Part 1 - Jihad Campaigns of the Seljuks and Ottomans


 

The historian Michael the Syrian (Jacobite Patriarch of Antioch from 1166 to 1199 C.E.) in his Chronicle reproducing earlier contemporary sources, made important observations regarding events which occurred beginning in the third decade of the 11th century. He noted,

 

 

“…the commencement of the exodus of the Turks to…Syria and the coast of Palestine…[Where] They subdued all the countries by cruel devastation and plunder” [1] Subsequently, “Turks and Arabs were mixing together like a single people…Such was the rule of the Turks amidst the Arabs” [2]

 

 

Expanding upon this contemporary account, and the vast array of other primary sources- Arabic, Turkish, Greek, Latin, Serbian, Bulgarian, and Hungarian. [3] Bat Ye’or concludes, [4]

 

 

…the two waves of Muslim expansion, the Arab from the seventh century, and the Turkish four centuries later- are remarkably similar…The great Arab and Turkish conquerors used the same military tactics and the same policies of consolidating Islamic power. This continuity resulted from the fact that the conquests took place within the framework of the common ideology of jihad and the administrative and juridical apparatus of the shari’a- a uniformity that defies time, since it adapts itself to diverse lands and peoples, being integrated into the internal coherence of a political theology. In the course of their military operations, the Turks applied to the conquered populations the rules of jihad, which had been structured four centuries earlier by the Arabs and enshrined in Islamic religious law.

 

 

The Seljuk and Ottoman jihad campaigns were spearheaded by “Ghazi” (from the word ghazwa or “razzia”) movements, “Warriors of the Faith”, brought together under the banner of Islam to fight infidels, and obtain booty. Wittek [5] and Vryonis [6] have stressed the significance of this movement, in its Seljuk incarnation, at the most critical frontier of Islam during the 11th and 12th centuries, i.e., eastern Anatolia. Vryonis notes, [7]

 

 

When the Arab traveler al-Harawi passed through these border regions in the second half of the 12th century, he noted the existence of a shrine on the Byzantine-Turkish borders (near Afyon-Karahisar) which was reported to be the tomb of the Muslim martyr Abu Muhammd al-Battal, and at Amorium the tombs of those who fell in the celebrated siege of the city in 838. These constitute fascinating testimony to the fact that the ghazi-jihad tradition was closely intertwined into the nomadic society of Phrygia. Not only was there evidence of a nomadic invasion but also of an epic society in its heroic age, and it is from this milieu that the Turkish epics were shaped: the Battalname, the Danishmendname, and the Dusturname.

 

 

Wittek, citing the oldest known Ottoman source, the versified chronicle of Ahmedi, maintains that the 14th century Ottomans believed they too,

 

 

“were a community of Ghazis, of champions of the Mohammedan religion; a community of the Moslem march- warriors, devoted to the struggle with the infidels in their neighbourhood” [8].

 

 

The contemporary Turkish scholar of Ottoman history, Halil Inalcik, has also emphasised the importance of Muslim religious zeal- expressed through jihad- as a primary motivation for the conquests of the Ottoman Turks: [9]

 

 

The ideal of gaza, Holy War, was an important factor in the foundation and development of the Ottoman state. Society in the frontier principalities conformed to a particular cultural pattern imbued with the ideal of continuous Holy War and continuous expansion of the Dar ul Islam-the realms of Islam- until they covered the whole world.

 

 

Incited by pious Muslim theologians, these ghazis were at the vanguard of both the Seljuk and Ottoman jihad conquests. Vacalopoulos highlights the role of the dervishes during the Ottoman campaigns: [10]

 

 

…fanatical dervishes and other devout Muslim leaders…constantly toiled for the dissemination of Islam. They had done so from the very beginning of the Ottoman state and had played an important part in the consolidation and extension of Islam. These dervishes were particularly active in the uninhabited frontier regions of the east. Here they settled down with their families, attracted other settlers, and thus became the virtual founders of whole new villages, whose inhabitants invariably exhibited the same qualities of deep religious fervor. From places such as these, the dervishes or their agents would emerge to take part in new military enterprises for the extension of the Islamic state. In return, the state granted them land and privileges under a generous prescription which required only that the land be cultivated and communications secured.

