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Ottoman Empire

By Levi Clancy for Student Reader on

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Student Reader  |  W2BDPZGZL2

Constantinople, April, 14. Two Deputies from the new Bey of Algiers are arrived here, to present as usual to the Grand Seignior 60 Christian Slaves, most of whom are Spaniards. They have also desir'd, that a Fleet may be sent by the Port, for defending their City against the Spaniards, who are preparing a Bombardment thereof, but the Grand Vizier has given them to understand, that 'twas better to accommodate Matters, not only with the Spaniards, but the Dutch, to prevent the ruin of their said Town.

The Newcastle Weekly Courant, 1724 May 23

Student Reader  |  HD67WMHVLT
1724 May 26th

Stockholm, May 10. The Duke of Holstein's Minister here has received positive Advice from Moscow, That his Master's Marriage will be immediately after the Czariana's Coronation; and 'tis believed that the Courier who shall be sent hither with the notification of it, will also bring the Ratification of the Treaty between the Czar and the Porte, by which that the Czar is to preserve all his Conquests along the Caspian Sea, with 80 Worsts of Ground in Breadth, and that the Porte is to have Assyria and Armenia, so that the young Sophi will have nothing left but Old Persia.

The Caledonian Mercury, 1724 May 26; also mentioned in The Newcastle Weekly Courant, 1827 May 23 which mentions Assyria and America as a typo

Student Reader  |  VS2W5JR3LC
1822 June 29th

Turkish Logic. – A young man, desperately in love with a girl of Stanchio, eagerly sought to marry her but his proposals were rejected. In consequence, he destroyed himself by poison. The Turkish Police arrested the father of the obdurate fair, and tried him for culpable homicide! If the accused (argued they with becoming gravity) had not had a daughter, the deceased would not have fallen in love – consequently he would not have been disappointed – consequently he would not have swallowed poison – consequently he would not have died: but he (the accused) had a daughter, and the deceased had fallen in love, &c. Upon all these counts he was called upon to pay the price of the young man's life; and this being fixed at the sum of 30 piastres, was accordingly extracted. – Clarke's Travels.

The Bristol mercury and Daily Post, 1822 Jun 29

Student Reader  |  462C7BPT7B
1827 November 27th

A history of the Turks was published in newspapers, as below. The article describes nine or ten provinces,

  • Natolia

  • Karaman

  • Roum

  • Guria / Guriel

  • Mingrelia

  • Abkhas / Circassia

  • Curdistan

  • Irak-Arabi

  • Algeria

  • Syria

The appellation of Turk is of very ancient origin, and very comprehensive extent. According to their own tradition, which is supported by other authorities, the name is derived from TURK, one of the sons of Japhet or Japhis, as they term him, the son of Noah, and who is generally allowed to be the progenitor of the Moguls or Tartars. Both the present Turks and Tartars are supposed to be descended from a branch of the Scythians. Their first figure in history is about 630 years before Christ, at which time they drove the Cimerians from their territories.

Turk, Volney says, is a name not originally peculiar to the nation it is now applied to; but denoted in general, in former times, all the hordes dispersed to the east, and even to the north of the Caspian Sea, as far as beyond lake Arral; the same vast countries which have taken from them the denomination of Turkestan. These are the same people who were known to the ancient Greeks by the name of Parthians, Massagetæ, and even of Scythians, for which we have substituted that of Tartars. They formed a nation of shepherds continually wandering like the Bedouin Arabs, and in every age exhibiting themselves as brave and formidable warriors. The Arabs, about 80 years after Mahomet, by order of the Caliph Walid I. invaded the country of the Turks, subdued them, and imposed upon them their religion. These tribes, allied or at variance, according to their several interests, were perpetually engaged in war. Hence we see in their history several nations all equally called Turks, alternately attacking, destroying, and expelling each other. Volney, in order to avoid this confusion, has confined the name of Turk to those of Constantinople, and given that of Turkestans to their predecessors.

Modern Turkey is divided into Turkey in Asia and Turkey in Europe. Turkey in Asia extends from the shores of the Archipelago to the confines of Persia, through a space of about 1,050 British miles. The boundaries towards Persia are, the mountains of Ararat and Elwend. Towards the north, the Turkish territories are divided from the Russian by the river Cuban and the chain of Caucasus. In the south, they extend to the junction of the Tigris and Euphrates, which last river separates for a considerable interval the Turkish possessions from those of the Arabs. The distance of the Cuban to the junction of the Tigris and Euphrates may be estimated at about 1,100 British miles. This extensive empire is divided into nine or ten provinces – viz. Natolia west, Karaman south, and Roum north-east; north of Armenia are Guria or Guriel, Mingrelia, and the Abkhas of Caucasus, the ancient Circassia. To the south of Armenia, also denominated Turcomania, are Curdistan and Irak-Arabi, parts of ancient Persia round the celebrated capital of Bagdad. The ancient Mesopotamia partly corresponds with the province of Algeria, [Algeria?] and Syria or Seria comprehends the celebrated countries along the eastern extremities of the Mediterranean. These, with he rest of their empire here, comprehend all the countries which are the scene of Scripture history and man's redemption, – in fact, nearly all the ancient world; and were successively conquered by them. Armenia and Georgia were subdued in the 11th century; and the whole of Asia Minor soon followed.

