Brokers of Faith, Brokers of Empire
Armenians and the Politics of Reform in the Ottoman Empire
Richard E. Antaramian



MKRTICH DIKRANIAN KNEW CONTROVERSY WELL. As an Armenian bishop from Diyarbakir, a largely Kurdish region in southeastern Anatolia, Dikranian found that trouble had made a habit of tracking him down. Despite these challenges, he had made a name for himself as an author and activist, most notably in the arena of education. His efforts in that field, which had begun in the 1840s, had won him the support of Armenian liberals in the Ottoman capital, Istanbul, who then used their influence with both the Armenian Church and the Ottoman imperial government to advance his career. With their patronage, Dikranian enjoyed appointments to a number of desirable positions in both the capital and the provinces. Those same efforts, however, had also earned Dikranian enemies among the provincial Armenian elite and their allies in the clergy, as unanticipated scrutiny accompanied his newfound notoriety. Opponents of reform slandered Dikranian in letters sent to Armenian Church authorities in the 1860s and 1870s. The most prominent Ottoman Armenian satirist of the nineteenth century mercilessly mocked Dikranian as a superstitious provincial buffoon who performed “miracles” for the ignorant.1 Dikranian, the scribe explained, would instruct the faithful to apply holy water he had blessed to fix any problem, be it an upset stomach, a broken window, or even a room that had flooded after a downpour.

These modest forays that Dikranian had made in the field of education attracted such attention because they were loaded with political meaning. Dikranian’s efforts were fully enmeshed in the nineteenth-century Ottoman reform program known as the Tanzimat, which commenced in 1839 when Sultan Abdülmecid (r. 1839–1861) issued the Edict of Gülhane. Like their imperial counterparts elsewhere, the Ottomans responded to the upheavals ushered in during the Age of Revolutions through a series of policies that recalibrated the relationship between state and subject.2 These policies included the introduction of institutions and initiatives such as the redrawing of administrative boundaries; secular courts; laws on nationality; the privatization of land; and, perhaps most significant, the expansion of a rationalized bureaucracy through which Ottoman sovereignty would be exercised. Most notably, the Gülhane edict announced the end of discrimination against non-Muslims in public life. This wholesale reorganization of the empire constituted a reinterpretation of the politics of difference in Ottoman imperial governance and society and thus extended to the empire’s non-Muslim communities.

As a Muslim empire, the Ottomans employed markers of religious difference to organize and legitimize their rule. Non-Muslim clergymen were tasked with securing the loyalty of their flocks to the Ottomans and ensuring that their communities observed certain discriminatory practices, including a prohibition on access to instruments of coercion, sartorial restrictions, and the remittance of special taxes to the imperial treasury. In exchange, non-Muslim communities enjoyed the right to administer their own internal affairs, practice their religion without interference from the government, and enjoy the protection of life and property by the state. Such arrangements encouraged the integration of non-Muslim religious communities—namely, the Orthodox Christians, Apostolic Armenians, and a variety of urban Jewish groups—into the imperial body politic on unequal bases. They also afforded the clergy particular incentive to guard the status quo. And they wielded the instruments to do so. Regulation of communal affairs meant that clergymen produced bureaucratic documents (such as baptismal records) and approved the transfer of wealth (by blessing marriages and inheritance) in accordance with religious prescription. Clergymen also had access to state coercion. For example, a rabbi could appeal to the government to enforce Jewish dietary laws, while an Armenian priest might use a local jail to enforce the Lenten fast or persecute Protestants. The extension of imperial reform into the administration of the non-Muslim communities introduced new constraints on the clergy. Scholars have read the subsequent rise of lay elites in communal administration as secularization and, in keeping with the modernization paradigm, connected reform to the formation of national identities.3 The clergy, who had attracted the attention of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century European observers, thus disappear from Ottoman historiography, where they instead give way to a motley assortment of bankers; bureaucrats; and, most telling, revolutionaries and intellectuals who charted routes out of empire. The substitution of nationality for religion proved incompatible with the imperial ethos.

