Laz rebellion (1832–1834)

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Laz rebellion
Johnston, Alexander Keith (1804-1871). Turkey in Asia, Transcaucasia. 1861 (EA).jpg
Result Rebellion suppressed
Laz rebels Trebizond Eyalet
Commanders and leaders
Tahir Agha Tuzcuoğlu of Rize  
Mustafa of Hopa  
Aslan of Batum
Osman Pasha Hazinedaroglu
Ahmed-Pasha of Kars
12,000 unknown

The Laz rebellion was a Laz revolt against the Porte’s representatives, centered at Trebizond, in 1832–1834, led by Tahir Agha Tuzcuoğlu of Rize, which aimed at resisting against the arbitrariness of the local Ottoman dynasts and asserting the rights of local Derebeys ("valley-lords"). The revolt was initially successful; at its height in January 1833, but by the spring of 1834, the rising had been put down.[1] The suppression of the rising had finally broken the power of relatively independent Laz derebeys. The rebellions of the Laz derebeys in the early 19th century were interpreted by Soviet Georgian scholars as "wars of liberation" against Ottoman occupation.


This conflict might have been connected to the existing feuds between Hazinedaroglu and Tuzcuoğlu families. Both families had been Derebeys and probably were Laz or Adjarian origin. The quarrel between those families started in 1812, when Suleiman-Zade Hazinedaroglu demanded from the Memish agha Tuzcuoğlu an extra loan, the latter refused and complained about that at Constantinople. It is perhaps not too venturesome to suggest that the vendetta began with the Hazinedaroglu's murder of Memish Tuzcuoğlu in 1817, who was later locally regarded as a martyr.


Osman Hazinedaroglu, himself an Adjarian[1] and bey of Çarşamba, bought the pashalik of Trebizond for 1,000 purses at the close of the Russo-Turkish War (1828–29). He then tried to suppress his rivals by using Ottoman reform[2] as a pretext and withdrew the privileges of the Derebeys ("valley-lords") and laid a large levy on the subjects of the eastern derebeys.[3] In September, Sürmene refused to pay levy, as the Russians had left a trail of destruction as the result of war and thus the harvest of 1829 was lost, while the harvest of 1830 was poor. Next year harvest was even worse, but Osman had still managed to extract 200,000 piastres. Next year, the sum was raised to 500,000 piastres and almost all the 4,000 families of the valley refused to pay. Several people were killed in the Surmene disturbances, but the place was still restless in March 1832. In August Osman Pasha adopted harsh military measures and despatched a force of 7,000 men there; The bey of Adjara led another 7,000 men from the east; A third force was dispatched from Bayburt to attack these same districts from the south. But nothing seems to have gained by this expedition, since the crisis of political authority remained unresolved.

Toward the end of that year, there was a report that the forces of Mehmet Ali Pasha, the Ottoman commander, then occupying parts of Anatolia, had made contact with the Tuzcuoğlu. Using the report as an excuse, Osman Pasha charged Tahir Agha with conspiracy and ordered his execution.[4] Tahir Agha rose in full revolt, and emerged as the leader of the Laz rebellion. His standarts were joined by Mustafa of Hopa and his brother-in-law, Aslan Bey of Batum. Osman Pasha's troops stayed in Lazistan over the winter, trying to locate their enemy. Tuzcuoğlu had taken his sizable force to the southern side of the Pontic Alps. Ahmed-Pasha of Kars pursued him, but eventually was defeated. Early in January 1833 Tuzcuoğlu, with 12,000 men marched to Trebizond (capital of pashalik) itself. Osman Pasha's kaymakam tried to stop him near the Değirmendere, but fell back without engaging the rebels. As the result eastern parts of pashalik were now effectively in the hands of Tuzcuoğlu. However, the attack on Trebizond was never materialised. In the second week of January 1833 a messenger from the Serasker Pasha arrived with Tuzcuoğlu's appointment as Ottoman governor of Rize. It seems Tuzcuoğlu's ambition to beecame a Derebey in official guise wes satisfied. The eastern districts from Surmene to Batum become a separate province, with its capital at Rize.


In July 1833, the revolt resumed, this time with a hint of Russian intrigue. It appeared that Aslan Bey of Batum (alias "Major Voinikov"), was encouraging the rebels on behalf of the Russians. Osman Pasha, assisted by Pasha of Kars assembled a new force of Canik irregulars and Erzurum regulars. The principal object was dispossession of Aslan Bey of Batum. By October the Pasha of Kars had overrun Batum and reached Atina. Aslan Bey took refuge at Rize with Tahir Tuzcuoğlu. Osman Pasha retired to Trebizond for winter. It was clear that the Laz revolt would continue as long as Tuzcuoğlu remained at Rize.

Seeing this, Tahir Tuzcuoğlu had placed his lordship under distant pashalik of Sivas. In response, Osman Pasha mustered 3-4,000 Canik irregulars and shipped to Lazistan. He completely crushed the Surmene revolt and captured Rize. Lazistan was overrun and pillaged. The decapitated heads of Tahir and most of his family members were despatched in triumph to Constantinople. Aslan Bey escaped to Russian Georgia and was not heard of again. British vice-council at Trebizond, James Brant reported in 12 April 1834; "The influence of this rich and powerful Tuzcuoğlu family, and the opposition it kept alive against the Pasha’s authority in Lazistan may therefore be looked upon as annihilated". In 1834 Pierre Martin Rémi Aucher-Éloy regarded the Laz revolt as over because, it was the first time, when the pasha had not to negotiate with the rebels, but instead had executed their leaders.

Failed conspiracy[edit]

Jafar Agha, surviving member of Tuzcuoğlu family, with a few followers had been hiding in the mountains of Ofi. He was invited to lead the conspiracy against the Osman Pasha. The conspiracy was betrayed by Emin Kahyaoglu (former agha of Surmene and then governor of Tirebolu). Surmene did not rise again, but in September 1839 the Rize took up arms for the last time. Osman Pasha sent 4,000 troops under the renegade Emin Agha against them. By October Memish Suichmezoghlu, agha of Rize, had fled to Ispir, while Emin Agha had effectively restored Pasha's authority in Lazistan.


The sons of a former Derebeys of Eynesil and the Ofl took advantage of Osman Pasha's death in 1841 to lead petty revolts. But the Lazs did not rise again.


  1. ^ a b Brody, David (1999). Ajarian identity and the regime of Aslan Abashidze (Thesis). Bilkent University.
  2. ^ Kasaba, Resat. (2014). Moveable Empire : Ottoman Nomads, Migrants, and Refugees. University of Washington Press. ISBN 9780295801490. OCLC 1043363465.
  3. ^ Eastern Turkey: An Architectural & Archaeological Survey, Volume II. T. A. Sinclair
  4. ^ Meeker, Michael E. (2002). A nation of empire the Ottoman legacy of Turkish modernity. University of California Press. ISBN 0520225260. OCLC 928482315.


  • Bryer, A 1969, ‘The last Laz risings and the downfall of the Pontic Derebeys, 1812–1840’, Bedi Kartlisa, Revue de Kartvelologie, XXVI, Paris