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Diverging realities of a Christian vakıf, sixteenth to eighteenth centuries *

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This article aims to investigate the adaptation of the Christian monastic foundations to the Islamic vakıf and to demonstrate the often flexible and equivocal way the term vakıf was applied by the Orthodox monks and the state officials in the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries. The question of the Christian vakıf is important, since a significant part of the agricultural property of many Orthodox monasteries in the Greek lands was vakıf, owned since the Byzantine period and acknowledged as such by the Ottomans, or property acquired during the Ottoman period and characterized as vakıf through the legal procedure or perceived as such by the monks themselves. The article also refers to the importance of the study in a comparative perspective of Greek monastic documents issued in the Ottoman period, since they may contribute to a better understanding of the Ottoman landholding reality.

1. fn48* I wish to express my thanks to Professors Murat Çizakça and Randi Deguilhem for their valuable comments. I would also like to thank the two anonymous readers as well as my colleagues, Ph. Kotzageorgis and E. Kolovos, for their suggestions. A form of this paper was presented at the 12th International Congress of Ottoman Social and Economic History (Retz, 2011) and in the Seminar of IISMM-EHESS “Fondation pieuses waqf-habous” (Paris, 2012).
2. fn11 Alexander, John C., “The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away: Athos and the confiscation affair of 1568-1569”, in Mount Athos in the 14th-16th Centuries. Athonika Symmeikta (Athens: Ethniko Idryma Ereunon, 1997), p. 151
3. fn22 See Charanis, Peter, “The monastic properties and the state in the Byzantine empire”, Dumbarton Oaks Papers, 4 (1948), 98-118; Smyrlis, Kostas, La fortune des grands monastères byzantins, fin du Xe -milieu du XIVe siècle (Paris: Centre de recherche d histoire et civilisation de Byzance, 2006), pp. 133-4.
4. fn33 The Muslim vakıf may be designated as a pious and philanthropic foundation whose sustenance derives from the exploitation of the property endowed (also called vakıf  ) by the founder. The vakıf property is considered to be dedicated to God, thus inalienable. On the vakıf and its characteristics see Behrens-Abouseif, Doris, “Wakf” in The Encyclopaedia of Islam, 2nd. edn., H.A.R. Gibb et al. (eds.) (Leiden, 1960-2006) [hereafter EI2], vol. XI, pp. 59-63. See also Barnes, John R., An Introduction to Religious Foundations in the Ottoman Empire (Leiden: Brill, 1986), pp. 12-16, where he demonstrates the analogy between the juristic principles of Byzantine piae causae (pious foundations) and the Islamic vakıf; Çizakça, Murat, A History of Philanthropic Foundations. The Islamic World from the Seventh Century to the Present (Istanbul: Boğaziçi University Press, 2000), pp. 9-14, regarding the similarities between the English trusts (thirteenth century) and the Muslim vakıfs; Singer, Amy, Constructing Ottoman Beneficence (New York-Albany: State University of New York Press, 2002), pp. 22-5, where she attributes to the Muslim vakıf characteristics from the cultures of the Middle East (Roman-Byzantine, Jewish, Zoroastrian).
5. fn44 In Byzantine practice as well as in Greek documents of bestowals issued in the Ottoman period a common clause was the right of the endower to use the property during his/her lifetime or to receive a part of the revenues deriving from its use. See indicatively Bompaire, Jacques, Jacques Lefort, Vassiliki Kravari and Christophe Giros (eds.), Actes de Vatopédi (Paris: Editions du CNRS, 2001) vol. I, pp. 327-32; Lefort, Jacques, Vassiliki Kravari, Christophe Giros and Kostis Smyrlis (eds.), Actes de Vatopédi (Paris: Editions du CNRS, 2006), vol. II, pp. 381-84; for Greek bestowal documents of the Ottoman period see footnote 46 below. See also the agreements called adelphata between laymen and monks regarding the donation of property or cash in exchange for a certain amount of food provided annually to the donors or the donor’s future residence in the monastery as a monk (Lefort, Actes, pp. 168-72, 340-3, 343-7, 358-64; Oikonomidis, Nikos, “Monastères et moines lors de la conquête ottoman”, Südost-Forschungen 35 (1976), pp. 6-8). In Islamic vakıf (Hanefi version) the ownership of the dedicated property was transferred with the establishment of the trust, while the beneficiaries could be - among others - the descendants of the founder or the founder himself. This last stipulation recalls the above-mentioned right of the use of the property in Byzantine practice.
