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Ottoman History -- 17th Century Ideas and Society

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Ottoman Ways & Days

One of the longest lasting states ( known in west as an Empire - not in any Ottoman terms) in history. The Second wave in history of a great Islamic Civilization. The Ottoman Empire appears not unlike the U.S. except for its time period -- same groups, and political forces appear -- as with most other civilizations in history.

Evliya Çelebi.


17th Century in Depth

Evliya Çelebi Seyahatnâmesi Melek edited

What ran the Ottoman Empire from start to finish was the degree on which application of adalet and ‘ilm were produced positively. “Accompanying these two there were other important attributes like generosity, piety, clemency, forbearance, etc. Byzantine ‘ mirror for princes’ also emphasize similar qualities like justice, philosophy, fear of God, clemency and forbearance. “Mahmud Pasha, Mehmed II’s choice for grand viser in 1472. Mahmud Pasha “ was ‘ the sun in the skies of sagacity’ and ‘a mine of both intelligence and wisdom.’” He wanted to be known as a warrior and a scholar. ( Fame and Posthumous Legend Ch. 10)

In regards to “ The Question of the Ottoman Decline” by Cemel Kafadar, “Gelibolulu Mustapha ‘Ali and Kātib Çelebi, lamented “ the closing of the Ottoman mind” as a result of falling standards in higher education and public letters or a lack of curiosity in the outside world.”

Ottomans at the end of this century suffer their first territorial loss, but in contemporary writings, including the Europeans at the time they are still a strong state and one cannot underestimate their military.

Stage I begins with Murat I ( 1361-1389) a ‘unique’ twist on the Mongolian accession system. The Sultan has male children the are placed in provinces with their own courts and military, and when Sultan in old or dies the sons battle it out to the death and winner takes the Sultanate.

Stage II Changes in Accession and Rule - major factors



SULTAN SELIM II. Süleyman's only surviving son [ he killed the other two because they were following official rules to dispose an old Ottoman Ruler, but he killed them and the spirit of the Ottoman powerbase] , often known as Selim the Sot for his love of drinking, was not an active ruler. He retired to the pleasures of the harem while his able grand vezir, Mehmed Sokullu, ran the state, with growing input from the palace women. Selim kept the princes in the harem rather than placing them, as was customary until then, in military and administrative posts that would gain them the experience needed to rule. His practice, followed by subsequent sultans, weakened the quality of the rulers. 3

Janissaries up rise because not getting paid. Janissaries are growing in number and also gain alternative employment.

1574 Sultan Murad III allows only eldest prince into province. The black eunuch corps allow much less likely to have sex with blacks than with the older traditional white eunuchs. The Rise of the Valid Sultan. Queen mother now an important influence in politics of the Harem, and influence of groups of women.

[ advent of stage III] SULTAN MEHMED III. Upon his accession following his father's death, he had his 19 brothers strangled. He ended the traditional practice of sending princes to governorships, confining them instead to special quarters in the harem known as the kafes (the cage). Future sultans thus lacked the training and experience of their predecessors. The period was dominated by the exhausting war with the Habsburgs (1593–1606) and a series of great revolts in Anatolia. 3

1593-1606 The Long wars with the Hapsburgs. No clear winners but the Ottomans suffer financially from the long operations of war. Janissaries did not want to go to war, and so the administration began to recruit ad-hoc peasants to make up the difference. The peasants after seeing new places and how the military prestige is honored including wealthy prospects of war life, they didn’t want to return to sedentary lifestyle. “We don’t want to return to our villages.” Therefore the Çelali Revolts, as they are called, took place and this made the Ottomans look bad to the world. Why?  It was brigandage in parts of Anatolia, leading to a mass flight of peasants to the security of walled cities and mountains. It appeared as disorder to the world. What were the Ottomans to do?

They said, well many of the New Islamic peoples that came into the Empire after the 16th century conquests noticed that the devshirme system was actually illegal according to Islamic law, the shari’ah. In part because Christians were protected under the Islamic Law, called people of the book, and the fact that the Turkish Ottomans ruling elite were abducting them, enslaving them, mind-programming them,  this was in fact illegal. Wide discourse on this subject had a resounding effect. So the change took place, partly because of discourse on this subject affected the ears of the tolerant to this system, forcing them to change it, now came time to put forth a ‘ new light’ to the world and give this up to a safe appearing mode. The Ottomans began to recruit other slaves from the caucuses and eastern Anatolia, also many new inductions now were Islamic, Turkish, and some peasantry and others that were initially forbade in the beginning from joining the janissaries for reasons cited in other pages. This was in general and evolved not over night, but throughout this period.

Stage III Overhaul in Accession and Rule - major factors

Bold Administration Innovation

Sultan Ahmed I  ( 1603-17) Mehmed III's eldest surviving son, aged 13, inherited an empire besieged from without by the Habsburgs and Safavids and from within by the Çelali rebels. All Princes into the palace. Collateral and lineal lines of assent of rule are drawn up. Major overall of legal field, the first major change since Mehmed ‘the  Conqueror’. The Kanunname, is now the Kanun-i-cedi. Janissaries are getting less effective. Provincial cavalry getting militarily obsolete. Peasant army a new system.

1603 Çelali revolts ( See ad-hoc military and leaders of peasant revolts)

He gradually brought peace on all fronts. A deeply religious man, he attempted to enforce the observance of religious duties and to crack down on the consumption of wine.

Mustapha I, Ahmed brother is over ruled ( collateral/first reign) in favor of Osman II. He only rules three months and is considered mentally incapable ( Insanity).

Osman II comes to the thrown, at age 13 but exposes a changed Ottoman royal household and ruling eleite. His reign end in the first regicide in Ottoman history, in the year 1622. “He restricted the privileges of the ulama and considered replacing the Janissaries with a new army recruited from the Anatolian population. The Janissaries revolted, killed him, and restored Mustafa I (May 1622). 3

Mustafa I Second reign and everything in Istanbul degenerates to incorporation. Revolts in Anatolia. What to do? Get a competent leader in power.

Sultan Murad IV 1623-40 is chosen, of course, Mustapha was incapable. Ottoman lose Baghdad to Shah Abbas, but in 1638 will get it back. Kadizade, came from the ulema ruling party that they incited the janissaries as well who did away with Osman,  rule under Murad IV and rejuvenation takes place in some eyes. Crack down on Coffee shops, and tobacco use and general intolerance of anyone other than a strict Sunni. The name comes from the first Kadizade, named Kadizade Mehmed Efendi, as he was appointed vais ( preacher)  of Hagia Sofia. At the same period, at the second greatest mosque in Istanbul is Sivasī Efendi, who is of Sufi-like vais (preacher) of a more tolerant order. They fight verbally and some members fight in the streets. Both are appointed by the same Sultan. The Kadizade blames “ loss of purity of religion” on Sufis. ( See Cemel Kafadar/ Harvard).

Kadizade Mehmed Efendi, some call conservative, but this implies that these were the practices in the old days. In the old days there are many episodes of Sufi patronage of Sultans, and other high officials. This is too lengthy to cite, but I will try to provide a link. Jalal al-Din, otherwise known as Rumi, was an inspiration to the early Ottomans. He wrote in Persian, and considered Christens and Jews as part of the fold. His enormous work including poetry is considered the Persian Qu’ran and is cited by the elite in Islam to know how to recite in company his work, thus showing a educated intelligence. We will see also the importance of Sufism in the 17th century below with a grand viser and other Ottoman citizens. Other aspects of the Kadizade were crack down on Muslim establishments that catered to drug use, ideal chat, slander and sedition deans, called coffeehouses. This is outside the religious spectrum and most notably a social concern. For the people that want to delve deeply into this subject, the ulema were unpleased that at night, this was a new thing; traditionally people either went to a mosque or religious center for companionship and worship. With the onset of the coffeehouses the people began to go to them instead of the traditional nightly outings. This then bled over into the day as notable said they needed their coffee first before prayers. His followers gained political influence. Sometimes Murad supported them and sometimes he didn’t.

Köprülü line of vizierates begun in the 1560s

These ulema ( the kadizadelis) went a little too far in their crackdown on sufu orders, calling them illegitimate religions and south bribery and violence to force their politics. With the new grand viser Mehmend Köprülü, he put a stop to this as he was initially not concerned of religious as much as political sureties of the empire, and thus he took away their property and banished them in 1656.

1635 Raven campaign – see Evilya.

1638 saw the reconquest of Baghdad by the Ottomans.

