AND CALIPHS, 1290-1924 AD

V. FIFTH EMPIRE, OTTOMANS, ISLAMIC BYZANTIUM, 1453-1922, Era of Diocletian 1170-1639, 469 years

The Ottoman Empire is named after its eponymous founder, the Emir Osman. "Osman" is from Arabic 'Uthmân, , the name of the Third Caliph. We get /s/ in "Osman" because the /th/ becomes /s/ in Persian, a language that, for secular purposes, had become by the 10th century as prestigious in Islam as Arabic. From the /th/ becoming a /t/, as it does in Italian or Modern Arabic, we get "Ottoman," henceforth the name of the dynasty of Osman -- otherwise Osmanli, . The proper name of the country, as it has become, Türkiye, , Turkey, is from the name of the people or the language, the Turks and Turkish, respectively. That goes back well before the Ottoman Empire and applies to other Altaic speakings peoples and their languages in Central Asia; but modern Turkey, even after several Pan-Turkish or Pan-Turanian movements, has tended to absorb the Turkish identity from the other peoples to the East -- the Kazakhs now seem to think of themselves as Kazakhs, not Turks. Turkish identity has otherwise come from Islam, in which the Turks became a major factor when the Seljuk Turks took Baghbad in 1055, and from Anatolia, which the Seljuks invaded in 1071, establishing the Sultânate of Rûm, and where the Ottomans eventually overthrew and replaced Romania, i.e. the Mediaeval Roman or "Byzantine" Empire. By the end of the 15th century, the Ottoman Empire was in extent much like Romania of the Macedonian Emperors had been in the mid-11th century, with, of course, now the same capital, Constantinople. Much that seems characteristic of Islam today, like the domed mosque and perhaps even the symbol of the Crescent, are due to Byzantine influence by way of the Ottomans. There is therefore a sense in which I would regard the history of the Ottoman Empire as a continuation, mutatis mutandis, of Roman history -- hence the "Fifth Empire" designation in the heading above. As an Islamic state, of course, it does not really belong to the same civilization as Ancient Rome or Mediaeval Constantinople, but then that sort of mismatch continues in the story of Modern Turkey, which Atatürk tried, with considerable success, to make into a European rather than a Middle Eastern country. The conflicts that attend these different influences, however, continue.
Osmanli Oghullarï
'Osman I1290-1326
defeats Romans near Nicomedia, Ottoman
conquest begins, 1302; Seljuks overthrown, 1307; Bursa [Prusa] taken, 1326
defeats Andronicus III, 1329; I.znik [Nicaea] taken, 1331; I.zmid [Nicomedia] taken, 1337; Gelibolu [Kallipolis] taken, 1354; Ankara [Angora] taken, 1354
Murâd I1359-1389
Edirne [Adrianople] taken, 1369; Konya [Iconium] taken, 1387; Thessalonica taken, 1387; battle of Kosovo, "Field of the Blackbirds," Sult.ân killed defeating Serbs, 1389
Bâyezîd I
Yïldïrïm, the
seige of Constantinople, 1394-1402; Battle of Nicopolis, Sigismund of Hungary defeated, 1396; Battle of Ankara, Sult.ân defeated, captured & imprisoned by Tamerlane, 1402 I1402-1421
Civil War, 1402-1413, between, Süleymân, & Mûsâ; Thessalonica ceded to Romania, 1403
Murâd II1421-1451
Seige of Constantinople, 1422; Thessalonica captured from Venice, 1430; Crusade of Varna, János Hunyadi of Transylvania defeated, Vadislav of Hungary & Poland killed, 1444 II Fâtih. the "Conqueror"1451-1481
I.stanbul [Constantinople] taken, 1453; conquest of Bosnia, 1463; Khanate of Crimea becomes a Vassal, 1475; Seige of Rhodes repulsed, 1480
Bâyezîd II1481-1512
Selîm I Yavuz,
"the Grim"
Conquest of Syria and Egypt, 1516-1517
Süleymân I, the Magnificent1520-1566
Fall of Rhodes, 1523; Battle of Mohács, Conquest of Hungary, death of Louis II of Hungary & Bohemia, 1526; First Siege of Vienna, 1529; Conquest of Mesopotamia, 1534; Appeal arrives from Sult.ân of Acheh for aid against the Portuguese, 1563; Siege of Malta, 1565
Selîm II1566-1574
Peace of Adrianople, tribute from Austria, 1568; conquest of Cyprus, 1571; Battle of Lepanto, naval defeat by Spain, Venice, & Malta, 1571
Murâd III1574-1595
inconclusive war with Austria, 1593-1606 III1595-1603 I1603-1617
Mus.t.afâ I1617-1618
'Osmân II1618-1622 I (restored)1622-1623
Murâd IV1623-1640
Ibrâhîm1640-1648 IV1648-1687
Naval defeat by Venice & Malta at Dardanelles, 1656; War with Austria, 1663-1664; Conquest of Crete from Venice, 1669; Second Siege of Vienna, 1683; Austrian conquest of Hungary, 1686-1697
Süleymân II1687-1691
Parthenon destroyed in explosion, 1687 II1691-1695
Mus.t.afâ II1695-1703
Russia takes Azov, 1696; Loss of Hungary, 1697; Peace of Karolwitz, 1699 III1703-1730
Recovery of Azov, 1711; War with Austria, 1716-1718; Loss of Banat, Serbia, & Little Wallachia, 1716-1718; Peace of Passarowitz, 1718
Mah.mud I1730-1754
War with Austria, Recovery of Serbia & Wallachia, 1737-1739; Peace of Belgrade, 1739
'Osmân III1754-1757
Mus.t.afâ III1757-1774
'Abdül-H.amîd I1774-1789
Russian conquest of Crimea, 1774-1783
Selîm III1789-1807
Odessa annexed by Russia, 1791; Revolt of Serbs, 1804-1813; Russian invasion, occupation of Moldavia & Wallachia, 1806-1812; Sult.ân overthrown by Janissaries, 1807
Mus.t.afâ IV1807-1808
Mah.mûd II1808-1839
Treaty of Bucharest, Russia ceded Bessarabia, 1812; Serbian autonomy, 1813; Greek Revolt, 1821-1829; Sult.ân massacres Janissaries, 1826; Russian invasion, occupation of Moldavia & Wallachia, 1828-1829; Treaty of Adrianople, Greek Independence, Danube Delta to Russia, autonomy of Moldavia & Wallachia, 1829
'Abdül-Mejîd I1839-1861
Crimean War, 1853-1856; Russian invasion, 1853; Britain, France, & Austria enter against Russia, 1854; Austria occupies Moldavia & Wallachia, 1854-1857; Siege of Sebastopol, 1854-1855; Peace of Paris, recovery of Danube Delta, Wallachia & Moldavia combined as Romania, with part of Bessarabia, 1856
Revolts in Bosnia & Bulgaria, 1875-1876
Murâd V1876
'Abdül-H.amîd II, "the Damned"1876-1909
Russo-Turkish War,
1877-1878; Congress of Berlin, Serbia, Romania, & Montenegro Independent, Bulgaria autonomous, Bessarabia to Russia, Dobruja to Romania, Cyprus to Britain, Bosnia, Herzegovina & Novipazar, Austrian Protectorate, 1878; British Occupy Egypt, 1882; Bulgaria annexes East Rumelia, 1885; Revolt of the Young Turks, 1908, Sult.ân overthrown V1909-1918
First Balkan War, 1912-1913; Italy occupies Libya & the Dodecanese, 1912; Second Balkan War, recovery of Adrianople, 1913; World War I, 1914-1918 VI1918-1922
Armenian Republic conquered, 1920-1921; Greco-Turkish War, 1920-1922
'Abdül-Mejîd IICaliph only, 1922-1924

The Sultânate of Rûm had been dormant for some years, failing even to capitalize on the victory of Myriocephalum (1176). After vassalage to the Mongols (1243), the domain finally disintegrated (1307). Meanwhile, however, the Turkish presence in Anatolia was actually invigorated with refugees from the Mongol advance. The new domains that resulted were the Oghullar or "sons" of Rûm. These included many ghuzâh, (sing. ghâzin, ), or fighters for Islâm (otherwise mujâhidûn, ), particularly frontier fighters. 'Osman Ghâzî, (now just Osman Gazi) found himself on the frontier of Roman Bithynia, across from his Christian military counterparts, the akritai, (sing. akritês, ). He defeated the Roman army at Bapheus in 1302 but is best remembered for breaking through into Bithynia and captured Prusa (1326), which became Bursa, the first capital of the Ottoman Emirate.

Thereafter Ottoman progress was steady and often spectacular. The most fateful moment may have been in 1354, when Turkish forces were ferried across to Europe to help in a war between Venice and Genoa. I think John Cantacuzenus was responsible for this. When Orkhân took Kallipolis, to become "Gelibolu" in Turkish but better known as "Gallipoli" in Italian, the Ottomans achieved a fateful foothold in Europe whose importance would still echo in World War I -- and still belongs to Turkey today. While Ankara would be taken in the same year, this is not a city that would be of political importance until Atatürk chose it to be the capital many years later. Instead, when Adrianople was captured in 1369, the Ottomans transferred their capital there from Bursa. The Ottoman capital was now on the continent of Europe, where it would remain, with a switch to Constantinople, all the rest of the dynasty. In short order Turkey became a European as much or more than an Asian power, a duality that persists, even when Turkey's modern holdings in Europe are a shadow of the former Empire. As the Anatolian Roman Empire was known in Arabic and Turkish as Rûm, , intitial Ottoman possessions in Europe became Rumelia (Turkish Rumeli, ) -- subsequently contrasted with Anatolia as Anadolu (, where we see some not unusual in Ottoman Turkish, that a final "u" is actually written as a "y," with the phonetic expression determined by vowel harmony).

Steady Ottoman conquest and victory suffered a stunning setback in 1402. Bâyezîd I, known as the "Thunderbolt" (Yïldïrïm), who had obtained a diploma from the Abbasid Caliph in Egypt as Sult.ân of Rûm, was defeated and captured by Tamerlane at the Battle of Ankara. He died in captivity, Tamerlane restored some of the Oghullar, and Bâyezîd's sons, whimsically named after the founders of Judaism, Christianity, and Islâm, fell out among each other in a fraternal civil war (note that 'Îsâ is Arabic for Jesus, as Mûsâ is for Moses). With poetic suitability, I, named, of course, after Muh.ammad, won the Throne. He then initiated a grim Ottoman custom. New Sult.âns henceforth, until 1603, murdered all their many brothers (of their polygamous fathers) to prevent such civil wars. This had a more durable evil effect. Ottoman heirs were raised as prisoners in the Harem, with no exposure to the outside world or real political education. Even a Sult.ân without rivals, and even a Sult.ân who no longer murdered his brothers, would have little of the knowledge or experience to be an effective ruler. It is hard to know how much this contributed to Ottoman stagnation and decline, but the effect was likely considerable.

It took a couple of generations for the Ottomans to recover from Tamerlane. When a young II came to the Throne, however, the Empire was ready and the new Sult.ân went straight for Constantinople. On May 29, 1453, its walls breached for the first time by modern cannonballs, Constantinople fell -- exactly 1123 years and 19 days after the City was dedicated by Constantine I on May 11, 330 AD. The last Roman Emperor, Constantine XI, died anonymously in the fighting. His body may or may not have been recovered, leading to legends that he still sleeps under the Golden Gate of modern Istanbul. Europeans now seem loath to admit, as contemporaries then were well aware, that this was the last of the Roman Empire (Romania), which had effectively guarded the flank of Christendom and preserved the heritage of Classical Civilization all through the Middle Ages. With the Ottomans already on the Danube, there was nothing left to block their advance into Central Europe.

At II's death, the Ottoman Empire looked much the way Romania had in the 11th Century. Selîm I "the Grim" did what the old Emperors had never been able to do, restore Syria and Egypt to the empire (from the Mamlûks). Süleimân I then added areas that had never been permanent parts of the Roman Empire, Iraq and Hungary. Picking up the Roman conflict with Irân, the Turks for the first time since Alexander the Great removed Iraq from Iranian possession (the map shows the pre-Safavid Aq Qoyunlu or White Sheep Turks). The conquest of Hungary was the first penetration of Islâm into Francia since the conquest of Spain.

The Ottoman Empire was at its height for about 150 years. It had at that point, however, reached the limits beyond which it could not easily project its power. One reason for this was that much of the Ottoman army, like Medaeval armies, was still a matter of temporary annual levies. No modern conquests could have been made at all with such an army, but the spearhead of the Ottoman military consisted of the famous Janissaries (Turkish Yeniçeri, "new soldiers"). This was a corps of wholly modern outfit and training, at least for the 15th and 16th centuries. However, it was also limited in size by a very Mediaeval aspect of its constitution:  Its ranks were filled with slave boys taken from Christian families in the Caucasus, largely Circassians, and converted to Islâm. The use of slave troops for an Imperial guard went back to Abbasids and was currently the practice, as it had been for centuries, of the Mamlûks in Egypt (where mamlûk means "possessed," i.e. a slave). The ultimate threat of such an elite body of troops is always that it will become a Praetorian Guard whose interest is more political and personal than it is faithful and disinterested. Thus, while Abbasid Caliphs were sometimes prisoners of their guards, the Mamlûks had actually overthrown their original employers, the Ayyûbid Sult.âns, and replaced them. The height of the evil influence of the Janissaries may be when they overthrew the reforming Sult.ân Selîm III in 1807. They met their end in 1826 when the vigorous Sult.ân Mah.mûd II turned the guns of his new artillery corps on the Janissary barracks and massacred them. It would prove difficult, however, for the Ottomans to find a replacement, since an effective modern military depended on an effective modern economy, which the Ottomans would really never have. In World War I Turkish soldiers would prove themselves tough and even formidable, given proper equipment, leadership, and support -- but these were often lacking. In Korea, Turkish troops had the reputation of being very tough -- and not taking prisoners.

From the 16th to the 17th centuries, conflict continued with Austria and with Christian powers in the Mediterranean, but respective holdings didn't change much. The Sult.ân Ah.mad Mosque, or the Blue Mosque, adjacent to the site of the old Hippodrome of Constantinople, is a fitting symbol of the achievement and confidence of this period. The long delayed fall of Crete in 1669 (from Venice) then seemed like the portent of renewed conquests. The energetic Köprülü vizirs planned a new assault, after 150 years, against Vienna in 1683. But this turned into a disaster, suddenly revealing the relative weakness that had actually overcome the Empire. Even a de facto alliance with friendly France, the greatest power of the day, could not prevent a series of defeats, the loss of Hungary, and the temporary loss of southern Greece to Venice (when the Parthenon would be destroyed).

It is noteworthy at the beginning of the 17th century that Ottoman Sult.âns ceased to murder their brothers on accession. Henceforth the Throne passes, by Middle Eastern custom, to brothers and even to cousins before going to the next generation.

The threat of continuous defeat, which the beginning of the 18th century seemed to display, receded somewhat. Austria would not advance deeper into the Balkans and there was some breathing room. Nevertheless, the Ottomans were now facing the problem of catching up with the technological advances of Europe, even of relatively backward Russia, which it was in no way prepared to tackle. The problem was not any particular hostility to modern commercial culture -- merchants and markets were perfectly respectable characteristics of Middle Eastern Islâmic civilization -- but a very profound social conservativism, a satisfaction with the Mediaeval forms of life, prevented any of this from developing into modern institutions of banking, industry, and entrepreneurship. Like the Chinese, the Turks literally did not believe there was anything new to learn, much less from despised Unbelievers. The bustle and excitement of the great Istanbul Bazaar thus never led to the explosion of energy and production that was already characteristic of the Netherlands and other places in Western Europe. Turkey would always be playing catch-up but would then never actually catch up. Institutional reforms, when they were even tried, still could never go deep enough, could never actually produce a people striving and inquisitive beyond their previous habits. Peter the Great faced similar problems with another conservative society about the same time.

At the beginning of the 19th century, as Napoleon surged back and forth across Europe, the subject Christians of the Balkans became more and more restless, and Russia began to try again and again to retrieve Constantinople for Christendom and break through the Straits. The Ottomans, although achieving some successes, were not going to be able to resist this. The Empire's status as the "Sick Man of Europe" was now becoming quite established. It was Realpolitik that came to the rescue of the Sult.ân:  Britain did not want Russia to be too successful and so entered into a long policy of supporting the Turks against the forces, from Russia or Egypt or wherever, that might result in the collapse of Ottoman rule. Nevertheless, Britain could not allow too much oppression of subject Christians, and as the century wore on, small Christian states, from Serbia to Greece to Bulgaria, were allowed autonomy and then independence by the agreement of the Great Powers. This did not get any of them all they wanted, and it certainly limited Russian gains, but it kept the geo-political dam from bursting and kept the Sult.ân from falling off his Throne. When Turkey joined the Central Powers in World War I, however, Britain would have had good reason to regret its policy.

Finally, it was the internal forces of Turkey that began to shake things up after a pattern that would become all too familiar in "underdeveloped" countries later:  A military coup, the "Young Turks," against the detested Sult.ân 'Abdül-Hamîd II, known as "the Damned," in 1908. This did not help much when the Balkan states fell on Turkey in the First Balkan War of 1912. The choice of Germany as a European ally would then be fatal for the Ottoman future. Another ill effect was the transformation of the Mediaeval Cause of Islâm into a more modern Turkish nationalism. This did not work well, and never would, with the Arabs, Armenians, and Kurds living within Turkish borders. The disaffection of the first exploded in a pro-Allied revolt in World War I. Suspicion about the second, with the Russians actively promoting Armenian disaffection (but then often doing little when substantive support was needed), led to shameful deportation and massacre about the same time. And conflict with the third continues, with campaigns of terrorism and suppression, even today. Woodrow Wilson impotently called for an independent Armenia state, in an area where there were by then few Armenians left, and soon almost none after Turkey pushed the Armenian Republic back east of the Araks (Aras) River in 1920. No Power has called for an independent Kurdish state. Meanwhile, the British and French were perfectly happy to detach the Arab lands from the Empire, not for independence, to be sure, but to further British and French imperial projects. This turned out to be more trouble than it was worth, especially when the Zionist colonization of Palestine, allowed by the British, led to the creation of Israel and to a conflict, including five major wars (1948, 1956, 1967, 1973, 1982), that continues until today. The settlement of World War I has thus been aptly called "the peace to end all peace."

After the modern history of "ethnic cleansing" through massacre and deportation, it is now extraordinary and even jarring to recollect the ethnic patchwork of Ottoman Turkey, which was formalized in the "Millet," (Arabic millah, "religious community; religion, creed, faith, confession, denomination"), system of government, which afforded to the confessional communities degrees of self-government. One might walk down streets in early 20th century Istanbul and see nothing but signs in Greek and Armenian.

A study of the Ottoman Empire, for example, found that "of the 40 private bankers listed in Istanbul in 1912 not one bore a Muslim name." Nor was even one of the 34 stockbrokers in Istanbul a Turk. Of the capital assets of the 284 industrial firms employing five or more workers, 50 percent were owned by Greeks and another 20 percent by Armenians. In the seventeenth century Ottoman Empire, the palace medical staff consisted of 41 Jews and 21 Muslims. [Thomas Sowell, Intellectuals and Society, Basic Books, 2011, pp.117-188]

This was a world now long gone and in retrospect almost inconceivable. Equally striking is that the Christian community under the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople was the Millet-ï-Rûm, , the "community of Rome," retaining the identity of Mediaeval Romania, . Although this is often now said to be the "Greek" community, it initially included all Orthodox Christians under the authority of the Patriarch and even into the 20th century retained its identity as Rhômaioi, "Romans." Other Patriarchates might correspond to other Millets, such as the Bulgarians, Serbs, Romanians, and others. The Ottomans even sponsored the establishment of an Armenian Patriarchate in Constantinople in 1461, so as to distinguish the local Armenian community from the "Romans."

