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3 Intro­ duc­ tion The East­ ern Ques­ tion Re­ con­ sid­ ered Lu­ cien J. Frary and Mara Ko­ zel­ sky As early as 1736, a trea­ tise by Car­ di­ nal Al­ be­ roni of Spain, trans­ lated into En­ glish and pub­ lished in Lon­ don, pro­ posed a joint ef­ fort among the Eu­ ro­ pean pow­ ers to con­ quer and di­ vide the Ot­ to­ man Em­ pire. The “per­ fid­ i­ ous and vast Em­ pire of Tur­ key,” he wrote, has been “in a lan­ guish­ ing State for more than a Cen­ tury.” Al­ be­ roni at­ trib­ uted the de­ cline of the Ot­ to­ man Em­ pire to “a gen­ eral Cor­ rup­ tion and Ve­ nal­ ity, ­ scarcely known in the World, since the time of the Ro­ mans.” He urged “the­ Princes and ­ States of Chris­ ten­ dom” to unite in war ­ against the ar­ mies of the sul­ tan “to res­ cue Fel­ low Chris­ tians from the Tyr­ anny and Bond­ age of the In­ fi­ dels” and to re­ claim the Holy Lands, ­ thereby “per­ pet­ u­ at­ ing the Tran­ quil­ ity” of the world. Al­ be­ roni fur­ ther char­ ac­ ter­ ized the Ot­ to­ man Em­ pire as hav­ ing a basis in “sac­ ri­ lege . . . vi­ o­ lence, treach­ ery and op­ pres­ sion.”1 In a com­ pre­ hen­ sive de­ sign an­ tic­ i­ pat­ ing the ­ Sykes-Picot Agree­ ment of the twen­ ti­ eth cen­ tury, Al­ be­ roni de­ vel­ oped a rec­ om­ men­ da­ tion for par­ ti­ tion­ ing the Ot­ to­ man Em­ pire among the small and large­ states of Eu­ rope. Note: Map at left depicts the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire, Balkans to the Caucasus 18th to 20th c. (map created by Sam Stutsman at the University of South Alabama) 4 Lucien J. Frary and Mara Kozelsky Al­ though Eu­ ro­ pean ap­ proaches to the Ot­ to­ man Em­ pire ­ evolved over time, the no­ tion that Eu­ rope had po­ lit­ i­ cal and moral ob­ li­ ga­ tions to man­ age the Ot­ to­ man col­ lapse per­ sisted for cen­ tu­ ries. Po­ lit­ i­ cal lead­ ers, mem­ oir­ ists, travel­ ers, schol­ ars, mer­ chants, and crit­ ics gen­ er­ ated thou­ sands of works about the Eu­ ro­ pean re­ sponse to per­ ceived Ot­ to­ man decay and de­ cline. His­ to­ rians ­ nearly ­ matched that vol­ ume of out­ put as they ex­ am­ ined the re­ sult­ ing con­ flicts based on the lan­ guage of­ nineteenth-century dip­ lo­ mats, who re­ ferred to the com­ plex dy­ nam­ ics of Eu­ ro­ pean in­ volve­ ment in the Ot­ to­ man lands as the “East­ ern Ques­ tion.” This East­ ern Ques­ tion in­ volved a pro­ found power strug­ gle that pre­ cip­ i­ tated nu­ mer­ ous armed con­ flicts ­ between the Ot­ to­ man Em­ pire, Brit­ ain, Rus­ sia, and the other Eu­ ro­ pean pow­ ers and ig­ nited the pas­ sions of na­ tive in­ hab­ i­ tants. At its heart, the East­ ern Ques­ tion en­ tailed the pre­ sump­ tion of West­ ern Eu­ ro­ pean ­ states and Rus­ sia to man­ age the af­ fairs of the Ot­ to­ man Em­ pire. Pin­ ning down a con­ cise def­i­ ni­ tion of the East­ ern Ques­ tion has chal­ lenged his­ to­ rians in the past be­ cause con­ tem­ po­ rary inter­ pre­ ta­ tions­ changed ac­ cord­ ing to its major epi­ sodes: the Greek Rev­ o­ lu­ tion (1821– 30), the Cri­ mean War (1853–56), the East­ ern cri­ sis of 1875–78, and the First World War. Inter­ ven­ ing ­ smaller-scale con­ flicts, such as the ­ RussianPersian War (1826–28), the ­ ten-years’ cri­ sis (1831–41) ­ evoked by the Egyp­ tian Pasha Meh­ med Ali, the Rus­ sian de­ feat of Sha­ mil in the Cau­ ca­ sus (1859), the Young Turk Rev­ o­ lu­ tion (1908), the strug­ gle for Mac­ e­ do­ nia, and the Bal­ kan Wars (1912–13) also gen­ er­ ated waves of con­ tem­ po­ rary spec­ u­ la­ tion. In­ itially led by Brit­ ish and ­ French pub­ li­ cists and pol­ i­ ti­ cians, Rus­ sian jour­ nal­ ists began...


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