Religious and demographic development in the South-Western Rhodope Mountains in the second half of the fifteenth century : a case study of the Tahrir register of 1478
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The spread of Islam into non-Muslim territories has always followed their conquest by some expanding Islamic polity. Ottoman military expansion into the Balkans was followed by the establishment of a new administrative and Islamic institutional order. Yet not all areas in the Peninsula were affected equally by the expansion of this new Muslim power, let alone impacted in the same manner by the introduction of their religious beliefs. This thesis focuses on the religious developments following the conquest of the kaza of Drama, located in eastern Thrace, in accordance with the Tapu Tahrir Defteri 07, which covers the year of 1478. A case study of 25 villages from various geographic regions of the area, as well as the town of Drama, has been chosen in order to analyze the religious situation found in that year. Through a focus on the geographic, economic and local religious characteristic of the region, an analysis concerning the conversion process to Islam will be provided. The representative value of the villages chosen will provide explanations as to the role of colonizers, urban town-dwellers and yürüks. This in turn will present an analysis concerning the preliminary stages of conversion and the various elements that either halted or motivated the process of Islamization.