Monday, September 25, 2017

TOPKAPI PALACE MUSEUM / IMPERIAL COUNCIL (DIVAN-I HUMAYUN)

Sultanahmet, Fatih - Istanbul - Turkey

GPS : 41°00'44.1"N 28°59'00.6"E / 41.012244, 28.983486

Second Courtyard



PHOTOGRAPHS ALBUM

The first Council Hall was a wooden structure built under Fatih Sultan Mehmet II (the Conqueror) (1451-1481). The present arcaded structure is the product of the re-construction work conducted in 1527-29 under Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent by Chief Architect Alâeddin and the various successive renovations performed thereafter. The interior walls were marble coated during the 16th century. Certain ornaments and the stalactite column heads and arches of its porch and the symbol of power marble crowned empty archway dates from the 16th century period of the building.

The structure received its present-day appearance through the ornaments added-on during the renovation performed in 1792 under the reign of Sultan Selim III. The archways were closed with gilded grids and doors with rococo reliefs were added-on. One of the two inscriptions in verse on the façade of the building, which underwent a further renovation in 1819 during the reign of Sultan Mahmut II, belongs to Sultan Selim III and the other to Sultan Mahmut II. The arch wall of the Clerk’s Office of the Imperial Council (Divan-i Hümâyûn) bears the monograms of Sultan Mustafa III.

In the early times of the Kanuni Sultan Süleyman (1520-1566) era, built by Mimarbaşı Alaüddin (Acem Ali). The building at the left corner of the yard, in front of the Palace of Justice, is formed of three side-by-side places. At the side of the yard, the first structure having a dome is Divan-ı Hümayun.

The other place connected to this room via a large aperture is Divan-ı Hümayun Kalemi. the room with a dome, opening to this room with a small door is Defterhane. This building is damaged in the 1665 Harem fire and has been renewed by Sultan Mehmet IV. At the face of the structure, the written inscriptions referring to the repairments in the eras of Sultan III. Selim (1789-1807) and Sultan II. Mahmut (1808-1839) can be seen.

The Imperial Council (Dîvan-i Hümâyûn), also called Kubbealtı, consisted of three departments, namely, the Council Chamber as such where state affairs were being discussed, the clerk offices where the decisions taken by the Council were put in writing, and the registry (Defterhane)  where the documents and  decision records were archived. The Imperial Council would convene four days a week.

The council hall has multiple entrances both from inside the palace and from the courtyard. The porch consists of multiple marble and porphyry pillars, with an ornate green and white-coloured wooden ceiling decorated with gold. The floor is covered in marble. The entrances into the hall from outside are in the rococo style, with gilded grills to admit natural light. While the pillars are earlier Ottoman style, the wall paintings and decorations are from the later rococo period.

Inside, the Imperial Council building consists of three adjoining main rooms. Two of the three domed chambers of this building open into the porch and the courtyard. The Divanhane, built with a wooden portico at the corner of the Divan Court (Divan Meydani) in the 15th century, was later used as the mosque of the council but was removed in 1916.

There are three domed chambers : The first chamber where the Imperial Council held its deliberations is the Kubbealtı. The second chamber was occupied by the secretarial staff of the Imperial Divan. In the adjacent third chamber called Defterhāne, records were kept by the head clerks. The last room also served as a document archive.

On its façade are verse inscriptions, which mention the restoration work carried out in 1792 and 1819, namely under Sultan Selim III and Mahmud II. The rococo decorations on the façade and inside the Imperial Council date from this period. The main chamber Kubbealtı is, however, decorated with Ottoman Kütahya tiles. Three long sofas along the sides were the seats for the officials, with a small hearth in the middle. The small gilded ball that hangs from the ceiling represents the earth. It is placed in front of the sultan's window and symbolises him dispensing justice to the world, as well as keeping the powers of his viziers in check.

PERFORMANCE OF DIVAN-I HUMAYUN

Divan-ı Hümayun where the Ottoman Empire is governed, meet in council four times a week (on Saturdays, Sundays, Mondays, Tuesdays). Grand vizier and Kubbealtı Vezirleri which is formed of six or nine persons; constituting the associate members of the Divan; Anadolu and Rumeli Kazaskerleri; sitting on the lounge in front of Kubbealtı, discuss the affairs of the state or result the cases upon listening. Highest rank officers after viziers were the Kazasker’s who are handling the matters of military cases, inheritance cases, legal and religious matters.

