FINANCES OF THE OTTOMAN EMPIRE AND REVENUES OF THE SULTAN.
System of finance under the feudal government.-Divisions of the Turkish exchequer.- Public treasury.- Sources of revenue;-land-tax,-property-tax,-customs,-poll-tax,-monopoly,-mines,-esheats and forfeitures,-coinage,-tribute.- Expenditure of the public treasure.- Sultan's revenues, fixed and casual.- Doweries and pensions.- Nizami djedid.System of finance under the feudal government.
1 In reviewing the financial resources of the Turks, it must first of all be considered, that many of the expenses, with which treasuries of more regular governments are burthened, are among them sufficiently provided for by the arrangements of the feudal system; and indeed, according to the spirit of its original institution, every establishment, whether calculated for internal utility or for external defence, was upheld by a competent assignment of landed property. Perhaps the chief inducement to the adoption of the feudal-system, with a warlike people unskilled in 2 the art of conducting the operations of finance, was, that it enabled them to support their numerous armies without levying taxes for their pay. An assignment of lands, involving the condition, that the possessor shall be constantly prepared to take the field at the call of the sovereign, is in itself a military pay; and the Turkish exchequer issued no other to its soldiery until the institution of the corps of janizaries1. In like manner, the condition of keeping in order the national establishments was imposed on the governors of the provinces to the extent of their jurisdiction, and adequate assignments of the national domain were made to them for the purpose: hence neither the army, nor the administration of justice, the police, public worship, the building nor repairing of public edifices, of fortresses, mosques, arsenals, bridges, and high roads, are kept up in the provinces at the expense of the grand signor. The establishment of the janizaries was first superinduced upon the general plan. Being 3 considered as the body-guards; or standing army, of the sultan, their head quarters and fixed residence were in his capital, and they were maintained from his treasury as a part of the imperial household. The necessity of a naval force, when the conquest of Constantinople was projected2, obliged the sultan to assign a portion of his peculiar treasure for its creation and maintenance: but besides the marine forces, the janizaries and other similar bodies of regular troops, no part of the national establishments was supported from the imperial treasury.
1"Hic rerum est ordo, hæc distributio - aic ut faciles inexhaustæque bello copiæ adsint, quotidianæque pro eisdem alendis pecuniæ cura levetur imperator, ut nullum ob bellum consueta ex magnificentia vel sumptibus quicquam untermittere cogatur." (Montalban. ap. Elzevir. p.16.)
2See Cantemir, p. 56, note 23.Divisions of the Turkish exchequer.
The Turkish exchequer consists of two parts: the miri, which is employed in collecting and receiving the public revenues and in disbursing such sums as the public service requires, and the hazné or sultan's treasury. The former under the administration of the defterdar effendi, and the latter under that of the hazné vekili, a black eunuch second in official rank to the kislar aga. The revenues of each may be divided into fixed and casual: those of the miri are generally estimated at three millions three hundred and seventy-five thousand pounds sterling, 4 communibus annis3. Mr. Eton has given a schedule of the revenue in greater detail, which, in result, somewhat exceeds the sum allowed by Cantemir, and which wants only the merit of accuracy4. I do not pretend to give a correct account of the Turkish finances, and I believe, that few Europeans 5 in Turkey possess the means of obtaining it: but as Mr. Eton declares, "that he reasons only from facts, and trusts the impartial reader will draw the same conclusions," it may perhaps not be thought superfluous to examine the merit of the facts themselves, which form the basis of his reasonings.
3I have taken this amount of the Turkish finances from Cantemir, who indeed says (p.170, note 53), that in his time "there were brought yearly into the two treasuries twenty-seven thousand purses, each containing five hundred rix dollars:" but as I find that Count Marsigli, who appears to have had access to the public registers, estimates the revenues of the miri alone at 28,272 purses (See stato milit. t.ii, p.179), I must suppose the apparent disagreement in their computations to be occasioned only by an inaccuracy of expression. Toderini (t.i, p.90) says, that "the revenue of the miri, of which the defterdar effendi has the direction, amounts to about twenty millions of Turkish piastres." De Tott (v.iii, p.135) agrees with Cantemir, and fixes the revenue at 3,900,000l. sterling. Olivier says (v.i, p.24), that the revenues of the miri and the sultan, which are annually paid into the treasuries of Constantinople, amount to 150 millions of livres, besides 50 millions from the revenues of mosques and from casual sources. Motraye (t.i, p.225) calculates the total receipts of both treasuries at 36,ooo,ooo of piastres, or 9,000,000l. sterling, according to the value of Turkish money in his time. Chalcondylas (lib.viii) estimated them, in the reign of Mahomet the Second, at four millions of gold staters, which, according to the calculation of Artus his translator (t.i, p.172), amount to eight millions of ducats.
4"Total of the revenue of the empire, or public treasury called the miri, 44,942,500 piastres, or about 4,494,250l. sterling." (Survey of the Turkish empire, p.47.)
Mr. Eton comprehends among the sources of revenue collected by the miri, in the rear of a formidable list of Turkish words, haremein hasinesi, and sherifein hasinesi: but as far as can be collected from the meaning of the words themselves, they must signify the rents of vacuf, property consecrated to the service of public worship or charitable institutions: they are however by no means under the control of the officers of either of the departments of the exchequer; the miri or the hazné.
The founder of a mosque or other pious establishment, or the individual who enriches it by subsequent benefactions, has the privilege of appointing to the administration of his bequest an officer under the title of mutevelly, and a superior officer, or overseer, under that of nazir. These, more especially in the instance of mosques founded by the sultans, are the chief ministers of 6 state, the heads of the ulema, or the principal officers of the seraglio; and in the case of private donations, are frequently the children or natural heirs of the testator, who enjoy, by the tacit consent of the law, such part of the rents as is not specifically appropriated, though, when this surplus is considerable, it does not escape the vigilance of government, but is adjudged to belong to the public treasury. The administrators, and chiefly those of the mosques and hospitals in Mecca, Medina, and Constantinople, are authorized, on receiving an adequate assignment of property in buildings or landed estates, to make loans to individuals, whether Mussulmans or infidels, from the public finds of the establishment which is committed to their care. The borrower still retains the use or enjoyment of his property on the payment of an inconsiderable rent, and cannot be deprived of it by his creditors in the event of his subsequently becoming a bankrupt: he may even sell or transfer it to strangers with the consent of the mutevelly, and on the payment of certain dues to the mosque, without being subject to the claim, which in Turkey every neighbour is allowed to make, to a preference in the sale of property contiguous 7 to his own: he transmits it, on his decease, in equal portions to his immediate descendants. On the gradual, or total, extinction of such heirs, the absolute property of the several portions, or of the whole of the estate, becomes vested in the lender.
