Sultan Murad is mentioned in two verses. Although a later note in the beginning of the ms. states that the work was offered to Murad IV, inner evidence suggests that the Sultan is Murad III (1574-95).
The author states that the work is divided to eight chapters (1. On sultans; 2. On viziers; 3. On beylerbeyis, other commanders and the army; 4. On ulema, sheikhs and descendants of the Prophet; 5. On defterdars, and other officials and clerks of the legal and financial bureaucracy; 6. On the head of doctors, the superintendent of the city (şehremini), the head of cooks etc.; 7. On Istanbul, other great cities and the Arsenal; 8. On Venice and other infidel states) (Y173, A33). However, all mss. end with chapter four [regretfully, since we would otherwise have one of the most comprehensive political treatises of the era]. Furthermore, the work is divided in certain chapters and parts (fasl, cüz’) with a certain inconsistence that shows we have to do with something like a first draft. Before proceeding to chapter 1, the author dwells on the importance of the post of Grand Vizier. He notes that the four viziers correspond to the first four caliphs of Muhammad (emr-i vezâret ki çehâr yâr-ı güzin makâmıdır); Ebu Bekr is paralleled to the Grand Vizier, ‘Umar to the second vizier, ‘Uthman to the third and so on. They all were ascetic in their attires, striving to fill the Muslim community’s treasury, unparalleled in majesty, reverence and firmness. Admittedly, it is difficult for the king to watch in person the affairs of the world; however, if he tries willingly to deal with every issue of his kingdom God will help him, and this is the reason the present essay is written and presented to the Sultan. Selim I elected the most experienced and wise among his commanders, defterdars and beylerbeyis as his viziers; he was consulting personally with all of them and removed them whenever found them faulty in their duties. Similarly, Mehmed I was always consulting ulema and other wise men, electing also his viziers from among them (Y173-76, A33-36).
(1) The first chapter deals with the kingly virtues. [a (it is not showed in the text] First of all, the Sultan must be pious and devout. He must use his time properly: for instance, he should spend three hours of the day in prayers and reading the Koran, two hours in reading history and other books, four hours in consulting with the Grand Vizier and other officials, six hours in recreation, hunting, and other entertainment, finally nine hours in sleep. He must be just, neither avaricious nor prodigal; furthermore, he should not have his his daughters and sisters married to viziers or beylerbeyis, but rather to sancakbeyis whose life-lasting hass ought to be in the terra firma (not in the borderlands: ser-hadde olmayub, iç illerde olub) and reach 4-500,000 aspers. (b) The sultanic power depends on justice and a competent army; the army needs fiefs (dirlik) according to the soldiers’ needs. However, while this arrangement requires that most of the towns and villages belong to the state (havâss-ı hümâyûn ve ze’âmet ve tîmârlar olmak lâzım iken), now most of them are private property (mülk) or belong to vakfs. Of course, the Sultan himself has every right to endow his own vakfs with lands he conquered; on the other hand, the granting (temlik) of forty or fifty villages to a Grand Vizier, who certainly has no need of such property, is unacceptable. An example of such unjustified action dates from Suleyman’s reign, when a hundred villages were granted to Mehmed Paşa. [It is noteworthy that for the author Selim’s, not Suleyman’s era seems to be the ‘Golden Age’]. Viziers are to blame for such procedure; wishing to establish a vakf and leave also some property to their sons, they manipulate scribes and kadis, present rich villages as poor to the Sultan and make them prosper even more by granting tax-exemptions. Moreover, since such properties are usually situated near the Adriatic, the voyvodas increase their income by selling their products to the Venetians in high prices. In this way, the viziers’ properties have become so rich that they could provide all the janissaries’ salaries and more. However, the aim of conquests is the enrichment of the public treasury, not of the viziers; ideally, no temliks should be granted at all, but if they are to be, they should not exceed one or two villages. The Sultan must administer very carefully the granting of properties for pious endowments, in order not to waste the state lands. An anecdote presenting Selim I denying a temlik to his vizier further illustrates the author’s point. In conclusion, the Sultan should elect as viziers persons with few or no children and relatives; lands granted to them should also be situated in the inner Anatolian provinces. In addition, the vizier must be neither wrathful nor [excessively] gentle; however, it is advisable that he inclines more toward wrath and severity. (c) The Sultan must scrutinize the behaviour of viziers, beylerbeyis and other administrators even before ascending to the throne, in order to choose the best among them for the high administrative posts, including those of the