Lebanon in History from the Earliest Times to the Present

By Philip K. Hitti | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXVII FOREIGN AND DOMESTIC RELATIONS

IN ancient times the pilgrim was the main type of European with whom the Lebanese were acquainted; in medieval times, the Crusader; in modern times, the missionary and trader, with the tourist trailing behind. The tourist is important to us because of his travel books, a rich source of information. Under the Maʿns and the Shihābs, Capuchins and Jesuits became firmly established in the land. The personnel of both categories -- missionary and merchant -- were recruited largely from French nationals, thus serving wittingly or unwittingly to implement the foreign policy initiated by Louis XIV ( 1643-1715), and pursued by his successors of promoting French trade and protecting Catholicism. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries Franco-Lebanese cultural and economic relations, interrupted in the post-Crusading period, were briskly resumed.

French trade had an early and advantageous start, thanks to the capitulations of 1535, renewed in 1569.1 English trade followed and offered only limited competition. For a time French and Venetian ships sailed under the protection of the French flag. In 1697 Louis XIV instructed his ambassador in Constantinople and consuls in Syria and Lebanon to use their good offices in behalf of the Maronite "nation", numbering some 70,000, and the rest of the Catholics in the Orient, and reported the action to the "head of the Maronite religion".2 This was a reaffirmation of a statement issued earlier in which Lebanese students wishing to come to the "land of the Christians" were promised reduced sea-fares commensurate with their financial ability.3 Forty years later ( 1737), Louis XV renewed the statement according the Maronites protection and asked his consuls

Foreign trade

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2
For the text consult de La Roque, vol. ii, pp. 246-7; de Testa, vol. iv, p. 141.
3
Text in Ristelhueber, pp. 117-18; de Testa, vol. iii, pp. 140-1. Arabic translation in Duwayhi, pp. 220-1.

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