Bosnian Fortress Guards – Mustahfizes

  • Azra Gadžo Kasumović
Keywords: Bosnian mustahfizes, spahi, mustahfizes-timar leaders, land transactions, registration, azabs, change in service, ordinance


The paper brings general information on Bosnian members of the territorial militia - mustahfizes, and on foot soldiers – azabs, as the most numerous local guards and crew members of Bosnian fortresses. It further investigates the occurrence of the term mustahfiz in the Ottoman edicts, analyzing data on mustahfizes in Bosnia mentioned in the earliest books and protocols. As for azabs who were originally presented as light infantry in battles for conquering of new lands and fortresses, there is interesting information included in certain documents that speak of not only their moving from one fortress to another but of the change in their assignments which allowed for their becoming permanent fortress guards. It was in 1662 that a new mustahfizes ordinance was issued. The mustahfizes term is in the beginning introduced as a generic term but the goal of this paper is to discuss differentiation between mustahfizes as fortress guards and mustahfizes as timar leaders, and to describe specificities of their service. As typical examples, we mention documents belonging to Ćerimović family of Ljubuški that had for over a century served as mustahfizes of the Ljubuški fortress. This collection of documents contains the ordinance by Abdulkerim (Abdul-Kerim) dated 1716. By presenting of the documents, especially the sharia court registers of 1556-57 and those signed by mustahfizes that date as far back as 1794 and 1803, we want to show that mustahfizes as timar leaders had different competencies in relation to other fortress crew members.

How to Cite
Gadžo Kasumović, A. (2018). Bosnian Fortress Guards – Mustahfizes. Anali Gazi Husrev-Begove Biblioteke, 25(39), 81-102. Retrieved from