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Christians and Muslims in Ottoman Cyprus and the Mediterranean World, 1571-1640

Christians and Muslims in Ottoman Cyprus and the Mediterranean World, 1571-1640

Ronald C. Jennings
Copyright Date: 1993
Published by: NYU Press
Pages: 442
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  • Book Info
    Christians and Muslims in Ottoman Cyprus and the Mediterranean World, 1571-1640
    Book Description:

    Wrested from the rule of the Venetians, the island of Cyprus took on cultural shadings of enormous complexity as a new province of the Ottoman empire, involving the compulsory migration of hundreds of Muslim Turks to the island from the nearby Karamna province, the conversion of large numbers of native Greek Orthodox Christians to Islam, an abortive plan to settle Jews there, and the circumstances of islanders who had formerly been held by the venetians. Delving into contemporary archival records of the lte sixteenth and early seventeenth conturies, particularly judicial refisters, Professor Jennings uncovers the island society as seen through local law courts, public works, and charitable institutions.

    eISBN: 978-0-8147-4374-4
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xi)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-13)

    Cyprus is located in the extreme easternmost part of the Mediterranean sea, about 65 kilometers south of Anatolia (Asia Minor) and less than 110 km from Syria. The island is marked by two important mountain ranges extending east-west, which make much of the land uncultivable. The thin northern, or Kyrenia, range has very steep slopes, and leaves only quite a narrow littoral in most places, though well watered and extremely fertile; that range nearly reaches a height or around 1000 meters. The Trodoos mountains of the south are broader, thicker, and very much taller, reaching as high as 1950 m....

  5. ONE The Women of the Island
    (pp. 14-39)

    The Ottoman conquest and the ensuing implementation of Islamic law undoubtedly had profound effects on the legal position of women and on family life. The impact of a century of Venetian rule over the Greek Orthodox majority is difficult to conjecture, particularly in this aspect most removed from public scrutiny. Even to get an impression of the position of women in family and public life in the traditional Orthodox Byzantine society and economy is difficult. The Latin and Venetian ruling classes of Cyprus were not noted for their high morality, while the reputations of the later Lusignan family and the...

  6. TWO Islamic Pious Foundations (Evkaf) and Public Welfare
    (pp. 40-68)

    Byzantine Cyprus certainly had a well-established system of charitable foundations, most of which were of private establishment, although the imperial families were also expected to be charitable and merciful. Hospitals, orphanages, and hostels for the aged and the poor all were normally founded. It is very difficult to get any grasp what happened to those old Christian institutions because only a tiny fraction were mentioned in the records studied. Of course, a number of the new founders were local Cypriots who converted to Islam, but no evidence exists of acceptable Christian foundations established after 1571. Nor is there any evidence...

  7. THREE Kadi, Court, and Legal System
    (pp. 69-106)

    The law imposed by Ottoman law courts, including that of the province of Cyprus, was the Sharia(şerʿ-i şerif), the sacred law of Islam. The court itself was called the place of assembly of the Sharia(meclis-i şerʿormahfil-i şerʿ), or colloquially just “Sharia”(şerʿ). In Cyprus during the period 1571–1640, as in many other places in the empire at that time, that court served all the people, not just Muslims. Although the masses of the island’s Greek Orthodox Christians may have had the legal right to apply to their own clergy in certain internal matters of a...

  8. FOUR The Military Corps (Janissaries and Spahis) and the Police
    (pp. 107-131)

    Very soon after the conquest of the island, the Porte assigned garrisons to castles located in strategic places. All of the castles except Lefkoşa were on the coast. Of course, the presence of fortifications was the main consideration in deciding where to establish new defensive positions, for it was far cheaper to repair and restore existing fortifications than to build new ones. The existing fortifications had been constructed on sites the strategic significance of which was already manifest. An analysis of the allocation of soldiers and money for these places in 1571–1572 (979–980) reveals much about how the...

  9. FIVE The Zimmis: Greek Orthodox Christians and Other Non-Muslims
    (pp. 132-172)

    In accordance with Islamic law, Ottoman subjects were divided into two broad classes: Muslims and zimmis (Arabicdhimmi, protected people). The law knows no Turk, Arab, or Kurd, only those who have come to God and are true believers, i.e., Muslims; likewise it knows no distinctions between old believers and new converts.¹ All non-Muslims who had submitted themselves to the authority of the Ottoman state and paid taxes were as a consequence entitled to protection of their lives and property and the right to practice their own religion. In the court of Lefkoşa the name Greek Orthodox(Rum)was never...

  10. SIX Disastrous Effects of Locusts, Plague, and Malaria on the Population of the Island
    (pp. 173-211)

    A few Venetians who were seriously concerned about declining population urged easing the financial and economic burden on the island’s people and indeed sought a policy of encouraging new settlement there. While some official efforts were made, emigration always exceeded immigration and the problem was never solved.¹ Restrictions were placed on emigration. Huen (1487) reported that, even though no one could legally leave the island, many people emigrated to nearby Ottoman territory to escape oppression on Cyprus.² Marin von Baumgarten (1508) praised the extreme fertility of the island but noticed that the cities and villages had extremely low populations “as...