 

 

Brief overviews of the Seljuk and Ottoman jihad campaigns which ultimately Islamised Asia Minor, have been provided by Vryonis and Vacalopoulos. First, the schematic, clinical assessment of Vryonis: [11]

 

 

The conquest, or should I say the conquests of Asia Minor were in operation over a period of four centuries. Thus the Christian societies of Asia Minor were submitted to extensive periods of intense warfare, incursions, and destructions which undermined the existence of the Christian church. In the first century of Turkish conquests and invasions from the mid-eleventh to the late twelfth century, the sources reveal that some 63 towns and villages were destroyed. The inhabitants of other towns and villages were enslaved and taken off to the Muslim slave markets.



 

 

Vacalopoulos describes the conquests in more animated detail: [12]

 

 

At the beginning of the eleventh century, the Seljuk Turks forced their way into Armenia and there crushed the armies of several petty Armenian states. No fewer than forty thousand souls fled before the organised pillage of the Seljuk host to the western part of Asia Minor…From the middle of the eleventh century, and especially after the battle of Malazgirt [Manzikurt] (1071), the Seljuks spread throughout the whole Asia Minor peninsula, leaving terror, panic and destruction in their wake. Byzantine, Turkish and other contemporary sources are unanimous in their agreement on the extent of havoc wrought and the protracted anguish of the local population…evidence as we have proves that the Hellenic population of Asia Minor, whose very vigor had so long sustained the Empire and might indeed be said to have constituted its greatest strength, succumbed so rapidly to Turkish pressure that by the fourteenth century, it was confined to a few limited areas. By that time, Asia Minor was already being called Turkey…one after another, bishoprics and metropolitan sees which once throbbed with Christian vitality became vacant and ecclesiastical buildings fell into ruins. The metropolitan see of Chalcedon, for example, disappeared in the fourteenth century, and the sees of Laodicea, Kotyaeon (now Kutahya) and Synada in the fifteenth…With the extermination of local populations or their precipitate flight, entire villages, cities, and sometimes whole provinces fell into decay. There were some fertile districts like the valley of the Maeander River, once stocked with thousands of sheep and cattle, which were laid waste and thereafter ceased to be in any way productive. Other districts were literally transformed into wildernesses. Impenetrable thickets sprang up in places where once there had been luxuriant fields and pastures. This is what happened to the district of Sangarius, for example, which Michael VIII Palaeologus had known formerly as a prosperous, cultivated land, but whose utter desolation he afterwards surveyed in utmost despair…The mountainous region between Nicaea and Nicomedia, opposite Constantinople, once clustered with castles, cities, and villages, was depopulated. A few towns escaped total destruction- Laodicea, Iconium, Bursa (then Prusa), and Sinope, for example- but the extent of devastation elsewhere was such as to make a profound impression on visitors for may years to come. The fate of Antioch provides a graphic illustration of the kind of havoc wrought by the Turkish invaders: in 1432, only three hundred dwellings could be counted inside its walls, and its predominantly Turkish or Arab inhabitants subsisted by raising camels, goats, cattle, and sheep. Other cities in the south-eastern part of Asia Minor fell into similar decay.

