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"...extortions and vexations practised by the pasha of Acre."
"...a most awful calamity which has befallen [Aleppo]..."
"...the dreadful earthquake that has desolated the whole pashalik..."
"...heaps of stone and rubbish..." "...scenes of horror..."
"...the crush of falling walls —the shrieks, the groans, the accents of agony and despair of that long night..."
"...a greater mass of human misery has seldom been produced by any ofthe awful convulsions of nature." "...the aggressions and violence which British commerce and navigation (even the most innocent and legal) are now suffering in consequence of the audacity of the Greek cruizers on the coast of Syria..."
"...the cholera morbus has made its appearance among the wretched and houseless population , and.. .its ravages were daily encreasing..."

These sharp observations by British diplomats posted to the Ottoman Levant described the turbulent state of affairs in parts of Syria in the early 1820s, a time of rebellion, unrest, and calamity symbolized by the devastating earthquake of 1822 in Aleppo. The turmoil in Ottoman Syria reflected the multiple dimensions of the larger crisis confronting Sultan Mahmud II's realm at a tense but pivotal moment in Ottoman history. The Empire had to deal with daunting internal and external pressures triggered by war, revolt, sectarian strife, the breakdown of once effective ruling institutions, and European intervention. The Greek insurrection against the Sublime Porte broke out in 1821 in the Danubian Principalities, the Peloponnese, and other Greek-inhabited areas, resulting in a prolonged and costly conflict between Ottoman troops and Greek rebels on both land and sea.


Published in Chronos 29 (2014): 185-210

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