1341) Turks And Armenians In An Ottoman Town

Assoc. Prof. Said Öztürk

The political aspect of the ‘Armenian Problem’, which emerged in mid-19th century, has hindered studies and researches on the socio-economic and cultural relationships and interactions of these two nations, i.e. Turks and Armenians, who have lived together in harmony for centuries.

In fact, these two nations have had very close relationships and influenced each other, particularly in Asia Minor. We shall here refer to three testimonies on this subject, one foreign and two Ottoman pashas.

Helmuth von Moltke, who lived in Turkey from 1835 to 1839, tells about Madrika and his family, the Armenian interpreter of Husraw Pasha, an Ottoman Serasker in Istanbul, as follows:

These Armenians may actually be called Christian Turks. Although Anatolian Greeks have preserved their own characteristics, Armenians have adopted the traditions and even the language of Turks. Their religion allows them as Christians to marry only one woman; but they cannot be distinguished from Turkish women. An Armenian woman only reveals her eyes and the upper part of her nose in the street covering the rest of her face[1].

In his memoirs of his childhood Kazım Karabekir Pasha tells about the Armenians he met in the City of Van:

“When we went to Van in 1886 (1302), the first Armenian I met was our cook. Later I came to know about his family and other Armenian families closely. Their clothing, family life, dishes, furniture were the same as those of Turks. Armenian women would wear white jilbab, for they abstained from looking like Muslims. Still, men’s clothes were the same as those of ours.” Pasha was four years old at the time. Pasha adds, “As wealthy Armenians employed Turks as their trustees, Turks peered Armenians equal to Turks in their business. As a Turk entrusted his property to an Armenian when he went for Hajj, an Armenian that went away consigned his property to a Turk[2].

Further, Cemal Pasha narrates:

“The friendship between Turks and Armenians exceeded al kinds of limits. Turks dwelling in Anatolian villages commended the rights and chastity of their family to the care of their Armenian neighbour when they went away on business, and vice versa[3].”

The late Nejat Göyünç writes in his book called ‘Turks and Armenians’, “Our Armenian friends in Kadıköy were the first to celebrate us every religious festival. Yet, we visited them at every Easter, congratulated them and enjoyed their hospitality. When my aunt passed away in 1978, the same friends came to Eyüp Sultan Mosque and shed tears at the funeral ceremony of beloved Fahriye Hanım (Abraş)”[4].

Needless to mention, the contribution of Ottoman administrators was great in the establishment of that peaceful media that lasted five centuries between Turks and Armenians. As a matter of fact, Ottoman administrators treated not only Armenians but all the minorities from the aspect of Divine responsibility, which application led to sympathy and tolerance.

A speech delivered by Mahmud II at Şumnu in 1837 sets a good example to reflect the attitude and tolerance of the Ottoman Sultans towards non-Muslim communities:

“O, you Anatolian Greeks, you Armenians and you Jews! You are all servants of Allah and subjects of mine like Muslims. Your religions are different; but you are all under the protection of the laws of the State and my imperial will. Pay the taxes levied upon you, which will be used for your security and prosperity”.

Sultan delivered the following speech on another occasion:

“Of my subject I distinguish Muslims at the mosque, Christians at the church and Jews at the synagogue. There is no any other slightest difference among them. My love and justice towards them all are sound and firm; they are all my real children.”

That divine responsibility Ottoman Sultans felt incumbent upon them, i.e. their consideration of the subjects as a trust of Allah, allowed the progression of a style that ensured the living together of communities of different religions and nationalities. On the other hand, those principles that entered the Islamic Literature as ‘Maqâsid-al Shariah’ (Aims of Shariah), which were namely defined as the fundamental purposes of Islam, actually undertook a role that bound the practices of Ottoman Sultans in this respect. As a matter of fact, these principles could be taken as the mutual values of the whole mankind even in our day, for these principles contribute to the peace and tranquility of humankind in such a period of time wherein a lot of parts of the world have been invaded with the excuse of security; scenes of massacres are exposed almost every day; starvation, thirst and misery are lived; and others’ right for living is totally abrogated. They are as follows:

1- Protection of Life;

2- Protection of the intellect;

3- Protection of the generation;

4- Protection of the property;

5- Protection of the religion[5].

Now I would like to come to the issue after this introduction. The place we shall deal with in our communiqué is Darende, in which respect we shall elaborate upon such issues as the population and economic means of Armenians that lived together with Turks, their public relations with Muslim Turks, the events that took place during Tahjir (the Emigration), the relations between the two communities after the Emigration, etc. Before the ‘Emigration’ a certain number of Armenians had been dwelling in Darende. Although their demographic density was not high, they had a considerable place in the social and economic life of the town.

1- Demographic Features:

The population of Darende has proven a stagnant character. The city, which proved this feature during the classical period, did not gain any increase in the 19th century and entered the 20th century with an insufficient population. Further, during the Republican period people have constantly emigrated from the city to the neighbouring cities, towns and metropolises due to the scarce economic means of the city.

During the period it was under the administration of the Ottoman administration, no noteworthy difference occurred in the population of Darende, which fact is proven with the information gathered from current references.

The scarcity of population reflected in the general of Darende was also valid for dhimmis (tax-paying non-Muslims) living in the town. Besides, the population of the non-Muslim minority in the centre and villages of Darende was tiny in comparison to the Muslim population. In fact, no dhimmis dwelt in most dwelling places. In the twentieth century, non-Muslims have lived in a dispersed fashion in some other quarters except for a non-Muslim quarter in the city-centre; as for the villages, they have only lived in the Village of Aşudı.

