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Héritages de Byzance en Europe du Sud-Est à l’époque moderne et contemporaine

 | 
Olivier Delouis
, 
Anne Couderc
, 
Petre Guran

Failed Nations and Usable Pasts: Byzantium as Transcendence in the Political Writings of Iakovos Pitzipios Bey

Jack Fairey

Résumé

The subject of this article is the place of Byzantium in the political and historiographical thought of the “Byzantine Union” (Vyzantini Enosis), a failed nationalist association in the mid-19th- century Ottoman Empire. Whereas other nationalist movements sought to divide the Near East into a collection of ethnic states, the Byzantine Union called instead for the creation of a reunified and reformed Byzantine Empire which would embrace all of the various peoples and religions of the region. In its attempts to provide an ideological basis for this common future, the Union constructed a unique vision of the shared Byzantine past which differed strongly from the standard historiographies of the time. Something of the origins and development of the Byzantine Union will be described, with particular attention paid to the life and writings of the society’s ideologue, Iakovos Pitzipios (1802-ca 1869).

Note de l’éditeur

Abbreviations:

Pitzipios Iakovos 1858 = Pitzipios Iakovos, L’Orient. Les réformes de l’Empire byzantin, Paris.

Pitzipios Iakovos 1860a = Pitzipios Iakovos, The Eastern Question Solved. In a Letter to Lord Palmerston, London.

Pitzipios Iakovos 1860b = Pitzipios Iakovos, Le Romanisme, Paris.

Pitzipios Iakovos 1860c = Pitzipios Iakovos, La question d’Orient en 1860, ou la grande crise de l’Empire byzantin, Paris.

Tamborra Angelo 1969 = Tamborra Angelo, “J. G. Pitzipios e la sua attività fra Roma e Costantinopoli all’epoca di Pio IX (1848-1868)”, Balkan Studies 10, p. 51-68.

Tziovas Dimitris 1995 = Tziovas Dimitris, “Εἰσαγωγή”, in Pitzipios Iakovos, Ἡ ὀρφανὴ τῆς Χίου, ἢ ὁ θρίαμβος τῆς ἀρετῆς. Ὁ Πίθηκος Ξούθ, ἢ τὰ ἤθη τοῦ αἰῶνος, Athens.

Texte intégral

1On Tuesday, May 29, 1453, the armies of Mehmed the Conqueror breached the walls of Constantinople and, in the process, ushered the eastern Roman Empire off the stage of history. Although most of the physical infrastructure of Byzantium survived this conquest intact, it is generally understood that the shores of the Bosporus became home to an entirely new political entity, the Ottoman Empire, built on a very different set of religious, cultural, and political foundations from its predecessor. The story of Byzantium and its fall is thus usually framed as a watershed moment of separation in the history of the Near East, marking the destruction and displacement of one civilization and the triumph of another. The fracture lines that ramified from that cataclysmic event ran not only between the new state and the old, but also within and between communities as some embraced the new regime and others held fast to the memory of Byzantium. The resulting dichotomy between Byzantine and Ottoman, Christian and Muslim, Greek and Turk became one of the single most salient features of political and cultural life in the eastern Mediterranean. The understanding on both sides that Byzantium was culturally, even racially, distinct from the Ottoman Empire encouraged Christians to look forward to a future moment of restoration which would right historic wrongs and disentangle their two irreconcilable peoples.

  • 1 Kyriakidis Epameinondas, Ἱστορία τοῦ συγχρόνου ἑλληνισμοῦ ἀπὸ τῆς ἱδρύσεως τοῦ βασιλείου τῆς Ἑλλάδο (...)

2 As one eminent Greek historian declared in 1892, the struggle for an independent Greek state began not in 1821 but the day following the fall of Constantinople.1

  • 2 For some outstanding modern examples, see: gibbons Herbert, The Foundation of the Ottoman Empire, O (...)

3Historical events themselves, however, do not impose this particular understanding of Byzantium as a trope of nemesis and division. Alternative historiographies are possible and have become increasingly popular which stress the elements of continuity between the Byzantine and Ottoman empires.2 Already in the mid-nineteenth century, one Ottoman organization known as the “Byzantine Union” (Vyzantini Enosi) rejected the entire historical schema just described in favour of a very different vision of Byzantium and its historical legacy for the peoples of the Near East. It was impossible, the general director of the Union declared in 1858, for any wall of separation to divide Ottomans from Byzantines for the simple reason that the Byzantine Empire had never ceased to exist. There was, the director admitted:

  • 3 Pitzipios Iakovos 1858, p. ix.

“… an Ottoman or Turkish Mohammedan dynasty seated on the throne previously occupied by the Christian princes of 34 different dynasties, but there has never been a Turkish or Ottoman empire. There has existed and continues to exist nothing but a Byzantine Empire. That empire… might very well change its dynasty, but it cannot lose its name or change its nature. Similarly, the different peoples of that empire cannot have any other collective name than that of Byzantines, the name which history gave to their fathers.”3

4By way of analogy, he pointed out that the Norman invasion of England in 1066 had introduced a new dynasty, language, and culture into that country, yet no one imagined that these changes abrogated the essential underlying continuity of England or of the English nation. Nor had the later conversion of the ruling dynasty from Catholicism to Protestantism broken this continuity. Nations retained their identity despite the accidents of history, and Byzantium was no exception. Throughout the entire Near East, a single race underlay the region’s busy mosaic of ethnicities and religions: one Byzantine nation united by a common history, culture, national spirit, and destiny. The members of the Byzantine Union were convinced that the future of the Near East, and of Europe itself, hinged upon the realization of this fundamental truth.

5 Such a bold re-imagination of Byzantium as a motif of transcendence rather than division was uncommon in the mid-1800s, but it was not an isolated aberration. The Byzantine Union had formulated its ideas in response to the rapidly changing political order of the Near East and reflectedthe struggle of Orthodox Christians to find a new place within that order. Most Ottoman Christians reacted to the crises of Ottoman imperial decline in the nineteenth century by taking refuge in the various nationalist movements that promised to improve their lives through the formation of new ethnically-defined states. The Byzantine Union, in contrast, sought to reform the Ottoman Empire from within and to construct a new identity that would allow non-Muslims to feel both fully Christian and fully Ottoman. The result was a fascinating synthesis of Greek Orthodox tradition, Western Liberalism, and the official Ottoman nationalism (Osmanlılık) promoted by the imperial government. The Union thus deserves recognition as one of the earliest non-official expressions of a pan-Ottoman civic nationalism.

6In addition to reviewing the history and ideas of the Union, this paper will also look briefly at the three factors which doomed this particular vision of Byzantium to oblivion: 1) the specific policies and decisions of the Union’s founder; 2) the obstacles presented by religious antagonisms; and 3) the apathetic or hostile responses of the Ottoman government and elites.

Iakovos Pitzipios Bey and the Byzantine Union

  • 4 “Iakovos Pitzipios” will be the name used throughout this paper, but it should be noted that Pitzip (...)

7Specialists in the modern history of the Ottoman Empire or of the Balkans should not be distressed if the existence of the Byzantine Union has hitherto escaped their notice as even in its own time the society was little known. The obscurity of the organization derives in part from its original formation as a secret society – one of the plethora of such associations that flourished in the early nineteenth-century Mediterranean, from the Filiki Etairia to the Carbonari. More importantly, however, the Union remained obscure because of its failure to achieve a popular following even after its decision to go public in the early 1850s. Today, virtually all that is known about the Byzantine Union comes from the writings of Iakovos Pitzipios Bey, a minor Ottoman writer and official who also served as the general director and ideologue of the organization.4 Indeed, it must be admitted from the outset that the Union seems never to have amounted to much more than Pitzipios and his intimate circle of friends and supporters. The story of the Union and of Pitzipios Bey himself are thus to all intents and purposes identical.

  • 5 Vapereau Louis G. (ed.), Dictionnaire universel des contemporains contenant toutes les personnes no (...)
  • 6 Vapereau Louis G. (supra), p. 1458. Also see: tziovas Dimitris 1995, p. 10.
  • 7 “I experienced in early life”, as he later wrote, “the misfortune of losing my country and my home” (...)
  • 8 Pitzipiosiakovos, Ἡ ὀρφανὴ τῆς Χίου, ἢ ὁ θρίαμβος τῆς ἀρετῆς, Hermoupolis, 1839. Pitzipios is best (...)

8From what can be gathered, Iakovos Pitzipios was born in the central town of Chora on the island of Chios on July 19, 1802, where his father was a teacher belonging to a local notable family.5 In keeping with this relatively privileged background, Pitzipios received the best schooling available on the Chios of his day and in 1820 he went on to Paris to pursue a course of legal studies. His arrival in Paris coincided with a particularly momentous period in the history of the Near East, however, and his studies were interrupted after only six months by the outbreak of the Greek War of Independence in March 1821. Like many educated and idealistic young men of his generation, Pitzipios joined the secret revolutionary organization, the Friendly Society (Filiki Etairia), and travelled to the Black Sea in order to take part in their ill-fated invasion of the Danubian Principalities.6 Pitzipios’s subsequent experiences, however, shook his youthful enthusiasm for the Greek national cause. The first shock came in the summer of 1821 when Ottoman troops arrived in Wallachia and made short work of Pitzipios and his fractious comrades in arms. The following year, Ottoman irregulars carried out devastating reprisals against Pitzipios’s homeland of Chios. The massacre and enslavement of the greater part of the island’s population made a deep impression on Pitzipios, inspiring him to write one of the earliest novels in modern Greek literature.7 The resulting work, entitled The Orphan of Chios, or the Triumph of Virtue, was a romantic, if rather overwrought, story of two young, star-crossed lovers who survive the destruction of their island.8

  • 9 Vapereau Louis G. (n. 5), p. 1458.
  • 10 Ibid.; also Tziovas Dimitris 1995, p. 12. Pitzipios seems to claim on the first page of The Eastern (...)

