Eyalet of Rumelia
Eyalet-i Rumeli
The Rumelia Eyalet in 1609
The Rumelia Eyalet in 1609
StatusEyalet of the Ottoman Empire
CapitalEdirne (1362–1530)
Sofia (1530–1836)
Monastir (1836–1867)
41°1′N 21°20′E / 41.017°N 21.333°E / 41.017; 21.333Coordinates: 41°1′N 21°20′E / 41.017°N 21.333°E / 41.017; 21.333
• Established
• Disestablished
1844[1]124,630 km2 (48,120 sq mi)
• 1844[1]
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Byzantine Empire
Second Bulgarian Empire
Despotate of Serbia
Despotate of Dobruja
Lordship of Prilep
Gazaria (Genoese colonies)
Principality of Theodoro
Kingdom of Bosnia
League of Lezhe
Venetian Albania
Kingdom of Hungary
Eyalet of the Archipelago
Kefe Eyalet
Bosnia Eyalet
Ioannina Eyalet
Principality of Serbia
Salonica Eyalet
Adrianople Eyalet
Silistra Eyalet
Niš Eyalet
Vidin Eyalet
Habsburg Monarchy

The Eyalet of Rumeli, or Eyalet of Rumelia (Ottoman Turkish: ایالت روم ایلی, Eyālet-i Rūm-ėli),[2] known as the Beylerbeylik of Rumeli until 1591,[3] was a first-level province (beylerbeylik or eyalet) of the Ottoman Empire encompassing most of the Balkans ("Rumelia"). For most of its history, it was the largest and most important province of the Empire, containing key cities such as Edirne, Yanina (Ioannina), Sofia, Filibe (Plovdiv), Manastır/Monastir (Bitola), Üsküp (Skopje), and the major seaport of Selanik/Salonica (Thessaloniki). It was also among the oldest Ottoman eyalets, lasting more than 500 years with several territorial restructurings over the long course of its existence.

The capital was in Adrianople (Edirne), Sofia, and finally Monastir (Bitola). Its reported area in an 1862 almanac was 48,119 square miles (124,630 km2).[4]


The first beylerbey of Rumelia was Lala Shahin Pasha, who was awarded the title by Sultan Murad I as a reward for his capture of Adrianople (Edirne) in the 1360s, and given military authority over the Ottoman territories in Europe, which he governed effectively as the Sultan's deputy while the Sultan returned to Anatolia.[3][5][6] Also, Silistra Eyalet was formed in 1593.

From its foundation, the province of Rumelia—initially termed beylerbeylik or generically vilayet ("province"), only after 1591 was the term eyalet used[3]—encompassed the entirety of the Ottoman Empire's European possessions, including the trans-Danubian conquests like Akkerman, until the creation of further eyalets in the 16th century, beginning with the Archipelago (1533), Budin (1541) and Bosnia (1580).[5][6]

The first capital of Rumelia was probably Edirne (Adrianople), which was also, until the Fall of Constantinople in 1453, the Ottomans' capital city. It was followed by Sofia for a while and again by Edirne until 1520, when Sofia once more became the seat of the beylerbey.[6] At the time, the beylerbey of Rumelia was the commander of the most important military force in the state in the form of the timariot sipahi cavalry, and his presence in the capital during this period made him a regular member of the Imperial Council (divan). For the same reason, powerful Grand Viziers like Mahmud Pasha Angelovic or Pargalı Ibrahim Pasha held the beylerbeylik in tandem with the grand vizierate.[5]

In the 18th century, Monastir emerged as an alternate residence of the governor, and in 1836, it officially became the capital of the eyalet. At about the same time, the Tanzimat reforms, aimed at modernizing the Empire, split off the new eyalets of Üsküb, Yanya and Selanik and reduced the Rumelia Eyalet to a few provinces around Monastir. The rump eyalet survived until 1867, when, as part of the transition to the more uniform vilayet system, it became part of the Salonica Vilayet.[5][7][8]


The governor of the Rumelia Eyalet was titled "Beylerbey of Rumelia" (Rumeli beylerbeyi) or "Vali of Rumelia" (Rumeli vali).