According to the data in the detailed books of registration dated 1530, approximately 2445 people lived in 11 quarters of the city, 226 whereof being non-Muslims, which corresponded to 9 % of the population of the city[6]. Yet, another brief book of registration with the same date reads that of the city population of 2601 the number of dhimmis was 226[7]. Still, according to results of another book of registration dated 1548, the population of the city was 2969, of which the estimated number of non-Muslims was 236[8].

In the 16th century all the villages appear to have been affiliated to nahiyes (sub-districts). The villages where non-Muslims dwelt were Aşudi and Handaros (Han-I toros) affiliated to the Nahiye of Ovacık, the central nahiye, the Villages of Karahisar, Sarukaya, Sazcuğaz-ı Sufla affiliated to the Nahiye of Gürün.

In the first half of the 16th century, the population of the dhimmis in two villages of the Nahiye of Ovacık increased to some extent. Nevertheless, the dhimmi population that lived in the village affiliated to the Nahiye of Gürün and the central nahiye failed to maintain the figure in 1530 and decreased in 1548 census. The dhimmi population that had been 550 in the centrum of Gürün in the book of registration before 1530 increased to 950 in 1530. However, it remarkably decreased in 1548 to 364. On the other hand, the Muslim population in the centre of Gürün gradually increased from 250 to 473. Generally speaking, the population of the Nahiye increased by 13 % between the registration prior to 1530 and that of 1548.

Table 75: The Non-Muslim Population in the Nahiye of Darende and the villages thereof in the 16th Century:

Prior to 1530

(Book no. 408)


(Book no. 387)


(Book no. 252)


Aşudı Dhimmis




Handaros Dhimmis




Total Dhimmi Population




General Population





Gürün Dhimmis




Karahisar Dhimmis




Sarukaya Dhimmis




Sazcuğaz-ı Sufla Dhimmis




Total Dhimmi Population




General Population




We do not have detailed documents as to the population structures of Darende in 17th and 18th centuries. Accordingly, we cannot determine the figures of dhimmi populations during the said periods.

There is significant data as to the population structure of Darende in the 19th century. While the census in 1247/1831 gave important details, non-Muslims were not mentioned therein. According to the results of that census, the number of Muslim men living in Darende and its villages was 4215. Women added to this figure, we can assume that the approximate number of Muslims was 8430. Supposing that the rate of the population of non-Muslims was circa 10-15 % to the Muslim population, it may be deducted that in 1830’s the population of dhimmis in the centre and villages of Darende was between 800 and 1200[9].

According to the data in the Books of Temettuat (Profits) pertaining to 1840 (with the supposition that each tax payer was a family and each family was made approximately up of 5 persons) the estimated population of the city was 7475. In the centre of the city were 21 quarters, one of which was the non-Muslim quarter. In 6 quarters pertaining to Muslims lived non-Muslim minority dispersed. A document dated 1264 points out that dhimmis lived in a quarter collectively while in others in a scattered manner[10].

Table 76: Non-Muslim Population according to Temettuat Counts:




Ali Fakı



Cami-i Kebir



Hacı Hasan



Hacı Muhammed









Dhimmi Quarter



City Total



Village of Aşudı



Grand Total



Memoirs point to the fact that in early 20th century Armenians lived in Darende and that the quarter where a church was found was called the Quarter of Church[11]. Again, according to the registers, among the most populated quarters of the city was also the Armenian Quarter. In that period, the Village of Aşudı was a village wherein dhimmis lived densely. In fact, 480 dhimmis lived there. According to the results of Temettuat Counts the total non-Muslim population is estimated to have been about 1500, of which 1020 dwelt in the city and 480 in the Village of Aşudı.

According to a census book dated 1852, in 7 quarters out of a total of 20 in the city lived non-Muslims. The Book expounds the significant details of the population structure of the city. The said Book indicates the total numbers of families and quarters, the numbers of children, youth and elderly in each quarter as well as the non-Muslims’ statuses for jizyah (capital tax paid by non-Muslims). According to the given data, it is estimated that around 1030 dhimmis resided in 206 dhimmi houses at the time[12]. The number of Muslim families was 2057.

With the data given by Ottoman Salnames (Yearbooks) as regards to demographic structure, it is possible to observe the ethnical differences of the population of Darende. As Yearbooks gave the male population, the total population is twice as many as this number[13].

Table 77: Non-Muslim Population according to Yearbooks:






Total Population




Grand Totals

























1300/ 1882


















The Yearbook dated 1306/1888 gives all the details of the ethnic composition of the population. According to registers, more than 90 % of the total population was made up of Muslims. Yet, almost the whole of the non-Muslim population was composed of Armenians. The total number of Catholics and Protestants was 60.

Table 78: The Population by the Yearbook dated 1306:






























According to Vital Cuinet, the total population of Darende in 1890 was 27163, whereof 21174 were Muslims and the rest 5989 were non-Muslims. The population of the city was 1300, of which 800 were Muslims and the rest non-Muslims whereof 150 were Armenians, 90 were Protestants, 49 Catholics and 211 Orthodox Christians[14]. The figures given by Vital Cuinet about the non-Muslim population were exaggerated.

Şemseddin Sami states that of the total population for 18500 of Darende with its villages, some 2000 were Armenians and the rest Muslims[15]. Yet, Kemal Karpat states that the population of Darende with its villages was 18930, whereof 16601 were Muslims, 2276 Armenians and 53 Protestants[16].