9With the creation of a new Kingdom of Greece by the Great Powers in 1830, it appeared at first that Pitzipios would be rewarded for his services to the national cause with a minor bureaucratic posting.9 In what would become a recurring pattern throughout Pitzipios’s life, however, this recognition proved ephemeral, evaporating shortly after his arrival in Greece in the wake of the turmoil that followed the assassination of President Ioannis Capodistrias in 1831. Although Pitzipios found a substitute position teaching at the Gymnasium of Hermopolis, this similarly came to an abrupt end with his dismissal in 1841. Disillusioned by these failures and by the discrimination he experienced from local Greeks as a heterauchthon (Ottoman Greek), Pitzipios returned to the Ottoman Empire in 1843 and officially reclaimed his status as a reaya or subject of the sultan.10

  • 11 These newspapers were: Ὁ φανὸς τῆς Μεσογείου (1844), Σωτὴρ τοῦ 1845 (1845), and Ἀποθήκη τῶν ὠφελίμω (...)
  • 12 This appointment is the most persuasive piece of evidence disproving the assertion made by some tha (...)
  • 13 The exact nature of the scandal at the Great School is unclear. According to one account, a group o (...)

10Over the course of the next decade, Pitzipios attempted to carve out a niche for himself in Ottoman society by putting his education and skills at the service of Sultan Abdülmecid’s campaign to modernize and reform the Empire. He thus founded and edited several short-lived Greek periodicals dedicated to the dissemination of “useful knowledge”,11 and in 1849 became the first layman to be appointed Director of the “Great School” of the Orthodox Community in Kuruçeşme.12 Lasting success proved elusive in each case, however, and he was forced to resign from the directorate of the Great School after only three months when students rioted against his administration.13

11Throughout this same period, Pitzipios submitted several memoranda on current affairs to the Ottoman foreign ministry in hopes of obtaining a position in the Ottoman civil service. Among these suggestions, Pitzipios particularly urged the Sublime Porte to establish a pro-Ottoman secret society that would promote loyalty to the sultan and work for the consolidation of the various subject nationalities into a single political nation. When the Porte ignored this suggestion, Pitzipios struck out on his own. “From the year 1844”, he later wrote:

  • 14 Pitzipios Iakovos 1860a, p. 1.

“… a secret society, the Byzantine Union, was at work in the East, of which I was one of the three founders. The object of this society was to bring about a fusion of all the political, social, and religious elements of the Byzantine population without distinction.”14

  • 15 Pitzipios Iakovos 1860b, p. 382. It is difficult to know quite what to make of this particular clai (...)

12Pitzipios never revealed much more about the circumstances of the creation of the Union or the identities of its other members, except to claim an Albanian notable from Vlorë, Zenel Gjoleka, as one of the cofounders.15

  • 16 So assiduously did Pitzipios curry favour with the British embassy that by 1851 a visitor to Istanb (...)
  • 17 Pitzipiosiakovos 1860a, p. 2; Tziovas Dimitris 1995, p. 13. Some sources mistakenly give the date o (...)
  • 18 The British attaché, William Doria, managed to convince Sâmî Pasha to retain Pitzipios, but he note (...)

13Although Pitzipios’s memoranda failed to make any impact on the Ottoman Foreign Ministry, they did attract the interest and favourable comment of the British ambassador to Constantinople, Lord Stratford Canning.16 Pitzipios made the most of this powerful patron and managed to secure a bureaucratic posting – along with the coveted title of bey – on November 17, 1850.17 His appointment was to act as secretary and interpreter to an imperial commission charged with the task of inspecting the progress of the Tanzimat reforms in the European provinces of the Empire. Only a few short months into his appointment, however, Pitzipios fell foul of his new superior, Abdurrahman Sâmî Pasha, being accused by the latter of corruption and of undermining the Inspector’s authority among the local Christian notables.18 Perhaps as a result, the Porte did not reappoint Pitzipios in the summer of 1850 when it dissolved the commission and reassigned Sami Pasha to the governorship of Bosnia. By 1852, Pitzipios seems to have made enough enemies that he felt need to leave the Ottoman Empire and go into self-imposed exile on Malta.

  • 19 Pitzipios Iakovos, Ὁ Ἀνατολικὸς Χριστιανός, ἢ ἐπιστολαὶ περὶ τῆς ἐνεστώσης κυβερνήσεως τῆς ἐν Κωνστ (...)

14From Malta, Pitzipios gave vent to his professional and private frustrations by producing what would become his most influential and widely-read book during his own time: The Eastern Christian (Ὁ Ἀνατολικὸς Χριστιανός).19 This stinging exposé of the contemporary state of the Orthodox Community in the Ottoman Empire marked Pitzipios’s transition from aspiring member of the neo-Phanariote elite to one of that establishment’s most outspoken critics. The entire structure of Ottoman Christian society, Pitzipios declared, was hopelessly dysfunctional, while corruption, simony, and administrative malfeasance. These charges were hardly a revelation to the Ottoman public, but they had rarely been stated in print so uncompromisingly and with such a wealth of scandalous anecdotal evidence. Not content with naming those most immediately implicated in this state of affairs, Pitzipios directed his fire at the heart of the problem: the institutionalized division of Ottoman society by religion. For centuries, non-Muslims in the Ottoman Empire had been organized into autonomous religious communities (millet) under the effective authority of their respective clergies. A Muslim and a Christian belonging to the same locale and economic class thus paid different taxes, were subject to different laws, and enjoyed different rights and responsibilities. Although Pitzipios was careful not to implicate the Ottoman government too directly in this critique, he argued forcefully that the time had come for the state to abrogate these divisions, strip the Orthodox clergy of their temporal powers, and unite all Ottoman subjects under a single rule of law.

  • 20 De Riancey Henri, “De l’Église orientale”, L’Ami de la Religion 170, 5894 (20 décembre 1855), p. 69 (...)

15The publication of The Eastern Christian had both immediate and long-term consequences for Pitzipios. In the short term, he acquired considerable notoriety not only within the Orthodox world but also in Europe, especially among those Catholics and Protestants who read Pitzipios’s revelations about the state of the Eastern Church with a certain amount of schadenfreude. By 1854, The Eastern Christian had become so widely read and commented upon that the Orthodox hierarchy under Patriarch Anthimos VI of Constantinople felt constrained to make a formal response. A special meeting of the Holy Synod was convoked in 1854 to prepare a rebuttal of Pitzipios’s claims and to declare an anathema against Pitzipios himself.20 Henceforward, Pitzipios faced enormous challenges in attempting to propagate his views among fellow Ottoman Christians as anyone associated with him incurred the risk of excommunication.

16Pitzipios was, however, by no means ready to let his new notoriety prevent him from playing a role in the affairs of the Near East. Having pondered the problems of the region for most of his adult life, Pitzipios had become convinced that the true roots of the “Eastern Question” lay in the deeper cultural and religious divisions which had broken up the Mediterranean world into Western Christian, Eastern Christian, and Muslim blocks. As a critical step towards the healing of these divisions, Pitzipios believed the time had come for the reunification of the Catholic and Orthodox churches. As a first gesture, he declared his own personal submission to the Papacy and had the name of the “Byzantine Union” changed to the “Oriental Christian Society” (Christianiki Anatoliki Etairia) in order to reflect the new shift in emphasis. Such a submission further compromised Pitzipios’s reputation among Orthodox Christians, who henceforward saw his excommunication as entirely warranted.

17There were potential rewards as well as risks to association with the Catholic Church, and in 1853 Pitzipios travelled to Rome in hopes of securing financial and moral support for his work. Miraculously, he managed to secure a personal interview first with Cardinal Giacomo Antonelli and then with Pope Pius IX, both of whom he charmed into lending full pontifical support for the rechristened Oriental Christian Society. It was agreed that the Society was to become an instrument for promoting:

  • 21 Pitzipios Iakovos 1860b, p. 392-393.

“… the Christianization of the government of the Byzantine Empire, the reunification of the Church and the establishment of its complete independence from all temporal authority, and the emancipation of all the oppressed nationalities of the East and of the Italian Peninsula.”21

  • 22 Πρόγραμμα τῆς Χριστιανικῆς Ἀνατολικῆς Ἑταιρείας, Paris, 1853.
  • 23 Tamborra Angelo 1969, p. 61.

