(Thanks to Hector)
Britain, the Armenian Question and the Cause of Ottoman Reform: 1894-96
Middle Eastern Studies, July 1990 , Vol. 26 Issue 3.
Throughout the nineteenth century successive Ottoman
governments undertook reforms on a large scale, affecting all crucial areas of Ottoman
society, and proving beyond doubt that reform was not merely a catchword used to 'throw
dust in Europe's eyes' as some European critics seemed to believe. In Britain, the
question of reform became of paramount importance as British political, religious and
economic interests in the Ottoman state grew. Numerous British diplomats acknowledged the
difficulties involved in trying to reform an empire so large and beset by so many
problems. Writing from Tunis in 1877, Consul Richard Wood — 'the oldest (British) public
servant in active service in the Ottoman dominions' and certainly one of the best informed
— took a positive view, arguing that it was 'unfair' to tax the Ottoman government with
insincerity in its 'laudable' efforts to give effect to reforms . In
1878 the newly appointed British ambassador to the Porte, Sir A. H. Layard, submitted to
Sultan Abdulhamit II some 'suggestions' for improving the administration of his empire and
developing its vast natural resources . Layard's
suggestions were painted on a broad canvas and dealt with such matters as Ottoman
finances, the judicial system, the development of roads, railways and natural resources,
the need to pay public servants regularly, and the urgent need for an equitable tax
Ottoman reformers would have had little difficulty in identifying with many of these
ideas. To a large and influential section of British public opinion, however, reform
simply meant better treatment of Ottoman Christians, whose position or 'plight' had been
thrust to the forefront of European diplomacy on numerous occasions since the Greek war of
independence. The terrible events which had taken place on Mt. Lebanon and in Damascus in
1860 and the Bulgarian 'horrors' of 1876 had strengthened the belief in an age
self-consciously and often aggressively Christian that it was Christians who suffered most
under the Ottoman 'yoke'.
THE CONGRESS OF BERLIN AND BRITAIN'S 'PROTECTORATE'
In the Hatt-i Serif of 1839 and the Hatt-i Humayun of 1856 Sultan Abdülmecid had
affirmed that his subjects would be given fair and equal treatment irrespective of
religious background. Further general undertakings were written into the Treaty of
Paris (1856), but by the time the Cyprus Convention and the Treaty of Berlin were
both signed in 1878 the concern of British Christians had begun to focus almost
exclusively on the Armenians. 'The critical moment in the destiny of this country
has, I believe, arrived', a British traveller wrote of the Ottoman state after the
war with Russia in 1877/78. "The Armenians, detesting Ottoman rule, are ready
to cast themselves into the arms of any power that will offer them protection and
guarantee their future emancipation' . An
Armenian delegation went to Berlin in the hope that the European powers would impose
an autonomous Armenian vilayet on the sultan. However, along with the humbled
Ottomans, the Armenians were virtually ignored by the European power brokers. The
question of reform was only taken up towards the end of the conference, resulting in
the following clause being written into the treaty: 'The Sublime Porte undertakes to
carry out without further delay the improvements and reforms demanded by local
requirements in provinces inhabited by the Armenians and to guarantee their security
against the Circassians and the Kurds. It will periodically make known the steps
taken to this effect to the Powers, who will superintend their application' .
Austen Henry Layard
What Britain hoped to gain at Berlin for itself
was encapsulated in a despatch written by Layard shortly before the congress began.
The ambassador was gratified to learn that the views of the Foreign Secretary (Lord
Salisbury) were now in line with his own priorities of blocking the Russians and
maintaining, in the eastern provinces of the Ottoman Empire, a 'strong hand and the
power to rule' . Britain's responsibility lay
in ensuring that this power was not abused, and that it positively contributed to
the welfare and prosperity of 'all classes, races and creeds'. If Salisbury's
policies were carried out, Layard believed,
we may come triumphantly out of our difficulties and promote our
interests and those of humanity and civilisation at the same time. But we must be
firm and not yield an iota of this programme. The Russians, who cannot but foresee
the enormous danger of a war with England, will endeavour to make concessions in the
hope of averting one, but it is doubtful whether they will make those which are
absolutely necessary to our interests as distinct from those of Europe in general.
They will employ all their usual diplomatic tricks and cunning, but I think we shall
not be taken in. We must have the Asiatic part of the question settled in a manner
that will prevent the Asiatic dominions of the Sultan becoming ere long mere Russian
dependencies, or as Ld. Salisbury very aptly calls them, 'satrapies' 
For his part Salisbury regarded Layard as being 'in the front of the battle for the
interest of both England and humanity in the east' .
The Cyprus Convention and the Treaty of Berlin implanted in some minds the idea that
Britain had acquired the right to establish a protectorate in the eastern vilayets
of the Ottoman state. James Bryce, in a letter to The Times, wrote that
'happily the object which the friends of Armenia have is now, by an assumption of
the protectorate of eastern Turkey, in large measure attained' . Even Layard referred to the 'great additional labours imposed on
me by our "protectorate" in Asiatic Turkey' , but he was clearly aware of the dangers involved. 'It is all very
well to sit around a green table and cut up an empire on a map', he wrote shortly
after Berlin, but 'it is a very different thing to put what has been so easily
settled into execution. I anticipate no end of trouble and bloodshed for years to
come in this unhappy country' . Whatever
the difficulties it was made clear to him that public opinion in Britain would allow
no backsliding on the question of reform. Philip Currie — later (as Sir Philip)
himself ambassador to the Porte — wrote to Layard from the Foreign Office that
people would 'hardly tolerate the maintenance of the (Cyprus) Convention' if the
'Turks' refused to accept 'real reforms' .
Layard's attempts to persuade the sultan to accept British plans for reform, in which
European supervision over tax collection, judicial procedures and the gendarmerie in the
eastern vilayets was a dominant element, have been amply documented . They foundered not only because the Ottoman government was in no
position to finance the measures being proposed (and neither then nor later did Britain
itself make any offers of financial assistance) but because the sultan was strongly
opposed to any suggestion of European control. Layard persevered throughout 1879, with the
policy of persuasion turning to threats that the fleet would be sent through the
Dardanelles (Canakkale) unless the sultan did what was being asked of him. By 1880, the
ambassador's exasperation seemed complete. British officers arriving in Istanbul on their
way to organise the gendarmerie in the provinces had been treated with the 'most marked
discourtesy and neglect' and very few had been even succeeded in reaching their
destinations. 'It is no use making threats which are not to be put into execution', Layard
wrote. 'If we are in earnest about wishing to save this country but at the same time to
reform its administration so that its population may be justly and impartially governed we
must be prepared to go further than mere menace' .
However, Layard's time at Istanbul was almost over. Within a few weeks the Liberals were
returned to office and on 6 May the incoming Prime Minister, W.E. Gladstone, recalled the
man he once described as a 'pure Turkish jackall' .
