Şam Valiliğine Giden Yol: ʻAzm-zâde İsmail’in Şam Valiliği Öncesi KariyeriYahya Koç
ʻAzm-zâde İsmail’in, Şam valiliğine tayin edilmeden önce Bilâd-ı Şam’ın kuzeyindeki bazı sancakların idaresinde bulunduğu bilinir. Ancak Maʻarratü’nNuʻmân, Hama ve Humus gibi bölge sancaklarına bağlı mukataalarda 1719’da başlayan ve yaklaşık beş yıl süren idari-mali tasarrufunun ayrıntıları ve bölgenin göçer demografisinin kontrolünde aldığı rol hakkında ilgili literatürde pek bir bilgiye rastlanmaz. İsmail’in söz konusu mukataalardaki etkinliği ve sonrasındaki yükselişi, Osmanlı hükümetinin inisiyatifiyle 1690’larda Türkmen ve Kürd göçerlerinin Rakka’ya iskânına girişilmesinin yol açtığı sosyal ve siyasi dalgalanmaları kontrol etmede giderek artan bir role sahip olan Rakka ve Halep valileriyle işbirliği yapmasıyla yakından ilgiliydi. Bu esnada malikâne olarak iltizamını aldığı söz konusu sancaklara bağlı mukataalardan elde ettiği gelir, İsmail’in siyasi gücüne katkıda bulunmuş olmalıdır. İskân süreciyle aynı dönemde, bölgede yüzyıllardır göçerlerin kontrolünde işbirliğine başvurulan Mevâlî Urbânı liderleri, yerleşik ahaliyi ve diğer göçer aşiretleri rahatsız edici saldırılar yapmaya başlamışlardır. Bu gelişmelerin bir sonucu olarak bölgede hükümetin öncelikli beklentisi güvenliğin sağlanması doğrultusunda olmuştur. Askerî kökenli olan babası İbrahim’in almış olduğu Maʻarra’daki yerel mültezimliği devam ettiren İsmail, sonrasında atandığı Hama ve Humus zabitliği esnasında merkezî hükümetin güvenlik politikasının uygulayıcılarından biri olmuş, bu konudaki performansıyla hükümet nezdinde tanınırlığını ve güvenirliğini arttırmayı başarmıştır. Hükümetin, kendisini Trablusşam valiliği ve cerde hizmetinde kısa süreli denemesinden sonra, ailesinin uzun yıllar sürdürecek olduğu Şam valiliğine atanmasında İsmail’in Bilâd-ı Şam’ın kuzeyinde gösterdiği performans etkili olmuştur.
The Way to the Governorship of Damascus: Ismaʻil al-ʻAzm’s Career Before His GovernorshipYahya Koç
It is known that Ismaʻil al-ʻAzm oversaw some sanjaks North of Bilad al-Sham before his appointment to the governorship of Damascus. However, there was little mention of his role in the control of nomadic demography. His administrative and fiscal oversight began in 1719 and lasted five years in the muqataas of local sanjaks such as Ma‘arrat al-Nu‘man, Hama, and Homs. Ismail’s efficiency and his rise afterward was related to his cooperation with the governors of Raqqa and Aleppo, who played an increasing role in controlling the social and political fluctuations caused by the settling of Turcoman, Kurdish, and Bedouin (Urbân) nomads in Raqqa, which was initiated by the Ottoman government in the 1690s. The income from muqataʻas in the aforementioned sanjacks, which Ismaʻil managed as a lifetime tax farm (malikane), contributed to his political power and helped him emerge as a useful local power. Leaders of the Mawāli Bedouins began perpetrating disruptive activities and banditry against both the settled population and other nomadic tribes during the same period of the settlement process. Hama and Homs sanjaks were in a strategic location southwest of the Raqqa settlement territory for the control of nomads and in the way of surra and hajj caravans. Ismaʻil, who continued his military-originated father Ibrahim’s local tax farm in Maʻarra, became an executive of central government’s security policies during his post in Hama and Homs. İsmail managed to increase his recognition and credibility in the eyes of the government thanks to his performance in controlling local nomads. His support in the conflict with the Abbas family from Mawāli Bedouins, whose attacks undermined the settlement process in the region, ensured his transition from the post of zabit to the position of the official mediator, beğlerbeğlik (regional province). In addition to İsmail’s diligent service in the command of cerde troops, which protect the province of Tripoli and hajj passengers, his performance in dealing with the nomads in North of Bilad al-Sham contributed to Ismail’s appointment to the governorship of Damascus—a post that his family would carry for many years.
In Ottoman history, it is accepted that there was a period of crisis and adaptation in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, which transformed the state and society in terms of political, social, and economic aspects. As a result of this process, local elites that functioned as local intermediaries between the central government, its governors, and people became more effective in shaping local power. Thus, some local leaders who had notable pre-Ottoman family roots, urban ashraf families, ulama families, tax-farmers who controlled local production and trade, local janissaries, and households of mamluks could become direct or indirect representatives of the government in Bilad al-Sham and other provinces.
