[Devlet-i Aliye-i Osmaniyenin Bin Üç Yüz on Üç Senesine Mahsûs İstatistik-i Umûmîsidir / The State of the Ottoman Empire based on the 1313 figures of the Public Statistics Authority].
4° (28 x 21 cm / 11 x 8 inches): Reverse collation - 12 pp., 166 pp. (of which p. 18 is a folding table), plus 1 folding table (between pp. 106-7), plus 8 colour lithograph folding plates (being 6 thematic maps and 2 sets of statistical diagrams, each measuring 37.5 x 47 cm / 15.5 x 18.5 inches), pages gilt-edged; from the library of Sultan Abdul Hamid II, accordingly bound in contemporary red cloth bearing the Sultan’s Tughra and elaborate gilt-stamped designs (Good, internally quite clean, just a few minor stains and short tears, old repair to final text page not affecting text; first folding plate a little loose, final folding plate a little stained; neat 1960s former owner’s inscription to upper corner of title and stamps to front endpapers; binding a little worn and stained, some worming to front cover, gilding a little faded).
This is an extraordinary, and indeed unique, example of one of the most important works concerning statistics and thematic cartography in the Ottoman Empire. Hailing from the celebrated library of Sultan Abdul Hamid II, the work is bound in the sultan’s signature red covers, bearing his Tughra (monogram), along with elaborate design, all in gilt. The work contained is the second, and corrected and improved, edition of the first book on the statistics of the Ottoman Empire, bringing qualitative data on the population, demographics, economy, health, agriculture and expenditures of the entire realm together in a single work for the first time. Importantly, the text is illustrated with ground-breaking thematic maps and graphic charts that are amongst the earliest and most sophisticated works of their kind created in the Muslim world.
In the 1890s, the Ottoman Empire was a vast land of over 17 million residents, extending from Albania to Yemen. A realm of great ethnic and economic diversity, beset by many external and internal pressures, despite the best efforts of determined reformers, it was only in 1893 that that the first modern, scientific national census was completed. The newly-formed Ottoman national statistics authority, armed with this data, as well as a vast corpus of quantitative economic information from various government ministries, tabulated the very first comprehensive statistical overview of the Ottoman Empire in 1897. The Ottoman Administration for the Economy and Commercial Affairs (Nezaret-i Umur-i Ticaret ve Nafia) used this grand tableau to produce the first edition of the Devlet-i Aliye-i Osmaniyenin in the Rumi year 1315 (1899), containing 231 pages, plus maps. While an impressive achievement, this work was found to contain some errors and oversights, as well as featuring some data considered superfluous.
The present work is a corrected, improved and streamlined edition of the Devlet-i Aliye-i Osmaniyenin, published in the Rumi year 1316 (1900). It consists of dozens of statistical tables revealing the figures for a wide variety factors concerning the Ottoman people, as well as the national and regional economies. Importantly, the book features 6 advanced thematic maps showcasing the national infrastructure system; the demographic make-up of the each vilayet (province); as well as economic measurements. The maps are amongst the earliest and most sophisticated thematic maps produced in the Ottoman Empire, and they succeeded in bringing the work in line with the best practices employed in nations such as France and Germany. Further editions followed, as new data became available, until the advent of World War I.
The issues of the Devlet-i Aliye-i Osmaniyenin were immensely valued by administrators during their time and are today considered a seminal source on the Late Ottoman Empire, often quoted in academic literature.
The Celebrated Library of Sultan Abdul Hamid II
Sultan Abdul Hamid II (reigned 1876 – 1909) assembled one of the finest and most celebrated libraries of the era. A highly literate and intellectually curious man, the Sultan was an ardent bibliophile who spent many hours each week ordering and reading books. His main interests included literature, science and photography. Most of his books were bound in signature red morocco or red cloth bindings, gilt-debossed with his Tughra and elaborate designs (such as the present work). He assembled his collection, which is thought to have numbered approximately 10,000 volumes, into four libraries located at his favoured residence, Constantinople’s Yildiz Palace.
Books from his library, including those with the red covers and his tughra, were widely dispersed during this lifetime. He had a habit of taking books directly off his shelves and granting them as gifts to visitors. He also sent many books as diplomatic presents.
