Ottoman Modernizaton

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This article was downloaded by: [University of Leeds]On: 28 February 2010Access details: Access Details: [subscription number 794850832]Publisher RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registered office: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK

Middle Eastern StudiesPublication details, including instructions for authors and subscription information:

Military reform and the problem of centralization in the Ottoman empirein the eighteenth centuryAvigdor Levy

To cite this Article Levy, Avigdor(1982) 'Military reform and the problem of centralization in the Ottoman empire in theeighteenth century', Middle Eastern Studies, 18: 3, 227 — 249To link to this Article: DOI: 10.1080/00263208208700508URL:

Full terms and conditions of use:

This article may be used for research, teaching and private study purposes. Any substantial orsystematic reproduction, re-distribution, re-selling, loan or sub-licensing, systematic supply ordistribution in any form to anyone is expressly forbidden.

The publisher does not give any warranty express or implied or make any representation that the contentswill be complete or accurate or up to date. The accuracy of any instructions, formulae and drug dosesshould be independently verified with primary sources. The publisher shall not be liable for any loss,actions, claims, proceedings, demand or costs or damages whatsoever or howsoever caused arising directlyor indirectly in connection with or arising out of the use of this material.

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Military Reform and the Problem of Centralizationin the Ottoman Empire in the Eighteenth Century

Avigdor Levy

A number of modern studies discuss eighteenth-century Ottoman militaryreform from the perspective of its relevance to the processes of modernizationwhich the Ottoman empire and republican Turkey underwent in thenineteenth and twentieth centuries. This approach has its merits.Occasionally, however, it has come close to a 'heroes and villains'interpretation of Ottoman history. Some works may not say as muchexplicitly, but by highlighting the 'progressive' aspects of military reform theysuggest that an ongoing conflict between reform and conservatism was thecentral theme of Ottoman political development in the eighteenth century.Based on this approach a non-specialist could conclude that whenever reformfailed it was due to not much more than 'the adamant conservatism of theJanissaries and ulema\x

Moreover, since students of Ottoman history have become preoccupiedwith this theme, other significant aspects of military reform have received onlylittle attention. In Armies and Societies in Europe, 1494-1789, Andre Corvisierdiscusses the emergence of the modern military and makes the followinggeneralizations:

The subject goes well beyond the frame of the army itself. In effect, thearmy was a special domain, one in which the sovereign authority firstprevailed; and military administration . . . served in many ways as aproving ground for other governmental operations. In every case theState had to overome obstacles in order to create effective armies.2

Students of Ottoman military institutions would surely find these remarkshighly evocative. True, the Ottoman empire was subject to conditions anddevelopments which differed considerably from those prevailing in theEuropean states forming the subject of Corvisier's study. But the basic issuesand tensions of state-military relations appear remarkably similar.

Ottoman military reform, like that of contemporary European states, wasmotivated and shaped by a combination of external and internal factors.From the second half of the seventeenth century external challenges hadbecome increasingly more threatening. Repeated military defeats resulting inpermanent territorial losses fully exposed the inferiority of Ottoman arms inthe face of expansionist European enemies. If it were to survive at all, theOttoman empire was in urgent need to upgrade its armed forces. At the sametime there were strong internal incentives for military reform.

Ottoman society consisted of a multitude of overlapping, self-administeringentities, such as religious communities {millets) and brotherhoods with theirstate-wide hierarchies, local guilds and urban and rural parishes. During itszenith, from the mid-fifteenth century through most of the sixteenth, the Statecontrolled this highly variegated social order mainly through the means of a

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centralized bureaucracy, a quasi-feudal (timarh) fighting class and a paid,standing army. The keystone of this political order was a well-defined centralauthority at the pinnacle of which stood the sultan and his deputy, the grandvezir. Inherent to the Ottoman social order was a high potential for politicaldecentralization and even fragmentation. But a succession of capable andactive rulers insured the predominance of the Center and the effectiveoperation of the system as a whole.3

Then, following the death of Suleiman the Magnificent, in 1566, dynasticinstability and weakness set in. Not all of Suleiman's successors wereincompetent, as is sometimes suggested, but a sufficient number did fit thedescription. The first half of the seventeenth century, a period in which foursultans were enthroned while still minors, was particularly unstable. Nowpower was increasingly exercised by competing members of the royal family,courtiers and favorites. This, in turn, led to a growing fragmentation of thecentral authority and intensified factionalism among the ruling elite as awhole. The chains of authority having become blurred, central control overthe bureaucracy and the military weakened, corruption abounded and strongcentrifugal forces emerged.4

It is now generally accepted that in addition to dynastic difficulties,Ottoman decline was the outcome of several clusters of interrelated factors —economic, demographic, technological, military, political and so forth. Someof these have not been fully explained, as yet, while others are the subject ofongoing controversy. In general, students of Ottoman history are at pains todistinguish the primary from the secondary causes. By contrast, however, theworks of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Ottoman writers suggest thatthe contemporaries had a more definite view of the causes of Ottoman decline.Their works indicate a general belief that the state still possessed the necessaryresources, human and material, to hold its ground, although, perhaps, not torecapture its previous position of primacy vis-a-vis its neighbors. Theweakening of central authority was conceived by them as the most importantsingle factor responsible for the disintegration of the state, with all other illsemanating from it. Conversely, to save the empire Ottoman reformersrecommended the restoration of the traditional centralized political orderunder a resurrected strong central authority. Kocu Bey, a seventeenth-centuryofficial and courtier whoinl630 presented Sultan Murad IV (1623-1640) witha detailed memorandum on the state of the empire, argued that only theresurgence of a strong sultanate could stop the decline. Katib Celbei(1608-1657) and Naima (1655-1716) proposed to bring into power a dictator,or in their terms 'a man of the sword'.5 In the detailed proposals which thesewriters and others put forward, military reform was of particular importance.Its purpose was to provide the central authority once again with a disciplinedforce, effective and free of abuses. The reformed army, in turn, would supportthe central government against centrifugal forces, re-establish law and order,and defend the state against its external enemies. Eliminating corruption inthe military would also have important beneficial effects for the treasury andthe economy in general.6

It is not our purpose here to consider the merits of the contemporaryOttoman view, but rather to examine its practical application. Indeed, these

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recommendations were put into practice, with some success, by exceptionallystrong leaders who often had to resort to ruthless methods. Foremost amongthese in the seventeenth century were Sultan Murad IV (1623-1640) and thegrand vezirs of the Kopriilii house who held office, with some intervals, from1656 to 1702.7 To strengthen central authority they introduced wide-rangingmeasures. The bureaucracy and the religious hierarchy were brought undertighter control. The financial administration was put in better order. Strongattempts were made to restore a greater degree of central control over theprovinces; and the armed forces were disciplined and improved.8 It isimportant to note, however, that the thrust of these reforms was to resurrectthe old Ottoman institutions which had fallen into decay, and restore to themthe measure of effectiveness which they were believed to have possessedduring their zenith. True, from time to time, reforms which representeddepartures from the 'pristine' institutional models were, in fact, introduced.But these were essentially regarded as changes in detail, while the avowedobjective remained the restoration of the old institutions along theirtraditional principles. In fact, it was this adherence to traditional values whichgave the reformers a measure of strength and the means to legitimizeunpopular policies. Since the military reforms were generally part of a widerpolitical-administrative reorganization, they were applied with the sameprinciples in mind. Hereafter we shall refer to measures intended to improvethe military, but without introducing significant institutional changes asrestorative military reform.

Before discussing restorative military reform it is necessary to outline thebasic characteristics of the disorganization which affected the main militaryservices at the time of Ottoman decline. During this period it had become thepractice that the paid military corps, and especially the Janissaries, wereinfiltrated by civilian elements seeking to enjoy the privileges and immunitiesconferred on the military. These civilians performed no worthwhile militaryservice and their lack of discipline eventually affected the performance of theprofessional soldiers. In time many of the newcomers also succeeded in havingtheir names officially inscribed on the rolls thereby becoming eligible for pay.The increase in numbers did not represent any accretion in military strengthbut rather the contrary — growing corruption and the disintegration of thearmy as a fighting force. In addition, the inflated muster rolls became acrushing burden on the treasury. In the case of the timarli troops the process ofdisintegration operated in different ways. Due to legitimate needs for funds,but mostly because of administrative laxness and corruption, increasingnumbers of military fiefs were abolished and their income diverted for non-military purposes. In addition, fief-holders found ways to avoid militaryservice and training. Consequently, the number of feudal troops capable ofrendering military duty was constantly on the decline. The salient features ofrestorative military reform were intended, in brief, to reverse these trends. Thepaid army corps were purged of those who did not render active militaryservice. The remaining troops were then brought under tighter discipline andtheir training improved. The decrease in numbers also helped to ease theburden on the treasury. For the feudal troops reform usually meant measuresintended to increase the numbers of active soldiers and improve their

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effectiveness. The rolls of these troops were examined and attempts were madeto force fief-holders to train regularly and render military duties, or relinquishtheir holdings in favor of others willing to serve. Moreover, in some instances,military fiefs which had been previously abolished were actually restored fortheir original purpose.

