Reviews

Through the study of two Ottoman tax-registers for the Crimea, this essay endeavours to shed light on viticulture, wine production and wine commerce by the Ottoman Empire in the mid-sixteenth century, in a region with a predominantly Christian population. The author notably demonstrates the viticulture and related business constituted a major aspect of the economy of the southern Crimea in the Ottoman period of the peninsula’s history. Instead of representing a break in the practice of viticulture, the Ottoman period establishes an important link of continuity between earlier Byzantine and Genoese and later Russian practices. The significance of winemaking is reflected in the growing engagement of Muslims into viticulture. The author also shows how the adoption of a sophisticated and rationalistic approach, through the setting of a specific terminology for the taxes levied on viticulture, did permit to Ottoman to settle the contradiction between the Islamic prohibition of wine consumption and their interest in the development of a lucrative business. He explains how Ottoman fiscal policy stimulated at the same time Muslim investment in this business and conversion to Islam of local Christian peasants. The article reveals the multiple potentialities of tahrir defters, as long as they can be properly decoted, as a source of reliable information, especially for regional history.

The Redaction
CER: II-3.2.B-156