18Flushed with this triumph, Pitzipios set himself up in Paris as the official representative in Europe of the Byzantine Union/Oriental Christian Society and as self-proclaimed expert on the problems of the East. From these new headquarters, Pitzipios produced a slow but steady stream of works with such modest titles as: The Eastern Question Solved and The Reform of the Byzantine Empire. A constitution was drawn up for the Oriental Christian Society, donations were sollicited, and subscriptions were started to fund the publication of further titles.22 Plans were even bruited, with the support of the Bishop of Paris, for the construction of a special chapel and a school in Paris for the education of Eastern Christian students.23

  • 24 The Comte Arthur de Grandeffe, for example, recalled being quite taken with Pitzipios and his ideas (...)
  • 25 See, for example: de Riancey Henri, “L’Église Orientale”, L’Ami de la Religion 169, 5894 (18 septem (...)
  • 26 Saint-Marc Girardin, “Controverses sur la question d’Orient”, Revue des Deux Mondes, 2e période, 30 (...)

19For once in his life, Pitzipios was in tune with the times. The period of his arrival in Paris coincided with the steady degeneration of the Holy Places Dispute into an armed conflict between Russia on the one side and France, Britain, and the Ottoman Empire on the other. Interest in the East rose dramatically in France during the Crimean War years, and anyone who could claim authoritative knowledge found a ready audience. Pious Catholics were further attracted by Pitzipios’s claims that he could somehow bring an end to the great schism which had divided Eastern from Western Christians and which now seemed, indirectly, to have plunged the Great Powers into a bloody and futile war.24 A gauge of Pitzipios’s success in attracting public attention is the fact that such widely-read periodicals as L’Univers, L’Ami de la Religion, and La Revue des Deux Mondes reviewed and generally approved of his publications.25 One typical reviewer even declared himself ready to cast his “vote for the Byzantine Empire of M. Pitzipios”, despite its many exaggerated and implausible elements.26

  • 27 The first of these, On the Fourth Guarantee, or that which relates to the Privileges of diverse Chr (...)

20Under such circumstances, Pitzipios reached the height of his influence in 1856 during the peace talks that were held in Paris to bring an end to the Crimean War. In one of the crowning successes of Pitzipios’s career, the Ottoman grand vizier, Mehmed Emin Âli Pasha, even invited the writer to a private interview at the Ottoman delegation’s lodgings in Paris. Pitzipios eagerly seized this opportunity to promote the Oriental Christian Society, which he now increasingly reverted to calling the Byzantine Union. At Âli Pasha’s invitation, Pitzipios submitted two new memoranda to the Ottoman delegation on the question of domestic reforms.27

  • 28 Pitzipios Iakovos 1858, p. i; pitzipios Iakovos 1860a, p. 13.
  • 29 Pitzipios Iakovos 1860a, p. 5, 8 and 13.
  • 30 Pitzipios claimed, rather implausibly, that the Byzantine Union was actually affiliated with member (...)

21Although Pitzipios was to make further submissions to successive Ottoman foreign ministers over the next decade, the prospects for his reintegration into Ottoman service quickly faded as Pitzipios persisted in acting more like an exiled dissident than a loyal spokesman abroad. Although Pitzipios professed devotion to the Ottoman dynasty and even dedicated one of his books to Sultan Abdülmecid, he struck a defiant stance on a range of sensitive issues and declared himself to be a “member of the Byzantine opposition”.28 By the end of the 1850s, he had gone from tasking the leading Ottoman ministers with incompetence to identifying them as the primary cause of all the Empire’s problems. He accused them of active sabotage and even of instigating massacres of Christians for selfish interests.29 Pitzipios’s decision to applaud and identify his organization with the abortive “Kuleli” uprising of Muslim conservatives in September of 1859 would have sealed his complete alienation from the Sublime Porte.30

  • 31 Pitzipios to Cardinal Alessandro Barnabò, Paris, 25 novembre 1856; Archivio Storico della Congregaz (...)

22In the meantime, the modest influence which Pitzipios had enjoyed in Paris during the mid-and late-1850s evaporated as the tide of political events shifted from the Ottoman Empire to Central Europe, drawing public attention with it. Pitzipios fully supported the policies of Napoleon III on Italian and German unification, but such support did not make him any new political friends. Instead, Pitzipios’s views on Italy set him on a collision course with the Catholic Church. Pitzipios had been disatisfied since at least 1856 with the support he received from Rome, but papal patronage was still essential to Pitzipios’s position and fundraising efforts in France.31 It is therefore a testimony to Pitzipios’s extraordinarily poor judgment that he should have chosen this particular juncture to fall out with the Vatican.

  • 32 Pitzipios Iakovos 1860b, p. 123, 142-143, 251-252.
  • 33 Id., Encyclique du directeur général de la Société chrétienne orientale adressée à messieurs les me (...)

23In 1860, Pitzipios published Romanism, his most original and ambitious political work, but also a book that the Vatican was certain to see as a betrayal. In Romanism, Pitzipios systematically criticized the Papacy as a political institution. He called for Italian unification and the termination of the Church’s temporal authority. Worse, Pitzipios rejected several theological and ecclesiastical policies that Pius IX warmly endorsed. The doctrine of papal infallibility was regressive, Pitzipios declared, while Pius’s support for Eastern Rite Catholicism was an insult to Byzantine Christians. The monarchism of the traditional Papacy was similarly backward and ought to be replaced by the Orthodox model of decentralized ecclesiastical governance, which Pitzipios explicitly held up as superior.32 In 1862, the break was finally formalized when Pitzipios issued a formal encyclical informing members of the Eastern Christian Society that Pope Pius IX had estranged himself from the Society and from the Universal, Catholic, and Apostolic Church by promoting sectarian divisions between Eastern and Western Christians.33

  • 34 Tziovas Dimitris 1995, p. 25. For Pitzipios’s desperate attempts first to restart the Society in Tu (...)
  • 35 The details and circumstances of Pitzipios’s death are disputed, with even the year of his death be (...)

24In the absence of any clear constituency or patron, Pitzipios’s position quickly deteriorated. He wandered from London to Turin and then Vienna in a vain search for a new home and sponsors for the Society, before circumstances finally forced him to return to Istanbul in 1865.34 He spent his final few years in obscurity and isolation, distrusted by the Ottoman government and loathed by other Christians. We find no mention of the Byzantine Union after 1860 nor any indication that it continued to function after Pitzipios’s apparent suicide (or possible murder) sometime around 1869.35

Historiographical vision and policies

  • 36 For a good introductory overview of popular perceptions of Byzantium and the Great Idea, see: Clogg(...)
  • 37 That the latter was the most decisive qualification can be seen from formulations such as the first (...)

25For Pitzipios, and thus for the Byzantine Union/Eastern Christian Society, the key to resolving all the myriad problems of the East lay in realizing the underlying unity of the Byzantine and Ottoman empires and therefore of all the peoples inhabiting the region. In territorial terms, at least, Pitzipios’s identification of the two empires differed little from the views of the overwhelming majority of Greeks, who saw the Ottoman Empire as a sort of geographical palimpsest.36 For adherents of the nationalist Great Idea (Megali Idea), the task of Greeks was to purge away the Ottoman scriptio superior that had usurped the true borders of Hellenism, from the Danube to the Caucasus. The former lands of Byzantium were thus the natural birthright of modern Greece since that kingdom alone continued and embodied all that was most essential about Byzantium: Hellenic culture, Greek ethnicity, and Orthodox Christianity.37

  • 38 Pitzipios Iakovos 1860b, p. 371-372.

26For Pitzipios, the identification of the two empires was much deeper and more substantial. He agreed that the Kingdom of Greece was indeed a special place. As the only stable constitutional monarchy in the region with full civil rights and the rule of law, it was model for the entire East.38 Byzantium, however, was something bigger than just Othonian Greece write large: it was a civilization that transcended both Greek ethnicity and Orthodox Christianity to include all current inhabitants of the Ottoman Empire, whether they were Muslims, Christians, or Jews. The telos and essence of Byzantium, he argued, was itscore values: a Whiggish blend that ranged from egalitarianism and individual civil rights to constitutional government. Pitzipios singled out one particular value – religious tolerance – as the quintessential characteristic of Byzantine civilization and the feature which made the history of that empire stand out in such stark contrast to the intolerance of the medieval West.

  • 39 Ibid., p. 253-268.

27For Pitzipios, Byzantium’s association with these universalist values gave it a pivotal role in the history not only of the Near East, but of all mankind. In works such as Romanism and The Orient, Pitzipios articulated a Manichean vision of human history as a constant struggle between two opposing principles that had their origin and apogee in Roman civilization. The first force, he believed, was “Romanism”: the pagan and essentially negative spirit of the old Roman city-state. This Romanist impulse was essentially despotic, aggressive, arbitrary, and fanatical. It was also strongly marked by the confusion of secular and religious powers, with its monarchs serving as both caesar and pontifex maximus. For Pitzipios, the Pope of Rome and the Prince-Bishop (Vladika) of Montenegro stood out as the clearest exemplars of how Romanism continued to express itself in both East and West in the nineteenth century.39

  • 40 Ibid., p. 4.
  • 41 Pitzipios Iakovos 1860c, p. 64.

