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Forms and institutions of justice

Some comments on the role of the Ottoman “Eyalet divanı” in the classical period

Nil Tekgül

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I would like to thank Özer Ergenç for reading earlier drafts, helping me to understand the primary documents used in this paper and also for his valuable comments on the subject.

  • 1 In this paper, the Ottoman “classical period” refers to the period covering the legal practices imp (...)

1This paper examines the role of the Ottoman Eyalet Divanı (provincial assembly), which was the highest executive body on a provincial level in the classical period.1 It will investigate the necessity of such a body, and as such will also include an overview of the Ottoman provincial administration system and the various practices implemented in this regard. Additionally, the paper will take a new look at the scope of the authorities of judicial and military/administrative officials on the provincial level, which is crucial in understanding the functioning of the Eyalet Divans.

  • 2 I would like to mention some of the valuable research on the subject. Ahmet Mumcu, (1976). Divan-ı (...)

2Our knowledge of the Eyalet Divanı is rather limited as compared to the Divan-ı Hümayun (Imperial Council). Previous research on its organizational structure, functions and procedures has been quite insufficient.2 Thus far, interpretations of the Ottoman Eyalet Divanı have not gone much beyond merely mentioning them as “a small-scale model of the Divan-ı Hümayun. The main reason for this is that most of the documents produced by the Eyalet Divanı have not survived. However, we are able to trace copies of the Vali Buyruldus (gubernatorial decrees) recorded in the local court registers of various provinces.

3Although the Eyalet Divanı does resemble the Divan-ı Hümayun on a provincial basis, it is important to answer the question of why, and especially in which cases there was a need for such an actor in the sphere of justice as an arbitrator or an executive power.

  • 3 James E. Baldwin, (2012). “Petitioning the Sultan in Ottoman Egypt”, Bulletin of the School of Orie (...)

4Some Ottoman historians have a tendency to depict the members of the örfiyye (military/administrative) class as the enforcers of kanun (sultanic law), neglecting the main judicial principle that any implementation of law should be based on the kadı’s adjudication. As a misapprehension resulting from this tendency, they hold that kanun was implemented by members of the örfiyye class, whereas Islamic law was implemented by the kadıs. However, I believe that, rather than focusing on a highly debatable and all too neat division between sultanic and Islamic law3, an attempt to specify the differing scope of the authorities of members of the military/administrative and judicial classes will enable us to better understand the judicial and administrative structure of the Ottoman Empire.

  • 4 The term “highest court of justice” does not refer in this paper to a court functioning as a suprem (...)
  • 5 The subaşı was a patrolling officer appointed by the sancakbey.

5I claim that the role of the Eyalet Divanı was threefold. Firstly, it acted as the highest administrative body on a provincial level. Secondly, it functioned as the highest court of justice4 on a provincial level, especially in cases where the local kadıs or such members of the örfiyye class as subaşıs5 were either incapable of assuming their responsibilities or the setting did not allow for a fair adjudication by the kadı. Thirdly, it acted as a body ensuring coordination. I will substantiate my claims with examples presented from kadı court records.

6This paper consists of two parts. The first part will examine the Ottoman Eyalet Divanı’s organizational structure, members, meeting places, and the type of documents it produced. The second part will examine the three functions mentioned above within the context of the Ottoman provincial administration practices implemented.

The Organizational Structure of the Eyalet Divanı

7Let us first briefly refresh our knowledge on the Divan-ı Hümayun, since the Eyalet Divanı is considered to be a smaller scale model of this imperial body. The Divan-ı Hümayun, which effectively belonged to the sultan, originated from pre-Ottoman Middle Eastern administrative bodies called divans (assemblies).6 The Ottomans, however, combined those multiple divans into one, while also centralizing their governing practices. In other words, in their monarchy that exercised absolute governing authority, the Ottomans combined all the powers of the sultan into one body, the Divan-ı Hümayun, which assumed multiple functions.

8Members of the Divan-ı Hümayun were the vezirs (viziers) from the örfiyye class, representing the military and executive power of the sultan; the müftis (jurisconsults) and kadıaskers (chief judges) from the şer’iyye (religious/judicial) class, representing the sultan’s judicial authority; the nişancı (chancellor) and the defterdar (treasurer), representing the government’s bureaucratic and financial branches, who were members of the kalemiyye (scribal) class. The members of all three classes, örfiyye, şer’iyye and kalemiyye, were named as askeri. Although askeri literally means “of the military”, the term however broadly encompassed all members of the three classes of the imperial administration. The Divan-ı Hümayun had a sophisticated and advanced record-keeping system, which enabled historians to gain a good understanding of its institutionalized procedures.

9Just as the members of the Divan-ı Hümayun were the highest representatives of their particular classes, the members of the Eyalet Divanı were also the highest representatives of the three classes on a provincial level, headed by the vali (governor) of the province. They constituted an extension of absolute centralized authority, with each particular divan usually being denoted by the name of its province; e.g., Dîvân-ı Haleb, Dîvân-ı Karaman, and so on.

  • 7 The Ottoman memalik-i mahruse (protected domains) was divided into both military/administrative uni (...)

10The members of the Eyalet Divanı were as follows: the vali of the province, who was also called the “mutasarrıf of the Paşa sancak”; the central kadı of the province, who was also the kadı of the central kaza; the eyalet defterdarı (provincial treasurer); and the eyalet tımar defterdarı, who was responsible for recording the province’s dirliks (a plot of land whose tax collection was granted to a member of the military class in the Ottoman timar system). 7

  • 8 M. Ursinus, in the introduction to his book Grievance Administration (şikayet) in an Ottoman Provin (...)
  • 9 Konya ŞS No:58, p. 184. “.....mevali-i izamdan akda u kudati’l- müslimin Mevlaa Mehmed Aziz –zidet (...)

11The Eyalet Divanı would meet in the home of the Eyalet Valisi, which was located in the capital of the province.8 Until the 18th century, a government officer’s private home was also used for his official duties. Therefore, we do not know for sure whether there was a special state-owned public place used by the valis, such as a konak (mansion) or a palace. However, there is a document dating to AH 1178 (1764 CE), the full text of which can be found in Appendix I, which confirms that there was a public building in Konya, the center of Karaman province, which was used by the vali and called Beylerbeyi Sarayı and Paşa Sarayı.9

  • 10 Michael Ursinus, op. cit.
  • 11 Mehmet Doğan, (2011). “Osmanlı Tımar Sisteminde Tevcih Prosedürü”, Çankırı Karatekin Üniversitesi S (...)

12We do not know whether the members of the Eyalet Divanı met regularly or not. The main reason for this is that only a limited number of documents produced by them have survived, as mentioned above. Most probably, there were also separate registers kept in the Eyalet Divanı, which were similar to the mühimme defterleri (registers of important affairs) kept in the Divan-ı Hümayun. However, none of these have survived, excepting the one that was published by M. Ursinus.10 However, we can trace some of the correspondence of the valis, copies of which were recorded in local court registers. These letters demonstrate that one of the main functions of the Eyalet Divanı was to administer and ensure the implementation of the Ottoman timar system. The timar defterdarı and officers under his command were responsible for determining vacant dirliks in the province, relocating the vacancies, or expanding the dirliks with terakkis (additions). For all such transactions, documents called tımar tezkeresi were issued with the signature of the Eyalet Vali and sent to the imperial council.11

  • 12 Antakya ŞS,no:4/105.