The coffer in which the revenues of the vacufs are collected, to the amount of several millions, is called harémeïnn dolaby, and is deposited in the seraglio under the care of the kislar aga, and strictly guarded. It is wrong to represent these treasures as "sums taken from the active and efficient capital of the nation, and either wholly unemployed, or appropriated to uses which cannot be supposed to have a very direct relation to the necessities of the state5;" for, on the contrary, without deviating from the intentions of the founders, or violating the essential clauses of their charters, that part of the revenue of vacufs which remains after the religious uses are satisfied, is considered as appropriable to the urgencies of the state, and might afford essential succour, if economy and fidelity were employed in administering it. In times of public distress the sultans occasionally apply these funds to the 8 necessities of government, but under the form of a loan and the solemn engagement of the minister of finance, who, in the name of the sultan and the empire, binds the state to the payment of so sacred a debt6.
5See Survey of the Turkish empire, p.40,41.
6See Tab. Gén. t.ii, chap.v, sec.3. The grand vizir Kioprili Mustafa Pasha first brought the treasures of the jamis into the public treasury: and when the mutevelly charged him with sacrilege, he insisted that the wealth, designed for religious users, ought to be employed in maintaining the defenders of the holy edifices. (Cantemir, p.367.)
The haratch, or capitation tax imposed on the rayahs, is improperly called by Mr. Eton "the annual redemption of the lives of all the males above fifteen years of age, who do not profess the Mahometan religion7." 9 The haratch is, however, simply a poll-tax, of the same nature as that imposed upon the English in the reign of Richard the Second: it is levied not only on the Greeks and Armenians, who were conquered by the Turks, but also on the Jews, who were protected by Turkish hospitality when they fled from the persecutions of the Christians. He inserts among the cities and places which contribute to the haratch, "the Morea and its five jurisdictions;" and he taxes separately Napoli di Romania, though a city of the Morea, and consequently within those jurisdictions. It is indeed a curious circumstance, that Mr. Eton's schedule of the Turkish finances and the memoirs of the Baron de Tott should both contain so gross a geographical error. The Turks know, that the peninsula of the Morea is not formed by the gulf of Napoli, but by the gulfs of Lepanto and Egina, which by almost meeting make the isthmus of Corinth. Could Mr. Eton's deference for the Baron de Tott seduce him into a belief, that "the peninsula of the Morea is formed by the gulf of Lepanto, and by that which takes its name from the city of Napoli di Romania which stands at the bottom of it8?" 10 Dr.Pouqueville possessed means of obtaining information respecting the Morea superior to those of preceding travellers, and therefore his testimony must, at present, be admitted as conclusive. Now it appears, that the Morea, instead of containing five separate jurisdictions, is united under the jurisdiction of a pasha of three tails, and subdivided into twenty-four cantons, governed by codja bashis or elders9. Oczacow is said to have furnished ninety purses; though Oczacow was a fortress garrisoned only by Turks, who consequently were not liable to the capitation: but, what is singularly ridiculous, is, that he estimates the contributions from the body of gypsies to be almost equal to that from the city of Constantinople and its environs, 11 and thence I am inclined to suspect, that the schedule itself is an incorrect copy of some account composed by the Russian mission at Constantinople, by orders front the court of St. Petersburg, as it seems calculated to convey to the empress a contemptible idea of the Ottoman empire, by stating the number of male gypsies, above fifteen years of age, at three hundred and thirty-six thousand two hundred and fifty.
7See Survey of the Turkish empire, p.41.-It is with much regret, that I feel myself compelled, from a respect for truth, to declare, that Dr. Wittman's account of a conversation which he held with me at Buyukdéré (See Travels, p.28) is wholly inaccurate. A person who, like myself, had resided many years in Turkey, could never have "comprehended under the general denomination of rayah, the Greek and Armenian subjects of the grand signor and every description of Franks." Still less could I have so far adopted Mr. Eton's errors, and even have borrowed his language, as to assert, "that the haratch is considered as the redemption of the heads of the rayahs, which were forfeited in perpetuity by their subjugated ancestors." Dr. Wittman has also made me pronounce a very florid panegyric on the modern Greeks; but though I had read Mr.Eton's work while I was in Turkey, it had made so slight an impression on my memory that I must have spoken from the same inspiration as Mr. Eton himself, if I could have amused Dr. Wittman by the misrepresentations which he has attributed to me.
8See De Tott's Memoirs, v.iv, p.150.
9See Voyages en Morée, &c. t.i, p.67. The whole of Greece is divided into four great pashaliks; Tripolizza, Egripo or Negropont (the ancient Eubœa), Yanina, and Salonica. The pashalik of Tripolizza comprises all the Morea; that of Egripo, the island whence it derives its name, besides Bœotia and the eastern part of Phocis; Yanina, the whole of Epirus; and Salonica, the southern division of Macedonia. The north of Macedonia is governed by beys; Naupactus (or Lepanto) gives to its governor the title of pasha; Athens and Livadia are administered by vaivodas; Larissa by a musselim; and Zagora (the ancient Magnesia) by its own primates. Pieria is dependent on the aga of Katherin, who now rules over Olympus in the place of Jupiter. (See Beaujour, Tab. du commerce de la Grèece, t.i, p.24.)
Confiscation and inheritances, which we have been taught to consider as the sponge by which the grand signor absorbs the wealth of his subjects, yield, under the pressure of his mighty hand, only one thousand three hundred and twenty-seven purses (about forty thousand pounds sterling), an inconsiderable drop, compared to the rivers of wealth which flow through every province of his extensive dominions.
The consequences which Mr. Eton deduces from this fanciful statement are, that "the present state of the Turkish finances is incompatible with the permanence or prosperity of the state, and that the future prospect is still less promising." "The expenditure," he says, "has so much increased that it is not probable the miri can discharge its debts 12 without a donation from the treasury of the sultan, a measure which does not enter into the policy of the seraglio. Here then we are to consider the probable consequences of a deficiency in its treasury, to a government which knows nothing of the financial provisions of modern politics, and consequently will be totally unprepared for such a conjuncture."
To those who are unacquainted with the natural and abundant fertility of the Turkish provinces in general, it may indeed appear, that the revenues of the sultan are insufficient for the support of his armies, and the maintenance of his establishments: but when it is recollected, that the Turks are from their infancy habituated to privations which to the European soldier would he intolerable, that wine and other spirituous or fermented liquors are prohibited in their camps, that to them a moderate ration of bread or Indian corn with a few black olives is a delicious and ample repast, that most of them neither carry knapsacks nor have the least occasion for them, and that accustomed as they are to sleep in the open air enveloped in their thick capots or cloaks, they hardly feel the want of a tent as an inconvenience; when 13 all these things are taken into consideration it must be evident, that the porte can keep in the field an army of a hundred thousand men with less expense than any prince in Christendom can maintain a third of the number. I instance only the standing army, which the Turks, in imitation of the European states, feel the necessity of augmenting, for every other establishment of magnificence or use may be still supported by the means which were originally assigned for that purpose, and which, though indeed diminished, are not inadequate to their object.Public treasury.
Under the general control of the defterdar effendi, there are thirty-three offices, or chanceries, each superintended by its proper officer: in these are collected all the income, tribute, and customs of the empire: and thence the different expenditures are issued.Sources of revenue; land-tax,
The chief sources of revenue are - The miri, or territorial impost levied on the whole empire, which is one tenth of the produce of lands. The whole of this tax, though registered in the books of the office, and calculated at about twenty millions sterling, is not paid into the imperial treasury: the greater part is detained in the provinces, and regularly accounted for among the expenses 14 of administration, and keeping up the national establishments. The cazy-asker of Romelia takes cognizance of whatever concerns the exchequer: the miri kiatibi, of his deputies, holds his court in the office of the defterdar effendi, and judges definitively all fiscal suits10.