The great Topkapï Palace (Sarayï, "its palace") occupies an area that was originally the acropolis of Byzantium. Constantine curiously left this site alone, perhaps out of persistent respect for the old gods. I am only aware of one Mediaeval institution in the area, the Church and Monastery of St. George of Mangana. The circuit wall of the Topkapï grounds essentially encompasses all of ancient Byzantium. The original Imperial Palace of the Emperors of Mediaeval Romania, the Great Palace (Méga Palátion), entered by the Chalke or Brazen Gate from the square of the Augustaeum [or Augusteum, in Greek Augustaion or, often, Augusteion], was south of the Church of Hagia Sophia, down through the area of the present Sultan Ah.mad Mosque -- adjacent to the Hippodrome, where the Emperor's box was connected to the Palace -- all the way to the Sea of Marmara. Some excavation has uncovered floors and substructures in the Great Palace, which consisted of a number of buildings and so could even be construed as consisting of multiple palaces. One of those, with its own harbor on the Sea of Marmara, was the Bucoleon [Boukoleon] Palace, which sometimes gives its name to the whole of the Great Palace. The Great Palace was left in such disrepair by the Latins that the Palaeologi abandoned it for residence in the Blachernae Palace by the City walls. When II arrived, he is supposed to have wandered through the empty and ruined palace and quoted from Firdawsî:

The spider spins his web in the Palace of the Caesars,
An owl hoots in the towers of Afrasiyab [a Turanian king in the Shâh-nâma].

"Topkapï" means the "Gate of the Cannon," literally the "Cannon [Top], its [ï] Gate [Kapï]." The actual gate of that name was the principle gate in the sea-wall of the Palace, flanked, indeed, by cannons; but today it no longer exists (though there still is such a gate in the Land Walls). More significant was a gate that didn't even belong to the palace but is across the street:  the Bâb-ï-'Ali, or the "Sublime Porte," through which one entered the palace of the Grand Vezir (Wazîr in Arabic, the Prime Minister). This gate and its name came to represent the entire Ottoman Government. Thus, as today people speak of the "White House" for American government, or "Downing Street" for the British -- which hearken back to the King of Egypt being called "Pharaoh," , the "Great House," or the Emperor of Japan the "Mikado," , which simply means, in the closest parallel to Ottoman practice, the "Honorable Gate" -- the Ottoman government could simply be called "the Porte." The name of the gate is a classic Ottoman expression using Arabic words in a Persian grammatical construction --
, the Bâb, "gate," -ï- ("of," with Turkish vowel harmony, see below), 'Âlî, "lofty, exalted, sublime; excellent, outstanding, etc." (in Arabic this is just , 'âl in the indefinite, and is still used in spoken Arabic just to mean "wonderful" or "wow!"). Just as the last of the Roman Emperors moved to the Blachernae Palace, the last Ottoman Sult.âns preferred the Dolmabahçe Palace on the Bosporus, where above we see Kaiser Wilhelm II (in the gray overcoat) on his visit.

Today one of the sights of Istanbul is the Fatih Camii (Fâtih. Jâmi-i), the "Conqueror's Mosque." This contains the tomb of II, with a dedicated mosque, school, hospice, and (formerly) caravansaray. It stands on the site of the Church of the Holy Apostles, which contained the Heroön, the mausoleum of Constantine I and most subsequent Emperors of Romania (space for tombs was exhausted in 1028 with the burial of Constantine VIII -- perhaps a bad omen). Already in ruinous disrepair in 1453 (though the seat of the Patriarch of Constantinople, 1453-1455), it is not clear what the fate of all the Imperial burials was. Tombs that were above ground are certainly gone, and some anonymous sarcophagi survive at the Istanbul Archaeological Museum. The bases of some of the original walls of the Church, however, have been identified; and I wonder if burials below ground or in a crypt may actually have simply been covered over by the later construction, the way the Imperial mosaics in Sancta Sophia were simply whitewashed, preserving them for modern display [note]. A great deal of Roman Constantinople actually survives underground and invisible in modern Istanbul. What the Church of the Holy Apostles probably looked like can still be seen in a probable copy, St. Mark's in Venice.

Curious things now can get said about the Ottoman Empire, for instance in the "Author's Note" to Lawrence in Arabia -- War, Deceit, Imperial Folly and the Making of the Modern Middle East [Anchor Books, 2013, 2014], by Scott Anderson:

In war, language itself often becomes a weapon, and that was certainly true in the Middle Eastern theater of World War I. For example, while the Allied powers tended to use "the Ottoman Empire" and "Turkey" interchangeably, they displayed a marked preference for the latter designation as the war went on, undoubtedly to help fortify the notion that the non-Turkish populations of the Ottoman Empire were somehow "captive peoples" in need of liberation... On a more subtle level, all the Western powers, including the Ottoman Empire's/Turkey's chief ally in the war, Germany, continued to refer to the city of "Constantinople" (its name under a Christian empire overthrown by the Muslim Ottomans in 1453) rather than the locally preferred "Istanbul."

As many Middle East historians rightly point out, the use of these Western-preferred labels -- Turkey rather than the Ottoman Empire, Constantinople instead of Istanbul -- is indicative of a Eurocentric perspective that, in its most pernicious form, serves to validate the European (read imperialist) view of history. [p.ix]

There is something odd about "rightly" standing up for the identity of the Ottoman Empire as an Empire, to the point of defending its rule of conquered peoples and its change of the name of its conquered capital, and yet present it as a vicim of "imperialism." If the Ottoman regime was not itself "imperialism," then we have the use of a novel principle that only Europeans have empires or imperial ideology (an ideology of conquest, like Islamic Jihâd) -- even though we have decided that "Empire" is the only non-Eurocentric thing to call the Ottoman state.

Amid this confusion are some historical falsehoods. "Turkey" had been used for Turkish states for many centuries, with what now seems like the bizarre inclusion of Hungary in that number, to the point that the Crown of St. Stephen says Tourkía (in Greek, ) on it. There was no other proper name to use for the Ottoman Empire. At the same time, "Istanbul" was not the official name of Constantinople until 1930. It may have been "locally preferred" only in the same sense that people in Philadelphia may say "Philly," and San Franciscans used to say "Frisco," for their cities. Neither of these cases have much to do with Eurocentrism, imperialism, or any sort of ideological manipulation of language. Greeks said Stamboul without the slightest sense that this should replace the full, formal name. "Constantinople" was named after its founder, the Emperor Constantine I, and Mr. Anderson's "a Christian empire" was the Byzantime Empire, or Romania, which for some reason Anderson deigns not to name -- what kind of "centrism" is that?

Thus, saying that "many Middle East historians rightly point out" these distortions itself betrays a bias on the part of Mr. Anderson, which is for him to be taken in by a Marxist-Leninist discourse on "imperialism" and all the illiberal and often totalitarian principles that go with it. But then, having begun with such a harsh condemnation of "Eurocentrism" on these grounds, Anderson walks it back on the next page, admitting that the Turks themselves often used the names "Turkey" and "Constantinople," and that the Young Turks didn't like using the word "Ottoman" at all. Anderson will use "Turkey," "Ottoman Empire," and "Constantinople" in the book. So the whole exercise was "rightly" all "a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing" [Macbeth, Act 5, Scene 5].

The spelling of the names of the Ottomans on this page is intended to indicate both the Turkish pronunciation and how they are spelled in Arabic. In practical terms this no longer matters, since Turkish is no longer written in the Arabic alphabet; but is of historical interest. Here I have pretty much followed the usage of The Cambridge History of Islam [Volume 1B, The Central Islamic Lands Since 1918, Cambridge University Press, 1970, 1977, p.734]. A good example is the name of the Conqueror of Constantinople, II. This name is Muh.ammad in Arabic but is actually pronounced Mehmet in Turkish -- which is an Altaic language that is entirely unrelated to Arabic. Obviously, some compromises are made and the system is not perfect. In general, the consonants look Arabic and the vowels Turkish. Since Turkish (following Persian) reads the Arabic alphabet with three s's (Arabic s, s., and th) and four z's (Arabic z, z., d., and dh), some attempt is made to differentiate (e.g. with s for th). Modern Turkish writes c for English j and ç for English ch, but the English equivalents are used here, since most people will be completely unfamiliar with the conventions of Turkish orthography.

The main reason that Arabic writing did not work well for Turkish was the Turkish vowel system. Where Classical Arabic had three short and three long vowels, and Persian could match its six vowels with those, Turkish has eight vowels, as shown at right (in the official Romanization). The most intriguing thing about Turkish vowels is the system of vowel harmony. Related Ural-Altaic languages, like Mongolian and even Hungarian (though some dispute the reality of the Ural-Altaic family, or even the Altaic family, or whether Korean and Japanese are Altaic members), also have vowel harmony, but this seems to appear in Turkish in its most complete, logical, and elegant form. The rules are simply, (1) front vowels are followed by front vowels (e.g. i by e), back vowels by back vowels (e.g. u by a), (2) unrounded vowels are followed by unrounded vowels (e.g. i by e), and (3) rounded vowels are followed by high rounded (e.g. o by u) or low unrounded vowels (e.g. o by a). There are Turkish grammatical inflections in which the vowel is supposed to be simply either high or low, with its character otherwise determined by the preceding vowels in the word -- thus, the common third person possessive suffix, which may appear as i, ï, u, or ü, is typically written simply as "y," , with its character otherwise determined by the earlier vowels. Specific vowels were all impossible to show in the Arabic alphabet without a special notation that might have been developed but, evidently, never was. There are many words in Turkish that violate vowel harmony, but by this they can be identified as foreign loan words -- for example islâm (instead of *islem), from Arabic, and istanbul (instead of *istenbil), from Greek or Arabic. Arabic Turkiyâ, , although retaining its Arabic spelling in Ottoman Turkish, nevertheless came to be pronounced with the proper vowel harmonic "e" in the final position, as Türkiye. However, the medial "i" violates vowel harmony. The word properly should be *Türküye -- with the high rounded "ü" followed by a high rounded "ü" -- or *Türkeye -- with the high rounded vowel followed by the low unrounded "e."

The phonology of Modern Turkish has simplified somewhat from Classical Ottoman Turkish. Thus, Turkish, unlike Persian or Urdu, only needed to introduce one extra letter to write a sound that did not exist in Persian or Arabic. This was for the velar nasal, "ng," as in words like dengiz, , "sea," or yalngïz, , "alone." However, this sound has now been lost, and the modern pronunciation of "sea" is just deniz and of "alone" yalnïz. Of equal interest is the loss in Turkish of velar fricatives, such as "gh" () and "kh" (). We often see the Arabic letters for "gh" and "q" (for which "gh" and "kh" were allophones) in Turkish words that are not of Persian or Arabic origin. Examples of this are the words for "son," , oghul; "mountain," , dagh; "white," , aq; and "black," , qara. Indeed, we can put together expressions that feature more than one obsolete sound:   , the Aq Dengiz, or "White Sea," i.e. the Mediterranean; and , the Qara Dagh, or "Black Mountain," i.e. Montenegro. These are now Ak Deniz and Kara Da. Today, the "q" has become a "k" -- so we have ak and kara -- while the "gh" has become the silent and lengthening "," a "g" with a breve -- giving us oul and da, much as we often see with "g" in Italian. This phenomenon of sound change was already well underway in Ottoman Turkish, as we see in a word like the title "bey," , be, where the letter "k" was written for "," without diacritic. All the lost phonology of Turkish was completely lost with the shift from the Arabic to the Latin alphabet. Unlike English, Turkish no longer contains, to the confusion of young spellers, evidence of earlier stages of the language.

Two terms of Turkish or at least Altaic origin, with obsolete phonology, are now more recognizable in unrelated languages than in Turkish. These are the titles , agha, and , khan. Agha is now used as "Mr." in Persian. Khân is very familiar as a Turkish or Mongolian title in the Middle Ages. The latter seems to be a variant, root, or derivative of khaghan, which is seen in Persian as , khâqân (the medial "q" is pronounced as "gh"). In Modern Turkish, with the loss of the velar fricatives, agha, just to mean "master, gentleman," is reduced to aa, and khan to han -- although kaan (as from qaghan) is also seen as a surname. In Modern Mongolian, agha, meaning "elder brother," has been reduced to akh. The loss of intervocalic "g" is also something we evidently see in Mongolian, where khaan looks like a reduction of khaghan. For the purposes here, these titles simply futher illustrate the recent phonetic simplification of Turkish.

In the first book I had about Turkish, Teach Yourself Books, Turkish [St. Paul's House, Warwick Lane, London, 1953, 1975], the author, G.L. Lewis, specifically ridicules Hagopian's Ottoman-Turkish Conversation- Grammar of 1907 because, out of 215 pages, it devoted 161 to Arabic and Persian []. Well, I have gone to some trouble to get a copy of Hagopian's Ottoman-Turkish Conversation-Grammar, and it is a very fine book. The section on Arabic and Persian is very much as though every English grammar book came along with Donald M. Ayers' English words from Latin and Greek elements [University of Arizona Press, 1986], which I encountered as the textbook for a popular class at the University of Texas on the Greek and Latin elements in English. As it happens, of course, fewer and fewer American students are even taught English grammar, much less enough Greek or Latin to understand or appreciate its use of them. This is not a virtue. Nor is the nationalistic enthusiasm that seeks to purge languages of "foreign" words, which has happened in Turkish, German, French, Hungarian, and elsewhere. This kind of thing is simply an attempt to purge history itself -- along with a ugly attempt to sharpen ethnic identities and differences.

Hagopian's attention to Arabic and Persian was very much like the arrangement of the much later, modern Persian Grammar of A.K.S. Lambton [Cambridge University Press, 1953, 1967]. Part I of the book (pp.3-177) is the Persian grammar proper, while Part II (pp.181-245) is "The Arabic Element." Similarly, it would be difficult to be fully educated in Japanese without considerable attention to the Chinese source of Japanese characters and the Chinese literary and religious antecedents of much of Japanese culture. G.L. Lewis has applied the false paradigm derived from the recent history of European languages, which now seriously neglect the Classical roots of their own languages, literature, and civilization.

Later, Geoffrey Lewis appears to have thought better of his ridicule. Subsequent editions of Teach Yourself Turkish cut down on the dismissive remarks; and recently Lewis has published The Turkish Language Reform, A Catastrophic Success [Oxford, 1999, 2002]. Here we learn about the artificial coinages, supposedly "true" Turkish, and the confusion that has now alienated modern Turkey from its own heritage, the best of Ottoman literature. Indeed, the writings of Kemal Atatürk himself have needed more than once to be "translated" into New(er) Turkish. At a literary or technical level usage still sometimes shifts between an Arabic word, a "Turkish" neologism, or French, just to make sure that everyone can recognize one of the words. Lewis's own Turkish Grammar [Oxford, 1967, 2000] provides information to enable people to read the Ottoman language. It probably is too late to deliberately go back, but, like German returning to Telefon from Fernsprecher, perhaps Turkish usage will drift back to more of its Persian and Arabic heritage. This need have nothing to do with Islamicization, merely with remembering the history of the language.

Turkish Republic, 1923;
Mustafa Kemal,
(1934) Atatürk
Ismet Inönü1938-1950
France cedes
Alexandretta & Antioch, 1939
Celal Bayar1950-1960
Kemal Gürcel1961-1966
Cevdet Sunay1966-1973
Fahri Korutürk1973-1980
Kenan Evren1980-1989
Turgut Özal1989-1993
Süleyman Demirel1993-2000
Ahmet Necdet Sezer2000-2007
Abdullah Gül2007-present
The job of complete social transformation of Turkey was finally undertaken by Mus.t.afâ Kemal, who adopted the surname Atatürk, "Father of the Turks" (1881-1938). Kemal had achieved fame during World War I with his epic defense of Gallipoli against the British, telling his men at one point, "I am not asking you to fight; I am asking you to die." With no concessions to Greeks, Armenians, or Kurds, Atatürk nevertheless abandoned most imperial aspirations. Giving up the Arabic alphabet and traditional costume (indeed, making their use even a capital offense), deposing the Ottomans, and otherwise trying to make Turkey a European, rather than a Middle Eastern, state, Atatürk simply hoped to make it the equal of other modern powers. To a considerable extent he succeeded, though Turkey is still haunted by the shadow of the military dictatorship that he himself represented, by the threat of militant Islâm, whose mediaevalism is fully triumphant in neighboring
Irân, and by the disaffection of the Kurds, whose very existence was legally denied for many years. Nevertheless, it is undoubtedly the strongest state in the region, to the chagrin of neighboring Arabs and Christians (and Kurds) alike. Long a member of NATO, Turkey looks foward to membership in the European Community, but still has little embarrassments like the common use of torture by police. Thus, despite Atatürk, we still have several respects in which Turkey is posed between East and West, Mediaeval and Modern, Islâm and secularism, liberalism and oppression. The application of Turkey to the European Union has been deferred, but will be considered in a couple of years. Atatürk himself is still the focus of a curious cult of personality, with his image (as photographs, busts, etc.) appearing almost everywhere, even in elevators. Since this does not symbolize the presence of a totalitarian police state, was it would in North Korea, it instead seems to reflect a healthy and popular endorsement of Atatürk's vision of a secular Turkey. In the face of the Islâmic backlash, it is as positive a statement as it has ever been.

The term of Turkish President Ahmet Necdet Sezer ended on 16 May 2007, but a new President was not elected until August. The most likely candidate and eventual President, Abdullah Gül, from an Islamic Party (and with a wife who wears a headscarf), drew wide protest (as shown) from everyone who wished to preserve the secular nature of the Turkish Republic. There was even a warning from the Army, which has deposed the government four times since 1960, that it may not tolerate any compromise to Atatürk's ideal of secular government. The Islamic threat would seem to justify the reluctance of the European Union to expedite the admission of Turkey, an attitude that some Turks regard as simple racism. However, the defeat of the Islamic forces in Turkey should remove some European reservations. The actual election of Gül leaves all these issues rather up in the air. There is no doubt, however, that any moves toward Islamicization could provoke even a violent response from the secular population and the Army.

In March 2008 the Chief Prosecutor of Turkey's Constitutional Court filed a motion to abolish the political party of President Gül, the AK Party, and for a time ban members, like him, from serving in political office. The basis of this is the religious basis and program of the Party. At this point there are also other, equally troubling, complaints about the behavior of the government. If the Court abolishes the party, which seems quite possible, it would forestall a coup by the Army but could also precipitate violence by supporters, who won 46.6% of the vote in 2007. This is certainly the modern dilemma in Islamic countries, where democracy itself threatens the state with the forces of religious reaction. Where in Irân religious government was at first popular, opposition candidates are now kept off the ballot and it is too late for a peaceful return to secular government. In Turkey, however, Atatürk still has more influence than any living Shâh.

On July 30, 2008, the Constitutional Court fined the AK Party but did not disband it. Six out of eleven judges favored banning the Party, but seven votes were required. There was relief in many circles that a crisis had been avoided and that a democratic election had not been overturned, but the conflict over the place of Islam in Turkey will continue.

