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Ahmed Bey was born in 1214/1799 in the town of Qaraisalı (Çiçeli) in Adana. He was named after his father, who was killed four months before his birth and had been the leader of the Turcoman tribe (aşiret) Menemenci. A.B.’s mother Ümmü Gülsüm was also known as “Ekber qızı”. His brothers Habib, Osman, and Nabi were tribal leaders who participated in conflicts with local notables; they also served as deputy lieutenant-governors (mütesellim) of Adana and Tarsus. A.B. had three sisters named Hamide, Ayşe, and Qugu, the first of whom was married to Hasanpaşazade Mehmed Bey (d. ~1244/~1830), the deputy lieutenant-governor (mütesellim) of Adana (MT, xix). Ümmü Gülsüm, the daughter of the Bozoq region’s Abdallı tribe’s leader Qocabeyoglu, was the mother of his other siblings, Çopur Ahmed, Hanım, Hadice, and Fatma. The mother of another brother named Mustafa was the unnamed daughter of local notable İmamzade, and she was also the former wife of Battal Paşa (d. 1215/1801), governor of Adana. A.B.’s son Mehmed Tevfiq (d. ?) served as the head official (qa’imaqam) of the district of Dersim (Tunceli) and was later promoted to the rank of paşa. A.B. had another son called Haci Bey. Hasan Menemencioglu and Numan Menemencioglu, who were ministers in the Turkish Grand National Assembly during the 1940s, were members of this prominent family of bureaucrats and statesmen.

Menemencioglu Ta’rihi

This work focuses on the history of the Menemenci family and narrates events which occurred from the beginning of the eighteenth century up to 1284/1867, such as the conflicts between local notables and tribes, the application of Tanzimat reforms in Çuqurova, and the occupation of the region by İbrahim Paşa of Egypt. A.B. states that his only source was the Sogancızade Ta’rihi which belonged to İşqodralı Mustafa Paşa (d. ?), governor of Adana in 1266/1850 (MT, 6), but no other information remains about this work. While A.B. appears to have used some documents belonging to his family (MT, 5-6), mistakes concerning personal names and chronology indicate that he did not keep accurate and regular records. A.B. dictated his memoirs to his son Mehmed Tevfiq (MT, 1-337), who served as the head official (qa’imaqam) of the districts of Dersim and Üsküb. They were completed on 4 Rabi I 1278/9 September 1861. The author himself wrote the section on his eight years of exile in Istanbul (MT, 337-342) and must have done so in 1290/1873. Both parts of the work were copied on 10 Kanun-ı evvel 1330/23 December 1914 by Nigdeli Asım, an assistant scribe at the chief secretariat (mektubi qalemi qalfası). The introduction of the work, which does not include a table of contents, lists five chapter headings.

The subject of the first chapter is Habib Çelebi, the first leader of the Menemenci tribe who rose to prominence in 1120/1708 as a result of his role in the punishment of the Topallı community of Dündarlı (MT, 5). Ahmed Bey, also known as “Kör Boybeyi,” was probably the tribal leader in 1169/1756. His son Boz Osman assumed leadership of the tribe in 1180/1766 but was later executed in 1190/1776 by Çelik Mehmed Paşa (d. 1179/1765), the governor of Adana. Then tribal leadership passed on to A.B.’s father (MT, 8-9).

The second chapter focuses on Ahmed Bey’s tenure as tribal leader. It includes the narratives of the battle between the Qaraisalı tribes and the arrival of Menemencis at the village of Çiçeli from the town of Qusun in Tarsus; the governor of Nigde’s raid on the tribe, the wounding of Nabi Bey, and his death in Nigde; the clash with Qarcı Mehmed Aga, a provincial notable of Adana; the conflict between another notable of Adana called Çapuroglu and Qarslı Halil Aga; as well as Battal Paşa’s attack on the Qaraisalı, his defeat and subsequent escape to Adana. A.B.’s reference to the Ottoman army as “enemy soldiers” and his mention of Otoman soldiers’ pillage and plunder of the region en route to Adana are noteworthy.

This chapter also refers to Cabbarzade Süleyman Bey (d. 1229/1814), who was considered “a second sultan according to feudal customs” of the time. It states that he sent his commander Abdullah Bey at the head of twenty-five thousand soldiers against the Bayezidogulları in Maraş and the Menemenciogulları in Adana. It also records how Ahmed Bey took refuge at the fortress of Milvan. According to the text Ahmed Bey was killed in 1214/1799 by Piş Hasan of the Qarsandıogulları tribe and was survived by his twelve children from three wives. His eldest son Habib Bey was only fifteen at this time. (A photograph of his tombstone appends this article; see the pdf version).

