Millet (Ottoman Empire)

In the Ottoman Empire, a millet /ˈmɪlɪt/[1] was a separate court of law pertaining to "personal law" under which a confessional community (a group abiding by the laws of Muslim Sharia, Christian Canon law, or Jewish Halakha) was allowed to rule itself under its own laws. Despite frequently being referred to as a "system", before the nineteenth century the organization of what are now retrospectively called millets in the Ottoman Empire was far from systematic. Rather, non-Muslims were simply given a significant degree of autonomy within their own community, without an overarching structure for the 'millet' as a whole. The notion of distinct millets corresponding to different religious communities within the empire would not emerge until the eighteenth century.[2] Subsequently, the existence of the millet system was justified through numerous foundation myths linking it back to the time of Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror (r. 1451-81),[3] although it is now understood that no such system existed in the fifteenth century.[4] After the Ottoman Tanzimat (1839–76) reforms, the term was used for legally protected religious minority groups, similar to the way other countries use the word nation. The word millet comes from the Arabic word millah (ملة) and literally means "nation".[4] The millet system has been called an example of pre-modern religious pluralism.[5]


The term millet, which originates from the Arabic milla, had three basic meanings in Ottoman Turkish: religion, religious community and nation.[6] The first sense derives from Quranic usage and is attested in Ottoman administrative documents into the 19th century.[6] Benjamin Braude has argued that before the period of 19th-century reforms, the word millet in the sense of religious community denoted the Muslim religious community or the Christians outside of the Ottoman Empire.[6] This view is supported by Donald Quataert.[7] In contrast, Michael Ursinus writes that the word was used to refer to non-Muslim subjects of the Ottoman Empire even before that time.[6] The term was used inconsistently prior to the 19th century.[6]

The systematic use of millet as designation for non-Muslim Ottoman communities dates from the reign of Sultan Mahmud II in the early 19th century, when official documentation comes to reiterate that non-Muslim subjects were organized into three officially sanctioned millets: Greek Orthodox, Armenian and Jewish.[8] The bureaucrats of this era asserted that the millet system was a tradition dating back to the reign of Sultan Mehmed I (r. 1413-21).[8] Many historians have accepted this claim and assumed that a millet system of this form existed since early Ottoman times.[8] Recent scholarship has cast doubt on this idea, showing that it was rather a later political innovation which was introduced in the rhetorical garb of an ancient tradition.[8]


The millet system is closely linked to Islamic rules on the treatment of non−Muslim minorities living under Islamic dominion (dhimmi). The Ottoman term specifically refers to the separate legal courts pertaining to personal law under which minorities were allowed to rule themselves (in cases not involving any Muslim) with fairly little interference from the Ottoman government.[9][10]

People were bound to their millets by their religious affiliations (or their confessional communities), rather than their ethnic origins, according to the millet concept (excepting the Armenian case, until the modern era).[11] The millets had a great deal of power – they set their own laws and collected and distributed their own taxes. All that was required was loyalty to the Empire. When a member of one millet committed a crime against a member of another, the law of the injured party applied, but the ruling Islamic majority being paramount, any dispute involving a Muslim fell under their sharia−based law.

Later, the perception of the millet concept was altered in the 19th century by the rise of nationalism within the Ottoman Empire.


After the decline of the Assyrian Church of the East in the 14th century the principal non-Muslim religious communities in the Ottoman Empire were the Greek Orthodox, Jewish, Armenian and Syriac Orthodox. Although Ottoman administration of non-Muslim subjects was not uniform until the 19th century and varied according to region and group, it is possible to identify some common patterns for earlier epochs. Christian and Jewish communities were granted a large degree of autonomy. Tax collection, education, legal and religious affairs of these communities were administered by their own leaders. This enabled the Ottomans to rule over diverse peoples with "a minimum of resistance". The Jewish community, in particular, was able to prosper under Ottoman rule and its ranks were swelled with the arrival of Jews who were expelled from Spain. At the same time, non-Muslims were subject to several forms of discrimination and excluded from the Ottoman ruling elite.[12] Armenians formed more than one (actually three) millets under the Ottoman rule.[13] A wide array of other groups such as Catholics, Karaites and Samaritans was also represented.

Map of prevailing religions in the territories of the Ottoman Empire in the 16th century. Note that millets were not actually territorial.