1651 The Aghas rise and then dictatorship of the Agas, as Namia reports, Imposed goods on the shopkeepers, and some raided profits of the state during the Dasni Mirza episode, as highlighted in Evliya’s accounts too, depressed state and public moral. At this juncture there arose, as well, a rift between the rulers and the ruled. “ Naima’s description of complaints of the citizens of the capital to the injustice of the Aghas, the Aghas reply almost in fashion of the myth quote of ‘ let them eat cake’ of  Marie Antoinette of France’s fame, “’This is a city for the rich, not the poor; if you can’t bear the expense [ meaning nourishing food including meat that was inflated unjustly from Aghas hold of the treasury], go back to your homes in the provinces and content yourselves with cracked wheat and porridge.’ Incidents such as this assessed in the light of other basic failures of the government - neglect of security of the capital city and its exposing the populace of the effects of the Venetian blockades – contributing to a confidence crisis of growing proportions. According to Evilya, only an honest government could resume the credibility gap. (Dankoff)

Sultan Mehmed IV 1648-87. Ibrahim, the Mad’s son came to power while still a boy, and his first eight years as a sultan were marked by political disorder in the capital and the provinces, domination by the military officers, and financial crisis. In 1656, after a revolt


Mehmed Koprulu's term as grand vezir. Born in Albania (in 1575), Koprulu entered government service and held numerous positions that gained him an intimate familiarity with the workings of Ottoman government. Despite his advanced years, he approached his new post with brutal vigor. He cracked down on the Kadizade movement of conservative ulama, executed rebellious soldiers and officials, purged the court, balanced the state budget, and broke the Venetian blockade of the Dardanelles. When he died (Oct. 31, 1661), his son succeeded him, establishing the rule of a dynasty of grand vezirs that dominated the state until the end of the century’. 3

1656-58 Reassertion of control over Transylvania ( Rakoczy)

Significant Date and Significant Change in World Outlook

1683 Second siege of Vienna, a drive to resume the old conquering ways by the Köprülü line of vizierates begun in the 1560s, was a massive defeat and humiliation for the Ottomans. Over 100,000 troops. Right after the defeat, Mustapha Köprülü and Vani Efendi, the third Kadizade, were executed for the responsibility of the failure. This was not a loss, but  just an end of the drive to expand. The war had significance rhetoric, it was called on both sides the “War for Earth.” This defeat and the coming Carlowitz Treaty (1699), with the evacuation of Hungary and Transylvania, the Ottomans sees themselves not as center of the universe ( See cosmology) but just as another state among others in the world. Still in Europe and contemporary writings, the Ottomans are still considered a military threat, and in the future they will have victories against, the Hapsburgs,  Poland and Russia. Köprülü era ends.

Ottoman Forces Routed and first real significant Loss of Territory

1684 the Europeans see a weakness and try to exploit it, now gaining support a Holy Alliance attacks including Hapsburgs, Venice Poland and Russia ( Peter the Great). Russia joins attack on Crimean Tartars.

The evacuation of Hungary and Transylvania (except Banat of Temesvar) cause a crisis in the other provinces of mass population migration. The Ottomans sue for peace, the British mediate and Peter wants the Ottomans to promises to refurbish the Orthodox churches in Palestine, by they say “ no way.” This snub will have implications for a long time even with Ottoman future victories over the Russians. They will not forget this. This issue will emerge later, as it was really not anything to do with war, but general goodhardiness of allowing the ‘ people of the book’ to have a decent play to worship. Still the Ottomans are a major power, and contemporary writings still reflected this even in Europe.

-- Morea ( Greece) to Venice

-- Podolia to Poland

1699 Treaty of Carlowits see above.

1718 Peace of Passarowitz, the Ottomans lose territory of Belgrade to the Hapsburgs, but get it back again in 1736 with victories against the Hapsburgs and the Russians. After this there is a long period of peace to 1768. Belgrade was the place for food production, cannon production, biscuit production and arms productions. It was a very important city.

What other things are going on in the 17th century?

Mollaships were prestigious big city judgeships. One had options when leaving the general school years of the medreses; one could be a judge and make more money in the early stages of a career then a school teacher. For example, a kadi could make 25 akhas per day compared to a school teacher who could only make as much as 20 akhas per day. However, to continue school at the graduate level and upwards one needed to find a patron. If one was fortunate they could get granted a mollaship or at best become later on after observance and reputation Sheik of Islam, or the chief mufti, meaning the head of Istanbul the capital. This job paid well and was the most prestigious, but more risky as there were of course fewer available positions. There were many kadiships needed all over the lands. Many were placed for life in a village, but in a prominent place in the provinces, like a larger town, the Kadi was moved so roots could not be established. The Pashsa would usually appoint them when a position came up for a replacement. The kadis decision could never be in dispute. Once the ruling is made, that is final. However, one cannot reverse the kadis ruling, but one could attack his character, and appeal to a higher representative, all the way up to the kadi-asker then onto the imperial divan. The local peasant in theory had access to the imperial council and if they changed the ruling, then the kadis decision was no longer binding. With a large population and other immediate concerns of the divan with international relations, one can say that days of the week to hear cases was taxing upon them. This was part of the adalet system. Molla feneri was the first chief mufti and he put Bayezīd I in his place and helped change the school system for copying books for a better education, showing how important education was to the early Ottomans. One can see a change after the conquering of the Arab lands. See (Kafadar, ‘The Quesiton of the Ottomans Decline’).

The Rise of Intellectualism

Cemel Kafadar” The Question of the Ottomans Decline.”(Harvard), Katib Çelebi,” the closing of the Ottoman mind” was an observation and, “As a result of falling standards of higher education and public letters and lack of curiosity in the outside world.”

One Sees the importance when one looks to Molla Feneri, courage to stand up to Beyazīd I, and state the importance of schools and how he changed the system so the students could copy books one day a week.

Metin Ibrahim Kunt shows Ethnic regions, in this case Albanians and cins playing a leading role in high official appointments. This lurks back to times when meritocracy was the kul system and mainly Christians made up the bulk of the elite.

Subject and point:

Cincerity (cin)

1. Cins solidarity is one factor in the Ottoman politics. It was a significant factor from an exchange in 1658 between Köprülü Mehmed Pasha, the grand viser, and Melek Ahmend Pahsa, one of the prominent visers. The topic of conversation was the revolt led by Abaza Hasan Pahsa; the grand viser asked Melek Ahmed Pasha if he would fight against Abasa Hasan, since they were both Abaza. Melek replied that he would fight against any enemy of the Sultan, but the fact that such a question was asked at all indicated the significance of cins solidarity.

Remembering their pasts? The Slave and the Memory of Freedom.

Metin Ibrahim Kunk: Solidarity in the Ottoman Establishment.

  1. Köprülü built a mosque, a school in the village of Ruznik in Albania, which he specified as his ‘ original home’ (vatan-I aslî).
  2. Sokollu Mehmed Pahsa, was Bosnian by origin, built the bridge on the Drina and put caravanasary and shops there.
  3. Kara Mustapha Pasha, leader of the Vienna campaign also an Albanian. Did cins, play a role in early 17th century high official appointments?
  4. Evilya mentions his mother from Caucasus, was sister of Melek Ahmed Pasha’s mother; furthermore these two ladies were related to the mother of the two Pahsas.


 What Runs the Empire?

Ethics in Government

Intimate Life of an Ottoman Statesman’ Dankoff

Evilya’s account of seventeenth century Ottoman politics makes oblique reference to this issue, which preoccupied many of his contemporaries. The need for ethics in government became an increasingly insistent theme in Ottoman Political writing beginning with the treaties Asaf-name by Sultan Süleyman I’s grand vizer Lufti Pasha. Evilya, in his role as sultanic adviser and companion (musahib), frequently expresses his revulsion at the moral corruption that flourished at the Ottoman court and his administration for those who resisted corruption. In Book I of the Seyahat-name (68b.29f[243]) he identifies two religious leaders, both of them spiritual advisers to the Sultan (imam-i sultani), as formative influences on his own intellectual development. The first of these, his namesake Evilya Mehmed Efendi ( d. 1045/1645), is admired in the standard biographies as a paragon of personal integrity who scrupulously executed the terms of a trusteeship. The second, Yusuf Efendi, served as tutor to Sultan Ibrahim I’s son, three of whom  ( Mehmed IV, Süleyman II, and Ahmed II) were ultimately to success to the throne. Evilya’s eulogy of Melek Ahmed Pahsa is in a like vein: Melek’s reliance on “ the ulema, the pious şeyhs, the dervishes, the weak and the poor”--- that is, the humble and the community minded , as opposed to the social –climbing coterie with palace connections – erned him Evilya’s respect.

Similarly, Evilya’s criticism of the high handed attitude of the sultan’s servitors (künkâr kulu), with their supercilious and unfeeling treatment of the commoners (halk), echoes concerns voiced by contemporary historians. Silent acceptance of such behavior undermined the credibility of the sultan’s claim to rule in accordance with a strict standard of justice and equity (adalet). These writers expressed their determination that fundamental tenants if Ottoman administration not be sacrificed to the whims of such self styled dignitaries, who were themselves no more than coarse upstarts. The general feeling of outrage at the excess of the palace favorites, in particular the Aghas or high public officials, described in Namia’s account of the Dasni Mirza episode of August 1651 (Seban 1061), is also of the depressed state of public morale at the height of the “dictatorship of the Aghas” during Mehmed IV’s minority gives telling evidence of the rife that had emerged between rulers and the ruled at this juncture in Ottoman history.

Although the Aghas [ kudde Kethuda and Bektas  Begi] had already raided all the sources of profit belonging to the state, they were still unsated, but coveted even the poor morsels of the needy. They even dared to interfere with the regime of guaranteed market prices (narh) Thus, while the official price of mutton was eight aspers per okka, they raised it to thirteen. In addition, they admonished the sheep drovers throughout the empire to deliver the sheep form Erzurum and the other Anatolian provinces, and also from Rumelia and the Moldavian and Wallachian principalities, to the agents dispatched by them from the capital. In consequence, the funds for the sheep purchases distributed among the governors and other officials of those provinces were mostly furnished by the Aghas in Istanbul. These funds were exchanged for sheep which were then conveyed- sometimes more dead than alive – to Istanbul where the Aghas disposed of them as they saw fit, keeping the excessive profits all to themselves. They also controlled the flow of Bursa silk and dimity, as well as Chios mastic and halali cloth, which was forwarded without interruption and by the bailful from Baghdad and Damascus at the hands of the frontier commanders.

