1675/6. However, the exact dating of this text is not certain, since various suggestions have been made varying from H. 1080 (1669/70) up to H. 1086 (1675); see İlgürel, Telhîsü’l-beyân, 13 fn. 47.
Four known mss.:
Hüseyin Hezarfen Efendi, Telhîsü’l-beyân fî kavânîn-i Âl-i ‘Osmân, ed. S. İlgürel, Ankara 1998
Telhîsü’l-beyân bî kavânîn-i Âl-ı Osmân (“Memorandum on the rules of the House of Osman”) begins with an eulogy of Mehmed IV and explains that since he had described in such detail the rules of the Mongols and the Chinese in his universal history, he was asked to do the same for the Ottoman state. His work is structured in thirteen chapters (bab), the first of which deals with the history of the Ottoman sultans, in short notices. The second chapter describes Istanbul and its history, drawing from Greek sources (and explaining at great pains the etymology of Istanbul from εις την Πόλιν: I46); the mosques, schools, markets and other foundations of the city are also enumerated, as well as its guilds (in alphabetical order). The third chapter concerns the function of the palace: its rules, protocol, number of functionaries and servants, their tasks, clothing, and remuneration, as well as a section on clothing (I72), where it is noted that in the time of Suleyman many-folded turbans were used only by soldiers, “so as to show that they were higher than the tradesmen” (ehl-i sûkdan mümtâz idi), while afterwards this headgear was reserved for the members of the divan. In the next section (I73), Hezarfen states that the Sultan should appoint a wise Grand Vizier and give him independence (istiklâl vire), so as none other interferes with his affairs. He should be free from malice, jealousy and wrath; the Sultan should not execute him for a failure, since people available for service (istihdâm olunacak) are few and he might be asked to serve again. Next, Hezarfen describes the scribes of the financial branch, the Imperial Council (giving also an etymology of divan, I74) and its function, as well as the protocol of feasts and ceremonies in the palace.
In the fourth chapter, the author reverts to the Grand Vizier. Copying mainly the first chapter of Lütfi Paşa’s work, he gives advice and describes the vizier’s income (I83-85); he also speaks of the various career lines in the palace hierarchy, and gives a detailed budget of the state income and expenses (for the year 1660/1). The fifth chapter goes on with an enumeration of the soldiers’ salaries, as well as an excursus for the difference between the solar and the lunar year, information on the Ottoman army, and some fetvas on land-holding and taxation by Ebussuud Efendi and Kemal-Paşa-zâde (I108-112). In the sixth chapter, Hezarfen moves on to the provincial government, noting that granting governorships to inexperienced people leads to suppression, for which it is the Sultan that will be held responsible: the governor is the Sultan’s proxy (vekîl); the Sultan is simultaneously the supreme preacher, imam and governor (I113-14: imâmet ve hitâbet ve hükûmet cümle padişâhındır). In this respect, the capital punishment (siyâset) is essential, since the lowest of the people must be kept with fear and the better ones with safety (I114: halkın erâzili havf üzere, iyüleri emîn üzere olmak gerek). Then, Hezarfen enumerates in great detail the provincial administrative units of the Empire and their timars (including the newly conquered Crete), followed by the rules of the timariot system with a stress on avoiding the intrusion of reaya (I141, copied from Lütfi Paşa). Here, Hezarfen notes (in a free adaptation of Kâtib Çelebi’s analysis) that in this world everybody has to follow a certain way of making one’s living (I142: halkın ma’âşına birer vech-i medâr olup her biri bir tarîka sülûk etmişdir), and thus both polities and houses are well-governed (tedbîr-i medîne ve tedbîr-i menzîl görülüp). But this, i.e. that each person stays in his proper place, is not achievable in every period: the stages of a state (bir devletin asırlarına göre) all have different arrangements (daimâ nesk-ı vâhid üzere ola gelmemişdir), for “this is the necessity of the natural stages of the civilization and society” (muktezâ-ı etvâr-ı tabî’at-ı temeddün ve ictimâ’).
The seventh chapter deals with the janissaries; Hezarfen complains first that it is now easy for an inexperienced, or even a Jewish youth to become an officer (I143); then he enumerates in detail the history, rules and numbers of the janissary corps. In the same vein, he analyzes the navy and the Imperial arsenal in the eighth chapter (stressing the importance of geography and hydrography, as “the victories of the infidels are the result of the care they show for the naval sciences and weapons”: I160). The ninth chapter concerns the Crimean khans, as well as various information on the science of war, the organization of a campaign or a siege, and so on. Here Hezarfen inserts a section on the Sultanic administration of power (I182-85): the Sultan, he says, must have few companions (nedîm) and not let them interfere in the state affairs. In the ages of the Sultans of old (till Suleyman’s time), the capital was so full of wise and honest people that the rulers could intermingle with companions freely; these Sultans were glorious, valiant and just, and their viziers well-wishing and laborious. However, by the middle of Suleyman’s reign, when the Sultan executed his son Mustafa, the general corruption and unrest in the Empire began. Hezarfen’s advice is that the Sultan and his officials should know the worth and knowledge of the ulema and of their experienced servants, and appoint them to the various positions. This way justice and welfare will prevail. Moreover, a Sultan has to make his subjects, be them soldiers, peasants or ulema, love him; he must consult at least once a week with one or two loyal and experienced companions; finally, he must inspect regularly the borders, so as to know the intentions of the enemies.
