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Forms and institutions of justice

Love in Crete in the time of Mehmet Ali, 1830–1834

Panagiotis Krokidas

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  • 1 Possibly the village of Velanides.
  • 2 Vekayi-i Giridiye (“Facts of Crete”; heretofore VG), 4 August 1832, p. 67. This was the official jo (...)

1It was the summer of 1832 when Emin Yakomanolakis was accused by Yorgos Archundakis of kidnapping his sister Areti with the help of Emin’s brother, Numan. Yorgos Archundakis was a native of Velendisi1 village, which is located in Selino, a province of Chania, in Crete. Emin was a Muslim from Grigoriana village, in the same province. The authorities arrested Areti, Numan and Emin and put them in prison. The kadi’s deputy (naib) was also involved in the case, as he had illegally issued a document in order to facilitate the marriage of the young couple. During the inquiry, Areti courageously stated that she has been in love with Emin for a year and she had left with him of her own will (bir seneden beri Emin ile muhabbetleri olduğundan gitmiş …). She also testified that Numan was not involved in the case, a statement that was also confirmed by Emin. Eventually, the council (meclis) of Muslim and Christian representatives in Chania sentenced the naib to the exemplary punishment of two years’ exile to the island of Gramvousa while Emin and Numan were sentenced to three months’ labor at the administration buildings (miri ebniyesinde istihdam olunmak üzere). Areti was also sentenced to three months’ imprisonment at the local Orthodox monastery (üç ay Hanya manastırında habs olunmak üzere).2

  • 3 VG, 22 September 1832, p. 73.

2In the summer of 1832,3 a young woman named Kyriaki, from Neohori in Chania’s Apokoronas province, abandoned her husband and ran away with Mihalis Leodakis, from Armeni village in the same province. Although the young couple did their best to hide, the authorities eventually found and arrested them. The case was brought before the council in Chania. Under examination, Kyriaki stated that she had been in love with Mihalis for a long time (Miheli ile bir müddetden beri sevmişler isede), and that she abandoned her husband (kocasından tahlis olunarak) because he was treating her badly. She added that she was pregnant (on sekiz gün zarfında gasb-ı mersumden hamile ettiği) and that she wished to marry Mihalis after divorcing her husband. The council ruled that the conduct of Kyriaki and Mihalis contradicted Divine Law and the Viceregal Egyptian system since it promoted the division and separation of a married couple and that they both deserved to be punished as a deterrent to others. Obviously, Kyriaki’s statement regarding her husband’s abusive behavior was ignored by the council, suggesting it deemed spousal abuse as being politically and socially acceptable. Eventually, Mihalis was sentenced to six months’ hard labor in chains at the administration buildings while Kyriaki was sentenced to 40 days’ imprisonment in an Orthodox church, where she was to be whipped every Sunday after the liturgy before the eyes of the local Christians … men, women, children and elders (rical ve nisvan ve ihtiyaran ve sabiyan hazır iken cümlenin muvacehesinde on beşer kırbaç vurılarak). According to the Ottoman document, Kyriaki’s whipping penalty had the purpose of setting an example to other women who had similar passions (sevdasında bulunan sair hatunlara ibret olunmak üzere). The fear of whipping, physical pain, imprisonment, chaining and humiliation became the medium through which the state attempted to enforce law and order. The state, together with the church, punished and avenged the couple’s violation of their laws and power.

  • 4 VG, 31 October 1832, p. 77.

3That autumn, a Christian man from Topolia village, accused a local army or gendarme officer or subaşı, Halil Nusrakis, of deceiving his widowed sister, Maria, and bringing dishonor not only upon her but upon her family too (bir takim hile ve huta ile aldatub...ırzını kesir ettiği). According to the facts of the case, Maria became pregnant of her own will, as she had fallen in love with Halil (segib olan kız karındaşım Maria’ya alaka ederek beyinelerinde muhabbet hasıl olduğuna). The council found that Halil had engaged in inappropriate behavior given his position as an officer, and it was the woman’s choice to sacrifice her honor, the most important thing in one’s life, especially in a woman’s life. Halil was dismissed from his post and lost the right to claim his wages. On the other hand, the woman was sentenced to two months’ imprisonment, in foot chains, at the local Orthodox monastery. In addition, she was to be exposed and humiliated in front of the Christian community every Sunday after the liturgy (beher Pazar günü derun-ı manastırıda muvacehe-i nasda gezdirmesi içün).4

  • 5 Michel Foucault, (1995). Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison, New York, Vintage, pp. 16– (...)

