chapter  2
16 Pages

The Ottoman economy in the early imperial age: Rhoads Murphey

In order to gain a sense of the base economic conditions prevailing in the western Anatolian hinterlands of cities such as Bursa, which after  became the nucleus of the fledgling Ottoman state, it is instructive to start with the vivid and evocative details provided in the narrative of Ramon (or Raymond) Muntaner detailing the marauding activities of the Catalan companies in the Marmara region between  and . The overriding concern of the bands of military enterprisers who came to dominate frontier society in the late thirteenth century was to maximize opportunities for short-term profits within a given locality, and then to move on to new sites for exploitation when local resources gave out. This point is made explicit on a number of occasions in Muntaner’s account. In chapter , relating the aftermath of Frey Roger’s first series of campaigns in Anatolia, Muntaner makes the following observation:

The Boca Daner [i.e., the Çanakkale Boğazı/Dardanelles] is surrounded by good and fertile places in all parts [i.e., the Biga Yarımadası/peninsula stretching eastward towards Bursa]. You will find that, on each side, there was a very fine town and a very fine castle at the time we went there. All has been destroyed and ruined by us.1