Successive warlike Princes acquired additional territory from the Mamelukes of Egypt and Persia. ((Syria, formerly an appendage of Egypt, was conquered by Selim II. in 1526. Tauria and Diabekir, the last of which had formerly belonged to Persia, were subjugated by the same monarch: and in 1589, Abbas, the great sovereign of Persia, was obliged to yield three provinces to the Ottomans, & though he extended his conquests to the East, & Bagdad, with the surrounding provinces of Irack Arabi, became subject to the Turks in 1638. The present limits appear to have been fixed between the Porte and Persia in 1738, since which period the Turks have been chiefly employed in defending their own territories against the Russians; all the Turkish Provinces are now divided into Governments, arbitrarily administered by Pachas, and the extent of their empire here may be altogether estimated at 10,000,000 of subjects.))

Turkey in Europe is, in its largest sense, understood to include all the countries between Russia to the north, and Bucharia to the south, and between the Caspian Sea to the west, and Chinese Tartary to the east; and according to Pilkington, extends about 870 miles in length from the northern boundary of Moldavia to Cape Matapan in the Morea; and in breadth from the river Unna to Constantinople, about 680 British miles. It is computed to contain 182,560 square miles, and takes in its extent many ancient kingdoms and republics, which, since the subjugation of its greater part in the 15th century, after the fall of Constantinople, and of the Byzantine empire, afford only the records of classical names and events; we need not name as the most interesting of these, that region above all others dear to the recollection of the scholar, Greece, the greatest subject of the present contest between Turkey and the Allied Powers, and which has now, at its commencement, been attended with such brilliant results.

((The first migration of Turks was in the sixth century, soon after which they subdued the people vulgarly called the White Huns, and founded their earliest western Government, the capital city of it being for some time called Turkestan. From the centre of this province issued those Turkish armies which have changed the destinies of many nations. The Turks and Huns may be considered as one and the same Tartaric race, totally unknown to Europe, until the appearance of the latter, who first passed the steppes, deserts, and mountains, which had concealed them from observation until the fourth century. The Huns who appeared about A. D. 375, passed in a course of uniform depredation, rapidly from Asia to Europe, but the Turks, though originally the same people separating from the Huns, made a slow and gradual progress, and appear to have been blended by marriages and conquest with the Sclavonic and Gothic tribes, on the north and east of the Caspian. Such was the origin of the name Turkestan, and from hence the Turks spread desolation over the most beautiful countries of the east, and even threatened the liberties of Europe. The following is given by Pinkerton as the principal historical epochs of their conquests in the latter:

"The first dawn of Turkish history preceding the reign of Othman occurs A. D. 1299. In the reign of his successor, Ocean, the Turks took Gallipoli, and penetrated into Thrace, so that Adrianople was taken A. D. 1660; two years after that period, Amurath established the military bands termed Jannissaries. The Turkish power was for some time restrained after the famous battle, near Ascyra, 1402, between Bajazet and Timour; nevertheless, the dominion of the Turks increased in Europe, though they received several checks from the Hungarians, under Haniades, and from the Albanians; under the famous Scanderbeg. On the 29th of May, 1453, Constantinople was taken by the Turks. Crimen and Morca were subjugated A. D. 1458, and in 1480 Oranto in Italy, was captured by the Turks. The conquest of Egypt in 1517 made a considerable addition to the Turkish power; Rhodes submitted in 1522; and soon after the battle of Mohaty, in 1526, the Sultan Solyman took Buda. In 1552 the Turks seized the Bannat of Temeswar, and they took Cyprus from the Venetians in 1571. Although after the famous naval engagement of Lepanto, in this year, their power ceased to be formidable, they invaded Hungary with various success, yet Europe obtained an interval of security by their wars with Persia. However in 1642, the Sultan Ibrahim took Azof from the Cossacks, and about the middle of this century, the Turks took possession of some Grecian Isles – after which their wars were attended with various success. The last epoch of Turkish history would lead to a detail of the Russian wars against the Turks, and the decline of the Ottoman empire in Europe. It may be observed, in general, that the Turkish dominion, wherever it has prevailed, has been detrimental in a very high degree, to the best interests of humanity, and to every improvement, mental or moral, ecclesiastical or civil."))

The appellation Ottoman, or Othman, given to the empire of the Turks, or rather to their Emperors, is from Othomannus, or Osman, the first Prince of the family, who, to distinguish them from others, gave his people the name of Osmandis – from which, by the changing of the s into t, we have made Ottoman: which new name soon became formidable to the Greeks of Constantinople, from whom Osman conquered a sufficient extent of territory to found a powerful kingdom. He soon bestowed on it that title, by assuming, in 1300, the dignity of Sultan, which signified Absolute Sovereign. The true era of the Ottoman empire may be dated from the conquest of Persia. The establishment of the Ottomans in Europe took place in 1353.

