Turkish Empire

Created in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries on the ruins of the Byzantine Empire, from the caliphate of Baghdad and independent Turkish principalities. It occupies a territory of 1,114,502 sq. miles, with a population estimated at 25,000,000 inhabitants, and extends over parts of Asia, Africa, and Europe between the Eastern Mediterranean, the Black Sea, the Indian Ocean, and the Red Sea. The Turkish Empire thus possesses some of the most important highways by land and sea, between these three continents.


A. The Balkan Peninsula (European Turkey)

The Balkan Peninsula (European Turkey), divided into eight provinces or vilayets, comprises the plateaux and terraces which extend to the south-east of the uplands of the Alps between the Adriatic, the Archipelago, and the Black Sea. Turkey still possesses Albania and Epirus, a vast plateau covered with towering mountain ranges (Techar-Dagh, 10,000 ft.) and with uplands stretching from the north-west to the south-east which reach as far as the Pindus; the coastal plains of the Adriatic and the small inland levels (Scutari Lake, Lake Ochrida, plains of Monastir d'Uskuf and of Yanina) are separated by very high ridges; Macedonia, a plain richly cultivated with vines, cereals, and tobacco, includes within the mountains of Macedonia to the west, Rhodope (9842 feet) to the north, Olympus to the south-west, the sharp and rocky peninsula of Chalcidice to the southeast; its only outlet, the port of Salonica (144,000 inhabitants), situated at the opening of an historical trade highway which ascends to the valley of the Vardar as far as Uskub, and over a hill of 1640 feet leads to the valley of the Bulgarian Morawa and as far as the Danube (railway route from Belgrade to Salonica): the plain of Thrace, bordering on the Archipelago and the Sea of Marmora, forming the lower level of the valley of the Maritza, of which Eastern Rumelia represents the upper. Cultivation is broken by the great stretch of sterile plateaux; the only important city in the interior is Adrianople (125,000 inhabitants), but at the extremity of the peninsula situated between the Black Sea, the Archipelago, and the Sea of Marmora, stands Constantinople, which occupies, on the Bosporus, one of the finest strategetical positions of the old continent. This metropolis of 1,500,000 inhabitants is at the cross-roads formed by the great waterway which connects the Black Sea with the Mediterranean, and by the overland route (followed by a railway) which reaches the valley of the Danube by way of Adrianople, Philippopoli, Sofia, and Belgrade. It is composed of the Turkish city of Stamboul, of the European districts of Galata and Pera separated by the natural roadstead of the Golden Horn, and of the suburbs of Scutari, Haïdar-Pacha, and Kadi Keui. These settlements are on both sides of the Bosporus, in Europe and Asia. On account of its military and commercial importance and its population composed of all the races of the earth, Constantinople is a typical cosmopolitan city.

The Peninsula of Asia Minor, or Plateau of Anatolia

Important for the richness of its coastal plains and its geographical situation; the construction of the railway from Constantinople to Baghdad (in 1912, 781 miles of track open for traffic from Constantinople to Boulgourlou by Eski-Chehir and Konieh) will result in a rebirth of this ancient country; a German company is at present fertilizing the plain of Konieh, diverting for this purpose the waters of a lake.

C. Syria

A narrow strip of land, 500 miles long by 93 wide, lies between Asia Minor; Egypt, the Mediterranean, and the Desert. It is traversed by the two parallel ridges of Libanus (ranging from three or four thousand to nine thousand feet) and Anti-Libanus, separated by a deep depression, the Gôr bounded on the north by the valley of the Orontes, on the south by that of the Jordan, which abuts on the gorge of the Dead Sea, 1200 feet below the sea level. The most important centres are the ports of Beirut (185,000 inhabitants), St. Jean d'Acre, and Jaffa (55,000 inhabitants), whence starts the railway to Jerusalem (115,000 inhabitants). The largest city is Damascus (350,000 inhabitants) in the middle of an oasis of luxuriant vegetation, one of the chief industrial centres of the Orient.

D. Mesopotamia and Turkish Armenia, or Kurdistan

Separated from Syria by the Great Desert, extends on the north to Anatolia and Armenia by the vast mountain ranges of Kurdistan, 13,000 feet, intercepted from the plains in the interior by Lake Van, whence flow the Tigris and the Euphrates, whose alluvial valleys are marvelously fertile; corn, wheat, barley, grain, one might say, originated here. Cotton may be also found in abundance, rice and plantations of date palms, and fruit-trees of every kind. The leading centres of Armenia are Erzerum, Van, and Ourfa. In Mesopotamia Mossoul (69,000 inhabitants), Baghdad (125,000 inhabitants), and Bassorah give but a feeble idea of the once great cities of Ninive, Babylon, and Seleucia-Ctesiphon.