10See Beaujour, Tab. du commerce de la Grèce, t.i,p.46. Cantemir's Ottoman history, p.307, note 52. Olivier says (v.i, p.190), that the quit rent paid by the Mussulman subjects amounts to one seventh of the produce of their lands, and that paid by the rayahs to one fifth.property-tax,
Rayahs, or persons subject to the payment of the haratch, pay also a tax on moveables: it is levied on their personal property and the produce of their industry; on hearths or houses, farms, warehouses, and shops: it appears to be unequally and arbitrarily imposed, and is estimated, by those who pay it, at a quarter of the clear produce of their gains. Women are exempt from payment of the haratch, but their property, consisting either of lands or merchandize, is, equally with that of the men, subject to the payment of both the other taxes11.
11See Pouqueville, Voyages en Morée, &c. t.i, p.232.customs,
The customs on the importation and exportation of merchandize form another 15 principal branch of revenue. They are chiefly farmed, and are collected throughout the empire with mildness and moderation. "These legal imposts," Mr. Eton says, " are but a small part of what the merchant pays. Foreigners indeed," continues he, "are, in all countries, more liable to imposition than the natives12". But from this general accusation he should have excepted Turkey, as there the Frank merchant pays only three per cent. on the value of his importations, and has the privilege, if grieved by an over estimation, of paying in kind. The natives, or at least the rayahs are taxed five per cent., and are sometimes further a aggrieved by an unfair evaluation13.
12See Survey of the Turkish empire, p.56.
13"Rara per imperium vectigalia, exiguaque portoria, hæc defraudantibus, geminandum est tantum vectigal debitum." (Montalban. ap. Elzevir. p.41.) "Tous les négocians Européens établis à Constantinople et dans les principales échelles du Levant, paient des droits beaucoup plus modiques que les nationaux euxmêmes." (Tab. Gén. t.iv, p.211.) See also on the subject of the custom-duties, Chardin's Travels, p.72, and Peyssonnel in refutation of De Tott (Appendix, p.209).poll-tax,
The haratch, or capitation tax on rayahs, is felt as a grievance only from the mode of collecting it, which subjects the passenger 16 in the public streets to the repeated and insolent examination of his certificate by the tax-gatherers. The male Christian and Jew subjects pay the haratch from the age of twelve years to their death. The heaviest contribution does not exceed thirteen piastres a year, the lightest is four piastres, and they are rated according to the rank in life and circumstances of the subject. The sum levied on individuals in consequence of this exaction has varied at different periods, and the age at which persons become liable to the payment of it is, even at this time, so undetermined that, in the provinces, the male children born in the cities are not rated until they are eight years old, while those in the villages are subject to the impost from the age of five years. Cantemir says, that it in enjoined by the law of the koran, that every male shall pay yearly thirteen drachms of pure silver when he becomes of a ripe age, and chooses to remain a subject of the empire without being obliged to profess the Mahometan religion. Under the first Turkish emperors of Constantinople this sum was increased to three rix dollars, and was augmented or diminished at pleasure under their successors, until the grand vizir Kioprili 17 Mustafa Pasha established three proportionate rates of payment, and ordered, that rayahs of the first class should pay annually ten piastres, those of middling fortunes six, and the poorer sort three piastres, and this regulation was generally observed. Motraye travelled in the Morea after it had been ceded to the Venetians by the treaty of Carlovitz, and heard the Greeks, as Sandys predicted that they would, regret the dominion of their former masters. "When we obeyed the Turks," said they, "we enjoyed all possible liberty on paying the moderate contribution of three or four crowns, which to the most opulent among us was never increased above ten. No greater burthens were imposed upon as either in peace or war, and on these terms we were indulged in the free exercise of our religion, and the practice of our respective professions14."
14"A Pégard de leurs femmes et de leurs filles, quelque riches qu'elles soient, elles en sont toujours exemptes, et leurs garçons ne le payent que lorsqu'ils sont censés en état de gagner leur vie." (See Voyages de M. de la Motraye, t.i, p.234,319.) "Quand le père d'un petit Grec veut chicaner, les percepteurs mesurent la tête de l'enfant avec une corde qui leur sert de toise; et comme ils peuvent raccourcir la corde à volonté, le pauvre Grec a toujours tort. Ces percepteurs sont des vieillards qui ont l'œil si exercé, qu'ils lisent la condition d'un homme sur sa physionomie. Jamais un seul raya ne leur échappe; mais ils ne demandent jamais deux fois le haratch au même individu.- Le taux du haratch varie suivant la richesse: (à Salonique) 1600 individus paient 11 piastres; 2500, 6 piastres; et 2000, 2 piastres 3/4." (Beaujour, Tab. du commerce de la Grèce, t.i, p.51.) "If a Christian or a Jew asks the mufti by a fetwa, how much tribute he is to pay yearly? he will be told, that according to the law of the koran, he is to pay but thirteen drachms of pure silver. But if, relying upon this, he refuses to comply with the other impositions laid upon him, he will immediately be seized, and the same mufti will justify by a fetwa the punishment which will be inflicted on him for his disobedience to the sultan's commands." (Cantemir, p.366, note 19.)
