A Military Boycott in Ottoman History: The Machin Defeat (1791) and Ensuing Debates Cover Image

Osmanlı Tarihinde Bir Ordu Boykotu: Maçin Bozgunu (1791) Akabinde Yaşanan Tartışmalar
A Military Boycott in Ottoman History: The Machin Defeat (1791) and Ensuing Debates

Author(s): Aysel Yıldız
Subject(s): Military history, Political history, 18th Century, The Ottoman Empire
Published by: İzmir Kâtip Çelebi Üniversitesi, Sosyal ve Beşeri Bilimler Fakültesi
Keywords: Russo-Ottoman War;Machin Defeat;Janissaries;Modernization;Petition;

Summary/Abstract: The Machin Defeat (9 July 1791) was the last phase of 1787-92 Russo-Ottoman War. Due to a minor strategic mistake, the Ottoman forces at Machin, unable to stop a Russian military unit attacking Machin, began to run away from the battlefield. The consequent panic of the fugitives became endemic in the whole army, spreading to the rest of the soldiery-first to the janissaries in the entrenchments, then to the armorers and the artillerymen. The historical importance of the Machin defeat does not lie however in the fugitives and their plunders, but rather in the subsequent developments. Following the defeat, the commanders, viziers as well as the civil elite of the imperial camp submitted a petition to Selim III, requesting him to make an urgent armistice with the Russian government. This unexpected decision taken unanimously by the civil and military elite of the imperial camp had initially infuriated the Sultan who later approved the request. Consequently, a grand council has been held in Istanbul to discuss the final conditions for peace with Russia. Thanks to various archival materials, it is possible to follow the echoes of the Machin defeat and petitions in the capital. More importantly, the minutes of the council provide a chance to become acquainted with the debates over this defeat and the accusations directed towards the commanders as well as soldiers of the janissary army. The Machin defeat also prepared a solid ground for the implementation of reform program (Nizam-ı Cedid) under the initiative of Selim III and his bureaucrats. Indeed, the advocates of the Selimian reforms later made frequent references to the Machin defeat and these petitions of the elite of imperial camp underlying the unwillingness of the military elite to fight with the enemy- with the specific purpose legitimizing implementation of these reforms.

  • Issue Year: II/2016
  • Issue No: 2
  • Page Range: 123-162
  • Page Count: 40
  • Language: Turkish