With Gladstone as Prime Minister it was certain that the sultan
would be even less responsive to British demands. Gladstone had taken a leading role in
the Bulgarian agitation of the 1870s, his sixpenny pamphlet, 'Bulgarian Horrors and the
Question of the East', selling by the thousands. To the Ottomans, he was a fanatic whose
antipathy to the sultan, Islam and the Turks — whom he had described in 1876 as an
'anti-human specimen of humanity'  seemed to know
no bounds. His bland disclaimer of any ill towards the Turks ('Hobart Pasha . . . told me
the Sultan believed I was his greatest enemy. I have never been so great an enemy to him
as he to himself. I have never had extreme views about Turkey' ) was belied by public and private statements made over a long period
of time. He regarded Abdulhamit as the 'Arch-liar and Arch-cheat', a ruler whose political
nature was absorbed in vice, a rascal whose chief characteristics were 'Protean shiftings
and shufflings', 'bottomless fraud', falseness, immeasureable lying and any number of
other sins . It was no wonder that the sultan
looked upon the British leader with 'a kind of horror' .
Attempts were made to maintain pressure on the sultan. Lord Dufferin, according to his
biographer, was sent to Istanbul with a brief to 'extort' reforms  from 'that consummate rogue'.
The failure of his predecessors to make any real headway in persuading the sultan to
accept reforms devised by the British government was for Sir William White, ambassador
from 1886-91, an 'object lesson in the futility of attempting to interfere in the Turkish
administration of Asia Minor'.
The sultan became rapidly disenchanted with the
British during this period. In spite of the assurances given during the Congress of
Berlin, Britain had taken part in the continuing dismemberment of the Ottoman
empire. When in 1890 Arminius Vambery blamed him for the estrangement which had set
in between the two countries, Abdulhamit was astonished: 'Since my accession to the
throne they [the British] have not shown me the slightest sign of that traditional
old friendship which characterised centuries ago the relations of this country with
England. On the contrary, they seem to have been anxious to give me unmistakeable
proofs of their outspoken enmity and of convincing me of a radical change in our
former relations. I do not need giving you details, you know them well'. The Egyptian question was near the top of his
list of complaints. In the sultan's eyes, the British occupation was causing
'serious injury to my title of Khalife, for you know Egypt jointly with Mekka and
Medina belongs to the dignity of the successor of Mohammed and forms the main
attribute of the spiritual chief of Islam'. If the Egyptian situation were not
'regulated', then 'my prestige must immensely suffer in the eyes of my
co-religionists, and I daresay nobody expects me to commit political suicide'.
The planned reorganisation of the eastern vilayets in favour of the Armenians
was the cause of equal rancour. The sultan and his ministers had often declared that
the people of the east were not ready for the reforms being proposed. It was
difficult enough for them to accept reforms which the Ottoman government was
introducing of its own volition. The majority, wrote Consul Biliotti in 1880, were
simply 'not in a sufficiently advanced state of intellectual development to
understand the beneficial purposes of laws framed in a more liberal spirit than the
existing ones. The only thing that they recognise in their new legal procedure is
that culprits cannot be apprehended before being warned, that is summoned to appear
in courts, and warrants for apprehension issued against them. The law which they
were hitherto accustomed to fear but not respect has therefore lost the only power
it possessed in their eyes, that of the dread it inspired'. Through Vambery, Abdulhamit implored Britain 'not to press upon
me with the introduction of reforms for which my people is still unripe and which
are ipso facto injurious to the political, social and religious conditions of this
country'. Furthermore, he could not admit
"any kind of superintendence or surveillance over my government even if such
interference be made under the guise of friendly and well wishing advice'". The sultan did not deny that there were
serious problems in the administration of the eastern vilayets: 'As to the
wrongs from which the Armenians have to suffer at the hands of the rapacious and
disorderly Kurds you must not imagine that I am unaware of the gross neglect of my
civil officers in the interior', he told Vambery. 'But my dear Reshid Effendi (i.e.
my name), what can I do? My pashas have their own policy, they are utterly deficient
in patriotism and honesty. I myself cannot cure the evils at once. It requires time
and patience and if my friends, and particularly the English, whom you designate as
such, go on augmenting my troubles instead of supporting me then my task will become
more arduous and we both will have to suffer by it'.
The prospect of an Armenian state roused the sultan to deep passions. 'Flaming with
fury and trembling before me', he told Vambery that such a state would be 'the most
crying injustice' to the Muslims of the six eastern vilayets — 'they can
sever that head from my neck but never Armenia [sic] from my empire! It was against the current of such feelings, fed by the strong
suspicion that the campaign of reforms was the thin end of a wedge which would
indeed end in Armenian independence, that British diplomats saddled with the task of
establishing a 'protectorate' laboured so fruitlessly through the 1880s.
|SASUN AND THE 1895 REFORM PROJECT OF THE POWERS
When Sir Francis Clare Ford took over as
ambassador from Sir William White, Lord Salisbury was able to record with
satisfaction that there had been a 'considerable improvement' in the general
administration of the Ottoman state in recent years. At the same time there were numerous indications that the
'ancient symbiosis'  between Muslims and
Christians was rapidly breaking down. Armenian revolutionaries were mobilising and
stockpiling arms in numerous areas and their activities — ranging from placard
warfare against the sultan to murder, bombings and pitched battles with troops —
were already provoking Muslim reprisals and causing suspicion to fall on Armenian
communities in general. In such an atmosphere, the events which took place in 1894
around Sasun — where intermittent conflict had been reported since 1891 —
precipitated a slide into general communal chaos in the east. Sasun was presented by
the Armenians and their foreign supporters as an unprovoked massacre of Armenians by
Ottoman troops. Indeed, the Ottoman Commission of Inquiry subsequently appointed did
find that despite formal denials 'the accusation of massacre of the Armenians by the
troops at Geliguzan was well founded. The villages of Kavar, Senik, Semal and
Geliguzan, and the entire district of Talori, Agpi, Hetink, Spagank, with their
dependencies, were laid waste and almost all the inhabitants, left without homes or
means, were forced to scatter among the Armenian villages of the plains'. What the Armenians and their sympathisers
abroad did not know or conveniently overlooked was the reason for troop
reinforcements being to Sasun in the first place — an Armenian uprising in which
many Muslim villagers were killed. According to the sequence of events given by
A man called Mourad, the same
Armenian who was at the bottom of the troubles at Coum-Capou [Stamboul] two years
ago and made his escape to Athens and from there to Geneva, found his way to Sasun
and raised up all the population of eight or nine villages by telling them that
'there is an army coming to their help which is to reach Sasun in balloons'. He got
them to abandon their villages and carry off all their property and families into
secure places and then all the able men, being armed with flint guns, sabers, knives
and axes, went up to a monastery on the top of a mountain nearby after having burned
their villages and slaughtered all the inhabitants of all the Mussulman villages on
the way and burned their villages too. This is the correct statement of Mourad in
his declaration on his cross examination as reported by the Chief Commander of the
4th Army Corps.
The sultan gave details of some of the atrocities which had been committed and
commented that the behavior of the Armenians was enough 'to exasperate the mildest
people in the world'.
Estimates of the number of Armenians killed in the Sasun district fluctuated wildly:
the American consul at Sivas wrote that between 5,000 and 10,000 Christians had been
killed, but these figures were greatly exaggerated. The sultan and his ministers
simply could not understand 'how an old man like Mr. Gladstone could have been
carried away with blind fanaticism in speaking at Chester of tens of thousands
murdered at Sasun whereas the total population, Mohammedan and Christian, amounted
to only three or four thousand souls'. Only
a few months later the American minister plenipotentiary in Istanbul wrote that the
Armenians still enjoyed full religious freedoms under Ottoman rule and that 'in the
face of facts like these, and with full knowledge that non-resident Armenians have
been organising a revolutionary movement it is folly to insist, as has been done in
the English and American press, that atrocities at Sasun were instigated by the
Mohammedan hatred of the Christian faith'.