28In diametrical opposition to Romanism stood “Byzantinism” or “New Romanity”: the spirit of the Christianized and redeemed polity created by Constantine the Great in 330 ad.40 According to Pitzipios, Constantine rejected the vices embodied in Romanism and had set out consciously to create a new city and culture in the East – one which, happily, conformed very closely to the ideals of nineteenth-century European Liberalism.41 Pitzipios therefore reconstructed Byzantium as a society that embraced the principles of constitutionalism, equality, rationalism, a commitment to law and order, civil rights, freedom, the “rights of nations”, and the establishment of clear divisions between the religious and temporal realms.

  • 42 Pitzipios Iakovos 1860b, p. 242-243.
  • 43 Ibid., p. 284, and Pitzipios Iakovos 1860c, p. 78.

29The resulting dichotomy between New and Old Romanity allowed Pitzipios to use Byzantium as a device to transcend not only the conventional divisions between Greeks and Turks, but also between Eastern and Western Christians. It was thus the reawakening of the Byzantine impulse in the West, for example, that had brought about the flourishing of the arts and sciences there, the growth of secularism and libertarianism, and calls for greater conciliarity and regional autonomy within the Catholic Church.42 As a result, Pitzipios was able blithely to describe Gallican dissidents as “the Orthodox clergy of France” and Abdülmecid as a second Constantine, while seeing both the Prophet Mohammed and the Pope as expressions of Romanism.43 It was character and behaviour, in other words, that qualified one as Byzantine or Orthodox, rather than adherence to doctrinal formulae.

  • 44 Pitzipios took a considerable interest in the Jewish people and foresaw an important place for them (...)
  • 45 Pitzipios Iakovos 1860b, p. 252.

30Although all of Europe thus shared to some degree in the positive and negative legacies of Rome, it was the peoples of the Near East who possessed the most direct relationship to New Rome and it was they who preserved the essence of Byzantinism – its spirit of tolerance and diversity – better than anyone else. One of the best demonstrations of the latter, Pitzipios felt, was the long history of protection which the Byzantine and Ottoman empires had offered to Jewish people fleeing from persecution in the West.44 The great work before the peoples of the East was to realize more perfectly “the slogan of civilized peoples: liberty, equality, fraternity!”45

  • 46 Pitzipios Iakovos 1860c, p. 13.
  • 47 Ibid., p. 15.

31Surveying the contemporary scene in the East, Pitzipios could not deny the contrary evidence of the utter disunity of the Byzantine peoples. These divisions, he argued, were more apparent than real and had been created by a series of oppressive governments that sought to subjugate the peoples of the region through a policy of divide et impera. A classic example, for Pitzipios, was the projection by Westerners and certain Eastern politicians of the existence of a country called Turkey and of a people called Turks. Pitzipios dismissed both of these terms as unreal constructions designed to serve unwholesome political purposes. In truth, he argued, the word “Turkey” was a foreign imposition, while the word “Turk” was merely an epithet reflecting rusticity and lack of culture. Even if the word “Ottoman” were substituted for “Turk”, Pitzipios still rejected the division which this implied between Muslims and Christians. The overwhelming majority of the empire’s Muslims, he argued, were of pure Byzantine stock, with perhaps only a tenth of them being able to trace their descent back to the bands of Turkomans who had invaded Asia Minor in the Middle Ages.46 The only real Turks, he declared, half tongue in cheek, were the few hundred petty tyrants of the Sublime Porte: “that oppress our entire nation (i.e. both Muslims and Christians) and daily betray our sovereign”.47

32The key to exposing the unreality of such divisions, he continued, was a careful and unbiased examination of the history of the region over the longue durée. “Our history”, as Pitzipios declared in a public encyclical from 1858:

  • 48 Ibid., p. 167-168.

“attests that we are and that we cannot be but Byzantines, whatever religion we might profess and whichever originating race we descend or pretend to be descended from!”48

  • 49 Pitzipios Iakovos 1860b, p. 358.

33In order to demonstrate that this was the case, Pitzipios set about attempting to construct a new outline history of the East which would demonstrate that Christian, Muslim, and Jewish “Byzantines” had each in their own way been straining towards a truly common society based upon shared values. As symptoms of this yearning, he singled out three particular historical figures, “three political explosions” as he called them, who demonstrated the continuing existence of a genuinely Byzantine consciousness.49

34The first of Pitzipios’s modern Byzantine heroes was Sheikh Bedreddin Simavni, a prominent religious scholar who had preached a mixture of heterodox Islam and social revolution across much of western Anatolia and Rumelia in the early fifteenth century. Pitzipios, commenting on the popular uprising which Bedreddin helped to lead against Sultan Mehmed I in 1416, described the sheikh as “the first Byzantine to try to bring about the political restoration of his country”. “This extraordinary man”, Pitzipios continued, proclaimed four main principles to his countrymen:

  • 50 Ibid., p. 358-359.

“1st. That the despotism of the sultans did not come from God, but rather that absolute power belonged to the people;
2nd. That society should be reformed on the bases of the individual, physical and moral liberty of man and on the legal equality of all;
3rd. That the universal fraternity of man should be re-established through the fusion of the three great monotheistic faiths: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam; and
4th.… that it was necessary to curtail… all superfluous ceremonies, every vain display which has no other purpose but to dazzle the people and make them easier to exploit.”50

  • 51 Pitzipios’s depiction of Bedreddin as a “Byzantine” social revolutionary and freethinker is all the (...)

35Although Bedreddin’s uprising ultimately went down to defeat and the sheikh himself was executed, his ideas – according to Pitzipios – were preserved and passed on through the secret teachings of religious groups such as the Alevis and certain Sufi orders.51

  • 52 Pitzipios Iakovos 1860b, p. 361.

36After a long period of submersion following the defeat of Bedreddin, the Byzantine spirit next resurfaced in the 17th century in the form of another religio-political movement led by Shabbatai Zevi (1626-1676), a Jew from Izmir who proclaimed himself Messiah and King of the Tribes of Israel in 1648. Whereas by all other historical accounts, Shabbatai was a charismatic (and possibly mentally unbalanced) scholar of the Kabala, Pitzipios saw him as a social revolutionary masquerading as a messiah. The travels of the young rabbi throughout Europe had, Pitzipios declared, inspired in Shabbatai “the gigantic thought of becoming, by religious means, the political restorer of his country” – this latter country being not Israel but Byzantium.52

  • 53 The character of Panos is a new addition to the Shabbatai Sevi story that appears to be unique to P (...)
  • 54 Pitzipios Iakovos 1860c, p. 15, n. 1.

37The new sect of Sabbateans quickly took on great dimensions in the East, not only among Ottoman Jews but also among Christians and Muslims. The ecumenicity of both Bedreddin and Shabbatai was of great importance to Pitzipios, who saw their utter disregard for sectarian or theological niceties as an unmistakable hallmark of their Romanity. His Jewish hero thus revealed a Byzantine consciousness through his secret attendance at Bektashi services and the appointment of a Greek Christian, the merchant Panos, to be his “apostle to the Gentiles”.53 For this reason, Pitzipios saw no shame in the sudden change that the Sabbatean movement underwent after its leader was finally arrested by the Ottoman authorities for his subversive activities in 1666. Shabbatai, confronted with the stark choice of conversion to Islam or execution, readily surrendered to force majeure: he made a profession of Muslim faith and emerged from prison as “Aziz Mehmed Effendi”. The staunchest supporters of Shabbatai realized that he was acting with a higher purpose and in their thousands they followed him into this apostasy. The resulting community of crypto-Jews, known as the Dönme, combined an external conformity to conventional Islam with an inner faithfulness to “their primitive religion”.54

  • 55 Pitzipios Iakovos 1860b, p. 366.
  • 56 Tziovas Dimitris 1995, p. 26-27.

38Pitzipios’s account of the Sabbateans is one of several passages in his writings which reveal an unusually positive evaluation of expedient conversions and religious syncretism. Both of these phenomena were frequent occurrences in Ottoman history, but they were normally represented as acts of moral cowardice and opportunism or, at best, as pitiable forms of communal martyrdom. For Pitzipios, however, confessional dissimulation and mixing were instead positive goods. He seems to have felt that such practices were praiseworthy not only because they showed a laudable sense of Realpolitik but as religious corollaries of the Byzantine spirit of universalism. Syncretists and anti-sectarians of all stripes were, he argued, the natural vanguard of the social and political revolution which was coming to the Near East. He therefore approvingly described the Bektashi order of Sufis, for example, as being “already all Deists in religion and ultra-liberal in politics”, while the crypto-Christians of the Pontus were “perhaps the best of Christians”.55 This was not an abstract principle for Pitzipios, but one which he practised himself as shown by his superficial conversion to Catholicism in 1852 and the plausible rumours that he had briefly converted to Islam in the late 1840s.56

  • 57 Velestinlis Rigas, Νέα πολιτικὴ διοίκησις τῶν κατοίκων τῆς Ῥούμελης, τῆς Μικρᾶς Ἀσίας, τῶν Μεσογείω (...)