The text includes a section which narrates how Yusuf Agah Efendi (d. 1239/1824), a prominent statesmen and the protector of the Menemenciogulları, acquired the town of Qaraisalı as private property. This anecdote implies the mechanism by which some tribal leaders rose to prominence as notables and deputy lieutenant-governors with the support of the government.

The third chapter relates Habib Bey’s political struggles and his defense of the Milvan fortress. Habib Bey ascends to tribal leadership by “putting on the fur coat he purchased from his mother” in front of the whole tribe. This is explained as a tribal custom of the day. A.B. states that Hasanpaşaoglu and Habib Bey traveled from Adana to Yozgad and participated in the conflict between Cabbarzade Süleyman Bey and Hazinedaroglu of Trabzon in 1223/1808. Later the Qarsandılı tribe endures vengeful raids.

When the Ottoman government sent Qaba Celil from Adana to Qaraisalı with the rank of major to enlist soldiers for pay (mirilü asker), Habib Bey attacks and kidnaps him at night to prevent conscription in regions controlled by the Menemenciogulları.

In 1225/1810 Cabbarzade Süleyman Bey sent Haci Habib Bey to Tarsus as deputy lieutenant-governor. Hasanpaşazade Ahmed Bey, the deputy lieutenant-governor of Adana, had died and his brother Mehmed Bey had been appointed to that office with the support of his brother-in-law Habib Bey. Habib Bey had become rich by charging grain ships heading from Tarsus to draught-afflicted Europe 46,000 quruş each in exchange for permission to export.

In 1228/1813, when Belenli Mustafa Paşa (d. 1245/1830) was appointed governor of Adana, Hasanpaşazade Mehmed Bey was the de facto ruler of the region. Despite the appointment of the new governor, Mehmed Bey remained in charge for about two more years. Mustafa Paşa was eventually able to secure the exile of Mehmed Bey and Habib Bey, and thus established his own control. Habib Bey, who fled to Mehmed Ali Paşa in Egypt, was sent on pilgrimage after the pasha awarded him a monthly salary of 2,500 quruş.

In the fourth chapter A.B. relates the experiences of his older brother Osman Bey. He also describes the tribe’s refuge at the fortress of Milvan upon Habib Bey’s exile and Mustafa Paşa’s siege of the fortress with the help of cannons brought from Istanbul. The account contains a full list of all who demonstrated bravery at the siege, including Armenians. A.B. mentions that the tribe sent its camels to Bozoq to protect them from plunder. After holding out for several months against 7,000-8,000 soldiers Osman Bey surrendered and was forced to give his brother A.B. to Hasanpaşazade Mehmed Bey as a “hostage.” The tribe sent Nabi Bey away, however, to ensure that at least one member of the family was safe. After the confiscation of Habib Bey’s possessions 250,000 quruş were paid to the state and 50,000 to Mustafa Paşa. When another 25,000 quruş were requested as payment to the “Tatars,” however, the tribe had to sell all valuable belongings in the marketplace of Adana. A.B. notes that their protector in Istanbul, Yusuf Agah Efendi, guaranteed the remaining 100,000 aqçes.

When Qaba Celil was appointed tribal ruler (mir-i aşiret) of the Menemenci and when Sadıq Efendi became governor (voyvoda) over the Qaraisalı, Osman Bey, with his two brothers in his retinue, traveled to Istanbul to complain. First Osman Bey and then his brother Çopur Ahmed Bey and some of his men fell victim to the plague in Istanbul. Most members of their retinue had fled when confronted by the supporters of Mustafa Paşa. A.B. became registered in the 44th company of the janissary corps. He took refuge in their barracks and spent two months in hiding among them. When he heard news about the arrival of complaints from Adana and Tarsus, he pawned his belongings and set out for Adana.

The fifth chapter relates events of the period up to 1277/1861, including the Egyptian occupation of Çuqurova. A.B. states that some tribes sided with the Egyptians while others supported the Ottomans during the occupation (1248-1256/1832-1840). While A.B. of the Menemenciogulları tribe supported the Egyptians, his brothers sided with the Ottomans (MT, 229). Nabi Bey was appointed deputy lieutenant-governor of Adana by İbrahim Paşa (d. 1264/1848), but he was later exiled to Akka after being charged with embezzlement. İbrahim Paşa of Egypt stayed at A.B.’s mansion and the two played chess. Egyptian propaganda claimed İbrahim’s army to be the saviours of Islam in Anatolia; A.B., on the contrary, describes İbrahim Paşa as “a disbeliever who neither prays nor fasts”.

A.B. was forced to present a harnessed horse of 30,000 quruş to Haci Ali Paşa (d. 1261/1845), the governor of Qonya, for having forgiven him for his support of the Egyptians. Following the departure of the Egyptian army, he also sent a valuable horse and gifts to İzzet Mehmed Paşa (d. 1308/1891), the governor of Adana, and twelve additional horses for his retinue (MT, 269). Under A.B.’s leadership Menemenciogulları administered all affairs of the provinces.