Historians working against this line of thought have demonstrated that the formation of ethnic or national identities in the nineteenth century frequently accommodated imperial belonging.4 Religion did not, however, disappear from the Ottoman political landscape; in fact, I argue the opposite was true during the reform period. Clergymen, as a result, found themselves at the fore of Ottoman politics. Satire was thus not the only distraction with which Mkrtich Dikranian had to contend. In 1874, for example, rival clergymen accused him of conducting illegal ordinations.5 The substantiation of these charges likely would have resulted in the defrocking of Dikranian as an Armenian priest. Dikranian’s opponents among the clergy probably had more immediate goals. First, targeting Dikranian’s position as a clergyman would impede his ability to conduct reform. Second, the controversy—as demonstrated by how the records of these accusations were archived—threatened to trigger international discord that could rock the tenuous stability of Armenian Church institutions in the Ottoman Empire. In making such charges, Dikranian’s conservative adversaries were not simply reacting to changes in nineteenth-century Armenian society; they were trying to preserve a specific iteration of Ottoman imperial governance.

Brokers of Faith, Brokers of Empire seeks to capture how the Armenian community of the Ottoman Empire and its institutions participated in imperial governance during the reform period in the nineteenth century. In so doing, it reframes nineteenth-century Ottoman history by narrating imperial reform from the vantage point of Armenian experiences. The ecclesiastical reorganization of the Armenian Apostolic Church during this period had far-reaching consequences that extended beyond the parochial borders of the Armenian community. Although the Armenian clergy received their license from the imperial state—and this was quite literally the case for those holding high office in the Church’s administration—the relationship of the clergy to imperial politics and society did not run exclusively along a state-subject axis. Just as the politics of empire extended beyond the state, so, too, did the role of the Armenian clergy. They used the privileged position afforded to them by the politics of religious difference to forge relations with other powerful actors in imperial society at local, regional, and imperial levels. In so doing, the clergy embedded the institutions of the Armenian Church in dense and layered webs of connections that structured Ottoman society as a contiguous empire, brokering the relationships that made the movement of capital and the exercise of Ottoman sovereignty throughout its sprawling intercontinental domains possible. Any effort to tug at the ecclesiastical organization of the Armenian Church or otherwise place constraints on its clergy—projects in which Dikranian and other clergymen were clearly invested—thus constituted an effort to reorganize Ottoman imperialism itself.

The book argues that the ecclesiastical reorganization of the Armenian Church in the Ottoman Empire was therefore key to the centralization of the imperial state in the nineteenth century. Centralization, I contend, is better understood as the state’s efforts to establish itself as the sole institution for exercising imperial sovereignty. The introduction of the so-called millet system in the nineteenth century contributed to this effort by rearranging intercommunal networks that had structured imperial society prior to the onset of reform. Here, I benefit from Karen Barkey’s use of social capital theory to explain Ottoman imperialism.6 Barkey’s path-breaking book Empire of Difference describes how social capital was accrued by those able to position themselves as brokers between differentiated networks in an imperial society.7 The decision to forge a connection—and thus construct or expand a network—was theirs to make. The state in this setting was not the only player and thus had to share sovereignty with a variety of partners in imperial politics. The Armenian Church was one such partner. This book therefore uses network analysis and the social capital metaphor to locate Armenians and their religious institutions in larger structures of Ottoman power and identify how the connections they forged helped make imperial society. Doing so takes us away from the vantage point of the state and its dominant sociological element, the Sunni Turks, and to the margins of imperial society to understand how Ottoman power was constituted.

As partners of the state, Armenians used their religious institutions to contribute to a horizontal version of Ottoman imperial governance. The connections fostered through the Armenian Church, which crisscrossed the empire, brought together a whole host of actors, including provincial Muslim notables, the imperial government, tax collectors, merchants, bankers, and of course the Armenian clergy, to share in the benefits of empire and thereby suture an imperial polity. These relationships come into view only during the reform period. Each effort by Armenian reformers to censure, remove, or otherwise punish a clergyman shed more light on how the Armenian community was, in fact, integrated into Ottoman imperial society. This book therefore uses the paper trail—composed in Armenian languages and produced by Armenian institutions—generated by the conflict between two different visions of Armenian communal participation in Ottoman governance to rethink the dynamics of imperial politics. In the course of corresponding with one another, petitioning the Patriarchate of Constantinople, or simply recording their observations, Armenian priests implicitly described a complex imperial polity and their place in it. This is because clergymen ultimately found themselves caught between different poles in a contentious politics in which multiple powerful actors had a stake. I follow the evidence these clergymen have left us to identify those connections and how they integrated the Armenian community into imperial society. The stakes were high. Opponents of reform thus came for Dikranian’s career; other clergymen would pay more dearly for trying to reform their community.