18 If the total produce of this tax could be accurately ascertained, it would still form but an unsteady basis, on which to found our calculations as to the number of the tributary subjects of the Turkish empire: for with respect to many districts, the contributions which are levied upon the rayahs and paid into the sultan's exchequer are invariably the same, whatever be the state of population, and are at this day equal in amount to what they were when they were first established on the conquest of the country. The price of each certificate consequently varies in proportion to the number of the tributary inhabitants of a district: accordingly we 19 find, on comparing the rate of the haratch in the island of Cyprus with that in the most fertile parts of Thessaly (which two places exhibit the extremes of population in Turkey), that while individuals in Cyprus are taxed twelve piastres, the rayahs of Thessaly pay only two piastres and a half per head. This, however, is not the case in the capital: the rayahs there have been denominated free and happy, when their condition has been compared with that of the tributary subjects who are placed at a greater distance from the centre of this vast monarchy. The payment of the legal taxes is indeed enforced with no less rigour than in the remotest provinces, but the more immediate presence of the sovereign protects the rayahs from extortions practised in the name, and under the authority, of government. The amount of the capitation tax is therefore levied on the inhabitants of the metropolis in its due and legal proportions, and being carried to account in the public registers conformably with the certificates issued, must represent with tolerable precision the state of the rayah population within the circuit or jurisdiction of the capital; and if it do not enable us to ascertain the number of the inhabitants, may at 20 least assist us in forming a judgment on the accuracy of results from other calculations. Now it has been asserted in a late publication, that the total population of the city of Constantinople does not amount to three hundred thousand souls, and this conclusion is said to be drawn from calculations founded on the a annual consumption of corn and cattle, the number of deaths within the city and the extent of ground which it occupies. But the same author asserts, that he has ascertained the receipts of the haratch in Constantinople and its environs to be two thousand nine hundred and sixteen purses, or about a million and a half of piastres; therefore, on taking six piastres as the medium contribution, and one rayah in four as subject to this tax, we shall find, that the number of tributary inhabitants alone, which is confessedly inferior to that of the Mahometans, amounts nearly to a million of souls. Again if we compare the result of the receipts of the haratch for Romelia and Anatolia with the total population of the empire, according to the statements of both as given by the same author, we shall be scarcely less astonished at the difference. The total of the revenues arising from the haratch is 21 asserted to be about twenty millions of piastres, which, according to the proportion before established, should correspond with a population of between thirteen and fourteen millions: but what a vast disagreement between this conclusion, which respects the rayahs alone, and the total population of the Ottoman empire, as estimated by the same author! "If we take it for granted," he says, "that there were fifty millions of people on the continent two centuries ago" (which indeed must be considered as the maximum of the population of Turkey when in its most flourishing state), "that the births are to the burials as twelve to ten, or that one in thirty-six die every year in the common course of mortality, or that the number of births to the living are as one to twenty-six, twenty-seven, or twenty-eight, or any calculation more favourable to the increase of population, we shall still find the mortality occasioned by the plague, taken on an average, would reduce these fifty millions to little more than ten at this day15." But the 22 progress of depopulation, in countries so productive and so favourably situated as are those which compose the Ottoman empire, is infinitely over-rated in this calculation. The errors of government, to which even the existence of the plague is to be attributed, are combated and extenuated by the vigorous fecundity of nature: under the most faulty and depraved system of administration, a genial climate and a luxuriant soil animate the human race to bear up against tyranny and oppression; and in spite of all the excesses of arbitrary power, the intolerance of fanaticism, and the madness of superstition, the bounties of nature, diffused over the smiling vallies of Europe and of Asia, continue to encourage industry, to alleviate toil; and to charm, almost into the forgetfulness of misery, an inexhaustible succession of native inhabitants.
15See Survey of the Turkish empire, p.41, 45, 272, 279, 280, 283. I find, in Rigaud's généalogie du grand Turc, &c. p.46, the following notice of the rayah population in the Turkish empire in the fifteenth century. "On fit le compte au temps du Sulthan Baiazie, on trouuoit qu'il auoit sous son empire vn million cent et dix mille Chrestiens, payans tribut, sans les autres Chrestiens qui sont ses vassaulx, qui sont petits et ne sont point encores en aage de payer tribut."monopoly,
The public treasury is also augmented by the produce of monopolies, as in the instance 23 of bread-corn, which the grand signor receives from the provinces, at a very low rate, and sells out in retail to the bakers, at such prices as he thinks proper to fix.
The general evils of vicious administration are augmented by the limitations which are imposed by government, not only on the exportation of native produce necessary for the support of life, but on its free circulation through the different parts of the Turkish empire: and no regulation is more injudicious than the arbitrary fixation of the price and other conditions of sale between the dealer and the purchaser. The corn-trade at Constantinople is under the inspection of the istambol effendi, a magistrate of the order of ulema, to whom are confided the ordinary government and civil jurisdiction of the metropolis: his naïb presides in the office called un capan, which is situated on the shore of the harbour between the Seraglio point and the Fanal. All ships loaded with grain, whether from the Black Sea or the Archipelago, discharge their cargoes at this wharf. The naïb keeps a register of the quantity delivered, and after fixing the price to the merchant, distributes the corn to the bakers in such quantities and on such terms as he judges 24 proper. Private monopolies are not tolerated; and indeed the primary motive of government in subjecting the corn trade to such pernicious regulations, was to prevent the evils arising from forestalling the necessary articles of human subsistence. No individual is therefore permitted to lay up corn in his magazines in order to resell it with greater profit, and there are not even any granaries or warehouses in Constantinople properly constructed for such speculations16. Among the many inconveniences of this system may be reckoned, the long detention of merchant vessels to the great detriment of their cargoes, the violent measures which are occasionally employed to compel the bakers to receive a larger quantify of corn then the sheds, which serve them instead of warehouses, are fitted to preserve from 25 injury, and the inevitable consequence of unwholesome bread being sometimes distributed to the public; not to mention the losses sustained, in the frequent fires which desolate the capital of the empire, from the destruction of great quantities of corn thus exposed in wooden buildings. Since the treaty of Kainargik, which opened the Black Sea to the commerce of foreign nations, vessels which have taken in cargoes from the Russian ports, or have loaded the produce of Hungary brought down the Danube, are allowed the free passage of the Bosphorus and the Hellespont, in order to convey their merchandize to the sea-ports of the Mediterranean, if it be not found advantageous to dispose of the cargoes to the miri at Constantinople. This privilege of treating with the miri, instead of being forced to submit to terms calculated only with a view to the convenience or benefit of government, is so important that I have known ships, which had surreptitiously loaded wheat, the produce of the Turkish provinces, sail to the Russian port of Odessa, and subject themselves to the delays and expenses of performing quarantine, paying the harbour fees and custom- house duties, for no other 26 purpose than to obtain a certificate of their cargo being the produce of Russia, and thereby rescuing it from the vexations and extortion of the officers of the Turkish miri.
16"Les Turcs sont aussi extrémement circonspects sur la vente des bleds. Il est défendi sur peine de la vie d'en transporter hors du pays, n'y même d'en vendre dans les maisons particulières, et pour empêcher que cela ne puisse arriver on met des gardes dans le marché public, qui n'en laissent point emporter à moins qu'on n'ait un billet du naïb ou lieutenant de police, qui ne permet jamais un achat de plus de quatre muids à la fois; et si un paysan étoit convaincu d'avoir vendu son bled à un Chrétien, il n'en seroit pas quitte pour cinq cens coups de bâton." (Dumont, Nouveau voyage au Levant, p.165. A la Haye, 1694.)
The provinces which are the most fertile in grain, such as Volo, Salonica, Rhodosto, Cara Aghatz, Varna, &c. are obliged to furnish to the officers of the grand signor quantity of wheat, equal to about the twelfth part of the produce of their harvests. This contribution is called istira: the officers commissioned to collect the emperor's dues (who are usually the capigi bashis, or chamberlains of his court) are called istiragi, or mubaïagi which signifies purchaser on public account. The istiragi, on receiving the corn from the proprietor, pays him a the rate of twenty paras for every killo (a measure containing about sixty pounds weight). The total quantity of corn thus purchased for the supply of the capital amounts to about a million of killoes annually. It is sent by sea to Constantinople and lodged in public granaries situated on the north side of the harbour near the arsenal. As this stock is considered to be a resource against times of scarcity, it is not distributed till it begins to be damaged, unless when it 27 can be sold with considerable benefit. Indeed, as the ordinary price of wheat is three or four piastres the killo, the advantage to government, after making ample allowance for the freight and charges, cannot, under any circumstances, be estimated at less than two or three millions of piastres17. The istiragi also derives considerable profit from his office: for though he is reimbursed by government only according to the same rate which he pays for the corn, so that he does not benefit by the price, he gains considerably by the measure, which is always heaped up when he receives the corn, and scanty when he delivers it into the sultan's granaries. He is besides authorized to receive, for his own account, and at the same rate as government, a quantity of wheat equal to the tenth part of the public istira; this he immediately resells at two piastres the killo, and consequently obtains a clear profit of three hundred per cent. These may be considered as the legal profits of his office; but, besides extorting money from the proprietors by harassing them with arbitrary exactions, 28 and forcing them to carry the amount of their contribution to the seaport at their own cost, the istiragi, in contempt of the duties of his office, generally sells a tenth or a fifteenth part of the public corn, for which he substitutes an equal quantity of barley, rye, or even chaff; and he frequently deteriorates the remaining corn by swelling it with sea water, or the vapour of boiling vinegar, in order to conceal his fraud. These and similar malversations are generally connived at by the superintending magistrates of the department; and they must be carried to a glaring excess indeed, before they bring down any punishment on the offender.
