Margarita Dobreva
Circassian Colonization in the Danube Vilayet and Social Integration (Preliminary Notes), OTAM No. 33, Spring 2013, 1-30

The Treaty of Edirne, concluded in 1829, placed in Russia’s hand the coastal area from Anapa to Poti, and the l and between the Kuban valley and the region of Akhaltsikhе and Akhalkalaki. Expecting new military conflicts with the Sultan, Russia acted to preclude the eventual alliance between the Ottomans and the Circassians. In order to ensure the safety of the Russian trade, towns and quarantine ports, the Russian officials proposed the resettlement of the Circassians inside the Russian territory. However, the preliminary expenditure accounts prepared by a special Resettlement commission evinced as impossible the mass relocation. Conscious of the Russia’s highly contestable attempts to conquer the Northwest Caucasus, Prince Baryatinsky regarded the Circassian migration into the Ottoman Empire as an alternative less devastating for the Russian reputation and as a final solution to the year-long conflict. So, for the next 16 years, beginning in the autumn of 1858 onwards, the migration constituted the only reasonable attitude for both parties.

My paper outlines the longer process of the Circassian colonization, economic integration and socialization in the Danube vilayet. It draws on archival sources such as state regulations, newspaper notes, tax registers and examples of the correspondence between the local, vilayet and central Ottoman government. The paper emphasizes the Ottoman efforts to avoid or to limit a mass humanitarian crisis, the free aid, in cash and kind, extended by all Sultan’s subjects and later by the already colonized Crimean refugees. It pays attention to the colonization process, the varying material status of the Circassians, their agricultural activity and education. It launches the suggestion that the Circassians’ adaptation to the new environment was slowed down by the Ottoman attempts to prevent excess budgetary expend iture, to economize a share of their tax revenues or quickly to recompense the offered state aid.

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