Historians’ approaches to the reform period have fallen broadly into two strains. One has emphasized the methods used by the state to extend its authority beyond the capital and into the provinces. The other has paid closer attention to the state’s efforts to combat what many regard as nascent nationalism among the empire’s non-Muslim communities by reintegrating them into the imperial body politic. These processes did not, however, unfold in isolation from each other. Armenians bidding to reorganize their own communities and to place constraints on the clergy were actively engaged in unmaking the connections that supported a version of imperial governance that was horizontal and networked. In so doing, Armenian reformers partnered with the state in its efforts to produce a top-down polity that was legible to the imperial center. The fact that they did so provides us an opportunity to build upon recent critiques on paradigms central to the writing of Ottoman historiography—namely, the millet system and the center-periphery binary.


The center-periphery binary has exerted a strong influence over the fields of Ottoman and Middle Eastern studies for several decades.8 It has understandably left a particularly significant imprint on the study of the reform period. The central government’s bid to expand its authority in the nineteenth century brought it to loggerheads with provincial notables across Anatolia, the Balkans, and the Levant who regarded such developments as an encroachment upon their prerogatives. Such encroachments provoked a response that, scholarship on the topic has held, facilitated the formation of national identities. This analytical paradigm, which is familiar to historians of empire, migrated into Ottoman historiography from positivist sociology in the 1960s. The modernization assumptions implicit in the center-periphery paradigm found fertile soil in fields still finding their footing in the North American academy. Only in the past two decades have scholars, particularly those studying the Ottoman Levant, begun to interrogate the causal link between imperial reform and nationalism.9

The enduring influence of the paradigm presents an obstacle to the integration of Armenian experiences into Ottoman historiography. In this historical literature, the juxtaposition of a periphery differentiated by language, culture, or ethnicity against the imperial center ultimately normalizes the preeminence of the state and its sociological majority, the Sunni Turks. Both of these elements enjoy prevalence as the constant variable in a series of analyses organized geographically (e.g., the juxtaposition of Damascus, Beirut, or Baghdad each against Istanbul). Moreover, the reification of political tension to that between Muslim notables in the periphery and the government in Istanbul precludes appreciating the ecumenical constitution of imperial politics. Much as is the case with studies of the imperial center, non-Muslim elites, cleaved from their communities and their politics, incoherently dot the social landscape of the periphery as merchants, moneylenders, priests, or victims.

The center-periphery framework fails to explain how Armenian reformers such as Dikranian articulated their agendas in the context of imperial reform in the 1860s and 1870s. Understanding how Armenians engaged imperial governance requires breaking down the center-periphery binary as an enduring feature of Ottoman history and recognizing the contingency of each as a category that gained salience only in the nineteenth century. Armenian reformers enthusiastically embraced the challenge of reorganizing their communities precisely because it embedded them in imperial policies that produced center and periphery both discursively and structurally. In place of the various metaphors derived from center-periphery analysis to explain Ottoman imperialism, such as spoke-and-hub-without-the-wheel, I instead propose that the empire be viewed as a tapestry.

The tapestry model sees empire as a dense cluster of layered, overlapping, and differentiated networks through which imperial sovereignty was exercised. Their collective organization was messy and uneven, and they oftentimes facilitated the forging of relationships that the imperial center later found intolerable. For the most part, however, the interaction of these various threads provided actors all across the empire a set of shared interests that invested each in the political enterprise of empire; their interaction also ensured that the benefits of these relationships ultimately flowed upward to the ruling class. The stability of the ensuing political formation owed a debt to the brokerage of the Armenian community. The Armenian community was a networked space woven into this tapestry through religious institutions; clergymen and ecclesiastics thus rested at the intersection of relationships that helped stitch the empire together but did so in a manner that drew imperial society toward Istanbul. The two perspectives I employ in this book—the tapestry and the networked communal space—allow me to observe Armenian communal politics as a connected phenomenon that interacted simultaneously with the state and a multitude of other actors across the empire.

Armenian communal reform pursued two objectives: support the state’s efforts to dismantle the networks that had propped up horizontal connections that had made one order of things, and then use the Armenian institutions newly freed from those webs of relationships to weave together a new system of governance in which state institutions alone exercised sovereignty. Reform advocates such as Dikranian saw this as a direct pathway into the politics of state that would unburden the great bulk of Armenians, who were overwhelmingly engaged in subsistence-level agriculture, from the informal power structures that exacted heavy tolls on them. Lay Armenians likewise interpreted reform of the community’s administration as a pathway to state power and began organizing around clergymen with whom they shared political agendas. Because Armenian religious institutions and the clergy who led them functioned as nodes through which the community was woven into imperial governance, ecclesiastics became a site of intense contention; these were the knots that had to be cut.