Orthodox Christians

The Orthodox Christians were included in the Rum Millet (millet-i Rûm), or the "Roman nation" conquered by Islam but enjoying a certain autonomy. It was named after Roman ("Byzantine") subjects of the Ottoman Empire, but Orthodox Greeks, Bulgarians, Albanians, Georgians, Arabs, Vlachs and Serbs were all considered part of the same millet despite their differences in ethnicity and language and despite the fact that the religious hierarchy was Greek dominated. Nevertheless, ethnonyms never disappeared and some form of ethnic identity was preserved as evident from a Sultan's Firman from 1680, that lists the ethnic groups on the Balkan lands as follows: Greeks (Rum), Albanians (Arnaut), Serbs (Sirf), Vlachs (Eflak) and Bulgarians (Bulgar).[14]

The Ecumenical Patriarch was recognized as the highest religious and political leader (millet-bashi, or ethnarch) of all Eastern Orthodox subjects of the Sultan, though in certain periods some major powers, such as Russia (under the 1774 Treaty of Küçük Kaynarca), or Britain claimed the rights of protection over the Ottoman Empire's Orthodox subjects. The Serbian Patriarchate of Peć and the Archbishopric of Ohrid which were autonomous Orthodox Churches under the tutelage of the Ecumenical Patriarch were taken over by the Greek Phanariotes during the 18th century, in 1766 and 1767 respectively.

Armenians (Apostolic, Catholic and Evangelical)

Until the 19th century, there was a single Armenian millet which served all ethnic Armenians irrespective of whether they belonged to the Armenian Apostolic Church, the Armenian Catholic Church or the Armenian Protestant Church (which was formed in the 19th century).[11] Only later did a separate Catholic millet emerge. Non-Armenians from churches which were theologically linked to the Armenian Church (by virtue of being non-Chalcedonians) were under the authority of the Armenian Patriarchate, although they maintained a separate hierarchy with their own Patriarchs. These groups included the Syriac Orthodox and the Copts.

Syriac Christians

Syriac Catholics

The Syriac Catholic community was recognized as its own millet in 1829.


The Chaldean (Catholic Nestorian) community was recognized as its own millet in 1846.

Syriac Orthodox

The Syriac Orthodox community in the Ottoman Empire was for long not recognized as its own millet, but part of the Armenian millet (under the Armenian Patriarch). Then, during the Tanzimat reforms (1839–78), the Syriac Orthodox were granted independent status with the recognition of their own millet in 1873.[15]


Under the millet system the Jews were organized as a community on the basis of religion, alongside the other millets (e.g. Orthodox millet, Armenian millet, etc.). In the framework of the millet they had a considerable amount of administrative autonomy and were represented by the Hakham Bashi (Turkish: Hahambaşı حاخامباشی), who held broad powers to legislate, judge and enforce the laws among the Jews in the Ottoman Empire and often sat on the Sultan's divan.

The Ottoman Jews enjoyed similar privileges to those of the Orthodox. The city of Thessaloniki received a great influx of Jews in the 15th century and soon flourished economically to such an extent that, during the 18th century, it was the largest and possibly the most prosperous Jewish city in the world.

The Jews, like the other millet communities of the Ottoman Empire, were still considered a people of the book and protected by the Sharia Law of Islam. However, while the Jews were not viewed in the eyes of the law to be on an equal playing field with Muslims, they were still treated relatively well at points during the Ottoman Empire. Norman Stillman explains that the prosperity of medieval Jews was closely tied to that of their Muslim governors. Stillman notes that, during the time between the 9th and 13th centuries when Jewish culture blossomed, "medieval Islamic civilization was at its apogee".[16] Given their rampant persecution in medieval Europe, many Jews looked favorably upon millet.

In the late 19th century such groups as the Bilu, a group of young Russian Jews who were pioneers of the Zionist resettlement of Palestine, proposed negotiating with the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire to allow a millet like settlement which would allow them greater independence.

Roman Catholics

After the fall of Constantinople the only Latin Catholic group to be incorporated into the Sultan's domain were the Genoese who lived in the Byzantine capital. Over the next decades Turkish armies pushed into the Balkans, overrunning the Catholic population of Albania, Bulgaria, Bosnia and Hungary. In the Orient, the 16th century saw the Maronites of Lebanon, the Latins of Palestine and most of the Greek islands, which once held Latin Catholic communities, come under Turkish rule. Papal response to the loss of these communities was initially a call to the crusade, but the response from the European Catholic monarchs was weak: French interest, moreover, lay in an alliance with the Turks against the Habsburgs. As a bonus, the Catholics of the Ottoman world received a protector at the Porte in the person of the French ambassador. In this way the Roman Catholic millet was established at the start of the Tanzimat reforms.[17]


Use for Sassanid Empire

In a 1910 book William Ainger Wigram used the term melet in application to the Persian Sassanid Empire, arguing that the situation there was similar to the Ottoman millet system and no other term was readily available to describe it.[18] Some other authors have also adopted this usage.[19] The early Christians there were forming the Church of the East (later known as the Nestorian Church after the Nestorian schism). The Church of the East's leader, the Catholicos or Patriarch of the East, was responsible to the Persian king for the Christians within the Empire. This system of maintaining the Christians as a protected religious community continued after the Islamic conquest of the Sassanids, and the community of Nestorian Christians flourished and was able to send missionaries far past the Empire's borders, reaching as far as China and India.

