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Land rights earned in exchange for service to the Ottoman state.

The timar system began under Murad I (13591389), who granted land rights as payment to his military officers. In the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries timars became the primary means of financing the Ottoman military. The typical timar holder was a provincial cavalry officer who contributed troops and supplies when called up for battle. He financed these through his timar, a state grant of nonhereditary rights over land, usually in the village where he lived. The officer kept a set amount of the tax revenue as his salary and delivered the remainder to the central state.

With economic and technological change in the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, tax farms gradually supplanted timars. The state confiscated timars from officers who died or could no longer afford to send troops, and reassigned them to notables who would contract to collect taxes in exchange for monetary compensation. Although they contributed less and less to imperial tax revenues, timars continued to exist on a small scale through the nineteenth century.


Karpat, Kemal H. "The Land Regime, Social Structure, and Modernization in the Ottoman Empire." In The Beginnings of Modernization in the Middle East: The Nineteenth Century, edited by William R. Polk and Richard L. Chambers. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1968.

Keyder, Çağlar, and Tabak, Faruk, eds. Landholding and Commercial Agriculture in the Middle East. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1991.

elizabeth thompson
updated by eric hooglund