When the Ottoman commission of inquiry concluded its hearings, it found that 265
Armenians had been killed at Sasun. In a dissenting memorandum the British observer,
Consul Shipley, criticised certain aspects of the inquiry and said the figure could
be as high as 900, but this was still considerably less than the numbers being
bandied about in the foreign press.
Vambery cautioned Britain against further interference in Ottoman affairs.
The Hungarian professor
the Hungarian & Turkish languages
were similar, and helped
Bram Stoker for his research with
Dracula; he is believed to be the
inspiration for Van Helsing
The more the Armenians are supported by Europe,
'the greater becomes the danger which threatens them by the hand of the Kurds and the
Ottoman authorities, for the scattered and isolated conditions of these Christians makes
every effective defence totally illusory and still more under the present circumstances,
when the so-called Hamidie regiments consisting of adventurous Kurds have been provided
with modern arms by the Sultan. Considering that the Christian West cannot and will not
interfere for the sake of these poor Christians by using coercive means in Constantinople,
every encouragement given the Armenians is equivalent to an incitement to plunder and to
murder. If the shortsighted humanitarians cannot be convinced of the real state of things,
the [British] government certainly ought not to be deceived by the unmistakeable danger
and they ought to act accordingly'. Although
Gladstone was no longer Prime Minister at this stage, the Liberals were still in
government; they were overwhelmingly sympathetic to the Armenians and besides, public
opinion was building up pressure on the Armenian question which no government could
ignore. Thus it was that the reform question was dusted off and again placed at the top of
the agenda. By December 1894, the American minister in Istanbul, Alexander Terrell, was
recording his conviction that the 'guarded reserve' which had marked Britain's approach to
reforms lately had given way to a more positive approach, and 'if I may judge from the
spirit with which her representative here expresses himself, her future policy will be
Nevertheless, it is still surprising to find the British ambassador [now Sir Philip
Currie] insisting on elements of reform which the sultan was known to detest, particularly
European supervision. Currie believed that the Ottomans were maintaining neither the
letter nor the spirit of Article 61 of the Treaty of Berlin. The Powers wanted greater
attention paid to 'the two great principles of equality and decentralisation', whereas in
its own reform proposals the Porte had retained the principle of centralisation 'even in
the smallest administrative detail'. Currie also
submitted that exceptionally vigorous measures were needed to restrain the Kurds, to the
extent that they should be excluded from the reforms intended for the 'population of
Armenia' and given a separate administration 'suitable to their warlike and primitive
The British government's assumed right to dictate Ottoman policy was no more acceptable
than previously to the sultan and his ministers, who were clearly faced with an extremely
complex and volatile situation in the east. When the Ottoman ambassador in London, Rustem
Pasa, asked the Foreign Secretary for the grounds on which Britain based its right to
interfere in the internal affairs of the Ottoman state, Lord Kimberley, expressing some
astonishment, replied that 'we had the most plain and undoubted right, based upon the
Treaty of Berlin and the Cyprus Convention of 1878, and not only had we, in common with
the other Powers, a right to interfere, but these treaties laid upon us most solemn
obligations that we could neglect'. As we shall
see, this interpretation of Britain's rights and obligations was not shared by Lord
Salisbury, who was directly involved in shaping both the convention and the treaty.
In conversations with Currie, Abdulhamit accused England of encouraging and protecting the
Armenians, who could not be brought into the provincial administration in greater numbers
in the present disturbed conditions. His position was that the laws promulgated by his
uncle and grandfather
were amply sufficient to insure good government if
properly executed. He proposed, however, to improve the existing administration in three
ways. Firstly by increasing the numbers of gendarmes and soldiers in places where Kurds
and Armenians were in conflict: and secondly, by sending better men as judges. Formerly,
few Turks went abroad to study and in Turkey they had hitherto had no opportunity of
acquiring a proper judicial training. Such training was, however, now provided in the
schools he had established. He added that he feared the indolence of his officials was
responsible for much maladministration. In Europe, he had heard, the courts sometimes sat
till late at night, whereas Turkish judges were always anxious to leave early. He would,
however, see to this. Thirdly, he proposed to introduce a certain number of Armenian
functionaries into the public service in some parts of the Empire but the execution of the
reforms must be gradual and [would] depend on the good behavior of the Armenians
themselves. Under these circumstances, there would be no necessity to demand reforms of
Having set up his own commission of inquiry in
April the sultan informed Currie that he had decided to accept its recommendations
which included the appointment of Christian muavins (assistants) to the valis
in the eastern vilayets, of a 'certain number' of Christian kaimakams
and mudirs, and the recruitment of Christians for the gendarmerie. He hoped these measures would be acceptable
to the British government. However, Britain remained committed to the introduction
of a European plan of reforms. The Russian Foreign Minister held out little hope
that such a project could be made to work: he believed 'that there were but three
districts in Asia Minor where the Armenians formed the majority of the population,
viz. Bitlis, Angora and Alexandretta. But
these places were far apart, and could scarcely be united in one province. Armenians
were scattered throughout the country, indeed throughout the world, and there was no
one locality which could be described as Armenia'.
The powers would assume a very heavy burden if they were to insist on these reforms
being carried out,' and they could only do so by direct interference in the internal
affairs of the country'. The role of the
British ambassador in persisting with the introduction of a European plan of reforms
against the opposition and the warnings of the sultan was clearly critical. To the
American minister, his 'aggressive policy' resulted in massacres.
As Currie had been demanding, European supervision was again a feature of the
memorandum and the scheme of reforms finally agreed upon by the ambassadors of
Britain, France and Russia and presented to the sultan on May 11 and to the Porte on
May 14, 1895. The first point sought in the memorandum was an unspecified reduction
in the number of vilayets named in their reform plan (Erzeroum, Bitlis, Van,
Sivas, Mamouret el-Aziz and Diarbekir), which would make possible certain economies
in the general administration expenses'. Moreover, the redistribution should be
effected in such a way 'as to divide the population into ethnographical groups of as
homogeneous a character as possible in the different administrative divisions of
each province'. Secondly, concerning the
appointment of valis, the ambassadors not only expressed their determination
'to address representations to the Porte whenever choice is made of individuals
whose appointment might be open to objection', but they insisted that they should be
informed 'unofficially' of these appointments beforehand. The third point sought a
liberal amnesty for Armenians accused of or condemned for political offences but who
had not been convicted of 'direct participation' in crimes against the common law.
The fourth, fifth and sixth points sought the right of return for all Armenians who
had been exiled without trial, or who had fled through poverty or fear caused by
recent events; a swift hearing of all criminal proceedings; and an inspection of
prisons by 'high officials' sent from the capital. The seventh dealt with the
appointment of a high commissioner to supervise the execution of reforms, whose
appointment would depend on the approval of the powers. Point eight sought the
creation of a permanent commission of control, with three Muslim and three Christian
members (apart from its president, whose religion was not specified), which would be
obliged to accept submissions from the embassies. Point nine dealt with compensation
to the Armenians for injuries and loss of property (no mention was made of injuries
suffered and property lost by Muslims), point 10 with safeguards surrounding
religious conversions, and point 11 with the maintenance of the privileges of the
Armenians under the Armenian organic statute of 1863 and the berats (official
warrants of approval) issued by the sultan.
