The Business of State
Ottoman Finance Administration and Ruling Elites in Transition (1580s-1615)
Studien zur Sprache, Geschichte und Kultur der Turkvölker 28
Klaus Schwarz Verlag
1. Edition (2018)
Hardcover, 402 pages
Based on original Ottoman sources, the author traces the transformation of the financial and administrative system of the Ottoman Empire at the turn of the 17th century. The changes were made necessary by the burgeoning budget deficit, a consequence of overspending by the oversized Ottoman state. The author proves that the phenomena previously thought to be signs of decline were in fact aspects of a well-considered reform program, dismantling step by step the centralized redistributive system. As part of this process, most of the state functions were privatised, and the officials were forced to undertake their jobs as private entrepreneurs. Meanwhile, a radical overhaul of the taxation system provided the extra resources needed for the maintenance of the system, with the reforms being largely financed by the working and tax-paying population. An important conclusion of the book, with relevance beyond Ottoman history, is that while a state can be modernised without modernising society, such a course will diminish the capacity for renewal in the long run. The volume provides useful information and insights not only for specialists in Ottoman history but also for those who are interested in the Islamic world, the state and modernisation.