13The Eyalet Vali, as the head of the Eyalet Divanı, would issue a buyruldu (order) on his own regarding either imperial orders, which were to be relayed to the appropriate officials, or any administrative issue. This decree was called “beyaz üzerine buyruldu”. An example of such a buyruldu issued upon receipt of an imperial decree and sent to the appropriate officials to inform them of the contents of the decree is given in Appendix II.12

  • 13 Antakya ŞC, No:4/106.

14The Eyalet Valis would also issue a decree upon their receipt of arzuhals (grievances) from any of the reaya (producers/tax-paying subjects) who had the right to claim their rights from the Eyalet Divanı. If the subject matter demanded that the grievance be sent to related authorities, the order of the vali would be written at the top of the grievance. This document was called “arzuhal üzerine buyruldı”, an example of which is given in Appendix III. 13

  • 14 A mektub was also called takrir or i’lam.
  • 15 Hülya Taş, op. cit., p. 1002.
  • 16 Konya ŞC, No:41.

15In some cases, if an official had written a mektub (letter)14 directly to the vali regarding a certain matter, then the order of the vali would be written on top of that letter. In this case, it was called “mektub/takrir/i‘lâm üzerine buyuruldı”.15 An example of such a document, which followed the same procedures as the “arzuhâl üzerine buyuruldı”, is given in Appendix IV.16

Functions and the Role of the Eyalet Divanı


  • 17 Antakya ŞS. No:4/105.

16A copy of an imperial decree dated AH 1162 (1748 CE) and recorded in the Antakya court registers,17 which was sent to the governor of Aleppo, explicitly shows the main administrative function of the Eyalet Divanı. The full text is given in Appendix II, which has already been mentioned above as an example of a “beyaz üzerine buyruldu”.

  • 18 umur-dide”.
  • 19 kar-güzar”.
  • 20 “.....zabt ve rabt-ı memleket ve himayet ve siyanet-i raiyyet....”.

17The imperial decree concerns İsmail Pasha, the governor of Aleppo, who has been reconfirmed in his post by the sultan due to his successes. The sultan’s justification for this decision is indicated as being the governor’s experience18 and his qualifications to govern19. The sultan then continues to state that the main duty of a governor should be to govern the province and keep it in order, while at the same time protecting the reaya (producers/tax-paying subjects).20

18Upon his receipt of this imperial decree regarding his reconfirmation as governor, İsmail Pasha issued his own buyruldu to all the kadıs, naibs (assistant judges), vakıf mütevellis (trustees of endowments), voyvodas (agents of the governor in the smallest unit of administration), köy şeyhleri (village religious leaders), and köy ihtiyarları (village notables) within the province of Aleppo. The copy of the imperial decree is also included beneath his own buyruldu. The addressees of his buyruldu are all the officials from the örfiyye and şer’iyye classes, as well as the leading members of society within the province of Aleppo. The way he phrases his order resembles the phrasing of the sultanic decree. Moreover, it is emphasized that the order was written in the Divan-ı Haleb (Assembly of Aleppo). Just as in the Divan-ı Hümayun, decisions were made regarding administrative issues, and solutions were sought and/or finalized in the Eyalet Divanı. In this respect, the divan was the highest administrative body on the provincial level.


19Anyone from the reaya or askeri classes had the right to submit their grievances to the Eyalet Divanı and claim their rights. The Eyalet Valisi, acting as the official bearing the highest executive power, had to finalize such claims. Finalizing or seeking solutions to such claims may be considered as a part of the Eyalet Divanı’s judicial authority.

  • 21 Pls. refer to James E. Baldwin, op. cit. for the procedures followed by Divan-ı Hümayun in response (...)
  • 22 Hülya Taş, op. cit., p. 1001.

20The Eyalet Valisi would pursue two courses of action upon receipt of a grievance, as was also the case with the Dîvân-ı Hümâyûn.21 The first course of action would be to refer the grievance to the local kadı and request both the kadı and a member of the local örfiyye class attend to the issue and solve the judicial problem. If the Eyalet Divanı found the case extremely important, it would then redirect the issue to the local kadı through his mübaşir (appointed agent), a member of the örfiyye class, and authorize him to supervise the proceedings. The second course of action would be to call both parties to the provincial center and initiate a hearing. In such a case, the Eyalet Divanı would function as a court and provide a judicial decision. In these instances, the one who would finalize the case according to both shari’a’ and kanun would be the central kadı, who was also a member of the Eyalet Divanı, while the vali would be the one to execute the kadı’s decision.22

  • 23 Antakya ŞC, No:4/106.
  • 24 icra-yı hakk”.
  • 25 mahallinde mürafaa’-i şer’”.

21One example of this has already been mentioned as an example of the type of document produced as an “arzuhal üzerine buyruldu”, given in Appendix III.23 In this grievance petition, İsmail, Emine, and Mehmed claim that a man named Şeyh Abdurrahman killed their father. They request that Şeyh Abdurrahman be brought to the Eyalet Divanı of Aleppo with the help of an appointed agent (mübaşir) of the governor and put on trial. They demand that the rightful party be determined.24 The governor of Aleppo, upon his receipt of this grievance, issues an order addressed to Antakya’s kadı and voyvoda, the latter a member of the örfiyye class, demanding first that the hearing should take place and be finalized in the local court25. He then goes on to order that, if the hearing could not take place in the local court, the parties should be sent to the Divan-ı Haleb for trial.

22Regarding the question of why there was a need for the Eyalet Divanı, that fact that it also acted as the highest court of justice on a provincial level in cases where either the members of the örfiyye class or the kadıs were “incapable” of assuming their duties, or when the setting required for a just trial could not be achieved, could be stated as a reason. Below, I provide some examples of such cases in order to substantiate this claim.

  • 26 Konya ŞC No:58/194.

23The Eyalet Divanı functioned as a higher judicial body in cases where the members of the military/administrative class or religious/judicial officials were accused of corruption or any illegal practice. One of the documents that I have selected concerns a grievance sent to the Divan-ı Sivas (Assembly of Sivas) regarding the kadı and müfti of the sancak of İskilip, the full text of which is given in Appendix V. 26 The copy of the imperial decree mentions that Abdülkerim, the kadı of the kaza of İskilip, and Ali, the müfti, in collaboration with a man named Patrona Hüseyin notorious for his illegal activities, were reported for their misconduct and oppression. The community of the kaza of İskilip had previously and repeatedly claimed that the officials in question should be sent elsewhere. Then, Hüseyin Pasha, the acting governor of Sivas, dealt with the problem, taking them into custody and ascertaining their wrongdoings. He then redirected the case to the Imperial Council and demanded that the wrongdoers be exiled to Konya.

  • 27 Konya ŞS. No:58/192.
  • 28 “.......(valinin) huzurunda kendüden dava-yı hakk ve tayin-i madde iden hasımlarıyla kemal-i hakkan (...)

24The second case concerns a previous mütesellim, the deputy of a governor and a member of the military/administrative class, for the sancak of İçil, who was accused of oppressing the members of the community; the full text of this is given in Appendix VI. 27 We understand from this imperial decree that the community of Anamur had previously referred to the governor of Karaman, claiming that this Mir Ali had oppressed the people of Anamur. They demanded from the governor that Mir Ali be brought to the provincial assembly of Konya to stand trial and judged in the presence of the central kadı, as per kanun and Islamic law. Having doubts that Mir Ali could be tried fairly in the local court of Anamur, as he was a member of the military/administrative class, community members approached the Eyalet Divanı. The phrases used in the document explicitly demonstrate the Eyalet Divanı’s judicial power. It is being ordered in the imperial decree that the trial should be carried out according to Islamic law with strict objectivity in the presence of the governor. Additionally, if the plaintiff’s claim is duly confirmed, it is ordered to give the plaintiff his due.28

  • 29 Adana ŞS. no:14/62.
  • 30 “........ Divan-ı Vali’de ma’kud meclis-i şer’de katiü’l-medlul şeref-sudur bulan emr-i cihan-muta’ (...)

