Grigor Boykov, Conquered by Sword, Subdued by Charity? Geospatial and Quantitative Analysis of Land Waqfs in Ottoman Bulgaria

Grigor Boykov - Austrian Academy of Sciences (ÖAW), Vienna
pp. 37-77
Online publication date: 
Ottoman Balkans; Bulgaria; waqf; settlements; GIS; spatial analysis

The article focuses on the study of the landed estates of the Islamic pious endowments (waqfs) in Bulgaria by, on the one hand, building a complete database of the settlements under the control of the waqfs, and on the other by attributing a spatial reference to those villages whose precise locations were identified. Taking non-aggregated microdata from the Ottoman tax registers as a point of departure, the study aims at demonstrating a novelty approach towards the spatial analysis of data extracted from the Ottoman primary sources and at proposing a methodology that can be used in other parts of the Balkans. Focusing on a territory, which roughly constitutes 1/5 of the Balkan peninsula, the study regards Bulgaria as a sample that has the potential to shed light on the significance of the waqf institution in administering, revitalizing, repopulating, and maintaining the social order in the Ottoman Balkans. General conclusions about the spatial distributions of the landed possessions, the social stratification of the endowers, and quantitative analysis of the revenues and population under the control of the waqfs, presented in the article signal the necessity for more studies that can widen the territorial perspective and demonstrate the pivotal role of the Islamic endowments in establishing firm control over the newly conquered territories in the Balkans.

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