4The above examples show that among the basic indications of the modernization of an administration was the systematization of social engineering and surveillance through imprisonment, corporal punishment and the presence of state, which intervened more and more in peoples’ lives.5 Mehmet Ali’s Egyptian administration, which was in charge of Crete from 1830 to 1840, made propaganda of all its reforming achievements in its official newspaper Vekayi-i Giridiye. The establishment of printing presses in Crete and the publication of a bilingual newspaper as an instrument of the administration and medium for its claims to legitimacy was, in itself, an important novelty. The establishment of equality before the law for Muslims, Christians and Jews on Crete, years before the Tanzimat reforms in the rest of the Ottoman Empire, constituted the most basic reform.

  • 6 In 1830, Crete was ceded to Mehmet Ali of Egypt, as a reward for his services to the sultan during (...)

5In the early 1830s, a series of public works began and roads abandoned or destroyed during the Greek war of independence, Souda port and the lighthouses at Chania and Rethymno were repaired as well as a number of mosques and churches. Funds were allocated quite generously, especially for important works such as public health. Lazarettos were founded and manned with qualified doctors, who were appointed by local councils. 1832 was a particularly significant year for public health as the military hospital in Chania was renovated and chicken-pox vaccine from Europe was imported and provided to infants for free. The administration was mature enough to acknowledge that any outbreak of the disease would affect Christians and Muslims indiscriminately and could easily escalate into an epidemic. There are also reports on the promotion of public education and the operation of Muslim and Christian schools, and the opening of the French School in Chania.6

6The founding of councils constituted another reform, one which changed the morphology of the island’s administrative map. The councils were composed of Muslim and Christian representatives. The Egyptian administration, as stated in the 11 August 1833 issue of Vekayi-i Giridiye, followed what they usually do in Europe. Initially, there were four of these councils, located in Chania (Hanya), Rethymno (Resmo), Irakleio (Kandiye) and Sfakia (Isfakiye). They were given authority over a number of legal, administrative and financial cases, economic matters such as tax collections, and the running of customs offices. They were also to contribute to the administration’s wish to increase agricultural production by bringing back the refugees who had left the island during the 1820s. Maintaining public order was the main priority for the Egyptian administration. The councils supervised a plethora of criminal cases, such as the ones above, and an examination of these cases reveals important elements about the nature of Mehmet Ali’s administration in Crete.

  • 7 VG, 11 August 1833, p. 104.

7The Egyptian authorities proudly announced the abolition of monetary penalties for delinquent acts and their replacement with corporal punishment,7 which involved corporal as well as psychological violence, directly aimed the entrenchment of legal power and social coherence. For a time in Crete, both the gradual systematization of invisible punishment and the birth of a “modern” prison coexisted transitionally with some traditional forms of punishment such as hard labor, chained confinement, foot whipping (falaka), not to mention exile and the death penalty, which were used as means of social and physical humiliation, respectively. While the authorities inflicted vindictive violence on offenders in order to punish them, at the same time they intended these punishments to serve as a warning to the rest of the society. The relationship formed between the state power and human emotions, such as fear, pain and the agony of death, shaped the concept of a suppressive mechanism and enforced social submission. In the Ottoman example, the modernized power supported the idea of equality, the main purpose of which was to achieve the cohesion of the social body through suppression.

  • 8 Marinos Sarigiannis, (2003). I apolafsi stin Othomaniki Konstandinoupoli (Pleasure in Ottoman Istan (...)
  • 9 Michel Foucault, (1978). The History of Sexuality, New York, Pantheon, pp. 25–55.

8One issue relating to delinquency cases deserves special attention. Corporal punishment, as enforced under state law, was used to control and suppress human emotion. Legal mechanisms and law enforcement used as a means of power define the border between what is allowed and what is forbidden, what is right and what is wrong. Those who deviated from these defined norms should expect physical punishment and confinement. Love that transgressed the limits of the “socially acceptable” became a criminal act. Love was now present in public; it was defined in the official language of Mehmet Ali’s administration. It became recognizable as it entered the area of illegality, and from being part of people’s private life, it became an issue for the public sphere; this represents a shift from the Ottoman ancien régime. Although references to sexuality abound in Ottoman literature of the 16th through the 18th centuries, sexual mentalities and attitudes seem to have belonged completely to the private sphere.8 During the decade of Mehmet Ali’s administration in Crete, modernization and the novelties introduced by the state, such as the official journal, unconsciously modified the social representation of sexuality, placing it in the public realm. Along with this redefinition of sexual behavior, the administration deployed a politically correct terminology during hearings; it was a discourse9 referring to the emotions and physical contact that are directly related to sexuality and love. Offenders “established a love relationship” (alaka etmişler), “they loved one another” (muhabbet olmuşlar), “they fell in love (sevmişler).

