The 19th Century
By Chorbishop Seely Beggiani
Patriarch John el-Helou and the Synod of Loaiseh of 1818
Patriarch John el-Helou (1809-23) made his residence in the ancient patriarchal monastery of Qannoubin, which was run down from being abandoned for many years. He tried to rebuild and restore it. He also converted the monastery of John Maron of Kfarhai into a seminary.
A significant event in the reign of Patriarch el-Helou was the holding of the Synod of Loaiseh. Pope Pius VII had called for a synod to deal with the matters of the fixed residence of bishops and of mixed monasteries (that is, the practice where house for men and women religious stood side by side). The Synod opened on April 12, 1818 at the Monastery of Our Lady of Loaiseh. The first session dealt with the question of monasteries. There were four categories: seminaries, monasteries for men, monasteries for women, and monasteries for women leading a common life without pronouncing vows.
A special commission was designed to deal with the arguments concerning the right of patronage, that is, certain wealthy families had given land or money to establish religious houses and had rights over how they were to be administered. In the second session, the monasteries which were to serve as residences for the Patriarch and bishops were indicated. There was also a decision to have the Monastery of Roumiyeh as a national seminary. Pope Pius VII approved the acts of the Synod in 1819.
Although mandated by the Synod of Mount Lebanon, the practice of mixed monasteries came to an end only after the Synod of Loaiseh, during the reign of Patriarch Hobaich in 1826. In the case of residences for bishops, which was also mandated by the Synod of Mount Lebanon, because of the lack of episcopal residences, newly elected bishops would reside in monasteries placed under the patronage of their relatives or a family which they knew, even outside their territory. The Synod of Loaiseh fixed the monastery where each would live, but it fell to Patriarch Hobaich (1823-45) to see to the definitive application of the decrees concerning residence.
Patriarch Joseph Hobaich
Patriarch Joseph Hobaich was elected May 25, 1823. He had neither the canonical age (40 years), nor the two-thirds’ majority required for patriarchal election. The Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith wished to declare the election null, but the Pope validated and confirmed the election on May 3, 1824.
Patriarch Hobaich sought to implement the reforms of the Synod of Mount Lebanon and to provide for the education of the clergy. The Maronite College in Rome had been closed by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1798, and its holdings were liquidated in 1808. Patriarch Hobaich wished to revive it, but circumstances hindered him. Therefore, he reorganized the seminary of Ain-Warka and erected two new ones, that of Mar Abda Harharaia in 1830 and that of Mar Sarkis and Bakhos in 1832. Patriarch Hobaich urged the priests and monks to follow the synodal articles, and during his reign parish organization made progress.
Patriarch Hobaich was highly regarded by the Ottoman authorities. The Sultan accorded him the favor of having a charge d’affaires at Istanbul, and sent him the medal of mejidie of the first class, a rare distinction for this time.
To be more accessible to the people, Patriarch Hobaich established two residences. The winter residence was at Bkerke, and the summer one in the region of the Cedars. However, instead of residing at Qannoubin in the “Holy Valley”, which was of difficult accessibility, he chose to live at nearby Dimanwhich dominated the valley. Here he built a church and along side it a cloister.
Patriarch Hobaich and the Maronites had to suffer through the tragedies of 1840-45 (which we will discuss below). During that period he sought to provide strength and leadership. The burdens of this sad time resulted in his death on May 23, 1845.
Patriarch Paul Masad
After the nine-year reign of Patriarch Joseph el-Khazen, Paul Masad was elected by acclamation on November 12, 1854. The new Patriarch inaugurated his reign by preparing for a national synod to be held at Bkerke in 1856. He, himself drafted the text, which was intended not only to assure the application of the Synod of Mount Lebanon, but also to introduce modifications as the circumstances required. However, the acts of the synod were never confirmed officially, and remained a dead letter.
Patriarch Masad provided leadership during the tragic events of 1860. In 1867, he went to Rome to assist at the 1800th anniversary of the martyrdom of Saints Peter and Paul. This was perhaps the second time a reigning Maronite Patriarch had visited Rome. He did not attend the First Vatican Council (1869-70), but was represented by a mission headed by Peter Bustany, Archbishop of Tyr and Saida.
From Rome, the Patriarch went to Paris where Napoleon III welcomed him with all the honors due his rank. He traveled to Istanbul, where the Sultan Abdul-Aziz offered him hospitality in a palace where care had been taken to install a chapel.
Patriarch Masad died on April 18, 1890. Besides having been a strong and resourceful leader, he was a person of great intellect and had written many theological works.
Bashir Al-Shihabi II (1788-1840)
Emir Bashir II led Lebanon for half a century. During his time he worked for an enlarged and independent Lebanon. He also sought to modernize the country. His acted in defiance of Istanbul and his long reign was marked by four periods of either self-imposed or enforced exile. The historian Philip K. Hitti describes Emir Bashir as “Christian by Baptism, Moslem in matrimony, and Druze through convenience.”
Emir Bashir sought to modernize the country and open it to European influence. He promoted commerce, built highways, and improved health resources. He moved his capital From Dayr al-Qamar to Beit Eddine.