Governor Reign Notes
Lala Shahin Pasha the first beylerbey of Rumelia, the lala (tutor) of Murad I.[9][better source needed]
Timurtaş Bey fl. 1385
Süleyman Çelebi before 1411 son of Bayezid I[10]
Mihaloğlu Mehmed Bey 1411
Mustafa Bey 1421[11]
Sinan Pasha ( son of Albanian noble Bogdan Muzaka 1430
Hadım Şehabeddin 1439–42[12]
Kasım Pasha 1443[13]
Ömer Bey fl. 1453[14]
Turahan Bey before 1456
Mahmud Pasha before 1456
Ahmed after 1456[citation needed]
Hass Murad Pasha c. 1469–1473
Hadım Süleyman Pasha c. 1475[15]
Davud Pasha the Albanian c. 1478[16]
Sinan Pasha the Albanian c. 1481[17]
Mesih Pasha after 1481[18]
Hasan Pasha fl. 1514[19]
Ahmed Pasha the Albanian fl. 1521[20]
Güzelce Kasım Pasha c. 1527[21]
Ibrahim fl. 1537[22]
Khusrow Pasha June 1538[23]–?
Ali Pasha fl. 1546[24]
Sokollu Mehmed Pasha fl. 1551[25]
Doğancı Mehmed Pasha [26]
Osman Yeğen Pasha 1687[27]
Sari Ahmed Pasha 1714[28]–1715[29]
Topal Osman Pasha 1721–27, 1729–30, 1731[30]
Hadji Mustafa Pasha summer of 1797[31]–?
Ahmed Kamil Pasazade Hakki Pasha [32]
Ali Pasha of Albanian descent 1793[33]
Ali Pasha (2nd term) 1802[34])
Veli Pasha (son of Ali Pasha) 1804[35]
Hurshid Pasha fl. 1808[36]
Köse Ahmed Zekeriya Pasha 1836–March 1840
Mehmed Dilaver Pasha May–July 1840
Yusuf Muhlis Pasha Serezli July 1840–February 1842
Yakub Pasha Kara Osmanzade
Mustafa Nuri Paşa, Sırkatibi
Mehmed Said Paşa, Mirza/Tatar
Mehmed Ziyaeddin Paşa, Mezarcızade
Ömer Paşa, Kızılhisarlı
Mehmed Ziyaeddin Paşa, Mezarcızade
Mehmed Emin Pasha
Asaf Pasha
Mehmed Reşid Paşa, Boşnakzade
Ömer Paşa, Kızılhisarlı (2nd term)
Mehmed Hurshid Pasha Arnavud
Ahmed Nazır Paşa
İsmail Paşa, Çerkes
Abdülkerim Nadir Paşa, Çırpanlı
Ali Paşa, Hacı, Kütahyalı/Germiyanoğlu
Hüseyin Hüsnü Paşa
Mehmed Tevfik Paşa, Taşcızade

Administrative divisions


A list dated to 1475 lists seventeen subordinate sanjakbeys, who controlled sub-provinces or sanjaks, which also functioned as military commands:[5]

  1. Constantinople
  2. Gallipoli
  3. Edirne
  4. Nikebolu/Nigbolu
  5. Vidin
  6. Sofia
  7. Serbia (Laz-ili)
  8. Serbia (Despot-ili)
  9. Vardar (under the Evrenosoğullari)
  10. Üsküb
  11. Arnavut-ili (under Iskender Bey, i.e. Skanderbeg)
  12. Arnavut-ili (under the Arianiti family)
  13. Bosnia
  14. Bosnia (under Stephen)
  15. Arta, Zituni and Athens
  16. Morea
  17. Monastir


Another list, dating to the early reign of Suleiman the Magnificent (r. 1520–1566), lists the sanjakbeys of that period, in approximate order of importance.:[5]

