... Officials were sent to all the regions and they said: “Those who are smart should come. They can get a house, orchard and gardens in Istanbul.” Whoever came was given land; however, this summons was not enough for the rebuilding of the city. This time the sultan ordered that the wealthy and poor should be sent from every region. Officials were sent to every region to take this order to the qadis and subaşıs. They brought a large number of people in accordance with the order by exiling them. These new arrivals were given houses. Only in this way did the city begin to be more prosperous. The people were asked to pay a rent, called mukataa, for these houses. However, paying rent displeased the people, and they said: “You removed us from our own land. Did you bring us here to pay rent for these infidels’ houses?” Some of these left their wives and children and ran away. There was a vizier called Kula Şahin who had served in the time of Sultan Mehmed’s father and grandfather. Kula Şahin said to the sultan: “Oh Great Sultan! Your father, grandfather, conquered so many places; but they did not charge rent in any of these places to the people under the name mukataa. This is what suits my sultan the best.” The sultan accepted this offer and abandoned the idea of the mukataa, giving a new order: “whatever house you give, let it be given as property.”In the city which thus started to become more prosperous, this time a vizier, the child of an infidel, convinced the sultan to reimplement the mukataa. His real aim was to drive the Muslims from the city and thus to prepare the ground for the city falling into Christian hands in the future. He said the following to his former friends who were Christian:

Unfortunately, the Turks are rebuilding this city. What have you done to prevent this? They have taken our land, the land of our fathers.... Thus, make an effort to get people to forego from this city, and it will be ours again, as it was before.” The vizier received the following answer: “Let the mukataa which was implemented before be introduced again. Thus, the people will forego making buildings and the city will again fall into ruins. In the end, it will remain in our hands.”… The mukataa was reintroduced. The fact that Rum Mehmed Pasha was the son of a non-Muslim is explained in chapter 143, which discussed the campaign against the Karamanoğlu (Karamanids); this continued in chapter 159, which focused on the viziers:

The sultan issued an edict that stated: “Let families from Larende and Konya be forced to migrate to Istanbul.” As a result, Mahmud Pasha had many artists migrate. The vizier Rum Mehmed addressed the sultan: “Great sultan! I have investigated the people that Mahmud has brought here by moving them. Many are poor people, and there are very few of them.... in particular, he has not moved the rich.” The sultan answered as follows: “Let me see your effort, let me see what you can do.” This Rum vizier was very keen to hurt the Muslim people and to get revenge for the conquest of Constantinople. This time he found the opportunity. The reason why the Rum vizier wanted to bring more families from Larende and Konya was to destroy the houses of the Muslims and to disturb their livelihood and order.…

The sultan gave the order: “Let families be transferred from Aksaray and brought to Istanbul.” İshak Pasha fulfilled this order. At the present time there is a neighborhood in Istanbul which is known as Aksaray. The people living here are those that were brought by İshak Pasha. (pp. 216, 218–219)

Until that person became a vizier in the Ottomans, many scholars and poor people who came to the palace were given charity by the sultan.… In the end they strangled him like a dog.… Actual events will be explained in the section in which Istanbul is described. (p. 243)

Âşıkpaşazâde (Âşıkpaşaoğlu Âşıkî), Tevârîh-i Âl-i Osman, prepared by H. Nihal Atsız, in Osmanlı Tarihleri I, Istanbul: Türkiye Yayınevi, 1949.

The Story of the Construction of Constantinopolis (İstanbul)

According to reports, after Sultan Mehmed II conquered Istanbul, he brought Süleyman Bey to the post of subaşı. “Work to rejuvenate the city,” the sultan told him. It was requested of Süleyman Bey that he rebuild Istanbul, that men be sent from all the Ottoman cities, and that with them the news that “he who wants can come to Istanbul and get property” be spread.…[Following the advice of Kula Şahin] within a short time Istanbul began to be prosperous. That is, until Rum Mehmed Pasha became vizier and reintroduced the mukataa, by persuading the sultan with the secure income trickily. In fact, a vizier who was originally from the city was unable to bear the idea of Muslims coming to live in the houses of the city without paying anything, and as a result he reintroduced the mukataa.

Neşrî, Kitâb-ı Cihannümâ: Neşrî Tarihi, prepared by F. Reşit Unat and M. Altay Köymen, Ankara: Türk Tarih Kurumu, 1957, vol. 2, p. 709.

This article was translated from Turkish version of History of Istanbul with some editions to be published in a digitalized form in 2019.

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