Resm-i arusane

The resm-i arus,[1] or resm-i arusane, was a feudal bride-tax in the Ottoman Empire. It was typically a fixed fee, a divani tax; it was paid around the time of marriage, to the timar-holder, or even to a tax-farmer in their stead. The tax-collector might record details of individual marriages, although this was not equivalent to the church marriage-registers in contemporary western Europe[2] and some of the tax records are unclear.[3]

Resm-i arusane is first recorded in the fifteenth century AD.[4] Although it was arguably incompatible with the shari'ah law, the resm-i arusane continued to be a small, but significant, source of tax revenue in the Ottoman Empire. For instance, tax records for the village of Sakal Dutan in 1550 show a total 810 akçes of tax revenue, of which 30 akçe were from resm-i arusane.[5] One 16th-century fatwa specifically stated that the resm-i arusane and the resm-i hinzir (pig tax) were illegal, but these taxes on "forbidden" transactions continued - sometimes under the guise of "gifts".[6]

Various sources suggest that the fee was paid either by the bride or the husband; rates might vary according to the bride's personal status and religion. One preserved document sets resm-i arusane at double the rate for virgins compared to widows; and Muslim rates paid twice as much as unbelievers.[7] The kannunname of Rhodos and Cos, in 1650, set resm-i arusane at 30 aspers for widows (regardless of their religion), and 60 aspers for virgins.

A Christian couple who wished to marry in a church would also have to pay nikâh resmi to the metropolitan, and a further fee to the local parish priest; this could be considerably more expensive than the resm-i arusane itself. There would also be a charge for registering the marriage with the government.[8]


  1. ACCOUNTING METHOD USED BY OTTOMANS FOR 500 YEARS: STAIRS (MERDIBAN) METHOD (PDF). Turkish Republic Ministry of Finance Strategy Development Unit.
  2. Stewart, Johansen, Singer (1996). Law and society in Islam. Markus Wiener Publishers. p. 116.
  3. Jews in the realm of the Sultans: Ottoman Jewish society in the seventeenth century. Mohr Siebeck. 2008. p. 156. ISBN 978-3-16-149523-6.
  4. Stewart, Johansen, Singer (1996). Law and society in Islam. Markus Wiener Publishers. p. 130.
  5. Jennings, Ronald (January 1978). "Sakaltutan Four Centuries Ago". International Journal of Middle East Studies. 9 (1): 89–98. doi:10.1017/s0020743800051710. JSTOR 162627.
  6. Princeton papers: interdisciplinary journal of Middle Eastern studies. Markus Wiener Publishers. 13-14: 130. 2005. ISSN 1084-5666. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  7. Shmuelevitz, Aryeh (1984). The Jews of the Ottoman Empire in the late fifteenth and the sixteenth centuries. Brill. p. 107. ISBN 978-90-04-07071-4.
  8. Women in the Ottoman Balkans: gender, culture and history. I.B. Tauris. 2007. p. 248. ISBN 978-1-84511-505-0.
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