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    PART I


    Everybody knows of the Eastern Question; though not everybody knows just what it is.WGI 3.1

    Briefly and bluntly stated, the whole Eastern Question springs from Russia’s design to possess Constantinople, and the efforts of the other great powers of Europe, and especially Britain, to keep her from it.WGI 3.2

    For more than a thousand years Russia has been wanting Constantinople. In this time she has made a number of attempts to gain it. Once she practically had it, but a brilliant move of Britain with other Powers prevented her from keeping it; and thus arose the Eastern Question in fact.WGI 3.3

    The first set attempt of Russia to take Constantinople was by a naval expedition in 865. An entrance into the very port of the city was gained; but a tempest, joined to the resistance of the city, caused the Russians to retreat.WGI 3.4

    A second attempt, also by sea, was made in A. D. 904. This also was unsuccessful.WGI 3.5

    A third attempt, again by sea, was made in A. D. 941; but this was defeated by the Greeks, through their employment of the Greek fire.WGI 4.1

    The next attempt, the fourth, was in an expedition by land in A. D. 955-973. The armies marched successfully as far as Adrianople, about one hundred and twenty-five miles from Constantinople. There the Czar was summoned by the Greek emperor to “evacuate the country. Sviatoslaf, who had just taken Philippopolis and exterminated the inhabitants, replied haughtily, that he hoped soon to be at Constantinople.” The tide of war turned, however. The Russian armies were driven back to the Danube, there encompassed, assaulted, and starved to surrender, and were then released upon the solemn bond under oath to “relinquish all hostile designs,” “never again to invade the empire;” and if they broke their word, might they “become as yellow as gold and perish by their own arms.”WGI 4.2

    Yet only seventy years afterward, A. D. 1043, another attempt was made by sea. This was also defeated—at the entrance of the Bosphorus by the Greek fleet with Greek fire and the aid of a tempest.WGI 4.3

    Though for centuries no other attempt was made from Russia to take Constantinople by force of arms, yet “the Russians were always dreaded Constantinople. An inscription hidden in the boot of one of the equestrian statues of Byzantium announced that the day would come when the capital of the empire would fall a prey to the men of the north.”—Rambaud’s “Russia,” Chap. IV., Par. 7.WGI 4.4

    “The memory of these arctic fleets that seemed to descend from the polar circle, left a deep impression of terror on the Imperial city. By the vulgar of every rank, it was asserted and believed that an equestrian statue in the square of Taurus, was secretly inscribed with a prophecy how the Russians, in the last days, should become masters of Constantinople. In our own time [1769-1774] a Russian armament instead of sailing from the Borysthenes, has circumnavigated the Continent of Europe; and the Turkish capital has been threatened by a squadron of strong and lofty ships of war, each of which, with its naval science and thundering artillery, could have sunk or scattered and hundred canoes such as those of their ancestors. Perhaps the present generation may yet behold the accomplishment of the prediction, of a rare prediction, of which the style is unambiguous and the date unquestionable.”—Gibbon’s “Rome,” Chap. XXXXXV., Par. 13.WGI 5.1

    Throughout the twelfth, thirteenth, and fourteenth centuries, the centuries, the forces of the Russians were kept busy at home by their own internal necessities, the invasions of the Moguls and Targars of Zingis Khan and Tamerlane, and by the power of the Turks who from 1299 onward, possessed the territories of the Eastern Empire, and from 1449 all of that empire itself, except the city of Constantinople alone, and who in 1453 took even that city.WGI 5.2

    In this time, however, there occurred in the history of Russia an event that greatly intensified her desire and purpose to possess Constantinople. This event was Russia’s adoption from Constantinople of Greek Catholicism or the “Orthodox” religion.” In the year 948 Queen Olga of Russia went to Constantinople, and was there baptized by the name of Helena. Olga was unable, however, to make any impression with her new religion even upon her own son for whom she was queen-regent; and it was not until the reign of Vladimir, 972-1015, that Russia adopted the new religion.WGI 6.1

    Vladimir “took it into his head, like the Japanese of to-day, to institute a search after the best religion. His ambassadors forthwith visited Mussulmans, Jews, and [Roman] Catholics: the first represented by the Bulgarians of the Volga, the second probably by the Khazars or the Jewish Kharaites, the third by the Poles and Germans. Vladimir declined Islamism, which prescribed circumcision and forbade ‘the wine which was dear to the Russians;’ Judaism, whose disciples wandered through the earth; and [Roman] Catholicism, whose ceremonies appeared wanting in magnificence.WGI 6.2