19th century (Reformation Era)

New millets were created in the 19th century for several Uniate and Protestant Christian communities, then for the separate Eastern Orthodox Bulgarian Church, recognized as a Bulgar Millet by an Ottoman firman in 1870 and excommunicated two years later by the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate as adherents of phyletism (national or ethnic principle in church organization). In the period before World War I there were seventeen millets within the Empire.

Reformulation into Ottomanism

Before the turn of the 19th century, the millets had a great deal of power – they set their own laws and collected and distributed their own taxes. Tanzimat reforms aimed to encourage Ottomanism among the secessionist subject nations and stop the rise of nationalist movements within the Ottoman Empire, but failed to succeed despite trying to integrate non-Muslims and non-Turks more thoroughly into the Ottoman society with new laws and regulations. With the Tanzimat era the regulation called "Regulation of the Armenian Nation" (Turkish: "Nizâmnâme−i Millet−i Ermeniyân") was introduced on 29 March 1863, over the Millet organization, which granted extensive privileges and autonomy concerning self−governance. The Armenian Nation, "Millet−i Ermeniyân", which is considered here, is the Armenian Orthodox Gregorian nation (millet) of that time. In a very short time, the Ottoman Empire passed another regulation over "Nizâmnâme−i Millet−i Ermeniyân" developed by the Patriarchate Assemblies of Armenians, which was named as the Islahat Fermânı (Firman of the Reforms). The "Firman of the Reforms" gave immense privileges to the Armenians, which formed a "governance in governance" to eliminate the aristocratic dominance of the Armenian nobles by development of the political strata in the society.[20] These two reforms, which were theoretically perfect examples of social change by law, brought serious stress over Ottoman political and administrative structure.

Effect of Protectorate of missions

The Ottoman System lost the mechanisms of its existence from the assignment of protection of citizen rights of their subjects to other states. People were not citizens of the Ottoman Empire anymore but of other states, due to the Capitulations of the Ottoman Empire to European powers, protecting the rights of their citizens within the Empire. The Russians became formal Protectors of Eastern Orthodox groups, the French of Roman Catholics and the British of Jews and other groups.

Russia and England competed for the Armenians; the Eastern Orthodox perceived American Protestants, who had over 100 missionaries established in Anatolia by World War I, as weakening their own teaching.

These religious activities, subsidized by the governments of western nations, were not devoid of political goals, such in the case of candlestick wars of 1847, which eventually led in 1854[21] to the Crimean War.[22] Tension began among the Catholic and Orthodox monks in Palestine with France channeling resources to increase its influence in the region from 1840. Repairs to shrines were important for the sects as they were linked to the possession of keys to the temples. Notes were given by the protectorates, including the French, to the Ottoman capital about the governor; he was condemned as he had to defend the Church of the Holy Sepulchre by placing soldiers inside the temple because of the candlestick wars, eliminating the change of keys.[22] Successive Ottoman governments had issued edicts granting primacy of access to different Christian groups which vied for control of Jerusalem's holy sites.[23]

Effect of nationalism

Under the original design, the multi-faced structure of the millet system was unified under the house of Osman. The rise of nationalism in Europe under the influence of the French revolution had extended to the Ottoman Empire during the 19th century. Each millet became increasingly independent with the establishment of its own schools, churches, hospitals and other facilities. These activities effectively moved the Christian population outside the framework of the Ottoman political system.

The Ottoman millet system (citizenship) began to degrade with the continuous identification of the religious creed with ethnic nationality. The interaction of ideas of French revolution with the Ottoman Millet system created a breed of thought (a new form of personal identification) which turned the concept of nationalism synonymous with religion under the Ottoman flag. It was impossible to hold the system or prevent Clash of Civilizations when the Armenian national liberation movement expressed itself within the Armenian church. Patriarch Nerses Varjabedyan expresses his position on Ottoman Armenians to British Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lord Salisbury on 13 April 1878.[24]

It is no longer possible for the Armenians and the Turks to live together. Only a Christian administration can provide the equality, justice and the freedom of conscience. A Christian administration should replace the Muslim administration. Armenia (Eastern Anatolia) and Kilikya, are the regions where the Christian administration should be founded... The Turkish Armenians want this... That is, a Christian administration is demanded in Turkish Armenia, as in Lebanon.[24]

Modern use

Today the millet system is still used at varying degrees in some post-Ottoman countries like Iraq, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Egypt, and Greece (for religious minorities). It is also in use in states like India, Iran, Pakistan and Bangladesh which observe the principle of separate personal courts and/or laws for every recognized religious community and reserved seats in the parliament.

