Info

incident also reveals the confident spirit which then prevailed in the patriarchate. The patriarch is described as a personality able to bring the most difficult situations to a successful conclusion, thanks to his diplomatic skills, his use of bribery, and his network of acquaintances in palace circles - a personality absolutely deserving the community's warmest support. At the same time, it seems that a legend was forming according to which Constantinople, or at least part of it, was not taken by force of arms but surrendered to the Turks after capitulation. This legend aimed at providing the patriarchate and the Greek community with a greater degree of legitimation within the Ottoman system of government. It was known to the famous Ottoman traveller of the seventeenth century, Evliya CCelebi, who wrote that the Greek fishermen of the Golden Horn enjoyed privileges granted to them by Sultan Mehmed because they had surrendered their quarter between Aya Kapu and Fener Kapu to him.51

The failure of the 'ulema to deprive the Greek community of its privileged status underlined how much a part of the Ottoman system the ecumenical patriarchate had become. This emerges very strongly from the berat which Suleyman I issued in 1525 to Theoleptos's successor as patriarch, Jeremias I (1522-46). In the narratio, which places special emphasis on the glories of Istanbul, the sultan explained that the appointment of the patriarch was necessary not only for the supervision of Christians with respect to their religious customs, but also for the appointment of metropolitans and bishops to territories outside the Ottoman Empire, as was the case with Chios, Crete, Wallachia, Moldavia and Russia, for when the Orthodox Christians of those parts needed a metropolitan or a bishop they turned to the ecumenical patriarch established in the Ottoman capital, which was protected by God.52 In a sense, the patriarch exercised an authority which ran parallel to that of the sultan. This was furthered by the Ottoman conquest in 1517 of Syria and Egypt, which brought the three eastern patriarchates of Antioch, Jerusalem and Alexandria under Ottoman rule. In spiritual and dogmatic matters they had always been nominally subject to the authority of the ecumenical patriarchate, but now they came under its more effective control. In this the ecumenical patriarchs had the backing of the Ottoman sultans, because a growth in the geographical scope of patriarchal authority served to increase the prestige of the Ottoman capital. It may be no coincidence that, just as Sultan Suleyman I was known to western

51 Narrative of travels in Europe, Asia and Africa in the seventeenth century by Evliya Efendi, translated from the Turkish by theRitter J.v. Hammer (London: Oriental Translation Fund, 1834), 159.

52 Zachariadou, AsKaToupKiKa'éyypa<pa, 152.

Was this article helpful?

0 0

Post a comment