    “The deputies that he went to Constantinople, on the contrary, returned awe-stricken. The splendors of St. Sophia, the brilliancy of the Sacerdotal vestments, the magnificence of the ceremonies, heightened by the presence of the Emperor and his Court, the patriarchs and the numerous clergy, the incense, the religious songs, had powerfully appealed to the imagination of the barbarians. One final argument triumphed over the scruples of Vladimir. ‘If the Greek religion had not been the best, your grand-mother Olga, the wisest of mortals, would not have adopted it,’ said the boyards.WGI 7.1

    “The proud Vladimir did not intend to beg for baptism at the hands of the Greeks—he would conquer it by his own arms, and ravage it like a prey. He descended into the Taurid and beseigned Cherson, the last city of this region that remained subject to the Emperors. A certain Anastasius, possibly from religious motives, betrayed his country. Rendered prouder than ever by this important conquest, Vladimir sent an embassy to the Greek Emperors, Basil and Constantine, demanding their sister Anne in marriage, and threatening, in case of refusal, to march on Constantinople. It was not the first time the barbarians had made this proposal to the Greek Cesars, and Constantine Porphyrogenitus himself teaches his successors how to get rid of these inconvenient demands. But on this occasion the Emperors, who were occupied with revolts in the interior, thought themselves driven to consent, on condition that Vladimir be baptized.WGI 7.2

    “It was in Cherson that the Russian Prince received baptism, and celebrated his marriage with the heiress of the emperors of Rome. The priests he brought to Kief were his captives; the sacred ornaments, the holy relics, with which he enriched and sanctified his capitol, were his booty. When he returned to Kief, it was as an Apostle (Isapostolos), but as an armed Apostle, that he catechized his people. The idols were pulled down amid the tears and fright of the people.”WGI 8.1

    “Then Vladimir had the following proclamation made throughout the town: ‘Whosoever tomorrow, rich or poor, mendicant or artisan, does not come to the river to be baptized, will be an alien to me.’ The next day Vladimir came with the Czarina’s priests and those of Cherson to the banks of the Dnieper.” “Then, by Vladimir’s order, all the kievans, men and women, masters and slaves, old people and little children, plunged naked into the consecrated waters of the old pagan steam, while the Greek priests standing on the bank with Vladimir read the baptismal service. After a sturdy resistance, the Novgorodians were in like manner forced to hurl Perun into the Volkhoff, and enter in themselves.”WGI 8.2

    “Russia had become Christian; it is the chief event in her primitive history. An important fact is that her Christianity was received not from Rome, like that of the Poles and other Western Slavs, but from Constantinople.... The priests who come from Constantinople brought with them an ideal of government; in a little while it was that of the Russians who entered the ranks of the clergy. This Greek ideal was—the Emperor, the Tzar of Constantinople, heir of Augustus and Constantine the Great, Vicar of God upon earth, the typical monarch on whom the eyes of the barbarians of Gaul as well as those of Scythia were fixed. He was a sovereign in the fullest sense of the word, as, by legal fiction, the people by the Lex Regia was supposed to have yielded its power to the Imperator. He had subjects, and subjects only. Alone he made the law; he was the law. He had neither droujinniki nor antrustions that he placed in such and such a town, but an host of movable functionaries, the inviolate Roman hierarchy, by means of whom his all-powerful will penetrated to the remotest parts of his dominions.... An empire one and indivisible, resting on a standing army, a hierarchy of functionaries, a national clergy, and a body of jurisconsults,—... This was the conception of the State, unknown to both Slavs and Varangians, that the Greek priests brought to Russia.”WGI 9.1

    When in 1453 Constantinople fell to the Turks, and the Greek Empire came to an end, another idea was added to the foregoing concept of the Russian government derived from the Greek Empire. After the fall of Constantinople there was no longer there “a Christian Tzar,” and “Moscow became the great metropolis of orthodoxy;” because “she was heir of Constantinople!”WGI 10.1