In Egypt for instance, the application of family law – including marriage, divorce, alimony, child custody, inheritance and burial – is based on an individual's religious beliefs. In the practice of family law, the State recognizes only the three "heavenly religions": Islam, Christianity, and Judaism. Muslim families are subject to the Personal Status Law, which draws on Sharia. Christian families are subject to canon law, and Jewish families are subject to Jewish law. In cases of family law disputes involving a marriage between a Christian woman and a Muslim man, the courts apply the Personal Status Law.[25]

Israel, too, keeps a system based on the Ottoman-derived Millet, in which personal status is based on a person's belonging to a religious community. The state of Israel – on the basis of laws inherited from Ottoman times and retained both under British rule and by independent Israel – reserves the right to recognise some communities but not others. Thus, Orthodox Judaism is officially recognised in Israel, while Reform Rabbis and Conservative Rabbis are not recognised and cannot perform marriages. Israel recognised the Druze as a separate community, which the Ottomans and British had not – due mainly to political considerations. Also, the state of Israel reserves the right to determine to which community a person belongs, and officially register him or her accordingly – even when the person concerned objects to being part of a religious community (e.g., staunch atheists of Jewish origin are registered as members of the Jewish religious community, a practice derived ultimately from the fact that the Ottoman Millet ultimately designated a person's ethnicity more than a person's beliefs).

Israeli secularists such as Shulamit Aloni and Uri Avnery often protested and called for abolition of this Ottoman remnant, and its replacement by a system modeled on that of the United States where religious affiliation is considered a person's private business in which the state should not interfere. However, all such proposals have been defeated.

Greece recognizes only a Muslim minority, and no ethnic or national minorities, such as Turks, Albanians, Pomaks or Slavo-Macedonians. This is the result of the Convention Concerning the Exchange of Greek and Turkish Populations of 1923 and of the Treaty of Lausanne of 1924, when the old millet categories were used for the forced population exchanges (reciprocal ethnic cleansing) of the Greek Orthodox Christians from Turkey (except from Istanbul, and the isles of Gökçeada and Bozcaada) and Muslims from Greece (except from Western Thrace), as well as for the protection of the two remaining recognized minorities, the "Muslims of Western Thrace" (Turks, Pomaks and Roms) and the "Greek Orthodox of Istanbul".

Current meaning of the word

Today, the word "millet" means "nation" or "people" in Turkish, e.g. Türk milleti ("Turkish nation"), İngiliz milleti ("English nation"), etc. It also retains its use as a religious and ethnic classification; it can also be used as a slang to classify people belonging to a particular group (not necessarily religious or ethnic), such as dolmuşçu milleti ("minivan taxi drivers people") or kadın milleti ("women folk").

See also


  1. ^ "Millet" in the American Heritage Dictionary
  2. ^ Masters, Bruce (2001). Christians and Jews in the Ottoman Arab World: The Roots of Sectarianism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 61–2. ISBN 978-0-521-80333-5.
  3. ^ Braude, Benjamin (1982). "Foundation Myths of the Millet System". In Braude, Benjamin; Bernard Lewis. Christians and Jews in the Ottoman Empire. 1. New York: Holmes & Meier. pp. 69–90. ISBN 978-0841905191.
  4. ^ a b Masters, Bruce (2009). "Millet". In Ágoston, Gábor; Bruce Masters. Encyclopedia of the Ottoman Empire. pp. 383–4.
  5. ^ Sachedina, Abdulaziz Abdulhussein (2001). The Islamic Roots of Democratic Pluralism. Oxford University Press. pp. 96–97. ISBN 978-0-19-513991-4. The millet system in the Muslim world provided the pre-modern paradigm of a religiously pluralistic society by granting each religious community an official status and a substantial measure of self-government.
  6. ^ a b c d e Ursinus, M.O.H (2012). "Millet". In P. Bearman, Th. Bianquis, C.E. Bosworth, E. van Donzel, W.P. Heinrichs. Encyclopaedia of Islam (2nd ed.). Brill. doi:10.1163/1573-3912_islam_COM_0741subscription=yes (inactive 2019-02-07).CS1 maint: Uses editors parameter (link)
  7. ^ Quataert, Donald (2005). The Ottoman Empire, 1700-1922. Cambridge University Press (Kindle edition). pp. 175–176.
  8. ^ a b c d "Millet", Bruce Masters, Encyclopedia of the Ottoman Empire, Ed. Gábor Ágoston and Bruce Alan Masters, (InfoBase Publishing, 2009), p. 383
  9. ^ Sugar, Peter F. (1977). Southeastern Europe under Ottoman rule, 1354-1804. Seattle, USA: University of Washington Press. pp. 5 to 7.
  10. ^ "Millet | religious community". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2018-01-30.
  11. ^ a b Ortaylı, İlber (2006), Son İmparatorluk Osmanlı [The Last Empire: Ottoman Empire] (in Turkish), İstanbul: Timaş Yayınları (Timaş Press), pp. 87–89, ISBN 978-975-263-490-9.
  12. ^ Cleveland, William (2013). A History of the Modern Middle East. Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press. p. 45-46. ISBN 0813340489.
  13. ^ Ortaylı, İlber. "Osmanlı Barışı (Ottoman Peace)", İstanbul: Timaş Yayınları (Timaş Press), 2007, p. 148. ISBN 978-975-263-516-6 (in Turkish).
  14. ^ История на българите. Късно средновековие и Възраждане, том 2, Георги Бакалов, TRUD Publishers, 2004, ISBN 9545284676, стр. 23. (Bg.)
  15. ^ Taylor, William (2014). Narratives of Identity: The Syrian Orthodox Church and the Church of England 1895-1914. Cambridge Scholars Publishing. pp. 84–87. ISBN 978-1-4438-6946-1.
  16. ^ Stillman, Norman A. Myth, Countermyth, and Distortion.
  17. ^ Religion and the Politics of Ident, Ger Duijzings, C. Hurst & Co. Publishers, 2000, ISBN 1-85065-431-X, p. 28.
  18. ^ Wigram, William Anger (1910). An introduction to the history of the Assyrian Church. Gorgias Press. ISBN 978-1-59333-103-0.
  19. ^ Montgomery, Robert (2002). The lopsided spread of Christianity. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 48. ISBN 978-0-275-97361-2.
  20. ^ Ortayli, Ilber (1985), Tanzimattan Cumhuriyete Yerel Yönetim Gelenegi (in Turkish), Istanbul, p. 73.
  21. ^ [1] The Crimean War Begins
  22. ^ a b Don Peretz, The Middle East Today, 6th Edition (1994) ISBN 978-0275945763, p. 87: "At Christmas in 1847, Latin and Greek monks in Bethlehem battled with candlesticks and crosses over the birthplace of the Prince of Peace. To prevent Christian from killing Christian, the Ottoman governor, a Muslim, had to post sixty armed soldiers inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre."
  23. ^ Mr.S.J. Kuruvilla, M. Phil, "Arab Nationalism and Christianity in the Levant Archived 4 July 2007 at the Wayback Machine" (PDF).
  24. ^ a b F.O. 424/70, No. 134/I zikr., Bilal N. ªimsir, British Documents on Ottoman Armenians 1856–1880), Vol. I, Ankara 19R2, p. 173. Document No. 69.
  25. ^ Egypt – International Religious Freedom Report by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, USA: State Department, 2001.


