Navigation – Plan du site
Varia

Recruiting Egyptian Oarsmen for Ottoman Ships in the Late Sixteenth and Early Seventeenth Centuries

Daniel Crecelius
p. 249-267

Résumés

Cet article s’appuie sur six documents des registres du tribunal šarʿī de Rosette pour 1598 et 1632, traitant du recrutement de rameurs pour les galères ottomanes. Ils confirment que la procédure de recrutement était bien organisée. Les autorités recrutaient des hommes libres et non des esclaves, qui venaient de toutes les régions d’Égypte et de l’extérieur, les employaient seulement pour des campagnes saisonnières, et leur versaient un salaire fixe. Ces informations recoupent celles publiées par İdris Bostan sur le recrutement de rameurs par le pouvoir central pour ses campagnes navales de 1660-1661 en Méditerranée.

Haut de page

Texte intégral

  • 1 See Shaw, The Financial and Administrative Organization, p. 26. All three squadrons were originally (...)
  • 2 The only complete budget for Ottoman Egypt yet found has been edited and published by Shaw, The Bud (...)

1Among the provisions made by the Ottoman sultans for the administration and defense of Egypt following the conquest of the former Mamluk Sultanate of Egypt and Syria in 1516-17 was the creation of three small naval squadrons in the ports of Alexandria, Damiette, and Suez. Each was commanded by an Ottoman captain holding the rank of sancakbeyi who not only commanded the squadron, but also administered the port that was the home base for his small naval force. The expenses for the squadrons were supported by tax farms that were assigned to the sancakbeyis who held the posts of captains.1 In addition, some expenses for the squadrons were included in the annual budget for this important province.2

  • 3 Imber, The Ottoman Empire, 1300-1650, p. 302.
  • 4 Imber, “The Navy of Suleyman the Magnificent,” pp. 256-257, cites a report by Andrea Dandolo in 156 (...)

2None of the three ports provided a secure harbor or adequate ship-building facilities for the creation and maintenance of large fleets, so the squadrons remained small and were used mainly for coastal defense and the protection of the sizable maritime trade between Egypt and ports of the Levant coast and the Ottoman Empire’s central lands. Although the Egyptian squadrons were not under the direct command of the Grand Admiral in Istanbul, when needed, vessels of these squadrons could be called for service with the imperial fleet during summer campaigns, just as commercial vessels might be armed and pressed into service by the government.3 Egypt became a breadbasket for the empire as well as the province through which the important trade of Asia passed into the Ottoman world. Soon the sea route between Egypt and the central Ottoman ports became the most important maritime corridor in the empire, transporting the valuable agricultural products of Egypt, such as rice, sugar, spices, including coffee, from the east, materials for the military, and abundant taxes. Once the strategically located island of Rhodes had been wrested from the Knights of St. John in 1522, the squadrons harbored at Rhodes and Alexandria were, for the most part, sufficient to screen the Arab provinces of the Eastern Mediterranean from Christian attacks and to protect the sea route between Egypt and the central lands of the empire.4

  • 5 The lack of sufficient supplies of wood was a major concern in Egypt. Throughout the Ottoman centur (...)
  • 6 Mikhail, Nature and Empire in Ottoman Egypt, p. 100, notes that in 1725 the Ottomans had to send wo (...)
  • 7 On the Ottoman push into the Red Sea and Indian Ocean to combat the Portuguese, see, among others, (...)
  • 8 On Egypt’s connections with the Asian and Red Sea trade, particularly with the new trade in coffee, (...)

3Among the most important activities in the Egyptian ports was shipbuilding, for the empire required a very large number of both warships and commercial vessels. Although lack of forests in Egypt required the import of wood to build the ships of the squadrons, the skills to build these ships and the manpower to power them were available locally.5 But each of Egypt’s ports had noticeable deficiencies besides a lack of timber. Alexandria’s harbor, the most important on Egypt’s Mediterranean coast, could not provide a safe anchorage from the fierce gales and high waves that in winter season lashed the city’s shore. Rašīd (Rosette), which for administrative purposes was attached to the larger port of Alexandria, and Dumyāṭ (Damiette) could not accommodate large ships because of the bars that existed at the point where the two branches of the Nile on which these inland ports are situated entered the Mediterranean Sea. Suez, without water or wood, essentially shut down during the season when the winds blew from the north, but it played an important role in the annual pilgrimage and in Egypt’s commerce with the trading ports of the Red Sea and Asia.6 It was also to play an important role in the empire’s expansion towards the south in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries as the Ottomans established themselves in Yemen and Abyssinia and attempted to defend the region against the predations of the Portuguese.7 The dramatic expansion of the trade in coffee, which Egypt imported in vast quantities from the Red Sea region for both local consumption and transshipment to numerous Ottoman ports, also gave impetus to Ottoman naval activity in the Red Sea in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.8

  • 9 On the naval conflict in the Mediterranean Sea in the sixteenth century, see, among others, Hess, T (...)
  • 10 On Ottoman maritime commerce, see Panzac, La Marine ottomane, and Panzac, La caravane maritime. Tow (...)
  • 11 Imber, “The Navy of Suleyman the Magnificent,” p. 215ff, discusses the shipyards and dockyards of t (...)

4The sixteenth century was a period of intense struggle for naval supremacy in the Mediterranean Sea as Ottoman, Hapsburg, and Venetian fleets attacked and counter-attacked across Mediterranean waters.9 While the struggle was intense in the middle and western Mediterranean region, the Ottomans were able to provide relative protection from the fleets of hostile naval powers for their eastern Mediterranean provinces, but they could not always defend against the predations of opportunistic pirate ships from lesser Christian powers. Egypt was therefore not drawn so deeply into the struggle for Mediterranean supremacy and its small squadrons were used mainly for defense of its coastal areas and for the protection of merchant shipping in eastern Mediterranean waters.10 The great Ottoman fleets that challenged the Spanish and Venetian fleets were built, and manned, in the chief Ottoman arsenals near the imperial capital of Istanbul.11 To date, we know little about shipbuilding in Egypt before the revival of the Egyptian shipbuilding industry by Muḥammad ʿAlī Pasha in the early nineteenth century.

  • 12 Imber, The Ottoman Empire, 1300-1650, pp. 288-289. Imber has a useful chapter on the composition of (...)

5The ships of the sixteenth century were oared vessels that might have one or more small lateen sails, but above all relied upon manpower for speed and limited maneuverability. Although fleets of the sixteenth century included a number of different sized ships serving various purposes, such as carrying supplies of food and water, ammunition, or even horses, it was the oared galley that was the standard warship of all Mediterranean navies at the time. This narrow vessel was usually five to eight times as long as it was broad, having twenty-four to twenty-six banks of oars on either side, with usually three oarsmen (kürekciye) to each bank. Until the middle of the sixteenth century each oarsman had pulled a single oar, but by the second half of that century the oarsmen on a single bench pulled a single oar.12

  • 13 Guilmartin, Gunpowder, pp. 204-205.
  • 14 Guilmartin, Gunpowder, p. 211.
  • 15 Guilmartin, Gunpowder, pp. 217-219.
  • 16 Imber, The Ottoman Empire, 1300-1650, pp. 290-291. The Ottomans only introduced galleons, sailing s (...)

6It has been suggested that Venetian galleys were faster under oars than Ottoman ones, but that Muslim galleys (including the North African corsairs) were faster than the heavier ships of Spain.13 A major change in naval warfare occurred in the fifteenth century when artillery was added. As Venetian guns were smaller and lighter than those carried by the ships of Spain, Venetian galleys remained lighter and easier to row.14 The Ottomans used their galleys mainly to transport troops and guns to be employed in siege warfare. Nevertheless, the differences among the Spanish, Venetian and Ottoman galleys used in sixteenth century Mediterranean naval warfare remained slight.15 At the time, galleys fired only from the prow, but after the destruction of much of their fleet at the Battle of Lepanto in 1571, the Ottomans began to build a larger ship, the galleass, which was a converted merchant ship riding higher in the water and capable of carrying more guns and men. These heavier ships carried as many as 24 cannons and could fire broadsides.16 Despite the addition of artillery to the ships, the Ottoman galley remained basically unchanged from the fifteenth century until it was replaced by the sailing vessel in the last third of the seventeenth century.

  • 17 Guilmartin, Gunpowder, p. 112.
  • 18 Imber, The Ottoman Empire, 1300-1650, p. 312, citing Katib Çelebi for the year 1656.

7In combat, the galley transported soldiers as well as the sailors required to maneuver the vessel and direct the oarsmen. In addition, therefore, to the approximately 150-200 oarsmen propelling the galley and a crew of 25-30 sailors, a contingent of around 60 fighting men was on board the ship.17 After the Battle of Lepanto, however, the number of fighting men was increased to 150 on imperial ships. The galleass, which appeared after 1571 could carry a crew of as many as 600 men, but appeared among the squadrons in only small numbers.18

  • 19 See Bostan, Osmanlı Bahriye Teşkilâtı. For a description of this muster I have relied on Panzac, “T (...)