They imposed these goods on the shopkeepers of Istanbul at a price three times their natural value, and refused to allow anyone outside their narrow circle to participate in this profitable trade. The inhabitants of the city began to complain about the high cost of bread, meat, and other basic provisions, but when they submitted petitions to the authorities, their complaints went unheard. They were given nonsensical answers instead, calculated to turn their hearts against the sultan, to the effect that: “ This is a city for the rich, not for the poor; if you cannot bear the expense, go back to your homes in the provinces and content yourselves with cracked wheat and porridge.” Others among the Aghas’ devotees—according to the adage, “ The emir speaks truth!”” – joined them as accomplices and addressed comments of the following tenor [ to vizier, Melek Ahmend Pasha]: “Your excellency, a pack of country yokels (etrak) abandoned their fields and came to enjoy the delights of the city where meat and other delicacies were to be had for the asking. Why should they shy from it now, just because it costs fifteen aspers? If they don’t like it, let them go back where they came from!” - Namia

Incidents such as the Dasni Mirza episode of 1651 – assessed in the light of other basic failures of the government, such as its neglect of the security of the capital city and its exposing the populace to the effects of the Venetian blockades—contributed to  a confidence crises of growing proportions. In the opinion of Evilya and a number of is contemporaries, the credibility gap confronting the sultanate during the 1650s could be closed only by the resumption of honest government.

For the proponents of government, statesmen belonged to two classes, the virtuous and the morally corrupt. No one, no even the sovereign himself, was exempt for being tarred with the brush of these muckraking reformists. For example, another of Mehmed IV’s advisor-companion, the prominent historian Mehmed Solak-zade ( his nickname was Hem-demi, meaning one who was constantly in the sultan’s company), censured the recently deposed Sultan Ibrahim I for his unconscionable preoccupation with his personal comfort and luxury at a time when his people were suffering hardship. The same historian praised the sultan’s “good advisor” Kara Mustapha ( executed in 1053/1644) for his generous contributions of personal funds toward the building of charitable institutions (hayrat) at sites scattered throughout the empire, from the two shores of the capital at Galata and Usküdar to the Hungarian frontier (Egri) and the far reaches of Anatolia (Sivas Artukabad and Çorlu-Kuruçay). Similarly Evilya frequently mentions Melek Ahmend Pahsa’s charitable institutions, such as erance from an illness, an his summation eulogy he highlights Melek’s public generosity along with abstinence of his private life.

Evliya’s character of his patron’s second wife, Fatma Sultan, besides being an entertaining satire on the ways of Istanbul’s social elite, also points out by way of negative example the disastrous effects on Ottoman policy of a leadership insensitive to the condition of the poor and unaware of their own obligation to nurture those less fortunate than themselves. Compassion (Ar. Shafaqa, Tk. Şefkat) was the chief prerequisite for all office holders, according to Islamic principles. Ottomans society was one of self-made men—Evilya’s own career amply demonstrates this- but only through universal recognition on an ethic stressing public service, generosity in patronage, and loyalty on the part of the beneficiaries of patronage could such a system become and remain workable. Evilya’s insistence on his own incorruptibility—as in his altercation with Melek’s jealous servitors at the end of Chapter 8; or in his fictional but revealing portrayal of dervish Sunneti in Chapter 4, who he makes instruct the rowers to “ bear witness” that I refused to accept the goldpieces and that I distributed them among you, so that the pasha will feel peace of mind, and his heart will be free on any evil suspicion regarding Evilya Çelebi – should be seen in this light.

Evilya’s view on moral duties and financial obligations incumbent on all holders of high office or prestigious social positions is made explicit in the section devoted to the character and accomplishments of Melek Pasha’s first wife, Kaya Sultan. He celebrates Kaya and her husband’s generosity to their retainers, and Kaya’s munificent beneficiation of 20,000 gold pieces on the holy cities of Mecca and Medina. And he excoriates the powerful and –in his opinion—morally flawed grand vizer Köprülü Mehmed  Pasha for his confiscatory bent, openly criticism him of ordering the confiscation (müsadere) of the deceased princess’s worldly goods ( Some of them her husband’s rightful inheritance) before her body was yet cold.

The public service ethic was such an integral part of the tradition of Islamic government that , despite their reputation for despotic and arbitrary rule, even the Ottoman sultans could not afford to disregard it. Failure to observe the dictates and conventions of rule in the public interest was sufficient cause to render invalid the oath of allegiance (biat0 sworn by high government dignitaries as each new Sultan acceded to the thrown. Contemporary readers of Evilya’s account would have needed no reminder of this fact of Ottoman political life, because the events that had led up to the deposing of Ibrahim I in 1648 were still fresh in the collective memory. (dankoff).

Life in the time of Evilya and Melek

Evilya book shows the dichotomy of the Ottoman Empire. While the Ottomans in the inner conquered cities prided themselves upon polyglot of religious tolerance, the peripherals were continual ghaziness of conquering, suppressing and showering  power and force of the mighty strongman Islam against the weak infidels. Ironically, this would be Edward Said’s own theory folding in on itself. “Ottoman modernization supplanted an established discourse of religious subordination by a notion of temporal subordination in which an advanced imperial center reformed and disciplined backward peripheries of a multi-ethnic and multi-religious empire. This led to the birth of Ottoman Orientalism.” (Makdisi).

However, Evilya book is tame compared to Ali Mustpha’s critique on Egypt and Istanbul written relatively in the same periods.

Ten volumes of his Book of Travels provide an unparalleled account of life in the Ottoman empire during the mid-seventeenth century. These are sections on Melek Pasha.

The Seyahatname contains a wealth of material on cultural history, folklore and geography from the countries Evliya Çelebi visited.

EVLlYA ÇELEBİ was born on the 25th of February 1611 in Istanbul. ... (Between the periods of 1650 to 1662, Evliya Çelebi held the post of head-muezzin and accountant for Melek Ahmet Pasha.

Note: fabrication and exaggeration occur in this piece written in contemporary history. There is partisan theme, meaning a hero and a villain.

Between the periods of 1650 to 1662, Evliya Çelebi held the post of head-muezzin and accountant for Melek Ahmet Pasha. Together with the Pasha they reside at the province of Özi and Rumeli. Many events connected with the Pasha and which are narrated as personal experiences. Below is described how the Pasha, after having been governor in many provinces becomes Grand Vizier. The steps he took and the decision he made are related along with his dismissal in the end. (Ataman).

Not only did slaves remember where they came from, they also were in communication with their relatives.  This was not always the case.

Köprülü is the villain and Melek is the Hero and Evilya is the protagonist.

o      Melek is generous and giving person.

o      Köprülü is stingy, and a control’s people. He tries to clean everything up and kills many people. He revitalizes the empire.

Damad: the sons-in-laws

Melek’s two wives. (see - Sultan Ahmed I ( 1603-17) : After his reign the rise of the damad ( Son in laws)).


  1. Kaya married at 13, but not consummated till much later, marriage possibly of love, but rare in this time.
  2. Fatma, marries her when she is seventy-years old.  Arranged marriage without his consult.
  3. This was the classical model of political marriages to keep loyalty.
  4. Does this matter? Well one cannot refuse the sultan. Ask Ipşir who waited seven months in the provinces then decided to march on Istanbul.
  5. Marriages in general during the 17th century are quite different from the political marriages of the high officials in the early period. In the early period, marriage was to consolidate affiliations between ethnicities and lands. When the Ottomans conquered a new area they would arrange political marriages, almost like what was done in Europe during the 15th -16th century. In the 17th century, the marriages tied the Pasha to the Sultan. One couldn’t survive without the other. One of the changes were the replacement of the kul system, a merit system, which that of consolidating  ( see cins) family or noble appointments.

Themes  17-18th Centuries

Aims of change

Non aggressive

Centralized conflicts

Higher taxes


Local ayans

State not in debt like Europe

Lower taxes.

Decline of centralized state or they didn’t want to keep local stability.




Melek Ahmed Pasha (1588-1662)

ID: Melek: Was a Turk form Istanbul. His father, Dervix Mehmed Zilli Agha, chief goldsmith at the Ottoman court, had ( according to family tradition) accompanied Süleyman the Magnificent on his late campaigns.  His mother was an Abkhazian slave girl, presented to Sultan Ahmed I among with her cousin Melek Ahmed, who later became of the great statesmen of the age and Evliya’s chief patron. Melek names translates into Angel and claims that Süleyman named him after his introduction to the sultan and acceptance into the palace schools. He was part of the kul system.

Evilya ID

His book of travels is nearly is nearly 6000 pages long. It is written in "spoken language".

Evliya Çelebi showed an undying interest in the characteristics of the countries in which he journeyed and in the people he met. His work covers the historic events of the 17th century Ottoman Empire with vivid flashes into the life of the period, and is an invaluable source of historic and geographic knowledge. (Ataman).

He became Murad IV’s sword bearer and personal companion. On the day of the conquest of Baghdad he was offered the grand vizierate position.