Clear information has been gathered in the censuses that have been carried out since the second half of the 19th century in order only to determine the population through more modern methods[17]. The results of the censuses of Darende carried out in 1300/1882 and 1320/1902 are given in the tables hereunder. The results of the census done in 1902 were higher than the ones of those realized in 1882, wherein the number of settlements increased[18]. While the number of non-Muslim population was 1387 in 1882, it went up to 1932 in 1902.

Table 79: The Populations in 1300 and 1320:

Year of Censuses


Total Populations of Non-Muslims

Whole Population

City Centre













Village of Aşudı











In that census the total population of villages was 9538. Ethnically, of the total population 8848 were Muslims and 690 non-Muslims, 7.2 % lived in the countryside. Yet, the results of the census done in 1902 were higher than that in 1882. In that census the number of settlements increased by 23. The fact that the population had almost doubled was caused by the high quantity of the number of settlements. Non-Muslims lived only in the Village of Aşudı and their population was 938[19].

2- Relationships with the Non-Muslims in Darende:

The Armenian minority of Darende have lived in close relationship with Muslims for many centuries.

Except for a quarter where they lived collectively, Armenians lived in a scattered fashion in other Muslim quarters of Darende in few houses[20]. Accordingly, they were in close terms with Muslims.

The minority in Darende freely carried out all kinds of permissible activities just like Muslims. They were in good terms with Muslims in trade, in their neighbourly relationships on such social occasions as birth, death, wedding ceremonies, religious festivals, etc. They paid condolence visits to the relatives of the deceased, and congratulated their neighbours at wedding ceremonies and religious festivals, etc. Armenians visited Muslims at Ramadan and Sacrifice Festivals and they were welcomed. Still, Armenian neighbours were not distinguished from Muslims and invited to wedding ceremonies. Again, Armenians also attended the chat-gatherings that were held by the rich in winter. We read the following warm dialogue in the memoirs of İsmail Arıkan, who elaborated upon the state of Darende in early 20th century and particularly the relationships between Armenians and Muslims[21]:

In Ramadans, along with the elderly we the children, Artin son of Nacar; Sevo the Junior son of Mahir Usta; Suren, Arzu, Bakho, sometimes Antranik, Napo sons of the Blacksmith; Dönme (Jewish convert) Raif Ağa and others - Muslims and Armenians - chatted awaiting in the meantime near the Local Government Premises east of the great cemetery and Kumtepe Marketplace for the Ramadan gun to be fired. As soon as we had seen the fire of the gun – before we heard the sound – Armenians ran to their homes and we Muslims hasted to break our fast[22].

There was such strong, close neighbourly relationships that Muslims saw off their Armenian neighbours that were to leave Darende owing to the Tahjir (Emigration); and they shared their sorrow. Truly, Armenians and Muslims were friendly neighbours and they sympathized with each other’s troubles. They shared common memories. They never forgot their Armenian neighbours who had abandoned their countries a long time before. As a matter of fact, Muslims took their Armenian neighbours or acquaintances to the places where they emigrated. Kirkor Usta, who decided to move to Aleppo after the Emigration, was taken to Aleppo by the nephews of Mehmet Agha, who was a close friend of his from the Village of Yenice. It was later narrated and mentioned in the town that Kirkor Usta was a good master. Still, those went away on business or for Hajj continued to visit their Armenian neighbours from Darende who later settled in Aleppo[23].

Manager Ahmet Effendi that undertook responsibility during the Emigration always treated Armenians kindly and did not give way to their mistreatment. He caused no harm to their life, chastity, property and money and took them to their destination safe and secure. In fact, Manager Ahmet Effendi succeeded in hindering the emigration of a great number of Armenians that were artisans lest the arts should die in the town.

Those Armenians that were excluded from the Emigration and stayed in Darende were not disturbed. As a matter of fact, they did often not even lock their door or gate. Memoirs make mention of them as follows:

“They had professions, shops, and established business. Those that were excluded from the Emigration – how nice it is – were duly respected by the youth and the elderly alike. In fact, they led better life than almost all the Muslims”[24].

From time immemorial Muslims of Darende took girls from Armenians but did not give them their daughters, which was a religious stipulation.

Women established warm relationships with one another. Instead of Armenian – Muslim discrimination strong neighbourly relationships projected. Muslim women did not hesitate to resort to Armenian midwives to have their children with headaches and twisted arms healed or to have their pregnant women delivered from pain in childbirth. In fact, the elderly Armenian women who were called Gelin Aba (Abla = Elder Sister) during the early years of the Republic were of such women. Those Gelin Abas assisted their neighbours without observing any discrimination of religion. Muslim women had Armenian women bake bread for they had been specialised in baking yeasted tandoor (sort of oven) bread. There was no fixed charge. It was done for an appropriate price. İsmail Arıkan writes in his memoirs:

There was a lovely tandoor (oven) that was heated easily in the house we had bought from the son of the miller. Women, Armenian and Muslim alike, came here to make yumak, to roll it open with long, thin rolling-pins and to get delicious, well-cooked bread from the hands of Gelin Abla, and yet to chat in quite a warm place…[25].