17Olivier (v.i, p.233) estimates the produce of this monopoly at ten thousand purses, or five millions of piastres.
Though punishment may remove a faithless steward, it by no means insures the fidelity of his successor; the excess of peculation is even resorted to as a precedent; the same nefarious practices are continued, and hence, as is generally observed in Constantinople, the corn served out by government is inferior in its quality and condition to that purchased from private merchants18.
18See Tableau Général, t.iv, p.220. Tab. du commerce de la Grèce, t.i, p.111.
The Turks, in imposing on the provinces 29 contribution of corn for the supply of the capital, did but adopt a custom which had received the sanction of both the Eastern end Western emperors. Africa poured out her rich harvests as an homage to her conquerors, and Constantine imposed on the industrious husbandmen of Egypt an annual tribute of corn, which served only to nourish a spirit of faction and licentiousness in the indolent populace of his new capital19.
19See Gibbon, v.iii, p.27.
The imposition of the istira is not in all cases to be considered as a peculiar hardship on the provinces liable to this contribution. The territory in Macedonia ceded by Murad the Second to his general Gazi Ghavrinos, as freed from every other tax or contribution, except that of the istira, and is transmitted to the descendants of this illustrious family with the same franchises. The Ghavrinos have so well supported the reputation of their great ancestor that, to this day, one of their family is commonly appointed istiragi of the district of Salonica, which comprises the territory situated chiefly between the Vardar and the Strymon.
I have instanced only the contribution of bread-corn; but the Turkish government 30 purchases in like manner, from several of the provinces, other necessary articles of consumption. In the spring of every year a company of purchasers, composed of Turks and Greeks, arrive in the two provinces of Wallachia and Moldavia, with firmans from the porte, and buy up, in the most vexatious and oppressive manner, five or six hundred thousand sheep, for the use of the corps of janizaries and the households of the sultan and his principal officers; others, under the name of capanli, authorized by letters of the grand vizir, purchase butter, cheese, wax, tallow, and smoked provisions, at their own price. In these two provinces, the fat of upwards of eighty thousand oxen, sheep and goats is melted down every year, to supply the capital with tallow. The wretched inhabitants are also forbidden to export their corn from any other ports than Galatz and Ibraïl on the Danube, where the Turkish merchants (chiefly the Lazes of Trebizond, a race of men infamous for their cruelty and injustice) make their purchases with less regard to honesty and good faith than even the agents of government20.
20See Osservazioni storiche, naturali, e politiche, intorno Ia Valachia, e Moldavia. Napoli, 1788. p.120-123.mines,
31 The produce of mines is carried to the public treasury, or partially assigned, as in the instance of the copper mines of Diarbekir, to the use of the imperial establishments, the arsenals and founderies, at Constantinople. It is certain, that several of the chains of mountains, which bound or intersect the Turkish provinces, contain mines, not only of the useful, but of the precious, metals. The torrents which fall from the Transilvanian Alps, or Carpathian mountains, are impregnated with particles of different metals: the chinganehs, a race of gypsies who are very numerous in the principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia, collect, from the beds of the rivers, pellets of gold mixed with a small quantity of silver, by means of which they are enabled to pay into the prince's treasury the annual tribute of a drachm of gold imposed on each man. The ignorance of the people in the art of working mines with economy is perhaps one cause of the neglect with which the Ottomans appear to treat this source of wealth; but the chief obstacle to exploration is the rapacity of government, which would seize upon the advantages of any new discovery, and subject the provincialists to the unrecompensed 32 labour of opening the mines, and extracting the ore21.
21De Tott (v.ii, p.104) imputes to this cause the neglect of the gold mines of Tchadir dagh in the Crimea, which at that time acknowledged the sovereignty of the porte. "In molti siti (dei Monte Carpazzi) vi soni tutti gl'indizi di minerali; molte acque sono impregnate di particelli di diversi metalli; in tutti i fiumi si trovano pagliette d'oro mescolato con un poco d'argento, che sono raccolte dai zingari, essendo obbligato ogni uomo di costoro di portarne una dramma l'anno al tesoro del principe. Ultimamente nell'angolo della Moldavia che ora appartiene all' Imperatore" (cioè la Buccovina ceduta dalla Porta Ottomana alla casa d'Austria Panno 1776) "si sono poste in valore delle miniere di ferro." (Osservazioni storiche, naturali, e politiche intorno la Valachia, e Moldavia, p.109) For an account of the gold mines at Crenidæ in Macedonia, see Diodor. l.xvi, c.9, Justin, l.viii, c.3, or Gillies's History of ancient Greece, v.iv, p.34.escheats and forfeitures,
It has already been observed, that the patronage of the whole empire annually reverts to the crown, and that all posts of dignity or emolument are conferred anew at the festival of baïram, according to purchase or favour: the advantages arising from this immense sale of offices cannot however be considered as a revenue to the state, since both the purchase-money and the fees on new appointments are distributed without passing through the public treasury22. In 33 like manner, the profits arising from the escheats and forfeitures of the lands held by the zaïms and timatiots are but indirectly advantageous to government, for though they relieve the state in some degree from the expense of paying its officers, they cannot be considered as a branch of revenue23. Confiscations, however, belong of right to the miri, or public treasury, as, with the exception of the janizaries and the ulema, every Mussulman subject, exercising an employment 34 of what nature soever under government, virtually stipulates, that the sovereign shall inherit the whole of his property at his death. The ulema may bequeath their property to their natural descendants. The company in which a janizary is enrolled inherits his effects. The coffer of each company is placed under the protection of the captain, lieutenant, commissary, and ensign: the monies thus collected are considered as a public fund, and are employed for the relief of the sick and aged, the ransom of captives, the purchase of tents, harness, and such implements as the service requires.
22De Tott says (v.i, p.83), that the grand signor stipulated, that his share of the profits, arising from the appointment of Bishop Calinico to the patriarchate of Constantinople, should be paid to himself in new sequins, and that he afterwards divided them with his niece. But some better authority than De Tott's seems requisite for giving credit to the secret history of the seraglio.