Ipşir Pasha governor of Damascus, while Melek Ahmed Pasha was grand viser.

Melek levies 300 purses on the merchants and workers in Istanbul which the rose up and with help from his enemies cause him to lose his grand viser position. But this was considered a minor fraction and he was not killed as many grand visers were in history.

Men begin their career as ‘ slaves of the Port” ( kapikulu) – notably the janissaries, derived mainly from the Balkins, and the military slaves form the Caucasus – had the likeliest chance to achieve high office in the military and political spear. Such was the case of Melek Ahmed ( Though he was not technically a military slave, as he was born in Istanbul).

Romainia: Ochakiv (Russian: Очаков, Ochakov; Crimean Tatar/Turkish: Özi) is a town of 16900 inhabitants in Mykolaiv (Nikolaev) Oblast of southern Ukraine, located on a peninsula on the shores of the Black Sea, at the entrance to the estuary of the Dnieper, and opposite to Kinburn. Özi Province was an Ottoman province (vilayet) which included the territory of the former Principality of Karvuna (Dobrogea) and from 1484 until 1812 also the sanjaks of Ottoman Bessarabia or roughly modern-day Bugeac. The province capital of Özi is now modern Ochakov. After 1812, Özi was known as Silistre vilayet. Modern: Moldova or Moldavia is a region in Eastern Europe encompassing parts of the current states of Romania, Republic of Moldova and Ukraine. At the end of the Crimean War, in 1856, by the Treaty of Paris, two districts of southern Bessarabia were returned to Moldova.

The Ottoman Empire was divided into provinces (vilayets, beylerbeyiliks, eyalets or pashaluks). As time progressed the number of provinces would vary from thirty-six to a little over twenty, until many of the provinces were lost during World War I. At the height of its power, the Empire had 29 provinces. The Provinces of Rumili and Anadolu were under the direct rule of the sultan in Istanbul. The remaining 27 provinces were controlled by governors-general (beylerbeyis or vali).

The Provinces of Rumili (Rumelia) and Anadolu (Anatolia) were under the direct rule of the sultan in Istanbul. Otherwise, the provinces were ruled by governor-generals (beylerbeylis).

1.     State

1.1.  Factionalism

1.2.  Political marriages damad

1.3.  Marketplace

1.4.  adelet

1.5.  patronage


2.     Spirituality

2.1.  Sufi

2.2.  Dreams

2.3.  Ghazi frontier

2.4.  morality

3.     State

3.1.  Factionalism

3.1.1.     Rise of the Pasha households, fear of each other’s powers.

3.1.2.     Melek & Ipşir competition. Pasha Ipşir wants Pasha Melek dead and tried to issue three imperial rescripts. Sultan disagreed.  Ipşir bowstringed. 

3.1.3.     Melek & Köprülü

3.1.4.     The Sultan tries to balance the disagreements the best he can. He wants to see his state in peace and economic prosperity.

3.2.  Political marriages damad

3.2.1.     Damad ties the Sultan to his administration so he can relax or play.

3.2.2.     Melek to sultan Kaya, marriage at 13, not consummated because of dream till later.

3.2.3.     Melek appointed marriage to seventy-year old Fatma Sultan.

3.2.4.     Once a viser dies, the daughter of the sultan is married off to another viser.

3.3.  Marketplace

3.3.1.     People have power to rise up and depose or demote an official.

3.3.2.     Solidarity, power by numbers, and legitimate grievances.

3.3.3.     Market place can be a place of chaos in Istanbul.

3.4.  adelet

3.4.1.     How are you supposed to run adalet? How are we supposed to govern?

3.4.2.     The Prophet said “ The Liar is not in my community” a discussion on the finances and or the lack thereof of Van appointments in the imperial presence ( at court) . Dispute over money. One should just accept their appointment because it is the state and not the individual that matters.

3.4.3.     Debate between Melek Ahmed Pasha and Ipşir Pasha in the presence of Sultan Mehmed IV. Şemsi-paşa-zade Mehmed Emin Pasha, appointed governor to Van, was greedy and the entire garrison (kuls) revolted. 40 day war destroyed many buildings meaning destroyed many lives, bankrolled by the treasury the material and financial supplies were used. This was not adelet on Emin Pasha’s part but greed and his decisions hurt others.

3.4.4.     Melek (Angel) he is human, and Evilya points this out.


3.5.  patronage

3.5.1.     Patronage is not permanent or for life.

3.6.  Can Cins play a factor in viser or high office leadership appointments? For example all Albanians?

4.     Spirituality

4.1.  Sufi

4.2.  Derviş Sünneti, a Bektashi dervish.

4.2.1.     Magically appears and disappears. Appears at deputy viser’s palace, and  penetrates the walls and many gatekeepers.  He was eloquent and quick witted. Love-intoxicated holy man.

4.2.2.     Evilya says that Melek “ was himself a sufi adept and heart-wounded dervish, and he always used to

4.2.3.      Associate with the Upright of the Community”. Şeyhs of the sufi brotherhood.

4.2.4.     Not all Sufis shown in the same way. Melek knows sufi language that Evilya doesn’t. Melek recites a verse of the dervish’s sextain, showing he knew the identity of dervish. Evilya congratulates him, because he is astounded at Melek wide education and understanding of culture. 

4.2.5.     Melek was Nakşbendi (tarik-i hocaganda). His “saints of Spain pass there as Christians, but both are believers in monotheism [trans. meaning muslim], and secretly the possessors of the rug and sultans in the vanguards of  Nakşbendi”.

4.2.6.     Evilya was son of Derviş Mehmed Zilli.

4.2.7.     This event and first meeting gave Melek peace of mind and showed esoteric knowledge that is related to the occult sciences. Meaning people are aware of sysmbols and hidden meaning, possessing the Encompassing Onomancy [ cefr-i cami – that is, Miftāh al-jafr al-jāmi‘, a book by Muhyī’d dīn Abū l-‘Abbās al Būnī ( d. 622/1225), standard work of Islamic cabbalism].

4.3.  Dreams

4.4.  Ghazi frontier

4.5.  Belgrade reciting and school for teaching the reciting of the Koran. Was not built until Grand Viser Köprülüzade Fazil Ahmed Pasha, erected between 1661 and 1667 with his vakif.

4.5.1.     Evilya claims there were eight medreses in Belgrade, but no school for learning to recite the Koran ( See above first instance). There were three teachers and fourteen students.

4.6.  morality

4.6.1.     Melek described as humble, and generous by Evilya.

4.6.2.     In contrast to stingy Köprülü.

10 points of Evilya Çelebi’s books show important aspects of the Ottoman Empire.

1.     Stability of the state in face of insurrection from within.

2.     Political Marriage  (damad)  ties the Sultan and his administration so he can relax or play.

3.     Sufi

4.     Dreams

5.     Kadizade

6.     adelet                    a. Köprülü seizing of Melek’s possessions right after he dies and doesn’t care about his will.

7.     patronage: Evilya To Melek, Kaya

8.     the State

9.     fractionalization

10.  Market place.

Murat Sultan is out in the field when Melek is young.

Kaya Sultan, Murad IV daughter, her birth celebrated at a large festival. She became Melek Pasha’s wife 1633. she is married to him at age 13, but in a dream she is told not to sleep with him or she will lose her life, because she will die in childbirth. After their first child, she doesn’t die and thus destiny of dreams appears incorrect. Usually the dreams in the Ottoman Empire are correct if interpreted correctly and they show destiny with their fruition. She eventually gives birth again and dies thus fulfilling the dream interpretation and destiny.

1.  Stability

When was the Ottoman Empire considered stable?

Revolt against Istanbul

  1. Ipşir marches against Istanbul, sends an Army home to grant himself as grand viser and displace Melek as grand viser, and he is killed ( assassinated ) as Melek hears the news from a guard named Ylidirim at his wife’s residence while preparing for his new station as head deputy of the province Van, in Anatolia. This showed that although at times the Sultan could be deposed as in other instances in Ottoman history, the state goes on and is stable. The dynasty is secured and no one person can bring it down.
  2. Uprising of the tradesmen and the Removal of Melek Ahmed Pasha.
  3. First was his unjustified execution of Hanefi  Halife & Dasnik Mirza. August 9, 1651.
  4. The Fortress of Azov at the extremity of the Black Sea was besieged. 70,000 was called to help cure the revolts and it is said that funny money handling went on. When confronted the Pasha took a cane and started to beat the religious folk ( called them Jews) in the area ( 79).
  5. To get their judgment, the town held a protest. So then this put pressure on the center to receive desired results. He was removed to another position. ( 50,000 at protest) ( 79)
  6. The  people went to get fetwas ( Aziz Efendi)  that stated Sultan Melek Pasha was an infidel and he doesn’t deserve the position of Viser.
  7. Ipşir came from Aleppo after a full seven months after he was called to the Port for a marriage offered by the Sultan.

2. Marrige

Political Marriages (damad, Imperial Son-in-laws to the Sultan).

