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An Ottoman Merchant-Entrepreneur: The Case of Mkrdich Cezayirliyan Print E-mail

Lecturer: M. Erdem Kabadayi
Title: An Ottoman Merchant-Entrepreneur: The Case of Mkrdich Cezayirliyan

In my presentation I will focus on activities of an Armenian entrepreneur.  My aim in examining this single merchant-entrepreneur is also to try to shed light on the general conditions of the Ottoman economic environment in the nineteenth century.

Especially between the years 1844 and 1850 Cezayirliyan was definitely a key personality in the Ottoman economic life. He operated in various fields. He was a merchant, tax-farmer, factory owner and a financier at the same time. One of the most important sources of his immense income was tax-farming of the major customs in the Ottoman Mediterranean including Istanbul customs for several goods like silk and fruit. He had the control of the customs of Izmir, Rhodes, Mytilene and customs of major commercial centers on the Black Sea coast. In 1850 his wealth reached its summit. Strangely in this year he was accused of embezzlement and arrested. During his imprisonment most of his property was sold out and his earlier sources of income were either auctioned or taken away. The detailed documentation of these transactions may allow us to observe the degree of infiltration of an entrepreneur into the state finances and also the functioning of mechanisms of the financial and commercial networks of the period, in the region.