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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...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780299298036
Related ISBN
9780299298043
MARC Record
OCLC
883373257
Pages
320
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-19
Language
English
Open Access
No
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