25A record dated to AH 1143 (1730 CE) from Adana court register is another example demonstrating the judicial power of the Eyalet Divanı.29 This one is about a dispute between the reaya and the military-administrative officials like yeniçeri, kapıkulu sipahis, seyyids who were also cultivating land. Regarding the tax payments (avarız rüsumu) demanded by the Central Treasury, the officials claimed that they were exempt from taxes due to their status as members of the military class. Since one of the parties in the dispute is from the military-administrative class, it is stated in the hüccet (deed) issued and given to litigants that the case should be handled by “the court of Eyalet Divanı” within the presence of the governor, and once the court gives its decision, it has been ordered that its adjudication should be regarded a binding rule (düsturü’l-amel) for such similar cases and for succeeding years’ tax payments. 30

Distinct Scopes of Authorities and Coordination Function

  • 31 Özer Ergenç, op. cit., p.  83. In the organizational structure of provinces, “kaza”s were under the (...)

26Ottoman provincial administration was based on a fragile balance between örfiyye and judicial class officials to better govern tax-producing operations.31 The two officials, Bey and Kadı, were posts that directly reported to the central bureaucracy, and were independent from each other while also complementing one another. The Bey could not take action without the judicial sentence of the kadı, while the kadı did not have the right to put his own sentence into action. This fragile balance between the two was the essential principle of the Ottoman justice. Their respective scopes of authority also both overlapped and complemented each other.

  • 32 Özer Ergenç, op. cit., pp.  68-69. Within this balanced relation, military/administrative officials (...)

27All the sancaks and the kazas were both units of administration and also units of tax collection.32 Besides the fragile balance between the military/administrative and judicial officials, there were also certain implementations of the Ottoman provincial administrative system that could limit the scope of authority of both the local kadıs and military officials. Below, some examples are given to support the claim that, in such cases, the Eyalet Divanı was an administrative body meant to ensure “coordination” within the province.

28The following is an example of a sub-practice implemented to restrict the scope of authority of both the sancakbeyis and the kadıs.

  • 33 Halil İnalcık, (1965). Adaletnameler, Belgeler II:3-4, p.  81. URL: (...)
  • 34 Özer Ergenç, op. cit., p. 184. Konya ŞC.II/p. 8, “evkaf-ı selatin min külli minelvücuh serbest olub (...)

29Within the boundaries of a sancak, there were certain dirliks, which were administrative units that the sancakbeys could not interfere with; these were called serbest (free). These “serbest dirliks” were defined as follows: “… Padişah hasları, vezir beylerbeyi, sancakbeyi, mal defterdarı, defter kethüdası, timar defterdarı, mir-i alem, has ve zeametleri, icmal defterinde zeamet olarak kayıtlı bütün icmalli zeametler, alaybeylerinin, dizdarların, çeri sürücülerinin, divan katiplerinin, müteferrika ve çavuşların tımarları serbest dirliklerdir.33 Ergenç adds to this definition of “serbest” by referring to Konya ŞC.II/p.8, where it is stated that the Selatin waqfs were also considered serbest, thus restraining any intervention by Beylerbeyis, sancakbeys, or subaşıs.34

  • 35 Özer Ergenç, op. cit., pp.   129-130

30The most evident example of serbest dirlik practice restricting the authority of sancakbeys can be seen in the Hüdavendigar Sancak. Some of the tax revenues of the sultan and his royal family (hass gelirleri) were located in Bursa, which was in the sancak of Hüdavendigar. The reaya of these sultanic lands, however, were governed by “Hassa Harc Eminleri”, instead of by the sancakbeys of Hüdavendigar Sancak. In other words, such hass or sultanic lands had the status of serbest dirlik, with the sancakbeyi having no right to interfere with the reaya residing on this land.35 The scope of authority of the sancakbey of Hüdavendigar Sancak, who was entitled to govern the reaya located in his sancak, was thus restricted in this sense.

  • 36 Konya ŞC, No:41/263.

31Many examples of “serbest dirlik” practices can be given. The state would adapt to the changing conditions of a period by establishing a newly specified scope of authority. In one such case, dating from AH 1118 (1706 CE) and found in the Konya court register, some of the reaya of the sultan’s lands, padişah hassı, moved from their lands to Karaman. Despite moving, they still had to pay the taxes due based on where they originally resided according to law. They were therefore considered as a special group separate from the other residents of Karaman, and any intervention with this group of reaya by members of the local örfiyye class in Karaman province was prohibited. This is an example of “serbest dirlik” practice, and the full text is given in Appendix VII.36

  • 37 Bor ŞS. No:2.

32The next example concerns a dispute between an owner of a moderate-sized timar, zeamet, and the mültezims (tax farmers) of a malikane mukataa in Niğde. Since the malikane mukataas were considered as “serbest”, intervention by any other members of the örfiyye class with the villages located within the scope of authority of the malikane mukataa was prohibited. The case was first tried in the Eyalet Divanı and then resolved in the Divan-ı Hümayun.37 The full text of the record is given in Appendix VIII.

  • 38 İlhan Şahin, (2006). Osmanlı Döneminde Konar-Göçerler, Istanbul, Eren.

33The scope of authority of a state official could be defined as being over either a specified piece of land or a specified group of people. From the empire’s early years, there were both “toprak kadı”s and “yörük kadı”s. The “toprak kadı” had authority over a specific piece of land, whereas the “yörük kadı” had authority over a specified community, called a cemaat.38 Yörük cemaats did not reside in a specified place, but rather moved from one place to another according to their way of life. For unresolved disputes between the reaya of a sancak on the route of yörüks and the reaya of yörük cemaats, the Eyalet Divanı acted as a higher judicial and executive body.


34In this paper I tried to analyze the role of the Eyalet Divan by giving examples from the copies of documents produced by this institutional body recorded in court registers. These records show that the Eyalet Divanı functioned as the highest executive power on a provincial level and it was also an actor in Ottoman judicial sphere especially in cases where either the members of örfiyye or the kadıs were incapable of assuming their duties, or cases where the settings required for a just trial could not be achieved.

35The role of the Eyalet Divanı has also been examined within the context of a model which intended to expand the authority of the Sultan throughout the Ottoman realm for an effective government of his subjects. The Sultan in this model delegated his authority due to technological constraints of his time to his officials collectively classified as askeri who were members of the örfiyye, şer’iyye and kalemiyye classes. He granted örfiyye members for example the right to collect taxes from the reaya and demanded for the services to be furnished to the reaya in return. Those örfiyye officials, like the kadıs as members of the şer’iyye class were not paid by the Central Treasury. The issuance fees of judicial documents constituted the only income generating revenue of the kadıs in this sense. The officials were thereby different from the officials of the centralized state-nations of modernity, who are paid by the Central Treasury. Although it was a model functional and effective in a time when taxes were being collected in kind, it also embodied some risks. The practice of distinct scopes of authorities remained as a tool both to ensure the enforcement of the Sultan’s rules and to reduce the risk of losing his power by means of delegation. And Eyalet Divans acted as the highest executive and judicial body on a provincial level, resolving the disputes emerging from this the practice of distinct scopes of authorities of delegated officials and ensuring coordination between them.