  • 10 Dror Ze’vi, (2006). Producing Desire: Changing Sexual Discourse in the Ottoman Middle East, 1500–19 (...)
  • 11 Dror Ze’evi, (2001). “Changes in legal-sexual discourses: sex crimes in the Ottoman Empire”, Contin (...)

9Love was potentially radical, thus hazardous to social harmony; it was illegal under state law and considered sinful by religious authorities. As the cases above show, while the punishment was determined by administrative councils – and not the kadis – these punishments were executed by religious authorities, at least in the cases involving Christian women. In a sense, Mehmet Ali’s administration created a reformed legal raison d’état by meting out a punishment similar to what sharia defined for unlawful sexual intercourse (zina) – lashes.10 Once again, the administration’s logic, which was based on the radical declaration of the equality of Muslims, Christians and Jews before the law, and the “traditional” spirit of Ottoman law, seem to have come close to coinciding.11 The reporting on such cases of love affairs in the administration’s official journal aimed essentially at using punishment as a warning for the rest of society, and sought to suppress what were seen as radical feelings that constituted a potential threat to social order and harmony.

  • 12 Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish, pp. 120–130.

10Regarding the cases of Areti and Emin, and that of Maria and Halil, there are several points of particular interest. Both cases involved love relationships between Christians and Muslims. Although one cannot argue with certainty that such relationships were considered immoral by the Cretan community in the 1830s, the tense situation that arose on the island in the 1820s enables us to conclude that such relationships might not have passed unnoticed. The violent punishment enforced on the offenders in the above cases was not only the same as that meted out for more serious crimes in terms of the cruelty involved, but it also overshadowed the offence to such an extent as to prevent its reoccurrence.12

  • 13 Beyond any doubt, Mehmet Ali’s modernizing project in Egypt as well as in Crete influenced the Tanz (...)

11In spite of the fact that Crete was going through a period of modernization administered from above, we cannot assume that social trends had been following a similar path. What it was experiencing was a provincial “small Tanzimat”, based on the declaration of equality for Christians and Muslims before the law, which Mehmet Ali’s administration decreed a few years before similar reforms were made by the “central” Ottoman administration.13 In addition, there is another interesting point worth mentioning regarding Areti and Emin’s case, namely the involvement of a naib, a kadi’s deputy. Although the naib was a state representative, he contravened the formal concept of the “impersonal” state regarding the legality of ethics and love by assisting the young couple with their marriage procedures. In fact, he attempted to legitimate the elopement, which was most likely based on emotional motives, so that Areti and Emin could live happily together and avoid corporal punishment. Given that Emin and Areti received a three-month sentence each suggests there was a symbolic dimension. In Maria and Halil’s case, the subaşı seems to have played an important role. According to the case records and the spirit of decision, Halil deceived and acted dishonestly towards the woman. He failed to comply with his duties, according to which not only must he refrain from such deceit, but he must deter others from carrying out similar actions.

12Although Halil was involved in the suppression procedures due to his administrative status, he objected to the state’s official ethics. His penalty did not involve any physical punishment. The same counts for the naib in Αreti and Emin’s case, who was exiled to the small island of Gramvousa for his crime of issuing a false document in order to facilitate their marriage. Confinement and pain were not inflicted on the state’s executive agents even when they violated the law; a fact that may indicate the existence of networks inside the mechanisms of the administration for whom a sense of solidarity was stronger than the desire to implement the law. On the contrary, Maria was punished to two months’ confinement at the local Orthodox monastery, with the additional, traumatic, condition that she be exposed to churchgoers every Sunday after the liturgy.

13The subjection of Christian women to punishment such as confinement, torture and humiliation in Orthodox monasteries was something common on the island at the time. Such punishments were intended to cause harm to the offender’s body and soul. Chaining and public humiliation as a means of revenge towards women who committed the crime of illegally loving a man, especially if he was a Muslim, crushed the imprisoned woman’s personality while serving simultaneously as an example to others.

  • 14 Menelaos Parlamas, (1988). “To imerologio tou Konstantinou Kozyri apo tin Kritsa” (Konstantinos Koz (...)

14The state’s “legal” violence was applied with the help of the church. Therefore, this violence was probably legitimized in the minds of Christians. In the above cases involving female delinquency, Christians themselves, not the “foreign” Ottoman authority, enforced the punishment. Before 1830, part of the church’s duties may have been to inflict punishment on the island’s Christian community. In October 1831, a Christian woman was taken to Oikonomou Monastery in order to be corrected after she had announced her intention of becoming a Turk; however it is unclear if this intended religious conversion was related to her being in love with a Muslim man.14

  • 15 Robert Pashley, (1837). Travels in Crete, vol. 2, Cambridge and London, John Murray, p. 81. URL: ht (...)