CHARACTER OF THE PEOPLE. – Though the ignorance of the Turks is extreme, their capacity for diplomatic intrigue is almost unparalleled by that of any nation in Europe. Though they are most unskilful in all warlike operations, their bravery is not to be surpassed. And though the slightest ill omen will sometimes destroy all their self-confidence, no display of mere force and no extent of defeat will move them from their purpose, as long as they believe that God and the Prophet approved the cause for which they combat. It is this particular reliance on the decrees of Heaven which has induced them to persevere so long, and, as all other people would have judged, so hopelessly, in their attempts to subdue the Greeks. No continuation of ill success has ever daunted them – no series of disasters, however long or unintermitting, has ever even dispirited them. They have now, for the sixth or seventh time, invaded, and been compelled to evacuate Greece, whose final deliverance has, at the end of every successful campaign, been declared to be accomplished; but every succeeding year has seen a new array of the undismayed invaders coming, with fresh vigour and increased force, to renew the work of destruction, in the hope that, this time, at least, the Prophet will reward their toils by the utter annihilation of the infidels. The religion of the Turks is not, like that of the Greeks, a mere form of words. The profession of a belief in predestination, and a reliance on the aid of Heaven, is as common to both as it is to the members of our own church, and each equally address their prayers to Providence for assistance, and attribute their victories, when gained, to Divine interposition. With the Christians, however, whether Greek or Protestant, this is generally a conditional sort of reliance, and exists much more in words than in deeds. With the Mahommedans, the belief in predestination is as deep-rooted as it is fervent and sincere; they act upon it to a degree which would seem incredible to those who had not been eye-witnesses to its operation. Even in their mercantile adventures, a species of pursuit in which religious belief has, amongst ourselves at least, less influence than in almost any other, they resist all temptations to secure their property, by insurance, from capture, fire, or wreck, asserting, that whatever is decreed must come to pass, and that such a mode of avoiding the evils intended to be inflicted on mankind by Fate, would be rebellion against the will of Heaven! The same principle of perfect resignation to whatever may befall them is as apparent in every other class of their transactions; so that to infer, according to the ordinary rules which affect other men, that certain consequences would follow certain events among the Turks, would be to deceive ourselves, as well as to mislead all those who place any reliance on our judgment.

The port of Navarino, in European Turkey, on the S.W. coast of the Morea, north Modon, now and henceforth rendered celebrated by the recent sanguinary conflict between the combined fleets of Turkey and Egypt and those of England, France, and Russia, in which the former were totally annihilated, is the largest in the Morea, and is said to be capable of containing 2,000 sail. It is formed by a bay of considerable extend, the entrance of chichis secured by the island of Sphacteria or Sfagia, and the north and north-west sides protected by a range of high hills. The passage leading to the bay is small, and lies between the island and the continent. The harbor thus formed is both secure and commodious. – The town of Navarino, situated on the bay, is well built, but the streets are narrow and dirty, as well as steep and uneven, from the nature of the ground; its population is about 3,000, the most of whom are Turks. It is a place of considerable trade, owing to the excellence of the port. The fortifications consist of four bastions and a citadel. The only ruins of interest are a large aqueduct, a fountain, and some marble pillars, which support the façades of the grand mosque. – Old Navarino lies at the north end of the bay, and is supposed to occupy the site of the ancient Pylos. The adjacent country, called the Plain of Navarino, is fertile and well cultivated. 72 miles S.W. of Argos, and 88 S.W. of Corinth. Long. 21. 25. E., lat. 37. 5. N. Navarino was the theatre of another tragedy in the late war, to which none but wars between the slaves and their taskmasters ever give rise. Well fortified, and possessing one of the finest harbours in Europe, this city is built in the immediate vicinity of the ancient Pylos. [Seems redundant; no explanation about war between slaves and taskmasters.] In the month of August, 1821, Navarino was ably defended by the Turks against the siege of the Greeks, who made several vigorous sorties; but, at last, every kind of sustenance being exhausted, after devouring even their slippers, they were forced to capitulate. Ypsilanti had sent one of the best and most distinguished of his friends, Tipaldo, the Cephalonian, to conduct the siege. Tipaldo was a man of virtue and abilities, who, after practicing as a physician in Bessarabia with great success, abandoned the profession to take his part in the national war, and it was his presence that chiefly induced the Turks to treat about a surrender; for such was their obstinate resolution, that they had placed barrels of gunpowder under their houses, with the intention of blowing up the town, when a longer resistance should become impossible.