In addition, however, restorative reformers also introduced technologicalimprovements borrowed from Europe. They imported and manufactured byimitation improved models of artillery pieces, new types ofsmall firearms andmore effective gunpowder. They adopted new techniques in the engineeringarts of fortification and siege and in shipbuilding. But as imitators andimporters the Ottomans inevitably trailed behind their European adversariesin the adoption of new technology. In the seventeenth century, as the pace ofwestern technological advances accelerated, that gap became increasinglywider.9

Moreover, Ottoman reluctance to tamper with the institutional structure oftheir military, as well as social and cultural constraints, prohibited themaltogether from adopting certain types of new technology. During thesixteenth and seventeenth centuries European infantry employed the pikewith great advantage. Montecucculi, the victor of St Gotthard (1664),contended that the Janissaries fighting without pikes could not resist anassault by either European cavalry or infantry.10 Towards the end of theseventeenth century the Austrian and Russian armies replaced the pike withthe bayonet mounted on a musket. With this simple device they achieved evenmore devastating results in their campaigns against the Ottomans." TheOttoman soldiers, however, rejected the use of the pike and the bayonetdespite repeated proof of their superiority. The reason for this appears to havestemmed from the fact that unlike other arms the effective use of the pike andbayonet required the adoption also of new western tactics, such as deploymentin close order squares and oblongs. This, in turn, necessitated changes in themilitary structure. And organizational changes threatened vested interests inthe old military corps and the civilian segments of society associated withthem.12 Thus while they adopted the use of other aspects of western militarytechnology, the Ottoman soldiers rejected the pike and the bayonet as 'infidelarms', and their objection to institutional change was expressed in cultural-religious terms.

Moreover, it would appear that reformist leaders, even when they favoredthe adoption of new military technology, were constrained not to imposemeasures requiring institutional change, because these could undermine thelegitimacy of restorative reform as a general policy. Consequently against thenew and innovative western methods of warfare, the Ottomans continued touse tactics dating from medieval times. They persisted in fighting asuncoordinated skirmishers and in poorly controlled masses exposed to thesuperior firepower and tactics of their enemies. By the beginning of theeighteenth century, western technological advances, the greater sophisticationof European methods of warfare and the increased numerical strength ofEuropean armies have combined to create a critical military imbalancebetween the Ottomans and their adversaries.13

Even limited restorative reform tended to be spasmodic in nature. It was

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usually restricted to the term of office of an exceptionally energetic leaderfollowing which it dissipated in a renewed period of Iaxness. The reforms ofthe last of the Koprulu vezirs Amcazade Huseyin Pasa (1697-1702) and theiraftermath could well serve as an example of such a pattern. Following thedisastrous Ottoman defeats at the end of the seventeenth century and theTreaty of Karlowitz (1699), Hiiseyin carried out extensive restorative militaryreforms. He purged the Janissary corps and reduced their numbers from70,000 to 34,000 men. He also disciplined the other paid military corps andcorrected some of the more glaring abuses in the timarh forces. He paid carefulattention to the administration of the navy and constructed a fleet of galleonson contemporary Venetian models. But immediately upon Hiiseyin'sdismissal many of his reforms were undone. Abuses once again quicklybecame rampant as demonstrated by the rapid increase in the numbers ofregistered Janissaries, from 34,000 to 53,200 men within one year.14

New and more decisive defeats in the eighteenth century convinced agrowing segment of the ruling elite that restorative reform was no longersufficient. On one hand, the deterioration of the old order had progressed toofar. In addition, recent technological advances, and the development of newtactics gave rise in the West to new branches, especially in the services of theartillery and military engineering, which had no equals in the Ottomansystem. On the other hand, however, the opposition of the existing militarycorps had to be taken into account.

Consequently, the eighteenth century saw an uneasy compromise betweenrestorative measures and western-inspired reforms. The latter term is usedhere to identify such reform in which the borrowing of military technologywas coupled with the introduction of the required institutional changesproducing thereby new military organizations fashioned after westernmodels.

The history of western-inspired military reform in the eighteenth century canbe divided into three distinct periods, or phases. Each began as a response tonew and increasingly more critical external threats. In each successive phasethe scope of military westernization became wider, and correspondingly, theinvolvement of Europeans more pronounced. Each period also witnessedextensive attempts at restorative reform. Yet each phase came to a halt andended in regression. The last and most comprehensive phase corresponding tothe age of Selim III (1789-1807) resulted in complete failure and brought thestate to the verge of total disintegration.

The first phase of western-inspired reform began in response to the crushingdefeats at the hands of the Austrians in 1716 and 1717. At first, the Ottomanelite became interested in western institutions and culture in a rather broadapproach. This curiosity ushered in an age known in Ottoman history as theTulip Era (Ldle Devri), because of the elite's passion for European, andespecially French, art, furniture, clothes, architecture, gardens and above all— tulips. The Tulip Era corresponded to the grand vezirship of Damad

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Ibrahim Paja (1717-1730) who sent five missions to Europe — two to Viennaand one each to Paris, Moscow and Poland. He instructed all his emissaries toprepare detailed reports as to what can be learned from Europe, particularlyin military and technological matters. During this period several workswritten by Ottomans and Europeans gained considerable circulation inmanuscript form among the elite. All these works suggested sweeping militaryreforms after European models.15 It should be noted, however, that this was aperiod of considerable literary and cultural activity in general. The firstOttoman-Turkish press was established by a Hungarian convert to Islam whoremains known only as Ibrahim Muteferrika (16747-1745). All of the first 16books printed in this press were of a pragmatic military-political nature.16

The Tulip Era and the regime which sponsored it were brought to an end bya popular, Janissary-led uprising known after its leader as the Patrona Revolt(September 1730). The uprising had been nurtured for some time by adepressed economy and a more visible socio-cultural polarization broughtabout by the new life-style of segments of the elite. The rebellion was touchedoff, however, by the Ottoman defeat in the war with Iran and the hardshipssuffered in its wake by the Istanbul populace and the army. The deep-seatedcauses of the revolt were essentially economic and social, although theirarticulation was rendered in religious and cultural terms, and the mob'svengeance was directed against the manifestations of westernism.17

The Patrona revolt made such an impact on Ottoman society that fordecades to come Ottoman leaders were cautious not to exhibit publiclywestern cultural influences.18 Nevertheless, it is significant that as far asmilitry reform was concerned, the new sultan Mahmud I (1730-54) hadactually put into effect several projects discussed under the fallen regime. Hecontinued to support the activities of Ibrahim Muteferrika, as well as those ofanother convert, the French nobleman and officer Claude-Alexandre Comtede Bonneval (1675-1744) who became known in Ottoman society asHumbaraci Ahmed Pasa. Bonneval attracted to his service several otherEuropean officers who also converted to Islam. With their help he carried outreforms that were innovative in nature but remained limited in scope.

Bonneval's immediate assignment was to reorganize the small and outdatedCorps of Bombardiers (Humbaraci Ocagi) and increase its strength from 300to 1,000 men. He was to organize and train this unit in the European mannerso that it could become a model for the reorganization of the entire Ottomanarmy. When, at the beginning of the new drill, the Sultan reviewed thereformed unit, he was so favorably impressed that he expressed his desire toincrease the corps to as many as 10,000 men. In fact, however, even the initialnumber of 1,000 was not completed due to opposition on the part of theJanissaries. At the end the new unit of Bombardiers remained at the samestrength as the old one — 300 men. Throughout Bonneval's lifetime, however,it continued to train on western models.19

In addition, Bonneval helped establish a modern School of Mathematics{Hendesehane) for military purposes. He was instrumental in modernizing thecannon foundry (tophane), the powdermill (baruthane), the arsenal (cebhane)and the small Corps of Miners (Lagimci) and Artillery Transport (Arabaci).But it is important to note that these reforms were applied only to small, and

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the most technical, military branches. Bonneval also advocated the reform ofthe infantry and the cavalry which constituted the bulk of the Ottoman armedforces. He recommended the modernization of the Janissary corps bybreaking up the large regiments into smaller tactical units and increasing theratio of junior officers to men. But the Janissaries were able to resist thesechanges.20