15The church’s role as an executive body wielding authority to enforce punishment is an extremely interesting point. In the decade of Mehmet Ali’s rule in Crete, an important part of his reforming project was the equality between Muslims and Christians before the law. According to Pashley, who visited Crete in 1837, Christian bondsmen under the rule of Mehmet Ali had slightly better living conditions than those living in the rest of the Ottoman Empire: Here Muslims fear the authorities as much as Christians do.15

16The church’s involvement in carrying out punishment sentences served to promote its role; it derived power from its engagement with the administration. This relationship was highly symbolic. Monasteries and modern prisons shared similar features, something that is engraved in the memory of history. High external walls, cells, a communal way of living, the concept of confinement in accordance with detachment from social life: all created an impression of a designated place where prayer and punishment coexisted. While Christian and Muslim males were punished as lawbreakers, Christian women, on the other hand, were punished as sinners. While male offenders were imprisoned and forced to work in chains at public works, Christian women were confined and tortured in Orthodox monasteries. The public humiliation of women who committed the crime of carrying feelings of love took place symbolically on Sundays and in front of the Orthodox flock. After the flock had been sanctified and purified through the liturgy, they could punish the sinful woman’s body and soul with taunts in order to be purified.

  • 16 VG, 22 September 1832, p. 73.

17The punishment for Muslim women seems to have differed from that given to Christian women, according to the small number of cases at our disposal. On the night of 19 September 1832, a group of drunken Muslims started a fight in the Soğukçeşme district in Chania and began throwing stones at each other, injuring some passersby. The authorities arrested 18 men –all Muslims– and four prostitutes who were in the company of some of the men involved in the fight. The soldiers took the men to prison and the women to a women’s prison in the home of Hacı Mehmet’s, possibly a local official. The following morning, during questioning, the detained men stated that they were so drunk that it was impossible to remember anything related to the incident, including who started the fight. Consequently, both the men and women were condemned to “15 strokes of the lash” before being released. 16

  • 17 For an account of the Ottoman approach to prostitution in the earlier period see Marinos Sariyannis (...)
  • 18 VG, 4 August 1832, p. 67.
  • 19 VG, 29 July 1832, p. 66.
  • 20 Eugenia Kermeli, (2002). “Sin and the Sinner: folles femmes in Ottoman Crete”, Eurasian Studies 1:1 (...)

18The approach to prostitution in Crete during the rule of Mehmet Ali also seems to have changed since the previous Ottoman regime.17 From the many penal cases examined by the council in Chania, we can detect that prostitution was not forbidden but almost controlled. In August 1832, two drunken Albanian soldiers got in an argument with two Cretan Muslims over Nuren, a prostitute working at the brothel (fahişehane) of the rather disreputable district of Cezayir Kolu. While the Albanian soldiers were flogged 50 times as punishment for their role in the fight, Nuren was released.18 Another soldier was flogged and sent into exile after he was arrested because he had a fight with a prostitute in the same part of the town (Cezayir Kolu mahallesinde Süleyman nam kimesne bir fahişe ile niza’ itmek üzere iken) in the summer of 1832.19 The only available case where prostitutes did not escape punishment is the one that occurred in Soğukçeşme, mentioned above, because the council ruled that Soğukçeşme is a neighborhood where honest people live […] and the prostitutes have been ordered many times to limit themselves to Cezayir Kolu only. While in previous decades prostitution in Crete was treated not only as a crime, but also as a serious and grave sin, prostitutes committing unlawful intercourse (zina) with strangers were punished and sent into exile.20 This suggests that during Mehmet Ali’s administration prostitution seems to have been partly accepted.

  • 21 Rudolph Peters, (1999). “Administrators and Magistrates: The Development of a Secular Judiciary in (...)
  • 22 Rudolph Peters, (2002). “Egypt and the Age of the Triumphant Prison: Legal Punishment in Nineteenth (...)

19On the other hand, incarcerating women in women’s prisons or in particular rooms in private residences constituted practices already applied in Egypt at the same point in time. In another occasion, in September 1832, a woman in Cairo buried her beloved dog in the city’s cemetery. She misled the cemetery employee by saying that she had buried her dead newborn baby. Suspecting she was lying, the employee dug the dog up and informed the authorities. The woman was arrested and was taken to the governor’s (vali) house where the women’s prison was located.21 In the early 1830s, a new prison strictly for women was built in Alexandria.22 Even though for Muslim women prison was a specially designated section in an official’s residence, for Christian women in Crete it was the church’s duty to apply the appropriate state punishment.

