My Photo
Blog powered by Typepad
Member since 05/2006

ITHAKA ON THE HORIZON: A Greek-American Journey



  • StatCounter

Greek Heritage Festival Photos

  • P7110628
    Saint Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church, Saco, Maine, USA 10-12 July 2009

Halki Seminary

  • DSC00655
    The Patriarchal Theological Seminary of Halki is located on the Turkish island known as Heyelbiada in the Bosporus straits. It was closed in 1971 by the Turkish government and is the subject of much controversy since it is the only seminary in Turkey and the position of Ecumenical Patriarch can only be filled by a Turkish citizen. Sign the petition to reopen it at

Index of Posts

« Strange Yet Familiar: A Convert's Journey to Orthodoxy | Main | GUILTY: Facing the Verdict of History »

13 January 2007



You guys are being fed incomplete information on the Ottomans. It's a shame.

The ottoman noble family from the very beginning were marying into all the other nobility in the area including those of the Byzantine imperial nobility.
Sultan Mehmed by blood had the right to be Caesar, as he was related to early byzantine emperors, and he also had the military means. This was how all the christians nobility became emperor. Why are you guys making a big deal out of it? because he was muslim? The ottomans did not think the conquest of istanbul was a big deal. They were forced into it by political pressure groups.

The christian janissaries often served their own families interests, they were often sent by their parents to the Sultan to gain favor there.
they thought land or property was rightfully theirs, they forced the Ottoman government into servicing the interests of their families. Such as Istanbul.

Thats why the Ottoman government cancelled the taking into service of christians in 1570. From then on janissaries were mostly muslim. Thats also the same time when most of the major conquest and wars against the Balkan countries ended. Coincidence? I think not.

The soldiers of current Turks do not have any family in greece, so you guys can rest easy.


A fascinating post from beginning to end, Stavros.
Reassuringly, history shows that, generally and in the long run, free men tend to overcome fanatics and slaves.



If you are a Turkish citizen, then us guys have a much more complete historical picture than you guys since you guys don't have the basic freedoms, us guys enjoy. Under Article 301, dozens of intellectuals including a Noble Prize winner, Orhan Pamuk have been charged and have had their freedom of expression restricted. If we are going to debate the facts, it would be helpful if both sides had equal access to them.

My point in writing the post was to highlight the belief that the Turkish military officers see themselves as heirs of the Janissaries and that they are an elite with "special" privileges. As heirs to the Ottomans they see Turkey's future in the context of a major world player and an expansive one at that.

No one is arguing that the Greeks did not prosper as well as suffer mightily at the hands of the Ottomans. Some Greeks, like Ian Dragoumis:

saw a future within the Empire. It's a huge subject and would take days to cover it adequately. I will concede that we all see things according to our own perspective whether it is Turkish or Greek.

Lastly, it should be pointed out that the Janissaries, as Muslim converts, whether voluntary or involuntary, cut themselves off completely and irrevocably from the Greek national consciousness, which by the fall of Constantinople was primarily associated with primarily one element: Orthodox Christianity.
The Janissaries were literally, for most of their families and their fellow Greeks, dead men walking. It is ironic that Constantinople fell to Greeks fighting for the Sultan and it was defended, in part, by Italian mercenaries. God definitely has a sense of humor.

Mehmet realized this key factor and that is why he reestablished the Patriarchate, albeit under his control.

BTW, Mehmet's mother was a Greek, but you guys can rest easy.



I think you are misinformed. Neither the muslim nor the christian janissaries never cut themselves off completely from their respective families.
I got this from the tv program by prof.dr. Ilber Ortayli's history program on TRT. If you have satelite, you may be able to receive it. I do.They may also stream it on their website, but I not sure.

Some of the soldiers did convert to be muslim, but many remained christian.
Fatih Mehmet's mother was turkish, but died while he was still young not yet Sultan. This does not mean he did not have any greek relatives. He did have a greek-orthodox stepmother, I do not really know is she ever converted to islam or not.

I hope you are not arguing that many Turks prospered greatly and only some suffered under the Ottomans. Unfortunately for the Turks, the Ottomans were not very appreciative of nationalism. They were more like todays multinational companies. They got the person most suited for the job regardless of ethnicity. The turks were the poorest and most repressed nationality under the Ottomans. No one can argue that. The Turks are in much better shape today.



how many times have you been to Turkey?
how many Turks do you know personally?

zero ?

If so,
On what do you base your conclusions on Turks? Your own fears and prejudices?