 

 

The Islamisation of Asia Minor was complemented by parallel and subsequent Ottoman jihad campaigns in the Balkans [13]. As of 1326 C.E., yearly razzias by the emirs of Asia Minor targeted southern Thrace, southern Macedonia, and the coastal areas of southern Greece. Around 1360 C.E., the Ottomans, under Suleiman (son of Sultan Orchan), and later Sultan Murad I (1359-1389), launched bona fide campaigns of jihad conquest, capturing and occupying a series of cities and towns in Byzantine and Bulgarian Thrace. Following the battle of Cernomen (September 26, 1371), the Ottomans penetrated westward, occupying within 15 years, a large number of towns in western Bulgaria, and in Macedonia. Ottoman invasions during this period also occurred in the Peloponnesus, central Greece, Epirus, Thessaly, Albania, and Montenegro. By 1388 most of northeast Bulgaria was conquered, and following the battle of Kosovo (1389), Serbia came under Ottoman suzerainty. Vacalopoulos argues that internecine warring, as well as social and political upheaval, prevented the Balkan populations- Greeks, Bulgarians, Albanians, and Serbians- from uniting against the common Ottoman enemy, thus sealing their doom. Indeed, he observes that, [14]

 

 

After the defeat of the Serbs at Cirmen (or Cernomen) near the Hebrus River in 1371, Serbia, Bulgaria, and the Byzantine Empire became tributaries of the Ottoman Empire and were obliged to render assistance in Ottoman campaigns.

 

 

Bayezid I (1389-1402) undertook devastating campaigns in Bosnia, Hungary, and Wallachia, in addition to turning south and again attacking central Greece and the Peloponnesus. After a hiatus during their struggle against the Mongol invaders, the Ottomans renewed their Balkan offensive in 1421. Successful Ottoman campaigns were waged in the Peloponnesus, Serbia, and Hungary, culminating with the victory at the second Battle of Kosovo (1448). With the accession to power of Mehmed II, the Ottomans commenced their definitive conquest of the Balkan peninsula. Constantinople was captured on May 29, 1453, marking the end of the Byzantine Empire. By 1460, the Ottomans had completely vanquished both Serbia and the Peloponnesus. Bosnia and Trebizond fell in 1463, followed by Albania in 1468. With the conquest of Herzegovina in 1483, the Ottomans became rulers of the entire Balkan peninsula.

 

Vacalopoulos, commenting on the initial Ottoman forays into Thrace during the mid 14th century, and Angelov, who provides an overall assessment highlighting the later campaigns of Murad II (1421-1451) and Mehmed II (1451-1481), elucidate the impact of the Ottoman jihad on the vanquished Balkan populations:

 

 

From the very beginning of the Turkish onslaught [in Thrace] under Suleiman [son of Sultan Orchan], the Turks tried to consolidate their position by the forcible imposition of Islam. If [the Ottoman historian] Sukrullah is to be believed, those who refused to accept the Moslem faith were slaughtered and their families enslaved. “Where there were bells”, writes the same author [i.e., Sukrullah], “Suleiman broke them up and cast them into fires. Where there were churches he destroyed them or converted them into mosques. Thus, in place of bells there were now muezzins. Wherever Christian infidels were still found, vassalage was imposed on their rulers. At least in public they could no longer say ‘kyrie eleison’ but rather ‘There is no God but Allah’; and where once their prayers had been addressed to Christ, they were now to “Muhammad, the prophet of Allah’.” [15]

 

 

