A BANDITRY ACTIVITY IN NEAR ENVIRONMENT OF ISTANBUL: FAMOUS BRIGAND MEHMET PEHLIVAN AND HIS GUERILLAS

Abstract

Author(s): Selahattin SATILMIS

When the Ottoman State entered the last quarter of the nineteenth century, it came across a major collapse in the economic arena as well as in the military and political arena. The state, which had difficulty in protecting its remaining land, declared that it could not pay its foreign debts and in 1881 it had lost some of its treasury income resources with the establishment of the Department of General Debt (General Debts). In such an environment, when the state had some domestic security problems such as banditry, it had difficulty finding sufficient gendarmerie and financial opportunities. Due to this security weakness, some social and economical reasons led to the banditry in most parts of the rural areas. One of these banditry activities, small enough to be incomparable to those of the previous centuries, took place under the leadership of Mehmet Pehlivan, who was mentioned as "famous ?aki" in official writings of the period and in his newspapers. Mehmet Pehlivan, who managed to escape from the hands of the security officers on the day when the prisoner was sentenced to punishment, put terror in Kartal, Beykoz, ?ile and Gebze regions near the capital city Istanbul in 1880 and caused great terror to the people of the region. Despite the intense efforts of the gendarmes, Mehmet Pehlivan, who managed to escape without being caught for five years, left his banditry in a way that no one had expected, despite his great reputation, and began to work in a simple job as a resident. In the study, the situation and the measures taken by the Ottoman security forces aiming to capture him against the brigand activities conducted by Mehmet Pehlivan and the joke of the Ottoman-Russian War of 1877-78 were tried to be questioned in the light of the archival vigils and the data obtained from the press of the period.

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