Celali İsyanları (ing)


            It is known that a lot of rebellions were occurred in Anatolia beginning from 1480s and those rebellions damage Ottoman Empire and Anatolian people very much. There were the other rebellions before that. But, they were not enough affective and comprehensive. Also, their sources were different from the source of the rebellions which was after 1480s. Before those years, revolts were directed by Byzantine Empire and Anatolian principalities and formed around şehzades. However, revolts were supported by the Anatolian people and Persia after those years. Moreover, reasons after 1480s are different than before. 

            At that study, I will try to explain reasons, importance, results and background of celali rebellions. If we look at the literature about celali revolts, Mücteba İlgürel’s article in D.İ.A is a good study for the first step of academic works. Mustafa Akdağ’s book which is called ‘‘Türk Halkının Dirlik ve Düzenlik Kavgası’’ is the one of the important studies. It is possible to find comprehensive information about celali revolts in that book. Thesis of William J. Griswold (The Great Anatolian Rebellion) is a good study in that area.

*  *  *

            Celali mean related to Celal and depends to Bozoklu Şeyh Celal who rebelled in the beginning of XVI. century. At first, celali revolts were occurred by some groups which was not satisfied and Turcoman tribes which was affected by the incitement of Safevids. After that time, any rebel was named celali.  After the late period of XVI. century, celali revolts became

a big problem and was called ‘‘Huruc ale’s- sultan’’ by the state concept of the Ottoman Empire.[1]

            Ottoman Empire wasn’t interested in Anatolia as much as Rumelia. In spite of that, burden of Empire was on the back of Anatolian people. This is one of the reasons of uneasiness in Anatolia. This uneasiness became apparent when Ottoman Empire’s power in Anatolia decreased. Anatolian people rebelled and these rebellions became a big problem by the time. The Ottoman government in Anatolia was weakened to point of rebellion at that time because of factors other than poorly managed sieges. Changes in the landowning (timar) system, paucity of leadership, and the effect of the European price revaluation, to name but three-well known factors, played important roles in the breakdown of Ottoman governmental machinery in those days. The growth of population is another reason of the disorder in Anatolia.[2]

            We can divide the reasons in three categories that were economical, social and political reasons. Economical reasons were very effective in the Anatolian rebellions. After the middle of sixteenth century, an economical crisis began and caused destructive effects on the political and social life. The increase in the cost all of goods, due to inflation, resulted not only from the cited ‘‘European Price Revolution’’ which accompanied the increase in Spanish silver production from the new world, but also from an increase in the general Mediterranean population, with corresponding demands on the available goods and resources. An Ottoman loss of territory, such as Hungary, Walachia, or Transylvania, would tend to increase the price of goods in İstanbul.  After the devaluation of 992/1584, the standard Ottoman akçe no longer bought the same quantity as in the past, an act frustrating not only to the janissaries and sipahis of the Porte, but also to the ordinary re’aya, (non-military) of the cities.[3] By the decreasing of value of akçe, Ottoman Empire fell in economical insufficiency and increased the taxes. Taxes of Tekalif-i divaniye were increased and levied in every year although should be levied only in the extraordinary times. State officials bought the duties and oppressed the people. Because, revenues of officials weren’t enough for the services.

            Officials in the ehl-i şer group (kadı, müderris, müftü, naip) began the raising livestock and farming. Mültezim, emin, âmil, too, began and those officials got have a negative effect on the Anatolian people. Lands and markets of the Anatolian people were constricted and Anatolians fell into the economical problems. This was an important reason of the uneasiness of Anatolians.  Ricâl (dignitaries who was in the İstanbul but had hases in the provinces) and ümera (sancakbeyi and beylerbeyi) had more possibilities for the making money. These administrators assigned the voyvodas to the hases and farmsteads. Voyvodas were the tax official and also administrator of these areas. They put pressure on Anatolians. Unlawfulness was very effective.[4]

            At the sixteenth century, in spite of the population explosion in the Anatolia, agriculture didn’t develop as it. This population explosion caused the existing of people who are very poorly and don’t has a house. These people were unemployed and there was no any work which they were hired. They joined to bandits and brigand groups expanded fast. At the late of the sixteenth century and the beginning of seventeenth century, these groups settled the background of the celali rebellions.