In addition to opposition on the part of the old military, there were otherfactors which inhibited Bonneval's efforts. The French embassy consideredhim a turncoat and throughout this period acted to undermine his position.Another major obstacle stemmed from the fierce rivalry within the Ottomanruling elite itself. Bonneval was first recruited in September 1731 by GrandVezir Topal Osman Pasa (September 1731-March 1732) who gave himconsiderable latitude and support. But when shortly afterwards Osman wasdeposed, the new Grand Vezir Hekimoglu Ali Pa§a (March 1732-July 1735)who was also reform-minded, virtually ignored Bonneval because of hisassociation with the previous regime. It was only in the beginning of 1734 thatAli recognized Bonneval's usefulness and allowed him to continue with hismilitary activity.21 But when Ali fell out of office in the following year,Bonneval's work was, once again, disrupted. He regained some of his formerinfluence during the short tenure of office of Grand Vezir MuhsinzadeAbdullah Pasa (August-December 1737), but at the end of November 1738 hewas arrested and banished to Kastamonu, perhaps at the insistence of theFrench ambassador. Less than a year later, however, Bonneval was recalled,but he never regained his former influence. From 1739 until his death in 1747his duties were essentially confined to the administration of the small Corps ofBombardiers.22

The first tentative attempts to introduce western-inspired military reformwere part of sporadic efforts to re-establish a strong central authority. It issignificant that the two grand vezirs who gave Bonneval the widest latitude,Topal Osman and Hekimoglu Ali, were also those who most ferventlyattempted to follow in the footsteps of the Kopriiliis. Their chief ambition wasto strengthen the position of the grand vezir vis-a-vis other foci of power at thecapital as well as to reassert the authority of the center over the provinces.Osman did it with brute cruelty 'covered . . . with the mantle of justice',23 whileAli resorted to more subtle methods giving the impression that 'moderation. . . [was] his governing principle'.24

Osman's achievements during his short term of office were remarkable. Hesucceeded in restoring order and security to the capital following an extendedperiod of anarchy. He vigorously introduced a series of administrative andfinancial reforms coupled with numerous new appointments intended to curbthe clergy, the bureaucrats and the military. He partially succeeded instamping out the numerous uprisings in Anatolia and initiated a com-prehensive reform in the timar system. He attempted to re-establish centralcontrol over the financial affairs of Egypt and he considerably improved thedefences of the empire on its European frontiers.25 Hekimoglu Ali continuedthese policies and brought them to a greater degree of fruition. During histenure of office the navy was strengthened through administrative reform andthe construction of modern vessels.26 Both men must have realized that a

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disciplined modern army could well serve their political objectives. At the end,however, neither succeeded in attaining them and they were dismissed becausethe Court objected to the aggrandizement of the office of grand vezir.27

The first attempt to introduce western-inspired military reform exhibitedsome of the characteristic problems which were to reappear during the entireperiod under discussion. That the reforms were desirable was recognized bythe reigning sultan and men in authority. In the person of Bonneval and hisassistants the Ottomans had a small, but qualified, team of European officerswho could have directed the reforms as required. The reforms failedessentially for lack of a determined and stable leadership that could sustainthem in the face of strong popular opposition. The court, while not taking adirect lead in affairs of government, acted to prevent the office of the grandvezir from becoming too powerful. This was achieved by a variety of means:terms of office were kept short; key government offices were rotated amongpolitical rivals known for their bitter mutual hostility; and, on occasion,known incompetents were deliberately appointed only to replace them shortlyafterwards. Because of the intense rivalry within the Ottoman ruling elite, itwas the normal procedure for each newly appointed grand vezir to start histerm of office by replacing all the proteges of his fallen predecessor with hisown men. Such a style of rule made it difficult, if not altogether impossible, tomaintain the continuity of state policies necessary for the attainment of long-term objectives. Consequently, in spite of the fact that many of the Ottomanleading personalities supported western-inspired reform, Bonneval'smeasures achieved only limited results.

Moreover, Ottoman military successes against the Austrians in thecampaigns of 1737, 1738 and 1739, crowned by the Treaty of Belgrade (18September 1739) which restored Bosnia and Serbia to the Ottoman empire,lulled the Ottoman leadership into a false sense of security.28 This was evenfurther strengthened by the three decades of peace which the empire enjoyedon its European frontiers from 1739 to 1768. With the external threat havingreceded to the background western-inspired military reform no longerappeared as urgent as before. During this period one of the eighteenthcentury's most capable statesmen and a talented man of letters, Koca RagibPa^a, held office as grand vezir for over six years, from January 1757 to hisdeath in April 1763. Ragib succeeded in carrying out extensive restorativereforms in the civilian administration and the military.29 But he was reluctantto introduce western-inspired measures. He is credited with having said 'I amafraid that we shall be unable to re-establish order if we once break theharmony of the existing institutions'.30 Under the prevailing mood,Bonneval's limited reforms gradually dissipated. Even Miiteferrika's printingpress was closed down after his death in 1745 and the printing of booksstopped until 1783.31

In the last third of the eighteenth century the Ottoman empire was involved intwo of the most injurious wars in its history; the first against Russia(1768-1774) and the second against a coalition of Russia and Austria(1787-1792). Although the Ottomans generally enjoyed numerical superiority

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on the battle-field, they were overcome by western technology and methods ofwarfare.32 The territorial and political losses suffered in these conflicts werestaggering. The first of these wars saw the introduction of a new dimension inOttoman-Russian warfare relations. A Russian fleet, partly officered by theBritish, circled the European continent all the way from the Baltic anddestroyed the Ottoman navy at Cheshme (July 1770). This served as the directmotive for the establishment, in 1776, of a School of Naval Engineering andthe launching of a new phase of extensive western-inspired military reformwhich lasted throughout the reign of Abdulhamid I (1774-1789).33

At this stage, Ottoman efforts at military rejuvenation received vigorousassistance from the French government, a traditional ally. With the expansionof its economic and political interests in the eastern Mediterranean, Francebecame increasingly concerned over Austrian and Russian encroachment onthe Ottoman empire and its wider political and military ramifications.Consequently when, in 1768, hostilities broke out between the Ottomanempire and Russia, Louis XV offered Sutan Mustafa III military assistance.But the war had such a destabilizing impact on the government that it wasslow to respond.34 It did, however, accept the services of one French agentwho was already on the scene. Baron Francois de Tott (1730-1793), ofHungarian origin, was an artillery officer in the French service. In 1755 he hadbeen sent to Istanbul on official duty and during the course of his stay there hegained the respect of the sultan's court. During the war years of 1768-74 deTott's help was enlisted for a variety of military endeavors marking thebeginning of an extended era of French official or semi-official military andtechnological assistance to the empire. De Tott helped establish a new cannonfoundry and improved the designs of Ottoman cannon carriages. Under hissupervision a number of important forts were strengthened and when,following the destruction of the Ottoman navy, a Russian sea-born attack onIstanbul appeared imminent his contribution to the fortification of theDardanelles was highly valued.35

In 1773 de Tott helped set up a new School of Mathematics.36 In March 1776he returned to Paris, but meanwhile, since January 1774, more Frenchmilitary officers and technical advisers began to arrive in Istanbul. With theirassistance, in 1776, the School of Mathematics was transformed into a Schoolof Naval Engineering and later, in 1784, a Fortification Section was added toit. The French instructors gave their lessons in French and Greek andArmenian assistants translated them to Turkish.37 To provide the school withtextbooks a Turkish press was established by the French on the premises oftheir embassy and in 1786 and 1787 it printed two major works.38 Apparentlythere also was a project, agreed upon by the French ambassador Choiseul-Gouffier and Grand Vezir Halil Hamid, to send to Paris 30 young Ottomanstudents. However, this plan, the boldest of all, was never realized.39

Meanwhile, French artillery officers under the command of LieutenantAubert began, in 1774, to recruit and train a new unit of field artillery,40 abranch which had not existed until then. The model unit of 250 men was set upaccording to the French regulation of 1765.41 But in 1781, following the deathof the reform-minded Grand Vezir Karavezir Seyyid Mehmed Paja, underJanissary pressure the new unit was temporarily disbanded. Aubert and his

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assistants returned to France. But following the appointment of anotherreformist grand vezir, Halil Hamid Paja, Aubert and his men returned toIstanbul. This time the field artillery unit was expanded to 2,000 men and theoriginal 250 cannoneers were appointed as officers and instructors to the newrecruits. As a result of regular training, the corps made good progress and itscannon teams were capable of firing eight to ten shots per minute. With theestablishment of this unit a departure from previous administrative practiceswas introduced with the purpose of strengthening government control overthe military. The old corps were supervised only by military commanders whohad the title of aga. Now a system of dual control was introduced. In additionto the aga, a civilian superintendent (ndzir) was appointed to supervise thecorps' administrative and financial affairs and report directly to the grandvezir's administration.42

Under Halil Hamid's reformist administration, and with the energeticsupport of the French ambassador Choiseul-Gouffier, more French militaryexperts followed in the years 1783 and 1784. With them arrived also groups oftechnicians from the various French military arsenals, construction andfoundry workers, carpenters and shipwrights.43 The presence of the Frenchmission was impressive. The Prussian envoy reported — with someexaggeration, perhaps — that at least 300 French officers and engineers wereemployed by the Ottoman government.44 Indeed French assistance wassubstantial: French engineers improved numerous fortifications and set upnew batteries; they cast cannons and mortars according to French models,and shipwrights built new vessels according to modern design.

