Published online by Cambridge University Press: 27 July 2021
This chapter shows how the loosely regulated night of the eighteenth century, that had accommodated orthodox and antinomian ritual, order, and its transgression, gradually turned into a battleground between the palace elite and the janissaries, the unofficial rulers of the night. When at conflict with the palace, the janissaries used the night not only for licentious pleasures and business, but also for conspiracy and sabotage, as a crucial facet in their “protocols of rebellion.” Once activated, the janissaries’ networks would organize quickly under the cover of darkness and march out of the shadows to confront the sultan in broad daylight. Ottoman sultans, on their part, occasionally tried to dislodge these networks, significantly in this context, by eradicating the nightlife scene which they considered the breeding ground of janissary revolts. These efforts, however, were thwarted by the dependency of the authorities on, and the ambivalence toward these very networks and activities. The drama is narrated below in three acts of major upheavals: the 1730 rebellion, the nizam-i cedid reforms and the 1807 uprising that undid them, and the destruction of the janissaries in 1826, which opened the way to significant changes in Ottoman nocturnal realities.