Again, in his memoir İsmail Arıkan narrates how an Armenian woman, called Gelin Abla, had been entertained who came to their house to heal his finger that had been bruised in his childhood:

“It was after dinner on a cold day. Gelin Abla came to our home for a night visit. It was a very private reception. She and mom looked at each other with friendly looks. Ember was brought on an ember tray and put into the tandoor. Everyone pulled thick quilts up to their belly or breast. Gelin Aba was offered the best seat. While the chatting was on, Gelin Aba came and sat and put her feet under the quilt as everyone did. I was quite troubled with that visit. There were also some other women neighbours. Torus left his mother and returned to their home. While the conversations were going on, walnuts, kavurga (braised meat), various pestils (sun-dried fruit pulps), fruit, roasted chickpeas, peksimets (hard biscuits) were heaped upon the table. Coffee was served to the elderly aunts and Gelin Aba. Tea was not so common at the time. Gelin Aba loved me very much as she did my brothers and sisters. We always saw her smiling face. At some interval, she invited me near her saying, “İsmeyil, come here for a while”. I grew even more troubled. She caressed me and held me like a baby and sat me on her side. In the meantime, she continued her speech gruffly with everybody. She and mom had some friendly looks at each other. Thereupon, a bowl of lukewarm water came with a bar of soap therein. There it was! We had things to do. Mom must have earlier told her about what had happened during the day and actually called her. I had clumsily injured my finger while I was playing and doing practical jokes with her son Artin at the Tepe (Hill) two days earlier. It really ached and it had already swollen. Gelin Aba had already grabbed my swollen finger. She robbed and pressed it with plenty of soap. As she pressed, the pain of my finger grew unbearable. I did not want them to understand what had caused that injury. I pressed my teeth and gulped. While she was continuing with that torture, she was also chatting with the ladies about this and that loudly as if they had wanted to suppress me. After she had anguished me for a while, she explained the situation saying, “Is it this hand that you hit my son with?” She repeated these words while was pressing the soaped spots. Then she stopped. The punishment had ended. I was very much annoyed. She then bandaged my hand with the coming piece of cloth and knotted the ends. The treatment of the dark, bony hands had finished. I do not remember how I left there. When I got up the following morning, the swelling and the pain had gone[26]”.

Yet, there occurred no discrimination in the relations between the Armenians and Muslims in Darende that emerged from the difference in religions. They visited each other in their shops, chatting and joking. They worked side by side in a friendly manner. The shops of Muslims and non-Muslims were opposite or side by side in the marketplace of Darende.

Hacı Ahmet Agha, who occupied an eminent place in the business world of Darende in early 20th century, and Demirci (Blacksmith) Kirkor Usta (Master), who merited the trust of people in the region with his quality work and sound character, greatly trusted each other. As narrated by İsmail Arıkan in his memoirs, the mentioned tradesmen borrowed as and when needed as many as 30-50 gold coins from each other, without any contract[27].

The foremen and workmen that worked in the construction of the mosque against the marketplace that had been constructed east of Tohma were trained by some Armenian masons (like İğiye, Simon, Nişan, etc.). Still, it is thought that the minarets of most mosques were erected by Armenian masons, like those of Şeyh Hamid-i Veli Mosque, Taceddin Mosque, the mosque by Öksürük(?) Bridge and Ulu Mosque.

The Armenians of Darende applied to courts to claim their rights when they suffered any injustice. A house and its garden that belonged to the mother of an Armenian called Ohannes and was seized by the mufti of Darende were restored to the landlord in 1861[28]. Again, any injustice in relationships between loan-givers and loan-takers was solved at courts. In 1861 the receivables of Ohannes and İlyas in Darende in several people were collected[29]. It is possible to give more examples.

If any abuse was witnessed in the operations of administrators, investigations were carried out. When Artin of Darende was imprisoned in 1861 by Mustafa Necati Effendi, the administrator of the town, the Mutasarrıf (Governor) of Sivas was instructed to investigate the case[30]. In which respect, the Governor of Sivas was instructed to dismiss the administrator and appoint a new suitable official in his place if it was certain that he had committed the offence of torturing as had been alleged[31].

As a matter of fact, the related records (Books of Judgments, Shar’iyyah Records, etc.) evidence that the best was done for the weak to be protected against the mighty throughout the Ottoman lands; utmost care was exerted for the smallest injustice and complaint to be dealt with; and that no ethnical discrimination was resorted to in the application of legislation. Through the researches of Gerber, it has been discovered that in the 17th Century Bursa litigations were opened at courts by all walks of people, nevertheless the judgments sentenced were mostly on behalf of the lower hands. Again, the same inquiry has put that the lawsuits proceeded by non-Muslims against Muslims resulted to the benefit of non-Muslims by 85 %. In the report dated 8 Muharram 1329 (A.H.) addressed to the Minister of Interior, the Governor of Aleppo said in referring to the tyrannical mobs in Antakya, “Your Excellency is well aware of the fact that the mission I humbly pursuit here is bound by no objective but that the common people benefit from their rights, while the upper class perform their rightful tasks[32].

According to complaints placed by the Armenians of Darende as to taxes in 1848, Armenians lived in eight quarters of Darende, one of which was solely dwelt by them. Yet, in other quarters they lived dispersedly among Muslims in five to six houses. Accordingly, they paid their taxes together. With the allegation that the situation was against them, they applied to the Patriarchate. Upon the Patriarch’s appeal to Majlis-i Wala (Law Court established in 1837 to deal with cases of high officials), the Governor of Sivas was instructed to correct the application[33].

