The Narh Prices of Various Comestibles in the First Half of the 19th Century

The Narh Prices of Various Comestibles in the First Half of the 19th Century

Ramazan Arslan (Bartın University, Turkey)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 16
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-1037-7.ch010
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Since the food prices are the essential needs of people, they have usually been a topical issue in every period. Therefore, this issue mobilized the administrators of aforementioned period, and necessitated to take measures on this issue. Perhaps one of the most significant measures were the narh (price fixing) system. In this study, narh prices of various comestibles have been approached according to dated 1241-1826 and numbered 09264 in the book of senior accountant (Başmuhasebe Kalemi Defteri). The purpose of study is to prove the given importance of the stability of food prices by Ottoman administration comparatively and to contribute to the studies that have been conducted or will be conducted. The documents in the Ottoman Archives of Turkish Presidency (COA in Turkish) have been used as a study method and other works have been used as well in terms of integrity of the topic. As a result of the study, it is found that Ottoman Empire prioritized the price stability in the comestibles, especially to the benefit of her people.
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Ottoman Empire displayed a great responsibility to the supply of the essential needs of the people in the imperial lands. State especially pursued significant policies for several issues such as providing the essential needs such as bread, wheat, wood, coal, salt to markets, preventing escalations in the prices and the direct delivery of these products to consumers from producers. Various worthwhile works were conducted on this topic. In this study, however, only some of them will be mentioned.

Ömer Lütfü Barkan made significant contributions to the history of Ottoman finance with his studies on Ottoman budgets. Barkan's XVI. Head of the century in Turkey Price Movements article, has taken first place in the study of economic history. On the other hand, Halil Sahillioğlu is accepted as the authority on the history of money in the Ottoman Empire (Çakır, 2003: 34-39).

Şevket Pamuk made the most successful work on the money and prices in the Ottoman Empire. Pamuk (20017) examines the Ottoman monetary system in his study. The price revolution and its effects on the Ottoman economy. Focuses on the causes of financial crisis.

Korkut Boratav, A. Gündüz Ökçün and Şevket Pamuk worked together on the subject of wages in the Ottoman Empire and the developments in the world economy. In these studies, Ottoman money was considered as a time series. The study covers the period from the second quarter of the nineteenth century to the period before the First World War. In the long run due to the contraction in the world economy, rising tendencies in wages have been observed (Boratav, 1985:380).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Constabulary: Constabulary was the assistant of kadi and was assigned to monitor the prices by patrolling bazaar and markets.

Narh: Expresses the upper limit that is determined by the state in the prices of goods and services.

Profiteering: Profiteering is described as collecting the essential needs of people such as food and beverage in cheap prices and when the time is right, selling them in high prices.

Celeb: Celeb has been used in the dictionary for people in Turkish who transport butchers and especially sheep herds and sell them to butchers. Means “animal merchant.”

The Ottoman Archives: The archive, which contains the richest and most valuable archive material that was inherited from the Ottoman Empire, is located in the Ottoman Archive Complex in Istanbul. Today, it is known as “The Ottoman Archives of Presidency of the Republic of Turkey.”

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