Nevertheless, Franco-Ottoman relations were, at times, tenuous. In March1784, the French suggested that the Duke of Luxembourg establishheadquarters on Crete or Rhodes in order to raise an Ottoman force of 1,200men and train it in all contemporary military sciences. The plan fell underOttoman suspicion that the French actually intended to secure for themselvesan island-base in the eastern Mediterranean. The proposal was thereforepolitely rejected.45 In addition the French mission suffered from some of thebasic difficulties which were to plague most foreign aid programs in modernhistory. Language and culture barriers placed obstacles on the successfulprogress of the mission's work. Behind the back of the reformist grand vezirsmany of the religious leaders denounced the presence of the infidel officers inIstanbul. Contempt was sometimes the lot of those Ottomans who attendedthe lessons of the French instructors or were associated with them in any way.Public disapproval was so strong that the French officers did not dare to weartheir uniforms in the street. Ottoman bureaucrats of intermediate and lowerranks regarded the French workers with suspicion. Leroy who was assigned tothe naval arsenal reported in despair that 'each piece of wood, each pound ofnails . . . is an object for negotiations'.46 On the other hand, some Frenchmenfound it difficult to adjust to the new and foreign work conditions. CaptainSaint-Remy who was assigned to the cannon foundry had to be recalled due toclashes with the Ottoman staff.47

The western-inspired reforms of this period were accompanied by intensiverestorative measures. Aside from the reform-minded reigning SultanAbdulhamid I, three leaders were most instrumental in applying these

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policies: Grand Vezir Karavezir Seyyid Mehmed Pa§a (August 1779-February 1781), Grand Vezir Halil Hamid Pasa (December 1782-March1785) and Grand Admiral Cezayirli Hasan Pasa (October 1770-February1774; and again July 1774-April 1789).48 The first of these three, SeyyidMehmed, gave particular attention to the old Artillery and Bombardier corps.He required them to train regularly and purchased for them modernEuropean equipment.49 Halil Hamid's efforts were more comprehensive, andhe endeavored to revamp the entire military establishment. He ordered thateach military branch be identified by special uniforms and prohibited civiliansfrom wearing the same garb. This last order remained largely on paper, but hedid succeed in purging the Janissary corps and eliminating from their rankssome of the most troublesome elements.50

Cezayirli Hasan, in 1784, introduced important improvements in the navy.Until that date the government did not provide regular barracks for its seamenwho used to live on board their ships. During winter, when naval operationswere suspended, it was the practice to dismiss the sailors to their homes. Theresult was that many of them failed to show up for service in the followingspring thereby forcing the naval authorities to recruit each year a largenumber of unseasoned sailors. To enhance professionalism Cezayirli Hasanwanted to build permanent barracks in order to keep and train the seamenthroughout the winter months. This plan was opposed by many. One of itsbitter enemies was the reform-minded Halil Hamid. The grand vezir fearedthat the new barracks, proposed to be constructed at the naval arsenal in thecapital, would strengthen the grand admiral's influence in affairs of state.Cezayirli Hasan, however, proceeded to build the barracks at his personalexpense in spite of the opposition. He repaid the grand vezir by joining theIatter's political enemies and contributing to his eventual downfall.51

The most energetic military reformers were also engaged in wide-rangingattempts to counter the disruptive impact of the foreign wars and strengthenthe central government. Seyyid Mehmed gave great consideration toreforming the central administration, by appointing capable men to keypositions and doing away with the pernicious practice of needlessly rotatingprovincial governors.52 Both Seyyid Mehmed and Halil Hamid wereconcerned with the decline of the government's control over the provinces andthe rise of independent provincial rulers. They issued decrees which placed theauthority to confirm the nomination of local notables (ayans) in the hands ofthe grand vezir, rather than the provincial governors, as had been the practicebefore. When this proved to no avail another grand vezir Koca Yusuf Pasa(January 1786-June 1789) finally took a radical step and attempted to outlawthe position of the ayan altogether(April 1786).53 These legislative initiativeswere coupled with punitive military expeditions against some of the mostrebellious provincial rulers. It was in this connection that in June 1786Cezayirli Hasan led an expedition against the rebellious Mamluks of Egypt.The expedition proved a military success. It had to be cut short, however,because of the outbreak of a new war in Europe and thus it failed to achievethe objective of re-establishing the government's control over Egypt.54

Centralizing policies and military expeditions met with a similar fate in otherregions as well. In spite of a spasmodic show of strength, the power of the

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central government was receding almost everywhere. The debilitating defeatsin foreign wars undermined the strength of the central government materiallyas well as morally. In the Arab provinces, Anatolia and now also in theBalkans, powerful local rulers presented increasingly more serious challengesto the state. As the most fertile areas slipped away from the government'scontrol revenues declined as well. Consequently, the rulers' ambitions to carryout extensive military reforms were now severely curbed by financialconstraints.55

The military reforms, but in particular the financial measures whichreassigned funds from the old corps for the maintenance of the new fieldartillery, made Grand Vezir Halil Hamid extremely unpopular. But openagitation against him began only after the Ottoman government approved theAgreement of Aynah Kavak (January 1784) which confirmed Russia'sannexation of the Crimea. Halil Hamid's political rivals used this as aconvenient pretext to call for his dismissal. Among the latter was also theinfluential and reform-minded Grand Admiral Cezayirli Hasan. Theagitation eventually resulted in Halil Hamid's dismissal (31 March 1785) andlater execution.56

For the time being the presence of the French mission was tolerated mainlybecause a new war with Russia seemed imminent. But without Halil Hamid'sstrong leadership the drive for military reform had dissipated. In the fall of1787 another Ottoman-Russian war indeed broke out and when it becameapparent that the Habsburgs, to whom the King of France was now related bymarriage, were about to join Russia, the French government withdrew itsmission.57 The second phase of western-inspired reform had come to a close.

The reforms of the 1770s and 1780s were on a wider scale by far than thoseof the previous phase. A significant departure from past practices wasOttoman acceptance of European instructors without their first having toconvert to Islam. This evoked conservative criticism. But at the same time, itwas a clear indication of a wider consensus among the ruling elite regardingthe necessity of western-inspired reform. Yet, with all their boldness, thereforms affected only the most technical and numerically small militarybranches. The main body of the Ottoman army, the infantry and the cavalry,remained as antiquated as it had been.

The limited results of this second phase are attributable to the same factorswhich militated against the success of the first: opposition on the part of theold military corps and their civilian allies and the extreme divisiveness amongthe ruling elite. But it would appear that at this stage economic constraints hadbecome more prominent than in the past. If we are to accept Charles Issawi'sstatement that 'until the 19th century, labor was by far the most importantfactor of production',58 then the paucity of the Ottoman state revenue wasindeed outstanding when compared to those of contemporary Europeangovernments. With a population estimated at close to twenty million in theBalkans and Anatolia,59 Eton, reporting 'from the most authenticdocuments', stated that in 1776 the total revenue was 44,942,500 piasters(kuru§), equivalent at that time to about 4.5 million British pounds.60 If thesefigures are correct, then in the following decades state revenues continued todecline. Stratford Canning, writing in 1809, reported that 'before 1794', and

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presumably by the end of the 1787-92 war, the revenue 'did not exceed20,000,000 piastres'.61 New taxes introduced in the reign of Selim III producedan additional income of 'something short of 30,000,000 piastres'. But due tothe devaluation of the Ottoman currency, Canning estimated that at the timeof writing, in 1809, it scarcely equalled 2.25 million British pounds, 'a sumvery far indeed below their wants, and which, when compared with theenormous extent of the Ottoman Empire, betrays in a strong light the mis-management which exists in the manner of collecting it'.62 By comparison,Britain, with only 9.5 million inhabitants in 1787-90 had an average annualrevenue of 16.8 million pounds, while France with a population of 24 millionhad revenues equal to 18 million pounds in 1787 and 24 million pounds in1789.63

Thornton, a well-informed observer, writing a decade or so later, came tothe unmistakable conclusion:

The finances... are incapable of being improved, so as to be sufficientfor the support of a regular standing army, by any constitutional means,or by any means which the people, instigated by turbulent andambitious leaders, would not efficaciously oppose.64

Eighteenth-century military reform came to its culmination during the reignof Selim III (1789-1807). Selim's era has been the subject of detailed researchby Turkish and western scholars, foremost among them Stanford J. Shaw.65

For this reason the present study will discuss only those characteristics ofSelim's policies which are the most relevant to our subject.