  1. Bey of the Pasha-sanjak
  2. Bosnia
  3. Morea
  4. Semendire
  5. Vidin
  6. Hersek
  7. Silistre
  8. Ohri
  9. Avlonya
  10. Iskenderiyye
  11. Yanya
  12. Gelibolu
  13. Köstendil
  14. Nikebolu
  15. Sofia
  16. Inebahti
  17. Tirhala
  18. Alaca Hișar
  19. Vulcetrin
  20. Kefe
  21. Prizren
  22. Karli-eli
  23. Ağriboz
  24. Çirmen
  25. Vize
  26. Izvornik
  27. Florina
  28. Elbasan
  29. Sanjakbey of the Çingene ("Gypsies")
  30. Midilli
  31. Karadağ (Montenegro)
  32. Sanjakbey of the Müselleman-i Kirk Kilise ("Muslims of Kirk Kilise")
  33. Sanjakbey of the Voynuks

The Çingene, Müselleman-i Kirk Kilise and Voynuks were not territorial circumscriptions, but rather represented merely a sanjakbey appointed to control these scattered and often nomadic groups, and who acted as the commander of the military forces recruited among them.[5] The Pasha-sanjak in this period comprised a wide area in western Macedonia, including the towns of Üskub (Skopje), Pirlipe (Prilep), Manastir (Bitola) and Kesriye (Kastoria).[5]

A similar list compiled c. 1534 gives the same sanjaks, except for the absence of Sofia, Florina and Inebahti (among the provinces transferred to the new Archipelago Eyalet in 1533), and the addition of Selanik (Salonica).[5]


In 1538 there are listed 29 liva (sanjaks) during the reign of Sultan Suleiman I.[37]

  1. Sofya (Pasha Sanjak of Rumelia)
  2. Ağrıboz
  3. Alacahisar
  4. Avlonya
  5. Bosna
  6. Çirmen
  7. Gelibolu
  8. Hersek
  9. İlbasan
  10. İskenderiye
  11. İzvornik
  12. Karlıili
  13. Kefe
  14. Köstendil
  15. Mora
  16. Niğbolu
  17. Ohri
  18. Prizrin
  19. Rodos
  20. Semendire
  21. Silistre
  22. Tırhala
  23. Vidin
  24. Vize
  25. Vulçıtrın
  26. Yanya
  27. Müselleman-ı Kızılca
  28. Müselleman-ı Çingane
  29. Voynugan-ı Istabl-ı Amire


Further sanjaks were removed with the progressive creation of new eyalets, and an official register c. 1644 records only fifteen sanjaks for the Rumelia Eyalet:[5]

  1. Köstendil
  2. Tirhala
  3. Prizren
  4. Yanya
  5. Delvine
  6. Vulcetrin
  7. Üskub
  8. Elbasan
  9. Avlonya
  10. Dukagin
  11. Iskenderiyye
  12. Ohri
  13. Alaca Hișar
  14. Selanik
  15. Voynuks


The Rumelia Eyalet in 1795
The Rumelia Eyalet in 1795

The administrative division of the beylerbeylik of Rumelia between 1700-1730 was as follows:[38]

  1. Pasha-sanjak, around Manastir
  2. Köstendil
  3. Tirhala
  4. Yanya
  5. Delvina
  6. Elbasan
  7. Iskenderiyye
  8. Avlonya
  9. Ohri
  10. Alaca Hisar
  11. Selanik
  12. Dukagin
  13. Prizren
  14. Üsküb
  15. Vulçıtrin
  16. Voynuks
  17. Çingene
  18. Yoruks

Early 19th century

Sanjaks in the early 19th century:[39]

  1. Manastir
  2. Selanik
  3. Tirhala
  4. Iskenderiyye
  5. Ohri
  6. Avlonya
  7. Köstendil
  8. Elbasan
  9. Prizren
  10. Dukagin
  11. Üsküb
  12. Delvina
  13. Vulcetrin
  14. Kavala
  15. Alaca Hișar
  16. Yanya
  17. Smederevo

Mid-19th century

The reduced eyalet in the 1850s
The reduced eyalet in the 1850s

According to the state yearbook (salname) of the year 1847, the reduced Rumelia Eyalet, centred at Manastir, encompassed also the sanjaks of Iskenderiyye (Scutari), Ohri (Ohrid) and Kesrye (Kastoria).[5] In 1855, according to the French traveller A. Viquesnel, it comprised the sanjaks of Iskenderiyye, with 7 kazas or sub-provinces, Ohri with 8 kazas, Kesrye with 8 kazas and the pasha-sanjak of Manastir with 11 kazas.[40]


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