Appendix I.

Konya ŞS No:58, pp.184.

….. Aladağ kazası ahalisinin müfti-i sabık El-Hac Mehmed Efendi ve oğlu Es-Seyyid Ahmed dimekle ma’ruf kimesneler ile olan davaların Divan-ı Karaman’a istima’olunmak üzere sen ki vezir-i müşarünleyhsin sana ve ba-işaret-i Şeyhü’l-islami mevla tayin olunan mevali-i izamdan akda u kudati’l- müslimin Mevlaa Mehmed Aziz –zidet fezailihi- ye hitaben şerefviz-i sudur olan emr-i şerifeme imtisalen Konya’da valilere mahsus sarayda akdolunan meclis-i şer’-i nebevide , kaza-i mezbur ahalileri müfti-i sabık merkum Hacı Mehmed ve oğlu Es-Seyyid Ahmed ile nice eyyam tevafu’-ı şer’ ve üzerlerine bi-hasbi’ş-şer’ sabit hukuk-ı ibad eshabına ved ve telimi iktiza eylediğini natık ve mezburan fi-ma-bad umur-ı kazaya karışmayub ayanlık iddiası ile kaza-i mezburu ihtilale virmeyüb kendü halleriyle mukayyed ve sükkan-ı memleket emir olmak ve erbab-ı tımarın dahi a’şarlarına müdahele itmemek üzere ta’ahhüt ve şurut-ı kuyudu havi Mevla-ı mümaileyhin imzasıyla mümezza ve hatmi ile maktum bir kıt’a hüccet-i şer’iye ve iki kıt’a ilam ve bir kıt’a defter der-aliyyeme tesyir olunduğun Mevlay-ı mümaileyh başka bir kıt’a ilamında tahrir ve sen ki vezir-i müşarünileyhsin sen dahi iki kıt’a mektub ve bir kıt’a kaimende tastir ve tasdik itmekle iki kıt’a ilam ve hüccet-i şer’iyye ve defter ve tahriratın mantukları ber-vech-i tafsil be husus içün sadır olan emr-i alişanım kaydı balasına şerh ve evrak-ı mezbure Divan-ı Hümayunüm kaleminde mahfuz ve fi-ma-bad hilaf-ı taahhüd ve mugayir-I hüccet-i şer’iyye hareketden mücanebet olunur madde-i mezbure içün bundan sonra aher tarafından niza’ olunmamak ve bundan böyle nizam-ı mezbur mer’i ve mu’teber tutulmak içün i’lam-ı hali meş’ur ferman-ı alişanım sadır olmuşdur. Buyurdum ki, hükm-i şerifemle vusul buldukda bu babda sadır olan emr-i şerifim mucebince zikr olunan iki kıt’a i’lam ve hüccet-i şer’iyye ve defter ve tahriratın mantukları ber vech-i tafsil bu husus içün sadır olan emr-i alişanım kaydı balasına şerh ve evrak-ı mezbure Divan-ı Hümayunum kaleminde hıfz olunmağla fi-ma-bad mezburan hilaf-ı taahhüd ve mugayir-i hüccet-i şer’iyye hareketden mücanebet ve madde-i mezbure içün bundan sonra aher tarafından niza’ olunmayub, ve bundan böyle nizam-ı mezbur mer’i ve muteber tutulub, mazmun-ı emr-i şerifemle amil olasız…..

Appendix II

Antakya ŞS. No:4. pp. 105/1

Related imperial decree (ferman)

Düstur-i mükerrem mü’şir-i mufahham nizamü’l ‘âlem müdebbiru umuri’l ehem bi’l-fikri’s-sâkıb mütemmimu mehâmü’l-enâm bi’r-re’yi’s-sâib müşeyyidü’d- devlet-i ve’ş-ikbâl müşeyyidu erkâni’s-saadeti ve’l-iclâl el mahfufu bi’s-sunûf-ı avâtıfi’l meliki’l-a’lâ hâlâ Halebü’ş-şehbâ valisi vezîrim İsmail Paşa-ademallahu teala iclâlehu- tevkî’-i refî’-i Hümâyûn vâsıl olıcak malum ola ki; sen ki vezir-i müşarünşeyhsin sen vüzerâ-i izamımın yarâr ve nâmdâr ve vükelâ-i mehamımın umur-dide ve kârgüzârı olub, her vechile müstehak-ı inayet ve şayeste-i inayet olduğun eclden hakkında mezîd inayet-i aliyye-i şahanem ve mezîd ref’et-i seniyye-i padişahanem zuhura getirilib işbu 1162 senesi mah-ı şevvali’l-mükerremninin 16. gününden avâtıf-ı aliyye-i mülûkanem ve avârıf-ı behiyye-i şehinşâhânemden şeref-yâfte-i sudûr olan hatt-ı Hümayûn-ı şevket-makrûnum mucebince hâlâ üzerinde olan Haleb Eyaleti sana ibkâ ve mukarrer kılınmağla kemâkân sen mutasarrıf olman emrim olmuşdur. Buyurdum ki; hatt-ı Hümayûn-ı şevket-makrunumla sâdır olan fermanu celili’l-kadrimle ibkâ ve mukarrer kılındığı üzere kemakân Eyalet-i Haleb’e sen mutasarrıf olub zabt ve rabt-ı memleket ve himayet ve siyanet-i raiyyet babında ve sair fermanım olan hidemat-ı aliyyemin eda ve temşiyyet ve tekmîlinde bezl-i iktidâr ve sa’y-ı bî-şumâr ve fukara-i raiyyet ve sübkan-ı vilayet ve kuttân-ı memleket zîr-i cenâh-ı ref’et ve şefkat-i mahmî ve mer’î olmalarına kemal-i dikkat ve hilâfından begayet ihtirâz ve mücânebet eyleyesin. Şöyle bilesin alamet-i şerife i’timat kılasın. tahriren fi’l-yevmi’s-sâdis aşer min şevvali’l-mükerrem sene ısneyn ve sittîn ve mie ve elf.

Bi-makam-ı Kostantiniyyeti’l mahruse

Antakya ŞS. No:4. pp. 105/2

(beyaz üzerine buyruldu)

Haleb nevahisinde bulunan kudât ve nüvvâb efendiler-zîde fazlihum- ve kıdvetü’l-emasil ve’l-akran mütevellîler ve voyvoda ağalar-zîde kadirhum- ve kura şeyleri ve ihtiyarları şer’le veche’l-umûm inhâ olunur ki; taht-ı kaza ve nahiyelerinizde mevcud Haremeyn-i Şerifeyn reayasından mâ’ada hayme-nişîn olan reayadan ber vech-i mu’tad tahsîli lazım gelen kışlâkiyye akçesinin tahsili içün darende-i buyruldu baş bölükbaşımız kıdvetü’l-emasil ve’l-akran Hasan Ağa-zide kadrihu- ta’yîn ve irsâl olunmağın mal-i mezkûr edasında bir ferde tallül ve muhalefet ittirilmeyüb ve ba’zı cadde-i itaatde olmayıb şekâvet üzere olan haramzadeleri teftîş ve ele getirüb şekâvetlerin izâlesi içün ol makûleleri haber virüb ketm ve ihfâ eylemekden ihtirâz eylemeniz babında Divan-ı Haleb’den işbu buyruldu tahrîr ve isdâr olunmuşdur. İnşallahü teala vusûlünde gerekdir ki vech-i meşrûh üzere taht-ı kazâ ve nevâhilerinizde bulunan haymegâhlardan resm-i kışlakları edasında bir ferde taallül ve muhalefet ittirilmeyüb ol makûle haramzadelerin teftîş ve tefahhus ve ele getürülmeleri emrinde ihtimâm ve ihbâr ve ketm ve ihfâ eylemekden ziyade ihtirâz idüb muceb-i buyruldu ile amel ve hilafiyle vaz’ ve hareketden tehaşi ve mücânebet olunmak babında buyuruldu. fi 5 zilkâde 1162