  1. These are marriages that tie the Sultan to his administrators. Pashas and their households become more independent, but damad plays an important role in the function of the Sultan’s ultimate authority. However, Sultans are deposed and on rare occasions killed the Sultanate remains unconquerable until the end of the Ottoman Empire. Pahsas remain in administration all the way to the end as well.
  2. Sultan Ahmed I ( 1603-17) : After his reign the rise of the damad ( Son in laws). Usage of damad helps displace the misogynistic terminology associated with female political marriages.
  3. Era of multi-marriages for one women, and loyalty is not an issue but disloyalty is tool for advancement. Subversion of accepted norms.
  4. He stops fratricide that was a part of the last one hundred years of Ottoman ruling policies. From provinces to the capital the competition for ruler relocated.
  5. April 1662 . Marriage. Fazil Ahmed Pasha to Fatma Sultan.
  6. Melek Marriage to 13 year old Kaya Sultan.

3. Sufi

1. Not all Sufis shown in the same way.

2. Melek knows sufi language that Evilya doesn’t.

3. Sufis were very important in the founding of the Ottomans. With the Pir Ghazis and noble elite reading, studying and reciting Rüni ( Jalal al-Din) 14th century famous figure, Persian was the main high language around at that time, and notables if considered cultured would recited back and forth to each other verses of Rümi. His enormous work including poetry is considered the Persian Qu’ran. He was a Mevlevi, and popular culture knows his specific order as the famous Whirling Dervishes.

4. Evilya and his father were dervishes.

4. Dreams

  1. Dreams were important to the Ottomans. The Osman dream helped people identify the Ottoman State with the dream and the destiny that dreams represented. The  house of Osman dream reveals a justification for legitimacy.
  2. The literal mechanism of the dream is a justification for legitimacy.
  3. One night Evilya dreamt of the Prophet and instead of saying "Şefaat ya Resulullah" (intercede on my behalf. Oh envoy of God), he said "Seyahat ya Resulullah" (grant me travel, Oh envoy of God).(Ataman).

Cosmology of the Ottomans and Islam

The pen and the tablet in Islamic cosmology are considered the concept of predestination and marks the reality in which the Ottomans lived. Ottomans believed this in a physical sense, and dreams played a large part in the overall formulation of the state beginning with the many, but mainly, three dreams of Osman, the mythical, or physical ( see other pages) which all show a destiny, a type of manifest destiny. In Evilya’s sections there are 16 dreams. Most are shown in a predestined fashion and have prophetic principles in which are played out until fulfillment.

Bread dream is about confidence. Melek interprets the dream himself.

The late Sultan Murad appears in a dream and has a loaf of  bread of a Kurdistan baker with part of it bloodied. The Sultan says, Give some to Kaya, some to Khan of Bitlis, and eat some yourself. But the Sultan didn’t offer it to Ipşir.

Melek recalls his past to Evilya how he became the sword bearer of Sutlan Murad and won his confidence by putting out a fire and saving him when it was the duty of a former sword bearer who was not paying attention.

The bread of Kurdistan baker meant that Ipşir could not win wars in Van and that Melek’s dream about being offered to eat the bread meant he would be victorious in Van, compared to Ipşir’s failure on the battle field. This dream is when Ipşir was carrying out affairs from the state with Melek Ahmed Pasha in council and at night he has a dream about the late Sultan Murad and bread of a Kurdistan baker.

“Eat the bread in Van and have victory.”

Ipşir convinces the Sutlan to send Melek to Van, where he failed. Melek prepares for his journey by packing and after five days, Ipşir sends a complaint ( noble prescript)  to the Sultan asking for the ordering for  Melek death because he was stalling. He is denied, and this also helped seal his fate. The Sutlan instead gave him the position of commander-in-chief. Melek returns to getting ready and it appears that Ipşir is sending çavaşes to order him to leave immediately. This cases Melek to fly into a rage and beat them off with a stick. He wants to spend intimate time with his wife before he leaves. The dream also tells him that his wife will die in childbirth. She had the same dream once. AS it turned out Kaya Sultan was seven months pregnant, and thought the çavaşes were going to kill her husband and she hurried to tell him and when she arrived she had a miscarriage. They morn the baby premature death.

  1. “ Let her wash the bloody bread and eat it” referred to the little prince. You wash the blood and bury him.
  2. Kaya Sultan supports Melek against his enemies. She supports him financially and warns him of plots against his life.
  3. “ He still has enemies, and no friends” Melek tells Evilya about Ipşir who dallied  in Aleppo when he should be at court addressing the sultan’s marriage proposal, but now is conspiring against Melek and in fact took his grandvizership from him. However, the Sultan knows that Ipşir didn’t do what he wanted and later Ipşir is assassinated. Most of the time, it is with a bow-string.
  4. Joseph of the bible and bread.
  5. The blood means everyone that eats it will ‘ eventually ‘ die, but served honorably to the side of Melek. Kaya will die and Khan Bitlis will have bad luck against the Ottoman army. Interpretation is the prophesy is that the Sultan will give him a station as deputy in the province of Van.

Ipşir takes two of Melek officials and places them in prison. Evilya is left behind for a little while to obtain information of Ipşir. Ipşir doesn’t see any harm in Evilya, although he could hav imprisoned him too.

Kudde Kethüda and the Morali Deftardar and Mevkufati Mehmed Efendi

  1. Kudde was Melek’s steward for twenty years.
  2. They are held for ransom.
  3. placed naked in a freezing pool in winter, not fed for many days and whipped every day. 1000 lashes.
  4. They are lied too, and even though all come up with most of the money they are taken and killed.
  5. Evilya who is trying to be the arbitrator, then just the monitor and then just a  witnesses the whole scene.
  6. every evening he secretly reports to Kaya.

Battle in Diyarbekir against the Yezidis Kurds in Saçli Daği.

Melek called for the standard order to give up peasfully, but many kurds fearful hid from him. After they were captured, they were sent to the Sultan and another dream plays a large role in saving of the prisoners.

In general, the Yezidi kill their families so their wifes and children are not made slaves, and other commit suicide, so to escape punishment before death.

5.  Kadizade

1. see above ( considered traditionalists, strict adherence to ethnic domination -- somewhat as the same arguments that whites controlled the U.S.A. They battled bottom forces, a bottom up phenomena, also disliked social imbalances. They struggled with modernity, considering such things as opium and coffee houses are not covered legalistically in the hadiths. So what to do?

6. Adalet

  1. See Adalet and Evilya above.
  2. How are you supposed to run adalet? How are we supposed to govern?
  3. Evilya’s character of Fatima Sultan and social elite points out a negative example of some disastrous Sultanic policies toward the poor. ( Ch. 10 beginning).
  4. Ethics in government:
  5. Statesmen two classes: The virtuous and morally corrupt.
  6. Melek ( Angel) he is human, and Evilya points this out.
  7. Celali ( rebel)
  8. ( bre urun meluni) Kill the bastards.
  9. New legislation – refined the Kanun-I Kadim, now called Kanun-I cedid. Istanbulites’ ( possessive noun here).
  10. Historian Mehmed Solak-zade : Hem-demi ( one who is in the company of the sultan constantly.  He says that Sultan Ibrahīm I lived in luxury and was kicked off the thrown from political discourse because people were suffering while he lived in opulence.
  11. Contemporary writing speaks about episodes: Confiscation ( Müsadere) of deceased princess worldly goods, and some of these goods were her rightful inheritance from her recently deceased husband, This showed greed and not justice.
  12. Fatima and Köprülü fight for Melek‘s possessions.

Dankoff , Robert. The Intimate Life of an Ottoman Statesmen. State University of New York. 1991

Political Marriages

Sultan Ahmed I ( 1603-17) : After his reign the rise of the damad ( Son in laws). Usage of damad helps displace the misogynistic terminology associated with female political marriages.

Era of multi-marriges for one women, and loyalty is not an issue but disloyalty is tool for advancement. Subversion of accepted norms.

He stops fratricide that was a part of the last one hundred years of Ottoman ruling policies. From provinces to the capital the competition for ruler relocated.

7.   Patronage: (view it like twentieth century clientism/special interest groups and their leaders, and individual preferences to social organization, technological progress and innovation. This system, the Ottoman patronage system connects the empire into a semi-smoothly running civilization.)

  1. Patronage is not permanent or for life.
  2. Köprülü first patron was Hüsrev Pasha.
  3. Living on the Margins of Charity by Eyal Ginio talks about coping with poverty there. The Ottoman sultans didn’t regard Salonika as a primary target for their generosity and philanthropy. There were no sultanic endowments. Evilya Çelebi visited.
  4. The sultans major responsibility was relief to the poor!
  5. In Solonika the Sufis and residents made it their responsibility to attend to the poor and set up their own endowments.
  6. Solonika was a place for pensioned visers, political exiles and ousted dignitaries.
  7. Evilya’s patron  was Melek, and his book showed that patrons do not last a lifetime.

Obligation of a subordinate in the Ottoman system was to praise and otherwise promote the welfare of his/her superior, to whom they owed loyalty.

8. The State

  1. Balkins to the Causus
  2. Porous boundaries.
  3. Powerful Pasha Households in the provinces. The mere sight of the Pashas with their vast retune showed the populous Ottoman legitimacy.
  4. Istanbul is somewhat in chaos.
  5. The revolt and march by Ipşir shows the state is strong and one man cannot overthrow it. The dynasty is secured and one man cannot replace the Sutlanate, but can replace the sultan.
  6. People had a role in government.
  7. Children raised in Harems.
  8. Girls married off to get their own powerbase.
  9. Sultan Murat the conqueror of Baghdad shows the Ottoman still a very powerful military state.
  10. Van is a frontier post.  Theme manage, Ghazi, less stability.