…the conquest of the Balkan Peninsula accomplished by the Turks over the course of about two centuries caused the incalculable ruin of material goods, countless massacres, the enslavement and exile of a great part of the population – in a word, a general and protracted decline of productivity, as was the case with Asia Minor after it was occupied by the same invaders. This decline in productivity is all the more striking when one recalls that in the mid-fourteenth century, as the Ottomans were gaining a foothold on the peninsula, the States that existed there – Byzantium, Bulgaria and Serbia – had already reached a rather high level of economic and cultural development....The campaigns of Mourad II (1421-1451) and especially those of his successor, Mahomet II (1451-1481) in Serbia, Bosnia, Albania and in the Byzantine princedom of the Peloponnesus, were of a particularly devastating character. During the campaign that the Turks launched in Serbia in 1455-1456, Belgrade, Novo-Bardo and other towns were to a great extent destroyed. The invasion of the Turks in Albania during the summer of 1459 caused enormous havoc. According to the account of it written by Kritobulos, the invaders destroyed the entire harvest and levelled the fortified towns that they had captured. The country was afflicted with further devastation in 1466 when the Albanians, after putting up heroic resistance, had to withdraw into the most inaccessible regions, from which they continued the struggle. Many cities were likewise ruined during the course of the campaign led by Mahomet II in 1463 against Bosnia – among them Yaytzé, the capital of the Kingdom of Bosnia…But it was the Peloponnesus that suffered most from the Turkish invasions. It was invaded in 1446 by the armies of Murad II, which destroyed a great number of places and took thousands of prisoners. Twelve years later, during the summer of 1458, the Balkan Peninsula was invaded by an enormous Turkish army under the command of Mahomet II and his first lieutenant Mahmoud Pasha. After a siege that lasted four months, Corinth fell into enemy hands. Its walls were razed, and many places that the sultan considered useless were destroyed. The work by Kritobulos contains an account of the Ottoman campaigns, which clearly shows us the vast destruction caused by the invaders in these regions. Two years later another Turkish army burst into the Peloponnesus. This time Gardiki and several other places were ruined. Finally, in 1464, for the third time, the destructive rage of the invaders was aimed at the Peloponnesus. That was when the Ottomans battled the Venetians and levelled the city of Argos to its foundations. [16]

 

Ottoman Dhimmitude

 

 

In examining how the non-Muslim populations vanquished by the Ottoman jihad campaigns fared, it is useful to begin with the Jews, the least numerous population, who are also generally believed to have had quite a positive experience. Joseph Hacker studied the fate of Jews during their initial absorption into the Ottoman Empire in the 15th and 16th centuries. His research questions the uncritical view that from its outset the, “..Jewish experience” in the Ottoman Empire “..was a calm, peaceful, and fruitful one..”.Hacker notes: [17]

 

 

…It would seem to me that this accepted view of consistently good relations between the Ottomans and the Jews during the 15th century should be modified in light of new research and manuscript resources.

 

 

The Jews, like other inhabitants of the Byzantine Empire, suffered heavily from the Ottoman jihad conquests and policies of colonisation and population transfer (i.e., the surgun system). This explains the disappearance of several Jewish communities, including Salonica, and their founding anew by Spanish Jewish immigrants. Hacker observes, specifically: [18]

 

 

…We possess letters written about the fate of Jews who underwent one or another of the Ottoman conquests. In one of the letters which was written before 1470, there is a description of the fate of such a Jew and his community, according to which description, written in Rhodes and sent to Crete, the fate of the Jews was not different from that of Christians. Many were killed; others were taken captive, and children were [enslaved, forcibly converted to Islam, and] brought to devshirme...Some letters describe the carrying of the captive Jews to Istanbul and are filled with anti-Ottoman sentiments. Moreover, we have a description of the fate of a Jewish doctor and homilist from Veroia (Kara-Ferya) who fled to Negroponte when his community was driven into exile in 1455. He furnished us with a description of the exiles and their forced passage to Istanbul. Later on we find him at Istanbul itself, and in a homily delivered there in 1468 he expressed his anti-Ottoman feelings openly. We also have some evidence that the Jews of Constantinople suffered from the conquest of the city and that several were sold into slavery.

 

 

Three summary conclusions are drawn by Hacker: (i) Strong anti-Ottoman feelings prevailed in some Byzantine Jewish circles in the first decades after the fall of Constantinople. These feelings were openly expressed by people living under Latin rule and to some extent even in Istanbul.; (ii) Mehmed II's policies toward non-Muslims made possible the substantial economic and social development of the Jewish communities in the empire, and especially in the capital - Istanbul. These communities were protected by him against popular hatred, and especially from blood libels. However, this policy was not continued by Bayezid II and there is evidence that under his rule the Jews suffered severe restrictions in their religious life.; (iii) The friendly policies of Mehmed on the one hand, and the good reception by Bayezid II of Spanish Jewry on the other, cause the Jewish writers of the sixteenth century to overlook both the destruction which Byzantine Jewry suffered during the Ottoman conquests and the later outbursts of oppression under both Bayezid II and Selim I.

