The Great Eastern Crisis and the ‘Oriental conspiracy’
in History, empire, and Islam
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This chapter considers Freeman’s hostility towards the contemporary Ottoman Empire as a representative of the ‘backwardness’ of Muslim nations. Freeman was especially incensed by the Ottoman rule over the Christians of south-eastern Europe as he believed that the Turkish Empire was preventing the Aryans of those nations from progressing. These attitudes were dramatically reinforced, for Freeman, by the news that the Ottomans had committed atrocities against their Bulgarian subjects in 1876. Together with Gladstone, Freeman led a nation-wide campaign calling on the British government to intervene on behalf of the subjects of the Ottoman Empire. That the Premier, Benjamin Disraeli, refused to do so was taken by Freeman as evidence of his natural sympathy for the Islamic power. I argue that the hysterical tone of much of Freeman’s writing on this topic was underpinned by his belief that Disraeli, as a ‘Jew’, was conspiring with the Muslim Turks in a plot to destroy Euro-Christendom.

History, empire, and Islam

E. A. Freeman and Victorian public morality

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