3- Restoration of Aşudı Church and Permission for the Tolling of a Wooden Bell:

The Ottoman State allowed religious freedom within the frame of the rights and freedoms granted by the Islamic Legislation to dhimmis, in light of which dhimmi subjects were allowed to perform prayers in their settlements and to repair and restore their temples. Repairs and restorations were to be made on the old premises; no expansion thereof was allowed.

Aşudı was one of the few villages where the dhimmi subjects of Darende lived. Seeing that the village there was in need of repair, the concerned offices were informed of the requirement for the repair of the church, whereupon the case was evaluated and a fatwah (advisory opinion of a religious authority) was received from the Shaikh-ul-Islam, which read, “When an old church in a village is ruined, are the caretakers thereof allowed to repair it as it is without adding anything thereto? Reply: Yes, they are.” Thus, the church was restored. In the permission for the restoration of the church were two conditions: first, the building was to be restored as it originally was; secondly, no donations were to be collected from the poor. The permission for the restoration under the said conditions was conveyed to the vicegerent and voivode of Darende in mid-Rajab 1247/December 1831[34].

Again, in 1273/1856, permission was requested by the Patriarch that wooden bell be tolled in the aforesaid village to announce the time of public worships[35].

Yet, in 1320/1902 the church of Darende was repaired. According to the records given at that date, for the Church of Aşudı had partly burnt, the church that had been built upon the former foundation by 25x18 meters and the cell thereof by 10 x 8 meters was restored by the Christian settlers of the village with a population of 784 with an estimated cost for 15.365 kurush. The said restoration was realized with an addition of approximately 5 meters upon the walls of the ruins of the church and its cell that rose to 3 meters from the ground. It has been recorded that the church and the cell had 19 windows in total[36].

4- The Movements of Ihtidah (Conversion) in Darende:

Ihtidah comes to mean conversion, which term that is usually used for the conversion of non-Muslims into Islam. The conversion of dhimmis to Islam was welcomed and encouraged by both the Muslim community and the administrators to such an extent that new converts were praised and granted money for clothing. In fact, there exist a great number of documents in the Ottoman Archives as to the rewarding of new converts into Islam.

As a matter of fact, the dhimmis in Darende preferred Islam as their religion and thus became Muslims. It could be said the Armenian population whose number further grew less in the aftermath of the Emigration felt greater pressure upon them instead of all the tolerance around them. In which sense, it could be alleged that trepidation they felt in their region caused their conversions to Islam. Muslim population knew those dhimmis that became Muslims later.

In fact, Babayan, son of Haçir Ağa, was one of those dhimmis that preferred Islam. Babayan became a Muslim recently, got the name Ali and undertook the maintenance and cleaning of Çarşı Camii (Market Mosque). Babayan’s brother, Mahir Usta, was a good carpenter and cabinet maker, who had been trained in his profession in Thessalonica by one of their relatives. Mahir Usta also became a Muslim and got the name Mahir. He later made the minbar (pulpit of a mosque) of the Şeyh Hamid-i Veli Camii between 1935 and 1938. But his masterpiece that commemorated his name was the walnut double door of the mosque in İbrahim Paşa Quarter, on which the following quatrain still lauds Mahir Usta:

“He attained the Divine Grace of Allah,

Master Gazar became a Muslim.

They called him Ahmed-i Mâhir (Ahmed the Skilful),

For he was gifted in his craft.”

Boyacı (The painter) Ali Ağa from Taşçı Beli Quarter was of those Armenians from Darende who converted to Islam. His Armenian name is unknown. As Armenians pronounced Ali as Eli, eh was also called Eli Ağa. Ali Ağa dyed cotton, wool thread and cloth. He had a shop in the market of stove-makers and tinsmiths.

Still, another Armenian Muslim of Darende was Demirci sağır (Blacksmith the Deaf), who had come to Darende from Gürün and converted to Islam. He was a blacksmith. His name being unknown they called him Sağır (Deaf). His son and grandchildren still perform their commercial activities and they are of the esteemed and reliable people of the country.

It is known that Kalaycı Mustafa (Mustafa the Tinsmith), whose house was near the premises of the Local Governmen of Darende, later professed Islam along with his father. That person was also prominent in his craft.

Again, Gelin Aba was of the Armenian Muslim converts. In fact, Hafız Ağa, Imam of a mosque, endeavoured for her conversion and they eventually got married.

5- Economic Opportunities of Minorities:

As is known, the level of welfare of Armenians and Anatolian Greeks was superior to that of Muslims in the 19th century, for they made use of the advantages of ‘European Tradesmanship’ and got in touch with the business world of the western countries. Essentially, after the British – Ottoman Trade Treaty concluded in 1839 the portion and influence of this minority group in commercial world further increased[37].

As a matter of fact, nobody has ever interfered with commercial freedom. Nobody has hindered the commercial activities of the Armenians who have been living in Darende. In fact, they have freely carried on their commercial activities like Muslim tradesmen and craftsmen. On the other hand, dhimmis of Darende established partnerships freely among themselves. In 1852, two dhimmis of Darende liquidated the company they had founded[38]. In light of oral narrations, Armenians played an active role in commercial and industrial activities in Darende until recently[39].

It was possible to come across merchants of Darende who did European trade in 19th century, one of who was Şamlıoğlu Karabet of Darende[40]. Again, Tataroğlu Artin, who lived in Darende, was a European merchant during the same years (1859)[41]. Apart from that, there were a great number of merchants that did domestic trading. Also, the merchants of Darende started to import and export commodities through the Customs Office of Sinop in mid-19th century[42]. Owing to the scarce economic means of Darende, many merchants from Darende settled in regions, either near or far, with a view to carrying on their commercial activities there. For instance, another dhimmi from Darende named Bedros dealt with trade in the Town of İskilip in 1857[43].

