- What’s On
Financiers, artisans, and shopkeepers turned Izmir’s Frank Street into one of the 19th-century port city’s liveliest spot. The hub, just across from the Orthodox Church of Agia Fotini was Frenkhane Rossi (Rossi’s Frank House). The owner was Marie Madeleine Rossi, grandmother of Eduard Blacque Bey, a Smyrniote who died from cholera at an early age.
Berna Kamay of Boğazici University analyses a long-standing inheritance dispute centered around the Frenkhane Rossi, tracing the lineage of this Levantine family. Apart from the changing face of property rights in the Ottoman Empire, it revisits the question of nationality, which can only be described as a legal quagmire. Following Rossi’s death in 1831, the process of property transfer becomes illustrative of a period in which reforms came in leaps and bounds. The heirs had to tackle both the Ottoman and French authorities, acting both as reayas (Ottoman subjects) and French subjects. The waqf administration and French consuls both claimed legal competency in the matter – the arguments they supported portray an Ottoman legal realm in which authority was frequently contested. Documents from the Ottoman Archives of Istanbul and the Diplomatic Archives of Nantes allow us to trace this legal episode from two contrasting perspectives.