Rum Millet between Vakıfs and Property Rights: Endowments’ Trials of the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s Mixed Council in the Late Ottoman Empire (19th–20th c.)

In: Endowment Studies
Dimitris Stamatopoulos (Thessaloniki) University of Macedonia, Department of Balkan, Slavic and Oriental Studies, Egnatia 156, 54636 Thessaloniki

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The Tanzimat Reforms had a decisive influence on the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s internal structure by institutionalizing lay participation in its administration and thus also in the judicial mechanisms involved mainly with the control of the private life of the Orthodox Christian flock. This article examines the issue of wills since, unlike marriage or divorce, these were under the exclusive domain of the Mixed Council, the new body established under the patriarchate after 1860. The different approaches to the content of the wills in the passage from the 19th to the 20th century do not merely reflect the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s clash with the Sublime Porte over the Privileges Question and the conflict between interest groups within the Patriarchate. These divergences are directly related to two emerging institutional forms which the empire was being forced to confront for the first time: personal property as an organizing principle of the private space and the legal entity as the organizing principle of the public space.

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