6. fn55 As far as the monastic property is concerned, certain exceptions were provided during the Byzantine period, which were valid in the Ottoman period as well, that enabled the sale of the endowed property, such as conditions of poverty, incompetence for tax payment, sale of the harvest and not the land, extreme benefit deriving from the sale. See Konidaris, Ioannis, Tο δίκαιον της μοναστηριακής περιουσίας από του 9ου μέχρι και του 12ου αιώνος [The Law of the Monastic Property from the 9th to 12th Century] (Athens: Sakkoulas, 1979), pp. 256-7. Concerning the Islamic vakıf, a fundamental characteristic was its inalienability. However, the institution of istibdal (exchange) enabled the foundation to develop flexibility over time in order to improve its economic function. For istibdal and the denial of the view of vakıf as “frozen” see Singer, Ottoman Beneficence, pp. 21-2. The istibdal was also practiced by Christian monasteries in early sixteenth century, see Alexander, John C., “The Monasteries of the Meteora during the first two centuries of Ottoman rule”, Jahrbuch der Österreichiscen Byzantinistik, 32/2 (1982), p. 97.
7. fn66 The problem of the use of term tasarruf was discussed by Zachariadou, Elizabeth, “Ottoman documents from the Archives of Dionysiou (Mount Athos) 1495-1520”, Südost-Forschungen 30 (1971), pp. 21-7. Later Fotić, Aleksandar, “The official explanation for the confiscation and sale of monasteries (churches) and their estates at the time of Selim II”, Turcica 26 (1994), p. 42, commented on the “polysemy” of legal terms, and Alexander, “Confiscation affair”, p. 168-9, used the phrase “word poverty”, in order to describe the same situation. See also Lemerle, Paul and Paul Wittek, “Recherches sur l’ histoire et le statut des monastères Athonites sous la domination turque”, Archives d’histoire du droit oriental 3 (1947/8), pp. 427-30 and Tzortzakaki-Tzaridi, Sophia, “Η λειτουργία του θεσμού των ‘χριστιανικών βακουφίων’ επί Tουρκοκρατίας, με βάση τα οθωμανικά έγγραφα του αρχείου της Ιεράς Mονής Bλατάδων” [The Function of the Institution of ‘Christian Vakf’ during the Turkish Period according to the Ottoman Documents of the Archive of the Monastery of Vlatades], Χριστιανική Θεσσαλονίκη. Oθωμανική περίοδος 1430-1912 [Christian Thessaloniki. The Ottoman Period] (Thessaloniki: Kentro Istorias Thessalonikis, 1994), p. 266-7.
8. fn77 Akgündüz, Ahmet, İslam Hukukunda ve Osmanlı Tatbikatında Vakıf Müessesesi (Istanbul: Osmanlı Araştırmaları Vakfı, 1996), pp. 239-40. However, according to van Leeuwen, Richard, “Monastic estates and agricultural transformation in Mount Lebanon in the 18th century”, International Journal of Middle East Studies, 23/4 (1991), p. 604, the founding of vakıfs in favour of churches or monasteries depended on the authorization of the central or local rulers and, in practice, it was possible. See also Kenanoğlu, Macit, Osmanlı Millet Sistemi. Mit ve Gerçek, (Istanbul: Klasik, 2007), pp. 276-7.
