Fatih Millet Ktp. Ali Emiri Ef. 677-1737
Berker, A., “Mora ihtilâli tarihçesi veya Penah Efendi mecmuası, 1769”, Tarih Vesikaları 2 (1942-1943), fasc. 7: 63-80, 8: 153-160, 9: 228-240, 10: 309-320, 11: 385-400, 12: 473-480
The first one-third of Süleyman Penah Efendi mecmuası (“Süleyman Penah Efendi’s manuscript”) or Mora ihtilâli tarihi, Mora ihtilali tarihçesi (“History of the upheavals in Morea”) is a narrative of the 1769-70 rebellion in the Morea. After describing in details the facts of this revolt, to which he was an eye-witness, he begins his treatise on the “ordering of the countries” (nizam-ı ekâlim, B157). He starts with a big and detailed chapter on the “military class”, where one can discern his Ibn Khaldunist influences: in the beginnings of a state or dynasty, he says, the soldiers obey to it and display solidarity and unanimity in their plundering the enemy and dividing the shares of the conquered land; officials and statesmen tend to ignore their failures. This is a feature of the said period, however; when the state proceeds to the stage of consolidation (kemal ve kudret peyda itdikde) the soldiers begin to pursuit their ease, comfort and luxury; moreover, the inhabitants of the various towns and villages develop their own various manners and character (her biri bir tavır ve meşreb peyda ider), with the result that their control becomes difficult. When sagacious counselors perceive that thus the state is going to be dispersed, they divide the population under their dominion (zir-i hükmünde olan nüfus) into some classes or groups (sınıf) that have to obey certain rules; and in times of need, they have to leave aside other important affairs (sair umûr-ı cesîme) and occupy themselves with the urgent matter in hand. However, order (nizam) can be obtained only smoothly (san’at ile), rather than with the use of measures such as executions, exile or confiscations. Ideally, it will come in such a smooth and natural way that the common people (avam-ı nas) will not understand how it came to be imposed; whereas, notes Penah Efendi, those who naively tried to impose order in certain matters showing their intentions clearly from the beginning succeeded nothing but make themselves the target of criticism. Now, in order to impose order, the Christian armies use what is called “regiment” (regmend), which means that a thousand soldiers or more go to military exercises, imitating real battle and making themselves perfect in discipline and order.
Now, after a state surpasses the age of its growth, its soldiers and population in general (askerî taifesi ve ol devletin kavmı) become hard to control and rule in a unified way (bir renk üzere). Men of understanding divide the army to several classes, so as to have one class supervise and check another. But as a prerequisite, the king must have the sole power to expel and transfer undisciplined soldiers; if this power is granted to his ministers (vükela), within a few years all discipline and respect will be lost again. This is what happened with the janissaries: although they are far superior from their Christian counterparts, the rules that governed them have long been neglected; in every town and village peasants who want to get free from the interference of local officials enroll in the janissary ranks, making this valiant army useless in wars. They are not any more an army created with the will of the Sultan, but one created in its own will. Here Penah Efendi quotes Na’ima (B159) on the three ages of state and the similarities with the human body. He notes, however, that contrary to the human beings, states that obey their laws and adjust themselves to the changes that occur in the world (dünya tarz-ı ahar oldukça esbabiyle hâkimâne hareket olunsa) may avoid decline and fall. A state is like a man who has an income of forty purses; if he is disciplined, he will live in prosperity till his death, while if he is not he will die in poverty and misery.
After this short piece of theory, Penah Efendi turns back to specific advice: janissaries must be given diplomas (esame) writing explicitly their names, characteristics and post; everyone found in fault should be expelled from the ranks at once and his substitutes be chosen by the janissary agha of the district. To this effect, janissaries must be registered anew and their pay-rolls checked in detail. They should stay in their defined post till their death, unless the needs of the state dictate their transfer. When this new order (nizam-ı cedid; B228) prevails in the provincial garrisons, it will be easier to be imposed in Istanbul as well; Penah Efendi even gives a template for the imperial decree that would ordain the expulsion of any undisciplined and disobeying janissary. Furthermore, janissaries of the same group or rank should be dressed in similar uniforms; in fact, every officer’s rank should have its own colour. To impose successfully all these measures, wise and just governors with the rank of vizier must be appointed in every province, with honest janissary officers and numerous scribes following them. After getting soldiers in discipline and order, they should register them in great detail, in groups of a hundred and a thousand men. Army rules must be printed and published in booklets (which the Frenks call fuyte –feuilleton) so as to be known to everybody. Finally, the practice of low officers and Jew money-changers lending money to soldiers with interest must be strictly forbidden. Penah Efendi notes here (B231-32) that states have only three tasks (devletlerin fakat üç işi vardır), namely the preservation of the treasury, the prosperity of their subjects, and the order and discipline of the army.