After Divan councils, coming before the Sultan, interviewed subjects of the day would be summarized. Divan-ı Hümayun Kalemleri would handle all the administrative affairs of the state similar to present day’s council of ministers. By transfer of government affairs to the Sadrazam Sarayı (Bab-ı Ali) in the late 18th century, Divan forms itself into a function of distributing mevacip to the Kapıkulu Soldiers and accepting the delegates.

In the Imperial Council meetings the political, administrative and religious affairs of the state and important concerns of the citizens were discussed. The Imperial Council normally met four times a week (Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday) after prayer at dawn. The meetings of the Imperial Council were run according to an elaborate and strict protocol.

Council members such as the Grand Vizier, viziers, chief military officials of the Muslim Judiciary (Kazaskers) of Rumelia and Anatolia, the Minister of Finance or heads of the Treasury (defterdar), the Minister of Foreign Affairs (Reis-ül-Küttab) and sometimes the Grand Müfti (Sheikh ül-İslam) met here to discuss and decide the affairs of state. Other officials who were allowed were the Nişancilar secretaries of the Imperial Council and keepers of the royal monogram (tuğra) and the officials charged with the duty of writing official memoranda (Tezkereciler), and the clerks recording the resolutions.

From the window with the golden grill the Sultan or the Valide Sultan was able to follow deliberations of the council without being noticed. The window could be reached from the imperial quarters in the adjacent Tower of Justice (Adalet Kulesi). When the sultan rapped on the grill or drew the red curtain the Council session was terminated, and the viziers were summoned one by one to the Audience Hall (Arz Odası) to present their reports to the sultan.

All the statesmen, apart from the Grand Vizier, performed their dawn prayers in the Hagia Sophia and entered the Imperial Gate according to their rank, passing through the Gate of Salutation and into the divan chamber, where they would wait for the arrival of the Grand Vizier. The Grand Vizier performed his prayers at home, and was accompanied to the palace by his own attendants. On his arrival there, he was given a ceremonial welcome, and before proceeding to the imperial divan, he would approach the Gate of Felicity and salute it as if paying his respects to the gate of the sultan's house.

He entered the chamber and took his seat directly under the sultan's window and council commenced. Affairs of the state were generally discussed until noon, the members of the Council dined in the chambers after which petitions were heard here. All the members of Ottoman society, men and women of all creeds were granted a hearing. An important ceremony was held to mark the first Imperial Council of each new Grand Vizier, and also to mark his presentation with the Imperial Seal (Mühr-ü Hümayûn).

The most important ceremony took place every three months during the handing out of salaries (ulûfe) to the Janissaries. The reception of foreign dignitaries was normally arranged for the same day, creating an occasion to reflect the wealth and might of the state. Ambassadors were then received by the Grand Vizier in the Council chambers, where a banquet was held in their honour.

From the window with the golden grill, the Sultan or the Valide Sultan was able to follow deliberations of the council without being noticed. The window could be reached from the imperial quarters in the adjacent Tower of Justice (Adalet Kulesi). When the sultan rapped on the grill or drew the red curtain, the Council session was terminated, and the viziers were summoned one by one to the Audience Hall (Arz Odası) to present their reports to the sultan.

THE PRINCIBAL MEMBERS OF THE COUNCIL

The principal members of the Council had become fixed by the time of Sultan Mehmed II at least. The viziers, responsible for political and military affairs, and also liable to be sent on campaign, either under the Sultan or the Grand Vizier, or as commanders themselves. Their number was originally three, but this was raised to four in the mid-16th century, five in 1566, and seven in 1570/1. Their number reached as many as eleven in 1642, but by this time the title of vizier was also held by senior provincial governors (beylerbeys), who did not attend the council. The viziers with the right to attend the Council were designated "viziers of the dome" (kubbe vezirleri) from the dome surmounting the council chamber in the divanhane.

The military judges (kadi'askers), responsible for legal matters. Probably founded under Sultan Murad I, there was only one holder of the post until the late reign of Sultan Mehmed II, when a second was instituted, leading to a division of responsibility between them: one was responsible for Rumeli (the European provinces) and one for Anatolia (the Asian provinces). For brief periods, the existence of a third kadi'asker is attested as well.

The treasurers (defterdars), originally a single office-holder, increased to two (likewise one for Rumelia and one for Anatolia) by 1526, and four from 1578 (Rumelia, Anatolia, Istanbul and the "Danube", i.e. the northern coasts of the Black Sea). Further defterdars served in the provinces. With the decline of state finances from the late 16th century on, their importance increased greatly.

The chancellor (nişancı), possibly one of the most ancient offices, was originally the person who drew the Sultan's seal on documents to make them official. He became the head of an ever-expanding the government secretariat, overseeing the production of official documents.

