Vassal and tributary states of the Ottoman Empire Redirected from Vassal state of the Ottoman Empire

The Ottoman Empire at its greatest extent in the Middle East, including its client states.

The Ottoman Empire had a number of tributary and vassal states throughout its history. Its tributary states would regularly send tribute to the Ottoman Empire, which was understood by both states as also being a token of submission. In exchange for certain privileges, its vassal states were obligated to render support to the Ottoman Empire when called upon to do so. Some of its vassal states were also tributary states. These client states, many of which could be described by modern terms such as satellite states or puppet states, were usually on the periphery of the Ottoman Empire under suzerainty of the Porte, over which direct control was not established, for various reasons.


Ottomans first demanded only a small yearly tribute from vassal princes, as a token of their submission. They later demanded that a vassal prince's son should be held as hostage, that the prince should come to the Palace once a year and swear allegiance, and that he should send auxiliary troops on the sultan's campagins. Vassal princes were required to treat sultan's friends and enemies as their own. If the vassal failed in these duties, his lands would be declared as darülharb (lit. territory of war) open to the raids of the Ghazis.[1]


  • Some states within the eyalet system included sancakbeys who were local to their sanjak or who inherited their position (e.g., Samtskhe, some Kurdish sanjaks), areas that were permitted to elect their own leaders (e.g., areas of Albania, Epirus, and Morea (Mani Peninsula was nominally a part of Aegean Islands Province but Maniot beys were tributary vassals of the Porte.)), or de facto independent[citation needed] eyalets (e.g., the Barbaresque 'regencies' Algiers, Tunis, Tripolitania in the Maghreb, and later the Khedivate of Egypt).
  • Outside the eyalet system were states such as Moldavia, Wallachia and Transylvania which paid tribute to the Ottomans and over which the Porte had the right to nominate or depose the ruler, garrison rights, and foreign policy control. They were considered by the Ottomans as part of Dar al-'Ahd, thus they were allowed to preserve their self-rule, and were not under Islamic law, like the empire proper; Ottoman subjects, or Muslims for that matter, were not allowed to settle the land permanently or to build mosques.[2]
  • Some states such as Ragusa paid tribute for the entirety of their territory and recognized Ottoman suzerainty.
  • Others, such as the Sharif of Mecca, recognized Ottoman suzerainty but were subsidized by the Porte. The Ottomans were also expected to protect the Sharifate militarily – as suzerains over Mecca and Medina, the Ottoman sultans were meant to ensure the protection of the Hajj and Umrah pilgrimages and safe passage of pilgrims. The Amir al-hajj was a military officer appointed by the Sultanate to ensure this.
  • During the nineteenth century, as Ottoman territory receded, several breakaway states from the Ottoman Empire had the status of vassal states (e.g. they paid tribute to the Ottoman Empire), before gaining complete independence. They were however de facto independent, including having their own foreign policy and their own independent military. This was the case with the principalities of Serbia, Romania and Bulgaria.
  • Some states paid tribute for possessions that were legally bound to the Ottoman Empire but not possessed by the Ottomans such as the Habsburgs for parts of Royal Hungary or Venice for Zante.

There were also secondary vassals such as the Nogai Horde and the Circassians who were (at least nominally) vassals of the khans of Crimea, or some Berbers and Arabs who paid tribute to the North African beylerbeyis, who were in turn Ottoman vassals themselves.


Map showing some vassal states of the Ottoman Empire in 1683

See also


  1. ^ Halil İnalcık (1973). The Ottoman Empire: The Classical Age 1300-1600. p. 12.
  2. ^ Romanian historian Florin Constantiniu points out that, on crossing into Wallachia, foreign travelers used to notice hearing church bells in every village, which were forbidden by Islamic law in the Ottoman empire. Constantiniu, Florin (2006). O istorie sinceră a poporului român [A sincere history of the Romanian people] (IV ed.). Univers Enciclopedic Gold. pp. 115–118.
  3. ^ "The Tatar Khanate of Crimea". All Empires. Retrieved 9 October 2010.
  4. ^ a b Miller, William. The Latins in the Levant: A History of Frankish Greece (1204–1566). London: 1908.
  5. ^ Rinn, Louis (1891). Histoire de l'insurrection de 1871 en Algérie. Algiers: Librairie Adolphe Jourdan. pp. 11.
  6. ^ Georgian Soviet encyclopedia, volume 6, page 658, Tbilisi, 1983
  7. ^ The Cambridge History of Africa by J. D. Fage p.406
  8. ^ Gábor Kármán; Lovro Kunčević (2013). The European Tributary States of the Ottoman Empire in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries. BRILL. p. 429. ISBN 978-90-04-25440-4.
  9. ^ Palabiyik, Hamit, Turkish Public Administration: From Tradition to the Modern Age, (Ankara, 2008), 84.
  10. ^ Ismail Hakki Goksoy. Ottoman-Aceh Relations According to the Turkish Sources (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 19 January 2008. Retrieved 10 May 2018.
  11. ^ The Cambridge History of Africa by J. D. Fage p.408-
  12. ^ Peter H. Wilson (2009). The Thirty Years War: Europe's Tragedy. Harvard University Press. p. 294. ISBN 978-0-674-03634-5.
  13. ^ Riedlmayer, András, and Victor Ostapchuk. "Bohdan Xmel'nyc'kyj and the Porte: A Document from the Ottoman Archives." Harvard Ukrainian Studies 8.3/4 (1984): 453–73. JSTOR. Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute. Web.
  14. ^ Kármán, Gábor, and Lovro Kunčević, eds. The European Tributary States of the Ottoman Empire in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries. Leiden: Brill, 2013. Print. p.137
  15. ^ Kármán, Gábor, and Lovro Kunčević, eds. The European Tributary States of the Ottoman Empire in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries. Leiden: Brill, 2013. Print. p.142
  16. ^ Magocsi, Paul Robert. History of Ukraine: The Land and Its Peoples. 2nd ed. Toronto: U of Toronto, 2010. Print. p.369
  17. ^ "Princes of Transylvania". Tacitus.nu. 30 August 2008. Retrieved 18 September 2013.
  18. ^ Page 45 British Relations with Ibn Saud of Najd, 1914-1919 Daniel Nolan Silverfarb University of Wisconsin--Madison, 1972

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