Notably, in 1884, the Sultan bequeathed 400 volumes to the Library of Congress, with each richly-bound tome featuring the inscription: “Gift made by H.I. M. the Sultan Abdul-Hamid II to the national library of the United States of America through the Honorable A.S. Hewitt Member of the House of Representatives A.H. 1302-1884 A.D.” Additionally, the Sultan sponsored the establishment of 46 libraries in Constantinople, many of which survive to this day.
It is noteworthy, that Abdul Hamid II was vitally interested in statistics and cartography; he was a major supporter of the 1881-93 census and related modernizing reforms. Thus, it is more than likely that he would have taken special interest in the present custom-bound example of the Devlet-i Aliye-i Osmaniyenin.
Abdul Hamid II was overthrown by the ‘Young Turks’ in 1909, who deaccessioned his library. The books were given or sold to a wide variety of individuals and institutions all around Europe. Examples of books from the Sultan’s library occasionally appear on the market today, where they are highly prized for their august provenance, exquisite bindings, as well as their often-engaging content.
A Note on Rarity
All editions of the Devlet-i Aliye-i Osmaniyenin are very rare; the expensive and sophisticated work appears to have only been issued in small print runs for the exclusive use of senior Ottoman officials. The present 1900 edition seems to be especially rare; we can trace only a single reference to an example at the University of Chicago (although we are not sure whether it is a facsimile). Moreover, we cannot trace any sales records. Importantly, the present example of the work is unique, being from the library of Sultan Abdul Hamid II.
The Rise of Modernization, Statistics and Cartography in the Ottoman Empire
The collection, recording and analysis of statistics was intimately linked to the rise of cartography in the Ottoman Empire, which was for decades a fitful process that eventually enjoyed a great flowering the late 19th Century.
Until the late 18th Century, the Ottoman Empire lagged well behind European nations in both the realms of statistics and cartography. This was not because the country lacked curious minds with advanced skills in these fields, it was rather that conservative, vested interests at the Sublime Porte stubbornly resisted all manner of reforms. With the brief exception of the period of operation of the press of Ibrahim Müteferrika (from 1729 to 1743), printing in the Ottoman Turkish language was been banned across the empire, while publishing maps was likewise supressed.
As for the realm of statistics, during the 18th Century the empire had become decentralized, with various regions, not to mention large departments of state, controlled as virtually autonomous fiefdoms subject to the Sultan’s authority in name only. The leaders of their fiefdoms jealously guarded their authority and resisted any attempts to quantitatively analyse what was under their charge or map their territory. In particular, the Janissaries, the special military-mandarin class, that had once been the empire’s most elite and efficient entity, had since become bloated and corrupt, and the segment of the hierarchy most resistant to progress. Indeed, and statistical analysis of the country’s economy would have revealed the astounding graft, as well as the lack of productivity, of the Janissary class!
Sultan Selim III (reigned 1789 – 1807), an intellectually gifted and brave leader, attempted to modernize the empire, against the will of the conservative forces. He authorized the funding of government presses, and the re-emergence of map publishing in Constantinople (notably including Mahmud Raif Efendi’s Atlas-ı Cedid (Constantinople, 1803)); sought to boldly reform the bureaucracy, the diplomatic corps, as well as the country’s’ educational systems. He envisaged the creation of a modern European-style government that would embrace technology and collect and analyse statistics to better inform polices and to allocate official resources. These notions were all bitterly rested by the conservative establishment, which was initially unable to hinder the Sultan, who moved with determination and stealth.
Selim III also attempted to reform the Ottoman military, by creating a modern, Western-style standing army. Throughout the 18th Century, the Ottoman Empire had suffered series of serious defeats at the hands of its foreign rivals, in addition to facing increasingly formidable domestic rebellions. If the military was not modernized the empire was surely doomed. However, the Janissaries considered these reforms to be a mortal threat to their ancient privileges. In 1807, they overthrew the Sultan, who was eventually murdered. However, the Janissaries’ attempts to place the empire under the rule of a puppet sultan ultimately failed, and Selim III’s cousin, Mahmud II (reigned 1808-39) was placed upon the throne.
