[P4777] Waqf and Administration in the Ottoman Balkans

Created by Jane Hathaway
Monday, 11/20/17 3:30pm


This panel shows how Muslim pious endowments (Arabic waqf, Turkish vak?f) and provincial administrative structures in the Ottoman Balkans provided a bridge between imperial and local interests. The papers cover three centuries in a wide swatch of territory and political actors ranging from members of the imperial court to soldiers-turned-statesmen to provincial notables.
Paper One addresses the impact of imperial pious foundations in Dobruja, the easternmost part of Romania, which before the foundation of the Romanian nation-state in 1878 was a key source of military manpower and provisions for the Ottoman imperial center. Waqfs founded by imperial household members provided education for the region's Muslims, supplies for the Ottoman army, and safety for shipments of grain from the Danube delta to the imperial capital.
Paper Two focuses on the endowments of two powerful Chief Harem Eunuchs in the Danubian regions of Romania and Bulgaria. In the late sixteenth century, the first Chief Harem Eunuch founded a new town in the Danube delta; nearly a century and a half later, one of his successors used his pious foundation in the same region to supplement that of his predecessor while also establishing a fortified lighthouse. Farther inland, in today's Shvishtov, Bulgaria, he founded a madrasa. These endowments proclaimed Ottoman presence, ensured the security of shipping, and provided a Sunni, Hanafi education in this predominantly Orthodox Christian frontier region.
Paper Three focuses on the late sixteenth-century endowments of Bosnian Muslim Poturnaks, who, despite being born Muslim, voluntarily contracted for military service in the imperial armies. A few became powerful officials who "gave back" to their native region by founding religious and educational establishments. The paper examines two brother Poturnaks, both of whom founded high-profile mosques and madrasas with a view toward projecting their Ottoman identity and, at the same time, their loyalty to their homeland.
The final paper analyzes how local notables participated in the administration of Vidin in northwestern Bulgaria during the reform years of the mid-nineteenth century, using administrative structures to assert political and economic influence. Rather than viewing the notables' continued influence as a "failure" of centralizing reform, the author argues that the administrative structures were designed to allow exactly this kind of influence. The findings reinforce the overall picture presented by this panel: provincial administrative structures, whether shar?'a courts where endowment deeds were formulated or offices in the reform administration, served to integrate imperial agendas with local ones.





Amy Singer

(Tel Aviv University)
Panel Participating Role(s): Chair; Discussant;

Jane Hathaway

(Ohio State University)
MESA Board of Directors
Panel Participating Role(s): Organizer; Presenter;

M. Safa Saracoglu

(Bloomsburg University)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

Catalina Hunt

Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

Sanja Kadric

(The Ohio State University)
Sanja Kadric is a doctoral candidate in the History Department at The Ohio State University (B.A. from Seattle University, M.A. from The Ohio State University). She is a specialist in Islamic History whose work focuses primarily on the history of the...
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;