Between Ottoman Courts and Consular Tribunals: Franks (Müstemen) in the Ottoman Legal System (1500-1800)
This presentation deals with the legal status of Western Europeans (Franks) in the early modern Ottoman Empire. As part of diplomatic and commercial agreements, (ahidname, the Capitulations), Ottoman officials bestowed on European individuals the status of müstemin (literally, the “holder of a safe-conduct,” aman), that includes fiscal exemptions and particular legal procedures in Ottoman courts. However, contrarily to long-standing accounts of European ambassadors and travelers, European individuals did not benefit from extraterritoriality rights, rather, Ottoman officials incorporated them into the empire’s legal system. By examining the interplay between consular tribunals and Ottoman courts (Qadi courts and the Imperial Council), this presentation demonstrates how, in the early modern period European communities, were part of the pluralist Ottoman legal system similarly to the empire’s Christian and Jewish communities.