39The last of Pitzipios’s triumvirate of Byzantine heroes was the Greek enlightenment thinker and revolutionary, Rigas Velestinlis (1757-1798). Rigas is best known today as a protomartyr of the Greek Revolution who devoted his life to the creation of a Christian-dominated state of “Greater Greece” in Asia Minor and the Balkans. Towards this end, he published and clandestinely distributed such works as a national hymn, a map showing what a future Greater Greece might look like, and a draft constitution of how it might be ruled.57 Although Rigas is the only Orthodox Christian among Pitzipios’s triad of heroes, it is telling that he was portrayed as the most problematic and least Byzantine of the three in spirit. The central problem for Pitzipios was that Rigas was simply too Greek, his Byzantine national consciousness having been retarded and compromised by an education that encouraged chauvinistic attachment to the Greek language and culture. Thus, while Pitzipios warmly endorsed those aspects of Rigas’s plans that tended towards “the universal restoration of the Byzantine Empire”, he accused Rigas of failing to grapple with one central problem: how a unitary Hellenic state could be reconciled with such an ethnically and religiously diverse population. He felt that the clauses in Rigas’s proposed Constitution which assured equal rights to all citizens were a step in the right direction, but insufficient on their own. It was not enough for non-Christians to be tolerated; they had to be made to feel an integral part of the Byzantine national project. The great fault of Rigas – and by extension of the Hetairist movements of Pitzipios’s youth – was their failure to understand that:

“… in order to restore a country truly and make of it a great empire, one must reunite and render compact all of the indigenous elements instead of disuniting and dispersing them.”

40Rigas, Pitzipios concluded,

  • 58 Pitzipios Iakovos 1860b, p. 368-369.

“had fallen victim during his time in the West to the fatal contagion of religious intolerance and the division of nationalities.”58

  • 59 Pitzipios was willing to consider a federal Byzantium, but he insisted that its models should be th (...)
  • 60 Pitzipios Iakovos 1860a, p. 16.

41Arising out of this conviction of the indivisibility of Byzantium’s lands and peoples, Pitzipios opposed the dismemberment of the Ottoman Empire which he saw taking place at the hands of both the Great Powers and emerging nation-states such as Greece. Only a revived and unitary Byzantine Empire – or at the very minimum a close confederation of Byzantine peoples – could prevent the accelerating decline of the region and forestall the terrible catastrophes which Pitzipios feared would soon visit the East.59 Haunted, no doubt, by the ethnic cleansings of the 1820s, he warned with remarkable prescience that the parcelling out of the Empire into miniature states and European-ruled colonies would result in a “war of extermination, similar to that which had procured a government for the inhabitants of the kingdom of Greece”. Even if Christians were successful in ejecting the Ottomans from the Balkans and Asia Minor, he predicted, the Muslim remnants of the Empire would turn not only against Europe but against all the vital forces of change that emanated from her. The rump Ottoman Empire would become a preserve on the very doorstep of Europe of the most retrograde and revanchist forms of “Islamism…, where her convulsive sectaries might give themselves up to all their anti-social fantasies”.60 The need to restore Byzantium as a unitary, multi-confessional state was thus a matter of truly global concern.

42As a first step towards the restoration of the Empire, the various secessions and devolutions that had fragmented the empire had to be reversed. It was essential, he wrote:

  • 61 Pitzipios Iakovos 1860b, p. 379.

“… [to] reunite into a single State the provinces that still remain under the dominion of the sultan, and to reattach the kingdom of Greece, the Ionian Islands, Montenegro, Egypt, the Island of Samos, Moldavia, Wallachia, and Serbia.”61

  • 62 His clearest statements on the general character of Islam are in Pitzipios Iakovos 1860c, p. 7-9. A (...)
  • 63 Pitzipios Iakovos 1860c, p. 24.
  • 64 Ibid.

43Once the integrity of the Empire had thus been restored, a system of government should be established that would be “based entirely upon the principles of European public law”. For Pitzipios, this meant first and foremost the disestablishment of Islam and the dismantling of the system of religiously-based privileges and inequalities which divided Byzantines into separate confessional communities. Like most of his European contemporaries, Pitzipios believed that Islamic law as it was then practised was inherently theocratic, oppressive, and antisocial – i.e., that it was antithetical to civilization and to the essence of Byzantium itself.62 He was careful to make a distinction, however, between the Islamic regimes that had so long dominated the Near East and Islam as a personal religion. “It is not their religion as worship which has turned us against them”, he wrote, but rather the use of Islam “as a pretext for oppression”.63 Secularization of the Ottoman state via the dissolution of the Caliphate and the disestablishment of the Shari’a was thus an indispensable requirement for progress in the East just as surely as the abolition of the temporal power of the Papacy was indispensable in Italy. Religion was to be relegated to the private sphere where it belonged: a measure that would safeguard the rights not only of Christians, but also of Muslims themselves.64

  • 65 Pitzipios Iakovos 1860b, p. 379.
  • 66 Pitzipios Iakovos 1860a, p. 22.
  • 67 Pitzipios Iakovos 1860c, p. 22 and 130.
  • 68 Ibid., p. 108.

44In keeping with the principle of equality, Pitzipios insisted that “only the indigenous population should be employed in the constitution and administration of the empire, without any distinction of religion or race”.65 This meant that Christians, Muslims, and Jews were each to take their fair share in the formation of government ministries and in the armed forces – both fields which Muslims had traditionally monopolized. In the short term, he felt, it would be better to offset past imbalances by letting Christians and Jews run the first restored Byzantine government. It might even be necessary for the Great Powers to impose such a ministry by force and to lend troops to the new government until it was able to hold its own unassisted.66 These were only to be temporary measures, however, and Pitzipios assured Muslims that the Union “does not represent liberty only for ourselves, but for all!”67 Eighteen million Christians and fourteen million Muslims all laboured under the same oppression; all would share in the fruits of the victory they had won together.68

  • 69 Pitzipios Iakovos 1858, p. 39.

45Pitzipios also clearly expected that Orthodox Christianity and the Greek language would enjoy a certain predominance in the reformed Empire, although the programme of the Union did not make this explicit. Orthodoxy was, after all, the dominant form of Christianity in the East and the embodiment of all that was best in Byzantium. Pitzipios certainly did not, however, propose to enshrine Orthodoxy – or any other sect – as an official religion. He similarly assumed that the Greek language was the most appropriate for the reformed state, but he argued for this on the basis of modernist criteria rather than of “political prejudices and banal jealousies”. Greek, he felt, deserved special consideration as the most ancient language of the Empire, the one with the richest literature, and as the most widely known and esteemed internationally. As such, its use would facilitate the spread of modern education and integration with Europe.69

  • 70 Pitzipios Iakovos 1860c, p. 172.
  • 71 Pitzipios Iakovos 1858, p. 155-159.
  • 72 Pitzipios Iakovos 1860b, p. 379-380.

46Finally, Pitzipios assumed that Byzantium would remain a monarchy under the current Ottoman dynast: Sultan Abdülmecid.70 He hoped, however, that once freed of his current advisers Abdülmecid would promulgate a proper constitution and that he could be convinced to convert to Christianity for the general good of the empire, completing the many parallels that Pitzipios saw between Abdülmecid and Constantine the Great.71 Otherwise, however, Pitzipios was unusually reticent about the future constitution of the Empire, wisely avoiding more detailed discussion. The only point upon which he was especially insistent was that the ministers and civil servants of the new government should not be drawn from the old Ottoman elites who had the most to lose from reform. Moneylenders, tax farmers, current ministers, and members of the Muslim and Christian clergy were specifically to be excluded from future administrations.72 Pitzipios was confident that a Byzantine/Ottoman Empire thus reconciled to modernity and to its own historic character would quickly reclaim its rightful place as a member of the European community and a vital bridge between East and West.

Conclusions

  • 73 Ibid., p. 381.

47In the early 1860s, Pitzipios still held out great hopes for the future of his homeland. “All the peoples of the East”, he wrote, were experiencing a “sudden development of the spirit of nationalism” and were beginning once again to move instinctively towards unity with one another.73 From the vantage point of the twenty-first century, Pitzipios was as manifestly correct in his first observation as he was tragically mistaken in his second. Neither Byzantine nor Ottoman nationalism ever found the popular or political success that he had anticipated. Instead, the old confessional antipathies of the region deepened and were complemented by new ethno-national tensions. Although the particular case study of the Byzantine Union is too narrow and idiosyncratic to provide categorical answers to the question of why broader civic identities did not flourish in the Ottoman Empire, it does illustrate three particular obstacles and pitfalls that such movements confronted.

48The first of these was the importance of competent leadership and of a viable strategy for building up any new civic nation. We will never know, for example, whether Pitzipios’s vision of a diverse Byzantium resonated with ordinary Orthodox Christians (let alone ordinary Muslims and Jews) for the simple reason that he never seems to have approached them with it. In an era when Bulgarian nationalists were already beginning to work at the village level to reshape communal and personal identities through schools, parishes, and print media, Pitzipios adopted a more conservative strategy of appealing to political and ecclesiastical elites rather than ordinary, potential Byzantines. He wrote regularly to grand viziers, prime ministers, and cardinals, but one looks in vain for evidence of his correspondence with ordinary village heads, priests, or school teachers. Similarly, although Pitzipios sought to propagate his views through newspapers, books, and public encyclicals, he did so either in French or in an educated Greek that made clear the sort of audiences he wished to address.

  • 74 One contemporary characterized him as “a liar and without character”; Gedeon Manuel (n. 11), p. 54. (...)