The Hull Packet, 1827 Nov 27; duplicated in a much larger form in Farmer's Herald (St. Johnsbury, Vermont), 1828 Jul 08 whose portions are denoted in double-parentheses

Student Reader  |  3PMYSNQFRP
1828 June 24th

Terrifyingly prescient description of the issues which would come less than a century later with the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. Interestingly, it shows an anxiety (all the way in America) regarding barbarity. It makes me wonder about this concept. It seems to speak of an anxiety which is still present in discussions nowadays about Middle East societies. I would like to explore this continuity. Referring to "had Ali been less a barbarian" suggests being barbarian was a different socio-political ideology, if we try to really capture it. I think its commonality with jihad today is the disruptive, destabilizing, and grossly violent means of its short-term efficacy. There is also the mention of the actual Barbary.

Kurdistan is mentioned briefly, Assyria is not at all, and it is immensely helpful to note the scale of the information on European Turkey versus Asian Turkey. With most of the Ottoman population in Asian Turkey, there is but one paragraph really devoted to its regions. This suggests that Occidental readers only were interested in Turkey insofar as it directly impacted their borders.

Conrad Malte-Brun's On the Greatness and Decay of the Turkish Empire seems to have been the only authoritative book on the subject in popular consciousness at the time.

The Northern Frontiers of Turkey.

The various nations of which European Turkey is composed may be classes into five different races: Turks, Greeks, Albanians, Sclavenians, and Valachians. The two first are sufficiently well known; not so the other three, who occupy the northern provinces of the empire, from the Adriatic to the Euxine. Indeed the whole of that wide belt extending along the Save and the Danube, and north of the great chain of the Hemus mountains, is little frequented by traveller, and its topography is but vaguely ascertained. It is a region of barbarously [sic] sounding names, inhabited by a semi-barbarous people, under a more than barbarous government; and we know little of such countries as Bosnia, Croatia, Bulgaria, and Servia, beyond, the mere catalogue. As, however, in that struggle which sooner or later, [weird commas] must end in the dismemberment of the Ottoman dominions, those provinces will necessarily become the theatre of war, and as their populations cannot be neutral in such a conflict, we will endeavor to throw some light on that confused portion of European statistics.

Albania has been often confounded with Epirus. The chain of Pindus and the Aeroceraunian mountains, which are a branch of the former, divide these two provinces; Albania lying on the northern and Epirus on the southern side of the chain. Albania is the ancient Greek or Macedonian Illyrium; it extends north as far as Austrian Dalmatia. The Albanian language is peculiar, and quite different from the Sclavonian. It is possibly a remnant of the old Illyric languages which have been lost; but it has, however, many words of Greek or Latin origin. It has no written alphabet; but its sounds have much similarity with those of the French, among others the French u and the j. The Albanians call their country Skip, and themselves Skipitar. The name of Arnauts or Arvanites, which the Turks have given them, is of Greek origin. The Albanians make use of the Greek language in writing, and in all public transactions. These people appear to be a very ancient race, perhaps the descendants of the ancient Illyrians, who were once partly subjected to the kings of Macedonia and Epirus, and afterwards, in the same manner to the Romans; their remoteness and their mountains protecting them from total subjugation, as well as from the subsequent irruption of the northern barbarians. In the time of the crusades, Albania was a great thoroughfare for the western Christians, and the chroniclers of the time speak of it as a populous and warlike nation; many of the people followed the fortunes of the crusaders and spread themselves over Greece, and some districts of the Morea and of the islands, are peopled with Albanians, who have remained Christians; and, what is more remarkable, there are Albanian colonists to be found on the other side of the Adriatic, in the mountains of Abruzzo in the kingdom of Naples, who still speak a distinct language, and preserve the dress and manners of their country.

Albania is one of the most populous provinces of Turkey. It is said to contain nearly one million of inhabitants. All the men are soldiers, and they enlist, like the Swiss, into the service of various countries, without troubling themselves about the merits of the cause they fight for. They have long served in the Ottoman armies; they form an effective corps in the pay of the Pasha of Egypt, Mehemed Ali, who is himself an Albanian by birth: and they are found also in the service of the regencies of Barbary. The king of Naples used formerly to have regiments of Albanians who were considered as very good soldiers. Sober and economical, but great marauders, they amass considerable money in their campaigns; and those who survive the fortune of war return to their native valleys to end their days in comparative affluence. The Albanians have often rendered themselves formidable to the Porte. In the time of the famous Scandberg they withstood all its power; in the war of the Morea in the last century they revolted against the Ottomans; and under the late Ali Pasha they might have conquered Turkey, had Ali been less a barbarian.

The Albanians are divided into various feudal or municipal commonwealths, often at variance with one another, and they are de facto independent of the Porte. These are the Turkish governors in Albania, among whom he Pashas of Berat, and of Scondra of Scutari, are the most important: but they are generally natives; their authority is less arbitrary, and they are less dependent on the Sultan; and their office in most cases descends from father to son. The famous Ali Pasha of Jannina, having conquered two-thirds of Albania, had destroyed many of the beys or feudal despots; but since his death things have gone back to the old system. Omer Brione is now one of the principal Albanian chiefs.