The final demand concerned Armenians living in vilayets outside those in the
reform scheme: 'If in those vilayets there are places (such as Hadjin, in the
vilayets of Adana, and Zeitoun in that of Aleppo, and etc.), where the
Armenians form the majority of the population, the existing administrative division
shall be altered and the scheme of reforms for the constitution of the nahies
 shall be applied to those places, which
will thus become separate administrative divisions'.
In their reform plan, consisting of 40 articles, the ambassadors
1. The appointment of valis for five years and the appointment of muavins, assistants to
the vali, 'who shall be Christians when the valis are Mussulmans and Mussulmans when the
valis are Christians'. Apart from receiving petitions, superintending the police and
prisons and controlling the collection of taxes, the muavin would take charge of the
vilayet in the vali's absence (Art.3).
2. The appointment of a 'certain number' of Christian mutesarrifs. Each mutessarif would have a muavin, who would be Christian if the
mutessarif were Muslim and Muslim if he were Christian. The muavin would take charge of
the sancak  in the mutessarif's absence (Art.4).
3. The appointment of a 'certain number' of Christian kaimakams  in each vilayet, with muavins chosen according to the same
prescription of religious 'balance' as described for the mutessarifs. In any case, the
number of Christian mutessarifs and kaimakams must not be less than one third of the total
in each vilayet (Art.6).
4. The division of each kaza  into a certain
number of nahies, the boundaries of which 'shall be fixed as far as possible in such a
manner that villages of the same religion shall be grouped in one and the same nahie.
Regard shall generally be paid to topographical and ethnographical conditions, as well as
to the requirements of the population' (Art.7).
5. The appointment of police 'irrespective of religion' from the population of the nahies
6. In accordance with 'special regulations', the organisation of a corps of provincial
gendarmes, two-thirds to be recruited from the police of the nahies (Muslims and
non-Muslims in equal numbers), and the remainder drawn from the regular army (Art.21).
7. The appointment in the principal towns of the vilayets and sancaks of 'Committees of
Preliminary Inquiry', whose duties would be to investigate arrests and inspect prisons.
They would have the authority to order the imprisonment or the release of prisoners. Each
committee would consist of a president and two other members (one a Muslim, one a
8. The appointment in each vilayet of an official to be responsible for controlling the
Kurds. Under his authority, 'a certain number of officials shall accompany each tribe in
its annual migration. These officials shall exercise over it a power of police, order the
arrest of all malefactors and bring them before the ordinary tribunals'. Furthermore,
'efforts shall be made to impress on the nomad populations the principles of a sedentary
life by accustoming them to agricultural labor and, with this object, land shall be
allotted to them in localities where their installation cannot interfere with the
tranquillity and welfare of the sedentary populations' (Art.24)
9. The use of Hamidiye cavalry only in conjunction with regular troops — 'at ordinary
times and when not on service the Hamidie cavalry shall not wear uniforms or carry arms'
10. The collection of taxes under the direction of local authorities, with each
subdivision of the vilayet taking from the taxes collected by it 'the amount necessary for
the expenses of its administration' in accordance with figures set down in the government
11. The appointment of a 'sufficient number' of magistrates in each kaza, one third of
them to be Christian (Art.30).
The plan of the ambassadors also dealt with the reorganisation of the nahies and
the election of local councils (Arts.7-17). Although no demand for European supervision
was made beyond the 'unofficial' communication of the names of proposed valis and the
right to approve the High Commissioner, it was expected that foreign consuls would watch
over the application of the scheme and that berats (official warrants of approval) would
be sought to place additional consuls in towns where there were none.
The memorandum and the reform project are astonishing documents,
not only because they represented the attempt of three sovereign powers to
reorganise the internal administration of a fourth — this was not unusual in
dealings between the European powers and the Ottoman state — but because the
ambassadors were setting themselves against some of the most fundamental aspects of
Ottoman policy. These concluded centralisation, not the decentralisation sought by
the powers. More importantly, all reforms introduced since 1839 had been directed
towards the over-arching notion of 'Ottomanism', of creating a sense of Ottoman
identity which transcended millet loyalty, and thus the redrawing of the nahies
along religious or 'ethnographical' lines could not possibly be accepted. The idea
that a handful of officials could step in and control migratory tribes was
questionable at the very least. As for the element of European control, there was
never any possibility that the sultan would accept it, raising the likelihood that
the real target of the powers was not Abdulhamit but public opinion and particularly
British public opinion.
The Texan served
as minister to
the Ottoman Empire under Grover
Cleveland, 1893 to 1897.
In the opinion of minister Terrell, the measures proposed would
bring about 'the gradual destruction of the Mohammedan rule and only a demonstration
of force could make the sultan accept them'.
Certainly the authority of the central government would be weakened, and by setting
quotas of Christian officials which would be out of proportion to the size of the
Christian population, it seemed likely that communal tension might be increased
rather than diminished. Vambery told the
British Foreign Office that the scheme suggested a total failure of the ambassadors
to understand the practical difficulties involved. The establishment of separate
Muslim and Christian enclaves would arouse no end of quarrels. In the provinces, he
Moslems imagine and claim certain privileges against their non Moslem coumtrymen,
privileges which they believe to emanate from their religion and which have been
sanctioned by the customs and usages of centuries. In Constantinople itself the
government could introduce reforms in this direction owing to the higher standards
of education and to the greater number of Christians living together with the ruling
class. But in the provinces, this is not the case. Here things have remained in the
same condition as before the tanzimat, all innovations have merely touched the outer
surface, and if the Sultan would come out saying 'Mohammedans are just like
Christians, there is no difference between you both' I am afraid he would create
great discontent, nay, he would have to face a revolutionary rising.
If the powers did have as their aim the creation of a separate province or Armenian
state, 'then their real troubles would begin, for the Armenians, being scattered
over the whole Ottoman Empire, the so-called Armenia would have to extend from at
least Erzeroum and Bayazid down to Diarbekir in the east and Adrianople in the
In its reply to the ambassadors the Ottoman government conceded some points — an
officer and troops would accompany the Kurds on their annual migrations and every
attempt would be made to induce them to adopt a sedentary way of life — but the
most provocative of the European demands were rejected. Appointments to the provincial administration, police and
gendarmerie would be made only in proportion to the size of the Muslim and
non-Muslim communities in each vilayet. A reduction in the number of vilayets
and their reorganisation on 'ethnographical lines' was impracticable, 'seeing that
in each district the populations are mixed'. The 'unofficial communication' of the
names of the valis the sultan proposed to appoint would be derogatory to the
independence of the Ottoman state. A 'pardon' (not an amnesty) had been granted to
many Armenians, and it had been decided already to pardon more. Armenians who had
been exiled or who had left the country for other reasons would be permitted to
return if they gave guarantees of good behavior. The appointment of judicial
commissions of inquiry was unnecessary; two inspectors, Muslim and non-Muslim, were
to be appointed to each vilayet to expedite the course of justice and inspect
prisons. And as the valis of each province were entrusted with seeing that
the reforms were faithfully carried out, not to mention the commission established
within the Interior Ministry and the inspectors it had at its disposal, the
appointment of a High Commissioner was also unnecessary. Concerning the submission
of information by the dragomans to a permanent commission of control it was feared
that this 'could not but give rise to frequent controversies' and 'unpleasant
difficulties'. Again, as one commission had been appointed already, there was no
need to create another.