In other words, Armenian engagement with imperial governance as explored in this book runs counter to many of the long-standing assumptions about Ottoman non-Muslims during the long nineteenth century. Reform did not secularize but rather politicized religion and Armenian Church offices in a manner they had never been previously in Ottoman governance. Instead of nationalization, Istanbul and the legitimacy afforded by the imperial center assumed a significance in communal politics that it had not enjoyed in prior centuries. Communal reorganization very clearly directed all Ottoman Armenian politics toward the Sublime Porte, an orientation that arguably persisted until the end of the Allied occupation of the Istanbul following World War I. Armenians viewed themselves as partners of the government in reform. In the course of restructuring governance, however, Armenian reformers helped irreversibly change the meaning of difference in the Ottoman Empire and how it could be deployed to make claims. An Ottoman Empire that no longer needed the Armenian community to forge network structures that pulled the polity toward Istanbul had little incentive to hold up its end of the partnership.


Empires enforce regimes of difference to ensure a system of inequality that benefits the ruling class; the benefits of any imperial enterprise ultimately flow back to the center.10 For the Ottomans, religion was a primary marker of difference. Exploring non-Muslim engagement with imperial governance is thus essential to any comprehensive analysis of Ottoman history. As has been well documented, the Ottomans’ masterful management of diversity fueled the empire’s rapid transformation from a tiny beylik in the Bithynian marches to a global power. Early aggrandizement at Byzantine expense, for example, owed much to the fact that Christian strongmen such as Köse Mihal had allied with the nomads’ charismatic leader, thus becoming osmanlı themselves. Postconquest Ottoman administrations in the late medieval and early modern periods tended to have a laissez-faire quality to them, where the imperial authorities usually preferred to co-opt indigenous elites and exploit their local knowledge rather than impose more costly and potentially consequential forms of direct rule. Accommodation (istimalet) deterred opposition and oriented conquered communities’ politics and economies toward the nascent imperial center.

The Ottomans’ flexibility in governance extended to religious practice in what has typically been described as a millet system. Consonant with Muslim political practice, the empire’s non-Muslim religious communities, or millets, received guarantees of life, property, and freedom of religious practice in exchange for loyalty and subjection to certain discriminatory practices, including sartorial restrictions, exclusion from the military, and the payment of extraordinary taxes to the imperial treasury. Early scholarship on Ottoman non-Muslims held that the empire instituted this system following the conquest of Constantinople by Sultan Mehmed II in 1453 that finally extinguished the smoldering embers of what was once the Byzantine Empire.11 The sultan supposedly invested authority over the growing empire’s Christian population in Gennadios, a Greek Orthodox bishop, shortly after the Ottomans had established themselves in the city. Cognizant of the doctrinal differences separating Christian churches, Mehmed II later called his friend Hovakim, an Armenian bishop in Bursa, to the imperial capital to preside over the Armenians as Gennadios did the Greek Orthodox. Eventually, each of the three principal non-Muslim communities—the Greek Orthodox, the Armenian Apostolic, and the Jewish—had an ethnarch based in the capital who governed his community on behalf of the government. The Ottomans thus incorporated, much as they did local elites elsewhere, the indigenous religious institutions that they encountered by giving the clergy a stake in imperial governance. The clergy so empowered had that much more incentive to stamp out heretical movements that might be used to mobilize social discontent, as had been the case in the Muslim community.

There is much to question here. While the clergy did establish an important role in Ottoman governance, scholars have devoted considerable energy to dismantling the millet system paradigm. The best-known salvo in this deconstruction was Benjamin Braude’s 1982 chapter “Foundation Myths of the Millet System” in the two-volume collection Christians and Jews in the Ottoman Empire.12 Braude’s chapter describes how many of the documents used to establish the timelessness of the millet system were, in fact, forgeries made by clergymen in the early nineteenth century to establish precedent for the prerogatives they hoped to claim as the empire experimented with reform. The deconstruction of the millet system paradigm subsequently opened different pathways for exploring non-Muslim historical agency in Ottoman imperial society. Scholars, particularly those interested in gender, social, or cultural histories for the early modern period, have turned to sources such as court records to demonstrate the porosity of communal boundaries.13 Although organized by religion, non-Muslim communities in the Ottoman Empire were neither parochial nor undifferentiated. They were also not stable political or social formations.

