Rumelia Eyalet

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Eyalet-i Rumeli
Eyalet of the Ottoman Empire

c. 1365–1867
Rumelia Eyalet in 1609
Capital Edirne, Sofia, Monastir
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 •  Established c. 1365
 •  Disestablished 1867
 •  1844[1] 124,630 km2 (48,120 sq mi)
 •  1844[1] 2,700,000 
Density 21.7 /km2  (56.1 /sq mi)
Today part of  Albania
 Bosnia and Herzegovina
 Serbia ( Kosovo)

The Eyalet of Rumeli or Rumelia (Ottoman Turkish: ایالت روم ایلی; Eyālet-i Rūm-ėli‎),[2] also known as the Beylerbeylik of Rumeli, was a first-level province (beylerbeylik or eyalet) of the Ottoman Empire encompassing most of the Balkans ("Rumelia"). For most of its history it was also the largest and most important province of the Empire.

The capital was in Adrianople (Edirne), Sofia, and finally Monastir (Bitola). Its reported area in the 19th century was 48,119 square miles (124,630 km2).[3]


The first beylerbey of Rumelia was Lala Shahin Pasha, who was awarded the title by Sultan Murad I as a reward for his capture of Adrianople (modern Edirne) in the 1360s, and given military authority over the Ottoman territories in Europe, which he governed effectively as the Sultan's deputy while the Sultan returned to Anatolia.[4][5][6]

From its foundation, the province of Rumelia—initially termed beylerbeylik or generically vilayet ("province"), only after 1591 was the term eyalet used[4]—encompassed the entirety of the Ottoman Empire's European possessions, including the trans-Danubian conquests like Akkerman, until the creation of further eyalets in the 16th century, beginning with the Archipelago (1533), Budin (1541) and Bosnia (1580).[5][6]

The first capital of Rumelia was probably Edirne (Adrianople), which was also, until the Fall of Constantinople in 1453, the Ottomans' capital city. It was followed by Sofia for a while and again by Edirne until 1520, when Sofia became the definite seat of the beylerbey.[6] At the time, the beylerbey of Rumelia was the commander of the most important military force in the state in the form of the timariot sipahi cavalry, and his presence in the capital during this period made him a regular member of the Imperial Council (divan). For the same reason, powerful Grand Viziers like Mahmud Pasha Angelovic or Pargalı Ibrahim Pasha held the beylerbeylik in tandem with the grand vizierate.[5]

In the 18th century, Monastir emerged as an alternate residence of the governor, and in 1836, it officially became the capital of the eyalet. At about the same time, the Tanzimat reforms, aimed at modernizing the Empire, split off the new eyalets of Üsküb, Yanya and Selanik and reduced the Rumelia Eyalet to a few provinces around Monastir. The rump eyalet survived until 1867, when, as part of the transition to the more uniform vilayet system, it became part of the Salonica Vilayet.[5][7][8]


Organisation of the eyalet in the 17th century, from the accounts of Evliya Çelebi: "Rumeili has two Defterdars, one of the treasury office (mal) and of the feudal tenures (timar) a Kehaya of Chavushes, an inspector of the Defter (rolls), a Kehiya of the Defter, an Alai-beg (colonel of the feudal militia); a Cheri-bashi (lieutenant colonel) a Voinuk-agha and seven Yuruk-begs".[9]


Administrative divisions


A list dated to 1475 lists seventeen subordinate sanjakbeys, who controlled sub-provinces or sanjaks, which also functioned as military commands:[5]


Another list, dating to the early reign of Suleiman the Magnificent (r. 1520–1566), lists the sanjakbeys of that period, in approximate order of importance.:[5]

  1. Bey of the Pasha-sanjak
  2. Bosnia
  3. Morea
  4. Semendire
  5. Vidin
  6. Hersek
  7. Silistre
  8. Ohri
  9. Avlonya
  10. Iskenderiyye
  11. Yanya
  12. Gelibolu
  13. Köstendil
  14. Nikebolu
  15. Sofia
  16. Inebahti
  17. Tirhala
  18. Alaca Hișar
  19. Vulcetrin
  20. Kefe
  21. Prizren
  22. Karli-eli
  23. Ağriboz
  24. Çirmen
  25. Vize
  26. Izvornik
  27. Florina
  28. Elbasan
  29. Sanjakbey of the Çingene ("Gypsies")
  30. Midilli
  31. Karadağ (Montenegro)
  32. Sanjakbey of the Müselleman-i Kirk Kilise ("Muslims of Kirk Kilise")
  33. Sanjakbey of the Voynuks

The Çingene, Müselleman-i Kirk Kilise and Voynuks were not territorial circumscriptions, but rather represented merely a sanjakbey appointed to control these scattered and often nomadic groups, and who acted as the commander of the military forces recruited among them.[5] The Pasha-sanjak in this period comprised a wide area in western Macedonia, including the towns of Üskub (Skopje), Pirlipe (Prilep), Manastir (Bitola) and Kesriye (Kastoria).[5]

A similar list compiled c. 1534 gives the same sanjaks, except for the absence of Sofia, Florina and Inebahti (among the provinces transferred to the new Archipelago Eyalet in 1533), and the addition of Selanik (Salonica).[5]


Further sanjaks were removed with the progressive creation of new eyalets, and an official register c. 1644 records only fifteen sanjaks for the Rumelia Eyalet:[5]

  1. Köstendil
  2. Tirhala
  3. Prizren
  4. Yanya
  5. Delvine
  6. Vulcetrin
  7. Üskub
  8. Elbasan
  9. Avlonya
  10. Dukagin
  11. Iskenderiyye
  12. Ohri
  13. Alaca Hișar
  14. Selanik
  15. Voynuks


The administrative division of the beylerbeylik of Rumelia between 1700-1730 was as follows:[21]

  1. Pasha-sanjak, around Manastir
  2. Köstendil
  3. Tirhala
  4. Yanya
  5. Delvina
  6. Elbasan
  7. Iskenderiyye
  8. Avlonya
  9. Ohri
  10. Alaca Hisar
  11. Selanik
  12. Dukagin
  13. Prizren
  14. Üsküb
  15. Vulçıtrin
  16. Voynuks
  17. Çingene
  18. Yoruks

Early 19th century

Sanjaks in the early 19th century:[22]

  1. Manastir
  2. Selanik
  3. Tirhala
  4. Iskenderiyye
  5. Ohri
  6. Avlonya
  7. Köstendil
  8. Elbasan
  9. Prizren
  10. Dukagin
  11. Üsküb
  12. Delvina
  13. Vulcetrin
  14. Kavala
  15. Alaca Hișar
  16. Yanya

Mid-19th century

File:Rumelia Eyalet, Ottoman Balkans 1850s.png
The reduced eyalet in the 1850s

According to the state yearbook (salname) of the year 1847, the reduced Rumelia Eyalet, centred at Manastir, encompassed also the sanjaks of Iskenderiyye (Scutari), Ohri (Ohrid) and Kesrye (Kastoria).[5] In 1855, according to the French traveller A. Viquesnel, it comprised the sanjaks of Iskenderiyye, with 7 kazas or sub-provinces, Ohri with 8 kazas, Kesrye with 8 kazas and the pasha-sanjak of Manastir with 11 kazas.[23]

Territorial evolution

Wholly or partly annexed to the Eyalet

Created from the Eyalet


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  19. Ćorović 1997

    U leto 1797. sultan ga je imenovao za rumeliskog begler-bega i Mustafa je otišao u Plovdiv, da rukovodi akcijom protiv buntovnika iz Vidina i u Rumeliji.

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