Defterdar, Sarı, Baqqalzade
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M.P. was born in Istanbul. Some sources refer to him with the epithets el-Hacc (Haci), Baqqalzade, and Sarı, but he is generally known as defterdar or defteri with reference to the office he held on seven different occasions. After his primary education, M.P. entered a career path as clerk in charge of financial transactions (ruznamçeci) at the tax and revenue office (defterdarlıq). There he learned financial procedures in the retinue of Defterdar Qılıç (Qıncı) Ali Paşa (d. 1103/1691-92) and served him as his private secretary (mektubcu). After the assignment of Rami Mehmed Paşa (d. 1119/1707?) to the grand vizierate (18 Dhulhijja 1114/5 May 1703) he was appointed chief revenue officer and remained in this office until the Edirne episode (Rabi I 1115/August 1703), when the janissaries deposed Musṭafa II (1106-15/1695-1703) and brought to power Ahmed III (1115-43/1703-30). The janissaries appointed Muhsinzade Abdullah Efendi (d. 1161/1748) defterdar. M.P. was in Edirne at that time and was forced to hide, as were many other statesmen. When Muhsinzade failed to provide the remuneration (bahşiş) which was traditionally granted to soldiers on the occasion of the succession of a new sultan, M.P. was brought back to the office of the defterdar. Although he succeeded in resolving the problems concerning remuneration and late salaries, he was soon dismissed from his post and appointed to the office of ruznamçe-i evvel instead.

After a few months, M.P. was assigned for the third time to his old office (23 Shawwal 1115/29 February 1704), which he held for brief periods of time in later years as well (Safar 1117/June 1705 and Dhulqada 119/February 1708). He entered a brief retirement but was soon called back for government service. The governorship (mutasarrıf) of Selanik (Thessaloniki) had been granted to him as his benefice (arpalık) in recognition of his rank as vizier and governor-general. On 6 Rajab 1121/11 September 1709, the province of Qocaeli (Kocaeli) was added to this office.

Due to the probability of a war with Russia, M.P. was charged with the duty of taking a special force (serdengeçti) consisting of 200 sipahis and silahdars, who enlisted in Istanbul, to Yusuf Paşa (d. 1123/1711), the governor of Özi (Ochakiv), who was in Bender (Tighina) at that time. After the Battle of Prut, M.P. successfully served in Bender for two and a half years. Upon his return, with his title of paşa taken away, he was appointed to the office of the defterdar for the sixth time on 10 Dhulhijja 1123/19 January 1712 and served in this capacity for six months. In Dhulhijja 1124/January 1713 he was assigned to the post of the financial trustee of the imperial dockyard (tersane-i amire emini). In the same year, he served in the commission to determine the Ottoman-Russian border within the context of the renewal of the Treaty of Prut. By the time he was assigned to the office of the defterdar for the seventh time on 27 Rajab 1126/8 August 1714, M.P. had become one of the statesmen close to Damad Ali Paşa (d. 1128/1716).

During Ali Paşa’s Mora campaign of 1127/1715, M.P. was charged with the duty of transferring provisions for the army from Egriboz (Euboia). In the following year, he participated in the Austrian expedition. M.P. was one of several statesmen who believed they would receive an appointment to the grand vizierate when the army retreated to Belgrad (Beograd) upon Ali Paşa’s death in battle. When the seal was granted to Arnavud Qoca Halil Paşa (d. 1146/1733), however, M.P. was ordered to assist the new grand vizier with the promise of an appointment to the grand vizierate later. At that time, the Austrian army under the command of Prince Eugen had come as far as Temeşvar (Timişiora). M.P. believed in the promise of the grand vizierate and the suggestions of flatterers around him that the “seal of the grand vizierate was delayed”. The fact that his impatience led him to ask openly for the seal and that he openly mocked Ahmed III, however, worked to his disadvantage. He was stalled until the arrival of the army in Edirne and was appointed as warden of Selanik in 1129/1717. Following this assignment, M.P. was ordered to equip 3000 soldiers at his own expense within a few months and to come to the plain of Niş (Niš). In the meantime, M.P. continued to criticize the sultan and put himself into an increasingly disadvantageous position vis-à-vis his rivals like Nevşehirli İbrahim Paşa (d. 1143/1730). When he was also accused of oppressing the inhabitants of Selanik and of contributing to the loss of Temeşvar, he was imprisoned at the fortress of Qavala (Kavala). M.P.’s properties were confiscated, and he was executed in Rabi II 1129/March 1717. He was buried in the courtyard of the Ulu Mosque in Qavala. His death has been recorded by the chronogram şeker hab.

