In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

131 Russia’s Quest for the Holy Grail Rel­ ics, Li­ tur­ gics, and ­ Great-Power Pol­ i­ tics in the Ot­ to­ man Em­ pire Jack Fai­ rey A de­ vel­ op­ ment com­ mon to all the so­ cial sci­ ences since the end of the Cold War has been a re­ newed ap­ pre­ ci­ a­ tion for the so­ cial and po­ lit­ i­ cal power of re­ li­ gion.1 In keep­ ing with this trend, a grow­ ing num­ ber of his­ to­ rians have ­ self-consciously ­ sought (in the words of ­ Philip Gor­ ski) “to bring re­ li­ gion back in” to the writ­ ing of mod­ ern po­ lit­ i­ cal and so­ cial his­ tory. In Eu­ ro­ pean his­ tory, the re­ sult­ ing “re­ li­ gious turn” has ­ yielded val­ u­ able in­ sights on a range of top­ ics from the or­ i­ gins of West­ phal­ ian sov­ e­ reignty to the rise of na­ tion­ al­ ism, the pub­ lic ­ sphere, and the mod­ ern state.2 His­ to­ rians of the Ot­ to­ man Em­ pire, sim­ i­ larly, have paid in­ creas­ ing at­ ten­ tion to the po­ lit­ i­ cal his­ tory of re­ li­ gion and re­ li­ gious in­ sti­ tu­ tions, es­ pe­ cially as these af­ fected the inter­ nal co­ he­ sion of the em­ pire and the for­ ma­ tion of those mod­ ern ­ states and na­ tions that would even­ tu­ ally re­ place it.3 The im­ pact of Ot­ to­ man re­ li­ gious af­ fairs on mod­ ern inter­ na­ tional re­ la­ tions, how­ ever, has been less stud­ ied. One strik­ ing ex­ am­ ple of this 132 Jack Fairey ne­ glect is the his­ tory of the Cri­ mean War ­ between Rus­ sia and the Ot­ to­ man Em­ pire, Brit­ ain, and ­ France in 1853–56. The Cri­ mean War is not nor­ mally ­ treated as “a re­ li­ gious con­ flict,” yet its or­ i­ gins were in­ ex­ tri­ cably bound up with re­ li­ gious ac­ tors and is­ sues. The dis­ pute was, for ex­ am­ ple, the last major Eu­ ro­ pean war in which a com­ bat­ ant cited ex­ pli­ citly re­ li­ gious fac­ tors as a casus belli. In 1853, the Rus­ sian govern­ ment based its en­ tire case for war on its claim that the Ot­ to­ man govern­ ment was car­ ry­ ing out a de­ lib­ er­ ate cam­ paign of inter­ fer­ ence in Or­ tho­ dox re­ li­ gious af­ fairs. The pur­ pose of this cam­ paign, St. Pe­ ters­ burg de­ clared, was to under­ mine the po­ lit­ i­ cal and so­ cial po­ si­ tion of the Or­ tho­ dox­ Church in the Near East and ­ thereby to ­ strike at Rus­ sian in­ flu­ ence through­ out the re­ gion.4 In June 1853, Tsar Nich­ o­ las I an­ nounced that all his ef­ forts to bring the sul­ tan to rea­ son on the issue had ­ failed; the sole al­ ter­ na­ tive that re­ mained was a re­ sort to force. Holy Rus­ sia had no­ choice but to “march to the de­ fense of the Or­ tho­ dox Faith.”5 Chan­ cel­ lor Karl ­ Vasil’evich Nes­ sel­ rode en­ larged upon his ­ sovereign ’s ac­ cu­ sa­ tions re­ gard­ ing the re­ li­ gious ­ causes of the con­ flict in a mem­ o­ ran­ dum, dated 2 March 1854. This mem­ o­ ran­ dum, ­ though View of Constantinople by Evening Light by Ivan Aivazovsky. (reprinted with permission from the Peterhof Museum, Russia) Russia’s Quest for the Holy Grail 133 os­ ten­ sibly for inter­ nal use, was ­ clearly aimed at a wider au­ di­ ence. “For a long time now,” the chan­ cel­ lor com­ plained, “all the acts of the Turk­ ish Govern­ ment to­ ward us, as to­ ward the East­ ern ­ Church in Tur­ key, have born an ev­ i­ dent stamp of hos­ til­ ity.” As ev­ i­ dence, Nes­ sel­ rode cited a long list of of­ fenses com­ mit­ ted by the Sub­ lime Porte ­ against the Or­ tho­ dox ­ Church, in­ clud­ ing: di­ rect inter­ fer­ ence in inter­ nal [ec­ cle­ sias­ ti­ cal] af­ fairs . . . con­ stant ir­ reg­ u­ lar­ ities...


Additional Information

Related ISBN
MARC Record
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.