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Notes on the Ottoman Poll-Tax Reforms of the Late Seventeenth Century: The Case of Crete

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In 1691 the Ottoman government abolished the old system of collecting the poll-tax (cizye) from non-Muslim subjects; instead of imposing a standard rate per household, the tax would be levied per person according to three classes: rich, middle-class and poor. In 1670, the same reform had been implemented in Crete and the Aegean. Some observations concerning the distribution of the taxpayers into the three classes raise the question of how these latter were defined; it seems that no legal definition was used and that taxpayers declared at will their economic situation. Furthermore, a close study of the implementation of the reform in Crete shows that the government underwent a long process of negotiation and compromise, proposing alternative forms of maktu (lump sum) collection and fixed percentages.


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