Zübde-i Veqayiat

Although some manuscripts and library catalogues record the title of the work as Zübdetü’l-Veqayi, it is clear that the original title of the work is Zübde-i Veqayiat. Hanifzade (d. 1217/1802) and Babinger make the grave mistake of attributing the work to Damad Mehmed Paşa (d. 1129/1716), who held the office of the defterdar several times before and after M.P. M.P. states that he composed Zübde-i Veqayiat in order to receive recompense from God and to secure a good posthumous reputation for himself. Although there is no concrete information on the date of composition, various clues suggest that some parts of the work were written during the reign of Mehmed IV (1058-99/1648-87) and that its final version was completed probably between 1126-28/1714-16.

In terms of content, Zübde-i Veqayiat can be divided into three parts. The introductory part of the work includes supplications and the statement of the reason for its composition. In the introductory second part of the Cairo manuscript, important events that transpired from the foundation of the Ottoman state up to the succession of Mehmed IV are related briefly. The fact that this section is not included in other manuscript copies suggests that it may have been omitted by the author at some later point. After summarizing significant events that occurred between 1058-66/1648-56, M.P. relates political events of the grand vizierates of Köprülü Mehmed Paşa (d. 1072/1661) and his son Fazıl Ahmed Paşa (d. 1087/1676). From 1082/1671 onwards, M.P. provides a chronological account of events and, at the end of each year, mentions prominent figures who died that year.

The topics included in the work are as follows: Campaigns, especially the second Vienna expedition, and peace treaties concluded with several countries; the articles of the Treaty of Qarlofça (Karlowitz) and the determination of borders; ceremonies of succession, and the reception of envoys; the births of princes, circumcisions, wedding festivities, ceremonies of exchange of greetings on the occasion of religious holidays, rewards of robes of honor, and celebrations of the birth of the Prophet (mevlid); the distribution of salaries and provisions; various appointments, assignments, imprisonments, executions, deaths and confiscations; the depositions of Mehmed IV and Musṭafa II and the consequent upheavals; the reasons and phases of the Edirne incident, which M.P. personally witnessed, and the demise of Şeyhülislam Feyzullah Efendi (d. 1155/1703) and his relatives; upheavals, desertions, and the pursuit of deserters in the provinces; the Yegen Osman Paşa (d. 1099/1688) incident and the complete abolition of the institutions of saruca and sekban for the abrogation of the title of “serçeşme”; the asylum of Thököly Imre (d. 1116/1705), the prince of Erdel (Transylvania), in Ottoman lands; earthquakes, storms, fires, rainstorms, floods and activities of construction and repair; a discussion concerning the collection of taxes from tobacco and wine; fiscal and economic conditions; the grant of fiefs; incidents which reflect the social conditions of the time such as the necessity of fixing prices officially (narh) and the demolition of bozahanes; the desolate state of Ottoman subjects due to extended wars and the improvement of the condition of the Rumelian subjects thanks to the activities of Köprülüzade Musṭafa Paşa (d. 1102/1691); and curious incidents M.P. personally witnessed. Zübde-i Veqayiat concludes with the death of Musṭafa II in 1114/1703.

