Jews and European Subjects in Eighteenth-Century Salonica: The Ottoman Perspective
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This article explores the establishment of a western European diplomatic presence in Salonica and the impact the local Ottoman administration perceived it to have on the local Jewish population. By studying the records of the şeriat court, the principal official documents produced in eighteenth-century Salonica, the article analyzes the evolving interactions between local Jews and Europeans during the eighteenth century and the rise of a new local Jewish elite whose privileges and prominence stemmed from its contacts with European consuls and merchants. It also examines the ambivalence of the Ottoman administrators toward the growing presence of foreigners in Salonica, which they saw as both a contribution to the local economy and a threat to public order. The growing Ottoman suspicion toward the connections between local non-Muslims and European representatives was evident especially during the second half of the eighteenth century, when the responsibility for enforcing the Ottoman order on non-Muslims who had obtained European protection was transferred from local officials to the imperial center. At this stage, the Ottoman bureaucracy in Istanbul mobilized its resources and began to take administrative steps to enforce the boundaries separating locals from foreigners, monitoring the nomination deeds granted to local non-Muslims (zimmis) and enforcing the status of zimmi on all those whose claim to European protection was proved to be false or to have been misused.
KeywordsSalonica Sicil Capitulations Merchants Dragomans Şeriat court
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