9. Fractionalization

  1. Rise of the Pasha households, fear of each other’s powers.
  2. decentralization.
  3. contention with correct path.
  4. favoritism.
  5. End of meritocracy
  6. destabilization.

10. Market place

1.  Cannot shut down the market place. This would be economic dire circumstances.

2.  Istanbul, The Market Place can bring down a grand viser.

Battle by Isnik: ( pages 70s)

The Command to execute by goading the Sultan and he concents:  Hanefi  Halife & Dasnik Mirza.

Ghazi’s still used on the battlefield.

Chief doorkeepers is translated to mean people that carry orders from the once place, like the battlefield to the Port, or another place.

Very graphic descriptions of how parts of body are wasted in battle.

Peasants dig pits and bury the dead en masse.

814 heads were taken t Istanbul mounted on sticks and paraded around passed the Divan and in the presence of “ the felicitous Sultan Mehmed Khan Gaazi ( 76). Finally removed they were trampled in the dust like polo balls beneath the hoves of the passerby” ( 77)
the Fire

People stealing the heads and the same night in the quarter of Fener kapi in Istanbul fire caught. The infidel quarters known as Bektas Agha’s barracks collapsed. Gun power dump caught fire as more fires were set.

Uprising of the tradesmen and the Removal of Melek Ahmed Pasha.

First was his unjustified execution of Hanefi  Halife & Dasnik Mirza. August 9, 1651.

The Fortress of Azov at the extremity of the Black Sea was besieged. 70,000 was called to help cure the revolts and it is said that funny money handling went on. When confronted the Pasha took a cane and started to beat the religious folk ( called them Jews) in the area ( 79).To get their judgment, the town held a protest. So then this put pressure on the center to receive desired results. He was removed to another position. ( 50,000 at protest) ( 79). The went to get fetwas ( Aziz Efendi)  that stated Sultan Melek Pasha was an infidel and he doesn’t deserve the position of Viser.

Protests  -- Bottom Up Forces

August 12, 1651. Istanbul protest of unfair treatment by the rich administrators to the guilds people and common folk. Too stop the suffering the protestors demanded 70,000 piasters’ worth of gold. They received it. But to the people the money was supposed to go be distributed didn’t make it.

Again the people clamored at the residences of the Pasha demanding justice and again he hit them with his staff.

Outside the Pasha’s residence the rebels demanded the revenge for 70 men killed by the Pasha’s war against the rebels who many were poor people ( workers).(89)

Melek Pasha offered Baghdad, Egypt, or Budin or Özü vizierate. He takes Özü vizierate.

August 23, 1615 another outbreak in Istanbul and the administrations gates were shut again. Many people died.  Buried money dug up and returned to treasury.

On the way to Özü Melek house stop at Resçuk.

Then Sultan Ahmed I wife  Kösem Valide, mother of Murad IV was strangled by the chief black eunuch Div Süleyman Agha. She was martyred, according to Çelebi. Three days and nights of morning.  Several hundred people were put to death, secretly and publicly, and Istanbul was in a tumult.

Most of the brew haha was about money. The fact at the empire was not conqusting which was much of their early monetary system, the ways into getiing money was now tighter and a new thing. Much money was afloat in the Ottoman Empire but when the population grew after the capture of Arab lands and the capitulations to the Europe in trade one needs to look at where the money to pay the tradesman and troops is coming from.

December 1652 Melek is removed from Özü and appointed governor of Rumeli.

At Sofia, one needs to remember this movement is a part of the Ottoman system so roots and loyalty do not blind the task of ruling justly at hand.

At Sofia

There is an incident of divine retribution as a moral message that Allah is just when we begin to read about what it is in Sofia. This narrative is a stark contrast to the tumultuous Istanbul in the prior chapters. However this episode tests Melek’s resolve. As part of the solution, Melek banned all prostitutes of Sofia from the town. The religious functionaries were happy, but the more secular were unhappy. But ironically Ginayi Efendi, who Melek sought out because he was the defterdar of this town, sent him a “splendid Circassian slave girl.” (99).

Dream interpretations.


A Marvel: the Genuine Dream of this Humble One, Evliya the Unhypocritical.

  1. Melek interprets a dream, and Joseph of the Bible is mentioned.

  2. “Now my administrators are towing me to the path of Truth.”

  3. The ship is described by a Franck as sick, and top heavy. ( I’m too concerned with worldly pomp, that I have too many servants and a swelled head).

  4. “There is no balance in the hold” ( refers to my being hungry because of my religious men).

  5. The dream also is about many men from his house dying or abandoning him. This alludes to the other pomp phrase and swelled head of greed and neglect of gratitude upon the people that make him the famous and important person his is in the Ottoman Administration.

  6. After he ate ( Supposedly a 70 day fast due to sickness) he distributes large amounts of money to many people associated with his house and the town. He has a return to relgion and the notion that charity or well being of others in the Islamic doctrine is very important and being greedy and haughty doesn’t win support. 

  7. Kaya Sultan sent a Frankish physician which gives legitimacy to this story and the physician  began to treat the Pahsa.

  8. Gīnayi Efendi passed away- who was the apple of his eye and friend for 40 years.

Ottoman Timeline: 1656-58 reassertion of control over Transylvania ( Rakoczy).

1660s Advances upon Hapsburg & Polish territory.

17th Century the Rise of the Pasha Households

Located on the upper Tigris basin, at the junction of historical trade routes connecting Anatolia to Iran and Mesopotamia, Diyarbakır, surrounded by walls, has been an important settlement for many centuries.

ID: Evliya Çelebi (also known as Derviş Mehmed Zilli) was one of the most famous Ottoman travelers, who traveled throughout the territories of the Ottoman Empire and the neighboring lands over a period of forty years. He also was a calligrapher, dream interpreter, Iman and boon companion to Pasha Melek,  decorator, musician and a poet. He accompanied many pasha’s on campaign, and was many persons’ benedictory, Qu’ran orator and dreamer interpreter the text makes a large donation to the importance of dreams and how correctly they were interpreted.

Importance to grand viser and deputy viser Melek: Served as Melek Iman, boon companion, and offered servant appointments like marshal of the guards, but didn’t like these responsibilities so he turned them down. Evliya treats Melek as almost a Saint.

Sig: Evliya Çelebi showed an undying interest in the characteristics of the countries in which he journeyed and in the people he met.1. He gives us a glimpse into the Ottoman Empire in the 17th century, albeit at times most obviously exaggerated. His writings shows factionalism in the divan itself.

Evliya's "Book of Travels" has three versions -- 10 volumes.

‘Evliya Çelebi traveled from early childhood until the time when there was nothing to see and no one to meet; he learned and recorded everything. He derived his real source of knowledge and culture not from education but from life. The desire in him to learn burned until his last days. Likewise during his long stay in Egypt during his old age, he explored the whole country while also attending lectures by the scholars of the period’.1.

Born on February 25, 1611 in Istanbul as the son of a jeweler designer for the Ottoman court, he received an excellent education. After initially traveling in Istanbul and taking notes on buildings, markets, customs and culture, he started his first journey outside the city in 1640 (Bursa) . His collection of notes of all of his travels formed a ten volume work called Seyahatname (Book of Travels). Although many of the descriptions in this book were written in a quite exaggerated manner, his notes are widely accepted as a useful guide to the cultural aspects and life style of Ottoman Empire in the 17th century.

The Seyahatname contains the first transcriptions of many Caucasian languages, and the only extant specimens of written Ubykh outside the linguistic literature.

Father: Melek Father was serving the treasure of Selim I’s grand vizer Kara Piri Pasha and was part of conquest of the Arab lands in 1515-7. Evliya traces back a linage to Ebu Bekr as-Sīddik. His own birth was among the Sadşa tribe, situated in the wilderness of the Elburz mountain skirt ( i.e. Caucasus). He was a military slave ( gulam –i feta).

Melek fathers, addressed from words of Melek himself told by Evliya is he was Özdemir Beg’s nephew of his father’s side. He served as chief of Özdemir’s guards in Egypt. Tavaşi Süleyman Pasha, who was Süleyman Khan’s vizer invaded the Indian ocean;  went to conquer Yemin, a strategic port location then to open up trade routs to India to dominate the ocean. Fought Francks and Portuguese and even raided them taking jewels and money. He took in India the fortresses of Diu, Benderbad, Dablabad, and routed several Frank armies. He then gave the keys to the forts to emperor of India who in return gave him money. (271).

Melek married Kaya at 13. A prophecy told her not to sleep with him. Many years later her mother locked both of them in a room after telling Melek to get her pregnant. The prophecy didn’t come true right away, but later on it did. Many girls were married in the Ottoman empire at this age.

Father: Evliya Çelebi

His father, Mehmet Ağa (Derviş Muhammed Zilli), had taken part in the conquest of Cyprus during the reign of Sultan Selim II, had presented the keys of Famagusta to the Sultan and had risen to the post of chief jeweller in the palace. He was over seventy five and in Evliya Celebi's words "a grand old, man". 1.

According to Çelebi, Melek and he were cousins from his mothers’ side, were presented to the court on the same day to Ahmed I. And, Melek, early in the reign of Murad IV, brought Evliya to the sultan’s attention.

Understanding movement of governors was a policy adopted to extinguish loyalty to an area.