8In 1660, in the aftermath of stunning naval reversals, and on the eve of the transition to the age of sail, the Ottomans had only 56 galleys available for service at sea. Fortunately, we have a full accounting of the manner in which the oarsmen were mustered for service for the summer campaign of that year, for the empire had long-established systems for assembling all the men necessary to build and man its warships that put to sea.19

  • 20 Yet Imber, The Ottoman Empire, 1300-1650, p. 272, cites a firman from Istanbul in 1564 ordering tha (...)
  • 21 Brummett, Ottoman Seapower, p. 217, n. 25 and Guilmartin, Gunpowder, p. 112, mention Azabs specific (...)

9For several good reasons the Ottomans preferred freemen to slaves to propel their galleys.20 The freeman was usually more committed to the battle, less likely to slack-off or escape when the opportunity arose, was cheaper than a slave to maintain since he was released from duty when the campaign was over, and was often expected to join the battle on land by serving duty as a soldier. It is reported for the sixteenth century that Azabs, members of one of the two most important military corps of the Ottoman Empire, were frequently taken on as oarsmen because they could leave their oars and join the battle when troops were landed to attack an enemy’s fortified position, but we find a large number of Janissaries, not Azabs, mentioned in the 1660 statistics.21 In time of necessity, when the muster didn’t produce the required number of oarsmen, volunteers were recruited for service; convicts and/or foreign slaves might also be conscripted.

  • 22 Christian fleets, on the other hand, employed almost exclusively convicts and slaves as oarsmen. On (...)
  • 23 Imber, The Ottoman Empire, 1300-1650, p. 306, remarks that in the sixteenth century Muslim oarsmen (...)

10A total of 12,391 oarsmen, or an average of 221 oarsmen per galley, were assembled for the 1660 naval campaign. Of these, only 835 (6.73%) were convicts, while 93.27% were freemen.22 Among the latter would be Christians of the empire who volunteered for service and received the usual salary.23 Of the total oarsmen for 1660, 35.8% (4441 oarsmen), mainly Greek Christians of the empire, were volunteers. A range of taxes, most in the form of a levy on designated households or communities, supported the recruitment and pay for these men.

  • 24 Brummett, Ottoman Seapower, p. 216, n. 14, cites the usual statistic of four households paying for (...)
  • 25 Panzac, “The Manning of the Ottoman Navy,” pp. 43-44.

11The main cost for the oarsmen for the 1660 campaign was borne by the Anatolian provinces of the empire. Those provinces nearest the sea were obliged to furnish a required number of oarsmen. Usually, one oarsman was levied from one household while a designated number of other households was required to pay for his salary and expenses.24 For this campaign the inner Anatolian provinces, those furthest from the shore, were assessed 28 million akçes. Other provinces and districts were required to contribute 5,068 oarsmen.25

  • 26 Panzac, “The Manning of the Ottoman Navy,” p. 44.

12The ahl al‑ḏimma, the non-Muslim inhabitants of the empire, and the guilds of Istanbul were assessed the bedel, a tax paid in lieu of service. For the campaign of 1660 the Jews were charged a sum to support 150 oarsmen. The Greeks were assessed for 125 oarsmen, and the Armenians for 100 oarsmen; the guilds of Istanbul had to pay for the support of 869 oarsmen. Altogether, Istanbul supported 1244 oarsmen, or 10% of the total for the campaign of 1660.26

  • 27 Imber, The Ottoman Empire, 1300-1650, p. 306, mentions that oarsmen were levied from a much wider r (...)
  • 28 Panzac, “The Manning of the Ottoman Navy,” pp. 43-44. Brummett, Ottoman Seapower, p. 226, n. 103, c (...)

13Of the oarsmen recruited for this campaign, 71.4% came from the coastal provinces of western Anatolia, the usual region from which oarsmen were mustered at that time.27 In addition to the oarsmen, each galley included 4-5 gunners to fire the 3-5 guns a galley carried. A total of 1,975 Janissaries was also assigned, roughly 35 Janissaries per galley, for this campaign, and 500 armored soldiers, or 8-10 per galley. An Ottoman galley thus carried about 300 men in the mid-seventeenth century (220 oarsmen, 30 sailors and 50 soldiers).28

  • 29 The data from these documents was collected some years ago with the help of Professor Ḥamza ʿAbd al (...)
  • 30 The muqaddimūn, who were organized into their own guild, played an important role in Egyptian ports (...)
  • 31 A useful discussion of the monies, both local and foreign, in circulation in Ottoman Egypt is provi (...)
  • 32 Darwīš al‑Naḫīlī describes the aġriba (akrib; pl. akārib) extremely briefly as a small, but fast, s (...)
  • 33 ʿAbd al‑Ḥamīd Sulaymān cites a case from the court of Damietta from the year 1586 in which 80 oarsm (...)
  • 34 See Dār al‑Waṯā’iq al‑Qawmiyya (Cairo), Maḥkamat Rašīd, Siǧill 24 (1006/1598), pp. 205-206, Item 68 (...)

14It is in this context that we review five documents from the šarīʿa court of Rašīd from the year 1598 and another from the year 1632.29 While showing many similarities to the muster of oarsmen for imperial ships in the empire’s central regions, the methods for the muster of oarsmen for imperial ships in Egypt also differed in some significant ways. For instance, the levy of rowers on villages, so vital in the Aegean region, was unknown in Egypt. The first document of the group of five certifies that eight muqaddimūn (sing. muqaddim)30received from the sheikh of the guild (ṭāʾifa) of muqaddimūn, Sheikh Muḥammad, the son of the deceased al‑Nūrī ʿAlī, the sum of 1269 sulṭānī gold dinars31 to recruit 141 able oarsmen to serve on a small galley (aġriba)32 of the empire that would depart from the port of Alexandria for the summer season.33 The table below provides the names of the eight muqaddimūn and summarizes the number of oarsmen each was to bring forward within one month and the amount of payment each received.34 Each recruit was to receive nine dinars for his summer service, but the documents recording the names of the oarsmen indicate that many received an advance on this sum, for oarsmen were often recruited one or two months prior to their actual departure. The total of 141 oarsmen to be recruited would appear to be close to a full complement of oarsmen on an Egyptian galley.

15Table 1.

Name of Muqaddim Number
of Oarsmen
Amount
of Dinars Received
Ǧawdat ibn Šarīf al‑Dīn ibn Mūsā 46 414
Mūsā ibn Manṣūr al‑Dandarāwī 16 144
Ḥusayn, known as Falayfil, ibn Ḥusayn 20 180
Nūr al‑Dīn ibn Manṣūr and ʿAbd al‑Ǧawwād ibn ʿUmar 16 144
Aḥmad Šihāb al‑Dīn, known as al‑Idfāwī 13 117
Salīm ibn ʿUbayd from ʿIzbat al‑Rūs 13 117
Aḥmad ibn ʿĀmir, known as al‑Tābiʿ 17 153
Totals 141 1269

16The first thing one notices in this group of eight muqaddimūn is that at least two seem to come from Upper Egypt (al‑Dandarāwī and al‑Idfāwī). As we shall see below, 15% of the total of oarsmen recruited by the muqaddimūn whose place of origin can be determined are also of Upper Egyptian (Ṣaʿīdī) origin.

17The judge (qāḍī) of the port and the muqaddimūn played key roles in finding the required number of oarsmen and delivering them for service on the ship(s). Once the captain of the port issued his request for men to serve as oarsmen for his ship(s), he delivered to the judge the sum of money, whether from his own tax farm or from the government’s budget, sufficient for the salaries and support of the oarsmen for their summer service. The judge in turn gave this sum to the sheikh of the ṭāʾifa (guild) of muqaddimūn. The muqaddimūn were apportioned a specific sum of money by the guild sheikh dependent on the number of oarsmen they were assigned to recruit for service. The muqaddimūn located the oarsmen, agreed to pay them in advance, and delivered to the judge a list of the names of each oarsman and the amount of money the oarsman had been prepaid for his service. The judge kept a faithful account of all these transactions, giving a copy to the captain of the port and inserting into the register of his court a copy of all these dealings.

  • 35 Dār al‑Waṯā’iq al‑Qawmiyya (Cairo), Maḥkamat Rašīd, Siǧill 24, p. 206, Item 686.

18As Table Two shows, the muqaddim Ḥusayn, known as Falayfil, ibn Ḥusayn produced sixteen oarsmen whose pay was listed.35 He apparently had four more oarsmen (see Table One) to recruit since he had been given money for 20 oarsmen.

19Table 2.

