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The Italian Embassy Archives

The Italian Embassy Archives stored in the Ottoman Bank Archives and Research Center were set up to preserve and display historically significant archival material from the Italian Embassy in Istanbul. The Center possesses a comprehensive historical archive whose time span practically coincides with the history of the Italian presence in the Ottoman Empire during the second half of the 19th century.

The importance of this archival material lies in the defining role of the Italian community, one of the oldest in the Ottoman Empire, in Ottoman political, cultural, and social history. The Italian Embassy records shed light on the activities of various Italian institutions such as hospital and schools; those of most key Italian associations including La Società Operaia Italiana di Mutuo Soccorso (the Italian Mutual Aid Society of Workers), La Prima Filiale dell’Alleanza Israelitica Universale (the Alliance Israelite Universelle – Istanbul Branch), and La Società Italiana per l’Esportazione in Turchia (the Italian Society of Export in Turkey); and reveal also the commercial correspondence among foreign companies both within the boundaries of the Empire and abroad.


   

The material held in the Ottoman Bank Archives and Research Center documents the Italian presence in the Ottoman Empire from roughly 1847 to 1925, although the largest part of the material focuses more specifically on the years between 1870 and 1900. In addition to documents and registers belonging to the chancellery and consulate, the Italian Embassy Archives also contain the originals and copies of various documents related to other institutions such as the Health Commission, and the inventories entrusted by certain individuals to the Embassy for safekeeping.

A Brief History of the Italian Embassy in Istanbul

İtalyan Büyükelçiliği Yazlık BinasıThe Italian diplomatic presence in Istanbul during the 19th century can be traced through the various residences occupied by the bailo, Venice’s chief diplomat in the Porte. During the Byzantine period, Venetian representatives lived in a special han (the Balkapanı Han) in Constantinople. In the centuries that followed the Ottoman Conquest of Constantinople, Venetian ambassadors occupied various residences in Galata and Pera, until, finally, the Palace of Venice, in the district known as Little Italy, became the main residence of Venetian ambassadors and subsequently Italian ambassadors in Istanbul.

At the turn of the 19th century, changes in the political life of the Most Serene Republic of Venice would have a drastic effect on the destiny of the Italian Embassy. The Treaty of Campo Formio, signed on October 17, 1797, marked the collapse of the Republic of Venice whose territories were ceded to the Austrian Empire. By September 1798, the Palace of Venice in Istanbul had become the residence of Austrian Ambassador Baron Herbert Rathkeal, who also took possession of the archives of the bailate.

However Austrian ownership of the Palace did not last very long. The Treaty of Pressburg signed on December 26, 1808, following the battle of Austerlitz, stipulated that Venice, Istria, and Dalmatia would be transferred to the French Empire. Thus, the French occupied the residence from 1806 to 1808. With the Treaty of Vienna, the building once again passed into Austrian hands and so remained for about a century until the defeat of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1918.

In the meantime, the Casa d’Italia on Meşrutiyet Caddesi was used temporarily as the Italian Embassy and the ambassador’s residence became a mansion in Ayazpaşa, which would be converted into the Park Hotel in later years. As a result of the negotiations between the Italian State and the Ottoman Empire, it was decided to construct a new building in Maçka that could be used permanently by the Italian Embassy. However, in the turmoil of World War I, the building was never put to use.

After World War I and the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Italy claimed back as “historical Italian property” both the Palace of Venice in Istanbul and the archive stored in the embassy residence. It was not until March 27, 1919, and owing to the efforts of Count Sforza, high commissioner of Italy in Istanbul between 1918 and 1919, that the official transfer was formally decreed. From then until 1936, the Palace of Venice remained the main residence of Italian ambassadors until the embassy was moved to Ankara, the new capital of the Turkish Republic.

1-Tommasso Bertele, Il Palazzo degli Ambasciatori di Venezia a Costantinopoli e le sue Antiche Memorie, Casa Editrice Apollo Bologna: 1932.

2- Küçük İtalya Tophane semtinde İtalyan Konsolosluğu, İtalayan Lisesi ve Hotel İtalya’nın bulunduğu meydandır.

The Italian Embassy Archives Collection

This collection contains the files and publications of various offices such as the chancellery and the consulate of the Italian Embassy in Istanbul. The Legal and Consular divisions constitute the two main categories of the collection. These are followed by the records of the Health Commission, which comprise a much more limited number of registers, and two small booklets.

I-LEGAL DIVISION (TRIBUNAL)
1-Registers of sentences (Sentences)
2-Verbal registers (Comptes rendus)
3-Minutes of proceedings (Procès verbaux)
4-Diverse registers (Divers)
5-Documents (Dossiers)
6-Inventories (Inventaires)

II- CONSULAR DIVISION (CONSULAT)
1-Correspondence
2-Personnel
3-Accounting
4-Other

III-HEALTH COMMISSION DIVISION (COMMISSION SANITAIRE)
IV-OTHER (DIVERS)

I-LEGAL DIVISION:

Archival material related to the Embassy’s legal and judicial cases. This includes legal cases, attachments, final civil trials, pending cases, final judgments, bankruptcies, the legalization papers of various companies, institutions and associations, and various other legal documents. The files in this section are categorized in terms of date, size, language, material, and type.