49Such elitism was to some extent, perhaps, a logical extension of the sort of political identity Pitzipios was promoting. Byzantine nationalism, being essentially loyalist in orientation, was constrained to cooperate with the existing authorities and others with a stake in the status quo – and this even though Pitzipios saw these same groups as being the root cause of all the Empire’s problems. Agents of ethnic nationalism in the Ottoman Empire, by comparison, had the luxury of being able to address themselves directly to the grass-roots of Christian society in their attempts to mobilize and channel popular discontent. In fairness, Pitzipios’s strategy of appealing to powerful elites might have paid dividends had he been able to inspire any confidence in either the Ottoman government or other Christian notables. Instead, Pitzipios ruined any such prospect by his uncanny talent for self-sabotage. Pitzipios alienated each of the Union’s patrons one after the other with his erratic behavior, impolitic criticisms, and shameless self-promotion. This pattern began at least as early as his campaign against the Orthodox clergy in the late 1840s and continued through his gratuitous slighting of the Papacy two decades later. The speed with which he burned through successive patrons, altering his message slightly each time in order to appeal to a new audience, gave him a reputation for being inconstant, unprincipled, and manipulative – the archetypal Levantine schemer.74

  • 75 Two obvious parallels which suggest themselves are Theophilos Kairis in the 1830s and the Bulgarian (...)

50A second and perhaps more important obstacle to the success of the Byzantine Union was Pitzipios’s decision to embroil himself in some of the most explosive religious controversies of his day. Despite his own assertions to the contrary, Pitzipios did not live in a society which accepted or admired apostasy, syncretism, and free thought. Religion was still a supremely important factor in communal identity in the East, as Pitzipios himself recognized and occasionally lamented. Like many other Balkan intellectuals in the nineteenth century, Pitzipios found himself forced to choose between conformity to conventional religiosity and a principled stance which would isolate him from public support. He chose the latter with the inevitable results.75 The impact of Pitzipios’s decision to defy conventional religious ideas can be seen from the fact that during the first part of his career as a writer, Pitzipios was moderately successful in reaching a domestic, Greek-speaking audience. His excommunication, however, followed by his later association with Catholicism permanently discredited his ideas in the minds of most Orthodox Christians. He became one of the most isolated and disliked figures in the Greek literary world.

51Finally, the fate of Pitzipios’s Byzantine nationalism might still have been very different had it received any encouragement or guidance from the one institution that ought to have taken the most interest in its success: the Ottoman state. Pitzipios persistently sought to gain the support of the Ottoman government and only turned to outside patrons after all his memoranda to the Sublime Porte had met with silence or disapproval. Although the Ottoman government and Ottoman reformers had ample reason to be wary of Pitzipios as an individual, their apathetic reception of even his more useful ideas seems to have reflected a general reluctance to engage Ottoman Christians in any discussion on how the latter understood the Ottoman Empire’s past or imagined its future. An official and rather anemic Ottomanism was acceptable, but the Ottoman state does not seem to have been eager to embrace or encourage non-official patriotic movements like the Byzantine Union. This is surely not surprising given the continuing prejudices of most Ottoman Muslims and the uncomfortable prospects that such an engagement with “patriotic” Christians would have entailed.

  • 76 Saint-Marc Girardin (n. 26), p. 420. For the views of Dragoumis and Souliotis: Dragoumis Ion, Ὅσοι (...)
  • 77 The works of John Romanides and Georgios Metallinos particularly come to mind, with their reading o (...)
  • 78 Derinğil Selim, The Well-Protected Domains: Ideology and the Legitimation of Power in the Ottoman E (...)
  • 79 Davison Roderic, “Turkish Attitudes Concerning Christian-Muslim Equality in the Nineteenth Century” (...)
  • 80 Gawrych George, “Tolerant Dimensions of Cultural Pluralism in the Ottoman Empire: The Albanian Comm (...)

52In terms of its content, Pitzipios’s vision of Byzantium was neither entirely strange nor without precedents in the East. It was on the contrary, as one reviewer declared in 1860, “entirely Greek”, inviting comparison with the Hellenic Republic of Rigas Velestinlis, the Great Idea of Ioannis Kolletis, and the Greco-Turkish Empire promoted by Ion Dragoumis and Athanasios Nikolaidis-Souliotis at the turn of the century.76 Pitzipios’s theories about New and Old Romanity similarly drew on a recognizable stream of thought in Greek Orthodox culture that has continued down to the present.77 It is first and foremost in the context of nineteenth-century Ottoman society, however, that Pitzipios and the Byzantine Union must be understood. It was here, as part of the larger debate over the nature of “Ottomanness” that the Union acquires its greatest significance. During the half-century between the beginning of the Tanzimat reforms and the reign of Abdülhamid II, members of the Ottoman government and intelligentsia grappled with exactly the same dilemma that Pitzipios had identified with reference to Rigas Velestinlis: how (and indeed, whether) to construct an “imperial supranationalism” that would be capable of uniting the different peoples and religions of the Empire.78 Pitzipios was thus a Christian counterpart to those Young Ottoman intellectuals who saw the salvation of the Empire in the consolidation of its various peoples on the bases of constitutional rule, limited or total political equality, and state-based patriotism.79 Pitzipios’s declarations about pluralism and tolerance as the defining characteristics and strengths of the Empire thus find their echo in the works of such Muslim writers as Ahmed Cevdet Pasha, Ahmed Midhat, Namık Kemal, and Şemseddin Sami Frashëri.80

  • 81 Kisakürek Necip Fâzıl, Namık Kemal. Şahsı – Eseri –Tesiri; Doğumunun yüzüncü yıl dönümü dolayısiyle(...)

53The greatest weakness of these proponents of Osmanlılık, whether of the official or non-official variety, was that they could only appeal to the enlightened self-interest of non-Muslims rather than to any substantive sense of common identity. Most Ottoman nationalists assumed that Islam would always form the political and social core of the Empire, with non-Muslims continuing to occupy a tolerated but equivocal position on the margins of “Ottomanness”. While the Young Ottomans thus easily integrated Muslims of any ethnicity into their Ottoman nation, they had no schema into which to fit the non-Muslim peoples of the Empire except one of difference. Writers such as Namık Kemal made half-hearted attempts to evoke the love that all Ottomans must feel for the common geographical space that had nurtured their individual cultures. In a short poem on “The Ottoman Fatherland” (Vatan-ı Osmanî), for example, Namık Kemal evoked the sanctity of the Ottoman Empire for all its religious communities as the land where Christ was born, where Moses had received the Law, and Mohammed the Qur’an, etc.81 Such efforts were half-hearted, however, and ultimately self-defeating, since any reference to the conventional historical narratives of the different Ottoman peoples merely reinforced their memories of mutual alienation and antagonism. How, then, were the Ottoman peoples to imagine a common future, when they could not imagine a common past?

  • 82 Saint-mArc Girardin (n. 26), p. 420.

54Pitzipios’s unique contribution to this problem was his ability to re-imagine the past in ways that transcended, rather than papered over, the very obvious divisions which existed between Ottoman subjects. The true legacy of Byzantium, he believed, was one which embraced all the peoples of the Near East and treated them equally as its co-heirs and contributors. It was precisely this aspect of the Byzantine Union’s historical vision that one reviewer in the Revue des Deux Mondes identifiedas being toute de notre temps.82 Ironically, then, the greatest flaw of Pitzipios’s stillborn national movement may have been that his Byzantium was still too far ahead of its own time.

Notes

1 Kyriakidis Epameinondas, Ἱστορία τοῦ συγχρόνου ἑλληνισμοῦ ἀπὸ τῆς ἱδρύσεως τοῦ βασιλείου τῆς Ἑλλάδος μέχρι τῶν ἡμερῶν μας, 1832-1892, I, Athens, 1892, p. 501. For a recent overview of Greek national historiography, see: Liakos Antonis, “Hellenism and the Making of Modern Greece: Time, Language, Space”, in ZachariaKaterina (ed.), Hellenisms: Culture, Identity and Ethnicity from Antiquity to Modernity, Aldershot, 2008, p. 201-236.

2 For some outstanding modern examples, see: gibbons Herbert, The Foundation of the Ottoman Empire, Oxford, 1916; iorga Nicolae, Byzance après Byzance. Continuation de l’Histoire de la vie byzantine, Bucharest, 1935; Arnakis Georgios, Οἱ Πρῶτοι Ὀθωμανοί (1282-1337), Athens, 1947; Vryonis Speros Jr., “The Byzantine Legacy and Ottoman Forms”, Dumbarton Oaks Papers 23 (1969-1970), p. 251-308; and most recently Lowry Heath, The Nature of the Early Ottoman State, Albany, 2003.

3 Pitzipios Iakovos 1858, p. ix.

4 “Iakovos Pitzipios” will be the name used throughout this paper, but it should be noted that Pitzipios used several different varient spellings of his name: e.g., Jacques, Iakovos, Giacomo, Pitsipios, Pitzipios, etc.

5 Vapereau Louis G. (ed.), Dictionnaire universel des contemporains contenant toutes les personnes notables de la France et des pays étrangers…, Paris, 1880, p. 1457; Evangelidis E., “Πιτσιπιός, Ἰάκωβος”, in Drandakis Paulos (ed.), Μεγάλη Ἑλληνικὴ Ἐγκυκλοπαιδεία, Athens [s.d.], XX, p. 245.