  11. SEVEN Forced Population Transfers and the Banishment of Undesirables
    (pp. 212-239)

    Forced population transfers were an important part of Ottoman social and economic policy, particularly from the time of Mehmed the Conqueror. Much of the Muslim Turkish population of Rumeli resulted from the compulsory transferal of thousands of nomadic Yuruk families from western Anatolia, a policy which long antedated Mehmed. The early growth of Istanbul was spurred by policies requiring widespread migrations of families, especially from central Anatolia and the Black Sea littoral. Losses of population through willing and unwilling migration of Orthodox Christians from Trabzon to Istanbul, as well as the disproportion of Christians over Muslims in that city, influenced...

  12. EIGHT Slaves and Slavery
    (pp. 240-247)

    Slavery was an important institution in the Mediterranean world. In long distance trade few goods could have rivaled slaves in volume or profitability.¹ In Cyprus colonial powers like Genoa and particularly Venice established extensive slave plantations for sugar cultivation starting as early as the second half of the 14th century. Places on the south coast of the island like Piskopi, Kolossi, and Kouklia became centers of sugar production. Sometimes colonists imported slaves for those purposes. Ruthless use of slaves, in combination with advanced techniques of irrigation and mills, produced better, cheaper sugar. When slave plantations in Madeira and the Canaries...

  13. NINE The Cities and Towns
    (pp. 248-280)

    Ever since Hellenistic times Cyprus has been noted for its highly developed urban life. Because of natural problems like disease and insects, and because of general social and economic problems facing the island, drastic declines both in the population and in the quality of urban life had occurred by the beginning of Venetian rule. Probably sometime after the Lusignans had ruled for over a century problems began to appear which unsettled life in the cities and towns of Cyprus. How the size of cities and the quality of urban life under the Lusignans compares with these under the Romans is...

  14. TEN Loans and Credit
    (pp. 281-296)

    The impact of Ottoman rule, particularly the legal system, on credit and money lending in Cyprus is all too evident if one considers the letter written in 1563 from Magosa by the Jew Elias of Pesaro to a brother or friend in Italy inviting him to come there.

    People who want to borrow money come here. This money-lending business is really remarkable. One lends to no one except on a thoroughly sound security. No trust or credit. If the pledge is of gold or silver the interest is twenty per centum: if of wool, thread or silk twenty-five per centum....

  15. ELEVEN The Economy as Seen through Western Sources
    (pp. 297-310)

    Cyprus has often been renowned for its agriculture, industry, and commerce. The Arab Muslim geographer al-Muqaddasi (985) believed that Cyprus was “… full of populous cities and offers the Muslims many advantages in their trade thither, by reason of great quantities of merchandise, stuffs and goods, which are produced there.”¹ Geoffrey de Vinsauf, in his chronicle of the 3rd Crusade, asserted that all the wealth of Croesus was to be found there.² John Mandeville (after 1322) observed that pilgrims always stopped in Cyprus “to buy things that they need for their living.”³ and Ludolf von Suchen (1350) reported Cyprus “…...

  16. TWELVE The Economy as Seen through Ottoman Sources
    (pp. 311-344)

    The agricultural produce of Cyprus was rich and varied in the century after the Ottoman conquest. That variety impressed and often surprised merchants and other travelers who visited the island. Either out of curiosity or to inform merchants and other countrymen, some listed the crops in detail. So inexpensive were foods and supplies that by the mid-17th century European ships regularly provisioned there for their return voyages to the western Mediterranean. Incidental cases in the judicial records, and even more important the few complete or partial lists of the maximum legal market prices(narh)of agricultural goods show the nature...

  17. THIRTEEN The Sea: Navies, Trade, Smuggling, and Piracy (Linking Cyprus to the Mediterranean World)
    (pp. 345-384)

    Cyprus has an ideal location for a naval base, for long distance trade, for smuggling, and for piracy. Had the Ottomans chosen to do so, they could have made either Lefkoşa or Magosa the kind of international trading emporium that Aleppo was fast becoming in the 1570s, and that Izmir became in the mid-17th century. Indeed, Lusignan Cyprus had played that sort of role in the eastern Mediterranean; only the exclusionary policies of the Mamluks and then particularly the Ottomans hindered Venice from that. When the Ottomans came to dominate every inch of the eastern Mediterranean and Aegean littorals, they...

  18. Conclusions
    (pp. 385-400)

    By the time that an extensive fragment of court records is available, within 25 years of the conquest (1593–1595), large numbers of women from Lefkoşa and the surrounding villages were active participants at the court. On the basis of the small fragment from 1580, probably that was true even then. The protection of Islamic law, particularly from their traditional protectors the kadis, was available to all women, even the Greek Orthodox majority for whom it was probably often not mandatory. Islam places great emphasis on personal and family morality. Islamic legists strove to make the law permeate the lives...

  19. Select Bibliography
    (pp. 401-418)
  20. Index of Original Sources
    (pp. 419-420)
  21. General Index
    (pp. 421-428)
  22. About the Author
    (pp. 429-431)
  23. Back Matter
    (pp. 432-433)