Osmanlı mahkemelerinde İtalyan tebaasından olanlara karşı alınan kararlara bir örnek

1- Registers of sentences
42 volumes covering the period between 1860 and 1911. This series includes information about civil, penal, and commercial sentences relating to birth, death, marriage, and citizenship cases.

Ceza hukuku duruşma tutanakları  defteri 1876.

2-Verbal registers
25 registers covering the period from1866 to 1924. This series contains information on civil and commercial cases.

Teresa Chrissoni’nin Seniha Sultan’a verdiği borçla ilgili davaya dair zabıt tutanakları defterinin içindekiler sayfası.

3-Minutes of Proceedings
11 files on individual cases covering the period from 1879 to 1913. This series includes the minutes of court general meetings and judicial sessions.

 

4-Diverse Registers
18 registers from the period between 1861 and 1922, which include correspondences, reports, judicial deposits, and name indices.

5-Documents
9 documents from the period between 1866 and 1921, including information related to particular cases such as those involving loans.

Müteveffa Carlo Massioli’nin Yeni Cami mahallesinde bulunana dükkanına ait malların envanteri

6-Inventories
6 inventories covering the period from 1847 to 1907. They contain the accounts of probate proceedings.

II-CONSULAR DIVISION

This section contains records that span the period from 1869 to 1920. These include correspondence, ledgers, calendars, cash books, lists of names, staff registers, salaries, books containing copies of letters, and statistical records.

1-Correspondence

İstanbul Konsolosluğu tarafından Roma İçişleri Bakanlığı’na hitaben yazılmış ve  Sanitario Internazionale’nin ( Uluslararası Sağlık Örgütü) Osmanlı İmparatorluğu’nun sağlık durumu hakkında verdiği  bilgiyi içerir yazışma62 registers covering the period between 1869 and 1896. This series contains the correspondence between the Italian Embassy in Istanbul and other embassies and third parties such as ministries, municipalities, and private individuals. This series is the most complete and consistent in terms of the number of registers. It provides information mainly about the Danubian region, Rumelia, and Anatolia. Information on the construction of major public works in the Ottoman Empire constitutes one of the main topics of correspondence. The files contain information on shipping (port construction, coastal shipping, etc.), railways, water and irrigation work, and road building and reconstruction.

The first 14 items are registers of original records relaying the Embassy’s correspondence with various consulates and ministries. The remaining copy registers essentially contain correspondence with the municipalities.

The correspondence registers also contain correspondence pertaining to financial and commercial topics. These registers consist essentially of domestic and foreign correspondences, telegraphs, and commercial and financial records such as incoming and outgoing documents. The registers also contain information regarding the capitulations of the Ottoman Empire.

The correspondence between the Italian delegation to the Ottoman Public Debt Administration and the Italian Consulate in Istanbul

Report concerning the estate of Italian subject Jean de Giacomo, deceased July 7, 1887, written by the Italian Consul on June 18, 1888, and addressed to Greek Consul E. Mavromati.

Correspondence concerning the dispute between Fitus Carabella, a mining operator excavating granite in an Armenian village near Panderma (Bandırma), and the villagers and local administrators.

Konsolosluk çalışanlarının isimlerinin tutulduğu fihrist sayfası.

2-Personnel
7 volumes starting from 1920 containing information related to the civil status of the consulate staff.

Konsolosluk maaş ödeme defterinden güvenlik görevlilerinin maaşlarını gösteren belge.

3-Accounting
17 volumes of books of accounts dating from the years between 1862 and 1920. The material in this section includes registers of accounts of the daily expenses of artisans working for the Embassy in Istanbul, and registers of the annual salaries of Embassy guards and other staff.

İtalyan Deniz Rejisi'nin İstanbul Limanı’ndan talep ettiği bilgileri içerir protokol defteri.

4-Other
6 volumes of different sizes covering the period between 1894 and 1907. These include cash registers, indices of names, and protocol registers.


Sağlık Komisyonu'nun 1924 – 1925 mali yılı yevmiye defterindenIII- HEALTH COMMISSION DIVISION

9 volumes entrusted to the Embassy for safekeeping covering the period between 1912 and 1925. These registers contain information about epidemic diseases and the policies implemented to prevent their diffusion into other countries.

1916 tarihinde Karadeniz Bölgesi'deki Denizciler için hazırlanmış kılavuz.

IV-OTHER

This section consists of two booklets. The first booklet, published in 1916, provides information to seamen about the Black Sea region. The second item consists of receipts and a manual for the therapeutic use of special chemical products belonging to the Maison E. Merck.