E. The Peninsula of Arabia

The Peninsula of Arabia is a spacious desert plateau, bounded by immense mountain ranges, which rise over 9000 feet above the Red Sea. Scarcely a seventh of this vast territory (over 1,000,000 sq. miles) is dependent on the sultan, and that more nominally than in reality. The volcanic plateau of the centre (Nedjed or Arabia Petraea) is almost a desert. The population has flocked to the coast districts (Hedjaz and Yemen, or Arabia Felix). The only important centres are the sacred cities of the Mussulmans: Mecca (60,000 inhabitants) with its port Djeddah, where the Caaba, which preserves the "black stone" of Abraham, draws each year numerous pilgrims from all points of the Moslem world, and Medina (50,000 inhabitants), where Mohammed resided and died. The possession of these cities lends great political importance to the Turkish Government. A railway, intended to unite Damascus to Mecca, was laid to Medina in 1908.

F. Tripolitana

Tripolitana, occupied largely at present (1912) by the Italians, is in reality the Saharan coast of the Mediterranean. It is composed of plains of sand and rocky plateaux, to the east the plateau of Barka(ancient Cyrenaica whose coasts in antiquity were very fertile), the oasis and city of Tripoli (30,000 inhabitants), and the inland the oasis of Ghadames. On this territory of 462,767 sq. miles there are scarcely one million inhabitants. The principal resources and in the oases date palms.


The countries which form this immense territory represent what remains of the conquests of the Ottomans, a Turkish tribe originally from Khorassan, which emigrated into Asia Minor about 1224, at the time of the cataclysm produced in Central Asia by the Mongolian invasion of Jenghiz-Khan. The chiefs of the tribe of the Kei-Kankali became the mercenaries of the Seljuk emirs of Asia Minor. One of them, Othman, proclaimed himself independent at the end of the thirteenth century, and took the title of sultan, or padishah. Under Orkhan was organized with some Christian captives the permanent militia of the Janissaries; and then began incessant war between the Ottomans and the Byzantine Empire. In 1359 Suleiman entered Europe by the occupation of Gallipoli. Murad established himself at Adrianople (1360) and attacked the Slavonic peoples of the Balkans. The battle of Kossovo (1389) gave him Servia. The struggle continued until the taking of Constantinople by Mahomet II, who put an end to the Byzantine Empire (1453) and conquered the Peloponnesus (1462), Negropont (1467), Trebzond (1470), Bosnia, and Wallachia. He died in 1481, after failing to take Belgrade and Rhodes, but achieving the conquest of Anatolia as far as the Euphrates, and the peninsula of the Balkans as far as the Danube. To these conquests Selim I added Azerbaidjan, Syria, and Egypt (1517), Diarbekir and Mesopotamia (1518); he received from Mecca the banner of the prophet, and took the title of caliph, which assures to the Sultan of Constantinople the spiritual authority over all the Mussulmans of the world.

Soliman I took Rhodes from the Knights of St. John (1522) and conquered Hungary while Khaireddin Barbarossa subjected the Barbary States (1522). Selim II took possession of the Island of Cyprus (1570), but the Turkish domination had reached the limits of its extension. Soliman had been unable to take either Vienna (1526) or Malta (1562), and in 1571 the great victory of the Christian fleet at Lepanto weakened the naval power of the Turks in the Mediterranean. At the end of the sixteenth century The Turkish Empire had attained the zenith of its power on land. The siege of Vienna of 1683, which failed thanks to the intervention of the King of Poland, John Sobieski, marks the last aggressive attempt of the Turks on the West. Henceforth the western powers encroach on the Turkish Empire and begin its dismemberment. In 1699 by the treaty of Karlovitz the Sultan ceded Hungary and Transylvania to Austria. It is true that in 1739 the Turks succeeded in retaking Belgrade, but this was their last military success. The powerful militia of the Janissaries was of no further use; the administration was corrupt and venal. Moreover, the Turks were unable to impede the progress of Russia; in 1774 by the treaty of Kainardji the Turks ceded to Russia the Crimea and the coasts of the Black Sea, and to Austria Rumanian Bukowina. The French Revolution of 1789 saved Turkey from the project of division planned by Catherine II; the Peace of Jassy (1792) restored only a part of Bessarabia of the Dniester. Egypt, occupied in 1789, surrendered to Turkey in 1800, but in the most precarious condition. After the nineteenth century began the forward movement of the Christian nationalities which had submitted up to that time to Turkish domination; public opinion in Europe upheld this movement, and the governments themselves were won over. Meanwhile the rival ambitions of the powers prevented the "Eastern Question" from being regulated in a definitive manner. In 1821 the insurrection of the Greeks, supported by Europe, ended in the creation of the Kingdom of Greece (Treaty of Adrianople, 1829; and Conference of London, 1831).