Mahmud II, while liberal at heart, was initially far more cautious than his cousin, fearing the Janissaries would once again resort regicide if provoked. Over the following years he instituted seemingly modest and often low-profile reforms that while cumulatively significant, were unlikely to cause much controversy in and of themselves. He liberalized censorship a bit to allow the formation of private printing presses priding works in Ottoman Turkish. Ministries and organizations closely under the Sultan’s auspices began to collect statistics for official use, albeit in an uneven and often unscientific way, although this still marked a step forward.
During the early 1820s, Mahmud II was far more confident in his own authority. He was popular with many of the empire’s key stakeholders, the economy was booming, and he had forged strong relationships with number of key foreign powers. However, like Selim III, he knew that the empire was doomed unless the military was dramatically reformed and modernized.
Mahmud II announced the creation of new, modern standing army, causing the Janissaries to revolt against imperial authority. However, this time, the Sultan was prepared - the Janissaries had fallen into a trap! In what became known as the ‘Auspicious Incident’, the Sultan’s forces defeated and rounded up the 135,000 Janissaries, destroying the corps, its surviving members executed, jailed or exiled. Like the Templars centuries earlier, the Janissaries, once abolished, were never to rise again.
The destruction of the Janissaries was perhaps the most consequential single event in the Ottoman Empire during the 19th Century. It gave Mahmud II a level of authority and momentum that had not been enjoyed by any Sultan in generations, giving him the freedom to enact sweeping liberal reforms. Mahmud II was able to commence the reformation of the military, although the empire’s loss during the Russo-Turkish War of 1828-9 was a notable setback, occurring before the benefits of modernization programme had matured.
On the point of our main topic, in 1828, Mahmud II ordered the conduct of the empire’s first national population census. While this process was interrupted by the war and succeed only in measuring the populations of Rumelia (Ottoman Europe) and Anatolia (thus omitting the Arab vilayets), the resulting 1831 Census was a milestone in the modernization of the empire, setting a precedent for more ambitious and scientifically advanced endeavours.
Mahmud II’s successor, Sultan Abdulmecid I (reigned 1839-61), ushered in what became known as the ‘Tanzimat Era’ (1839-75), meaning ‘re-organization’, which saw a series of liberal and Western style reforms that utterly transformed the empire. This included establishing a code of civil rights for all citizens, including granting a measure of equality to non-Muslims; forming a modern postal systems, currency, health and finance ministries; establishing a modern civil service; creating a professional army; founding universities colleges an lycées; and eventually the telegraph network and the first railway lines; plus, many other measures. The Tanzimat ethic also sought to centralize authority in what had become a politically disconnected realm. The creation of the aforementioned new institutions and the imperative to send intelligence to Constantinople, created more opportunities for the empire to gather statistics. It also spurred a greater need for cartography, such that the Sublime Porte and its various entities commissioned many new surveys and printed maps.
The Ottoman Empire conducted another census in 1844, and while an improvement upon the 1831 endeavour in some ways, it still featured many omissions and relied upon unscientific methods. Moreover, the various new ministries and committees that tried to collect data from across the empire, found that acquiring information from some vilayets to be relatively simple, while gathering data from far-way or unstable regions remained nigh impossible. Nevertheless, progress was still being made.
Even though the Ottoman Empire, supported by Britain and France, won the Crimean War (1853-6) against Russia, the country was famously labelled the in the Western media as the ‘Sick Man of Europe’ and seemed to be in inexorable decline. Indeed, during this era, the empire lost much territory to internal rebellions and wars with its rivals, while foreign powers assumed tremendous control over the country’s economy and political affairs. However, while this is all true, it masks that fact that during the same period the Empire made dramatic advances in economic development, education, science, infrastructure and military training. Constantinople became one of the world’s great economic centres, fuelled by international trade and foreign-financed mega-projects.
The reign of Abdul Hamid II (1876 – 1909) marked a period of radical social and economic change. Shortly after the sultan assumed power, he approved the Constitution of 1876 that promised to make the Ottoman Empire a constitutional democracy. However, the country’s defeat in the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-8, which resulted in the loss of territory in the Balkans and the Caucuses, soured the mood. In 1878, Abdul Hamid II rescinded the Constitution and ruled as an autocrat.