    This idea was fortified in 1472 by the marriage of Ivan III to Princes Sophia, a niece of the last Emperor of Constantinople. The Princess was at the court of Rome. “The Pope wished to find her a husband, and the Cardinal Besarion, who belonged to the Eastern Rite, advised Paul II to offer her hand to the Grand Prince of Russia.... Ivan and his boyards accepted the proposal with enthusiasm; it was God, no doubt who had given him so illustrious a wife; ‘a branch of the imperial tree which formerly overshadowed all orthodox Christianity.’”—Id. Vol. I, Chap. IV; and Chap. XII last par. And Chap. XIII.WGI 10.2

    “The marriage of the sovereign of Moscow with the Greek Princess was an event of great importance in Russian History. Properly speaking, an alliance with the Byzantine Emperors was not a novelty, and such marriages, excepting the first of them—that of St. Vladimir—had no important consequences and changed nothing essential in Russian life. But the marriage of Ivan with Sophia was concluded under peculiar circumstances.... The Empire of Byzantium had ceased to exist, and the customs, political conceptions, the manners and ceremonies of Court life, deprived of their original soil, sought a fresh field, and found it in a country of like faith—Russia.WGI 11.1

    “As long as Byzantium had existed, although Russia adopted her entire ecclesiastical system, yet in political respects she had always remained purely Russian, and the Greeks had no inclination to transform Russia into a Byzantium. Now, however, that Byzantium no longer existed, the idea arose that Greece ought to reincarnate herself in Russia and that the Russian mon- archy ought to be a continuation, by right of succession, of Byzantium, in the same degree as the Russian Church was, by order of succession, bone of the bone and flesh of the flesh of the Greek Church. It happened opportunely that Eastern Russia had freed herself from the subjugation of the Tatars precisely at the time when Byzantium was enslaved by the Turks; and there arose the hope that the youthful Russian monarchy, strengthened and consolidated, would become the chief mover in the liberation of Greece.WGI 11.2

    “The marriage of Sophia with the Russian Grand Prince, thus acquired the signification of a transfer of the hereditary rights of the descendents of Palaeologus to the ruling house of Russia.... The first visible and outward sign of the fact that Russia came to regard herself as a successor to Greece, was the adoption of the two-headed eagle,—the arms of the Eastern Roman Empire—which thenceforth became the arms of Russia. From that time much in Russia was changed and assumed a Byzantine likeness. The change was not effect suddenly, but proceeded during the entire reign of Ivan Vasilievitch and continued after his death. In the court household the high-sounding title of Czar was introduced, and the custom of kissing the monarch’s hand.”—“Historians’ History of the World,” Vol. XVII, pp. 171, 172.WGI 12.1

    And now Russia claimed that “Moscow succeeded to Byzantium as Byzantium had succeeded to Rome.” The very title of the Greek Imperial Office—“Tzar”—which was now no more in Constantinople, had passed to the Russian monarch and was now borne by him as the heir to the Greek Imperial office. And now Moscow having thus become “the only metropolis of orthodoxy, it was incumbent on her to protect the Greek Christians of the entire East, and to prepare the revenge against Islamism for the work of 1453,” in which work Islamism had become possessed of Constantinople, the long desired prize of Russia herself.WGI 13.1

    Thus it was that when, after these ages of internal development, Russia actively resumed her ancient purpose to possess Constantinople, she did it under the claim of the rightful heir, wishing only to come into her own. And this amply explains why it is that ever since the taking of Constantinople by the Turks, Russia has “regarded the destruction of the Ottoman Empire as the great object of her existence.”—“Historians’ History of the World,” Vol. XXIV, page 426.WGI 13.2

    The first open movement of Russia in renewal of her ancient purpose to possess Constantinople was by Peter the Great, in 1695. It must be borne in mind that at that time the Turkish dominion included the whole north coast of the Black Sea and the northern banks of the Lower Danube. Peter began by an expedition against the strong Turkish fortress of Azov, within what is now the sea of Azof, at the mouth of the river Don. His first expedition was a failure; but the next year he made another, and July 28, 1696, the fortress of Azof was taken, and a harbor called Taganrog was established, from which, ultimately, he hoped to control the Black Sea and so reach Constantinople.WGI 13.3