Name of Oarsman Pay
in dinars
Advance in dinars (d)
&
niṣf fiḍḍa (n)
ʿAbdallāh ibn al‑Ḥāǧǧ Aḥmad al‑Imbābī 9 5 d; 15 n
ʿAlī ibn Ḥiǧāzī ibn Ḫalīl al‑Miṣrī, from Ḥārat Fawwāla 9 2 d
Muḥammad ibn al‑Ḥāǧǧ Aḥmad, known as al‑Ḥalabī 9 2 d, 23 n
ʿAlī ibn ʿAbdallāh al‑Hindī 9 1 d
Manṣūr ibn Ḥusam al‑Dīn al‑Abū Tīǧī 9 1 d
Muḥammad ibn Dirqub (?) ibn Maǧīd al‑Bilbaysī 9 2 d; 12 n
Salīm ibn Ṣabbūr al‑Ǧirǧāwī, known as Ibn al‑Saʿīd 9
ʿAbdallāh ibn Yūnis al‑Ḫaršī, known as Ibn Ḫalīfa 9 1 d
Salāma ibn Aḥmad ibn al‑Ḥāǧǧ Muḥammad 9
Sulṭān ibn Salāma ibn Aḥmad ibn (?) from Ḥārat al‑Fawwālīn 9 6 d
Qā’id ibn al‑Ḥāǧǧ Ḥasan ibn Ḥiǧāzī al‑Qamrinī 9 5 d
ʿAlī ibn Muḥammad al‑Quraynī, known as al‑Ṭawīl 9
Muḥammad ibn Mubārak al‑Šabbāsī, known as Ibn al‑Ǧaʿīd 9 7 d
al‑Ḥāǧǧ ʿAbd al‑ʿĀṭī ibn Ḥasan al‑Basṭī from Ḥārat al‑Muqass 9 5 d; 10 n
His retainer (tābiʿ) Aḥmad ibn ʿAbd al‑Bāqī ibn (?) 9
Ḫamīs ibn Ǧumʿa ibn Sirāǧ al‑Dīn, known as Ibn ʿUmar 9
Totals 144
  • 36 Dār al‑Waṯā’iq al‑Qawmiyya (Cairo), Maḥkamat Rašīd, Siǧill 24, p. 206, Item 687.

20The muqaddim Aḥmad ibn Šihāb al‑Dīn al‑Faraskūrī, known as al‑Idfāwī, produced only five of the 13 oarsmen whom he had been given money to recruit (see Table One). He noted the commitment of 45 dinars and cited the advances to his five recruits as follows.36

21Table 3.

Name of Oarsman Pay
in dinars
Advance in dinars (d)
&
niṣf fiḍḍa (n)
Muḥammad ibn Zunful al‑ʿAǧīrī 9 100 n
Salīm ibn Sulaymān 9 3 d; 5 n
Salīm ibn Ḥamdān ibn ʿAbdallāh from al‑Manufiyya 9 4 ½ d
Ḥāmid ibn Aḥmad ibn Ibrahīm al‑Rašīdī, known as Ibn Murtaḍā 9
Ḫiḍr ibn Sulaymān ibn Ziyāda 9 6 d
Totals 45
  • 37 Dār al‑Waṯā’iq al‑Qawmiyya (Cairo), Maḥkamat Rašīd, Siǧill 24, pp. 206-208, Item 690.

22Another lengthy list of 59 oarsmen is recorded along with the other documents, but the muqaddim who produced them is not one of the eight muqaddimūn listed in Table One. He is, rather, the muqaddim Sayyid al‑Nāṣirī Muḥammad, the son of the deceased al‑Nūrī Muḥammad, the sheikh of the ṭāʾifa of muqaddimūn al‑baḥḥāra in Lower Egypt, and is cited as one of the caulkers (ḫalfiǧiyya) in the arsenal of Alexandria. He committed for the 59 recruits the sum of 520 ½ dinars for their service on this imperial mission. Their names and payments are listed in Table 4.37

23Table 4.

Name of Oarsman Pay
in dinars
Advance in dinars (d)
&
niṣf fiḍḍa (n)
Ibrahīm ibn Ibrahīm, known as Kinnīš and Ibn Rifīʿa 9 2 d
ʿAlī ibn Muḥammad ibn ʿAlī al‑Basīṭī,
from Ḫaṭṭ Ḫurunfiš in Cairo
9
Fāris Muḥammad ibn Muḥammad ibn ʿAbdallāh al‑Miṣrī,
from Bāb al‑Šaʿriyya
9 1.5 d
Badīr ibn Diyāb ibn ʿAbdallāh al‑Imbābī 9 3 d
Salīm ibn Ḫalaf ibn ʿĀmira al‑Laqqānī and his 9 2 d
retainer Aḥmad ibn Abī ʿAṭiyya ibn Muḥammad from Safīḥa 9
ʿAlī ibn Aḥmad ibn Muḥammad al‑Ṭībī 9
ʿAbd al‑Karīm ibn Salīm ibn al‑Ḥāǧǧ Yaḥyā al‑Bahdānī,
known as Abū Ṭabīḫ
9 2.5 d
Muḥammad Kirisla ibn ʿAbdallāh al‑Abīǧī 9 2 d
Manṣūr ibn Ḥāǧǧ Ramaḍān ibn al‑Ḥāǧǧ Aḥmad al‑Nahrāwī 9 6 d
Marʿī ibn Ismaʿīl ibn Yūnis from al‑Ġumayra 9 4 d
Aḥmad ibn ʿAbdallāh from Qūṣ 9 2 d
Muḥammad Falayfīl ibn Šukr ibn ʿAlī al‑Burullusī 9
Muʿarrif ibn Šayḫ Aḥmad ibn ʿAbd al‑Raḥmān
from al‑Ra’īsiyya in the Ṣaʿīd
9 2.5 d
Salīm ibn al‑Ḥāǧǧ Muḥammad ibn Muḥammad al‑Samanūdī 9 2 d
Šiḥāta ibn al‑Ḥāǧǧ Ramaḍān al‑Nahrāwī,
the brother of Manṣūr al‑Siyānī (see six lines above)
9 1.5 d
Šihāb al‑Dīn ibn Ḫayr al‑Dīn ibn Ḫalīl ibn ʿAbdallāh
from Rawḍa in Cairo
9 2 d
Al-Ḥāǧǧ Aḥmad ibn Sulaymān ibn ʿAbdallāh al‑Manzalī and his 9 1 d
retainer Qāsim ibn Šiḥāta ibn Manṣūr al‑Ḥamawī 9 1 d
ʿAbd al‑Nabī ibn ʿĪsā ibn ʿAbdallāh al‑Maḥallāwī, known as Qarāquṣ 9 3 d
Yūnis ibn Muḥammad ibn Ḥasan al‑Fuwwī al‑Ḥabbāb 9 2 d
Amīr Ḥāǧǧ ibn Marʿī ibn ʿAbdallāh and 9 2.5 d
his brother Ḥusayn ibn Muḥammad al‑Ṭabbāḫ 9 1 d
Muḥammad ibn Abī ʿĀmir ibn ʿAbdallāh al‑Šabšīrī al‑Ṭaḥḥān 9 4 d
Al-Ḥāǧǧ Aḥmad ibn Muḥammad ibn al‑Šayḫ Ibrahīm al‑Daḫmīsī 9 1 d
Ibrahīm al‑Ḫūlī Ġālī al‑Ḥinnāwī ibn Abī Ṣāliḥ
from Šaṭṭūra in the Ṣaʿīd and his colleague (rafīq)
9 1.5 d
ʿAbdallāh ibn al‑Ḥāǧǧ Manṣūr ibn ʿAbdallāh,
known as Ibn Ǧābirī al‑Ṣafṭī
9 1.5 d
Abū al‑Ḫayr ibn al‑Ḥāǧǧ ʿAlī ibn Abū al‑Ḫayr al‑Damsīsī 9 1 d
his father, al‑Ḥāǧǧ ibn ʿAlī al‑Damsīsī 9 3.5 d
Šams al‑Dīn ibn ʿAbd al‑Ǧalīl ibn ʿAlam al‑Dīn al‑Naǧǧārī 9 5 d
Muḥammad ibn ʿAlī ibn ʿAbdallāh al‑Mazārī 9 8 d
Yūsuf al‑Muhtadī ibn ʿAbdallāh ibn Aslan 9 1 d
Yūnis ibn Qāsim ibn ʿĀfiya, known as Ibn Wišš 9 2 d
ʿAlī ibn ʿAssul ibn ʿAbdallāh ibn Kāfūr al‑Mašʿaliyya 9
Ḫalīfa Muḥammad ibn Muḥammad al‑Ḫulakī al‑Ṣaʿīdī 9 3 d
Al-Ḥāǧǧ Šiḥāta ibn Sirāǧ from al‑Muʿassara,
known as al‑Ǧammāl and
9 3 d
his retainer Šiḥāta ibn Šihāb al‑Dīn from al‑Maḥalla al‑Kubrā, and l-
Šihāb al‑Dīn Ibn ʿAbd al‑Razzāq ibn Ramaḍān al‑Ḫawankī and 9
Muḥammad ibn Nāṣir al‑Dīn from Minyat al‑Muršid,
known as al‑Fuwwī
9
Aḥmad ibn Muḥammad, known as Baǧʿ, from Maḥallat al‑Marḥūm 9 6.5 d
Muṣṭafā ibn ʿAbd al‑Qādir ibn ʿAbd al‑ʿAzīz al‑Bannā 9 2 d
Sulaymān ibn Muḥammad ibn Ḫālid al‑Qallīnī 9 3 d
Šihāb al‑Dīn ibn Aḥmad ibn Māḍī al‑Imbābī, known as al‑Ǧazzār 9 1 d
Salīm ibn Salīm from Warrāq al‑Ḥaḍar in Ǧīza province 9 5.5 d
Aḥmad ibn ʿAbdallāh ibn ʿAlī from Šabās al‑Šuhadā’ 9 7 d; 30 n
ʿAlī ibn Sulaymān from Abī Durra in al‑Buḥayra, known as al‑Šāʿir 9
Muṣṭafā ibn Dā’ūd ibn Šayḫ ʿAbd al‑Raḥīm from al‑Maḥalla al‑Kubrā 9
Šihāb al‑Dīn ibn Aḥmad ibn Naṣr al‑Dīn from al‑Manzala 9 5.5 d
Šiḥāta ibn Ḫaṭṭāb, known as al‑ʿAwr (one eyed), who is the retainer of 9 4 d
ʿAds Barġūṭa 9
Al-Ḥāǧǧ Aḥmad Abū Ǧaziyya ibn Aḥmad ibn Šiḥāta al‑Ǧuhaynī 9 6.5 d
ʿĪsā ibn al‑Ḥāǧǧ Muḥammad from Dayrūṭ 9
Muḥammad ibn Sirāǧ al‑Dīn from Šubrā Ḫalqūn in Sukkiyya 9 1 d
ʿĀmir ibn Ḥasan ibn ʿAyn al‑Ġazal al‑Damanhūrī al‑Qawwās 9 6 d
Šiḥāta ibn ʿAlī ibn Šiḥāta from Minyat al‑Hārūn 6
Sulaymān ibn Muḥammad al‑Alwāḥī,
known as Hudayfa and as Falayfīl
9 5 d
Muḥammad ibn ʿAbd al‑Karīm, known as Ibn Ḥamīda al‑Alwayḥī 9 3.5 d
Sulaymān ibn ʿAlī ibn Yūsuf al‑Burullusī 5.5
Aḥmad ibn Muḥammad ibn ʿUmar al‑Ǧīzī, known as al‑Aqraʿ 5.25
Totals 520.75 136.5 d; 30 n
  • 38 Dār al‑Waṯā’iq al‑Qawmiyya (Cairo), Maḥkamat Rašīd, Siǧill 24, page 208, Item 691. One often finds (...)