The Servians formed an autonomous principality as early as 1830, and in 1832 the Pasha of Egypt, Mehemet-Ali, revolted; his independence was conceded to him in 1841, on condition that he would recognize the suzerainty of the sultan. In vain the Turks tried to reform; after the massacre and the dissolution of the Janissaries (1826) Mahmoud organized an army resembling the European, established military schools and a newspaper, and imposed the European costume on his subjects. In 1839 Abdul-Medjid organized the Tanzimât (new regime) and accorded to his subjects a real charter, liberty, religious toleration and promises of a liberal government. In 1854 the Tsar Nicholas of Russia strove to take up again the project of Catherine II, and to do away with "the sick man". Protected by France and England, Turkey kept, at the Congress of Paris (1856), all of its territory save Moldavia and Wallachia, which were declared autonomous. The Hatti-Humayoun of 16 Feb., 1856, proclaimed the admission of Christians to all employments and equality with other subjects before the law, but after the Liberal government of Fuad Pasha they resumed their former ways. On all sides the provinces revolted, and about 1875 formed the party of Young Turkey, desirous of reforming the empire on the European model.

Two sultans, Abdul-Aziz and Murad, were successively deposed. A new sultan, Abdul-Hamid, proclaimed on 23 Dec., 1876, a constitution resembling the European with a parliament and responsible ministers; but the reforming grand vizier Midhat Pasha was strangled, and the opening of parliament was no more than a comedy. Europe decided to act, and in 1877 Russia took the lead and sent an army across the Balkans, after the difficult siege of Plevna and would have entered Constantinople had it not been for the intervention of an English fleet. The treaty of San Stefano (March, 1878) established a Grand Principality of Bulgaria, and cut Turkey in Europe into many sections. Bismarck, alarmed by the progress of Russia, had this treaty revised at the Congress of Berlin (1878); the independent Bulgarian principality was reduced to Moesia to the north of the Balkans; Eastern Rumelia alone was autonomous, and Macedonia remained Turkish. The independence of Servia, Montenegro, and Rumania was sanctioned. Greece received Thessaly; Austria occupied Bosnia and Herzegovina; England established herself in the Island of Cyprus. This treaty, ratified by all the powers, was followed by new dismemberments. In 1855 Eastern Rumelia was annexed to Bulgaria. In 1897 Crete revolted, and tried to reunite Greece. After the victorious campaign of his army in Thessaly the sultan kept the sovereignty of Crete, but with an autonomous Christian governor, a son of the King of Greece.

In contrast to his predecessors, who had sought to restore their country by reforming it, the Sultan Abdul-Hamid established a regime of ferocious repression against the Young Turks, who were partisans of the reforms. A formidable police pursued all those who were suspected of Liberal ideas, and an unpitying censorship undertook the impossible task of depriving Turkey of European publications; the introduction of the most inoffensive books, such as Baedeker's guides, was prohibited. Emissaries everywhere revived Mussulman fanaticism; to the claims of the Armenian revolutionaries the Sultan responded by frightful massacres of the Armenians of Constantinople (Sept., 1895), followed soon by the slaughter which in 1896 drenched Kurdistan with blood; everywhere Armenians were tracked, and isolated massacres of Christians became also the normal order of events in Macedonia

Educated in Western ideas, the Young Turks, especially the refugees at Paris, united as early as 1895, and succeeded in spite of prohibitions in circulating in Turkey their journal the "Mechveret". A Committee of Union and Progress was even formed at Constantinople, and by constant propaganda succeeded in gaining to its cause the greater number of the officials. The uprising, the preparation of which deceived the Hamidian police, began 23 July, 1908, at Salonica; an ultimatum was sent to the sultan, who, abandoned even by his Albanians, proclaimed the re-establishment of the constitution (24 July, 1908) in the midst of indescribable enthusiasm, and called a parliament (4 Dec., 1908).

