This document is a beyānnāme, or declaration, sent by Recāī Efendi, the Ottoman reʾīsül-kuttāb (chief scribe), to Britain's ambassador to the Ottoman Empire. It justifies the Ottoman declaration of war on Russia by explaining Russia's violation of treaty obligations, and gives insight into eighteenth-century Ottoman attitudes to international law and its relationship with Islamic law.
Transcription of Ottoman Turkish text
(1) Devlet-i ʿAliye-ʾi Dāʾimü’l-ḳarār ile olan muṣālaḥayı Rusiya devleti fesḫ ve naḳż-ı ʿahd eylediğini müşʿir beyān-nāmedir (2) Devlet-i ʿAliye-ʾi Ebed-Devām ile Rusiya Devleti beyninde münʿaḳid olan muṣālaḥanıñ (3) şerāʾiṭine Devlet-i ʿAliye ṭarafından bi-tamāmihā riʿāyet olunub lakin Rusiya Devleti ṭarafından (4) ʿadem-i riʿāyete delāʾil-i vāżıḥa budur ki Rusiya Devleti muġāyir-i emāre-ʾi dostu ḳurb ve cevār-ı (5) ḥudūdda müteʿaddid-i ḳalʿeler binā ve derūnlarına ʿasākir ve mühimmāt cemʿ ve tertīb eylemekden bir ān ḫālī (6) olmadıġından başḳa yetmiş yedi senesinde Leh ḳıralı Aġostos-u s̲ālīs̲ fevt olduḳda Lehlü ṭāʿifesiniñ (7) şurūṭ-u serbestiyetleri üzere Cumhūr-u Leh’iñ kıral intiḫāb eylemleri ḥuṣūṣunda fī’l-āṣıl ʿırḳında (8) ḳıral olmuş olmayub aḥād-ı ṭavāʾif-i ʿaskeriye-ʾi Leh żābıṭānından ve ḳrallıġa nā-şāyān olan (9) kimesneyi cebren ḳıral naṣb ve irāde-ʾi cumhūra muġāyir öyle şaḫṣa ṭarafgīrlik ve kāffe-ʾi umūr-u Leh’e (10) müdāḫale ve taʿarruż eytmekle ḳapıketḫüdāsından suʾāl olunduḳda Leh Cumhūru şurūṭ-u serbestiyetlerini (11) muḥāfaẓa żımnında bir miḳdār-ı ʿasker ṭaleb eylediler ṭobsuz ve cebehḫānesiz altı biñ nefer süvārı ve biñ nefer (12) ḳazaḳ ki mecmūʿyu yedi biñ nefer eder aṣl-ı Leh Memleketi’ne taʿyīn ve iʿmālını daḫi Leh Cumhūru’na tefvīż (13) eylemişlerdir bundan ziyāde ferd-i vāḥid-i ʿaskerīsi olmadıġını beyān ve baʿdehu Memleket-i Leh’e ziyāde ve müsellaḥ (14) ʿasker taʿyīn ve Bonyatovski nām kibārınıñ oġlunu ḳıral naṣb eylemek üzere niçün cebr olundu (15) deyü suʾāl olunduḳda Rusiya Devleti ḥāşā bir kimesneyi ilzām ve fılān şaḥṣı ḳıral naṣb eden deyü (16) cebr eylediği yoḳdur demekle mumżā taṣdīḳnāme verdikden ṣoñra yine Memleket-i Leh’e peyderpey ṭoplu (17) ve cebhḫānelü ʿasker taʿyīn ve iʿmāllarını kendü ceneralları yediyle olub şurūṭ-u serbestiyet-i Leh ilġā (18) ve Lehlü’nüñ intiḫāb etmedikleri ve ḳıralzāde olmayan şaḫṣa ittibāʿ içün cebr ve tabʿiyet eylemeyenleri (19) ḳatıl ve emvālların nehb eylemek mis̲illü işāʿa eylediği beyān-nāmeye muġāyir ḥarekāta taṣaddī (20) olunduġu mesmūʿ ve bu mis̲illü ḥareket iḫtilāl-ı niẓām serḥadāt-ı Devlet-i ʿAliye’ye bāʿis̲ ve bādī olub (21) ḳadīm ve cedīd ʿahdnāme-ʾi hümāyūn mūceblerince Leh’den ʿaskeriniñ iḫrācı tavṣiye ve tefhīm olunduḳda (22) kah- ı şubāṭda ve gāh-ı fılan vaḳıtda cümlesi iḫrāc oluna çıḳdır deyü müteʿaddid-i mümżā ve maḫtūm (23) taḳrīr kāġıdları gönderdikden ṣoñra ḥudūd-u İslāmiye’den Balṭa nām maḥalle ṭob ve tüfenk ile (24) Rusiya ʿaskerī gönderüb