We shall study the economic state of non-Muslims living in the cit-centre and villages of Darende in light of the data in the Books of Temettuat, in which respect the dhimmi population of Darende in 1840’s shall be studied.

At the time non-Muslims dwelt in such quarters of Darende as Ali Faki, Cami-i Kebir, Hacı Hasan, Hacı Muhammed, Tahtalı and Yazıcı as well as the Village of Aşudı. Besides, there was an Armenian quarter in the centre of Darende where the dhimmi population was dense, which however fell outside the evaluation since the records thereof were not reached. Aside from the Armenian quarter there were 166 tax-payers in the Village of Aşudı and in the other quarters of the City, wherein the commons were not included. The distribution of the incomes earned by non-Muslims in 1844 by the sources thereof is as follows:

While commercial and professional incomes formed such a considerable percent as 82.6 % of the incomes of those non-Muslims that lived in Darende, the overall average was 70 % by commercial and professional incomes.

As is known, dhimmis in general dealt with craftsmanship and trade. They had professions, shops and settled business. They usually had profitable jobs. It was said that they worked with large shops with extensive items. They were tinkers, blacksmiths, millers, cloth-weavers, carpenters, etc. Armenian artisans also covered the demands of the neighbouring villages. Although street industry was very fashionable in Darende, Armenians did not do that job. It could be said that Armenians led a more comfortable life than Muslims.

The arable fields in the centre and countryside of Darende totalled 6664 dönüms (920 or 1000 square meters), a noteworthy portion, 76.6 %, whereof being in the countryside.

Of the agricultural lands pertaining to non-Muslims totalling 200 dönüms*, 43.5 dönüms was cultivated, 32 dönüms fallowed, and the remaining 125 dönüms used for gardening. The size of the fields and gardens falls in small-scale type enterprises. The cultivated fields measured 1.5, 5, 10, 11 dönüms, while gardens 0.5, 1, 2 dönüms.

They raised great cattle, small cattle and pack animals. They also dealt with apiculture.

Table 81: The Sources of Incomes of Non-Muslims:




Agricultural Incomes



Incomes from Animals



Professional and Commercial Incomes






As fields of professional and commercial operations, the Dhimmis of Darende in 1840’s worked as: Silence Cloth Makers, Workmen, Herbalists, Printed Cotton Weavers, Veterinarians, Dyers, Weavers, Bell Ringers, Peddlers, Apprentices, Farmers, Weavers, Millers, Blacksmiths, Cabinetmakers, Cotton and Wool Fluffers, Porters, Servants, Workmen, Tinkers, Muleteers, Cauldron Makers, Monks, Headsman’s Aids, Jewellers, Donkeymen, Cotton-Sellers, Pınarcıs, Stonemasons, Tebas, Tailors, Merchants, Builders, Players of Zurna (a Turkish musical instrument).

6- Tax Burden and Tax Distribution:

The taxes in 1844 were of three types: Vergü-yi Mahsusa (Special Tax), Jizyah (Capital Tax paid by non-Muslims) and Ushur (Tithe). The taxes of the mentioned three types collected from the centre and the affiliated villages of Darende added up to 113.422 kuruş, 83.760 kuruş (73.8%) whereof was from vergü-yi mahsusa, 8355 kuruş (7.4%) from jizyah and 21.307 ku­ruş (18.8%) from ushur.

Considering the rates of the items that formed the tax burden in the countryside of the Town of Ahyolu in Rumelia within the total of taxes in reference to this comparison, they appear to have improved by the following rates: vergü-yi mahsusa: 57.4%, jizyah 12% and ushur 30.6%[44].

The least ushur-tax burden in the countryside of Darende was in the reaya (non-Muslims) quarter of the Village of Aşudı. The rate of ushur in the total of the cultivated revenues was 11.2% in the general of villages. This rate went up to 14.6% in the reaya (non-Muslim) quarter of Aşudı. It drew attention that the dhimmis of the Village of Aşudı had the least harvest and paid the least sum of ushur due to their non-agricultural activities.

Vergü-yi Mahsusa, which was substituted for örfi (conventional) taxes by the administrators of Tanzimah (Reforms), and which began to be collected as after 1256/1840, and which was also mentioned with such several names as ‘An-Jamaatin vergi, ‘Vergü-yi Mahsusa, ‘Vergü””””” and ‘Komşuca Alınan Vergü”””” , was distributed in – more or less – consideration of the incomes of people and bore the qualities of a general tax that ensured vertical equality.

The state of Vergü-yi Mahsusa of the 71 non-Muslim families living in the six quarters of the city-centre of Darende with the exception of the unregistered was as follows: 5 out of them did not pay tax. The tax-rate of the rest of families, i.e. 66 in the total tax collection was 12.6 %, which was under the average rate of the city. The rates ranged from 8.5% to 19%. The average tax per family was 47.2 kurush, while it was 36.6 kurush in the city general. Although non-Muslims paid higher amount of vergü-yi mahsusa per family, they actually paid less tax in comparison to their annual incomes.

The tax that was 36.6 kurush in the city general was quite low according to some other Anatolian cities. For instance, during the same period, it was 119.68[45] in the city-centre of Bilecik, while in the city-centre of Bursa it was 50.24 in 1842 and 60.39 kurush in 1847[46].