In three months 300 journals were started. Abroad, the counterstroke to this revolution was the definitive annexation, proclaimed by the Emperor of Austria, of Bosnia and Herzegovina (3 Oct., 1908). At the same time the Prince of Bulgaria took the title of Tsar of the Bulgarians (6 Oct., 1908), and repudiated the vassalage which still connected him with the sultan.

This exterior check weakened the Young Turk party, and on 13 April, 1909, a counter-revolution of Softas and soldiers of the guard broke out in Constantinople. The Young Turks had to flee the capital, but immediately the troops of Salonica, Monastir, and Adrianople consolidated and marched against Constantinople and laid siege to it (17 April, 1909). Negotiations continued for six days; finally at the moment when the massacre of the Christians seemed imminent, the Salonican troops entered Constantinople, and after a short battle became masters of the place. On 27 April Abdul-Hamid was forced to sign his abdication, and banished to Salonica. A son of Abdul-Medjid was made sultan under the name of Mohammed V, and a new constitution was proclaimed, 5 Aug., 1909, the Committee of Union and Progress superintending its execution with dictatorial powers. To-day Turkey is on the road, to reform and political reorganization.


According to a tradition which dates back to the earliest antiquity, Oriental nationalities did not commonly form compact groups settled within well-defined boundaries. As a result of violent transmigrations of peoples owing to hurricane-like invasions, or even by the simple chance of migrations due to economic causes, all the races of the Orient are mingled in an inextricable manner, and there is not a single city of the Ottoman Empire which does not contain specimens of all races, languages, and religions. The population has therefore an entirely heterogeneous character; the Turks have never made any effort to assimilate their subjects; they do not appear even to have attempted to propagate Islamism widely. Until the constitution of 1876, and in fact as late as the revolution of 1908, they have jealously striven to safeguard their privileges as conquerors. Up to the present time the population of the empire may be said to be divided into three classes:

  • The Mussulmans (Turks, Arabs, Servians, Albanians), enjoying alone the right of holding office, the only landowners, but subject to military service.

  • The Raias (flocks), or infidels, conquered peoples who have obtained the right of preserving their religion, but barred from all office and subjected to heavy tax. It was upon them that the despotism of the pashas was exercised. They are still, following the creed to which they belong, divided into "nations" governed by religious authorities, Christian bishops, Jewish rabbis, responsible to the sultan, but provided with certain jurisdiction over their faithful.

  • European subjects, established in Turkey for religious or commercial reasons, and under the official protection and jurisdiction of the ambassadors of the Powers. Many of the raïas of class have, however, succeeded in obtaining this privilege.

In 1535 the first "capitulation" was signed between the King of France, Francis I, and the Sultan Soliman. It accorded to France the protectorate over all the Christians. This agreement was often renewed, in 1604, 1672, 1740, and 1802. At the treaty of Kainardji Russia obtained a similar right of protection over the Orthodox Christians. The rights of France to the protection of Catholics of all nationalities have been recognized repeatedly by the Holy See, and particularly by the Encyclical of Leo XIII "Aspera rerum conditio" (22 May, 1886). The treaty of Berlin left to each state the care of protecting its subjects, but in practice France preserves the protectorate over Catholics, and even the diplomatic rupture between France and the Holy See has not impaired these civil rights. Each of the Great Powers has therefore considerable interests in the Turkish Empire: each one its own postal autonomy, courts, schools, and organizations for propaganda, teaching, and charity.

The Young Turk party, in power to-day, dreams of overthrowing this arrangement. The new constitution granted by the Sultan Mohammed V, 5 Aug., 1909, proclaims the equality of all subjects in the matter of taxes, military service, and political rights. For the first time Christians are admitted into the army, and the parliament, which meets at Constantinople, is chosen indiscriminately by all the races. The effect of this new regime appears to be, in the view of the Young Turks, the establishment of a common law for all subjects, the suppression of all privileges and capitulations. But the religious communities, or millets, hold to the ancient statutes which have safe-guarded their race and religion; the three oldest, those of the Greeks, the Armenians, and Jews, date back to the day following the taking of Constantinople by Mohammed II.

