chapter  4
15 Pages

A kadi court in the Balkans: Sofia in the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries: Rossitsa Gradeva

It is virtually impossible to overestimate the importance of kadı courts in provincial life in the pre-tanzimat period. This was an institution with which for a variety of reasons nearly everyone in the Ottoman empire came into contact – Muslims, Jews or Christians, reaya or askeri, villagers or urbanites, tribes, visitors from abroad and individuals, as well as groups with different professional, religious or social profiles. Kadıs were approached either as judges or as the local administrative representative of Ottoman authority in the respective district, or both, as these functions were closely intertwined. In the past forty years, much has been written on the institution and its (mainly judicial) activities, for various parts of the empire and vis-à-vis various groups of Ottoman society.1 However, many of its local specifics, its evolution over time, and its relation with other Ottoman institutions of authority and with local populations have yet to be studied and interpreted, and these continue to attract scholarly attention. While the number of publications on the functioning of the court in the seventeenth century increases, with regard to the Balkans, publications dedicated to the earlier centuries are practically non-existent, and those for the eighteenth century are still relatively few.