24In the fifth document the muqaddim Aḥmad ibn ʿĀmir, known as al‑Tābiʿ, vouches that he had received 180 dinars to recruit 20 oarsmen, yet in the document summarized in Table One he acknowledged receiving only 153 dinars to recruit 17 oarsmen.38 The 20 oarsmen, who acknowledged receiving their pay in advance, are listed in Table 5.

25Table 5.

Name of Oarsman Pay
in dinars
Advance in dinars (d)
&
niṣf fiḍḍa (n)
Ǧumʿa ibn Salāma al‑Šāmī 9 6 d; 28 n
Ḥasan ibn ʿAlī al‑Kurdī al‑Ḫirbaytī 9 2.25 d
Muḥammad ibn Ḥasan al‑Manzalī, known as al‑Humayn Mattī 9 5 d
Muḥammad ibn al‑Ḥāǧǧ Muḥammad al‑Dumyāṭī 9 3.5 d
ʿĀmir ibn al‑Šayḫ Marʿī ibn al‑Ḥāǧǧ Muḥammad al‑Bahǧūrī al‑Ṣaʿīdī 9 1.5 d
and Muḥammad ibn al‑Ḥāǧǧ Muḥammad al‑Manṣūrī 9
Yūsuf ibn Sulaymān al‑Damanhūrī 9 8 d
ʿAlī ibn ʿAwf ibn Muḥammad al‑Danī from Minyat Abī ʿAbdallāh 9 1 d
ʿĀmir ibn Aḥmad ibn Ibrahīm al‑Šawrī 9
Murād ibn Ǧuwaylī al‑Manzalī, from al‑Šubūl 9 9 d
Timraz ibn Aḥmad ibn Šihāb al‑Dīn al‑Miṣrī, from al‑Ḥusayniyya 9 2 d; 30 n
Ḥiǧāzī ibn al‑Ḥāǧǧ ʿAlī Ḥadid al‑Dumyāṭī 9 13 d
Ḥusayn ibn Muḥammad ibn ʿAbd al‑Dā’im al‑Skandarī 9 16 n
Salāma ibn ʿAbd al‑Nabī al‑Baṣratī, from al‑Manzala 9 1 d; 30 n
Muḥammad ibn ʿAlī Sayf al‑Dīn al‑ʿAqqāwī 9
Nūr ibn Ḥusām al‑Dīn, from Dayr Suwada in the Ṣaʿīd 9
ʿAbd al‑Razzāq ibn ʿAlī ʿAliwa from al‑Maṭariyya in Manzala 9
Šumayyas ibn Muḥammad ibn Muḥammad ʿAǧayna al‑Baramūnī 9 7 d
Ḥusayn ibn Dā’ūd al‑Muhtadī al‑Miṣrī from Bayn al‑Sūrayn 9 5 d
Muḥammad ibn Abī Bakr al‑Šāmī al‑Ḥalabī 9
Totals 180 80.25 d; 88 n
  • 39 Sulaymān discusses the use of forced labor in “al‑Suḫra fī Miṣr”.

26The total number of oarsmen the muqaddimūn recruited was thus 129. Would they be given more time to produce the remaining kürekciye? Would these required oarsmen be taken from the jails of Egypt’s Mediterranean ports, or would they be conscripted? It is unclear how the remaining 12 oarsmen were to be assembled.39

  • 40 See Shaw, The Budget of Ottoman Egypt, pp. 136-137. Each of these captains/sancakbeyi also held urb (...)
  • 41 Shaw, The Budget of Ottoman Egypt, pp. 176-179. Assuming a standard pay of 20 akçe (10 niṣf fiḍḍa) (...)
  • 42 Shaw, The Budget of Ottoman Egypt, p. 187.

27The budget for Egypt in 1596-97 cited a salary of 500,000 osmanis and 294,400 paras for Hizir Bey, mir liva, the captain of the port of Suez, 506,500 osmanis and 220,199 paras for Hasan Bey, mir liva, the captain of the port of Damiette, and 500,000 osmanis and 294,704 paras for Mehmet Bey, mir liva, the captain of the port of Alexandria.40 These sums, however, were salaries for their membership in the dīwān, or governing council, of Cairo and were in addition to the revenues from the tax farms each held. In addition, Hasan Bey was assigned 5,125 osmanis from the budget to pay for oarsmen in his personal galley. The sum of 170,550 osmanis was assigned in the same budget to pay the wages of oarsmen serving with the fleet in Alexandria and Rašīd for the year 1005/1596-7.41 Given this relatively small sum, it would appear that the Ottoman Empire operated only a small number of warships from Egypt. It is obvious, however, that Alexandria was the primary harbor for the empire’s fighting ships in Egypt. To meet expenses relating to the visit of ships of the imperial ships to Egypt, the authorities were also permitted to collect a special tax, the mali‑i kürekciye (oarsmen tax) from many of the villages near the sea since they were the chief beneficiaries of the protection afforded by the Mediterranean squadrons. This tax amounted to 40 paras for every 25,000 paras of land tax.42

  • 43 Dār al‑Waṯāʾiq al‑Qawmiyya (Cairo), Maḥkamat Rašīd, Siǧill 50, p. 40, Item 98, 21 Muḥarram 1042/8 A (...)

28The Rašīd court also records in the year 1632 the recruitment of oarsmen for service in the galliot of Mustafa Bey, the amīr al‑liwā al‑šarīf al‑sulṭānī for Alexandria and Rašīd, for that year’s season.43 He received the money to pay for the oarsmen in the dīwān of Alexandria from the amīr Amr Allāh Agha ʿAlaylī in the presence of Sheikh Ḫalīfa, the son of the deceased muqaddim ʿAbd al‑ʿAzīz, a member of the ṭāʾifa (of muqaddimīn) of Suez. Sheikh Ḫalīfa was assigned responsibility for distributing the wages to the oarsmen who would be brought forward by the muqaddim Mannā’ Abū ʿAlī al‑Rifāʿī and his colleague (rafīq), the muqaddim Dirāz ibn Muḥammad al‑Zaydī. For this service, each oarsman was to receive 10 qurūš (each qirš = 30 niṣf fiḍḍa), or 300 niṣf fiḍḍa, which would seem to indicate a rather short mission for Mustafa Bey, especially since it comes a little late in the season. The twenty-six oarsmen, their wages and advances, are cited in Table 6.

29Table 6.