Imperial son in law ( damad-I şehriyart) Melek Ahmed Pasha, (1588-1661-2). Melek (Angel) Ahmet Pasha becomes Grand Vizier, and Nogayoğlu Arslan Pasha had died.

1643 Married Kaya Sultan

1645 Governor (sançakbegi) of Diyarbekir for the second time. A year later again for the third time.


Governor of Baghdad appointed three times, but the first day of the third appointment he became grand vizer ( then he is demoted, many were).

1654 Melek sent to Van.

1656 March: grudge of Pasha Ipşir against Pasha Melek

Melek at Beg-bazari


Torture of Melek’s chancery, defterdar and steward then their executions is about as bad as it can get, as described by Çelebi. Neck chains, placed in winter in a pool of water, no food for days, and taken out periodically for 1000 lashings and at least once every day and told to give Ipşir ( vizer) all their lands, all their deeds and all their money (these were rich people). If we can believe Çelebi, then the astronomical amount of wealth handed over was never going to save their lives. One must remember that Mehmed IV was only twelve-years-old at that time. So what could he do? This showed factionalism in the Ottoman leadership system as well as the growing independent leadership of the Pasha households.

Ghazi verses Infidel

Yezidis in the Saçli Daği. Kurdish/Sunni Differences

Pasha Ipşir wants Pasha Melek dead and tried to issue three imperial rescripts  [ decrees for execution by majority vote in all departments] but was voted down. Melek is sent to Van (the lest rich state in the province [ according to  Çelebi ]meaning that Melek’s salary is tied to its success) where is then recruits and army at first for protection from possibly facing Ipşir then, to get the army promises them look so they go after one of the richest cities which happened to be Kurdish.

Deputy ( then) vizer Melek’s blitzkrieg of the Kurdish Yezidis (Çelebi highlights that because they didn’t worship Sunni strictly they were doomed as infidels  from the beginning) is an awful inhuman account, if we can believe Çelebi’s descriptions of the burning most of the regions peoples alive in caves, where they sought refuge from the 89,000 man army of the Ottomans. The Ottomans had taken all the land, some coinage,  all the fortresses and homes, and burnt much of it, then turned to the caves and trapped the multitudes of people in them and burnt, suffocated them. They managed to take slaves from old and young, preferring the moonfaced boys ( You add your significance here) and virgin girls.

Bektashi Dervish appears to Melek twice.

Melek Ahmed Pasha, Van army

Saricans: foot soldiers

Segbans: cavalry

Regiments: 100 soldiers

70 regiments at Mt. Sincar

In addition to Pasha’s household army. 19,000

Raided 300 villiges

Killed 10,000

13,000 captives

9,000 animals

Gold, sliver in all forms

Lala: imperial tutor; tutor

Mihrab ( Prayer-niche)

Expressions: finger to mouth, as bewilderment, amazement. Used with cherubim, Muslims, and people in general.

Serbian word meaning just (çeşteti) (Turkish ‘ādil)(244)



The alteration of the grand viziers was hindering the empire’s recovering. Meanwhile, everybody wanted to see Köprülü Mehmet Pasha as the grand vizier. He was offered to be the grand vizier but for the first time in the Ottoman history Mehmet Pasha laid down some conditions. First of his conditions was, the palace would be apart from the administration, secondly, if somebody would complained about him, his defence would be asked. Sultan Mehmet IV had accepted these conditions and Köprülü Mehmet Pasha came to be the grand vizier. He was a vigorous old man and he restored the tranquillity.

He restored the financial regulations, he recaptured the island of Limni, Bozcaada and Imros from the Venetians in 1657. He defeated the Russian Army in Konotop (1659) and he repressed the revolt of Erdel Prince Rakochi.

Anatolian Turkish States had liberated during the chaotic condition of the empire. Köprülü Pasha had attacked them, he restored unity violently as Murat IV previously did. He attended grand vizier for five years and he killed approximately 35.000.000 people.

He died in October, 31, 1661. His son, the greatest of all Turkish grand viziers Köprülü Ahmed Pasha held the viziership.

The Ottoman-Austrian War was continuing. Köprülü Ahmed Pasha raided to Austria he captured the castles of Uyvar (September 24, 1663) and Novigrad (November 4, 1663), and Austria wanted an agreement.

With the Vasvar Agreement(August 10, 1664), the Ottomans took the places they were invaded and Austria accepted to pay war compensation.2.

Çelebi said (205), Melek treated Köprülü terribly when he was up and coming. Since then, Köprülü suffered poverty, distress and vicissitudes. He also becomes a good military leader in Baghdad and Iran.

1656 Köprülü becomes grand vizer, he decimated the celali rebels in Anatolia and Rumelia.

Truful he is wrathful and contentious > but he acts according to the principles of ‘ love for the sake of God’, hate for the sake of God.’ If he can get rid of the Segban and Sarica vermin in the Anatolian provinces, and if he can restore the currency and remove the arrears, and if he can undertake overland campaigns- then I am certain that he will bring order to the Ottoman state. For  you know breaches have occurred here and there in this Ottoman state.

Aristotle is references (208) “I seem to acquire the wisdom of Aristotle.”

“The Pasha knew that fish stinks from the head” ( 225) Evliya commenting on Köprülü’s understanding of one situation.

The death of Kaya Ismehan Sultan, Daughter of Gazi Murad Khan dies in childbirth and miscarriage. Forty years of service and all is taken by the state from Melek’s wife because of laws. Once must remember, barring special endowments not always easy to get or administer (trustees for children)  for retainers of one’s wealth after one dies, the state takes one’s belonging because the sultan owns everything. This is a type of communism. Köprülü takes all of Melek’s wife’s belongings, according to law and places them in a lockdown portion of a city, where the daughter will get them later on, but not for the Pasha to use which may be the case. When, inventory was taken, much was deemed not Kaya’s personal belongings but mostly military paraphernalia, so after  Köprülü assigns Melek Bosnia and tells him to raid Venetian trade towns, he restores him his belongings.

The prophesy of Melek and Kaya marriage and its significance is a story of an appearance of non-fate and fate.

Bosnia More Ghazi raids against Infidels

Sable robe of Honor, is like a pack after cutting a deal, in this case the appointment, then the financial agreement set in verbal commands, and witnesses, the robe is bestowed. Kinda like a paper contract with a  actual practicality.

March 15, 1659 Melek heads from Istanbul to Bosnia. Evliya offered post by Köprülü and turns it down. He is sent to Köprülü to give some correspondence where Köprülü gets mad but then leaves and some of his officers call him a pimp, and the one sword his slave and the treasurer throws a javelin into his thigh and it came out the back side. They wanted to kill him. Köprülü breaks up a staged fight ( they chained the gates) and Evliya strikes the treasurer with a sword and so both are wounded. A kadi is summened and witness forge out what happen, and comes to be known that slander in Van occurred, and it was a grudge. Both are Ok and Evliya and the tresuer were locked in the janissaries quarters for twenty days. After both mens wounds heal  Köprülü tells Evilya that Melek is no good and that it is better for him to stay and be of service ( reciting passages) to Köprülü’s house.

Back in Bosnia thousands of Infidels heads on sticks are paraded as Melek mughazis/maghazi.

The recruited Ghazis disputed with Melek that equal distribution is there custom, which is correct. They must divide equally amount themselves. This was in part the Muhammad custom after his Hegira. This act felicitates great loyalty and unity. However, the Padshah didn’t proceed and auctioned off the loot and scalped the heads and salted the scalps of 200 prisoners. (249).

Antidote of a Muslim and a infidel on a rescue/war pact cemented by liking each other blood. One is captured the other attempts a rescue. Each die and take the others fate in the afterlife.

1660 Raiding in Dalmatia.

1661 Campaigning in Transylvania receives official orders in Fogarasch announcing the death of Köprülü and the succession of his son Fazil Ahmed Pasha to the grand vizerate: and informing Melek of his marriage to Fatma Sultan. Melek Pasha expresses his outage at the news by saying: “They have given me an old crone, and told me to ‘ feed the state elephant.’” Melek and Evilya return to Istanbul.

April 1662 . Marriage. Fazil Ahmed Pasha to Fatma Sultan.

The Bektashi returns and gives Melek Tarikat-I Muhammediya. A treaties by Birgili Mehmed, complete in 980/1572.

Intresting in the final sections where Melek dies a significant phrase of “ quaffed various beverages from strange hands” ( even at the Divan) indicating it is not trustful to partake of something that you have no idea where or who it came from.

The Kuls uprise, but a high Divan day they were supposed to go and get paid. He goes, and he spends some of his own money to free up 105 slave boys of his aand distributes money to many his slaves all over the lands. This would be an endowment that the state cannot touch and something he made sure was binding in the courts a long time ago. He is spitting up blood now. For seven hours he makes is last will and testament.

As always, after he dies, Fatma and others go for his loot right after he dies, and this is a theme played out in other writings, not every time, but is seen as a reoccurrence. The laws are so vague that this happens, and Fatma takes his loot.

The seventeenth-century Seyahatname, or Book of Travels, of the famous Ottoman chronicler Evliya Çelebi expresses this fusion of privilege, urbanity, class, patronage, and Sunni Islam that defined being Ottoman. If Istanbul was the "abode of felicity," the frontiers of the empire were its antithesis: regions where heresy flourished, locales of strange and often comical stories, and arenas where Ottomans "proved" their Islamic identity and yet reconciled themselves to the fact of a multi-religious and ethnic empire. (Makdisi).

