SOME OBSERVATIONS ON THE ABANDONING OF VILLAGES IN TRABZON PROVINCE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE XVII. CENTURY

Abstract

Author(s): Y羹cel DURSUN

Massive village abandonment was one of the principal characteristics of mass population mobility in the rural areas of Trabzon Province in the middle of the XVIIth century. Actually, this historical phenomenon was the very representation of the common cause of chronic problems prevalent in the Trabzon Province, such as administrative officers’ pressure, excessive taxation, Cossacks raiding, and banditry, which in turn affected the scores of villagers in this era. It is realized that 12 different villages were abandoned in Trabzon Province in 1651, when the seriousness such problems was experienced noticeably. However, the relevant documents series in Trabzon court records indicate that local administrative officers’ pressure and flight from frequent taxation because of Girit siege were the most significant reasons which started this process. Although abandoning the villages paved the way for population decrease in the region, it is observed that this had temporal effect on the settlement patterns because most of these villages were abandoned by villagers consciously and collectively for escaping taxation. The Nahiya of Yomra, one of the first regions with five deserted villages in the province, is a typical example of this situation. Because of this, Yomra was chosen as the topic of this study by considering the characteristics of similar cases taking place in other parts of the province. In this context, it was attempted to explore the villager’s reactions, behaviors and expectations with reference to village abandonment practices. Moreover, in the light of the court records’ documents, the study provides an explanation for the effects of abandoning villages in accordance with its real causes on settlement and demographic patterns of the province.

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