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The Resurgence of Democracy in Greece after Ottoman Rule

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Brian Daurelle Old vs. Ancient Ideals: The Resurgence of Democracy in Greece after Ottoman Rule 5 March 2008 At the turn of the nineteenth century, the people of the Balkans were chafing under the rule of the Ottoman Empire as Northern and Western Europe progressed towards democracy. Being a nominally and predominantly Muslim entity, the Ottoman policy regarding liberal ideas was very restrictive. Without some sort of insurrection, any hopes of religious equality or autonomy for the Greeks, or indeed for any other people under Ottoman rule, were pure fantasy. However, outside of the Ottoman Empire, most peoples were sympathetic to the Greeks; not only was Greece the hearth of Classical Antiquity and ancient culture, the people of Europe also viewed the Greek fight for independence as one between Islam and Christianity. Refugees and envoys from Greece were eager to play upon the sympathies of fellow Christians, citing the persecutions of members of the Greek Orthodox Church under Muslim law. ...read more.


Therefore, it was not difficult for the Greek cause to find support among Europeans, whose internal divisions paled when faced with the prospect of conflict with the large, threatening Muslim power to the East. One C. E. Savary described in a letter the injuries done to progress by the Turks as a 'melancholy spectacle'. Especially in progressive Europe, such barbarous treatment of a people based on their religion was enough to excite many against the Turks. Greece has always had the reputation of being the home of the great democratic tradition, as well as a leader in science and the arts. The City-state of Athens was, in the days before Christianity, the intellectual capitol of the world. Over generations, though the spread of Christian tradition, Athens lost its influence, as did its liberal ideas and thinkers. Democracy declined into imperialism, aristocracy and feudalism until nearly half a millennium had passed. ...read more.


Englishman James Dallaway wrote in a letter that the Greeks are less educated, less moral and less cultured than even a conquered people ought to be. Another Englishman, Edward Blaquiere, went so far as to label the Greek's relationship to the Turks as that of a slave to his master. These writings show the extent to which the European community considered it to be their duty to bring democracy and equality back to the place from which they inherited it. It is apparent that the people of Europe felt it was their duty to aid the cause of Greek independence. There were many pretexts one could find; to defend the religious rights of oppressed Christians, to rediscover the lost culture of ancient Greece, or to bring democracy back to where it had died out generations ago. Especially in countries becoming progressively more liberal, such as England and France, they viewed the re-civilization of Greece not only as a symbolic necessity to the advancement of democracy, but as a moral obligation to the ideals of equality. ...read more.

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