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Administrative Divisions

The civil administration was composed of three classes of "Dignitaries of the Pen": 1; The Sublime Porte (lofty gate), presided over by the Grand Vizier, consisting of three ministers and six nuder-uecretaries, one of whom, the Kanunji, or Secretary for the Revision of Decrees, is supposed to take care that all acts of his colleagues are in conformity with tbe supreme law of the Koran. 2. The Porte of the Defterdar, or Minister of Finance, with sundry ministers and ottier functionaries, whose council was styled the Diwan. 3. The Agba, comprising many civil and military officers of State, and others connected with the person of the Sultan, whose functions and numbers were not definitely fixed.

The "Dignitaries of the Sword " comprised vice-regal and provincial governors, styled Pashas and Beys. The pashas had wide jurisdiction. They were civil and military commanders, judges, and tax-gatherers. If they performed the last function satisfactorily to the powers at Constantinople, they need apprehend no trouble in that quarter on account of any dereliction in their civil duties. But what was satisfactory at Stamboul was apt to be the very reverse at home; and a rising in one quarter or another against the rapacity and extortion of the pashas was the normal condition of both European and Asiatic Turkey. For at least a century it would be hard to find a year in which there were not several such local insurrections. The evil was greatly aggravated when, as was not infrequently the case, the pasha was a farmer as well as receiver of taxes; for then there was no limit to the possibility and probability of the amount of his exactions, except the ability of his victims to pay, stimulated by the bastinado.

Dignities of the Sword were the executive officers of the three different grades of territorial jurisdiction, subordinate to each other, as follows: Vali or viceroy, Mutessarif or governor, Kaimakam or sub-governor. For convenience of administration the empire is divided into vilayets, sandjaks or livas, and kazas.

Vilayet, or government of a vali, is the largest administrative division of the Turkish Empire. The vilayets are of varying dimensions according to geographical position, political importance, old associations or other cause. By the end of the latter half of the century there were as many as 42 eyalets. As part of the Tanzimat reforms, an Ottoman law passed in 1864 provided for a standard provincial administration throughout the empire with the eyalets becoming smaller vilayets governed by a vli or governor still appointed by the Porte but with new provincial assemblies participating in administration. By 1875 they were twenty-nine in number besides Constantinople, which with its suburbs in Europe and Asia constituted a separate government under the prefect of the city. Of that number, eleven belonged to Europe, seventeen to Asia, and one to Africa. Eyalet was the older name for the same division, but it had been displaced since 1864 by the word vilayet, which was then adopted.

The vali was the chief executive officer, and represents his sovereign within his vilayet. He is intrusted with the execution of the laws, the sentences of the courts, and the preservation of peace. He is appointed by the sultan. His superior assistants are under his control, but are themselves appointed from Constantinople, and are to that extent independent of him, and a check on his abuse of power. Muavin is the name of the official who represents the vail in his absence - his substitute or, as we would say, the vicevali.

Medjliss-i-idareh was the administrative council of the vali. It comprised himself, the chief mollah or judge of his vilayet, the director of finance, the secretary and foreign secretary above mentioned, the ecclesiastical heads of the Mohammedan and non-Mohammedan communities, and four members-two Christian and two Mohammedan - elected by the inhabitants.

Sandjak, meaning literally a banner, denotes in this connection a province of the vilayet, whose mutessarif or governor, equivalent to the English banneret of feudal times, was entitled to a banner in battle. Iiiva is synonymous with sandjak, and in the 19th Century was fast displacing it in use as the feudal aristocracy and feudal terms disappeared. The number of livas in 1864 was one hundred and twenty-three.

Kaza is a district or subdivision of liva, and derives its name from kadi or kazi, a district judge, signifying broadly such territory as one judge could conveniently administer justice for. In a country of poor roads and no railroads, at the time when thus districted, the area could not be very extensive. It generally embraced more than one town, and1 several villages. The civil administrator or executive officer is a kaimakam.

The Itvas and kazas had similar officials and councils to those of the vali; they are, within their respective borders, but smaller copies of the vilayet.

Nahleh is the name for the smallest territorial district known to the administrative divisions of Turkey. It corresponds to the French commune, and broadly to a township. It comprises two hundred houses in a village or on farms, or both combined. Mudir, or mayor, from which the name is derived, is the chief officer of the Nahleh, and is elected annually by the inhabitants of his commune, subject to the approval of the vali, He is subordinate to the kaimakam of the district. Muavin is the name of his alternate, or vice-mayor. Where the community was Christian, both are Christians; where mixed, the majority got the Mudir and the minority the Mitfrvin.

Medjliss-Nahieh, or Communal Council, comprised not less than four nor more than eight tax-payers elected by the people. They must be thirty years of age, and subjects of the sultan, and tax-payers to the extent of four dollars (one hundred piasters) at least. They are taken equally from both religions where the community is mixed, and from the prevailing religion where there is only one.

Mouktar is also a kind of sub-mayor, or local mayor, of each community of about twenty houses. He had a council known as demofferontes, or elders of the people, retained from ante-Turkish times, a survival of the old Greek, Byzantine, or Kast-Roman Kmpirc. The Mohammedan imam, or Christian priest, according as the one or the other religion prevailed in the village, was ex officio a member; and there were from three to twelve other members, elected annually by the inhabitants. The manktar and his council assessed the taxes, and were responsible for their collection.




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