The judges may live to regret their decision. Getting into 2010, the government has been using the police, much as Hilter did after assuming power, to suppress dissent, harass opposition, and even to arrest secularists in the judiciary and military. The Islamist and fascist program of Mr. Gül thus begins to emerge. A document was forged that was purported to be Army plans for a coup. Hopefully, the Army will need no such plan, unless, like the German miliary, they let their chance slip by or, worse, collaborate with the goals of the government. Western observers are hoping that the AK Party will simply lose the next election; but by then, the election may be rigged (as in 2009 in Iran), or Turkish opinion may not be aroused enough about what is going on.

Democracy is like a streetcar. When you come to your stop, you get off.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Prime Minister of Turkey

On 31 May 2010, Israeli forces prevented a flottila of ships from breaching an Israeli blockade of Gaza and delivering goods to the forces of Hamas. They at first tried boarding the ships peacefully, but the crews of the ships began to beat the unarmed Israeli soldiers and throw them overboard. The Israelis then boarded in force, killing a number of those resisting. Since the ships were supposedly delivering humanitarian aid and food to Gaza, there was a great deal of international huffing and puffing and posturing about this action. However, Israel allows humanitarian aid and food into Gaza, if properly inspected; and the purpose of the flottila was clearly to break the blockade so that arms could then be run in to the forces of Hamas. The experience of the past, since the Israeli withdrawl from Gaza, is that Hamas begins using weapons against Israel as soon as it can get them, despite the military senselessness of such attacks. Hamas forces, hiding, as Terrorists do, among civilians, and attacking, as Terrorists do, Israeli civilians, use Israeli retaliation to claim that Israel is attacking civilians, like Terrorists! This is usually good enough for those ready to credit anti-Israeli propaganda in the first place.

The most shocking thing about the flotilla event, however, was the support of the project, not just by Iran, which was to be expected, but by Turkey. It now appears that the regime of President Abdullah Gül, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and their AK Party is not just moderately Islamic but has the goal of an Islamist transformation of Turkey, politically, culturally, and diplomatically. Slowly but steadily, Erdogan has managed to place supporters in the courts, the police, the schools, and, apparently, even in the army. The disturbing developments noted above for early 2010 have now bloomed into a full scale attack on the secular state of Kemal Atatürk. Although Erdogan himself pursued membership in the European Union, Turkey has now turned its diplomacy towards Iran and other radical regimes. The doubts about EU membership for Turkey, which had delayed its acceptance, now must become a certainty that Turkey is no longer interested in continuing its development as a European nation.

As we see from the quote above, Erdogan has no more respect for democracy than any other Islamist. More distressing, however, is the possibility, not that Erdogan will steal the next election, but that he will be continued in power with large and enthusiastic majorities. For, as it seems, Turkish public opinion, no doubt influenced by what is now a Government controlled news media (which runs grotesque anti-Semitic and anti-American "documentaries"), but apparently in little need of such propaganda, has drifted into the Islamist irrationality, paranoia, anti-Semitism, and anti-Americanism that is all too familiar from the rest of the Middle East.

Thus, unless there is enough loyalty to Atatürk left in the army, or among the demonstrators we saw as recently as 2007, it appears that Turkey is all but lost in a creeping anti-Western revolution, which is probably as popular among the urban young as it is among what could be expected to be more religiously conservative elements of the society. This poses a serious problem for the United States, since Turkey is a member of NATO and thus has access to American military technology and secrets. If these come to be passed on to Iran or Hamas, continued Turkish NATO membership will not be tolerable. The full threat that these developments in Turkey represent has not yet been fully appreciated in Washington, but the day of reckoning cannot be far away.

In 2013, nation-wide protests have erupted against Prime Minister Erdogan. As previously, women in Western dress figure prominently in the protests, exemplifying their concern at the Islamicization of the regime. This has come down to one incident, where a solitary woman in a red dress, identified as Ceyda Sungur, "the woman in red," was pepper-sprayed by a policeman in riot gear, as we see in the now famous Reuters image at right. The policeman obviously had nothing to fear from her. Things have indeed been getting out hand. Erdogan has been suppressing opposition newspapers, and more journalists are in jail than anywhere else in the world (in countries where there are journalists, of course, unlike Cuba or North Korea). While Erdogan's strength previously was his competent direction of the economy, it looks like this might not last, and his other sins may be catching up with him. However, as noted above, Erodogan may have already compromised the independence of the military and the judiciary enough that he can suppress any opposition. We shall see. The Western press is paying a bit more attention to this than to attacks on Christians in Egypt.

Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians? [Wer redet heute noch von der Vernichtung der Armenier?]

Adolf Hitler, August 22, 1939 [Nuremberg Tribunal document L-3, or Exhibit USA-28 -- the authenticity of the document is disputed by partisans of Turkey]

The historical and international image of the Turks does not seem to be the most lovable or romantic. Most Americans probably are going to be more sympathetic to people with historic grievances against Turkey -- Greeks, Armenians, Romanians, Serbs, even Arabs. Most people may not know of all the vanished ancient peoples of Anatolia, from the Phrygians and Galatians to the Isaurians, or even the sad Fall of Constantinople; but most are likely aware of lingering outrage over the genocide of the Armenians and other Christians during World War I -- an event that Turkey still officially and stoutly denies, despite thorough historical documentation, not to mention many surviving eyewitnesses -- and more recent actions against the Kurds [note]. Not long ago it was a crime in Turkey to assert, even on the floor of the parliament, that there even were Kurds in the country -- and in 1994 four members of parliament were sentenced to 15 years in prison for giving speeches in Kurdish. Although responding in some ways to European demands for human rights improvements before being considered for admission to the European Union, since December 2001 the Turkish government has officially regarded Kurdish given names as "terrorist propaganda" and refused to register them for Kurdish children. With all this, one does not even need to see the very hostile, anti-Turkish movie Midnight Express [1978].

In historical perspective, however, it is not clear to what extent the ancient peoples even still existed by the time of the Turkish arrival. Greek assimilation, i.e. Hellenization, of Anatolian peoples had been progressing steadily for centuries, and Turkish settlement in comparison doesn't necessarily look all that different -- indeed, the surge in the Turkish population in the 13th and 14th centuries involved people fleeing the terror of the Mongols. They were refugees. Given the religious cause that the Ottomans thought they were vindicating, the Fall of Constantinople, far from sad, was one of the supreme moments of achievement in the history of Islâm. A Western, or a modern liberal, evaluation will not give that much weight, but it is not hard to imagine that the sensation it created in Islâm was not much different from that in Christendom at the capture of Jerusalem by the First Crusade, or the completion of the Reconquista in Spain. These are similarly denigrated by modern liberal opinion, but it is hard to imagine how the values at the time could have been different -- and everyone should guard against an anachronistic moral indignation (which liberal opinion tends to focus on the Crusades rather than on any Islamic Conquest, for which Islâm usually seems more excused than Christianity -- an example of the selective judgment of moralistic relativism). There is also the fear now of the politically correct of being accused of "Islamophobia" for addressing simple truths of Islamic history and practice.

The subsequent Ottoman Empire features the goods and evils characteristic of most empires, and some peculiar to those of the Middle East -- e.g. the refuge provided for Spanish Jews in 1492 (with Spanish speaking Jews living today in Turkey), as against the slavery and forced conversion of Christian children for the Janissary corps. Evils specific to nationalism emerged later, like the aforementioned genocide of Armenians and the continuing suppression of the Kurds, an Iranian people who happen to be Orthodox Moslems like the Turks. The Turks are not uniquely at fault for this, and the solution is a kind of society (liberal and capitalistic) upon which few in the world entirely agree, even in the ethnic plurality of societies like the United States. Turkey now has an especially tough time with its own identity as it is torn between the Islamic fundamentalist revival seen elsewhere and the secularism that Kemal Atatürk made the foundation of the modern state in the 1920's. None of this may make Turkey particularly lovable, but it does make the Turks mostly like anybody else; and modern Turkey has a large of population of people who seem all but indistinguishable from secular Europeans -- and reasonably disinclined to be blamed for the sins of the past. Turkey has a history that has its horrors but, indeed, also its own bit of romance and magnificience:  a desire to surpass Sancta Sophia (still called Aya Sofya in Turkish, after the Greek version of the name, Hagia Sophia) produced a series of some of the most beautiful mosques in Islâm, which have inspired much of subsequent Islâmic architecture (the standard doomed mosque, starting with Muh.ammad 'Alî's Alabaster Mosque in Cairo) [note].

A recent controversy of note has been over the Syriac Orthodox Mor Gabriel Monastery, where a government land resurvey and hostile neighboring Muslim villagers have threatened the monastery, founded in 397 AD, with the loss of half of its land. Since local Christians have been leaving the area for decades, few remain, and the monastery itself is down to three monks and twelve nuns [cf. The Wall Street Journal, March 7-8, 2009, p.A8]. The Turkish government is caught between the attraction of tourism and even Christian return, with economic benefits, and the Islamists, who would just as soon drive all non-Muslims out of the area, if not out of Turkey altogether, regardless of the consequences. As a land dispute, the matter has ended up in the Turkish courts, which have shown some reluctance to get drawn in. With observers and diplomats from the EU and international Christian and human rights organizations present, the courts are at least aware that they operate in a spotlight, with sensitive politcal issues on the line.

Now, as of January 26, 2011, the Turkish Supreme Court, overturning some lower courts, has approved seizure of much of the land of the Mor Gabriel Monastery by the Turkish Government, despite the clear record of ownership (for centuries) and even the consistent rax remitances of the Monastery for the land. This seems of a piece with the progress of Islamist radicalism in Turkey. As in Iraq and Egypt, the goal of the movement does seem to be to drive the remaining Christians out of the Middle East. It is hard to imagine that anyone, including the Turkish Government, now takes seriously the application of Turkey for membership in the European Union. Recently, we have seen statements from Britain, France, and Germany all expressing alarm at the growth of extremism and lack of assimilation among Muslim immigrants in Europe. The apologetic for Islam that labels critics as "Islamophobes" cannot survive the exposure of the oppression of Christians in these Islamic countries. A cooperative Western press, with its own illiberal and anti-American agenda, has helped limit knowledge even of outright massacres of Christians -- e.g. the Egyptian military, universally praised for its restraint in dealing with anti-government protestors, has opened fire, in incidents unreported by the "Mainsteam" media, against Christian protestors -- but the ugly scale of this process cannot be concealed indefinitely.

A discussion of general sources for this material is given under Francia and Islâm. Some additional sources include The Penguin Historical Atlas of Russia (John Channon with Rob Hudson, 1995), and various prose histories, such as The Ottoman Centuries (Lord Kinross, Morrow Quill, 1977).

The Altaic and Uralic Languages

Modern Romania, Ottoman Successor States in the Balkans

Modern Romania Index

The Shihâbî Amîrs of Lebanon, 1697-1842 AD

The House of Muh.ammad 'Alî in Egypt, 1805-1953 AD

The Sanûsî Amîrs & Kings of Libya, 1837-1969 AD

Rome and Romania Index

Islâmic Index

Philosophy of History

Home Page

Copyright (c) 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 Kelley L. Ross, Ph.D. All Rights Reserved

The Ottoman Sult.âns and Caliphs, Note 1

A recent correspondent indignantly claimed that the Imperial burials had already been completely destroyed by the Crusaders. Well, the Fourth Crusade was not above looting the dead, but even if they had the energy to open all the tombs, back to Constantine, it is hard to imagine that they would have been so interested in destroying the burials that there would not have been plenty left for the Greeks to subsequently reinter. Indeed, on one account, when the Crusaders opened the sarcophagus of Justinian, they "found that his corpse was miraculously uncorrupted after over 600 years. Consequently, they left it alone..." [Jonathan Harris, Constantinople, Capital of Byzantium, Hambledon Continuum, London, New York, 2007, p.161]. An incorruptible body, of course, has been a mark, not just in Christianity but also in Buddhism, of sainthood. Anyone knowing much about Justinian, whose personality has been compared to that of Richard Nixon, might find that surprising. But Justinian is regarded as a Saint in the Orthodox Church. Even if the Crusaders then did loot the bodies of other Emperors, there was almost two hundred years under the Palaeologi to do proper reburials. My suspicion therefore, with the most charitable regard for II, is that some of the burials may still lie under the great mosque. Some future archaeology may be allowed to test this.

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The Ottoman Sult.âns and Caliphs, Note 2

Not all who deny the existence of the Armenian genocide are Turkish, as I have heard from recent correspondents. Anyone sincerely sceptical or confused about the matter should consult Death by Government [Transaction Publishers, New Brunswick, New Jersey, 1995, pp.209-239], by R.J. Rummel, one of the greatest living experts on mass murder. Rummel estimates the number of Armenians murdered in the main organized genocide program (there were others), from 1915-1918, as 1,404,000 persons.

Some of the eyewitness testimony to this included reports by the American Ambassador to Turkey, Henry Morgenthau, Sr. (whose son, Henry Morgenthau, Jr., would be Franklin Roosevelt's Secretary of the Treasury), and by other American consular officials, at a time when the United States was still neutral in World War I. Morgenthau's account was published in 1919 as Ambassador Morgenthau's Story. I believe there is an accusation that Morgenthau's book was ghost-written by Armenians. Even if that were true, it still does not mean that the accounts were not correct (Armenians in exile would tend to be living evidence of what the Turks did), and much of the evidence associated with Morgenthau consists of diplomatic records that are contemporaneous with the events.

Americans were not the only neutral diplomats in Turkey during World War I. Norway, Denmark, and Sweden were neutral countries all through World War I, and information is now emerging from their diplomatic archives about what the Scandinavians observed of the Armenian genocide, as well as of Ottoman treatment of Greeks and the Aramaic speaking communities. In addition to this, there were Scandinavian Christian missionaries who had been operating among Ottoman Armenians, and they reported to their embassies what they had been seeing out in the countryside. Hitherto, I don't think that the existence of this evidence has been generally recognized, even by Rummel.

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The Ottoman Sult.âns and Caliphs, Note 3

Nor need we dismiss the endless pornographic fantasies that revolve around the Harîm of the Sult.ân's Topkapï Palace. Fascination with this is now often disparaged as "Orientalism," i.e. the projection of unrelated and hostile imaginings onto misunderstood institutions; but there is no doubt of the extraordinary and bizarre characteristics of the Imperial Harîm. I think some Turks are torn between condemnation of what can be seen as a dated and decadent insitutition, everything bad about the Ottomans (indeed, it was disbanded in 1909 after the Young Turks took over), and a defensiveness that is both politically correct and nationalistic, despite its incommensurability with Atatürk's reforms. But if it was diverting for the Sult.ân, I don't see why it should not continue to be so to the curious modern. An honest and informed treatment of this can be found in Harem, The World Behind the Veil [Abbeville Press, New York, London, Paris, 1989], by a woman who grew up in Turkey, Alev Lytle Croutier, many of whose own relatives had lived in traditional harîms. The books contains photographs from the Ottoman era (including her relatives) as well as historical drawings and the sort of lush and sensual paintings by Western artists that infuriate the anti-"Orientalism" crowd. The image above is a 19th century photograph. It is given by Croutier [p.74], but I also remember it from many years ago in Time magazine, at the time that the Topkapï Harîm was first opened to the public. Recent apologetics that life in the Harîm represented some sort of progressive political power for women are simply ridiculous, and they disturbingly parallel justifications for the horrors of the status of women in many contemporary Islamic states.

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The Altaic and Uralic Languages

The Altaic and Uralic languages are the most widespread and important families of languages after the Indo-European, Afro-Asiatic (Hamito-Semitic), and the Austronesian (Malayo-Polynesian) languages. Just how important they are, however, depends on some questionable judgments about what languages belong in the family. This begins with whether the Altaic and Uralic languages themselves belong to the same family, the Ural-Altaic. For all the subtleties that must be involved in such judgments, I would tend to take seriously the impression of one of my colleagues, who is Turkish, that when he hears Finnish spoken, he feels like he should be able to understand it. I'm not sure I can say the same thing about languages closely related to English, like Dutch or German.

More intriguing is the question of Korean and Japanese. If Korean and Japanese are related to anything, or even to each other, the Altaic family is the most promising option. There is even a book I have, Japanese and Other Altaic Languages, by Roy A. Miller [U. of Chicago Press, 1971], which wears its decision in the title. The matter, however, remains contentious. The least I can say is that Korean and Japanese sound similar to me, and I might not be able to tell them apart, but for Japanese word endings like -masu and -mashita that I can recognize. But then my background for such a subjective impression is pretty shallow.

The extent of the Ural-Altaic languages is impressive, from Eastern Europe to the Pacific. The Uralic languages are named after the Ural Mountains, at whose northern end we get a convergence of Finnic, Ugric, and Samoyed languages. Their northern range looks to be autochthonous and probably used to be continuous, before Russian settlement broke it up, especially across a broad area in northern Russia. The original southern limit of Finnic speech is probably still represented by Estonian. The Ugric speech area is probably not much different from what it always had been, except for the Magyars, who adopted a steppe culture, swept into Europe, terrified a broad area in the 10th century, but then settled down to become the Kingdom of Hungary -- named after the earlier Huns, whose language was probably Mongolian or Turkic but is so poorly attested that we can't even be sure of that.

Nevertheless, the recent One Thousand Languages, Living, Endangered, and Lost, by Peter K. Austin [University of California Press, 2008] asserts that the Turkic Chuvash "is related to mediaeval Volga Bolghar, Khazarian, and Hunnic" [p.153]. The Khazars and Bulgars appear in Southern Russia after the disappearance of the Huns and the departure of the Avars. The Khazars, converts to Judaism and stauch allies of Constantinople, remained on the lower Volga until the arrival of the Cumans in the 11th century. The Bulgars (Bolghars) stretched from the upper Volga (the Volga Bulghars), through the Ukraine (the Onogur Bulgars), into modern Bulgaria (the Danube Bulgars). Austin probably cites "Volga Bolghar" because this peristed the longest, in the area where Chuvash is spoken today, while Onogur Bulgar disappeared, and Danube Bulgar was replaced with a Slavic language, leaving its name on the Kingdom of Bulgaria.

The Altaic languages are named after the Altai Mountains, which are at the extreme north-eastern limit of the Turkic language area. Most of the extent of the Turkic languages is the result of migration in the Middle Ages, which split the Indo-Iranian languages off from the other Indo-European languages and overwhelmed originally Indo-European speaking peoples in Turkistan and modern Turkey. Migration and conquest also left a small area of Mongolian speakers, Kalmyk, on the far shore of the Caspian Sea. The earliest information on Altaic speakers is from the Chinese, who were partially overrun by them during the period of the Sixteen Kingdoms of the Five Barbarians; but, as I note there, it is extremely hard to identify the languages and affinities of these groups with any precision. Part of the problem is that Turkic and Mongolian languages may not have yet become differentiated, so we may be dealing with people speaking a kind of Proto-Altaic. The Hsiung-nu, , had long troubled the Chinese, and are usually thought to be the group that turned up in Europe and India later as the Huns (Huna in India). Subsequent Mongolian or Altaic peoples on the western Steppe, such as the Avars, Bulgars, Kazars, Patzinaks, and Cumans, have disappeared or been ethnically and linguistically assimilated (e.g. the Danube Bulgars). The Tungusic and Samoyed languages and Yakut actually consist of small pockets of people in areas that are either empty of habitation or that also now have small pockets of Russian speakers. The map thus indicates a range rather than solid habitation.

