Bedel-i askeri

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tax paid by non-muslims for exemption from ottoman military service.

The bedel-i askeri essentially replaced the jizya (head tax) traditionally paid by non-Muslims, which was abolished with the 1856 Hatt-i Hümayun declaration that all subjects of the Ottoman Empire were equal and therefore obligated to serve in the military. The attempt to legislate equality among Muslims and non-Muslims, however, met opposition from all sides. In 1857, non-Muslims were once again allowed exemption from military duty. The bedel-i askeri tax of fifty liras was levied only on those theoretically required to serve, 1 out of 180 male subjects of age. It was much lower than the exemption tax paid by Muslims. In 1909 the bedel-i askeri and all other conscription-exemption taxes were abolished, and all male subjects regardless of religion were required to perform military duty.

see also jizya; tanzimat.


Davison, Roderic H. Reform in the Ottoman Empire 18561876. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1963.

Shaw, Stanford, and Shaw, Ezel Kural. History of the Ottoman Empire and Modern Turkey, Vol. 2: Reform, Revolution, and Republic: The Rise of Modern Turkey, 18081975. Cambridge, U.K., and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1977.

Elizabeth Thompson