The appointment of Christian muavins to the valis
to 'protect the interests of the Armenians' in the eastern provinces outside the reform
scheme would constitute a special privilege at odds with the principles of equality
already affirmed, and would furthermore 'provoke hostility between the communities'. The
sultan was to take up the point again later, noting that the six vilayets 'cannot
at any future time acquire a privileged character'.
Although Vambery cautioned the British against bringing further pressure to bear on the
sultan, not only did they persist but they began to think of more forceful means to attain
In June the Conservatives were returned to office and
on 5 August Lord Salisbury inquired of his ambassador at the Tsar's court 'how far the
Russian government are willing to proceed in putting pressure on the Porte as they do not
consider that diplomatic means will be of much further avail. Her Majesty's Government are
of opinion that the three Powers cannot withdraw from the enterprise without loss of
credit; and they have entertained no doubt that in consenting to co-operating with them in
this matter the two allies contemplated the possibility of being driven to more energetic
measures in the event of the Sultan declining to take any action'. Already, it seems, Salisbury was preparing for the future division of
Ottoman territory between the European states.
If this indeed was the bait being offered, it was no longer in Russian interests to take
it. The Russian Foreign Minister told the British ambassador that the ambassadors in
Constantinople had no right to resort to coercive means or threatening language:
He feared that Her Majesty's Government, urged on by public opinion,
which he believed had been the work of the Armenian committees, would be inclined to adopt
a course with which Russia could not associate herself. The fact was that the Armenian
committees in London and elsewhere aimed at the creation in Asia Minor of a district in
which the Armenians would enjoy exceptional privileges and which would form the nucleus (noyau)
of a future Armenian state, and to this Russia would not and could not agree.
Furthermore, events in the eastern vilayets had brought Russian Armenians to an
'excited state' and the authorities had been forced to take 'severe measures' to stop them
sending arms and money across the border.
The Foreign Minister observed that while Mr Gladstone might regret the divergence of
opinion which had developed between Russia and Britain, Russia's direct interests on its
borders did not permit it 'to indulge in the philanthropic dreams which seemed to prevail
in England, whose interests, on account of her insular position and distance from the
Armenian districts, were not directly affected.
Repeatedly, the message was sent from St. Petersburgh that Russia would not sanction the
use or even the threat of force.
The Ottoman government continued to make adjustments to its own reform plans, but British
frustration was palpable. The idea of a mixed commission of control with European members
was raised but rejected on the grounds that it would be an infringement of the sultan's
sovereign rights. By early September, the
Russians were insisting on bringing the Armenian question to an end: it had dragged on for
too long, and as they hardly needed to point out, it was causing agitation throughout the
SULTAN'S IRADE OF OCTOBER 1895
The stalemate between Abdulhamit and the powers was eventually broken by the Armenians
themselves. On 30 September, following a demonstration at the Armenian cathedral in
Kumkapi, an estimated 2,000 Armenians began moving towards the Porte. [71;
HW: approx. placement.] They were within a
few hundred yards of the government offices when police intervened to stop them; in the
skirmish which followed, 15 gendarmes and 60 Armenians were killed or wounded. Both
Terrell and Currie believed an Armenian had fired the first shots, and Currie accused the
Hunchaks of organising the demonstration in the hope of forcing the European powers to
intervene. Conversely, Terrell believed that the
presence of a British naval squadron off Lemnos had encouraged an 'aggressive feeling'
among the Armenians. As news of the demonstration
and confrontation with the police spread, and as Armenian bombings and killings continued,
a violent mob reaction set in. In various parts of the city, Armenians were cornered and
killed; a group of men carrying sticks and knives entered a han where 25 Armenian
labourers were staying, locked the doors to keep the police out, and killed them all, ; the British consulate kavas claimed to have seen
four men bayonetted in the courtyard of the Ministry of Police. Softas and Islamic students, joined in the attacks on the Armenians.
Terrell described the 'Mussulman priests' as being 'greatly excited'  and numbers of Muslim agitators were arrested as the authorities
sought to restore order.
Now under renewed pressure from the ambassadors to accept their demands without delay,
Abdulhamit responded by issuing an irade (rather than the more important hatt
they had sought) on 17 October which was somewhat unrealistically greeted by some in
Istanbul as 'harbinger of future peace'. The
measures outlined were presented not as reforms but as 'orders to enforce existing laws or
regulations in harmony with them' , and, indeed,
in view of the steps already being taken, there was very little that was new. The irade
affirmed that non-Muslim muavins would be attached to Muslim mutessarifs and
kaimakams in sancak and kazas with a large Christian population.
Civil servants, police and the gendarmerie were to be recruited in proportion to the
number of Muslims and Christians in each vilayet, which would provide for perhaps
'one Christian to five Turks [sic] at most'.
Non-Muslim muavins were to be appointed to the valis but only to 'cooperate in the general
affairs of the vilayet', and not to assume the heavy burden of responsibilities
originally sought by the powers. Muslim and
non-Muslim judicial inspectors would be appointed in each vilayet with the job of
accelerating all processes of law and keeping check on the state of the prisons. The Kurds
were to be escorted by regular troops during their annual migrations and the Hamidiye
cavalry were to carry arms and wear uniforms only when on duty.
Why is it
then that England will not help me? I cannot understand it. Does Lord Salisbury not
wish to help me? Can they not see that I am earnestly striving to put things right?'
Abdulhamit's sad plea to the British; some "Bloody Sultan."
Vambery took a pessimistic view of these latest changes wrung out of Abdulhamit.
Of course the English government now exult in joy for having
triumphed over the sultan and (for having) compelled him to make concessions in the
matter of reforms', he wrote, but it would be 'a very heavy task to appease the much
agitated minds of the various inhabitants in Asia Minor and to re-establish the
former relations between the various creeds and races, since the authority of the
Porte has been much shaken.
Terrell believed that any tranquillity would be temporary — permanent security and
order were made impossible by the corruption of provincial governors, by race and
religious hatred, by Abdulhamit's 'one-man despotism' but above all 'by the schemes
of the Armenian anarchist who will never rest while certain of the sympathies of the
It was also feared that while not going far enough to satisfy the Armenians, the
sultan had gone too far for his Muslim subjects. The Times commented that the
irade might exasperate the Muslims as being 'a preferential act of
liberality' towards the Christian population'.
Whatever the precise truth, there is no doubt that the irade exacerbated the
situation in the eastern vilayets, where uprisings, massacres and counter
massacres were all signs that civil war was in fact raging in Anatolia. During the last three months of 1895, and for much of 1896, many
thousands of people were killed, the overwhelming majority of them Armenian —
inevitably so, given the minority status of the Armenians almost everywhere,
although where they were predominant (as at Zeitoun), Muslim casualties were high. At the height of the turmoil Abdulhamit
beseeched Salisbury to assist him:
Let then England help me by giving good advice to the Armenians or
even threatening them that nothing will be gained by their present conduct and
telling them that on the contrary, reforms cannot be carried out as long as they
agitate and continue to create disorder. Why is it then that England will not help
me? I cannot understand it. Does Lord Salisbury not wish to help me? Can they not
see that I am earnestly striving to put things right?' 
