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Title: Rebellion, Unrest, Calamity: British Reports on Ottoman Syria in 1821-1823
Other Titles: تمرّد، اضطراب، محنة: التقارير البريطانيّة عن سوريا في الحقبة العثمانية (1821-1823)
Authors: Prousis, Theophilus C.
Keywords: Rebellion
British Reports
Ottoman Syria, 1821-1823
Issue Date: 2014
Publisher: University of Balamand
Part of: Chronos
Issue: 29
Start page: 185
End page: 210
" ... extortions and vexations practised by the pasha of Acre."
"... a most awful calamity which has befallen [Aleppo] ... "
"... the dreadful earthquake that has desolated the whole pashalik ... "
"... heaps of stone an d rubbish. . . " "... scenes of horror…"
"…the crush of falling walls - the shrieks, the groans, the accents of
agony and despair of that long night… "
"…a greater mass of human misery has seldom been produced by any of the awful convulsions of nature."
" ... the aggressions and violence which British commerce and navigation (even the most
innocent and legal) are now suffering in consequence of the audacity of the Greek cruizers on the coast of Syria ... "
"... the cholera morbus has made its appearance among the wretched and houseless population, and…its ravages were daily encreasing ... "

These sharp observations by British diplomats posted to the Ottoman Levant described the turbulent state of affairs in parts of Syria in the early 1820s, a time of rebellion, unrest, and calamity symbolized by the devastating earthquake of 1822 in Aleppo. The turmoil in Ottoman Syria reflected the multiple dimensions of the larger crisis confronting Sultan Mahmud II's realm at a tense but pivotal moment in Ottoman history. The Empire had to deal with daunting internal and external pressures triggered by war, revolt, sectarian strife, the breakdown of once effective ruling institutions, and European intervention. The Greek insurrection against the Sublime Porte broke out in 1821 in the Danubian Principalities, the Peloponnese, and other Greek-inhabited areas, resulting in a prolonged and costly conflict between Ottoman troops and Greek rebels on both land and sea. War between Russia and Turkey loomed, largely over Ottoman actions that abrogated Russian-Ottoman treaty stipulations, including agreements that protected Greek Christians from Ottoman reprisals. Ottoman restrictions on shipping disrupted European trade in the eastern Mediterranean, which in turn fueled an upsurge in piracy against Ottoman and European commercial navigation. Ottoman administrative disorder heightened public uncertainty; government factions and regional notables contested the sultan's centralized rule; and border disputes sparked hostility between Turkey and Persia. Against the backdrop of these escalating and intertwined challenges, British dispatches from Constantinople and Aleppo chronicled a volatile situation in Syria. Messy realities in this spacious and strategically located Ottoman territory featured not just the shattering aftereffects of the 1822 earthquake and the onset of a cholera epidemic but also the repercussions of the Greek War of Independence, the rebellious activities of Abdallah Pasha of Acre, and the impact of the Turkish-Persian War of 1821-23.
Open URL: Link to full text
Type: Journal Article
Appears in Collections:Chronos

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