By Virginia H. Aksan
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Additional resources for Ottomans and Europeans, Contacts and Conflicts
Acceptance of a Western-type constitution and the convening of a Parliament in 1876-77 enabled local notables to take a direct part in the administration of their own towns and cities and the country as a whole. Their rise to positions of political influence was accompanied by the growth of local culture, a sharpening consciousness of local needs and an awareness of the world at large that encouraged new aspirations as well as regional and ethnic identities. Although nationalism was the inevitable result of the local culture and ethnic consciousness that grew out of local conditions, the impact of Western nationalism on the Balkan Christian and Muslim elites must not be minimized.
A new bureaucratic structure began to emerge as a direct consequence of centralization, and eventually replaced the old one. The place of the Aga. of the Janissaries was taken by the Serasker, who was Commander in Chief, Minister of War, and a sort of garrison commander and police chief in the capital. Eventually, in 1845, the police functions were given to a special police department, the zaptiye Musiriyeti. The increase in foreign relations, and the replacement of Greek dragomans (interpreters) with Muslims culminated in the creation of the Terciime Odasi (Translation Bureau) in 1833.
That 18 INTRODUCTION collapse, in turn, can be traced both to the intensification of internal and external trade after capitulations, or rights to trade in Ottoman territory, were granted to France in 1536 and later to England and also to the economic burden resulting from wars with the Hapsburgs and Iran. Initially the search for revenue forced the Ottoman government to encourage overseas trade ventures that led in the seventeenth century to the emergence of a group of rich Greek merchants, sometimes with Ottoman dignitaries as their business partners.