The classification of the non-Muslims of Darende by their jizyah liabilities is seen below. This table could also be regarded as a table illustrating the dhimmis’ welfare level.

In 1840’s non-Muslims only lived in the six quarters of the city-centre of Darende and in the Village of Aşudı. In the city centre that fell outside our study was still another non-Muslim quarter. We made up for the deficiency caused by that quarter by using the 1261 Jizyah Book[47]. On the other hand, 10020 kurush was collected from the 364 jizyah-payers in the city and 5325 kurush from 183 jizyah-payers in the Village of Aşudı. While 4.9% of the jizyah-payers in the city paid high-level jizyah, the rate was 6.6% in the Village of Aşudı. The rate of the payers of the lowest tax was higher in the city.

Therefore, the dhimmis in the Village of Aşudı earned higher incomes than those dhimmis in the city.

Table 70: Jizyah Liabilities by Ability of Payment (%)





City Centre





Village of Aşudı





Out of 364 jizyah-payers among the non-Muslim subjects in the city-centre 18 were high, 258 medium and 88 low. The most jizyah-payers lived in Dhimmi Quarter. In fact, the number of the payers of high rate jizyah was 16 in Dhimmi Quarter and 2 in Cami-i Kebir Quarter, the jizyah amounts of whom were not indicated.

As the two persons who were exempted from tax in Hacı Muhammed Quarter were children, they were not counted as tax-payers. Again, in Yazılı Quarter, one disabled person and two orphans were exempted from taxes. The state of two jizyah-payers in Cami-i Kebir Quarter is unknown. While it was remarked that one had no Jizyah al-Shar’iyyah, there was no explanation concerning the other.

As is seen, the most jizyah-payers came from the middle-class. Essentially, they formed 70.9% of all the jizyah-payers. As that classification applied in jizyah tax was done in consideration of the incomes and wealth of people, it thus reflects the income groups in the society being high, medium and low incomes, in which context it could be said that 71% of non-Muslim subjects belonged to the middle-income class. Most jizyah-payers were found in Dhimmi Quarter.

In that period the amount of jizyah collected from high-level jizyah-payers was 60 kurush, that from middle-class tax-payers 30 and that from low-class tax-payers 15. According to that, the total of jizyah collected only from native people totalled 10020 kurush.

Table 71: Jizyah Payers by their Financial Ability:


Number of Payers






Amount of Jizyah

Ali Fakı






Cami-i Kebir







Hacı Hasan






Hacı Muhammmed




















Zimmi mahallesi


















The region in the countryside where non-Muslims dwelt was only the re’ayah (non-Muslim subjects of the Ottoman State) quarter in the Village of Ashudi. The number of non-Muslim jizyah-payers that lived in the Village of Ashudi is 183. According to the classification that was prepared by the payment abilities of the non-Muslim tax-payers, the number of middle-class jizyah-payers was the highest. The numbers of the payers of middle-class jizyah was the highest in the city. The number of middle-class jizyah-payers in the Village of Aşudı was 136 in total, while the number of high-class jizyah-payers was 12 and yet that of low-class 35. The number of those that were exempted from jizyah liability was 2, who were poor and lived on help from others.

The lowest amount of jizyah that was collected in three categories as per Jizyah Legislation was 15 kurush per capita, that of middle class 30, and that of high class 60. The sum that was collected from 183 jizyah-payers was 5325 kurush.

Comparing the rate of family heads with middle-class jizyah-payment ability in the city-centre with those in the villages, it is seen that they were similar to each other. In fact, it was 70.9% in the city and 74.3% in Aşudı, the sole village where only non-Muslims. Among the dhimmis that lived in the city the number of those that paid high jizyah was 18, that of those in the village 12[48].

The ages of jizyah-payers varied from 12 to 80. While the age-limits varied between 13 and 65 in the city-centre, they ranged from 12 to 80 in villages[49].

[1] Helmuth von Moltke, Moltke’s Letters on Turkey, translated by Hayrullah Örs, Istanbul 1969, p. 35.

[2] Kazım Karabekir, prepared for publication by Faruk Özergin, Armenian File, Istanbul 1994, p. 12-13.

[3] Cemal Paşa (Prepared by Behçet Cemal), Memoirs, Istanbul 1959, p. 333; the book of the same memoirs has been prepared for publication anew by Ahmet Zeki İzgöer. Istanbul 2006, p. 330.

[4] Nejat Göyünç, Turks and Armenians, Ankara 2005, p. 15.

[5]Mekâsıdu’ş-Şeri’a’ (Objectives of Shariah), DİA, v. 27, p. 425.

[6] BA, Book of Land Records, no. 408, p. 796-806.

[7] BA, Book of Land Records, no. 387, p. 964-965.

[8] BA, Book of Land Records, no. 252, p. 132-140.

[9] Enver Ziya Karal, Osmanlı İmparatorluğu’nda İlk Nüfus Sayımı 1831 (The First Census in the Ottoman State), Ankara 1943, p. 153.

[10] BA, A.MKT, no. 132/61.

[11] İsmail Arıkan, Mahallemizdeki Ermeniler (The Armenians in our Quarter), Istanbul 2001, p. 29.

[12] The number of this Book we found in the Ottoman Archives has been lost.

