Great importance was, and always had been, attached to rank in Turkey. The strict rules of etiquette demanded that every man should be paid the honor due to his rutbe, or grade in the official hierarchy. A Turk, when paying a visit, knows the exact spot at which his host should meet him, the words with which he should be greeted, and the particular part of the divan upon which he should be invited to seat himself. The host often releases the rules of etiquette, to show honor to a guest; the guest never attempts to break them. A breach of etiquette on the part of host or guest, when intentional, is regarded as an insult.
Three characteristics were necessary for acceptance into the ruling class: Islamic faith, loyalty to the sultan, and compliance with the standards of behavior of the Ottoman court. The last qualification effectively excluded the majority of common Turks, whose language and manners were very different from those of the Ottomans. The language of the court and government was Ottoman Turkish, a highly formalized hybrid language that included Persian and Arabic loanwords. In time Greeks, Armenians, and Jews were also employed in state service, usually in diplomatic, technical, or commercial capacities.
Pasha or pachah, meaning literally "foot of the shah" or sovereign, as if to go for him where he cannot go in person, is the highest of the personal dignities known in the Ottoman Empire. The title was neither hereditary nor attached to any particular class of officers, but nearly all the chief officials - civil, military, ministerial and diplomatic - received it as a mark of social distinction. It is also conferred at the discretion of the sultan on any of his subjects for distinguished attainments in literature or other pursuit.
A military pasha is entitled to a banner ornamented with two horse-tails, and is thence known as a "pasha of two tails." A pasha of more extensive jurisdiction, as the kadiasker of Europe or Asia, may flourish three horse-tails on his standard.
Bey or beg seemed to be analogous to lord, and denoted especially in earlier times of Turkish dominion a chieftain entitled to a standard with one horse-tail. His bey-lik or territory was the fief for which he was required to render military service, at the head of his men. In the civil administration as well as in the army and navy it is now often given to the subordinate officers, as to governors, colonels, naval captains. It is also sometimes conferred on persons who have achieved some distinction in private life.
Beyler-Bey or bey of beys has been displaced by pasha of three tails. In feudal times it denoted one that had several beys under his command. The title survived as one of the distinctions of the ruler of Tunis, though much better known in the abbreviated form of bey only. It also belonged to the two peculiar Turkish officials known as the kadlaskers of Anatolia and Roumelia, a sort of supreme judicio-military commanders of Asiatic and European Turkey.
Effendi, borrowed from modern Greek, means literally an autocrat, commander or author, and is a title of respect corresponding to master or sir, and more especially applicable to gentlemen of learning.
Aglia, meaning apparently a chief or leader, is applied to various officials, civil and military; and, not unlike our " colonel," in colloquial courtesy is given to any individual of distinction whose appropriate title is unknown.
Bash, meaning head, appeared frequently in compound words as Chodja-Bashi or Hodva-Bashi, which literally means head instructor, and is used in the sense of representative man or trustee of the village or community; Chacham-Bashi, head-rabbi of the Jews, and the like.
All civil rank was classed according to relative military rank, and at a very early date the military and civil services were divided into Viziers, Mirimirans, or Pashas of the second class, Mirlivas, or Brigadiers, Mirakhirs, or Masters of the Horse, and Kapuji-bashis, or Chamberlains. This lasted until the suppression of the Janissaries, when Mahmud II established the four classes of Ula, Sanieh, Salisseh, and Eabea, for the civil service.
The order of precedence was finally settled in 1861. According to this after the Grand Vizier, the Sheikh-ul-Islam, and the Kizlar-aghasi, come the Mushirs, Field Marshals and Ministers ; and then follow persons having the rank of Vizier, Kazasker, Bala, and Kadi of Stambul. After these high dignitaries come officials holding the rank of ula-senf-evel, equivalent to Ferik (Lieutenant-General); Ula-senf-sani, equivalent to Mirliva (Brigadier-General); Sanieh-senf-evel, equivalent to Mir-alai (Colonel); Sanieh-senf-sani, equivalent to Kaimakam (Lieutenant-Colonel); Salisseh, equivalent to Biribashi (Major); and Rabea, in degrees corresponding to Yuzbashi (Captain), Mulazim (Lieutenant).
The Turkish Orders are the Mejidieh, in seven classes, founded by Abdul Mejid in 1851; the Osmanieh, in four classes, founded by Abdul Aziz, in I860; and the Nisldin-i-skefket, founded in 1878 by the present Sultan, for ladies who had rendered services during the war with Russia.
Mushirs and Viziers are addressed as devletli, or 'excellency'; Kazaskers and Balas, as atufetli. The title hazretleri is used as a mark of respect when addressing a number of the official hierarchy.
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|