One of the political alliances of Emir Bashir II was with Mohamed Ali, the ruler of Egypt, and his son Ibrahim, who in their battle with Turkey had occupied parts of Lebanon and Syria. In 1840, Ibrahim sought to conscript forces in Lebanon but was resisted by the Druzes. To help in defeating the Druzes, he armed 7,000 Maronites. This resulted in bad feelings between the Maronites and the Druzes. These tensions were further inflamed by British and Turkish agents using money, arms and promises to advance their own agenda for the region.
The Major Powers of Europe and Russia chose to support the Ottomans against the Egyptian rebellion. They considered it in their interest to maintain the integrity of the Turkish Empire in the balance of power in Europe. England especially feared that Turkey’s removal would render insecure England’s route to India and its position there. An Anglo-Austrian-Turkish fleet attacked Beirut and landed troops in Junieh. On October 18, 1840, Emir Bashir delivered himself to the British and was exiled in Malta and later in Istanbul. He died in 1850.
The Conflict of 1841
According to Philip Hitti, tensions in Lebanon had been developing for years. The Druzes had resented Emir Bashir’s efforts to undermine the authority of their feudal chiefs and also deplored his son Khalil’s use of Maronite troops to crush the uprising of their co-religionists. The Druzes resented the large increase of Christians and their heightened status in the Druzes sector. As noted above, British and Ottoman agents sought to stir up one community against another for their own purposes. Hitti observes: “Before the 1840’s the alignment [among Christians and Druzes] was feudal and partisan rather than religious and denominational.”
In 1841, what may have started as a small disagreement between a Christian and a Druze, resulted in both sides taking up arms. Dayr al-Qamar was set on fire on October 14, 1841. Soon other towns and vilages in the Shuf and al-Garb became involved, including Jezzine, Abayh, al-Shuwayfat, al-Hadath, and Baabda. Fleeing Maronites passing outside of Beirut by the camp of Turkish troops, who were supposedly sent to restore order, were attacked and robbed.
Bashir III had succeeded as Emir of the Mountain. However, the sultan did not give him the power of his predecessors, and subsequently took advantage of his incompetence and the events of 1841 to depose him. A Hungarian, Omar Pasha, who had come to Lebanon with the Ottoman army to drive out Ibrahim was named governor of Lebanon in January of 1842. According to the historian, Bishop Pierre Dib, Omar’s tyranny and brutality, and ineptness obliged Istanbul to recall him.
The Partition of Lebanon into Two Qaim-maqamats
For the next stage of rule in Lebanon, the Maronites and their French allies urged an autonomous Lebanon under the rule of the Shihab. However, on January 1, 1843, the sultan seeking to weaken Lebanese autonomy and supported by the British, who were rivals of the French in the Middle East, divided Lebanon into two jurisdictions or qaim-maqamats, a Maronite one in the north and a Druze one in the south. Both were responsible to the Ottoman wali or governor of Saida residing in Beirut. The Beirut-Damascus road was the dividing line.
The major problem with this arrangement was that while the Druzes were numerous in the south, the Christian population was also considerable. There were many mixed villages. According to Hitti, the Christian district had 74,700 Maronites and 10,150 Druzes. The Druze district had 25,450 Druzes, but also 17,350 Maronites, 5,200 Greek Orthodox, and 15,590 Melkites. The total population of the mountain was 213,070, of whom 95,350 were Maronites, 41,090 Melkites, 28,500 Greek Orthodox, 35,600 Druzes, 12,330 Metualis and 200 Jews.
The Conflict of 1845
During this time there was instituted in the mixed villages of the south the office of wakeel(procurator): one for the Christians and one for the Druzes. However, the artificial divisions of the country had increased the tensions and anarchy. A second conflict erupted in 1845. After a surprise attack by the Druzes, the Christians burned fourteen Druze villages, and moved on to al-Mukhtara[home of the Jumblatts] where they were attacked by a Turkish regiment. At Abayh, the Turks served as reserve forces for the Druzes. The conflict spread to Jezzine, Deir al-Qamar and other places.
The sultan sent Chaikib Effendi, Minister of Foreign Affairs, to Beirut and charged him to re- establish order. He created a national majlis or council in October of 1845. It was to be composed of a delegate from the Qaim-maqam, a Moslem judge and counselor, a Druze judge and counselor, a Maronite judge and counselor, a Greek Orthdodox judge and counselor, a Melkite judge and counselor, and for the Metualis, only a counselor since they had a judge in common with the Moslems. The jurisdiction of the majilis was not limited to judicial affairs, but extended to financial and administrative matters. While seemingly a structure allowing for Lebanese representation, the council was entirely under the power of the Turkish authorities. According to Bishop Dib, “From this time on, Lebanon, at the total discretion of the Ottoman pashas, was no more than a theater of intrigues, revolts, and battles.