    Peter’s continued encroachments excited the resentment of the Turkish government; and by the persuasions of Charles XII of Sweden, who was just then a refugee in Constantinople after his overwhelming defeat by Peter at Pultowa, Turkey committed an act of war by publicly arresting on the streets of Constantinople the Russian ambassador, and committing him to prison in the strong castle of the Seven Towers.WGI 14.1

    “The Tzar received this declaration of war almost with joy; the whole of Russia trembled with gladness at the thought of treading in the steps of her ancient princes, of marching to the ‘Sovereign City’ (Tzargrad), of freeing the Christians of the East, of exterminating the old enemies of the Slav race, and of eclipsing the glory of Ivan the Terrible. The Eastern world was shaken to its depths: Kantemir, Hospodar of Moldavia; Brancovane, Hospodar of Wallachia; Servians, Montenegrins, and Greeks, all ardently desired a liberator.”—Rambaud’s “History of Russia,” Vol. II, Chap. III, Par. 2.WGI 14.2

    But when, at the river Pruth, Peter met the Turkish forces he found that his army of less than forty thousand was facing a Turkish army of two hundred thousand. Peter and his army were presently surrounded. However, in a square they fought for three days; and when at the point of utter destruction he asked for a peace, it was granted: with the conditions that Azof must be restored to Turkey, that Taganrog must be destroyed, and that Peter must withdraw entirely “from the Sea of Azof and the Black Sea.”WGI 15.1

    There was no alternative: the terms were accepted. And while the peace “caused universal joy in the Russian army,” it “always left a trace of sadness in Peter the Great. To have come as deliverer of the Christian world, and to be forced to capitulate, to surrender Azof, his first conquest, annihilate his fleet on the Black Sea, which had cost him so many efforts!”—Id. Par. 3.WGI 15.2

    Ten years after his death, Peter’s project respecting Azof, and in the Crimea, as a base against Turkey, was taken up in 1735 by the Russian Empress Anna. This again brought on war with Turkey. Russia was joined by Austria; but, allied as they were, they were forced to a peace by Turkey in 1739. The terms were the same as before to the extent that Russia must abandon Azof and the Crimea; but with the proviso now, that “Azof and its surrounding territory should be evacuated and remain uncultivated as a neutral boundary between the two empires.”WGI 16.1

    It was thirty years before Peter’s project, and Russia’s ancient purpose, was actively taken up again: by Catherine the Great in 1769-1774. In 1760-’70 her armies were successful against the Turks in their possessions on the north of the Black Sea and the River Danube. In 1770 she also sent a mighty fleet from the Baltic around Europe to attack the Turks in Greece and the Mediterranean. “Her designs were truly gigantic—no less than to drive the Mohammedans from Europe.”WGI 16.2

    That year’s operations were of such brilliant success that it was thought the following year would see the full accomplishment of her purpose. “The position of Turkey was, indeed, critical; not only was one-half of the empire in revolt, but the plague had alarmingly thinned the population. Fortunately, however, for this power, the same scourge found its way into the heart of Russia; its ravages were as fatal at Moscow as at Constantinople; and it no more spared the Christians on the Danube, than it did the Mohammedans.”WGI 17.1

    The calamity of the plague so weakened both powers that though the war continued nearly three years longer, the issue was so uncertain that it was concluded July 10, 1774, by the peace and treaty of Kutchuk—Kainardji by which “Russia obtained the free navigation of the Black Sea, the right of passage through the Danube, a large tract of land between the Bug and the Dnieper, with the strong fortresses of Azof, Tagarog, Kertch, and Kinburn. The rest of the Crimea was ceded—not, indeed, to the Turks, but to its own khan, who, though declared independent, must of necessity be the creature of the empress, [Catherine] in whose hands those fortresses remained. They were the keys to his dominion, and even to the command of the Black Sea. A sum of money sufficient to defray the expenses of the war was also stipulated; but it was never paid. The advantages which Russia derived from the other articles were ample enough; among them, not the least was the commerce of the Levant and of the Black Sea.”—Id. Vol. 17, pp. 380-383.WGI 17.2

    Thus though the empress Catherine’s design “to drive the Mohammedans from Europe” was a failure, there was begun the dissolution of the Turkish empire which from that time has gone steadily forward little by little until to-day very little of it remains in Europe. For, “since the peace of Kutchuk-Kainardji Russia has been the oracle of diplomatic negotiations carried on at the Porte, the arbiter of peace or of war, the soul of the most important affairs of the empire.”—Von Hammer.WGI 18.1