 

Ivo Andric analysed [19] the “rayah” (meaning “herd”, and “to graze a herd”) or dhimmi condition imposed upon the indigenous Christian population of Bosnia, for four centuries. Those native Christian inhabitants who refused to apostatise to Islam lived under the Ottoman Kanun-i-Rayah, which merely reiterated [20] the essential regulations of dhimmitude originally formulated by Muslim jurists and theologians in the 7th and 8th centuries C.E. Andric’s presentation musters, [21]

 

 

…a wealth of irrefutable evidence that the main points of the Kanun, just those that cut the deepest into the moral and economic life of Christians, remained in full force right up to the end of Turkish rule and as long as the Turks had the power to apply them…[thus] it was inevitable that the rayah decline to a status that was economically inferior and dependent.

 

 

Andric cites a Bosnian Muslim proverb, and a song honouring Sultan Bayezid II, whose shared perspectives reflect Muslim attitudes toward the Christian rayahs: [22]

 

 

[proverb] “The rayah is like the grass,/Mow it as much as you will, still it springs up anew”

 

 

[song] “Once you’d broken Bosnia’s horns/You mowed down what would not be pruned/Leaving only the riffraff behind/So there’d be someone left to serve us and grieve before the cross”

 

 

These prevailing discriminatory conditions were exacerbated by Bosnia’s serving as either a battlefield or staging ground during two centuries of Ottoman razzias and formal jihad campaigns against Hungary. Overcome by excessive taxation and conscript labour:

 

 

Christians therefore began to abandon their houses and plots of land situated in level country and along the roads and to retreat back into the mountains. And as they did so, moving ever higher into inaccessible regions, Muslims took over their former sites. [23]

 

 

Moreover, those Christians living in towns suffered from the rayah system’s mandated impediments to commercial advancement by non-Muslims: [24]

 

 

Islam from the very outset, excluded such activities as making wine, breeding pigs, and selling pork products from commercial production and trade. But additionally Bosnian Christians were forbidden to be saddlers, tanners, or candle makers or to trade in honey, butter, and certain other items. Countrywide, the only legal market day was Sunday. Christians were thus deliberately faced with the choice between ignoring the precepts of their religion, keeping their shops open and working on Sundays, or alternatively, forgoing participation in the market and suffering material loss thereby. Even in 1850, in Jukic’s “Wishes and Entreaties” we find him beseeching “his Imperial grace” to put an end to the regulation that Sunday be market day.

 

 

Christians were also forced to pay disproportionately higher taxes than Muslims, including the intentionally degrading non-Muslim poll-tax.

 

 

This tax was paid by every non-Muslim male who had passed his fourteenth year, at the rate of a ducat per annum. But since Turkey had never known birth registers, the functionary whose job it was to exact the tax measured the head and neck of each boy with a piece of string and judged from that whether a person had arrived at a taxable age or not. Starting as an abuse that soon turned into an ingrained habit, then finally established custom, by the last century of Turkish rule every boy without distinction found himself summoned to pay the head tax. And it would seem this was not the only abuse…Of Ali-Pasa Stocevic, who during the first half of the nineteenth century was vizier and all but unlimited ruler of Herzegovina, his contemporary, the monk Prokopije Cokorilo, wrote that he “taxed the dead for six years after their demise” and that his tax collectors “ran their fingers over the bellies of pregnant women, saying ‘you will probably have a boy, so you have to pay the poll tax right away…The following folk saying from Bosnia reveals how taxes were exacted: “He’s as fat as if he’d been tax collecting in Bosnia” [25]

 

 