            Conflict between Selim and Bayezid -sons of Süleyman Magnificent- caused a new disorder in Anatolia. At this period, high ranks were given to the members of Enderun and this is the another reason of disquiet among Anatolian people. Some of the cavalrymen joined to Bayezid and they were left unsupervised after the suppression of the rebellion. Gradually, they began the banditry and settled the source of the celalis. Janissaries who were settled in Anatolia in order to save the security caused the problems. Because, very wide areas were given them and they worked in agriculture and commerce.[5]

            At the beginning of sixteenth century, Safevids was effective in the Eastern Anatolia. Shah İsmail established a powerful state and became an important rival against Ottoman authority. Safevids propagandized in Anatolia and their effect spread fast. Fundamental groups, turcomans and unsatisfied groups were incited against Ottoman Empire. At the Selim I and Süleyman I period, Safavid interference was very effective in Anatolia. In 1519, a nomad who was a Safevid preacher and called Celal revolted in Tokat while Selim I was in Egypt. In revolts of Shah Veli, there was effect of Safavids.

            According to William J. Griswold, The celali rebels wanted to reenter the Ottoman system, not to tear it down or replace it with seperate states. They figured their longterm interests coincided with those of the Ottoman goverment in istanbul, not with Shah Abbas in Isfahan or with European powers.[6]

            Kara yazıcı: The first trained Ottoman soldier to demonstrate how dissident but experienced Anatolian musket-bearers could be unified into armies of exceptional effectiveness was a Turk named Abdülhalim, better known by his nickname, Kara Yazıcı, Black (or dark) Scribe. The Venetian consul in Aleppo, Vincenzio Dandola, described Kara Yazıcı as being "short, [with] black skin, and a lame left hand," and asserts he received his nickname from a position he held as scribe for a pasha of Aleppo. Kara Yazıcı’s earliest notoriety thus appears to have occurred in Syria. He first persuaded his superior, the Emir Derviş, the sancakbeyi of Safed, to resist official transfer by force doubtless using transient sekbans and levends against the unsuspecting replacements. According to Mustafa Akdağ, Kara Yazıcı’s name was recorded for the first time in Ottoman sources as a subaşı (police officer) of the sancakbeyi Kasım bey of Divrik. The historian Naima states he began his askeri career as a division commander of musket men (sekban bölükbaşı)[7]

            Karayazıcı rebelled and plundered the surrounding Urfa with sekbans and levends who were collected around him. Owners of zeamet and Timars and kapıkuls, who were escape to Anatolia, joined him. They were near 30.000 and increased account of rebellious who supported him. Rebellious founded a military organization similar to kapıkuls. After the capturing of Urfa, he issued his sovereignty and began to sent fermans with the name of ‘‘Halim Şah muzaffer bâdâ’’. At first, he won an army which was sent against him. After that, he was defeated by the Sokulluzade Hasan Paşa. After the defeat, rebellious who were around him continued activities in the sovereignty of new leaders.[8]  

            Deli Hasan: Kara yazıcı’s brother was a ‘‘younger but a better fighter,’’ according to the contemporary Venetian consul Dandolo. From the time of his brother’s death to his own execution, Deli Hasan fought continually, first to recapture the momentum lost at sepedlü, and later as an Ottoman general against the Habsburg enemy in Hungary. In mid-spring of 1010/1602 the celalis rode south towards Amasya and Tokat, heading apparently toward Aleppo. They planned to meet the other celali leaders, among them Rüstem and Karakaş Ahmed in Amasya. These latter had been members of Kara yazıcı’s earlier group, had fallen out with the Black Scribe, and like so many Anatolian Celalis, made a good living selling their military services to any who had the cash to pay, in this case the Emir of Tripoli, Seyfoğlu Yusuf.