Against a background of continuing violence in the east, the thrust and parry
between the British government and Abdulhamit continued through 1896. In August
Armenian revolutionaries again took the initiative, seizing the Ottoman Bank in what
was a coup de theâtre aimed at forcing the European powers to redouble their
efforts on the reform question. The revolutionaries killed a number of troops and
civilians in what was part of a wider conspiracy involving attacks on other banks,
police stations and government offices. As
had happened the previous year after the affray near the Porte, the seizure of the
bank was followed by gruesome scenes in Istanbul as mobs hunted down and killed
Armenians unlucky enough to be out on the streets.
Accompanied by his consular kavass, Terrell later took his carriage two miles
through the Armenian quarter to the graveyard where he found
in revolting rows about seven hundred Armenian dead, whose
tattered and poor clothing showed that they were the hamals or burthen carriers of
the city. Not one decently dressed man was amongst them. Crossed and piled like dead
dogs, they were left with cleft skulls and ghastly knife wounds, mute witnesses
against timid and blundering diplomacy.
In the meantime, the revolutionaries who had survived the raid had been pardoned by
the sultan as part of the negotiated settlement of the affair and were sailing into
The raid sent further tremors through the provinces; in October Abdul-hamit issued an irade
effectively applying the 1895 irade to all the vilayets except the Hijaz,
in an apparent attempt to placate the powers but Terrell at least thought it was time for
them to call a halt:
In times of prosperity the Sultan can hardly maintain his sway in the
distant provinces under a laisser faire policy and now with an exhausted treasury he is
urged to press reforms for Christian races with an unpaid army, at the very time when wild
fanaticism seeks their destruction. When we reflect that these reforms are urged in the
belief that Russia will permit no forcible invasion of Turkey by any other Power to make
them effective, the conclusion seems inevitable that these European powers are trying to
promote a butchery and anarchy that will force the dismemberment of the Ottoman Empire
among themselves, or that the ambassadors cannot understand the lessons of history and the
plain causes of the events of last year.
Scawen Blunt (1840-1922),
he appeared in the 1860s; he was
jailed in 1888 for defending the Irish
In Britain the reaction to the events which were
taking place in the Ottoman empire between 1894 and 1896 was one of Christian outrage. The
fervent demands made at public meetings, the attacks on the Ottoman government, Islam and
the Turks, all echoed the Bulgarian agitation of the 1870s. It was said that the Ottomans
had a 'plan of extermination' , and that
thousands of Christian martyrs were being cut down in a 'Mohammedan saturnalia'. England not only had the right but a duty to
intervene — alone if necessary — to save the Armenians. Gladstone asserted that the Treaty of Paris had given the European
powers the right to march into 'Armenia' and 'take the government out of the hands of the
Turks' , and at a protest meeting read out a
resolution, passed with much cheering, to the effect that the government 'will have the
cordial support of the entire nation without distinction of party in any measures which it
may adopt for securing to the people of Armenia such reforms in the administration of that
province as shall provide effective guarantees for the safety of lives, honor, religion
and property, and that no reforms can be effective which are not placed under the
continuous control of the Great Powers of Europe'.
Even Wilfrid Scawen Blunt, the fierce opponent of British intervention in Egypt, supported
intervention for the sake of the Armenians; the British had encouraged them to organise
and rebel for their own purposes, and 'if we do not go to war we shall be sitting down
under the greatest affront we have suffered as a nation'.
From many pens streams of invective were directed against Abdulhamit, Gladstone's 'Great
Assassin', this 'miserable caricature of a monarch', whose actions had revealed a 'satanic
lust for blood'. Coming from a country which he
believed to be largely responsible for the making of the Armenian imbroglio, these insults
not only embittered the sultan but confirmed his view that Britain had long since become
fundamentally hostile to the Ottoman state. He had inherited a close friendship with
Britain, which he was anxious to strengthen and preserve, but 'instead of supporting my
efforts and meeting me halfway, England has unfortunately done all in her power to slacken
and destroy this bond and, repulsing the friendly hand offered to her, she has become my
bitter enemy and has done more harm to me than the historical foe of my nation and of my
Having established beyond doubt that Russia would not countenance intervention, Salisbury
sought to close the books on the Armenian question as tidily as possible. To those who
demanded unilateral intervention he responded that it was out of the question for military
as well as political reasons, because Britain simply did not have the military power to
occupy the eastern provinces of the Ottoman state.
Further, if those who believed Britain was bound by its commitments to go to war to save
the Armenians examined the obligations Britain had undertaken,
they would see that their judgment went too far. All that there is is an
article in the Berlin Treaty under which the six Powers agree, not to any outside person
but to each other, that if the Sultan promulgates certain reforms they will watched over
the execution of those reforms. That is the whole. Now, of course, you must interpret
international treaties as you would interpret covenants between man and man, and the
meaning literally interpreted of the language used, I do not think anyone would deny,
differs widely from that of undertaking a war to compel the Sultan to govern better than
The other document quoted is the Cyprus Convention. How people should
quote that Convention I cannot imagine because there is not the slightest trace in it of
an undertaking on the part of England that she would interfere physically or materially on
behalf of the oppressed subjects of the Sultan. I speak thus with some earnestness because
it so happens that I drew the Cyprus Convention myself, and I helped in drawing the
Sixty-first article of the Berlin Treaty and, therefore, I have a very vivid recollection
of the fact. Nothing would have induced me to pledge my country — the taxpayers of my
country and all who spend or are spent in its behalf — to an undertaking so desperate as
that of compelling the Sultan, by force of arms, to govern well a country which otherwise
he was not disposed to govern well. I am convinced that such an undertaking would have
been impossible, and I certainly never would have counselled that the signature of an
ambassador should have been put to it.
To those who wanted the destruction of the Ottoman state, he replied that 'no
arrangement to replace it can be suggested which would not carry with it a serious
risk of European conflict ... it is an object of primary importance that the Concert
of Europe should be maintained'. Galling
as it might seem to the partisans of the Armenians, it was only through the sultan
that reforms could be introduced. Salisbury's frank admissions of Britain's
limitations as an imperial power were regarded as dangerous and humiliating, even by
supporters of the government. To others — to Gladstone — it seemed that one man
in a ragged shirt had defeated six men well armed.
Jeremy Salt: Scholar
For all the effort Britain had put into trying
to impose reforms of its own making on Abdulhamit, the record was a dismal one, as
Salisbury had to admit in a review going back as far as the Treaty of Paris. As for
the pressure directed against the sultan more recently, the irade of 1895 had
resulted in nothing more than the appointment of a few Christian officials. In a despatch sent in July 1897, Currie
claimed some small victories before concluding that 'whatever might have been the
effect of the reforms in quieter times it is becoming evident that no scheme,
however carefully devised, will now suffice to confer equal rights on the Armenian
population under the existing system of administration. Only a strong European
control on the spot could bring about such a result'. The ambassadors continued to make reflexive gestures in 1897
but these were overshadowed by the Cretan crisis, and by the turn of the century the
question of reform had been shelved. It was revived briefly in 1913, only to be
dropped a year later as the Ottoman state entered the First World War.
There can be no doubt that the Armenian question had been handled
extremely badly, to the point of folly, by successive British governments. They had
encouraged the Armenians to believe that European intervention was a real possibility, and
they had pressed ahead with a reform programme which neither the sultan nor his ministers
wanted, and for very good reasons. By trying to change the status quo in the eastern vilayets
in favour of a Christian minority, the British were playing with fire. 'One has to be
intentionally blind not to see that it is England's action which has roused the animosity
and strewn the discord between the various elements constituting the Ottoman Empire',
commented Vambery, a self-confessed anglophile.