  • Braude, Benjamin (1982). "Foundation Myths of the Millet System". In Braude, Benjamin; Bernard Lewis. Christians and Jews in the Ottoman Empire. 1. New York: Holmes & Meier. pp. 69–90. ISBN 978-0841905191.
  • Masters, Bruce (2001). Christians and Jews in the Ottoman Arab World: The Roots of Sectarianism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-80333-5.
  • Masters, Bruce (2009). "Millet". In Ágoston, Gábor; Bruce Masters. Encyclopedia of the Ottoman Empire. pp. 383–4.
  • Ottoman Empire site, German full original version

Further reading

  • Benjamin Braude and Bernard Lewis (ed.), Christians and Jews in the Ottoman Empire. The Functioning of a Plural Society, 2 vol., New York and London 1982.
  • Frazee, Charles A. (2006) [1983]. Catholics and Sultans: The Church and the Ottoman Empire 1453-1923. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521027007.
  • Dimitris Stamatopoulos, "From Millets to Minorities in the 19th – Century Ottoman Empire: an Ambiguous Modernization", in S. G. Ellis, G. Hálfadanarson, A.K. Isaacs (επιμ.), Citizenship in Historical Perspective, Pisa: Edizioni Plus – Pisa University Press, 2006, 253–273
  • Elizabeth A. Zachariadou, Co−Existence and Religion, in: Archivum Ottomanicum 15 (1997), 119–29.
  • Ursinus, M.O.H (2012). "Millet". In P. Bearman, Th. Bianquis, C.E. Bosworth, E. van Donzel, W.P. Heinrichs. Encyclopaedia of Islam (2nd ed.). Brill. doi:10.1163/1573-3912_islam_COM_0741subscription=yes (inactive 2019-02-07).CS1 maint: Uses editors parameter (link)
  • Masters, Bruce (2001). Christians and Jews in the Ottoman Arab World: The Roots of Sectarianism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-80333-5.
  • Masters, Bruce (2009). "Millet". In Ágoston, Gábor; Bruce Masters. Encyclopedia of the Ottoman Empire. pp. 383–4.
  • Youssef Courbage and Philippe Fargues, Christians and Jews under Islam, translated by Judy Mabro, London−New York 1997.
  • Ramsaur, Ernest Edmondson Jr., The Young Turks. Prelude to the Revolution of 1908, 2. ed., İstanbul 1982, pp. 40–1, Anm. 30: "Meşveret", Paris, 3. Dezember 1895.
  • Çağlar Keyder, Bureaucracy and Bourgeoisie: Reform and Revolution in the Age of Imperialism, in: Review, XI, 2, Spring 1988, pp. 151–65.
  • Roderic H. Davison, Turkish Attitudes Concerning Christian−Muslim Equality in the Nineteenth Century, in: American Historical Review 59 (1953–54), pp. 844–864.
Armenian national awakening

Armenian national awakening is similar to other non-Turkish ethnic groups during the rise of nationalism under the Ottoman Empire in development of ideas of nationalism, salvation and independence in Armenia, as the Ottoman Empire tried to cover the social needs by creating the Tanzimat era, the development of Ottomanism and First Constitutional Era. However, the coexistence of the communities (including Armenians) under Ottomanism proved to be a dysfunctional solution as did the Second Constitutional Era which also ignited the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire.