In the introductory section of his work, which is included only in the Cairo manuscript, M.P. states that he used Hoca Sadeddin Efendi (d. 1008/1599) and Qaraçelebizade Abdülaziz Efendi (d. 1068/1658) as his sources. Although he does not acknowledge any other historian by name, M.P. may have utilized the works of chroniclers like Ramazanzade Mehmed Çelebi (d. 979/1571) and Peçuylu İbrahim (d. 1059/1649?) as well. The main part of Zübde-i Veqayiat, which covers the period after 1082/1671, is based on Vecihi Hasan’s (d. 1071/1661) Ta’rih, Qandiye Fethnamesi, Abdi Paşa’s (d. 1103/1692) Veqayiname, and probably İsazade Ta’rihi or its source. In this part of his work, M.P. related contemporary events based on what he personally witnessed or heard. Due to the fact that Zübde and Uşşaqizade Ta’rihi were composed between 1126-28/1714-16 and 1124-25/1712-13, respectively, a recent study argues that M.P. borrowed heavily from the chronicle of Uşşaqizade. According to Zübde’s publisher A. Özcan, however, M.P. began composing drafts of his work as early as the reign of Mehmed IV, but gave Zübde its final form shortly before his death. The similarities between the two works can be attributed to a common source used by both authors.

Due to factors such as M.P.’s misfortune, the fact that he failed to present his work to a prominent statesman, and most importantly that Raşid’s work was published at an earlier date, Zübde did not attract the attention of historians except Raşid, who was the first historian to use it as his source. Appointed to the office of the official chronicler in 1127/1715, Raşid Mehmed began his narrative with Ahmed III’s succession. On Nevşehirli İbrahim Paşa’s orders, however, he picked up where Naima left off and covered the period from 1071/1660 until 1115/1703, borrowing extensively from Zübde. Hammer was the first to point out that Raşid, who refrains from citing his sources, utilized Zübde. Indeed, with the exception of the Edirne episode, Ta’rih-i Raşid’s narrative of events shows significant parallels with Zübde. Raşid’s account of that incident is based to a large extent on Silahdar’s Nusretname. In most cases, Raşid’s use of Zübde amounts to plagiarism, leading to the confusion of Ta’rih-i Raşid with Zübde. Raşid, however, fails to equal Zübde’s content because his narrative includes abbreviations and errors concerning dates of death, epithets, dismissals, appointments, as well as military, political and domestic events. Yet, Ta’rih-i Raşid provides some official records not included in Zübde. This aspect of his work makes sense when one considers that Raşid had access to government documents as the official chronicler of the Empire.

Nesayihü’l-vüzera ve’l-ümera or Kitab-ı Güldeste

Written as a siyasetname, the work is intended as a guide for high-ranking statesmen, especially for grand viziers. Although the name of the author is not mentioned, the statement that he held the office of defterdar when Ahmed III ascended to the throne indicates that it was written by M.P. In the beginning of the Nesayih, M.P. states that historians before him composed narratives which secured their reputation for posterity and notes that the scattered nature of these works convinced him to write a history himself, which he completed without the support of high-ranking statesmen. While M.P. quotes earlier histories to confirm his arguments, he also provides original points of view. As a member of the imperial council as defterdar, M.P. was able to notice the drawbacks of the fiscal system of the Ottoman state. Having perceived the religious and moral weaknesses of statesmen who held office in the beginning of the 18th century, M.P. argues again and again that piety and righteousness are unconditional requirements for being a good statesman and cites Quranic verses and hadiths. M.P. also includes many poems, proverbs, and quotations to emphasize his opinions.

Consisting of nine parts, the work includes sections on the moral qualities and attitudes of grand viziers; office holders; the damage caused by bribes; defterdar and officials of the imperial council; janissaries and subjects; the harm caused by oppression; the situation of enemies, borders, and the qualities of commanders-in-chief. In the last part of Zübde, M.P. discusses subjects such as parsimony and generosity, ambition and greed, arrogance and envy, humility and pride, good and bad habits, hypocrisy and slander, and issues related to fiefs (zeamet, timar). M.P. also compares his own time with the age of Süleyman I (926-974/1520-1566), criticizes the financial and economic conditions of the time, explains how abuses occur, and provides suggestions and advice on how to rectify these problems.