9. fn88 Zachariadou, Elizabeth, “Some remarks about dedications to monasteries in the late 14th century”, in Mount Athos in the 14th-16th Centuries, p. 28-31. For a general overview of the relations of the monasteries of Mount Athos with the Ottoman state see eadem, “Mount Athos and the Ottomans c. 1350-1550”, in The Cambridge History of Christianity, vol. 5: Eastern Christianity, ed. Michael Angold (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), pp.154-68, especially pp. 154-62, where she demonstrates how and under which circumstances the Athonite monks found a modus vivendi with the Ottomans even before the conquest of Constantinople.
10. fn99 Kolovos, Elias, “Negotiating for state-protection: çiftlik-holding and the Athonite monasteries (Xeropotamou Monastery, fifteenth-sixteenth Centurıes)”, in Frontiers of Ottoman Studies: State, Province, and the West, ed. Colin Imber, Keiko Kiyotaki and Rhoads Murphey (London: I.B. Tauris, 2005), vol. II, pp. 197-209.
11. fn1010 Delilbaşı, Melek and Muzaffer Arıkan, Hicrî 859 Tarihli Sûret-i Defter Sancak-i Tırhala (Ankara: Türk Tarih Kurumu, 2001), vol. I, pp. 73-4; Alexander, “The monasteries of the Meteora”, pp. 95, 98. The monastery of Saint John the Theologian in the island of Patmos also enjoyed some tax privileges provided by Mehmed II and his successors; see Zachariadou, Elizabeth, “Συμβολή στην ιστορία του νοτιοανατολικού Αιγαίου” [Contribution to the history of the south-east Aegean], Symmeikta 1 (1966), pp. 198-9. The monastery of Timios Prodromos at Serres/Siroz had its estates acknowledged as early as the end of the fourteenth century by Murad I; in the following century, however, it gradually lost the property right on its estates, while it still enjoyed tax privileges. See Zachariadou, Elizabeth, “Early Ottoman documents of the Prodromos Monastery”, Südost-Forschungen 28 (1969), 1-12 and Beldiceanu, Nicoarǎ, “Margarid: un timar monastique”, Revue des Etudes Byzantines 33 (1975), 227-55. See also Fotić, “The official explanation”, p. 41, where he stresses the differences concerning the status of the monastic property after the Ottoman conquest attributed to the “underdevelopment of the bureaucratic apparatus and the unstandardized laws”.
12. fn1111 Tradition holds that a monastery was built in the place of a collapsed or abandoned church before or due to the Ottoman conquest. See also Gradeva, Rossitsa, “Ottoman policy towards Christian church buildings”, in Gradeva, Rossitsa, Rumeli under the Ottomans, 15-18th Centuries: Institutions and Communities (Istanbul: The Isis Press, 2004), pp. 351-8, where she cites examples of restoration or even construction of new churches (contrary to the prohibition by Abu Hanifa) in the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries in the Balkans despite the problems raised especially by the local Muslim communities and the occasional rise of religious fanaticism. For the foundation of the Leimon monastery see Laiou, Sophia, “Alliances and disputes in the Ottoman periphery: the monastery of Leimon (Mytilene) and its social environment in the 17th Century”, XIV. Türk Tarih Kongresi, Ankara 9-13 Eylül 2002, Kongreye Sunulan Bildiriler (Ankara: Türk Tarih Kurumu, 2005), vol. II/II, p. 1391, footnote 9.
13. fn1212 In the sixteenth century the villages of Faranka, Dafya and Arakluca, where the land was located, belonged to the sultanic estates. Karydis, Dimitris and Machiel Kiel, Mυτιλήνης αστυγραφία και λέσβου χωρογραφία, 15ος-19ος αι. [The Town-Planning of Mytilene and the Land Description of Lesbos, 15th-19th Centuries] (Athens: Olkos, 2000), pp. 20, 86.
14. fn1313 Ottoman Archives of the Monastery of Leimon [hereafter Leimon], film L, folder LA/1539, Leimon, film 1, folder L/1538. The endowment of 1539 was made in favour of the monastery of Myrsiniotissa, which was also founded by the same person who established the monastery of Leimon, Ignatios, later metropolitan of Methimna.