Name of Oarsman Recruited in 1632 Pay
in
qurūš
Advance in qurūš
ʿAlī ibn Aḥmad al‑Sandalǧī and his 10
son ʿAbdallāh 10
Muḥammad ibn ʿAlī al‑Biršamī 10 1
Aḥmad ibn al‑Ḥāǧǧ Sulaymān al‑Ǧallād 10 2
ʿAlī ibn Muḥammad al‑Fuwwī 10 1.5
Sulaymān ibn Aḥmad al‑Hāšimī 10
ʿAbd al‑Raḥīm ibn Muḥammad al‑Miṣrī 10
Sulaymān ibn Muḥammad Abī al‑ʿUqba Ismaʿīl al‑Sandalūnī 10
ʿAbd al‑Karīm ibn Muḥammad al‑Badawī al‑Ġazzālī 10 2
Muḥammad ibn Yūsuf al‑Rašīdī 10 1
Ḥiǧāzī ibn Budayr al‑Rašīdī 10
Šiḥāta ibn Manṣūr al‑Mallāḥ 10
Manṣūr ibn Muḥammad al‑ʿIfiš 10
Aḥmad ibn Sālim al‑Qahwaǧī al‑Muʿaddawī 10
Muḥammad ibn Šihāb al‑Dīn al‑Miṣrī 10 2
Šihāb al‑Dīn ibn Aḥmad al‑ʿAbadī 10
Ḫamīs ibn ʿAlī al‑Ṣaʿīdī 10
ʿAṭā Allāh ibn Muḥammad al‑Ṣaʿīdī 10
ʿAlī ibn Aḥmad al‑Qaffāṣ 10
Manṣūr ibn Manṣūr al‑Mirhāwī 10 2
ʿIzz al‑ʿArab ibn Zaydān al‑Dalamī 10
ʿĀmir ibn Aḥmad from Azbakiyya 10
Ǧamīl ibn ʿAṭā Allāh al‑Ṣaʿīdī 10
ʿAlī ibn ʿAšūr al‑Qilfaṭ (caulker) 10
ʿAlī ibn Ibrahīm, known as Ibn al‑Miṣriyya al‑Rašīdī 10 1
Aḥmad ibn Badr, from Ṭanṭā 10
Totals 260 12.5
  • 44 To help with this identification of the oarsmen’s home towns, I have relied on their nisbas or the (...)
  • 45 Although North Africans were well established in Egypt, especially in commerce, they do not seem to (...)

30Although the documents in the court registers are seldom written clearly, it has been possible, with some confidence, to identify the town, or region, of origin for 80 of the 129 oarsmen who volunteered for the 1598 sailing.44 Not surprisingly, 50 oarsmen, or 62.5% of the 80, are from towns and villages of the Delta region, an area stretching from the seaside regions (Rašīd, Manzala, for example) to the area around al‑Manṣūra north of Cairo. But 30 oarsmen, or 37.5% of the total identified by place of origin, are not from this Delta region. Five oarsmen (6.25%) appear to be from Syria.45 It is not surprising to find them in Rašīd or other of Egypt’s coastal towns at this time, for Egypt’s Mediterranean ports were connected to virtually all the ports in the eastern Mediterranean area under Ottoman control. In addition to the limited number of warships based in Egypt’s Mediterranean harbors, hundreds of merchant galleys left these ports annually and these also required a considerable number of oarsmen. We can thus assume that Egypt’s coastal ports had a floating population that was searching for work on the many ships, both military and commercial, that departed these harbors. The pay was good by the standards of the day and the risks of facing combat were relatively small.

31Another 13 oarsmen (16.25%) came from Cairo and its vicinity, while 12 oarsmen (15%) were of Upper Egyptian origin. These figures give some indication of the mobility of Egyptian society as well as the cosmopolitan social mix in Egypt’s port cities at the end of the sixteenth century. We are familiar with merchants and scholars travelling throughout the Islamic world in search of profits and knowledge, but we seldom find evidence of members of the lower social orders, other than pilgrims, undertaking extensive journeys. The lists of oarsmen indicate that many of the volunteers had made the pilgrimage to Mecca or were the sons of pilgrims, assuming that the sobriquet “al‑Ḥāǧǧ” indicates a true pilgrim and not just a casual honorific. This group of oarsmen appears to have, therefore, broad travel experience. Many came from districts in Upper Egypt far from the sea in search of employment. While our documents do not indicate if any of the oarsmen had previous experience at sea, it can be assumed that most of them were at least familiar with oars, for they came from towns on the Nile or its canals and probably had pulled oars on river craft. Those coming from coastal towns such as Rašīd, Dumyāṭ, Burullus or Manzala probably had previous experience at sea.

32The backgrounds of the oarsmen are varied. We find several who are retainers (tābiʿ), suggesting they are tied to a “master” in some form of legal relationship, or to a “patron”, yet they receive the same standard pay as everyone else. Fathers and sons also volunteered for service, as did several brothers and colleagues (rafīq). Some of the oarsmen are identified as having other skills, such as cook (ṭabbāḫ), camel driver (ǧammāl), butcher (ǧazzār), basket-maker (qaffāṣ) or archer (qawwās), indicating they had a lower middle class standing.

33The process of recruitment and payment for the 26 oarsmen assembled for service on Mustafa Bey’s galliot in the late summer of 1632 appears to be the same as it was in 1598, with payment in qurūš instead of dinars. Likewise, the distribution of places of origin of the oarsmen for Mustafa Bey’s galliot is similar to that of the oarsmen recruited in 1598. We find that the 26 oarsmen came from the Delta region (especially from Rašīd), Cairo and Upper Egypt, but none this time from abroad. We do not find non-Muslims or North Africans among the oarsmen in the two galleys, nor are there any apparent criminals. Slaves were almost never used as rowers in Egypt.

34The analysis of the origins of the oarsmen recruited in 1598 and 1632 indicates that the ships’ complements came from villages and towns spread throughout Egypt, from Cairo and Upper Egypt as well as from the Delta, and included in 1598 a small percentage of Syrians. The oarsmen were free-born Muslims who volunteered for seasonal service and who received their pay in advance, as was the custom. Egypt’s need for oarsmen was much less than the requirements of the imperial navy in Aegean waters where many more galleys had to be outfitted and many more warriors and oarsmen had to be mustered. In the central Ottoman lands the sultans had established a broad array of tax farms and levies to provide the men and material sufficient to support the fleet’s annual campaigns. Among these was the levy of men from the households of specific districts and from other households or communities to pay for and support each oarsman. This system was unknown in Egypt.

35In both the central lands and in Egypt recruitment was well organized and was supervised by an appropriate qāḍī who kept precise records of all transactions pertaining to the recruitment. He received from the treasury the money sufficient to pay the oarsmen in advance, and distributed it through intermediaries to the men who were mustered. He forwarded to the captains of the ships complete lists of the names of the rowers and their pay, notified the government of this information, and finally recorded a copy of all this information in his court’s day-book, or siǧill. In Egypt the qāḍī passed to the sheikh of the guild (ṭāʾifa) of muqaddimīn the money he had been assigned by the administration to produce the necessary number of oarsmen. The guild sheikh in turn distributed to his individual guild-members the necessary amount to cover the salaries of the oarsmen each was assigned to bring forward. We do not know how large the membership of this guild was.

36The authorities preferred to recruit free men, not slaves or criminals, though in times of necessity this might be done, employed them only for seasonal campaigns, and paid them a standard wage in advance for their service. To save the expense of maintaining them when the ships were not at sea and their service was not needed, the oarsmen were released from duty at the end of the campaigning season. They appear to have been of lower social standing and perhaps found the pay offered by the government for their service as oarsmen to be worth the risk of possible combat. The six documents reported in this study thus provide some insight into the well organized recruitment of Egyptian oarsmen for service on Ottoman galleys harbored in Egypt’s Mediterranean ports around the end of the sixteenth century and the early decades of the seventeenth century. It is to be hoped that more documents of this type will be reported in the future to shed additional light on the organization of the various skilled groups working in the shipyards and on the ships, on the process of recruitment and upon the oarsmen themselves.

Haut de page

Bibliographie

Archival Sources

Cairo, Dār al‑Waṯā’iq al‑Qawmiyya, Maḥkamat Rašīd, Siǧill 24, 50.

Secondary Sources

ʿAbd al‑Raḥīm, ʿAbd al‑Raḥīm ʿAbd al‑Raḥmān, “al‑Maġribiyya fī ta’rīḫ Miṣr fī al‑ʿaṣr al‑ʿuṯmānī, 1517-1798,” al‑Maǧalla al‑ta’rīḫiyya al‑maġribiyya, Tunis, 1982.

Aḥmad, Muḥammad ʿAbd al‑ʿĀl, al‑Baḥr al‑aḥmar wa‑l-muḥāwalāt al‑burtuġāliyya al‑ūlā li‑l-sayṭara ʿalayhi (1465-1540), by Abū Maḫrama al‑Ṭayyib ibn ʿAbdallāh, al‑Hay’a al‑Miṣriyya al‑ʿĀmma li‑l-Kitāb, Alexandria, 1980.

Bacqué-Grammont, Jean-Louis & Kroell, Anne, Mamlouks, Ottomans et Portugais en mer Rouge : L’affaire de Djedda en 1517, Ifao, Cairo, 1988.

Bacqué-Grammont, Jean-Louis & Veinstein, Gilles (eds.), Les Ottomans en Méditerranée : navigation, diplomatie, commerce, CNRS, Aix-en-Provence, 1986.