  • 23 Foucault, The History of Sexuality, pp. 50–66.

20Female reputation and honor seem to have played an important role in Cretan society. In the first half of the 19th century in Crete, the state authorities, and the church, suppressed public opinion; moreover, misguided ethics viewed love and sexual activity as belonging strictly to the sphere of marriage.23 In all of the above cases, the women involved were punished because they fell in love and engaged in sexual relationships with men either as a single woman (Areti), a widow (Maria) or even as a married woman (Kyriaki).

  • 24 VG, 14 June 1833, p. 98.
  • 25 VG, 9 December 1833, p. 117.

21How did Mehmet Ali’s administration react to incidents of violent sexual contact? In other words, how did the authorities deal with what is now understood as “rape”? In April 1833, Anastasios Korkakakis from Sfakia appealed to the council in Chania and accused Mihelis Vatoudakis of attempting to blemish his wife’s honor, which was the most valuable thing in her life. Mihelis was arrested and brought before the council. During questioning, a few neighbors were called as witnesses to the case. According to their statements, Anastasios’ wife did not allow Mihelis to bring dishonor upon herself or her husband. Moreover, Mihelis’ statement that Anastasios’ wife had been in love with him in the past24 was refuted by the neighbors. The involvement of Anastasios’ neighbors as witnesses suggests that he may have orchestrated this specific judicial strategy on purpose in order to prove that his wife had refused to have sex with another man, thereby saving his own reputation. In the event, the council found the woman was innocent, but Mihelis was sentenced to one year’s imprisonment and forced labor at public buildings. In November 1833, a Muslim woman named Titina accused soap-maker Sabuncu Ismail of attempting to assault her inside her own house (hanesine girmek istemiş isede merkum zor ile girmek sadedinde olduğunu ve merkumun tesalutu ref’ olunmasın istidaa etmekle). Ismail, who confessed, was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment in chains and forced labor.25

  • 26 Colin Imber, (1983). “Zina in Ottoman Law”, in Ömer Lûtfi Barkan, Jean-Louis Bacqué-Grammont, an (...)

22The above cases allow us to make the following preliminary conclusion: the authorities realized that sexual violence against women outside of the context of marriage was a criminal act as it was impossible for the victim to avoid it. Consequently, the male offender received punishment and the female victim was content with the restoration of her reputation. This also constitutes an element of “traditional” Ottoman law. According to sharia, the punishment for entering a house with the intent to commit fornication is severe while the woman or girl does not receive punishment.26

23In February 1833, Chania council examined another rape case after a complaint from Alexis Kalitsakis from Maheri village. According to him, Maria from Vamos village had a daughter named Kali. Alexis wished to marry Kali and asked for Maria’s consent. Maria accepted and the wedding preparations began. Everything was ready for the wedding and everyone in the village was waiting for the big day. Antonis, an uncle of Kali, eventhough he had initially agreed to the marriage of the couple, not only changed his mind but also encouraged a young man named Stamatis Plazeskakis to kidnap the bride. Stamatis, with the assistance of his friend Alexandros Limetzakis, kidnapped Kali, took her to his place where he raped her and as a consequence the girl lost her virginity.

  • 27 VG, 23 February 1833, p. 88.

24During interrogation, Stamatis claimed that he had fallen in love with Kali and, without her consent, kidnapped and sexually abused her. On the other hand, Alexis declared that he no longer had any intention of marrying her. Antonis, Stamatis and Alexandros were sentenced to 18 months in prison in chains while Alexis, who cancelled the marriage, was eligible to claim back all the marriage expenses from Stamatis. Kali didn’t state whether she was in love with Stamatis. She was declared innocent and according to the verdict, she was raped by a person stronger than her. Kali was free to marry another man and the following condition was added: Because of the loss of her virginity, if no one else asked her hand, she was allowed to get married to Stamatis only after he served his sentence.27

25There are two different ways of examining this case. The reasoning that this victim of sexual attack was unable to defend herself could be taken as an indication that this was a reforming state power attempting to modernize. However, what actually saved this woman from confinement and humiliation was her denial that she was in love with her assailant. The council’s decision to allow Kali the opportunity to marry Stamatis after his release suggests that it had second thoughts about her story. As we know during this period, the loss of virginity was an obvious hindrance to finding a marriage partner. Assuming that the defendants deliberately prearranged a testimony strategy, we may conclude that these two young people were in love and, accordingly, hatched a plot in order to get married in the end. The facts may have been the following: Kali states that she accepted her mother’s decision that she should marry Alexis and that she was not in love with the offender, in order to avoid monastery imprisonment and public humiliation. The secret plan was supported by the last-minute intervention of Kali’s uncle, and the assistance of Alexandros, Stamatis’ best friend. Stamatis eloped with the bride shortly before her wedding, preventing the holy matrimony from taking place. The girl lost her virginity and the case was examined by the council. Kali avoided punishment and after 19 months, Kali and Stamatis were free to get married with the administration’s permission and the church’s blessing. Although this scenario is only a hypothesis, it is not beyond possibility that various strategies like these were pursued before the council.

