepts of provincial administration. MS quoted in Kurd 'Ali.2 By the end of the 30's As'ad was already the mutasarrif of two sancaks. he managed to obtain the central government's confirmation of his establishment for life in that area: ' .'. Hama and Homns. He was little more than twenty years old when his father began to train him for office in the government of the Syrian provinces. In the summer of 1732. maintained his nephew in the Hama post and continued to associate him in the management of the . He established As'ad as the mutasarrif of Hama. pasha of two tugs. As'ad had made a name for himself During these years in Hama and Homns as a competent and popular ruler...Hajj. and a large government building. in Tripoli during his absence. its attitude towards Arabic-speaking Muslim ra'cyd. when Sulayman. or administration of the province. however. the maintenance of order in his waldyahwas not an easy task. managed not only to preserve order but also to gain some popularity for his uncle by spreading and publicly celebrating the news of Sulayman's distinguished success in the defence of the . 2 Abu al-Mawahib Ibn Miri. water reservoirs. threatening traffic between the capital and Damascus. deputy governor. who upon his return was appointed wali of Damascus. distinguished for his horsemanship and his enthusiasm for construction works: his stables were said to hold hundreds of fine mounts and the list of public works he built in Hama included a public bath.Hajj. had to depart with the Jardah to meet the returning . and finally. one of the richest sancaks in the waldyahof Damascus. As'ad. Sulayman Pasha. Ta'rzkh. Since only a few months earlier Sulayman had cruelly suppressed a revolt of the local Ashrdf. 292. the scale of values that governed its policies. and other questions are all reflected.
report by Arassy dated 30 January 1742. replacing his brother Ibrahim Pasha whose abuses and inefficiency had brought the administration of that waldyah to the brink of bankruptcy. Characteristically. the news of Sulayman Pasha's death in the campaign against Zahir al-'Umar. thus bringing to an end a conflict which had been aggravated by Ibrahim's intrigues and his meddling in the internal affairs of the Druze. To a great extent those achievements can be attributed to As'ad's resoluteness and to his bold disregard of local custom: he did not shrink from raising a general uproar among the Muslim populace by firing the guns of the citadel to salute the French consul.. loc. then wall of Damascus. the Druze emir into town. Les echelles de Syrie et de Palestine au XVIIIe siecle. 1026 (Seyde).. 1942.2 Nevertheless As'ad was not content with his post in Sidon and in March 1742 he was allowed to return to his estates in Hama. As'ad was not long to remain in Hama.t ha-Galfl ba-me'dhha-yd het. 1911. Paris. Aff. A detailed list of contemporary sources is included. 2 .3 reached Damascus. ?tr. the powerful ruler of Galilee.'.Jerusalem. against which many of Ibrahim's abuses had been directed. 1928. BI.1 In the course of a single year in office As'ad settled all the debts left by Ibrahim. 3 The best study of this remarkable ruler is Uriel Heydt (Heyd). As'ad was highly praised for his policies in Sidon.4 SHIMON SHAMIR A three-year break in Sulayman's rule in Damascus (July 1738-August 1741) apparently did not affect As'ad's position in Syria for he is reported by contemporary chroniclers to have served in 1741 as CerdeBa?buguto 'All Pasha. In contrast to his brother. Paris. Upon Sulayman's return to Damascus As'ad was promoted and given his first waldyah-that of Sidon. See F. Ddhir al-'Umar. as about their possible deleterious effect on the smooth organization of the .Hajj. Violent conflicts erupted in this town between the turbulent elements which had been checked by Sulayman's firm rule. On 30 January 1742. a meeting was arranged between the Druze emir and the French consul. an unprecedented action which had far-reaching consequences. Histoire du commerce fransais dans le Levant au xVIIIe siecle. It should be remembered that the walayah of Sidon had been created in 1660 with the purpose of controlling the Druze of Lebanon. or from shocking the inhabitants of Sidon by inviting. cit. . ]tr. Charles-Roux. in which the former promised to protect the Catholic missions and French trade in his area. As'ad assumed this office in November 1741. the French consul referred to him in his dispatch as 'Essaad-nouveau Pacha qui a la reputation d'un tres galant homme et dont le Gouvernement est tres applaudi dans ce pays ci. and Paul Masson. Thus.. and mediated peace between the Druze emir and his brothers. on 22 December 1741. Sidon also constituted the most important French echelle on the Syrian coast. which affected not only the prestige of the Ottoman government but also the lives and property of thousands 1 Aff. BI. re-established good relations with the French Nation. even though at that time this post was usually given only to walis. As'ad's policy enabled the French to establish closer relations with the Druze. much to the regret of the population of Sidon. Members of the 'Azm family and their followers were being arrested and deprived of their property by their opponents in Damascus. In August 1743. the central government was not so much concerned about the setback in Galilee or about the disturbances in Damascus. Shallf. and actually bringing.
The Dawrah was usually begun at the end of Rajab or the beginning of Sha'ban and completed in one month. and money prepared by Sulayman for this purpose. and by the fortresses and cisterns which As'ad was building along the route.H. The situation seemed particularly alarming since hardly enough time was left for the completion of the Dawrah.1 He was also authorized to make use of the mirl revenues allocated for the Hajj and of the provisions. deserved and was qualified for this most difficult post. and his above-mentioned deceased uncle [Sulayman Pasha]. Damascus. Tarih. and Mehmet Subhi. 1959). Istanbul. Cairo.H. were sent to As'ad by Sultan Mahmud I. the annual expedition to the southern sancaks which was essential for collecting the revenues that financed the . and it made a name for As'ad. Salah al-Din al-Munajjid in Wulat DimaAhqf al-'ahd al-'UthmAnf. Budayr al-Budayri. The solution was found in the appointment of As'ad to the governorship of Damascus. 8b-12b. Hawadith Dimashq al-yawmiyah. he was granted the rank and the troops of a vizier.AS'AD PASHA AL-'AZM AND OTTOMAN RULE IN DAMASCUS (1743-58) 5 of pilgrims.Hajjusually left around the middle of Shawwal and returned at the beginning of Safar. Ten days passed before he was able to set out for the Dawrah: by that time it would normally be reentering Damascus. 'It was a great Hajj. 'amm 3737 (this work was published by Ahmad 'Izzat 'Abd al-Karim. raised and exalted in station. Mustafa Sami. 79.Hajj. MS.2 He was back in Damascus within thirty days. Expensive presents.4 Huseyn $akir.Hajj and the waldyahof Damascus with the sancaks of Jerusalem and Nablus '. al-Zahiriyah. 3 This is the concluding sentence of Muhammad al-Maqqar Ibn Jum'ah. 223. confirmed him in this office fourteen times. al-Ghuraral-&isadn 2 1 . The circumstances of this appointment are given by the Ottoman chronicle in the following terms: ' Because notice was taken of the fact that As'ad Pasha. camels. The . pp. Rislan b. The Porte. The . riding in procession with the notables. and after another ten days of intensive work he managed to depart with the caravan on time. cit. ed.] 1154-1176. in every way '. 1198. an unprecedented achievement for a wdli in Damascus. or pasha of three tius. the mutasarrif of Hama and one of the noble mirmirans. usually given only to victorious grand viziers. op. impressed by the organization and management of the convoy. Haydar Alimad al-ShihabI. 4 The historical account of this chapter is based on the following sources (in addition to those previously mentioned): Ahmad b. A. officers. 69.Wuzard' allddhina 7akamufi Dimashq. Yahya al-Qari.Hajjsthat followed were even more successful and there were many of them. both by right of inheritance [italics mine] and his own merits. As'ad Pasha made his entry into Damascus in September 1743.. al. and appointed to Imdrat al-. who possessed perfect knowledge and understanding for subtle matters and who had been accustomed to perform the services of Imnrat al-Hajj since his youth.Damascus.ed. 1949. by the security arrangements. al-B&dsdt wa '1qudah. [A. granting him the rank of vizier. and Janissaries. when he had spent considerable time at it during the incumbency of his father. al-Munajjid. who in this manner indicated the high esteem in which he held the wdla. the late Isma'il Pasha.