Appendix III

Antakya ŞC, No:4. pp.106


Devletlü inayetlü merhametlü Sultanım hazretleri sağ olsun;

Arz-ı hal-i kulları budur ki; bu kulları Antakya kazasında karye-i Cidaliye sükkanından olub ve yine karye-i mezbur sakinlerinden Şeyh Abdurrahman nam kimesne kendi pederimizi bi-gayr-i hakk katl ve gadr-i kulli itmeleriyle, merahim-i aliyyelerinden mercudur ki; mübaşir kulları tayin buyurullub bu yetim kullarına merhameten merkumu divan-ı aliyyelerine ihzar ve şer’an lazım gelen haklarımızı icra-i hakk buyurulmak babında emr-i ferman devletlü inayetlü merhametlü Sultanım hazretlerinindir. bende İsmail, bende Emine, bende Mehmed


Şeriat-meab Antakya kadısı efendi -zide fazlihu- ve voyvoda Ağa -zide kadrihu- tayin olunan mübaşir marifetiyle ashab-ı arzuhali hasımlarıyla mahallinde mürafaa’-i şer’ olunub, ihkak-ı hakk olmaz ise Divan-ı Haleb’e ihzar ve icra-i hakk olunmak üzere firar ve gaybet ittirülmemek deyu 8 zilkâde 1162

Appendix IV

Konya ŞC, No:41

İzzetlü, faziletlü biraderim efendi hazretleri huzûr-ı şeriflerine selamdan sonra mizâc-ı şerifiniz sual olunur. Hemişe selamet üzere olasız. Bundan akdem Aydın tarafında ifraz reayaları üzerlerinde olan mal-i miri cem’ ve tahsili içün ağalarımızdan olan Ali Ağa irsal olunmuş idi. İmdi, varub, iki kise akçe tahsil ve Konya’ya getürüb, mührü ile izn-i şer’le bezzazistana emanet vaz’ itmekle memhur mektubu tahrir olunub haliya hazine üzerinde olan Es-seyyid Hüseyin Ağa’ya verilmiştir. İnşallahü teala hazinemiz ol tarafa vardıkda meblağ-ı mezburu bezzazistandan getirdüb, huzurunuzda Hüseyin Ağa’ya teslim idüb, asitane-i saadete götürsünler. Avk ve tehir buyurmayasız. Ve mektubunuz eksik eylemeyesiz memnun oluruz. Baki hemişe numûd ve saadet-daimbad.

Muhib-i muhlis Abdülgaffar Mirmiran-ı Adana hala.

vusile fi gurre-i şevval sene 1110

Appendix V

Konya ŞC No:58 s.194

……(elkab’dan sonra) Çorum sancağında vaki’ İskilip kazası kadısı Ankaravi Abdülkerim ve müftisi Ali nam kimesneler tama’-ı hamlarından naşi birbirleriyle ittifak ve İskilip sükkanından hakkında bi’d-def’at evamir-i aliyyem sadır olan mütegallibe ve cebâbirreden Patrona Hüseyin dimekle ma’ruf yaramaza mu’in olub, hatta bu defa İskilipb hassı voyvodası El-Hac Osman ve ayandan El-Hac İbrahim nam kimesnelerin mezkur Hüseyin’den Divan-ı Sivas’a şikayet kağıtları varid ve sadır olan evamir-i aliyye muceblerince husemâsıyla mürafaa-i şer’ içün Divan’ı Sivas’dan tayin olunan mübaşir merkum Hüseyin’in ihzarını murad eyledikde merkumanın ianet ve müzaheretleriyle mümanaat ve kadı-ı merkum cüheladan olmağla mübaşir-i mezbur için cevabire-i mezkurun ve tarafgirleri olan erazil ve eşhasın yedlerine dem-i heder müraselesini virüb muharebeye tasaddi olunmuşken mezkur Hüseyin bir tarikle ahz ve Divan-ı Sivas’a ihzar olundukda kadı ve müfti-i mezkuran kaza-i mezburun birkaç nefer eşirresini yanlarına alub asitane-i aliyyem tarafına firar eylediklerini ahali-i kaza Divan-ı Sivas’a irsal eyledikleri mahzarların müşarünileyh tarafından Der-i aliyyeme irsal ve mazmunları merkuman kadı ve müfti diyar-ı ahere nefy ve icla olunmadıkça ahali-i memleket emin ve rahat olmayacaklarını mübeyyin olduğına binaen iltimas-ı ahaliye müsa’ade olunmak lazıme-i halden olduğunu hala Sivas valisi Düstur-ı mükerrem, müşir-i mufahham, nizamü’l-alem Vezirim Feyzullah Paşa –ademallahuteala iclalehu- mektubu ile tahrir ve inha ve kadı ve müfti-i mezburanın belde-i Konya’ya nefy ve icla olunmaları içün emr-i şerifim sudurunu a’lemü’l-ulemai’l-mütebahhirin, efdalü’l- fuzelai’l- müteverrihin bi’l-fiil Şeyhü’l-islam ve müftii’l-enam Mevlana Dürrizade Mustafa –ademallahu teala fezailehu- işaret etmeleriyle işaretleri mucebince nefy ve icla olunmaları fermanım olmağın, imdi, bulundukları mahalde Divan-ı hümayunum çavuşlarından kıdvetü’l– emasil ve’l- akran Hacı Ali Çavuş –zide kadrihu- mübaşir tayin ve kadı ve müfti-i merkumanı ahz ve belde-i Konya’ya nefy ve irsal ve sen ki mevlana-ı mümaileyhsin vusullerinde mezkurları menfien Konya’da meks ve ikamet itdirüb, bila-emr-i şerif bir hatve haric mahalle tecavüzlerine bir dürlü izin ve ruhsat göstermekden be-gayet hazer ve mücanebet eylemek babında ferman-ı alişanım sadır olmuşdur.......(sonuç protokolü)tarih: evail-i muharremü’l-haram sene semane ve seb’in ve mie ve elf. 1178 senesi muharrem başları