Looking at Turkish, which I have already discussed elsewhere, there are striking characteristics that belong to the family, such as vowel harmony and the agglutinative grammar. "Agglutination" is the device by which grammatical morphemes (parts of words with distinct meanings) are attached, one after another, unchanged (except for vowel harmony), to a root. For instance, both Latin and Turkish have an ablative case, meaning, in general, "from" or motion away from. In Latin "from the girls" is puellîs, while in Turkish it is kïzlardan. In Turkish -lar is the plural ending and -dan is the ablative ending; but in Latin -îs, the plural and ablative elements have melted together and are indistinguishable. From these Turkish forms, we can predict the ablative singular, kïzdan, and the nominative plural, kïzlar, in Turkish, but not in Latin -- there they are puellâ and puellae, respectively, neither of whose endings have anything in common with puellîs.

Some Indo-European experts think that originally the source of languages like Latin had an agglutinative grammar also, which is reasonable, but this is not directly attested anywhere. Another important agglutinative language in history was Sumerian, the very first written language. When we then notice that the Turkish word for "father," ata, looks like adda, the Sumerian for "father," this adds to evidence, such as it is, that Sumerian, which is neither Semitic nor Indo-European (but part of a number of anomalous isolated languages now confined to the Caucasus), may be part of a larger family that includes the Altaic languages.

Indeed, when we notice that the Hittite word for father was attas and the Gothic word was atta, this could feed enthusiasm for theories combining Indo-European languages, Altaic languages, and Sumerian into a super-family, as examined elsewhere. This also helps out a bit with Turkish nationalism:  If Turkish and Hittite have (more or less) the same word for father, then maybe there is a Turkish connection to Anatolia that long antedates the actual first Turkish invasion of 1071 AD. Even if the Altaic and Indo-European languages are related, however, this doesn't imply any pre-historical Turkish presence in Anatolia.

Below are links to the webpages at this site that concern Uralic or Altaic speaking peoples. The page on the Mongol Khâns also includes Central Asian states with Mongolian or Turkic languages, such as Kazakhstan. Even tiny Tuva, the special hobby of the physicist Richard Feynman, has its own Turkic language (Tuvinian or Tuvan). The Manchu conquest of China in 1644, although a historic humiliaton for the Chinese, nevertheless turned out to be suicidal for Manchu identity. The language only survives in tiny pockets in Manchuria, which otherwise is dominated by the settlement of the Chinese and their language.

The list of languages here is based on The Languages of the World, by Kenneth Katzner [Routledge & Kegan Paul, revised 1986, Third Edition, 1995, 2002, 2006]. The map is based on the Rand McNally New Cosmopolitan World Atlas [1965, p.146 -- at the time they did not regard the Tungusic languages, let alone Korean or Japanese, as Altaic]. Additional information, though by no means with the detail available, was derived from some ethnographic maps from the National Geographic Society, "A Cultural Map of the Middle East" [July 1972], "Peoples of the Soviet Union" [February 1976], and "The Peoples of China" [July 1980]. Not everything matches up from the older sources with the more recent ones.

Languages with more than 30,000,000 Speakers as of 2005

The Spread of Indo-European and Turkish Peoples off the Steppe

The Ottoman Sult.âns and Caliphs

The Mongol Khâns

The Manchu Ch'ing Dynasty, 1644-1911

The Kings of Hungary

Finland and Estonia

The Emperors of Japan

The Kings of Korea

Philosophy of Science, Linguistics

Philosophy of Science

Philosophy of History

Home Page

Copyright (c) 2008 Kelley L. Ross, Ph.D. All Rights Reserved

The Shihâbî Amîrs
of Lebanon, 1697-1842 AD

The Shihâbî Amîrs
of Lebanon
Bashîr I1697-1707
first Maronite Amîr, 1770
Bashîr II1788-1840
overthrown by Britain
& Turkey, 1840
Bashîr III1840-1842
direct Turkish Rule, 1842-1918;
French Rule, 1920-1943
Republic of Lebanon
Bishara al-KhuriPresident,
Camille Chamoun1952-1958
Fuad Chehab1958-1964
Charles Hélou1964-1970
Sulayman Franjieh1970-1976
Elias Sarkis1976-1982
Amin Gemayel1982-1988
Selim al-Huss1988-1989
Elias Hrawi1989-1998
Émile Lahoud1998-2007
Fuad Sinioraacting,
Michel Suleiman2008-present
The Golden Age of Lebanon, Lubnân, , in Arabic, is considered by many to have come in the reign of the Amîr Bashîr II Shihâbî. The Shihâbîs were originally Sunnî Moslems, but they came to rule an area dominated by the Druzes, practioners of a religious off-shoot of Islâm and regarded by many Moslems as apostates from Islâm. When the Amîrs themselves converted to
Maronite Christianity, this effected an alliance, sometimes uneasy, between the largest communities in Lebanon, the Maronites and the Druzes, who stood in some danger of persecution by the orthodox Moslem Turkish authorites.

Still symbolic of the success of this alliance and the prosperity of the period is the beautiful Bayt ad-Dîn (or Beit ed-Din, "House of Religion") Palace, begun by Bashîr II in 1788 and not completed for 30 years. Unfortunately, Bashîr II moved to consolidate his power through an alliance with Muh.ammad 'Alî of Egypt. This would have been an excellent strategy were it not for the intervention of Britain to drive the Egyptians out of Syria and restore Ottoman authority. Bashîr II was deposed in the process. Also, the influence of France, especially, to protect the Christians in Lebanon, was not exerted successfully to preserve Lebanese autonomy, and tended to alienate the non-Christians anyway. The Turks managed to rid themselves of the Shihâbîs altogether, which at times resulted in the persucution and even massacre of Christians.

After Lebanese independence from France itself in 1946, Bayt ad-Dîn became a residence for the President of the Republic. For many years Lebanon prospered as the "Switzerland of the Middle East," and Beirut as the "Paris of the Middle East"; but by the 1970's the communal differences that had been a source of strength when the communities needed to unite against outside persecution began to be a source of weakness, as sometimes had happened before, when the communities fell out among themselves and the issue came to be the distribution of political privileges and patronage to each "confessional" community. Things were particularly destablized by the large number of Palestinian refugees, who had no political standing in Lebanon at all, and whose activities against Israel drew Israeli retaliation on Lebanon. Since the Maronites were politically and economically dominant, everyone united against them and full civil war broke out in 1975. This ended up bringing the Syrians into Lebanon in 1976. The Druzes, and much of the anti-Maronite cause, were led by the charismatic Kamal Jumblatt, whose assassination in 1977, widely rumored to have been ordered by the Syrians, symbolically ended the first phase of the Lebanese "troubles."

The shakeup of the civil war then brought to the surface something new:  The Shi'ite community, always the poor relation in Lebanese politics, predominant in the South and in the Beka'a Valley (areas originally peripheral to Mount Lebanon), had not only quietly grown into the largest community in Lebanon (from the third) but now was thoroughly radicalized and activized, in a natural alliance with the Palestinians, and, ominously, with the more distant Shi'ite coreligionists, the Iranian Islâmic Revolutionaries.
The Israelis, who invaded Lebanon in 1982 to get rid of the Palestinians, more or less accomplished that task, with the PLO leaving for Tunisia, but then discovered, as the Syrians had already, that the communal rivalries of the Lebanese themselves, especially with the Shi'ites adopting Iranian suicide and terror tactics, made the place a tar baby for any outsiders who wanted to exert control by force. With the foreign powers chasened, the Lebanese began to patch things up with some needed political compromises; and as the 1990's progressed, some peace and prosperity seemed to be returning to the country. It remains to be seen, however, if a modus vivendi can be found to produce another golden age of communal alliance against the outside.

Subsequent experience has not been encouraging. Shi'ite autonomy and terrorism in the South again drew in the Israelis, and the Syrians seem to be exerting their influence by assassinations and bombings. This still leaves Lebanon at the mercy of foreign powers and foreign influences.

When I lived in Beirut myself, 1969-1970, some favorite books in town were Lawrence Durrell's Alexandria Quartet (Justine, 1957, Balthazar, 1958, Mountolive, 1959, & Clea, 1960). No one had any difficulty recognizing the ways that Beirut at the time was like the cosmopolitan Alexandria of Durrell's story. And there were pure touches of the '60's:  Women students from Saudi Arabia headed for the American University would change into see-through blouses on the flights from Jiddah. Veils were rare. That Beirut (let alone the see-through blouses) is now as long gone as Durrell's Alexandria.

Phoenician Commerce & Colonization

Maronite Patriarchs of Lebanon

The Ottoman Sult.âns and Caliphs

Islâmic Index

Philosophy of History

Home Page

Copyright (c) 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2010, 2011, 2012 Kelley L. Ross, Ph.D. All Rights Reserved

The House of Muh.ammad 'Alî
in Egypt, 1805-1953 AD

Egypt was abruptly pulled into modern history with the invasion of Napoleon in 1798. Although Egypt had been conquered by the Turks in 1517, the strange slave dynasty of the Mamlûks had continued and by Napoleon's time had reestablished de facto authority in the declining Empire. After the French were driven from Egypt in 1801, Muh.ammad 'Alî arrived, supposedly to reëstablish Turkish authority.
The House of
Muh.ammad 'Alî
in Egypt
Muh.ammad 'AlîPasha,
'Abbâs H.ilmî I1848-1854
Muh.ammad Sa'îd1854-1863
Suez Canal Started, 1859
d. 1895
Suez Canal Opened, 1869
Britain buys Khedive's
share in Canal, 1875
Muh.ammad Tawfîq1879-1892
Ibn Arabi Revolt, 1879-1882;
British Occupation, 1882
Evelyn Baring,
Earl of Cromer
'Abbâs H.ilmî II1892-1914,
d. 1944
British Protectorate,
H.usayn KâmilSult.ân,
Ah.mad Fu'âd I1917-1922
d. 1965
Ah.mad Fu'âd II1952-1953
Republic of Egypt, 1953-
Muhammad NaguibPresident,
Gamal Abdel Nasser1954-1970
1967 War; Suez Canal
closed, 1967-1975
Anwar as-Sadat1970-1981
Yom Kippur War, 1973;
Peace Treaty with Israel, 1979
Hosni Mubarak
Military Rule, 2011-2012
Muhammad Morsi,
Muslim Brotherhood
Coup against Morsi, 2013;
Military Rule, 2013-2014
'Abdal Fattah Sa'id
Hussain Khalil as-Sîsî

Brilliant, ruthless, farsighted, and probably the most important Albanian in world history, Muh.ammad 'Alî very quickly established his own authority instead. The final Mamlûks were massacred in 1811, and Muh.ammad 'Alî moved to create a modern state, and especially a modern army, for Egypt. In this he was as successful as any non-European power at the time. By the time the Greeks revolted against Turkey in 1821, it was Muh.ammad 'Alî who turned out to have the best resources to put down the revolution and was called on by the Sult.ân in 1824 to do so. He very nearly did, until Britain intervened and sank the Egyptian fleet at the Battle of Navarino in 1827. Frustrated in that direction, Muh.ammad 'Alî was successful in his conquest of the Sudan (1820-1822), probably advancing further up the Nile than any power since Ancient Egypt, though at a terrible cost to the Sudanese in massacre, mutilations, and slaving (of which the American boxer Cassius Clay was probably unaware when he adoped the name "Muhammad Ali" upon his conversion to Islâm). Egyptian interventions in Arabia in 1818-1822 and 1838-1843 very nearly exterminated the House of Sa'ûd and its fundamentalist Wahhâbî movement, which much later would create a united and independent Sa'ûdî Arabia. When Muh.ammad 'Alî moved into Syria in 1831, however, this was a threat to the authority and perhaps even the existence of the Ottoman Empire. When war broke out in 1839, Britain intervened to support the Empire and to throw Muh.ammad 'Alî out in 1841.

The most formative subsequent event for Egyptian history was certainly the construction of the Suez Canal. Although Britain had nothing to do with the project, and it was the French Emperor Napoleon III who attended the lavish opening ceremonies, the collapse of Egyptian financies led to the purchase by Britain of all Egypt's shares in the Canal Company. This did not solve Egypt's financial problems, which got worse. The Khedive Ismâ'îl also wasted resources on disastrous campaigns against Ethiopia in 1875-1876. With its interests now in danger, Britain occupied Egypt, without French support, in 1882. Ironically, the Occupation was undertaken under Prime Minister William Gladstone, who was opposed to British Imperialism. He was not, however, going to endanger British finances just because the Khedive didn't know how to handle his.

This made Egypt a de facto part of the British Empire, indeed one of the most important parts, with the Suez Canal an essential strategic link between Britain and India. Some of the most colorful episodes in British Imperial history occured because of this. In 1881 a revolt had started in the Sudan, led by a man claiming to be the Apocalyptic Mahdî of Islâmic tradition. Gladstone was not going to spend British money, or Egyptian, in trying to suppress the rebellion. Consequently, Charles Gordon, known as "Chinese Gordon" for his part in putting down the Taiping Rebellion in China (1860-1864), and who had already been governor-general of the Sudan from 1877-1880, was sent back in order to evacuate the Egyptian garrison. Once there, he decided to stay and resist the Mahdî. By 1885 this insubordination stirred up public opinion back home and forced Gladstone to send a relief expedition; but it missed rescuing Gordon by two days, as the Mahdî's forces overran Khartoum and killed Gordon. This made Gordon one of the great heroes of the day, humiliated Britain, and resulted in the fall of Gladstone's government. However, the Sudan was, for the time being, abandoned. When the British returned in 1898, in the heyday of imperial jingoism, Lord Kitchener, with a young Winston Churchill along, calmly massacred the mediaeval army of the Mahdî's successor at the Battle of Omdurman, avenged Gordon, and made himself one of the immortal heroes of the British Empire too. Although formally in Egyptian service, Kitchener reconquered the Sudan as an Anglo-Egyptian "condominium." The theory of British and Egyptian joint rule in the Sudan continued until Sudanese independence in 1956, though between 1924 and 1936 the British didn't even allow Egyptian forces or authorities into the Sudan.

All this took place with Egypt still legally part of the Ottoman Empire. Right down until 1914 the Turkish flag was dutifully flown and Turkish passports issued. When Turkey repaid a century of British support by throwing its lot with Germany in World War I, however, the fiction came to an end, and Egypt de jure came under British rule as a Protectorate, with the Sult.ânate, abolished by the Turks in 1517, reëstablished. This was not popular in Egypt, and after the war Egypt did become a formally independent Kingdom. However, the British did retain Treaty rights to garrison and protect the Suez Canal; so, in many ways, the British Occupation of 1882 simply continued. There was little doubt of that once World War II started. Egypt, a legally Neutral country, was first invaded by Italy and then by Germany, with British forces meeting, fighting, and ultimately expelling them. Egypt at the time seemed no less a part of the British Empire than it had ever been. Egypt did eventually declare war on Germany, but not until February 24, 1945.

Directors-General of Antiquities
Auguste-Édouard Mariette1858-1880
Gaston Maspero1881-1886
Eugène Grébault1886-1892
Jacques Jean Marie de Morgan1892-1897
Gaston Maspero1899-1914
Pierre Lacau1914-1936
Étienne Drioton1936-1952
Secretary General of the
Supreme Council of Antiquities
Zahi Hawass2002-present
Historically as significant as the actual rulers of Egypt during this period was the development of Egyptology, with the rise of scientific archaeology in the systematic excavation of Egyptian sites. After a free-or-all era in which excavation was little better than looting and vandalism -- a true Indian Jones approach -- we get an official Department of Antiquities to supervise the digs and return artifacts to the new Cairo Museum. It is noteworthy that every single one of the Directors of Antiquities during the period of the House of Muh.ammad Alî is French. This may involve a certain anti-British political statement, since the French were seen as allies during the building of the Suez Canal and did not join the British occupation of Egypt in 1882. The educated Egyptian elite remained Franophile for many years. Of course, when France joined Britain at Suez in 1956, that was the end of that, as the office of Director had itself lapsed with the overthrow of King Fârûk. Recently, the equivalent of the office has been recreated for Zahi Hawass, who has become the international face of Egyptian archaeology, is responsible for significant discoveries in his own right, and does not suffer gladly the sort of fools who promote or are entranced by the endless crackpot theories about Egypt.

The end of Muh.ammad 'Alî's dynasty resulted from the humiliation of continuing British occupation, the mortification of Egyptian failure in the war against Israeli independence in 1948, and from the failure of King Fârûq, who was rather more successful as a playboy than as a leader, to deal with any of it. The army, soon led by Gamal Abdel Nasser, swept away the monarchy, got British forces to leave Egypt, nationalized the Canal, and then won a great political victory when Britain and France (74 years late) reoccupied the Canal, Israel invaded the Sinai, and both the United States and the Soviet Union told them all to leave in no uncertain terms, in the Suez Crisis of 1956 (just as Soviet tanks were rolling into Hungary!). Thus, Egypt became a player in the Cold War, and the heritage of Muh.ammad 'Alî, the Ottoman Empire, and British imperialism faded rapidly.

After Nasser provoked Israel into war in 1967, and lost the Sinai, the Canal was closed for many years. Anwar Sadat launched a surprise attack across the Canal in 1973. This was at first successful, but Egyptian forces ended up cut off and surrounded in the Sinai before a cease-fire was called. It was close to the consensus of opinion, among both Arabs and Israelis, that Sadat engaged in this war simply to give himself enough credibility to make peace with Israel, which he did. Expelling the Soviets and contracting an American subsidy, this has remained the basis of Egyptian foreign policy ever since, even after Sadat's assassination.

Egypt, however, has begun to simmer with Islamic radicalism, some of whose roots are in the Muslim Brotherhood, which was founded in Egypt. Nasser had no patience for such people, and the hand of his police state lay on them heavily. Sadat, of course, was assassinated by them. Today, the worst sign is the increasing level of attack on the Copts, the native Christians of Egypt. From perhaps 10% of the population of Egypt in recent times, the Copts are now down to less than 6%, with a steady stream of them fleeing the country. Christian villages and churches are shot up, in one case actually at Christmas, people murdered, women and children kidnapped and forcibly converted to Islam and "married" to Muslims against their will, and the government does not even allow churches to be built or repaired without its permission, which is effecively never given. Thus on 24 November 2010, Egypt security forces actually stormed the St. Mary and St. Michael churches, which were under construction in Giza, occupying them and firing live ammunition at Coptic demontrators, killing at least four. The official complaint was that a permit for the construction had not been obtained, although actually it had. Either way, a paramilitary attack, shooting civilians, is not the reasonable response to people building churches.

The Western Press pays little attention to these atrocities, both because the Western secular elite is hostile to Christianity, and generally kills stories about the persecution of Christians, and because the political Left is effectively an ally of Islamic Fascism. Since State Security forces fail to protect Christians and often appear to cooperate in their persecution, including this recent case of shooting Christian demonstrators, this bodes ill for the future of a pro-Western Egyptian government -- although with such friends, one might wonder, what might enemies look like? Of course, we know. The United States encouraged Hosni Mubarak to democratize his rule; but this may be a case, familiar from elsewhere, that a genuinely popular government would plunge Egypt into the savage Mediaeval theocracy familiar from Irân and Afghanistan. Indeed, the first elected President after the overthrow of Mubarak is a representative of the Muslim Brotherhood, an organization previously illegal in Egypt, since the days of Nasser, and associated with Terrorism. We are likely in for a rough ride, and Brooklyn may end up with a largely Coptic demographic.

The Muslim Brotherhood President, Muhammad Morsi, soon wore out his welcome. He was clearly intent on imposing an Islamic regime in Egypt, including moves to consolidate dictatorial power. The Army overthrew him in 2013; and in 2014 a general with the unfortunate name of as-Sîsî (usually rendered "al-Sisi" by the Press) was elected President. This reproduces a now familiar pattern in the Arab world. A dictatorship is overthrown. Islamists are voted in. They soon manfest themselves to be worse than the dictatorship. So there is then a coup, with a new military dictatorship installed. The paradigm for this was some years ago in Algeria. Unfortunately, the pattern was not repeated in Iran, which retains its dangerous and vicious theocracy. Since Iranians aren't Arabs, one wonders about the cultural or political differences involved. In Egypt, it is not clear what the effects of all his are going to be, especially on Christians; but the Brotherhood itself has been outlawed, as under Nasser, and many of its members sentenced to death.

