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Containing Balkan NationalismImperial Russia and Ottoman Christians, 1856–1914$
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Denis Vovchenko

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780190276676

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190276676.001.0001

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Russian Messianism in the Christian East (1453–1853)

Russian Messianism in the Christian East (1453–1853)

(p.19) 1 Russian Messianism in the Christian East (1453–1853)
Containing Balkan Nationalism

Denis Vovchenko

Oxford University Press

Since the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople, Moscow’s rulers increasingly made implicit and explicit irredentist claims on their Byzantine inheritance—“the Christian East.” The leadership of the Patriarchate of Constantinople was ethnically Greek or Hellenized in the Eastern Roman tradition. The Islamic theocratic structure further muted ethnic distinctions among all its subjects. The Age of Enlightenment politicized the concept of ethnicity and helped inspire the secession of Serbia and Greece from the Ottoman Empire in the early 1800s. Russia, England, and France reluctantly supported the Greek War of Independence. After the Napoleonic wars, the Great Powers sought to restore European stability and generally discouraged separatism in the realm of the Sultans. They sponsored the Gulhane Edict to improve the status of Ottoman Christians. This was the beginning of the Bulgarian national movement but Russian diplomats ignored it in spite of the emergence of ethnocentric Slavophiles at home.

Keywords:   Christian East, Enlightenment, Greek War of Independence, Gulhane Edict, Slavophiles

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