Around the time when the construction of the great mansion in Çiçeli was completed, two sergeants dispatched from Istanbul brought the decrees ordering the exile of Habib Bey to Bursa and A.B. to Kütahya (MT, 143). After A.B. had spent fif-teen months in Kütahya, the janissary corps was abolished and the janissaries in exile there began to be executed in accordance with imperial decrees. A.B. made escape plans with Habib Bey, but the plans failed. He therefore remained in exile for another nine months until allies brought a decree from Istanbul granting him his freedom. Soon after his return to Adana, A.B. and Habib Bey became involved in a conflict between Nurullah Paşa (d. 1257/1841), the governor of Adana, and Kelagazade Mehmed Bey (d. ?), the local magnate of Tarsus. Despite his appeal to Namıq Paşa (d. 1310/1892), field marshal (müşir) of Arabia, and Hamdi Paşa (d. 1299/1882), the governor of Qonya, A.B.’s efforts to save himself from exile to Qarahisar-ı sahib (Afyonkarahisar) failed. A.B. does not mention the date and duration of his exile, but the exile must have taken place around 1266/1850, when Kel Hasan Paşa became the new governor of Adana.

In 1283/1866 some of the soliders of the Fırqa-i Islahiyye were stationed at A.B.’s mansion in Qaraisalı because no appropriate place could be found for them in Adana. In the same year Ali Rıża Paşa (d. 1294/1877), the governor of Adana, ordered that A.B. be sent first to Mersin and later to Istanbul “for the sake of the independence of the head official of the district of Qaraisalı”. After the government issued A.B. a monthly salary of 5,000 quruş he purchased and moved into a mansion in Beyoglu. A.B. died in the month of Jumada II/Ağustos of the year 1290/1873 during his exile in Istanbul.

In addition to narrating the history of the Menemenci tribe, Menemencioglu Ta’rihi also sheds light on struggles between the local notables of the Çuqurova region and provides information about the background of these conflicts. The appointment of powerful governors to Adana by the central government would naturally impinge on the power of notable families. These families therefore made common cause in support of the administration of Adana by deputy lieutenant-governors. An indication of this is the fact that Es’ad Paşa (d. 1267/1851), once appointed governor of Adana, was not allowed to travel beyond Nigde (MT, 155-156).

Menemencioglu Ta’rihi was penned not by an official chronicler but by a tribal leader deemed rebellious, seditious, and mischievous by the Ottoman state. It vividly depicts the power struggle between local notables and Ottoman governors sent from Istanbul. Ottoman soldiers are sometimes referred to as “enemy soldiers,” and the pillage and plunder that happens after the defeat of an Ottoman governor is justified by referring to it as “taking a share” (paylaşqa almak).

The work was written in a plain language and includes vocabulary of local origin, such as paylaşqa, çerge, derim evi, derinti, huş, qapuruz.


(1) Menemencioglu Ta’rihi
Manuscript: (1) Ankara, Private Collection of Tuğgeneral Metin Denli; 342 pages, 19 lines, rıqa. From page 337 onwards, the events which transpired during A.B.’s eight years of exile in Istanbul are related (MT, xii). The manuscript also includes a poem of seven strophes entitled Şarqi-i teşrifi which was added to the manuscript by an unidentifed person at an unknown date, a note concerning Qugu Hatun, and a composition of four lines penned by an unidentified lady from Ankara for her older brother. The following 30-40 pages of the manuscript are left blank. The researchers Mükrimin Halil Yinanç, Kasım Ener, Taha Toros, and Faruk Sümer are known to have referred to a manuscript which came down to Hasan Menemencioğlu from his family. The current location of that manuscript is unknown.

Editions: Menemencioğlu Ahmed Bey. Menemencioğulları Tarihi. Ed. Yılmaz Kurt (Ankara, 1997).

Sources: Başbakanlık Osmanlı Arşivi, Hatt-ı hümayun 233/12988, 460/22640-1. Ahmed Cevdet. Tezâkir. Ed. Cavid Baysun (Ankara, 1986), vol. 4, 190. Mehmed Süreyya. Sicill-i Osmani. Ed. Nuri Akbayar (Istanbul, 1996), vol. 1, 157. Yurt Ansiklopedisi (Istanbul, 1981), vol. 1, 31, 157. Yılmaz Kurt. “Menemencioğulları ile İlgili Arşiv Belgeleri I.” Belgeler (Ankara, 2001), 85-187.



[Translated into English by Historians of the Ottoman Empire

English version posted November 2008]

Yılmaz Kurt
July 2008