Bi-makam-ı İslambol el mahruse

Appendix VI

Konya ŞS. No:58/192

.….sen ki vezir-i müşarünileyhsin bu defa tarafından der-i aliyyeme varid olan kaimende ve bundan mukaddem ol tarafa evamir-i aliyyem ile mübaşir tayin olunan sabık Ağa-yı Selam-ı Sadr-ı Ali El-hac Ömer –zide mecdihu- nun kaimesinde, liva-i mezburda vaki’ Anamur sükkanından sabık mütesellimin olan Mir Ali öteden beru liva-i mezburun hanedanı olub tavr-ı hareketinden ferd-i vahid ar-zede olmuş değil iken bazı eshab-ı ağraz, mümaileyh Mir Ali içün nevahi-i Ermenek kazası sakinlerinden Cin Osman oğlu Piri nam kimesne ile müttefik Davudlar nam karyeyi basub, fukaranın emval ve eşya ve hayvanatını nahb u garet ve nicelerini der-zincir ve tecrim ve ehl-ü ayallerini fi’l-i şeni’ kasdı ile taarruz ve hetk-i ı’raz ve bunun emsali zulm ve teaddilerinin nihayeti yokdur deyu ba’d-el-inha Karaman Valisi marifeti ve Kapucubaşı marifeti ile mezkuran Mir Ali ve Piri Konya’ya ihzar ve Konya kadısı huzurunda müddeiler ile tevafu’-ı şer’ ve ihkak-ı hak olunmak babında ba-işaret-i Şeyhü’l-islami bundan akdem emr-i şerifim sadır olub lakin mümaileyh Mir Ali yirmi seneden berü İçil mutasarrıflarına hidmet ve senin dahi etba’ın menzilesinde olduğundan başka liva-i mezburede bundan gayri işe yarar istihdam olınacak olmayub ve müddeileri hala Karaman valisi düstur-ı mükerrem müşir-i mufahham vezirim Çelik Mehmed Paşa’ya müntesib ve davalarının Konya’ya ihalesi dahi müşarünileyhin sevk ve ianesiyle olduğu eclden mir-i mümaileyh havf ve huşniyyete teb’it ve Konya’ya gitmeyeceği zahir ve kendüsü ve ahali tarafından gelüb davaları mübaşirleri marifeti ile İçil’de ruyet olunmasını istirca eylediklerini tahrir ve inha ve madde-i mezburun huzurunda şer’le ruyet olunması fukara-ı raiyyeti hasaretden siyanet-i mucib idüğü haber verilmekle huzurunda mukaddema sadır olan emr-i ali mucebince kemal-i hakkaniyet üzere şer’le görülüb ihkak-ı hak olunmak fermanım olmağın, imdi, sen ki vezir-i müşarünileyhsin mukaddema sadır olan emr-i şerifim mucebince mümaileyh Mir Ali’yi huzurunda kendüden dava-yı hakk ve tayin-i madde iden hasımlarıyla kemal-i hakkaniyet üzere tevafu’-ı şer’ ve ba’de’s-sübut ber mukteza-ı şer’i mutahhar icra-ı şer’le ve ihkak-ı hak eyleyüb aher tarafına gadr ve himayeden ve iptal-i hakkı mucib vaz’ ve halatdan gaye’tü’l-gaye ictinab ve mücanebet eylemek babında ferman-ı alişanım sadır olmuşdur. Buyurdum ki, vusul buldukda bu babda vech-i meşruh üzere şeref-yafte-i sudur olan ferman-ıv acibü’l- ittiba ve lazımü’l- imtisalimin mazmun-ı itaat- makrunu ile amil olub, hilafından gayet’ül-gaye ihtiraz ve ictinab eyliyesiz….
tahriren fi evasıt-ı saferi’l-hayr sene semane ve seb’in ve mie ve elf/ safer ortaları 1178.

Appendix VII

Konya ŞC, No:41/263

............Karaman eyaletine mutasarrıf olan vezirim … paşa –ademallahü teala iclalihu- ve mefahirü’l-kudar ve’l hükkam madenü’l fazl ve’l kelam…….kadıları –zide fezailihum – tevki’i refi’i hümayün vasıl olacak malum ola ki; seyyidetü’l muhadderat eklileü’l muhassenat tacü’l-müstevvirat zatü’l-a’la ve’l-adât validem Sultan –damet ismetuha-nın bi’l-fiil kethüdalığı hidmetinde olan iftaharü’l emacid ve’l-ekarim el Hac Mehmed -dame mecdihu- Divan-ı Hümayün’üme arz-ı hal gönderib, Sultan-ı müşarünileyhin haslarından Zile hassı reayalarından bazıları, kadim yerlerinden kalkıb, Eyalet-i Karaman sancağında ……. kazalarında tavattun idüb, mal-i mirilerin hass-ı mezbur voyvodası cemm ve tahsil eylemek murad eyledikde, bazı kimesneler hass reayasının mal-i mirilerin verdirmeyüb ve iskan dahi ittürmesüz deyü teaddi eylediklerinden, mal-i miri tahsil olunmayıb, hass maline külli gadr eylediklerin bildirib, mezburlar hass reayasına çıkmayub, voyvodaların hass mali tahsiline mümanaat iderler ise vukuu üzere der-i devlet medarıma arz ve ilam olunmak babında emr-i şerifim verilmek ricasına ilam eylemeğin, mucebince kanun üzere amel olunmak babında ferman-ı alişanım sadır olmuştur. Buyurdum ki; hükm-i şerifimle vardıkda bu babda sadır olan ferman-ı celil-i kadrim üzere amel idüb dahi siz ki vezir-i müşarünileyh ve kadılarsız, hass-ı mezbur reayasının zikr olunan kazalarda bulundukları yerlerde üzerlerine lazım gelen mal-i mirilerin kanun ve defter mucebince hass-ı mezbur voyvodasına cemm ve tahsil ittirüb, mezburlardan bazıları ve aheri hass-ı mezbur reayasına ve has maline kat’a müdahale ve taarruz ittirmeyesüz. Şöyle ki yine mütenebbih olmayıb, hass reayasına sahib çıkıb, mal-i hassın tahsiline mümanaat ve müdahale iderler isevukuu ve sıhhati üzere yazıb der saadetime arz ve ilam idüb, müşarünilyhin hassı mahsulüne gadr ve zarar ittirmeyesüz. Şöyle bilesiz, alameti şerifem itimat kılasız……
tarih: 4 zilkade 1118

Appendix VIII

Bor ŞS. No:2.