6 Vapereau Louis G. (supra), p. 1458. Also see: tziovas Dimitris 1995, p. 10.

7 “I experienced in early life”, as he later wrote, “the misfortune of losing my country and my home”; Pitzipios Iakovos 1860a, p. 1.

8 Pitzipiosiakovos, Ἡ ὀρφανὴ τῆς Χίου, ἢ ὁ θρίαμβος τῆς ἀρετῆς, Hermoupolis, 1839. Pitzipios is best known to posterity as the author of this and another work, a precociously surrealist satire on Athenian Greek society entitled: Ὁ Πίθηκος Ξούθ, ἢ τὰ ἤθη τοῦ αἰῶνος, Hermoupolis, 1848. The two can be found together in the volume cited in the abbreviations.

9 Vapereau Louis G. (n. 5), p. 1458.

10 Ibid.; also Tziovas Dimitris 1995, p. 12. Pitzipios seems to claim on the first page of The Eastern Question Solved (Pitzipios Iakovos 1860a) that he returned to live in the Ottoman Empire in 1847, but this is likely a typo for 1843.

11 These newspapers were: Ὁ φανὸς τῆς Μεσογείου (1844), Σωτὴρ τοῦ 1845 (1845), and Ἀποθήκη τῶν ὠφελίμων καὶ τερπνῶν γνώσεων (1847-1849); Tziovas Dimitris 1995, p. 13-14; Gedeon Manuel, Ἀποσημειώματα χρονογράφου 1800-1913, Athens, 1932, p. 52 and 54.

12 This appointment is the most persuasive piece of evidence disproving the assertion made by some that Pitzipios was brought up in a Catholic family. It is highly unlikely that the headship of the Great School of the Nation would have been entrusted to a Catholic or even someone from a Catholic family; Tamborra Angelo 1969, p. 52.

13 The exact nature of the scandal at the Great School is unclear. According to one account, a group of notables led by the Prince of Samos, Stefanaki Vogoridis Bey, encouraged the students to accuse Pitzipios of spreading political propaganda on behalf of Greece. According to other versions, he was removed as a result of his growing sympathy for Catholicism or even possibly because of sexual improprieties. Whatever the case, the students rioted and a detachment of soldiers had to be sent in to restore order. The school was badly damaged in the ensuing fracas and had to be closed. It would later reopen at new premises in the Phanar district of Istanbul. See: Tziovas Dimitris 1995, p. 19-22; Karolidis Paulos, Σύγχρονος Ἱστορία τῶν Ἑλλήνων καὶ τῶν λοιπῶν λαῶν τῆς Ἀνατολῆς, III, Athens, 1923, p. 463; and Gedeon Manuel, “Τὰ Περὶ τῆς Μ. τοῦ Γ. Σχολῆς Ἐπίσημα Γράμματα”, Ἐκκλησιαστικὴ Ἀλήθεια 22 (1902), p. 467. For an account ofevents in the local press: Le Journal de Constantinople (1er mai 1847), p. 1, and ibid. (1er décembre 1847), p. 2.

14 Pitzipios Iakovos 1860a, p. 1.

15 Pitzipios Iakovos 1860b, p. 382. It is difficult to know quite what to make of this particular claim. At first blush Gjoleka would seem an unlikely member, let alone founder, of such an association. He was, after all, the leader of a Muslim clan in a distant province, with no obvious connections to Pitzipios. On the other hand, Pitzipios had little to gain from inventing such a connection given Gjoleka’s relative obscurity and his politically dangerous association with an armed revolt against the Ottoman government in 1847. It is interesting to note in connection with this that Gjoleka, together with forty-seven other beys from the region, sent a petition to the Greek government in 1847, declaring themselves to be Greeks of the Muslim religion and requesting military and financial assistance; Georgiou Vasos, Βόρειος Ήπειρος: Η συνεχιζόμενη εθνική τραγωδία, Athens, 2001, p. 168. For general information about Gjoleka and the uprising of 1847, see: Aravantinos Panagiotis, Χρονογραφία τῆς Ἠπείρου τῶν τε ὁμόρων ἑλληνικῶν καὶ ἰλλυρικῶν χωρῶν διατρέχουσα κατὰ σειρὰν τὰ ἐν αὐταῖς συμβάντα ἀπὸ τοῦ σωτηρίου ἔτους μέχρι τοῦ 1854, I, Athens, 1856, p. 408-414.

16 So assiduously did Pitzipios curry favour with the British embassy that by 1851 a visitor to Istanbul described him as “a hanger on of Sir Str. Canning’s”. Journal entry of Deacon William Palmer for Tuesday, September 30, 1851; The Lambeth Palace Library, MS 2829, Palmer Papers, p. 391.

17 Pitzipiosiakovos 1860a, p. 2; Tziovas Dimitris 1995, p. 13. Some sources mistakenly give the date of his appointment as 1849, but the commission did not exist until 1850. For some very basic information on this commission, see: Scheben Thomas, Verwaltungsreformen der frühen Tanzimatzeit. Gesetze, Massnahmen, Auswirkungen. Von der Verkündigung des Ediktes von Gülhane 1839 bis zum Ausbruch des Krimkrieges 1853, Frankfurt, 1991, p. 89-90.

18 The British attaché, William Doria, managed to convince Sâmî Pasha to retain Pitzipios, but he noted that: “if reports are true, Mr. Pitzipio while in Thessaly took money whenever he could obtain it, and has now sold ten copies of a publication to all the Bishops convened here [in Thessaloniki] at sixty piastres per copy”. William Doria to Stratford Canning, Thessaloniki, May 27, 1851; Public Record Office, Foreign Office 195/371.

19 Pitzipios Iakovos, Ὁ Ἀνατολικὸς Χριστιανός, ἢ ἐπιστολαὶ περὶ τῆς ἐνεστώσης κυβερνήσεως τῆς ἐν Κωνσταντινουπόλει ἀνατολικῆς Ἐκκλησίας, τῆς διαγωγῆς τοῦ κλήρου αὐτῆς καὶ τῆς κοινωνικῆς καταστάσεως τῶν ὑπὸ τὸν πατριαρχικὸν τοῦτον θρόνον διατελούντων λαῶν, Malta, 1852. Many of the criticisms contained in The Eastern Christian would be re-worked and expanded in a subsequent book published by the Propaganda Fide as: Pitzipios Iakovos, L’Église orientale. Exposé historique de sa séparation et de sa réunion avec celle de Rome. Accord perpétuel de ces deux Églises dans les dogmes de la foi. La continuation de leur union. L’apostasie du clergé de Constantinople de l’Église de Rome, sa violation des institutions de l’Église orientale, et ses vexations contre les chrétiens de ce rite. Seuls moyens praticables pour rétablir l’ordre dans l’Église orientale, et arriver par là à l’union générale et à la restauration sociale de tous les chrétiens, Rome, 1855.

20 De Riancey Henri, “De l’Église orientale”, L’Ami de la Religion 170, 5894 (20 décembre 1855), p. 690.

21 Pitzipios Iakovos 1860b, p. 392-393.

22 Πρόγραμμα τῆς Χριστιανικῆς Ἀνατολικῆς Ἑταιρείας, Paris, 1853.

23 Tamborra Angelo 1969, p. 61.

24 The Comte Arthur de Grandeffe, for example, recalled being quite taken with Pitzipios and his ideas when they first met during this period, though he later regretted heartily the time and money he had “wasted” on Pitzipios’s schemes; de Grandeffe Arthur, Paris sous Napoléon III. Mémoires d’un homme du monde de 1857 à 1870, Paris, 1879, p. 80.

25 See, for example: de Riancey Henri, “L’Église Orientale”, L’Ami de la Religion 169, 5894 (18 septembre 1855), p. 677-680, and 169, 5895 (20 septembre 1855), p. 697-700. Needless to say, Orthodox reviewers in Russia and Greece gave the book a much colder reception; Khomiakov Aleksei Stepanovich, Encore quelques mots d’un chrétien orthodoxe sur les confessions occidentales à l’occasion de plusieurs publications religieuses, latines et protestantes, Leipzig, 1858, p. 26-28; Tamborra Angelo 1969, p. 62; Pitzipios Iakovos 1860b, p. 403, n. 1.

26 Saint-Marc Girardin, “Controverses sur la question d’Orient”, Revue des Deux Mondes, 2e période, 30 (15 novembre 1860), p. 421-422.

27 The first of these, On the Fourth Guarantee, or that which relates to the Privileges of diverse Christian Communities, apparently dealt with the secularizing reforms being contemplated for the non-Muslim communities, while the second was entitled Considerations on the Treaty of Paris, and its Consequences as regards the Empire of the Sultan. Unfortunately, neither seem to have been preserved; Pitzipios Iakovos 1860a, p. 4-5.

28 Pitzipios Iakovos 1858, p. i; pitzipios Iakovos 1860a, p. 13.

29 Pitzipios Iakovos 1860a, p. 5, 8 and 13.

30 Pitzipios claimed, rather implausibly, that the Byzantine Union was actually affiliated with members of the Kuleli. This would have made for strange bedfellows indeed, given that one of the main motivations of the latter was their resistance to the granting of civil equality to Christians; Pitzipios Iakovos 1860c, p. 158-160.