The main contribution of Selim's measures was an extension of western-inspired reform also to the core services of the Ottoman army — the infantryand the cavalry. Although the old military organizations were maintained, forthe first time the Ottoman government organized new infantry and cavalryunits on western models known as the New Order Army (Nizdm-i Cedid). By1806 the rolls of this new force listed 24,000 men. Together with othermodernized support elements it had a total strength of about 30,000 men andthe modernized navy some 40,000 men.66

The attempts to create a European-style army were accompanied byrenewed efforts to rejuvenate the old military corps. The most significantreform in this sphere was an administrative measure intended to bring all theold military corps under closer civilian supervision. This was in effect anextension of the principle of dual control first introduced in the previous reignand applied to the new branch of field artillery. Under Selim all the militarycorps were assigned civilian inspectors who were in charge of their corps'financial administration and were to report directly to the grand vezir'sadministration.

In carrying out his military reforms Selim was assisted by many Europeanmilitary and technical advisers. The Ottomans asked for, and received, a largeFrench mission. But learning from past experience they also recruited, on anindividual basis, Britons, Swedes and Italians.

It is striking, however, that Selim's measures exhibited little direct

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continuity with those of the previous reign. The reforms previouslyintroduced in the artillery corps were allowed to fade away before a new effortwas undertaken to revive them in 1793. It was the same with the engineeringschools. This was due to the fact that upon ascending to the throne Selimbrought to power his own 'team' paying at first little attention to the policiesundertaken under the previous regime. Only in the navy was a measure ofcontinuity maintained.67

Selim was an able ruler who won considerable support for his policiesamong the ruling elite. He even succeeded in gaining the cooperation of thechief provincial notables in western and central Anatolia in helping thegovernment to recruit troops for the New Order Army. But by the end of theeighteenth century the centrifugal forces within the state had become toopowerful. The most vigorous opposition to military reform and centralizationnow came from the local notables (ayans) of the Balkans, especially in suchcenters as Ruschuk, Silistre, Vidin and Yannina. In the last decades of theeighteenth century these notables had become increasingly wealthy, powerfuland independent.68 Selim's efforts to re-establish some central control over theprovinces by means of a rejuvenated system of checks and balances that wouldcurb the centrifugal forces had failed miserably.69 In addition to the provincialopponents whose formidable power was a recent phenomenon, there were allthe traditional antagonists. Moreover, the military reforms were universallyunpopular because they were accompanied by increased taxation, inflation,food shortages, and other economic hardships. At the same time the rulingelite continued to exhibit its inherent weaknesses of endemic divisiveness anddeadly rivalry even among those who believed in the need for reform.70 Facedwith mounting opposition at a critical point Selim himself proved to belacking in determination. His half-hearted attempt to extend the conscriptionto the New Order Army to his Balkan provinces was defeated by the localnotables in the summer of 1806. The notables then took the initiative andentered into an alliance with the Janissaries of Istanbul and other opponentsof reform. By May 1807 this powerful coalition was able to bring about theSultan's deposition and the abolition of his reform policy. The New OrderArmy was dissolved and many of its officers and supporters killed. The newbarracks, factories, schools and other installations were destroyed. Littlesurvived the wave of reaction which set in.

Contemporary observers saw in the New Order Army a supreme test notmerely for Ottoman ability to infuse new strength in the military, but for thevery viability of the state. Following the establishment of the new force Etonwrote:

The mere institution of this militia is an important event; and Selim may,perhaps, effect by policy, what several of his ancestors have attemptedby force. Could he put himself at the head of a disciplined army, hewould conquer the Ulema as easily as the Janizaries, and the Turkishpower, though it would never again be formidable to Europe, might berespectable in Asia.71

Consequently, the collapse of Selim's reforms was seen not merely as a setbackto military modernization. More significantly, it was an indication of the

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failure of political cohesion and impending disintegration. Stratford Canningconcluded: 'Both morally and materially [the] empire was bordering ondecrepitude. The old political system of Turkey had worn itself out'.72

As we have seen, the impulse for military reform stemmed from two sources:first, the need of the central government to maintain, or restore, its controlover the bureaucracy and the military and suppress the centrifugal forcesthreatening to break up the state from within; and second, the necessity todefend the state against external enemies. Both motives were inherent to theOttoman traditional political system, and they were also closely interrelated.For failure in foreign wars undermined the political and moral foundations ofthe state. In the eighteenth century the external threat forced militaryreformers to adopt increasingly western models. This could hardly beattributed to changes in political or cultural attitudes. It was rather theoutcome of a realistic assessment that modern combat required the adoptionof western military organization and methods of warfare in addition totechnology. The political objectives of military reformers, however, remainedessentially the same as in the past — the restoration of the traditionalcentralized political order. In fact, with the exception of the briefexperimentation during the Tulip Era, the western-inspired reform wasexclusively limited to the military and ancillary areas. The printing press andthe schools founded in this period were not designed to serve a wideeducational purpose, but were limited to pragmatic military-administrativeneeds. It is true, however, that though unintended these activities generated anawareness in Ottoman society of some aspects of western culture. But it isequally obvious that this awareness remained very limited throughout theeighteenth century.

The reformers of this period did not constitute a well-defined party, nor didthey represent a particular school of thought. Those who supported reformmost vigorously were usually individuals in power who temporarily shared anidentity of interests with the centralizing policies of the government. Politicalleaders who opposed reform when out of power sometimes supported it whenin authority. Some of the notables who resisted military reform by the statewere themselves modernizing factors in their own realm. Perhaps the mostnoted example of this narrow, self-serving attitude to reform was the case ofMustafa Bayrakdar, the notable of Ruschuk. In 1806 he helped defeat SultanSelim's efforts to strengthen the New Order Army and was instrumental in itsabolition. In 1808, when Mustafa became grand vezir, he himself headed anew drive to revive Selim's reforms."

On the other side of the watershed, there is nothing to suggest thatconservatism was a well-defined political force. As Uriel Heyd hasdemonstrated, Ottoman religious leaders, under pressure of determinedrulers, justified western-inspired reform as necessary. In their sermons andwritings they explained that the Holy War against the infidel was one of theforemost duties of believers. To strengthen the army of Islam by every meanswas, therefore, an important religious obligation. To learn from the infidelenemy was legally permissible on the basis of the Islamic principle of

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reciprocation (mukdbele bi-l-misl), or fighting the enemy with his own means.To prove this point these religious leaders cited passages from the Koran andprecedents from the life of the Prophet Muhammad and of medieval Islamichistory.74 But these 'liberal' religious leaders apparently represented only asmall segment of the higher clergy. It is likely that the majority of the clergy,especially of the lower classes, espoused more conservative views, criticizedwestern-inspired reform and lent legitimacy to its opponents. Nevertheless, itis important to note that as a system of beliefs, Ottoman Islam couldaccommodate both reformers and conservatives; and political leaders whowere sufficiently determined could, and did, receive the religious-legalsanction which they deemed necessary to carry out and lend legitimacy towestern-inspired reform.75

Regarding the popular attitudes of Ottoman-Muslim society as a whole,again it is likely that these were traditional and conservative in nature. Theelements which were opposed to reform — for whatever reason — could counton gaining the popular sentiment by appealing to traditional values, howevervaguely formulated. This, in fact, was the greatest asset of the politicalopponents of reform. But 'conservatism' — however it may be defined —generally remained an inchoate force requiring direction and leadership torealize its potential. Ottoman society rejected westernizing reform in the reignof Selim III, but the same society accepted it, in a definitive and irreversiblemanner, less than two decades later, in the reign of Mahmud II (1808-1839).During this span of time, as far as can be ascertained, there had been noperceptible changes in religious doctrine or in popular outlook and values. Itwould appear, therefore, that while 'conservatism' remained a constantcondition, the determinative variables for the failure of eighteenth-centuryreform must be searched for elsewhere.

