In search of a Jewish community in the early modern Ottomon Empire : the case of Edirne Jews (c 1686-1750)
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This thesis examines the demographic development, geographic distribution, and communal organization of the Edirne Jewish Community from the late seventeenth to the mid-eighteenth century by mainly benefitting from Ottoman archival sources and Muslim court records of Edirne. Except some big cities such as Istanbul, Jerusalem, Salonica and Izmir, monographic studies on Ottoman Jews have been rare in Ottoman historiography. These works have either focused on the early periods (Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries) or on the nineteenth century. Ottoman Jews in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, however, are shortly mentioned within the “decline” paradigm. A monographic study on the Edirne Jewish Community in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries has not yet been done. Did the Edirne Jewish Community decline in the eighteenth century? How was its demographic situation and spatial organization in the centuries concerned? How did they sustain and develop their relations within the community, and with other groups and the state? The archival materials are the ones drawn upon most heavily in this research. For the demographic situation and the spatial organization of the Edirne Jews, ‘avârız registers, one cizye register, and the census conducted in 1703 have been used. Furthermore, in order to see the neighborhoods where they lived and to analyze their relations with the broader society, court records of Edirne between 1686-1750 concerning Jews were used. Bearing in mind the limits and problems of the sources, I attempted to scrutinize the demographic, spatial, and organzational structure of the Edirne Jewish Community during the late seventeenth and mid-eighteenth centuries.