Düstur-ı mükerrem müşir-i mufahham nizamü’l-‘alem müdebbir u umuri’l-cumhur bi’l-fikri’s-sakıb mütemmim ü mehami’l-enam bi’r-reyi’s-saib, mümeyyid ü bünyanid devlet-i ve’l ikbal müşeyyüd ü erkani’s-saadet-i ve’l iclal el mahfuf bi’s-sunuf-ı avatıfi’l-meliki’l-ala Kalaman Valisi vezirim Paşa –ademallahuteala – iclalihu ve kudvetü’l kudat ve’l-hükkam madenü’l fazl ve’l kelam Şüceaddin ve ….kadıları –zide fazlihuma- tevki’ refi’ hümayun vasıl olıcak malum ola ki; Kıdvetü’n-nüvvabi’l-müteşerriin Bor kazasınaibi Mevalana Es-seyyyid Süleyman –zide ilmihu- südde-i saadetime mektub gönderib, Niğde sancağında Şüceaddin nahiyesinde ber vech-i malikane Ovacık ve tevabi’ mukataasına ‘alemü’l-ulemai’l-mütebahhirin efdaü’l-füzelaü’l-müteverrihin hala Şeyhü’lislam ve müftii’l-enam olan Mevlana Mehmed Esad –ademallahuteala fezailihu-‘nun necil-i necib ve ferzendi mebileri kıdvetü’l-ulemai’l-muhakkikin Mevlana Mehmed Şerif –zide ilmihu- ile iştiraken mutasarrıf olan kıdvetü’l-emacid ve’l ayan Ahmed –zide mecdihu- Bor mahkemesine varıb, mutasarrıf oldukları mukataa-i mezbure aklamından Şücaeddin nahiyesinde 3092 akçe yazısu olan Ülgüt nam karye mukataa-i merkum mutasarrıfları tarafından ber muceb-i Hakani zabt ve aşar ve rüsumu kanun ve defter mucebince ahz ve kabz olunub, haricden dahl olunduğu yoğ iken, bu sene-i mübarekede Bor kasabası sakinlerinden olub, Konya sancağı züemasından Yusuf nam zaim zuhur ve mücerred fevaid ile zeamet beratıderununa 5000 akçe yazu ile Ülgüt karyesi tahrir olunmuş deyu iddia ve öşr ve resm talebiyle ziraatçileri rencideden hali olmamağla,merkum Yusuf ihzar ve tarafeynin senedatına nazar ve kadimden ne vech ile zabt olunageldiği ziraatçilerden sual ve sıhhati üzere der-i devlet-medara arz ve ilam olunmasını iltimas idüb, merkum Yusuf davet-i şer’ olunub varmadığına binaen hazır bi’l meclis ehl-i vukuf müsinn, ve ihtiyar ziraatçilerden ve Bor kazasına tabi’ Kinise Hisar karyesi sükkanından 22 nefer malumi’l-esami kimesnelerden husus-ı mezbur istihbar olundukda,karye-i mezbur ahalisi perişan olalı 60 seneden mütecaviz olub, arazisini babamız ve kendimiz zıraat ve hıraset ve aşar ve rüsumun mukataa-i merkum mutasarrıflarına eda idüb, zaim-i mezbur tarafından kat’a müdahale olunduğu yoktur deyu her birileri ‘alatariki’ş-şehade haber virmeleriyle ‘alamuceb-i ‘itibarihum mukataa-i merkum aklamından defter-i hakanide muhayyed Ülgüt karyesi olduğu zahir olmağla ber muceb-i defter-i hakani karye-i mezbure mukataa-i merkum tarafından zabt ve vaki’ olan mahsulat ve rüsumatı kanun ve defter mucebince ahz ve kabz ittirilüb zaim-i merkumu ve aheri hilaf-ı defter-i hakani dahl ve taarruz ittirilmemek babında,hükm-i hümayun verilmek ricasına bi’l-iltimas arz ve defterhane-i amiremde mahfuz defter-i icmal ve mufassala müracaat olundukda,Şüceaddin nahiyesine tabi’ iki mahallat ve 62 nefer reaya ile hasıl-gendüm ve şair ve gayrihi ve resm-i çift ve bennak ve cebelüden ma’a gayriha 3092 akçe yazusı olan Ülgüt nam karye defter-i mufassala muharrir kalemiyle tahrir ve defter-i icmalde yine nahiye-i mezbureye tabi’ Ovacık nam karye ve ma’a gayriha havas-ı hümayunumda oldığı mestur ve hazine-i amiremde mahfuz baş muhasebe defterlerine nazar olundukda mukataa-i hassa-ı Ovacık ve nevahiha 821 guruş mal ve 1020 guruş muaccele ile mümaileyhima Şerif Mehmed ve es-seyyid Ahmed’in ber vech-i malikane berat-ı şerifimle üzerlerine olunduğu mukayyed bulunmağın defter-i hakani ve beratları mucebince zabt ittirilmek emrim olmuşdur.Buyurdum ki; hükm-i şerifim vusul buldukda bu babda sadır olan emrim üzere amel ve dahi Şüceaddin nahiyesine tabi 3092 akçe yazusu olan salifü’z-zikr Ülgüt karyesi ber muceb-i defter-i hakani mümaileyhanın malikaneleri tarafından voyvodalarına zabt ve vaki olan mahsulatı defter ve kanun mucebince merkuma ahz ve kabz ittiresiz, bir dürlü dahl ve taarruz ittirmeyesüz ve dahl olunub şimdiye değin mümaileyhümanın taraflarına ait olan mahsul ve rüsumdan fuzuli nesnesi alınmış ise bade’s-subut hükm idüb, temamen tahsil ve alıverilüb, tallül ve muhalefet ittirmeyesiz. Min bad defter-i hakaniye ve emr-i hümayunuma muhalif kimesneye işittirmeyüb husus-ı mezbur için bir dahi emrim varmalı eylemeyesiz. Şöyle bilesiz alamet-i şerifem itimat kılasız. …


1 In this paper, the Ottoman “classical period” refers to the period covering the legal practices implemented up to the 19th century.

2 I would like to mention some of the valuable research on the subject. Ahmet Mumcu, (1976). Divan-ı Hümayun, Ankara, Phoenix, pp.   151-155, where he analyzes the organizational structure, judicial and administrative authorities, and documents produced by the provincial assemblies; Haim Gerber, (1994). State, Society and Law in Islam, Ottoman Law in Comparative Perspective, Albany, State University of New York Press; Özer Ergenç, (1995). XVI. Yüzyılda Ankara ve Konya, Ankara, Ankara Enstitüsü Vakfı; Boğaç Ergene, (2003). Local Court, Provincial Society and Justice in the Ottoman Empire. Legal Practice and Dispute Resolution in Çankırı and Kastamonu (1952-1744), Leiden, Brill; Işık Tamdoğan, (2008). “Sulh and the 18th Century Ottoman Courts of Üsküdar and Adana”, Islamic Law and Society 15, pp.   55-83. URL:; Michael Ursinus, (2003). Grievance administration, (şikâyet) in Ottoman province. The Kaymakam of Rumelia’s ‘Record Book of Complaints’ of 1781-1783, London, Routledge Curzon; Hülya Taş, (2007). “Osmanlı Diplomatikası ile İlgili bir Kitap Vesilesiyle”, Belleten LXXI:262, pp.   997-1027. URL:, where she performs a critical analysis of Ursinus’s assessments of Ottoman provincial administration.

3 James E. Baldwin, (2012). “Petitioning the Sultan in Ottoman Egypt”, Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 75:3, p. 501. URL: In his extensive article based on original petitions sent to imperial assembly, Baldwin analyzes the motivation behind issuing petitions regarding private disputes. While giving an overview of current literature on the subject, he finds the arguments relying on “...a neat division between kanun and sharia” not very convincing and sustainable.

4 The term “highest court of justice” does not refer in this paper to a court functioning as a supreme court of justice in its Western sense, which involves appellate courts reviewing the legal rationale of lower level court decisions. Local kadı courts were not positioned at a lower level than provincial assemblies, which had also judiciary power. On the contrary, the term “highest” is used in the sense that, in cases when either the dispute cannot be resolved in a local court or the scope of authorities of officials would overlap with one another, the provincial assembly acted as a supervisory body redressing justice.

5 The subaşı was a patrolling officer appointed by the sancakbey.

6 “Diwan”, EI2, p.  324-325. DOI: 10.1163/1573-3912_islam_COM_0170. From the Sassanid Empire to the Seljuks, there were multiple divans for differing functions of the government. The Dîvânü’l-inşâ’ was a body responsible for state government and record keeping. Likewise, the Dîvânü’l-mezâlim was responsible for justice, while the Dîvânü’l-ceyş was responsible for military affairs.

