What is it about?

This article examines the case of the tax farms in operation during the 18th century in a small town of the European side of the vast Ottoman Empire. It discusses the role of local notables and prominent people, both lay and religious local elites, as well as those who resided at the very centre where all decisions were (un)made; I mean, Istanbul, the capital city and metropolis of the Ottoman Empire. It also discusses the role of local and central elites in the formation of business schemes and partnerships, resembling, if not being identical with, modern-day firms and investment groups and how the latter led to antagonisms and feuds at a local level and the formation of organised parties around influential people and sometimes based on ideological principles.

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Why is it important?

This article endeavours an approach that brings together political, economic, business and cultural history in an attempt to explain certain phenomena that occurred at a very local level, in a remote small town in the Ottoman Balkans during the 18th century. Yet, by staying true to my conviction that only by such locally and temporally focused studies may we proceed with a deeper and more pragmatic understanding of Ottoman history, I brought forward this case study aiming at adding another small brick in the wall that comprises our 21st-century reading, understanding and interpreting the history of such a complicated polity as the Ottoman Empire undoubtedly was.

Perspectives

I hope that the reader may, by reading this small contribution of mine, get a glimpse of what always has been, and still is, the true meaning of history and politics, namely the fact that regardless of places and times human beings, by the moment they forged civilized societies and erected hierarchically organized polities in which wealth and prestige played the most prominent role, always aimed at one and the same destination: to impose their rule, become rich and control their environment by solidifying those traits which rendered them members of the elite and distinguished them from the rest of the world. My approach does this, by highlighting the behaviours, characteristics and traits of those individuals who formed the elite(s) of the small Greek town of Kozani during the 18th century and the antagonisms and feuds among themselves in their attempts to retain intact their rule and domination.

Dr Dimitrios Lamprakis

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This page is a summary of: Fiscal Transformation and Development in a Period of Reforms and Experimentation. The Case of the Tax-Farm(s) of Kozani, 1745–c.1795, Südost-Forschungen, September 2020, De Gruyter, DOI: 10.1515/sofo-2020-790111.
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