23Dr. Dallaway (p.37) says, that "the officers of state have neither salary nor pension."-Mr. Eton (Schedule, No.2) even subjects the vizir and other ministers to the annual payment of 1800 purses for their offices. Cantemir (p.147) asserts, from his own knowledge, that the defterdar effendi receives 200,000 imperials, and pays 50,000 to the officer of his department immediately under him, kietchuda bey. But the grand vizir, he says, may justly get every year six hundred thousand imperials, exclusively of presents. Rycaut (p.57) instances a reïs effendi, who was executed for some conspiracy against the grand vizir, and left so great a treasure arising from the emoluments of his office (all of which was confiscated to the grand signor) that it would have been sufficient to enrich and raise his prince, had he been impoverished, and in a declining condition. -See also Tab. Gén. t.ii, p.539).
This law of confiscation, which is so repugnant to the usages of other nations that it appears more like the outrage of tyranny than the calm proceeding of regular government, is not, however, different from those which prevailed in Europe when fiefs were not hereditary24. In Turkey no one questions the justice of it. Those who accept of office tacitly acknowledge the right of the sovereign to dispose of their places, their property, and their lives. The greatest part of 35 of the wealth of the nation must consequently pass through the coffers of government in the course of a single generation; and though the receipts of each year taken separately may vary considerably, yet the amount of a certain number of years must be uniform, and may be calculated with tolerable precision in estimating the revenues of the Turkish exchequer25.
24See Voltaire, essai sur les mœurs, chap.xciii, t.xvii, p.451.
25Marsigli (whose account of the revenues of the Ottoman empire, t.i, p.52,55, is very confused and inaccurate) says, that the wealth of pashas, on their decease of deposition, passes into the coffer destined to supply the private wants of the sultan, which is under the care of the haznadar bashi, or sultan's private treasurer, a black eunuch of the seraglio. I have ventured to contradict him from my own experience, as I have observed in many instances, that property lapsing to government by confiscation or inheritance is always seized upon in the name of the miri.
In all cases, whether of confiscation or inheritance, the property of the wife or the widow is considered as belonging to her exclusively, and is not transferred to the public use. A Mussulman, holding no administrative nor military appointment under government, is allowed to dispose of his possessions by will: if he has children or relations he is compelled by the law to leave two thirds of his property to them; but if he has no heirs, 36 he may then dispose, to whom and in such manner as he pleases, of the whole of his personal property, and of such part of his real property, as is termed mulk, or free, in opposition to vacuf, or that which is mortgaged to religious uses. On the death of any person, who has left no will and whose legitimate heirs are unknown, the miri interferes, and holds the unclaimed property in behalf of the absent or unknown proprietors. There is, however, a want of precision, if not in the letter of the law, at least in the usual course of proceeding, especially in the concerns of the rayahs; for I have known the property of Armenian subjects forcibly taken from them during their lifetime, and disposed of to other persons, or seized upon at their death to the exclusion of the widow and orphans26.
26The instances to which I more particularly allude, are those of a rich Armenian banker of the name of Sakka Oglu, whose widow was stripped of all her husband's property because he had left no children. Another Armenian banker named Rafaël Murat, with whom I was acquainted, lost his house in the fire at Pera in 1799. An Italian physician of the name of Ruini, knowing, that Murat, because of great losses which he had sustained, could not immediately rebuild his house, asked a grant of the ground from Tchelebi Effendi, whose family he attended, and built a house upon it for himself, in contempt of common honesty, and in spite of the reclamations of the injured rayah.coinage,
37 The mint is under the direction of the zarpkana eimini, who farms the bullion at rate of delivering a certain number of purses daily into the treasury: it is consequently a profit to the state. The alteration and debasement of the coin were long since resorted to as a branch of revenue by the Ottoman sultans. I learned from a Polish merchant at Lemberg in Galicia, that the Turkish coin which he received from Moldavia as remittance in the year 1797, contained only fifteen thirty-second parts of pure silver; and it has been since further adulterated every year27.
27Dr. Wittman (Travels, p.37,367) says, that the silver coin of Constantinople contains thirty hundredth parts of pure silver, and that of Caire only twenty-five.-At the time when Theodorus Spanduginus wrote his account of Turkey (soon after the year 1500), 8 pieces of the copper coin called mangur were equal in value to a silver asper: 4 aspers to 1 drachm: 9 drachms or 36 aspers to a German thaler: the sultania (a gold coin containing 45 aspers) was equal in weight and in fineness to the Venetian sequin.-When Leunclavius wrote his Pandects, the prices of things, he says, had increased so much, in consequence of the burthens of the Persian war and other causes, that after the lapse of forty of fifty years, 1 asper was exchanged for 24 mangurs; 5 aspers made 1 drachm; 12 drachms a German thaler; one thaler and an half, a Venetian sequin or 90 aspers. So that 1 drachm of 5 aspers was equal to 6 kreutzers; 10 drachms or 50 aspers to 1 florin; 12 drachms or 60 aspers to 1 thaler; and very soon after the thaler rose even to 80 aspers. (See Leunclavius's treatise "de variis monetis" in Elzevir's collection, p.178. See also another, and different, estimation of the Turkish coins, in p.228, by Lazarus Soranzus.)-Marsigli (in his chapter delle monete d'oro, d'argento, e di rame, che si battono d'entro l'impèro Ottomanno, t.i, p.45) says, that mangurs and ghediks are the only copper money in use: the silver coin consists of aspers, paras, beshliks, onliks, and solottas (or piastres): the sherifs (or ducats) are of gold. The following table will show their relative value: 4 mangurs make 1 asper, 3 aspers 1 para, (beshlik expresses five, and onlik ten aspers) 80 aspers 1 solotta, 270 aspers an Hungarian ducat.-The money at present in use in the Turkish empire is divided into paras, and gurush (or piastres) which consist of forty paras. The coin bears no other impression than that of the titles of the reigning sultan, the date of the year of the Hegira, and the name of the city where it was struck. According to the present rates fifteen piastres per pound sterling may be considered as the par of exchange.
38 The Ottoman government is not sufficiently enlightened to perceive the inconvenience and injury which commerce sustains by such continual fluctuation in the value of the common standard. When the vizir Kioprili held the reins of government, he was advised by certain Christians to coin mangurs of an inferior intrinsic value to those at that time in currency, and to give them a higher value in circulation, ordering, that two mangurs should be received for an asper. By these means he relieved the state from its temporary embarrassments, but introduced 39 at the same time so much confusion among the dealings of the people that the populace and military of Constantinople were forced into insurrection28. The treasury derived a further profit from establishing two different rates for receiving, and issuing, payments. In the payment of tribute from the provinces the rix dollar was passed only at eighty aspers, but was reckoned at a hundred and twenty aspers in all disbursements of the public money. The profit to the state was, however, momentary and illusory; but ministers amassed wealth, and the subjects were ruined.
28"Me presente," says Marsigli, from whose work (t.i, p.46) I have extracted the passage.tribute.
