Written in 1731; printed in Feb. 1732.
Istanbul Üniversitesi Ktp. Türkçe Yaz. 6994 and 6997
French translation: Anonymous (Baron Revviczki?) tr., Traité de la tactique, ou méthode artificielle pour l’ordonnance des troupes. Ouvrage publié et imprimé à Constantinople, par Ibrahim Effendi, Officier Mutteferrika de la porte Ottomane… Traduit du turc, Vienna 1769.
(a) The necessity for state officials and sultans (Ş128-130): As shown with geometrical proofs by the wise, the world is round and hung in the void, inhabited all around by men, like a “watermelon full of ants”. Some books on morality and wisdom say that this creation proves God’s power. God created man as a naturally civilized being (bi’t-tab’ zevâtlarında medeniyyet merkûz kılınmağla); men seek society (tâlib-i ictima’) and need each other either for their sustenance or for their reproduction and the continuation of their life. This need led to people living together, and thus to the creation of societies. However, due to the differences of their dispositions and their customs and opinions (ihtilâf-ı meşârib ve tebâyün-i âyin ve mezâhib olmalarıyle), some men tend to use power and violence in order to take others under their dominion and make them submit under their service. Because of these injustices, the foundation of justice and laws and thus the existence of wise leaders (dâniş ü ma’rifet erbâbı hâkimler) are necessary. These leaders’ task is to use their practical philosophy (hikmet-i ‘ameliyye) and impose equity and “obedience to laws, which constitute the means of politics” (medâr-ı siyâset olan ri’ayet-i kûnûn), so as no one oppresses others obtaining more than it is due (tasarruf-ı ma’adâ).
It is the Prophet that laid down these rules; but after he left for the Hereafter, a just and powerful Sultan must rule to secure the application of the religious and secular rules (kavânîn-i siyâsete; note the use of the word siyaset) and to put under order the affairs of the Muslims. Thus, an administrator is necessary to rule human beings, which have been created as dependent from each other for their sustenance and social by nature (emr-i ma’aşında dahi gayr-ı müstakil, belki medeniyyün bi’t-tab olub). Because of God’s love for His slaves, He sends them either a Prophet or a just ruler. Willy-nilly the various peoples inside humanity submit to these wise rules, as they are naturally inclined to do, and every community is subject to a king (her cema’at bir melike tâbi’ olub). Thus, people have created various states (devletler kurdılar) and appointed rulers (hâkimler ta’yin etdiler) by various names –caliphs, Sultans, kings, khans, Kaisers or Czars.
(b) Philosophers’ ideas on the forms of state (Ş130-131): As everyone knows, the religion and disposition of the kings vary; the same applies for the forms administration of human affairs may take, and that is why the structures of states and societies (bünyan-ı devlet ve binâ’-ı cumhûr-ı cem’iyyetleri) differ from each other. In this matter, most philosophers follow the views of three great philosophers of old, namely: (i) Plato’s view; according to Plato, people must submit and obey to a wise and just king. People trust all their state affairs (bi’l-cümle umûr-ı devletlerini) to his hands and must obey to his decisions and orders. For a person to be established in this place, a noble lineage (neseb-i âlî) is necessary. Most of the states in the world administrate their affairs in this way; Greek philosophers named this kind of state (bu makûle devlet ve saltanat) “monarchy” (munârhıyâ). (ii) Aristotle’s view: rulership must be in the hands of the magnates of the state (saltanat tedbir-i a’yan-ı devlet elinde olmak gerekdir), who choose a head (re’is ihtiyar olunub) from among them. In this way, nobody is raised above the rest by lineage or personal merits, and the head of this government cannot part from justice by acting independently. This form of state is called “aristocracy” (aristokrâsiyâ –from Aristotle’s name, claims Müteferrika) or “rule of the magnates” (âmme-i tedbir-i ayan); an example is the state of Venice. (iii) Demokratis’ view: administration should be in the hands of the people (saltanat tedbir-i re’ayanın olmak gerekdir), so that they may avoid by themselves the oppression of anyone above them (kendülerinden zulmünü def’a kâdir olalar). In this form, government is conducted by election (tarik-i tedbir ihtiyardır): people from every ten villages elect one or two whom they deem wise and experienced, and send them as representatives (muhtar) to the centre of the government (mahall-ı hükûmet olub, dîvân kurulan yere). In their turn, these representatives elect one from among themselves, and in the end a council of ten elected persons administers state affairs. These ten persons sit in the council for one year; after this term another ten people are elected in the same way; they inspect the accounts of the previous year’s government (hükûmet-i ma’zülleri) and punish those that have oppressed people. This form of state, called “democracy” (dîmukrâsiya) or “rule of the elected” (âmme-i tedbir-i mehârîn), is used in England and the Netherlands.
All nations and religions in general are governed according to one of these three forms of state. (Note that the names of the three state forms, as transcribed by Müteferrika, seem to come straight from Greek (μοναρχία, αριστοκρατία, δημοκρατία) rather than Latin or French.)
