Date of Award

Fall 10-1-2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Mikhail, Alan


"Commerce and Justice: Ottoman and Venetian Courts in Istanbul during the Seventeenth Century” analyzes legal disputes and economic transactions between Ottoman and Venetian merchants in Istanbul on a daily basis between 1600 and1620. At that time, the Venetians constituted the largest European community in the Ottoman capital, and they engaged intensively in trade ventures with Ottoman businessmen belonging to different religious and ethnic communities, including Muslim Turks, Sephardic Jews, and Orthodox Greeks. This dissertation asks how Ottomans and Venetians cooperated in commercial undertakings and solved controversies despite the absence of a system of inter-polity law and secular legal regimes in the early modern Mediterranean. Drawing from both Ottoman and Venetian primary sources, I address this question through a comparative study of three types of courts used by Ottoman and Venetian merchants in Istanbul for certifying their property rights and regulating their disputes: Islamic forums of justice headed by a Qadi (a Muslim judge), the Imperial Council (divan-ı hümayun) under the jurisdiction of the Grand Vizier, and the Venetian consular court. I argue that, despite differences in the normative systems, these institutions jointly promoted trade exchange by providing distinct but complementary legal and economic services to Ottoman and Venetian merchants that allowed commercial cooperation. Their first and foremost contribution was the certification of property rights across religious and political boundaries. I also maintain that the administration of justice for Venetian and Ottoman merchants was tightly entangled in the political and economic context of the seventeenth-century eastern Mediterranean and in the ebb and flow of Ottoman/Venetian relations. The political economy of the Republic of Venice and the Ottoman Empire affected the resolution of commercial and criminal controversies and the access of forums of justices for merchants belonging to different political and religious communities.