As numerous travellers had observed, the eastern provinces of the Ottoman state were
numbingly poor and difficult to govern at the best of times. The Muslim majority was
jealous of its religious prerogatives, and resented the changes which Christian powers
were determined to impose on Abdulhamit, particularly as many of the beneficiaries of
these changes were involved in revolutionary activities which were taking the lives of
Muslims. Not surprisingly, the consequences of what was predominantly a British reform
campaign were entirely negative. Those who lost most were, of course, the people of the
east. Thousands of lives were lost, much property was destroyed and agricultural and
commercial life was disrupted. The long-term damage to relations between Muslims and
Christians was incalculable. Further financial demands were made on a state already
strained to its limits. As far as Britain was concerned, its standing at the Porte was
severely diminished furthering Germany's political and commercial penetration of the
Intervention in the Ottoman state for the sake of the Armenians might once have been
feasible (although still unlikely unless greater interests were at stake), but by the
1890s interests and alliances had changed. Russia had its own severe problems, including a
variety of revolutionary movements; there was, in fact, a lot in common between the tsar
and the sultan. Britain's own attention was shifting to a newer field of imperial rivalry,
Africa. Without any practical means of coercing the sultan, Salisbury eventually wrote to
Currie, it seemed wiser to withdraw as much as possible from all responsibilities at
Constantinople and concentrate on strengthening England's position in Egypt and the Upper
Nile. Armenian aspirations remained an aspect
of British policy, but 'our interests and those of humanity and civilisation' were no
longer running on parallel lines so far as the Ottoman empire was concerned.
British Parliamentary Papers are referred to
only by title and command number. United States National Archives documents (despatches
from US Ministers to Turkey 1818-1906) are preceded by the abbreviation USNA.
Turkey No.l (1878) Cd. 1905, no.574, Wood to the Earl of
Derby, Tunis, 27 Nov.
2. British Library, Layard Papers, add. ms.
39142, the ambassador's plan of reform, handed
to Abdulhamit in July 1878.
3. Mrs J.E. Blunt, The People of Turkey,
(London, 1878), Vol.11, p.352.
4. Article 61, Treaty of Berlin; see M.S.
Anderson, The Great Powers and the Near East
5. Layard Papers, add. ms. 39131 (private),
Layard to Currie, 15 May 1878.
7. Gordon Waterfield, Layard of Ninevah
(London, 1963), p.423.
8. Quoted in R.W. Seton-Watson, Disraeli,
Gladstone and the Eastern Question (London, 1935), p.526.
9. Layard Papers, add. ms. 39134, Layard to
Currie, 28 Oct. 1879. See also Edward Dicey, 'Nubar Pasha and our Asian
Protectorate', Nineteenth Century, Sept. 1878, pp.548-59.
10. W.N. Medlicott, The Congress of
Berlin and After (London 1963), p.138.
11. Layard Papers, add. ms. 39021, Currie
to Layard, 1 Aug. 1878.
12. By Medlicott and Seton-Watson, op.
cit., among others.
13. Turkey No.7 (1880), Cd. 2574, No.3,
Layard to Foreign Secretary, 27 April 1880.
14. Agatha Raram (ed.) The Political
Correspondence of Mr Gladstone and Lord Granville 1876-1886 (Oxford 1962),
Vol.1, No.79,7 Aug. 1877.
15. W.E. Gladstone, Bulgarian Horrors and
the Question of the East (London 1876), p.3.
16. S. Gwynn and Gertrude M. Blackwell, The
Life of Sir Charles Dilke (London, 1917),
17. Political Correspondence of Mr
Gladstone and Lord Granville, op. cit. Vols.I and II passim.
18. Quoted in Salahi Ramsdan Sonyel, The
Ottoman Armenians: Victims of Great Power Diplomacy (London, 1987), p.75.
19. Sir Alfred Lyall, The Life of the
Marquis of Dufferin and Ava (London Thomas Nelson, n.d.), p.302.
20. Political Correspondence of Mr.
Gladstone and Lord Granville, op. cit. Vol.1, p.359.
21. Colin L. Smith, The Embassy of Sir
William White at Constantinople 1886-1891 (Oxford, 1957), p.105.
22.Public Records Office, Vambery Papers,
FO 800/32. Vambery to Currie, June, 1890, fol. 92-3. On Vambery also see Mim Kemal
Oke, 'Prof. A. Vambery and Anglo-Ottoman Relations (1889-1907)', the Turkish
Studies Association Bulletin IX/2 (Sept. 1985), pp.15-28; and by the same
author, 'Prof. A. Vambery's Personal Recollections of Abdulhamid II and His Reign', Comiti
International D'Etudes Pre-Ottomanes el Ottomanes, VI symposium, Cambridge,
1984: Proceedings (Leiden, 1987), pp.259-273.
23. Vambery Papers, Vambery to Currie, June
24.Turkey No.6 (1881), Reports on the
Administration of Justice in the Civil, Criminal and Commercial Courts of the
Ottoman Empire, Cd. 3008, inc. in no.8, Biliotti to Earl Granville, Trebizond, 29
25. FO 800/32, Vambery to Currie, June
1890, op. cit.
27. FO 800/32, Vambery to Currie, 22 Oct.
28. FO 800/33, Vambery to Sanderson, 1 July
1895; also see Vambery to Currie, 22 Oct. 1889, op. cit.
29. Turkey No.3 (1896), Cd. 8105, no.17,
Lord Salisbury to Sir F. Clare Ford, 17 March 1892.
30. Avedis K. Sanjian, The Armenian
Communities in Syria under Ottoman Dominion (Cambridge, MA., 1965), p.x.
31. The Ottoman Armenians:
Victims of Great Power Diplomacy, op. cit., p.170.
32.USNA, Terrell to Gresham, 4 Dec. 1894.
See also The Ottoman Armenians, op. cit., 'Towards Civil War in Anatolia', for
futher details of the Sasun upheaval.
33. FO 800/33, Vambery to Sanderson,
Budapest, 1 Nov. 1895.
34. USNA, Terrell to Gresham, No.370,4 Jan.
35. Turkey No.l (1895), Moush Inquiry
Commission Proceedings, Cd. 7894, passim. Shipley's memorandum is enclosed in no.
267,16 Oct. 1895.
36. FO 800/32, Vambery to Sanderson,
Budapest, 15 Nov. 1894.
37. No.351, Terrell to Gresham, 4 Dec.
38.Turkey No.l (1896), Correspondence
Respecting the Introduction of Reforms in the Armenian Provinces of Asiatic Turkey,
Cd. 7923, No.l, Currie to Kimberley, 19 Jan. 1895.
40. Ibid., No.ll, Kimberley to Currie, 28
41. See The Annual Register, 1896,
42. Turkey No.l (1896), Cd. 7923, op. cit.,
No. 12, Currie to Kimberley, 27 March 1895.
43. Ibid., no.32 (telegraphic), Currie to
Kimberley, 30 April 1895.
44. For population figures in
the eastern vilayets, see The Ottoman Armenians, op. cit., pp.79-87;
also Stanford J. Shaw and Ezel Rural Shaw, History of the Ottoman Empire and
Modern Turkey (Cambridge, 1977), Vol.11, pp.200-05.