The rest of the European powers have in the Turkish Empire, political, economic, and religious interests of considerable importance; a certain number of public services, such as that of the public debt, or institutions like the Ottoman Bank, have an international character. The same holds good of most of the companies which are formed to execute public works, docks, railways, etc. . . The trade in exports and imports involves large sums of money, as one may judge by the following table:



Imports Exports

England 941,274 513,723

France 337,057 363,361

Germany 193,567 114,998

Austro-Hungary 407,519 247,774

Russia 249,417 57,489

Egypt 116,275 165,673

United States 41,091 70,332

A veritable economic war is going on between the Powers, desirous of exploiting the riches of the Orient; to the secular ambitions which menace the existence of the "sick man" have been added new forms of greed. Neither the Russians nor the Greeks have ceased to consider Constantinople as the historic goal of their efforts, and Bulgaria, deprived of Macedonia by the treaty of Berlin, also finds in its traditions claims on the same heritage. Macedonia is claimed by the Greeks, Bulgarians, Servians, and the Kutzo-Vlachs or Rumanians; Salonica has become a commercial center for Austrian exportation; and the annexation of Bosnia and Herzegovina has by one and the same stroke reinforced Austro-Hungarian and German influence in the Balkan Peninsula. Italy has some clients in Albania, and is seeking at the present moment to take possession of Tripoli.

Finally, France, England, and Germany are fighting to establish their moral and economic influence. France has maintained an important position because of the protection that it has always exercised over Catholics; French in the Orient has become a kind of second vernacular; while the influence of Germany has increased in the last few years for political reasons, by which the development of German commerce has profited. The European Powers, anxious for the defense of their own interests, are not, however, ready to abandon their capitulations. The Turkish Empire has moreover entered into a period of transformation, the end of which no one can foresee, and what delays still more the task of the new power is the infinite diversity of races and religions which make up the empire.

Although the statistical documents are very incomplete, the total population of the empire, including Egypt and the dependencies (Crete, governed by Prince George under the control of the Powers; Samos, governed since 1832 by a Greek prince appointed by the sultan), can be estimated at 36,000,000. Under the direct government of the sultan there are only 25,926,000 subjects, who belong to the following races: (I) Turks, or Osmanlis, estimated at 10,000,000, are settled throughout Asia Minor, the cities of Europe and Syria, and some cantons of Macedonia; most of them are Mussulmans. (2) Arabs (7,000,000), in Arabia, Syria, Mesopotamia, and Tripoli, forming several sects of Mussulmans. (3) Jews, scattered almost everywhere (Jews of Spanish origin form half of the population of Salonica); compact groups of Jews may be found in Jerusalem and its outskirts, at Bagdad, Mossoul, and Beirut. Samaritans inhabit the sanjak of Naplouse. (4) Gipsies, a mysterious race, are scattered throughout the empire. (5) Armenians, who have swarmed outside of their country and form powerful colonies in Asia Minor, Mesopotamia, Constantinople, and Turkey in Europe. From a religious standpoint they are Catholics, Gregorians, or Protestants. (6) Caucasian races: Lazes of Trebizond, Mussulmans or Orthodox Greeks; Kurds, fanatical Mussulmans scattered around Erzerum, Angora, Mossoul, Sivas; Circassians, spread throughout Asia Minor, Mussulmans. (7) Syrians, the descendants of Aramiean peoples, divided into a multitude of communities of different language and religion; Chaldceans, in Bagdad, Mossoul, Aleppo, Beirut, or Nestorians, speaking partly Syrian and partly Arabic. The Melchites speak Arabic, but belong to the Greek Church. The Jacobites, or Monophysites, speak Arabic and Syriac. The Maronites of the Lebanon and of Beirut speak Arabic and are Catholics. The Druses of the Lebanon form an heretical Mussulman sect. (8) The Greeks have remained in their historic country; as in antiquity they are a maritime people; they form powerful groups at Constantinople, Adrianople, Salonica, in Macedonia, Asia Minor, in the isles, in Syria, and in Crete. They belong to the Orthodox or to the Greek-Uniat Church. They are of considerable importance in the empire. (9) The Albanians appear to be the remnant of a very ancient race. They form in the west of the Balkan Peninsula (Albania) a compact group and still lead a semi-patriarchal life. A large part (I,000,000) is Mussulman, the others (30,000) Catholic: among them may be found the powerful tribe of the Mirdites. In 1911 the new government was obliged to direct an expedition against them to effect their disarmament. (9) The Slav peoples, Bulgarians and Servians, are scattered over Macedonia and Old Servia, where they oppose Greek influence; they are divided between Islamism, Orthodox Christianity, and Catholicism. (10) The Kutzo-Vlachs or Rumanians, Orthodox or Catholics, inhabit Macedonia, where they are mostly shepherds. (11) Finally, in all Turkish cities may be found a great number of families of European origin, settled in the country for a long period and who have lost their ethnical characters and their languages. Such are the Levantines, who seek to obtain from the ambassadors foreign naturalization for the sake of its privileges.