The Seyahatname reveals just how deep the religious and ethnic consciousness of Ottomans ran in the late seventeenth century. For example, Çelebi's description of his patron Melek Ahmed Pasha's punishment of the "dog worshippers, worse than infidels, a band of rebels and brigands and perverts, resembling ghouls of the desert, hairy heretic Yezidi Kurds" near Diyarbekir in Anatolia reflects one of the central tenets of the Ottoman imperial system: not simply the existence of a profound difference between Ottoman rulers and many of the subjects they ruled but the unbridgeable nature of this difference. Melek Ahmed Pasha sent seventy regiments of soldiers in addition to his retinue of "Abkhazian and Circassian and Georgian braves—who shamed one another in battle, and never held back their reins, and who knew what Muhammedan honor meant." The result was, according to Çelebi, a very bloody battle in which the Yezidis were literally smoked out of their caves. They preferred collective suicide to surrender. "When the army of Islam saw this spectacle," Çelebi relates, "they too expended the utmost of their powers and smote with their swords. Blood of the Yezidis flowed down the mountainside. God willing, vengeance was exacted at the hand of Melek Ahmed Pasha for the blood of the martyrs of Kerbala. In short, such a mighty battle raged for ten days and nights that even Küçük Ahmed Pasha's battle on Jabal Druze with Maaynn-oglu was not so fierce. (Makdisi f18).

Ottoman Understandings of the World in the Seventeenth Century

By Goffried Hagen. Afterward.


Cosmology Evilya befriended Aziz Mahmud Hüdayi  (d. 1628).


1.     predestination and seven flat earths

2.     Ptolemy ( Algamast)  and spherical mathematical-geographical lore



Thesis: the theological tradition was based upon a concept of causality through divine ordination, while the philosophical tradition posited innumerable individual phenomena and laws and nature which could be expressed in mathematical terms. They may be mutually exclusive in their pure forms.


Hagen says, “ the essential purpose of the cosmography – to impress the reader with the miraculous, exotic, or simply entertaining – results in an implicit tripartite division of the world, which cuts across the division of climes ( flat spaces like planes in space? Used as measurements of the earth. Like longitude and latitude) or historical regions. [This is classical Orientalism, as Said states, in the concept of the ‘other.’] The center is surrounded by the foreign countries, the ‘ others,’ and at the fringes of the world there are the entirely marvelous, or monstrous creatures. This was playing to the unknown fringes of the world. It was there the pious speculation localized elements from the legends which had no place in the known universe, but were clearly believed to exist or have existed as historical realities.


The savage people, Gog and Magog, had been destroyed by Alexander the Great, and locked behind an iron wall between two mountains, form where they would break freeze on Judgment day. This wall is usually believed to be in the north east Asia and such is found on the maps in cosmographies. [Cannot write the whole thing but parts of Africa and Europe are also in the “ other” regions].


Evilya is one of the few Ottomans that ventured into the realm of the “other” ( Asian Steppes, Austria) and even reached the fringes of the world ( Sudan, Ethiopia).


Very few wrote about the Other side in Ottoman history up in this period.

Travelor ‘Ali  Ekber traveled to China, and even though his reports were now considered accurate politics discredited during his days.


In 1554, an Ottoman naval contingent shipwrecked in India. They met local princes and brought back knowledges.

Some spies into Europe, but kept from the public.


Significance, much culture and worldly experience of the ‘other’ remained unexplored during the sixteenth century.

Geographic knowledge was not put to scientific knowledge into the 18th century.


However, Evilya was a scientific gather of facts of his travels. He was very systematic in recording what he saw and had a checklist. Evilya like the strange and the exotic, or the ‘ other.’ ( this is Hagen’s thesis). I do not believe this, this was Orientalism, written by an Oriental.



First God created  the Well-preserved Tablet which is out of white pearl. On both sides there is a red ruby.

Then God created the Pen and the Tablet.

From the pen radiates light.


Predestination. Those destined to be disobedient became disobedient. Etc..


The Pen and tablet stand for predestination, yet they were also accepted realities.

The Concept of seven layered earths, the vault of the sky resting on earht’s outer boarder, and a cosmos resting on supernatural beings are widespread within and without Islam.




Katib Çelebi or Hacci Halife ( 1609-1657). He was two years older then Evilya.

Like geography and like using Crete which the Ottomans had started to in 1645 to take over. He used Europe and when couldn’t find Europe sources he quite.  However, when he found them, it was an important step to scientifically studying geography. Both “ours” and “others.”



In Sum, cosmology and geography are required for the order of human civilization and society. If someone knows its rules and maps, and can recall them, he will have learned more than someone else with a thousand pains and hardships in several thousand years of travel.  -  Katib Çelebi.


He dies before he finishes this work, but it changed the Ottoman rulers to try to figure out teaching the Qu’ran only will not get them a state of the art army in which they knew they ‘now ‘ were lacking.


“ the Idea was novel for the Ottomans intellectual, and in fact it is translated from Mercator.” -Hagen.


In another work Katib Çelebi cites the military success to their scientific and geographical superiority ( 1656 Dardanelles threatened).



H e dies untimely in 1557. In 1668 the Dutch ambassador presented an eleven-volume edition of William Janzoon Blaeuw’s monumental Atlas Maior to Sultan Mehmed IV. Venetian colleagues immediately feared it would be used against them, but the Sultan didn’t have it commissioned for a translation until eight years later ( 1675). Translation completed in 1685.


Köprülü Fazil Ahmed Pasha seems to have played a role in this direction.


This geograpghical knowledge played a role in the  1683 Vienna campaign.

In the period of Katib Çelebi and Evilya the Ottoman Empire was no longer the central position of the Universe


Müneccimbaşi (d. 1702), who owes his nickname to his office as court astrologer and companion of  Mehmed IV astrologer wrote the history of Islam where Adam to the Ottomans comprised the Universe.


“The noble family has obtained the Sultanate [ not through] wrongdoing to anybody else [ but] seized all its territory from unbelievers, rebels, and evildoers”.  – Müneccimbaşi.


 “Too sum it up, this noble dynasty’s virtues are numerous […] “ - Müneccimbaşi.


Evilya  two major elements of the Ottoman Self image as derived this history of pre-modern Ottoman historians. Ultimate justice which leads to a stable rule, and zeal in the holy war against the infidel; symbolically this self image is expressed in the famous dream in which the future empire was announced to Osman when he was still the chief of a small nomadic tribe in northwestern Anatolia.


Osman’s dream of the tree is symbolic of an agriculture society.


“Ottoman superiority, also was Evilya’s view and here in this statement is from Mehmed IV’s secretary of the imperial council, “ The Ottoman Sultans, accustom to Holy War, were occupied with ghaza and religious warfare generation after generation”. 


Devine support cam in dreams, or how they interpreted them.


Then Hagen goes on to cite examples of references to spirts on the battle field and such helpers in the spirit realm battle the ‘others’ and suppress and conqured and kill them.


Then there were realities. The Celali uprising that toppled the Sultan Osman II ( 1622) and regicide occurred, then onto Venice, Crete and finally ending with the disaster of Vienna. (1683).


Ottoman political though was built around inequality.


Ottoman four social estates in ideology or theory, but not practice.


Sword Military



Craft trades



Typically as they lost wars and lands for the first times in the 17th century the Ottomans saw this as the downward spiral.


Evilya and Müneccimbaşi. Never realized that the Ottomans were like everyone else in the world, that they makes mistakes and are human and that their countries are not divine and will live on and on, but will fall do to their problems.


Kadizade’s attacked Sufis and their worship of saint tombs and other unorthodox practices. Murad IV cracked down on Coffee Houses and Smoking.


However, know one brings up education en masse, as in public schools and taking away religious dogma and letting secular institutions bring science into the public lives.


The enlightenment was a slow process of secularization and scientific exploration apart from religious duties an dogma in which the Ottomans did not follow. It is hardly discuss out of fear of exposure to census from Other Ottoman scholars that would chastise them for thinking the Ottomans were somehow inferior in this schooling department and therefore label the messenger as a heretic, freak. Comparative history shows this third grade realization.


Köprülü family of viser had interest in the western inventions but were highly selected of western novelties. There were contacts with intellects from the west all the time.


Evilya’s four-dementional world view.

1. cosmology, Irony, innovation and social intolerance.


Far reaching innovation, social transformation, political turmoil, and religious confusion


1.     Innovation of scientific realities of the world.  Education.

2.     The Islamic and Turkish army instead of old system of meritocracy.

3.     Political unity. Fractionalization.

4.     Religious confirmation – Secularization and the acceptance of the enlightenment.


Work Cited

1. Ataman Hotel


2. Sevgi . Turkish National Education <>2005



Dankoff, Robert. The Intimate Life of an Ottoman Statesman, Melek Ahmed Pasha, (1588-1661 : As Portrayed in Evliya Celebi's Book of Travels)

State University of New York Press. . 1991


Dankoff , Robert. The Intimate Life of an Ottoman Statesmen. State University of New York. 1991


Makdisi, Ussama “ Ottoman Orientalism. The American historical View 2002.

( 2005


18. Dankoff, Intimate Life, 172.


Selected Bibliography of Published Works on the
Social and Cultural History of the Middle East


Copyright © 1999 - 2013 Michael Johnathan McDonald