The first cause for the failure of reform appears to stem from the weaknessof its 'ideological' underpinnings. In western and central Europe the rise ofmodern armies was part of a wide-ranging social and political transformation.It resulted in the consolidation of the power of the state and the concomitantreduction of the authority of intermediate bodies, such as guilds, towns andprovinces. The rise of modern European armies was, therefore, identified withsocial and political change and was promoted by those centripetal forcesseeking it. The modern army thus testified to the growing ability of the centralgovernment to reach wider areas of societal activity. By contrast, in theOttoman empire the forces promoting military reform were those whichespoused not only the restoration of a traditional political system, but also theconservation of the existing medieval social order. It is significant that reform-minded rulers usually reinforced the observance of the traditional sumptuarylaws which imposed a strict dress code on persons of different religions, classesand professions.76 Military reformers supported ideals which wereconservative in all essential aspects. Consequently, military reforms requiringthe breakup of the guild-like structure of the traditional military order weredissonant with the basic thrust of general restorative reform. Thus, while therewas wide consensus, although little cooperation, among the ruling eliteregarding the desirability of restorative reform, the issue of westernizationtended to split and narrow that consensus.

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A second, more significant cluster of factors responsible for the failure ofwestern-inspired reform derived from the weakness of the center. Unlikeearlier periods the eighteenth century witnessed relative dynastic stabilitycharacterized by lengthy reigns and, with two exceptions, smooth transitions.Of the six sultans who reigned from 1703 to 1807, three — Ahmed III,Mahmud I and Mustafa III — were competent monarchs within the acceptednorms of Ottoman statecraft, and two — Abdulhamid I and Selim III — maybe characterized even as energetic. All five indicated an interest in western-inspired military reform. Still none of them made a sustained attempt to attainthe desired objectives of reform by direct intervention in governmental affairs.This was partly due to Ottoman political theory, as it had crystalized by theeighteenth century. The sultan was regarded as the personification of divineauthority, 'the shadow of God on the face of the earth'. As such he was thesource of all legitimate power, but was not expected to exercise it directly. Tomaintain his lofty position the sultan was supposed to exist in a state of blissfulisolation above the turmoil of political realities. 'The King of Kings who isCaliph of the World has need for no one', declared an eighteenth-centurywriter.77 In addition, courtiers and politicians, for their own advantage, didtheir best to divert the sultan's attentions from government affairs to otheractivities. Consequently, the sultans of the eighteenth century becameensnarled in a style of rule uncharacteristic of that which prevailed in the ageof Ottoman greatness when the sovereigns actively ruled. In theory the grandvezir was the actual mover of governmental affairs. According to oureightenth-century source he should have been 'an unrestricted representative[of the sultan]. . . The whole of the regulating and ordering of the affairs ofthe country . . . should be committed to his responsibility... requests which hepresents to the Imperial Presence should not be denied. The unrestrainedgrand vezir must have the favor of his patron . . . \78

Realities however were far from the ideal. Court functionaries, rivalpoliticians, leading members of the clergy and, above all, the sultansthemselves feared the aggrandizement in power of the grand vezirs. To avoidthis, throughout the eighteenth century, appointments to this office, with fewexceptions, were of short duration. In the 68-year period from October 1730 toAugust 1798 no less thn 48 times were appointments made to this office,although some appointees served more than once. As a result during thisperiod the average term of office was about 17 months. It is an interestingobservation that during the early years of each reign tenure was exceedinglyshort. The single exception to this rule was the reign of Mustafa III(1757-1774). Upon ascending the throne Mustafa found and kept in office theable statesman and man of letters Koca Ragib Mehmed Pa^a (January1757-April 1763). But Mahmud I (1730-1754) appointed three grand vezirswithin the first 17 months of his reign; Osman III (1754-1757) during his shortreign of less than three years had seven grand vezirs; and Selim III (1789-1807)replaced no less than four grand vezirs within the first 21 months of his reign.It was only after the new sultan's party had firmly entrenchd itself thatlengthier periods of tenure were allowed. It seems as if in the eighteenthcentury the court was determined not to allow the rise of a powerful dynasty ofgrand vezirs, such as the Kopriilu family which during the previous century

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played an important part in maintaining the ascendancy of the center. Thecosts of such a style of rule were obvious. Neither the court nor the office of thegrand vezir could emerge as strong centers of government. The grand vezir'sshort term of office did not permit the introduction and maintenance of long-term state policies. This was further aggravated by the endemic factionalismcharacteristic of the Ottoman elite. Consequently although there was somelimited consensus among the ruling elite regarding the desirability of western-inspired reform actual cooperation on its implementation was little or non-existent.

The failure of the center to reassert its authority facilitated the resurgence ofcentrifugal forces in the provinces. The latter became increasingly morepowerful and independent as the eighteenth century progressed attaining thehigh point of their strength in the last decade of the eighteenth century and thefirst decade of the nineteenth. As a group the notables of the northern andwestern Balkan provinces were more powerful and independent than the localrulers of Anatolia because of two important factors. They were in control ofagriculturally rich land and geography placed them in a favorable position toengage more freely in independent international commerce.79 The situation inthe Nile valley was similar to that in the Balkans. It was, therefore, in theseregions where resistance to the government's centralizing policies was thestrongest and most successful.

These processes further contributed to the shrinking of the economic baseof the state. As available resources were dwindling, military reform, bynecessity, meant either new taxation on an already heavily taxed population,or the diversion of funds from existing institutions. Due to the fragmentationof the elite, the established armed forces, but especially the Janissaries and thetimarh cavalry, became increasingly independent of civilian control. Instead,they were dominated by the class interests of their senior and intermediaryofficers. To the latter any reform measure appeared to threaten vital economicand social interests and they were, therefore, to be found in the forefront ofany movement opposed to reform. They were the group most directlythreatened by reform and they were the ones who opposed it most vigorouslyand consistently. To move forcefully against the established military waswrought with danger. The old military establishment was large and itsinterests overlapped those of substantial segments of the Muslim middle andlower classes in the capital and other urban centers. In the Balkan provincesthe feudal fighting class formed the administrative-military infra-structure onwhich rested Ottoman sovereignty over areas largely inhabited by anincreasingly restive Christian population.

To carry out western-inspired military reform was, therefore, above all atest of the center's ability to reassert itself. The failure of military reform wasseen as a sure sign of political decomposition. At the dawn of the nineteenthcentury to friend and foe alike the Ottoman empire appeared moribund. As iswell known, however, the Ottoman empire did not disintegrate in 1807.Moreover, in 1826 Sultan Mahmud II was able to revive the New Order Armyunder a different name. This time the process proved irreversible andMahmud's reforms served as a basis not only for the establishment of amodern army, but they also introduced a new form of government which

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gradually came to approximate those of centralized European states. Butbefore he could successfully carry out military reform Mahmud II wasrequired to reconstitute the central authority under the aegis of the court andre-impose central control over a sufficient number of provinces in Anatoliaand the Balkans.80 It is striking that Mahmud's reign began under conditionsthat from every 'objective' perspective — economic, demographic, political —were inferior to those prevailing throughout the eighteenth century. But, toparaphrase Nur Yalman, the period of disintegration and dissolution whichushered in Mahmud's reign, provided the necessary background andopportunity for the rise of a new charismatic leadership.81 In the Ottomancontext such leadership could be provided only by a member of the royalfamily. Two conditions made it possible for Mahmud to discard thetraditional style of rule and take direct control of governmental affairs:necessity and ability. In the eighteenth century these conditions, apparently,never coincided.


A note on transliteration: Ottoman-Turkish names and terms are transliterated by using present-day Turkish spelling. In words of Arabic origin the final b and d are preserved (katib, not katip;Mahmud, not Mahmut).

1. William H. McNeill, The Rise of the West: A History of the Human Community (Chicago,1963), 695.

2. Andre Corvisier, Armies and Societies in Europe, 1494-1789, tr. Abigail T. Siddall(Bloomington, Indiana, 1979), 61.

3. On Ottoman institutions at their zenith consult the following recent works: Halil Inalcik,The Ottoman Empire: The Classical Age, 1300-1600, trs. N. ItzkowitzandC. Imber (London,1973); M. A. Cook (ed.), A History of the Ottoman Empire to 1730 (Cambridge, 1976), 1-102(Chapters by M. A. Cook, H. Inalcik and V. J. Parry); Stanford J. Shaw, History of theOttoman Empire and Modern Turkey, volume I: Empire of the Gazis (Cambridge, 1976),1-167; Peter F. Sugar, Southeastern Europe under Ottoman Rule (volume V of the series AHistory of East Central Europe, Seattle, 1977), 3-183; Bistra A. Cvetkova, Les InstitutionsOttomanes en Europe (Wiesbaden, 1978), 1-77.