Bostan, İdris, Osmanlı Bahriye Teşkilâtı : XVII. Yüzyılda Tersâne-i Amire, Türk Tarih Kurumu Basımevi, Ankara, 1992.

Brummett, Palmira, Ottoman Seapower and Levantine Diplomacy in the Age of Discovery, State University of New York Press, Albany, 1994.

Crecelius, Daniel & Badr, Ḥamza ʿAbd al‑ʿAzīz, “The Usurpation of Waqf Revenues in Late Sixteenth-Century Damiette,” JARCE 32, 1995, pp. 265-268.

Guilmartin, John, Gunpowder and Galleys: Changing Technology and Mediterranean Warfare at Sea in the Sixteenth Century, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1974.

Hanna, Nelly, Making Big Money in 1600 : The Life and Times of Ismaʿil Abu Taqiyya, Egyptian Merchant, Syracuse University Press, Syracuse, 1998.

Hess, Andrew, “The Ottoman Conquest of Egypt (1517) and the Beginning of the Sixteenth-Century World War,” IJMES 4, 1, 1973, pp. 55-76.

Hess, Andrew, The Forgotten Frontier, A History of the 16th Century Ibero-African Frontier, The University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1978.

Imber, Colin “The Navy of Suleyman the Magnificent,” Archivum Ottomanicum 6, 1980, pp. 221-282.

Imber, Colin, The Reconstruction of the Ottoman Fleet After the Battle of Lepanto, 1571-1572, Studies in Ottoman History and Law, Isis Press, Istanbul, 1996.

Imber, Colin, The Ottoman Empire, 1300-1650, Palgrave, London, 2002.

Mikhail, Alan, Nature and Empire in Ottoman Egypt: An Environmental History, Cambridge University Press, New York, 2011.

al‑Naḫīlī, Darwīš, al‑Sufun al‑islāmiyya ʿalā ḥurūf al‑muʿǧam, Dār al‑Maʿārif, Cairo, 1979.

Panzac, Daniel, “The Manning of the Ottoman Navy in the Heyday of Sail (1660-1850),” in Zürcher, Erik J. (ed.), Arming the State: Military Conscription in the Middle East and Central Asia, 1775-1925, I.B. Tauris, London, 1999.

Panzac, Daniel, La caravane maritime: Marins européens et marchands ottomans en Méditerranée, 1680-1830, CNRS, Paris, 2004.

Panzac, Daniel, La Marine ottomane: de l’apogée à la chute de l’Empire, 1572-1923, CNRS, Paris, 2009.

Pepper, Simon & Adams, Nicholas, Firearms and Fortifications, Chicago University Press, Chicago, 1986.

Ramzī, Muḥammad, al‑Qāmūs al‑ǧuġrāfī li‑l-bilād al‑miṣriyya min ʿahd qudamā’ al‑Miṣriyyīn ilā sanat 1945, al‑Wizāra al‑Māliyya, Cairo, 1953-1963.

Raymond, André, Artisans et commerçants au Caire au xviiie siècle, Ifead, Damas, 1973.

Shaw, Stanford J., The Financial and Administrative Organization and Development of Ottoman Egypt, 1517-1798, Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey, 1962.

Shaw, Stanford J., The Budget of Ottoman Egypt: 1005-1006/1596-1597, Mouton, The Hague, 1968.

Sulaymān, ʿAbd al‑Ḥamīd Ḥāmid, al‑Milāḥa al‑nīliyya fī Miṣr al‑ʿuṯmāniyya, al‑Hay’a al‑ʿĀmma li‑l‑Kitāb, Cairo, 2000.

Sulaymān, ʿAbd al‑Ḥamīd Ḥāmid, “al‑Suḫra fī Miṣr fī al‑qarnayn al‑sābiʿ ʿašar wa‑l‑ṯāmin ʿašar al‑mīlādiyyayn,” in al‑Rafḍ wa‑l‑iḥtiǧāǧ fī al‑muǧtamaʿ al‑miṣrī fī al‑ʿaṣr al‑ʿuṯmānī, Markaz al‑Buḥūṯ wa‑l‑Dirāsāt al‑Iǧtimāʿiyya, Kulliyyat al‑Ādāb, Ǧāmiʿat al‑Qāhira, Cairo, 2004.

Tuchscherer, Michel (ed.), Le commerce du café avant l’ère des plantations coloniales, Ifao, Cairo, 2001.

Winter, Michael, “A Statute for the Mercantile Fleet in Eighteenth-Century Egypt,” Mediterranean Historical Review 3, December 1988, pp. 118-122.

Haut de page

Annexe

APPENDIX

Foreign Oarsmen

Muḥammad ibn al‑Ḥāǧǧ Aḥmad al‑Ḥalabī

Qāsim ibn Šiḥāta ibn Manṣūr al‑Ḥamawī

Ǧumʿa ibn Salāma al‑Šāmī

Muḥammad ibn ʿAlī Sayf al‑Dīn al‑ʿAqqāwī

Muḥammad ibn Abī Bakr al‑Šāmī al‑Ḥalabī

Oarsmen from Cairo and Vicinity

ʿAbdallāh ibn al‑Ḥāǧǧ Aḥmad al‑Imbābī

ʿAli ibn Ḥiǧāzī ibn Ḫalīl al‑Miṣrī, from Ḥārat Fawwāla

Sulṭān ibn Salāma ibn Aḥmad from Ḥārat Fawwālīn

Al-Ḥāǧǧ ʿAbd al‑ʿĀṭī ibn Ḥasan al‑Basṭī, from Ḥārat Muqaṣṣ and
His retainer (tābiʿ) Aḥmad ibn ʿAbd al‑Bāqī ibn (?)

ʿAlī ibn Muḥammad ibn ʿAlī al‑Basīṭī from Ḫaṭṭ Ḫurunfiš in al‑Qāhira

Fāris Muḥammad ibn Muḥammad ibn ʿAbdallāh al‑Miṣrī, from Bāb al‑Šaʿriyya

Badīr ibn Diyāb ibn ʿAbdallāh al‑Imbābī

Šihāb al‑Dīn ibn Ḫayr al‑Dīn ibn Ḫalīl ibn ʿAbdallāh from Rawḍa

Šihāb al‑Dīn ibn Aḥmad ibn Māḍī al‑Imbābī

Salīm ibn Salīm from Warrāq al‑Ḥaḍar in Ǧīza

Timraz ibn Aḥmad ibn Šihāb al‑Dīn al‑Miṣrī from al‑Ḥusayniyya

Ḥusām ibn Dā’ūd al‑Muhtadī al‑Miṣrī, from Bayn al‑Sūrayn

Oarsmen from Upper Egypt

Manṣūr ibn Ḥusam al‑Abū Tīǧī

Salīm ibn Ṣabbūr al‑Ǧirǧāwī, known as Ibn al‑Saʿīd

Aḥmad ibn ʿAbdallāh from Qūṣ

Muʿarrif ibn Šayḫ Aḥmad ibn ʿAbd al‑Ra’īsiyya in the Ṣaʿīd

Ibrahīm al‑Ḫūlī Ġālī al‑Ḥinnāwī ibn Abī Ṣāliḥ from Šaṭṭūra in the Ṣaʿīd and his
Colleague (rafīq) ʿAbdallāh ibn al‑Ḥāǧǧ Manṣūr ibn ʿAbdallāh, known as
Ibn Ǧābir al‑Ṣafṭī

Muḥammad ibn ʿAlī ibn ʿAbdallāh al‑Mazārī

Ḫalīfa Muḥammad ibn Muḥammad al‑Ḫulakī al‑Ṣaʿīdī

ʿĪsā ibn al‑Ḥāǧǧ Muḥammad from Dayrūṭ

ʿĀmir ibn al‑Šayḫ Marʿī ibn al‑Ḥāǧǧ Muḥammad al‑Bahǧūrī al‑Ṣaʿīdī

Nūr ibn Ḥusām al‑Dīn from Dayr Suwayda in the Ṣaʿīd

Al-Ḥāǧǧ Aḥmad Abū Ǧaziyya ibn Aḥmad ibn Šiḥāta al‑Ǧuhaynī

Oarsmen from the Delta Region

Salīm ibn al‑Ḥāǧǧ Muḥammad ibn Muḥammad al‑Samannūdī

Muḥammad ibn Maǧīd al‑Bilbaysī

Qā’id ibn al‑Ḥāǧǧ Ḥasan ibn Ḥiǧāzī al‑Qamrinī

ʿAlī ibn Muḥammad al‑Quraynī

Muḥammad ibn Mubārak al‑Šabāsī

Ḥāmid ibn Aḥmad ibn Ibrahīm al‑Rašīdī

Salīm ibn Ḫalaf ibn ʿĀmirī al‑Laqqānī and his
Retainer, Aḥmad ibn Abī ʿAṭiyya ibn Muḥammad, from Safīḥa

