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What did loyalty and identity mean in the eighteenth-century Ottoman Empire, and how did that change amid geopolitical reconfigurations and new methods of recruiting and organizing military forces? This article offers a micro-historical perspective on those questions – prompted by Virginia Aksan’s work – by using archival documentation to trace a clash between Ottoman Christian sailors and Ottoman Muslim militiamen during the 1787 Russo-Ottoman War. As the Christians defended themselves against charges of piracy, they forced Sultan Selim iii to confront tensions between relying on irregular forces and religious rhetoric to defend his empire while, trying to retain the loyalty of Christians.

In: Ottoman War and Peace
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This article considers the relationship between law, diplomacy, and identity in delineating slavery and freedom in the Black Sea imperial milieu. Examining the release processes for captives which followed each of the many wars between the Ottoman and Russian empires in the eighteenth century, I argue that these matters were increasingly handled according to written and unwritten legal understandings, rather than through ransoms or threats. The two empires agreed that the Ottoman state would set free enslaved Russian subjects, even those in private hands, but also that the Russians would not demand the release of others. This discussion, therefore, offers a window on the legalization of international relations, and on the growing importance of individuals’ relationship with central states. Moreover, these understandings endured, consciously or unconsciously, into the nineteenth century, arguably shaping Russo-Ottoman and Ottoman-European relations on issues of intervention and the slave trade.

In: Turkish Historical Review
In: Turkish Historical Review
Author:

Abstract

What did loyalty and identity mean in the eighteenth-century Ottoman Empire, and how did that change amid geopolitical reconfigurations and new methods of recruiting and organizing military forces? This article offers a micro-historical perspective on those questions – prompted by Virginia Aksan’s work – by using archival documentation to trace a clash between Ottoman Christian sailors and Ottoman Muslim militiamen during the 1787 Russo-Ottoman War. As the Christians defended themselves against charges of piracy, they forced Sultan Selim iii to confront tensions between relying on irregular forces and religious rhetoric to defend his empire while, trying to retain the loyalty of Christians.

In: Ottoman War and Peace
in Encyclopaedia of Islam Three Online