Resm-i bennâk

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The resm-i bennâk was a tax on peasants who had little or no land - those who did not pay the resm-i çift - in the Ottoman Empire.[1]

The name is probably a loanword of Armenian origin;[2] in the Ottoman Empire, "bennâk" came to mean a landless peasant, or a man who had married but not yet established his own household. "Bennâk" was also a term for a small area of farmland, less than half a çift.[3]

The resm-i bennâk was usually paid annually, on 1 March, by the head of a family who is either landless or has very little land - not enough to be assessed for resm-i çift. The tax was payable to the timar-holder[4] or to a tax-farmer in their stead.

The rate of resm-i bennâk was generally lower than the resm-i çift. For instance, in the provincial tax code of Hüdavendigar in 1487, a married man with his own farm might pay the full resm-i çift rate of 40 akçes; a bennâk would pay 12 akçes, and a mücerred (bachelor) would pay 6 akçes (see also resm-i mücerred).[5]

In some cases, bennâk was only paid by peasants in the Ottoman Empire who had a small but nonzero area of land to farm; the truly landless peasants would pay a caba tax[6] in which case the remaining bennak might be called "ekinlü-bennâk".

Academics might be exempted. Miners were also exempted from many taxes, and the resm-i bennâk was no exemption - for example, sipahis who worked in saltpetre mines would be exempt from resm-i bennâk, resm-i çift, and caba; they would also be exempted from avariz and other taxes.[7] Some of the sadat - those claiming descent from Muhammed - were initially exempted from paying resm-i bennâk, but this exemption was eroded over time.[8] There were even cases of people forging certificates of ancestry in order to claim tax exemptions.[9]


  1. ^ Demirci, Suleyman (2003). "Avariz and nüzul levies in the Ottoman Empire: An assessment of tax burden on the tax-paying subjects. A case study of the Province of Karaman, 1628-1700" (PDF). 
  2. ^ Dankoff, Robert (1995). Armenian loanwords in Turkish. Otto Harrassowitz Verlag. ISBN 978-3-447-03640-5. 
  3. ^ Vryonis, Speros (1969). "The Byzantine Legacy and Ottoman Forms". Dumbarton Oaks Papers. 23/24: 251–308. 
  4. ^ ACCOUNTING METHOD USED BY OTTOMANS FOR 500 YEARS: STAIRS (MERDIBAN) METHOD (PDF). Turkish Republic Ministry of Finance Strategy Development Unit. 
  5. ^ Zilfi, Madeline (1997). Women in the Ottoman Empire: Middle Eastern women in the early Modern Era. BRILL. p. 179. ISBN 978-90-04-10804-2. 
  6. ^ Faroqhi, Quataert (1997). An economic and social history of the Ottoman Empire. Cambridge University Press. p. 532. ISBN 978-0-521-57455-6. 
  7. ^ Ágoston, Gábor (2005). Guns for the sultan: military power and the weapons industry in the Ottoman Empire. Cambridge University Press. p. 116. ISBN 978-0-521-84313-3. 
  8. ^ Acun, Fatma (2002). "The Other Side of the Coin: Tax Exemptions within the Context of Ottoman Taxation History". Bulgarian Historical Review. 1 (2). 
  9. ^ Canbakal, Hülya (2009). "The Ottoman State and Descendants of the Prophet in Anatolia and the Balkans (c. 1500-1700)". Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient. 52: 542–578. doi:10.1163/156852009X458241. Retrieved 17 April 2011.