During Armenian national awakening "Armenian National Assembly" took over some of the regulations of temporal matters of the Ottoman Armenian Community from the Armenian Patriarchate. Among the Armenian elite, idea of republicanism replaced the absolute monarchy of the Ottoman Dynasty, and establishment of the Armenian National Assembly in 1863 replaced the membership of Millet system. While it took World War I for the establishment of First Armenian Republic, the Armenians had oscillated between the ideas of having an Armenian republic or an autonomous region within the empire during the history of Ottoman democracy with organizations like Social Democrat Hunchakian Party and Armenian Democratic Liberal Party (Ramgavar Party) (Armenakan).

Atatürk's Reforms

Atatürk's Reforms (Turkish: Atatürk İnkılâpları) were a series of political, legal, religious, cultural, social, and economic policy changes that were designed to convert the new Republic of Turkey into a secular, modern nation-state and implemented under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk in accordance with the Kemalist ideology. Central to these reforms were the belief that Turkish society would have to Westernize itself both politically and culturally in order to modernize. Political reforms involved a number of fundamental institutional changes that brought end of many traditions, and followed a carefully planned program to unravel the complex system that had developed over the centuries.Reforms began with the modernization of the constitution, including enacting the new Constitution of 1924 which replaced the Constitution of 1921, and the adaptation of European laws and jurisprudence to the needs of the new republic. This was followed by a thorough secularization and modernization of the administration, with particular focus on the education system.

Historically, Atatürk's reforms follow the Ottoman Empire's Tanzimât period, meaning reorganization, that began in 1839 and ended with the First Constitutional Era in 1876, as well as the various efforts of secularization, democratization, and modernization during the Second Constitutional Era from 1908 to 1913.

Confessional community

A confessional community is a group of people with similar religious beliefs.

In the Ottoman Empire, this allowed people to be grouped by religious confession as opposed to nationality or ethnicity, which was more consistent with the existing social structure. People were able to represent themselves more effectively as a group than as individuals. With the rise of nationalism under the Ottoman Empire and after the Ottoman Tanzimat (1839–76) reforms, the term Millet was used for legally protected ethno-religious minority groups, similar to the way other countries used the word nation.The Lebanese Constitution is based on the idea of Confessionalism, a balance of powers between a number of state-recognized confessional communities.


A dhimmī (Arabic: ذمي‎ ḏimmī, IPA: [ˈðɪmmiː], collectively أهل الذمة ahl ul-ḏimmah/dhimmah "the people of the dhimma") is a historical term referring to non-Muslims living in an Islamic state with legal protection. The word literally means "protected person", referring to the state's obligation under sharia to protect the individual's life, property, and freedom of religion, in exchange for loyalty to the state and payment of the jizya tax, which complemented the zakat, or obligatory alms, paid by the Muslim subjects. Dhimmis were exempt from certain duties assigned specifically to Muslims, and did not enjoy certain privileges and freedoms reserved for Muslims, but were otherwise equal under the laws of property, contract, and obligation.Under sharia, the dhimmi communities were usually governed by their own laws in place of some of the laws applicable to the Muslim community. For example, the Jewish community in Medina was allowed to have its own Halakhic courts, and the Ottoman millet system allowed its various dhimmi communities to rule themselves under separate legal courts. These courts did not cover cases that involved religious groups outside of their own community, or capital offences. Dhimmi communities were also allowed to engage in certain practices that were usually forbidden for the Muslim community, such as the consumption of alcohol and pork.Historically, dhimmi status was originally applied to Jews, Christians, and Sabians. This status later also came to be applied to Zoroastrians, Hindus, Jains and Buddhists.Moderate Muslims generally reject the dhimma system as inappropriate for the age of nation-states and democracies. There is a range of opinions among 20th century and contemporary theologians about whether the notion of dhimma is appropriate for modern times, and, if so, what form it should take in an Islamic state.

Hegumen Mardarije

Hegumen Mardarije (fl. 1543–45) was a Serbian Orthodox monk and one of the first printers of Serbian language books.

Mardarije received his education in the Monastery of the Holy Trinity of Pljevlja. To save its liturgical books and other valuables, he moved to Banja Monastery and became its hegumen. In 1543 he and two monks from Mileševa monastery travelled to Venice to buy the printing press and bring it to Mileševa to establish the Mileševa printing house.

