in towns, where the Greek Orthodox community was large enough to bear the expenses of their see. In theory, the number of these sees was fairly high because the ecumenical patriarchate continued to use the titles of some unoccupied metropolitan sees for honorific purposes. To take just one example, in the sixteenth century the church of the Greek Orthodox community of Venice enjoyed the status and title of the metropolitan see of Philadelphia, which had long ceased to function. More trustworthy when it comes to enumerating ecclesiastical sees are the Ottoman documents because their main purpose was pre-eminently practical, namely the registration of the clergy's financial obligations. The oldest Ottoman document enumerating sees dates to the year 1483 and lists fifty-seven of them; in the next one (from the year 1525) their number has decreased to fifty. But only forty are recorded in a list of metropolitan and episcopal sees dating to the period 1641-51, which itemises the amount of pi$ke$ paid to the sultan's treasury.45 This may give an exaggerated impression of decline, because of the greater use made at that time of the institution of patriarchal exarchs, who seem not to have paid pi$ke$ to the sultan. Even if the Ottoman documents are neither accurate nor complete, we should not ignore the decrease in the number of episcopal sees they record. At first sight, it would appear to indicate a significant fall in the Greek Orthodox population. If so, this occurred after the impressive demographic increase which took place in the Ottoman Empire between 1530 and 1580, but which was then followed by a general decline. This hit the Greek Orthodox population particularly hard, because it was reinforced by conversions to Islam, which were a consequence of the economic crisis at the end of the sixteenth century. It left Christians so impoverished that they were unable to pay the special taxes burdening non-Muslims. Mass conversion was one solution.46
The Orthodox clergy had few means to counter the material attractions of conversion to Islam, which offered exemption from the taxes paid by nonMuslims, promised liberation from the humiliations of dhimmi status, and opened up opportunities of achieving higher social rank; even the possibility of entering the ruling class. The Orthodox clergy could only insist in the face of these temptations that standing firm in the old faith was the sole guarantee of salvation; nor did they omit to back up this message by publicising that the
45 Inalcik, 'Ottoman archival materials on millets', i, 440-3; Zachariadou, AKa ToupKiKa £yypa<pa, 114-17.
46 H. Inalcik, 'Impact of the Annales school on Ottoman studies and new findings', Review 1 (1978), 73-90; H. Inalcik, 'Islam in the Ottoman Empire', Cultura Turcica 5-7 (1968-70), 28-9.
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