A. experience. The forces which had political and military significance can be roughly divided into two groups: alien military units and armed local forces. 1tr. The Ottoman government not only refrained from checking the dynastic ambitions of the 'Azms but. Aff. Ibrahim al-Kaylani. A. . reports by Arassy dated 10 November 1741. For the problems of the provinces themselves the Porte had little concern and it allowed money and connexions to influence and decide the appointments for these posts. I. set the context of As'ad's government in Damascus during the following fourteen years. Beirut. and the destructive effects of the central government's indifference and corruption on the other. Second. connexions in Istanbul. Damascus. THE CONSOLIDATION OF AS'AD'S RULE IN DAMASCUS: FOR POWER IN A PROVINCIAL CAPITAL THE STRUGGLE As'ad soon found that his duties as Amir al-. 1116 (Tripoli). competence.Hajj were much easier than those as w&al Damascus. 'Abqarfydt Shdmzyahfi al-tukm wa 'l-siyasah wa 'l-iddrah. wealth. 333. the elements which played the principal role in As'ad's rise to power were: the active aid of his family. 1026 (Seyde). Rustum and F.. it was thanks to this family that he was able to put to good advantage most of the other factors. where he owned his vast properties and had acquired his political and administrative experience. BI. 1946. actually recognized their right of succession. First. in Damascus As'ad confronted a host of turbulent elements that were engaged in a constant struggle for power. 29-30 (for that period this source is often erroneous). As'ad's career and the careers of other members of his family make it clear that as far as the central government was concerned the personal qualifications of its officials were generally of primary importance only when its direct interests were at stake. and the newly-introduced 'right of inheritance '. ed. II. on the one hand. This introduced into the system of government an element of stability which held a promise of recovery for the province and of which earlier governors had been unable to avail themselves. 8-9. Bustarn in Lubnan ft 'ahd al-Umard' alShihadbyzn. in appointing As'ad. 7 March 1742. he was appointed to govern the very province where his family was established. report by Le Maire dated 30 July 1732.6 SIIIMON SHAMIR Summing up. The two main forces which belonged to the first group were the wSll's fi akhbdr abna' al-zamdn. the forces in either group rarely united to present a common front. 1933. This basic contradiction between the trends toward stabilization and improvement that originated from the establishment of the 'Azms in the government of Syria. Thus additional rivalries and conflicts enlivened the principal ones.Hajjmeant facing only the desert and its of hostile Beduin. ii. Although the same factors can be found operating on the courses of many Ottoman careers two characteristic points should be noted in As'ad's case. Furthermore. While the . Although the main conflict was usually between some force belonging to the former group and some other force belonging to the latter. Siireyya. opportunity.
and other horsemen. Djevad. Ottomandocumentson Palestine. Turkoman. Unlike the Kaptkul. notably the Maydan. 1552-1615.Silk al-durarfi a'yan al-qarn al-thdni 'ashar (4 vols. Jean Deny. These units formed the sole force which was subject exclusively to the wdlT. volunteer. which at that time rarely exceeded 1. Universitiitsbibliothek. 192. p. Their main task was to guard the citadel but often they also co-operated with the wdli in controlling the walayah and protecting the Hajj. the latter consisted of Kurdish. Their task was to guard the fortresses along the route of the Hajj and to support the w&liin his campaigns.AS'AD PASHA AL-'AZM AND OTTOMAN RULE IN DAMASCUS (1743-58) 7 mercenaries and the Kaptkul Janissaries. Osmanl tarih deyimleri ve terimleris6zliigi. i. who were usually natives of Syria and strongly affiliated with local tariqahs. See Ismail Hakki Uzun9arili. Levendsand Ddlis 2-cavalry on the level of irregulars. and were regularly rotated. p. i. ' Persan lavand dans l'usage Osmanli'. ii. 164-71. 'Deli'. or from the Persian lawand ' free. See Heyd. 161. new edition. 2. 3-4. 1960. At that time their number in Damascus averaged 600. 1301). mostly of Kurdish and Turkoman origin.. 190. A. It is difficult to establish to-day the exact relations between the original Yerliya body and the Kaptkulu Janissaries. 2 Levend (the Arabic form being ldwand): from the Italian levantino ' a sailor of the fleet'. Documents. Uzun9arli]. Khulasat al-athar fi a'yan al-qarn al-hadi 'ashar (4 vols. 408-9. pp. 3. n. 193. Encyclopaedia of Islam.g. i.is. p. Wiesbaden. . occupied some of the largest quarters of Damascus. n. pp. Cairo. H. 311.. n. MS. The Yerliya. 3 The Yerliya body in Damascus apparently parallels the Yerlikulu organization found in many other provinces. Paris and Istanbul. ii. 19434). taking over the citadel and other key posts and privileges which had for a long time been in the hands of the Yerliya. In Syria the former units consisted mostly of Kurdish cavalry (at that time loosely connected with the Imperial Levends). Dali (the Arabic form of the Turkish Deli): from the Arabic dalil ' guide '. iv. Uriel Heyd. A kten des vierundzwanzigsten Internationalen OrientalistenKongresses. adventurer'. See Gibb and Bowen. 1959. Miinchen. For Ottoman terms mentioned in this article see Mehmet Zeki Pakalm. ltat militaire Ottoman. 61. 229. 448. Ghard'ib al-bada'i' wa-'aja'ib al-waqd'i'. perhaps. Osmanls devleti tefkildttndan Kapukulu ocaklars (2 vols. 1868). 1. 330. 325-30.. The enmity between the Yerliya and the Kaptkul goes back to some time in the seventeenth century. or from the Turkish deli 'mad. a later development of units of' fortress soldiers' (Hisar eris or Mustahfizes)existing in Damascus in the sixteenth century. 3 vols. Oxford. 112. See Muhammad al-Muhibbi. Pt. i. e. 12a. 1946-56. See Uzun9ar?ili. They apparently consisted of the descendants of some of the first Janissary contingents stationed in the citadel of Damascus or of auxiliary forces set up to assist them.l The wdlV'sarmy. Tiibingen. 9832. hence the term N6bet. 201-2. or 'local Janissaries'.3 The Sipahis of the province of Damascus were usually subordinated to the command of 1 An apocopated form of Kapzlkulu.500 men. Ijasan Ibn al-Siddiq. consisted of Magharibah-North African foot soldiers of poor quality. ed. Numerous contemporary sources refer to Yerliya units participating in parades and campaigns as cavalry. took ordersfrom Istanbul. when the Kaptkul were restored to Damascus. 73. In the provinces the main task of these Janissaries was to guard the fortresses. The Kapqkul ortas in Damascus were units of the Imperial Janissary army.. Both Levends and Dalis used to serve under local governors. they consisted of cavalry units. Bfilaq. n. 1. Ankara. 1882. A. but the fact that in Damascene sources the term 'Janissaries' is used exclusively for the Yerliya may indicate that the early Yerliya units did not differ much from the Janissaries proper. 99. 1. and Tiifengcis-riflemen of various origins who performed both military and police duties. n. now numbering a few thousand men. n. The principal force in the second group and the main adversary of the Kaptkul was the organization of the Yerliya. 1957. Franke. 53a. 104. i. Muhammad Khalil al-Mur&di. 9. brave '. The Yerliya organization is.H. 77. al-Budayri. H. Istanbul. 3.
the Alay Bey. thesis. It had been allowed to reach dangerous proportions as a result of a series of events in the early 1740's. or his mutasallim. It may also well be that from the very beginning the Ottomans had established this post in Damascus as a counterweight to the wdlW's powers. etc. The third local force consisted of the Ashrdf. See H. This armed support. . 17601826 (unpublished Ph.8 SHIMON SIIAMIR the Yerliya and shared their position in the political struggle in Damascus. among which the most important were the elimination of the Kapzkul forces from Damascus in 1740 and the wars with Zahir al-'Umar in the last years of Sulayman. non-Muslim community. where the main axis of conflict was between them and the Janissaries.by the nature walayah-the qddi. 1 Yet their power did not reach that of the Ashrdf in Aleppo. Muhammad Ibn al-Falaqinsi the defterdar. of his post and the length of his tenure. entirely preoccupied by the requirements of the . his administration. 1955). a most revealing chapter in the political history of the province.l The political situation in Damascus was further complicated by the fact that in addition to these forces. was the most likely to challenge the wdlS's rule. the Agha of the Yerliya. or even ally themselves with one or another of the principal forces mentioned above. ch. Political factions in Aleppo. These officials were the defterdar 3-who administered the financial accounts of the and the mufti.). L. represented a political force with which they made their bid for power.Damascus was practically taken over by a coalition under the leadership of Sayyid Fathi (Fathallah) b. 219 ff. therefore. the alleged descendants of the Prophet. guild. the Agha of the Kaptkul. iii-v.Hajj. quarter in the town. The story of As'ad's struggle with this opposition. Documents. 2 For the diwdn of Damascus see Shamir. Princeton. Although they lacked the military organization of the former bodies they could muster considerable forces to threaten their opponents or even the authority of the wdl1. Although officially these functionaries were entitled to no more than a small retinue of armed men they could enlist support among the various armed bands and forces existing in Damascus (usually affiliated with some Sufi order. Of these three the defterdar. which can be reconstructed from local chronicles. 3 For the early history of the post of the defterdarin Damascus see Heyd. and his adherents from among the notables and the 'ulamd' of Damascus. This coalition included on the one hand the defterdarhimself with his powerful allies in Istanbul.D. Bodman. which were all represented on the provincial 2 wdtwn (by the wdl. constitutes. 42. combined with their administrative and financial powers. and the Naqib al-Ashrdf respectively). the diwdn also included other officials whose powers and direct appointment by the central government made them largely independent of the wdli's authority and who often were ambitious enough to play a part of their own in local politics. As'ad's appointment to Damascus coincided with the emergence of one of the most serious challenges that was ever thus to arise to the wdli's authority. It appears that as As'ad was taking his first steps in his new office.