ehl-i İslām üzerine baġteten hücūm ve biñ neferden ziyāde ricāl ve nisvān (25) ve ṣıbyānı ihlāk eylediğiniñ ḫaberi geldikde gerek Devlet-i ʿAliye ṭaraflarından ve gerek fermān-revā-yı (26) iḳlīm-i Ḳırım olan şehmānetlü celādetlü ḫān-ı ʿālīşān ṭaraflarından bu mādde Rusiya Devleti’nden suʾāl (27) olunduḳda muġāyir-i ṣulḥ ve ṣalāḥ ṭob ve ḫumbara ile aşikāre ḥareketi inkar ve Ḥaydamaḳ ṭāʾifesi (28) bir miḳdār ḫasāret eylemişler teʾdīb olunurlar deyü cevāb-ı nā-ṣavāb irādı bā-ḫuṣūṣ Ḥaydamaḳ eşḳiyāsı ṭob ve ḫumbara ile geşt ve güzār edegelmediği maʿlūm-u ʿālemiyān iken (29) bu gūne muġāyir-i ṣulḥ ve ṣalāḥ ḥarekete sebeb ve ʿillet nedir ve üç dört seneden berü Leh derūndan (30) ʿaskeriñ ʿadem-i iḫrācı biñ yüz otuz üç tārīḫinde olan muṣālaḥa şurūṭuna ve gerek (31) elli iki tārīḫinde vuḳūʿ bulan muṣālaḥa mevāddında ṣulḥ-u müʾebbediñ niẓāmına ḫalel verecek (32) şeʾy olur ise der-ḥāl menʿ oluna deyü muṣarraḥ iken Balṭa’ye eyledikleri ḫasāret (33) ve ġadrī inkār ve cesāret edenleri ʿalenen teʾdībe taʿcīl eylemeyüb ve muġāyir-i şurūṭ-u muṣālaḥa (34) Leh Memleketi’nden ʿaskerīni iḫrāc eylemediğiniñ sebeb ve ʿilleti suʾālı içün Āsitāne-ʾi Saʿādeti’nde muḳīm Rusiya Devleti’niñ (35) bi’l-fiʿil müsteşīr ve muraḫḫaṣı olub bu isimle mümżā ve memhūr taḳrīrler veren ḳapıḳetḫüdāsı Der-ʿAliye’ye (36) daʿvet ve mevādd-ı merḳūme kendüden suʾāl olunduḳdan ḳaṭʿā cevāb verememekle sükūtu naḳż-ı ʿahd (37) eyledikleri iḳrārı maḳāmına ḳāʾim olduġundan ġayrī Leh’den ʿasker-i Rusiya’nıñ ʿadem-i ihrācı keyfiyeti (38) istifsār olunduḳda bi’l-cümle Lehlü’yü ḳırala tabʿiyet etdirmedikce Rusiya ʿaskerī derūn-u Leh’den (39) iḫrāc olunmayacaġını taḳrīr ve beyān eyledikde ḳadīm ve cedīd ʿahdnāme-i hümāyūn mūceblerince Rusiya Devleti (40) Lehlü’ye ve memleketine müdāḥaleden ve niẓām-ı cedīd ve kefālet ve żāminlik idiʿāsından ferāġat (41) eder mi deyü ḫıṭāb olunduḳda benim muraḫḫaṣlıġı maḥdūddur bu māddeyi ol-ṭarafda devletim bilir deyü (42) cevābda ıṣrār ve bu ṣūret ile daḫi naḳż-ı ʿahd ʿārını irtikāb eyledikleri işkār ve iẓhār (43) eylediğine bināʾen bir muḳteżā-yı şerʿ-i ḳavīm Mosḳovlu üzerine sefer-i hümāyūn-u ẓafter-nümūn iḳtiżā eylediğini (44) ʿulemā-ʾı ʿaẓām fetvā-yı şerīfe ile cevāb buyurmalarıyla ittifāḳ-ı ārā ile Rusiya üzerine sefer muḥaḳḳaḳ (45) olduġundan nāşī ḳapıketḫüdāsınıñ ol-vechile ḥapsi lāzım gelmekle ʿādet-i ḳadīme-i Devlet-i ʿAliye üzere (46) Yedi-Ḳule’de meks̲ etdirildiği ve Devlet-i ʿAliye ṭarafından bu vaḳta gelince dostluġuñ ḫilāfı ve ʿahdnāme-i hümāyūnuñ muġāyiri ednā ḥareket vuḳūʿ bulmayub bu mādde üç sene miḳdārı (47) dostluġa bināʾen iġmāż ve imhāl olunmuşken Rusiya Devleti’niñ muġāyir-i ṣulḥ ve ṣalāḥ bu vechile (48) naḳż-ı ʿahdı irtikāb ve işʿār eylediği İngiltere Devleti’niñ maʿlūmu olmaḳ içün ifāde ve (49) beyān ḳılındı
This is an informatory declaration that the State of Russia has violated and broken the treaty concluded with the Ever-Eternal Sublime State.
