Greece 1790-1822

Greece 1715-1790

The Greek ethnic community, politically orginized as the Greek-speaking, dominant element within the Orthodox MILLET within the Ottoman Empire, lived scattered over a wide area. Although within much of present Greece, this Greek ethnicity defined by religion and language formed the population majority, there were great regional differences and non-Greek minorities of considerable size, the largest group the Albanians inhabiting much of northwestern Greece and the surrounding of Athens; then Turkish villages, especially in Thessaly and Thrace; the Jewish community formed the population majority in the city of Salonica. Then there were the Slavic Macedonians and the Vlachs, relatives of the Romanians.
The two largest Greek communities were Constantinopolis and Smyrna, the latter almost exclusively Greek. Greek communities were spread as far as Egypt and Armenia. A history of what is Greece today has to deal with the history of the Greek millet, but should not overlook the other ethnic communities.
Administratively, the southern part of modern Greece (Morea, Livadia) together with the Aegaean islands formed the VILAYET OF THE WHITE SEA ISLANDS; the northern part was part of the Vilayet of Rumelia.

In 1715 Ottoman forces reconquered the PELOPONNESE (Morea), which had been held by VENICE since 1684. Again, all of Greece except the Ionian Islands was united under Ottoman rule. In the 18th century, such military successes, however, were the exception rather than the rule. In order to keep the losses of territory limited after military defeats, the Ottoman Sultans came to rely increasingly on the so-called PHANARIOTS, Greeks or hellenized Orthodox christians from another ethnicity, whose official function was to translate, who in fact were active diplomats or administrators.
The Orthodox millet administrated her own affairs; at the helm of the administration stood the Greek Orthodox PATRIARCH OF CONSTANTINOPOLIS. The millet was responsible for administration, for instance tax collection, as well as for jurisdiction, as far as Orthodox christians only were involved. The Phanariots and the Orthodox church administration both served the interests of the Ottoman Empire and only in part represented the Greek community.
In the 18th century the Ottoman Empire had become corrupt. At the court many were interested in enriching themselves; the JANISSARIES had declined from an elite force recruited from christrian boys who were converted and raised as loyal supporters of the Sultan into a social class, reproducing herself and zealously guarding her privileges, parasitical in nature and at times out of control. So were, at least temporarily, entire provinces of the Ottoman Empire, such as western Greece and Albania, ruled by warlord Ali Pasha, an Albanian Muslim who resided in Janina (Epirus; see Pashalik of Janina).
During the Russo-Ottoman War of 1768 to 1774, Empress Catherine the Great of Russia hoped the Greeks would rise in rebellion against Ottoman rule. She dispatched a fleet, and the Russians established control over most of the Aegaean islands in 1770/1771, holding on to them until the Treaty of Kuchuk Kainarji 1774. However, the envisioned Greek rebellion fell far below Russian expectations.

Economically, Greeks controlled much of the trade within the Ottoman Empire, their main competitors being the Armenians; the language of commerce was Greek. Centered on the islands of Hydra, Psara and Spetsai, a merchant fleet grew in importance.
The population, Greek or of other ethnic background, suffered from both increasing taxation - the Orthodox hierarchy needed money to bribe the Ottoman court, and partially sought to enrich herself, as well as from political insecurity, especially felt in the mainland countryside. The Ottoman Empire failed to provide protection against warlords and bandits; forces which were sent, rather than fighting the culprit, extorted or plundered defenseless christian communities. Some Greeks emigrated into Russia, where in the Crimea and adjacent territories land was given to settlers; others went to Venice, which had a large Orthodox Greek community, and where the nearby University of Padova provided an opportunity for education.
In Greece properm communities often found a modus vivendi with local bandits (Klefts, Hajduks), who, against a certain fee, provided individual villages with some protection.

Christian Greeks were subject to discrimination, were not allowed to ride a horse in the presence of Muslims and inside towns, were not allowed to have arms, had to pay additional tax. In times of economic difficulty and political insecurity, the Christiaqn communities were easy targets for their Muslim neighbours who did have the right to possess arms.

The growing class of wealthy Greek merchants, by endowing libraries and schools and by sending students to European universities contributed to a HELLENIC CULTURAL REVIVAL, which occurred in the later decades of the 18th and early decades of the 19th century. Inspired by the Enlightenment, it was nationalistic in nature and turned against those Greeks in the church and state administration who identified with the Ottoman Empire. The works of classical Greek literature were rediscovered by a new generation of Greek intellectuals.

History of Otoman Greece, from Wikipedia
REFERENCE Richard Clogg, A Concise History of Greece, Cambridge : UP 1992, KMLA Lib.Sign. 949.5 C643a
Article Greece, in : Encyclopaedia Britannica, Macropaedia, 15th edition, vol.20 pp.178-205, KMLA Lib.Sign. R 032 B862n v.20

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted on March 20th 2002, lst revised on June 12th 2005

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