Institute for Mediterranean Studies
Ottoman Administration and Society in Prerevolutionary Western Crete (1817-1819): Archival Testimonies

Spyropoulos, Yannis. Οθωμανική διοίκηση και κοινωνία στην προεπαναστατική δυτική Κρήτη: Αρχειακές Μαρτυρίες (1817-1819) [Ottoman Administration and Society in Prerevolutionary Western Crete (1817-1819): Archival Testimonies]. Edited by Aspasia Papadaki. Rethymno: General State Archives of Greece, 2015.

The decade preceding the Greek Revolution of 1821 was one of transition on Crete. The Empire-wide political changes initiated during the reign of Sultan Mahmud II acted as a catalyst for the redistribution of local power on the island and led to a series of developments in the field of politics and the economy which influenced every strata of Cretan society. The inhabitants and institutions of the island reacted to these changes in various ways. Some fought for the old order and others claimed a more privileged position in what they perceived as a new regime. In light of the new information provided by a recently discovered Ottoman source, the KK.d.827 register, the main objective of this book is to sketch out these dynamics and to establish a historical analysis that places them in their imperial and local context. At the same time, the book constitutes an attempt to help historians exploit the potential offered by Ottoman sources for the study of the Empire’s provinces that would later form the Greek state.
The book consists of two parts; the first part is a study of the history of western Crete before the eruption of the Revolution of 1821 and the second is the Greek translation of the KK.d.827 register, which records the decisions made during the years 1817-1819 by the governor (sancakbeği) of the administrative divisions (sancaks) of Hanya (mod. Chania) and Resmo (mod. Rethymno). Both the scarcity of Ottoman registers regarding western Crete, and the fact that it constitutes, to the best of our knowledge, the only extant official record produced by a paşa’s council in Crete, render the KK.d.827 register a source of profound importance for the island’s history. Its entries form a long uninterrupted sequence of administrative decisions that cover a multitude of issues, such as taxation, censuses of the personnel of local fortresses, management of cereal provisions, enforcement of penal sentences and imperial orders, maintenance of public order, resolving of inter-communal conflicts, construction and maintenance of water supply networks, governmental buildings, and fortifications, imposition of commercial bans, handling of diplomatic issues concerning foreign merchants, etc. Moreover, it refers to not only one, but to both of the sancaks of western Crete and it covers a period that stops just one and a half year before the outbreak of the Greek Revolution on the island, providing valuable information on the events that led to it.

  • Γιάννης Σπυρόπουλος