University of Minnesota
Center for Holocaust & Genocide Studies
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CHGS

  • The Sick Man Europe

    The Sick Man Europe

    The Ottoman Empire slid into a rapid decline in the 19th century due to internal and external factors. The Ottomans never, understood economic development and destroyed ancient industries through ruinous taxation. The Ottomans saw themselves as rulers and administrators, and had no interest in banking, trade, agriculture, farming, commerce or other aspects of business, which they relegated entirely to the native Greek and Armenian populations, and later to Jewish immigrants fleeing the Spanish Inquisition. The independence of Greece in 1828 alarmed the Ottomans, and the native Greek population lost much of its traditional economic base in Turkey as the Ottomans shifted responsibilities to the Armenians. This resulted in the tiny Armenian amira class increasing in influence and almost monopolizing many professions and trades. As the urban amiras became wealthier and more prominent, they attracted Muslim resentment.

    At the same time the Armenian peasantry of the interior became more impoverished and insecure. The Armenians became a convenient scapegoat for the decline, resulting in periodic pogroms against them.

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