Characterized as the smallest unit of the social structure, family creates its own typology with the impact of many religious, cultural, economic and political factors within the place and time it existed. Due to this reason, different family models can emerge in different societies. Likewise, it is certain that the family institution can undergo changes because of the factors of the same society mentioned above. Adoption of matriarchal or patriarchal structure, preference of polygamy or monogamy and participation of the family elders are some of these differences. Then, how is this nucleus structure that is affiliated with all these religious, economic and political institutes formed? When directed towards the Ottoman society, what kind of answers can this question bring forth? These are the issues we aim to enlighten though partially in our work.
Within this framework, some examples like the social structure of a neighborhood, events in the remotest corners which take place and some examples from the court records that offer us rich information about their manners and customs provide resources to our study. Habits and customs about Namzedlik (Engagement), which was considered the first step in the formation of the family institution in the Ottoman Empire, can be detected from registers that are subject to lawsuits. Essentially, in these cases there were issues, which resulting from malfunctioning of engagement, causes of deterioration of engagement, given to the mutual gifts, girls have right to speak over her marriage, “harc-ı makul”, “ağırlık” and dowry.
Key Words: Namzedlik, Engagement, Ağırlık, Harc-ı Makul