The specific Kanun-i-Rayah stipulations which prohibited the rayahs from riding a saddled horse, carrying a saber or any other weapon in or out of doors, selling wine, letting their hair grow, or wearing wide sashes, were strictly enforced until the mid-19th century. Hussamudin-Pasa, in 1794 issued an ordinance which prescribed the exact colour and type of clothing the Bosnian rayah had to wear. Barbers were prohibited from shaving Muslims with the same razors used for Christians. Even in bathhouses, Christians were required to have specifically marked towels and aprons to avoid confusing their laundry with laundry designated for Muslims. Until at least 1850, and in some parts of Bosnia, well into the 1860s, a Christian upon encountering a Muslim, was required to jump down from his (unsaddled) horse, move to the side of the road, and wait for the latter to pass. [26]

 

Christianity’s loud and most arresting symbol, church bells, Andric notes [27], always drew close, disapproving Turkish scrutiny, and, “Wherever there invasions would go, down came the bells, to be destroyed or melted into cannon”. Predictably:

 

 

Until the second half of the nineteenth century, “nobody in Bosnia could even think of bells or bell towers.” Only in 1860 did the Sarajevo priest Fra Grgo Martic manage to get permission from Topal Osman-Pasa to hang a bell at the church in Kresevo. Permission was granted, thought, only on condition that “at first the bell be rung softly to let the Turks get accustomed to it little by little”. And still the Muslim of Kresevo were complaining, even in 1875, to Sarajevo that “the Turkish ear and ringing bells cannot coexist in the same place at the same time”; and Muslim women would beat on their copper pots to drown out the noise…on 30 April 1872, the new Serbian Orthodox church also got a bell. But since the…Muslims had threatened to riot, the military had to be called in to ensure that the ceremony might proceed undisturbed. [28]

 

 

The imposition of such disabilities, Andric observes, [29] extended beyond church ceremonies, as reflected by a 1794 proclamation of the Serbian Orthodox church in Sarajevo warning Christians not to:

 

 

…sing during …outings, nor in their houses, nor in other places. The saying “Don’t sing too loud, this village is Turk” testifies eloquently to the fact that this item of the Kanun [- i-Rayah] was applied outside church life as well as within.

 

 

Andric concludes, [30]:

 

 

…for their Christian subjects, their [Ottoman Turkish] hegemony brutalised custom and meant a step to the rear in every respect.

 

 

Finally, Jovan Cvijic, the Serbian sociologist and geographer, observed,

 

 

There are regions where the [Serb] Christian population…lived under the regime of fear, from birth to death.

 

 

Despite the liberation of the Balkans in 1912, Cvijic further noted that the Serbs were not fully cognizant of their new status, and this fear could still be read, remaining etched on their faces. [31]

 

Paul Ricaut, the British consul in Smyrna, journeyed extensively within the Ottoman Empire during the mid-17th century, becoming a keen observer of its socio-political milieu. In 1679 (i.e., prior to the Ottomans being repulsed at Vienna in September, 1683; see later discussion of Ottoman “tolerance”), Ricaut published these important findings [32]: (i) many Christians were expelled from their churches, which the Ottoman Turks converted into mosques; (ii) the “Mysteries of the Altar” were hidden in subterranean vaults and sepulchers whose roofs were barely above the surface of the ground; (iii) fearing Turkish hostility and oppression, Christian priests, particularly in eastern Asia Minor, were compelled to live with great caution and officiate in private obscurity; (iv) not surprisingly, to escape these prevailing conditions, many Christians apostatised to Islam. Moreover, as Vryonis demonstrated convincingly for the earlier period between the 11th and 15th centuries [33], the existence of cryto-Christianity and neo-martyrs were not uncommon phenomena in the Christian territories of Asia Minor conquered by the waves of Seljuk and Ottoman jihad. He cites, for example, a pastoral letter from 1338 addressed to the residents of Nicaea indicating widespread, forcible conversion by the Turks: [34]

 

 

And they [Turks] having captured and enslaved many of our own and violently forced them and dragging them along alas! So that they took up their evil and godlessness.