(c) The necessity for creation of an army (Ş131-132): Leaders of states that rule in the face of Earth have created various states (devlet), as ordained by the Sharia or more generally by nature, civilization and humanity (iktizâ-yı tabi’at ve medeniyyet ve beşeriyyet), each one ruling over a definite piece of land. Now, exactly as an individual has to protect his property against trespassers, every state, no matter what its name or form may be, has to protect the lands it rules against other states. To guard his kingship and people, every ruler has to form an army, that is, to distinguish a part of his own people or of other men and shape them in a body ready for war in a constant way. This army must be trained in military discipline and armed with suitable weapons; and afterwards, it must be kept under strict control and discipline.
(d) The need for military discipline (Ş132-133): Those who have studied the science of history know well that since humanity appeared on earth war never stopped among nations and states (meyân-ı ‘ümem ve milelde). Some of these wars were made just to secure worldly profits, while others were made in defense against the oppressions of others. But people who commit to the faith, have the duty emanating from the Sharia to fight the Holy War in order to gain happiness in both worlds. Thus, every state is obliged to keep an army ready for war in its camps, with its special uniforms and training. The way older sultans’ armies used to fight is well-known to those who know the science of history.
(e) Having thus founded his perception on the central place of the army for the well-being of a state, Müteferrika proceeds into studying army and battle tactics in the armies of old (Ş133-144). This lengthy chapter stresses that although states of old were very different in terms of religion, society or form, their military forms and their weapons were very similar to each other. Ottoman sultans were distinguished in establishing strict discipline and training to their armies, with the result of being almost invincible. Now that European armies are evidently stronger in the battlefield, it is of outmost necessity to study the reforms they had gone through and the new weapons they use. The old military order makes the army undisciplined, difficult to assemble in times of campaign, hard to direct and to control (with the corollary that it may depose its chiefs or even the Sultan himself: Ş142), easy to beat in battle.
Müteferrika proceeds to a “warning” (tenbih) on the reasons Europe proceeded and the Ottomans are losing wars, and how to redress the situation (Ş144-148). The superiority of European armies is evident, he notes, judging from the way these states raised their power and laid hands on various lands all over the world; this is due both to their use of the science of geography and the military reforms they planned and carried out. The Ottomans have to learn the methods and innovations used in the new armies, which Müteferrika names “new order” (nizâm-ı cedîd); the disadvantages of the old military techniques are obvious from the outcome of so many battles, and an Islamic state should not ignore or neglect out of laziness the need for reforming its army according to the new systems.
The first chapter ends with an “appendix” (tezyil) on the socio-economic results of the military order and discipline (Ş148-154). (i) The purpose of order and discipline, says Müteferrika, is obviously to be victorious against the enemy; when two armies of similar organization, numbers and might meet in battle, victory favours the side that moves with more attentiveness and is more disciplined. This is evident in the case of the wars between European states, which have more or less similar armies. (ii) Secondly, a state whose army is well-ordered and disciplined secures its internal peace and well-being, while rebellions and disquiet arises in a state whose army loses its order and discipline. For instance, Müteferrika mentions in length the example of the Roman Empire, which collapsed due to the disorders that appeared in its armies, with the result that even the mighty title of Emperor (imparator) fell to disrespect until the Habsburg emperors used it again due to the power of their armies (Ş149-151). States that do not comply with the necessities of the new military systems are doomed to submit to others. (iii) Now, if an army keeps a strict and disciplined hierarchy, the people of the state leads a quiet and easy life; because the ordering of the military is based on scientific foundations, the soldiers keep their discipline although they differ from each other in character and nature. A disciplined army can pass through a vineyard with no soldier grasping a vine; thus, people feel secure and follow their occupations in peace.
Indeed, notes Müteferrika, according to all wise men of the past, people living under a state (bir devletin sahâ-yı dâiresinde mevcûd efrad-ı nâs) should be divided into four classes under the administration of a ruler, so that the body of the state (beden-i devlet) stays well-ordered, just as the four elements maintain the health of the human body (Ş152-153). These classes are the men of the sword, the men of the pen, the farmers and the men of arts and trades. Among them the first class is the most important, since it includes Sultans, ministers, viziers, governors and soldiers, whose main duty is to rule properly over the people in accord with the opinions and counsel by the ulema and wise men, who belong to the men of the pen. That is the rule with which Christian states comply, with the result that their people live in peace.
(iv) Moreover, a disciplined army benefits the treasury and prevents its spending in unnecessary expenses, since its soldiers see to their duties night and day, instead of looking for ways of private profit. They are constantly ready for battle, and so there is no need to raise more armies in the expense of the treasury. (v) With a well-ordered army, it is clear who belongs to the military and who does not, and thus every person carries on his own duty. This way, no class interferes with the duties of another (bir sınıf aher sınıfın zimmetiyle); for instance, soldiers are not forced to be cultivators and the latter are not obliged to fight (sipah ra’iyyet ile ve re’aya cenk ile cebr-u-kerh olunmayub; Ş154). (vi) Besides, the number of soldiers must be known at any time; soldiers and civilians should not be confused with each other, and soldiers ought to wear special uniforms that must be prohibited to non-soldiers. Experience has shown that the intermingling of soldiers with civilians has caused many troubles, both in war and in peace.
