interpreter, and he to the archbishop,
who sends notice to the several dioceses to make the
most convenient arrangements to avoid annoyances or to
lessen the demand. The poor subjects might very often be
saved from oppression if their archbishop were not from
policy, and sometimes from personal interest, ready to lend
himself to the exactions of the Muhassil, so that they are often
abandoned by the very person who ought to take their part.
When the Governor wishes to collect money out of season, ot
of his mere caprice, the mode of imposing duties and taxes is
curious enough. He may even tax with a certain sum anyone
who bears a name which he may select ; as, for instance, anyone
called George has, without appeal, to pay a certain sum.
Such an exaction falls on members of the Greek community
only, who are treated more as slaves than subjects.
For voluntary homicide the law imposes on the slayer the
capital penalty, and on the village where the homicide took
place a tax which goes to the treasury of the Grand Signor,
together with the sum levied as blood-money. The bloodmoney
for a man killed, of 30 or 35 years of age, is reckoned
at 500 piastres : for others a calculation is made of the time
which, humanly speaking, the man might have lived, and of
the gain which in that residue of his life might have accrued
therefrom to the Grand Signor, the sum being often excessive.
If the homicide resulted from some accident, or were indirectly planned, the slayer very often escapes all punishment but the
payment of some few piastres. The Mehke??ie are the courts
before which are pleaded all causes, criminal and civil; in
the capital the Molla presides, in the other cities and in the
principal villages the Qazi^ judges who acquit or condemn
after a short hearing. The Turks have no written civil law,
their guide is the Qur'an, their sacred book. Every good Qazi
ought to have many texts from it, called Fetawa^ written out in
long lists, to which, according to the cases, are given various
interpretations, very often opposed to the true sentiments of
A man who is summoned to a court for debt has no choice
but to pay to the Qazi the tenth part of the sum in dispute:
this is disbursed by the debtor if he is proved to be such, or
by the plaintiff, if his claim be fraudulent or unfounded.
A similar fee of one-tenth falls to the Qazi from the property
of every person deceased. But the valuation is not very
There are in the island of Cyprus 16 Qaztliqs, which are
so many courts, in each of which a Qazi presides, but all
are subordinate to their chief the Molla, For although they
may hold their posts under a special firmen, or order of the
Porte, they cannot give judgment except in a provisional form.
In affairs of any consequence they must draw up their i’lam
or judgment, and send it to the Governor, who sends it to the
Molla without whose consent and approval the Governor
cannot examine a matter affecting the life of a subject.
The military government of the island rests with the Alay
Bey who is the General of the Sipahi or mounted troops,
and the Yenicheri Agha, who commands the infantry: their
captain is called Zabit and Qolaghasi. There ought to be
3000 Sipahi in the island, and about 8000 Yenicheri (Janissaries),
but now one would hardly find 100 of the first, and
2000 of the last, the several commandants having appropriated
the pay and perquisites of the many men wanting.
When the Turks took the island there were reckoned
80,000 subjects chargeable with the Kharaj or poll-tax, not
counting women, children and old men, who were exempt.
This number was maintained as long as the kingdom continued
to be prosperous, and the Grand Signor received as his
just due, at five piastres a head, 400,000 piastres a year.
Wealth soon decreased and with it the population, but the
Pashas continued to exact the same sum, and to this end
increased the taxes on those who remained; and this course
was followed even when the government was transferred to a
Muhassil, for these officers raised the amount to 40 piastres
a head. Now there are only 12,000 men liable to Kharai
and this, as I have said above, is reduced to 21 piastres a
head, yet the result is the by no means contemptible sum of
252,000 piastres. Add to this as much again extorted by the
Governor, the Chief Justices, the officers of every grade, and
you have a revenue of 504,000 piastres. So that we may
conclude that the population has notably decreased, and the
sums wrung from it increased.
The population thus reduced will scarcely amount now to
40,000 souls in all. But the number is extremely hard to fix
accurately, not only in Cyprus but in every other province of
the Levant, for Eastern peoples keep no registers of births or
deaths, and count the inhabitants only by those who pay the
poll-tax, who are less than a third of the whole. I ought to
add that in Asia the number of women largely exceeds that
of men, a fact which I have observed and proved in all the
various tribes among whom I have lived in the Levant.
The products of the island were many and rich. In old
days there were mines of gold, silver, copper, iron, marcasite
(iron pyrites), vitriol and rock-alum: even emeralds
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