The Christian Albanians, who do not amount to one-third of the population, wear arms and follow the same pursuits as their Mussulman brethren. In the event of a general invasion of the Turkish empire by the Russians, much will depend upon the conduct of the Albanians: and the power that shall have them for enemies will meet with a most formidable obstacle to its success. Under a native chief of trust and abilities, there [sic? their?] people might yet set a considerable part in the approaching crisis in the east. Little faith, however, is to be placed in them by strangers, their mercenary and lawless character being proverbial.

The country of Epirus proper lies to the south of Albania, and extends to the gulph of Ambracia, which divides it from Acarnania or western Greece. Epirus is a Greek country, in manners, religion, and language, although some of its northern and maritime districts are also peopled with Albanians, part of whom are Mussulmans; but the interior of the country is essentially Greek. Since the death of Ali Pasha this unfortunate country has been the theatre of cruel persecutions against the Christian part of the population.

To the north of Albania is situated the Turkish province of Bosnia, which is part of the ancient Mœsia; it is hemmed in between the Austrian territories of Dalmatia, Croatia, and Sclavonia, and forms the most advanced projection of the Ottoman dominions on the side of Germany. Bosnia extends as far as the river Sava, which divides it from the Austrian dominions. The Bosniacs, as well as the Serbians and Bulgarians, are of a Sclavonian race, and speak a dialect of that language, like the Dalmatians, Croats, and Sclavoians who live under the Austrian empire. The Bosniacs are robust and brave; their country was for a long time the seat of war between Austria, Venice, and the Turk; and the people have since remained in a barbarous state. A pasha rules them from his residence at Seraj. They are partly Mussulmans and partly Christians. The latter form the majority of the population, and are again subdivided between Catholic and Greek. Turkish Croatia is a small province adjoining Bosnia. The Mohamedan Bosniacs still live under a sort of hereditary feudal government; the chiefs are called Agas, and are obliged to serve the Sultan in person, accompanied by a certain number of their vassals. The troops of Bosnia and of Albania, therefore, constitute a sort of auxiliary force, like the Hungarian cavalry in the Austrian service. This very condition of those two provinces, and the difficult nature of the country, render the Bosnians and Albanians the most warlike people of Turkey.

The province or kingdom of Servia is the most civilized of the Turco-Sclavonian states. The Servian is a written language, and is considered as one of the most polished of the Sclavonian dialects.* They make use of it almost exclusively, both for civil and ecclesiastical affairs. The Serbians are Christians of the Greek church; the Mussulmans among them live in the towns. At the beginning of the last century, when Prince Eugene took Belgrade, part of the country was given up to Austria by Treaty, but was restored to the Turks in consequence of the bad success of the succeeding wars. Austria, however, still seems to claim a set of protectorate over Servia. In our times the famous Czerni Geoges revolted against the Porte; and since his death the Serbians have obtained privileges, by which they are more independent than the other Ottoman subjects. They wear arms, and have their own municipal administration.

*The Servians have a poetry. A Servian of the name of Vick has published a collection of popular poems, printed at Leipsic, in 1824, in three volumes, from which Mr. Bewring has translated some pleasing specimens.

We must say a word here of the Turkish military feudal system.

When the Ottoman Sultans conquered the territories of the Byzantine empire, they bestowed some of the lands upon the soldiers; with other portions they endowed mosques; and another part they gave for life to their own officers, or to those chieftains who had embraced Islamism. This was the case in Asia Minor, and in Albania, Bosnia, and Macedonia. An aga or feudal chief can obtain leave, for a sum of money, to bestow his fief on his son; but if he neglect this precaution, at his death the estate is sold by auction, or more often becomes the subject of petty wars between rival pretenders. According to the original custom, at the death of a feudal chieftain, his estate reverted to the Sultan, who, after drawing one year's income, bestowed it as a reward upon some officer, or on the son of an aga; but the exercise of this right is become [sic] obsolete, and even the courtiers of the Seraglio would not, among the Albanians, and Bosniacs, or the Turcomans of Asia, dare to deprive the heir of his father's property. In the Asiatic provinces all the fiefs are become [sic] hereditary by custom. The Turcoman chiefs live like patriarchs; and, in case of need, take the field with whole tribes of their shepherds and labourers. Hence the immense number of Asiatic troops which the Porte can call to its assistance. This sort of force, little available in an offensive war, would become formidable as a defense against an invader, especially were the war carried into the heart of the empire.

According to Malie-Brun there are more than nine hundred great fiefs in European Turkey, and about eight thousand of second rank, and nearly the same number in Asia. Several families, such as that of Kara Osman Oglu, and the Khans of the Crimea, have ruled for ages over entire provinces. The descendants of the latter family, who took refuge in Romania after the Russian conquest, have even pretensions to the throne of Constantinople.