The members of the Imperial Council represented the pinnacles of their respective specialized careers: the viziers the military-political; the kadi'askers the legal; the defterdars the financial service; and the nişancı the palace scribal service. This was all the more the case after the 16th century, when these careers became—as a general rule—mutually exclusive.

While the latter groups were from the outset recruited mostly from the Muslim Turkish population (although the kadi'askers tended to come from a very limited circle of legal families), the viziers were, after 1453, mostly drawn from Christian converts. These were partly voluntary (including, until the early 16th century, members of Byzantine and other Balkan aristocratic families) but over time the products of the devshirme system, which inducted humble-born youths into the Palace School, came to predominate.

An appointment to the ranks of the Imperial Council was an avenue to great power, influence and enormous wealth, which was matched by equally ostentatious expenditure for, as Colin Imber writes, "the sign of a man's status in Ottoman society was the size of his household and the size of his retinue when he appeared in public", meaning that the members of the Council often kept hundreds, if not thousands, of slaves.

The members of the Council, namely the Grand Vizier, the Kubbealtı Viziers, the Supreme Military Judges of Anatolia and Rumelia (the European part of the Ottoman Empire) would deliberate on state affairs, take decisions   and pronounce judgments on judiciary cases to be submitted to the Sultan as the highest authority. The Sheikh ul-lslam, the chief religious official in the Ottoman Empire, (Şeyhülislam) would, when invited, participate in some important meetings.

Over time, the Council's membership was extended to include additional officials. The beylerbeyi of the Rumeli Eyalet, who was the only provincial governor entitled to a seat in the Council, but only when a matter fell within his jurisdiction. After the post's creation in 1535, the Kapudan Pasha, the commander-in-chief of the Ottoman navy, was also admitted as a member. The Agha of the Janissaries was admitted to the Council if he held the rank of vizier.

In addition, a number of officials attended Council meetings but did not have seats in the chamber and did not take part in the discussions, such as the head of the scribes (reis-ül-küttab), the çavuş başı, the kapıcılar kethüdası, various financial secretaries and palace officials, interpreters (tercüman, whence "dragoman") and police chiefs, each in turn with his own retinue of clerks and assistants.

COUNCIL BUREAUCRACY

An ever-expanding scribal service, under the supervision of the Reis ül-küttab, assisted the members of the Council, preparing the material for its sessions, keeping records of its decisions and creating the necessary documents. As their duties included drafting the state correspondence with other powers, initially they were probably drawn from various milieus, since until the early 16th century the Sultans corresponded with foreign rulers in their own language. After ca. 1520 documents were only drawn up in Turkish, Arabic or Persian, and the service seems to have consisted solely of Muslims.

The main branches of this secretarial service were : The main chancery (divan kalemi or beylik/beylikçi kalemi) under the beylikçi, the senior subordinate of the reis-ül-küttab. This was the office responsible for drafting and publishing all imperial decrees (firman) or ordinances on all issues except for financial ones, and for keeping an archive of the originals of all laws and regulations (kanun) as well as treaties or other documents concerning relations with other states.

The tahvil kalemi, also nişan or kese kalemi, which issued the documents of appointment for the posts of vizier, beylerbeyi, sancakbeyi and provincial kadı, and kept the relevant records. In addition, it dealt with the grant and transfer of timars and ziamets. The ruus kalemi, which was responsible for the appointments of all other civil, military or religious officials beyond those dealt with by the tahvil kalemi. The offices of the master of ceremonies (teşrifatçı) and official court chronicler (vakanüvis) who kept records on ceremonies and history.

A later addition, the amedi or amedci, the chief of staff to the reis-ül-küttab, headed a department responsible for the conduct of foreign affairs, as well as for the liaison between the various government departments and the palace.

Council members such as the Grand Vizier, viziers, chief military officials of the Muslim Judiciary (Kazaskers) of Rumelia and Anatolia, the Minister of Finance or heads of the Treasury (defterdar), the Minister of Foreign Affairs (Reis-ül-Küttab) and sometimes the Grand Müfti (Sheikh ül-İslam) met here to discuss and decide the affairs of state. Other officials who were allowed were the Nişancilar secretaries of the Imperial Council and keepers of the royal monogram (tuğra) and the officials charged with the duty of writing official memoranda (Tezkereciler), and the clerks recording the resolutions.