Second chapter (Ş154-162): The advantages of the science of geography. This lengthy chapter bears witness of the intense interest Müteferrika shows on geography (geography books are heavily represented in his publishing activity as well). The state magnates must have concrete and detailed knowledge of the towns and castles in their territories, the characteristics of the borders, the roads, and the various nations (akvâm) that live within them; moreover, knowing the enemy territories and their respective features is essentials for carrying on the Holy War. Another reason that shows the high importance of the geographical science for the Ottoman Empire is the fact that Muslim peoples live outside the Ottoman borders, ignorant of each other; if all Muslims get acquainted with each other they could unite and dispose of their infidel rulers, under the protection of one and only Sultan (Ş156-157). Again, the Christian countries have made considerable progress in this aspect, making extensive use of maps to the benefit of their expansion, while Muslim rulers have not even mapped their own territories yet. Besides, geography is indispensable for the comprehension of history, as well as for conducting diplomatic negotiations in order to divide conquered countries and to reshape borders. In the third chapter (Ş162-191), Müteferrika returns to the issue of military reforms, describing explicitly the new military order used by the European states and proposing the measures to be taken in the Ottoman army. He is very careful to justify the need for reform in terms of Holy War and of the natural superiority of Muslim warriors. Thus, he describes the military superiority of the early Ottomans, when war was based on swords and hand-to-hand combat rather than artillery, and concludes that the Christians were forced to concentrate in a perfect order of their armies in order to resist to the otherwise irresistible Muslim armies. The main advantage of the Ottomans, according to Müteferrika, is their courage, boldness and commitment to the ideals of the Holy War. Lacking these, Europeans chose to reinforce their soldiers’ armouries so as to defend against the vehemence of their opponents. The Ottomans then had to either make swift assaults or exhaust the enemy by occupying strategic points and avoid battle till he is weary and confused. Under these conditions, Ottoman defeats can be explained only by certain reasons, namely (a) neglect to study the situation of the enemy, (b) neglect to study the reasons of decline (fesad), (c) the order and discipline of the enemy during battle, and (d) the commitment of the enemy to the new order of warfare (Ş169-170). More generally, the reasons of Ottoman military defeats can be enumerated as follows: (a) Lack of following the orders of Sharia, (b) neglect of justice, (c) lack of zeal in mild administration and well-governing (hüsn-i siyaset), (d) giving posts to the wrong people, (e) taking decisions without counsel (müşavere), (f) avoiding counsel by people of knowledge and experience, (g) ignorance of the use of weapons and military order, (h) lack of discipline and obedience to the army commander, (i) the diffusion of bribery, (j) neglect of well-informed knowledge of military affairs (Ş171).
Müteferrika then proceeds in the details of what he names “military order” or nizâm-ı asker, in fact describing European eighteenth-century warfare: he examines the division of the armies in regiments, under a strict hierarchy of officers; the use of uniforms for each regiment; the presence of rifle units in each infantry or cavalry body; the proper officer hierarchy and the importance of staff officers, as well as of regular training; finally, the use of two lines of battle, fighting in strict discipline and collaboration.
After a “conclusion” (fâide) on what is needed from the field marshal (Ş177), Müteferrika issues a “warning” not to discharge the field marshal without serious reason and then describes in even more detail the various military reforms applied by the Christian countries. Using numerous French words (soldat, grenadier, dragon, and so forth), which presumably he introduced to Ottoman vocabulary, he enumerates the features of European infantry and cavalry, the details of military hierarchy, the use of military signs and passwords, and the tactics in battle (Ş179-186). In way of conclusion, Müteferrika explains why he considers a European-styled military reform possible: human resources abound; thus, in three or four months the existing armies can be transformed into disciplined bodies along the lines described before. Moreover, Ottoman sultans have proved in the past that their armies can be irresistible and that they can construct and maintain a disciplined military order; besides, it is commonly known all over the world that Ottoman armies are famous for their zeal and courage, while the Ottoman army is unique in giving generous pensions to old, retired or ill soldiers and officers, which makes highly probable that European experienced officers may defect to the Ottomans (Ş188). Müteferrika proposes various ways for encouraging such defections, such as generous salaries and respect for the defectors’ religion. The example of the Ottoman navy is further encouraging Müteferrika, as Ottomans used to be very vulnerable at sea but managed in short time to follow European progress in naval warfare; the Ottoman soldier, he notes, is by nature inclined toward discipline and order. Russian military reforms under Peter the Great is another encouraging example.
In his final conclusion, Müteferrika stresses the importance of order (nizam), which he considers a science in its own right (Ş191: bu fenn-ı garib-i nizam-ı asker zâtında... bir lezîz ‘ilim olub). All existing soldiers and timariots, together with viziers, provincial governors and other officers must without any delay try to create well-ordered military units, and no expense must be spared to this effect. If this advice fells in fertile ground, the Ottoman armies will be again irresistible and many more towns and countries will succumb to the Ottoman sultan, concludes Müteferrika.