It can be argued that the work entitled Talimat-ı Şehid Ali Paşa, which was found among M.P.’s effects after his death and attributed to Şehid Ali Paşa, was also penned by the author because of the fact that it constitutes a complete summary of Nesayih and concerns a figure who was probably one of M.P.’s relatives. In Talimat, M.P. advises statesmen to obey God and to follow sharia in their actions; to follow the right path; to treat everybody, poor or rich, equally; not to request fines and bribes; to abstain from oppressing Ottoman subjects and to avoid wastefulness; to pay attention to the issue of officially fixed prices (narh); to assign appropriate and able people to offices; to take particular trouble to ensure prompt payment of soldiers’ salaries; to check the standard of coins frequently; to inspect the realm in disguise and to rest one day a week; to be careful about assignments of fiefs (zeamet, timar); to use spies to gather information about enemies in a timely fashion; and to obey the rules stated in Talimatname.



(1) Zübde-i Veqayiat

Manuscripts: (1) Cairo, Hidiviye Library, 160/8956; 312 fols., 31 lines, nesih. (2) Istanbul, Istanbul Üniversitesi Kütüphanesi, TY 5; 377 fols., 31 lines, nestaliq. (3) Istanbul, Istanbul Üniversitesi Kütüphanesi, TY 2389; 125 fols., various lines, nesih; incomplete and inconsistent. (4) Istanbul, Istanbul Üniversitesi Kütüphanesi, TY 6048; 356 fols., 29 lines, nesih. (5) Istanbul, Murad Molla Kütüphanesi 1447; 359 fols., 31 lines, taliq; found in M.P.’s drawer after his death. (6) Istanbul, Nuruosmaniye Kütüphanesi 3122; 374 fols., 31 lines, nesih. (7) Istanbul, Nuruosmaniye Kütüphanesi 3305; 403 fols., 31 lines, nesih. (8) Istanbul, Süleymaniye Kütüphanesi, Esad Efendi 2382; 442 fols., 31 lines, nesih; one of the two best and most complete manuscripts. (9) Istanbul, Süleymaniye Kütüphanesi, Hamidiye 949; 524 fols., 25 lines, nesih; copied by Ahmed Salim b. Salih on 24 Jumada I 1144/24 November 1731. (10) Istanbul, Süleymaniye Kütüphanesi, Reisülküttap 654; 368 fols., 29 lines, nesih; copied by Hafız Süleyman in Dhulhijja 1155/February 1743. (11) Istanbul, Topkapı Sarayı Müzesi Kütüphanesi, III. Ahmed 3084; 399 fols., 31 lines, taliq. (12) Istanbul, Topkapı Sarayı Müzesi Kütüphanesi, Revan 1226; 316 fols., 29 lines, taliq. (13) Istanbul, Topkapı Sarayı Müzesi Kütüphanesi, Revan 1227; 294 fols., 31 lines, taliq; copied by Musṭafa Sıdqi on 25 Jumada II 1146/3 December 1733. (14) Vienna, Nationalbibliothek, H.O. 85; 444 fols., 31 lines, nesih (Gustav Flügel, Die arabischen, persischen und türkischen Handschriften der kaiserlich-königlichen Hofbibliothek zu Wien (Vienna, 1865), vol. 2, 277); this manuscript, which was originally part of Joseph von Hammer’s collection, is one of the two best and most complete copies.

Editions: (1) Abdülkadir Özcan. Olayların Özü, 3 vols. (Istanbul, 1977-79). Based on the Vienna, Cairo, Topkapı Palace Library (Revan 1226) and Süleymaniye (Esad Efendi 2382) manuscripts, it includes the sections up to 1095/1684. (2) Abdülkadir Özcan. Defterdar Sarı Mehmed Paşa, Zübde-i Vekayiât. PhD Dissertation (Istanbul University, 1979). (3) Abdülkadir Özcan. Zübde-i Vekayiât, Tahlil ve Metin (Ankara, 1995) [Critical edition].