4. For an excellent short discussion of the decline of the Ottoman dynasty and its impact on thestate see Cook, 103-156 (Chapters by V. J. Parry), and especially pp. 133-38. On Ottomandecline in general see: Shaw, History, I, 169-298; Sugar, 187-288; Cvetkova, 78-117.

5. Cf. Bernard Lewis, 'Ottoman Observers of Ottoman Decline', Islamic Studies, I (1962),71-87; Lewis V. Thomas, A Study ofNaima (ed. Norman Itzkowitz, New York, 1972), 94-96;Halil Inalcik, 'The Ottoman Decline and its Effects upon the Reaya', in Henrik Birnbaumand Speros Vryonis, Jr, Aspects of the Balkans: Continuity and Change (The Hague, 1972),346-47; M. Cagatay Ulucay, 'Koci Bey', Islam Ansiklopedisi (henceforth abbreviated as I A),VI, 823-31; M. Cavid Baysun, 'Naima', I A. IX, 44-49; Shaw, History, I, 290-93.

6. Walter Livingston Wright, Jr, Ottoman Statecraft: The Book of Counsel for Vezirs andGovernors of Sari Mehmed Pasha, the Defterdar (Princeton, 1935), 110-15, 142-48.

7. Another Kopriilii, Nu'man Pasa, served as grand vezir in 1710, but for two months only.8. Shaw, History, I, 197-98, 209-212; Halil Inalcik, 'Centralization and Decentralization in

Ottoman Administration', in Thomas Naff and Roger Owen (eds.), Studies in EighteenthCentury Islamic History (Carbondale, Illinois, 1977), 27-31; Ismail Hakki Uzuncarsili,Osmanli Tarihi, vol. Ill, part II (Ankara 1954), 275-77; vol. IV, part I (Ankara, 1956), 1-9;M. Tayyib Gokbilgin, 'Kopruliiler', IA. VI, 892-908.

9. On this subject see Halil Inalcik, 'The Socio-Political Effects of the Diffusion of Fire-Armsin the Middle East', in V. J. Parry and M. E. Yapp, eds., War, Technology and Society in the

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Middle East (Oxford, 1975), 195-217; and in the same volume V. J. Parry, 'La Maniere deCombattre', 218-56; also see idem, 'Materials of War in the Ottoman Empire', in M. A.Cook (ed.), Studies in the Economic History of the Middle East (Oxford, 1970), 225-27; idem,'Warfare' in P. M. Holt et al. (eds.), The Cambridge History of Islam, vol. II (Cambridge,1970), 835-36.

10. Raimondo de Montecucculi, Memoires de Montecucculi, tr. J. Adam (3 vols., Amsterdam,1746), II, 363.

11. Luigi Ferdinando Marsigli, VEtat Militaire de I'Empire Ottoman (2 parts, Haya, 1732), 11,33;Henry Grenville, Observations sur 1'etat actuel de I'Empire Ottoman, ed. A. S. Ehrenkreutz(Ann Arbor, 1965), 15-19.

12. The Ottoman historian Cevdet identifies the intermediary officers of the Janissary corps asthe most obstinate opponents of reform. He refers to them as the 'Janissary Elders' {peakeskileri). Through the control of administrative positions in the individual regiments (ortas),these men were best able to profit from various illegal activities and also were convenientlypositioned to influence and control the majority of men under their command. Many ofthese intermediary officers were also affiliated with, or even leading members in, variousguilds thereby able to mobilize also the support of part of the urban classes. Cf. AhmedCevdet, Tarih-i Cevdet, IX (1292/1875-76), 11-12.

13. Grenville, Observations, 16, 24-25; Baron de Valentini, Traite de la guerre contre les Turcs,tr. L. Blesson (2 parts, Berlin, 1830), I, 19-20; sharp increases in the strength of Europeanarmies occurred following the close of the Thirty Years War, in 1648. Cf. Samuel E. Finer,'State — and Nation-Building in Europe: The Role of the Military', in Charles Tilly, ed., TheFormation of National States in Western Europe (Princeton, 1975), 101.

14. Orhan F. Koprulu, 'Hiiseyin Pasa Amcazade', IA, V, 646-50; Uzuncarsih, Tarih, IV, 1,7-10;idem, Osmauli Devteti Teskilatindan Kapukulu Ocaklan, I (Ankara, 1943), 491, 617.

15. Faik Resit Unat, 'Ahmet III Devrine ait bir islahat takriri', Tarih Vesikalan, I (1941),107-121; Cagatay Ulucay and Enver Kartekin, Yiiksek Muhendis Okulu (Istanbul, 1958), 15;A.H. Tanpmar, XIX Asir Turk Edebiyati Tarihi (2nd ed., Istanbul, 1956), I, 10-11; N.Berkes, The Development of Secularism in Turkey (Montreal, 1964), 42-45.

16. Selim Nuzhet Gercek, Turk Matbaacihgi, I — Muteferrika Matbaasi, Istanbul, 1939; l'AbbeToderini, De la litteralure des Turcs, tr. l'Abbe de Cournand (Paris, 1789), III, 219-32 and ff;Niyazi Berkes, Turkiye'de Cagdaslasma (Istanbul, 1978), 63-65.

17. Shaw, History, I, 238-40; Robert W. Olson, The Siege of Mosul and Ottoman-PersianRelations, 1718-1743 (Bloomington, Indiana, 1975), 65-88; for a detailed study see MunirAktepe, Patrona Isyani (1730) (Istanbul, 1958).

18. Cf. Serif Mardin, 'Center-Periphery Relations: A Key to Turkish Politics?', Daedalus, vol.102, no. 1 (Winter 1973), 175.

19. Mehmed Subhi, Mustafa Sami and Hiiseyin Sakir, Tarih-i Subhi Sami ve Sakir (Istanbul,1197/1782-83), 58b; Uzuncarsili, Kapukulu. II (Ankara, 1944), 119; Heinrich Benedikt,Z>erPascha-Graf Alexander von Benneval, 1675-1747 (Graz-Koln, 1959), 95, 114-15.

20. Subhi, Sami ve Sakir, 58b-59b; Ahmed Ata, Tayyarzade, Tarih-i Ata (5 vols., Istanbul,1291-93/1874-76), I, 158; Uzuncarsili, Kapukulu, II, 118-20; Ulucay and Kartekin, 17-19;Abdulhak Adnan-Adivar, Osmanli Turkelerinde Him (Istanbul, 1943), 161-62, 182-83;Osman Ergin, Tiirkiye Maarif Tarihi (5 vols., Istanbul, 1939-43), 1,49-50; Septime Gorceix,Bonneval Pacha (Paris, 1953), 161; Benedikt, 114-15; H. Bowen,'Ahmad Pasha, Bonneval',The Encyclopaedia of Islam (2nd ed., Leiden, 1954 to date; henceforth abbreviated as EP), I,291-92.

21. Mary Lucille Shay, The Ottoman Empire from 1720to 1734 as Revealed in the Despatches ofthe Venetian Baili (Urbana, Illinois, 1944), 37.

22. Uzuncarsili, Tarih, IV, I, 323-24; Gorceix, 181; Grenville, 14.23. Shay, 34.24. Ibid., 37.25. Subhi, Sami and Sakir, 34 a-b; Uzuncarsih, Tarih, VI, 1, 325-26; Joseph von Hammer-

Purgstall, Histoire de I'empire ottoman depuis son originejusqu'a nosjours, J. J. Hellert, tr. (18vols., Paris, 1835-43), XIV, 262-63, 296-97.

26. Subhi, Sami and Sakir, 63b-65b; Hammer, XIV, 302-3.27. Shay, 38; Uzuncarsih, Tarih. IV, I, 323-25, 331-34.28. Shaw, History, I, 244-45.

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29. Uzuncarsih, Tarih, IV, 1,341-43; Bekir Sitki Baykal and Abdiilkadir Karahan, 'Ragib Pasa',IA, IX, 594-98.

30. Cited in Berkes, Secularism, 63.31. Toderini, III, 214. For a discussion of tnis 'period of reaction', see Berkes, Secularism,

51-69.32. Cf. Ulucay and Kartekin, 20.33. Cf. Ergin. II, 265.34. Uzuncarsih. Tarih, IV, I, 479; Hammer, Histoire, XVI, 279 and ff.35. Uzuncarsih, Tarih, IV, I, 480; Adnan-Adivar, Him, 181n.36. The old school, although never officially closed, had stopped operating by now. Francois de

Tott, Memoirs of Baron de Tott (2 vols., London, 1785), II, 179.37. Mustafa Nuri, Netaic-ul-Vukuat (4 vols., Istanbul, 1294-1327/1877-1909), IV, 7;

Uzuncar$ih, Tarih, IV, I, 481-83; Ergin, II, 265-66; Toderini, I, 162-65; Leonce Pingaud,Choiseul-Gouffler, La France en Orient sous Louis XVI (Paris, 1887), 98.