The Coptic Patriarchs of Alexandria

The Ottoman Sult.âns and Caliphs

Islâmic Index

Index of Egyptian History

Philosophy of History

Home Page

Copyright (c) 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2014 Kelley L. Ross, Ph.D. All Rights Reserved

The Sanûsî Amîrs & Kings
of Libya, 1837-1969 AD

The Sanûsî Amîrs & Kings
of Libya
Muh.ammad as-Sanûsî1837-1859,
Cyrenaica, 1841
Muh.ammad al-Mahdî1859-1902
Ah.mad ash-Sharîf1902-1916,
Italian occupation, 1911
Muh.ammad Idrîs1916-1949;
Mu'ammar al-Qaddhâfî dictatorship,
Libya begins as two domains in the
Ottoman Empire, Tripolitania in the west and Cyrenaica in the east. Eventually, lands in the deeper desert, Fezzan, were brought under control. Most of the desert, however, is uninhabitable. Cyrenaica entered history originally as a place of Greek colonies. It is mountainous and, especially in the past, reasonably well watered. Tripoltania clings to the Mediterranean coast around the city of Tripoli. Just a few miles down the coast from Tripoli is Labdah, Roman Leptis Magna, which was the home town of the Roman Emperor Septimius Severus (b.145).

This was a thinly populated backwater for the Turks, noteworthy mainly for Roman ruins and piracy (with U.S. Marines landing at Tripoli in 1801). It all achieved greater significance when Italy displaced the Ottomans in 1911 (ceded in 1912). Indeed, Libya became one of the most important strategic theaters of World War II. The Italians tried invading Egypt from Libya in September 1940 but by February 1941 had been thrown completely out of Cyrenaica, with 130,000 soldiers captured. Alarmed, Hitler sent Erwin Rommel with a couple of divisions to prevent the Italian position from collapsing completely. Rommel, however, went on the offensive. For more than a year, things surged back and forth, with Cyrenaica recovered, lost, and recovered again. By July 1942, Rommel was deep into Egypt, barely stopped at El Alamein, 60 miles from Alexandria. By then, however, the United States was in the War; and the strongly reinforced British began an offensive in October. They broke through and soon swept the Germans and Italians entirely out of Libya. Retreating into Tunisia, they were caught against the Americans who had landed in Morocco and Algeria in November.

After the War, Libya formally became independent in 1951, under the Sasûnî Amîr of Cyrenaica. The long lived King Idrîs was eventually overthrown in 1969. This was under the leadership of the erratic and megalomaniacal Mu'ammar al-Qaddhâfî. Along with armed clashes with Egypt and Chad, Libya became a sponsor of terrorism. Blamed for a bombing in Berlin in 1986, Libya was bombed by Ronald Reagan in retaliation. Later blamed for a bomb that brought down Pam Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988, sanctions were imposed on Libya until accused operatives were surrendered. This eventually happened, Qaddafi may have thought better of his ways, and sanctions were lifted in 2003. Meanwhile, Qaddafi had dressed up his dictatorship with an idiosyncratic political theory. Libya became the "Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya." Jamahiriya, similar to the Arabic word for "republic," jumhûrîya, was a term coined by Qaddafi for his political system, which was supposed to be a kind of direct, mass democracy, but was no more democratic than similar arrangements in the Soviet Union. Like Mao's little red book, Qaddhâfî produced a little green book. Qaddhâfî seemed secure enough, like many other dictators (one thinks of Castro), but increasingly anachronistic (Castro, again). At the same time, Qaddhâfî became an object of humor, as his appearance was oddly altered by either aging or plastic surgery, he usually appeared in outlandish costumes, and he created a personal bodyguard consisting entirely of women. Much of his family seemed happy to enjoy the benefits of an international jet-set lifestyle abroad and dictatorship at home.

In 2011, with the revolts of the "Arab Spring" well underway, Qaddhâfî himself was perhaps within days of putting down a revolt in Cyrenaica when NATO contributed air power to the defense of the rebels. Slowly, the tide of battle turned, and Tripoli itself was captured in August. Qaddhâfî apparently fled to his hometown of Sirte. As the town was falling in October, Qaddhâfî attempted to flee to the South. Captured, he seems to have been beaten, tortured, and finally killed by rebel forces. One figure, wearing a New York Yankees baseball cap, is seen on video shooting Qaddhâfî with what he claimed were the fatal shots. This treatment of the fallen leader was an embarrassment, although few doubted that it paled besides the treatment that Qaddhâfî had often given to his own enemies. As in Iraq, a culture of violence and terror had been fostered that left little room for respect, either for the fallen or even for the dead. It remains to be seen how moderate or sensible the new government will prove to be.

Just as Charlie Chaplin parodied Adolf Hitler and Fascist dictatorship in The Great Dictator [1940], Sacha Baron Cohen parodies Mu'ammar al-Qaddhâfî in The Dictator [2012]. Although Cohen's dictator keeps his country poor by refusing to sell oil, which Qaddhâfî never did, his eccentric behavior and clothing, his ruthless tyranny, and especially his all female bodyguard, unmistakeably link the parody to the Libyan.

Since Qaddhâfî was already dead by the time the film was released, one might think that the whole project would be in poor taste. However, the film was certainly well in production before the end-game of the Libyan revolution, and poor taste has never inhibited Sacha Baron Cohen in any case -- although he does carefully avoid any references to Islam, as he had also previously done in Borat [2006], despite that film's purported source in Muslim Kazakhstan. Although this movie was entirely scripted, and Cohen did not film it, like his previous movies, by approaching in character unknowing people in public; he nevertheless publicized his movie by appearing in character in public situations. He was allowed to do this at the Oscars when he agreed that he would perpetrate no stunts during the telecast. Instead, we got a stunt on the Red Carpet outside, where Cohen appeared with an urn that he said contained the ashes of the late North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il, who supposedly had always wanted to attend the Oscars. Showing the urn to E! television host Ryan Seacrest, Cohen, accompanied by some of his female bodyguards, "accidentally on purpose" spilled "ashes" all over Seacrest's clothing.

An intriguing feature of the movie is Cohen's speech about democracy near the end. Although supposedly in praise of democracy, which the dictator will now supposedly bring to his country, we nevertheless find the speech reproaching American democracy with a long wish list of Leftist complaints, including the "Occupy Wall Street" slogan that 1% of the popular control the wealth and probably the government of the country. When I saw the movie in Los Angeles, this part was actually cheered by the audience, which apparently consisted mainly of the sort of California brain-dead Democrats who reelected Jerry Brown and Barbara Boxer in 2010. And one might wonder if these sentiments happened to be Cohen's own, breaking through the pose of his character.

Or, Cohen may be deriving humor from his habit of putting on and hoaxing his audience, like Andy Kaufman, and deceiving their expectations. For, in the context of the movie, the Leftist complaints are reasons why democracy does not work and is not desirable. And while Cohen's dictator returns to his country and stages an election, he of course steals the election and happily returns to his old dictatorial habits. He has never been sincere; and the heartfelt repentance that he expresess to his new American girlfriend (Anna Faris), who now awkwardly turns out to be Jewish (with an anti-Semitic implication but without, as also in Borat, the real world Islamist context where that would make sense), may have been just as much a cynical ploy as everything else. It therefore looks like the dictator's endorsement of "Occupy Wall Street" propaganda was just Sacha Baron Cohen's clever way of getting his audiences to cheer for dictatorship.

The Ottoman Sult.âns and Caliphs

Islâmic Index

Philosophy of History

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Copyright (c) 2005, 2012 Kelley L. Ross, Ph.D. All Rights Reserved


Ottoman Successor States in the Balkans

Princes, Kings, and Presidents of România, Montenegro, Greece, Serbia, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Albania, Macedonia, Armenia, and Georgia

"Romania" means the area in the Balkans and Middle East with successor states to the Mediaeval Roman Empire. It might be called Greater or Former Romania (Romania Maior, Prior) in contrasted to the later Kingdom and Republic of România (Romania Minor, Posterior). Romania is thus distinguished from historic Francia (the land of the "Franks" to Greeks or Muslims), which means Western, Central, and Northern Europe originally subject to the Latin, Roman Catholic Church in Rome, and from historic Russia in Eastern Europe, subject to the Russian Orthodox Church (still in doctrinal union with the Patriarch of Constantinople). The map below thus roughly corresponds to the territories covered by the Roman Empire at the mid-11th century, except for modern România and Georgia. These were outside the Empire, but in culture and religion they are historically linked to Constantinople.

This will be an unfamiliar use of the name "Romania" for most, and the reason for it is explained in "Decadence, Rome and Romania, the Emperors Who Weren't, and Other Reflections on Roman History," "The Vlach Connection and Further Reflections on Roman History," and the "Guide and Index to Lists of Rulers." The double headed eagle of the Palaeologi symbolized the European and Asian sides of the Empire. This now represents a significant historical and cultural divide. The Asian side, and the center of the Empire at Adrianople and Constantinople, is still largely Turkish. This is a rather different Turkey from the Ottoman Empire, however, secularized and Westernized by Kemal Atatürk, with things like the Arabic alphabet actually outlawed, now hoping to join the European Union. On the European side, the successor states to Rome in the 12th and 13th centuries have reemerged. This is also the case to the east, where Georgia and Armenia, kept from the Ottomans by Russia, are now independent.

Thus, "Modern Romania" here means the modern successor states, first to Rome ("Romania" to itself, "Byzantium" to the historians), second to the Ottoman Empire, which in the 14th and 15th centuries established its domination over all former Roman possessions, and more, in the Eastern Mediterranean. As the Roman successors emerged in the 12th century, so do the Ottoman successors emerge in the 19th century. Familiar states from the earlier period are Serbia, Bulgaria, Cyprus, and even Bosnia. The earlier states of the Vlach speaking Romanians, Wallachia and Moldavia, continue from the past, subject to special achievements in Ottoman misrule, ultimately to unite as the modern state of România, the only country in Europe to preserve the proper name of the Roman Empire. Turkey is still the largest and most powerful state in the region.

Entirely new states are Montenegro and Greece itself. Montenegro, the "Black Mountain" ( , Qara Dagh in Turkish and Crna Gora in Serbo-Croatian), like many remote areas of the Ottoman Empire, began to drift out of central control as Turkish power went into its long decline. "Greece" itself was something that, in a sense, didn't exist in the Middle Ages. What the Ancient Greeks had called themselves, "Hellenes," came to be used in Late Roman times to mean Greek pagans. Greek Christians were "Romans," Rhômaioi in Greek. This distinction was maintained through the Middle Ages, and was remembered well into the 19th, if not the 20th, century (a Greek can still be Rum in Turkish). A modern Greece, Hellas, that was not an heir to Rome, was an entirely new phenomenon.

The politically, religiously, and culturally dominant language of Mediaeval Romania was Greek, whose alphabet today, however, is only used for Greek. Other alphabets, nevertheless, were developed, based on the Greek, for other languages, from Gothic, to Armenian, Georgian, and Cyrillic. The Armenian alphabet was in use by Armenians both in Romania and in the often separate kingdoms of Armenia. Under the Ottomans,
Europa est omnis divisa in partes tres, quarum unam Romaniam, aliam Franciam, tertiam Russiam.
Europa1. Romania2. Constantinople
2. Francia1. Rome
3. Russia3. Moscow
Turkish was sometimes even written in the Armenian (as in the Greek) alphabet; but that era is long gone, and the Armenian alphabet today is only seen in the former Soviet Republic of Armenia and in Armenian exile communities, as in Syria, Lebanon, and the United States. The alphabet of the Christian Georgians dates from the same era as the Armenian, and now continues to be used in the former Soviet Republic of Georgia. Both the Armenian and the Georgian alphabets, although based on Greek, have their own striking and distinctive styles. The conversion of the Slavs resulted in the introduction of a new alphabet, the Cyrillic, which has remained the alphabet of choice for Slavs who belong to Orthodox Churches, like the Serbs, Bulgarians, and Russians. When modern Romanian (Vlach) first began to be written, it also used the Cyrillic alphabet, but eventually both Romanian and Albanian (also for many centuries unwritten) were rendered in the Latin alphabet, which thus came to be used for spoken languages in the Balkans for the first time since Latin speaking Roman colonists, and the Imperial Court in Constantinople, would have used it many centuries earlier. Since one's alphabet usually went with one's religion in the Middle Ages, the Turks, and other local converts to Islâm, used the Arabic alphabet; and Jews, especially Jews arriving after Spain expelled them in 1492, used the Hebrew alphabet. We have already seen some exceptions to the religion rule, however. Orthodox Christian Churches could be found using different alphabets, Greek, Armenian, and Cyrillic (as well as, more distantly, Coptic, Syriac, and Ethiopic), which already had introduced an ethnic or national dimension to the issue. This is also evident when the Orthodox Romanians and the largely Moslem Albanians turn to the Latin alphabet, neither with the slightest intention of entering into religious communion with Papal Roman (i.e. Frankish) Catholicism. The Turks themselves, directed by Kemal Atatürk, followed suit. The Jews of Turkey also fell into this, and it became possible to find Ladino, the language of the 15th century Jewish refugees from Spain, being written in 20th century Istanbul synagogues using the Turkish version of the Latin alphabet. Thus the ancient prestige of Latin Rome, and the modern dominance of Latinate Francia, has exerted itself in modern Romania over Orthodox Christianity, Islâm, and Judaism -- even while the old Hebrew alphabet is now used for Hebrew revived as a spoken language in modern Israel.

A characteristic of imperial states is an easy mixing of peoples and languages. They all have too much to fear from the imperial power for too much trouble to develop between them. When the heavy imperial hand is withdrawn, however, serious trouble can result. Thus, the end of the British Empire resulted in the partitions, amid war and massacre, of India, Palestine, and Cyprus. The decline of Turkish power similarly uncorked more than a century of conflict, continuing even in the 21st century, in the Balkans. Border areas end up with the most ambiguous identities and so can provoke the greatest conflict. Bosnia and Herzegovina, which had been swapped back and forth between Hungary and Romania and Serbia in the 12th and 13th centuries, and then were long held by the Turks, ended up with a mixed population of Croats (Latin/Catholic Christians), Serbs (Orthodox Christians), and Moslem Bosnians (Bosniacs). All, as it happened, spoke the same language, Serbo-Croatian, but written in different alphabets. The disintegration of Yugoslavia, with the lifting of the heavy imperial hand of Communism in the 1990's, led to terrible fighting, massacres, and atrocities, most famously carried out by the Serbs against the others, but not unheard of from the Croatians, Bosniacs, and Kosovar Albanians also. A famous bridge in Mostar in Herzegovina, which had linked, actually and symbolically, the Christian and Moslem parts of the city, was destroyed (evidently by Croatians) in the fighting. With a peace settlement patched up for Bosnia, the Serbs then turned their hand against the restless Albanian majority of Kosovo, which the Serbs regarded as the Serbian heartland but which had contained few Serbs for a long time. It is enough to make one yearn for the return of the Palaeologi. The first map above shows the situation in 1817, after the Russo-Turkish War of 1806-1812, rebellions, and a final grant of autonomy to Serbia. The Ionian Islands had originally belonged to Venice but were seized by Britain in the Napoleonic Era and ceded to Britain by the Congress of Vienna. The continuing concern of Russia for Orthodox Christians in the Ottoman Empire, and the proximity of a phil-Hellene Britain to Greece, set the stage for a long century of revolt and intervention against the tottering Ottoman Empire.

Rome and Romania Index

Philosophy of History


The Ottoman Sult.âns and Caliphs

Rome and Romania Index

Philosophy of History

The first map shows the situation after the War of Greek Independence (1821-1829). To save Greece, all the Great Powers were drawn in against Turkey. In addition to traditional concerns about the treatment of Christians under Ottoman rule was now added the fruit of an 18th century Neo-Classical love of Greece. This drew enthuasiasts like Lord Byron (1788-1824), who arrived in Greece in 1823 and drew both financial aid, political support, and the attention of a new popular press to the revolt. In perfect Romantic form, Byron then died in the midst of the struggle. Against the feeble Ottomans, the Greeks did well enough; but the Sultân then appealed for aid to the modernizing Muh.ammad 'Alî of Egypt. The Greeks were then defeated, but this lead to the intervention of the Powers. The British sank Muh.ammad 'Alî's fleet at Navarino in 1827, and that spelled victory for the Greeks. With Greek independence went increased territory for Serbia, autonomy for Wallachia and Moldavia, and border concessions to Russia.

The second maps shows the situation after the Crimean War (1853-1856). In the Crimean War, Russia began with an intervention in România, preliminary to an invasion of Turkey; but Britain and France joined Turkey against Russia, with some cooperation from Austria, with much of the fighting taking place, as one might expect from the name, in the Crimea. This pretty much preserved the status quo for Turkey, though the borders were extended against Russia along the Black Sea. One change we see, however, was the unification of Wallachia and Moldavia into the state of România.

My source for these lists was originally the Kingdoms of Europe, by Gene Gurney [Crown Publishers, New York, 1982], which had some errors and obscurities and, especially, the list of the Princes of Wallachia and Moldavia was incomplete. Now, however, I have been able to fill things out, including the list for România, using the Regentenlisten und Stammtafeln zur Geschichte Europas by Michael F. Feldkamp [Philipp Reclam, Stuttgart, 2002], Bruce R. Gordon's Regnal Chronologies, and articles at Wikipedia, which are usually up to date on recent changes. The maps are based on The Penguin Atlas of Recent History (Europe since 1815) [Colin McEvedy, 1982], The Anchor Atlas of World History, Volume II [Hermann Kinder, Werner Hilgemann, Ernest A. Menze, and Harald and Ruth Bukor, 1978], The Penguin Historical Atlas of Russia [John Channon with Rob Hudson, 1995], and various prose histories, such as The Ottoman Centuries (Lord Kinross, Morrow Quill, 1977).

The Principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia have a continuous institutional history back to the 14th Century, which means that this table simply continues the table of Princes begun on the Rome and Romania page. Turkish rule initially meant that the Princes served at the pleasure of the Ottoman Sultân. Before long the Princes, however, were of value to the Sublime Porte (the Ottoman government) mainly as tax farmers, a lovely institution in which the government expected a certain revenue, and the farmer could keep any surplus revenue he could manage to collect. This was a recipe for a simple looting of the population. After the middle of the 17th century, appointments begin to feature Greeks, the Phanariots -- from the Phanar section of Istanbul -- as Princes (indicated with the Greek letter ). Their job was simply to get as much money out of the land as possible, both for the Sultân and for themselves (the reason to be a tax farmer). This was not good for the Principalities, nor popular, but not much could be done about it until the influence of some friendly Christian power, like that of Russia, began to be felt in the region. After a while, Phanariots can be identified by family, like the Mavrocordats. The multiple terms of the Princes here are fiendishly complicated and sometimes extend to the neighboring Principality. Rulers of Wallachia and Moldavia are numbered separately, but this does not always seem to be done consistently.