 

 

The phenomenon of forcible conversion, including coercive en masse conversions, persisted throughout the 16th century, as discussed by Constantelos in his analysis of neo-martyrdom in the Ottoman Empire: [35]

 

 

…mass forced conversions were recorded during the caliphates of Selim I (1512-1520), Selim II (1566-1574), and Murat III (1574-1595). On the occasion of some anniversary, such as the capture of a city, or a national holiday, many rayahs were forced to apostatise. On the day of the circumcision of Mohammed III great numbers of Christians (Albanians, Greeks, Slavs) were forced to convert to Islam.

 

 

Reviewing the martyrology of Christians victimised by the Ottomans from the conquest of Constantinople (1453), through the final phases of the Greek War of Independence (1828), Constantelos indicates: [36]

 

 

…the Ottoman Turks condemned to death eleven Ecumenical Patriarchs of Constantinople, nearly one hundred bishops, and several thousand priests, deacons, and minks. It is impossible to say with certainty how many men of the cloth were forced to apostatise.

 

 

However, the more mundane cases illustrated by Constantelos are of equal significance in revealing the plight of Christians under Ottoman rule, through at least 1867: [37]

 

 

Some were accused of insulting the Muslim faith or of throwing something against the wall of a mosque. Others were accused of sexual advances toward a Turk; still others of making a public confession such as “I will become a Turk” without meaning it.

 

 

Constantelos concludes: [38]

 

 

The story of the neo-martyrs indicates that there was no liberty of conscience in the Ottoman Empire and that religious persecution was never absent from the state. Justice was subject to the passions of judges as well as of the crowds, and it was applied with a double standard, lenient for Muslims and harsh for Christians and others. The view that the Ottoman Turks pursued a policy of religious toleration in order to promote a fusion of the Turks with the conquered populations is not sustained by the facts.

 

 

Even the Turcophilic 19th century travel writer Ubicini acknowledged the oppressive burden of Ottoman dhimmitude in this moving depiction: [39]

 

 

The history of enslaved peoples is the same everywhere, or rather, they have no history. The years, the centuries pass without bringing any change to their situation. Generations come and go in silence. One might think they are afraid to awaken their masters, asleep alongside them. However, if you examine them closely you discover that this immobility is only superficial. A silent and constant agitation grips them. Life has entirely withdrawn into the heart. They resemble those rivers which have disappeared underground; if you put your ear to the earth, you can hear the muffled sound of their waters; then they re-emerge intact a few leagues away. Such is the state of the Christian populations of Turkey under Ottoman rule.

 

 

Vacalopoulos describes how jihad imposed dhimmitude under Ottoman rule provided critical motivation for the Greek Revolution: [40]

 

 

The Revolution of 1821 is no more than the last great phase of the resistance of the Greeks to Ottoman domination; it was a relentless, undeclared war, which had begun already in the first years of servitude. The brutality of an autocratic regime, which was characterised by economic spoliation, intellectual decay and cultural retrogression, was sure to provoke opposition. Restrictions of all kinds, unlawful taxation, forced labour, persecutions, violence, imprisonment, death, abductions of girls and boys and their confinement to Turkish harems, and various deeds of wantonness and lust, along with numerous less offensive excesses – all these were a constant challenge to the instinct of survival and they defied every sense of human decency. The Greeks bitterly resented all insults and humiliations, and their anguish and frustration pushed them into the arms of rebellion. There was no exaggeration in the statement made by one of the beys if Arta, when he sought to explain the ferocity of the struggle. He said: ‘We have wronged the rayas [dhimmis] (i.e. our Christian subjects) and destroyed both their wealth and honour; they became desperate and took up arms. This is just the beginning and will finally lead to the destruction of our empire.’ The sufferings of the Greeks under Ottoman rule were therefore the basic cause of the insurrection; a psychological incentive was provided by the very nature of the circumstances.

 

 









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