The ease with which historical actors transgressed communal boundaries has called into question not only the millet system paradigm but also whether we can speak of millets in Ottoman history. Scholars have scoured a number of archives to find documents that demonstrate the contingency of church prerogatives in imperial governance across time and space. By and large, the rights and responsibilities of non-Muslim communities were determined on an ad hoc basis and were generally the result of negotiation between a clergyman and the government. To this end, scholars have tracked how the terms used by the Ottoman authorities for non-Muslim communities changed over time. Only in the nineteenth century did the term “millet” begin to gain salience as an increasingly discernible category in the lexicon of Ottoman law and politics.14 This development built upon the growing ecclesiastical authority that the Armenian and Greek Orthodox patriarchs began wielding in the eighteenth century; that expansion of authority in turn laid the institutional framework of what could become a millet system in the nineteenth century. It was within the parameters of this framework that patriarchs, non-Muslim elites, and representatives of the imperial government would negotiate the rights and responsibilities of each party throughout the reform period.

Scholarship focusing on the nineteenth century has, however, preferred to treat millets as stable and fixed communities that seamlessly underwent processes of nationalization and secularization in the course of the reform program. Despite critical reconsiderations of the violence that gripped Orthodox Christian communities in both Greece and the Slavic-speaking regions of the Balkans, as well as the failure to present any evidence that demonstrates Ottoman Armenians’ desire to create an independent state, Carter Findley, a preeminent scholar of the field’s mainstream, declared with confidence that

while reinforcing Ottoman solidarity and creating conditions for specific communities to flourish were philosophically reconcilable, under Ottoman conditions communal reforms could not be carried out without reinforcing separatism and thus undermining Ottomanism. Inasmuch as the religious differences basic to millet reform seldom matched the ethnic differences basic to modern nationalism, variable and unpredictable consequences ensued, as the Greek Orthodox and Armenian cases illustrate. Among Ottoman religious minorities only to the Jews were ideas of nationalism or separatism foreign in this period.15

The enduring resilience of modernization theory underpins the assumption, as described above, that millet yields nation. Why has the depiction of a contingent, fluid community made by scholars of the early modern period failed to disrupt the national teleology that holds such sway among historians of the nineteenth century? The failure to reconcile these approaches has, in the words of one scholar, rendered the first half of the nineteenth century a dead space.16 One explanation rests in the étatist inclinations of Ottoman historiography. The historical literature that demonstrates the contingency of community has done so through the prism of state documents. Highlighting how churches coaxed concessions out of the state in the course of their negotiations is useful to an extent but tells only a sliver of the story, as this entails juxtaposing a non-Muslim community such as the Armenians against the state in order to afford the former any meaning.17 The relationship between the two so reified precludes understanding how internal communal politics were, in fact, part of a broader imperial political contention on which the state was only one (albeit by far the most significant) claimant. Reading non-Muslim politics along a state-subject axis alone reduces the complexity of those communities’ historical experiences to only one facet of how they navigated empire. Like much of Ottoman historiography, the integration of non-Muslim historical experiences into the narrative hinges on displacing the centrality of the state.

Imperial sovereignty is layered and shared.18 States were not hegemonic actors but instead had to negotiate with a variety of forces in imperial society to inscribe legitimacy in the subjects over whom they claimed dominion. Imperial governance, as Christine Philliou argued, extends beyond the state and instead encapsulates a series of relationships, networks, and cultures that are committed to preserving an order of things.19 These are crucial starting points for displacing the centrality of the state in our thinking about Ottoman history generally and the relationship of non-Muslim communities to imperial governance in particular. Rather than interrogate how the state used non-Muslim communities to facilitate imperial rule over non-Muslim subjects, we may more productively ask how communities helped establish and perpetuate a social and political order.