38. The text published in 1786 consisted of the collected lectures, translated into Turkish, of theFrench instructor Jean de Lafitte-Clave. Its title: 'Principles of Knowledge Concerning theOrganization of an Army and its Temporary Fortification' (Usul-ul-Maariffi tertib-i Ordu veTahsinuhii Muvakkaten). Copies of this rare text, consisting of 80 folios and numerous platesand bound in two volumes, are found at Topkapi Saray Library (nos. 35, 570 and 934). In1787 were printed the lectures of the instructor Laurent-Jean-Francois Truguet, entitled'Principles of Knowledge Concerning the Organization of a Navy and Naval Maneuvers'Usul-ul-Maariffifenn-i Vech-i Tasnif-i Sefain-i Donanma ve Fenn-i Tedbir-iHarekatiha). Thebook contains 93 folios and 13 plates. Cf. Uzuncarjih, Tarih, IV, I, 485-86; Pingaud, 99;Abdulhak Adnan-Adivar, La Science chez les Turcs Ottomans (Paris, 1939), 155.

39. Pingaud, 84.40. This unit was referred to at the time as Sur'at topcusu, literally meaning 'speed artillery'. The

Ottoman military historian §evket explains this term as meaning the same as sahra topcusu,or field artillery. Cf. Mahmud §evket, Osmanli Teskildt ve kiyafet Askeriyesi (two parts,Istanbul, 1325/1907), II, 4.

41. A. Manucy, Artillery Through the Ages (Washington. D.C., 1949), 10-12.42. Cevdet, II (1292/1875), 192-93, 283-85; Nuri, IV, 5-6; Uzuncarsih, Kapukulu, II, 67-68.43. Pingaud, 95 and ff.44. Ibid., 103.45. Uzuncarsili, Tarih, IV, I, 483-84.46. Pingaud, 101.47. Ibid., 100-101.48. Cezayirli Hasan served briefly also as grand vezir from December 1789 until his death in

March 1790.49. Uzuncarsih, Tarih. IV, I, 474.50. Cevdet, III (1303/1886), 67-69; Uzuncarsih, Kapukulu, I, 494-95; II, 120, 132-33. For

detailed information on Halil Hamid's reforms see: I. H. Uzuncarsih, 'Sadrazam HalilHamit Pasa', Turkiyat Mecmuasi, V (1936), 213-67; a summary is found in his Tarih, IV, I,477-84.

51. Uzuncarsih, Tarih, IV, I, 476-77; Cevdet, III, 2-3; William Eaton, A Survey of the TurkishEmpire (2nd ed., London, 1799), 85-90.

52. Uzuncarsih, Tarih, IV, I, 474.53. Inalcik, 'Centralization', 48-50.54. Uzuncarsili, Tarih, IV, I, 509-18.55. Cf. Shaw, History, I, 253-54.56. Nuri, IV, 6.57. Pingaud, 212.58. Charles Issawi, 'The Ottoman Empire in the European Economy, 1600-1914. Some

Observations and Many Questions', in Kemal H. Karpat (ed.), The Ottoman State and itsPlace in World History (Leiden, 1974), 107.

59. Cf. ibid., 108-10.60. Eton, 39-47.61. Cited in Charles Issawi, 'Population and Resources in the Ottoman Empire and Iran', in

Thomas Naff and Roger Owen (eds.), Studies in Eighteenth Century Islamic History(Carbondale, 111., 1977), 388-89, note 46.

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1776'before 1794'






62. Ibid. This information appears to tally with Ottoman estimates of state revenues in the 1820sand 1830s. An informed Ottoman source Kececizade Izzet Molla estimated the annualrevenue in 1827 at 200 million kurus. (See his Layiha, ms. no. K. 337 in the CevdetManuscript Collection, Belediye Library, Istanbul, p. 64.) This amount was equal to about3.5 million British pounds (Cf. Charles White, Three Years in Constantinople, etc., 3 vols.,1846. Vol. II, pp. 74-76, contains a table of the rates of exchange of the British pound to theOttoman kurus, from 1814 to 1843).

Nafiz Pa§a who served as Finance Minister during the reigns of Mahmud II andAbdtilmecid I estimated the annual revenue in the late 1830s at 300 million kuriif (Nuri, IV,114) at that time equal to about 3 million British pounds. The complexities of Ottoman statefinances cannot be discussed here. It should be noted, however, that the Ottomangovernment was the recipient of 'income' also in kind and in services. With the possibleexception of the last estimate which is supported by sketchy evidence found in the archives(for example: Topkapi Saray Archives, Istanbul, register no. D 3086 and document no. E3082), the figures quoted above cannot be considered as conclusive. They do, however,indicate a remarkable consistency and the derived 'curve' corresponds to our informationregarding the strength of the central government and its ability to control sources ofrevenue. In the absence of more reliable information, the following summary may be ofinterest:

AnnualRevenue in million

Source Period kuru§ pounds Remarks

Overall decline of state revenues dueto disruptive effect of foreign wars,uprisings and the emergence of in-dependent local rulers.

Kejecizade 1827 200 3.5 Rise in revenues due to partiallysuccessful centralizing policies ofMahmud II and relative stability.

Nafiz late 1830s 300 3.0 Nominal revenue increase, but prob-able decline in real value. Reneweduprisings in Bosnia, Macedonia, Ana-tolia and Iraq. Loss of Egypt, Syriaand Greece; but extractive ability ofstate increases.

63. Cited in Issawi, 'Population and Resources', 388-89, note 46.64. Thomas Thornton, The Present State of Turkey, etc. (2nd ed., 2 vols., London, 1809), II,

64-65.65. Stanford J. Shaw, Between Old and New: The Ottoman Empire under Sultan Selim III,

1789-1807, Cambridge, Mass., 1971; and his more specialized articles: 'The EstablishedOttoman Army Corps under Sultan Selim III (1789-1807)', Der Islam, 40 (1965), 142-84;'The Origins of Ottoman Military Reform: The Nizam-i Cedid Army of Sultan Selim III',Journal of Modern History, 37 (1965), 291-306; 'Selim III and the Ottoman Navy', Turcica:Revue a"Etudes Turques, I (1969), 212-41.

66. Cf. Enver Ziya Karal, Osmanlt Tarihi, V. Cilt: 1789-1856 (2nd ed., Ankara, 1961), 69.67. Eton, 98-100; Ulucay and Kartekin, 34-41; Ergin, II, 273-76.68. Cf. Inalcik, 'Centralization', 32-48.69. Ibid., 51.70. Thomas Naff, 'Introduction', in Naff and Owen (eds.), op. cit., 12.71. Eton, 100-101.72. Stanley Lane-Poole, The Life of the Right Honourable Stratford Canning (2 vols., London,

1888), I, 49.

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73. Mehmed Ataullah §anizade, Tarih-i Sanizade (4 vols., Istanbul, 1290-91/1872-74), I,63-65; Cevdet, IX (1292/1875), 5-7.

74. Uriel Heyd, 'The Ottoman Ulema and Westernization in the Time of Selim III and MahmudII', Scripta Hierosolymitana, IX (Jerusalem, 1961), 63-96.

75. AvigdorLevy, 'The Ottoman Ulemaand the Military Reforms of Sultan Mahmud II', Asianand African Studies, VII (Jerusalem, 1971), 13-39.).

76. Cevdet, III (1303/1886), 67; Shaw, Old and New, 175.77. Wright, Turkish text, 12-13. Among modern scholars Berkes has well captured in a concise

paragraph the significance of the Sultan's position in the eighteenth century:

[The Sultan] was the direct representative or shadow of God in the world. The titleKhalifa (Caliph) . . . did not imply successorship to the Prophet . . . The Ottomanruler did not claim divine nature or any prophetic attribute; but he was viewed asbeing different from other mortals since he held the highest position in the divinearrangement of the world . . . not the person but the position was invested with value.[The Sultan] had no personal charisma

78. Wright, 64-65.79. Cf. report by the British ambassador Ainslie of 1790, cited in Issawi, 'Population and

Resources', 158.80. See note 60 above.81. Nur Yalman, 'Some Observations on Secularism in Islam: The Cultural Revolution in

Turkey', Daedalus, vol. 102, no. 1 (Winter 1973), 164.

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