The Massacres of 1860
In the Druze qaim-maqamat within a period of ten years upwards of 700 Christians were murdered without any attempt of investigation. The massacres that took place in 1860 from April to July lacked any immediate provocation and seemed premeditated. In a few weeks more than 60 villages of the Metn and the Shuf lay in ashes. Turkish regular troops did nothing to stop the fighting and Turkish irregulars maltreated and pillaged refugees fleeing to Damascus and Beirut.
According to Philip Hitti, in the large cities a criminal procedure was often followed. The Ottoman garrison commander would offer the Christian population asylum, ask for the surrender of their arms and proceed to see them slaughtered. In Dayr al-Qamar the number killed was 2,600, in Jezzine, 1,500, in Hasbayya, 1,000 Greek Orthodox, in Rashayya, 800. Zahle was attacked and looted. The total came to 12,000. Ten thousand Christians were killed in Damascus, including the Massabki brothers who refused to deny their faith. The three brothers, Francis, Abdul-Moti, and Raphael were martyred on July 10, 1860. They were beatified by Pope Pius XI on October 10, 1926.
Three hundred sixty villages were destroyed; 560 churches were torn down; 42 monasteries were burned, and 23 schools were destroyed.
Dismayed by this situation, Fr. John Jadj, who would become a future Patriarch, and who was a judge of the majlis, drafted a report containing a detailed account of these events and spread it throughout Europe. His appeal and reports from other sources moved the French to act. The Great Powers decided to intervene but only France sent 7,000 troops. In the meantime, Fuad Pasha, the ottoman Foreign Minister, had achieved a cessation of the fighting.
A commission of the Great Powers was set up to investigate the tragedy. In its deliberations the British and the Turks voted together. Very few were found guilty of crimes, and very little indemnity was paid to victims.
The “Organic Laws” of 1861 and the Mutasarrifiyah of Mount Lebanon
In seeking to establish a constitution for Lebanon, the French sought to set up an autonomous principality under a Maronite governor. Their candidate for the post was Yusuf Karam. However, the British and the Ottomans were opposed to this arrangement and revised the proposed Organic Laws so that Lebanon would not be ruled by a native. On June 9, 1861, the revised Organic Laws for Lebanon were signed in Istanbul. This constitution remained in effect until the beginning of World War I. It was signed by France, Britain, Austria, Prussia, Russia, Turkey, and Italy (in 1867). It reconstituted Lebanon as an autonomous mutasarrifiyah, but under a governor-general of the Christian faith, designated by the sultan and approved by the signatory powers. The governor was responsible directly to the sultan and not to the regional Ottoman governors.
In this new arrangement, the ancient territorial jurisdiction of Lebanon was reduced in half. It was stripped of the Bekaa and Wadi-Al-Taim, as well as Beirut and Saida. Beirut, Saida, and Tripoli were put directly under Ottoman rule. The new governor was not to be related to any of the Lebanese peoples. He had the authority to levy taxes, appoint judges, approve the sentences of the tribunals, and to maintain security and order.
The mutasarrifiyah was divided into seven districts, each under a qaim- maqam.. Three districts were Maronite, one Druze, one Moslem, one Greek Orthodox, and one Melkite. There was also a local judiciary and a native police force.
Dawood Pasha, an Armenian, was appointed as the first governor-general for a term of three years on June 10, 1861. He offered the office of qaim-maqam of Jezzine to Yusuf Karam. Karam was highly regarded by his fellow Christians as a man of great courage and virtue. He refused to work with the new government and in public statements addressed to the Pope and the French government decried the surrender of Lebanese rights. He objected to the requirement that the governor be non- Lebanese, and to the dictatorial rights given him. He also complained that according to the agreement the imperial treasury would underwrite Lebanese budget deficits, thereby making the country subservient to Istanbul.
Yusuf Karam led a revolt for Lebanese independence, but was eventually apprehended and taken to Istanbul. After Dawood Pasha’s term was renewed in 1864, Karam managed to return secretly to North Lebanon to renew his struggle. He was defeated and left Lebanon under French protection in 1867. He was banished first to Algeria, then to Paris and Naples where he died in 1888. His body was returned to his native , Ehden, where he is venerated to this day.
Dawood Pasha was succeeded in 1868 by Nasri Franco, an Aleppine Latin rite Catholic. Patriarch Paul Masad in his visit to Istanbul in 1867 had spoken on his behalf. After his becoming governor-general, Franco Pasha had very good relations with church authorities. On the other hand, his successor, Rustum Pasha, an Italian nobleman, challenged the growing influence of the Maronite clergy. He had Archbishop Peter Bustany of Tyr and Saida sent into exile. However, through the efforts of the French hierarchy, his exile was only a brief one.
Other governors-general followed. Some were effective in their rule, others were inept or exploitive and subject to corruption. It was during the bad periods that immigration of Lebanese in significant numbers began to take place.
The structure of Lebanon as a mutasarrifiyah under the organic Law is favorably evaluated by historians. Bishop Dib observes that while the new Law “was not free from criticism, still it did provide a regime of social concord among the diverse elements of the population. Christians, Moslems, Druzes, and Metualis lived side by side without defiance or harm.”
(Reprinted with permission.)