Map: Syria in c. AD 1871

Syria 1837AD – 1871AD


European powers, wishing to restore Ottoman power in the Middle East, took military action to force Ibrahim Pasha to hand back Syria to Ottoman rule (1840). The Ottoman government, at this time being modernized by a determined group of reformers, then imposed a new, more efficient administrative system on the region. For example, the Ottomans put an end to the semi-independent principality of Mount Lebanon after hundreds of years of existence.

During this period European influence was increasing, with French influence predominant with the Roman Catholic and Maronite communities, and Russian with the Orthodox community. This aroused the resentment of other sections of the population. In particular, in the absence of their traditional ruler, relations between the Druze and Maronite communities in the Mount Lebanon area deteriorated. Inter-communal conflict led to the massacre of Maronite Christians by Druze militias, which in turn provoked European intervention. An autonomous state of Mount Lebanon was again set up, under Ottoman suzerainty (1861).

By this time, Protestant missionaries from Britain and the USA were active amongst Maronites and other Christian groups, and in 1866 a Syrian Protestant College was established. This would later become the famous American University of Beirut.

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