Continued from "Rome and Romania," "Romanians";
Ottoman Sovereignty, unless otherwise noted
Ottoman conquest, 1395
Ottoman conquest, 1455
Nicholas I PatrascuVoivode, Prince,
Ieremiah MovilaVoivode, Prince, Governor, 1600-1606
1600-1601 (1601-1602)Simeon Movila1606-1607
1611, 1611-1616,
Radu Mihnea Basarab1616-1619, 1623-1626
Radu (VII) Serban Craiovescu-Basarab1602-1610, 1611Mihail II Movila1607, 1607
Constantin I Movila1607, 1607-1611
to Transylvania, 1610-1611Stefan X Tomsa Mushatin1611-1615, 1621-1623
Gabriel Movila1616,1618-1620Alexandru V Movila1615-1616
Alexandru IV
Ilias Basarab
1616-1618, 1627-1629Gaspar Gratiani1619-1620
Alexandru V Ilias Mushatin1620-1621
Alexandru V Basarab
the Child-Prince
1623-1627Myron Barnovschi-Movila1626-1629, 1633
Leon Mushatin1629-1632Alexandru VI Coconul Basarab1629-1630
Moses Movila1630-1631, 1633-1634
Radu VIII Ilias Basarab1632Alexandru Ilias Mushatin1631-1633
Matthew Basarab
1632-1654Basil Lupu1634-1653, 1653
1654-1658, d.1661Constantin (II of Moldavia) Serban Craiovescu-Brancoveanu1659, 1661
Mihnea III
1658-1659George Stefan Ceaur1653, 1653-1658
1659-1660George I Ghica1658-1659
Gregory I Ghica1660-1664, 1672-1673Stephanito Lupu1659-1661, 1661
Radu Leon Mushatin1664-1669Istrate Dabija1661-1665
Anthony Voda
din Popesti
1669-1672Ilias Alexander Basarab1666-1668
Stefan X Petriceicu1672-1673, 1673-1674, 1683-1684
Phanariot Greek Tax Farming,
1673-1678George II Dukas, 1665-1666, 1668-1672, 1678-1683
Serban Cantacuzino, 1678-1688Dumitrascu Cantacuzino, 1673, 1674-1675, 1684-1685
Antioh I Rosetti, 1675-1678
Constantin III Cantemir1685-1693
Constantin I
1688-1714Demetrius Cantemir1693, 1710-1711
Constantin III Dukas, 1693-1695, 1700-1703
Antioh II Cantemir1695-1700, 1705-1707
Michael III Racovita1703-1705, 1707-1709, 1715-1726 d. 1744
1715-1716, 1719-1730Nicholas II (of Wallachia)/I (of Moldavia) Mavrocordat, 1709-1710, 1711-1715 d. 1730
Stefan II Cantacuzino, 1714-1715Occupied by Russia, 1739
1716-1719John Mavrocordat, 1743-1747
1730, 1731-1733,
1735-1741, 1744-1748,
1756-1758, 1761-1763,
Constantin II (of Wallachia)/IV (of Moldavia) Mavrocordat, 1733-1735, 1741-1743, 1748-1749, 1769
Michael I (of Wallachia)/III (of Moldavia) Racovita1703-1705, 1707-1709, 1715-1726 d. 1744
1733-1735, 1748-1752, d.1752Gregory II Ghica1726-1733, 1735-1739, 1739-1741, 1747-1748, d. 1752
1752-1753Matthew Ghica1753-1756
George III Racovita1753-1756Constantine V Racovita1749-1753, 1756-1757
Scarlat I Ghica1757-1758 d. 1766
Constantin III Racovita1763-1764John Theodore Callimachi, 1758-1761
Stefan III Racovita1764-1765Gregory III Callimachi, 1761-1764, 1767-1769
Alexandru VI Ghica1766-1768
1768-1769Gregory III (of Wallachia)/IV (of Moldavia) Ghica1764-1767, 1774-1777
Occupied by Russia, 1769-1774; Russian right of intervention,
Treaty of Kuchuk Karinarji, 1774
Emanuel Giani Ruset (Rosetti), 1770-1771Constantine VI Moruzi (Mourousis), 1777-1782
1774-1782, 1796-1797Alexandru VII (of Wallachia)/IX (of Moldavia) Ypsilanti, 1786-1788, d.1797
Nicholas III Caragea1782-1783Alexander VII Mavrocordat, the Mad Prince1782-1785
Mihail II Sutu
1783-1786, 1791-1793, 1801-1802Alexander VIII
Mavrocordat, the Fugitive
Nicholas IV
1786-1790Occupied by Austria, 1787-1788
Emanuel Giani Ruset (Rosetti), 1788-1789
Occupied by Russia, 1789
Occupied by Austria, 1789-1791
1793-1796, 1799-1801,
Alexander VIII (of Wallachia)/X (of Moldavia) Moruzi (Mourousis), 1792, 1802-1806, 1806-1807
Constantin IV Hangerli1797-1799Michael IV Sutu (Soutzos), 1792-1795, 1819-1821
Alexander XI Callimachi, 1795-1799
1802-1806, 1806-1807Constantin IX (of Wallachia)/VII (of Moldavia) Ypsilanti, 1799-1801, d.1807
1806, 1818-1821Alexander IX (of Wallachia)/XII (of Moldavia) Sutu (Soutzos), 1801-1802, d.1821
Occupied by Russia, 1806-1812
John George Caragea1812-1818Alexander XIII Hangerli1807
1821Scarlat (II of Wallachia) Callimachi, 1806, 1807-1810, 1812-1819, d.1821
Gregory IV Ghica1822-1828Direct Ottoman military administration, 1821-1822
Ionita (John VIII) Sandu Sturza1822-1828
Occupied by Russia, 1828-1834; Governor Count Kisselev
Autonomy for Wallachia and Moldavia, 1834
Alexander X Ghica1834-1842Michael V Sturza1834-1849
George IV Bibescu1842-1848
Revolution in Wallachia, 1848
Russian Occupation, 1848-1851
Barbu Stirbei1849-1853, 1854-1856Gregory Alexander Ghica1849-1853, 1854-1856
Crimean War, 1853-1856; Russian Occupation, 1853-1854
Occupied by Austria, 1854-1856Gregory Alexander Ghica (again)1854-1856
Ottoman Occupation, 1856-1859, Sovereignty until 1881
Alexander (XIV) John Cuza of Moldavia1859-1866
Charles Eitel Frederick of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen, Carol I1866-1881
Russo-Turkish War, 1876-1878; Russian Invasion, Romania proclaimed independent, 1877; Congress of Berlin, 1878; Romania Independence, 1881
Carol II1930-1940
Ion Antonescu, pro-German dictator1940-1944
Communist takeover, 1947
Constantin ParhonPresident, 1948-1952
Petru Groza1952-1958
Ion Georghe Maurer1958-1961
Georghe Georghiu-Dej1961-1965
Chivu Stoica1965-1967
Nicolae Ceauçescu1967-1989, overthrown & executed
Ion Iliescu1989-1996, 2000-2004
Emil Constantinescu1996-2000
Nicolae Vacaroiuinterim, 2007
Traian Basescu2004-2007,

The Russian wars against Turkey in the 19th Century led several times to the occupation of Wallachia and Moldavia. After the Crimean War (1853-1856) and, for a change, Austrian occupation (1854-1857), and a bad experience with a local candidate for rule of the unified country, a European prince, as in Greece and Bulgaria, was brought in, Karl of Hohenzollern. The Congress of Berlin recognized Karl (Carol) and Romanian independence (1878).

With the Allies in World War I, winning Transylvania from Hungary and Moldova from Russia, Romania was the biggest long term winner of the War in the Balkans. However, after much internal strife, she switched to the Axis in World War II, losing Moldova to the Soviet Union (seized in 1940, actually, before Romania was a belligerent) and part of Dobruja to Bulgaria. While Moldova (traditionally called Bessarabia) is now independent, I have not noticed any discussion of reunion with Romania. The Russians tried hard to promote the idea that the language of Moldova was not Romanian, but it is.

Rejecting the Cyrllic alphabet and the Turkish influenced "Rumania" (or "Roumania") for the Latin alphabet and the pure Latin România, Romania can now claim that name as its own, with few remembering that it was the proper name of the Roman (and the "Byzantine") Empire. In the Middle Ages, "Romania" tended to refer to the contemporaneous extent of the Empire, i.e. Anatolia and the Balkans ("Asia and Europa" or "Rûm and Rumelia"). The modern state might be said to be "Lesser Romania" (Romania Minor) in contrast to that "Greater Romania" (Romania Maior); but this might be considered insulting by Romanians (though intentionally no more so than "Lesser Armenia" in Cilicia) and so is not likely to catch on. However, Romania Maior could be used for the Roman Empire without any corresponding modification of România for the modern state.

The mysterious history of Romance speakers in the Balkans, the Romanians and Vlachs, whose existence is not noticed until the 12th Century and whose language is not attested until the 16th, is treated separated in "The Vlach Connection and Further Reflections on Roman History." This is a story now charged with the nationalism both of Romania and neighbors like Hungary.

The marriages of the Romanian Royal Family quickly connected it to major European, especially British and Greek, royalty. Thus King Ferdinand was the grandson of a first cousin of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert (Ferdinand of Portugal, the brother of Augustus, Prince of Coburg, who was the father of Ferdinand of Bulgaria), and he married one of their own grand- daughters, Marie of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. Marie was a bit of a stylish international personality in the 1920's. King Carol II then married Helen of Greece, who was a great-granddaughter of Queen Victoria, through her mother Sophia, the sister of Kaiser Wilhlem II of Germany. All these connections, of course, profited the monarchy little in the conflicts of fascism and communism that had the country under one form of dictatorship or another from 1940 to 1989.

A notable personality of modern România was Mircea Eliade (1907-1986), who fruitfully extended Rudolf Otto's ideas in history and philosophy of religion. Controversy continues over the degree to which Eliade was involved in the Fascist movement in România, but he actually avoided residence in the country during the War, by taking diplomatic posts in London (during the Blitz!) and Lisbon. After the War he was able to do what he had wanted to do before, emigrate to America.

In 2010 we have a Romanian documentary about the regime of Nicolai Ceauçescu, The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceausescu (Autobiografia lui Nicolae Ceausescu). What intrigues me more than the documentary, which I have not seen, is the review in Daily Variety, by Jay Weissberg (May 18, 2010). Weissberg says that one purpose of the documentary seems to be to, "drive home a devastating critique of both Romanian society and international realpolitik: We all let this happen" [boldface added]. Who is the "we" here? Weissberg may be young, but he would need to be remarkably clueless not to know that Romania was a member of the Warsaw Pact and a beneficiary of the Soviet nuclear umbrella. Ceausescu's regime was vicious because it was a Communist dictatorship. What were "we" supposed to do about that? Start a nuclear war? Weissberg goes on to say, "What is important is for auds to identify Richad Nixon, Charles de Gaulle, Imelda Marcos, Mao Tse-Tung and a host of other leaders whose hands of friendship lent legitimacy and tacit support to Ceausescu's rule while knowing full well what was really happening." Well, everyone knew full well that Ceausescu was running a Stalinist police state. Duh. Similar knowledge, however, even now does not stop Hollywood leftists from extending "hands of friendship" that lend "legitimacy" to the very similar dictatorship of Fidel Castro in Cuba. Are those not, in Weissberg's words, "immoral choices?"

Perhaps Weissberg does not remember, through the fog of his liberal guilt, that in foreign policy Ceausescu was a bit of a maverick, supporting Israel and cultivating other friendships that were out of line with Soviet policy. Indeed, people wondered at the time why he did not receive the same Russian treatment as Hungary in 1956 and Czechoslovakia in 1968. The answer seemed to be that his foreign policy did not imply any internal liberalization either of the economy or individual rights. The Realpolitik in part was the hope that Ceausescu was actually acting with the blessing of Moscow, in order to keep Soviet options open. Otherwise, the idea that there was anything we could have done about Ceausescu's particular regime is ridiculous.

But, speaking of "we," what does Wiessberg want "us" to do about North Korea and Iran, which are similarly vicious, and a danger to others, with the threat of nuclear weapons, in the bargain? It may always feel good to overthrow dictators, but Mr. Weissberg may want to ask his Hollywood friends how they feel about the United States overthrowing the vicious dictatorship of Saddam Hussein. He may discover that he knows people who will defend the fellow and damn America for destroying the happy lives of the Iraqis under their loving and caring leader (see Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11). "Watching Jimmy Carter praise the dictator's leadership is particularly stomach-churning," says Weissberg. Well, yes. But how does he feel about Sean Penn or Danny Glover praising Hugo Chavez? Or Ted Turner saying that "it hasn't been proven" that Castro has imprisoned and murdered thousands of Cubans? Perhaps we can't expect very serious historical or political thought from a movie reviewer at Daily Variety, but this is ridiculous.

Mediaeval România

Modern Romania Index

The two maps above show the situation before and after the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-1878. Note that by then Britain had ceded the Ionians Islands to Greece (1864). In 1875 rebellions started in Bosnia and then Bulgaria. The brutality with which these were suppressed aroused European opinion, and after some delay Russia declared war. With some hard fighting, the Russians ended up capturing Adrianople and arriving at the outskirts of Constantinople. The Treaty of San Stephano which ended the war mostly freed the Balkans, but the Great Powers didn't like it. The Congress of Berlin rolled things back a bit. Serbia, România, and Montenegro all became independent, with increases in territory, but Bulgaria was divided and merely allowed autonomy. Bosnia, Herzegovina, and Novipazar were made protectorates of Austria. The map looked much the same for many years, with Bulgaria annexing East Rumelia in 1885.

Danilo I PetrovicPrince-Bishop,
the Little
Peter I1782-1830
Peter II1830-1851
Danilo II1851-1860
Union with Yugoslavia, 1918
Presidents of Montenegro;
Republic of Yugoslavia,
1992-2003; Union of Serbia
& Montenegro, 2003-2006
Momir Bulatovic1990-1998
Milo Đukanovic1998-2002
Filip Vujanovicacting,
Rifat Rastoder &
Dragan Kujovic
acting, 2003
Filip Vujanovic2003-2006
Independent, 3 June 2006
The title of the orignal "Prince-Bishops" of Montenegro, vladika, means "lord, sovereign" or "archbishop." Possessing one of the oldest traditions of local autonomy under the Turks, and a charming Italian version of its name (for the "Black Mountain," , Qara Dagh in Turkish and Crna Gora in Serbo- Croatian), in the 20th century Montenegro was nevertheless overshadowed by its ethnic big brother, Serbia. After World War I, King Nicholas, who had spent the War in exile, was thrown out of office so that Montenegro could join Yugoslavia. This was effected basically by a Serbian invasion, with the Serbs then packing a custom-ordered assembly to depose the King, substitute the King of Serbia, and join Yugoslavia. Montenegro was the only Allied country to cease to exist as the result of World War I. This was vigorously protested by Nicholas and Montenegran diplomats at Versailles and elsewhere; but the Powers, although giving lip-service to self-determination, apparently decided that the actions of Serbia were self-determination enough. And when Yugoslavia collapsed, Montenegro was the only former Yugoslav republic to stick with Serbia. Religiously and lingustically (with the Serbian language) this may have been understandable, at least to the Serbs, although Montenegro had had its own autonomous Church until the Serbian Orthodox Church was imposed. But the Montenegrans became ambivalent about the contemporary Serbian government, neither entirely sympathetic nor entirely unsympathetic. Since Montenegro represented Serbia's only access to the sea, through the historic port of Kotor (Cattaro in Italian, obtained from Austria after World War I), the fear was that, should the Montenegrans decide to go their own way, the Serbs would use force, with enough local support to make resistance abortive.

Nevertheless, Montenegro voted for independence in 2006 and seems to have successfully made the transition, recognized by many governments and admitted as a member of the UN. The pretense that the two countries still constituted Yugoslavia had been abandoned in 2003, so the secession of Montenegro simply left Serbia as, well, Serbia.

Modern Romania Index

1908 was a big year in the Balkans. Bulgaria became independent and Austria annexed most of its protectorate from the Congress of Berlin. Part of the territory was even returned to Turkey. This all was bitterly resented by Serbia because of the large Serb population of Bosnia and Herzegovina. A casus belli was thus introduced for Serbian attempts to stir up trouble in the provinces, which ultimately meant a Serbian assassin who killed the Austrian Archduke Francis Ferdinand and set off World War I. In Turkey, the Sultan, "Abdul the Damned," was overthrown by the Young Turks, whose impetus, unfortunately, was more merely nationalistic than liberal. As a stage in the modernization of Turkey, it was also unfortunately more militaristic than liberal, a direction that soon resulted in increasingly friendly dealings with Germany. This was not a good deal for Turkey. Meanwhile, Greece was able to add Thessaly (1881, with adjustments in 1897). A rebellion on Crete led to autonomy (1898) as a prelude to Greek control (1912).
Greek War of
Independence, 1821-1829
Alexander Ypsilantileads revolt,
First Hellenic Republic, 1822-1832,
Capital at Nauplion
Alexandros MavrocordatosPresident, 1822-1823
Petros Mavromichalis1823
Georgios Kountouriotis1823-1826
Andreas Zaimis1826-1827
Treaty of London, Britain, France, & Russia support Greek independence, Battle of Navarino, Egyptian fleet sunk, 1827
Count Ioannis KapodistriasGovernor,
Augustinos Kapodistrias1831-1832
Russian War on Turkey, 1828-1829; Peace of Adrianople, 1829; London Conference, recognition of Greek Independence, 1830; Governmental Commission, 1832-1833
Otto of BavariaKing,
George I of Denmark1863-1913
assassinated by anarchist, 1913
Constantine I1913-1917,
George II1922-1924,
Second Hellenic Republic, 1924-1935
Pavlos KonduriotisPresident,
Theodoros Pangalos1926
Alexandros Zaimis1929-1935
German Occupation, 1941-1944
Constantine II1964-1973,
exile 1967
Military Dictatorship, 1967-1974
Giorgios Zoitakis1967-1972
Giorgios Papadopoulos1972-1973,
Phaidon Gizikis1973-1974
Third Hellenic Republic, 1974-present
Michael Stasinopoulos1974-1975
Konstantin Tsatsos1975-1980
Konstantin Karamanlis1980-1985,
Christos Sartzetakis1985-1990
Konstantin Stephanopoulos1995-2005
Karolos Papoulias2005-present
The revolt of Greeks against the Ottoman Empire was one of the sensations of the 19th century, drawing partisans, like Lord Byron (1788-1824), from far and wide. Against the Ottomans alone, the Greeks could well have been successful, but the Sultan called in
Muh.ammad 'Alî, who had modernized the Egyptian army enough that the rebellion was being suppressed. This was too much, however, for "civilized" opinion. Not only the Russians, the traditional protectors of Orthodox Christians in Turkey, but Britain and France, inspired by all that Classical Oxbridge learning, moved to help the Greeks. The British sank Muh.ammad 'Alî's fleet at Navarino Bay in 1827. They say that the ships are still visible at the bottom of the bay, right by the island of Sphacteria, where Spartans surrendered to Athens in 425 BC, early in the Peloponnesian War, and just south of "Sandy Pylos," where a great Mycenaean city supplied wise Nestor to the Greek forces at Troy. A lot of history in that area.

The house of Denmark supplied most of the kings of modern Greece. The kingship itself contained an interesting ambiguity, since the Greek word basileus only meant "king" in Classical Greek. In mediaeval Greek, basileus was used by the Emperors of Romania to translate Latin imperator, i.e. "emperor." So which was it? Was the ruler of Greece merely the King of the Hellenes, or the Emperor of the Romans (Rhômaioi)? When the Greeks tried to seize a large part of western Asia Minor from the Turks in 1920, it looked like restoring the Empire was the objective. Unfortunately, Turkey remained, and remains, fundamentally stronger than Greece, and the Greek invasion only provoked the expulsion of all Greeks from the mainland -- under the formula of an "exchange," in which the much greater numbers of Christians in Turkey were "exchanged" for Muslims, not always Turkish, in Greece.

