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The paper examines the akıncıs’ actions and hence the motivation for their raids as essential constituents within the process of Ottoman conquest of the Balkans in the late Middle Ages. Focusing on the raiders and their plundering activities, it asserts that the akıncıs played a crucial key role in the early Ottoman slave economy, as slave hunting was arguably the main economic driving force behind the Ottoman conquest. It hence argues that an analysis of the akıncıs allows for new insights into the nature of the early Ottoman Empire, but also advances the idea that their actions fall within a particular phase of the conquest period. To that end, the authors re-periodize the Ottoman conquest of the Balkans into the akıncı phase, which spanned eight to thirteen decades, depending on the region, and was characterized by continuous slave hunting and destruction of economic infrastructure, and the phase of administrative integration into the Ottoman Empire, which latter process was pursued by other actors, namely imperial elites from the center, and is usually characterized by at least partial repopulation of demographically weakened areas.

Open Access
In: Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient