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History of Ottoman period

Article from Britannica

 

Ottoman expansion began in the area under Selim I (1512-20). He defeated the Mamluks in 1516-17 and added Lebanon (as part of Mamluk Syria and Egypt) to his empire. Between the 16th and 18th centuries Ottoman Lebanon evolved a social and political system of its own. Ottoman Aleppo or Tripoli governed the north, Damascus the centre, and Sidon (after 1660) the south. Coastal Lebanon and al-Biqa' valley were usually ruled more directly by Istanbul, while Mt. Lebanon enjoyed semiautonomous status. The population took up its present position: the Shi'ites were driven out of the north but increased their strength in the south; many Druze moved from south Lebanon to Jebel Druze (Jabal ad-Duruz) in southern Syria; Maronite peasants, increasing in numbers, moved south into districts mainly populated by Druze. Monasteries acquired more land and wealth. In all parts of the mountains there grew up families of notables, who controlled the land and established a feudal relation with the cultivators; some were Christian, some Druze, who were politically dominant. From them arose the House of M'an, which established a princedom over the whole of Mt. Lebanon and was accepted by Christians and Druze alike. Fakhr ad-Din II ruled most of Lebanon from 1593 to 1633 and encouraged commerce. When the House of Ma'n died out in 1697, the notables elected as prince a member of the Shihab family who were Sunnite Muslims but with Druze followers, and this family ruled until 1842. Throughout this period European influence was growing. European trading colonies were established in Sa´da and other coastal towns, mainly to trade in silk, the major Lebanese export from the 17th to the 20th century. French political influence was great, particularly among the Maronites, who formally united with the Roman Catholic Church in 1736. The 19th century was marked by economic growth, social change, and political crisis. The growing Christian population moved southward and into the towns, and toward the end of the century many of these Christians emigrated to North America, South America, and Egypt. French Catholic and U.S. Protestant mission schools, as well as schools of the local communities, multiplied: in 1866 the American mission established the Syrian Protestant College (later the American University of Beirut), and in 1881 the Jesuits started the UniversitÚ Saint-Joseph. Such schools produced a literate class, particularly among the Christians, that found employment as professionals. Beirut became a great international port, and its merchant houses established connections with Egypt, the Mediterranean countries, and England. The growth of the Christian communities upset the traditional balance of Lebanon. The Shihab princes inclined more and more toward them, and part of the family indeed became Maronites. The greatest of them, Bashir II (reigned 1788-1840), after establishing his power with the help of Druze notables, tried to weaken them. When the Egyptian troops of Ibrahim Pasha occupied Lebanon and Syria in 1831, Bashir formed an alliance with him to limit the power of the ruling families and to preserve his own power. But Egyptian rule was ended by Anglo-Ottoman intervention, aided by a popular rising in 1840, and Bashir was deposed. With him the princedom virtually ended; his weak successor was deposed by the Ottomans in 1842, and from that time relations grew worse between the Maronites, led by their patriarch, and the Druze, trying to retain their traditional supremacy. The French supported the Maronites and the British supported a section of the Druze, while the Ottoman government encouraged the collapse of the traditional structure, which would enable it to impose its own direct authority. The conflict culminated in the massacre of Maronites by the Druze in 1860. The complacent attitude of the Ottoman authorities led to direct French intervention on behalf of the Christians. The powers jointly imposed the Organic Regulation of 1861 (modified in 1864), which gave Mt. Lebanon, the axial mountain region, autonomy under a Christian governor appointed by the Ottoman sultan, assisted by a council representing the various communities. Mt. Lebanon prospered under this regime until World War I, when the Ottoman government placed it under strict control, similar to that already established for the coast and al-Biqa' valley.

 

from Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc.

 

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