  • 28 For legal restrictions on rape in Egypt, Amira Sonbol, (1997). “Rape and Law in Ottoman and modern (...)
  • 29 Incorrect writing in the text ﺟﺍﺀﺭ instead of ﺟﺍﺀﺯ.
  • 30 In 1832, the officials’ monthly salary at the sanitary station in Chania and Souda, was 150 kuruş ((...)
  • 31 VG, 20 July 1833, p. 102.

26However, no such strategies seem to have been in play in the following interesting case brought by Artemios, bishop of Kydonia and Kissamos, heard before the Chania council during the summer of 1833. According to his report, a man named Manolis from Agia Marina village kidnapped and raped a girl named Christina from Stalos village.28 The girl lost her virginity, a fact that, according to the Council, discourages all man from getting married to her (cebren tutub bikrini izale etmiş ve kimesne almağa rağbet etmeyeceğinden) and as a result, her luck has dried up and she may follow immoral paths. By looking at the facts, it becomes clear that the best solution for the two people involved in the case would have been to get married. However, Manolis was already married and bigamy is strictly forbidden in Orthodox religious law (merkumun taht-ı nikahında diğer karısı olduğundan ayinimiz üzere bunu dahi nikah etmek caiz29 değil). Eventually, Manolis was fined a penalty of 400 kuruş,30 which he had to pay to Christina as a dowry, and he was to be flogged 150 times. After the flogging and the payment of the fine, he was released. Although the council acknowledged that Christina’s virginity was lost involuntarily (cebren), it found that Christina had chosen to stay with the offender for days even though she had various chances to escape from Manolis (bu kadar ayam gezmiş olduğundan). Finally, the girl, who had been kidnapped and raped, was sentenced to 30 days’ imprisonment in chains at Agioi Anargiroi Monastery (bir mah miad ile ayağında pranga ile manastırda habs olunub), where she was to be whipped 15 times every Sunday after the liturgy. The representative of the local Orthodox community was ordered to carry out the punishment (haftadan haftaya Aleksaki ma’rifetiyle on beşer kırbaç vurulması).31

27From the above case, we may assume that the law ignored forced and violent sexual intercourse, so Christina was punished because she voluntarily had sexual intercourse with Manolis after she was raped. Τhe girl’s punishment has more to do with the fact that she lost her virginity than with the violence that was involved in this crime. These cases allow us to infer that the women offenders in the three cases mentioned above were aware of the punishment that would be handed to them if they admitted they were in love. In Manolis and Christina’s story, one can identify the workings of love’s internal powers, which are expressed through physical and unfair violence. On the contrary, in the cases involving Areti, Maria and Kyriaki, the authorities, together with the church, humiliated the women. These cases involved relationships between Christian women and Muslim men. Punishment made the authorities’ humiliation of the women vindictive. The subjection of the valiant feelings of love to the power of the authorities and the church occurred through violence inflicted on the offender’s body. Chains and whips left scars on the bodies of those who broke state law and sinned against God. State and church claimed possession of the body, viewing it as no longer belonging to its physical owner but to a higher, paternalistic power. Fear of the state and the church constituted a fundamental anchor for these two powers. In other words, the success of the state in establishing and consolidating law and order depended largely on cultivating a culture of fear.

28Despite the fact that historical analysis of emotion and sexual behavior can be transcendental, involving several elements of uncertainty –especially when it is based on the research of public and state documents produced by Memhet Ali’s administration in Crete– emotion and sex in this period seem to pass from the private to the public sphere. In other words, they become a public issue. This allows us to pose critical questions. The structure of sexual relationships gave rise to interrelated patterns of aligned powers and weaknesses. As the modernizing state exerted corporal and psychological violence at every given opportunity, human relationships in a similar way were structured along the bonds of dependency and repression. As we have already mentioned, Kyriaki from Neohori, who had an extramarital relationship, fell in love with a man and deserted her husband because he was abusing her. In general, during this period in Crete, rape and sexual violence were not unfamiliar issues. Violence within human relationships formed a parallel complex of individual powers.

  • 32 VG, 4 June 1833, p. 97.
  • 33 Parlamas, op. cit., p. 125.
  • 34 VG, 14 January 1833, p. 84.