Other officers of the Council were, the officer in charge of affixing the monogram of the Sultan on decrees and other official documents: nişancı; the treasurer: defterdar; the Head of the Clerks and Foreign Minister: Reis-ül Küttab; the writers of official communications/messages, permits, licenses and certificates: tezkereciler and the clerks: kâtipler.  At these meetings, the state's political, administrative, financial, and customary affairs and important public cases were discussed.

The Council Hall was also the venue where Grand Viziers would receive foreign ambassadors and where the wedding ceremonies of Sultan's daughters would take place.

IMPERIAL COUNCIL HALL / KUBBEALTI

Kubbealtı, is the main meeting place of Divan-ı Hümayun. On its adjoining wall to Palace of Justice, Sultans would watch the Divan-ı Hümayun works behind the gold glossed bars of the window which is called Kafes-i Müşebbek. The Ottoman Empire was run from here. These three chambers, between the Harem and the rest of Topkapi Palace, are where Ottoman sultans met with their imperial councils to conduct affairs of state. It is also called Kubbealti (Kubbealtı), which means “under the dome”, and is located in the northwestern corner of the courtyard next to the Gate of Felicity.

The Imperial Council (Divan-ı Hümayun) building is the chamber in which the ministers of state, council ministers (Divan Heyeti), the Imperial Council, consisting of the Grand Vizier (Paşa Kapısı), viziers, and other leading officials of the Ottoman state, held meetings. It is also called Kubbealtı, which means "under the dome", in reference to the dome in the council main hall. It is situated in the northwestern corner of the courtyard next to the Gate of Felicity.

The meetings here were surprisingly regulated, convened four times a week after the dawn prayers. A special golden window high on the wall of the main council chamber allowed the Sultan to observe the Imperial Council discussions. Accessible through the Tower of Justice, it was both symbolic of the role of justice in affairs of state and practical because it was easily accessible from where the Sultan and his family lived in the Harem.

For the Ottoman equivalent of a parliament or senate forum, the rooms are surprisingly small. These are very much about providing a venue; functional considerations were minimal. Long sofas line the walls for sitting, but the only other furniture is a small hearth in the middle of the room. Hanging from the center of the dome is a golden ball that signified the earth.

Two of the chambers are lavishly decorated, with distinctive Ottoman domes. Kütahya tiles line the walls and add the sense of occasion that the rooms deserve for their role in maintaining the mighty Ottoman empire. This isn’t the original council chambers building. It was replaced during the reign of Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent in the mid 16th century.

The first Council chambers in the palace were built during the reign of Sultan Mehmed II, and the present building dates from the period of Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent by the chief architect Alseddin. It has since undergone several changes, was much damaged and restored after the Harem fire of 1665, and according to the entrance inscription it was also restored during the periods of Sultan Selim III and Sultan Mahmud II.

From the 18th century onwards, the place began to lose its original importance, as state administration was gradually transferred to the Sublime Porte (Bab-ı Ali) of the Grand Viziers. The last meeting of the Council in the palace chambers was held on Wednesday, August 30, 1876, when the cabinet (Vükela Heyeti) met to discuss the state of Sultan Murat V, who had been indisposed for some time.

The council hall has multiple entrances both from inside the palace and from the courtyard. The porch consists of multiple marble and porphyry pillars, with an ornate green and white-coloured wooden ceiling decorated with gold. The floor is covered in marble. The entrances into the hall from outside are in the rococo style, with gilded grills to admit natural light.

While the pillars are earlier Ottoman style, the wall paintings and decorations are from the later rococo period. Inside, the Imperial Council building consists of three adjoining main rooms. Two of the three domed chambers of this building open into the porch and the courtyard. The Divanhane, built with a wooden portico at the corner of the Divan Court (Divan Meydanı) in the 15th century, was later used as the mosque of the council but was removed in 1916.

There are 3 domed chambers : The first chamber where the Imperial Council held its deliberations is the Kubbealtı. The second chamber was occupied by the secretarial staff of the Imperial Divan. In the adjacent third chamber called Defterhane, records were kept by the head clerks. The last room also served as an archive in which documents were kept.

On its façade are verse inscriptions which mention the restoration work carried out in 1792 and 1819, namely under Sultan Selim III and Sultan Mahmud II. The rococo decorations on the façade and inside the Imperial Council date from this period. The main chamber Kubbealtı is however in decorated with Ottoman Kütahya tiles. Three long sofas along the sides were the seats for the officials, with a small hearth in the middle. The small gilded ball that hangs from the ceiling represent the earth. It is placed in front of the sultan's window and symbolises him dispensing justice to the world, as well as keeping the powers of his viziers in check.

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