The province of Bulgaria, the third Turco-Sclavonian state, extends to the east of Servia, along the southern bank of the Danube and as far as the Black Sea. It is divided on the south from Romania, by the chain of the Mount Hemus, the last natural barrier of the Ottoman capital. The Bulgarians are mostly Christians of the Greek church, speaking both Sclavonian and Greek; there are, however, more Mussulmans to be found among them than in Servia. The Bulgarians are an industrious people; their country is fertile, but they are ignorant and illiterate. Bulgaria has more than a million of inhabitants. In the event of the Russians crossing the Danube, this province will become the theatre of war. The fortresses of VIdin, of Silistria, and of Rudschuck, defend the pass of the river. Bulgaria suffered much during the last wars; and the Mussulman part of the population was nearly destroyed, partly by the sword and afterwards by the plague.

It may be observed that the Sclavonian nations have taken no part in the present Greek war. The Albanians have sent some auxiliary troops to join those of the Sultan, but they have acted in general with a sort of reserve and indifference in the struggle.

The vast provinces of Valachia and Moldavia may be now considered as virtually detached from the Ottoman Empire. These two provinces submitted in pay a tribute to the Ottomans, reserving to themselves the right of choosing their own national princes to govern them. But at the beginning of the eighteenth century the Porte deprived them of this privilege, and appointed a Greek of Constantinople to each province, under the title of Hospodar. Since that time both Greeks and Turks have enriched themselves at the expense of Valachians and Moldavians. The Hospodars are their courtiers managed to amass enormous wealth, while, on the other side, Turkish intendants came regularly every year with a firman in hand to seize sheep, butter, cheese, and wood, for the supply of the capital, at the price they chose to fix, for those two provinces were called the Sultan's pantry. Count Salaberry, in his description of Valachia, gives a frightful picture of the condition of the people: – "The criminals," says he, "condemned to workin the mines, could alone envy the fate of the poor Valachians."

The people of Valachia and Moldavia are supposed to be descendants of the Dacians, and of their Roman conquerors, with some admixture of Sclavonians. They speak a dialect or corruption of Latin, and call themselves Rumuni or Rumniasti. The people of Transylvania have the same origin: but since their annexation to the Austrian Empire they have become much Germanized. Under the government of the Greek Hospodars in the two principalities, many of the native noble or boyards have enfranchised their serfs and enabled them to acquire property. The sons of the boyards frequented the European schools, and colleges have been founded at Jassy and Bucharest. The Rumniasti language has hardly any literature, except some books of prayers. M. Rosetti, a gentleman of Bucharest, residing at Leipsic, has lately made an attempt to establish a journal in that language. The Valachians are a fine race, and their women remarkably handsome. They are a mild and intelligent people, although indolent and ignorant. Their country, as well as Moldavia, is naturally very fertile. The name of Valachians, which means, in Sclavonian, shepherds, was given to them in consequence of the early emigrations of these people with their cattle in the south of the Danube; and many of their descendants inhabit to this day the chain of Mount Pindus, and several parts of Macedonia and Thracia, where they lead a pastoral life in its almost primitive simplicity. They had built a town in Macedonia, called Voscopolois, which was very flourishing a century ago; but the Albania [sic] marauders destroyed it, and the people emigrated into Hungary, where the Valachians constitute a considerably part of the population of that kingdom, preserving their language and manners distinct from the Sclavonian and Magyar, or Hungarian populations.

The Valachians and Moldovians are almost all Christians of the Greek church, and they have adopted the Sclavonian alphabet. Valachia reckons something less than a million of inhabitants, and Moldavia about half that number. Formerly Moldavia extended also beyond the Pruth; but the Russian conquests fixed that River as the boundary.

The greatest confusion prevails generally in Turkish statistics. The Turks keep no registers, and it is only by comparison and approximation that we can get at the probably numbers of the population of the countries under their dominion. Even the capitation tax is not a safe guide for reckoning the Christian population; for it appears that the gross amount of the tax upon a whole province being once fixed, no attention is paid to the decrease of inhabitants which has taken place in almost every Turkish country, and the repartition only falls heavier on the survivors. The calculation of traveller and of geographers differ, therefore, considerable [sic] upon this point. Taking a medium, the probably amount appears to be nearly the following:

Population of European Turkey.

Valachia and Moldavia




Bosnia, Croatia, and Herzegouina










Roumelia, or Thrace




Greece Proper, Morea, and the Islands




Dividing this population by races, we have about three millions of Greeks, two millions and a half Sclavonians, two millions Turks, nearly one million Albanians, and one million and a half Valachians, or Rumniasty. [Spelling difference.] The Greeks and Turks are scattered in every province, and the Albanians and Valachians are also found in colonies out of their respective countries. Again, if we classify the population by religions, we have about three millions of Mussulmans, including the Albanian and Sclavonian proselytes, six millions of Christians of the Greek Church, not quite half a million of Catholics, and the rest Jews.

