State and Society in the Marketplace: Bursa in the Late 15th Century

Thesis Type:

PhD dissertation


The story of the Ottoman urban economy in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries is part of a broader transition that took place in the administrative, economic and social spheres as the Ottoman principality turned into a centralized empire. No historical study has been made of the Medieval Anatolian town economy and of the process through which it was transformed into an imperial system. This dissertation proposes to offer the first in-depth look at such a transformation process through a study of late fifteenth century Bursa, paying particular attention to urban production and market relations, to the legacy of medieval brotherhoods called ahīs, and to the relationship between the Ottoman state with this city's economy.

The main sources used in this dissertation are the Bursa kādī court records, together with a number of other sources such as cadastral surveys, sultanic law codes, imperial orders, pious endowment registers and manuals of ethics. Based on my research into these sources, I argue that fifteenth-century Ottoman Bursa displayed the characteristics of a period of transition towards some form of early modernity in terms of codified rules replacing ad hoc arrangements, the state playing an increasing role in the marketplace, proliferation and systematization of official record keeping, and the appearance of formal and hierarchical craft guilds.

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