From a religious standpoint the Mussulmans may be estimated at 50 per cent of the population, the Orthodox Church 46 per cent, Catholics 3 per cent, other communities, Jews, Druses etc., at 1 per cent. In Turkey in Europe, on the contrary, there are 66 per cent of Christians to 33 per cent of Mussulmans.

(I) Mussulmans.—The Mussulman religion has remained the religion of the state. The sultan is always the caliph, the spiritual head of the Mussulmans of the whole world. The Mussulmans comprise the majority of Turks, Arabs, and a portion of the Albanians, Bulgarians, Greeks etc. Polygamy is always legal; four legitimate wives and an unlimited number of concubines are permitted to the believers. Under the influence of Western ideas and Christianity, monogamy tends to establish itself. Divorce exists, and the divorced woman can remarry. The sexes are always separated in the family home, which comprises the selamlik (male apartments) and the harem (female apartments). It is the same in the tramways, railways, ships etc. The women cannot go out except veiled, but circulate freely in the streets of the cities unaccompanied. Slavery is always active, but it has kept a patriarchal character. The master must endow his slave when the latter marries, and the Koran obliges him to provide for the needs of his slaves. Education is progressing. In principle it is obligatory. Primary education is free, a secondary school exists at the capital of each vilayet, as well as one free professional school. Instruction of women is developing at Constantinople; the Lyceum of Galata-Serai, organized by French professors, has 1100 pupils. Higher instruction is represented by the University of Constantinople and special schools. An imperial museum of archaeology has been created at Tchilini-Kiosk.

As in all Mussulman countries, the spiritual and temporal domains are blended, and civil relations are regulated by religious law which consists in the Koran and in the Cheriat, a collection of customs. The interpreters of this law are the ulemas, who form a powerful clergy whose head, the Sheikh-ul-islam, has the rank of vizier, and access to the council of ministers, or divan. At twelve years of age the future ulemas leaves the primary school and enters a medresse (seminary attached to the mosque) as a softa (student) where he learns grammar, ethics, and theology. He finally receives from the Sheikh-ul-islam the diploma of candidate (mulasim) and can be elevated to the rank of the ulemas; he may become cacti (judge). To advance further he must study for seven years, when he may become imam of a mosque. The ulemas wear a white turban; the hadjis, who have been at Mecca, have the green turban. The mesdjids are simple places of prayer. In a large mosque or djami may be found sheikhs in charge of the preaching; kiatibs, who direct the Friday prayer; imams, charged with the ordinary service of the mosque (daily prayer, marriages, burials); muezzins, who ascend four times a day to the minaret to call the faithful to prayer; kaims, a kind of sacristan. Several orders of dervishes form the regular clergy and devote themselves to special practices, of which some are noted for their extravagance (howling and whirling); they are distinguished by a conical felt hat. The principal religious obligations, which the faithful perform with zeal, are: prayer four times daily, the weekly Friday service, the observance of Ramadan (abstinence from eating, drinking, and smoking from the rising to the setting of the sun). Islam is going through a crisis by contact with the Western world, and under the influence of Christianity many of the enlightened Turks dream of reforming its morals. On the other hand there has always been a certain opposition between the Arabs, who pretend to represent the pure Mussulman tradition, and the Turks. The pan-Islamic policy of Abdul-Hamid had weakened this opposition, and he had availed himself of his title of caliph to form relations with Mussulmans of the entire world.

Today the pan-Islamist movement, of which the University of El-Azhar at Cairo is one of the principal centers, and which has numerous journals at its command, seems to be unfavorable to the Turkish Caliphate. The society "Al Da' wat wal Irchad" is about to create in Egypt a new university destined to form Mussulman missionaries.