31 Pitzipios to Cardinal Alessandro Barnabò, Paris, 25 novembre 1856; Archivio Storico della Congregazione de Propaganda Fide, Scritture Riferite nei Congressi, Romania Vol. 32, folio 1458.

32 Pitzipios Iakovos 1860b, p. 123, 142-143, 251-252.

33 Id., Encyclique du directeur général de la Société chrétienne orientale adressée à messieurs les membres de cette Société, Bucharest, 1862, p. 4.

34 Tziovas Dimitris 1995, p. 25. For Pitzipios’s desperate attempts first to restart the Society in Turin and then to revive his association with the Catholic Church, see: Tamborra Angelo 1969, p. 65-67.

35 The details and circumstances of Pitzipios’s death are disputed, with even the year of his death being given variously as 1865, 1869, and 1876. The most judicious summary of the available evidence is in tziovas Dimitris 1995, p. 28-29.

36 For a good introductory overview of popular perceptions of Byzantium and the Great Idea, see: Clogg Richard, “The Byzantine Legacy in the Modern Greek World: The Megali Idea”, in Clucas Lowell (ed.), The Byzantine Legacy in Eastern Europe, New York, 1988, p. 253-281.

37 That the latter was the most decisive qualification can be seen from formulations such as the first Greek provisional constitution of 1822, which stated explicitly that: “All native inhabitants of the state of Greece believing in Christ are Greeks” (chapter 2, article 2); Προσωρινὸν πολίτευμα τῆς Ἑλλάδος καὶ σχέδιον ὀργανισμοῦ τῶν ἐπαρχιῶν αὐτῆς…, Missolonghi, 1824, p. 1.

38 Pitzipios Iakovos 1860b, p. 371-372.

39 Ibid., p. 253-268.

40 Ibid., p. 4.

41 Pitzipios Iakovos 1860c, p. 64.

42 Pitzipios Iakovos 1860b, p. 242-243.

43 Ibid., p. 284, and Pitzipios Iakovos 1860c, p. 78.

44 Pitzipios took a considerable interest in the Jewish people and foresaw an important place for them in any future Byzantium. He felt, in particular, that one of the first tasks of the Byzantine nation following its restoration would be to facilitate the return of the Jewish people to Palestine through the settlement of Jewish colonists. This, he believed, would not only right a historic injustice but would convert “this part of the Byzantine Empire, its most desolate and all but a desert” into “one of the most beautiful”; pitzipios Iakovos 1860c, p. 51-62.

45 Pitzipios Iakovos 1860b, p. 252.

46 Pitzipios Iakovos 1860c, p. 13.

47 Ibid., p. 15.

48 Ibid., p. 167-168.

49 Pitzipios Iakovos 1860b, p. 358.

50 Ibid., p. 358-359.

51 Pitzipios’s depiction of Bedreddin as a “Byzantine” social revolutionary and freethinker is all the more intriguing for his anticipation of the Turkish Left’s rediscovery of Bedreddin as a revolutionary hero in the early twentieth century. The communist poet Nazim Hikmet, for example, described Bedreddin’s followers in his 1936 Epic of Sheikh Bedreddin (Simavne Kadısı Oğlu Şeyh Bedreddin Destanı) in ecumenicalterms that Pitzipios would instantly have recognized and endorsed. Hikmet thus described the followers of the sheikh as “Turkish peasants from Aydin, Greek sailors from Chios, Jewish tradesmen…”. These “ten thousand heretical comrades” fought side by side for a better world in which they might “sing with one voice and together pull the nets from the water, / that they might all work iron like lace / and all together plow the earth, / that they might eat the honeyed figs together, / that they might say, / “Everywhere / all together / in everything / but the lover’s cheek”. For an English translation, see: Hikmet Nazim, The Epic of Sheik Bedreddin and other Poems, trans. Blasing Randy, Konuk Mutlu, New York, 1977.

52 Pitzipios Iakovos 1860b, p. 361.

53 The character of Panos is a new addition to the Shabbatai Sevi story that appears to be unique to Pitzipios. Did Pitzipios invent him to make the story fit his purposes, or was he relying on Greek oral tradition? The former seems most likely; see ibid.

54 Pitzipios Iakovos 1860c, p. 15, n. 1.

55 Pitzipios Iakovos 1860b, p. 366.

56 Tziovas Dimitris 1995, p. 26-27.

57 Velestinlis Rigas, Νέα πολιτικὴ διοίκησις τῶν κατοίκων τῆς Ῥούμελης, τῆς Μικρᾶς Ἀσίας, τῶν Μεσογείων Νήσων καὶ τῆς Βλαχομπογδανίας, Vienna, 1797. A modern re-edition with commentary can be found in: Ῥήγα Βελεστινλῆ. Ἅπαντα τὰ σωζόμενα, V, ed. by Kitromilides Paschalis, Athens, 2000.

58 Pitzipios Iakovos 1860b, p. 368-369.

59 Pitzipios was willing to consider a federal Byzantium, but he insisted that its models should be the United States of America, Germany, or Switzerland. He also proposed that any partition of the empire into federated states should be made along geographic rather than ethnic lines; Pitzipios Iakovos 1860c, p. 151-154.

60 Pitzipios Iakovos 1860a, p. 16.

61 Pitzipios Iakovos 1860b, p. 379.

62 His clearest statements on the general character of Islam are in Pitzipios Iakovos 1860c, p. 7-9. Also see: Pitzipios Iakovos 1860a, p. 19; Pitzipios Iakovos 1860b, p. 338; Pitzipios Iakovos 1858, p. 110-111, 157-158.

63 Pitzipios Iakovos 1860c, p. 24.

64 Ibid.

65 Pitzipios Iakovos 1860b, p. 379.

66 Pitzipios Iakovos 1860a, p. 22.

67 Pitzipios Iakovos 1860c, p. 22 and 130.

68 Ibid., p. 108.

69 Pitzipios Iakovos 1858, p. 39.

70 Pitzipios Iakovos 1860c, p. 172.

71 Pitzipios Iakovos 1858, p. 155-159.

72 Pitzipios Iakovos 1860b, p. 379-380.

73 Ibid., p. 381.

74 One contemporary characterized him as “a liar and without character”; Gedeon Manuel (n. 11), p. 54. In Pitzipios’s defense it should be pointed out that it was more his persistence in making unpopular statements, than his lack of principles, that made him so unpopular both at home and in the West.

75 Two obvious parallels which suggest themselves are Theophilos Kairis in the 1830s and the Bulgarian Catholic movement in the early 1860s. In both cases, figures who had been widely admired by their communities became pariahs after being identified as apostates from Orthodoxy. For a brief summary of the Bulgarian Catholic movement, see: Crampton Richard J., Bulgaria, Oxford, 2007, p. 74-76. Also: Meininger Thomas, Ignatiev and the Establishment of the Bulgarian Exarchate, 1864-1872: A Study in Personal Diplomacy, Madison, 1970; and Armanet Crescent, “Le mouvement des Bulgares vers Rome en 1860”, Échos d’Orient 12 (1909), p. 355-362 and 13 (1910), p. 101-110. On Kairis: Paschalis Dimitrios, Θεόφιλος Καΐρης, Athens, 1928.

76 Saint-Marc Girardin (n. 26), p. 420. For the views of Dragoumis and Souliotis: Dragoumis Ion, Ὅσοι Ζωντανοί, Athens, 1926; Souliotis-Nikolaidis Athanasios, Ὀργάνωσις Κωνσταντινουπόλεως, ed. by Veremis Thanos and Boura Katerina, Athens, 1984. Also see: Kechriotis Vangelis, “Greek-Orthodox, Ottoman Greeks or just Greeks? Theories of Coexistence in the Aftermath of the Young Turk Revolution”, Études Balkaniques (2005/1), p. 51-72.

77 The works of John Romanides and Georgios Metallinos particularly come to mind, with their reading of European history as a sustained struggle between the forces of Christian Hellenism and its dialectical, pagan opposite, which they variously label Frankism, Franco-Germanity, Latinism, and even Hellenism (in a pre-Christian sense). See, for example: Romanides John, Franks, Romans, Feudalism, and Doctrine: An Interplay between Theology and Society, Brookline Mass., 1982, and Metallinos Georgios, Ελληνισμός Μετέωρος, Athens, 1999.

78 Derinğil Selim, The Well-Protected Domains: Ideology and the Legitimation of Power in the Ottoman Empire, 1876-1909, New York, 1998, p. 46.

79 Davison Roderic, “Turkish Attitudes Concerning Christian-Muslim Equality in the Nineteenth Century”, The American Historical Review 59 (1954), p. 851-852, 861-863.

80 Gawrych George, “Tolerant Dimensions of Cultural Pluralism in the Ottoman Empire: The Albanian Community, 1800-1912”, International Journal of Middle East Studies 15 (1983), p. 523 and 530.

81 Kisakürek Necip Fâzıl, Namık Kemal. Şahsı – Eseri –Tesiri; Doğumunun yüzüncü yıl dönümü dolayısiyle, Ankara, 1940, p. 162-163.

82 Saint-mArc Girardin (n. 26), p. 420.

Auteur


Assistant Professor
Department of History
National University of Singapore

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