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Greek-Orthodox Patriarchate of Constantinople, 1839-1923

Author(s) : Stamatopoulos Dimitrios (7/4/2008)
Translation : Nakas Ioannis

For citation: Stamatopoulos Dimitrios, "Greek-Orthodox Patriarchate of Constantinople, 1839-1923",
Encyclopaedia of the Hellenic World, Constantinople
URL: <http://www.ehw.gr/l.aspx?id=11472>

Ορθόδοξο Πατριαρχείο Κωνσταντινουπόλεως 1839-1923 (12/12/2008 v.1) Greek-Orthodox Patriarchate of Constantinople, 1839-1923 (9/9/2011 v.1) 



Bulgarian issue
The Bulgarian struggle for ecclesiastical autonomy. Since the 1850’s the Bulgarians claimed the establishment of an autonomous church (exarchate) which would retain typical relationship with the Ecumenical Patriarchate. The latter opposed to this movement as its role had been undermined. After long lasting negotiations and the failure of any attempt for reconciliation, an Ottoman firman promulgated in 1870 established the Bulgarian exarchate, although the Patriarchate declared the Exarchate schismatic. Naturally, the main character of the struggle of the Bulgarians for ecclesiastical independence was not religious. It was bounded to the Bulgarian nationalism emerged at that time and had clear political dimension (Bulgarian political independence).

In the Ottoman Empire, an imperial edict or commission signed and sealed by the Sultan.

Administration system of the Ecumenical Patriarchate that was established during the tenure of the patriarch Samuil Chantzeris (1767). It was based on an ecclesiastical oligarchy consisting of the metropolitans of the dioceses that were near Constantinople (Heraclaea, Chalcedon, Nicomedia, Cyzicus, Nicaea, and later Derkon and Caesarea). These metropolitans, called "gerontes" (elders), were responsible for the administration of the patriarchate in cooperation with the patriarch. In reality they could often impose on him their own decisions and could bring about his dethronement. Gerontism provided for administrative competence within the patriarchate, since the gerontes' prolonged stay in the capital rendered them particularly experienced in the management of eventual crises; on the other side, however, the system was a source of financial and other abuse, while it undermined the patriarch's status and autonomy. The system of gerontism was abolished after the adoption of the so-called "General" or "National Regulations" by the National Assembly that convened in Constantinople in 1858-1860. This was a result of the proclamation of the Hatt-ı Hümayun (1856), the imperial decree that among others provided for the reorganization of the millet, the etnhic-religious communities of the Ottoman Empire.

Hatt-i Humayun
The most important decree of the Tanzimat reforms (1856) that confirmed once more the equality of rights of the Ottoman subjects and announced measures for the reformation of the millet system, the reorganization of the provincial administration, the taxation system, the dispensation of justice and the protection of the honour, the life, and the property of the Ottoman subjects. During the next years the Sublime Porte passed laws that were relevant to the decree's announcements.

Megali Idea
The term “Megali Idea” first appeared on the 14th of January 1844 with the speech of Ioannis Kolettis. From then it constituted the motivating ideological reference of the newly founded state, setting the concept of the modern Greek identity on a new basis. The content of the “Megali Idea”, which could be summarized by the phrase “national completion” had to do with the expansion of the Greek state in lands of the Ottoman Empire, where Greeks lived, and to the elevation of Greece as the moat important political power of the wider area.

The millet system was based on the division of the Ottoman subjects according to religion. The millets were the central communal institutions for the members of the respective ethno-religious groups, in particular for the non-Muslim subjects of the Empire. The millets had its own institutions and functions concerning self-administration, religion, education, justice, and social coherence. Although the division of the subjects according to their religion had always been fundamental in the Empire, the millets in their fully organized form originate in the end of the 18th century. In the 19th century, in particular during the period of the tanzimat reforms, the millets became the main institutions through which the non-Muslim subjects were incorporated in the Ottoman Empire.

Privilege Issue
The contestation by the Sublime Porte of self-administration, judicial or educational “privileges”, which the Patriarchate possessed during the lengthy Ottoman Period.


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