Non-Muslim communities were key to brokering and maintaining relationships between more powerful forces in Ottoman imperial society. They employed a number of techniques to play such a role. Although there remains debate about the prerogatives and responsibilities of churches and clergymen, non-Muslim communities did retain the right to administer their own religious affairs. These affairs included more than just weekly liturgical services or the confession of faith. Baptisms, marriages, and funerals were ceremonies loaded with cultural meaning that could ascribe religious sanction to significant economic exchanges and the social bonds they sometimes forged. Although scholars may parse the language used by the imperial government to delineate the relationship of the church to the state, clergymen on the ground policed interactions that were of consequence beyond the community. As such, clergymen were well positioned to make alliances with other actors who wielded power.

The non-Muslim churches’ role in tax collection reinforced that position. As Tom Papademetriou showed in the Greek Orthodox case, the church was originally a tax farm.20 The Ottomans, as the Byzantines before them, recognized the efficiency that ecclesiastical structures could furnish for the purposes of tax collection. Clergymen’s stake in the movement of goods and cash thus provided them that much more incentive to forge alliances with those power brokers. Locally, this tended to take the form of relationships with Muslim notables, their clients, and the provincial government officials who had to navigate such networks. The ecclesiastical organization of the churches also attracted the investment of the wealthy and influential among their flock. These connections aided the relative stability enjoyed by the empire throughout much of the eighteenth century, particularly in the decades following the Patrona Halil uprising. In both the Armenian and Greek Orthodox cases, the rapid expansion of patriarchal authority and the influence of non-Muslim elites in imperial governance during the eighteenth century were interrelated developments.21

These non-Muslim elites—Armenian amiras, a class of Istanbul-based bankers and bureaucrats, and Greek Orthodox Phanariots, (mostly) Greek notables who served as Danubian governors and government translators—played significant roles in brokering relations between the groups vying for power at the top of the Ottoman Empire. Although most clearly tied to the imperial government, Phanariot households benefited from relationships with provincial notables, tax collectors, Janissaries, and the Greek Orthodox Church—an institution on which they brought their incredible wealth and prestige to bear. Armenian amiras meanwhile used their financial capital to underwrite much of the empire’s tax collection system, thus placing themselves between provincial notables, the imperial government, the clergy, and the Armenian peasantry. For the amiras especially, the clergy and the church were ideal instruments for building intercommunal relationships that could protect investments and ensure that the benefits of empire—in this case, profits from tax farming—flowed upward and into the coffers of provincial notables, the state, and the Armenian elite. The empire-wide community was thus fully integrated into imperial politics and society.


1. Hakob Paronean, Azgayin jojer. ute antip kensagrakannerov (K. Polis: Tparan u gratun Nshan Papikean, 1912), 71–84.

2. For comparative examples, particularly those that emphasize a relationship between empire and religion, see among others, Robert Crews, “Empire and the Confessional State: Islam and Religious Politics in the Nineteenth Century Russia,” American Historical Review 108, no. 1 (February 2003): 50–83; Pieter Judson, The Habsburg Empire: A New History (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2015); Michael Miller, Rabbis and Revolution: The Jews of Moravia in the Age of Emancipation (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2010); and Paul Werth, The Tsar’s Foreign Faiths: Toleration and the Fate of Religious Freedom in Imperial Russia (New York: Oxford University Press, 2014).

3. For examples, see Vartan Artinian, “The Armenian Constitutional System in the Ottoman Empire: A Study of its Historical Development” (PhD diss., Brandeis University, 1969); Victor Roudometof, “From Rum Millet to Greek Nation: Enlightenment, Secularization, and National Identity in Ottoman Balkan Society, 1453–1821” Journal of Modern Greek Studies 16, no. 1 (May 1998): 11–48; and Dimitri Stamatopoulos, “From Millets to Minorities in the Nineteenth Century Ottoman Empire: Am Ambiguous Modernization,” in Citizenship in Historical Perspective, eds. S. G. Ellis, G. Hálfadanarson, and A. K. Isaacs (Pisa, Italy: Edzioni Plus-Pisa University Press, 2006), 253–73.

4. Julia Phillips Cohen, Becoming Ottomans: Sephardi Jews and Imperial Citizenship in the Modern Era (New York: Oxford University Press, 2014); Hasan Kayalı, Arabs and Young Turks: Ottomanism, Arabism, and Islamism in the Ottoman Empire, 1908–1918 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997); and Adam Mestyan, Arab Patriotism: The Ideology and Culture of Power in Late Ottoman Egypt (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2017).

5. Matenadaran Katoghikosakan Divan, 205/1601, “Khoren vardapet Shahnazarian to Patriarchate of Constantinople” (November 30, 1874).