In 1881, the Ottoman government defaulted on its foreign debt, and much of its public finances and industry were taken over by the Anglo-French Ottoman Public Debt Commission and the Imperial Ottoman Bank. While the quasi-colonial foreign control of the country’s economy was much resented, it nevertheless financed a boom of construction of railways, factories, telegraph lines, roads and educational facilities that allowed the Ottoman Empire to enter the Industrial Revolution. This had a transformative impact in not only upon the nation’s economy but had sweeping social, political and military ramifications.
While the Ottoman hierarchy was controlled by a corrupt and bloated elite of largely elderly, hereditary figures, Abdul Hamid II improved the administration of the empire, such that historians have remarked that it “reached a new degree of organizational elaboration and articulation.”
The economic development and infrastructure projects sparked an urgent need for advanced cartography and the collection and analysis of statistics. While some fine original Ottoman maps and had been created during the Tanzimat Era (1839-76), it was only during Abdul Hamid II’s time that Ottoman cartography saw its first popular boom. Numerous Ottoman printing houses, both state and privately owned, proliferated throughout the city. Western printers and mapmakers assisted technology transfer that allowed the Ottoman houses to move up the curve to produce printed works of great diversity and technical sophistication, while maintaining the exquisite Ottoman traditions of artistic design and calligraphy. There was also an interface between Turkish military engineers and civilian cartographers (both Turkish and foreign) that resulted in the acquisition and application of original scientific mapping and data to Ottoman cartography. By the 1880s, Istanbul mapmakers were producing a highly diverse and advanced array of topographical and thematic maps of a world-class calibre, works that often distinguished themselves from Western maps due to their uniquely Ottoman élan.
Regarding to the realm of statistics, the various wars and financial problems prevented the execution of another national census for any decades. However, intermediate measures were undertaken; notably, in 1867 the Ottoman cabinet formed a body for gathering demographic data and drawing up population tables from the best available information. In 1874, the government established improved measures for local civil servants to take population counts in their areas, forwarding the result to Constantinople.
Finally, the Ministry of the Interior formed the General Population Administration in 1881, which eventually developed into the Department of the Census (Niifus-u Umumi Idaresi). This organization spearheaded what could be considered the first modern census of the Ottoman Empire conducted by scientific, standardized methods, which took 12 years (1881 - 1893) to complete. Importantly, the census gained detailed demographic data, accurately revealing the immense ethnic diversity of the empire for the first time.
To manage the vast amount of data collected from the census, in addition to quantitative information from other sources, the Ottoman statistics authority (Istatistik-i Umumi Idaresi) was founded in 1893.
Many statistical patterns are best expressed though cartography, and the 1893 census, in addition the vast amount of data collected by the various government ministries (on health, economics, agriculture, etc.) proved to be a great boon for thematic cartography produced in Constantinople.
It was in this context that the Ottoman Administration for the Economy and Commercial Affairs (Nezaret-i Umur-i Ticaret ve Nafia) commissioned the first edition of the Devlet-i Aliye-i Osmaniyenin (1899), predicated upon figures compiled by the Istatistik-i Umumi Idaresi in 1897. This was a watershed publication, in that it was the first publication to bring authoritative statistics from the entire Ottoman Empire on a wide variety of subjects together in single publication, all presented in a great series of tables.
Importantly, the Devlet-i Aliye-i Osmaniyenin was illustrated with ground-breaking thematic maps that illustrated economic and demographic data regarding each vilayet of the empire, in some cases for the very first time. In this respect, the Ottoman authorities had finally caught up to the best statistical-cartographic methods employed in Western states such as France and Germany. The present second, and improved edition, followed in 1900.
During the early part of the 20th Century, Ottoman cartography continued to blossom, with government presses and an increasing number of private houses producing ever-more sophisticated maps, including many innovative thematic works. Statistical cartography was informed by the excellent 1905-6 national Ottoman census, which resulted in even more accurate data than its predecessors.
While World War I ordained to the fall of the Ottoman Empire, it also led to great advances in military and thematic cartography, which gave the new Republic of Turkey (established in 1923) a strong foundation upon which to build its future.
References: oclc 56954827. Cf. Şükrü hanioğlu, A Brief History ff The Late Ottoman Empire (Princeton, 2010), P. 219; Stanford J. Shaw, ‘The Ottoman Census System and Population, 1831-1914’, International Journal Of Middle East Studies, Vol. 9, No. 3 (October 1978), pp. 325-338.