1517-1798. but it never reached its destination. The financial and administrative organization and developmentof Ottoman Egypt. the people. Immediately upon learning the news of Sulayman's death. Sami. The frustrated Ashrdf marched on al-Falaqinsi's house. recalling a previous petition which. instead of bringing about the punishment of the defterdarhad been turned over to him. this time in the mahkamahin the presence of several kaptzcs. the now leaderless Ddlts were attacked by the Yerliya and many of them were killed. First to be struck were Sulayman's men. 329. See ~akir. his hazinedar. The notables of Damascus immediately held a dlwdn and a fatwd was issued demanding the arrest and execution of the assailant. 2 . and other troublesome Orthodox leaders. Once in control of Damascus itself.fi tariqahs) and supported by urban bands. For if this assault on the traditional leadership of the Muslim populace went unpunished. The signatories. Shaw. after having overcome their opponents in the government and administration of the waldyah. 257 ff. 1' Agent of expenditure'. who controlled several quarters in Damascus and its environs. 1962. II. The state of affairs in Damascus deteriorated during As'ad's absence with the Dawrah. decided to take no action without As'ad Pasha. They were evidently also linked with the Greek Orthodox proctor. The notables assembled again. Pt. His first intervention proved quite successful: he concluded peace with Zahir al-'Umar in As'ad's name and received from him expensive presents for himself and for As'ad. The latter had meanwhile taken refuge at the house of Mustafa Agha b. Stanford J. 'All al-Muradi was also shot when entering his home. the most aggressive aghas of the Yerliya. and Subhi. the Sultan's presents to the Hijaz. his cousin Muhammad Bey. but did not accomplish anything beyond setting the town in a turmoil. p. I. and 'Ali al-Muradi. The official who used to arrive every year carrying the sirre. Princeton. an 'dlim of a prominent Damascene family who was revered by the populace for fearlessly championing their cause in the face of oppression. the powerful leader of the Maydan quarter where most of the Yerliya had their houses and where he could not be reached by the law. At the same time the defterdararrested Sulayman's most powerful executives: his faithful waktl al-kharj. Druze and others. Pakalm. n. One of the defterdar'sarmed men made his way into the Mosque of the Umayyads and assaulted the Naqib al-Ashrlf. baltaczs. see Gibb and Bowen. Sayyid 'All Efendi. 9. causing his vengeance to be taken upon its senders. al-Falaqinsi sought to extend his influence over the political affairs of the entire waldyah. 586. 69. and others. closely allied with the guilds (and consequently with the S. A petition to Istanbul describing the oppressive conduct of the defterdarwas drawn up.and the emin-i siirre 2 who had apparently just arrived from Istanbul for the Hajj.would infer that al-Falaqinsi's group.1Ibn Dayri. Khudari Qorbaci.AS'AD PASHA AL-'AZM AND OTTOMAN RULE IN DAMASCUS (1743-58) 9 and on the other. Ibn Tuma.his silahdar. Tarih. 1. had subdued the masses as well and were enjoying complete immunity to the law. the incident developed into a test in the struggle for power in Damascus. Although neither of the two was killed.
to recall al-Falaqinsi to Istanbul. lOb. In March 1744. but even now they feared him too much to dare to send it. They ignored the wali to the point of not rising to their feet when he entered. Only after al-Falaqinsi's departure did the a'ydn (the provincial notables) sign another petition against him.'2 His faction held the city in its oppressive grip. he in turn did nothing to check the defterdar. referring 1A 'purse ' (kis) equalled 500 piastres (qurdsh). the powerful k. was met with surprise in the town. Thousands of 'purses' 1 were found and taken away while other properties. After As'ad had left with the . As'ad evidently understood that the struggle with al-Falaqinsi would have to be decided in Istanbul and that a premature attempt on his part to break the defterdar's strength in Damascus could only bring his own career to an end.zlar agasz. 2 Al-Budayri. who is said to have appointed and dismissed twelve grand viziers in his lifetime. for the arrival of a kaptcz. In Damascus As'ad was considered defeated. For its purchasing value see below. When orders arrived from Istanbul to banish Ibn Tuma for his abuses against the Catholics. in August. were liquidated by al-Falaqinsi who profited highly thereby. As'ad's activities in this direction were evidently well concealed in Damascus.Hajj. In the town the people ridiculed As'ad. but managed to escape punishment by distributing large sums of money and mainly through the help of Beiir I. Their apprehensions were eventually borne out. p. his word carried weight and decided matters. He applied pressure against al-Falaqinsi in Istanbul. al-Falaqinsi offered his full co-operation to the kapwcz who had arrived to confiscate Sulayman's property for the Imperial treasury.10 SHIMON SHAMIR When As'ad returned. he was confronted with a fait accompli. for three months later the defterdarreturned jubilant to Damascus. . 'Fathi al-Daftari was the Sultan [or the supreme authority] in Damascus.000 piastres and appeared to have forgotten the whole affair. and As'ad did not interfere. the gathering of the Yerliya outside his saray was enough to persuade As'ad to postpone the execution of those orders. As'ad did not turn in fury upon al-Falaqinsi or the kaptcz. Contraryto expectations. when As'ad had returned. Their insolence reached a point where they would enter the prisons and release whomsoever they wished. nothing to stop al-Falaqinsi from inflicting a blow on the prestige and wealth of As'ad's own family in Damascus. counting on the enmity between al-Falaqinsi and Hasan Pasha. the grand vizier himself. therefore. He merely bought the rest of Sulayman's property for 20. It turned out that in Istanbul he had indeed been sentenced to death for his abuses. There was. including rich wheat stores. The kaptcz calmly produced a firman giving him a free hand in any measures requiredto carry out his functions in Damascus. Sulayman's widows and servants were threatened and tortured into disclosing the whereabouts of his hidden treasures and dispossessed even of their own clothing.
the seventy-second. Documents. Not until mid-March. marched on Suq Saruja. did the Yerliya seriously prepare to do battle. In 1750 the total number of Kapskul in the citadel of Damascus was 722. The mashdyikh obeyed the order. 2 Another Kapskul orta. were killed. Sa'dlyah kadsn na'imah ma'a al-na'imrn 1 was the popular saying. Thus Damascus was rid of its most turbulent elements and order was restored. All in all a hundred Yerliya men lost their lives in these engagements. the stronghold of the fiercest commanders in the camp of As'ad's opponents: Ahmad Agha Kaltakgl and 'Abdullah b. In order to preserve their alien character and isolate them from the populace. .when As'ad's D&lis took the citadel in a surprise attack.AS'AD PASHA AL-'AZM AND OTTOMAN RULE IN DAMASCUS (1743-58) 11 to him as a woman. but still belittled As'ad's preparations. the sheikhs of the quarters. The battle in the Maydan. Yet for As'ad the worst part of the struggle was over. and other leaders escaped after a brief resistance. leaving the quarter to be plundered by the wdli's men. op. led by Ibn Dayri and covered by cannon fire from the citadel. At the end of February 1746.hrdt. He was only awaiting the right moment to strike. Hamzah. pp. The wali. was much shorter. 1. apprehended the men and turned them over to As'ad to be executed in front of the saray with other captured insurgents. but sought immediately to fill the vacuum created by the drastic enfeeblement of the Yerliya. Kamal Khalil. As'ad's next objective. The Dalis. After heated combat the quarter was occupied. In Istanbul Be?ir I had died and a long-awaited firman authorizing the governor of Damascus to use all the means at his disposal to enforce obedience had reached him. as his army was disbanding after returning from the Hijaz. The problem of preserving the Turkish character of the Janissary contingents in Damascus was not new-cf. was not content to rest on his laurels. Ibn Khudari Qorbaci. and fired. pillaged. As'ad's prestige rose suddenly and presents and congratulations arrived from Istanbul. As'ad restored them to even higher status than they had had before their expulsion in 1740. while his own position was considerably strengthened by their presence. arrived in Damascus in a pompous parade in May 1751. to seize the insurgents that were still left. The Yerliya mobilized their own forces. he mustered his Ddlis for action.2 Now that al-Falaqinsi had lost his protectors in Istanbul and his forces in Damascus. See Djevad. cit. whose followers constituted a quarter of all the Yerliya troops. Heyd. he warned their Agha not to accept into his units anyone from among the natives of the waldyah. Five beys and aghas of the house of Hasan al-Turkuman. He decided to recall the Kaptkul and on his request the nineteenth orta was sent to Damascus. however. Kaltakgl and Ibn Hamzah fled to the mountains. As'ad immediately orderedthe mashdyikhal-. 68-9 and n. a petition signed by every person of importance in Damascus 1 An interesting Turkish-Arabic combination which may be translated 'Lady Sa'adiyah is sleeping'.
38. With his men and his Druze allies. which give the following account. As'ad's demands were also supported in the Pasha. As'ad's victory over the opposition in Damascus was not followed by similar victories in the outlying areas of the waldyah. by allowing As'ad a long tenure of office. who were the most aggressive. by establishing his rule on the support of his mercenaries and the Kaptkul. 2 The most recent conflicts had been: 1738-9-the wdal's mercenaries against most of the local forces. There soon arose a local force to fight this oppression. Second. As'ad suddenly produced a firman ordering the execution of his guest. In July 1746. Thus. the expelled Druze by the Beduin of Kulayb in the east. the influential capital by IHasan Damascene molld who had helped As'ad's father in 1725. the Agha of the Yerliya was replaced by Darwish Agha b. was more than As'ad could manage. among them the aghas who had served as his hazinedars.2 These developments are reflected at length in the chronicles of Damascus. as it turned out. but in 1747 a humiliating defeat at the hands of Mulhim.q in the west. who held his post for thirty years.. Both appointees were Damascus-born members of the a'yan. Iv. True. This enabled As'ad's remaining enemies in Damascus to make common cause with the unsubordinated elements of the province and to continue to threaten the capital. See al-Muradi. This meant a major success for As'ad and for the Wildyahin general.shared his fate.000 piastres to be derived from the imminent confiscation of al-Falaqinsi's property may have been the factor that finally won Sultan Mahmud's consent. 107-8. The defeated aghas easily found refuge in territories hostile to the wdal of Damascus. Furthermore. the powerful Druze emir. Kaltakgl often fell upon caravans on the 1 The defterdarwas replaced by Muhammad Efendi b. He was beheaded on the spot. As'ad's letter guaranteeing a payment of 500. His confiscated property was sent to Istanbul together with his head. 1739-40-Kapskul against Yerliya.12 SHIMON SHAMIR was finally sent to Istanbul. . 1741-3-the wadl's mercenaries against the Yerliya and the defterdar'smen. Unfortunately for its residents they were not. and by Khalil al-Siddiqi. As'ad did move against his more distant opponents immediately after crushing al-Falaqinsi. Several of his men. the grand vizier. First. the defeat of As'ad's rivals in Damascus did not put an end to the violent conflicts between the various competing armed elements there-to accomplish that. discouraged him from any further attempts. Ibn Hamzah was given shelter by Sheikh Zahir al-'Umar in the south. but the administration of the province could profit from it only if it meant that peace and security had been restored in Damascus. 'Abdullah who held his post for thirteen years. the Porte had enabled him to crush his opponents in Damascus within three years and to re-establish his authority in the town on stable foundations. ii. and this for two reasons. as al-Falaqinsi was paying a formal visit to the saray. Farrikh. As'ad had strengthened the alien forces in Damascus and these increased their abuses against the local population. reintroducing a major pattern of conflicts on to the Damascus scene just as in preceding years. and Kaltak9i by the Druze of Shahin Talhu.