viziers. He must also get full information on the treasury’s condition, both inner and outer, as soon as he gets to the throne. Next, he should consult his viziers on matters of international relations: which areas should be conquered, whether a peace must be concluded etc. It is advisable that he make some conquests in the first years of his reign, in order to inspire fear to the infidels. The Sultan should also create a circle of trustful and wise companions (musâhib; two is the ideal number), who should consult him on matters such as rumours circulated for every administrator, the honesty and suitability of viziers, commanders, ulema, müderrises etc., and so forth, with objectivity and truthfulness. All administrative posts should be written down in a special register, according to which their careers and behaviour could be checked. In matters of various appointments, the Sultan should manipulate his viziers so as every one of them should think that his opinion is highly esteemed; in this way, and with the Sultan having the last word, bribery would disappear. Moreover, the Sultan must accept all petitions (ruk’a) given to him by his subjects when he appears in public, because he must protect the reaya; sultanic justice maintains safety in his lands, and thus ensures the world order (Y176-83, A36-43).
(2) The next chapter concerns the properties of the viziers. The Grand Vizier, being a continuator of the first four caliphs, must be of sound intellect, of honest nature, righteous, pious, and known for his luck and justice. He should consult others in matters he does not know in detail; he must work hardly to improve the state of the treasury and check the conditions of cities and subjects. He must abstain from animosity, covetousness and bribery. He should never forget that his office is transitory, and thus he should not strive to build palaces and obtain villages as private property. He ought not to favour his kinsmen and protégés against those who really deserve it. He must not grant fiefs to persons who have never fought, or to former evildoers (haramî) who escaped punishment. The Grand Vizier should not listen personally to every complainant but rather send them to the second vizier, keeping from himself grave matters. He must not succumb to the infidel states’ bribes in order to prevent conquests (the author cites here two examples from Suleyman’s reign, namely Ayas Paşa on Corfu and Ali Paşa on Malta). The fief (ze’amet) of his kethüda must not exceed 35-40,000 aspers; that of the second vizier’s kethüda 30,000 and that of the other viziers’ 25,000; all kethüdas must contribute soldiers in times of campaign. The rest of the vizier’s men should be salaried from his own income. It is of high importance that all viziers cooperate and decide together (Y183-185, A43-46).
(3) The third chapter refers to the military commanders and the army. Beylerbeyis should scrutinize the behaviour of kadis and beys in their province as soon as they arrive; they must look after the pious and poor subjects and punish oppressors and bandits. They should also check the acts of emins and other agents so that they do not extract unlawfully money from the peasants; timariots must be scrutinized as well, in order to see whether they possess their fief lawfully. However, this should not apply to those who possess a fief for over than ten years. Vacant fiefs ought not to be annexed to other timars, but distributed to sipahis’ sons or lawful applicants; by no means can kılıç timars be annexed to other fiefs. As far as it concerns janissaries, the strict rules for their salary according to their promotions must be applied universally and without exception; there must be an upper level to their wages, which cannot be surpassed. The same applies for the greatness of fiefs, as a ze’amet should never exceed a certain limit, different for every category of fief-holder. Besides, the office of a müteferrika should be granted only to aged and valiant servants of the Sultan. The author gives here detailed information on what fiefs ought to be granted to various officers. The Sultan must know that nowadays viziers, beys and other officials have no fear for anyone and have succumbed to covetousness. Outsiders (ecnebi) have acquired fiefs, while the sipahis’ sons remain destitute since they are too poor to bribe the beylerbeyi. Beylerbeyis, in their turn, claim that they act thus because they are obliged to send huge sums to the Grand Vizier, so they have to accept bribes in order to provide money. Indeed, all officers have to send two thirds of their income to the Grand Vizier. The only solution is that the Sultan elects personally the beylerbeyis, regardless of the opinion of the Grand Vizier; he should give him explicit orders on administrating his province with justice and warning him that he would check his behaviour with special spies. After all, “the pleasure of kingly power is equity and giving” (saltanatun lezzeti dâd u dihiş iledir); if the Sultan accepts unquestionably the appointments made by the Grand Vizier, the appointed persons will owe their posts to the latter and behave accordingly (Y185-89, A46-50).