29In March 1833, Sali, a man from Sitia, stoned his wife, Anife, to death because she had approved, without Sali’s permission, of their daughter’s marriage to a man from the same village. Additionally, the council in Kandiye (Iraklio) was told, she flatly refused to cook for him for eight days. The offender, in accordance with his statement, expressed sorrow for his actions almost immediately after the crime, but this was not enough to save him and he was hanged at Hanya Kapısı in Kandiye.32 Two years earlier, in March 1831, a Muslim man was flogged 80 times because he had beaten a Muslim woman.33 In November 1833, Hüseyin Memisoğlu killed his wife with an ax in Embaro village. Hüseyin was taken for interrogation before Kandiye council, where he asked the kadi’s opinion about what sharia dictated for him. According to the kadi’s report, given the fact that the offender killed his wife and the mother of his children, he does not deserve to die; he was instead ordered to pay 625 kuruş in “blood money” (diyet) to his children, who were to come under the care of a guardian, assigned by the Islamic court, until they reached a certain age. The council clearly rejected the kadi’s position, instead arguing that an unpunished murderer is not a good example for other men. Thereby the social order has been damaged substantially. Finally, the man was sentenced to six years’ hard labor in chains.34 The fact that the kadi’s opinion, and by extension the sharia, was rejected shows that councils had become the basic judicial authority responsible for criminal cases. The direct tendency of the authorities to impose social order through the violence of a punishment system did not seem to have been influenced by the common law of religion. This constitutes an extremely important reform compared to the past.

  • 35 Mehmet Ali’s administration was not notably friendly to sorcerers and derviş, since it had ordered (...)
  • 36 VG, 28 June 1832, p. 62.

30However, beyond the state’s violence, love and conjugal affection reveal many aspects of the timelessness of human multiplicity while they also provide us with valuable information about the history of ideas in this period. In July 1832, a deaf Muslim man from Rethymno approached an African sorcerer, who lived in the town, in order to help him find his wife and children who had run away from home. The sorcerer received a sum from the bitterly disappointed husband in order to change his wife’s opinion. The sorcerer kept on charging the man more money. The man kept on paying the sorcerer as he was convinced that he possessed supernatural abilities, according to the sorcerer’s neighbors. Eventually, the case reached the Chania council, which established that the sorcerer had been systematically deceiving people not only in Crete but also in his former home of Libya, where he claimed to have special powers to locate hidden silver mines and treasures.35 After the council judged that the sorcerer did not change his immoral behavior and continued to play on people's minds,36 he was banished from Crete.

31The above cases reveal interesting points about everyday life, social attitudes and the history of emotion in Crete in the 1830s. The modernizing state attempted to manage and rein in people’s passions and emotions in the context of political legitimacy formation. Love, conjugal affection, bodily pleasures and passions reveal aspects of human plurality and provide us with information about social life. The abduction of women, secret love between Christians and Muslims, prostitution, violence, kidnappings and sorcery do not seem to have been uncommon phenomena in Crete during Mehmet Ali’s rule. Emotion exists throughout time, a fact which gives us the opportunity to investigate changes in political standards that determined what was officially correct and socially acceptable. Within this framework, emotions and passion can be formed or even marginalized by state power.


1 Possibly the village of Velanides.

2 Vekayi-i Giridiye (“Facts of Crete”; heretofore VG), 4 August 1832, p. 67. This was the official journal of Mehmet Ali’s administration in Crete, which certainly constitutes one of the novelties implemented on the island. At the same time, a similar newspaper (Vekayi-i Misriye) was published in Egypt.

3 VG, 22 September 1832, p. 73.

4 VG, 31 October 1832, p. 77.

5 Michel Foucault, (1995). Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison, New York, Vintage, pp. 16–36.

6 In 1830, Crete was ceded to Mehmet Ali of Egypt, as a reward for his services to the sultan during the Greek war of independence, in the 1820s. Zenab E. Rashed, (1978). I Kriti ypo tin aigiptiakin eksousian, 1830–1840 (Crete under the rule of Mehmet Ali, 1830–1840), Irakleio, Politistikēs Anaptyxeōs; Athanasios Gekas and Panagiotis Krokidas, (2007). “Public Health in Crete under the rule of Mehmed Ali in the 1830s”, Égypte/Monde Arabe 4:3, pp. 35–54. DOI: 10.4000/ema.1751; Seçil Yılmaz and Panagiotis Krokidas, (unp., 2011). “Living in a Modernizing Misery: Discipline and State Beneficence in Crete under the rule of Mehmet Ali, 1831–1834”, in Pepragmena I’ Diethnous Kritologikou Synedriou (Proceedings of the 10th International Cretan Congress), Chania.

