Ottoman Timariot Cavalry in its 17th-Cen. Twilight: A Resilient or “Zombie” Institution?



It has long been received wisdom that the Ottoman institution of the timar (“fief/benefice/prebend”)—which gave a virtual caste of cavalry and other servants of the state the right to tax peasant agriculture in exchange for military or other service—was a linchpin of that state’s organization. Moreover, the timar is widely considered as crucial for the successful workings of the empire during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries as, for example, the kapıkulı (“slave of the Porte”) military-administrative institution. The argument continues that the timar institution essentially became defunct by the seventeenth century, thanks to the adoption of viable gunpowder weaponry, inflationary pressures in Ottoman currency, and corruption. This seminar will offer a fresh look at these commonplaces in light of the problem of the survival of mountains of documents and defters—today mostly unseen or ignored—that suggest an institution that did not lose its vigour in the post-classical age and will consider the question, “Who are the ‘zombies,‘ Ottoman timariots or Ottomanist historians?“

PDF iconOstapchuk Ottoman Timariot Cavalry.pdf