6. Karen Barkey, Empire of Difference: The Ottomans in Comparative Perspective (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2008).

7. Like Barkey, I benefit from Ronald Burt’s theorization of social capital, brokerage, closure, and network structures. Ronald Burt, Brokerage and Closure: An Introduction to Social Capital (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005).

8. The introduction of this paradigm into Ottoman and Middle Eastern historiographies dates to the 1960s. See Albert Hourani, “Ottoman Reform and the Politics of Notables,” in Beginnings of Modernization in the Middle East, eds. William R. Polk and Richard L. Chambers (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1968), 41–68; Şerif Mardin, “Center-Periphery Relations: A Key to Turkish Politics?” Daedelus 102, no. 1 (Winter 1973): 169–90. The paradigm has had tremendous influence on the scholarship on national identity formation in particular.

9. Ussama Makdisi, Culture of Sectarianism: Community, History, and Violence in Nineteenth Century Ottoman Lebanon (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000). On the Balkans, see Isa Blumi, Reinstating the Ottomans: Alternative Balkan Modernities, 1800–1912 (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011).

10. Ronald Grigor Suny, “The Empire Strikes Out: Imperial Russia, ‘National’ Identity, and Theories of Empire,” in A State of Nations: Empire and Nation-Making in the Age of Stalin and Lenin, eds. Ronald Grigor Suny and Terry Martin (New York: Oxford University Press, 2001), 23–66.

11. H. A. R. Gibb and Harold Bowen, Islamic Society and the West, Volume 1: A Study of the Impact of Western Civilization on Moslem Culture in the Near East, Part II (New York: Oxford University Press, 1957); Steven Runciman, The Great Church in Captivity: A Study of the Patriarchate of Constantinople from the Eve of the Turkish Conquest to the Greek War of Independence (London: Cambridge University Press, 1968).

12. Benjamin Braude, “Foundation Myths of the Millet System,” in Christians and Jews in the Ottoman Empire: The Functioning of a Plural Society. Volume I: The Central Lands, eds. Benjamin Braude and Bernard Lewis (New York: Holmes and Meier, 1982), 69–88.

13. See, for example, Leslie Peirce, Morality Tales: Law and Gender in the Ottoman Court of Aintab (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003).

14. Paraskevas Konortas, “From Tâ’ife to Millet: Ottoman Terms for the Ottoman Greek Orthodox Community,” in Ottoman Greeks in the Age of Nationalism: Politics, Economy, and Society in the Nineteenth Century, eds. Dimitri Gondicas and Charles Issawi (Princeton, NJ: Darwin Press, 1999), 169–79.

15. Carter Findley, “Tanzimat,” in The Cambridge History of Turkey, volume four, ed. Reşat Kasaba (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2008), 29 (my italics). For an important revisionist account of nationalism in the Balkans, see İpek Yosamoğlu, Blood Ties: Religion, violence, and Nationhood in Macedonia, 1878–1908 (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2013).

16. Christine Philliou, “The Ottoman Empire’s Absent Nineteenth Century: Autonomous Subjects.” In Untold Histories of the Middle East: Recovering Voices from the 19th and 20th Centuries. Edited by Amy Singer, Christoph K. Neumann, and Selçuk Akşin Somel (London: Routledge, 2011), 141–58.

17. For example, see Masayuki Ueno, “Religious in Form, Political in Content? Privileges of Ottoman Non-Muslims in the Nineteenth Century.” Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient 59, no. 3 (March 2016): 408–41.

18. Jane Burbank and Frederick Cooper, Empires in World History: Power and the Politics of Difference (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2011), 17.

19. Christine Philliou, Biography of an Empire: Governing Ottomans in an Age of Revolution (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2010), xxiii.

20. Tom Papademetriou, Render Unto the Sultan: Power, Authority, and the Greek Orthodox Church in the Early Ottoman Centuries (New York: Oxford University Press, 2015). Macit Kenanoğlu makes a similar argument in Osmanlı Millet Sistemi: Gerçek ve Mit (İstanbul, Turkey: Klasik Yayınları, 2004).

21. On the expansion of the authority of the Greek Patriarchate of Constantinople, see Hasan Çolak, “Relations Between the Ottoman Central Administration and the Greek Orthodox Patriarchates of Antioch, Jerusalem and Alexandria: 16th–18th Centuries” (PhD diss., University of Birmingham, 2012).