and Kamal Khalil with their men and large numbers of Druze actually occupied the quarters outside the walls to the south. The battle was one of the most violent ever witnessed in Damascus. and the Tiifengcis at his disposal were not enough to repel the invasion and hastily began to muster additional forces. most of the area. Reinforcements of Ddlls arrived from Sidon. When it was over. In the summer of 1750. In 1753 a feud between the Kaptkul proper and the Yamak (the auxiliary forces) stopped all trade in Damascus. As'ad was now forced to apply the full pressure of his authority. after the murder of a Kurdish soldier. an important commercial centre serving the departing and returning . and many falldhs from neighbouring villages. The worst raid took place in September 1748. When they refused on the ground of traditional custom. They plundered and killed and prepared to attack the town itself to free the Druze incarcerated there. and set villages on fire and destroyed fruit groves until Kaltakgl and his men left the area of their own accord. as did reinforcements of Beduin from the Bani Sakhr tribe. A heavier toll yet was exacted by numerous assaults and robberies committed by the Kaptkul and the wdli's mercenaries (mostly the Dalis and the . was forced to post the Ddlts and the Tiifengcis around the town to protect the inhabitants. he reproached the mutasallim for it.Hajj. Musa Agha saw that the Kaptkul. Nor did Mulhim dare to disregard what was demanded of him. The clashes between various forces within the city were no less violent. the populace long lived in fear of additional attacks and the town was reported seized by panic several times when rumours of renewed raids were spread. the DalTs. The vengeance taken by Mfsa and the Kapzkul on those accused of co-operating with the raiding bands in Damascus and its environs was so cruel that when Sa'd al-Din Pasha. he promptly sent the heads of Ibn Hamzah and Kamal Khalil to Istanbul. In 1746-7. from al-Suwayqah to al-Maydan. pillaging houses and shops and taking vengeance upon his enemies. Although this finally brought an end to the raids on Damascus. He ordered the Banf Talhuq and Bani 'Abd al-Malik to hand over Kaltakgl and his men to As'ad. Kaltakgi. backed by the Porte. Similar clashes were reported in other years. As'ad's brother and the wadl of Tripoli. he marched on them with an army. As'ad's mutasallim in Damascus. arrived in Damascus with the Jardah. to require Sheikh Zahir and Emir Mulhim to stop harbouring the aggressors.AS'AD PASHA AL-'AZM AND OTTOMAN RULE IN DAMASCUS (1743-58) 13 roads to Damascus and raided the town itself. Whatever property had not been damaged in the battle was either pillaged by Mius's troops or carried by the owners to safety within the walls. lay in ruins. Ibn Hamzah. through the 'ulamd'. With these forces Musa Agha finally launched an attack on the occupied quarters. a feud broke out between Kurdish and Baghdadi contingents and soon engulfed all the Kaptkul and Tiifengci units. He rallied part of the townspeople. usually in As'ad's absence. Zahir was eager to bargain and in return for a firman preventing As'ad from crossing his territory for the Dawrah. Mfisa Agha.
213. had the upper hand. and humiliated Ashrdf 'as though they were Jews or from among the peoples of 'Ad and Thamud '. 'The villages have been ruined by the oppression of the Ddals '. Aff. which engulfed the whole town in June 1748. pp. They assassinated. 279-87. well armed and protected by the citadel. 24a. C. BI. Since in As'ad's day support from Istanbul could be bought for a price. cit. and since force was the principal means of gaining wealth and power. Beirut. which had invested numerous functionaries in Damascus with extensive powers intended to check and balance each other. 3 The historical account of this section is based on the following sources: al-Budayri. Saufisheikhs. arrested. Travels throughSyria and Egypt in the years 1783. Two elements emerge from this picture as having worked for pacification 1 Al-Budayri. and other a'ydn produced no better results.14 SHIMON SHAMIR Maghdribah)not only in Damascus but throughout the waldyah. 32a. concluded one Damascene annalist in the year 1748. 34b-37b. 5a-7b. 42a.3 These events lead to the conclusion that a point had been reached in Damascus where the political fabric of this provincial centre had become so disparate that the representative of the Empire's sovereignty had managed to maintain his authority only with the greatest difficulty and that the state was unable to shield its subjects from assaults on their lives and property. p. 46a. ii. Under this system. Soldiers of other units were similarly punished by As'ad. Rufa'il b.. II. 1784. nothing kept these functionariesand other local forces-from turning against each other and against the ra'aya.. who had emerged as the principal local force after the suppression of the Yerliya. 11. 25a-b. 64-5. 1929. Ibn al-Qari. 219-28. Ta'rikh. C.2 Conflicts flared up on the least provocation. Etr. II. ended in failure. it was the Ottoman system which drove it to such ruinous extremes. as usual. and 1785 (tr. began when the Agha of the Kaptkul bastinadoed a Sharif who had interrupted his sleep by testing a pistol near his house. Basiliyus Qattan in Masadir ta'rzkhfyahli-4awddith Lubnan wa Suriyd. F. but to no avail. As'ad replied that he needed them to maintain security. The Ashrdf retaliated with a mass attack on the citadel which. 21a-24a. 26a-30a. 83-5. Ta'rzkh. Ibn Miir. Yisuf Karamah. The worst clash. from the French. London. 32-9.. . Several Kaptkul were executed for killing Ashrdf. Attempts at peaceful persuasion and reconciliation by 'ulamd'. pp. 10a-19b. Burayk. Worst was a conflict that erupted between the Kaptkul and the Ashrdf. In this conflict the Kaptkul. but he did inflict severe punishment on turbulent Kaplkul and forced them to pay compensation for damages. For the biographies of the persons mentioned in this section see al-Muradi. To protests against the behaviour of the Kapzkul. 63. Although the political divergencies which the events betrayed were partly rooted in the social structure of the population. II. op. 2 ibid. reports by de Lane dated 18 August and 1 September 1745 and by Porry dated 22 October 1745. 1805). pp. ed.. 1026 (Seyde). a governmental machine could work effectively and harmoniously only so long as the central government acted as a firm and unified supervising body which was devoted at least to its own causes. Volney. al-Shihabi. 2 vols.
and the diwdn. III. 198-9. however. He said to them: "Is this your acknowledgement ? How can it be since you are the a'ydn ? " They said: " God forbid ! The a'ydn are only the Kaptkul ". it turned out that the centrifugal forces were so numerous and powerful that the alliance could not be effective. could under the existing system make only limited use of his mercenaries and thus had to resort to forces which constituted the very cause of turbulence and disintegration. some are poor. As'ad convoked a diwdn assembling the 'ulamd' and the a'ydn of Damascus. I. A combination of these two elements-the traditional bridge between ruler and ruled. Then he said to them: " So this is your acknowledgement. could easily be neutralized. 256-7. Take charge of the town and do not allow any one to assault another ". Upon this he summoned the leaders of the Kaptkul and delivered the town to them '. pp.--and the House of 'Azm which had been drawn to the local a'ydn by the duration of its rule in Syria. and this in turn could not be accomplished before the central government had further loosened its control over these provinces or embarked on a path of radical institutional reform. the prestigious sheikhs of tar. which was their principal political instrument. The irony and hopelessness of the situation is underscored in the fact that in order to consolidate the power of the wali As'ad had to recall to Damascus the Kaptkul who had been banished from the city precisely because they undermined the governor's authority. you have realized that her [the town's] a'ydn and her guardians are the Kaptkul ". 25a-b. for it would ally local interests and popular leadership with a stable Ottoman supreme authority. He said to them: " I am about to depart tonight for the Dawrah. on the other hand. 2 Al-Budayri. The a'ydn did not control enough forces to support their policy. Pt. and some are mudarrisun. Our occupation is the study and reading of books ". the 'ulamd' of the most prominent families. In reality. the second [of Rajab 1161/1748].qahs and guilds. As'AD's ADMINISTRATION IN DAMASCUS: GOVERNOR THE VALUES OF AN OTTOMAN The fourteen years of As'ad's rule in Damascus offer a unique opportunity to examine closely the administration of Ottoman walTs and the relations 1 For more information about the a'ydn see Gibb and Bowen. 1. etc. They answered: " Yd Efendind. The wdli.2 Thus there was no chance that the provincial government could be successfully consolidated without first establishing a regular. . From the chronicles of Damascus one can almost pinpoint the day when these realities were recognized by the a'ydn: 'On Friday. we are common people. and a local dynasty established recently under the pressure of crisis-held hopes of reintegration.AS'AD PASHA AL-'AZM AND OTTOMAN RULE IN DAMASCUS (1743-58) 15 and stabilization: the a'yan-including the notables of the wealthy local families. some of us are 'ulamn'. provincial army.