            By zi’lhicce 1010/may 1602 Deli Hasan reached Tokat, gathering other celalis. On the way south he ravaged towns and defeated two Ottoman pashas sent against him, one of which was victor of Sepedlü, Sokulluzade Hasan Pasha. With too few men to fight, Hasan Pasha luckily escaped to the Tokat castle, but his baggage train was intercepted by Deli Hasan’s soldiers.[9] Meanwhile, Deli Hasan sacked and burned the suburbs of Tokat. The rebels wanted Hasan Pasha and so laid siege to the city. After Hasan Pasha was killed, rebels left from Tokat.[10] When the Ottoman Empire was busy with Austria, it was thought that the empire could not deal with rebellion and rebellion should be ended. At the time of grand vizirate of Yemişci Hasan Paşa, Deli Hasan was appointed to Beylerbeylik of Bosnia. Dignitaries who were around him were assigned to Sancakbeyliği and cavalryman. After that, they were sent to campaign of Austria war.[11]

            Tavil Ahmet: Another important rebellious leader was Tavil Ahmet. After Deli Hasan, rebellions continued in Anatolia. In the province of Karaman and Anatolia, Tavil Ahmet and Saçlı were active. Tavil Ahmet was from sekbans which was a provincial militia equipped with firearms. Nasuh Paşa and Gezdehan Ali Paşa were sent to prevent the rebellion. But, Tavil Ahmet won them in Bolvadin and Pashas escape to Kütahya difficulty. Soldiers of Tavil Ahmet were 8000. In 1605, province of Şehrizor was given to Tavil Ahmet in order to prevent rebellion. But, rebellion continued and Tavil Ahmet besieged the castle of Harput. His son Mehmed captured the Bagdad with a false firman. When Kuyucu Murat Paşa was in Halep, Çağalazade Mahmud Paşa was sent to Bagdad and Bagdad recaptured. After the death of Tavil Ahmet, his brother Meymun became leader and defeated by Murat Paşa.[12]

            Canbuladoğlu Ali : With the death of Canbuladoğlu Hüseyin Paşa, political power in Syria could revert to the Ottomans, devolve upon a representative of the Canbuladoğlu Ali Paşa family, or dissolve into the myriad of quasi-balanced tribal groups and local organizations which existed before Hüseyin’s careful establishment of a Kurdish power base in Aleppo. Very soon after Hüseyin’s troops returned from Van a three-way power struggle began among Hüseyin’s bold and charismatic nephew, Canbuladoğlu Ali; Seyfoğlu Yusuf Pasha, the powerful emir of Tripoli; and the badly shaken but still powerful Ottoman government. Ali pasha now moved to establish a Syrian state with himself at the head, supported publicly by political arrangements with local emirs and leaders. Secretly, he determined to obtain help from certain chosen celalis of Anatolia as well as two potential interregional allies, the shah of Persia and the Grand Duke of Tuscany.

            Reacting to this extraordinary danger the Ottomans made peace with the Habsburgs and called upon their most venerable (and feared) general, Kuyucu Murad Pasha, Murad Pasha demolished canbuladoğlu Ali’s army, thus ending the Aleppan’s hopes for a sovereignty state. Sultan Ahmed temporarily pardoned Canbuladoğlu Ali, but later ordered his execution.[13]

            Kalenderoğlu: Kalenderoğlu Mehmed was from Yassıviran in Ankara. He was a state official as maiyet çavuşu, kethüda and mütesellim of some Beylerbeyliks. He was appointed to sancak beyliği. But, he was offended and rebelled in 1604. Although he won beylerbeyilik of Anatolia and became effective in Manisa, Kuyucu Murat Paşa forgave him and gave sanjak of Ankara. Because Murad Paşa went to against canbulatoğlu and wanted to save security in Anatolia while go to. When he went to Ankara, people didn’t want him with the incitement of Kadı vildanzade Ahmet Efendi. After the defeating of Canbulatoğlu, his militias joined to Kalenderoğlu and Kalenderoğlu became more powerful. He marched against Bursa with 30.000 militants and burned some areas.[14]

            Kalenderoğlu repelled the armies which were led by Nakkaş Ahmet Paşa and Dalgıç Ahmed Paşa. He was effective in Ankara, Marmara, Aegean region and informed about decisions, which was about him, by his spies in İstanbul.[15] When Kalenderoğlu heard coming of Murat Paşa, he decided to fight with him because of insufficient power of Murat Paşa. There were 30.000 bandits around Kalenderoğlu. At the violently battle between Kalenderoğlu and Kuyucu Murat Paşa in 1608, Kalenderoğlu was defeated and escaped to East Anatolia. Kalenderoğlu lost a lot of members and went to Persia.[16]