With regard to Asiatic Turkey the calculations are still more uncertain. Asia Minor, or Anadouli, as the Turks call its supposed to contain about five millions, almost all are Mussulmans and genuine Turks; Syria about three millions, Armenia a million and a half, and the country between Mesopotamia, Iran, and Curdistan, two millions, making about eleven millions and a half in Asiatic Turkey, and about twenty-one millions for the whole Ottoman empire, Egypt not included. Out of all these immense territories, Asia Minor is the only part where the Turks constitute really the mass of the population, as it was the cradle of their empire. For the rest, with the exception of Constantinople, they may be considered as military colonists. They garrison the fortresses, fill up all the offices, or live upon feudal income, government salaries, monopolies, and extortions upon the unbelievers. They are all armed, and expected to do military duty. Few of them cultivate the ground. It must also be observed, that among the European Turks only a small proportion are of Turkish origin, or Osmanices, their number having been swelled up by renegades from all the countries submitted to their sway.

At present time, when writers on eastern affairs are either infected with a real or pretended admiration of the Turkish character, or given to the opposite excess, of despising, beyond all justice, the people, their habits, and their institutions, we may refer our readers to an author who writes sensibly and impartially, and who was not carried away by any particular hostility to the Ottoman. The late M. Malte Brun, in his memoir, 'On the Greatness and Decay of the Turkish Empire,' published since the beginning of the present Greek war, has examined the probabilities as to the fate of that state. In answer to the question, Have the Turks degenerated from what their ancestors were at the epoch of the conquest? he affirms that the Turks, as a body, have now the same character and the same qualities, good and bad, with which the authors of the fifteenth century have represented them. Indolent when at peace, sanguinary if irritated, grasping and oppressive with their subjects, but honest towards strangers; they destroy villages and found hospitals; they respect their oaths, but despise our principles of public right; they are alive to a sentiment of honour, but insensible to pity; they are attached to the monarchy, though they revolt against the reigning sultan; they are gross and sensual in their ideas of pleasure, though moderate in the indulgence of their passions, and they bear, without murmuring, a sudden transition from luxury to privations; they are generally good parents and husbands, in spite of polygamy, which is, however, not universal among them, and is with most a matter only of vanity and pomp; they are capable of exalted friendships, but also prone to atrocious revenge; their courage is sometimes displayed by an almost chivalric temerity, and at other times by a stoical indifference; they will rush regardless of numbers into the enemy's ranks, or allow themselves to be slaughtered with the pipe in their mouth; they pass with inconceivable calmness from a palace to exile; from a throne to the scaffold; they lay down their life with the same coolness with which they have immolated their victims, for they consider themselves as the humble slaves or fearful ministers of an irrevocable destiny.

The National Gazette, 1828 Jun 24

Student Reader  |  CBK4YB42J7
1828 September 27th

Fascinating popular history of Turkey disseminated in newspapers,


Turkey, a country which at present attracts more than usual interest, is one of the largest, as it has been one of the most powerful empires of the Eastern Continent. It embraces part of Europe, Asia and Arica. Turkey in Europe, is bounded on the North by Russia, Poland and Sclavonia; East by the Black Sea, the sea of Marmora, and the Archipelago; South by the Mediterranean; West by that Sea, and the Venetian and Austrian territories – and contains the province of Bessarabia, Moldavia, Wallachia, Bulgaria, Servia, Bosnia, Romania, Macedonia, Janna, Livadia, Albania, part of Croatia and Dalmatia, and the Morea or ancient Greece. These countries lie between 36 and 49 degrees of North latitude, extending 1000 miles in length, and 900 in breadth. Turkey in Asia, is bounded on its several sides by the Black Sea and Circassia, by Persia, Arabia, and the Mediterranean, and by the Archipelago, the sea of Marmora, and the straits of Constantinople. It lies between 28 and 45 degrees N. latitude, extended 1000 miles in length, and 800 miles in breadth, comprehending the countries of Irack Arabia, Diarbic, Curdistan, Armenia, part of Circassia, Natolia and Syria, with Palestine or the Holy Land. In Africa, the Turks have a precarious sovereignty over Egypt, and the coast of Barbary, comprehending Tunis, Algiers, Tripoli and Morocco. Constantinople, (called by the Turks Istamboul) enjoying perhaps the finest situation in the world, is the capital of all Turkey.

The reader will at once observe that these limits include a large share of the fairest and most famous portions of the earth; the Troad with all its interesting associations, the Hellespont where Xerxes bridged, and with Leander swan, [swam?] Colchis the country of Medea and the golden fleece, Macedonia the country of Philip and Alexander; 'Land of Albania which Iskander rose,' and his equal the renewed Ali Pacha; Athens, Corinth, Lacedemon, with Marathon, Platea, and 'thy glorious gulf unconquered Salamis;' Carthage, Thebes, the Pyramids, the countries of Sesostris, Hannibal, and Jugurtha, of Dido and Cleopatra.