p. Burayk. the clashes between the two principal Christian communities. originally Greek Orthodox. al-Adib. A modus vivendi between the two communities was reached in 1751. As'ad's administration cannot be regarded as typical since notwithstanding his political difficulties. Aff. the Greek Catholic. pp. London. Paris. 8-9. 1tr. repaired roads and water systems. puissance and honour as in the past ten years of the rule of As'ad Basha Ibn al-'Adm. In 1738 . cit. 37-44. Yfisuf and Ni'mah Yazici-Burayk. But just because in his case a long term of office had enabled him to learn the province's problems and to develop a sincere interest in its welfare-this examination becomes all the more revealing. As'ad's brother.. His name was As'ad and verily sa'd [good omen] was seen on his face during those past years '. However. and I have not encountered a history which tells us that they up [the Christians] ever had so much power. and members of the well-known Christian family named Yazici which had been promoted in the service of Isma'il Pasha al-'Azm. reports by de Lane dated 18 August and 1 September 1745. 3 Burayk. For descriptions of other buildings (and of the harsh methods employed in constructing them) see al-Budayri. He renovated mosques and madrasahs. Damascus. the Greek Orthodox.. p.16 SHIMON SHAMIR between them and the ra'dya. Under As'ad their members were allowed to wear whatever they wished and to build and trade without being molested. p...3 1 Isma'il had employed two brothers of this family. As'ad appointed 'Abdullah Yazici as governor of Homs. 1946. 1957. built khdns and public baths and. 18-19. No. usually the first victims of any oppressors. Sa'd al-Din Pasha. influence. pp. from the Muslim conquest to this day. 3a. Among those were MiusaAgha. constructed the magnificent saray which was 'considered the most beautiful Arabic monument of the century. Hitti. Kitdb waqf As'ad Bdsh& al-'Azm. 665. p. 1929. pp. al-Munajjid (ed. 2 Philip K..1 The most outstanding feature of As'ad's administration was the renewal of public construction on a scale the like of which had not been known in Ottoman Damascus. 24b-25a. most famous of all. 1953. the family's place of origin-ibid. p. the kdhya. al-Kaylini. 1026 (Seyde). Sauvaget. 37b.2 As'ad's regard for the people is perhaps best reflected by his attitude to the millets. 43a. the wak7l al-kharj. At first glance it seems as though the most characteristic maladies of Ottoman provincial administration disappeared when the wials were no longer rotated so frequently. employed Ilyas Yazici as his kahya-Karamah. the Greek Orthodox and the Greek Catholic. 10. 39b-41b. evidently thanks to the intervention of As'ad. ibid. History of Syria. when Cyril. 2nd ed. Eustache de Lorey and J. Ibn Dayri. It was through Ilyas (who two years after As'ad's fall had found refuge in a Catholic monastery) that a branch of the family. Karamah. 22. 33a-34a. As'ad was able to build up a solid administrative machine based mostly on competent functionaries who had already gained experience under the former walts of the 'Azm family. 5a-10b.). Le palais Azem d Damas. For descriptions of this saray see also al-Ma'lff. p. almost succeeded in seizing the patriarchate from Sylvester. his long tenure did afford him wider scope for administrative activities than former wials. Salalh al-Din al-Munajjid. turned Greek Catholic. 7b. Burayk. loc. 9. continued. A climax in this conflict was reached in 1745. BI.. 96. ' Qa3r As'ad Basha al-'Azm bi-Dimashq'. A contemporary Greek Orthodox annalist observed: 'I have read in the histories of Damascus.
1755. They made large profits in many ways: by direct speculation in the suq. 2 One para (bdrah or Misreyah) equalled one-fortieth of a piastre.who were supposed to prevent this by inspection. still having in his possession large stores of wheat which. by obtaining higher prices for the produce of their large fiefs. 1757). abundant rain came pouring down and the people rejoiced. he had refused to sell at the current price of 45 piastres per ghirarah. The dearth of bread. 2 . Some people rejoiced and others were filled with gloom. al-Budayri. But there was no one among the rulers and the notables to supervise the people with mercy and consideration.. i. for example. plagues (17434. pp. the upper class.g. The only exception was the period 1752-4. when they cost 15 piastres and 2-3 paras respectively. for they thought that he had brought with him changes.. substitution. but also from many natural causes: drought (1745. A description of the East and some other countries (3 vols. sowed and ploughed [sic] and prices began to fall. could only benefit from this situation. The qddzand his muhtasibs. ii.. 1751-2]. 1747.. Khalil Efendi al-Bakri [al-Siddiqi] entered Damascus as the newly appointed qddz. the great merchants of the bazaar created artificial scarcity in order to keep prices high. Richard Pococke. See 'Abd al-Karim's edition of al-Budayri's work. by lending money to the needy at usurious rates.. but he could not be induced to change his mind even in his last hour. 1751).. 124. 3 Al-Budayri.000. ix-xvii. In 1784 their number was estimated at above 15. 1743-5). the mufti of Damascus himself was one the number of Christians in Damascus was estimated at 20. the kahya of the Janissaries died. the leaders kept silent and the rulers ate. ' Then came the year 1165 [A. were easily bribed and even under the most prominent qddls no improvement was made. PART 1. prevailed throughout As'ad's period and reached its climax at the beginning of 1743 when a ghirarah of wheat cost 52 piastres and a ratl of bread 8-12 paras. and supervision. who was a barber by trade.e. which had begun in Sulayman's time. pp. expecting prices to rise. In 1749.2 The production of food suffered not only from oppression in times of peace and war. The people implored him to part with the grain. 224-5. 1 e. 38b-39a.AS'AD PASHA AL-'AZM AND OTTOMAN RULE IN DAMASCUS (1743-58) 17 Yet a closer examination of As'ad's administration should concentrate on aspects which exerted more influence on everyday life in Damascus and on the future development of the whole province. Many examples of such practices are cited by contemporary sources. From this point of view-and that of annalists of that time who belonged to the lower class --perhaps the most significant development was the growing difficulty which the masses had in obtaining their bread. At the beginning of 1746.3 Those who had both power and wealth. in 2. VOL. Even when crops were abundant. Volney.000 were Greek Orthodox) out of a total population of 80. XXVI.D. but none of these materialized '. London.000 Greek Catholics). beginning of Rabi' al-Awwal.000 (of whom about 10.500 were Greek Orthodox and 8. I. locusts (1746-7).000 (of whom 10. including As'ad himself. The hoarders of food [for speculaAt the tion] were plentiful.
Upon arriving there. He stored large quantities of grain and did not allow his agents in the suq to start selling even when the price of a ghirdrah reached 50 piastres.l and The masses did not remain passive in the face of the situation. disregarding the few who refused to purchase food which had reached the markets in this last manner. for which he enlisted all the measures known to his time. On the one hand he showed much concern for the economic situation in Damascus. Still. . Aff. Al-Budayri. The qd. He thus managed to relieve the pressure of famine several times. such as the attempts to fix prices. mostly through his sarrdf.z and his nd'ib escaped through the roof to the citadel. There are also many cases of officials. When he fought the Druze. 40a. On the other hand. Trade flourished under his administration and goods regularly arrived from the east by the Baghdad caravan. Q@dts other corrupt officials of the mahkamahwere cursed loudly and even stoned when they passed through the streets.. BI. 2 January 1745. and in many expeditions against Beduin. prevented speculation. But by this he antagonized so many influential persons that nothing further is heard of his career. Attempts were also made to force merchants to sell what they had in stock and not to withhold it. As'ad himself traded with the French. As'ad usually intervened.2 The attack As'ad launched in 1746-7 against a swarm of locusts. the townspeople could not find anyone who would even listen to them. from the south by the . 1026 (Seyde). p. 2 Several reports on the Damascene market in 1753 are to be found in Aff.which was pillaged and fired. since any leaders the populace could muster were men whose ultimate interest was to maintain the shortages.18 SHIMON SHAMIR of the biggest speculators. When several of the Ashraf and Yerliya joined in. The next year saw the first qidz in the history of Damascus who never left his home unarmed. gtr. was probably one of his greatest undertakings. from which they did not dare emerge for an entire month. In the worst periods of scarcity the governor ordered supplies to be brought from Hama. fixed prices in the markets. The role of As'ad in these developments was twofold.Hajj. while others.. so they started to stone the building. it was one of his main concerns to seize crops and livestock from the enemy and to stock the markets of Damascus with them. As'ad heard their complaints patiently and then directed them unconcernedly to the qddzand his mahkamah. many of these measures were intended at the same time to enrich As'ad's own treasury. When lack of inspection in the markets threatened to lead to anarchy. mostly from his own khdss fiefs. BI. Etr. the mutasallim. for example. The diwdn was convoked and prices were fixed and published in the suq. 'ulamd'. the riot developed into an armed attack on the mahkamah. a hungry crowd marched upon the saray. 1029 (Seyde). In July 1745. any improvement which may have been gained by violence was short-lived. 1 There were also exceptions. and even sheikhs of tar7qahswho lived luxuriously and vaunted their wealth in years of famine. The reports reflect a considerable increase in French activity in that market. In 1752.and from the west by the French echelles. Ahmad Agha. and refused to take bribes.