    In 1787 the empress Catherine of Russia in alliance with the emperor Joseph II of Austria, planned the “partition of the Turkish empire,” with the absorption of Poland by Russia, and the grand duke of Constantine, second grand-son of Catherine, to be established in Constantinople as “Emperor of Byzantium.” “Joseph II was invited to meet the Empress in Kherson in order to consult with her upon a partition of the Turkish empire;” into which city “Catherine made a magnificent entry ... passing under a triumphal arch on which was inscribed in the Greek tongue, ‘The Way to Byzantium.’”WGI 18.2

    “After the meeting at Kherson, the two impe- rial allies prepared to direct their forces against the whole extent of the Turkish frontier, from the Adriatic to the Black Sea.” Turkey was systematically provoked into a declaration of war, in order to give to catherine an excuse for open hostilities. The war was desperately fought on both sides. For, “The Turks, thinking themselves on the point of being driven into Asia, managed to make a better fight than in the struggle of 1767-1774.”—Rambaud.WGI 18.3

    The allies steadily gained, however, and “became masters of the whole line of fortresses which covered the Turkish frontier: the three grand armies, originally separated by a vast extent of country, were rapidly converging to the same point, and threatened by their united force, to overbear all opposition, and in another campaign to complete the subversion of the Ottoman empire in Europe.”WGI 19.1

    But just at this point Britain, Prussia, and others incited Poland to revolt; encouraged discontent in Hungary; materially aided the king of Sweden in his war against Russia; fomented troubles in the Netherlands; Prussia even “opened a negotiation with the Porte for the conclusion of an offensive alliance, intended not only to effect the restoration of the dominions conquered during the existing war, but even of the Crimea, and the territories dismembered by the two imperial courts from Poland;” and “laid the foundation of a general alliance for reducing the overgrown power of Austria and Russia.”—“Historians’ History of the World,” pp. 389-409.WGI 19.2

    France which was the only power which might have helped the allies “was in the throes of her great revolution, and Joseph was left without a resource.” Just then, also, February, 1790, the emperor Joseph died; and his successor concluded with Turkey a separate treaty which also separated Austria from the alliance with Russia. Russia continued the war on her own part till 1792, when finding it impossible to succeed against Turkey and at the same time hold her own in Poland “resolved for this time to give up her conquests in Turkey in order to indemnify herself in Poland.” Russia, therefore, accepted “the intervention of the friendly Danes” and the peace and treaty of Jassy between Russia and Turkey was concluded on January 19, 1792.WGI 20.1

    When in his own behalf, Napoleon I was playing all the powers of Europe, under pretense of friendliness to Turkey he secured war between Turkey and Russia; and in negotiations with Russia he caused everything in reference to Turkey to bear upon “a scheme of partition” of that empire. A truce was arranged August 24, 1807, which held till 1811 when Napoleon’s war with Russia compelled that power again to conclude a peace with Turkey and to “abandon the long coveted prey, when it was already in its grasp.”—Id., pp. 466-468.WGI 20.2

    In 1828 Russia again brought on a war which was openly declared June 4. In June, 1829, one Russian army had gained Adrianople once more; another had taken Erzeroum in Asia; “and the two generals would doubtless have joined hands in Constantinople, but for the efforts of diplomacy and the fear of a general conflagration.... Austria was ready to send her troops to the help of a Turks and the English also seemed likely to declare for the vanquished. It was therefore necessary to come to a halt. Russia reflected that, after all, ‘the sultan was the least costly governor-general she could have at Constantinople,’ and lent an ear to moderate conditions of peace.”—Id., pp. 544, 545.WGI 21.1

    In 1831 Mehemet Ali, Turkish Pasha of Egypt, had attained such power that he decided to strike for independence. In October of that year he sent an army of fifty thousand men for the invasion of Syria. This army made an easy conquest as far as to Acre, but that stronghold had to be besieged. It was taken, however, May 27, 1832. A Turkish army that had been sent for the relief of Acre was defeated, as were all other forces that were met by the Egyptians; and by a decisive victory December 21, 1832, “The victor was free to march upon Constantinople; nothing could impede his progress.”WGI 21.2