15. fn1414 Leimon, film L, folder LA/1536.
16. fn1515 On vakf-ı gayr-i sahih see Barnes, An Introduction, p. 45; Akgündüz, Vakıf Müessesesi, pp. 524-5.
17. fn1616 Laiou, Sophia, Tα οθωμανικά έγγραφα της μονής Bαρλαάμ Mετεώρων, 16ος-19ος αι. [The Ottoman Documents of the Monastery of Varlaam of Meteora, 16th-19th Centuries] (Athens: Academia Athinon, 2011), no. 51.
18. fn1717 On this subject see Laiou, Varlaam, p. 41. Note the conclusion reached by van Leeuwen, “Monastic estates”, p. 608, that the Maronite monastic estates of the eighteenth century were generally called “wuqufat” and “amlak”; those terms, however, covered a variety of legal statuses. See also the analysis by Fotić, “Official explanations”, pp. 42-4, 47-8 for the meanings of the term (Christian) vakıf shortly after the Ottoman conquest and after the confiscation crisis.
19. fn1818 Imber, Colin, Ebu’s-su‘ud. The Islamic Legal Tradition (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1997), p. 122; Barnes, An Introduction, p. 32-8. See also the remarks made by Phokion Kotzageorgis on the so called vakfiyes of the stepmother of Mehmed II, the Serbian Mara Branković, and their irregularities. It is also significant that in 1471 Mara endowed to the monastery of Saint Paul at Mount Athos arable lands, which after the confiscation in 1567/8 were not included in the vakıf properties of the monastery, Kotzageorgis, Ph., “Two vakfiyyes of Mara Branković”, Hiladarski Zbornik 11 (2004), pp. 308-12, 318-19.
20. fn1919 Imber, Ebu’s-su’ud, pp. 124-5.
21. fn2020 Alexander, John C., Toward a History of Post-Byzantine Greece: The Ottoman Kanunnames for the Greek Lands, circa 1500-circa 1600 (Athens: n.p., 1982), pp. 41, 212-13; Alexander, “Confiscation affair”, p. 158.
22. fn2121 For the confiscation crisis and the negotiations that followed see Alexander, “Confiscation affair”, pp. 149-200; Fotić, “Official explanations”, pp. 33-54; Kermeli, Eugenia, “The confiscation and repossession of monastic properties in Mount Athos and Patmos Monasteries, 1568-1570”, Bulgarian Historical Review 28/3-4 (2000), 39-53.
23. fn2222 Kermeli, Eugenia, “Ebu’s Su‘ud’s definition of church vakfs: theory and practice in Ottoman law”, in Islamic Law. Theory and Practice, ed. Robert Gleave and Eugenia Kermeli (London: I.B. Tauris, 2001), pp. 151-3.
24. fn2323 For the Athonite monasteries see footnote 21 and for Meteora monasteries see Laiou, Varlaam, p. 43; Alexander, “The monasteries of Meteora”, p. 98. See also Kermeli, “Church vakfs”, for the confiscation of the estates of the monastery of Saint John in the island of Patmos and Kenanoğlu, Osmanlı Millet Sistemi, p. 272 for cases of confiscation in Yannina (Yanya) and Cyprus (Kıbrıs).
25. fn2424 Leimon, film 6, folder L/1601.
26. fn2525 Karydis and Kiel, Mυτιλήνης αστυγραφία, p. 86.
27. fn2626 Leimon, film 1, folder L/1569.
28. fn2727 A surface measure, especially for arable lands, with variated equivalence in different places and time. Pakalın, Mehmet Zeki, Tarih Deyimleri ve Terimleri Sözlüğü (Istanbul: Milli Eğitim Basımevi, 1971), p. 281.
29. fn2828 According to Karydis and Kiel, in 1709 this specific monastery was richer than the richest Ottoman vakıf on the island, that of Balizade Hasan Bey, based in the city of Mytilene, Karydis and Kiel, Mυτιλήνης αστυγραφία, p. 92. For the taxation on olive oil see Laiou, “Leimon”, pp. 1394-5.