Greek Orthodox Church.—The principal indigenous Christian community is the Greek Church, which is the survival of the religious organization of the Byzantine Empire. Its head, the "Oecumenical Patriarch of the Romans" (such is his official title), resides at Constantinople, in the Phanar quarter. He presides over a Holy Synod formed of twelve metropolitans and a "mixed council", composed of four metropolitans and eight laymen. Two million souls obey him. The ecumenical territory is divided into 100 eparchies or dioceses (83 metropolitans and 17 bishops). Since the schisms of Photius (867) and of Michael Cmrularius (1054), the Greek Church has been separated from Rome by a succession of ritual and disciplinary observances rather than by dogmatic differences. The tendency of the Greek Church to autonomy has brought about the crumbling of patriarchal authority and the forming of autocephalous churches; outside of the Ottoman Empire may be found the Russian Church, the Church of the Kingdom of Greece, the Servian Church, the Church of Cyprus: in the empire, even since the firman of Abdul-Aziz (March 11, 1870), the Bulgarians have organized an independent church under the name of "Exarchate". The Bulgarian Exarch resides at Orta-Keui on the Bosporus and governs 3,000,000 souls; Thrace and Macedonia are divided into 21 Bulgarian eparchies, but a Holy Synod resides at Sofia. The Arabic-speaking Syrians, or Melchites who are attached to the Orthodox Church, are under the authority of the Patriarch of Antioch, who resides at Damascus, of the Patriarchs of Jerusalem and of Alexandria, and of the Archbishop of Sinai, all independent of Constantinople.

The Greek Church has two divisions of clergy, one consisting of the popes or papas, who marry before they take orders and cannot become bishops; the other, called the upper clergy, chosen from among the monks. The monasteries are quite numerous. Those of Mount Athos form a veritable independent republic composed of twenty convents governed by the Council of the Holy Epistasia; its head, the protepistates, is chosen in turn from the monasteries of the great Laura, Iviron, Vatopedi, Khilandariou, and Dyonisiou. The Greek Church has no organized missions, but the Hellenic propaganda is maintained at least in the schools throughout Macedonia, where there is antagonism between the Greeks and Bulgarians: the latter have had often to defend their religious and national independence against the former.

Dissenting Churches.—A certain number of religious communities represent the early and schismatical heretical sects who have remained separate from the Greek Church; a portion of these Christians have, however, returned to the Catholic Church. The Gregorian Armenians (who connect themselves with St. Gregory the Illuminator) have been separated since the Council of Chalcedon (451). They have many heads, the Catholicos of Etschmiadzin in Russian territory, the Catholicos of Sis (200,000 faithful in Cilicia and Syria), and the Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople, who is assisted by a national assembly of 400 members and two councils, civil and ecclesiastical (800,000 faithful, divided among 51 dioceses); finally, the Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem, in communion with Constantinople. On the Turco-Persian frontier may be found about 100,000 Nestorians, whose patriarch resides at Kotchanes; his dignity is hereditary from uncle to nephew; many have been reunited to the Roman Church. The Monophysites, or Jacobites, to the number of 80,000 in Syria, Mesopotamia, and Kurdistan, represent the remnants of a church that was once powerful; its head, who calls himself Patriarch of Antioch, resides at the Monastery of Dar-uz-Zafaran, between Diarbekir and Mardin.

The Catholic Church in the Turkish Empire comprises two classes of faithful: those of the Latin Rite, and those who preserve their traditional rites, and are united to the Holy See, whence the name Greek-Uniats, Armenian-Uniats, etc. Turkey, a missionary country, depends directly on the Congregation of the Propaganda, which has as representatives three apostolic delegates, at Constantinople, Beirut, and Bagdad; assisting them are vicars and prefects Apostolic, heads of the mission and provided with episcopal powers (except the power of conferring major orders). The Latin Catholics are scattered over the entire empire, although 148,000 Albanians form an important group under the Archbishops of Durazzo, Uskub, Scutari, and the Abbot of St. Alexander of Orochi for the Mirdites.