This anecdote has it that instead of imposing new taxes on the millets and the guilds. Since he was himself part and parcel of the Ottoman system of government he could regard administration as little more than a way of fulfilling his military. the spoil from the Biqa' had reached the markets of Damascus in 1747 and immediately brought prices down (e. Furthermore.. 7b. Throughout his tenure he made extensive purchases of land. 2 Burayk. 79. He too maintained 'awdnzyah who informed him about opportunities to seize property or to make profits. pp. in 1748. Thus the examination of As'ad's policies in the economic and social fields reveals that any improvements he effected were of limited significance: they did not hold up the process of widening social gaps. As'ad not only did not see himself responsible for this process but he evidently was hardly aware of it. 'and not skinned the lambs and the kids '. As'ad's record. While the customary rate was 12-15% and in times of dearth even 20-30%.2 obviously using the two adjectives in parallel construction and reflecting his conviction that 1 According to an anecdote given in Volney. discreetly protecting a good part of them from eventual expropriation by turning them into waqfs. often had the effect of stabilizing prices rather than lowering them. Again. They eagerly paid the required sums in order to prevent those reports from being sent. qalil al-zulm. political. One of the annalists of Damascus described As'ad as 'ddil. and fiscal obligations to the central government and of satisfying his own ambitions. Yet in his way As'ad tried to spare those who would suffer most from extortionate practices.AS'AD PASHA AL-'AZM AND OTTOMAN RULE IN DAMASCUS (1743-58) 19 were often ineffective or even produced the opposite results. Ibn al-Qari. ii. and the like. lOa. 19a-24a. As'ad was usually content with 6%. as proposed by his men. the muhtasib. the qdgi. llb-12b. The historical account in this chapter is based mainly on the following sources: Burayk. and the wealthiest merchants that their abuses were known to him and that he was considering reporting them to Istanbul. 4b. mass impoverishment. for instance. houses. though again at more moderate rates than others. stores. 4b. As'ad also lent money for interest. Those who had tried to sell for less were cruelly tortured and their property was confiscated.As'ad and his kdhya Musa forced prices up again (to 35 piastres in the case cited). the Agha of the Janissaries. 213-15. From his point of view he could rightly boast that he did not misuse his administrative powers. he allegedly once said of himself. By these means he accumulated a mass of wealth which surpassed that of any other walt in Damascus. and a declining economy. What he did was to hint in turn to the Naqib. is not clean of extortion. pp. 36b-39b. 42b-45b.g. His actions. . a price reduction extorted under the threat of mass riots was halted by As'ad's decrees when prices were still relatively high. the mufti. The ra'dyd too seem to have seen things the same way. p. therefore. When. wheat from 45 to an almost reasonable 25 piastres per ghirdrah). he also took measures to prevent prices from falling to their normal levels. although As'ad strove to prevent shortages of supplies and excessive price rises. 'I have fleeced the rams'. al-BudayrI. As'ad collected four times that sum without even allowing it to be known in Damascus. 14b-16b. to be sure.
were officials directly responsible to the Ottoman government for certain administrative fields. failed to provide in its provincial government any element capable of recognizing this process and having the training and the powers to stop it. and penetrated into the waldyah of Damascus. but the principal developments should be mentioned: Sheikh Zahir al-'Umar captured Acre. socially and economically they emerge from this survey as an oppressive class which at that time only hastened the process of deterioration. like the qddi. Pt. under Sheikh Nasif. 10a.20 SHIMON SHAMIR a certain degree of oppression was in the natural order of things and that the relation between the ruler's responsibilities and the living conditions of the masses was a very loose one. Emir Mulhim consolidated Druze control over the Lebanese mountains and annexed Beirut. The conclusion may then be drawn that the Ottoman system. the turbulent southern sancaks of the walayah. The wali of Damascus. openly defied the authority 1This aspect of the Ottoman system is clearly analysed in Gibb and Bowen. As'ad-who was described as one who 'did not like war but tranquillity and wealth' 2-did not make any further attempts to check the increasing menace from various forces in that part of Syria. now separated from Damascus by the area under Zahir's control. 2 'Abbud al-Sabbagh. the latter throw light on the whole system of Ottoman provincial government at that stage of its developments. independent. 208-16. the Mutawalis. like other Ottoman governors. established relations with the Europeans. IV. they exerted a stabilizing influence.1 These wealthy and powerful personages made up a considerable part of the a'ydn of Damascus and formed the equivalent of an upper class. 4610. al-Rawd al-zahir ff ta'rfkh Zdhir. fortified it. could not be expected to check these tendencies. AS'AD'S DECLINE AND FALL: THE FATE OF A SUCCESSFUL VIZIER As'ad's ignominious end was brought about by a combination of several factors. administered these matters according to the Ottoman system which allowed many social units to function autonomously. like the sheikhs of tariqahs and guilds. economic. . Paris. to all intents and purposes. shared in fact the responsibility for the direct management of administrative. I. After his defeat at the hands of the Druze in 1747. and social affairs with others-some of whom. While the former are significant for the evaluation of As'ad's personality and achievements. allied themselves with Zahir. faced by this deterioration. as we have seen. and some. and certainly the 'Azms who gradually drew near to this class. some of which can be blamed on As'ad's own deficiencies and others on the central government's methods. p. and became. 1. The wdlis. captured Tyre. which developed into a major harbour on the Syrian coast. To describe the growth of these forces in As'ad's time and As'ad's relations with them would be outside the scope of this article. But whereas in the political sphere. MS.
Shortly afterwards. Tarih-i vakayi. II. BI. Harissa. (2 vols.. al-Muradi. Zahir was supported by Beiir II. 44b. and their associates in Istanbul. it rejected all As'ad's appeals for the appointment of one of his confidants-either his brother Mustafa or his kdhya Musa--to the Sidon post. 45b. Maltese pirates increased their raids on the Syrian coasts without encountering any considerable resistance. but only for a short term each. Thus. Burayk. HIusayn Agha Ibn Makki. since 1755. ii. 80-8. Towards the end of 1756. in January 1757. The last of these forces also threatened the . 184. was not granted. He remained in the Jerusalem post for nine months. p.Hajj which. pp..l The Porte's policy only aggravated matters. became associated with Ahmet Agha. 14a. 34-41. His father served under the 'Azms in Damascus and received Gaza as a malikdne. 3 Husayn Agha was descended from a Beduin family that had settled in Gaza and had been engaged in trade. cf. Towards the end of As'ad's rule this waldyah was finally given to his brothers. As'ad's brother Mustafa was transferred from his Tripoli post to Adana. ?tr. orders arrived for As'ad to take over the Aleppo post and transfer that of Damascus 1 Al-Shihabi. 2 As'ad's request for his brother Mustafa. the newly appointed k?zlar agast. 44a. Mikha'il Niqula al-Sabbagh. to cite some examples. Suileyman Izzi. 210. as erroneously assumed by 'Abd al-Karim in the introduction to his edition of al-Budayri's work (p. Volney. Istanbul. mainly the 'Anazah and the Banu Sakhr. and thus managed to obtain the detachment of the sancak of Jerusalem from the waldyah of Damascus and his own appointment to this post with the rank of pasha. with their helpZahir managed to receive. reappointed in 1756). and Zahir's Beduin allies. 39b. 101. who possibly coveted the wealth accumulated by As'ad in Damascus. the kczlar agast (executed in 1752) and evidently also by Mustafa Pasha. In 1755-6. 35a. the state of affairs in Istanbul allowed these rebellious leaders to acquire the support of some of the highest dignitaries in the central government against As'ad who represented the authority of this very government. he was then deposed and returned to Gaza. al-Budayri. 60-2. .3 As'ad's final deposition from Damascus can safely be attributed to the intrigues of his adversaries in Syria. A. Zahir. Ta'rfkh al-Shaykh Zahir al-'Umar al-Zayddni. ed. an official recognition of his control in Acre. Qustaritin al-Basha I. finally. 1029-31 (Seyde). p. 13a. and. 1027. Although the Porte usually appointed one of As'ad's brothers-either Sa'd al-Din or Mustafa-to the Tripoli post (and once even to the Aleppo post). who were also allied with Zahir. such as Ahmet Agha and Mustafa Pasha. it insisted on maintaining his rivals in the Sidon post in order to counterbalance his influence. intensified their attacks on Syrian villages and convoys.2 Furthermore. al-Budayri. the grand vizier (deposed in 1755. For more details see Shamir. suffered a heavy toll of deaths and was more exposed to Beduin raids. 1199. 113-27. ii. 67-74.H. As'ad's mutasallim in the sancak of Gaza. when the pilgrimage started to fall again in the hottest months of the year. xxxvii). p. the Beduin tribes. Burayk. Distrustful even of the loyal As'ad. ). who were jealous of his long tenure of the Damascus office. in 1747. Nasif. in 1752. 218. which was the key point for the control of the territories of Mulhim. reports and other documents (including a few letters from Zahir) in Aff.AS'AD PASHA AL-'AZM AND OTTOMAN RULE IN DAMASCUS (1743-58) 21 of the walz.