7 The Ottoman memalik-i mahruse (protected domains) was divided into both military/administrative units—called eyalet, sancak, tımar nahiyesi, and dirlik, with the eyalet being the highest executive unit of administration—and into judicial/administrative units called kazas, both of which functioned on the same specified lands. The Eyalet Valisi, also called the Beylerbeyi or just Vali, was the senior official, the highest in command in the eyalet (province). The Eyalets, as executive units, consisted of sancaks (sub-provinces), which were the main local military/administrative units. There were also judicial/administrative units called kazas and nahiyes, with the very same scope of authority. From a very early period, the sultans would send two officials to local districts. One of these was the Bey, reresenting executive power, while the other was the kadı, representing judicial power. The Eyalet Valisi (provincial governor) was the head of the Eyalet Divanı, and also served as the head of one of the “sancak”s in the Eyalet. This sancak under his command was called a “Paşa Sancağı”. Within each sancak, there was one city which was the center of military, administrative, social, and economic services and was called “şehir”. Thus, the central city or capital of the Eyalet was the center of both the “paşa sancağı” and the center of the main “kaza” of that sancak. For example, the “paşa sancağı” of “Karaman Eyalet” was “Konya sancağı”, while the center of Konya Sancağı was “Konya şehri”. Konya şehri was also the capital of the Karaman vilayeti (province of Karaman), as well as being the center of the Konya sancağı and Konya kazası. For further references on Ottoman provincial administration see Özer Ergenç, op. cit., p. 61.

8 M. Ursinus, in the introduction to his book Grievance Administration (şikayet) in an Ottoman Province: The Kaymakam of Rumelia’s “Record Book of Complaints” of 1781-1783, claims that there were two capitals of the Province of Rumeli; namely, Sofia and Manastır. He states that in one of the capitals the lieutenant governor, the mütesellim of the vali, was in command, while in the other it was the deputy, or “kaim-makam” of the vali. Hülya Taş, in an article published in Belleten, however, mentions that this practice of having two different centers/capitals of a province is dubious, as it does not fit well into the administrative policies and practices of classical Ottoman provincial organization. She further adds that this may reflect an eighteenth century practice, when some of the vezirs were entitled to govern more than one eyalet and sancak, which were turned into tax-farming mukataa, which does not necessarily show that there was more than one capital in a province. She gives an example from Ankara court register no.236/311, where İzzed Mehmed Pasha was entitled to govern an eyalet and two sancaks at the same time. Likewise, a document dating to 1764 CE (AH 1178) from the Konya court records, no.58/197, shows that Çelik Mehmed Pasha, the vali of Karaman Eyalet, was entitled for a time to govern the Adana Eyalet, the Beyşehir, Niğde and Akşehir sancaks, and the Eyalet of Karaman, and this also supports Taş’s claim.

9 Konya ŞS No:58, p. 184. “.....mevali-i izamdan akda u kudati’l- müslimin Mevlaa Mehmed Aziz –zidet fezailihi- ye hitaben şerefviz-i sudur olan emr-i şerifeme imtisalen Konya’da valilere mahsus sarayda akdolunan meclis-i şer’-i nebevide.........”.

10 Michael Ursinus, op. cit.

11 Mehmet Doğan, (2011). “Osmanlı Tımar Sisteminde Tevcih Prosedürü”, Çankırı Karatekin Üniversitesi Sosyal Bilimler Enstitüsü Dergisi 2:1, pp.  1-11. URL:

12 Antakya ŞS,no:4/105.

13 Antakya ŞC, No:4/106.

14 A mektub was also called takrir or i’lam.

15 Hülya Taş, op. cit., p. 1002.

16 Konya ŞC, No:41.

17 Antakya ŞS. No:4/105.

18 umur-dide”.

19 kar-güzar”.

20 “.....zabt ve rabt-ı memleket ve himayet ve siyanet-i raiyyet....”.

21 Pls. refer to James E. Baldwin, op. cit. for the procedures followed by Divan-ı Hümayun in response to petitions.

22 Hülya Taş, op. cit., p. 1001.

23 Antakya ŞC, No:4/106.

24 icra-yı hakk”.

25 mahallinde mürafaa’-i şer’”.

26 Konya ŞC No:58/194.

27 Konya ŞS. No:58/192.

28 “.......(valinin) huzurunda kendüden dava-yı hakk ve tayin-i madde iden hasımlarıyla kemal-i hakkaniyet üzere tevafu’-ı şer’ ve ba’de’s-sübut ber mukteza-ı şer’i mutahhar icra-ı şer’le ve ihkak-ı hak eyleyüb....”.

29 Adana ŞS. no:14/62.

30 “........ Divan-ı Vali’de ma’kud meclis-i şer’de katiü’l-medlul şeref-sudur bulan emr-i cihan-muta’-ı mezkurun mantuku üzere ba’de’l-hükm ve’t-tenbih yedimize min ba’d düsturü’l-amel olmak için işbu hüccet-i şer’iyyeyi virüb, ...............”.

31 Özer Ergenç, op. cit., p.  83. In the organizational structure of provinces, “kaza”s were under the responsibility of kadıs, or, according to the terminology of the documents, “kazalar da kadı’nın taht-ı hükûmetinde idi”. Their responsibility was defined in the documents as follows: “icra-yı ahkam-ı şer’iyye ve infaz-ı kavanin-i mer’iyye ve itmam-ı hıdemat-ı mıriyye”, and thereby had a very important role within the Ottoman bureaucracy. The kadıs were responsible for enforcing the rules of both shari’a and kanun, and also of ensuring that government services were carried out. Military/administrative officials were also expected to perform their duties in collaboration with the kadıs, more often shown in the sources as “…her hususu şer’-i şerifle görüb şer’-i şerife mugayir vaz’etmeyesün, hergün Efendi Hazretleri ile olub nüvvab ile bir hoş i’tilaf ve ehl-i şer’ olanlar ile adem-i ihtilaf üzere olasın”. In other words, the Sancakbey, who was responsible for the order and security of the territory under his command, for execution of justice, and for preventing the violation of Islamic and sultanic law, had to perform his duties together with the kadı. This is emphasized in many imperial decrees, or fermans. We frequently encounter fermans that state, “kadimden umur-ı memleket hususunda kudatın, sancakbeylerine müracaat idüp, hüsn-i ittifak ve ittihad ile vilayetin zabt ve siyanet olınageldiği…”.

32 Özer Ergenç, op. cit., pp.  68-69. Within this balanced relation, military/administrative officials were expected to govern the reaya on their dirliks. In the documents, this responsibility of the members of the örfiyye class was defined as follows: “...hidmet-i fukaray-ı cana minnet bilmek, ehl-i İslamı zalemeden tahlîse himmet etmek, bunun için de, .... subaşı nasb idüb, haram-zadeye aman ve zaman verilmemek …. In other words, it was emphasized that the primary duty of the örfiyye towards the reaya was to maintain the order of their lives. While the dirlik owners carried out their obligations to govern within their own specified dirliks, they were jointly liable with sancakbeyis. Dirlik owners had to share the tax called “niyâbet rüsûmu”, collected in return for their administrative services with the sancakbeyi. Since the dirlik owners were responsible for governing the land in their dirlik, they were called sâhib-i arz (landowner), and since they were also obliged to govern the reaya on their dirliks, they were called sâhib-i raiyet (owner of producers).

33 Halil İnalcık, (1965). Adaletnameler, Belgeler II:3-4, p.  81. URL:

34 Özer Ergenç, op. cit., p. 184. Konya ŞC.II/p. 8, “evkaf-ı selatin min külli minelvücuh serbest olub, haricden (Beylerbeyi ve sancakbeyleri, subaşıları tarafından) dahl olunmak kat’a caiz değildir.”

35 Özer Ergenç, op. cit., pp.   129-130

36 Konya ŞC, No:41/263.

37 Bor ŞS. No:2.

38 İlhan Şahin, (2006). Osmanlı Döneminde Konar-Göçerler, Istanbul, Eren.


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