            Results of revolts: Kuyucu Murad Paşa was an important commander who fought against celalis. He eradicated rebellions of Canbuladoğlu, Kalenderoğlu, Tavil Ahmet, Meymun and killed 30.000 rebels. Also, he killed 25.000 rebellious in the other revolts. Some of the captives were killed and their number was 10.000. Totally, he killed 65.000 rebels in the way of preventing of revolts.[17]

            The Ottoman government took strong action against these brigands. To combat them, it at first allowed the people to form their own militias, but this only worsened the situation since the militia-men more often than not joined the celalis. In the end the government could combat them only with sekban and sarıca units equipped with firearms. Sipahis, whose timars had been confiscated or yielded insufficient income, and nomads seeking plunder, joined the rebellious sekban and sarıca companies; towards 1598 the rebels’ forces under the energetic leadership of Kara Yazıcı numbered some twenty thousand men. In 1602 government forces, with difficulty, defeated Kara Yazıcı and the brigands dispersed throughout Anatolia. The richer Anatolians began to migrate to the Balkans, Crimea, Iran and the Arab lands; the land was left fallow, hunger and famine followed, and the Treasury lost its sources of revenue.[18]

            The celali period came at a time of great financial crises, dragging the empire into a decline from which it never recovered. In 1607 the English Ambassador wrote from İstanbul: ‘As far as I can see, the Turkish Empire was in great decline, almost ruined.’ Similar unrest was to recur in the seventeenth century, especially in times of war.[19]

            At the rebellion period, security and land system was deteriorated and villagers abandoned the agriculture. This situation caused a great famine in the society. The grain wasn’t enough in Anatolia and prices increased. In 1595, price of a kileh of wheat was between 20 akçes and 40 akçes. But, in 1603, a kileh of wheat was between 50 and 90 akçes. People didn’t want to give tithe and prevented the selling of crops to another lands. In 1600, Palace wanted to buy wheat from Eskişehir. But, people tried to prevent selling of wheat.[20]  




  1. İlgürel, Mücteba, Celali İsyanları, D.İ.A, vol. 7
  2. Griswold, William J., The Great Anatolian Rebellion, Klaus Schwars Verlag, Berlin, 1983
  3. Akdağ, Mustafa, Celali İsyanları, Cem yayınevi, İstanbul, 1995
  4. Uzunçarşılı, İ. H., Osmanlı Tarihi, vol. III, TTK
  5. İnalcık, H., The Ottoman Empire      











[1] Mücteba İlgürel, Celali İsyanları, D.İ.A, vol. 7, p. 252

[2] William J. Griswold, The Great Anatolian Rebellion, Klaus Schwars Verlag, Berlin, 1983, p. XIX

[3] Ibid, p. 11

[4] Mustafa Akdağ, Celali İsyanları, Cem yayınevi, İstanbul, 1995, p. 94

[5] Mücteba İlgürel, Celali İsyanları, D.İ.A, vol. 7, p. 253

[6] William J. Griswold, The Great Anatolian Rebellion, p. XX

[7] Ibid, p. 24-25

[8] Mücteba İlgürel, Celali İsyanları, D.İ.A, vol. 7, p. 254

[9] William J. Griswold, The Great Anatolian Rebellion, p. 39

[10] Ibid, p. 40

[11] İ. H. Uzunçarşılı, Osmanlı Tarihi, vol. III, TTK, p.102

[12] Ibid, p. 103

[13] William J. Griswold, The Great Anatolian Rebellion, p. 110

[14] İ. H. Uzunçarşılı, Osmanlı Tarihi, vol. III, TTK, p.107

[15] Ibid, p. 108

[16] Ibid, p. 109

[17] Ibid, p. 113

[18] H.İnalcık, The Ottoman Empire, p. 50

[19] Ibid, p. 51

[20] Mustafa Akdağ, Celali İsyanları, p. 452-453

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