Manṣūr ibn Ḥāǧǧ Ramaḍān ibn al‑Ḥāǧǧ Aḥmad al‑Nahrāwī

Marʿī ibn Ismaʿīl ibn Yūnus from Ġumayra

Muḥammad Falayfīl ibn Šukr ibn ʿAlī al‑Burullusī

Šiḥāta ibn al‑Ḥāǧǧ Ramaḍān al‑Nahrāwī

Al-Ḥāǧǧ Aḥmad ibn Sulaymān ibn ʿAbdallāh al‑Manzalī

Yūnus ibn Muḥammad ibn Ḥasan al‑Fuwwī al‑Ḥabbāb

Muḥammad ibn Abū ʿĀmir ibn ʿAbdallāh al‑Šabšīrī

Al-Ḥāǧǧ Aḥmad ibn Muḥammad ibn al‑Šayḫ Ibrahīm al‑Daḫmīsī

Al-Ḥāǧǧ Šiḥāta ibn Sirāǧ al‑Ǧummah from Maʿṣara and his
Retainer Šiḥāta ibn Šihāb al‑Dīn from al‑Maḥalla al‑Kubrā

Šihāb al‑Dīn ibn ʿAbd al‑Rizq ibn Ramaḍān al‑Ḫawankī and
Muḥammad ibn Nāṣir al‑Dīn from Minyat al‑Muršid, known as al‑Fuwwī

Aḥmad ibn Muḥammad, known as al‑Baǧʿ, from Maḥallat al‑Marḥūm

Aḥmad ibn ʿAbdallāh ibn ʿAlī from Šabās al‑Šuhadā’

ʿAlī ibn Sulaymān from Abī Durra in al‑Buḥayra

Muṣṭafā ibn Dā’ūd ibn Šayḫ ʿAbd al‑Raḥīm from al‑Maḥalla al‑Kubrā

Šihāb al‑Dīn ibn Aḥmad ibn Naṣr al‑Dīn from al‑Manzala

Muḥammad ibn Sirāǧ al‑Dīn from Šubrā Ḫalqūn in Sukkiyya

ʿĀmir ibn Ḥasan ibn ʿAyn al‑Ġazal al‑Damanhūrī

Šiḥāta ibn ʿAlī ibn Šiḥāta from Minyat al‑Hārūn

Sulaymān ibn ʿAlī ibn Yūsuf al‑Burullusī

Muḥammad ibn Ḥasan al‑Manzalī

Muḥammad ibn al‑Ḥāǧǧ Muḥammad al‑Dumyāṭī

Muḥammad ibn al‑Ḥāǧǧ Muḥammad al‑Manṣūrī

Yūsuf ibn Sulaymān al‑Damanhūrī

ʿAlī ibn ʿAwf ibn Muḥammad al‑Danī from Minyat ʿAbdallāh

Ḥiǧāzī ibn al‑Ḥāǧǧ ʿAlī Ḥadīd al‑Dumyāṭī

Ḥusayn ibn Muḥammad ibn ʿAbd al‑Dā’im al‑Skandarī

Salāma ibn ʿAbd al‑Nabī al‑Basratī from al‑Manzala

ʿAbd al‑Razzāq ibn ʿAlī ʿAliwa from Maṭariyya in Manzala

ʿAbd al‑Nabī ibn ʿĪsā ibn ʿAbdallāh al‑Mahdawī, known as Qarāquṣ

Muḥammad ibn ʿAlī ibn ʿAbdallāh al‑Mazārī

Sulaymān ibn Muḥammad ibn Ḫālid al‑Qallīnī

ʿĀmir ibn Aḥmad ibn Ibrahīm al‑Šawrī

Abū al‑Ḫayr ibn al‑Ḥāǧǧ ʿAlī ibn Abū al‑Ḫayr al‑Damsīsī and
his father, al‑Ḥāǧǧ ibn ʿAlī al‑Damsīsī

Muḥammad ibn Zunful al‑ʿAǧīrī

ʿAbdallāh ibn Yūnus al‑Ḫaršī, known as Ibn Ḫalīfa

Šams al‑Dīn ibn ʿAbd al‑Ǧalīl ibn ʿAlam al‑Dīn al‑Naǧǧārī

Ḥasan ibn ʿAlī al‑Kurdī al‑Ḫirbaytī

Salīm ibn Ḥamdān ibn ʿAbdallāh from Manūfiyya

Haut de page

Notes

1 See Shaw, The Financial and Administrative Organization, p. 26. All three squadrons were originally under the command of a single sancakbeyi, but after 1560, because of the importance of the Red Sea and Indian trade to Egypt and the Ottomans, the squadron at Suez was assigned to a separate sancakbeyi. See Imber, The Ottoman Empire, 1300-1650, p. 301.

2 The only complete budget for Ottoman Egypt yet found has been edited and published by Shaw, The Budget of Ottoman Egypt.

3 Imber, The Ottoman Empire, 1300-1650, p. 302.

4 Imber, “The Navy of Suleyman the Magnificent,” pp. 256-257, cites a report by Andrea Dandolo in 1562 noting that the Ottomans kept thirty or forty ships in the water as the guard squadrons for Rhodes and Alexandria.

5 The lack of sufficient supplies of wood was a major concern in Egypt. Throughout the Ottoman centuries Egypt imported large quantities of this item, mainly from Turkish forests in Anatolia and the Balkans. Mikhail, Nature and Empire in Ottoman Egypt, p. 99, remarks that wood in Egypt was so expensive that, although some ships were constructed by rich merchants, “shipbuilding was most often undertaken by the Ottoman administration of Egypt itself.” He notes, for instance, that in 1719 the government allocated 91,500 paras for the construction of 40 ships in the port of Rašīd and in that same year the sultan appointed an official to oversee the construction of another 12 ships in Rašīd for 10,500 paras. See p. 99, note 59. The para, known also as the akçe and as the niṣf fiḍḍa in Egypt, was a small silver coin used as the basic coin of account in the Ottoman Empire. Also in 1719 a firman affirms that a group of Turkish merchants/captains had constructed a fleet of 30 galleons to carry trade between Egypt and the central Ottoman Empire. See Winter, “A Statute for the Mercantile Fleet,” pp. 118-122. It should be noted that ships built in Rašīd and Damiette were by definition smaller ones because of the bars that cut the two ports from the sea. The unavailability of wood at Suez meant that ships built for service in the Red Sea were sometimes constructed on the Nile River, disassembled, and carried by camels to Suez where they were reassembled.

6 Mikhail, Nature and Empire in Ottoman Egypt, p. 100, notes that in 1725 the Ottomans had to send wood to Suez from Istanbul to build three galleons meant to transport grains to the Ḥaramayn.

7 On the Ottoman push into the Red Sea and Indian Ocean to combat the Portuguese, see, among others, Aḥmad, al-Baḥr al‑aḥmar; Bacqué-Grammont, Kroell, Mamlouks, Ottomans et Portugais. Several squadrons, ranging in size from 10 to 20 vessels sailed from Suez to extend Ottoman hegemony over the Arabian and African coasts and to combat the Portuguese. In 1565 a squadron left Suez for Aden to protect merchants coming from India against the Portuguese. Although their small vessels could not stand up to either the Portuguese carracks or the open Indian Ocean, they did succeed in barring the Portuguese from the Red Sea. See Imber, “The Navy of Suleyman the Magnificent,” pp. 215, 224.

8 On Egypt’s connections with the Asian and Red Sea trade, particularly with the new trade in coffee, see, for instance, Tuchscherer (ed.), Le commerce du café, and Hanna, Making Big Money.

9 On the naval conflict in the Mediterranean Sea in the sixteenth century, see, among others, Hess, The Forgotten Frontier; Hess, “The Ottoman Conquest of Egypt (1517)”; Bacqué-Grammont, Veinstein (eds.), Les Ottomans en Méditerranée; and Imber, “The Navy of Suleyman the Magnificent,” pp. 224-225, 269-272.

10 On Ottoman maritime commerce, see Panzac, La Marine ottomane, and Panzac, La caravane maritime. Towards the end of the sixteenth century and the beginning of the seventeenth century, Egyptian-Ottoman commercial shipping was exposed to predation by pirate ships from Malta, Tuscany and Sicily. As late as the eighteenth century merchant shipping in the eastern Mediterranean region was still threatened by Christian pirates. The abovementioned firman of 1719 laid out a set of regulations for the merchant ships that sailed from Egyptian ports. Among the regulations was that these ships should never leave port in squadrons of less than three ships and that, whenever possible, they should extend protection to other merchant ships of the empire sailing those eastern waters. See Winter, “A Statute for the Mercantile Fleet,” pp. 119-122.

11 Imber, “The Navy of Suleyman the Magnificent,” p. 215ff, discusses the shipyards and dockyards of the empire spread around the coasts of the central empire, but is silent on Egyptian sites.

12 Imber, The Ottoman Empire, 1300-1650, pp. 288-289. Imber has a useful chapter on the composition of Ottoman fleets in this study. See Chapter Eight, p. 287-317.