The chapter ends with an enumeration of Ottoman Grand Viziers and şeyhülislams, who form also the subject of the next, tenth chapter. Hezarfen states (I196; copying Kâtib Çelebi) that the ulema are the most honourable and high of the pillars of the state, being like the blood, the natural humour of the body (hılt-ı mahmûd), surrounded by the other classes (sâir esnâf dahi bâkî ihâta mu’âdil düşmüşdür). They are thus like the heart, the source of the “animal soul” (kalb ki, menbâ’-ı rûh-ı hayvânîdir), that distributes this soul to the limbs of the body with the blood. In Hezarfen’s simile, the “animal soul” is the knowledge of the Holy Law and the ulema the intermediaries who pass it to the people; as the animal soul is the source of the well-being and the continuation of the body, so is the Holy Law for the society and the state (cem’iyyet ve devlet). If the blood is corrupt, it only brings harm to the body; it needs to be cured or extracted.
Now, Hezarfen divides the ulema in two categories: the manifest or external ones (ulemâ-ı zahir) who follow “the way of the eye” (tarîk-ı nazar), i.e. the muftis, the judges, the teachers and so forth; and the internal ones (ulemâ-ı batin) who follow “the way of purification” (tarîk-ı tasfiye), i.e. the dervishes (the author names explicitly the Nakşbendîs and the Halvetîs). What is rather important here, is that doctors, astrologers and scribes of the divan are included to the first category. Preachers, imams, teachers of children schools and so forth belong to the general category of the ulema. Now, the şeyhülislam is considered equal, if not greater than the Grand Vizier. Of course, notes Hezarfen, in certain matters the Vizier’s post is indeed higher, as he is the Sultan’s absolute proxy and he has great powers on the common affairs (I197: hall u akd-i umûr-ı cumhûr). But in the eyes of the Sultan, the post of the şeyhülislam as “the absolute master of the religious matters” (umur-ı diniyede riyâset-i mutlaka sahibi) is higher: because “the state affairs are founded on religion; in fact, religion is fundamental, while the state was established as its subdivision” (devlet umuru din üzerine bina olunur; din asıl, devlet anın fer’i gibi kurulmuşdur). The şeyhülislam is the head of religion, the Grand Vizier the head of the state (yalnız devlet re’isi), and the Sultan the head of both. Hezarfen goes on with details on the history and the function of the office, noting (I201) that the Sultan must often consult the şeyhülislam and ask him for information on the situation of the Muslim community. The chapter ends with an analysis of the other high ulema posts, where the author urges the Sultan to care for the ulema and their social and financial standing (I203). Hezarfen copies here a letter allegedly sent by the dying Murad I to Evrenos Bey (I205-7: from Feridun Bey, Münşaat-ı Selâtîn; cf. Anhegger, 376-77 fn. 33), stressing the need for justice, advising him to distrust people and care for the army, and claiming that a ruler is responsible for the oppression exerted by his proxies (vekîl).
The eleventh chapter deals with the market and the regulation of prices. Before describing various market rules according to professions, Hezarfen argues that the ruler (hâkim) should control in person those little matters (cüz’iyyât) that pertain to the well-being of the world, such as the regulation of fixed prices. In fact, he says, this matter belongs to the public issues (umûr-ı külliye); if the Sultan or the viziers consider it as a triviality (cüz’î) and leave it to the judge, the latter cannot regulate it by himself since it is outside his competence as a “matter of politics” (or: of the administrative branch, emr-i siyâset). If the prices are not regulated, only those who are useless to the sultanic service and the army benefit: they become rich and assume the position of notables (a’yân-ı memleket), and as a result the well-to-do honest people impoverish (I248).
In the twelfth chapter, Hezarfen copies various legal texts: the mining regulations, some kanunnames from Thrace, Mehmed II’s law code; to this he adds the whole text of Lütfi Paşa’s Âsafnâme (I266-274), as well as two reports on the introduction of coffee and tobacco to the Ottoman Empire (copied from Kâtib Çelebi). Finally, the thirteenth chapter is devoted to a very detailed description of the 1672 Sultanic feast in Edirne.
For a detailed analysis of the sources used by Hezârfen, see İlgürel, Telhîsü’l-beyân 20-29.