[13] Yearbook of the City of Sivas dated 1287, p. 50; Yearbook of the City of Sivas dated 1288, p. 56; Yearbook of the City of Sivas dated 1289, p. 88; Yearbook of the City of Sivas dated 1298, p. 142; Yearbook of the City of Sivas dated 1306, p. 219, 254-255; Yearbook of the City of Sivas dated 1308, p. 203-204.

[14] Vital Cuinet, La Turquıe D’asıe, Paris 1892, v. 1, p. 693-694.

[15] Şemseddin Sami, Kâmûsu’l-A’lâm, v. 3, p. 2087.

[16] Kemal Karpat, “Ottoman Population Records and Census of 1881/82-1883”, ”, IJMES, IV, No. 2, 1978, p. 266; İlbeyi Özer, Da­rende Tanzimat Döneminde Bir Anadolu Şehri, (Darende, an Anatolian City during the Age of Reforms), p. 42.

[17] BA, DH.SN.M, no. 6/79.

[18] BA, DH.SN.M, no. 6/79; DH.SN.M, no. 6/51.

[19] BA, DH.SN.M, no. 6/51.

[20] İsmail Arıkan, Mahallemizdeki Ermeniler (The Armenians in our Quarter), p. 33.

[21] İsmail Arıkan, Mahallemizdeki Ermeniler (The Armenians in our Quarter).

[22] İsmail Arıkan, Mahallemizdeki Ermeniler (The Armenians in our Quarter), p. 36

[23] İsmail Arıkan, Mahallemizdeki Ermeniler (The Armenians in our Quarter), p. 53.

[24] İsmail Arıkan, Mahallemizdeki Ermeniler (The Armenians in our Quarter), p. 11

[25] İsmail Arıkan, Mahallemizdeki Ermeniler (The Armenians in our Quarter), p. 41.

[26] İsmail Arıkan, Mahallemizdeki Ermeniler (The Armenians in our Quarter), p. 40-41

[27] İsmail Arıkan, Mahallemizdeki Ermeniler (The Armenians in our Quarter), p. 52.

[28] BA, A.MKT.DV, no. 204/68.

[29] BA, A.MKT.DV, no. 218/20.

[30] BA, A.MKT.UM, no. 504/67.

[31] BA, A.MKT.UM, no. 506/99.

[32] BA, DH-İD, 44-1/30, p.6.

[33] BA, A.MKT, no. 132/61.

[34] BA, Cevdet Adliye, no. 1462.

[35] BA, Mühimme Defteri (Book of Records of the Imperial Assembly of State) no. 78, p.35.

[36] BA, Y.A.RES, no. 117/41.

[37] For detailed information in this matter see İbrahim Yılmazçelik, ‘Some Documents about the Social and Economic Conditions of Armenians in Anatolia in XIX. Century’, Fırat Üniversitesi Sosyal Bilimler Dergisi, v. 1, issue: 1, Elazığ 1987, p. 239 etc. Also see Benjamin Braude, ‘Millet Sisteminin İlginç Tarihi’ (The Interesting History of Nation System), ‘Osmanlı'dan Günümüze Ermeni Sorunu’ (The Armenian Problem from Ottomans to Our Day), Ankara 2000, p. 134-137; Salahi Sonyel, ‘Hristiyan Azınlıklar ve Osmanlı İmparatorluğu'nun Son Dönemi’ (Christian Minorities and the Last Period of the Ottoman State), ‘Osmanlı'dan Günümüze Ermeni Sorunu’ (The Armenian Problem from Ottomans to Our Day), p. 195.

[38] BA, A.MKT.DV, no. 71/80.

[39] Ali Sezegen, Darende Tarihi (History of Darende), Unprinted Bachelor’s Degree Thesis, Ankara University, Theology Faculty, Ankara 1971, p. 34.

[40] BA, A.MKT.DV, no. 138/4.

[41] BA, A.MKT.DV, no. 152/9.

[42] BA, A.MKT.NZD, no. 224/10, 78.

[43] BA, A.MKT.DV, no. 124/87.

* As we have failed to get to the Temettuat Books pertaining to that quarter in the centre of Darende where Armenians lived collectively, the data here pertain to those Armenians that lived outside of that quarter.

[44] See Şevket Kâmil Akar, 19.Yüzyılda Edirne Eyaletine Bağlı Ahyolu Kazası’nın Sosyal ve Ekonomik Ya­pısı (Social and Economic Structure of the Town of Ahyolu Affiliated to the Principality of Edirne in 19th Century), Unprinted Post-Graduate Study Thesis, Istanbul 1991, p. 26.

[45] Said Öztürk, Tanzimat Döneminde Bir Anadolu Şehri Bilecik (An Anatolian City in Tanzimah Period: Bilecik), Istanbul 1996, p. 178.

[46] Salih Aynural, Tanzimat Dönemi Bursa’nın Sosyo-Ekono­mik Yapısı (Socio-Economic Structureof Bursa during Tanzimah Period), Uprinted Thesis of Study for Associate Professorship, Is­tanbul 1994, pp. 104-105.

[47] BA, ML.VRD.CMH, no. 517. As we have failed to get to the Temettuat Books pertaining to the non-Muslim quarter of Darende, we tried to ensure integration using the Jizyah Book for 1261.

[48] The 133 Armenian tax-payers are not included in these figures, for they lived in the city of which the book wherein they were recorded have not been reached and studied. In this regard, we ought to use the mentioned figures with caution.

[49] BA, ML.VRD.CMH, no. 517, p. 2.

Source: © Erciyes University 2006


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