One of the most nefarious aspects of the court of Constantinople (known as the Seraglio and the Sublime Porte) was the all-pervading corruption and bribery that had been raised to a system of administration. The pashas and hospodars (governors) who administered the provinces and vassal states purchased their posts at exorbitant prices. They recovered their fortunes by extorting still larger sums from their subjects. The peasantry was thus reduced to abject misery.
—”Ottoman Empire” The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. (2001–07)