7 VG, 11 August 1833, p. 104.

8 Marinos Sarigiannis, (2003). I apolafsi stin Othomaniki Konstandinoupoli (Pleasure in Ottoman Istanbul), Athens, Periplous, pp. 127–138.

9 Michel Foucault, (1978). The History of Sexuality, New York, Pantheon, pp. 25–55.

10 Dror Ze’vi, (2006). Producing Desire: Changing Sexual Discourse in the Ottoman Middle East, 1500–1900, Berkeley University of California Press, p. 75.

11 Dror Ze’evi, (2001). “Changes in legal-sexual discourses: sex crimes in the Ottoman Empire”, Continuity and Change 16:2, p. 219–242. DOI: 10.1017/S0268416001003800.

12 Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish, pp. 120–130.

13 Beyond any doubt, Mehmet Ali’s modernizing project in Egypt as well as in Crete influenced the Tanzimat reformers. Panagiotis Krokidas, (2007). Timoria kai Kratiki Pronia stin Kriti kata ta prota hronia tis eksoysias tou Mehmet Ali 1830–1834 (Punishment and State Benefits in Crete under the rule of Mehmet Ali, 1830–1834), Master Thesis, University of Crete, pp. 12–17.

14 Menelaos Parlamas, (1988). “To imerologio tou Konstantinou Kozyri apo tin Kritsa” (Konstantinos Kozyris’ diary), Analekta p. 132. Konstantinos Kozyris was a Christian representative on Irakleio council.

15 Robert Pashley, (1837). Travels in Crete, vol. 2, Cambridge and London, John Murray, p. 81. URL:

16 VG, 22 September 1832, p. 73.

17 For an account of the Ottoman approach to prostitution in the earlier period see Marinos Sariyannis, (2008). “Prostitution in Ottoman Istanbul, Late Sixteenth–Early Eighteenth Century”, Turcica 40, 37–65. DOI: 10.2143/TURC.40.0.2037134.

18 VG, 4 August 1832, p. 67.

19 VG, 29 July 1832, p. 66.

20 Eugenia Kermeli, (2002). “Sin and the Sinner: folles femmes in Ottoman Crete”, Eurasian Studies 1:1, pp. 85–96. URL:

21 Rudolph Peters, (1999). “Administrators and Magistrates: The Development of a Secular Judiciary in Egypt, 1842–1871”, Die Welt des Islam 39, p. 381. DOI: 10.1163/1570060991570622. (The information derives from Vekayi-i Misriye).

22 Rudolph Peters, (2002). “Egypt and the Age of the Triumphant Prison: Legal Punishment in Nineteenth-Century Egypt”, Annales Islamologiques 36, pp. 270–271; Rudolph Peters, (2002). “Prisons and Marginalization in Nineteenth-Century Egypt”, in Eugene L. Rogan (ed.), Outside in: On the Margins of the Modern Middle East, London, IB Tauris, p. 38.

23 Foucault, The History of Sexuality, pp. 50–66.

24 VG, 14 June 1833, p. 98.

25 VG, 9 December 1833, p. 117.

26 Colin Imber, (1983). “Zina in Ottoman Law”, in Ömer Lûtfi Barkan, Jean-Louis Bacqué-Grammont, and Paul Dumont (eds), Contributions à l’histoire économique et sociale de l’Empire ottoman, Leuven, Peeters, pp. 186–187.

27 VG, 23 February 1833, p. 88.

28 For legal restrictions on rape in Egypt, Amira Sonbol, (1997). “Rape and Law in Ottoman and modern Egypt”, in M.C. Zilfi (ed.), Women in the Ottoman Empire: Middle Eastern Women in the Early Modern Era, Leiden, Brill, pp. 215–231.

29 Incorrect writing in the text ﺟﺍﺀﺭ instead of ﺟﺍﺀﺯ.

30 In 1832, the officials’ monthly salary at the sanitary station in Chania and Souda, was 150 kuruş (VG. 9 June 1832, p. 60). In 1833, one okka (1,282 grams) of lamb meat was sold for two kuruş (VG, 29 April 1833, p. 94).

31 VG, 20 July 1833, p. 102.

32 VG, 4 June 1833, p. 97.

33 Parlamas, op. cit., p. 125.

34 VG, 14 January 1833, p. 84.

35 Mehmet Ali’s administration was not notably friendly to sorcerers and derviş, since it had ordered that every time they came to the attention of the authorities, they were to be immediately imprisoned or exiled from Crete. In 1831, a derviş from Benghazi was exiled because, although he had come to the island poor, he ended up, through devious means, with clothing and servants in his possession. Rashed, op. cit., p. 78.

36 VG, 28 June 1832, p. 62.


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