Historically speaking it was not uncommon for Muslim and Christians to marry as a means of sealing alliances. Example: Sultan Orkhan married the daughter of Emperor Cantacuzenos, Theodora. After the fall of Constantinople the sultans needed no more allies and thus had no need for dynastic marriages.

From wikipedia (which I do not claim as the last word in all matters):

"Mother of Mehmed II, the Ottoman Sultan, also known as Fatih Sultan Mehmed (Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror). Huma Hatun was born in Devrekani county of Kastamonu province in modern day Turkey, and she was probably a Greek[1]. Every year, people in Devrekani commemorate her birth as part of Celebrations for the Conquest of Istanbul."

Regarding the Jannisaries. They were taken away from their families and raised as devout Muslim soldiers. When that happened they were effectively cut off forever from their families and consigned to the grave. In the fifteenth century language and culture did not define Greekness as much as Orthodox Christianity, which became not only the religious but also political and cultural identity of the Greek world within the Ottoman Empire.

There were in fact Greek Christians that fought for and advised the Sultan during the fateful battle for Constantinople but they were NOT janisssaries, you are mixing apple's and oranges. The sultan's elite troops were overwhelmingly of Greek blood, thoroughly indoctrinated and converted devout Muslims.

In answer to you last question. If you read the posts on this blog you will understand my background better. I was born in Turkey, left at the age of five. In the early 90s I returned as a US Marine officer to the country of my birth. Believe it or not I spent a few months there, learned some Turkish, lived on the economy and had daily close dealings with civilian and military alike. My parents both spoke fluent Turkish. My mother grew up there. We were never taught to hate Turks but we were taught our mutual history. Turks need to own their history and stop living in a state of denial.

The Ottomans and the Turks were one and the same. Subject nationalities were just that, subjects. Some of them may have prospered but they were collectively known as "reaya" or flock. The ruling elite, military, the ulema, the bureaucracy were all Muslim Turks.

Turks want us to respect them as a great nation. As far as I am concerned that will only happen when Turks redress the wrongs done in their name. When there is true religious freedom in Turkey for Christians as well as Muslims, when they allow Greek Cypriots to return to the lands and homes that were taken from them, when they account for the missing in Cyprus, when they admit once and for all that the genocide of minorities in Turkey did actually happen.

What do I base my conclusions regarding Turks? Certainly not on who they are but rather what they and their ancestors have done.


ottomans brought peace and justice to the world and also islamic world.throughout the history the world needs a country or an empire to balance the sociaal an political relationship among other countries.ottoman did well it those sarajevo over 100000 people killed by sirbians 1990s,in modern age of the world.but they lived peacefully under the rule of ottomans cos they let them lived freely as they the worlds no 1 USA have killed over 1000000 people for 5 years.aren't they human beings rather than animals?isn't it a genocide?ottoman had never been in a genocide.they didnt kill people for petrol.they protected themseles.if you want to warn somebody,dont start with the Turks.Start with day Ottoman will be back again to stop all cruelty around the world..regards...


at unbreakable

The history of the Ottomans was basically that they were invaders of tribesman, mainly of Asiatic descent. They had no culture and had to adopt the culture of the people they overruled. This was very similar to the Norman invaders of Britain.
Islam was adopted from the Arabs and Kemal Ataturk( a crypto-Jewish freemason) was part of the Western organisation to remodel the fall of the Ottoman Empire.

The Cosmopolitan way of life that flourished in the Ottoman empire was actually a "Greek" thing. Even the Arabs adopted our scriptures to create their way of life.


The comments to this entry are closed.

Become a Fan

Searching for Ithaka

  • Keep Ithaka always in your mind. Arriving there is what you're destined for. But don't hurry the journey at all. Better if it lasts for years, so you're old by the time you reach the island, wealthy with all you've gained on the way, not expecting Ithaka to make you rich. Ithaka gave you the marvelous journey. Without her you wouldn't have set out. She has nothing left to give you now. And if you find her poor, Ithaka won't have fooled you. Wise as you will have become, so full of experience, you'll have understood by then what these Ithakas mean. C. P. Cavafy


  • This site may include excerpts of copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. I am making such material available consistent with the established practice of academic citation and in an effort to advance understanding of the issues addressed by My Greek Odyssey blog. This constitutes a "fair use" of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without fee or payment of any kind to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond “fair use,” you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. All original material produced by the author and published on this site is copyrighted.


    User comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will not be accepted and will be removed from the site. Users who continue to violate any of my posting standards will be blocked.