Plague, Conflict, and Negotiation: The Jewish Broadcloth Weavers of Salonica and the Ottoman Central Administration in the Late Sixteenth Century
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Like other port cities of the early modern Mediterranean, Ottoman Salonica was repeatedly attacked by outbreaks of plague. When plague arrived, the Jewish residents of the town rushed to the countryside to protect themselves and their families. These departures sometimes brought the textile industry of Salonica to a halt and endangered the production of the woolen broadcloth that the Ottoman administration needed for distribution to the Janissaries. Hence, flight from plague frequently created tensions between the Ottoman central administration and the Jewish broadcloth weavers of Salonica. Documents in the Ottoman archives from the second half of the sixteenth century reveal a long process of negotiation that sought to address this problem. A close analysis of these documents, including a succession of orders issued by the Ottoman administration, offers unique insights into how the conflicting interests of the Ottoman central administration and a subject population were mediated.
KeywordsJews Ottoman Plague Salonica Textile
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