Politically, Greece has swung back and forth in the 20th century. Whether the monarchy was a good thing was often in doubt, as it was briefly abolished in the 20's and almost not reinstituted after World War II. Then the Army took over in 1967, creating a dictatorship that lasted until 1974. King Constantine II tried to organize a counter-coup against the dictatorship, but then fled the country when he failed. Eventually the dictators abolished the monarchy. When democracy was restored, after a stupid attempt to overthrow the government of Cyprus (provoking a Turkish invasion), the Greeks nevertheless seemed to think that Constantine had not been sufficiently vigorous in opposing the dictatorship, so the monarchy was not restored. Since then, Greece has made a speciality of electing anti-American, socialist governments, long after that made any sense either geo-politically or economically. A good example of recent foolishness was a nationwide strike on May 17, 2001, with 10,000 protesters marching on the Parliament in Athens. Protesting what? Well, the Greek state pension system was nearly bankrupt, and the Government was considering reforms, like cutting benefits and increasing the retirement age (to 65). Even the socialist government, however, might have anticipated the offense to the (not just) Greek sense of entitlement that this would cause.

This kind of thing was all bad enough, but then 60 Minutes reported (6 January 2002) that the Greek government, and especially the dominant Socialist Party, appeared to be tolerating a radical leftist terrorist organization, "17 November," that had been responsible for bombings and murders for years. Not a single member of this organization had been arrested or even identified by the government, even though unmasked members raided a police station for weapons and could easily have been described. When members of the Greek press were threatened for reporting on the organization, and police closed the investigations even of murder cases against them, one began to wonder if a sort of leftist death squad had come into existence in Greece. This boded ill for the future of Greece, not only economically, but even as a functioning democracy. Subsequently, however, this situation began to improve. Perhaps under pressure to straighten things out if Greece wanted to host the 2004 Olympics, the government arrested many members of "17 November," and the suspects were spilling details about the membership and operations of the organization [Los Angeles Times, Wednesday, August 7, 2002, "Toppled From Their Pedestal"]. The actual popularity of the group was damaged by the very willingness of its members to inform and cooperate in order to avoid harder sentences. Happily, the 2004 Olympics came off without incident.

The irrationality and folly of Greek politics seems to have hit a new high in 2010. The American and international recession of 2008-2010 imperiled the credit of several members of the European Union who had been spending beyond their means. These collectively became known as the PIIGS -- Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece, and Spain. Greece, however, was in the worst shape, badly in debt, with domestic spending out of control. The EU began organizing a "bailout" for Greece, to tide it over. However, no one wishes to give Greece money unless there is more responsible restraint in spending -- and some higher taxes also. The Greek government has undertaken to control its spending, but such sensible and prudent measures have set off the lunatics in Greek politics. Led, as we might imagine, by public employee unions and anarchists, Athens on several occasions has been flooded with rioters and vandals. There has been so little in the way of merely peaceful protest that "demonstrations" is hardly the word to use. Three employees of a bank were killed, including a pregnant woman, when their office was firebombed. This insane conduct, however, is merely an exaggerated version of influences that occur elsewhere. The State of California is in nearly as bad shape as Greece, and for most of the same reasons, especially because of the power of public employee unions. The welfare state and socialists simply never have enough money. Greece would probably just be printing money if it were not already under the discipline of the Euro and its sober German bankers.

Although the Greek monarchy is now gone, the Greek Royal family remains impressively connected to two of the most important centers of contemporary European royalty. The heirs of the British monarchy are now all descendants, through Prince Philip, of King George I of Greece; and all the Greek Royal Family itself is descended from both Queen Victoria and the Emperor Frederick III of Germany. Then Constantine II's sister Sophia married Juan Carlos of Spain, who was able to do in Spain what Constantine wasn't able to in Greece -- restore democracy. Now the heir of Spain, Philip (Filipe), is a descendant of Kings George, Constantine I, and Paul of Greece. One might gather from this diagram that the throne of Britain is due to pass the House of Denmark and Greece, or, more precisely, the House of Schleswig-Holstein- Sonderburg-Glucksburg; but on marrying Elizabeth, Prince Philip renounced his rights to the Greek throne and his connection to the Greek Royal family, taking the name of his mother's family, Battenberg/Mountbatten, so this connection is obscured. Now that royalty is more a matter of international celebrity than of political power, Greece, by blaming Constantine for a bunch of military dictators, is really missing out on its share of space in People magazine. This may seem like an absurdly trivial consideration, but Greece depends heavily on foreign tourism; and foreign tourism depends heavily on international perception and publicity. Space, free space, in People magazine means millions of dollars in business for Greece. Instead, Greeks still have these ridiculous demonstrations for socialism (not to mention the frightening terrorist activity) and nurse their (legitimate but futile) historic grievance against Turkey.

A real basis for the latter concerns Cyprus. In 1974 the Greek generals tried to annex Cyprus to Greece. This provoked a Turkish invasion and the de facto partition of the Island (and, happily for Greece, the overthrow of the generals). The Turks even set up a separate Turkish Cypriot Republic, which is recognized by no one in the world but Turkey. What this all really meant was that the effort to maintain Cyprus as a bi-national Republic, since independence from Britain in 1960, had failed utterly. The obvious solution would seem to be a real partition of the island with the Greek and Turkish parts annexed, respectively, by Greece and Turkey. Since the Turks took rather more of the island than was warranted by the Turkish percentage of the population (with Turkish settlers now introduced to fill the space), Greece could expect a territorial adjustment in exchange for international recognition of Turkish separation. For some reason, however, the international community still expects a restoration of the bi-national Republic. With no real pressure on Turkey, however, and no prospect of it, the bi-national Republic is certainly dead and buried, and the realistic solution is not even being addressed.

Conspicuous Americans of Greek origin in recent years have been the stunning actress Melina Kanakaredes, of the late NBC drama Providence (she now appears on other popular shows), and the comedienne, actress, writer, and producer Nia Vardalos, whose 2002 movie, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, was an unexpected and astonishing success, with over $200 million in domestic boxoffice. The movie good naturedly pokes fun at the father's old world paternalism and exaggerated nationalistic claims (e.g. that the Japanese word kimono is actually of Greek origin), a familiar phenomenon in Greek nationalism.

The Leftist irrationality of Greek politics unfortunately has its representatives in the form of some influential Greek-Americans. Chief among these may be Arianna Stassinopoulos Huffington and Markos Moulitsas (Zúñiga). Huffington was born in Greece, was married to Republican Congressman Michael Huffington, became a conservative political commentator after her divorce, but then flew off the tracks as a born-again Leftist. Her public comments, often dopey, seem to have increasingly marginalized her personally, but she remains influential through her "Huffington Post" website, subsidized by George Soros and then bought by a major media outlet. Markos Moulitsas was born in the United States of a Greek father. He spent years in El Salvador and in the United States Army but came out of it all to found the "Daily Kos," which has proven to be one of the most lunatic of lunatic fringe Leftist websites. I have yet to see Mr. "Kos" appear in public or make personal statements in the media, and so it has been hard to get an impression of what he is all about and why his politics should have become so vicious. I would wonder if his early experience had imbuded him with the Communist propaganda that is so prevalent in Latin America -- where there is scarcely a country that can be said to have achieved real economic success in the modern world, while explanations for this typically are of the Marxist, conspiratorial, and anti-American sort. Kos' politics thus may actually owe little to his Greek roots.

How ridiculous the radical take on events in Greece can be we see in this statement from internet blogger Chris Hedges:

Here’s to the Greeks. They know what to do when corporations pillage and loot their country. They know what to do when Goldman Sachs and international bankers collude with their power elite to falsify economic data and then make billions betting that the Greek economy will collapse. They know what to do when they are told their pensions, benefits and jobs have to be cut to pay corporate banks, which screwed them in the first place. Call a general strike. Riot. Shut down the city centers. Toss the bastards out. Do not be afraid of the language of class warfare -- the rich versus the poor, the oligarchs versus the citizens, the capitalists versus the proletariat. The Greeks, unlike most of us, get it.

Unfortunately, Mr. Hedges doesn't seem to "get it" that a welfare state of public employee parasites (the actual "power elite" of Greece with its consistently socialistic governments) living beyond its means will eventually run out of money. Greek prosperity was borrowed, often secretly and under false pretenses. A healthy economy could generate its own revenues and does not need to borrow from international banks, or be bailed out by the European Union. All that Greece needs to do to screw "Goldman Sacks" is default on its debts. Of course, it will not then be able to borrow any more money, the gravy train will be gone, and I am curious where Mr. Hedges thinks more money will then come from. Doubtless, the "proletariat" will just produce the goods, in good Marxist fashion, without money; and Greece can join the Proletarian heaven that is Cuba. Perhaps Mr. Hedges isn't old enough, or educated enough, to know that such things have been tried. Even Lenin had to resort to the New Economic Policy -- but the Modern Left would need to learn such lessons all over again, perhaps with a few more purges, terror famines, and Gulags to help out.

Indeed, Greece would be better off if it just defaulted. The EU bailouts have been given on the condition that Greece reforms its government and its economy. It is not at all clear that the will is there to do anything of the sort. Rioters trashed the center of Athens again on February 12, 2012, to protest measures such as cutting the minimum wage 22%. But something like that only scratches the surface. With a third of the workforce employed by the government, unemployment at 21%, and the "ease of doing business" ranked 100th by the World Bank, behind Yemen, Greece is nowhere near realizing what it needs to do to return to the real world from the socialist Nirvana that leftist ideology has foisted on it. The Greeks at least can have the comfort that California has fallen for a similar leftist folly and is in similar shape -- which is probably why people like Chris Hedges can believe what they do. After all, it's what's taught in school.

In 2014, Greek unemployment is still over 26%, which has become a kind of "new normal." The "austerity" of EU conditions of financial support has included reduced spending, anti-growth higher taxes, and precious little in the way of useful recommendations to reform the economy. Radicals on both left and right, including a kind of neo-Fascism movement, the "Golden Dawn," have taken heart. Clueless comments on the situation continue to be the norm. Thus, the excellent and revolutionary Byzantinist, Anthony Kaldellis, who is here celebrated for his ground-breaking book, Hellenism in Byzantium, has come to engage in the kind of opaque political sniping that now characterizes the unrelated writing of Leftist scholars. In the otherwise excellent Ethnography after Antiquity [University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013], Kaldellis writes:

Incidentally, the reaction to the current "crisis" in Greece is shaped by perceptions that go this far back, as do the reasons why the Orthodox world is in some ways more hostile to Catholicism than to Islam. [p.168]

The background of this remark was the situation in the 15th century when many Rhômaioi were ready to prefer the "turban of the Turk to the red hat of the Cardinal." However, this was never the policy of the Emperors of Romania, who were willing to sacrifice the independence of the Orthodox Church in order to obtain Western help against the Turks, or of the Russians, who inherited the conflict and never worried remotely as much about Catholicism, which was no threat, as about Turkey and Islam. Catholicism was a threat to the Greeks only because of Catholic claims of supremacy, which were effected by the policy of their own Emperors and, briefly, by the occupation of Romania after the Fourth Crusade. Otherwise, the Rhômaioi resented the Latin ideological denial that they were Romans and the direct heirs of the Empire of Augustus and Constantine.

These conflicts, which are barely remembered outside Greece, and are certanly not remembered at all by modern EU politicians and bankers (who no longer have Classical educations -- which actually used to incline Westerners to sympathy for modern Greece, rather than antipathy for [the equally forgotten] Romania), are of little modern political significance; and it is not clear how Kaldellis thinks that EU "reaction" to the Greek financial collapse is "shaped" by such things. As is characteristic of Leftist political sniping, Kaldellis provides neither explanation nor argument. One is left to wonder how an EU financial bailout represents the sort of Frankish arrogance that the Greeks resented. If Greece doesn't want the bailout, or the attendant EU conditions, it can chuck the whole mess. It didn't need to join the EU. However, like all good socialists, the Greeks still want the money.

Since Kaldellis puts "crisis" in scare quotes, one might also wonder what he thinks is unreal about Greece's situation. Again, we get neither explanation nor argument. Instead, we might notice that the hostility of the "Orthodox world" is now less about Catholicism than about the relatively lack of economic success of places like Greece and Russia in modern life, a problem that a writer like Kaldellis probably blames on Capitalism rather than on the ideological claims of Charlemagne, Otto the Great, the Crusaders, or the Popes -- let alone on the actual statist and socialist policies found in Greece or Russia. Indeed, from many indications, it is clear that the true hostility of Kaldellis himself is for Capitalism, with residual resentment for Catholicism only secondary and incidental. His comment is thus not only without explanation or argument, but it is also disingenuous or dishonest -- concealing his true preferences. Sadly, this is also characteristic of the political sniping of Leftist scholars, whose remarks are never meant to persuade or demonstrate but only to signify their political allegiance and orthodoxy to readers of similar Leftist convictions. This buys them good standing in the tight community of academic Leftist ideologues. (This is rather different, on the other hand, from academics who are openly and unapologetically Marxists.)

Meanwhile, we might notice other figures of Greek derivation in American public life. The Fox Business Channel has Nicole Petallides on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Conservative commentator Andrea Tantaros appears in multiple fora on the Fox News Channel. Both of these women -- stunning beauties -- thus participate in the Fox networks of Rupert Murdoch, the bête noire of the just mentioned Leftist ideologues. American Greeks can thus be seen fighting back against the likes of Arianna Huffington and Markos Moulitsas.

As noted above, it is now largely forgotten even in Greece, and entirely outside of it, that in the Middle Ages the Greeks called themselves "Romans" (Rhômaioi, ), because, as it happens, they were. For many centuries Hellênes, which the Ancient Greeks had called themselves, and now the modern Greeks again, meant pagan Greeks. The history of Mediaeval Greece is thus found with that of Rome and Byzantium.

The Pronunciation of Greek

Rome and Romania Index

Modern Romania Index

The map for 1912 gives us the situation right before the Balkan Wars. Turkish holdings in Europe still extend all the way to the Adriatic, including Albania which, although largely Moslem, has already been restless for independence. When this status quo gives way, we have a conflict that is already a kind of fuse for World War I. Having mostly satisfied its ambitions in the south, Serbia will turn its attention to the north, where a bit of violence in Bosnia, the assassination of Archduke Francis Ferdinand, sets off a long line of secondary explosions, until all of Europe erupts.
George Petrovic,
Kara ("Black") George
leads revolt,
Milos Obrenovicleads revolt,
Milan I1839
Alexander Karadjordjevic
Milan II Obrenovic1868-1882
Alexander I1889-1903,
Peter I
King of Yugoslavia,
Alexander IIRegent,
Assassinated at Marseilles by Croatian Fascists helped by Italian Intelligence, 1934
Peter II1934-1945
German & Italian Occupation, 1941-1943
German Occupation, 1943-1945
Communist takeover, 1945
Ivan Ribar1945-1953
Josip Broz Tito1953-1980
Presidency Rotates among Republics, I
Lazar Koliševski1980,
Cvijetin Mijatovic1980-1981,
Sergej Kraiger1981-1982,
Petar Stambolic1982-1983,
Mika Špiljak1983-1984,
Veselin Ðuranovic1984-1985,
Radovan Vlajkovic1985-1986,
Sinan Hasani1986-1987,
Presidency Rotates among Republics, II
Lazar Mojsov1987-1988,
Raif Dizdarevic1988-1989,
Janez Drnovšek1989-1990,
Borisav Jovic1990-1991,
Stjepan Mesic1991,
Branko Kostic1991-1992,
Slovenia, Croatia, &
Macedonia secede, 1991; Bosnia, 1992
Presidents of Republic of Yugoslavia
Dobrica Cosic1992-1993
Miloš Radulovicacting, 1993
Zoran Lilic1993-1997
Srda Božovicacting, 1997
Srdjan Bozovic1997
Slobodan Milosevic1997-2000
Kosovo detached by NATO, 1999
Vojislav Kostunica2000-2003
Union of Serbia and Montenegro
Svetozar Marovic2003-2006
Montenegro secedes, 2006
Presidents of Serbia
Slobodan Milosevic1990-1997
Milan Milutinovic1997-2002
Boris Tadic2004-present
In the shadow of the Napoleonic Wars and a Russian war with Turkey, Serbia began the Balkan independence movement against Turkey with a long revolt that led to an Ottoman grant of autonomy. The rivalry of the two leaders of the revolt, Milosh Obrenovic and "Black" George Petrovic, however, led to a century of sometimes bloodly conflict between their two families, culminating in a coup in 1903 when King Alexander I was murdered. The Congress of Vienna in 1878 granted Serbia full independence, and the status of a Kingdom followed shortly.

The Serbian dream was not just to unite all Serbian speakers remaining in Bosnia, Montenegro, Hungary, and Turkey, but all of the "Southern Slavs," including the Croatians, Slovenians, and perhaps even Bulgarians. In the aftermath of World War I, which began with the Serbian inspired assassination of the Archduke Francis Ferdinand of Austria in Sarajevo, this dream was realized in the establishment of Yugoslavia, which contained all the Southern Slavs except for Bulgaria, which had its own fiercely separate traditions and ambitions. Macedonia, however, had been wrested from Bulgaria in the Second Balkan War (1913). These benefits were substantially due to the Russians, to whom the Serbs looked as the protectors and patrons of the Orthodox Slavs. World War I formally began when Russia declared war on Austria to protect the Serbs. The flags of both Serbia and Yugoslavia are like the tricolor flag of Russia, with just a different arrangement of the stripes. The ethnic tensions between Orthodox Serbs and Catholic Slovenes and Croatians (and others), however, manifested themselves both in World War II, when the Germans found willing allies in the Croatians, and with the Fall of Communism, when the growth of democracy unmasked the separatist hostilities again. Yugoslavia broke up, with bitter fighting, atrocities, and "ethnic cleansing" as the various communities and new states sought to secure territory. Although all the groups have been guilty of offenses, the consenus of international observers and investigators, not to mention the War Crimes Tribunal in the Hague, seems to be that the Serbs, seeking to maintain a dominant position and initially with a military advantage, are more guilty than others, especially in Bosnia and Kosovo.
Former Yugoslav
Bosnia Herzegovina
The future remains uncertain, as NATO/UN peacekeeping forces are the only thing that seems to restrain the violence from breaking out again in Bosnia, and the status of Kosovo is open, as Serbs flee the retaliation of the Albanians, which has extended to vandalizing churches and monasteries, and the Albanians have no interest in being returned to Serbia. All that now stands between "Yugoslavia" being just Serbia is the continued adherence of Montenegro. The two countries are no different ethnically, linguistically, or religiously. All that is different is history, which is enough to fuel a Montenegran independence movement, which succeeded in 2006. Yugoslavia has now been reduced to just Serbia again.

A kind of glyph that has been used to represent Serbia is a cross with four crescents drawn in it. This is borrowed, like the double-headed eagle, from Mediaeval Roman/Byzantine symbolism. The crescents come from the Greek goddess Artemis, a moon god, who was the original patron of the Greek city of Byzantium. As was common in Constantinople, a bit of pagan iconography thus survives in the Christian Empire. The addition of the Cross renders it sufficiently Christian. The background for this is discussed elsewhere. The image of the crescent may actually be the source of the use of the Crescent in Islâm, which may not antedate the Turkish conquest of Constantinople. The Serbian device, drawn as graffiti, was often seen as symbolic of massacre and terror during the recent Balkan fighting, especially in Bosnia.