(2) Nesayihü’l-vüzera ve’l-ümera

Manuscripts: (1) Berlin, Prussian Public Library 153; [TBC]. (2) Budapest, Hungarian Academy of Sciences O.297; [TBC]. (3) Istanbul, Süleymaniye Kütüphanesi, Esad Efendi 1830; 61 fols., 13 lines, nesih. (4) Istanbul, Süleymaniye Kütüphanesi, Esad Efendi 1854; 67 fols., 15 lines, nesih. (5) Istanbul, Süleymaniye Kütüphanesi, Hacı Mahmud Efendi 5859; 29 fols., 21 lines, rika. (6) Istanbul, Süleymaniye Kütüphanesi, Hafid Efendi 239; 37 fols., 21 lines, nesih. (7) Istanbul, Süleymaniye Kütüphanesi, Halet Efendi 354; 42 fols., 23 lines, nesih. (8) Leningrad, Institute of Oriental Languages 360; [TBC]. (9) Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale, Suppl. Turc 1112; [TBC].

Editions: (1) Walter Livingston Wright. Nesayihü’l-vüzera ve’l-ümera (Kitab-ı Güldeste) (Princeton, 1935) [Text in Arabic script]. (2) Hüseyin Ragıp Uğural. Devlet Adamlarına Öğütler (Ankara, 1969; Istanbul, 1987) [simplified version].

Translation: (1) Walter Livingston Wright. Nesayihü’l-vüzera ve’l-ümera (Kitab-ı Güldeste) (Princeton, 1935) [English translation].

General bibliography

Topkapı Sarayı Müzesi Arşivi, E.1802. Başbakanlık Osmanlı Arşivi [BOA], Ali Emiri, III. Ahmed, no. 2212. BOA, Mühimme Defteri, no. 116, p. 258; no. 116, p. 258; no. 120, p. 53. İbnülemin, Tevcihat, no. 2241. Aṭa Beg. Ta’rih (Istanbul, 1291/1874), vol. 2, 99-100. Ahmed-i salis’in Haṭṭ-ı Hümayunları. Istanbul Üniversitesi Kütüphanesi, TY 6094, 36a-b. Raşid Mehmed. Ta’rih (Istanbul, 1153/1740), vol. 2, 73b, 166b ff., 178a. Silahdar Fındıqlılı Mehmed Aga. Nusretname. Manisa İl Halk Kütüphanesi, no. 5040, 350a, 358b. İbrahim Hilmi Tanışık. İstanbul Çeşmeleri (Istanbul, 1943), vol. 1, 106. Joseph v. Hammer. Osmanlı Devleti Tarihi (Aṭa Beg translation) (Istanbul, 1947), vol. 11, 300. Orhan F. Köprülü. “Râşid’in Tarihi’nin Kaynaklarından Biri: Silâhdar’ın Nusretnâmesi.” Türk Tarih Kurumu Belleten, XI/43 (1947), 473-487. Ayvansarayi Hüseyin. Vefeyat-ı Selaṭin ve Meşahir-i Rical. Ed. Fahri Ç. Derin (Istanbul, 1978), 86. Franz Babinger. Osmanlı Tarih Yazarları ve Eserleri, trans. Coşkun Üçok (Ankara, 1982), 271-272. Abdülkadir Özcan. “Şehid Ali Paşa’ya İzafe Edilen Talimatnâme’ye Dair.” Tarih Enstitüsü Dergisi, 12 (1982), 191-202. Abdülkadir Özcan. “Defterdar Sarı Mehmed Paşa.” Türkiye Diyanet Vakfı İslâm Ansiklopedisi, 9 (1994), 98-100. Anonim Osmanlı Tarihi. Ed. Abdülkadir Özcan (Ankara, 2000), 250-251. Erhan Afyoncu. “Osmanlı Müverrihlerine Dair Tevcihat Kayıtları I.” Türk Tarih Kurumu Belgeler, XX/24 (1999), 87. Uşşâkîzâde Târihi. Ed. Raşit Gündoğdu (Istanbul, 2005).

[Translated into English by Historians of the Ottoman Empire.

English version posted September 2008]

Abdülkadir Özcan
July 2006