The Uniats comprise many distinct groups: (a) the Greeks, whose union was proclaimed by the Council of Florence in 1438, live in Italy and Corsica (Albanian colony of Cargese). In the Turkish Empire there are only some hundred or so placed 'under the authority of the Apostolic delegate of Constantinople. Among the popes who have striven most to bring about a union with the Greeks Benedict XIV must be remembered, and Leo XIII (Encyclical "Orientalium dignitas", November 30, 1894). (b) The Melchite Greeks (110,000), in Syria, Palestine, Egypt; their patriarch resides at Damascus, and has under his jurisdiction three vicariates (Tarsus, Damietta, and Palmyra) and eleven bishops. (c) The Bulgarian-Uniats, converted about 1860 to escape from the Phanariot despotism. There remain 13,000 directed by the vicars-Apostolic of Adrianople and Salonica. (d) The Armenian Uniats, organized since 1724 under the Patriarch of Cilicia and Little Armenia, who reside at Zmar in the Lebanon. In 1857 Pius IX conferred this title on the Armenian Archbishop of Constantinople (70,000 faithful, 2 archbishops, of Aleppo and Sivas, 12 bishops, the most of whom are in Persia and Egypt). (e) The Syrian Uniats, converted by Latin missionaries in 1665; a firman of 1830 has recognized its autonomy (40,000 faithful, a patriarch residing at Beirut, and 12 dioceses). (f) The Chaldwan Uniats, Nestorians converted to Catholicism in 1552. Their Patriarch of Babylon resides at Mossoul (80,000 faithful). (g) The Maronites of the ancient Lebanon, a Monothelite community which abjured its heresy entirely in 1182. Its head, Patriarch of Antioch, resides at Bekerkey, near Beirut; he has 7 archbishops under his jurisdiction. The 300,000 faithful have remained particularly attached to Catholicism.

V. CATHOLIC AND PROTESTANT MISSIONS.—The Christian propaganda has been carried on in the Turkish Empire by means of the missions, the oldest of which date back to the time of the Crusades. As early as 1229 Franciscan and Dominican missions were established in Palestine and as far as Damascus. In 1328 the Franciscans received the "custody" of the Holy Places, and constructed their convents of the Mount of Sion, of the Holy Sepulchre, and of Bethlehem. Today the Franciscan custody of the Holy Land numbers 338 religious. The missionaries have, however, encountered great obstacles in their work, and they have been unable even to consider a direct propaganda in regard to the Mussulmans. Nevertheless, their moral influence is considerable; it manifests itself by social works due to their initiative (schools, hospitals, dispensaries, etc.) which are very prosperous, and are maintained by numerous organizations founded in Europe: the Society of Foreign Missions of Paris, founded in 1658; the Propagation of the Faith, founded at Lyons in 1822; the Society of St. Francis Xavier, founded at Aachen in the year 1832; the Leopoldsverein, founded in Austria in 1839; the Society of the Holy Childhood, etc.

Among the religious orders represented in the Turkish Empire must be mentioned: the Jesuits, who have established the University of St. Joseph of Beirut, whose faculty of letters numbers distinguished Orientalists and epigraphists, and whose school of medicine, placed under the control of the University of France, forms a nursery for native physicians; it has a library and a printing-press supplied with Latin and Arabic characters; it publishes a journal and an Arabic review, El-Bachir and El-Machriq; the Assumptionists, at Constantinople; many of whom devote themselves successfully to the study of archaeology and Byzantine antiquities; the Brothers of the Christian Schools, who had, in 1908, 3449 pupils (8 colleges at Constantinople, 8 at Smyrna, others at Salonica, Angora etc.); the Capuchins, established in Armenia, Asia Minor, Syria etc.; the Lazarists, at Beirut; the Carmelites, at Bagdad, Tripoli, etc.; the Salesians, in Palestine; the Sisters of St. Vincent de Paul, who have opened in almost every district schools, hospitals, and workshops, and who are respected by the Mussulmans for their self-sacrifice; the Sisters of Notre Dame of Sion, with schools in Constantinople; the Dominicans, established at Mossoul and Jerusalem, with a Biblical school. In 1910 a normal school was established at Rhodes to educate members of religious congregations to act as teachers in the East.

All these missions are officially placed under the protectorate of France. For the most part the missionaries are French, but there are also a large number of Germans, Italians, and English. Besides these Catholic missionaries, rival societies display immense activity. First of all, the Jewish Alliance, which has founded schools in most of the large cities; the Zionist movement has for its object the repeopling of Palestine by Jews; a few colonists have been attracted thither from Russia. There are through-out the empire Protestant missions from England, Germany, and America. In 1842 an Anglican bishopric was established at Jerusalem, whose titular is alternately English and German. All the large societies of Protestant missions are represented in the Orient (American Board of Foreign Missions, American U. P. Mission, Church Missionary Society, Deutsche Orientmission, German Pioneer, Mission, Evangelical Missionary Society of Basle, etc.). All seek to establish their influence by the same propaganda: distribution of Bibles and Gospels translated into the native languages, hospitals, dispensaries, schools etc. At Beirut there is an American University, and more than 30 schools, comprising 3000 pupils. At Constantinople there is the American Robert College.


Copyright ©1999-2023 Wildfire Fellowship, Inc all rights reserved