The tribute paid by the princes, or vaivodas, of Wallachia and Moldavia may be considered as a substitute for the territorial impost, the haratch and all other taxes: it is annually paid into the miri or public treasury. The tribute is, however, but a small part of the contributions exacted from both principalities. The yearly purchase of the confirmation of the princes authority, the presents at baïram to the sultan and the officers of the porte, and the expenses of maintaining agents to counteract the schemes 40 of their rivals, and maintain their influence with the ministry and the courtiers, absorb the greatest part of the revenues29. The tribute originally stipulated to be paid by the principality of Moldavia, which voluntarily submitted itself to the sultans, was four thousand crowns; but the great disparity between the contracting parties, and the want of a guarantee to the treaty, consequently left the Moldavians at the mercy of a master. The tribute in the year 1770 was only sixty-five thousand piastres, while the presents which accompanied it exceeded half a million. Wallachia was reduced by the arms of the Ottomans: its subjection is not, however, more galling than that of Moldavia: the tribute in the year 1782 amounted to three hundred thousand piastres, and together with the indirect expenses and the charges of administration, bore nearly the same proportion to the total expenditure of the principality, as those of Moldavia30. The little republic of Ragusa, a 41 town in Dalmatia, anciently called Epidaurus, foresaw the greatness of the Ottoman power while yet in its infancy, and sent ambassadors to Sultan Orkhan desiring to become his tributaries, and to receive his powerful protection. It has flourished for centuries under the protection of the porte: for the treaty has been religiously observed by the Turks. It pays a annual tribute of twelve thousand five hundred sequins in token of submission, which has never been augmented, nor have the privileges and immunities granted them, been infringed31.
29"Vallachorum, Moldarumque principes-tributa pendunt, pecuniaque comparatas dignitates pecunia tueri coguntur, unde maximis semper conflictantur curis, ne artibus iisdem a se feliciter in antecessores expertis, a provincia extrudantur, et nova onera subire vel ob calumnias perire compellantur." Montalban. ap. Elzevir. p.21.)
30See Cantemir, p.186,187,188. Prince Cantemir governed Moldavia, and therefore must have written this part of his history with a perfect knowledge of the subject: he feelingly says, "that though at present there are paid into the imperial treasury sixty thousand crowns by way of tribute, and twenty-four thousand as an Easter offering, many more are exacted by these insatiable blood-suckers. For as there is no law against avarice, so there is no end of the Turkish demands and extortions. All depends on the will of the prime vizir, and to make any remonstrance against his pleasure is deemed capital."-See also Osservazioni storiche, naturali, e politiche, intorno la Valachia, e Moldavia, p.185, 199.-Rycaut, Present state of the Ottoman empire, chap.xiv.-Marsigli (t.i, p.55) says, that the tributes of Wallachia and Moldavia are not mentioned in the canon nameh because they are chiefly designed as perquisites of office to the vizir. He estimates the part which is paid into the treasury at 820 purses.
An important branch of revenue, which it 42 is however difficult to calculate with precision, is a tax upon certain provinces which is levied in kind. The object of it, so far as regards the public, is to provide materials for keeping up the navy; besides furnishing stores and provisions necessary for the service of the sultan's household. The benefit which the treasury derives from this source has been estimated at two thousand purses; but when it is considered, that almost all the materials necessary for the arsenal are procured by contributions of this nature from the provinces, and that the dock-yards and store-rooms are so abundantly provided as to excite the admiration of strangers, it is evident, that the means of keeping on foot a navy, consisting of fifteen ships of the line and as many frigates, are by no means overrated by Marsigli at a million of piastres32.
32The district called Kogia, situated on the gulf of Ismit in the Propontis, sends 21,000 pieces of timber. Smyrna, Salonica, and the Asiatic provinces on the Black Sea, 12,050 kintals of hemp (each kintal weighing 120 pounds). Cairo 1000 kintals of tow, 100 jars of lintseed oil, 2000 pieces of sail-cloth, and 40 kintals of sewing twine. Athens 1500 ells of sail-cloth. Samakoff (on the Black Sea) 1895 kintals of bar iron. Salonica 2000 ells of woollen cloth (which was formerly used in making awnings for the gallies). Karaboghaz, Boli, and Isnic, 2430 oars for the gallies, and 5200 kintals of boxwood. Sultania and Osar 500 kintals of tar, &c. (See Marsigli, t.i, p.52,56,150; t.ii, p.179.) "Je parcourus successivement la salle des coupes, située dans le jour le plus favorable pour les desseins en grand qu'on y exécute; je pus me convaincre de l'état des chantiers qui étoient parfaitement approvisionnés, aussi bien que les magazins de la marine. On s'étonne comment la Porte, sans plan de finances, avec des revenus que les révoltes des pachas rendent incertains, fait face à ses dépenses, sans former d'emprunt." (Pouqueville, Voyages en Morée, &c. t.ii, p.210.)Expenditure of the public treasure.
43 The treasure thus collected, over which the defterdar effendi presides, is called beïthul-mali musliminn, or the public money of the Mussulmans, no part of which the emperor himself can expend without the most urgent necessity, or apply to his own private use without danger33. The law is so strict in this respect that it is not even permitted to the sultan to appropriate to pious uses any part of the money consecrated to the necessities 44 of the state. It is for this reason, that the imperial mosques are founded chiefly by sultans who have obtained victories and made conquests, and who are therefore presumed to devote the spoils of war, gained from enemies of their religion, to the service of public worship, the instruction of youth, and the relief of the poor. This is invariably the case with respect to all the imperial mosques built within the walls of Constantinople. The sultans, who, not having merited the surname of gazi, or conquerour, are yet desirous of perpetuating their memory by founding a mosque from the savings of their household expenses, usually build it in Scutari on the opposite coast of Asia, or in some other city in the neighbourhood of the imperial residence.
33It has been asked, in what manner this separation is kept up, and how a prince so absolute as the grand signor is prevented from viewing the whole treasure as hazné? The answer is obvious; for as the sums issued from the miriare for the pay of the soldiery and the public and present occasions of the empire (see Rycaut, chap.ix), the sultan dares not misapply them; or when he does so, the people always murmur, and sometimes openly rebel. (See Cantemir, p. 170, note 53.) Mignot (Hist. Ottom. t.ii, p. 396) relates, that Mustafa the First was accused of having dissipated the public treasures, and was deposed after a reign of three months. "La crainte d'être déposé est un plus grand frein pour les empereurs turcs que toutes les lois de l'alcoran." (Voltaire, t.xvii, p.453.)
The disbursements of the miri chiefly relate to the military stipends of the capiculy and their dependencies, the salaries and maintenance of the officers and workmen of the arsenal, and the purchase of such materials or stores as are necessary for the building, repairing, or equipment of vessels, which the country does not furnish, nor the skill of the inhabitants enable them to manufacture. The tershana eimini, or steward of the 45 arsenal, has the care of providing all necessaries for the navy, and superintends the receipts and expenditures, as the tophana nazeri regulates all the expenses of the ordinance. The miri also provides for the fortifying or keeping in repair the walls and buildings necessary for fhe defence of the capital, besides a variety of current expenses34.