In a highly original excerpt, Penah Efendi argues that besides the army, order should also be imposed in the matter of town planning: the borders of the quarters of greater Istanbul must be defined carefully and the building of houses outside these borders strictly controlled, while whenever a quarter is burnt new houses should be built under rules securing large gardens and therefore low density (B 230). Penah Efendi states that thus internal immigration will be decreased, and the underpopulated provinces flourish again. To this aim he has further advice: new towns could be founded with the promise of tax immunities (or, small towns be upgraded administratively), and these towns in their turn would prosper and increase the state revenues with their manufactural production (B231). More specifically, he proposes the founding of such new towns near Edirne, in Lepanto, in Missolonghi.
Next chapters also deal in detail in proposed military reforms, always in the same vein of imposing order and discipline. Talking of the sipahi cavalry (B233-35), he wishes boldly that the timar system was abolished and that a salaried cavalry took the place of timariot sipahis, with the result that both the income from the timars would be a profit for the state and that the cavalry would increase four-fold in number. Since this is impossible, though, Penah Efendi proposes several measures for the administration of timars and the ordering and discipline of the sipahi army in the same vein as that of the janissaries; his main leitmotiv is that the timariots must stay in their fiefs and care for the land. Similar measures are proposed for the sipahi of the navy (sihahiyân ve kalyonciyân-ı derya, B235-39) who are to serve in their ships instead of giving an equivalent sum (bedel), after being well-trained and registered.
On the “properties of the Albanians” (B239-312), he describes them us unruly and undisciplined plunderers, who know nothing of trade or arts, due to their dense population and the barrenness of their land; nonetheless, he acknowledges that they also have some merits, such as their hospitality and their high sense of honour. Penah Efendi proposes the creation of orderly camps and local garrisons, well-ordered and registered. Perhaps more interesting are his views on cultural assimilation: the Albanian language is rough (as seen, he argues, from a comparison between Greek-speaking and Albanian-speaking villages in the Morea) and when it comes to courtesy (nevaziş) its vocabulary is harsh and coarse. But if they get to learn Turkish, inevitably there will be a subsequent change in their behaviour (tebdil-i ahlak), since “the good manners of a tribe depend on its learning the language of its dynasty” (bir kavm terbiyesi bir devletin tekellüm itdiği lisânı tekellüme muhtacdır; B309). If the Sultan issues such orders and esteemed ulema and sheikhs come and teach them, it will take only some years till they finally speak Turkish instead of Albanian. Penah Efendi’s inspiration comes from an unexpected model: when Spain conquered the “New India”, he explains, its inhabitants were even wilder than the Albanians. The Spanish brought Indian women to their country and had them married there with Spanish men; their children, who spoke both languages, were sent back to America and served as interpreters, with the result that soon the natives forgot their own language and now speak only Spanish. Similarly, Russia takes youths (uşak) from the Aegean islands and the Morea to Moscow, where they are given education in order to prepare disorder and rebellion. So must the Ottoman state bring Albanian youngsters to Istanbul, educate and train them in camps outside the walls of the city, giving them food rations and teachers; and conversely, artisans from various Balkan towns should be transferred to the Albanian towns for three years in order to show the natives the fabrication of tissues and other products. Obviously, Penah Efendi was conscious that his unusual proposals would sound rather strange; thus, he embarks in an excursus on the effectiveness of decisive imperial orders, bringing as an example again the Indian tribes and their awe in seeing the Spanish cavalry, having never seen a horse before.
The next chapters deal in much detail with the situation of the villages (B312-14, proposing that all expenses of the provincial governors be registered by the central government, so as no illegal dues are extracted from the peasants), the judges (B314-17, denouncing the use of naibs with the farming-out of the post from the part of absentee kadis), the voyvodas (B317, emphasizing their role as protectors of the peasants), the stockbrockers (mubaya’acı) and collectors of poll-tax (B317-19, stressing the disastrous result of uncontrolled wholesale purchases of grain and the injustice inflicted by the ayan), the poll tax and the extraordinary levies (B319-87, with the proposition that these taxes should be administered by the central bureaucracy and not farmed out with iltizam; the shortcomings of the latter system are described in detail), the mukataas (tax farms) and the post service (B387-91). In this chapter, Penah Efendi is especially hostile against the custom of life-time tax-farming or malikâne; he also has more specific advice concerning Egypt, proposing its division to several malikânes so that its landlords will not have too much power. In the same vein, a chapter on the tax registers (B391-93) stresses their importance for the just taxation; another chapter proposes specific ideas for the development of certain places such as Gümülcüne (Komotini), Tekirdağ or Montenegro, stressing the need for the creation of new administrative units (B393-96); in a chapter on the Christian notables or kocabaşıs (B396-97), Penah Efendi describes their injustice and proposes that they be appointed for one year each.
