Iqta System in Seljuqs | Features and functions

The Ikta system played an important role in the economic and social structure of the Seljuk Empire. The taxation of ictal lands was a valuable source of income for the empire.

What is the Iqta System?

The Ikta system is a system seen in the administrative structure of the Central Asian Turkic states. Its roots go back to the nomadic life of the Turks in Central Asia. While the nomadic Turks were engaged in animal husbandry and agricultural activities, there was no landowner. Therefore, there was no concept of ownership of land in nomadic societies. Instead, under nomadic societies, land was distributed between families on a rotational basis. This sharing would appear as a system over time in the administrative structure of Turkish states.

It is a system seen in the administrative structure in the Islamic world. This system emerged during the Abbasid period. The Abbasids divided the land they would use for their administration among the soldiers based on their success in the wars. This division allowed the soldiers to own the land of iktalik. Thus, the soldiers had a land where they could earn a living and their loyalty to the state increased. In the Islamic world, the management of the iqtalik lands has become one of the tasks of the soldiers.

During the Seljuk Empire, the distribution of iktalik lands was done by the Seljuk sultans. As the empire expanded, more and more soldiers and rulers acquired the Iqtalian lands. Iktalik’s land was not only distributed to the soldiers. At the same time, iqtalik lands were given to clerics, scientists, artists and even some servants. In this way, the administration of the empire was provided by a wide range of specialized people.

Iqta and provincial organization

Iqta system

It is used for the organization of the province. The management of the provinces is carried out thanks to the iqta system. Taxes are collected through the ikta system. Thanks to this system, the state does not pay salaries to civil servants. The officer receives his salary from the country itself. The soldiers gathered in the military organization during the expedition were gathered thanks to the iqta system. The Iqta system is effective in administrative, military and economic terms.

Although some sources write that the vizier Nizam-ül Mulk first established the military iqta, like many administrative and military innovations in the history of the Seljuks, what he actually did was to make this method, which has long been known, more systematic. and specially developed by the Buyids. It is known that the military iqta system was put into practice in the Great Seljuks from the reign of Sultan Melikşah and spread throughout the country from the 15th year of Melikşah’s rule.

There is no conclusive evidence that administrative power is not limited to certain types of land. Miri could be given as an administrative iqta to any country whether it was a property or a foundation. It is widely believed that the Seljuks brought the Ikta system to Anatolian lands.

Characteristics of Ictalic Soils

Iqta system

In the Seljuk Empire, the Ikta system involved giving the tax and administrative affairs of the country to certain persons (iqta owner). These people, through the possession of ictal lands, rendered administrative and military services in certain regions of the empire. Iktalik land was mainly given to people participating in military and administrative services, but could also be given to other occupational groups.

  • The iqtalic lands were given to the owner of the iktalik for a certain period of time.
  • The duration was usually one year and at the end the owner of the iktalik had to pay a tax determined by the state.
  • If the owner of iktalik wanted to get iktalik again, he had to offer his services again.
  • The Iqtalian lands were ruled by the Iqtalian owner and their income belonged to him.
  • Iktalik lands differed in different regions of the Seljuk Empire.
  • The iqtalik lands in Anatolia were smaller and more numerous.
  • Larger lands were given to Iraq and Iran. These differences were determined by regional economic conditions and service needs.
  • Iktalic lands provided their owner with only a temporary title.
  • The landowner did not have enough motivation to develop the land and make it permanent.
  • It could lead to poor quality of the iktalik lands.

Duties and Responsibilities of Iqta Holders

Iqta system

In the Seljuk Empire, the Ikta system was a tax and administrative system that worked with the state giving the land to certain individuals (iqta owners). Owners of ictal lands were required to provide administrative and military services in certain parts of the empire. The duties and responsibilities of Iqta holders were as follows:

Military services

Ikta owners were required to provide military services to contribute to the state’s military power. This included mobilizing troops for the defense of the area, providing logistical support to the military, and taking action in case of attack.

Administrative services

Iqta owners were also involved in regional administration. This included ensuring justice, maintaining law and order and collecting taxes. In addition, it was the responsibility of the ikta owners to collect the taxes correctly and to transfer the collected taxes to the state in a timely manner.

Soil management

The iqta owners had control over the iqtaly lands and had to use, manage and exploit these lands. Increasing the fertility of the land, developing agricultural activities, establishing irrigation systems and developing the land in general were among the duties of the iqta owners.

Ghulam and Iqta soldiers

Iqta system

While the gulam soldiers were in the center, the iqta soldiers were in the provinces. The gulams formed the central army. They were completely subordinate to the sultan. Their salaries were paid by the central treasury. They were paid 3 monthly salaries. Their loyalty was endless. Iqta soldiers, on the other hand, made their living on the iqta land system. They were in this system.

When was the Iqta system launched?

The ikta system was used by the Central Asian Turkic states in the period before the establishment of the Ottoman Empire. It began to be used in the Ottoman Empire at the end of the 14th century.

How does the ICTA system work?

In the iqta system, the land is given to the rulers and the rulers collect taxes from the people living in these lands. The rulers perform their military service and are responsible for protecting the people of their land. They can also buy agricultural products from farmers to work their land.

When did the Iqta system end?

The ikta system was used in the Ottoman Empire until the mid-19th century. However, with the Tanzimat Edict in 1839, land tenure and the tax system were reorganized and the iqta system was gradually abolished.

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