The change in the management style of muqataas as lifetime tax farms (malikane), which is a well-known implementation of the crisis and change period, enabled the local powers to achieve fortune and power. Since the end of the seventeenth century, the malikane system was implemented in the muqataas in Aleppo and Damascus as leading examples. The ‘Azm family benefited from the spread of this fiscal practice in their region. In particular, they gained the tax-farming privileges of the muqataas in the north of Damascus, such as Ma‘arrat al-Nu‘man, Hama, Homs, and Palmyra (Tedmür). Thus, they held significant economic power. Ismaʻil al-‘Azm used this opportunity to contribute to the rise of his family by getting the tax-farming of the aforementioned muqataas as malikane.
Ismaʻil, first, in 1712, became the tax farmer of Maʻarra of Aleppo province, which was a malikane of the former grand vizier Mehmed Pasha. Names of ‘Azm-oğlu Ismaʻil and others from his family first appeared in archive documents as fiscal records about Maʻarra as evidence of the family’s origins in Bilad al-Sham. Ismaʻil, in this period, probably managed the family’s administrative and fiscal initiatives with his brothers. Ismaʻil and his family had to deal with the problems of nomads when they got the tax-farming privileges of Maʻarra and a few years later, Hama, Homs, and Palmyra. Collecting tax incomes from these muqataas that were rich because of the agricultural production and trade, was important for the government. However, there were conditions in the tax-farming contracts of muqataas that required the return of people who had left their land because of damages caused by Mawāli Bedouins, back to their original locations.
After he became the zabit (protector) of the muqataas of Hama, Humus, and Palmyra in July 1719, Ismaʻil became responsible for the administration of these places as well as tax-farming these muqataas whose annual income reached over 91.000 piastres. All these muqataas probably provided Ismaʻil with a much larger sum than the total tax revenues. Ismaʻil tried investing these incomes to strengthen his local power. His grain aid to the locals of Damascus in periods of famine can be explained by his financial power after he became a lifetime tax farmer (malikâneci) of Hama and other muqataas. Further, his ability to arm a military force to support the governors of Aleppo, Tripoli, and Raqqa in controlling Turcoman and Bedouin nomads also showed his financial potential.
When İsmail became zabit of Hama, he settled there. In Hama, he formed alliances with local notables via marriages. He married his brother Sulayman to an al-Kaylâni woman from an ashraf family. Ismaʻil probably saw Hama as an administrative center from where he could control nearby muqataas. Marriage alliances made it easy for the ʻAzm family to put down roots in this center. Ismaʻil sent his district governors (mutasallims) to the muqataas of Homs and Maʻarra, which were also under his control. In Maʻarra Musa (Bey) acted as mutasallim for his brother Ismaʻil. His mutasallim in Homs was Muhammed Agha. Ismaʻil’s mutasallims were responsible for the general security and tax-farming of these sanjaks or villages.
After Ismaʻil became zabit of Hama, he struggled with the governors of Tripoli to take control of Homs and its muqataas that were at their disposal to consolidate his local power. Mawāli Bedouin leaders, who were once in a relatively coherent relationship with the Ottomans for the protection of trade routes, were unable to provide security for the hajj route to the south and roads between Aleppo, Damascus and Baghdad in the eighteenth century. Mawāli tribes, which were unable to compete with the nomads since the second half of the seventeenth century, were forced to move toward the west and eventually threatened a wider region, which includes the rural area of Aleppo, Hama, Humus, and rural settlements of Damascus. During this period, the leader of the Mawāli tribes was the ʻAbbas family.
Not only did the local settled population but also Turcoman tribes that were scattered in the region suffered from the attacks of Mawāli Bedouins in Hama and Homs. Many of the Turcomans were part of tribes that had settled in Hama and Homs as a part of the sedentarization process that started in Raqqa in the 1690s. Raqqa was an important sedentarization center in this operation as were Hama and Homs. This demographic barrier, which was built with Turcoman and Kurdish tribes, was created to stop or control the migration movements of Shammar and ʻAnaza that could disturb Anatolian settlements in the north. Turcoman tribes were disturbed by Mawāli tribes, which were also affected by the same migration movements. Ismaʻil, like other regional officials, was ordered to return Turcoman tribes to their settlement lands in Hama and Homs and to deal with Mawālis. His efforts to successfully carry out this order were effective in Ismail's ascension to the rank of beğlerğilik. This made it easier for him to be appointed provincial governor. In light of this information, it is possible to say that the struggle against the nomads in the north of Bilad al-Sham is one of the "Ottoman contexts" that paved the groundwork for the rise of the ʻAzm-zâde family.
Ismaʻil became Hama’s governer İsmail Pasha when he was appointed governor of Tripoli because of his post of beğlerbeğilik in Hama. He was appointed governor with the condition of commanding cerde troops, which would protect hajj caravans moving from Damascus. His brother Sulayman took over from Ismaʻil. Ismaʻil’s governorship lasted a year and three months between January 20, 1724, and May 14, 1725.
An increase in local income because of the increase in international trade and agricultural production increased the importance of tax-farming of rural and urban muqataas in the province of Tripoli. During the short period of the governorship of Tripoli of Ismaʻil Pasha, he was primarily expected to arm and command cerde troops, which would provide security to hajj organization in 1724–1725. Ismaʻil now used his experience of controlling nomads in the north to protect hajj caravans against Damascus Bedouins (Şam Urbânı) successfully. During his governorship of Tripoli, in addition to managing routine administrative-fiscal works and showing results in the critical issues for the government, he successfully commanded the cerde troops. His success opened the way for his governorship of Damascus as well as being the head of the hajj (hac emirliği).