When Faith Becomes a Political Weapon

Early 19th century Armenian Sectarian Violence in Istanbul


  • Flora Ghazaryan Central European University; Society for Armenian Studies




Confessionalization, Sectarianism, Ottoman history, Sultan Selim III, Sultan Mahmud II, Ottoman reforms, Catholic Armenians


While Armenian communities of early modern Istanbul were preoccupied with confessionalization and confessional strives, in the early nineteenth century these already established sects moved to a power struggle against one another for more hierarchical and influential position within the Ottoman State. Confessional disputes continued but they became means to instigate conflict between communities.

On an individual level, for wealthy Istanbul Armenians, religious belonging or position within a certain group became a weapon to either ensure a position and political power or take that position and/or political power from someone else.

The first part of this article is an analysis of confessionalization and sectarianism paradigms. The second part of this research attempts to demonstrate the shift from confessionalization to sectarianism within Istanbul’s Armenian communities, as well as the rise of new sectarian identities that went in parallel with the national identity building and influenced it.


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How to Cite

Ghazaryan, F. (2024). When Faith Becomes a Political Weapon: Early 19th century Armenian Sectarian Violence in Istanbul. Analytical Bulletin of Armenian and Regional Studies, 18. https://doi.org/10.56673/18294502-24.18-33