The conditions and methods of the land travels of the Ottoman subjects during the pre-modern era
Babacan, Ülkü Zeynep
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Traveling in the Ottoman Empire during the pre-modern times was challenging and dangerous for everyone, but much so for civilians. Furthermore, the central authority discouraged the mobility of civilians, and wanted them to stay put. These are why it is generally assumed that Ottoman tax-paying subjects, re‘âyâ, did not leave their farms and hometowns. This thesis questions the truth of this assumption and examines how and why the Ottoman subjects traveled. As the travels of civilians were not recorded by the state in the pre-modern times, Ottoman and foreign travelers’ travelogues were used as primary sources. Other sources to obtain information about voyages of Ottoman subjects were the court registers and fetva collections, which consisted of problems occurring during travels. An analysis of these materials, together with the secondary sources yielded to the result that contrary to the general assumption, Ottoman subjects sought and found ways of overcoming the risks and difficulties of changing places. Merchants, craftsmen and other civilians traveled across the Ottoman lands by their own means and benefited the road system, organization and network provided by the central administration.