The fighting engulfed the whole town. and by several responsible aghas. rumours spread that Kaltak9i and his band were returning and panic seized many of the Damascenes. and the populace were all fighting each other. and 'Anatibah. Baghdadis. was transferredfrom Sidon to Mar'ashand replaced in Sidon by Husayn Ibn Makki. report by Thomas dated 21 March 1757. In March of that year As'ad was appointed to Egypt. 1032 (Seyde). 1960). Levends. led by 'Ali al-Muradi. Mawsilis. led by Musa (now Pasha) the mutasallim. There is no other confirmation of this report. BI. which was split into many belligerent quarters. and Maghdribah. Sa'd al-Din ordered to move to Mar'ash. But As'ad. however.. As'ad reluctantly left his splendid saray in Damascus and set out for Aleppo. Within a few days all Damascus was in a turmoil. and a rising personage in the Ottoman service. A month later. it is known. Ragib Mehmet himself was soon promoted to the grand vizierate and the Damascus post was given to another of the intriguers-Husayn Pasha Ibn Makki. Aff. Without realizing it. who had been allowed to strike deep roots in his waldyah. the Ottoman central government was thus testing the system which established this dynasty in Syria. 87 (Alep). an associate of Mustafa Pasha. Ddlis..3 1 For information about this outstanding personality see Norman Itzkowitz. He was now resolved to regain his post by proving that no one else could occupy it without encountering trouble. 2 Al-Budayri. p. 46b. to restore peace. could not be expected to depart from it as easily as walSsserving under the shortterm system. It reached the point where 'the townspeople of Damascus did not taste sleep and were waiting for day to break '. Ibn Makki. Yerliya. Damascus now looked like a town at war: all the main streets were barricadedand whole quarters evacuated.' As'ad's second brother.2 The Porte had meanwhile realized that As'ad could not be left too close to his former walayah and decided to scatter the family.parties of Druze. 1&tr. All attempts made by the 'ulama' and the a'ydn. that Sa'd al-Din conferred with his brother As'ad in Aleppo before assuming the Mar'ash post. Even mosques were not spared.D.22 SHIMON SHAMIR to Ragib Mehmet Pasha. Sa'd al-Din could not resist the temptation to act: on 18 March he arrived in Aleppo and proposed to As'ad a revolt of all 'Azms before they were uprooted from their provinces. failed entirely. thesis. 3 This is reported by Clairambault in the 'Bulletin' enclosed with his report dated 16 July 1763. and spread to the villages in the environs. As'ad had left some of his most aggressive men in the town. Furthermore. unwittingly played into As'ad's hands. Princeton. Before departing from Damascus. the grand vizier. Aff. Sa'd al-Din. Sa'd al-Din was also the first w&dl the 'Azm family to be restored to a Syrian post after As'ad's fall. MehmedRaghib Pasha: the making of an Ottomangrand vezir (unpublished Ph. Ashrif. Husayn's troops. ?tr. having failed to delay the execution of the orders. As'ad's men. of . and Mustafa transferred to Mawsil. by carelessly restoring the Yerliya to power. BI. and had opened the prisons and released all the convicts. Units of Kaptkul.
The convoy was now an easy prey for the Beduin. a large percentage died of exhaustion in Damascus itself. Itr. In the indignation and confusion which followed. ne peuvent assez louer le desinteressement de ce Gouverneur. Ibn Makki. The role As'ad played in the next development in the area is a controversial question to this day. its serdar. Within three weeks the caravan had exhausted all its supplies and Ibn Makki desperately gave orders to resume marching. First the Jardah was completely destroyed. The 'ulamS' and the notables were made to send a petition to Istanbul demanding that As'ad remain. however. who now feared that too much pressure on the Porte would only antagonize it. The caravan was then cruelly plundered. who had survived. among them the Sultan's sister and many dignitaries of the Empire. The excitement infected even the foreign consuls.AS'AD PASHA AL-'AZM AND OTTOMAN RULE IN DAMASCUS (1743-58) 23 As'ad.. and its resistance was crushed after a short battle. When asked by As'ad to obtain additional support for his cause in Istanbul. which had finally been sent from Damascus. In September 1757. Only in May. report by Thomas dated 21 March 1757. Nous ne pourrion jamais avoir un Gouverneur pareil a notre Pacha'. The number of those who perished was estimated at 20. did the Porte finally confirm As'ad in that post. As'ad felt that he was able to counter the Porte's move. after having been informed that the populace in Aleppo was armed and would rise upon receiving a negative answer. preferred to live up to the family's reputation of unconditional loyalty to the Sultan and Sa'd al-Din's proposal was rejected. Mtus Pasha.. . an unprecedented reaction occurred: the suqs were spontaneously closed and the populace rushed to the wdlT'ssaray. Besides. The whole Empire was shocked by this disaster and many towns were left in mourning for their dead. He therefore left the town and camped in the outskirts. the French consul wrote to his ambassador: 'Tous les habitants d'Alep et des environs . shouting that they would not allow him to leave Aleppo. . leaving those who had not been killed to wander in the desert without food or water and actually stripped of their clothes. it was difficult to find out who was responsible. Little did he know that anarchy in Damascus had reached such proportions that his mutasallim was not even showing anyone the letters arriving from Tabuk. .. Within the short time since his arrival in Aleppo he had demonstrated such an efficient and conscientious rule that when the town learned about his transfer to Egypt. Of those few who survived to reach the rescue party. he stopped the caravan in Tabuk and awaited help from Damascus.. being among the dead. When Ibn Makki learned about this.1 The extent of his success surprised even As'ad himself. managed to escape to Gaza and did not dare return to Damascus. the Hajj was attacked on its return from Mekka by Beduin of Banu Sakhr and Harb and met with one of the most terrible disasters in its history. He was 1 Aff. impatiently awaiting the Porte's decision and closely following developments in Damascus. 87 (Alep). BI.000.
despite the Porte's conviction that he was. The fortunes of the former Damascus wdalsof the 'Azm family. 39b. that of his wakAlal-kharj. the ally of the Banfi Sakhr.N. was immediately executed. arms. 9a-lla. 60-2.Hajj in order to prove that his services as Amir al-. etc. He was ordered to go to Ankara where.Hajj. but he diverted rage from himself by retrieving the lost mahmal and the Prophet's banner. II. reports by Thomas dated 10. 72. Bulaq. had similarly been confiscated. in. The historical account of this chapter is based on the following sources: Burayk. 46. 26 March. was also accused. 23b. ii. 39b.. out of avarice. Floors and walls were torn open in his saray in the search for his hidden treasures. Mad8sin il-dsdr ve-iaqd'iq iil-akhbdr (2 vols. 35-suggest that As'ad had been promised that. 87-8 (Alep). . 79-81.qH. orders were issued for an investigation and for As'ad's transfer to Sivas. It was estimated by both European and native sources as exceeding fifty million piastres. pp. 3 The confiscation of this property was. to pay the Beduin the customary protection fee. 57. because of his distinguished service to the . 67-80. 2 Some of the Syrian sources-e. reports by Bourguignon dated 10. Vasif. and by de Verrayon dated 1 July 1752. As'ad was found guilty of 'negligence in making secure the route of the . Al-Budayri. 1243-6). 7 October 1757. confiscate. Isma'il and Sulayman. 30 August.he would never be punished by the sword and that this was the reason for the unusual method chosen for his execution. 98. Aff. gtr. had confiscated the property of his own officials upon their death. is to-day a matter for speculation.g. 64-5. 1. pp. II.Hajj'1 and was immediately degraded.g. report by Gautier dated 8 July 1756. of course. i. On the contrary. Finally. 433. 320. A verse quoted by Vasif saying ' he who does not die by the sword dies another way' evidently refers to the same story.he was strangled by a hassekiof the Sultan. al-Sabbagh. 111-12. M. and consolidate As'ad's possessions in gold. Nahr al-dhahab ft ta'rikh .Hajj were indispensable. in the spring of 1758. Husayn al-Ghazzi. Ibn Dayri. 5 April. 44b-50a.Halab (3 vols. report by de Lane dated 2 February 1745. i. 1119 (Tripoli). 299-300. 30 December. in his turn.24 SHIMON SHAMIR accused of having neglected. Ibn al Qari. 11 April. I. horses. al-Mur5di. e. pp. al-Shihabi. II. 1755. When these rumours reached Istanbul. Volney. Aleppo.. Zahir.3 Whether the cause of As'ad's ruin was this immense wealth or his guilt in the disaster of the caravan. and of his divan efendisi. al-Sabbagh. 23 November. Nor is it known whether As'ad was in fact guilty at all. pp. a new accusation was voiced which found many listeners. This time the transfer was carried out without objections. In the atmosphere prevailing at the time. 161. 21. 31 May 1758. Ahmet Agha. BI. 17a-18b. while bathing in a hammdm. A. 4 February. His head was brought to Istanbul. A. 215-17. 19a. As'ad. jewellery. al-Budayri. 1026 (Seyde). Ibn Makki and some other enemies of As'ad found no difficulty in establishing the case against As'ad by producing false evidence. 1030-1 (Seyde).. report by Gautier dated 30 March. 72. In Istanbul. 1029 (Seyde). 2 May. who was responsible for the appointment of Ibn Makki.2 It took the kaptczsmore than six months to find. The unprecedented proportions of As'ad's wealth captured the imagination of his contemporaries. who openly bought and traded in the spoils of that caravan. It asserted that As'ad had arranged the attack on the . in accordance with the common Ottoman practice. 1824-6). Iv. slaves. and others of 1756. there is much evidence to support the case of his innocence: most of the Syrian contemporary sources and the European 1 Ahmet Vasif. Kamil b.