The Sublime State has always completely observed the rules of the peace contracted between the Eternal Sublime State and the State of Russia. However, it is clear from the evidence that follows that they have not been at all observed by the State of Russia. Contrary to the signs of friendship, the State of Russia built a number of castles near to and around the border, collecting and positioning soldiers and all the [necessary] supplies, and did not subsequently withdraw them. In the year 77 (1763), the King of Poland, Augustus III, died and the Polish nation, in accordance with their rules of independence, elected a king of the Commonwealth of Poland. In this matter, by the principles of their people, the king may not be from among the officers of the military class of Poland, and no inappropriate person can be forced into the position of king.
[Russian] partiality to a particular candidate being contrary to the will of the Commonwealth, and an interference in and aggression towards all the affairs of Poland, the [Russian] agent [in Istanbul] was questioned. He said in his answer: “Because [the Poles] had requested a unit of soldiers to protect the rules of the independence of the Commonwealth of Poland, six thousand lancers and a thousand Cossacks, making a total of seven thousand, were appointed to the Realm of Poland without guns or gunpowder, and they were set to work throughout the Commonwealth of Poland. A while afterwards, an individual who was not one of the military men made a declaration, and he subsequently went to the Realm of Poland and raised armed soldiers.”
[The Russian agent] was asked why a gentleman called Poniatowski was forced to be nominated to the position of king. He said in reply: “God forbid the State of Russia should be partial to a person, and install any person as king." He said, "There has been no compulsion, and after [Poniatowski] had presented a certificate with his signature he gradually returned to the Realm of Poland with soldiers issued with guns and gunpowder. By the actions of one of the generals, the rules of independence of Poland were annulled, and the Poles did not hold an election. The crown prince was deposed and forced to be his subject, those who did not submit were killed and their goods plundered, and similar pieces of news were received that [the rebels] were beginning operations contrary to the official declaration. Such actions are the cause of and reason for disturbances of order on the borders of the Sublime State. In accordance with the requirements of old and new imperial capitulations, it is explained and required for [Russian] soldiers to be withdrawn from Poland at the time of February, and at such a time all of them withdrew and left."
After [the agent] sent a document with a petitionary declaration with a number of signatures and seals, the Russian army with cannon and guns was sent over the Islamic borders to the area of Balta and launched a surprise attack on the people of Islam. When news arrived that more than a thousand men, women, and children had been slaughtered; whether they were from the Sublime State or from the most noble, the most brave and esteemed khan, the ruler of the region of Crimea, the response of the State of Russia was contrary to peace and harmony by denying their blatant movements of cannon and munitions. [The Russian agent] said: “The Haidamaka (Polish-Lithuanian armed bands similar to Cossacks) caused great harm and they were punished.” This is a deceitful answer; by a special command the Haidamaka bandits did not frequently roam with cannon and munitions, and it is common knowledge that these methods are contrary to peace and harmony – and that [the Haidamaka] are a great pest.
Three or four years later, and the [Russian] soldiers have failed to leave Poland. In the provisions of the treaty of 1133 (1720) as well as that of 52 (1739), one of the articles of peace says, “Anything that does any harm to the order of the ever-lasting peace shall be immediately prohibited.” When [we] explained this [to the Russians], they denied those who were causing havoc and villainy at Balta, and did not swiftly and publicly discipline those who dared to do so. Moreover, because they did not withdraw their soldiers from the Realm of Poland contrary to the provisions of peace, the current secretary and envoy of the State of Russia residing at the Threshold of Felicity were questioned on this situation and the [Russian] agent was invited to the Sublime Abode to present a signed and sealed petitionary declaration, and was himself questioned on the aforesaid article, but he gave no answer at all. With his silence, they broke the treaty.
He was once more asked about the situation, [we] desiring to know why the soldiers of Russia would not leave Poland, [and he responded] that the soldiers of Russia would not leave Poland until the Poles were made subject to the king. As he had petitioned and made his declaration in conformity to the old and new imperial capitulations, he was asked during his speech, “Would the State of Russia abandon its interference with the Poles, and cease the pretension of introducing a new order, security, and custodianship over the realm?” He insisted in his reply: “My plenipotentiary powers are limited. This [treaty] article is known by my state.” By this means they also clearly broke the treaty.
This being evident and clear, consequently a requirement of the orthodox law necessitated a victorious imperial military expedition against the Muscovites, and the great scholars responded by issuing a noble opinion in response that they were in complete accord that a campaign against Russia was legally permissible. As a result, it was necessary to arrest the [Russian] agent in accordance with the ancient custom of the Sublime State, and he was imprisoned in the Seven Towers. To this time, there will not be found any base actions by the Sublime State contrary to friendship and the imperial capitulations. In this matter, the State of Russia acted contrary to peace and harmony by offering affronts and delays in consideration of friendship over three years, and in this way have clearly and evidently broken the treaty. This declaration is to inform and declare [this matter] to the State of Britain.