Kalinik I

Kalinik I (Serbian Cyrillic: Калиник I) (d. 1710, Temišvar) was the Archbishop of Peć and Serbian Patriarch, head of the Serbian Orthodox Church from 1691 until 1710.He was a relative of Alexander Mavrocordatos, a very influential man and translator at the Porte. The Dečani memorials calls him "Kalinik of Skoplje" (Kalinik ot Skoplje), while there is scarce information on his early life. He became the spiritual leader of the Serbian Church in difficult circumstances, following the exodus of Serbs to the Habsburg Monarchy, in the First Great Migration of the Serbs following the failure of Habsburg operations in Serbia, under the leadership of his predecessor Arsenije III Crnojević (1674–90). In order to thwart Arsenije III's influence on the Serbs, the Ottomans appointed Kalinik, previously a priest in Skoplje, as the new Patriarch of Peć. Kalinik tried to calm down the people and to return the bishops and clergy that had fled their offices. The Ottomans, in order to increase his reputation and income (which benefited them), and spark discontent towards Austria and Venice, again ordered that Catholics within the Patriarchate's jurisdiction had to pay certain levies to its bishoprics. The fleeing Serbs were given privileges in the Habsburg Monarchy; Arsenije III remained spiritual leader of Eastern Orthodox Serbs and their reorganized national church in the Habsburg Monarchy. Many of the bishops and Ottoman Serbs did not recognize Kalinik as their patriarch, however, this changed after the death of Arsenije III (1706). Older Serbian sources hold Kalinik in a bad light. He managed to maintain the existence and independence of the Serbian Patriarchate of Peć within the Ottoman Empire, despite the difficult position of the Serbs who had not fled north. Meanwhile, the Habsburg Serbs were met with pressure from the Catholic Church. With the death of Arsenije III, the successor to the metropolitanate was to be chosen, and it was maintained that the patriarchal title was only for the Patriarchate of Peć. In 1707, a Habsburg Serb assembly was held at Sremski Karlovci, where it was strongly decided that the communion with the Patriarchate of Peć was not to be broken and that the supreme power was recognized in the Patriarch of Peć, Kalinik. The new metropolitanate seat was chosen to be Krušedol, which was opposed by the Habsburgs "due to risk that Serbs return under the Turks, and for easier Uniatization". The Serbs did not back down, so the Habsburgs eventually accepted the decision. Kalinik recognized the new autonomous Metropolitanate of Krušedol, thereby maintaining the unity of the Serbian Orthodox Church.

Kalinik II

Kalinik II (Serbian: Калиник II, Greek: Καλλίνικος Β΄, Latin: Callinicus II) was Archbishop of Peć and Serbian Patriarch from 1765 to 1766. He was the last holder of that office before the Ottoman Empire abolished the Serbian Patriarchate of Peć in 1766. As an ethnic Greek, he was seen as a foreigner among Serbs, who favored the deposed patriarch Vasilije I. Since his tenure was marked by various internal conflicts, Kalinik decided to resign his post, and even went a step further: he sent a pre-agreed petition to the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople asking for the abolition of the Srbian Patriarchate of Peć, citing accumulated debts as the main reason for this motion, signed by him and 5 other bishops. On 11 September 1766, the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople convinced the Sultan to abolish the Serbian Patriarchate of Peć and place its dioceses under the jurisdiction of Constantinople. That decision affected only Serbian dioceses under Ottoman rule, since Serbian Autonomous Metropolitanate of Karlovci in Habsburg Monarchy remained out of reach of Constantinopolitan Phanariotes.

National personal autonomy

The Austromarxist principle of national personal autonomy ("personal principle"), developed by Otto Bauer in his 1907 book Die Nationalitätenfrage und die Sozialdemokratie (The Nationalities Question and Social Democracy) was seen by him a way of gathering the geographically divided members of the same nation to "organize nations not in territorial bodies but in simple association of persons", thus radically disjoining the nation from the territory and making of the nation a non-territorial association. The other ideological founders of the concept were another Austromarxist, Karl Renner, in his 1899 essay Staat und Nation (State and Nation), and the Jewish Labour Bundist Vladimir Medem, in his 1904 essay Di sotsial-demokratie un di natsionale frage (Social Democracy and the National Question).

Ottoman Greeks

Ottoman Greeks (Greek: Οθωμανοί Έλληνες, Turkish: Osmanlı Rumları) were ethnic Greeks who lived in the Ottoman Empire (1299–1923), the Republic of Turkey's predecessor. Ottoman Greeks, who were Greek Orthodox Christians, belonged to the Rum Millet (Millet-i Rum). They were concentrated in what is today modern Greece, eastern Thrace (especially in and around Constantinople), western Asia Minor (especially in and around Smyrna), central Anatolia (especially Cappadocia), northeastern Anatolia (especially in Erzurum vilayet, in and around Trebizond and in the Pontic Mountains, roughly corresponding to the medieval Greek Empire of Trebizond). There were also sizeable Greek communities elsewhere in the Ottoman Balkans, Ottoman Armenia, and the Ottoman Caucasus, including in what, between 1878 and 1917, made up the Russian Caucasus province of Kars Oblast, in which Pontic Greeks, northeastern Anatolian Greeks, and Caucasus Greeks who had collaborated with the Russian Imperial Army in the Russo-Turkish War of 1828-1829 were settled in over 70 villages, as part of official Russian policy to re-populate with Orthodox Christians an area that was traditionally made up of Ottoman Muslims and Armenians.