(4) The last chapter of the [surviving] work concerns the various high-rank ulema, as well as the sheikhs and the descendants of the Prophet. The importance of the ulema for the state is illustrated by the lively interest Mehmed II showed in them, attracting famous scholars to Istanbul and looking after the quality of teaching in its medreses. A relative anecdote shows the point stressed elsewhere as well, namely that when a Grand Vizier misbehaves the blame goes to the Sultan who elected him. The rest of the chapter is divided to parts examining various ulema posts. (a) The tutor of the Sultan (hoca efendi) must teach him the acts of prophets and kings, the subtleties of language and poetry, awaking to him the desire for the company of wise ulema, as happened with Mehmed II or Bayezid II. The tutor should also have an opinion on every decision concerning the ulema, as well as report to the Sultan whatever act of any administrative official finds harmful to the religion and state. (b) The şeyhülislam should be exceedingly wise; he should never issue a fetva legitimizing some unlawful act of any official. Anecdotes on Mehmed II and Selim I’s şeyhülislams show that this highest of ulema must not have fear of the sultan and express boldly his opinion. He should also appoint müftis in the provinces, so that the poor subjects do not have to travel all the way to Istanbul so as to obtain a fetva; moreover, the kadis should be warned to take such fetvas seriously into account. (c) Coming to the kazaskers, the author begins by describing the education and career of ulema as it used to be, complaining then that nowadays people without education or knowledge use bribery to get appointed as judges. The kazaskers should thus keep detailed registers of the candidates for judgeship, writing down their qualifications. Thus, ignorant persons would be punished and removed, while wise and honest ulema would be promoted and honoured. Bribery and intercession should have no place in the duties of a judge. The author here describes how kadis come to a province, establish close relations with all high officials and amassing money with bribes and gifts. The kazaskers should thus make judge appointments without accepting any bribes or intercession by other officials. The same applies for müderrises; most of them now owe their posts to their fathers or their high connections. (d) The author then enumerates the virtues demanded of the various sheikhs. He stresses the fact that in the past sheikhs used to attract hundreds of followers around them, surciting them to revolt in times of tumult; even the appearance of the Kızılbaş (here meaning Shah Ismail’s followers?) can be attributed to that phenomenon. There should be a sultanic order prohibiting the gathering of more than forty followers around a sheikh. (e) Finally, the author studies the position of the descendants of the Prophet (seyyid, pl. sâdât ve eşrâf). After citing numerous hadiths, he notes that many ignorant urban dwellers or peasants pretend to be seyyids, in order to be exempt from taxes; this led to general disrespect for the family of the Prophet. The appointment of a honest and righteous seyyid as chief of the Descendants of the Prophet (nakîbü’l-eşrâf), who would examine every pretender and check the appropriate credentials, would solve this problems; similarly, a seyyid judge should be sent to every province for the same purpose. It is to be noted that seyyids should not become timariots or janissaries; in fact, the most appropriate profession for them is that of the ulema, or at least preacher or sheikh. Those who do not wish to undertake such a career should be given stipends or posts in vakfs; those who are artisans (ehl-i san’at) should go on with their trade (Y189-201, A50-63).
 It is possible that the division in cüz’ comes from the copying of the work in paper prepared for some other ms.; see esp. f. 38b, 48b.
The author mentions al-Ghazali’s İhyâ’-i ‘ulûm (Y176, A36), various unspecified Persian and Arabic books (Y183, A43). He also cites numerous anecdotes from Selim I and Suleyman’s reign.