13 Guilmartin, Gunpowder, pp. 204-205.

14 Guilmartin, Gunpowder, p. 211.

15 Guilmartin, Gunpowder, pp. 217-219.

16 Imber, The Ottoman Empire, 1300-1650, pp. 290-291. The Ottomans only introduced galleons, sailing ships, after 1650.

17 Guilmartin, Gunpowder, p. 112.

18 Imber, The Ottoman Empire, 1300-1650, p. 312, citing Katib Çelebi for the year 1656.

19 See Bostan, Osmanlı Bahriye Teşkilâtı. For a description of this muster I have relied on Panzac, “The Manning of the Ottoman Navy,” which is based on Bostan’s work.

20 Yet Imber, The Ottoman Empire, 1300-1650, p. 272, cites a firman from Istanbul in 1564 ordering that oarsmen for the ships of a squadron leaving Suez for the south be raised from prisoners not meriting capital punishment. In his “Reconstruction”, p. 99, Imber notes the unusually high number of criminals and conscripts to fill the quota of approximately 20,000 oarsmen required by the fleet that year.

21 Brummett, Ottoman Seapower, p. 217, n. 25 and Guilmartin, Gunpowder, p. 112, mention Azabs specifically, while Panzac, “The Manning of the Ottoman Navy,” p. 44, cites the large number of Janissaries, found by Bostan, who were recruited for the campaign of 1660. Imber, The Ottoman Empire, 1300-1650, p. 303, verifies that in 1572 the admiral of the rebuilt Ottoman fleet was ordered specifically to recruit 342 Azabs for service with the fleet. But in “Reconstruction”, Imber refers to the 3,000 Janissaries who were drafted for service that year. By 1660 Janissaries had mostly replaced Azabs on the ships.

22 Christian fleets, on the other hand, employed almost exclusively convicts and slaves as oarsmen. One case of an apparent Azab and his brother in Egypt being convicted for crimes in 1592 and sentenced to service as oarsmen on imperial galleys can be found in Crecelius, Badr, “The Usurpation of Waqf Revenues,” pp. 265-268. Imber’s studies cite numerous examples across the years of both criminals and slaves being drafted for service in the galleys.

23 Imber, The Ottoman Empire, 1300-1650, p. 306, remarks that in the sixteenth century Muslim oarsmen received payment for their service of 106 akçe per month, while non-Muslims received 80 akçes.

24 Brummett, Ottoman Seapower, p. 216, n. 14, cites the usual statistic of four households paying for the support of one oarsmen levied from a fifth household, but Imber, The Ottoman Empire, 1300-1650, p. 306, observes that this ratio varied according to the size of the fleet and the size of the area where the government made the levy. He notes that in 1551, before the Tripoli campaign, the Treasury levied one oarsman per 23 households. In 1570-1571, for the invasion of Cyprus, the rate was one in fifteen households and, as the Ottomans tried to rebuild their fleet after their defeat at Lepanto, it was one in seven or eight households.

25 Panzac, “The Manning of the Ottoman Navy,” pp. 43-44.

26 Panzac, “The Manning of the Ottoman Navy,” p. 44.

27 Imber, The Ottoman Empire, 1300-1650, p. 306, mentions that oarsmen were levied from a much wider range of districts, including Albania, for the campaign against Chios in 1566.

28 Panzac, “The Manning of the Ottoman Navy,” pp. 43-44. Brummett, Ottoman Seapower, p. 226, n. 103, citing Pepper, Adams, Firearms and Fortifications, p. 30, assumes the average galley carried a complement of 300 men, although she notes that Pepper and Adams use a figure of only 150 oarsmen per ship.

29 The data from these documents was collected some years ago with the help of Professor Ḥamza ʿAbd al‑ʿAzīz Badr of Suhāǧ University, Egypt.

30 The muqaddimūn, who were organized into their own guild, played an important role in Egyptian ports. They might have skills of their own, such as carpenters or caulkers, used in shipbuilding, but in their capacity as muqaddimūn were responsible for recruiting the men of various skills required to build, load, provision, or, as in this case, row the government’s ships.

31 A useful discussion of the monies, both local and foreign, in circulation in Ottoman Egypt is provided by Raymond, Artisans et commerçants I, pp. 17-52.

32 Darwīš al‑Naḫīlī describes the aġriba (akrib; pl. akārib) extremely briefly as a small, but fast, ship of war. See al‑Naḫīlī, al‑Sufun al‑islamiyya, p. 7.

33 ʿAbd al‑Ḥamīd Sulaymān cites a case from the court of Damietta from the year 1586 in which 80 oarsmen were dispatched from Damietta to Rašīd; their pay was only 100 niṣf fiḍḍas each. He remarks that the courts of Damietta, Rašīd, Alexandria and Būlāq contain numerous cases relating to the recruitment of sailors/oarsmen in which their names and salaries are recorded. See al‑Milāḥa al‑nīliyya, pp. 19-35.

34 See Dār al‑Waṯā’iq al‑Qawmiyya (Cairo), Maḥkamat Rašīd, Siǧill 24 (1006/1598), pp. 205-206, Item 685.

35 Dār al‑Waṯā’iq al‑Qawmiyya (Cairo), Maḥkamat Rašīd, Siǧill 24, p. 206, Item 686.

36 Dār al‑Waṯā’iq al‑Qawmiyya (Cairo), Maḥkamat Rašīd, Siǧill 24, p. 206, Item 687.

37 Dār al‑Waṯā’iq al‑Qawmiyya (Cairo), Maḥkamat Rašīd, Siǧill 24, pp. 206-208, Item 690.

38 Dār al‑Waṯā’iq al‑Qawmiyya (Cairo), Maḥkamat Rašīd, Siǧill 24, page 208, Item 691. One often finds discrepancies in the figures of accounts recorded in the court’s siǧillāt.

39 Sulaymān discusses the use of forced labor in “al‑Suḫra fī Miṣr”.

40 See Shaw, The Budget of Ottoman Egypt, pp. 136-137. Each of these captains/sancakbeyi also held urban muqāṭaʿāt (tax farms), but not the customs of their ports, to help pay for the expenses of governing and defending their ports and maintaining and provisioning their squadrons. The osmani is the Ottoman akçe and the para is the Egyptian niṣf fiḍḍa.

41 Shaw, The Budget of Ottoman Egypt, pp. 176-179. Assuming a standard pay of 20 akçe (10 niṣf fiḍḍa) per day for each oarsman, this sum would only support 94 oarsmen for a three month period of service.

42 Shaw, The Budget of Ottoman Egypt, p. 187.

43 Dār al‑Waṯāʾiq al‑Qawmiyya (Cairo), Maḥkamat Rašīd, Siǧill 50, p. 40, Item 98, 21 Muḥarram 1042/8 August 1632.

44 To help with this identification of the oarsmen’s home towns, I have relied on their nisbas or the specific information attached to their names in the siǧillāt. I consulted Ramzī’s multi volume al‑Qāmūs al‑ǧuġrāfī, to identify the regions in which home villages of the oarsmen are found. I am also indebted to Professor ʿAbd al‑Ḥamīd Sulaymān of the Damiette Faculty of Arts in Manṣūra University for vetting the lists of foreign, Cairene, Ṣaʿīdī, and Delta oarsmen that I created. A nisba is not always reliable in indicating one’s place of origin since we do not always know its true connotation. For instance, the name of ʿAlī ibn ʿAbdallāh al‑Hindī (see Table Two) was excluded from the list of foreign oarsmen I assembled because he might have acquired that nisba for any number of reasons. It is also possible that someone with the name al‑Idfawī could be a generation or more removed from that town, but in the interest of trying to identify regional origins of the oarsmen cited in the six documents I have taken most nisbas at face value. This could affect my statistics, but in many instances the court register clearly records that an oarsman is “from” the Ṣaʿīd, “from” Ḫaṭṭ Ḫurunfiš, or “from” al‑Manṣūra. I have appended my lists of oarsmen by region at the end of this study. The overall conclusions of this analysis seem unaffected by possible small statistical deviations.

45 Although North Africans were well established in Egypt, especially in commerce, they do not seem to be among the recruits for service on these ships. On the extensive Maghribi presence in Egypt, see ʿAbd al‑Raḥīm, «al‑Maġribiyya fī taʾrīḫ Miṣr».

Haut de page

Pour citer cet article

Référence papier

Daniel Crecelius, “Recruiting Egyptian Oarsmen for Ottoman Ships in the Late Sixteenth and Early Seventeenth Centuries”,Annales islamologiques, 48-2 | 2014, 249-267.

Référence électronique

Daniel Crecelius, “Recruiting Egyptian Oarsmen for Ottoman Ships in the Late Sixteenth and Early Seventeenth Centuries”, Annales islamologiques [En ligne], 48-2 | 2014,
mis en ligne le 27 août 2014,
consulté le 25 mai 2018. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/anisl/1900 ;
DOI : 10.4000/anisl.1900

Haut de page

Auteur

Daniel Crecelius

Professor Emeritus, California State University, Los Angeles, dncrecelius[at]aol.com

Haut de page

Droits d’auteur

Institut français d'archéologie orientale (IFAO)

Haut de page
  • Logo Institut français d'archéologie orientale - IFAO
  • OpenEdition Journals