The Turks became a separate and independent people about the year A. D. 545. Their original country was that ridge of mountains which at the equal distance of 2000 miles from the Caspian, the Icy, the Chinese, and the Bengal seas, forms the centre and perhaps the summit of Asia; and which, in the language of different nations, has been styled Imaus and Can, and Altai, and the Golden mountains, and the Girdle of the Earth.

The sides of these hills were productive of minerals; and the iron forges, for the purpose of war, were exercised by the Turks, the most despised portion of he slaves of the great khan of the Geougen. But a bold and eloquent leader having arisen among them, they were persuaded that that the same arms which they forged for their masters might become in their own hands the instruments of freedom and victory. They sallied from the mountain, and a sceptre was the reward of his advice. Like Romulus, the founder of this martial people was suckled by a she-wolf, and the representation of that animal int he banners of the Turks, preserved the memory, or rather suggested the idea of a fable, which was invented, without any mutual intercourse, by the shepherd of Latium, and those of Scythia. The power of this empire was limited to a period of two hundred years, and extended from Kamtschatka on the North, to the borders of China, Persia, and the lake Mæotis. Their religion at this time was that of rude and simple pagans. The honors of sacrifice were reserved for the supreme deity; they acknowledged, in rude hymns, their obligations to fire, air, the water, and the earth.

The revival of the name and dominion of the Turks in the southern countries of Asia are the events of a later age, of which we shall proceed to give a rapid sketch.

In the year 622 of the Christian era, Mahomet laid the foundation of a new religion, which, by the arms of his followers, was spread with such rapidity, that at the end of the first century of the Hegira, the Caliphs were the most potent and absolute monarchs of the globe. Their empire extended from the confines of India and Tartary, including Africa and Spain, to the shores of the Atlantic ocean. But when the Arabian conquerors had spread themselves over the East, and were mingled with the servile crowds of Persia, Syria and Egypt, they insensibly lost the martial and freeborn virtues of the desert; and with Motassem, the eighth of the Abbasides, (A.D. 841) the glory of his family and nation expired. The active power of enthusiasm had decayed, and the mercenary forces of the Caliphs were recruited in those climates of the North, of which valor is the hardy and spontaneous production. Of the Turks who dwelt beyond the Oxus and Jaxartes, the robust youth, either taken in war, or purchased in trade, were educated in the exercises of the field, and the profession of the Mahometan faith. The Turkish guards stood in arms round the throne of their benefactor, and their chiefs usurped the dominion of the palace and the provinces. Motassem, the first author of this dangerous example, introduced into the capital of Bagdad above fifty fifty thousand Turks; and it soon came to pass that as often as they were inflamed by fear, or rage, or avarice, the Caliphs were dragged by the feet, exposed, beaten with iron clubs, and compelled to purchase, by the abdication of their dignity, a short reprieve of inevitable fate. A branch of the Turks had penetrated into Hungary, and when their black swarm first hung over Europe, about 900 years after the Christian era, they were mistaken, by fear and superstition, for the Gog and Magog of the Scriptures, the signs and forerunners of the end of the world. They are described at this time as the most warlike of the Scythian hordes, pagans in religion, and savage in manners; slow in speech, in action prompt, in treaty perfidious – their native and deadly weapon was the Tartar bow. They approached in their settlement the common limits of the French and Byzantine empires, and made dreadful inroads into the southern countries of Europe. The emperor of Constantinople, from his capital, even beheld the waving banners of the Hungarian Turks, and one of the boldest warriors presumed to strike a battle axe into the golden gate. The deliverance of Germany and Christendom was achieved by the Saxon princes, Henry the Fowler, and Otho the Great, who in two memorable battles (A. D. 935-55) forever broke the power of the Hungarians.

From hence the reader must transport himself beyond the Caspian sea, to the original seat of the Turks or Turkmans, against whom the first crusade was principally directed. Their Scythian empire of the sixth century was long since dissolved; but the name was still famous among the Greeks and Orientals; and the fragments of the nation, each a powerful and independent people, were scattered over the desert fromChina to Oxus and the Danube: the colony of Hungarians was admitted into the republic of Europe, and the thrones of Asia were occupied by slaves and soldiers of Turkish extraction. In the course of the eleventh century, a swarm of these northern shepherd overspread the kingdoms of Persia; their princes of the race of Seljuk erected a splendid and solid empire from Samarcand to the confines of Greece and Egypt; and the Turks have naintained [sic] their dominion in Asia Minor, till the victorious crescent has been planted on the dome of St. Sophia.

This great event was accomplished by Mahomet the second, A. D. 1453, when the city of Constantinople, after a seige [sic] of 53 days, yielded to the Turkish or Ottoman conqueror. Those provinces in Europe which we have already enumerated, successively yielded to the Turkish arms, and the wave of conquest was not stayed until it touched the imperial walls of Vienna; which in 1683 was closely besieged, and was received from capture, only by John Sobieski the 3d, the celebrated and valiant king of Poland, that country which Christendom in general, and Austria in particular, have so gratefully rewarded.

Newbern Spectator, 1828 Sep 27