Salt of the Empire: The making of an Ottoman monopoly, 1838-1881

Bayraktar U.

New Perspectives on Turkey, 2023 (SSCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Publication Date: 2023
  • Doi Number: 10.1017/npt.2023.20
  • Journal Name: New Perspectives on Turkey
  • Journal Indexes: Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus, International Bibliography of Social Sciences, ABI/INFORM, American History and Life, Historical Abstracts, Index Islamicus, Political Science Complete, Public Affairs Index, Sociological abstracts, Worldwide Political Science Abstracts
  • Keywords: Ottoman Empire, finance, taxation, consumption of salt, monopolies, TRANSACTION COSTS, TAX, EVOLUTION, TURKEY
  • Ankara University Affiliated: Yes


The present article is a study of the fiscal history of the Ottoman salt monopoly before 1881, when it was taken over by local and European creditors. It brings a novel perspective to the literature on Ottoman finances by highlighting a case of centralized collection of an indirect tax. It argues that the interplay between the government's urge to raise indirect contributions and the consumers' proclivity to illicit salt determined the enterprise's sustainability. Not merely a security for European credit, the salt monopoly was a genuine Ottoman institution in the transformation to a modern fiscal state.