seem to indicate that the affair was exploited by As'ad's enemies in order to get rid of him. The first. Nor could the Porte claim that As'ad's removal from Damascus was justified on the grounds of doubtful loyalty-As'ad's record as a governor and the Porte's own decisions to appoint him to such key posts as Aleppo and Egypt. certainly could not blame As'ad for the loosening of the control of Damascus over the territories of the waldyah. while As'ad's guilt is hardly mentioned. there is no reason to believe that As'ad wanted the Hajj to be destroyed. But the Porte.AS'AD PASIA AL-'AZM AND OTTOMAN RULE IN DAMASCUS (1743-58) 25 travellers who visited the area a short time after these events tend to blame Ibn Makki. therefore. however. Contemporary observers in Damascus. it was under As'ad's rule that the conditions developed which made that disaster possible-i. indicates that by the time of As'ad's fall no material improvement in the affairs of Syria. But did that wealth and that power help him? He passed away as dust and as though he had never existed and his palace was left sealed and forsaken '. The relative stability and security that As'ad had managed to establish in Damascus (to a large extent at the expense of the native populace) disintegrated completely under the rule of Ibn Makkl. be explained only on the grounds of eighteenthcentury realities of Ottoman rule of the provinces.1 In attempting to evaluate the significance of As'ad's rule to the political history of Syria. which could have checked the process of deterioration. . two conclusions emerge. The disastrous substitution of an incompetent and intrigue-minded man like Ibn Makki for an experienced and worthy wali like As'ad can. . which is in fact claimed by the contemporary Ottoman chronicle. 'Abdullah Pasha Qeteci. but rather that he wanted only to frighten the pilgrims. At the end of 1757 the Porte was obliged to send to Damascus one of its firmest military commanders. the loss of control over the southern sancaks and the unchecked growth of the power of Zahir and the Beduin. 1 Burayk. Furthermore. apparently regarded As'ad's tragic end rather as a manifestation of the ephemeral nature of all worldly gains than as a logical consequence of Ottoman policies: . for it had not happened to any vizier before to make fourteen Hajjs. p. Even if it be accepted that a plot between As'ad and the Beduin did exist as a part of As'ad's consistent tactics to regain Damascus. 23b. his [As'ad's] brothers had been the governors of Tripoli and Sidon and their rule extended from Aleppo to al-'Arish. . neither had anyone ruled Damascus for so long. True. The previous intrigues against As'ad as well as Ibn Makki's attempts to make As'ad his scapegoat. had been achieved. whose system of counterbalances had deprived him of essential support against his adversaries and whose corruption had even allowed those adversaries to undermine As'ad's position in Syria.e. argue against such a contention. which is based on the reconstruction of the events of As'ad's incumbency.
81-2. 231. 1032 (Seyde). 2 For the conditions in Syria in those years see. In the Syrian provinces. Vasif. The numerous accounts of revolts. Aff. It is the suggestion of this study that the latter rather revealed the basic deficiencies of the former than corruptedits solid foundations. also pp. less than two years after As'ad's deposition from Damascus. . 200. 95. 3 Some of these conclusions do not agree with the views expressed in Gibb and Bowen's chapter on the Arab provinces. 218).l In the area of the waldyah a critical stage had already been reached during the first half of As'ad's rule. contradict this statement. they cannot be attributed to the invasions which swept this area beginning with that of 'All Bey in 1771. suffered a sharp decrease in the number of pilgrims as a result of the disaster of 1757. Their work. lEtr. 231). hence.). pp. to which the central government never failed to give its closest attention. 122-3. the continuing menace of the Beduin. is nevertheless often inaccurate in its presentation of the events of the 'Azms' incumbency. 19b-28a. 50a-54b. that the decline of the provinces does not owe its origin to the Ottoman system itself. 334-9. Volney. 107. al-Muradi. 216. in. 204. pp. in addition to the sources listed above. relates a story according to which eeteci was even then already conscious of the fact that in spite of his accomplishments and success. massacres. and destruction which had taken place in the Syrian provinces in the first half of the eighteenth century (if not earlier).26 SHIMON SHAMIR in order to restore peace in the town. A considerable part of Damascus lay in ruins before Qeteci was able to execute his orders.Hajj. I. Even the .2 An examination of the analysis of the various developments presented above at the end of each section leads to a second conclusion. report by Clairambault dated 28 December 1759. 207. The advanced stage of deterioration reached at that time manifested itself clearly. 290-8. 217-22. namely that the decline of the provinces owed its origin as much to the very system of Ottoman provincial rule as to the effects of the decay of the central government in the eighteenth century.3 In the circumstances of As'ad's failure may be found all the elements that can explain the failure of the whole 'Azm dynasty to change things for the 1 Burayk. 1948. i. the Ottoman system had started the process of disintegration and devastation long before new factors emerged. XLII. BI. This study also indicates that the process of decay in the Syrian provinces was well under way by the first half of the century and that the causes of this decay were rather internal than external. namely.. but to the fact that 'during the course of the eighteenth century various factors . and the turmoil in the Hijaz. al-Budayri. 98. 1943. which is described above. had long gone beyond the measure of local autonomy allowed by the Ottoman provincial system. . in ii. contemporary letters in Avraham Ya'ari (ed. created new problems which the old organization was totally unable to deal with' (p. his end would not differ much from that of As'ad. 90-2. the MSS summarized in al-Mashriq. Nor do the accounts support another view expressed by the authors (partly based on their first conclusion). Perhaps as a result of these inaccuracies the authors tend to overrate the administration and government of As'ad Pasha (and his predecessors) and reach the conclusion that 'apart from the weakening control of the Porte there is practically no indication prior to 1760 or so that a crisis was so near at hand' (p. as we have seen. The loosening of control over this area. Igrot Eres-Yisrd'el. Tel-Aviv. The slow but persistent and ruinous process of economic decline had been going on under As'ad's rule. when a series of earthquakes was enough to cause famine and plagues and end in the devastation of many rural areas. . also pp. to which this article owes a great debt.
for it was thanks to these forces that Bonaparte was repulsed from Syria. This superficiality of the changes introduced by the establishment of the 'Azms also explains a characteristic paradoxical feature of their rule: their popularity among the masses vis-a-vis their failure to ensure stability and peace. lay therefore mainly in their limited military powers.2 seems to have drawn the right conclusions. the changes that were introduced did not attack the roots of the problem : if the Porte sought to impose heavier responsibilities on these governors. Yet the Porte was unwilling. Istanbul. whose principal functions were military in nature-it should have allowed them the necessary military support. II. The fate of As'ad had already shown that the policy of the 'Azms-i. but it also brought about their ultimate ruin. to approve such a radical change in its policies and to authorize finally upon by government in a meeting which took place on 19 January 1785. Tarih-i Cevdet (2nd ed. or unable. Yet it was in his time that Damascus ceased to play the principal role in Syrian politics and proved too weak to overcome the threat of Zahir al-'Umar and 'Ali Bey. in the konak of feyhlisi8am. 12 vols. One might have expected the Porte to regard his efforts with approval. since this wali based his rule mainly on his efficient military forces. iv. A.AS'AD PASHA AL-'AZM AND OTTOMAN RULE IN DAMASCUS (1743-58) 27 better.e. a faithful discharge of their duties to the central government-could not safeguard their place in the government of Syria at a time when popular support carried little weight and the Porte could no longer be trusted to reward its officials for their good services. if it hoped to regenerate the office of the Wildyah. Muhammad Pasha al-'Azm. 102. Not only did that prevent them from consolidating the administration of the provinces. Ahmad al-Jazzar.. 1 Al-Muradi. Moreover. A detailed report of its discussions is given in Ahmet Cevdet. and later the competition of Ahmad al-Jazzar. It has already been shown that the attempt to consolidate and stabilize the administration and government in these provinces under the 'Azm dynasty. despite their general competence. while a quarter of a century before none of the Syrian walts had managed to present any effective resistance to invasions. 2 This substitution was decided the central . was inconsistent and half-hearted. and if it expected these walts to improve the administration of their provinces-it should have subdued all the functionaries of the provincial administrative machine to their authority. Muhammad-who as third generation of Damascus walTsof this family had finally closed the gap between the governorship and the local a'ydn class-was praised by his contemporaries as 'the best of all governors of Damascus ' 1 and upon his death was sincerely mourned by the populace. 1309). see Shamir.. The weakness of As'ad and the other walis of the 'Azm dynasty. 152-7. For the rule of this walf. 154-216.H. This paradox. logical and promising as it may have appeared. which had originally been based on the feudal organization-it should have taken into account the fact that by that time this organization had all but ceased to exist as a vital organism. and benevolence. loyalty. so manifest in As'ad's rule. is even more striking at the time of the next wdal of the dynasty. who supplanted the 'Azms.
Consequently. the latter was condemned to continuing decline for another century. the later attempts to establish such governments in the provinces had to assume the form of an open revolt against the Porte. Since such a revolt could succeed only in a province like Egypt but not in nearby Syria (as later developments prove). and of all the 'Azm dynasty. even if it meant the strengthening of their ability to resist external pressure and the paving of the way to local reforms. It is in the light of this development that the failure of As'ad. to regenerate the government and administration of their provinces can be correctly judged. .28 AS'AD PASHA AL-'AZM AND OTTOMAN RULE IN DAMASCUS (1743-58) the establishment of stable and powerful provincial governments which would be more loosely controlled by Istanbul.