30. fn2929 Karydis and Kiel, Mυτιλήνης αστυγραφία, pp. 145-52,158-65, 205-10. In the tax register of 1671 it was stated that all the monasteries of Lesbos would supply the Imperial stable with the fixed amount of 5,778.5 okkas of olive oil. The Leimon monastery contributed more than half of the total tax burden. See Laiou, “Leimon”, p. 1395 footnote 28.
31. fn3030 According to Imber, this popular belief created a conflict between the state and individuals and the central government persistently tried to abolish it, Imber, Colin, “The status of orchards and fruit-trees in Ottoman law”, İstanbul Üniversitesi Edebiyat Fakültesi Tarih Enstitüsü Dergisi 12 (1981-1982), p. 773.
32. fn3131 Laiou, Varlaam, nos. 66, 86.
33. fn3232 Laiou, Varlaam, no. 144/1610, no. 135/1606 and pp. 164-5.
34. fn3333 Laiou, Varlaam, pp. 49-50 and nos. 66, 115.
35. fn3434 Laiou, Varlaam, pp. 55-6, 57-8; Laiou, “Leimon”, p. 1391-2. In the case of the Leimon monastery, the landed property that was held before the conquest, that is, that belonged to the founder and was later endowed by him, was considered as vakıf; after the conquest the vakıf property was exempted from the payment of tithe (merfu al-öşr), Leimon, film 5, f. 29/1682, Leimon, film 3, f. LB/1686. The tekalif-i şakka means a set of “unlawful impositions so as to emphasize their burdensome and iregular character”, see İnalcık, Halil, “Military and fiscal transformation in the Ottoman empire, 1600-1700”, Archivum Ottomanicum 6 (1980), p. 318. It included taxes such as pişkeş (“present”, a levy in kind or in cash), zahire bahası (levy of provisions in kind or in cash) and nal bahası (levy for shoeing horses and for animal fodder or its cash equivalent), ibid, pp. 318-20.
36. fn3535 Laiou, Varlaam, p. 55-6. See also Balta, Evangelia, “Landed property of the monasteries on the Athos Peninsula and its taxation in 1764”, in Peuple et production. Pour une interprétation des sources ottomanes, ed. Evangelia Balta (Istanbul: Isis, 1999), p. 182, where she refers to the imposition in 1764 of a payment of 7,000 guruş to the Athonite monasteries in order to secure the continuation of tax exemptions granted by the state in an earlier period.
37. fn3636 Laiou, “Leimon”, pp. 1395-6.
38. fn3737 Laiou, Varlaam, p. 191.
39. fn3838 Laiou, Varlaam, p. 48. It seems that the problem was greater for the monks of the Leimon monastery, who three times in the beginning of the seventeenth century defended their right to automatic succession, Laiou, “Leimon”, p. 1396.
40. fn3939 Laiou, Sophia, Η Σάμος κατά την οθωμανική περίοδο [The Island of Samos during the Ottoman Period] (Thessaloniki: University Studio Press, 2002), pp.42-6.
41. fn4040 Öztürk, Nazif, Türk Yenileşme Tarihi Çerçevesinde Vakıf Müessesesi (Ankara: Türkiye Diyanet Vakfı, 1995), pp. 335-6.
42. fn4141 Archive of the Metropolitan See of Samos, Ottoman section, T11.48-1818 (Greek translation of the ferman).
