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Recording the Greek Orthodox population of Constantinople in 1821



Recording the Greek Orthodox population of Constantinople in 1821


16 June 2022


After the outbreak of the Greek Revolution, as it has been shown by the modern literature, the Ottoman administration gradually proceeded to take a series of measures aimed at securing the Ottoman capital. The rumours that existed about the existence of a plan of revolt on behalf of Constantinople’s Greek Orthodox inhabitants, in combination with the identity of the rebels in the Danubian Principalities and then in the Peloponnese, put the Greek Orthodox population in the sights of the Ottoman authorities. One of the measures taken and which we will focus on, is the recording of this portion of the inhabitants of the capital.

The recording of the potentially dangerous sections of the population of Constantinople had been a practice applied since the 18th century to secure the public order in times of crisis. People from specific areas, internal immigrants who had no guarantors, unmarried men living concentrated in shopping malls or workshops and shops were often the subject of such operations. The census allowed the authorities to “get to know” and, therefore, to better control those groups to which they turned their attention, where appropriate.

The records of the Greek Orthodox population of Constantinople in 1821 can initially be included in this context. Through the records preserved in Ottoman Archive of the former Ottoman Archives of the Prime Minister’s Office in Constantinople and information derived from published and unpublished sources, mainly Ottoman and Greek, will seek to identify the different phases of these population censuses, during the first year of the revolution, and to highlight the goals of the Ottoman administration for each of them. More specifically, the time at which the censuses took place, the officials who participated in them and more importantly, the data chosen to be recorded in each case provide information on the issues that concerned the administration, its goals, as well as its operating mechanisms, enriching our knowledge of the ways in which the Ottomans reacted to the Greek Revolution.

(Edited and translated abstract from organiser’s website)

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