Mediaeval Serbia

Modern Romania Index

The Balkan Wars all but eliminated Turkey in Europe. In the First War (1912-1913), everyone attacked Turkey, which even lost Adrianople to Bulgaria. Serbia was going to annex Albania, but the Great Powers required that it become an independent state. The Serbs were not happy about that, and Bulgaria wasn't happy about its share either. So the Second War (1913) featured everyone against Bulgaria, which lost Macedonia to Serbia, Adrianople to Turkey, and some territory south of the Danube to România. Meanwhile, Italy had been at war with Turkey in 1912 and had obtained Libya and, on this map, the Dodecanese Islands.

This all set the stage for, as Otto von Bismark had said, "some damn thing in the Balkans," which would set off the greatest war in history. Having disposed of the Turks, it meant that Serbia would turn its attentions to Austria.
Russo-Turkish War, 1876-1878
Alexander of
Ferdinand of
King or Czar,
Boris III1918-1943
Simeon II1943-1946
takeover, 1946
Vasil Petrov Kolarov1946-1947
Mintscho Naitschev1947-1950
Georgi Damjanov1950-1958
Dimitar Ganev1958-1964
Georgi Traikov1964-1971
Todor Schivkov/
Petar Mladenov1989-1990
Stanko Georgievacting, 1990
Nikolay Todorovacting, 1990
Schelju Schelev/
Zhelyu Zhelev
Petar Stojanov1997-2002
Georgi Parvanov2002-present
Bulgaria was the last of the mediaeval Balkan states to regain complete independence from Turkey. Although usually regarded as a Kingdom, rather more was implied when King Ferdinand (a second cousin of Edward VII of England) also called himself "Tsar." He is actually supposed to have carried around the vestments (obtained from a theatrical costumer) of a Roman (/Byzantine) Emperor. This was no less than what most of the successor states wanted, but the Bulgarians came closest to the physical heart of mediaeval Romania in the First Balkan War (1912-1913) when they occupied Adrianople and drew near Constantinople. This advantage, however, was lost in the Second Balkan War (1913), when Bulgaria took on all the other belligerents from the First War, largely in a dispute with Serbia over Macedonia (where a dialect or near relative of Bulgarian was spoken), and was overwhelmingly defeated. Adrianople went back to Turkey, Macedonia went to Serbia, and other territories went to Greece and Romania. Still stinging from this defeat, Bulgaria threw its lot with Germany in World War I, which cost it access to the Aegean Sea. The same strategy was followed in World War II, where the wartime borders show us the Bulgarian wish list, with gains from Serbia, Romania, and Greece (Turkey was not in the War).
The post-War settlement erased those gains, except against Romania, which had also been a member of the Axis. Today Macedonia has broken away from Yugoslavia, but to become independent rather than a part of Bulgaria. Note that the numbering of Kings Boris III and Simeon II goes back to the original mediaeval Bulgarian Tsars.

Mediaeval Bulgaria, Qaghans & Tsars

Old Church Slavonic

Mediaeval Bulgaria, Asens

Mediaeval Bulgaria, Terters

Modern Romania Index

Trouble over Bosnia began World War I, when a member of a Serbian "Black Hand" assassination squad killed the Austrian Archduke Francis Ferdinand. Austria ended up declaring war on Serbia, Russia on Austria, and Germany on Russia. The Germans then, of course, invaded France, Russia's ally, and did so through Belgium, violating recognized Belgian neutrality and bringing Britain into the War. Turkey and Bulgaria, the losers of the Balkan Wars, sided with Germany and Austria, while the other Balkan countries went with the Allies (Greece reluctantly -- Queen Sophia was Kaiser Wilhelm's sister). The result was losses for Bulgaria and gains for all the Allies, with Serbia orchestrating the formation of Yugoslavia from Montenegro, Bosnia, Herzegovina, and other remants of Austria-Hungary, Slovenia and Croatia. România got Transylvania from Hungary and also gains from Russia, which was distracted by the Russian Revolution and Civil War. Bulgaria's loss of its Aegean coast would prove fortunate for the region when it later went communist. However little Greece and Turkey liked each other, it was convenient for them as Western allies to have a land frontier.
Ismail Kemal Bey1912-1914
Wilhelm of WiedKing,
Essad Pasha Toptani1914-1916
Austrian Occupation, 1916-1918
Turchan Pasha1919-1920
Regency Council, 1920-1924
Bishop Fan Noli1924
Ahmet Zogu,
Zog I
Italian & German Occupation, 1939-1943
Victor Emanuel (III)King,
German Occupation, 1943-1945
Communist takeover,
Enver Hoxha Dictatorship,
Omer Nishani1946-1953
Haji Leschi1953-1982
Ramiz Alia1982-1992
Kastriot Islamiacting, 1992
Pjetër Arbnoriacting, 1992
Sali Berisha1992-1997
Skender Gjinushiacting, 1997
Rexhep Kemal Mejdani1997-2002
Alfred Moisiu2002-2007
Bamir Topi2007-Present
Just about the poorest and least educated people in Europe, the Albanians had unexpected independence thrust upon them after the First Balkan War (1912-1913) and then found themselves locked into paranoid and pauperized isolation by a particularly nasty and megalomaniacal Communist regime after World War II, under longtime Communist Party Chief Enver Hoxha. After the schism between
Communist China and the Soviet Union, for many years Albania was China's only international ally and supporter, regularly submitting the PRC for membership in the United Nations. But eventually, after membership, China began allowing Capitalism, and Albania had to retreat into its own paranoid isolation as the last surviving Stalinist dictatorship. Since Hoxha expected the Capitalists to invade at any time, the Albanian landscape became covered with small bunkers, to defend every inch. The country, which had always been poor anyway, became even poorer in Hoxha's grip, and it is nowhere near even recovering, much less developing to the level of its European neighbors. The Fall of Communism even witnessed large numbers of Albanians attempting to flee to Italy by boat. Among the mysterious, autochthonous peoples of the Balkans, the Albanians were strongly Latinized under Rome, Islamicized under Turkey, coveted by Italy and Serbia, and included substantial communities in Greece (denied by Greece, which officially has no ethnic minorities). Like a number of peoples in the Balkans, they may not know just what to make of themselves in the modern world, much less how their society is supposed to function. Recent conspicuous Americans of Albanian heritage have been the Belushis, John and his brother Jim, and Sandra Bullock (whose mother is German and father, reportedly, of Albanian derivation). One of John Belushi's memorable roles on Saturday Night Live was in the ongoing "Greek Diner" skits. The Belushis, indeed, had run such a diner in Chicago.

Modern Romania Index

As the Ottoman Empire declined in strength, and Christians in the Balkans found European allies who favored their independence, like Britain for Greece and Russia for Serbia, Romania, and Bulgaria, the Balkans became the scene of one conflict after another. The Turks were not entirely out of the picture until 1913, and this still left a number of the successor states, especially Bulgaria and Serbia, not entirely happy with their shares. The Serbs also pursued a grievance against Austria-Hungary, which inspired the assassination of the Archduke Francis Ferdinand in 1914, precipitating World War I. In the end the Serbs realized their dream of "Yugoslavia," the union of all the "Southern Slavs." The dream of the Serbs, however, was not necessarily the dream of all their fellow Yugoslavs. Macedonians really spoke a dialect of Bulgarian, and would have been part of Bulgaria if the Bulgarians had had their way. Slovenia, which historically had been part of Austria, and Croatia, which historically had been part of Hungary, were divided from the Serbs by religion, Catholicism versus Serbian Orthodoxy, and history, the Latin West versus the Greek, Slavonic, and Turkish East, even though both the Serbs and Croatians really spoke the same language -- Serbo-Croatian. Bosnia-Herzegovina was a messy mixture of Serbs, Croatians, and those from both groups who had converted to Islam during the long Turkish presence (the Bosniacs).

For a long time the jumble of ethnic groups in Yugoslavia didn't seem to make too much difference. A preview of the future, however, was evident when the Germans didn't have much trouble getting Croatians to kill Serbs and others in World War II. The map at left shows the boundaries the way the Germans sorted them out during the War. Hungary, Croatia, România, and Bulgaria were all German allies. Hungary, of course, wanted Transylvania back, but this would have to be at the expense of another German ally, so Hitler compromised by giving Hungary a part (the part with the most Hungarians) of Transylvania, but then compensated România with extra territory in the Ukraine (going off the map). Bulgaria got an expanded Aegean coast and a major goal for some time, Macedonia. While Albania was occupied by Italy, it was nevertheless expanded on what would have been Albanian nationalist principles, with large pieces of Kosovo and Eprius. Banat was a Romanian speaking region of Yugoslavia which, for some reason, was made independent rather than ceded to România. The Ionian Islands were directly annexed to Italy, probably because they had belonged to Venice for some centuries. The principle of Italian irredentism in the Adriatic was that any place that had ever had an Italian name should belong to Italy.

On the post-World War II map, România has lost considerable territory to the Soviet Union, including what Stalin took in 1940 (now Moldova), and the territory that had been gotten from Bulgaria in 1913. Otherwise, pre-War boundaries were restored. Marshall Tito (a Croat), after a successful Communist insurgency against the Germans, got Yugoslavia put back together, broke with Stalin, helped found the "unaligned" movement in the Cold War, and for many years appeared to govern a happy and prosperous compromise between East and West -- a favorite vacation destination for Europeans.

With the Fall of Communism, however, the whole business came unglued. Slovenia, Croatia, Macedonia, and most Bosnians wanted to go their own way. The dream of the Serbs crumbled, but their vision of destiny and grievance did not. First they moved against Croatia, either as a preemptive attack or in retaliation for the actions of the dictatorial Croatian leader, Franjo Tudjman, against resident Serbs. It is now a little hard to determine who started it; but the Serbs, tempted by military superiority, invaded in a way that looked more like conquest than humanitarianism. Later, when the Serbs were tied up in Bosnia and Croatia had built up its forces, Tudjman really did expel and massacre Serbs, but the international community was already prepared to excuse or ignore that as just retaliation. Both Serbia and Croatia, sometimes in cooperation, then turned on Bosnia, which soon became a byword for massacre and atrocities, including mass rapes, such had not been seen in the Balkans since World War II. The Serbs, at the very least, handled their public relations very poorly. Photos of emaciated prisoners in Serbian concentration camps immediately lost them the international propaganda war. Although the Croatians and Bosniacs certainly committed some atrocities themselves, the Serbian massacres seemed larger, more blatant, and more insolent and defiant. While Tudjman might well have been prosecuted as a war criminal (he is now dead), it has mainly been the Serbs, and the former President of Serbia, Slobodan Milosevic, who have been the targets of war crime prosecutions by the International Tribunal at the Hague. While this has not been entirely fair to the Serbs, it does not excuse them from what was indeed done. By whining about their own centuries of oppression, while slaughtering Moslems, the Serbs managed to become some of the most self-righteous war criminals within memory. Some NATO bombing, peacekeepers on the ground, arrests, and war crimes trials finally put some kind of lid on the conflict in Bosnia. But many guessed what was coming next. Because of the Croatian offensive and version of "ethnic cleansing," some Serbs then fled all the way to....Kosovo.

Kiro Gligorov1991-1995,
Stojan Andovacting, 1995
Savo Klimovoskiacting, 1999
Boris Trajkovski1999-2004
Ljupco Jordanovskiacting, 2004
Branko Crvenkovski2004-present
Claimed by Bulgaria and seized by Serbia in the Balkan Wars, Macedonia was nevertheless allowed to leave Yugoslavia in 1991 with a minimum of hassle. Much more hassle came from Greece, which felt threatened by this tiny state using the name "Macedonia" and, apparently, identifying itself with the
Macedonia of Alexander the Great. The new flag featured the "Star of Vergina," from was what originally thought to be the tomb of Philip II of Macedon (it now seems to belong to his son, Philip III). This implied Macedonian designs on northern Greece, also containing part of historic Macedonia; and indeed Macedonians did express some claims there. I even saw stickers on lampposts in New York City proclaiming "Macedonia is Greek!" What this was supposed to mean was not going to be obvious to anyone. It made it sound like Greece itself had designs on the new Republic of Macedonia. Did anyone even in New York City know, or care, what this was all about? Probably not.

As it happened, Greece initially blocked admission of Macedonia to the United Nations. The flag was modified and the country is now usually referred to as the "Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia" (FYRM). Bulgaria seems to have given up claims to Macedonia, but I am still not clear whether Macedonian is or is not a dialect of Bulgaria. There are ways to determine this. Otherwise, the region has simply never been anything but "Macedonia."

I have received correspondence from a couple of Greeks disputing this, contending that the territory of the FYRM was never in historic Macedonia. Well, there is going to be considerable uncertainty about all ancient boundaries, and there is no telling how far Philip II's Macedonia extended north. Chances are it was well into FYRM territory (probably the whole valley of the Vardar/Axios River). Nevertheless, for Roman Macedonia the boundaries are better known. The capital of the FYRM, Skopje (Roman Scupi), was definitely in the early Roman province of Moesia Superior (later Dacia Mediterranea). However, the boundary of Moesia was immediately south of Skopje, which itself is quite close to the northern boundary of the FYRM. One map in the Atlas of the Roman World (Tim Cornell & John Matthews, Facts on File Publications, 1982, 1988, p.75) shows the bend of the Axius (Axios/Vardar) River, with Scupi on the north bank, as the actual northern boundary of Macedonia. Other maps (pp.141, 146) show some of the bend itself in Moesia, but this still leaves most of the territory of the FYRM in Roman Macedonia. The Roman cities of Stobi (near modern Stip), Lychnidus (modern Ohrid), and Heraclea Lyncestis (near modern Bitola) were all in Roman Macedonia and in the present FYRM. There is agreement on this in the Atlas of Classical History (Richard J.A. Talbert, Routledge, 1985, 1989, p.143).

For some, Macedonian claims to Greek Macedonia may be based on the territorial integrity of the Macedonia of Philip II and on the presumed ethnic identity of the modern Macedonians with the ancient. This kind of claim cannot now be taken seriously, both because ancient boundaries are going to mean nothing in modern international law and because the modern Macedonians speak a Slavic language which certainly has nothing to do with the (albeit poorly attested) language of the ancient Macedonians. The other basis of Macedonian claims, however, is more serious, and that concerns Macedonians living in Greece. The Greeks deny that there is any such presence; but then Greece officially denies that there are any ethnic minorities in Greece. Linguistic maps of Greece in the 19th century show areas of speakers of Albanian, Vlach, Macedonian, and even Turkish. The Anchor Atlas of World History, Volume II (Hermann Kinder, Werner Hilgemann, Ernest A. Menze, and Harald and Ruth Bukor, 1978) shows Macedonian speakers extending from south of Skopje (Üsküp in Turkish, in a partially Albanian speaking area, continguous with Kosovo) all the way down to Thessalonica (p.120). If there are no longer Macedonian speakers in the modern Greek part of this area (only acquired in 1913), then there is some explaining to do. If Greece expelled the Macedonians, suppressed their language, or got them to leave through harassment or oppressive policies, none of these are going to be admissions to the credit of Greece, or admissions likely to be made, for just such a reason. At the very least, the FYRM can reasonably ask for an accounting on this issue.

I am informed that Greeks would be happy with the FYRM simply being called "Northern Macedonia." This is a little silly and is not going to make any difference in any Macedonian claims or possible threat against Greece. A parallel situation in Europe is actually the relationship of Luxembourg to Belgium. When Belgium became independent of the Netherlands in 1830, it took with it a very large part of Luxembourg. This area of Belgium is still called "Luxembourg." I have never heard that Luxembourg, which itself became independent of the Netherlands in 1890, today makes any claims against Belgium. But even if it did, tiny Luxembourg, although with the highest per capita income in the world, would not constitute any kind of real threat. Poor and tiny Macedonia is not going to constitute any more of a threat to Greece. If Macedonian guerrillas were crossing over into Greece, this would be a matter of real concern and complaint, but I do not understand that anything of the sort has happened; and even if it did, Greece would have no difficulty knowing where to direct counter-action.

As it has happened, the problem of guerrillas has troubled the FYRM itself. Albanian refugees inundated northern Macedonia in 1999, where there was already, as noted, an Albanian community. With them came armed Albanians who, having lost in battle with the Serbs, were interested in "liberating" northern Macedonia. They succeeded no better there, but for a while there was considerable danger of a wider conflict. Meanwhile, Macedonia is the poorest of the former Yugoslav Republics, with a lower per capita income even than Albania. This puts it perilously close to being the poorest country in Europe -- though it is probably safe from that, since Moldova has a per capita income of not much over $300, while Macedonia's is more than $1500. "Room for improvement" hardly begins to tell the tale. The dispute over Macedonia's name and claims doesn't even begin to address the real problem of economic development in the FYRM and elsewhere in the Balkans.

Modern Romania Index

8. Presidents of Kosovo
Ibrahim Rugova2002-2006
Nexhat Daciacting, 2006
Fatmir Sejdiu2006-present
Kosovo declares independence,
17 February 2008
A major part of Serbia itself since 1913, the province of Kosovo was only 10% Serb in population. Most of the rest were Albanian Moslems, who had been deprived of the autonomy they had under the old Yugoslavia and were now beginning to fight for independence through the radical Islamic "Kosova Liberation Army" (KLA). What many observers expected, then, was that the Serbs would turn the "ethnic cleansing" campaign made famous in Bosnia to the problem of too many Albanians, especially rebellious Albanians, in Kosovo. With the UN and the NATO allies already energized about Bosnia, simple defiance was not going to work for the Serbs the way it might have if action had been taken against Kosovo before all the events in Bosnia. But defiance was the approach that the Serbs took, over a land to which they emotionally claimed "historic rights," but which had mostly been occupied by others since the 17th century and had been in Serbian hands only since 1913. Although many Serbs now cite atrocities during World War II or say there was even "ethnic cleansing" against them under Tito, their claim to Kosovo is mainly as part of "historic" (i.e. 14th century) Serbia.

Unfortunately, in modern Europe several wars have been fought between France and Germany, Italy and Austria, Germany and Poland, etc., over many such "historic" claims. Such things made a poor rationale for dictatorial and terrorist measures, especially by an undemocratic country. When NATO decided to move against Serbian measures in Kosovo in March 1999, we ended up with the next round of the ongoing Balkans War. This time, however, the naked preference of the Russians for the Orthodox Serbs over the Moslem Albanians, and similar sentiments evidently shared by Greeks and others, left the Albanians with no local friends at all. Albania itself has been a basket case of anarchy and corruption almost the whole time since the end of Communism there. But the outcome of such a conflict was very problematic when the NATO countries would rather fight a quick, high tech war on the cheap, before body bags and anti-war sentiment upsets things at home, while the Serbs, who learned their ruthlessness from Marshal Tito, wanted nothing better than to appear as martyrs of America, even while burning villages and driving people out of Kosovo. A century of war thus ended more or less as it began, with Serbian grievance dragging others into a war, while NATO, unable to commit on the ground, ended up bombing civilian infrastructure in Serbia, contrary to international law, in a rapidly growing "total war."

In June 1999, the Serbs finally gave in, after heavy bombing of Serbia itself, and the Kosovars, driving out the remaining Serbs of Kosovo and attempting to provoke an Albanian rising in Macedonia, have behaved more or less the way the Serbs did. In February 2008 Kosovo simply declared its independence of Serbia. No one was going to allow Serbia to do anything about it, and NATO wasn't much inclined to do anything about it either, so Kosovo may just get its way by default.

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