Pillarisation (Dutch: verzuiling) is the politico-denominational segregation of a society. These societies were (and in some areas, still are) "vertically" divided into several segments or "pillars" (zuilen, singular zuil) according to different religions or ideologies. The best-known examples of this have historically occurred in the Netherlands and Belgium.

These pillars have their own social institutions: their own newspapers, broadcasting organisations, political parties, trade unions and farmers' associations, banks, schools, hospitals, universities, scouting organisations, and sports clubs. Some companies hire only personnel of a specific religion or ideology. This leads to a situation where many people have no personal contact with people from another pillar.

Austrian, Iraqi Arab, Israeli, Lebanese, Maltese, Nigerian, Northern Irish, and Scottish societies may also be considered to have displayed aspects of pillarisation, historically or in the present time.

Protectorate of missions

Protectorate of Missions is a term for the right of protection exercised by a Christian power in an 'infidel' (e.g. Muslim) country with regard to the persons and establishments of the missionaries. The term does not apply to all protection of missions, but only to that permanently exercised in virtue of an acquired right, usually established by a treaty or convention (either explicit or tacit), voluntarily consented to or accepted after more or less compulsion by the infidel power. The object of the protectorate may be more or less extensive, according as it embraces only the missionaries who are subjects of the protecting power, or applies to the missionaries of all nations or even to their neophytes, the native Christians. To comprehend fully the nature of the protectorate of missions, as it has been in times past and as it is to-day, it will be necessary to study separately the Protectorate of the Levant and that of the Far East.

This article deals with a historical approach to the 'legitimation' of protectorates by the need to facilitate the 'holy' duty of spreading the Christian faith, as invoked by Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant colonial/imperial powers. This comprises the missions of the countries under Ottoman rule, especially Constantinople, the Archipelago, Syria, Palestine, Egypt, Barbary etc. It was French in origin, and was, until near the end of the nineteenth century, the almost exclusive privilege of France.

Rum Millet

Rūm millet (millet-i Rûm), or "Roman nation", was the name of the Eastern Orthodox Christian community in the Ottoman Empire. In fact, the Christians were conquered by Islam, but enjoyed a certain internal autonomy.


Rumelia (Ottoman Turkish: روم ايلى‎, Rūm-ėli; Turkish: Rumeli), also known as Turkey in Europe, was the name of a historical region in Southeast Europe that was administered by the Ottoman Empire, mainly the Balkan Peninsula.

The Third Choice

The Third Choice: Islam, Dhimmitude and Freedom is written by Mark Durie, with a Foreword by Bat Ye'or. It deals with the status of non-Muslim populations (the dhimmis) after the conquest of their lands by Muslims.

The Third Choice was short-listed for Australian Christian Book of the Year, 2010.

Mervyn Bendle, writing in the News Weekly, reports that The Third Choice 'provides essential information about the basic beliefs and practices of Islam, the life and role of Muhammad, the relevant history of Islam, the origins and history of the doctrine of the dhimma, how dhimmitude operates in the

everyday life of non-Muslims in Muslim societies, its resurgence in contemporary times, and possible ways through which Christians and other non-Muslims may seek to overcome it and heal the damage that it has done...'

Turks of Western Thrace

Turks of Western Thrace (Turkish: Batı Trakya Türkleri, Greek: Τούρκοι της Δυτικής Θράκης) are ethnic Turks who live in Western Thrace, in the province of East Macedonia and Thrace in Northern Greece.

According to the Greek census of 1991, there were approximately 50,000 Turks in Western Thrace, out of the approximately 98,000 strong Muslim minority of Greece. Other sources estimate the size of the Turkish community between 90,000 and 120,000. The Turks of Western Thrace are not to be confused with Pomaks nor with Muslim Roma people of the same region, counting 35% and 15% of the Muslim minority respectively.Due to the multiethnic character of the Muslim minority of Greece, which includes Turks, Pomaks and Roma Muslims, the Government of Greece does not refer to it by a specific ethnic background, nor does recognize any of these ethnicities, including the Turks, as separate ethnic minority in Western Thrace, instead referring to the whole Muslim minority on religious grounds, as the "Muslim Minority of Western Thrace" or "Greek Muslims". This is in accordance with the Treaty of Lausanne to which Greece, along with Turkey, is a signature member. The Lausanne Treaty, along with the Greek Constitution and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, enshrines the fundamental rights of the Turks and other ethnic groups of East Macedonia and Thrace and the obligations towards them.

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