Re: Secret Schools...Do you believe they really existed? -Nah! The Ottomans never even conquered the Christian lands of the Balkans !!!

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Posted by Elizabeth on July 30, 2001 at 04:45:06:

In Reply to: Re: Secret Schools...Do you believe they really existed? -Nah! The Ottomans never even conquered the Christian lands of the Balkans !!! posted by William on July 30, 2001 at 00:31:55:

: You are right - the "kryfa scholia" (secret schools) never existed; they are the creation of the imagination of clerics (in spite of the subject of krifa scholia having been written about in many documents from the era by Hellenes and non-Hellenes alike).

Can you provide us with some references then? I'm talking about non-biased mainstream historians from respected universities. I was able to find this written by a Stanford history professor who teaches a course in Ottoman history:

"Language was not invested with identity in the same way that the modern nation-state invests it. Obviously, the language of all the religious and ethnic groups varied from place to place. There were Turkish-speaking Greeks, Arabic-speaking Jews, Ladino-speaking Jews, Armenians only fluent in Turkish and not in Armenian. The ability to speak a certain language did not in any shape or form alter their identity. In fact, there was only one dominant, bureaucratic, ruling language -- Ottoman. This was not a normal language but a mandarin language of a bureaucratic class. It was also not the language of the supposedly ruling group, the Turks. People shifted into a bewildering array of languages in the context of the bazaar. Distinctions of identity were not automatically coded by language. Language was for communication and for religion, and in fact, people often used the script associated with their religion (Greek, Hebrew, etc.), regardless of the language they were recording (i.e., Arabic or Turkish). Language was primarily for trade or for making a living, so most people had some knowledge of a multiplicity of languages, without full mastery of them. The discovery of Turkish by Ottoman nationalists, who became, of course, Turkish nationalists, is paradigmatic of how divorced the intellectuals in fact were from the Turkish spoken by the common people. The notion of one unitary language would have been absurd for that particular region because it ran against most everyday social realities. I think that the notion of going around counting up people by language, which many people did in the nineteenth century, was particularly absurd in the Ottoman context. This does not mean people were not fond of a certain language, did not have home languages, etc., but the notion that language somehow defined you was nonexistent. People were defined by religion, or by their place in the social order. I think that, in the West, language became the normative signifier when it was coupled with a normative universal public sphere and the nation-state. Without having to bear the burden of a national signifier, language in the Middle East used to be remarkably fluid in its social meaning. There would have been absolutely no expectation in the Ottoman context, for example, that a Greek appearing before a Muslim judge would have spoken Turkish. There would have been translators, and this would not have been a problem. There are no reported cases where people were sanctioned or blamed for not being able to speak the language of the hegemonic ruling class."

You can find the entire article here:

AND his faculty profile here:

I've seen similar statements from a variety of historians...all saying essentially the same thing.

: In addition, there was no such thing as paidomazoma of over 2,000,000 Christian (exclusively) males between the 16th and the 18th centuries; the myth of the Janissaries intois also a creation of the Christian clergy.

The existence of Janissaries is not being disputed here...and is irrelevant to the discussion.

: The Ottomans didn't force their language on anyone; that's why all of their conquered subjects are fond of the memory of the Ottoman tenure in their lands; some examples ?

You're trying to argue that the conquered peoples have bad memories because of Ottoman language laws. Can you prove that this was the reason...and not something else?

Sure, the Egyptians (a predominantly Muslim nation); the Serbs, the Croats, the Albanians, the Romanians, the Armenians, and countless others amongst us - all willingly converted to Islam - not because of the dreaded head-tax imposed by local Ottoman leaders but because they wanted to also become assimilated.

Again, Ottoman "dhimmi" status and the "jizyah" are not the issue here. The existence of these institutions is not being disputed. By the should check out Bat Ye'or's book about the decline of Eastern Christianity under Islam. It's quite interesting....especially because she argues rather effectively that the Ottomans took some of their repressive minority laws from the Byzantines themselves...and then turned them back on them.

:As a convert to Orthodoxy, I feel I have learned more about these important modern Greek (and Christian) heroes than some of the nominal (genetically) Greeks who visit this wonderful bulletin board to burn bridges rather than to build them.

'nuf said :)

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