    The advancing army reached Brusa, “and was menacing Scutari,” the city only across the strait from Constantinople. The western Powers had witnessed all of this without offering to the Sultan any aid whatever. Indeed their sympathies, if not their encouragement, were with the rebellious and invading forces. Here was a grand opportunity for Russia: and she seized it. She offered aid. The Sultan “Mahmud, being frightened, accepted the offers of aid made him in the name of the Czar by General Muraviev.” France advised further parley with Mehemet Ali, but he now asked so much that the Sultan could not consent. The invaders “marched upon Scutari. Mahmud then summoned the Russians, who landed fifteen thousand men in the city, and prepared to defend it.” Thus at last with fifteen thousand armed men in the city of Scutari, Russia was most dangerously near to practical possession of Constantinople.WGI 22.1

    But, “The French and English ambassadors, frightened at this intervention, pointed out to the Sultan the danger of letting Russia gain a footing in the heart of the empire; it would be better, said they, to capitulate to his rebellious subjects. The Sultan allowed himself to be persuaded, and on May 5, 1833, the viceroy consented to evacuate Asia-Minor in return for the Pashalik of Acre, Aleppo, Tripoli, and Damascus, with their dependencies.”WGI 22.2

    But again the pendulum swung toward Russia: “Mahmud, blinded by resentment, and misled by the promises of St. Petersburg, signed with Nicholas a treaty” “which, under the appearance of an offensive and defensive alliance, established the dependence of Turkey on Russia (8th June, 1833). Each of the two contracting parties engaged to furnish to the other the aid necessary ‘to secure the tranquility of its states.’ This latter article might, in such a distracted country as Turkey, involve a permanent occupation by the Russian forces.”—Rambaud. “Turkey put herself at the mercy of the autocrat of all the Russias.”WGI 23.1

    This, however, was too much for the other Powers to bear. Russia must not be allowed to hold this mighty advantage, which in a crisis could so easily be turned into absolute and irresistible possession.WGI 23.2

    This arrangement of May 5, 1833, between the Sultan and Mehemet Ali, was merely an arrange- ment, and not a conclusive peace: and the quarrel went on, with the Powers shifting their sympathies or their favor, advising settlement or urging war, as the advantage seemed to invite. This continued for six years, when, June 30, 1839, died the Sultan Mahmud, and the Sultanate fell to his son who was but sixteen years old. The tide still ran full in favor of the rebellious Pasha. The Turkish fleet sent from the capital to attack the Egyptian fleet, went over bodily to Mehemet Ali. “Fortune seemed to be emptying its horn upon the Egyptian.”WGI 23.3

    The case was desperate for Turkey, and, in that, for all the Powers—except Russia. For her, as well as for the Egyptian, it was Fortune’s own bounty. But the other Powers must act, or Constantinople and the Turkish empire would be gone forever, and Russia alone would be the fortunate possessor. This was certain: and as certainly a general confused war, if the Powers were to hold up their heads at all. Therefore, the four Powers—Britain, France, Austria, and Prussia—suddenly, and for the occasion, sunk all differences, and made the original, bold, and high and mighty stroke, of assuming absolutely all the responsibilities of Turkey and the whole case. “In order to prevent Turkey from again throwing herself into the arms of Russia, the four great Powers, in a collective note of July 27, 1839, declared that they would take the settlement of the Eastern Question into their own hands.”WGI 24.1

    This bold lead checkmated Russia by the single move itself. She could not suddenly, without any preparation whatever, war against all Europe; nor could she afford to be completely left out and have the other Powers go on and settle all the matters involved without any recognition or consideration of her in any way whatever. She was therefore forced to abandon every advantage that she possessed, either by position or by the late treaty, and, with the bare saving of her face, enter the “concert” upon original conditions with the other Powers. Accordingly, “Russia, in order not to be entirely left out, had to give her assent, and to support the convention as fifth Power.”—Id., pp. 451-453.WGI 25.1

    Such was the origin, and thus arose, The Eastern Question.WGI 25.2

    Primarily, therefore, the Eastern Question is, The Responsibility of the Four Great Powers of Western Europe for Turkey. And this responsibility was assumed from the necessity of keeping Russia from permanently possessing Constantinople.WGI 25.3

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