Then Penah Efendi moves on to landholding and financial matters. A chapter on the tapu or title deed, or rather the practice of granting to farmers only the possession and usufruct of state lands (B397-400), starts boldly with the assertion that “this is another reason why the world cannot prosper”. The tapu landholding system means that “the land, whose first cultivator was Adam, cannot be inherited”; and this gives rise to tax farmers (mültezim), destroying the “landlords” (eshâb-ı arazî; this term usually means the timariot, but here Penah Efendi seems to have the farmer peasant in mind). All income of the treasury comes from the “landlord”-farmer, he notes; artisans and the whole people in general are at ease only with his well-being. Penah Efendi claims that he personally has seen several times a notable or officer seize the land of girls after the death of their mothers, since tapu land cannot be inherited in a female line. The Exalted State should abolish the tapu system and proclaim all arable land private property (sahiplerine temellük buyurub), just like gardens or vineyards, so that it can be inherited. Moreover, villages that have been seized as çiftliks by local notables must again become independent villages; and if a villager dies without any heirs, his plot should be given to the whole population of his village (karye veya çiftlik ahalilerine cümlesine virile). Besides, Penah Efendi proposes that undercultivated lands, like those in the Danube that are randomly used by Vlach should be registered and granted to local peasants, as well as to new peasants either from Albania and other poor lands, or from Poland (attracted through spies). New cultivations should also be encouraged, according to the example of the French, who founded coffee plantations in America. In the same vein, the production of local goods should be encouraged: Kütahya, claims Penah Efendi, can produce pottery far better than Austria, and thus money that now goes to Austria (to buy pottery) would stay in the Ottoman lands.
This last point will lead Penah Efendi to more general considerations about trade; but first he makes an excursus on the scribal bureaucracy (hacegân-ı divan-ı hümayun; B400-474), to whose selection and training under the reisülküttab he gives great importance; because, he adds, no matter what position they are given, provincial people (taşra halkı; the term might be translated as “people outside the palace”, but the context is clear) will still behave with jealousy and enmity as they did in their villages, remaining ignoramuses and useless for the government. In this point, like Müteferrika before him, Penah Efendi speaks in extenso of the benefits of geography: a cheap edition of printed universal geography should be available to all subjects, rich and poor; more generally, only benefit will come from the foundation of more printing houses like that of Müteferrika.
The last part of Penah Efendi’s treatise concerns trade and merchandise. First (B474-76) he explains that France, England, Venice, Spain, Naples, Netherlands and occasionally Austria bring goods to the Ottoman Empire and take money in exchange, but also leave this money or half of it back, because they also buy local goods. Some other countries, however, only import goods to the Ottoman lands, with the result that they take Ottoman money back to their home; such goods are furs (implying that, such as a country is Russia). The import of furs and expensive cloths should thus be strictly controlled and their use restricted to high officials; the same goes for silk clothing from India. Local production of exotic goods, says again Penah Efendi, should be encouraged: coffee could be planted in Egypt, Basra or Palestine (just like the French did in America); headgear could be made from cotton produced in Rumeli and the Morea; shawls now imported from Tunis could be produced locally and so forth. In general, not only should the local production of so far imported goods be encouraged, but also the use of imported expensive clothing be prohibited. In his next chapter (B476-79), Penah Efendi further extends this argument. He explains that in the case of imported silk and cotton clothes, the damage is restricted to the buyers, who give their money; however, in the case of the production of golden and silver thread and embroidery, the damage is general. Such production leads to the shortage of silver coinage; for the gold and silver used annually for such products is more than that produced from mines. The production of golden thread should be prohibited, and artisans making golden embroidery should rather make normal decorated clothes. This leads Penah Efendi to another issue, that of coinage: he asserts that either the current value of the Ottoman golden coin, i.e. zerimahbub, should be increased or its gold content decreased, so that its value would not correspond to its content in gold (and the same goes for the silver coinage). Thus, Ottoman coins will not be drained abroad; moreover, nobody will melt them to make gold or silver thread or jewelry. If these measures are taken, and if the exchange rates for foreign gold coins are defined and controlled, the Indian and Yemenite merchants will not be able to make profit and the valuable metals will stay in the Ottoman lands. And Penah Efendi ends this chapter repeating his despise for foreign goods, and specifically Indian clothes and Saxon pottery, as well as for those who use them for sheer pomp. In the end of the treatise, short notices advocate the detailed popularization of imperial orders and the creation of medreses, libraries and mosques in the provincial towns rather than in Istanbul (B 479).
Personal experience; Na’ima; probably Emîr Muhammed b. Hasan el-Mesûdî, Tarih-i Hind-i Garbî el-müsemmâ bi-hadîs-i nev (Kitâb-ı cedîd-i iklîm), ed. Müteferrika 1730; Mustafa ‘Âli?