34Mr. Griffiths has copied "from the estimable labours of his friend Mr. Eton" thirteen quarto pages on the subject of the Turkish finances. Such undistinguishing commendation, as it gives no additional importance to those labours, does not deter me from observing, that his schedule of the annual expenditure is equally liable to objection with that of the revenues. "The expenditure of the miri," he says (p.40), "embraces a variety of objects, viz. the expenses of the army and navy, in war as well as peace; the pay of all officers, civil and military; the erecting and repairing of fortifications, of public edifices, high roads, bridges, &c. together with a great part of the expenses of the sultan's household, and several other extraordinary disbursements." I avoid as superfluous the pointing out with how many restrictions each of these assertions is to be received; and I shall only observe, that, in the more detailed account of the annual expenditure of the miri (p.48), there appears to me the insertion of a wilful error:- the pay of the garrison at Viddin is put down at 1250 purses, that of all the other fortresses in the Ottoman empire 18,000, besides the pay of those who guard the Danube 3521.- But why is Viddin, a fortress on the Danube, thus distinguished from all the other fortresses in the Ottoman empire? Viddin is not a frontier garrison of singular importance in the ordinary state of affairs in Turkey; but Viddin, at the time when Mr. Eton published his work, was noised in Europe because of the rebellion of Passwan Oglu.Sultan's revenues, fixed and casual.
46 The treasure called ich hazné, which is devoted to the private use of the sultan, is administered by the officers of his household. The imperial domains, hass humaïun, furnish the fixed part of this revenue, and it has other eventual sources of augmentation. The sultan condescends to accept presents from his servants on certain festivals, or on occasion of great solemnities, such as the birth or circumcision of a son35. On the nomination to great offices he receives, under the name of peshkesh or gift, a pecuniary homage, proportioned to the dignity conferred. It is a common opinion, that the sultan's revenues are so ample as to enable him, after providing for all the expenses of the court and household, to lay aside a considerable sum of money every year; and we are even told by respectable authors, that "after the death 47 of every sultan, the treasure so amassed is inclosed in a certain chamber shut with an iron gate, the key-hole of which is stopped with lead, and over the gate is written in letters of gold, the treasure of such a sultan." I am unwilling to believe the assertion, though unable to contradict it on the authority of more correct information obtained by my own inquiries36. This however may safely 48 be credited, that there can never be a deficiency in the sultan's treasury, nor can it ever be found inadequate to the purposes of its establishment, so long as it is carefully guarded from dilapidation on the part of the administrators, and the state continues free from public commotions, which alone can prevent the collection, and retard the remittance, of the revenues. Its riches are not to be estimated by the amount of its receipts in specie. The purveyances which are exacted from the provinces comprehend every article of provision, sufficient for the numerous train of attendants attached to the court. Egypt sends an ample contribution of rice, sugar, coffee, drugs, and spices, from the produce of its own fields, or the commerce of Arabia and India. The mastic produced in Scio, which is so considerable as to give its name sakis to the island, is reserved for the use of the seraglio and the harem, with the exception of that part only which is 49 allowed to the Turkish collectors and officers. It may be asserted, that the supplies from the provinces are such that nothing which the empire produces is ever bought with money for the service of the seraglio.
35"Il est d'usage d'envoyer, en ces occasions, des lettres circulaires aux paschas, aux gouverneurs, aux intendana, aux magistrats de toutes les provinces et de toutes les grandes villes de l'empire. Par ces lettres, le sultan leur fait part de la cérémonie et les invite à s'y trouver. Ils y assistent en effet par des substituts qui, ce jour-là, les représentent à la cour, et font en leurnom de riches présens au jeune prince, en signe d'hommage et de servitude."(Tab. Gé. t.ii, p.289.) Cantemir (p.281) estimates the presents, sent to the emperors on the circumcision of their sons, as equal to half the yearly tribute of the empire.
36See Rycaut, Present state of the Ottoman empire, p.57.- I may indeed appeal to the respectable authority of the Venetian ambassador, who, in his memoir to the senate, when speaking on the subject of the sultan's treasure, says, in opposition to the vulgar report of their being an annual saving of two millions of sequins. "Quæ res parum credibilis mihi visa est, quia rex ille in toto suo imperio nullas habet aurifodinas, et ab ejus ministris repugnantia intellexi." (De urbe Constant. et imp. Turc. relatio incerti apud Honorium, in Turc. imp. statu, ap. Elzevir. p.128.) It would appear, from the credulity with which the most improbable stories are received by the most sensible men, that a longer residence in a country than a traveller usually allows himself, is necessary to familiarize him with foreign customs, so as even to enable him to draw pure information from the best sources. Lord Sandwich, the posthumous publication of whose voyage round the Mediterranean is honourable to his memory, and ranks him in the first class of travellers in Turkey, has notwithstanding admitted, without hesitation, an account of the sultan's private property, which surpasses belief. "To conceive," says his Lordship, "the almost incredible value of this immense treasure, it will be necessary to figure to oneself the vast riches of the whole series of the Greek emperors, which, together with their capital, fell into the hands of Sultan Mahomet; as also the wealth of the many conquered provinces, annexed to the Turkish empire, besides all the magnificent presents, that have, for these many ages, been made by different sovereigns, who have been desirous of paying their court to the chiefs of this powerful monarchy; which, being daily increased by the continual forfeitures of the pashas and vizirs, must undoubtedly constitute a treasure of an inestimable value." (Voyage round the Mediterranean, in the years 1738 and 1739, p.175.)
The establishment of the female branches of the imperial family is, in a great degree, imposed upon the vizirs or pashas who are honoured by an alliance with their master. The mother of the sultan supports her dignity by an appanage adequate to her rank. The administration of it is confided to an officer of importance in the state, under the name of validé kiahyasi (steward to the empress dowager). Her revenues are called pashmaklik (sandal money), and consist of streets in the metropolis or provincial cities, of towns, villages, and islands, throughout the whole empire. All the taxes and dues of the domains thus set apart for the maintenance of the sultanas are annually rented to the best bidder among private purchasers. In these districts the pasha of the province exercises no authority, except so far as regards the general police; since the revenues belong exclusively to the sultanas, and are collected by the farmers, who are generally the vaivodas or magistrates. The inhabitants 50 are not however exempt from taxation in case of extraordinary impositions, or war-taxes levied by order of government.Nizami djedid.
Attempts have been made, since the establishment of the nizami djedid by the imposition of an excise tax, to improve the vast financial resources of the empire. This tax was created in order to produce a fund for the support of the great addition to the standing military force; a plan which has been first carried into execution by the present sultan. But whether from the want of clear views on the subject, or from the general aversion of the Turks to innovation, much disgust has been excited, and even insurrection. The scheme, however, is not yet abandoned, although it has by no means acquired solidity; but the standing army of the sultan, which is slowly improving in discipline, can alone give vigour to the system37.
37According to the regulations of the nizami djedid, every head of lesser cattle is taxed a para, an ox pays a piastre, wine two paras the oke (a quantity equal to two pounds and three quarters English), raki, or brandy, four paras the oke: and in like proportion the excise law extends to every object of stock and production.
Text Archive Home | Book Details | Table of Contents