43. fn4242 For these cases see Laiou, Σάμος, pp. 151-3. Interestingly, in a hüccet of 1674 (T2.74) that registered the endowment of a house and a vineyard in Samos, the argument that was used in order to render the endowment lawful was that some of the imams of the Hanafi school (without mentioning their names) approved the endowment of land which had originally been vakıf, if it was to the benefit of the Muslim foundation. See also Alexander, John, “Χριστιανικές προσηλώσεις και ισλαμικά αφιερώματα. Οι γκρίζες ζώνες της ορθόδοξης μοναστηριακής περιουσίας” [Christian bestowals and Islamic endowments: the grey zones of the Orthodox monastic property], in Μοναστήρια, οικονομία και πολιτική από τους μεσαιωνικούς στους νεότερους χρόνους [Monasteries, Economy and Policy from Medieval Ages to Modern Period], ed. Elias Kolovos (Irakleio: Panepistimiakes Ekdoseis Kritis, 2011), pp. 230, 232.
44. fn4343 Laiou, Varlaam, no. 261/1758-9, no. 262/1758-9, pp. 243-4. In document no. 262 it is stated that the monks can “hold” the property as vakıf (“vakf olmak üzere tasarrufları içün yedlerine işbu mühürlü tezkere verilmişdir”) as long as they paid the tithes to the sahib-i arz.
45. fn4444 For examples of this kind of support see Laiou, Varlaam, pp. 164-5 and eadem, “Leimon”, p. 1395. See also Kermeli, Eugenia, “Central administration versus provincial arbitrary governance: Patmos and Mount Athos Monasteries in the 16th Century”, Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies 32/2 (2008), pp. 201-2, where she demonstrates how the kadı of Kos in 1569-71 did not avoid irregularities in formula or substance presented in the judicial documents in order to fulfill the wishes of state, monks and the lay Orthodox community.
46. fn4545 Certainly there were exceptions to this rule. For example, in 1782 a woman endowed her house and four vineyards to the Athonite monastery of Saint Paul in a document in Greek. The stipulations set by the endower were the obligation of the monks to care for her and the payment of her debt. Shortly after, a hüccet was issued in which the Islamic terminology was applied. Namely, the endower was the mütevelli of the vakıf for as long as she lived, while she could use the house. Further, the revenues deriving from the vineyards were to be spent in favour of the poor monks. After her death, the house would be acquired by the monastery. See Kotzageorgis, Phokion, Η αθωνική μονή του Αγίου Παύλου κατά την οθωμανική περίοδο [The Athonite Monastery of Saint Paul during the Ottoman Period] (Thessaloniki: University Studio Press, 2002), p. 165.
47. fn4646 For the Greek bestowal documents see Laiou, Σάμος, pp. 153-4. Many of them included stipulations such as the retaining of the usufruct by the donator and the transfer of the ownership to the monastery after his/her death or the obligation that the monks provide an annual amount of foodstuff to the endower. Greek bestowal documents can be also found in the published Greek archives of some of the Athonite monasteries: see indicatively Αθωνικά Σύμμεικτα 1. Κατάλογοι αρχείων Α. Ιερά Mονή Καρακάλλου. B΄. Ιερά Mονή Σίμωνος Πέτρας [Athonika Symmeikta 1. Archive Catalogues. A. Holy Monastery of Karakallou. B. Holy Monastery of Simonos Petras], ed. Kriton Hrysohoidis, Paris Gounaridis and Dimitris Vamvakas (Athens: Ethniko Idryma Ereunon, 1985), p. 42, 44, 45, 47, 51, 133, 143. Αρχείο της Ι.M. Σταυρονικήτα. Eπιτομές εγγράφων, 1533-1800 [The Archive of the Holy Monastery of Stavronikita. Register of Documents, 1533-1800], ed. Antonis Giannakopoulos (Athens: Ethniko Idryma Ereunon, 2001), pp. 71-2, 122; Αρχείο της Ι.M. Ξηροποτάμου. Eπιτομές μεταβυζαντινών εγγράφων [The Archive of the Holy Monastery of Xeropotamou. Register of Postbyzantine Documents], ed. Paris Gounaridis (Athens: Ethniko Idryma Ereunon, 1993), pp. 47, 53, 58, 61, 72-73, 83, 126, 127, 133-134.
48. fn4747 See Alexander, “Χριστιανικές προσηλώσεις και ισλαμικά αφιερώματα”, p. 233.

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