45. Turkey No.l (1896), Cd.
7923, op. cit., No.14, Sir F. Lascelles to Kimberley, St. Petersburgh, 28 March
46. Ibid., No.44, Lascelles to
Kimberley, 8 May 1895.
47. USNA, Terrell to OIney, No.1000,28
48.See Turkey No.l (1896), Cd. 7923, incs.
1 and 2 in no.45, Currie to Kimberley, 11 May 1895, for full text of the memorandum
and the 'scheme of administrative reforms'.
50. The 'nahie' (nahiye) was the smallest
administrative sub-division within a vilayet.
51. Turkey No.l (1896), Cd. 7923, no.45,
52. The mutesarrif (or mutasarrif)
was the governor of a sancak.
53. The sancak was the principal
administrative subdivision of a vilayet.
54. The kaimakam was the chief
administrator of the kaza, a sub-district of the sancak.
55. The administration of all provincial
administrative districts was a principal target of Ottoman reforms in the 19th.
56. The Times, 16 May 1895.
57. USNA, Terrell to Olney, no.555,14 June 1895.
58.In the form and at the pace demanded by the
powers, reforms would lead to 'collapse and internecine warfare', Abdulhamit believed (see
FO 800/33, Vambery to Sanderson, Budapest, 1 Nov. 1895).
59.FO 800/33, Vambery to Sanderson, Murzzuschlag (Styria),
1 July 1985. Vambery wrote that if the plan were introduced, 'there would be no end of petty
quarrels arising either from local and individual interests of from religious fanaticism,
Asiatic Christians being more fanatical than Moslems'.
61. Turkey No.l (1896), Cd. 7923, op.
cit., no.74, Currie to Kimberley, 4 June 1895, enclosing the sultan's reply to the proposed
scheme of reforms.
62. Ibid. See also Esat Uras, The Armenians in
History and the Armenian Question (Istanbul Documentary Publications, 1988), pp.545-87,
63. Ibid., No.129, Salisbury to Lascelles, 5 Aug.
64. See The Ottoman Armenians, op. cit., p.
176 et. seq.
65. Turkey No.l (1896), Cd. 7923, op. cit., no.76,
Lascelles to Kimberley, 4 June 1895.
66. Ibid., No.94, Lascelles to Kimberley, 14 June
67. Ibid., No. 110, Lascelles to Kimberley, 3 July
68.Ibid., Nos.71,110, and 136. Salisbury again
proposed the use of force against the sultan when the tsar visited Britain in 1896, but the
Russian attitude had not changed. See Robert Taylor, Lord Salisbury (London, 1975),
69. Ibid., Nos.170 and 172.
70. Ibid., No.174, Lascelles to Salisbury, 10 Sept.
71. USNA, unnumbered despatch, Terrell to OIney, 3
Oct. 1895; Turkey No.2 (1896), Cd. 7927, No.32 (telegraphic), Currie to Salisbury, 2 Oct.
1895, also No.50. [Holdwater note: in the document, Footnote 71 was
72. Turkey No.2 (1896), Cd. 7927, No.50, op. cit.
73. USNA, unnumbered despatch, Terrell to Olney, 3
75. Turkey No.2 (1896), Cd. 7927, op. cit., Currie
to Salisbury, 1 Oct. 1895.
76. USNA, Terrell to OIney, unnumbered despatch of
3 Oct. 1895, op. cit.
77. USNA, Terrell to Olney, No.651,24 Oct. 1895.
For more details of the demonstration and its aftermath see The Ottoman Armenians,
op. cit., pp.180-83.
78. USNA, Terrell to Olney, No.651,24 Oct. 1895.
81. According to the plan submitted to the sultan
82. The Times published a full text of
the irade in its issue of October 28; see also A. Schopof f, Les Reformes et la Protection
des Chretiens en Turquie 1673-1904 (Paris, Libraire Plon, 1904), Nos.68 and 69 (the preamble
and the irade issued by the sultan). This volume also includes a full text of the
ambassador's earlier memorandum and scheme of reforms (Nos.59 and 60).
83. FO 800/33, Vambery to Sanderson, Budapest, 1
84. USNA, Terrell to Olney, No.651, op. cit.
85. The Times, 18 Oct. 1895, p.7.
86. See The Ottoman Armenians, op. cit., chapters 5
87. For contemporary American estimates
of the numbers of Armenian casualties, largely based on missionary information, see, inter
alia, USNA, Terrell to Secretary of State, No.724, 16 Dec. 1895 ('Attacks on Christianity in
Turkey'); No.796, 4 Feb. 1896; No.924,21 July 1896; and No.1126,2 Jan. 1897. Armenian
estimates are given in Louise Nalbandian, The Armenian Revolutionary Movement
(Berkeley, Los Angeles, 1963) and Avedis K. Sanjian, The Armenian Community in Syria
Under Ottoman Dominion (Cambridge MA., 1965), among others. For estimates of the total
number of Muslims and Christians killed see The Ottoman Armenians, op. cit.,
pp.171-72, and Kamuran Gurun, The Armenian File: The Myth of Innocence Exposed
(London, 1985), p.161.
88. Turkey No.2 (1896), Cd. 7927, op. cit., enc. in
No.254, Herbert to Salisbury, 11 Nov. 1895.
89. The seizure of the bank and its
aftermath are fully described in Turkey No.l (1897), Cd. 8303; Turkey No.3 (1897), Cd. 8305;
Turkey No.7 (1897), Cd. 8395, as well as Terrell's despatches from Istanbul, particularly
No.966. of 1 Sept. and No.984 of 18 Sept.
90. These scene are fully described in Terrell's
No.966, op. cit.
92. Terrell to Olney, No.1029,22 Oct. 1896.
93. E.J. Dillon, 'The Condition of
Armenia', Contemporary Review, Aug. 1895, p.158.
94. E.J. Dillon, 'Armenia: An Appeal', Contemporary
Review, Jan. 1896, p.6.
95. See The Times, 8 May 1895, for its account of a
protest meeting held at St. James' Hall.
96. The Times, 7 Aug. 1895, p.7
98. W.S. Blunt, 'Turkish Misgovernment',
Nineteenth Century, Nov. 1896, p.854.
99. See the Rev. Dr. J. Guiness Rogers,
'The Massacres in Turkey I': the Earl of Meath, "The Massacres in Turkey II' and John
Burns MP, 'The Massacres in Turkey III', all in The Nineteenth Century, Oct. 1896.
100. FO 800/33, Vambery to Sanderson,
Budapest, 29 April 1898.
101. Annual Register, 1896,
102. Annual Register, 1896, p.
103. Turkey No.2 (1897), Cd. 8304,
No.2, Salisbury to O'Conor, 20 Oct. 1896.
104. W.E. Gladstone, 'The Massacres in
Turkey V, Nineteenth Century, Oct. 1896.
105. Turkey No.2 (1897), Cd. 8304,
No.2, Salisbury to Sir N. O'Conor, Foreign Office, 20 Oct. 1896.
106. Turkey No.l (1898), Cd. 8716,
No.272, Currie to Salisbury, 6 July 1897.
107. FO 800/33, Vambery to Sanderson,
1 Nov. 1895.
108. Robert Taylor, Lord Salisbury
(London, 1975), p.171.
Other works of excellence by Prof. Jeremy Salt, featured on TAT:
"American Missionaries in Anatolia"
"The Narrative Gap in Ottoman Armenian