- What’s On
Among the extensive collections of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France Division Orientale, there is a manuscript compilation of 278 folios, which includes Ottoman documents from the late 16th and early 17th centuries. The manuscript contains around 250 documents, issued from different chanceries in Istanbul, sultanic charters (ahdname-i hümayun), letters (name-i hümayun) and orders (hüküm), reports of the Grand Vizier (telhis), legal opinions of the Grand Mufti (fetva), letters of Ottoman high officials (mektub), translations of King Henry IV’s letters, and ambassadorial petitions (arz) to the Ottoman government.
Turkish manuscripts, including copies of peace agreements, can be frequently found in archives and libraries. Astonishing to this manuscript, and one can say this is the only manuscript structured in this manner discovered until now, is the fact that the section of imperial charters (ahdname-i hümayun) is followed by a special section of legal opinions (fetva). Moreover, the attempts of the Ottoman central authorities to limit abuses of local officials – less well known until now – have been demonstrated by the various imperial commands (hüküm) that make up the third section of the manuscript. This manuscript is a basic source for studying the status of Western European merchants during their journey in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Dr Viorel Panaite is currently a Professor in Islamic Ottoman history and Head of the Doctoral School of History at the University of Bucharest. He has published extensively on Ottoman law of war, peace, treaties and tributaries.