Alparslan Episode 23 English Subtitles

Alparslan Episode 23 English Subtitles

Alparslan Episode 23 English Subtitles

The ongoing transformation of Ottoman state–subject
and subject-subject relationships

As we have just seen, the nineteenth-century state strove to eliminate intermediating groups – guilds and tribes, Janissaries, and religious communities – and bring all Ottoman subjects directly under its authority. In doing so, it sought to radically transform the relationship between itself and its subjects and within and among the subject classes. In earlier centuries, the Ottoman social and political order had been based on differences among ethnicities, religions, and occupations and on notions of an overarching common subordination and subjecthood to the monarchical state.

This order had been based on the presumption of Muslim superiority and a contractual relationship in which the subordinate non-Muslims paid special taxes and in exchange obtained state guarantees of religious protection. Non-Muslims legally were inferior to Muslims and, after the first Ottoman centuries, generally were unable to serve in a government office or the military (although there were many exceptions).

The reality, of course, had been more complicated. For example, many Christian subjects had taken up the protection of various European states and enjoyed immunity from Ottoman laws (and taxes) through the
capitulatory system (chapter 5).

In a series of three enactments between 1829 and 1856, the central state aimed to strip away the differences among Ottoman subjects and make all male subjects the same in its eyes and one another’s as well. This was nothing less than a program to radically reconstitute the nature of the state and male Ottoman society. In such actions, the Ottoman elites shared a set of goals with state leaders in many areas of the nineteenth-century globe, such as nearby Austria-Hungary, Russia, and more distant Japan.

In the Ottoman world, these enactments were intended to make male subjects equal in every respect: both in appearance as well as matters of taxation, and bureaucratic and military service. The reforms sought, on the one hand, to eliminate the Muslims’ legal privileges and, on the other, to bring back under direct Ottoman state jurisdiction its Christian subjects who had become protégé’s of foreign states.

In 1829, a clothing law undermined the sartorial order based on difference that had existed for centuries. In the past, as seen, clothing laws in the Ottoman Empire, western Europe, and China all had sought to maintain class, status, ethnic, religious, or occupational distinctions among both men and women.

In a sweeping enactment, the 1829 law sought to eliminate the visual differences among males by requiring the adoption of identical headgear (except for the ulema and non-Muslim clerics) – see chapter 8. Appearing the same, all men presumably would become equal. This drive for equality anticipated, by a full decade, the more famous Rose Garden decree (Hatt-i Sherif of Gulhane) of 1839, that usually is seen as the beginning of the Tanzimat era of reform in the Ottoman empire.

This 1839 royal statement of intentions spoke of the need to eliminate inequality and create justice for all subjects, Muslim or nonMuslim, rich or poor. It promised a host of specific measures to eliminate corruption, abolish tax farming, and regularize the conscription of all males. In return for equal responsibilities, it promised equal rights.

In 1856, another imperial decree (Hatt-i Humayun) reiterated the state’s duty to provide equality and stressed guarantees of equality of all subjects, including equal access to state schools and to state employment. And, it also reiterated the call for equality of obligation of Ottoman males, i.e. universal male conscription into military service.

In the Ottoman world, as in France, the United States, and the German Reich after 1870, women only slowly were included in such “modern” notions of equality of subject and citizen. Women simply were not discussed either in the clothing law of 1829 or the imperial decrees of 1839 and 1856. As in the French Declaration of the Rights of Man or the American Declaration of Independence, women were not seen as included in the announced changes that were to occur.

Thus, Ottoman women presumably were to continue to wear dress that differentiated by community and class. But, as in the eighteenth century, changes in fashion were the norm during the nineteenth century as well and so women continued to test prevailing communal and class boundaries (also see chapter 8).

Ottoman society continued to grapple with the meaning of equality and women perforce, if very slowly, were included. For example, families increasingly began to seek formal education for their daughters. The top elites often sent them to private schools while the aspiring middle The nineteenth century 67
ranks sought female mobility in the state schools. As early as the 1840s, women began receiving some formal education in state schools.
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